Local News
11:14 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

Medicare Begins Penalizing Hospitals For Readmissions

Medicare will begin penalizing hospitals Monday that have too many repeat patients who check back in due to complications. The penalties will come out of Medicare’s payments to the hospitals, and they're part of President Obama's health care law. 

Nearly one out of every five Medicare patients who walks into a hospital today will be back in the hospital within a month. That’s according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and improving that ratio is what the penalties are all about.

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Education
10:58 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

CMS Goes Door-To-Door To Get Dropouts Back In School

Berger and Morrison on a house call

About 15,000 kids a year drop out of North Carolina schools.  In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the number is about 1,500.  School social workers have long made house calls to many kids who simply stop showing up at school.  They try to figure out why the child left, get them help, and show them ways they can catch up. 

This is a sensitive situation.  Imagine you're a kid who has given up on school and then a social worker shows up on your doorstep. 

"I've had families look through the blinds and not come to the door," says Heidi Berger, a CMS social worker.  

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Books
7:11 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

Three-Minute Fiction Round 9 Stories: 'The Interview'

iStockphoto.com

The judging process for Round 9 of Three-Minute Fiction is now under way. NPR's Bob Mondello reads an excerpt from one standout story, The Interview, written by Georgia Mierswa. You can read the story in its entirety below, and read more stories at www.npr.org/threeminutefiction.

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Education
5:42 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

Online Education Grows Up, And For Now, It's Free

Coursera founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller are computer science professors at Stanford University.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 5:26 pm

Online education isn't particularly new. It has been around in some form since the 1990s, but what is new is the speed and scale in which online learning is growing.

In barely a year, many of the most prestigious research universities in the world – including Stanford, Caltech, Oxford and Princeton — have started to jump onto the online bandwagon.

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Science
5:07 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

A Tiny Ocean World With A Mighty Important Future

Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life and provide half of the oxygen on the planet. Scientists are working to figure out how climate change may be affecting these important microorganisms.
M. Ormestad Tara Oceans

Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 7:11 pm

As you take in your next breath of air, you can thank a form of microscopic marine life known as plankton.

They are so small as to be invisible, but taken together, actually dwarf massive creatures like whales. Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life.

"This invisible forest generates half of the oxygen generated on the planet," Chris Bowler, a marine biologist, tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

And, as climate change alters the temperature and acidity of our waters, this mysterious ocean world may be in jeopardy.

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Interviews
4:49 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

The Man Who Jump-Started Presidential Debates

Vice President Richard Nixon listens as Sen. John F. Kennedy talks during their televised presidential race debate. This photo was made from a television screen in New York, Oct. 21, 1960.
AP

Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 7:11 pm

President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are prepping for Wednesday's presidential debate. It's a well-worn tradition now, but it wasn't always that way.

The 1960 Kennedy-Nixon face-off wasn't just the first televised presidential debate, it was also the first presidential debate in more than a century.

Four years earlier, a young German emigre named Fred Kahn, a student at the University of Maryland, wanted to see whether the nominees — Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson — might want to engage with students.

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Music
4:42 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

Son Jarocho, The Sound Of Veracruz

Las Cafeteras, from Los Angeles, have made their own version of the classic son jarocho song "La Bamba."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 10:56 pm

Betto Arcos is the host of Global Village, a world music show on KPFK in Los Angeles, and a native of Xalapa, capital city of the Mexican state of Veracruz. He recently spoke with Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about son jarocho — a style of music played mostly in the south of his home state. He says the music is so vibrant because it comes from the Caribbean side of Mexico and has all the influences of that region: African, indigenous and Spanish.

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Author Interviews
3:51 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

From Tea To T-Shirts: The History Of U.S.-China Trade

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 5:25 pm

You probably don't give much thought to the phrase "Made in China" when you see it written on the bottom of your coffee mug, or on the tag of your T-shirt, but Americans have traded with China for hundreds of years.

In his new book, When America First Met China, Eric Jay Dolin takes us back to the beginning of the long and complicated trade relationship between the two countries.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

Being 'Better Off' May Not Be Enough To Win Colo.

President Obama speaks during a campaign event at University of Colorado Boulder Sept. 2. He and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will have their first debate at the University of Denver on Wednesday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 7:11 pm

Colorado is a good venue for a presidential debate focusing on domestic issues. The first of three highly anticipated debates between President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will take place Wednesday at the University of Denver.

The state is known for its independent voting streak, and much like the rest of the country, there are sharp political divides about the role of government in the economy. In Colorado, those differences grow from two distinct population centers.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:09 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

On The Road: Reporting On Lead Poisoning In Nigeria

Four-wheel drive is no match for the mud on the road to a gold mine in northern Nigeria.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 4:20 pm

If you want to witness the health consequences of unsafe gold mining in northwestern Nigeria, the first thing you have to do is get to the mines

There's a crisis of severe lead poisoning near the mines that's killed hundreds of children and made thousands more sick.

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