Health & Science

Everyone in the office was thrilled when Pamela showed up for her first day at DigitalMania Studio, a video game company in Tunisia. She couldn't code. She was worthless as a beta tester. She had a habit of farting and urinating on people who annoyed her. But wow, could she moo.

"And we got used to the smell," says Sami Zalila, DigitalMania's communications manager.

Pamela's job? Prove to skeptics that the company really would give a cow to the top scorer of Bagra the Game.

A single question asked at an annual checkup — whether parents have trouble making ends meet — could help pediatricians identify children at risk for serious health problems associated with poverty and the chronic levels of stress that often accompany it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges members to ask if their patients' families are struggling financially and then commit to helping them get the resources they need to thrive. And some communities are trying to make that happen.

When someone tags you in a photo on Facebook, it's often a nice reminder of a shared memory. It lets your whole social network see what you've been up to or where you've been.

Well, to three men from Illinois, this feature takes on a much more sinister capacity. They argue that when someone tags you in a photo on Facebook without your consent, Facebook is breaking the law — and a federal judge has allowed the case to proceed.

In a dimly lit hut made of mud and straw, a shaft of sunlight slices through a hole in the ceiling and lands on a bag of rice. Debendra Tarek, 80, pulls out a handful of the rough brown grains and holds them up to the beam of light.

His bare chest is sunken, and his eyes glow deep in their sockets. "This resists the saltwater," the village elder explains through an interpreter. This variety of rice, he says, allows his family to remain here on Ghoramara, the island where they were born.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Before I had a child, I only occasionally set foot in the many parks in our neighborhood. Now I spend so much time in them that I can tell you about every swing set, picnic table and unfenced patch of grass within a two-mile radius. Also the location and cleanliness quotient of every park restroom.

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Sundarbans literally means "beautiful forest," but as the novelist Amitav Ghosh writes, "There is no prettiness here to invite the stranger in." The largest mangrove forest in the world — home to man-eating tigers and hungry tides — is already seeing the impact of climate change.

The National Academy of Sciences — probably the country's most prestigious scientific group — has reaffirmed its judgment that GMOs are safe to eat. But the group's new report struck a different tone from previous ones, with much more space devoted to concerns about genetically modified foods, including social and economic ones.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Plains All American Pipeline company is facing criminal charges after one of its pipelines ruptured last year, spilling about 140,000 gallons of crude oil that fouled miles of California coastline near Santa Barbara.

A California grand jury indicted the company and one of its employees on 46 criminal counts. Four are felony charges — including one charge of knowingly discharging a pollutant into state waters, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said at a Tuesday news conference.

South Africa is said to be a country where rape is "highly prevalent" – that's the finding of a comprehensive 2011 report compiled by several universities. According to police statistics released in September, there were nearly 54,000 sexual offenses in the year running from mid-2014 to mid-2015.

And this spring, Facebook has sparked two big stories about attitudes toward rape.

A man moves to a city in Florida and decides he wants to be mayor. He wins the election. He's happy. Then he's told his city is slowly going underwater. Not financially. Literally.

James Cason had settled in Coral Gables, a seaside town near Miami, six years ago. He ran for mayor on the Republican ticket and, soon after he won, heard the lecture by scientists about sea level rise and South Florida that left him flabbergasted.

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