Health & Science

Ways to Connect

We all know that cellphones and driving can be a dangerous mix, and yet a quick glance at the sound of a ping can be irresistible to many motorists.

So beyond turning off your cellphone or leaving it at home, Apple has a new solution aimed at keeping drivers' eyes off the screen and on the road. When Apple's iOS 11 update comes out this fall, it will include a "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode.

For nearly four years now, an unusual coalition of Republicans and Democrats has worked to reduce mandatory prison terms for many federal drug crimes.

But that bipartisan movement may be shallower than it appears. Indeed, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who both supported a cut-back on some drug punishments, are preparing a bill that would create tough new penalties for people caught with synthetic opioid drugs. Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Feinstein is the panel's ranking member.

After a long day, many of us try to set down our technology and unplug from the world around us. But, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center, over the next few years, that will become much more difficult to do.

He was a world leader who was not a household name. But he definitely made an impact as an advocate for the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, died on Sunday night at his home.

Conservation photographer Paul Nicklen has spent more than two decades documenting the ice and wildlife in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth — the Arctic and the Antarctic.

If you've ever bought coffee labeled "Uganda" and wondered what life is like in that faraway place where the beans were grown, now's your chance to see how climate change has affected the lives of Ugandan coffee farmers — through their own eyes.

For years, says Corinne Bobbie, shopping in Arizona for a health plan for her little girl went like this:

" 'Sorry, we're not covering that kid,' " Bobbie recalls insurers telling her. " 'She's a liability.' "

On the day I visit the family at their home in a suburb north of Phoenix, 8-year-old Sophia bounces on a trampoline in the backyard. It's difficult to tell she has a complex congenital heart condition and has undergone multiple surgeries.

Nursing homes and hospitals need to do more to protect their patients from catching Legionnaires' disease from contaminated water systems in their buildings, federal health officials warned Tuesday.

Divisive discourse. Trump’s tweets. “Fake news.”

The 2016 Election revealed the surprising ways the internet can shape Americans’ political views. Voters were exposed to strategically placed misinformation, propaganda posts composed by automated programs and an increased volume on hate speech and hostile political rhetoric.

Stanford law professor Nate Persily has written about this phenomenon in a journal article called “Can Democracy Survive The Internet?”

Photography documents life — and food, whether in the fore or background, seems to always be in the picture. The two intersect in a new book, Feast for the Eyes, written by photography curator Susan Bright and published by Aperture.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The overwhelming majority of bats are friends of humanity. They gobble up the insects that bite us and ruin our crops. They pollinate flowers and they replant forests by spreading seeds around. But as agriculture overtakes rain forests and jungles, humans have come into conflict with one bat species: the common vampire bat.

Each year, thousands of Americans miss their deadline to enroll in Medicare, and federal officials and consumer advocates worry that many of them mistakenly think they don't need to sign up because they have purchased insurance on the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces. That failure to enroll on time can leave them facing a lifetime of penalties.

Several decades ago, Evan Nodvin's life probably would have looked quite different.

Nodvin has his own apartment just outside Atlanta, in Sandy Springs, Ga., which he shares with a roommate, and a job at a local community fitness center. He also has Down syndrome.

"I give out towels, and put weights away, and make sure people are safe," the 38-year-old says.

To get to and from work, Nodvin relies on rides from people who are hired to help him. He also has a counselor to help him do daily chores like grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People from New Jersey are used to defending their state.

But, in fact, New Jersey has a history to brag about. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the phonograph and the movie camera there. Many decades later, Bell Labs invented the transistor in the state.

Geography favored New Jersey. On one end, it borders New York City, and on the other end is Philadelphia. That means easy access to Wall Street financing, transportation and industry headquarters.

The Trump administration is taking steps to allow five energy companies to use seismic air guns for oil and gas exploration off the U.S. Atlantic coast even though they would incidentally harass marine mammals. Environmental groups and some coastal communities object.

"The testing would take place over a huge area ranging from the Delaware Bay, south to Cape Canaveral in Florida," NPR's Jeff Brady reports. "Ships would crisscross the ocean shooting loud bursts of sound underwater to map the geology."

And then there were three.

Apple has finally unveiled its answer to Amazon's and Google's smart speakers slash digital assistants — and it's called HomePod.

It's a public health problem that spans the globe.

It kills close to 6 million people a year.

Teenagers are at risk.

It's not the latest epidemic or chronic disease.

It's the cigarette.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control looks at rates of smoking among 13- to 15-year-olds (most smokers start in adolescence) and how they feel about it, with a nod to the kinds of measures that work to cut rates of teen smoking.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Before we leave New Jersey, we should talk about a more recent tech breakthrough that happened there. Twenty years ago, the Garden State firm Audible introduced the world's first commercially available portable digital audio player.

Here's a classic scene from a telenovela.

It's the funeral of a very rich man whose heirs are battling over his fortune. An indignant woman says to a female guest: "You are disrupting the service. Who else would you be saving this seat for other than Richard Juma's second wife?"

Babies get less sleep at night and sleep for shorter stretches when they sleep in their parents' room after 4 months old, a new study finds. Parents are also more likely to engage in unsafe sleep practices, such as bringing their child into their bed or leaving pillows, blankets or stuffed animals with the baby when the infant shares their room.

There is a joke among cider makers when they open a bottle and its contents taste disappointingly sour or flawed:

"We say, 'Oh yeah, this cider went bad, so we just put it into green bottles and called it Spanish,' " says cider maker Nathaniel West, owner of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider in Portland, Ore.

Nancy and Dan Gapinski of Glendale, Wis., remember a time when they couldn't really communicate with their own son.

"He used to not really have any kinds of conversations with us. He did a lot of echoing things that we said, and scripting from movies," Nancy Gapinski says as she and her husband wait for their son Ben's school bus to arrive. "A lot of times kids didn't know how to respond to him then, and didn't know what he was trying to say and conversations wouldn't really go anywhere."

For more than a decade, the number of women choosing bilateral mastectomy to treat breast cancer has been on the rise. That's the case even for women with early stage breast cancer, cancer in only one breast or non-invasive breast cancer, which has raised concerns that women are getting more surgery than they need. Now a study suggests that trend may be turning around.

President Trump announced Monday a plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system — a move that would remove the job of tracking and guiding airplanes from the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Today we're proposing to take American air travel into the future, finally," Trump said.

As farmer Jon McConaughy wades through his flock of 400 sheep, lambs bleat, seemingly saying "maaaaa" as they look for their mothers in the huge pasture.

"Between seven and 10 lambs a week is what we use," McConaughy says, looking across the field. "That's what goes through the slaughterhouse."

Scientists have found a shockingly hot, massive, Jupiter-like planet that has a tail like a comet.

"It is so hot that it is hotter than most stars that we know of out there," says Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, whose team describes the scorching world called KELT-9b in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Now to Kenya and a growing food crisis. Ugali is a doughy, sticky food made from corn that's a staple there. Over the past few months, the price of corn, though, has soared, making ugali unaffordable. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports on what's behind the shortage.

Alan Alda's father wanted him to become a doctor, but it wasn't meant to be. "I failed chemistry really disastrously ... " Alda says. "I really didn't want to be a doctor; I wanted to be a writer and an actor."

Which is exactly what happened, but Alda didn't leave science behind entirely. His new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, is all about communication — and miscommunication — between scientists and civilians.

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