At least seven Marines are dead and another seven are injured after an accident Monday night in Nevada in which a mortar round exploded inside an artillery tube, military officials tell NPR's Tom Bowman.

The Marines were taking part in a live-fire exercise, those officials say. "Shell fragments, I'm told, killed almost three [Marines] immediately," Tom says. The others died before they could be evacuated to a hospital.

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET: Deal Turned Down:

Cyprus lawmakers have rejected the bank tax bill, with zero votes in favor, 36 against and 19 abstentions, after a two-hour debate, The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies report. The bill's rejection throws into doubt the $13 billion international bailout package needed to forestall a default.

Construction was begun on 0.8 percent more homes in February than in January, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development say. Their report is another in a series of signs in recent months that the housing sector's rebound continues.

The number of "housing starts" was up 27.7 percent from February 2012.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

With less silk, lace and gold than many of his predecessors displayed, Pope Francis on Tuesday was inaugurated at a Holy Mass in St. Peter's Square during which he appealed to world leaders to be protectors of the poor and the environment, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast Desk.

While state-controlled media in Syria are claiming that opposition forces are responsible for what may have been a chemical weapon attack Tuesday in the city of Aleppo, rebel spokesman Qassim Saadeddine is telling Reuters that the opposition was "not behind this attack."

NPR's Tom Goldman is covering the World Baseball Classic tournament and sends along this report:

The ongoing battle between historians over who was really first in flight was rekindled last week.

New research advances the theory that a German immigrant in Connecticut is responsible for the first powered and controlled flight, rather than the Wright brothers in North Carolina.

But historians at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum are saying not so fast.

Finding The Evidence

A controversial government proposal to test the anthrax vaccine in children would be unethical without first conducting much more research, a presidential commission concluded Tuesday.

"The federal government would have to take multiple steps before anthrax vaccine trials with children could be ethically considered," Amy Gutmann, who chairs the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, tells Shots. "It would not be ethical to do it today."

Alzheimer's disease doesn't just steal memories. It takes lives.

The disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and figures released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association show that deaths from the disease increased by 68 percent between 2000 and 2010.

First supersized soda, now cigarettes: Under New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new plan, retailers in the city would have to keep tobacco products out of sight. The goal, he says, is to curb the rate of youth smoking.

The measure would make New York the first city in the nation to keep tobacco products out of sight in stores.

For years, many have dreamed of so-called smart guns, weapons that know their rightful owner and won't fire in the wrong hands. Think James Bond's gun in Skyfall.

A few major gun makers experimented with smart guns in the 1990s, but none came to market. Since then, it's been the domain of entrepreneurs and inventors.

Developers And Technologists

The Morris Missionary Baptist Church is nestled down a red dirt road, in Morris, Ga., set among pine trees near the Alabama state line. Next to the small white church lies its most recent grave site: that of Charles Foster Jr.

While the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., garnered a frenzy of news coverage, statistically, they are not the norm. Each year, thousands of gun homicides in the U.S. — 11,000 in 2010 alone — attract little or no media attention.

The FBI says it believes it knows who perpetrated the biggest art museum heist in history.

Wonder why you can't get a straight answer on how much a treatment or test will cost you? One big reason: State laws that allow hospitals and other providers of health care to keep costs hidden until they send you the bill.

A report card on price transparency released Monday gives 29 states an F and seven states a D for policies that keep patients and their families in the dark on prices. The failing grade went to those with practically no transparency requirements.

Ask Americans to point out Cyprus, and most would have to spin a globe several times before noticing the small island nation, east of Greece and south of Turkey.

But whether or not you have ever given a thought to the 1.1 million people living there under the warm Mediterranean sun, Cyprus might send a chill up your spine this week.

Does America Need A Strong Dollar Policy?

Mar 18, 2013

Is a strong U.S. dollar a good thing, or is it overrated as a policy goal?

Some argue that a policy aimed at keeping the dollar strong would hurt U.S. economic growth because it would make American goods and services more expensive, lessening global demand for them. Others say having a weak and unstable unit as the basis of the economy makes commerce harder and creates financial bubbles that then burst disastrously.

Figuring out whether a child who might have a concussion should stay in the game just got easier, thanks to this one-word answer from the nation's neurologists: No.

Today the American Academy of Neurology chucked 15-year-old rules that confused pretty much everybody, from parents and coaches to kids and doctors.

Instead of talking about various symptoms and concussion grades, the neurologists now say that the best offense is defense.

We promise, we'll get back to real news in a little bit. But first: After weeks of rumors, the sports icons Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn have made it official: They are dating.

"I guess it wasn't a well-kept secret but yes, I am dating Tiger Woods," Vonn, the Olympic gold medalist ski racer, tweeted.

Both Vonn and Woods, who is a 14-time major golf champion, also posted photographs of themselves on their Facebook pages.

In a Guatemalan courtroom Tuesday, prosecutors will present their case against a former military dictator who ruled during one of the bloodiest periods in the Central American nation's 36-year civil war.

Efrain Rios Montt is accused of genocide in the murder of tens of thousands of Guatemala's Indians. Human rights advocates and the families of victims have struggled for years to bring him before the court, and they say it is the first trial in Latin America of a former president in the country where he ruled.

Though we've seen The Natural many times, we have to confess we didn't know that a real woman shot a real baseball player in 1949 and that their story inspired Bernard Malamud's 1952 book and Robert Redford's 1984 movie.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

If Republicans hope to recapture the White House in the foreseeable future, they basically need to sound and campaign more like Democrats.

A zoo in Indonesia is now home to seven bouncing baby Komodo dragons. Before you recoil in disgust, have a look at this video from the BBC — "cute" may not be the operative word, but the hatchlings do exude a certain endearing quality.

Some People Really Can Taste The Rainbow

Mar 18, 2013

Plenty of us got our fill of green-colored food on St. Patrick's Day. (Green beer, anyone?) But for some people, associating taste with color is more than just a once-a-year experience.

One of the two men killed Sunday when a small plane crashed into a house near South Bend, Ind., was former University of Oklahoma star quarterback Steve Davis, the St. Joseph County (Ind.) coroner's office says.

More parents are worried about getting their daughters vaccinated against cervical cancer, despite more doctors saying the shots are a good idea.

The first person to challenge a file-sharing lawsuit brought by the Recording Industry Association of America has reached the end of the line.

Without comment, the Supreme Court refused to hear Jammie Thomas-Rasset's appeal, which means the $222,000 verdict against her stands.

Thomas-Rasset was convicted of sharing 24 songs on the peer-to-peer service Kazaa. She was arguing that the amount in question was excessive.

Ten years ago this week, U.S. troops invaded Iraq. NPR's David Gilkey was there and shares his memory of a photograph he made that first night.

The photos that David Gilkey took the night of the Iraq invasion were among the first pictures of U.S. troops in combat to come out of Iraq. And among the images he captured was one of a soldier running through an abandoned Iraqi army post that had, just minutes before, been hit by U.S. rocket fire.

Those photos would not have been possible without a night vision optic for his camera.