11:53pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Planet Money

H1-B Visas Applications As An Economic Indicator

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 7:19 am

The demand from American companies for high-skilled immigrants seems to be up this year. And that could mean something is about to change for the overall economy.

There is a cap on the number of visas the government gives out for these kind of workers every year. Lately, that cap has been 85,000. Demand always outstrips supply, but for the past couple of years, it has taken at least a few months to hit the quota. But this year, the H-1B visas might be gone by the end of the week.

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9:03pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Sports

Baseball Isn't Dead; It Just Takes More Work To Appreciate

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 7:19 am

Some say baseball is too slow and doesn't appeal to young people. Not Frank Deford.
Rodolfo Arguedas iStockphoto.com

It being the start of baseball season, that means we've been inundated by predictions — who'll win the divisions and the pennants and the World Series? We know two things on this subject. In every sport, at the start of the season, the experts are bound and determined to make these long-range predictions. And second, they are invariably wrong.

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9:00pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Newport Jazz Festival

Newport Jazz Festival: Darcy James Argue's Secret Society live

Airs Tuesday, April 2 at 9 p.m. The composer Darcy James Argue has steadily been rescuing the big band from the dustbin of anachronism through a combination of enormously open ears and a gigantic well of patience. But it's paying off: After the release of his debut album Infernal Machines, the greatness of the Secret Society became an open secret, and his "co-conspirators" have now recorded a much-anticipated sophomore album. Eighteen of them give us a taste, including a peek at the Brooklyn Babylon project, originally designed for live music and live painting.

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6:08pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Obama's Plan To Explore The Brain: A 'Most Audacious' Project

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 1:35 pm

A colored 3-D MRI scan of the brain's white matter pathways traces connections between cells in the cerebrum and the brainstem.
Tom Barrick, Chris Clark, SGHMS Science Source

President Obama has announced an ambitious plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain.

In a speech Tuesday, Obama said he will ask Congress for $100 million in 2014 to "better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember." Other goals include finding new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

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5:20pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

How To Get Rid Of Polio For Good? There's A $5 Billion Plan

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:56 pm

A child is immunized against polio at the health clinic in a farming village in northern Nigeria. The procedure involves pinching two drops of the vaccine into the child's mouth. For full protection, the child needs three doses, spaced out over time.
David Gilkey NPR

Polio is on the verge of being eliminated. Last year there were just over 200 cases of polio, and they occurred in just two remote parts of the world — northern Nigeria and the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border region.

A new $5.5 billion plan being pushed by the World Health Organization strives to eliminate polio entirely, phase out vaccination campaigns and secure polio vaccine stockpiles in case the virus somehow manages to re-emerge.

If the effort is successful, polio would be just the second disease in human history, after smallpox, to be eliminated by medical science.

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5:07pm

Tue April 2, 2013
The Two-Way

No April Fool's Joke: Samoa Air Charges Passengers By Weight

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:00 pm

A screen grab of Samoa Air's website.
www.samoaair.ws

OK, we've checked the date, and it's April 2, but this story from the Pacific island nation of Samoa left us scratching our heads: Samoa Air says it's charging passengers based on what they weigh.

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4:45pm

Tue April 2, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

How Close Is Doomsday?

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 2:40 pm

Mindaugas Kulbis AP

How close are we to the end? How close are we to being among the last humans to ever live? Depending on who you are — your religion, politics, relative degree of pessimism or optimism — that question is bound to bring up images of some particular kind of cataclysm. It could be an all-out nuclear exchange or a climate change-driven mass extinction. But what if there was a way of answering the doomsday question in the most generic way possible.

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4:38pm

Tue April 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Reality Often Rivals Fiction In Political Corruption Scandals

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 5:22 pm

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara outlines corruption charges against several New York politicians on Tuesday.
Richard Drew AP

The federal criminal complaint against New York politicians arrested after an FBI sting was a reminder of how often real-life political scandals can read like the imaginings of Hollywood screenwriters.

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4:03pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

China's Air Pollution Linked To Millions Of Early Deaths

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 1:25 pm

Men walk along a railway line in Beijing on Jan. 12, as air pollution reached hazardous levels.
Wang Zhao AFP/Getty Images

More than 1 million people are dying prematurely every year from air pollution in China, according to a new analysis.

"This is the highest toll in the world and it really reflects the very high levels of air pollution that exist in China today," says Robert O'Keefe of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, who presented the findings in Beijing this week.

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4:03pm

Tue April 2, 2013
Middle East

Members Of Assad's Sect Break Ranks With Syrian Regime

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:56 pm

A Syrian woman walks past a poster for President Bashar Assad in an Alawite-dominated neighborhood in the western city of Homs, on Jan. 11, 2012. Support among the president's own minority sect is waning.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

The Alawites of Syria were a poor, little-known Shiite minority until longtime dictator Hafez Assad, a member of the sect, rose to power in 1970. His son, President Bashar Assad, is now fighting to maintain that power in a country that has risen up against him. Now, even some Syrian Alawites say they are willing to denounce the regime, despite the risks.

A recent gathering in Cairo was much like other conferences hosted by the Syrian opposition — a flurry of activity in the hotel lobby, late-night conversations and lots of cigarettes.

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