National News

Emerald ash borer larvae damage the ash trees they live in.

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

Spencer Trappist Ale, made by the first official Trappist brewery outside Europe, will go on sale next week in Massachusetts.

American Beer Fans, Praise The Heavens: A Trappist Brewery In U.S.

The town of Spencer, in central Massachusetts, isn't well known for ... well, anything, really. But it's about to become internationally famous — at least in beer-drinking circles.

Spencer is home to St. Joseph's Abbey, where robed monks are busy brewing the first American Trappist beer. If all goes as planned, Spencer Trappist Ale will be available in Massachusetts retail stores by the middle of next week.

Rodrigo Fernandez, neighbor in an adjacent apartment complex, helps clean up after an explosion in Mount Vernon, Wash., in August. Police say it was likely caused when people extracted hash from a marijuana plant by mixing parts of it with butane in a two-liter pop bottle.

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, "hash oil" is where it's really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it's legal.

There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That's due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.

Ross Miner skates during the men's short program at the 2013 Skate Canada International last year. He hopes to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

A Story Of The Boston Marathon Bombing, As Told On Skates

Ross Miner is among those competing for a spot on the U.S. Men's figure skating team Friday night in Boston. He is a hometown favorite who is bringing some local flavor to his performance — he's going to tell the story of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.

Miner won the silver medal at last year's U.S. championships, but he's had his challenges this year: pushing through an ankle injury to keep up his 60-hour-a week training, all in hopes of realizing his Olympic dream.

John Legere, CEO and President of T-Mobile USA, crashed rival AT&T's Consumer Electronics Show party and won a slew of free publicity as a result.

Tech Week That Was: CES, T-Mobile CEO And Predictions For 2014

It's 2014 and we're back to full team strength, which means we've returned with your guide to the week's previous tech coverage on NPR (in case you missed it) and from our friends at what seems like an ever-growing crop of tech journalism organizations.

ICYMI

Shoppers make a purchase at an outlet mall in Los Angeles. Employers added 55,000 jobs in the retail sector in December.

What's Behind The Drop In Unemployment

Whether you had a job or were looking for one, December was a gloomy month.

The Labor Department said Friday that for December, employers added only 74,000 jobs — about a third as many as most economists had been predicting. That was the lowest level of job creation in three years — not exactly the news that 10.4 million job seekers wanted to hear.

Half Of A Drug's Power Comes From Thinking It Will Work

When you take a pill, you and your doctor hope it will work — and that helps it work.

That's not a new idea. But now researchers say they know just how much of a drug's effect comes from the patient's expectation: at least half.

When patients in the midst of a migraine attack took a dummy pill they thought was a widely used migraine drug, it reduced their pain roughly as much as when they took the real drug thinking it was a placebo.

Chris Serrano, left, and Clifton Webb embrace after being married on Dec. 20 in the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in Salt Lake City.

Same-Sex Couples In Utah Made Eligible For Federal Benefits

"Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the federal government will recognize the 900-plus same-sex marriages that took place in Utah during the two weeks when such unions were legal," NPR's Nina Totenberg writes for us.

That means those couples "will be eligible for all federal benefits," NPR's Carrie Johnson adds.

In a statement, Holder says that:

Erick Munoz stands by a photo of his wife, Marlise  Munoz, at home in Fort Worth, Texas, on Jan. 3. She is being kept on life support in a local hospital against the family's wishes.

Why Hospitals And Families Still Struggle To Define Death

Death seems one of life's few certainties, but the cases of a girl and a young woman who are being kept on life support even though they are legally dead show how difficult it still can be to agree on the end of life.

After Grist's six-month-long series on genetically modified foods, some loyal readers accused the site of changing directions in the debate.

A Green-Movement Website Shakes Up The Debate Over GMOs

A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.

Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.

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