July 31, 2006 Snakebite! When it's a copperhead or a rattler, that means venom. Conventional wisdom says that a body's immune system can make the bite worse when it raises immune defenses, sometimes throwing victims into shock. But a new study suggests that one kind of defensive cell, the mast cell, actually does fight off venom.
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July 25, 2006 A year and a half after the catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean killed 270,000 people, there is still no tsunami warning system for the region. Scientists say political disputes, coupled with a lack of scientific expertise and money in the region, have hampered efforts. But wealthy nations, while pledging money, haven't done much to put instruments into the ocean to detect tsunamis. Meanwhile, hundreds died in Java this month after another tsunami hit the island without warning.
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July 14, 2006 From Associated Press, we learn that the New York City Police were called to The New York Times this afternoon after the newspaper received an envelope containing a suspicious-looking powder. A worker opened the envelope, which contained a "white powdery substance," at about 12:30 p.m. It's not immediately known what the substance was. Police and a Times spokeswoman, Catherine Mathis, said the envelope also contained an editorial with an "X" through it. The employee went to a hospital to be examined, but was showing no symptoms or injuries.
July 14, 2006 Bruce Arena may be the most successful coach the U.S. national soccer team has ever had... but he's out nonetheless. U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati says Arena's contract will not be renewed when it runs out at the end of the year. Arena coached the U.S. for eight years. His 71 wins are more than twice as many as any of his predecessors. Unfortunately, the U.S. team didn't do as well as many had hoped at this year's World Cup in Germany. They were eliminated during the initial group play round. But we can say this much for the American players: they bled for their country and nobody head-butted an opponent.
July 14, 2006 The newshounds at Reuters have discovered that Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the blue chip investment bank, wants a Netherlands man to change the name of a sex-themed Web site called goldmansex.com. Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs has petitioned the National Arbitration Forum to do something about goldmansex.com, arguing that it contained links to objectionable "adult" material and could cause confusion. The NAF mediates corporate disputes including those over Internet domain names.
July 14, 2006 It's hard not to detect the influence of oil and gas wealth in the international events of the week. At the G-8 meeting in Russia, Vladimir Putin will be calling more shots than usual because Europe is, more than ever before, dependent on Russian natural gas. Russia's influence will extend years into the future as the West, China and India scramble to plan trade deals and pipeline projects to fuel their futures, with Russia's hand on the spigot. As for the Middle East fighting, where would Hezbollah be without funding from oil-rich Iran? No, I'm not saying the world is run entirely by energy executives, a la Syriana. But I'd say it's always helpful to watch the business page during times like these, as well as the front page. By the way, a barrel of crude hit $78 yesterday.
July 14, 2006 As the situation in the Middle East slides toward war, more NPR reporters are headed to Beirut, Damascus and Israel. As veteran editors observe, it's all depressingly familiar -- plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. NPR programs will also hear from insiders like Nicholas Blanford of Lebanon's Daily Star to sort out the motives of Hezbollah. Elsewhere, All Things Considered will check in on the G-8 meeting in Germany where world leaders begin talks that were to focus on energy, health and trade, but are likely to turn to the Middle East. And NPR's Michele Keleman is keeping an eye on what the United Nations Security Council might try to do to intervene...
July 14, 2006 Ari Shapiro reports on payback from Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson, the CIA agent and her diplomat husband. They're suing Dick Cheney and others at the White House, arguing that administration officials outed Plame as a spy in retaliation for her husband's public disagreement with the White House on whether Iraq was really seeking materials for nuclear weapons. This is likely the opening of a bitter drama that could keep Washington-watchers entertained longer than a hit Broadway play...
July 13, 2006 American cyclist Floyd Landis leads the Tour de France. Cyclist Frankie Andreu is in northern Spain, where today's race ended, and he talks with All Things Considered host Melissa Block this evening about Landis' success. Cycling usually wasn't considered a big deal in the U.S. unless the name Lance Armstrong was associated with it. Seven-time Tour winner Armstrong quit after last year's record-setting victory...
July 13, 2006 When NPR reporters go hunting for stories, they'll search just about anywhere. Recently science reporter David Kestenbaum visited Denis Barkats, a scientist in the Antarctic. Denis is overwintering at an international base at the South Pole. (The notion that there's a meaningful difference between winter and summer in the Antarctic reminds me of what Dorothy Parker said when hearing that President Coolidge had died: "How can they tell?")
July 13, 2006 Mixed Signals got lots of comments from listeners about All Things Considered director Bob Boilen's work picking music interludes -- "buttons" -- to run between stories. The posting wasn't meant to be an exhaustive explanation and thus, may have left the impression that it's just "something we do." In fact, all our programs -- All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation, to name a few -- have to be perfectly timed. They are sent to member stations and those stations have to fit us in along with their own news, music, traffic alerts and so on...
July 13, 2006 The fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon has escalated: there's a naval blockade of the Lebanese ports underway, Israel has bombed Beirut's airport, and Hezbollah has fired rockets into Israel. It's item number one on tonight's programming. We'll have reporters on the scene and commentator Ted Koppel will weigh in as well. In Washington, congressional hearings continue on just what the White House plans to do to conform to the Supreme Court's ruling that the Geneva Conventions apply to detainees captured in the war on terror. NPR has been working this story hard, in part because the explanations from the White House have been somewhat... vague. NPR's David Green will try to make them less so.
July 13, 2006 On Morning Edition, you'll hear the news from Israel and Lebanon as Hezbollah fires rockets into Israel and the Israelis bomb the Beirut airport. Civilians on both sides have been killed. Today, Israel is blockading Lebanon to cut off supplies to Hezbollah fighters. From the science desk: Women's hearts are smaller than men's. So are their arteries. But there are some other differences that have gone unnoticed that make women's heart disease look different. Patricia Neighmond reports on what medical researchers have found and what it may mean for women's treatment. And you can check your own risk here.
July 12, 2006 Listeners who pay attention to the musical interludes (we call them "buttons") in between stories may have wondered how we pick 'em. I went down to watch All Things Considered director Bob Boilen perform this task, one of his myriad duties. "Here's how I do it," he said at 3:40 p.m., twenty minutes before airtime. "I open up the CD cabinet and just start pulling them out." Bob has heard all of them -- thousands of them -- and just follows his whim. He doesn't know which piece of music he'll use until the show starts. He just takes a stack of CDs into the studio and while the show hosts and reporters are holding forth, Bob gets a feel for each story -- content, mood, feel -- and finds something from his stack to play as the show moves from one story to the next. It's pretty much by feel and on the fly. Sure beats listening to advertisements.
July 12, 2006 From Cornell University: "People who like sweets eat more fruit than salty-snack lovers, and people who love fruit eat more sweets than vegetable lovers do, according to two Cornell University analyses. "'If we know a person likes one type of food, this kind of study helps us better predict what other types of foods he or she might prefer...'"
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