5:49pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Scientific Journals Plan To Publish Contentious Bird Flu Research

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 6:12 pm

A government advisory committee has reconsidered its advice to keep certain details of bird flu experiments secret.

Revised versions of manuscripts that describe two recent studies can be openly published, the committee now says. The decision could help end a contentious debate that has raged within the scientific community for months.

In response, the editors of two journals immediately said they planned to publish the research soon.

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5:26pm

Fri March 30, 2012
The Salt

Is That A Crushed Bug In Your Frothy Starbucks Drink?

The tiny white insects that feed on cactus turn into red cochineal when crushed. Starbucks uses the dye in some of its products.
Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

Call it the tempest in the Frappuccino. Some Starbucks patrons have been distressed to learn that the chain's Strawberry and Creme Frappuccino owes its pink coloring to crushed insects.

The coloring in question, cochineal, is made from a tiny white insect, Dactylopius coccus. When crushed, its body exudes a brilliant red color. Cochineal has been used as a coloring for foods and makeup for centuries.

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5:18pm

Fri March 30, 2012
The Two-Way

Current TV Fires Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann hosted a commentary show on Current TV.
Current TV

Less than a year after he was hired, Current TV said it was ending its contract with lead anchor Keith Olbermann. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who had an ill-fated run on CNN, will replace him.

Current announced the move in an open letter to its viewers from Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, Current's founders.

The letter reads in part:

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4:56pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Jazz

Reviving James Booker, The 'Piano Prince Of New Orleans'

Piano player James Booker is considered a New Orleans legend.
Bunny Matthews

Every day in New Orleans, Lily Keber rolls out of bed and walks to a flat, minor office building to meet her muse. Keber makes a cup of coffee with chicory, hooks up her computer and waits for what sounds like a dozen spiders to crawl across a piano.

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4:50pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Asia

Myanmar Hurriedly Prepares For An Election

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 5:33 pm

A man holds a portrait of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally for a candidate of her National League for Democracy party on Friday. The country is holding elections for some parliamentary seats on Sunday.
Christophe Archambault AFP/Getty Images

In Myanmar's capital, Yangon, there's an unremarkable old building that's drawing people from around the world.

It's the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the political opposition party headed by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. This weekend, she is running for elective office for the first time, and the humble house has become the focus of even greater attention.

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4:49pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Planet Money

On Tour With Nancy Pelosi, Fundraising Rock Star

Nancy Pelosi has raised $300 million for Democrats.
J. Scott Applewhite ASSOCIATED PRESS

This story is part of a Planet Money series on money in politics. Also see our story, "Senator By Day, Telemarketer By Night, and listen to us this weekend on This American Life.

Democrats love Nancy Pelosi. Republicans hate Nancy Pelosi.

One key reason for both the love and the hate: Nancy Pelosi is incredibly good at her job. And a huge part of that job is raising money.

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4:28pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Latin America

Venezuelans Tune In For Scoops On Chavez's Health

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 5:08 pm

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears at an event in Caracas, Venezuela, on Thursday, after returning from radiation therapy in Cuba.
Ariana Cubillos AP

For nearly a year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been treated for cancer, but little is known about his health beyond the information he himself provides.

That has led to speculation about his health swirling in the president's oil-rich country, particularly over whether he can withstand a grueling campaign as he seeks a third presidential term.

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4:19pm

Fri March 30, 2012
Middle East

Diplomats Gather, But Syrian Truce Remains Elusive

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 5:40 pm

Syrian opposition groups gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday, as the factions attempt to form a more unified front. This Sunday, the opposition factions, including the main Syrian National Council, will be joined by diplomats in a meeting of the "Friends of Syria."
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan says the Syrian government should be the first to enact a cease-fire, but there was no sign of that on Friday. More violence erupted in several Syrian cities as diplomats prepared for Sunday's meeting of the "Friends of Syria" in Istanbul, Turkey.

The gathering comes at a time of growing disaffection with diplomatic efforts and an increase in attacks by Syrian opposition fighters.

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4:13pm

Fri March 30, 2012
The Two-Way

Defending Kentucky's Coach Calipari: Not A Tough Assignment

Originally published on Sat March 31, 2012 3:04 pm

Kentucky coach John Calipari has been criticized as being more of a recruiter than a coach. But that doesn't mean his approach to the game is easy.
Kevin C. Cox Getty Images

The critique of University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is that he does what it takes to get his players, and they do what they want from there. Sure, this thinking goes, he's yelling at them from the sidelines whenever one — specifically Terrence Jones — puts up a 3-point shot from a step behind the arc. But he's not much of a coach.

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4:05pm

Fri March 30, 2012
The Two-Way

Ivy Leagues Post Record Low Admission Rates

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 4:06 pm

Some Ivy League schools are posting some of the lowest admission rates on record, this year. Harvard for example only accepted 2,032 of the 34,302 students who applied. That's a 5.9 percent acceptance rate, which is a record low for the school.

The New York Times reports:

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