Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Walk a street in Beijing and you'll likely hear a whirring noise as an electric bicycle glides past. They're common in China. One auto maker wants to make them more common here. The makers of tiny Smart cars put an electric bike on display at the Detroit Auto Show. People at that show can also find bikes with pedals, like the Toyota Prius-branded bike.
Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne. I have goldfish. They're small. On the other hand, my goldfish don't live in a lake, or at least one has gotten very, very big.
Fishing at Lake St. Claire, Michigan last weekend, Mark Martin reeled in a goldfish big enough to mount on his wall. Most likely dumped by a former owner, it weighed more than three pounds and is nearly 15 inches long. It might be a record catch, if Michigan kept records on goldfish.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 7:35 pm
Tracy Chevalier's 1999 masterpiece, Girl with a Pearl Earring, was a tour de force, revealing the painter Vermeer through the eyes of his 16-year-old maid. A publishing sensation, the novel set the pattern for Chevalier's subsequent work: meticulously researched historical fiction, filled with gritty detail yet rendered in luminous prose.
The Federal Reserve, yesterday, released its latest snapshot of the state of the U.S. economy. Retail and auto sales were up slightly over the year before, as was activity in the all important housing sector. Real estate sales were seen as steady or improved across much of the country.
For more on housing prices and economic recovery, we turn this morning, as we often do, to David Wessel. He's economics editor of The Wall Street Journal. Good morning.
The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau is unveiling today the second half of its new mortgage rules. It will outline how the mortgage industry must manage loans that are delinquent or in the process of being foreclosed.
NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports that these rules, among other things, aim to make it easier for borrowers to communicate with the people handling their mortgages.
You heard the president acknowledge that in some parts of the country - and more specifically, some congressional districts - gun ownership is stronger than in other parts of the country. He would need allies in those places to overcome or persuade the gun industry and its lobbying groups. Industry officials are ready to fight.
As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, some of the proposals, especially a ban on assault weapons, could take a bite out of gun-makers' revenue.
And today's last word in business is: outsourcing.
When an American-based company noticed that somebody had been logging onto their computer system from China, day after day, they worried it was hackers so they called in some telecom risk experts from Verizon.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And what they discovered was surprising. The activity from China was all being done with the logon of one of the firms' top software developers. Turns out the unnamed employee was outsourcing his job to several Chinese consulting companies.
In West Africa, the push to prevent militant Islamists from expanding beyond their base in northern Mali is shifting into a ground war. French and Malian troops are now directly engaging al-Qaida linked rebels in combat. They've surrounded a desert village that jihadists overran when they began pushing south toward Mali's capital. This escalates the battle that began last week, when France sent in fighter jets to attack the rebels.
In southern Algeria, Islamist militants are holding scores of Western hostages who were kidnapped from an oil refinery. The militants say the kidnappings are in retaliation for French intervention in the Mali crisis.
Some other news. Thirty-two people from New York and New Jersey are charged with using threats of violence to control garbage pickup routes.
Authorities say many have ties to the mob, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Organized crime has a long history of infiltrating the trash collection business in New York and New Jersey. It's also the official family business of America's most famous TV gangster, Tony Soprano.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
President Obama says he's done what he could on his own. Yesterday he signed 23 executive orders related to gun control. They will allow federal agencies to strengthen the existing background check system and improve the tracking of stolen guns. The big ticket items, like universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips, will need congressional action.
Still more trouble for Boeing's newest passenger jet, the 787, known as the Dreamliner. The FAA has grounded all U.S.-owned 787s because of safety concerns. This follows an earlier move by Japan doing the same. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports for today's Business Bottom Line.
Dr. Beth Zeeman says she can spot a case of influenza from 20 paces. It's not like a common cold.
"People think they've had the flu when they've had colds," Zeeman, an emergency room specialist at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., tells Shots. "People use the word 'flu' for everything. But having influenza is really a different thing. It hits you like a ton of bricks."
This is the second of a two-part discussion. Read Part 1.
A third of young adults in this country say they don't identify with any organized religion. NPR's David Greene wanted to understand why, so he met with a group of men and women in their 20s and 30s, all of whom have struggled with the role of faith and religion in their lives.
Peyer says that even though she and her husband believe different things when it comes to God, they have found ways to accept and support each other's beliefs.
Credit Leah Nash for NPR
Mike Bixby and Maria Peyer at their home in Longview, Wash. They have been married for two and half years but have known each other since 1981. Peyer is a church-attending Lutheran, and Bixby is an atheist.
Credit Leah Nash for NPR
Bixby and Peyer (center) with their four children (from previous marriages). From left: Hope and Sierra Bixby, Bixby, Peyer, and Grace and Luke Peyerwold.
Maria Peyer and Mike Bixby are one of those couples who just seem made for each other. They hold hands when they sit and talk. They're happy to spend the morning cooking brunch with their children in their home in southern Washington.
Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago.
"It just hadn't been the right time, until it was. God bless Facebook," says Peyer.
"She Facebooked me, and asked if I remembered her, and then it just went from there," Bixby says.
There are certain classic American plays that are revived on Broadway every decade or so, to let a new generation of actors and audiences discover them. Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, running through March 30, is one of those iconic plays.
Childhood vaccines for diseases like measles, polio and whooping cough have repeatedly been proved safe and effective. Even so, some parents still worry that the schedule of vaccinations — 24 immunizations by the age of 2 — can be dangerous. That worry is likely misplaced, according to a yearlong review of all available scientific data.
In Syria, the staple of most meals is a thin, round, flat bread that we would probably call pita.
Back in November, as fierce fighting raged across Syria, people started to run out of this bread. Government forces were attacking bakeries in rebel-held areas and cutting off electricity so mills couldn't grind flour. By late last year, Syrians were desperate.
As President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals Wednesday, he highlighted mass shootings at schools in Colorado, Virginia and Connecticut. He also mentioned another group of children, not in school — the ones on the street corners of Chicago.
Chicagoan Annette Holt was at the White House during Obama's address. Her teenage son, Blair, was shot to death five years ago on a Chicago bus as he shielded a fellow student from a spray of bullets.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar speaks at the dedication for the Southwest's first urban wildlife refuge on the southern edge of Albuquerque, N.M., on Sept. 27, 2012. Salazar has announced that he'll leave his post in late March and return to Colorado.
The Department of the Interior is huge — more than 70,000 employees manage a half-billion acres of public land, mostly in the West. The department does everything from operate national parks to administer Native American social programs and manage wild horses.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 7:35 am
Manti Te'o, the Notre Dame linebacker who nearly won the Heisman Trophy this season, is at the center of what Deadspin reports is a "hoax," in which the story of a girlfriend — and her tragic death — was fabricated. The site is questioning the existence of a girl Te'o has said inspired him to new heights. We'll update this post with new information as it emerges.