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Researchers Agree To Temporary Halt For Bird Flu Experiments

Scientists have said that they are voluntarily putting some controversial bird flu research on hold.

The move to suspend the work for 60 days comes in response to critics who say their work is dangerous.

People rarely get sick with bird flu, caused by the H5N1 virus, and when they do, they're generally not contagious.

But researchers wanted to know if this potentially deadly virus might evolve and start a dangerous pandemic. So they tweaked its genes and made viruses that spread more easily between lab animals.

Critics say that was irresponsible, in part because these now transmissible viruses might escape from the lab.

The scientists who did the work, as well as other flu experts from around the world, have just published a letter on the decision in two major research journals — Science and Nature.

"We recognize that we and the rest of the scientific community need to clearly explain the benefits of this important research and the measures taken to minimize its possible risks," the researchers write in the letter. "We propose to do so in an international forum in which the scientific community comes together to discuss and debate these issues."

During the pause, they say they will do no experiments with the lab-altered viruses, and they won't create any more like them.

Reports on the initial results and the possibility they might be published raised alarms about bioterrorism. "It's just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a lethal and highly contagious virus," Dr. Thomas Inglesby, a bioterrorism specialist and director of the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center told NPR in November. "And it's a second bad idea for them to publish how they did it so others can copy it."

In December, a federal advisory panel said key details of the work shouldn't be published.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Verdine White On 45 Years With Earth, Wind & Fire

Forty-five years ago, the band “Earth, Wind and Fire” introduced audiences to a new kind of funk--one that fused soul, jazz, Latin and pop. Bassist Verdine White talks to guest host Derek McGinty about breaking racial boundaries in music and how the band is still evolving.

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The Democratic National Convention gets underway in Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton will accept the presidential nomination.

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Verizon Buys Yahoo For $4.8 Billion In Cash, Touting Gains In Mobile

The deal comes more than a year after Verizon paid $4.4 billion to acquire AOL; as part of Verizon, Yahoo will join the same division AOL currently occupies.

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