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Back in 1996, a group of baby cicadas burrowed into soils in the eastern U.S. to lead a quiet life of constant darkness and a diet of roots. Now at the ripe age of 17, those little cicadas are all grown up and it's time to molt, procreate and die while annoying a few million humans with their constant chirping in the process.

San Jose, Calif., is just a piece of a very big March Madness pie. But in the eight teams that gathered there for second- and third-round games this week, you could see the undeniable trend in big-time college basketball globalization.

Rosters from schools as geographically diverse as Syracuse, New Mexico State and California featured athletes from Senegal, France, Canada, South Africa, Croatia, Sudan.

But it's the University of Oregon with a groundbreaker — from Iran.

Anyone looking for a glimmer of bipartisanship in Washington might want to pay attention to the medical device tax that is part of Obamacare. It took a notable, if largely symbolic, hit this week from the left and the right.

The 2.3-percent excise tax on devices ranging from MRI machines to pacemakers to stethoscopes was meant to raise $20 billion over 10 years to help pay for extending health care coverage to the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.

But so far it has raised more ire than revenue.

The gastric brooding frog may be coming back. Does that give us a lot to brood about, too?

This week scientists at the University of New South Wales' Lazarus Project announced they have reproduced the genome — that bit of biological material that carries our genetic structure — of a gastric brooding frog.

Another big shock from the NCAA tournament: Florida Gulf Coast "busted a load of brackets" Friday, beating second-seeded Georgetown, as The Associated Press reports.

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles managed a 78-68 victory over the Hoyas, only the seventh time in NCAA history that a No. 15 seed beat a No. 2, the AP says.

The soul-searching over the Defense of Marriage Act went viral last week after Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a social conservative and original co-sponsor of the 1996 bill, sought out CNN to say something no one saw coming.

Portman said he'd decided to oppose DOMA and support same-sex marriage, two years after learning his college-age son was gay.

Editor's note: When Arab Spring protests broke out in Saudi Arabia in 2011, the government reacted quickly, pumping $130 billion into the economy and cracking down on dissent. While this approach has worked in some cities, the Shiite Muslims in the Eastern Province continued to demonstrate. Reese Erlich, on assignment for GlobalPost and NPR, managed to get into the city of Qatif and meet with protest leaders.

In Chicago, parents are fighting to prevent the city from closing 54 public schools. The Chicago Teachers Union is planning a rally against the cost-cutting proposal next week.

School closings are nothing new, but in a growing number of districts around the country, what was once seen as a local decision to close schools has now morphed into a politically charged campaign.

The Affordable Care Act turns 3 on Saturday, and it seems just as divisive as the day President Obama signed it.

NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to find out how the coral reefs are coping with increased water temperature and increasing ocean acidity, brought about by our burning of fossil fuels. Day 5: A return to shore finds that people prefer cars to corals.

It's not every day you open an in-flight magazine and read an ad touting "spitwater pressure cleaners for the mining industry." Flip the page and you'll also see an ad cajoling you to "snorkel, sip, snooze" on the Great Barrier Reef.

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to weigh in on gay marriage, Maggie Gallagher, one of the nation's leading voices in opposition to same-sex marriage, is also preparing for what might come next.

Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, likes to call herself an "accidental activist." After graduating from Yale in 1982, she thought she'd become a writer and focus on what she called "important things," like money and war. She never fathomed she'd end up on TV almost daily, smack in the middle of the war zone over gay marriage.

Saturday Mail Delivery: Safe For Now?

Mar 22, 2013

Does the budget bill passed by Congress this week derail the United States Postal Service (USPS) plan to end Saturday delivery of first class mail?

A lot of fanfare followed last November's election, when the number of women in the U.S. Senate surged to 20 — more than ever before.

But quieter victories came after. Female senators now claim an unprecedented number of leadership positions, and for the first time in history, women are at the helm of both the Appropriations and Budget committees — as well as half of the Armed Services subcommittees.

The Republican and Democratic parties have been in a digital arms race for years. And this week, Republicans frankly admitted that they are losing.

Now, the GOP has ambitious plans to improve its game.

Monday's report from the Republican National Committee puts it bluntly: "Republicans must catch up on how we utilize technology in our campaigns. The Obama team is several years ahead of everyone else in its technological advantage."

Are Younger Catholics Abandoning Fish On Fridays?

Mar 22, 2013

It's Friday, and it's Lent. Maybe those of you raised Catholic, as I was, remember tuna noodle casserole, sticks, or the Friday night fish fry?

Seafood consumption typically increases during Lent in the U.S. But Harry Balzer of the survey firm NPD Group says younger Americans are less likely to follow the tradition.

Doctors and hospital administrators in parts of the country that are heavy Medicare spenders can relax their grips on their prescription pads and billing computers.

An influential panel on Friday panned the idea raised in Congress to pay them less for Medicare services if their regions are heavy users of medical services.

The idea is an outgrowth of decades of research into why Medicare spends more per beneficiary in some places such as New York City, Florida and McAllen, Texas, and significantly less in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Friday that it will close 149 air traffic control towers from April 7 due to budget constraints. The number announced is 40 fewer than the FAA originally planned to close. The cuts in service are part of the FAA's response to sequestration, as we reported in a recent story from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pa.:

Some Toddler Foods Come With A Megadose Of Salt

Mar 22, 2013

Feeding toddlers can be a challenge, so it's easy to see the lure of prepackaged favorites like mac and cheese. But many of those foods deliver startlingly high amounts of sodium, some with three times more than recommended in a single serving, according to a new survey.

The offenders include not just savory snacks but also healthful-sounding foods like pasta and chicken, according to Joyce Maalouf, a fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous across Africa and Asia, but lowly toilets haven't.

Right now, 6 billion people around the world have cellphones. But only 4.5 billion people have access to a clean commode, the United Nations said Thursday.

Chinua Achebe And The Bravery Of Lions

Mar 22, 2013

Chinua Achebe, the prominent Nigerian novelist and essayist who died on Thursday, said in a 1994 interview with the Paris Review, "There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."

Yes the 2012 elections have been combed over a thousand times. But what's one more detail, right?

Today, Bloomberg reports that were it not for egos, Mitt Romney could have been toppled by a conservative "unity ticket" featuring Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Had the two united, there would have been a real possibility that Romney wouldn't have made it past the primary process and 2012 would have been truly different race.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler is saying something a lot of the television network's fans have been waiting to hear — that its content could be offered to customers directly through their Internet service providers instead of a cable company.

Right now, HBO must be purchased through a cable provider. Plepler tells Reuters that HBO Go, an online streaming service launched by the network in 2010 (but still only available as an extra to your cable TV) might also be sold through ISPs.

Gay marriage opponents say they're protecting women and children first.

When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments about same-sex marriage next week, much of the debate will turn on legal questions surrounding issues such as federalism and due process.

But the underlying questions are more emotional, with moral objections frequently raised by members of the faith community.

Drug-sniffing dogs, those cute bellwethers of illegal activity, are dropping Marijuana from their repertoire in Washington state.

A 2012 ballot initiative legalized the use of marijuana in the state (although federal law still prohibits its use). Since then authorities have been working to implement the law. Part of that process is, apparently, to employ canines who don't react to the smell of marijuana. The AP explains why:

In a phone call today with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey over the 2010 Israeli raid of a flotilla that left nine people dead. The flotilla was attempting to break an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, when it was intercepted by Israel.

Two teens accused of rape in Steubenville, Ohio were convicted and sentenced this week. Host Michel Martin talks to the Barbershop guys about how the victim — and the perpetrators — were treated in the press. Writer Jimi Izrael, political science professor Lester Spence, civil rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar and Republican strategist R. Clarke Cooper discuss the week's news. ADVISORY: Please note, this conversation includes a discussion about rape and may not be suitable for all listeners.

Chinua Achebe, widely considered the grandfather of modern African literature, has died at the age of 82. His popular book, Things Fall Apart, tackled the effect of colonialism on Africa, and has sold more than 10 million copies. Host Michel Martin is joined by NPR Africa Correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton to look back on his life and work.

Bosco Ntaganda, a notorious warlord accused of crimes against humanity during Congo's civil war, is headed to an international court after turning himself in at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda earlier this week.

NPR's Gregory Warner reports that the surrender of Ntaganda, nicknamed "The Terminator," came as a surprise. He's been wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2006 for crimes against humanity, including conscripting child soldiers, murder, rape and sexual slavery allegedly committed in 2002 and 2003 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For many years, across the world, the extraordinarily powerful noses of dogs have been successfully used to help detect crime.

Now, in Britain, moves are under way to recruit humans to perform the same subtle work.

Police are encouraging the British to step out of their homes, raise their nostrils aloft, and see if they catch the whiff of wrongdoing wafting from the next-door neighbors.

Visitors to these crowded islands are often charmed by the small redbrick terraced houses that are in every town and city.

NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to find out how the coral reefs are coping with increased water temperature and increasing ocean acidity, brought about by our burning of fossil fuels. Day 4: Richard catches up with one of the gurus of climate science out on the reef.

Ken Caldeira loves a challenge, and he has a big one right under his feet. He's standing on an expanse of coral reef out in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. It's being washed with water as the tide streams over the reef, from a lagoon to the open sea.