All Things Considered for Monday, October 28, 2013

After yet more problems over the weekend, HealthCare.gov, the federal site for people to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act, seems to be making incremental improvements. Probably the best news on the health care front is that premiums for Medicare will not increase next year.
Widening revelations about NSA spying now include allegations that the U.S. is collecting data on millions of citizens in countries such as Spain and France and has spied on the leaders of some 35 allies. The scandal is drawing attention to an intelligence-sharing agreement known as Five Eyes between the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Audie Cornish speaks with ambassador John Negroponte, chairman of the board of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance and the former director of national intelligence under George W. Bush.
Monday was day one of The News of the World phone hacking scandal trial in London. Among others, two former editors of the now-defunct tabloid — Andy Coulson and Rebecca Brooks — have been charged with a raft of offences, including some that carry a prison sentence.
Marcia Wallace has died at the age of 70. She was best known for her voice work as fourth-grade teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons and as the wisecracking secretary on The Bob Newhart Show.
Latin America has some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the world. Many countries in the region have a total ban. In Brazil, abortion is illegal, but there are some exceptions. A new bill is trying to roll those exceptions back.
Alan Cheuse reviews Jeanette Winterson's latest book, The Daylight Gate, set in 17th Century England. The novel is set seven years after the undoing of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, in which Catholic terrorists attempted to blow up the House of Parliament of the anti-Papist King James I.

For Digital Natives, Childhood May Never Be The Same

Our children these days might be called digital natives, kids who grow up surrounded by and immersed in digital media. How does that affect childhood? How might it affect their adulthood? This week All Tech Considered kicks off a week of stories about kids and technology.
Researchers are still learning about the effects of touch-screens on kids. But scientists say that certain kinds of screen time, involving interaction with other people, can help youngsters learn.
A tenuous peace process between Kurdish fighters and Turkey's military is hanging by a thread, according to Kurdish officials. Militant Kurdistan Workers' Party commanders in northern Iraq say they're ready to resume attacks in southeastern Turkey if the government doesn't accelerate the implementation of civil and political reforms long sought by Turkish Kurds. After nearly a year of peace, the cease-fire could collapse — and would be quite hard to restore, analysts say.
Officials at Pennsylvania State University say the school will pay $59 million to 26 men over their claims that former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused them.

Taking Stock Of What Was Lost And Found Post-Sandy

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, many people created lists to try to recover some of what was swept away. A year later, Jersey shore residents are still reflecting on what they lost during the storm — and what they might have gained.
Robert Siegel talks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., about the roll out of the federal health law. Pelosi says she is assured the problems with HealthCare.gov will be fixed by the end of November and that no extension or delay of the program should be granted. She also talks about the way forward with the budget. Democrats are ready to negotiate, Pelosi insists, and says their goals are clear: Get rid of sequestration, promote growth, make cuts and bring in revenue.

Texas Judge Rules Abortion Law Unconstitutional

A federal judge has invalidated parts of a Texas abortion regulations law that were set to take effect Friday. The state vows to appeal the ruling to the federal Fifth Circuit appellate court.

Syria On Course To Meet Weapons Destruction Deadlines

Syria seems to be on course to meet its deadlines to give up its chemical weapons stockpile. It has made its declaration to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the OPCW has visited 21 of the 23 sites it needs to see. Two others are in contested areas. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says all this shows that if there's political will to do something in Syria, it is possible. He's hoping the U.N. Security Council, which backed the chemical weapons agreement, can now work together to ease the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The Justice Department is negotiating a possible civil settlement with JP Morgan totaling $13 billion — $4 billion of which would be money returned to harmed homeowners. While the details are still emerging, previous settlements can help provide a picture of what works when it comes to restitution in big cases.
As the cuts made under the sequester continue, scientists worry that U.S. research will fall behind. Budget cuts already are delaying plans for equipment upgrades and preventing new research — and a new generation of researchers — from getting underway.
Humans and other primates have really good vision. One scientist thinks that ability evolved in part to help monkeys and humans quickly recognize venomous snakes. When monkeys see photos of snakes, neurons in a specific part of the brain light up. The neurons respond to photos of the reptiles more than to monkey faces.

How To See Forever On Your Dirty Car

When you fall in love with science, ordinary, everyday stuff can suddenly seem extraordinary. That's how NPR Blogger and astrophysicist Adam Frank sees it — today he sees it in dust.
For young Cambodians, the promise of modernization comes paired with a threat: the rapid erasure of traditional ways of life. In A River Changes Course, filmmaker Kalyanee Mam follows three young Cambodians, finding in their stories a set of questions and challenges that are surprisingly universal.
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