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The Two-Way
9:45 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Senate Democrats Detonate 'Nuclear Option' To Curb Filibusters

Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 11:09 am

(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)

There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.

In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.

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The Two-Way
9:40 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Family Asks North Korea To Release 85-Year-Old American

North Korean soldiers march through Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang. Merrill Newman, an American grandfather, has been missing since being removed from a plane about to depart North Korea on Oct. 26.
ED JONES AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:53 am

The family and friends of an 85-year-old California grandfather have appealed to North Korean officials to release the man, who reportedly has been held by authorities in the communist state since Oct. 26.

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The Two-Way
9:38 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Three Women May Have Spent 30 Years As Slaves In London

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 9:19 am

A very disturbing story is emerging from the U.K.:

-- "Two people have been arrested as part of an investigation into slavery and domestic servitude at a house in London sparked by a report on Sky News. The inquiry was launched after one of three alleged victims told a charity she had been held against her will for more than 30 years." (Sky News)

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Shots - Health News
9:37 am
Thu November 21, 2013

A Son's Death Reveals Chasms In Emergency Mental Health Care

A hearse leaves the Deeds family home in Millboro, Va., on Tuesday, after 24-year-old Austin "Gus" Deeds died in an apparent suicide.
Don Petersen AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 10:49 am

Parents who have a child struggling with serious mental illness live in fear that the worst will happen.

The apparent suicide of a young man in Virginia after he allegedly attacked his father, a state senator, shows how difficult it can be for families to get help in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The recession brought deep cuts in states' spending on mental health. The reductions made it harder for people to get help before they're in crisis, mental health advocates say, and even harder to find a hospital bed in an emergency.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:34 am
Thu November 21, 2013

The Ties That Bind Animals And Humans Alike

Elephants at the Mashatu game reserve in Mapungubwe, Botswana.
Cameron Spencer Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 10:20 am

Most of us — scientists and animal lovers alike — agree by now that chimpanzees and elephants, birds and bunnies, dolphins and dogs may all feel love and joy and grief.

When stories of animal emotion go viral, as recently happened with two inseparable dog brothers, one of whom acts as a seeing-eye dog for the other, we share them not because we're knocked out with surprise by what animals feel but because we're touched and uplifted.

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The Two-Way
10:40 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

National Book Awards Go To McBride, Packer, Szybist, Kadohata

Author James McBride won the 2013 National Book Award for fiction for The Good Lord Bird, about the journey of a young slave in the 1850s.
Tiziana Fabi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 7:06 am

James McBride won the National Book Award for fiction Wednesday for The Good Lord Bird, about a young slave in the 1850s who meets and travels with abolitionist John Brown.

The annual awards, presented by the National Book Foundation, honor American authors for works published over the past year in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.

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The Two-Way
5:07 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

FAA Orders Apnea Testing For Overweight Pilots, Controllers

A passenger jet flies past the FAA control tower at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 5:00 pm

U.S. pilots and air traffic controllers who are deemed overweight will be screened for obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, a condition that could cause them fatigue on the job, endangering the lives of air passengers, a new FAA order says.

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Shots - Health News
5:03 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

How A Vitamin D Test Misdiagnosed African-Americans

Disease susceptibility varies among ethnic groups, but medicine hasn't always recognized that.
Jo Unruh iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 9:43 am

By the current blood test for vitamin D, most African-Americans are deficient. That can lead to weak bones. So many doctors prescribe supplement pills to bring their levels up.

But the problem is with the test, not the patients, according to a new study. The vast majority of African-Americans have plenty of the form of vitamin D that counts — the type their cells can readily use.

The research resolves a long-standing paradox.

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It's All Politics
3:50 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

What A Bitcoin Political Debut Could Mean For Transparency

Bitcoins have gone from an Internet oddity to much more. The FEC is now considering allowing the virtual currency to fund some political campaigns.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 4:28 pm

Bitcoin, the virtual currency that exists as alphanumeric strings online, is on the verge of getting into politics.

The Federal Election Commission is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to allow bitcoin contributions to political action committees — even as skeptics say that bitcoins could undermine the disclosure standards of federal law.

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The Two-Way
2:37 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Justice Says FISA Was Used To Help Crack 2010 Oregon Bomb Plot

A 2010 mug shot of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.
AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 3:10 pm

The case against a Somali-born U.S. citizen convicted in a foiled bombing plot was built partly on secret information "obtained or derived" from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Justice Department has acknowledged.

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The Salt
2:37 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Moms-To-Be Are Eating Fish, But Choosing Low-Mercury Options

Based on new research, the EPA concludes that women of childbearing age are making more informed choices and opting for low-mercury seafood choices such as shrimp, canned light tuna and salmon.
JackF iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 5:07 pm

It's been a conundrum for pregnant women: Forgo fish out of fears of mercury? Or eat it up to get the benefits of all the vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish and shellfish?

Increasingly, it seems women of childbearing age are opting for a smarter option: They're eating fish, but avoiding the species that are high in mercury.

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Code Switch
1:53 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Arturo Sandoval: Free To Blow His Trumpet The Way He Wants

Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:43 am

A former president, a media mogul and a Cuban jazz trumpeter are among the 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday. That Cuban jazz trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval, happened to be performing not too far away from NPR West, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, last Friday. So I went to pay him a visit during rehearsals.

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It's All Politics
1:32 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Can Congressman Trey Radel Survive A Drug Bust?

Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel, R-Fla., at a Capitol news conference on July 9.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 12:55 pm

After pleading guilty Wednesday to cocaine possession, Florida Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel's political future is unclear.

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Books
11:54 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Soul Food For Thanksgiving: Mac And Cheese, 'Red Drink,' And More

The Mac and Cheese and Hibiscus Aid were prepared by Rock Harper of DC Central Kitchen.
Amy Ta NPR

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 12:21 pm

Adrian Miller is a lawyer and former special assistant to President Clinton. After the president's second term, finding himself with extra time on his hands, he ended up spending the next decade or so researching soul food. "With the only qualifications of eating the food a lot, and cooking it some, I dove in," says Miller.

Getting past some stereotypes about soul food is one goal of his new book. Miller says the common perception is that soul food is slave food, but that's only partially true, he tells Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More.

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The Two-Way
11:42 am
Wed November 20, 2013

City Of Vancouver Shows Doorknobs The Exit

In Vancouver, doorknobs are out, levers are in.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:10 pm

The doorknob is dead. At least in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A recent revision in the city's building code, designed to improve accessibility, shows the door to the venerable knob, replacing it with the hipper and easier-to-use lever.

The Vancouver Sun reports:

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