NPR News

The Minnesota state Canvassing Board has agreed to start a hand recount of all 2.1 million votes cast in the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election between Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer.  Dayton, a Democrat and former U.S. senator, leads Emmer (R) by 8,770 votes, a margin of less than one-half of one percent ... which automatically triggers a recount.

The recount begins Monday in all 87 counties and must be finished by Dec. 7.  According to this plan, a winner would then be declared on Dec. 14.

Scientists are beginning to understand how the human brain accomplishes a remarkable trick known as the cocktail party effect. It's what allows us to pick out the words from just one speaker even when we're in a room full of other voices that are just as loud.

For decades, scientists have puzzled over how our brain is able to focus on certain sounds while filtering out others. Now they say they're finding clues, thanks to new research on birds and bats.

How green is green enough? For nearly two decades, that question has divided residents of a tiny island in the Florida Keys.

There are just 43 houses on No Name Key, and nearly every one is powered mostly by solar energy.

Sea gulls and pelicans gather near the short bridge that separates this island from more developed areas in the Keys. Turquoise blue water is on all sides. Just about everyone has a dock with a boat. Mangroves and palms provide cover for the miniature-sized Key deer that range freely through the neighborhoods.

When the Irish government decided in 2008 to bail out the nation's banks, the country started down the slope to fiscal ruin.

But the decision also had a much broader effect: It wound up inspiring bank bailouts throughout Europe and the U.S.

Ireland was the first country to bail out its banks during the 2008 crisis. The move prompted investors to begin moving their money out of other European banks and into Irish banks.

A treatment that's being billed as a big breakthrough in AIDS is prompting a very uncomfortable question: How much are we willing to pay to prevent people from becoming infected with HIV?

Scientists at San Francisco's Gladstone Institutes announced that gay men and some transgendered women who took a daily pill called Truvada were 73 percent less likely to become infected with the virus. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine today.

Part of a series on the U.S. Postal Service

Time was when you'd take out your favorite pen to write a heartfelt note in a Christmas card and then put a stamp on it. But for more than a decade, people have been using the Internet to send holiday greetings as well as birthday cards and party invitations.

Though my cold, black heart rarely stirs for the work of singer-songwriters, the voice of Sharon Van Etten always turns me into a weepy, vulnerable heap. If you listen closely to this gorgeous Tiny Desk performance she gave with her musical partner, Cat Martino, you can hear the sound of my eyelashes fluttering with misty delight.

Los Lobos has proven time and again that a universal shared experience will always trump culture and language. The group writes music that speaks to all of us as individuals, yet can make us feel connected when we pack ourselves into a club to watch them perform.

Few musicians get better with age, but Nick Lowe is an exception. I've been following Lowe's music since his days with the country-rock band Brinsley Schwarz in the early 1970s. He wrote one of his best-known tunes with that band: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" But it wasn't until he left Brinsley Schwarz that people began hearing his name, first with the Dave Edmunds project Rockpile. (Edmunds produced one of the last Brinsley Schwarz records, the one with "What's So Funny.")

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