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The Salt
2:28 am
Thu December 20, 2012

The Paradox And Mystery Of Our Taste For Salt

Bali sea salt and a spoonful of Hawaiian red alae salt.
Jim Noelker AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:37 am

Salt is one of those dangerously tasty substances. We add the magical crystals of sodium chloride to almost everything that we cook or bake, and according to many public health experts, we add too much.

They want us to cut back, to lower our risk of heart attacks or strokes.

Yet when you really start looking for ways to do this, you run into a paradox and a scientific puzzle.

First, the paradox. Too much salt may kill us, but our bodies need some of it to survive.

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Europe
2:25 am
Thu December 20, 2012

In A French Village, Protection From The Apocalypse

Doomsayers claim the French village of Bugarach, population 200, will be spared when the world supposedly ends Friday.
Guillaume Horcajuelo EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:37 am

Friday is the last day of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar, sparking talk about the possible end of the world. About two years ago, a rumor began circulating on the Internet that the French village of Bugarach, population 200, would be the only place to survive this apocalypse.

But despite many news stories of people flocking to the village, less than two weeks before "doomsday," there was no one on the streets. Houses were shuttered against the cold.

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Music News
2:25 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Joe Strummer's Life After Death

Joe Strummer performs with his solo project, The Latino Rockabilly War, in 1989. The Clash frontman died of heart failure in December 2002.
Mark Baker Sony Music Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:37 am

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It's All Politics
4:07 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Robert Bork's Supreme Court Nomination 'Changed Everything, Maybe Forever'

Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, Sept. 15, 1987.
John Duricka AP

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 7:31 pm

Robert Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination provoked a lasting partisan divide over judicial nominations, died Wednesday at age 85.

A former federal judge and conservative legal theorist, he subsequently became a hero to modern-day conservatives. And as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, he played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis. In what came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the attorney general and deputy attorney general refused President Nixon's firing order and quit.

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Shots - Health News
3:35 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

How The U.S. Stopped Malaria, One Cartoon At A Time

The U.S. Army distributed a monthly pinup calendar to GIs, which encouraged them to protect themselves from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Cartoon by Frank Mack for the U.S. Army. Courtesy of the Images from the History of Medicine.

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 12:28 pm

"Her business is robbery and coldblooded murder ... they call her Annie Awful ... She's a thief and a killer. She stops at nothing."

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Planet Money
3:31 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Without Magic, Santa Would Need 12 Million Employees

Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 3:31 pm

There are 760 million Christian children in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. Suppose Santa delivers one gift to each child. What kind of delivery workforce would Santa need?

We couldn't get an interview with Santa. But we did get Paul Tronsor from FedEx and Mike Mangeot from UPS. They helped us go through the numbers.

Here are just a few of the positions Santa would need to fill to pull off Christmas. (Note: For the complete list, see the graphic at the bottom.)

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NPR's Backseat Book Club
3:31 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In 'Red Pyramid,' Kid Heroes Take On Ancient Egypt

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 4:43 pm

If there was a recipe for the best-selling writer Rick Riordan, it would go something like this — start with a love of storytelling, fold in more than a decade of teaching middle school English, combine that with two sons of his own who don't quite share their dad's love of literature, and marinate all of that with a deep passion for mythology.

Riordan has sold tens of millions of kids' books. He hit pay dirt with the Percy Jackson series — it's about an everyday kid who has superhero powers because he's the secret son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

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World
3:29 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

In Pakistan, Tax Evaders Are Everywhere — Government Included

An investigative report found that less than a third of Pakistani lawmakers filed tax returns for 2011. The report said Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, photographed in Paris in December, did not file a return, though his spokesman says he did.
Kenzo Tribouillard AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 7:32 pm

Tax evasion is a chronic problem in Pakistan — only about 2 percent of the population is registered in the tax system, and the government collects just 9 percent of the country's wealth in taxes, one of the lowest rates in the world.

But now a new investigative report is making headlines. It says that just a third of the country's 446 federal lawmakers bothered to file income tax returns last year.

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World Cafe
2:23 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Sea Wolf On World Cafe

Sea Wolf.
Courtesy of the artist

Alex Brown Church began performing under the name Sea Wolf in 2003, after writing a handful of songs that didn't fit the rock band he played with at the time. Although Church has roped in a supporting cast of musicians to perform his songs, Sea Wolf is still very much his baby.

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Music Reviews
12:57 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Tunes To 'Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard' To

Music by guitarist Fields Ward appears in the new collection Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard: Hard Time, Good Time & End Time Music, 1923-1936.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:32 pm

The first thing to note about the collection of old-timey music Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard is that it resulted from a record-discovery event that happens less and less often, and soon will likely never happen again. The music was recorded between 1923 and 1936. Most of the sides on the set are taken from 78s collected by the late Don Wahle of Louisville, Ky., and rescued from Dumpster destruction in 2010 by compiler Nathan Salsburg. Nineteen of the songs have never been reissued. Piles of moldy vinyl left behind by the deceased were once commonplace. No longer.

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