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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Yesterday millions of people watched a man free fall from 24 miles above earth, breaking the sound barrier, and then watched as Felix Baumgartner glided down into the New Mexico desert.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Here he's coming. And there you can see by the approaching shadow, he's just about there. (Unintelligible) the world record holder.

Japan's Softbank has announced it will spend $20 billion to take a majority stake in Sprint-Nextel. The deal will provide Sprint, the third largest carrier in the U.S. market, with some much needed cash. It also gives Softbank the opening it's been looking for to break into the U.S. market.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

In recent days, the name Malala has reverberated around the world. She's the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban. She was targeted because she blogged about what life is like for a child living under Islamist militant rule and she publicly campaigning against Islamist' ban on girls' education.

Scotland To Vote On Independence From U.K.

Oct 15, 2012

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Scotland took a step towards independence today, at least a step towards a vote on the subject. British Prime Minister David Cameron met in Edinburgh with the head of the semiautonomous Scottish government. And together, they signed off on an independence referendum to be held in two years.

But as Vicki Barker reports, it's not clear people in Scotland want independence.

VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: The two men smiled as they exchange copies of the agreement for each other to sign.

ALEX SALMOND: Here, there you go.

Sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the U.S.

As the weather warmed up each year, panic over polio intensified. Late summer was dubbed "polio season." Public swimming pools were shut down. Movie theaters urged patrons not to sit too close together to avoid spreading the disease. Insurance companies started selling polio insurance for newborns.

The fear was well grounded. By the 1950s, polio had become one of the most serious communicable diseases among children in the United States.

Jerusalem is known for its bitter politics, a divided city where decades of religious and political strife have torn away shared spaces. But as British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi tells NPR's Melissa Block, if there's one place in which Jerusalemites of all stripes still stand united, it's in their love of food.

The numbers coming out of Syria these days are staggering: hundreds of thousands of refugees, tens of thousands dead. The struggle, and the death, is being captured regularly on social media. The documentation not only serves as a bulletin for foreigners, but also as an alert for those with family members who become victims.

When Syrians first started protesting in March of last year, Fadi Zeidan was there. He and his friends thought the Syrian uprising would be fast, like the ones in Tunisia and Egypt.

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Two Americans have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Economics for work that has to do with matching in business, medicine and marriage. The two, whose work turned out to be a good match, are Alvin Roth of Harvard and Lloyd Shapely of the University of California, Los Angeles. They will share the $1.2 million prize.

In a new YouTube video, a Syrian colonel defects from the army, denounces President Bashar Assad and publicly joins the rebels of the Free Syrian Army.

The Syrian government indiscriminately used cluster bombs in last week's attacks on civilian areas, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Sunday.

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Well, this past week, the Russian government announced that it is dropping out of the program.

NPR's Mike Shuster has more on the consequences.

There is one corner of the European Union where a kind of war still rages.

Nicosia, on the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, is the last divided capital city in Europe. In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, taking over the northern part of the island — including half of the capital.

History teacher Maria Chrysanthou says she's blunt with students who ask her if the two sides of Cyprus — one Greek-speaking and Christian, the other Turkish-speaking and Muslim — will ever be united.

On a recent day in Barcelona, the capital of northeast Spain's Catalonia region, José Maria Borras and his lifelong friend Antonio Canosa sip coffee in the same square where they went to grade school.

The two retirees — both in their mid-60s — grew up under Spain's military dictator Francisco Franco, who prohibited the Catalan language, festivals and any talk of independence.

"It's been a long struggle for freedom," Borras says. "Back in those years, if you were in this very schoolyard speaking Catalan you'd be punished."

Just five months after electing President Francois Hollande, many French are now despairing that he cannot deliver on the vision they voted for. What's worse, some wonder if Hollande has a plan at all.

The new president's ratings have plummeted, and his once-lauded "steady approach" is now perceived as dithering.

Protesters shouting "Resistance!" in the streets of Paris this month included people who voted for him and now feel betrayed. They were demonstrating against the European fiscal treaty, approved this week by the Socialist-dominated French parliament.

Five years ago, Peru plunked down $200 million on more than 800,000 low-cost laptops to distribute to schoolchildren. The purchase was part of the global One Laptop Per Child initiative that aimed to end poverty with computers.

But now there are a lot of questions about how successful Peru's effort has been, especially in rural areas like the village of Lacachi.

Over the past decade, Chinese companies have become major players in the global telecommunications market. This week the House Intelligence Committee issued a report that could interrupt that growth. The committee warned American companies not to do business with two of China's main telecom manufacturers, saying they posed a security threat.

Huawei Technologies is the miracle story of the Chinese high-tech industry, says telecommunications consultant Roger Entner.

One day after Congressman Paul Ryan debated Vice President Joe Biden, Mitt Romney took to the campaign trail in Virginia and Ohio.

American Documented Syria's War From Inside

Oct 12, 2012

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Obaida Hitto is 25 years old. He's from Murphy, Texas, although he was born in Indianapolis. He is a graduate of the University of Texas, Dallas. In May, Hitto put thoughts of attending law school on hold and he went to the country where his father was born, Syria. He went to the city of Deir al-Zour in the east of the country and he took up with a brigade of the Free Syrian Army, the rebel force opposing the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. He carried a camera, not a gun.

European Union's Nobel Win Raises Eyebrows

Oct 12, 2012

Robert Siegel talks to Michael Leigh, senior adviser to German Marshall Fund in Brussels. They discuss how the European Union was formed to prevent another war in Europe. The Nobel committee in Oslo named the EU the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.

Audie Cornish talks with David S. Cohen, Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, for more about the gang MS-13's new designation as a transnational criminal organization.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. In a cemetery in Beirut, Lebanon, new graves are appearing more frequently than usual. This isn't just any cemetery. It's where the martyrs of Hezbollah are buried. The Shiite militant group is backed by the governments of Iran and Syria. While it's not clear where these latest martyrs were killed, members of Syria's opposition accuse the group of sending fighters into their country to help its embattled government.

When the Soviet Union splintered two decades ago, one of the biggest U.S. worries was how to ensure that the vast Soviet arsenal of nuclear weapons was kept secure.

The American response was the Cooperative Threat Reduction program of 1992. The U.S. provided money and expertise to lock down and track weapons of mass destruction and make sure they stayed out of the hands of rogue regimes or terrorists.

The program has been hailed as a great success, with thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons dismantled over the years.

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This morning, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize and they chose the European Union.

THORBJORN JAGLAND: The European Union is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and (unintelligible) social unrest. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU's most important result, the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.

Nerds, rejoice! It's Nobel season — the Oscars for lab rats, peacemakers and cognoscenti alike. Every fall, big thinkers around the world wait for a middle-of-the-night phone call from Sweden, dreaming of what they might do with the $1.2 million prize.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Like other hunter-gatherers of Central Africa who've been cast out of their jungle homes, when the Batwa forest people of southwest Uganda lost their forest, they lost their identity.

The Batwa were evicted from their rain forest kingdom in 1991, when two neighboring national parks, Mgahinga and Bwindi, were created to protect shrinking habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla.

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