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Middle East
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

AP Reporter On Story Linking CIA, American Missing In Iran

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And another story of intrigue with plenty of unanswered questions. An American claiming to be a businessman went to Iran seven years ago and then he vanished. An Associated Press investigation into Robert Levinson's disappearance uncovers that he was actually part of a sensitive covert and apparently rogue operation that shook the CIA when it came to light.

Matt Apuzzo is part of the reporting team at the AP who broke this story. Matt, welcome back to the program.

MATT APUZZO: Great to be here.

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Asia
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

What The Execution Of Kim Jong Un's Uncle Means For N. Korea

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. We're looking this morning at two stories of international intrigue. First to North Korea. Until recently, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un was the country's second-in-command. Earlier this week, though, he was detained on national television, hustled out of a meeting by guards.

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Africa
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

For Burial, Mandela Will Return To His Beloved Boyhood Village

A mother and her son stand in their garden behind a fence at the perimeter of Nelson Mandela's property in Qunu, South Africa, as funeral preparations continue Friday. Mandela will be buried Sunday in the small, rural village that was his boyhood home.
Yannis Behrakis Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 11:29 am

Some African leaders have lavished resources on their home villages, building palaces and outsize monuments to themselves that look entirely out of place in the poor and remote spots they came from.

Nelson Mandela adamantly rejected such extravagance, and the world will see for itself when he's buried Sunday in Qunu, a simple village set amid the lush green hills in the southeastern corner of the country. It's little changed from the days when Mandela ran barefoot in the fields and herded sheep and calves as a boy nearly a century ago.

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Environment
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Scientists Battle Over Fate Of Yellowstone's Grizzlies

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The North America's grizzly bear is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Its population was virtually wiped out in the lower 48 states. One group of bears, though, may soon lose that protection - the Yellowstone grizzly. Some scientists say that group is thriving. Others disagree. NPR's Christopher Joyce has more on the battle over the bear.

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Strange News
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz Has A Hit Coloring Book

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Strange News
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Buckingham Guards' Snack Fancy Reportedly Riled Queen

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm David Greene.

Apparently, the queen of England is going nuts about Buckingham Palace Guards snacking on the job. This is a detail that came out during the long trial of defunct Murdoch tabloid News of the World. According to emails read in court, the queen's staff placed bowls of nuts around the palace for her. But royal police roaming the corridors couldn't resist. So her highness drew lines on the bowls to keep track of the snack levels.

Man, for these cops, what a royal pain.

Politics
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

House OKs Wide-Ranging Defense Authorization Bill

A compromise defense bill is making its way through Congress. The authorization measure deals with everything from sexual assault in the military to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to operations in Afghanistan.

Politics
5:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Hard-Fought Budget Deal On Its Way To The Senate

The House passes the House-Senate budget compromise after Speaker John Boehner criticizes conservative groups — and implicitly their allies in Congress — for their opposition. Next stop: the Senate.

Movie Reviews
5:30 am
Fri December 13, 2013

A 'Hustle' With Flow (And Plenty Of Flair)

A '70s con-artist couple (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) are forced to team up with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper, right) in American Hustle, inspired by a real-life sting targeting corrupt politicians.
Francois Duhamel Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 12:46 pm

David O. Russell hovers at the top of my list of favorite directors. He captures the messy collision of self-interests that for him defines America. In American Hustle, he whips up a black comedy based on Abscam, the late-'70s FBI sting that centered on a bogus sheik and led to the bribery convictions of sundry U.S. politicians. But he doesn't tell the real Abscam story; he adapts it to fit his theme, which is that most of us are busy reinventing ourselves and conning one another.

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The Two-Way
5:24 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Book News: Publisher's Charity To Pay $7.7 Million Settlement In For-Profit Case

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman holds a November news conference on a settlement deal with JPMorgan Chase.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 5:13 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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The Two-Way
5:17 am
Fri December 13, 2013

For Friday The 13th, Say It With Us: Paraskevidekatriaphobia

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 8:16 am

  • Korva Coleman helps cure Friday the 13th fears

Because we want everyone to feel safe, once again we offer this advice for how to get through another Friday the 13th:

Learn how to pronounce paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Successfully saying that super long word supposedly cures one of any Friday the 13th-related fears.

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The Two-Way
4:45 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Obama's 'You Can Keep It' Promise Is 'Lie Of The Year'

President Obama: He's been called out on one of his highest-profile promises.
Drew Angerer/pool Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 11:59 am

President Obama's oft-repeated promise that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it" is 2013's "lie of the year," according to the fact checkers at the Tampa Bay Times' nonpartisan PolitiFact project.

PolitiFact says that:

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Author Interviews
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

2001 Army-Navy Game Marked By Specter Of Sept. 11

Navy players await the start of their annual game against Army, on Dec. 1, 2001.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 10:59 am

On Saturday, Army and Navy will take the field to renew their legendary football rivalry for the 114th time. The teams are playing in Philadelphia, which is also where they faced off in 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The players that year faced a sobering new reality: The nation was at war, and they'd soon leave the football field behind for the battlefield.

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Poetry
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

An Elegy For Mandela Looks Back In Mourning, Forward In Hope

On Dec. 8, three days after Nelson Mandela's death, a girl in Johannesburg lights a candle in his memory. Poet Mbali Vilakazi has written an elegy for Mandela that asks the next generation of South Africans to continue his legacy.
Pedro Ugarte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:52 am

In his youth, Nelson Mandela cut a dashing figure. He was a revolutionary, an outlaw — by the early 1960s, he was living underground. And he had a nickname to match: he was known as the Black Pimpernel.

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Movie Interviews
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Tom Hanks And Emma Thompson On The Magic Of Disney

Chronicling the behind-the-scenes drama of the Mary Poppins film, Saving Mr. Banks stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and author P.L. Travers.
Francois Duhamel Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:09 pm

Before the movie Mary Poppins, there were the beloved books about the nanny who swept in on an east wind to care for the Banks children at No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London.

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The Salt
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

USDA Steps Up The Fight To Save Florida's Oranges

Oranges ripen in a Plant City, Fla., grove on Wednesday. Growers in Florida, Texas and California are worried about citrus greening, a disease that makes the fruit bitter and unmarketable.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:52 am

The citrus industry is facing a crisis. It's called citrus greening — a disease that has devastated orange production in Florida since it first showed up eight years ago. Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a new effort to try to control the disease before it destroys the nation's citrus industry.

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Shots - Health News
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Promises To Fix Mental Health System Still Unfulfilled

Rheanna Kathleen Morris hugs her mom, Peggy Sinclair-Morris.
Jenny Gold for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 8:23 am

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., one year ago sparked a national conversation about the country's troubled mental health system. Politicians convened task forces and promised additional funding and new laws. But today, despite those promises, patients and advocates say treatment for mental health is still in shambles.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

One Year After Newtown, Still No Answer To 'Why'

A crime scene photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows a rifle in the master bedroom in Adam Lanza's house.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:52 am

As Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy sped from Hartford to Newtown nearly a year ago, the death toll kept rising. When he arrived on the scene, he found himself in charge — and it fell to him to answer the question: How long should family members have to wait to learn that their loved ones were gone?

Malloy decided that he was going to do what he thought was right. Still, standing in front of more than two dozen families gathered in a firehouse, he doubted that it was.

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Opinion
2:48 am
Fri December 13, 2013

A Baby Who Saved Her Family From 'The Dark Moments'

Francisco Vasquez says his niece, Ellie, and his sister's battle with cancer have transformed his life "forever."
Courtesy of Maria Vasquez-Rojas

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 12:34 pm

Three years ago, Maria Vasquez-Rojas received news to celebrate: After many attempts to conceive, she was going to have a baby. But while pregnant with her daughter, Ellie, Maria was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.

"If I had not gone in for that ultrasound they would have never caught it. [Ellie] saved my life," Maria tells her brother, Francisco Vasquez, on a visit to StoryCorps in Los Angeles.

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The Two-Way
7:11 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Chinese Ag Scientists Charged With Stealing Patented Seeds

Two agricultural scientists from China have been accused of trying to steal patented seeds from a biopharmaceutical company in Kansas.

Separately, six men from China, including the CEO of a seed corn subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate, were charged Thursday with conspiring to steal patented seed corn from two of the nation's leading seed developers, prosecutors said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

It wasn't immediately clear if the arrests were related, but The AP wrote of the group of six charged:

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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

American Who Disappeared In Iran Reportedly Worked For CIA

A "proof of life" photo provided to the family of ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson in April 2011.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:05 am

The Associated Press reports in an investigative piece that an ex-FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 and was last seen in a "proof of life" photograph more than two years ago had been working for the CIA, despite official denials from the U.S.

Robert Levinson, who would now be 65, vanished after traveling in March 2007 to the Iranian island of Kish, described by The Associated Press as a resort "awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures."

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All Tech Considered
5:45 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Wireless Companies, FCC Reach Deal On 'Unlocking' Cellphones

U.S. wireless carriers reached a deal with the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday that will make it easier for consumers to "unlock" their mobile phones and use them on a competitor's network.

The deal came in the wake of a consumer rebellion over the policy of locking cellphones to a carrier. A petition that garnered more than 114,000 signatures landed at the White House, and the Obama administration sided with the petitioners.

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The Two-Way
5:20 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

U.N. Report Confirms Chemical Weapons Were Used In Syria

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:23 am

Chemical weapons were used in Syria's civil war, according to a team of international chemical weapons experts sent to investigate claims of chemical attacks.

"The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic," the inspectors say.

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The Two-Way
4:49 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

House Approves Budget Deal; Compromise Heads To Senate

House Speaker John Boehner leaves a news conference Thursday, after criticizing conservative groups that he said held too much sway in Republican politics, "pushing our members in places where they don't want to be."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:05 am

The House has approved a bipartisan budget deal to cut around $23 billion from the federal deficit over 10 years while removing the threat of a possible government shutdown until 2015. A shutdown deadline had loomed for Jan. 15.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 also sets spending levels for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, which its backers say will add more stability to both the U.S. economy and the government's operations.

Update at 6:35 p.m. ET: The Vote Tally

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It's All Politics
4:48 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Conservative Grass Roots Remains Skeptical Of Budget Deal

The Texas chapter of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity held an event Wednesday called "All I Want for Christmas is Less Federal Spending."
Alan Greenblatt NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:26 pm

John Boehner has had it with fielding complaints from the right.

The House Speaker's frustration with conservative groups opposing the budget deal boiled over Wednesday, when he delivered an unusually stinging critique, and again the next day.

"Frankly," he told reporters Thursday at a news conference, "I just think they've lost all credibility."

With Boehner, perhaps.

But at the grass-roots level, a Wednesday event held by one of those groups suggested the speaker's view of the budget agreement will still get some pushback.

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Shots - Health News
4:37 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

If You Drank Like James Bond, You'd Be Shaken, Too

James Bond is famous worldwide for his love of martinis and the ladies. But at six or seven drinks a day, the former was likely to hurt his odds with the latter.
Danjaq/ EON Productions

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 8:27 am

We all know James Bond had a hankering for martinis. But it looks like the international spy threw back far more Vespers, his martini of choice, than was good for him.

Dr. Indra Neil Guha, a liver specialist, and his colleagues at Nottingham University Hospital in England spent a year poring over Ian Fleming's James Bond books and tabulating how many drinks the suave spy drank a day.

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It's All Politics
4:18 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Boehner Blasts Tea Party Groups Over Budget Deal Criticism

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise during a Thursday news conference on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Some moments feel like turning points. Speaker John Boehner's rhetorical takedown of his party's Tea Party faction seems like one such moment.

For two days running, Boehner, R-Ohio, has made clear that he's heard just about enough from conservative advocacy groups such as the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks.

On Wednesday, he called them "ridiculous." On Thursday, he said "they've lost all credibility."

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Code Switch
3:38 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

African-American Gun Club Hopes To Help Curb Youth Violence

The Maryland Tenth Cavalry Gun Club, based in Marriottsville, Md., focuses as much on discipline and black history as it does on shooting.
Courtesy of the Maryland Tenth Cavalry Gun Club

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:17 pm

More than 200 people have been killed this year in Baltimore. Most of them were black, and most of them were shot to death, despite Maryland having one of the nation's toughest gun laws. This comes two years after the city recorded its lowest murder rate in more than two decades.

Members of one of the few African-American social firearm clubs in the nation think teaching young people different ideas about guns might help deter them from a life of violence.

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The Two-Way
3:38 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Secret U.S. Stealth Drone Flies Out Of The Shadows

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:34 pm

In retrospect, it should come as no surprise that this story did not immediately appear on our radar: Last week, Aviation Week reported that the classified RQ-180 stealth drone has begun test flights at Area 51.

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The Two-Way
3:36 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Kim Jong Un's Uncle, Formerly North Korea's No. 2, Is Executed

A still image taken from North Korea's state-run television footage and released Monday shows Jang Song Thaek being forcibly removed by uniformed personnel from a meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang.
Yonhap/Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:05 am

North Korea has announced that Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and formerly the second most powerful man in the country, has been executed after being found guilty of treason by a military tribunal.

"The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.

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