Hey Siri, can I take a shower on the Trans-Siberian Railway?
(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)
SIRI: I found 15 places matching the trend, southern of Denmark. They're pretty far from Railroad, Pennsylvania.
GREENE: Mm-hmm. OK. Not that accurate, Siri. Well, you know, what might work better than an iPhone? A travel guidebook, the good old fashion kind. Let me see I'm looking to see what it says in "Trans-Siberian Railway Guide" from Lonely Planet: There are no showers on passenger carriages except for a few top-quality trains.
The Obama administration is delaying the start of a key piece of the Affordable Care Act - the national healthcare law. Workers in small businesses will have to wait an additional year to be able to choose from more than one plan in the new online marketplace that start next January. NPR's Julie Rovner reports that the change might dampen enthusiasm, at least at the start. But not everyone thinks that's a bad thing.
For Florida Atlantic University, a recent decision to sell the naming rights of its new football stadium to the GEO Group, turned from being a cash windfall to a PR disaster. When FAU's president announced the deal, she called GEO, a private prison corporation, a wonderful company. Not everyone agreed. Students, troubled by allegations of abuse at some facilities, held protests and now the deal has been called off.
In recent weeks, we've heard a lot of threats from North Korea. Yet we know little about their leadership when it comes to domestic policy. For a window into what changes might be like, David Greene talks to North Korean expert Marcus Noland, director of Studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
A former House historian, prolific biographer and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Robert Remini spent a lifetime exploring handwritten letters and other documents that illuminate the 19th century. He won a National Book Award for the three-volume The Life of Andrew Jackson.
Tina Brown, editor of the Daily Beast and Newsweek, joins NPR's Steve Inskeep again for an occasional feature Morning Edition likes to call Word of Mouth. She talks about what she's been reading and offers recommendations.
This month, as Brown prepares for her annual Women in the World Summit in New York City, her reading suggestions address just that: the role of women in the developing world.
Camden, N.J., has serious health problems, with too many people going to local emergency rooms unnecessarily. But progress is being made, albeit slowly.
John Pike, 53, is a Camden resident who used to be a frequent flier at the ER.
Pike has a smoker's cough, and when that cough or pain in his bad hip flared up, he'd go to the ER — maybe eight or nine times a year. But when he did, ER staffers didn't really remember him or his medical history.
Despite growing up in Virginia, I never tasted grits until I was in college. I remember that first bite vividly, because it left me with the impression that grits were truly disgusting. My freshman roommate would make them with her hot pot, and this vile, gluey goo made me swear they would never pass my lips again.
Fast-forward a couple of years, when I was once again duped into trying instant grits — this time doctored with cheddar cheese and butter. Still horrible. Twice fooled, it's a wonder I ever tried them again.
The demand from American companies for high-skilled immigrants seems to be up this year. And that could mean something is about to change for the overall economy.
There is a cap on the number of visas the government gives out for these kind of workers every year. Lately, that cap has been 85,000. Demand always outstrips supply, but for the past couple of years, it has taken at least a few months to hit the quota. But this year, the H-1B visas might be gone by the end of the week.
It being the start of baseball season, that means we've been inundated by predictions — who'll win the divisions and the pennants and the World Series? We know two things on this subject. In every sport, at the start of the season, the experts are bound and determined to make these long-range predictions. And second, they are invariably wrong.
President Obama has announced an ambitious plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain.
In a speech Tuesday, Obama said he will ask Congress for $100 million in 2014 to "better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember." Other goals include finding new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.
Egyptian authorities are stepping up efforts against a popular TV comedian known as the "Egyptian Jon Stewart" and are now threatening to revoke the license of the private TV station that airs his weekly program.
As we reported Sunday, satirist Bassem Youssef was questioned for five hours over accusations he insulted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Islam.
Polio is on the verge of being eliminated. Last year there were just over 200 cases of polio, and they occurred in just two remote parts of the world — northern Nigeria and the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border region.
A new $5.5 billion plan being pushed by the World Health Organization strives to eliminate polio entirely, phase out vaccination campaigns and secure polio vaccine stockpiles in case the virus somehow manages to re-emerge.
If the effort is successful, polio would be just the second disease in human history, after smallpox, to be eliminated by medical science.
The Alawites of Syria were a poor, little-known Shiite minority until longtime dictator Hafez Assad, a member of the sect, rose to power in 1970. His son, President Bashar Assad, is now fighting to maintain that power in a country that has risen up against him. Now, even some Syrian Alawites say they are willing to denounce the regime, despite the risks.
A recent gathering in Cairo was much like other conferences hosted by the Syrian opposition — a flurry of activity in the hotel lobby, late-night conversations and lots of cigarettes.
We told you on Monday about the death of one of the stars of the MTV reality show Buckwild. The Kanawha County, W.Va., Sheriff's Office said there were no signs of foul play in the death of Shain Gandee, 21, his uncle David Gandee, 48, and a third, unidentified person.
More than 1 million people are dying prematurely every year from air pollution in China, according to a new analysis.
"This is the highest toll in the world and it really reflects the very high levels of air pollution that exist in China today," says Robert O'Keefe of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, who presented the findings in Beijing this week.
Time now for a home viewing recommendation from our critic Bob Mondello. This week, Bob is intrigued by the 40th anniversary of the film that put Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek and director Terrence Malick on the map — Badlands.
The plot's based on a notorious duo and a real-life 1950s killing spree, but when boy meets girl on-screen in Badlands, they're adorable. She's 15, twirling a baton; he's older, styles himself after James Dean, and is the handsomest guy she's ever met.
Elizabeth Strout, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Olive Kitteridge, sets much of her work in Maine, where her family has lived for eight generations. But Strout herself has lived most of her adult life in New York. In her new novel, The Burgess Boys, she writes for the first time about the city she now calls home.
President Obama is reported to be considering Caroline Kennedy for ambassador to Japan. She would succeed a political appointee in Tokyo, a Silicon Valley lawyer and donor to the Obama campaign. For Britain, Bloomberg News and others report that the Obama campaign finance chair, Matthew Barzun, is the leading candidate. A hedge fund manager, evidently, has the inside track on France. This is an old tradition of generous donors getting plum embassy assignments. And we wondered how it looks these days to career diplomats.
ROBERT SIEGEL. HOST: The aim of international sanctions against Iran is to inflict so much economic pain that the Tehran government will eventually back off its nuclear program rather than sink deeper into poverty. So far, there is no indication that the sanctions have led to a nuclear policy re-think by the Iranian leadership.
But as for inflicting economic pain, that appears to be very real. The government there says inflation is running at over 30 percent a year and some independent observers say that's an understatement.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
The United Nations chief, Ban Ki-moon, fears North Korea is on a collision course with the international community. He's urging dialogue and negotiation in response to the North's announcement that it plans to restart its main nuclear complex. This comes after weeks of escalating threats, including warnings of nuclear strikes against South Korea and the U.S., as NPR's Louisa Lim reports.
As Connecticut moves toward those tough new gun laws, the National Rifle Association unveiled its own plan today to make schools safer. The gun rights group had promised such a plan last December, just a week after the Newtown massacre.
As NPR's Peter Overby reports, the NRA's proposal, dubbed National School Shield, would put at least one armed guard in every school.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
In Connecticut, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has agreed on what it calls the toughest gun laws in the nation. But they're still not tough enough, say some state gun control advocates. They're concern: No outright ban on high-capacity magazines, like the ones Adam Lanza used at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Jeff Cohen from member station WNPR has our story.