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The conversations in Beijing at high-level talks between the U.S. and China are quite serious. Leaders are covering a lot of ground — everything from climate change to currency, even outer space. But the language used in these discussions? Rather colorful.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Former President Jimmy Carter may be on the brink of celebrating the birthday wish he made last year: the global eradication of Guinea worm disease. This year, there are only two confirmed cases, compared to 3.5 million a year in the 1980s. It's a medical milestone that took a nearly 30-year effort by the Carter Center and its partners.

Carter spoke to NPR's Robert Siegel about the fight against Guinea worm. An edited version of the interview follows.


Interview Highlights

You must be gratified to see Guinea worm almost gone.

When Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on May 21, many wondered whether his death might help open a window to peace in Afghanistan.

"A new opportunity presents itself to those Taliban who are willing to end war and bloodshed," Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted a day after Mansour's death.

How do you cover an incomprehensible disaster and make people connect with the real lives behind the headlines?

David Gilkey knew how.

His photos have helped define our coverage of global health and development at Goats and Soda. They have a tremendous warmth and humanity that reflects his own compassionate heart and soul.

Guinea worm is going down. Way down.

From more than 3 million cases of Guinea worm disease a year in the 1980s, the world tally in 2016 stands at just two confirmed cases.

Both are in Chad and are believed to have been contained before they had a chance to spread. (There are also two suspected cases, one in Chad and one in Ethiopia.)

If Guinea worm is pushed into extinction, then Guinea worm disease would be just the second human disease to be eradicated after smallpox.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The U.S. and China are the two largest economies in the world — and interdependent in a host of ways. But as leaders from both countries start annual high-level talks in Beijing, disagreements over how China does business are creating some trust issues in the relationship.

"You might want to think of the US China relationship as kind of like an arranged marriage," says Arthur Kroeber, a Beijing-based economist and author of China's Economy: What You Need to Know.

Swiss voters over the weekend dealt a stern backslap to a ballot proposal that would have guaranteed a basic monthly income for all 8.1 million residents — regardless of their employment status — of that wealthy European nation.

The vote wasn't even close. Almost 77 percent of voters rejected the proposal that the government give every adult in Switzerland about $2,500 every month. (Children would have received a smaller subsidy of $650.)

A few months back, I asked a favor of my friend and NPR colleague Zabihullah Tamanna. We'd just spent a busy day going from interview to interview in Kabul. I had some urgent writing to do. Would he mind going out onto the streets and taking some photographs?

For those who live and work in conflict zones and war zones, it's easy to become somewhat numb. Violence and danger can corrode your sense of humanity. But the pictures that Zabihullah took that day were the work of a journalist whose compassion was entirely intact.

When NPR photographer David Gilkey was killed by Taliban fire in a roadside ambush Sunday, he was doing what he always did — chasing an important story in a dangerous place. He did this from Afghanistan to Iraq to Liberia and many other places along the way.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

On Sunday, we lost one of our own.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Garbine Muguruza, 22, of Spain, won her first major title on Saturday by beating Serena Williams in two sets 7-5, 6-4 at the French Open.

"I can't explain with words what this day means to me," Muguruza said after the match.

Williams, 34, was playing for a 22nd Grand Slam singles title, which would tie Steffi Graf's record of 22 in the Open era.

The all-time record of 24 is held by Margaret Court, whose career spanned both amateur and professional eras.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Top supporters of an audacious Belgian pipeline will get a bottle of beer every day for the rest of their lives. That's in return for putting more than $8,000 toward bringing a pipe dream to life, and helping a brewery remain in the historic town of Bruges.

The Labor Department's May jobs report, released Friday, was surprisingly bad.

Economists scrambled to explain why they hadn't seen a hiring dropoff coming. Most had predicted about 160,000 new jobs for May, but in fact, only 38,000 materialized. That was the smallest increase since September, 2010.

All across the Mediterranean, early Christian frescoes and bas reliefs carry the names of women deacons and even bishops — such as Phoebe, Helaria, Ausonia, Euphemia and Theodora.

Yet in 1994, Pope John Paul II not only decreed that women are definitively excluded from the priesthood, he even banned all discussion of the topic.

Pope Francis broke that taboo last month when he announced he would create a commission to study whether women can serve as deacons as they did in early Christianity.

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