Marc Silver

The blog "Goats and Soda" obviously has big love for goats.

And so we were very excited to learn about the new book GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human.

What's the best way to help out someone in need? Just give money? Or try to make sure they'll spend the money effectively?

That's a dilemma that's faced anyone confronted by someone begging on the street. And it's an international problem as well. When rich countries give aid to poor countries, how do they know the money will go to good use?

The Millennium Challenge Corporation has come up with one strategy. MCC, as it's called, is a U.S. government foreign aid agency created by Congress in 2004 to fight global poverty.

Keo Motsepe has made Dancing With The Stars history in many ways.

In 2014, he became the first black dancing professional on the show (they're the ones who teach the "stars" how to cha-cha-cha) and the first from South Africa.

"It is unbelievable, sir."

That's how NPR contributor Wilbur Sargunaraj characterizes the heat that is gripping parts of his native India. "It's just getting worse and worse and worse, and people are suffering."

It sounds like a joke. A goat walked into a Starbucks ...

But it's true.

It happened a couple of days ago in Rohnert Park, Calif., when a goat whose name is Millie somehow got away from her home and ambled over to the nearby strip mall. Employees dangled a banana in front of the goat in the hope of apprehending her, but she preferred to chew on a cardboard box. Police officers took the ruminant to an animal shelter, where her owner reportedly reclaimed her.

"My cheeks are sore from smiling," says Loyce Maturu.

The 24-year-old, who lives in Harare, Zimbabwe, is posing for a photo at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. She's come to be interviewed about her activism. She's a champion for people with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (she has been diagnosed with both). So really, the pain of smiling is nothing compared to what she has been through.

And she's joking, of course, about how hard it is to pose for a photo. She even takes off her glasses because she wants to show off her eyes.

In a brilliant April Fools' day spoof, the Washington Post declared, "Weary professors give up, concede that Africa is a country."

The authors are professors who focus on African countries: Laura Seay at Colby College, and Kim Yi Dionne, who's at Smith College.

A Key Lesson From Ebola: You Can't Forget About Politics

The Ebola virus marks a milestone this month. It has been two years since the first case was confirmed in West Africa, the start of a devastating epidemic that claimed more than 11,000 lives. The anniversary is making health workers think about what the world has — and hasn't — learned from the experience.

The shutdown of Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail system for an entire day — 29 hours to be exact — for a safety inspection prompted a New York Times interviewee to say: "It's the capital of the United States and one of the biggest business centers in the country. This is like a developing country."

The annual letter from the Gates Foundation calls for an "energy miracle" — the creation of a cheap and clean source of energy to get power to the 1.2 billion people on the planet without electricity.

This post was updated on March 14.

She walked through the valley of death and never lost her faith. Garmai Sumo, a 29-year-old nurse in Liberia, was a member of Body Team 12, one of the teams that collected the bodies of Ebola victims for cremation.

When you edit a blog called "Goats and Soda," and you read a story about a goat locked in a car in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Oxford, Mass., and you learn that the goat turned on the hazard lights and wipers, pooped on the driver's seat and ... drank an old cup of soda, you have no choice.

You have to cover the story.

Don't get pregnant.

That's the advice given to women by the governments of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and El Salvador in light of a possible link between the Zika virus, which is spreading in those countries, and a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in an abnormally small head and possible brain damage. Brazil has reported thousands of cases of microcephaly since the outbreak began there last spring; researchers are trying to determine whether the virus is the cause.

Do you know any global health stories that should be getting coverage — but are overlooked by the media?

The Zika virus has gone from an obscure disease to an international public health emergency.

Editor's note: The original version of this post contained a map illustration intended to represent the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, which poll respondents identified as the region presenting the greatest risk to travelers and expatriates in 2016. The map had a number of errors. The countries of Cyprus, Israel and Turkey were either not shown or not labeled; the label for "Palestine" should have read "Palestinian territories"; and Afghanistan and Pakistan were mistakenly included. NPR apologizes for these errors.

When the Nobel for Medicine goes to two scientists who discovered a drug used to fight a variety of neglected diseases, how do you tell the story?

Is it real or is it satire?

In Thailand, a dark-skinned actress laments, "If I was white, I would win."

In India, a movie director says, "I can't have any dark people on my set" and hands a skin-lightening product to two dusky actors.

Namala Mkopi always wanted to be a pediatrician. He doesn't know exactly who or what inspired him. He just wanted "to treat kids."

And nothing would stand in his way, not even biology. "It wasn't my thing," he admits. "I never really liked biology."

One thing we've learned here at Goats and Soda is that the world of global health and development is swimming in abbreviations/initialisms. We try not to use them in the blog because let's face it, dear readers, if you saw a story about NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) trying to improve BHS (basic health services), you'd probably click over to a video of RCC (really cute cats).

Global health and development abbreviations do have their defenders. They are a convenient shorthand for people who work in the field.

Although not everyone is a fan.

A headline for a chart caught our eye this week: "US Holiday Lights Use More Electricity than El Salvador Does In a Year."

Who's that man bending his body like a pretzel in today's Google doodle?

Yogis might know. It's Bellur Krishnamachar Sundaraja (B.K.S.) Iyengar.

Iyengar, who died in 2014, would have been 97 years old today. That's why he's getting the #GoogleDoodle treatment.

He began doing yoga after childhood bouts of malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid. In his 2006 book Light on Life, Iyengar wrote that his brother-in-law suggested "a stiff regime of yoga practice to knock me into shape and strengthen me up to face life's trials and challenges as I approached adulthood."

When you search for #ParisAttacks, you get nearly 2.2 million results on Google.

When you search for #KenyaAttacks, you get about 300.

The Parisian response is a reaction to the terrorist attacks last Friday, which took 129 lives and injured far more. People around the world have expressed solidarity. Facebook users are coloring their profile photos with the red-white-and-blue French flag, and the hashtags #PrayforParis, #WeAreAllParisians and #ParisAttacks are trending on Twitter.

It's World Kindness Day today.

Yes, it's kind of a made-up holiday. But really, it's not a bad idea to celebrate kind words and deeds.

In Washington, D.C., today, NPR staffers rescued a beautiful, black-and-white hen that was darting about busy North Capitol Street by our headquarters.

In the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails to be released, there was a list of topics that she presumably wanted to look into some more, dated Oct. 18, 2010. One line in particular stood out: "Plumpy'nut?"

You may be wondering: Plumpy what?

For those who work in global health, the word is instantly recognizable.

It was a story that brought the NPR interpreter to tears.

As part of our series on 15-year-old girls around the world, reporter Jason Beaubien and producer Rebecca Davis were looking for a 15-year-old Syrian refugee. The group World Vision helped lead them to Fatmeh, who lives with her family in a makeshift shelter on a farmer's land in Lebanon. Fatmeh wanted to tell her story: She used to live in a nice house, have a computer, loved going to school.

A woman finds a lump in her breast.

And for a long time, she doesn't tell anybody. Not her family. And not her doctor.

That happens all too often in low- and lower-middle-income countries, says Dr. Ben Anderson, a surgical oncologist who is the director of the Breast Health Global Initiative at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Sustainable, sustainable, sustainable.

Sustainable. Sustainable.

SUSTAINABLE!

Oh, excuse me. I was just counting the number of times the word "sustainable" (and its close cousin, sustainability) appear in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the U.N. will endorse this coming weekend.

I got 75. And I probably missed a few.

The SDGs, as they're called, aim to improve life on earth, especially in poor countries — no more extreme poverty, the eradication of "a wide range of diseases," education and equal rights for all, taking care of the planet.

We're welcoming an unseen guest to our Jewish holiday celebrations this fall: My mother-in-law, Jan Dale, who died in 2005.

Since her passing, I've tried to keep Jan a presence at our festive meals with my attempts to bake some of her favorite recipes. For instance, to mark the start of Yom Kippur Tuesday night, I've made a batch of Jan's crumbly, cinnamon-scented mandelbread — that's Yiddish for "almond bread," a twice-baked cookie that's the Jewish version of biscotti.

But getting here has taken a bit of detective work.

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