National News

That Prescription Might Not have Been Tested For Your Ailment

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 23:24

Once a drug is approved by the FDA, doctors can use it as they see fit. That can be brilliant or risky, depending on the medication and the patient.

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How I got smarter this week (in just 105 minutes)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Sun, 2014-05-11 22:55

I am on a diet to make me smarter. A media diet. I'm trying to add at least one moment of depth per week to a movie habit that tends to play in the shallow end of the pool. This week my diet included "The Lunchbox," a film that I thought was going to be about relationships and sumptuous Indian food. Embedded therein was a fascinating lesson in business and logistics.

Yes, I know that to a fellow with a hammer, every problem is a nail. To a fellow with a business show, every movie has a lesson in business. "The Lunchbox" is a bittersweet comedy with a plot that pivots on an amazing delivery system in Mumbai, India that has been studied by Harvard researchers.

First of all, the movie: I promise, you will walk out of a viewing ravenous for South Asian food.

"The Lunchbox" is about a woman (Nimrat Kaur) who is trying to recapture the attentions of her husband by cooking and sending him fabulous lunches. The lunch gets delivered to the wrong man. The man, who starts getting the food by mistake and becomes entranced by the aromas, is played with subtle elegance by Irrfan Khan, the veteran actor who played the lead character as an older man in the Oscar-winning movie "Life of Pi."

Let's talk about that delivery service. A messenger known as a dabbawala picks up the lunch box, usually contained in a tiffen, an interlocking column of stainless steel bowls, and is surrounded by an insulating pouch. The 124-year old system for delivering the food that's grown up in Mumbai has long fascinated logistics experts. Messengers move the meals tied to bicycles. They are often stacked onto gurneys for insertion into railway carriages to be picked up by porters at the other end of the line. Many of the porters are semi-literate, yet they do interpret an alphanumeric code.

When the wife complains to the dabbawala at the door that her lunch is going to the wrong man, the deliveryman claims that is impossible because "Harvard says" their system never fails. Real-life studies show the system gets it right, on-time, with an astonishing 99.9 percent success rate. In fact, here is a 2010 case study in the Harvard Business Review.

A great meal like "The Lunchbox" in my media diet deserves a fine dessert. I was able to track down some additional short documentaries on the dabbawala delivery system and I commend one of them to you here:

It is a delivery system with a precision that would make the Post Office, FedEx, UPS and your pizza delivery professional blush with embarrassment.

Washington Monument To Reopen After 3 Years Of Quake Repairs

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 22:09

With more than 150 cracks patched and repaired in its white marble, the Washington Monument is set to reopen for the first time since a 2011 earthquake caused widespread damage.

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Why Aren't Teens Reading Like They Used To?

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 21:17

A survey of data shows a marked drop in teenagers reading for pleasure. Researchers are trying to figure out whether the explosion of e-reading and digital diversions is behind the decline.

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Glenn Greenwald: NSA Believes It Should Be Able To Monitor All Communication

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 20:03

The journalist, who received a cache of highly classified documents, says no one disputes that the security agency should be reading emails from al-Qaida, but the system has become too powerful.

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Veterans' Success At Home: More Than Just Landing Any Job

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 15:09

Reliable data on federal education programs and job placement for veterans are scarce, so it can be hard to know whether service members are getting the support they need to pursue careers they want.

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Despite Objections, Maine Governor Acts On Food Stamp Fraud

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 13:05

Facing a tight re-election battle, Gov. Paul LePage is moving ahead with a plan to require photos on EBT cards, even though the state's Legislature blocked his sweeping proposals earlier this year.

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'Nowhere To Go,' Ugandan LGBT Activist Applies For Asylum In U.S.

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 13:05

The Ugandan government passed a law criminalizing homosexuality in February. John Abdallah Wambere, a prominent gay rights organizer, says he could face jail or even death if he returns home.

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Shelly Sterling Says She'll 'Absolutely' Fight To Keep Her Half Of Clippers

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 12:59

Sterling tells ABC News that she wonders if the NBA would force out a male owner out of league over what a wife might have said. She adds that she intends to divorce Donald Sterling.

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Secretary Of Defense Says Ban On Transgender People Should Be Reviewed

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 11:47

Chuck Hagel said the issue is "complicated" because of its medical component, but he's open to reviewing the military's policy.

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Addicted And Pregnant: 'The Most Heart-Wrenching Experience Of My Life'

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 09:26

After I got pregnant, I did my best to do what a pregnant woman is supposed to do. I was able to refrain from drug use, but I never stayed away from alcohol for long.

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What Three College Pals Say About Their Dreams In China

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 07:50

Beyond the superhighways, gleaming skyscrapers and economic growth, China's young urban adults are often struggling, their dreams unfulfilled, their hopes for a better life elusive.

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As India Votes, Muslims Keep A Wary Eye On The Hindu Frontrunner

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 07:46

Monday is the final day of voting in India's six-week election. One big unknown is whether Muslims will vote for Narendra Modi, who is accused of failing to protect them from slaughter in 2002.

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Portraits Of Mothers (And The Children Who Love Them)

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 07:34

Mother's Day unfolds with a stream of stunning, emotional and beautiful pictures on social media. Here are some of our favorites.

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Fighting Resumes In South Sudan, Despite Cease-Fire Agreement

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 05:46

Two days after signing an agreement to halt fighting, there was conflict in the town of Bentiu. The rebels and the government blamed each other for reneging on the pact.

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Seeds Of Political Engagement? They're Planted Early

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 05:03

NPR listeners shared photos of their early political memories and experiences. This is what we learned.

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WATCH: Michael Sam, Boyfriend React To Draft Pick

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 03:49

After Sam was drafted by the Rams, he celebrated by kissing his boyfriend. Sam will become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

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Beating The Odds To Become First Female Chief Nuclear Officer

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 03:33

There are nine men for every woman in nuclear engineering. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Maria Korsnick, the first female chief nuclear officer in the U.S., about her experience as a woman in the industry.

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U.N. Panel Could Find Vatican Guilty Of Torture

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 03:33

This week the Vatican faced a U.N. panel investigating priest sex abuse. The panel called for an end to what it called a Vatican "climate of impunity."

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Plenty Of Women Enter Academic Science. They Just Don't Stay

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-11 03:33

Women are underrepresented in the senior ranks of academic science, but they attend grad school in equal numbers as men. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to science correspondent Joe Palca about the disparity.

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