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The Two-Way
8:56 am
Tue February 18, 2014

A Big Asteroid Just Flew By, And Guess What? More Are Coming

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 12:18 pm

An asteroid that's about the size of three football fields flew past Earth on Monday, coming within 2.1 million miles. That was near enough to generate headlines such as this, from Reuters: "Earth marks close encounter with enormous asteroid."

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The Edge
8:56 am
Tue February 18, 2014

In Bobsled, 'You Learn As You Go'

Elana Meyers, during a training session in Sochi last week, is a driver on the U.S. team. She started out as a brakeman.
Tobias Hase EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 7:51 am

If there's one sport in the Winter Olympics you can do with your eyes closed, it's bobsled.

The bobsled brakeman does about five seconds of hard work, jumps in the sled and can then relax a bit. During the women's bobsled competition tonight in Sochi, we should keep our eyes open, because it's fun to watch.

The women call themselves brakemen — not brake women or brake person — in a nod to the fact that bobsled was an all-male sport until 2002.

Even now, the women only race two-man — not four-man — bobsled.

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Parallels
8:55 am
Tue February 18, 2014

For U.S. Ambassador, Ties To Prague That Transcend Diplomacy

Norm Eisen, the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, poses at his official residence in Prague in October 2013. Eisen's mother was born and raised in what was Czechoslovakia and was sent by the Nazis to the Auschwitz concentration camp, which she survived.
Filip Singer The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 5:18 am

The drive into Prague is like a journey into the past. As you approach, grand castles and cathedrals appear on the horizon and pull you into an old-world city that could be the setting for a fairy tale.

Three years ago, Norm Eisen made this journey in a motorcade. It was his first day as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. He was returning to the land where his mother, Frieda, had been born almost 90 years ago.

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Education
8:55 am
Tue February 18, 2014

College Applicants Sweat The SATs. Perhaps They Shouldn't

Standardized tests are an important consideration for admissions at many colleges and universities. But one new study shows that high school performance, not standardized test scores, is a better predictor of how students do in college.
Amriphoto iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 2:26 pm

With spring fast approaching, many American high school seniors are now waiting anxiously to hear whether they got into the college or university of their choice. For many students, their scores on the SAT or the ACT will play a big role in where they get in.

That's because those standardized tests remain a central part in determining which students get accepted at many schools. But a first-of-its-kind study obtained by NPR raises questions about whether those tests are becoming obsolete.

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Book Reviews
8:54 am
Tue February 18, 2014

'A Burnable Book' Is Fragrant With The Stench Of Medieval London

promo image

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 2:35 pm

I fell into a state of dazed puzzlement at the start of this book, whose first chapter includes a remote century's bitter winter, "sour ale" in an "undercroft tavern," the stink of Newgate Jail, French secret agents, a wild-haired preacher and conversations in Italian and French as well as English.

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The Two-Way
8:53 am
Tue February 18, 2014

In Act Of Protest, Ai Weiwei Vase Is Destroyed At Miami Museum

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's "Colored Vases" is shown on display in December at the Perez Art Museum Miami. One of the vases in the exhibit was smashed Sunday.
Zachary Fagenson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 8:47 am

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — except perhaps when imitation takes the form of smashing a vase by Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei valued at $1 million.

Miami artist Maximo Caminero claims he did it "for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here," according to the Miami New Times.

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The Two-Way
8:51 am
Tue February 18, 2014

There's A Clown Shortage: Who Will Fill Those Big Shoes?

Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 7:19 am

This may be welcome news for those who suffer from coulrophobia, but it's no joke to those who agree with Cole Porter that "all the world loves a clown":

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All Tech Considered
8:51 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Jazzpunk: A Spy Game Full Of Jokes, Blokes And Cold War Tropes

In Jazzpunk, you play a spy in a surreal world seemingly ripped from the pulpiest of spy novels.
Necrophone Games/Adult Swim Games

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 7:21 am

Just last week I was lamenting a severe lack of comedy-based video games, where perhaps getting a hearty laugh is the goal rather than quelling a rebellion or fighting off hordes of zombies.

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The Two-Way
8:49 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Chinese Firm Gets Approval To Buy Electric Carmaker Fisker

The Karma sedan, a premium electric plug-in hybrid by Fisker Automotive, is seen at the New York International Auto Show on April 5, 2012.
Wang Lei Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 8:51 am

This post was updated at 11:45 a.m.

A bankruptcy judge in Delaware has approved the sale of bankrupt electric carmaker Fisker to China's largest auto parts company.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reported on the story for our Newscast Unit.

"Wanxiang Group — China's largest auto parts company — won a bankruptcy auction last week for Fisker, which made plug-in, hybrid sports cars. Wanxiang's bid is valued at about $150 million. Fisker, which is based in California, filed for bankruptcy protection late last year.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
8:42 am
Tue February 18, 2014

How To See A Galaxy In Your Toilet Bowl

The spiral galaxy known as NGC 3521 lies in the constellation of Leo, a mere 35 million light-years away. Now go flush and see if you understand the connection between the two.
O. Maliy ESO

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 5:01 pm

Have you ever watched a little kid playing in a sink full of water? It could be the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink or even the tub — it's all the same to kids. The faucet goes on. The faucet goes off. The water fills up, the water drains away. Why is it that every kid everywhere can lose a good hour just watching water slosh around?

The answer is simple.

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Movies
8:41 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Getting 'Dallas Buyers Club' Made Took Tenacity And 'Will'

Rayon (Jared Leto) and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) are fellow AIDS patients smuggling alternative medications into the U.S. in Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
Anne Marie Fox Courtesy of Focus Features

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 8:03 am

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Shots - Health News
8:40 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Despite Law, Health Plans Refuse Medical Claims Related To Suicide

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 12:02 pm

Dealing with the aftermath of a suicide or attempted suicide is stressful enough. But some health plans make a harrowing experience worse by refusing to cover medical costs for injuries that are related to suicide, even though the federal health law doesn't allow such exclusions, legal and government analysts say.

Yet patients or their loved ones often don't realize that.

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Religion
8:38 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

For Snake-Handling Preacher, 10th Bite Proves Fatal

Pastor Jamie Coots holds a snake at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro, Ky., last year.
NGO

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 4:59 pm

Pastor Jamie Coots, a 42-year-old Pentecostal preacher and third-generation snake handler from Middlesboro, Ky., spoke to NPR in October about his unusual way of leading church services.

"We sing, we preach, we testify, take up offerings, pray for the sick, you know, everything like everybody else does," he said. "Just, every once in a while, snakes are handled."

On Saturday night, Coots was handling three rattlesnakes at his small church, the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, when one of them bit him on his right hand.

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Monkey See
8:36 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

The Beauty Of Spilling Your Sad Teenage Guts

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 2:57 pm

I read Pam Ribon's Notes To Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share In Public in a few sittings, but the longest stretch I consumed where one should ideally read this book: in a bubble bath. The calming atmosphere is good for the anxiety that comes from seeing a woman excavate her teenage brain, the vulnerability builds the empathy it takes to understand how terrified all these boys she was writing to must have felt, and if you get too mortified for her, you can always elect to go down the drain with the bathwater just to escape.

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Parallels
1:18 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Olympics Set To Transform Rio — But For Better Or Worse?

Local authorities celebrate a demolition explosion that's part of Rio's Porto Maravilha urbanization project, in Rio de Janeiro, on Nov. 24, 2013. The state- and federal-supported project is part of the city's redevelopment ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Pilar Olivares Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 5:36 pm

Rio de Janeiro is set to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and there are two starkly different visions of what that will mean for the "marvelous city," as it is known.

"I would love to be born in Rio in 2020. The babies that are born here in 2020 will be born in a marvelous city ... because of the games," says Leonardo Gryner, the chief operating officer of Rio's Olympic Organizing Committee.

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