All Things Considered for Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The pharmacy giant CVS plans to eliminate cigarettes and other tobacco products from its stores by October. The company says it made the decision because the drug store business is changing and that selling cigarettes is no longer consistent with its mission. Medical experts and the White House hailed the move. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.
CVS CEO and President Larry Merlo joins Audie Cornish to discuss his company's big decision to eventually discontinue its sales of tobacco products. The decision didn't simply make headlines on Wednesday; it could also signal a shift in plans for the pharmacy giant's future.
Many scientists have been trying to create neural implants that will let amputees regain a sense of touch and control. One version has let a Danish man feel the texture of things he's touching. But it's an experimental model that's not yet ready for use outside the laboratory.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had a coming-out party of sorts over the weekend. At 25, he belongs to the next generation of Bhuttos, the family that has dominated the country's politics for decades. And in an interview, he says he does not fear the turbulent politics that claimed the life of his mother and grandfather.
On Tuesday, economists with the Congressional Budget Office announced findings that indicated the new health care law may result in hundreds of thousands leaving the workforce. The findings spurred new debate on the merits of the law and its economic impact. NPR's Scott Horsley has more on the reactions to the report.
Some Republicans have begun to demand the repeal of a key feature in the president's health care law, which protects insurance companies taking part, in exchange for agreeing to raise the nation's debt ceiling. But according to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, the so-called "risk corridors" actually benefit the Treasury, rather than costing taxpayers money.
Last April in San Jose, transformers were knocked out at a power station when one or more snipers fired at least 100 rounds into them. Investigators say they don't believe it was an act of terrorism, but other experts disagree.

UN Report Raises Scathing Criticisms Of Vatican

The United Nations watchdog for children's rights has accused the Vatican of caring more about its own reputation and members of the clergy than the victims of sexual abuse. The group is calling for the Vatican to immediately remove any priests suspected of sexually abusing children.

Seeing Less Helps The Brain Hear More

People who are blind from birth are often better than sighted people at processing certain aspects of sound. A mouse study hints at why: Even a few days in the dark helped "rewire" the auditory center of an adult animal's brain.
In a warming world, extreme droughts are predicted to become more common. Amid the historic drought gripping California and much of the West Coast, scientists are studying how states can manage with a lot less water in the future.
Melissa Block speaks with Holly Madrigal, the mayor of Willits, Calif., about the ways her city is seeking to conserve water in the midst of the drought.

More Than 80,000 Tons Of Coal Ash Flow Into N.C. River

A broken stormwater pipe in North Carolina has sent the waste into the Dan River, which flows through Virginia and out into the Atlantic. Officials say the drinking water is safe, but environmental questions linger.
Tyrone Hayes, a biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has spent the past 15 years to studying the adverse effects of atrazine, a common herbicide used in the U.S. For much of that time, Hayes believed he was being watched and closely followed by Syngenta, the Swiss company that produces the chemical, in an effort to discredit his findings. Audie Cornish talks to New Yorker reporter Rachel Aviv for more.
For the last two weeks, the barrel bombing of the rebel-held area of Aleppo in Syria has intensified. Warplanes drop leaflets on neighborhoods warning civilians to flee — and it seems they're listening. Residents of Aleppo districts held by the regime say they are seeing an influx of families, while aid agencies working in Turkey say hundreds of thousands of the displaced are trying to get in.

An Surprising Crusader Against Wrongful Convictions

A report from the National Registry of Exonerations released Tuesday revealed 2013 as a record year for overturning wrongful convictions in the U.S. Of the 87 people nationwide who had their convictions overturned, Texas led all states with 13. Melissa Block speaks with Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, who established the nation's first Conviction Integrity Unit in Dallas in 2007.
The Beat Generation icon was a magnet for artists, musicians and wannabe hipsters. In a 1985 interview, the author credited his most groundbreaking work to the fallout from his wife's accidental death at his own hands, saying, "It was an event that ... made me into a writer." Burroughs died in 1997.
This week, Kacey Bellamy is in Sochi with the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team. Before she headed to Russia, though, she reflected a moment on the love and sacrifices of her family, without which she never would have made it so far.
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