Health, Science and Environment

Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

Listen up, night owls: If you're sleeping six or fewer hours per night, you're not doing your health any favors.

A new study finds that getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night may help you tame your sweet tooth.

This past year, 2017, was among the warmest years on record, according to new data released by NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

The planet's global surface temperature last year was the second highest since 1880, NASA says. NOAA calls it the third warmest year on record, because of slight variations in the ways that they analyze temperatures.

Both put 2017 behind 2016's record temperatures. And "both analyses show that the five warmest years on record have all taken place since 2010," NASA said in a press release.

We live in an age of heightened awareness about concussions. From battlefields around the world to football fields in the U.S., we've heard about the dangers caused when the brain rattles around inside the skull and the possible link between concussions and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

You know your cats' cute habits, their distinct personalities and their likes and dislikes for food, play and affection.

But could you say whether your cats are right-pawed or left-pawed? That is, have you noticed which paw they use first to step over a raised object or to step down the stairs?

The National Parks And Ryan Zinke

Jan 18, 2018

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Trump has frequently promised to protect religious freedom in this country...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.

A former Department of Energy photographer has filed a federal whistleblower suit alleging he lost his job after leaking photos of a private meeting between Energy Secretary Rick Perry and a major Trump donor who heads one of the country's largest mining companies.

The photographer, Simon Edelman, took photos of the March 29, 2017, meeting between Perry and Robert "Bob" Murray, the CEO of Ohio-based Murray Energy, who gave $300,000 to the Trump campaign.

With the death of biologist Mathilde Krim on Monday, at the age of 91 at her home in New York, the world lost a pioneering scientist, activist and fundraiser in AIDS research. She is being widely praised this week for her clarity, compassion and leadership.

Amid the panic, confusion and discrimination of the HIV epidemic's earliest days, Krim stood out — using science and straight talk, in the 1980s and beyond, to dispel fear, stigma, and misinformation among politicians and the public.

Aetna settled a lawsuit for $17 million Wednesday over a data breach that happened in the summer of 2017. The privacy of as many as 12,000 people insured by Aetna was compromised in a very low-tech way: the fact that they had been taking HIV drugs was revealed through the clear window of the envelope.

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