Nation/World

The buzz around bees has been bad lately. As we've reported, beekeepers say they lost 42 percent of honeybee colonies last summer.

Sport may be dismissed as inconsequential child's play, but there is, in counterpoint, the ideal that sport is our best model for human fairness and equality — a Garden of Eden with competition. But, of course, there are snakes in this athletic garden. Rules will be broken.

To my mind there are, in ascending order, three kinds of transgressions. The first is the most simple: transgressions committed in the heat of the action, instinctively, because of frustration, failure or anger. There are referees to tend to that misconduct.

Even the most creative jobs have parts that are pretty routine — tasks that, at least in theory, can be done by a machine. Take, for example, being a reporter.

A company called Automated Insights created a program called WordSmith that generates simple news stories based on things like sporting events and financial news. The stories are published on Yahoo! and via the Associated Press, among other outlets.

We wanted to know: How would NPR's best stack up against the machine?

It's long been assumed that, in conservative Islamic societies, sex is a subject to be spoken about, if it's discussed at all, in guilty whispers.

Yet, for many months now, women in Pakistan have been dialing in to a TV show to ask about profoundly personal issues — live on air.

"I have to talk about my husband," said a woman who gave her name as Sonia on one of the show's recent editions. "His sperm count is very low ..."

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is not only airborne and lethal; it's one of the most difficult diseases in the world to cure.

In Peru, 35-year-old Jenny Tenorio Gallegos wheezes even when she's sitting still. That's because of the damage tuberculosis has done to her lungs. The antibiotics she's taking to treat extensively drug-resistant TB nauseate her, give her headaches, leave her exhausted and are destroying her hearing.

"At times I don't hear well," she says. "You have to speak loud for me to be able to understand."

The loftlike San Francisco office of software maker Atlassian has an open central amphitheater, where all-staff gatherings and midday boot camp exercises are held.

A decade ago, Ken Lewis almost lost his arm to an intravenous (IV) drug addiction. Twice he developed cysts in his veins that exploded in the hospital. When he came out of surgery the doctor prescribed painkillers. So he traded his meth and heroin for the prescribed opiates.

"I was at my wit's end. I mean I was mentally gone, dead," he says. "Spiritually, I didn't believe in a god. Emotionally, didn't realize I was hurting people or hurting myself. Physically, I probably should've been dead."

Reddit, billed by its founders as "the front page of the Internet," has long been known as a place of unbridled free speech on the Web where users, known as Redditors, post text, pictures and videos.

But that unbridled free speech sometimes spills over into harassment, sexism and racism. Over the past couple of years, Reddit has been at the center of several controversies concerning harassment, including the release of hundreds of private celebrity photos. It's also become infamous for its unbridled vitriol.

The black flag of the self-proclaimed Islamic State is flying over the Iraqi city of Ramadi after government forces collapsed and the extremists seized control over the weekend.

Thousands of civilians have fled Ramadi and those left behind face a chaotic situation.

"No food, no fuel, no electricity. It's very difficult there," says Sheikh Hekmat Suleiman, an adviser to the governor of Anbar Province. Ramadi is the provincial capital, and the local government has now fled the city, just 70 miles west of Baghdad.

A new survey of financial professionals tends to confirm the widely held belief that the financial industry has an ethics problem.

Among the more than 1,200 financial professionals in the U.S. and Britain who were surveyed, about half the respondents believe their competitors in the industry have behaved unethically or illegally to gain an advantage in the market.

A critic once called Jules Feiffer "one of the best cartoonists now writing" and "the best writer now cartooning." That quote is in Out of Line, a new book about Feiffer, a man who does both words and pictures.

There are two drinks most people associate with Russia — vodka and tea, prepared in a giant hot-water urn known as a samovar.

Yet while vodka may have actually originated in Russia (Poland is another contender), tea is a thoroughly foreign product.

Most historians believe the Chinese first brought tea to Russia sometime in the 1600s. As for the samovar? "The origins are shrouded in mystery," says Maria Zavilova, curator at the Museum of Russian Art in Minnesota.

Making morphine — or heroin*, for that matter — isn't easy. You have to know a bunch of fancy chemistry to synthesize the drug from scratch. Or you have to get your hands on some opium poppies and extract morphine from the flowers' milky juice.

The latter is tougher than it sounds. Sure, the beautiful flowers grow across millions of acres around the world. But farming and trading poppies are tightly regulated both by laws and by drug kingpins.

Until Tuesday, it had been almost a month since Hillary Clinton had answered a question from the press.

After taking questions from Iowans in Cedar Rapids, where she spoke about small business, the former secretary of state then answered six questions from reporters. She also took an awkwardly timed one about whether she'll answer questions from media in the middle of the event. The questions after the event ranged from the release of her emails when she was secretary of state and criticism over foreign donations to the Clinton foundation to the state of Iraq and more.

Only a small number of Boy Scouts make Eagle Scout.

The feat is even harder when you come from inner-city poverty.

Yet for 27 years, Romy Vasquez has successfully encouraged boys from South Central Los Angeles to become Scouts, and he has seen more than a dozen members of Troop 780 go on to reach scouting's highest rank.

His pitch: You want to be in a gang? Scouting is the biggest gang in the world.

"It's global," he tells the Scouts. "We got some in Japan, China, Israel, all over. So guess what? You belong to BSA!"

Rabbi Evan Goodman runs Hillel, the campus Jewish center, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In recent years, he's had to rethink his job.

"Years past, when I was in college," he says, the Jewish organization "was a rabbi at a campus that put up a schedule of classes ... and drew the same 10 students to everything all year."

These days, chances are good that half the Jewish students he works with have a parent who's not Jewish. One in three of them says Judaism isn't his or her religion.

Four cancer "charities" and their operators have been charged with bilking more than $187 million from consumers. The Federal Trade Commission, along with each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, says the charities claimed to be providing assistance to cancer patients, but the donations were in reality benefiting only "the perpetrators, their families and friends, and fundraisers."

Here's NPR's Jim Zarroli's report on the suit:

Review: 'Platform,' Holly Herndon

May 19, 2015
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When you're talking about almonds, "raw" may not mean what you think.

All California almonds — which would be virtually all the almonds in the country — are either heat-pasteurized or treated with a fumigant. The processes, which have been required by law since 2007, are intended to prevent foodborne illness. But almond aficionados say the treatments taint the flavor and mislead consumers.

The new American Fitness Index is out, with some good news and bad news. Five metro areas fell five or more slots; nine others rose by five or more places. The rankings tally several criteria, from rates of smoking, diabetes and obesity to access to parks.

The Los Angeles City Council voted today to raise the hourly minimum wage in the second-largest U.S. city from $9 to $15 by 2020 — a move that would cover as many as 800,000 people.

The Los Angeles Times has more on the vote:

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A couple of toy planes are out to catch illegal loggers and miners in the Amazon.

It's an awesome responsibility.

Every year, illegal logging and mining in the Peruvian Amazon destroy tens of thousands of acres of rain forest. The deforestation in remote parts of the jungle is difficult to detect while it's going on.

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Like mother, like son.

Lucas Zutt is the 10-year-old son of journalist Donatella Lorch, who frequently contributes to Goats and Soda. They've lived in Kathmandu since June 2013.

Lucas shared his impressions of the earthquake with NPR after it struck. And now he's made a video.

Hitting a new all-time high, 60 percent of Americans say they believe marriage between same-sex couples should be recognized by law, with the same rights and privileges as traditional marriages, according to the latest Gallup poll.

Hop Along On World Cafe

May 19, 2015

The Philadelphia band Hop Along started out with a folk sound back in 2004, when singer-songwriter Frances Quinlan began recording during her senior year of high school. Hop Along took on more of a rock edge in 2008 with the addition of her brother on drums; the group later added bassist Tyler Long and guitarist Joe Reinhardt.

The rest of the month is setting up to be pretty dramatic in the Senate.

A key section of the Patriot Act — the part of law the White House uses to conduct mass surveillance on the call records of Americans — is set to expire June 1. That leaves legislators with a big decision to make: Rewrite the statute to outlaw or modify the practice or extend the statute and let the National Security Agency continue with its work.

As the Senate debates, we answer six questions that'll get you up to speed:

1. What's Congress debating here?

Almost half the states now require doctors to tell women if they have dense breasts because they're at higher risk of breast cancer, and those cancers are harder to find. But not all women with dense breasts have the same risks, a study says.

Those differences need to be taken into account when figuring out each woman's risk of breast cancer, the study says, and also weighed against other factors, including family history, age and ethnicity.

Updated at 3:13 p.m. ET

Japanese air bag supplier Takata says nearly 34 million vehicles were fitted with its defective inflator mechanisms, doubling the number of vehicles affected in the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday.

The recall is believed to be the largest in NHTSA's history.

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