NPR Story
1:34 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Plushenko Retires After Olympic Withdrawal

Evgeni Plushenko of Russia withdraws from the competition after warming up during the Men's Figure Skating Short Program on day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Evgeni Plushenko’s Olympics are over. His competitive career, too. The Russian star retired Thursday just after he withdrew from the men’s event at the Sochi Olympics for medical reasons.

The 31-year-old Plushenko is the only modern-era figure skater to win medals in four Olympics. He helped Russia win the team gold over the weekend.

“I think it’s God saying, `Evgeni, enough, enough with skating,”‘ said Plushenko, who originally was hurt in a training session Wednesday. “Age, it’s OK. But I have 12 surgeries. I’d like to be healthy.”

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All Tech Considered
1:18 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Facebook Gives Users New Options To Identify Gender

Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison demonstrates the website's expanded options for gender identification at her company's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters. Harrison, who helped engineer the project, plans to switch her identifier to "Trans Woman."
Noah Berger AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 8:21 am

Gender identity online is evolving.

Facebook is rolling out changes to its 159 million members in the U.S. that will allow people to have a wider choice than simply male or female when selecting a gender description on the site.

A third option now appears in the gender field: custom. Users who select that option can then choose from roughly 50 options including Trans Male or Female, Cisgender or Androgynous.

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It's All Politics
1:09 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Debt Ceiling Vote Relied On GOP's 'Tough Vote' Caucus

House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (left), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (right) were among the 28 Republicans whose votes made it possible for most other Republicans to vote against the debt ceiling hike.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 12:08 pm

Within the House Republican Conference, an unofficial "tough vote" caucus is taking shape.

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The Two-Way
1:03 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

U.K. Warns Scotland: Vote To Secede, Lose Common Currency

A display of T-shirts are seen for sale in a Scottish memorabilia shop in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Jan. 13, 2012. Scotland votes in September on independence, but the U.K. government has warned that freedom will come at a cost: Scotland will lose the pound.
Scott Heppell AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 3:06 pm

Scotland, as we've told you previously, is voting later this year on breaking away from the U.K.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond had said that the new country would retain the pound as its currency and take on a portion of the U.K.'s debt. Britain's message today [Thursday]: Not so fast.

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All Tech Considered
12:24 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

How The Big Cable Deal Could Actually Boost Open-Internet Rules

Comcast is the largest cable company and home Internet service provider in the United States.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 4:59 am

An announced $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable — the largest and second-largest cable companies in the U.S., respectively — is under scrutiny not just for its massive size but also for its potential impact on Internet use.

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Parallels
11:51 am
Thu February 13, 2014

In Damp Country, Record-Breaking Rains Flood Britain

Priscilla Smithers and her four children have arranged chairs around a few air mattresses to create a space for themselves, after fleeing their home.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 6:15 am

Parts of England have been underwater for more than six weeks now, since storms began pummeling the west of Great Britain around Christmas. While many of those areas are still submerged, the situation keeps getting worse.

Now the floodwaters are lapping near Windsor Castle, as the Thames overflows its banks. Thousands of people have fled their homes, with more evacuating every day.

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Science
11:37 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Robot Construction Workers Take Their Cues From Termites

Climbing robots, modeled after termites, can be programmed to work together to build tailor-made structures.
[Image courtesy of Eliza Grinnell, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 4:58 pm

Termites can build huge, elaborate mounds that rise up from the ground like insect skyscrapers; scientists have now created little robots that act like termites to build a made-to-order structure.

"Termites are the real masters of construction in the insect world," says Justin Werfel of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. "The largest termite mound on record was 42 feet tall."

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The Two-Way
11:27 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Businesses Scramble To Deliver Valentine's Treats In Snow

Snow falls past a Valentine's Day display inside Lee's Flower & Card Shop in the early morning in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

If those flowers you were expecting fail to show up by Friday, don't be so quick to blame your Valentine. It could just be the weather.

That's not to say that the friendly neighborhood florist isn't planning for the worst — and hoping for the best.

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The Salt
11:22 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Why Some Olympians Load Up On Salad Instead Of Pasta

Peter Frenette of the United States jumps during training for the Men's Normal Hill Individual ahead of the start of the Sochi Games.
Lars Baron Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 8:53 am

When we imagine Olympic athletes at the table before the most important competition of their lives, we might picture a huge plate of pasta, with Gatorade to wash it down and a well-deserved ice cream sundae for dessert.

Turns out, they might be preparing with a salad, a glass of beet juice and some almonds.

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Belgian Lawmakers Extend Euthanasia To Terminally Ill Children

The electronic voting board shows Belgian politicians voted in favor of the bill on child euthanasia at the Belgian federal Parliament in Brussels on Thursday. Belgium, one of the few countries where euthanasia is legal, takes the unprecedented step of extending the right to children.
Yves Logghe AP

We told you Wednesday about a Belgian proposal that would have made the country the first in the world to allow terminally ill children to choose euthanasia. Thursday, lawmakers in the country voted overwhelmingly to allow just that.

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