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Secrets Of Success From A 102-Year-Old Runner

Sep 14, 2018

Editor's note: This story was originally published in January and has been republished with updates on Man Kaur's running achievements.

At 102, Man Kaur is still running — and winning gold medals.

The phenomenon from India just nailed the gold medal in the 200-meter race for the 100-to-104 age group at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain. She finished in 3 minutes and 14 seconds.

Then again, she was the only competitor in that age bracket.

She also picked up a gold medal in the javelin competition.

Farmer Gao Yongfei is paying much closer attention to his more than 5,000 pigs than ever before.

That's because hundreds of pigs at farms nearby are dying from a mysterious virus, and Gao and his staff are now vigilantly checking his herd for symptoms of African swine fever.

"You know the pig is sick if its mouth has turned dark and it's acting crazy," says the 64-year-old owner of Yongfei Livestock Farm. "When you find a pig that has the fever, you need to slaughter it immediately."

On the Atrai River in the northwest of Bangladesh, a small beige boat is tied up in tall grass that lines the riverbank.

The interior of the boat is packed with narrow benches which in turn are jammed with children.

There are 29 students in this third-grade class and it would be hard to fit any more into the narrow vessel. The kids sit shoulder-to-shoulder facing a blackboard at the back of the boat.

When the teacher asks for a volunteer to recite a multiplication table, 8-year-old Nila Khatun's hand shoots straight toward the unpainted ceiling.

It's one of the most basic humanitarian goals — make sure no one goes hungry. And for decades the world has been making steady progress to ensure not only that people don't starve but that children have enough nutrients to grow and thrive.

But since the year 2014 global progress against hunger hasn't just stalled. The war against hunger is in fact moving in the wrong direction.

Guillermo does not exist — on social media at least. He has a Facebook account, but he doesn't publicly use his real name. He doesn't have a profile picture, doesn't show his location, and never posts a single thing. He mostly logs in to read about sports.

Guillermo asked that his last name be withheld — he worries about his family. They still live in Venezuela. Amid political and economic chaos, over a million Venezuelans have left the country in the last two years.

Around the world, people are struggling for access to drinking water. All Things Considered is examining the forces at play in separating the haves from the have-nots — from natural disasters to crumbling infrastructure and corruption.

In Korangi, a slum neighborhood of Karachi, a sprawling port city of some 16 million people in Pakistan, there's no running water.

So how do people get the water they need to drink, to cook, to wash up and to clean their homes?

The Sahara desert is expanding, and has been for at least a century. It's a phenomenon that seems impossible to stop.

But it hasn't stopped at least one group of scientists from dreaming of a way to do it. And their proposed solution, a grand scheme that involves covering vast areas of desert with solar panels and windmills, just got published in the prestigious journal Science.

When you go through airport security, you might wish you had a pair of gloves on like the TSA agents do.

Researchers have evidence that the plastic trays in security lines are a haven for respiratory viruses. The trays likely harbor more of these pathogens than the flushing button on the airport toilets, researchers reported last week in BMC Infectious Diseases.

Eww.

Fully half the world's students aged 13 to 15, or 150 million teens, reported that they'd been bullied in the past month or been in a physical fight in the past year, according to a new report from UNICEF. In addition, half of all children live in countries that allow some forms of corporal punishment in school, putting 720 million kids at risk of violence from their teachers.

What Kills 5 Million People A Year? It's Not Just Disease

Sep 5, 2018

In the global health world, giving people access to health care — even if they're just basic services — has long been a top priority.

But what if that approach is wrong?

A new report published in The Lancet on Wednesday finds that when it comes to health, quality — not quantity — seems to be more important.

In July 2017, I wrote a story about two young Nigerians who quit their office jobs to start an informal school for kids in a camp for displaced people in Abuja, the country's capital. How's the project going?

In the tribal region of Pakistan where Khalida Brohi grew up, girls didn't typically go to school. Instead, some were forced into marriage at a very young age — and punished by death if they don't act according to plan.

That's what happened to Brohi's 14-year-old cousin, Khadija. Khadija's family had arranged a marriage for her, but Khadija fell in love with someone else and ran away. Then, Brohi says, "Three men arrived and they took her ... to a place where her grave was already dug and she was murdered by my uncle right there."

So I finally did it. I went and took a goat yoga class. As the editor of the Goats and Soda blog, I felt it was my duty.

Goat yoga is one of those things that sound like a joke. But it is very real.

The idea is pretty simple: A yoga teacher leads a class of humans while goats interact with the yogis.

Preferably the goats are kids because, really, you wouldn't want a 30-pound goat climbing on you. Or butting heads with you.

In February, Chris Junior Anaekwe recruited a dozen teenage boys to help him shovel out trash from street gutters near a busy market in his hometown of Onitsha, Nigeria. As a result, people around the world praised him as a shining example to local youth. How is his campaign against trash going?

When photographer Nico Therin came across pictures of wrestling matches on the sand in Senegal, he was so intrigued he decided to take his camera and go.

It didn't take long for Therin to learn that in Senegal, wrestling is a national sport. As Khadim Gadiaga, president of the Senegalese Wrestlers Association, puts it, "Every Senegalese — mothers and fathers, even the president of the republic — they love Senegalese wrestling."

If hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it.

But there it was, right in front of me: A preteen voluntarily doing chores around the house.

There was no fuss. No nagging or whining. And there were no visible rewards.

I was visiting Maya families in the Yucatan, reporting for NPR's special parenting series #HowToRaiseAHuman. While I was interviewing one mom her 12-year-old daughter went over to the dishes and started washing away — without being asked.

The latest Mission Impossible film is a global health nerd's dream. There's an immunization campaign. Weaponized smallpox. A medical camp run by a fictional aid organization. And of course: Tom Cruise chasing the bad guy in a helicopter over the disputed region of Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan (spoiler alert: that was filmed in New Zealand).

So what does a real-life health worker make of all that?

In 2017, we reported on the impact of the photo of the drowned boy on the beach, which stirred up public concern for the Syrian refugee crisis. A memoir by the boy's aunt details the family's struggles in Syria — and their fatal attempt to cross from Turkey to Greece in a rubber boat.

The Hidden Toll Of Conflict On Kids

Aug 30, 2018

Over the last two decades, violent conflicts in Africa have likely resulted in the death of as many as 5 million young children — 3 million of them infants. That's the sobering estimate in a new study published Thursday in the journal The Lancet.

In 2015, I heard about this made-up holiday called "World Kindness Day" and thought it would be interesting to talk to someone whose life had been changed by the kindness of strangers. A contact put me in touch with Kennedy Odede.

As the editor of a blog called Goats and Soda (see this story for the explanation behind the name), I'm always interested in the latest goat research.

So I was definitely hooked by a press release that declared, "Goats prefer happy people."

Tales of corruption in Nigeria are legion. And like many analysts of the country, Matthew Page has his favorites. There's the case of the clerk at the state examinations board who was called to account for the disappearance of $100,000 in exam fees. While news accounts of her explanations varied, according to some reports, "she claimed that a magical snake had slithered into the safe and eaten the money," chuckles Page, who spent more than a decade studying Nigeria as an intelligence officer for various U.S. agencies.

In March, I interviewed Cedric Habiyaremye, a 31-year-old Ph.D. student at Washington State University who is trying to get Rwandan farmers to grow and eat quinoa. How's his project going?

Cedric Habiyaremye, 31, wanted Rwandan farmers to get excited about quinoa because of its nutritional punch. But now, he says, they're a little too excited.

It was the news they'd been dreading. Last week, world health officials learned that a doctor's wife had contracted Ebola. She is from Oicha, a town in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo that is surrounded by a violent insurgent militia called the Allied Democratic Forces.

Her case is one of many in an outbreak that's been ongoing since the start of August. But it was the first to be confirmed in a location that is difficult for health workers to reach because of the conflict raging in that part of the country.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In 2013, NPR reported on an improbable inventor: Jorge Odon, a middle-aged car mechanic who — inspired by watching a stupid party trick — designed a medical device that could revolutionize childbirth. Here's how we described it: "The Odon Device ... guides a folded plastic sleeve around the baby's head.

A Syrian refugee camp in the desert is an unlikely place to rent a wedding gown — until you step inside "Salon Al Fardous" or "Paradise Salon." It's housed in one of the trailers that line Market Street, the main road of Zaatari, Jordan's largest camp for Syrian refugees.

In the large windows are gowns in shades like brilliant red and turquoise (white is not necessarily the color of a bridal gown in Muslim traditions). And inside the store there are dozens more -- for brides and members of the bridal party of all ages.

Tiny, pesky and deadly, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are super at spreading disease, including dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus. Yet all over the world, scientists, nonprofits and biotech companies are raising hordes of this species to release into the wild.

Why is that?

For decades people have relied on industrial pesticides to beat back mosquito populations and limit the diseases they spread. But with continued use, some pesticides lose their effectiveness as the bugs build up resistance.

A few years ago, historian Douglas Selvage discovered the blueprint for a fake news campaign. It was a 1985 cable from the Stasi, the former East German police, outlining how the Soviet Union and its allies were working to promote the idea that AIDS was an American biological weapon. "We are carrying a complex of active measures, in connection with the appearance in recent years, of a new, dangerous disease in the United States: Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS."

Devastating rainfall followed by treacherous landslides have killed 210 people since August 8 and displaced over a million in the southern Indian state of Kerala. India's National Disaster Relief Force launched its biggest ever rescue operation in the state, evacuating over 10,000 people. The Indian army and the navy were deployed as well.

But they had some unexpected assistance.

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