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Podcast title The latest stories from www.wnyc.org
Website URL http://www.wnyc.org/
Description The latest stories from www.wnyc.org
Updated Wed, 19 Feb 2020 20:18:29 -0500
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Link to this podcast The latest stories from www.wnyc.org

Episodes

1. Trump Names Richard Grenell Acting Director Of National Intelligence
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


2. Nevada Democratic Primary Debate: Live Updates And Analysis
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It's showtime in Las Vegas. Democratic presidential candidates are debating for the ninth time for the 2020 campaign, but it's former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's first time on stage.

Bloomberg is already drawing fire, and how he responds to attacks on stage will be a big test for his campaign, which has been focusing efforts on the March 3 Super Tuesday contests.

There will be five others on stage: Former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Businessman Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard are still in the race but didn't qualify.

Heading into the debate, Sanders is leading in the polls, and Warren is slipping.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


3. Latest Newscast From the WNYC Newsroom
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4. Musician Plays Her Violin During Brain Surgery
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As doctors in London performed surgery on Dagmar Turner's brain, the sound of a violin filled the operating room.

The music came from the patient on the operating table. In a video from the surgery, the violinist moves her bow up and down as surgeons behind a plastic sheet work to remove her brain tumor.

The King's College Hospital surgeons woke her up in the middle of the operation in order to ensure they did not compromise parts of the brain necessary for playing the violin, such as parts that control precise hand movements and coordination.

"We knew how important the violin is to Dagmar, so it was vital that we preserved function in the delicate areas of her brain that allowed her to play," Keyoumars Ashkan, a neurosurgeon at King's College Hospital, said in a press release.

Turner, 53, learned that she had a slow-growing tumor in 2013. Late last year, doctors found that it had become more aggressive and the violinist decided to have surgery to remove it.

In an interview with ITV News, Turner recalled doctors telling her, "Your tumor is on the right-hand side, so it will not affect your right-hand side, it will affect your left-hand side."

"And I'm just like, 'Oh, hang on, this is my most important part. My job these days is playing the violin,' " she said, making a motion of pushing down violin strings with her left hand.

Ashkan, an accomplished pianist, and his colleagues came up with a plan to keep the hand's functions intact.

"Prior to Dagmar's operation they spent two hours carefully mapping her brain to identify areas that were active when she played the violin and those responsible for controlling language and movement," the hospital statement said. Waking her up during surgery then allowed doctors to monitor whether those parts were sustaining damage.

"The violin is my passion; I've been playing since I was 10 years old," Turner said in the hospital press release. "The thought of losing my ability to play was heart-breaking but, being a musician himself, Prof. Ashkan understood my concerns."

The surgery was a success, Ashkan said: "We managed to remove over 90 percent of the tumour, including all areas suspicious of aggressive activity, while retaining full function of her left hand."

While it's rare for a patient to play their instrument during brain surgery, there have been other cases. For example, in July 2016 a team of scientists removed a tumor from a music teacher's brain as he played the saxophone.

Brad Mahon, a cognitive neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University, was one of the scientists who mapped the music teacher's brain. Mahon said that surgery was particularly intense because it was in an area of the brain that "can actually lead to loss of the knowledge of how to conduct music, how to understand music." Ultimately, that surgery was successful too.

Mahon said the basic features of an "awake craniotomy" — the type of brain surgery where patients are awake in order to avoid damage to critical brain areas — have remained largely unchanged for decades. For example, doctors have long used simple tests such as asking a patient to name what they're seeing in pictures to make sure language ability is preserved.

But he said that doctors are now able to map the patient's brain activity in great detail before the surgery using an imaging technique called functional MRI. That means surgeons are coming into the operating room with far more information about a specific patient's brain.

That kind of information helps doctors tailor tests to a patient's particular needs. According to Mahon, an accountant once completed math problems during his surgery to make sure those abilities remained intact.

Brain mapping also can help determine what kinds of functions are at risk during a brain surgery. Having a "personalized brain map," Mahon said, matters a lot when surgeons are making "millimeter by millimeter decisions" that could determine whether a person can even communicate after an operation, let alone follow their passions.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


5. 2020/02/20 00:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

6. Optimistic signs over global Coronavirus crisis
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Description: Japan rejects criticism of its handling of the coronavirus cruise ship; More bad news for Boeing after debris is found in the fuel tanks of brand new 737 Max aircraft; Could ammonia prove the green alternative to diesel to transform the world's shipping industry?

7. What it’s like to be a service worker right now
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Two in 10 American workers are in the service industry. As part of “The United States of Work” series, we’re following a bartender in Portland, Oregon, and a hair stylist in Boise, Idaho. Plus: sinking toy sales, new producer price index numbers and what it’s like to build your own house.



8. Israel Is Eager To Annex West Bank Lands, But U.S. Says To Wait For Israeli Election
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President Trump's Mideast peace plan was expected to help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instantly fulfill a campaign promise to annex occupied land that Israelis and Palestinians have fought over for more than half a century.

But it didn't go as Netanyahu had hoped.

Trump's plan, announced on Jan. 28, would eventually give major swaths of the West Bank to Israel, but the administration offered a mixed message about the timing. Trump seemed to suggest annexation could happen immediately, while U.S. officials later advised Israel not to annex any land before Israeli elections on March 2.

Now, Netanyahu is lobbying the White House for a compromise, according to the leader of Israel's movement of hundreds of thousands of West Bank settlers.

David Alhayani, chairman of the Yesha Council, the top settler leadership organization, tells NPR that the prime minister is seeking the Trump administration's blessing for Israel to claim at least one settlement or area before Israelis go to the polls.

"Something. One step," says Alhayani, who meets regularly with Netanyahu and supports his right-wing Likud party. "If not, I'm afraid we will lose the election."

The White House had no comment. Netanyahu's office would not confirm any such lobbying efforts. "It's too soon to tell what the final outcome and timeline will be" of Trump's peace plan, says Evan Gary Cohen, the prime minister's international media adviser.

Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers live on land Israel captured in 1967. Palestinian leaders and most countries consider the settlements illegal. Last November, the Trump administration reversed decades of U.S. policy announcing it no longer considered Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law.

The Jordan Valley, where Alhayani lives and works, would be a strategic spot for Israel, near the border with Jordan and filled with chalky desert mountains and palm trees full of medjool dates. Annexing this land would be an explosive move that Palestinians see as killing off their quest for a state of their own.

The Trump Mideast plan envisions about 30% of the West Bank — including all Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley — becoming part of Israel. Israel also would get to keep most of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians demand for their future capital. It also proposes a Palestinian state comprising a disjointed patchwork of lands connected by roads, bridges and tunnels. The plan drew a strong rebuke from Palestinians. A recent poll said 94% of Palestinians reject the Trump plan.

Though the plan tilts heavily in Israel's favor, and Netanyahu has enthusiastically endorsed it, it has met with mixed reactions by Netanyahu's supporters in Israel. Some Israelis have even called for him to ditch it.

Immediate recognition?

The day before Trump presented the initiative, Netanyahu huddled with Israeli settler leaders at the U.S. presidential guest house across from the White House. He had just met with Trump earlier that day, and sought to rally the settlers' support for Trump's plan.

Netanyahu said Trump would allow Israel to declare immediate sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank. (Israeli and U.S. officials avoid calling it "annexation"; instead they describe it as recognizing Israel's "sovereignty" over areas it captured in 1967.)

"I never saw him so excited," says Alhayani,who was at the meeting. "I told him, 'Prime Minister, when it will be?' He said to me, 'David, maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow.' "

The other half of the plan was harder for them to swallow: the eventual formation of a Palestinian state, even if Israel would get security and border control over it. Most of Netanyahu's own party and political supporters oppose any kind of Palestinian state. Alhayani says such a state would leave Israel exposed to attacks and threaten its existence.

"We can't take any more risks because we [endured] the Holocaust," Alhayani says. "I told him, 'Prime Minister Netanyahu, a plan that will bring a Palestinian state — you have to take the plan and throw it in the garbage.'"

The following day at the White House, standing beside Netanyahu, Trump said U.S. and Israeli officials would map out the areas Israel would annex so the U.S. could recognize it "immediately." U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Israel did not need to wait, and Netanyahu's spokesman tweeted that annexation would be brought to a vote quickly in the Israeli Cabinet.

Then the spokesman deleted the tweet, as presidential adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview with analyst Ian Bremmer that Israel would be expected to wait until the mapping process is complete and a new Israeli government is in place following March elections.

Ambassador Friedman recently tweeted: "Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the Plan & American recognition."

Risky move

Kushner, in charge of developing the Mideast peace plan, may have sensed an immediate annexation would jeopardize his efforts to rally Arab states' support for the initiative and their help bringing Palestinian leaders to the negotiating table.

"[Kushner] understands that an immediate move by Israel to annex these territories will pretty much strangle those efforts to recruit Arab support in the crib," says former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. "That left Netanyahu a little bit hung out to dry, but he had to make an adjustment to this now more definitive U.S. position."

Another calculation: Israeli domestic politics. Israel had two inconclusive elections in the past year. Netanyahu is neck and neck with a centrist rival, former army general Benny Gantz — who says he does not want to rush into annexation.

"Trump would not have rolled this plan out when he did if he didn't think it would provide some benefit to Netanyahu. But it was also clear ... that he can't be sure Netanyahu is actually going to remain prime minister," Shapiro says.

Settler leader Alhayani accuses Kushner of sabotage for holding back annexation moves.

"Don't take a knife and put it in the back of Netanyahu. Maybe Netanyahu will lose the election because of that," says Alhayani.

Annexation is Netanyahu's central election pledge to his right-wing and settler supporters. Now many settlers fear it may never happen.

Last week, hundreds of young religious Jewish settlers rallied outside the prime minister's residence, chanting "sovereignty now," and demanding he ignore the White House and declare Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank immediately.

Even as they insisted on urgency, the demonstrators took the long view on their quest to cement their grip over the disputed West Bank. They sang a favorite religious chant in Hebrew: "The eternal people aren't afraid — aren't afraid of a long road."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


9. 2020/02/19 23:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

10. #973: Indicate This
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Description: From our daily podcast The Indicator: How Amazon Prime packages reach you so damn fast? And why Lancaster, PA became the refugee capital of America?

11. Modern Adaptations of 'Dracula' and 'Frankenstein'
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Playwright Kate Hamill joins us to discuss her feminist version of “Dracula,” and actor Stephanie Berry joins us to discuss playing both Victor Frankenstein and The Creature in a new adaptation of “Frankenstein,” both at the Classic Stage Company through March 8.



12. Syria war: Turkish operation in Idlib ‘only a matter of time’
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Description: The UN has warned that the conflict in Syria is on the verge of a further dangerous escalation, as fighting draws close to densely- populated areas in Idlib. But Russia has scuppered a statement by the Security Council. Also on the programme: A musician performs while surgeons remove a brain tumour; and billionaire Michael Bloomberg joins his Democratic Party rivals for his first televised debate. Picture: Turkish troops patrol in the town of Atareb in the rebel-held western countryside of Syria's Aleppo province on February 19, 2020. Credit: AREF TAMMAWI/AFP via Getty Images.

13. 2020/02/19 22:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

14. What's A 'Super-Spreading Event'? And Has It Happened With COVID-19?
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Last month, a British man went to a conference in Singapore, then on a ski trip to the French Alps.

What he didn't know when he arrived in the Alps was that he was infected with the virus behind the COVID-19 outbreak.

During his stay at a ski village, it appears he infected 11 other people, who subsequently traveled on to the U.K. and Spain, the World Health Organization says.

Early estimates for the new coronavirus suggest that the average infected person spreads the disease to two to three other people. But this man's ski trip caused a cluster of cases.

Some have described this cluster as a "super-spreading event" — in which an individual infects an unusually high number of people. Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO's executive director for health emergencies, said last week that it's way "too early" to call it that — and that officials believe they caught the situation before it ignited a chain that could have spread COVID-19 throughout Europe.

WHO doesn't want to use the term "super-spreader" because it stigmatizes individuals.

These types of cases are a concern to global health researchers because they echo a pattern seen in past epidemics. Super-spreading has triggered explosive chains of transmission in other outbreaks such as SARS, MERS and Ebola.

"The poster child for a super-spreading event happened during the SARS outbreak, where a huge proportion of cases was traced back to the Metropole Hotel," says Jessica Metcalf, a demographer at Princeton University. SARS is the acronym for severe acute respiratory syndrome, a disease also caused by a coronavirus.

Back in 2003, a doctor who had treated SARS patients checked into a room on the 9th floor of the Hong Kong hotel. At least 13 other people on his floor got sick, and when his floormates left the country, they spread the disease to Canada, Vietnam and Singapore. A woman returning to Canada then infected her son, leading to more than 100 new cases in the Toronto hospital where he was treated.

In a 2015 outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in South Korea, about two-thirds of the transmission came from just two super-spreading events in hospitals, which fast-tracked the spread of the virus, says Adam Kucharski, who researches the dynamics of infectious disease at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"In that situation, if you [could have] avoid[ed] those two events happening, you've got rid of most of your outbreak," he says.

In diseases driven by super-spreading, a rule of thumb is the "20/80 rule" — around 20% of individuals are responsible for at least 80% of the infections, though the actual numbers vary by disease, Metcalf says. But a pattern in which outbreaks are driven by relatively few cases holds across several diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis and typhoid, according to researchers who study disease patterns.

There's a lot that's still unknown about what causes super-spreading. Researchers who study it say it's a combination of factors that are hard to disentangle.

Max Lau models infectious disease dynamics at Emory University. From his work on Ebola transmission during the 2014-2015 epidemic in West Africa, he thinks that social behavior plays a big part.

Lau found that super-spreading events tended to happen more around people under 15 or over 45. That could be because "the younger ones or the older ones tend to get more people to visit and care for them when they get sick," he says.

He also thinks biology plays a role. Individuals are more likely to infect others when they're carrying and shedding a lot of virus.

New infections among patients and staff often happen in hospitals, where people go because they're really sick. Their immune systems are weakened, and they can carry a greater volume of the virus than other patients might, making them more infectious. They're also getting hospital procedures that might expose others to their blood or lung fluids.

Both biological and behavioral factors contributed to a 2014 Ebola super-spreading event at a funeral in Sierra Leone. A popular healer treated Ebola patients from an outbreak in neighboring Guinea, contracted the disease and died. Hundreds of mourners came to her funeral and burial.

Bodies of people who recently died can still shed the Ebola virus, says Lau. And in many cultures, including Sierra Leone's, it's traditional for mourners to wash, dress and have direct contact with the body. More than 300 Ebola cases were traced to the healer's funeral, which soon exploded into an outbreak that overwhelmed hospitals in southeastern Sierra Leone.

Another contributor to high transmission events is the local environment, such as stale air in enclosed spaces or a lot of people sharing the same space.

The number of people infected in any situation depends on how the risk factors line up, says David Heymann, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It's how infectious a person is, what setting they're in, how they behave around others — and whether the people they're interacting with, including health workers, wash their hands frequently and take other measures to protect themselves from infection.

Super-spreading events may be happening with the new coronavirus but don't seem to be causing explosive outbreaks as they did in the early days of SARS, says Jamie Lloyd-Smith, who studies how diseases spread at the University of California, Los Angeles. But why? "Is it a biological difference between the two viruses?" he says, "Or [have] we actually learned some things about how to deal with these viruses and infection control?"

It's a question that China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention is pondering, based on early conclusions from a new report from this week: "To date, there is no evidence of a super-spreader event occurring in any of the Chinese health facilities serving COVID-19 patients," the report states. "However, we do not know whether this is due to the nature of the virus itself or whether these events have been successfully prevented."

To try to stop super-spreading events, public health officials say it's important to try to find cases early to figure out who else was exposed and to keep sick people away from those who aren't.

These are strategies that date back to the 1800s, but they have worked to contain past epidemics, including SARS in 2004, says WHO. These common-sense strategies are the best way they know to stop a new disease from spreading.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


15. Pop Smoke, Rising New York Rapper, Dead At 20
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Bashar Jackson, better known as the rapper Pop Smoke, has died. He was 20 years old. The news was confirmed to NPR in a statement from Republic Records, a label Jackson had worked with.

Jackson's cause of death was not confirmed, though in a press conference today, LAPD Captain Steve Lurie said that "at 4:55 this morning," LAPD officers received a phone call "from back east" that a house in the Hollywood Hills had been broken into, and that when officers arrived on the scene they discovered a shooting victim. The victim was then transported to Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

"We are devastated by the unexpected and tragic loss of Pop Smoke," Republic Records' statement reads. "Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans, as we mourn this loss together."

Jackson was raised in Canarsie, Brooklyn, growing up in a neighborhood and moment defined by cultural exchange. He was raised in a Panamanian household, he lived around West Indians, he played African drums in church and his first love as a recording artist was a beat from a U.K. producer who goes by 808Melo. That beat turned into Jackson's first song, "MPR," which he released in December 2018. Even in that early work, you could hear what millions more would gravitate towards over the next year: Jackson had a voice— billowing and ghoulish, scorched and scarily effortless. And his ear for beats was unlike any other in the nascent New York drill scene, a regional bubble of rappers taking on propulsive drum patterns with gritty street talk. Jackson dared to rap with a thick Brooklyn accent over grime-inflected beats with bass lines that sounded like transmissions from another planet.

The lodestar for a New York drill hit may forever be Jackson's "Welcome To The Party." The city typically has its own song of the summer every year, and "Welcome To The Party" was the runaway favorite in 2019. A bludgeoning ode to excess, the single — which received remixes from Nicki Minaj, ASAP Ferg, Meek Mill and more — catapulted Jackson into the upper echelon of the city's rap talent. A deal with Republic Records followed soon after, as did his debut mixtape, Meet The Woo, and his second national hit, "Dior."

With Jackson's rapid success came increased attention from the NYPD. The rapper had a history of crime, but he and others from the New York drill scene were trying to come clean as they entered the spotlight. Still, during 2019's Rolling Loud NYC, the first time the rap-focused festival landed in the genre's birthplace, the NYPD removed Jackson, Sheff G, 22Gz and two more of the drill scene's rising rappers from the lineup.

As drill continues to rise in popularity, Jackson may be remembered as the face of the scene's ongoing battle with the NYPD.

The situation at Rolling Loud didn't slow him down; if anything, it seemed to put a battery in his back. Meet The Woo2, released just weeks ago on Feb. 7, was a thrilling update to the first tape's sound, debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It's easy to say that it sounds like a rapper mastering his form but the truth is that Pop Smoke's music was distinctly his own, defying pat categorization or classification.

Additional reporting by Andrew Flanagan.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


16. Chaos, Corruption & Trump's Secrets At Deutsche Bank
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Description: In his book 'Dark Towers,' David Enrich traces Deutsche Bank's shadowy practices, from laundering money for Russian oligarchs to the violation of international sanctions. Enrich, who is the finance editor at the 'New York Times,' also talks about the bank's long relationship with Donald Trump, and the suspicious activity that has gone unchecked.

Also, critic John Powers reviews the Amazon series 'Hunters' starring Al Pacino.

17. Decades Of Deceit On The Extent Of Grumman's Long Island Pollution
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For 34 years, communities around the Nassau County town of Bethpage have been wary of their drinking water thanks to the so-called "Grumman Plume." Long considered one of New York's most pressing environmental crises, the miles-long plume of contaminated groundwater sources has stoked fears of cancer and other illnesses in communities living in the shadow of the former aerospace giant's Long Island facility.

Now, new evidence suggests that Grumman and government regulators knew about the problems caused by the pollutants decades before it became public.

A trove of documents uncovered by Newsday has revealed that the company knew it was polluting the region's groundwater supply as early as the 1950s, while continuing to publicly deny any liability. According to investigative reporter Paul LaRocco, that lack of transparency slowed down clean-up attempts while the plume was still in its infancy.

"It's caused a lot of stress and worry for residents in that area in recent decades as it has continued to grow without a comprehensive plan to contain and eliminate the contaminants," LaRocco told WNYC host Sean Carlson.

For the full conversation, click "Listen."



18. The 'American Sherlock' Was A Pioneer Of Forensic Science
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


19. Nevada Democrats Hope To Avoid Iowa Fiasco In Their Own Caucus Saturday
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


20. A Look At The Newly Pardoned Michael Milken, A 'Junk Bond King' Turned Philanthropist
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21. Behind Michael Bloomberg's History Of Sexism And Sex Discrimination Complaints
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


22. The Rembrandt That Was Fake, Then Real Again
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


23. 6 Democrats Debate In Nevada Before This Weekend's Caucus
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24. Scientists Announce Fresh Experiments On Antimatter
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


25. California Legislature Considers Formal Apology For World War II Japanese Internment
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26. Archaeologists Say Border Wall Cuts Through Native American Burial Sites In Arizona
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27. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Speaks Out After Prison Sentence Shortened
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Copyright 2020 WBEZ Chicago. To see more, visit WBEZ Chicago.


28. In Colombian City Of Cali, A Legacy Of Salsa Music — And A Tangled History To Match
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


29. Rapper Pop Smoke, 20, Has Died
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


30. Frustration In Florida As State Announces Toll Road Development In Rural Areas
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


31. Use Of U.S. Dollar In Venezuela Sustains Some Economic Activity Under U.S. Sanctions
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32. Trump Rallies In Arizona And Colorado, Thanking Vulnerable Sens. McSally And Gardner
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33. Baseball Unrest Persists As Angry Players Opine On Houston Astros Scandal
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Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


34. 2020/02/19 21:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

35. Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh Wants You To Stop Telling Women To Smile
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Description: "We've been socialized to be certain ways. I think a lot of men are performing a certain type of masculinity that they've been taught," Tatyana Fazlalizadeh says.

Want to support 1A? Give to your local public radio station and subscribe to this podcast. Have questions? Find us on Twitter @1A.

36. The New Electoral Map
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Charlie Mahtesian, senior politics editor at Politico, talks about how the electoral map has shifted since the last presidential election, and how that's playing out in how candidates are campaigning this year.



37. Coronavirus Update: Diamond Princess Passengers Leave Ship As Expert Slams Quarantine
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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Roughly 600 passengers left the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, on Wednesday, as a controversial shipwide coronavirus quarantine finally began to wind down.

All of those passengers had been tested for the COVID-19 disease by the Japanese health ministry, according to cruise operator Princess Cruises. As they left, they were met in the terminal by the cruise line's president, Jan Swartz.

Several hundred other passengers who aren't taking repatriation flights to their home countries are expected to leave the ship on Thursday.

The quarantine has been heavily criticized for failing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 among passengers and crew. Even as hundreds of people disembarked, Japanese officials announced 79 more confirmed cases aboard the ship. And in at least one case, a family was informed of a positive test result just hours before they were scheduled to disembark.

A total of 621 people from the cruise ship have now been confirmed to have the newly identified coronavirus — or about 20% of the 3,011 people who had been tested as of Wednesday.

Japanese expert criticizes cruise ship protocols

Some of the sharpest criticism of Japan's handling of the stricken cruise ship came from Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease specialist at Kobe University who posted a video about his visit to the Diamond Princess on Tuesday.

After getting a look around the ship's interior, Iwata said, it "turned out that the cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of the infection control."

"There was no distinction between the green zone, which is free of infection, and the red zone, which is potentially contaminated by virus," he added.

Iwata's comments quickly drew attention in Japan. In response to questions about red and green zones on the ship, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato insisted that sections of the ship have been "properly managed," The Japan Times reports. It adds that another government official said the crew had taken "thorough measures" to stop infections from spreading.

In the YouTube video, Iwata called the ship's environment "completely chaotic," saying that "people could come and go" regardless of whether they were wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves, face masks and other gear. He added that one medical officer had seemingly given up protecting herself and others, believing she was likely already infected.

"I dealt with lots of infections — more than 20 years," Iwata said. "I was in Africa dealing with the Ebola outbreak. I was in other countries dealing with the cholera outbreak. I was in China in 2003 to deal with SARS."

In those outbreaks, Iwata said, "I never had fear of getting infections myself ... because I know how to protect myself and how to protect others."

"But inside Princess Diamond, I was so scared," he added. "I was so scared of getting COVID-19 because there was no way to tell where the virus is."

Criticizing a lack of carefulness on the ship, Iwata said there was also no clear leadership role by medical experts.

"There was no single professional infection control person inside the ship, and there was nobody in charge of infection prevention as a professional. The bureaucrats were in charge of everything," he said.

When he raised those concerns with a senior officer of Japan's health ministry, Iwata added, the official was "very unhappy" with his suggestions for improving protections on the ship.

In his video, Iwata also noted that Japan, unlike the U.S. and other countries, does not have an agency with the specific task of combating disease and infections, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and similar agencies in other countries.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the health minister told a news conference late Wednesday that Iwata had violated the terms under which he boarded the Diamond Princess and had been ordered to leave.

Passengers face new quarantines and restrictions

Roughly 3,700 passengers and crew were aboard the Diamond Princess when it pulled into the Yokohama terminal south of Tokyo.

People who have tested positive for the virus have been taken off the ship and sent to local hospitals — and their traveling partners and close contacts put under a fresh 14-day quarantine order.

Those passengers who have been declared free of the virus and are leaving the ship for the first time in two weeks face a confusing array of circumstances. Many will be forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon their return home — reflecting a lack of trust in the effectiveness of the ship's quarantine. Others can remain in Japan under their own recognizance but are still barred from returning home for two weeks.

The family of passenger Aun Na Tan of Australia was hit with an eleventh-hour setback when her daughter, Kaitlyn, tested positive for COVID-19. They got the news after stacking their luggage near the front door, awaiting their turn to leave the ship.

"It wasn't a pretty sight for me and Kaitlyn," Tan wrote, describing the impact of the bad news. "The boys were calmer. We have bounced back now."

The good news, she added, is that her daughter hasn't developed symptoms of the respiratory illness. And Tan said she and her husband and son planned to stay with her daughter.

"We decided not to be separated," Tan said on Instagram. "They are trying to find a hospital which will take all 4 of us."

The embassies of Canada, Australia and Hong Kong are arranging for their citizens to travel home via charter flights this week, Princess Cruises said Wednesday. All of those governments and the U.S. are requiring a second quarantine, the cruise line says.

The U.S. government brought more than 300 American passengers back stateside on chartered repatriation flights early this week. Those passengers are now quarantined at military bases in California and Texas — and 14 of them who tested positive for COVID-19 are in hospitals.

Americans who stayed aboard are on temporary no-fly list

Some 61 U.S. citizens were not flown home and remained on board the Diamond Princess. The Department of Homeland Security has temporarily put those Americans on a federal no-fly list to bar them from traveling to the U.S., the CDC says.

"This action has been taken because you are reasonably suspected of having had an exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) while onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship," the CDC said in a letter to the passengers.

Anyone who tries to subvert the travel ban by flying first to Mexico or Canada "will be stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials," the CDC adds.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

#day15#disembark#COVID19 VICTORY! 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻🏆🏆#HanginthereDiamondPrincess#coronaviruspic.twitter.com/pvD6fsEJ0U

— Yardley Wong (@yardley_wong) February 19, 2020



38. Hunt For New Coronavirus Treatments Includes Gene-Silencing And Monoclonal Antibodies
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Viral infections can be very hard to treat. Just ask anyone who has a bad case of the flu.

But that's not deterring research groups around the world from looking for an effective therapy against the new coronavirus, although they know it won't be easy.

"Every virus is sort of like a dysfunctional family," says Dr. Mark Denison, a virologist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "They're dysfunctional in their own unique ways."

There are two basic approaches to stopping viral infections. One is to block an enzyme the virus needs either to make copies of itself or infect cells. The other is to make a monoclonal antibody, based on a recovered patient's immune response.

Researchers are already testing the first idea — with an experimental, broad-acting antiviral drug known as Remdesivir, which works by gumming up a virus's ability to replicate.

The drug is being tested in China on patients who have COVID-19. A study published just last week found that Remdesivir successfully reduced respiratory symptoms in rhesus monkeys exposed to another coronavirus that causes serious disease — Middle East respiratory syndrome.

In other work, the biopharmaceutical company Sirnaomics is hoping to use a gene-silencing technique known as RNA interference to turn off key genes in the new coronavirus. But first, the company must identify viral genes to target.

"We are currently testing 150 of them using cell-based culture," says Patrick Lu, Sirnaomics president and CEO. "We are working with groups in the U.S. and China."

Some drugs that are already through the FDA approval process may also have the desired blocking effect on one of the new virus's critical enzymes, scientists say.

The second basic approach is to go after the virus with molecules derived from the immune system. The idea is to make what are called monoclonal antibodies, which are tailored proteins that are known to stop a particular virus.

That's the approach of a Canadian biotech firm called AbCellera.

"We're trying to identify antibodies from patients who have recovered from infection," says Ester Falconer, head of research and development at AbCellera, "because their finely tuned immune systems have already figured out a way to clear the virus."

AbCellera is part of the Pandemic Prevention Platform, a program run by the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The company has developed a rapid way to analyze the blood from a recovered patient.

"We can very quickly — in less than a day — look through many millions of different immune cells," Falconer says, and find the antibodies that can be turned into a monoclonal drug therapy.

The biotech firm Regeneron is also looking for such antibodies. To find them, the company is using mice that have been given what amounts to a human immune system.

Regeneron's Christos Kyratsous says these mice make antibodies when exposed to a virus like the coronavirus — but they don't make mouse antibodies.

"They are basically making fully human antibodies," Kyratsous says. "We've created a mini human immune response in a mouse."

They've begun exposing the mice to a virus that mimics the new coronavirus.

"The mice are mounting an immune response against these components as we speak," Kyratsous says. "Within the next few weeks, we should be able to start harvesting antibodies out of these mice and testing them" to see which ones will make the most effective drug.

Vanderbilt's Mark Denison says it's not enough just to stop the virus — you also have to stop the damage to the lungs caused by the virus. Denison says it's tempting to try using anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids, but that can actually make things worse.

"If we understood ways that the coronavirus has caused lung disease, we might be able to block that damage while we're treating the virus," Denison says.

He's confident that understanding will come. The recent outbreak, he says, has underscored the need to come up with new ideas about how to treat outbreaks caused by new viruses, and he's optimistic new approaches will be found.

"I don't think about a decade," he says. "I think about this in terms of right now we're in a position to try to move forward quickly with these ideas.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


39. 2020/02/19 20:00 GMT
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40. 2020/02/19 19:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.

41. As FBI Tackles Chinese Espionage, Some Fear A New Red Scare
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Chinese espionage is a real problem for this country. But is the FBI overreacting to Chinese theft of intellectual property, and creating a new red scare? Peter Waldman, Larry Diamond and Xi Xiaoxing join Robert Siegel.



42. Building The Bighorn Sheep Population In West Texas
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The mountains of west Texas are unlike any other part of the state, and so are the animals you find there, such as desert bighorn sheep. Their massive curlicue horns make them unmistakable for those lucky enough to see one.

After disappearing from the state in the 1960s, there are about 1,500 bighorns in Texas now thanks to a relocation program. As the Texas Standard’s Michael Marks (@michaelpmarks) reports, maintaining the population requires a hands-on approach.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


43. How 2020 Candidates Compare On Foreign Policy
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Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi), foreign affairs correspondent for POLITICO, talks to host Tonya Mosley about where the Democratic primary candidates come down on foreign policy issues.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


44. Amid A Flood Of Sex Abuse Lawsuits, Boy Scouts of America Files For Bankruptcy
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Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy after years of declining enrollment and mounting allegations of widespread sexual abuse. Is this the death knell for the organization? Cara Kelly, Marci Hamilton, Alvin Townley and Col. Randy Rizor join Robert Siegel.



45. The Great Reclining Debate Of 2020
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A video posted to Twitter of a plane spat has sparked debate over whether it’s ever OK to recline your seat on an airplane.

Here & Now transportation analyst Seth Kaplan gives us his take.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


46. A Vigilante Group Seeks Revenge On Nazis In Amazon's Garish 'Hunters'
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47. What To Watch For In Wednesday's Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate
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Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) and Democratic strategist Yvette Simpson (@ysimpsonpower) join Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson to set the stage for Wednesday night’s 2020 debate in Nevada, ahead of the caucuses on Saturday.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


48. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Receives Clemency From White House
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President Trump commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In 2011, Blagojevich was sentenced on corruption charges over his attempt to sell the state’s Senate seat vacated by then-President Barack Obama.

In total, Trump granted clemency to 11 individuals on Tuesday.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson speaks with Dave McKinney (@davemckinney), state politics reporter for WBEZ.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


49. Second COVID-19 Death Confirmed In Hong Kong
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COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected more than 75,000. Most of those cases have been from mainland China.

Outside of China, most cases have been in Hong Kong, where there has now been a second death in the territory from the virus. Hong Kong has sent two planes to Japan to evacuate about 300 residents who have been quarantined on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Those people will need to endure another two weeks of quarantine once they get back to Hong Kong where most of the quarantine beds are already full.

Here & Now‘s Tonya Mosley speaks with NPR’s global health and development correspondent Jason Beaubien (@jasonbnpr) in Hong Kong.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


50. 2020/02/19 18:00 GMT
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Description: The latest five minute news bulletin from BBC World Service.