State and National News

During the late winter and early spring, we can continue to plant cool season vegetables, including Swiss chard.

The path Noelle Pikus-Pace took to Sochi was far longer (eight years) and more tortuous (a broken leg, for starters) than the skeleton course at the Sanki Sliding Center at the Sochi Games. That could help explain how she tamed the course and finally won an Olympic medal, putting an exclamation point on a career that includes a world championship.

A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.

The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Question: Which of these foods are said to stir passion? An oyster, and avocado or a turnip? (Scroll down to the bottom for the answer.)

One of these, at least, is a gimme. The stories linking oysters and other shellfish to lust go back to at least the ancient Greeks.

Think of the image of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, rising out of the sea from the half-shell.

"There's something primal about eating oysters," says oyster-lover MJ Gimbar. He describes them as creamy and velvety. "It's like a kiss from the ocean."

It is almost impossible to buy soap anymore in most small towns in the Central African Republic. Same with sugar, powdered milk, batteries, baby formula. Up until January, these kinds of imported goods — in the stratified society of this country — almost always would have been sold to you by a Muslim.

But for the past few weeks, bands of Christian militia groups called anti-Balaka have waged war on Muslims and their property.

We told you earlier today [Friday] about a University of Chicago professor whose book was withdrawn in India after a Hindu group brought a court challenge against the publisher, Penguin Books, India.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. And we have an update now on the efforts to end the civil war in Syria. Representatives of both the government and opposition are wrapping a second round of peace talks in Geneva, but they made little progress at the conference, raising questions about whether a third round of talks will happen. NPR's Alice Fordham is in Geneva and joins us on the line with the latest.

And Alice, first, sum up this round of the peace talks for us.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

The Treasury and Justice Departments today sought to clarify for banks how they might navigate the murky legal waters of the marijuana business. Murky because pot is legal in a growing number of states but remains illegal under federal law. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on these new terms under which a bank must operate if it wants to offer financial services to this emerging industry.

Author Isabel Allende is best known for her works of magical realism such as The House of Spirits, but it was comments she made during an NPR interview about her new book, Ripper, a mystery novel, that angered fans of crime fiction.

Here's what she told NPR's Arun Rath:

The American speedskating team has fallen short of its goals at the Sochi Winter Olympics, with favorites such as Shani Davis and Heather Richardson failing to win medals. Some athletes believe the new racing suits they were given for the Olympics may be slowing them down.

Update at 7 p.m. ET: Back To The Old Suits