Health & Science

Ways to Connect

Ted Olson is one of the most prominent lawyers working in America today. He argued on behalf of George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore and was the solicitor general for most of Bush's first term. A star conservative lawyer, he surprised many when he joined the fight to legalize same-sex marriage, taking up the battle against California's Proposition 8 (and allying with David Boies, who argued for Gore in Bush v. Gore).

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Apple CEO Tim Cook put himself and his company front and center in a national debate on digital privacy, when he decided Apple would not comply with a federal court order to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

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Days of news about an Apple iPhone have left us with this consistent feeling. It's that we've all been having highly sophisticated arguments about the Internet and encryption without entirely grasping what we're saying.

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I came home from a trip the other day with a small plastic bag filled with 4 ounces of brown powder that, truth be told, made me a little nervous.

The powder had a strong odor that reminded me of badly burnt coffee, with perhaps a note of brown sugar.

I didn't dare open that bag. It contained crude caffeine, about 90 percent pure. That small bag held as much caffeine as 1,000 tall lattes from Starbucks, or 2,000 cans of Coke or Pepsi. It was enough to kill several people.

The terrorist attack in San Bernardino on Dec. 2 sparked a battle between Apple and the FBI over the investigators' request for the company's help to unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep about his opinion of the legal feud and its consequences. Below are some of the highlights.

Apple and the FBI are facing off in court over an encrypted iPhone 5C that was used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. The phone stopped backing up to the cloud, which the investigators have already searched, several weeks before the Dec. 2 attack.

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Now let's consider the man who's front and center in this national debate, Apple's CEO. NPR's Laura Sydell looks at the company under Tim Cook.

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Meet a man on a mission, a mission to stop telemarketers. It all started with a passion for phones.

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Treating Addiction As A Chronic Disease

Feb 25, 2016

With the opioid epidemic reaching into every corner of the U.S., more people are talking about addiction as a chronic disease rather than a moral failing.

For researcher A. Thomas McLellan, who has spent his entire career studying substance abuse, the shift is a welcome one, though it has come frustratingly late.

After a court ordered Apple to help federal investigators get into an encrypted iPhone, the company responded with a court filing Thursday that describes the FBI-requested order as illegal, unconstitutional and dangerous.

"No court has ever authorized what the government now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it," Apple's lawyers wrote in the company's motion to vacate the order.

One of the best ways to understand Zika virus might be to deliberately inject it into volunteers.

That idea may sound a little crazy, but it's not unprecedented. And some researchers are hoping the approach could help speed up the search for an effective Zika vaccine.

Right now, a bunch of labs are pursuing different ways of making a vaccine against Zika, mostly because of the concern that the virus might be linked to the birth defect called microcephaly.

When Dr. Etheldreda Nakimuli-Mpungu graduated from medical school, her mother told her, "OK, good. But you know it's not good to just be a doctor."

Umm, what?

"She, said, 'There's some doctors you go to and they don't make you better. I want you to be one of the doctors that really makes people better,' " Mpungu recalls. "And I thought, 'Oh, no. What does she mean now?' "

Mpungu went on to work in a surgical ward. And then with children. She was helping people — but couldn't say she was really living up to her mother's high expectations.

HIV rates have been on the decline in the U.S. for years now, but stark disparities remain, with some groups of people at high risk of infection.

Here's the good part: The number of people diagnosed annually has dropped by about 20 percent in the last decade.

The drop was driven by plunges in certain groups of people, including heterosexuals, with a 35 percent decline since 2005; black women, with a 42 percent decline; and people who inject drugs, 63 percent.

Given recent advances in teleportation, it's reassuring to know that the human brain's navigation system appears to work just fine when we're beamed from place to place.

Meat has a greater impact on the environment than pretty much any other food we eat. As The Salt has reported, billions of cows, pigs, sheep and poultry we raise as livestock guzzle massive quantities of water and generate at least 10 percent of the total greenhouse gases attributed to human activity.

But scientists say we've been slow to acknowledge yet another side effect of our taste for meat: nitrogen pollution.

Should Sprouts Come With A Warning Label?

Feb 25, 2016

You will never catch prominent food-safety attorney Bill Marler eating sprouts. Not on a heaping deli sandwich. Not on a freshly tossed salad. He puts them in the same category as raw milk — a food item he says is not worth the risk it carries. Unfortunately, 13 people sickened across four states have discovered that risk the hard way.

Ailing electronics maker Sharp has accepted a takeover bid from Foxconn, the company that assembles iPhones. After the deal was announced, Sharp's stock fell more than 14 percent. And Foxconn now says it will postpone finalizing the sale due to late-arriving information.

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It seems the quality of the cars we drive is on the decline, so says a report from J.D. Power and Associates. The thing bothering consumers, not the engine or safety, it's the entertainment. Here's NPR's Sonari Glinton.

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The software equivalent of cancer - that is how Apple CEO Tim Cook is describing code the government wants Apple to write so the FBI can unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

While Apple and the FBI fight in court over the government's demand that the tech company to help it break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, Congress is trying to find its own solution to the digital security/national security debate.

It's the first thing in the morning at a crowded public health clinic in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, when a team of disease detectives from the United States and Brazil arrive.

They are searching for new mothers in the hope of solving one of the world's most urgent public health mysteries: Is the Zika virus really causing microcephaly, a birth defect that leaves babies with shrunken heads and badly damaged brains?

What if you had to go to the hospital, and when it came time to return home, your landlord said you couldn't move back in? Across the country, thousands of nursing home residents face that situation every year. In most cases, it's a violation of federal regulations. But those rules are rarely enforced by the states. So, in California, some nursing home residents are suing the state, hoping to force it to take action.

It's increasingly likely that the next time you have an encounter with a police officer, he or she will be wearing a body camera. And depending on how things go, you may be left wondering: "Can I get a copy of that video?"

There's no single answer to that, or other pressing questions, such as whether you can tell an officer you don't want to be recorded. In the year and a half since the Ferguson, Mo., protests, police departments have been rushing to adopt the cameras.

But when it comes to body camera policies, departments are all over the map.

Last year, Ford asked people if they could imagine themselves buying or riding in a self-driving vehicle.

Out of the eight countries surveyed, India and China had the highest positive answers at 84 percent and 78 percent, respectively, compared to the U.S. and U.K. at 40 percent and 30 percent, respectively, the study found.

Author Isaac Asimov once wrote, "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny ... ' "

Good scientists search for the significance of surprises, coincidences and mistakes. With a little curiosity and perseverance, they can turn unexpected incidents into new insights.

Death Valley, Calif., one of the hottest places in the world, is in bloom with more than 20 species of colorful desert wildflowers.

You might think of Barcelona as an enchanted, historic European city. This week, it's home to a massive tech gathering: the Mobile World Congress. Tens of thousands of people from every corner of the earth are there — many showcasing the novel ways they're connecting citizen-consumers to the Internet. I took a tour of Innovation City and here are a few of my most memorable stops.

A Well-Connected Bike

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