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My Nintendo Wii character, my Mii, looks a lot like me. She has the same haircut, the same skin tone and even the same eyebrow shape. And while my Mii plays tennis slightly better than I do, I designed her to be a real, virtual me (albeit with balls for hands).

But it turns out I might not have needed to mimic my appearance to let people know what I'm like.

Des Moines, Iowa, is confronting the farms that surround it over pollution in two rivers that supply the city with drinking water. Des Moines Water Works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. It's a novel attempt to control fertilizer runoff from farms, which has been largely unregulated.

This is the story of a man whose ideas could have saved a lot of lives and spared countless numbers of women and newborns' feverish and agonizing deaths.

You'll notice I said "could have."

The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

Scientists in Scotland have found a prehistoric behemoth: a previously unknown species of reptile that lived in the oceans during the time of dinosaurs. And before you ask, no, scientists do not believe this new fossil has anything to do with the Loch Ness monster.

More than a dozen hospitals across Great Britain declared "major incidents" this past week, with non-emergency operations cancelled and extra staff called in to cope with overcrowded emergency rooms. Still, the backlog in waiting rooms keeps growing.

The horror stories just keep coming in: long lines outside emergency departments — just to get into the waiting room — and of hospitals locking their doors to keep new arrivals away.

'Tasty': How Flavor Helped Make Us Human

Jan 11, 2015

Our current cultural obsession with food is undeniable. But, while the advent of the foodie may be a 21st century phenomenon, from an evolutionary standpoint, flavor has long helped define who we are as a species, a new book argues.

In Tasty: the Art and Science of What We Eat, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John McQuaid offers a broad and deep exploration of the human relationship to flavor.

"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," McQuaid writes.

Lonesome George was a celebrity tortoise. Millions of humans made the pilgrimage to see him while he lived, and his death was international news.

Why?

In 1991, wildlife investigator J. A. Mills went to China to verify rumors about tiger farming. She worked undercover, for the World Wildlife Fund and an organization called Traffic.

"I mainly pretended I was a student of traditional Chinese medicine to try to figure out not only what was being traded, but why it was being traded," Mills tells NPR's Arun Rath.

She says she found China's first tiger farm — complete with a hand-written ledgers filling up with orders for tiger bone.

DNA, It Turns Out, Is A Lot More Loopy

Jan 10, 2015

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

We may have mapped the human genome, but what we don't know about our own genetic code could fill libraries. For example, how do you fit a really long strand of DNA into a tiny cell nucleus?

Oregon began covering the cost of reassignment surgery for transgender people on Medicaid in January. It also covers things like hormone therapy and puberty suppression.

By doing so, Oregon joins a handful of other states that have recently taken steps to help people with gender dysphoria, or the conflict between the gender people identify with and their physical gender.

Some question the validity of coverage, but people in the transgender community are thrilled.

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