Parallels
2:52 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

In China, Customer Service And Efficiency Begin To Blossom

A couple waits for a high-speed train in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao. Modern infrastructure and the expanding private sector have greatly increased efficiency and customer service in many parts of Chinese life.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:56 pm

China's infamous bureaucracy has bedeviled people for ages, but in recent years, daily life in some major Chinese cities has become far more efficient.

For instance, when I worked in Beijing in the 1990s, many reporters had drivers. It wasn't because they didn't drive, but because they needed someone to deal with China's crippling bureaucracy.

I had a man named Old Zhao, who would drive around for days to pay our office bills at various government utility offices. Zhao would sit in line for hours, often only to be abused by functionaries.

Read more
The Salt
2:40 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Cooking With Cicadas: No Weirder Than Eating Cheese?

Cicada: It's what's for dinner?
Sean Bush AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:18 pm

You knew this one was coming.

Earlier this month, we told you about a U.N. report that makes the case for insects to improve global food security: They're cheap, plentiful and environmentally sustainable. Now, the coming of the 17-year cicadas provides East Coast Americans, for whom bug eating is considered novel at best, with an opportunity to try local insect cuisine.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:32 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

What's The Meaning Of This? A New Twist In The Spelling Bee

Minka Gill of Kokomo, Ind., participates in Round 2 of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee on Wednesday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

If Snigdha Nandipati, the 14-year-old who won last year's Scripps National Spelling Bee, had been asked to define her winning word, "guetapens," things might have turned out differently.

This year, a vocabulary test with word definitions is, for the first time in the bee's 86-year history, part of the competition. Preliminary and semifinal contestants must pass the test to get to the finals of the grueling competition.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Middle East Coronavirus Called 'Threat To The Entire World'

A nurse walks towards the Roger Salengro Hospital in Lille, France, where two patients were diagnosed with a coronavirus related to SARS.
Michel Spingler AP

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 10:43 am

If you've been following the news out of China about the latest bird flu and its threats to humans, may we direct your attention toward the Middle East for a minute?

Read more
Business
2:21 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

What's Under Youngstown May Help What's On Top

By leasing land for drilling, city leaders in Youngstown, Ohio, hope to generate funds to demolish vacant buildings.
M.L. Schultze for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:18 pm

A century ago, when fiery steel mills were roaring to life in Youngstown, Ohio, builders were racing to put up homes, storefronts, barbershops and more.

Today, many of those buildings sit empty and rotting. With the mills mostly gone and the population down 60 percent from 1960, to just 67,000, the city needs millions of dollars to tear down roughly 4,000 vacant structures.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:55 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Nasdaq Agrees To $10M Penalty For Handling Of Facebook IPO

A year ago, before the initial public offering of stock, Nasdaq and Facebook were quite excited.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

One year after Facebook's troubled initial public offering, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Wednesday that it has "charged Nasdaq with securities laws violations resulting from its poor systems and decision-making ... [and that] Nasdaq has agreed to settle the SEC's charges by paying a $10 million penalty."

Read more
Asia
12:27 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

For China's Youth, A Life Of 'Darkness Outside The Night'

Darkness Outside the Night, a graphic novel illustrated by Xie Peng. Find out what happens in the excerpt below." href="/post/chinas-youth-life-darkness-outside-night" class="noexit lightbox">
A small, child-like creature in a cone hat peers into a toy shop, happy at the sight of a snow globe, in a vignette called "Tininess" in Darkness Outside the Night, a graphic novel illustrated by Xie Peng. Find out what happens in the excerpt below.
Xie Peng and Duncan Jepson, with permission to reproduce the panels from Tabella Publishing LLP

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 3:48 pm

Xie Peng, a 36-year-old Chinese graphic novelist, spent six years working on his first book, Darkness Outside the Night. It's been praised by China's first Nobel laureate for literature, Mo Yan, as inspiring people on how to deal with life.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:52 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Tempest Over A Teapot: JC Penney Removes 'Hitler' Billboard

Photos of a JC Penney billboard in Culver City, Calif., spurred an online debate over whether the tea kettle resembles German tyrant Adolf Hitler.
Imgur, via KPCC

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 5:45 pm

After receiving complaints that a billboard advertisement included an image resembling Adolf Hitler, JC Penney has reportedly taken the sign down. The move came after images of the billboard in California's Culver City spurred a controversy on Reddit and elsewhere online. The retailer says any resemblance to the late leader of the Third Reich was unintended.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:35 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Drone Said To Have Killed Key Pakistani Taliban Commander

Waliur Rehman, who was reportedly killed Wednesday in Pakistan.
U.S. State Dept.

It's not confirmed that he's dead. But if a suspected U.S. drone strike on Wednesday did kill Waliur Rehman, as Pakistani officials say it did, then a top Pakistani Taliban commander with a $5 million price on his head has been taken off the battlefield.

According to the U.S. State Department's "rewards for justice" program:

Read more
The Salt
11:07 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Pot Brownies Should Be Childproofed, Doctors Say

Marijuana gingerbread cookies, like this one sold at The Apothecarium in San Francisco, could easily appeal to kids.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 5:26 pm

As some states become friendly to medical marijuana, many users are opting to eat their pot instead of smoking it. And that means marijuana dispensaries are doing heavy business in brownies, cookies, sodas, candy and other treats heavily dosed with THC.

But unlike drugs that come in bottles, these tasty marijuana foods haven't been childproofed. And in Colorado, doctors say that kids who apparently get into their parents and grandparents' stashes are getting sick.

Read more

Pages