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Parallels
4:25 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Afghan Farmers: Opium Is The Only Way To Make A Living

An Afghan farmer collects raw opium as he works in a poppy field in Nangarhar province on April 29. Poppy cultivation reached a record high this year despite Western efforts to reduce it.
Noorullah Shirzada AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 7:33 pm

Lashkar Gah is the capital of the volatile province that alone grows half of Afghanistan's opium poppy. Cultivation here grew by 34 percent over last year.

On Fridays, hundreds of men gather at the bazaar along the Helmand River, the lifeblood of this arid province. Vendors sell everything from livestock to boxes of artisanal medicine.

There's no sign of poppy here. In fact, the farmers we talk to like 26-year-old Khairullah, who goes by one name, say they are actually too poor to grow it.

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Health Care
4:25 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Health Care Registration Numbers Are Revealed

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 5:53 am

The Obama administration says just about 100,000 people managed to choose health plans through the federal and state health exchanges during their first month of the program. Critics say that shows the law is failing. But most analysts say the first month's numbers wouldn't have meant very much, even if the federal website had been working properly.

Business
4:25 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Will Bitcoin Ever Rival U.S. Dollar?

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:15 am

Bitcoin is an online currency backed by nothing except faith that others will accept it. A young American couple wondered how far could they could push it. The Wall Street Journal reports the couple traveled to three continents, and managed to persuade merchants everywhere to accept the currency. Almost everywhere — they did go hungry for a night in Stockholm.

All Tech Considered
2:08 am
Thu November 14, 2013

How The Sharing Economy Is Changing The Places We Work

Co-workers at Denver's Galvanize, a tech hub in Colorado's capital.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 1:43 pm

This week, we've been reporting on the sharing economy — a term that describes the couch-surfing, car-sharing and community-garden-growing world where so many people are using their existing talents, space or tools.

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Science
2:07 am
Thu November 14, 2013

As Climate Warms American West, Iconic Trout In Jeopardy

Native Westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout swim in the cool waters of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park, Montana.
Jonny Armstrong USGS

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 5:53 am

In the mountain streams of the American West, the trout rules. People don't just catch this fish; they honor it. And spend lots of money pursuing it.

But some western trout may be in trouble. Rivers and streams are getting warmer and there's often less water in them. Scientists suspect a changing climate is threatening this iconic fish.

I joined two such scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey as they drove up a mountain road in Montana, in the northern Rockies, a place dense with stands of Douglas fir and aspen trees and braided with mountain streams.

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