Middle East
12:01 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Egypt, Tunisia Try To Turn Elections Into Democracy

Egypt is holding parliamentary elections, but the military remains the most powerful force in the country. Here, election officials take away ballot boxes from a polling station in Cairo on Nov. 29, 2011.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

One year ago, the people of Tunisia and Egypt rose up against their autocratic rulers and forced them from power. Those revolutions spread across the Arab World, leading to the region's biggest upheaval in decades. It's still not clear how these seismic changes will play out, and so far, the results have been mixed. Today, NPR begins a six-part series looking at where the region stands today. In our first story, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports on the elections in Egypt and Tunisia as these countries struggle to build democracies.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Mon January 2, 2012

What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits

U.S. soldiers at Long Binh base, northeast of Saigon, line up to give urine samples at a heroin detection center in June 1971, before departing for the U.S.
AP

Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 3:49 pm

It's a tradition as old as New Year's: making resolutions. We will not smoke, or sojourn with the bucket of mint chocolate chip. In fact, we will resist sweets generally, including the bowl of M &Ms that our co-worker has helpfully positioned on the aisle corner of his desk. There will be exercise, and the learning of a new language.

It is resolved.

So what does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior? The answer to this question brings us — strangely enough — to a story about heroin use in Vietnam.

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Science
12:01 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Biotech Firms Caught In Regulatory No Man's Land

Companies making genetically modified animals face a regulatory morass in this country. It's not always clear which federal agency has responsibility for regulating a particular animal, and even when one agency does take the lead, the approval process can drag on for years.

The companies say this uncertainty means their technologies may die without ever being given a chance.

Take the case of the British company Oxitec. It has developed a genetically modified mosquito that the company says can be used to combat a disease called dengue.

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First Listen
11:24 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

First Listen: The Little Willies, 'For The Good Times'

The Little Willies' new album, For the Good Times, comes out Jan. 10.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun January 1, 2012 10:31 pm

There's something remarkably genuine about country's old school, even though its artists (Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, et al) are so famous, they're known on a firs

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Education
4:47 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

An Amazing Trickeration?: Banished Words For 2012

During the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles on Aug. 28, 2011, singer Beyonce Knowles rubbed her stomach in the middle of the performance to reveal her baby bump. "Baby bump" is one of the words on Lake Superior State University's list of banished words this year.
Jemal Countess Getty Images

On New Year's day in 1977, Lake Superior State University in Michigan released its first "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness". Every year since then, it has taken nominations for words and phrases we should quit using in the coming year. Last year's list included such anti-favorites as "viral," "epic" and "refudiate."

In Washington, D.C., pedestrians nominated "ping me", "literally" used incorrectly, "bro," "hater," "hating," "totes" and "amazing."

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U.S.
4:24 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

A Quick Look At The Year Ahead

As the new year gets under way, we take a quick temperature check on some key areas to see what the prognosis might be. The topics: politics — domestic and global — and economics.

Education
3:45 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Physicists Seek To Lose The Lecture As Teaching Tool

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:32 pm

The lecture is one of the oldest forms of education there is.

"Before printing someone would read the books to everybody who would copy them down," says Joe Redish, a physics professor at the University of Maryland.

But lecturing has never been an effective teaching technique and now that information is everywhere, some say it's a waste of time. Indeed, physicists have the data to prove it.

When Eric Mazur began teaching physics at Harvard, he started out teaching the same way he had been taught.

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World
3:44 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Expect The Unexpected: Global Politics In 2012

The world will see big political changes with leadership shifts in China, Mexico, Russia, Europe, Egypt and particularly in the Middle East during 2012, according to David Rothkopf, a contributor to Foreign Policy Magazine.

"We're halfway through the initial wave of these [Middle Eastern] revolutions," says Rothkopf, adding that much more change is to come.

But it is possible that one of the biggest political changes won't happen in a physical location, but on the Internet. Rothkopf thinks that we could see a big escalation of cyber wars between nations.

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Economy
3:44 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Global Economy Might Improve In 2012

Originally published on Sun January 1, 2012 4:26 pm

What's the economic prognosis for 2012?

"It's kind of a meh, it's a B-minus," says Annie Lowrey, an economic policy reporter for The New York Times. "It's not going to be very good, but it's also not going to be very bad."

Lowrey says that most of the trends seen at the end of 2011 will continue into 2012. The unemployment rate is high, but improving. Economists are excited about the housing market because the low cost of housing has started a house-building mini-boom.

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Election 2012
3:44 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Will Republicans Sweep The 2012 Elections?

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., speaks to young Hispanic voters at a Nevada Democratic Party event on Nov. 11 in Las Vegas. Campaign staff and volunteers for President Obama are pushing the Hispanic vote in swing states like Nevada, which can help congressional candidates like Berkley in her run for re-election.
Julie Jacobson AP

Originally published on Sun January 1, 2012 4:15 pm

It's still too early to call the 2012 elections, but some political analysts are predicting that the odds are against congressional Democrats in 2012, though the presidential race may still be a toss-up.

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