NPR News

Kai Ryssdal

We use a lot of words to talk about problems in the economy: inflation, CPI, GDP, the jobless rate. But LIBOR? That stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate, and it's one of the most important numbers in the world. In fact, it's an interest rate that trillions of dollars depend upon each day. During the height of the financial crisis, one London banker decided he could make a lot of money if he just fudged that number. And he did, until he was caught.

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How far should scientists be allowed to go in creating things that resemble primitive human brains, hearts, and even human embryos?

That's the question being asked by a group of Harvard scientists who are doing exactly that in their labs. They're using stem cells, genetics and other new biological engineering techniques to create tissues, primitive organs and other living structures that mimic parts of the human body.

Their concern is that they and others doing this type of "synthetic biology" research might be treading into disturbing territory.

Former Irish Republican Army commander Martin McGuinness, who left violence behind to choose peace — and who eventually met Queen Elizabeth II — has died at age 66. For nearly a decade, McGuinness served as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister.

From London, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports:

"McGuinness retired from politics in January, suffering from a rare genetic disease. Today, he was lauded for his crucial role in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland.

03/21/17: GOP tweaks health care bill

Mar 21, 2017

The House GOP is out with some revisions for its Obamacare replacement, with the aim of drawing more support for the bill. We'll look at what some of these proposed changes are, which include more tax credits. Next, we'll explore Emory University's decision to call itself a "safe harbor" instead of a "sanctuary campus" over concerns that it could be defunded. And finally, we'll talk about the other competition happening amid March Madness: the shoe companies vying to be number one on the market.

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Nescafe Opens A Nap Cafe In Tokyo

Mar 21, 2017

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Good morning. I'm Rachel Martin with a personal disclosure. I'm not very good at napping. Believe me, I try. But most of the time sleep is elusive. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong. Maybe I need to curl up in a nice, public setting with a cup of coffee, and sleep will come.

House Republicans look for more support with revised health care bill

Mar 21, 2017
D Gorenstein and Marketplace staff

Top House Republicans have released a slate of revisions for their Obamacare replacement that they hope will draw more support. The American Health Care Act has been sharply criticized by members of both parties; an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office estimated that nearly 24 million people would lose their coverage under the plan.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

Airline passengers coming to the U.S. and Britain on direct flights from a number of majority-Muslim nations must now place most electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cameras, in checked baggage under stepped-up security measures, the Trump administration and the British government said.

Passengers can still carry smartphones into the plane's cabin, but nothing larger, officials from the two countries added.

In his late 20s, Christopher Milford of East Boston, Mass., got high on some OxyContin his friend gave him.

By the time he was in his early 30s, he was shooting heroin and Suboxone.

Milford would reuse the same needle for a week or more. Then, one day, he was so sick he couldn't get out of bed.

"It felt like the worst flu I ever got in my life," he says. "It almost felt like a dream. I started doing weird things like putting PlayStation controllers in the sink in the bathroom. It was just weird, off the wall."

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For generations, India has tried to embrace religious freedom despite a history of religious violence. A recent election in the country's largest state is putting that tension front and center again. Here's NPR's Julie McCarthy.

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The Affordable Care Act's tax penalty for people who opt out of health insurance is one of the most loathed parts of the law, so it is no surprise that Republicans are keen to abolish it. But the penalty, also called the individual mandate, plays a vital function: nudging healthy people into the insurance markets, where their premiums help pay for the cost of care for the sick. Republican lawmakers think they have a better alternative.

The Trump administration's talk of cracking down on undocumented immigrants has frightened many people living in the country illegally. And it has deterred some domestic abuses victims from appearing in court for fear they'll be spotted by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson.

Bronson tells NPR's Rachel Martin that four women — victims of what Bronson calls physical and violent assault — have not pursued cases.

Many people these days might be getting worked up about the fact that President Trump owns a lot of businesses. Not Chris Kinney.

"I think this country really needs to be run more like a business at this point," says the 51-year-old Lino Lakes, Minn., resident, a former business owner who fixes printers for a living. The United States faces a lot of serious problems, such as the growing federal deficit, and the fact that Trump brings a businessman's sensibility to solving them is a plus, Kinney says.

Nike makes a full-court press

Mar 21, 2017

March Madness is upon us and college basketball teams aren’t the only ones competing. The games are also a battleground for shoe and apparel brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. Nike still rules when it comes to sponsorships, but the competition is gaining.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Museums embrace virtual reality

Mar 21, 2017
Adrienne Hill

Between the megamouth shark, the bison diorama, and gangs of excited school kids, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has added a virtual reality exhibit called theBlu.

For an extra $10, on top of the $12 general admission fee, visitors can strap on a headset and explore the virtual ocean. A blue whale swims overhead. A school of silvery fish darts by. Visitors use virtual flashlights to explore the abyss.

Want to know when it’s a good time to go to the hospital? Seems it’s when the doctors are being watched. Every few years the accrediting agency known as the Joint Commission conducts random hospital inspections. A new study out in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine finds that mortality rates drop when the inspectors show up for their surprise visit.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Tasnim Shamma

The word "sanctuary" is being used these days to describe cities and organizations that show support for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and one place where that word has become a sticky topic is at Emory University in Atlanta.

That’s because any private school in Georgia that adopts “sanctuary policies” could lose state funding. So Emory's president Claire Sterk is opting to call the university a “safe harbor” instead.

In the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles from the nearest city, 60,000 Syrians are camped out along the Syrian and Jordanian border in what has become one of the biggest and most desperate refugee settlements in the region. Few outsiders have ever seen it.

NPR visited an area near the camp last week in a trip organized by the Jordanian military.

A tree crashed onto a group of people enjoying a swim at the base of a large waterfall in Ghana, and local authorities tell wire services that at least 17 people were killed in the freak accident.

The revelers got caught in a rainstorm on Sunday, according to a statement from the Minister of Tourism. She added that "many" were killed and injured, and that they were mostly student groups visiting the area.

Tomb Of Jesus Is Restored In Jerusalem

Mar 20, 2017

A restoration team Monday announced the completion of a historic renovation of one of Christianity's holiest sites — the shrine that, according to tradition, houses the tomb of Jesus.

The ornate shrine, called the Edicule, sits in the center of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the world's oldest churches, a 12th century building sitting on fourth century remains in Jerusalem's Old City.

According to Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian belief, the Edicule encases the ancient cave where Jesus' body was entombed and resurrected.

At an hours-long public hearing on Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his agency is investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, and he pushed back against President Trump's allegations that he was wiretapped by former President Barack Obama.

For three years, recreational pot has been legal in Colorado, but using it in public is still against the law. That will change this summer when pot clubs are slated to open.

A blinking "open" sign hangs on the outside of an old building in a dark industrial zone just outside the Denver city limits. When the front door opens, smoke billows out.

Inside is one of the state's few pot clubs, called iBake. Recently, members celebrated the anniversary of its opening.

Glassy-eyed patrons bounce off each other in the small space.

One of the themes that developed on Day 1 of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's hearings is that Democrats plan to make an issue of what they say is the Supreme Court's pro-business leanings. In their opening statements on Monday, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee argued that Gorsuch is likely to continue the trend.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island alleged that when the court's majority is made of Republican appointees, the narrow 5-4 decisions "line up to help corporations against humans."

Norway can be frigid. And the winters bring lots of darkness. But it's the happiest nation in world, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report.

Denmark comes in at #2, followed by Iceland and Switzerland. Finland takes 5th place. And, it turns out, these countries have more in common than a tolerance for cold.

Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper's and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.

FBI Director James Comey lit the fuse Monday on a political time bomb and no one — including him — knows how long it will take to burn or what kind of damage it may cause when it goes off.

Comey confirmed to members of Congress that his investigators are looking into possible collusion between the campaign that elected President Trump and the Russian government. In fact, he said, the FBI has been doing so since last July.

Fake news has been, well, in the news a lot lately. It seems no claim is too absurd to be aired.

For example, NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal has just become the fourth NBA star to make public remarks that he believes the Earth is flat, not round.

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