NPR News

Obamacare Enrollment Exceeds 6 Million

Mar 27, 2014

With the enrollment deadline looming, the Obama administration says 6 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the exchanges set up by the federal government.

"With 4 days left for consumers to sign up for coverage, we are working hard to ensure that our systems can handle the unprecedented demand as people enroll before the March 31 deadline," Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement.

The government's latest estimate shows that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. That's a remarkable jump from just two years ago, when the figure was 1 in 88, and an even bigger jump from 2007, when it was just 1 in 150.

But officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the agency's skyrocketing estimates don't necessarily mean that kids are more likely to have autism now than they were 10 years ago.

The Air Force has announced the firing of nine midlevel nuclear missile commanders and the disciplining of dozens of junior officers involved in cheating on ICBM proficiency exams.

The measures come after an extensive investigation into a string of security lapses and failed safety inspections at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., where the cheating occurred.

The Associated Press reports:

In the tiny town of Troy, Idaho, Barb and Doug Garrott have spent the past three years perfecting a machine that could change the morning routines of coffee drinkers all over the country: a $175 hand-cranked coffee grinder.

It's called the Lido 2, the first run of 500 has already sold out on preorder, and coffee aficionados are asking for more.

A Texas judge ruled the state must tell two death row inmates where it is buying its execution drugs from.

The AP reports that the inmates sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for the information. The state has argued that it wants to keep the information secret, because its previous supplier backed out of the relationship when its name became public and it received threats.

The AP adds:

James R. Schlesinger, who served three presidents from both parties in top Cabinet-level posts, has died at the age of 85. The Washington Post says he died Thursday at a hospital in Baltimore of complications from pneumonia.

The House and Senate approved $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and sanctions on Moscow for Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Thursday's voice vote in the Senate and a 399-19 vote in the House for a different version of the bill came just hours after the International Monetary Fund pledged $18 billion in assistance for the former Soviet satellite.

When emergency personnel got to the scene of Saturday's mudslide near Oso, Wash., they kept people away. Much of a mountain had torn off, roared across the Stillaguamish River, and destroyed about 50 homes and properties.

It seems like every cubicle dweller I know is training for a marathon. But then there are those tragic headlines about middle-aged runners keeling over dead at the finish line. Is this really a good idea?

Marathon training actually reduces a person's cardiovascular risk, according to a study presented Thursday at the American College of Cardiology's scientific sessions in Washington, D.C. That's true even if they're just average recreational runners, not elite athletes.

In the 2008 pilot of AMC's Breaking Bad, high school teacher Walter White fails to interest his chemistry students in the study of change. But over the course of the series, Walt himself came to exemplify radical change, using his knowledge of chemistry to become a master meth cook, and transforming himself into a notorious outlaw who was willing to kill, when necessary, to keep his operation running.

Last week we reported on a new campaign from the Center for Biological Diversity that hopes to persuade Americans to cut back on their meat consumption. Their pitch? Eat less meat and you will help save wildlife.

Authorities in Turkey are reportedly going ahead with a ban on access to YouTube days after a similar move in the country to block Twitter.

The Turkish telecommunications authority TIB is quoted in Turkish state media as saying it has taken an "administrative measure" against YouTube.

The news follows earlier reports that a recording, allegedly of a meeting among top Turkish officials discussing military intervention in Syria, was posted on YouTube.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday lashed out against the post:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's "account of these events rings true" and he has "conducted himself at every turn as someone who has nothing to hide," according to an investigation — done at the request of the governor's office — of the George Washington Bridge scandal.

A German man who for years had hidden away art plundered by the Nazis during World War II has agreed to return the valuable works to their Jewish owners or their descendants, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Cornelius Gurlitt will start with returning Matisse's Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair to the descendants of Paul Rosenberg, who was a French art dealer whose descendants recognized the painting when details of the stash were made public in November.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The new film Cesar Chavez brings to life the famed civil rights leader, who organized farm laborers and fought to secure a living wage and better working conditions in the fields. He founded the United Farm Workers union in California in 1962, and his work inspired millions of people in the U.S. and internationally. Actor Michael Peña, who plays Chavez, spoke with Tell Me More host Michel Martin about how he prepared for the role and what it meant to him and his family.

Boxed In, Then Leaving NFL At Age 26

Mar 27, 2014

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Following up on his acknowledgement in January that it's problematic to have the National Security Agency collecting and storing massive amounts of information about individuals' phone calls, President Obama announced Thursday that he has decided "the data should remain at the telephone companies."

NPR's Tamara Keith tells our Newscast Desk that:

Lack of food is the leading cause of child death worldwide, killing 3.1 million children each year and accounting for 45 percent of all child mortality.

Undernourished children who survive still face a daunting future, including reduced intellectual capacity and a higher risk of disease and disability. And while economic growth is presumed to get more children fed, a booming economy alone doesn't fix the problem, researchers say.

While The Washington Post Morning Mix blog helpfully digs into statistics about Denmark's low birth rate and slow population growth, we'll get right to the point:

Kronos Quartet is celebrating 40 years of playing music together — and to mark the occasion, they're playing a celebration concert at Carnegie Hall in New York tomorrow night. Since their founding, the San Francisco-based string quartet has become one of the most visible ensembles in classical music. The players have done it by championing new and underheard music, and by coming up with a business model that was unheard of for a chamber group four decades ago.

Protesters in Taiwan are angry. They've taken over the island's Parliament, blocking the doors with piles of furniture. They also stormed the offices of the Cabinet, where they clashed with riot police armed with batons and water cannons.

A Japanese man who may have been on death row longer than anyone else in the world walked out of prison on Thursday after newly analyzed DNA evidence prompted a judge to order that he be retried.

The economic news about both last quarter and last week is on the positive side:

-- The Bureau of Economic Analysis says the economy grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2013, a bit better than its previous estimate that gross domestic product had expanded at a 2.4 percent pace.

Nearly three weeks after it disappeared, the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and any sign of the 239 people who were on board continues in the southern Indian Ocean. Thursday's news is that:

One leader whose popularity around the world has been eclipsed by the other met for the first time Thursday when President Obama visited Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Obama, who has seen his approval numbers decline since he took office in 2009, met for about 50 minutes with the pope, who has become one of the world's most popular leaders since becoming leader of the Roman Catholic Church a year ago.

Dolphins In Crimea Join Russian Navy

Mar 27, 2014

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer. Russia took over many Ukrainian military assets when it annexed Crimea, including dolphins at the oceanarium in Sebastopol. Trained to locate enemy divers and carry spy equipment, Ukraine planned to shut down the combat dolphin program in April - too expensive. Now these dolphins will raise their fins to the Kremlin, which apparently does have the rubles to upgrade their gear. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm David Greene.

Well, it could have been burgeoning romance at a restaurant in San Mateo, California. A customer left his name and phone number with the bartender, trying to steal her heart. He came back a bit later. This time, at the restaurant's back door, trying to steal a television and other electronics. Employees spotted him, including the woman he had flirted with, and so a date was setup at a donut shop by the police, who promptly arrested the man.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

In eastern Washington State, a massive hydroelectric dam on the Columbia River is cracked. Engineers have lowered the water upstream to relieve pressure on the structure. But the low water behind Wanapum Dam has alarmed nearby farmers. Some irrigation pipes are no longer reaching the river and the weather is about to heat up. The Northwest News Network's Anna King reports.

ANNA KING, BYLINE: Frosty Hansen is 74 but he drives his Kawasaki like he's 15 and has nothing to lose.

(SOUNDBITE OF ENGINE REVVING)

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