Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. In 2009, a young British man began a quest to visit every country in the world. To make it interesting, he set out to do it without flying - something never done before. This week, after nearly four years of traveling by train, taxi, bus and boat, Graham Hughes accomplished that feat. He filled four passports, trekking through every nation and disputed state, ending in south Sudan - a country that didn't exist when he started out. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
We've heard about how U.S. and European sanctions on Iran have caused that country's currency to plummet and how Iran is now buying up gold and trying to dump its own currency outside its borders. Well, Iran is part of a regional economy and the falling currency is starting to hurt at least one of Iran's neighbors. NPR's Kelly McEvers sent this report from southern Iraq.
A new Indian feature film was inspired by a group of prisoners who formed a well-known classical dance company. Commentator Sandip Roy has the true story of a famous Indian dancer and the convicts she befriended.
Alokananda Roy walked into Calcutta's Presidency Jail on International Women's Day, 2007. The Indian classical dancer had been invited to watch female inmates perform, but it was the men who caught her eye.
"They shook me," she says. "Their body language — it was as though they had no future, nothing to look forward to."
On Tuesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Neda Ulaby has a story about Chuck Lorre, the producer whose name is attached to three of the five highest-rated comedies on American television last season: The Big Bang Theory, Two And A Half Men, and Mike & Molly.
In Aleppo province of northern Syria, rebel leaders are planning the first "free" election outside government control — imperfect as it may be. For the first time, towns and villages across the province will come together in each place and decide who will represent them. Rima Marrouch contributed to this report.
A row of restaurants in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., looks tantalizing — there's Vietnamese, Italian, New American.
But if you walk around to the alley at the back of this row you might gag. Dumpsters packed with trash are lined up, and they get emptied only twice a week. Which means a lot of food sits here, filling the block with a deep, rank odor.
A grand bargain, a compromise to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, could all come down to one word: revenue. It's now widely agreed that steering away from the cliff — the combination of spending cuts and tax increases set to hit at the start of the year — will require some combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. The central sticking point could well be whether President Obama and Congress can agree on the definition of revenue.
At the moment, the casual observer could easily get the sense that the president and Republicans in Congress are talking past each other.
Authorities in Hunan province sentenced Tang Hui to 18 months in a re-education-through-labor camp after she repeatedly complained about the way police investigated the case of her daughter's kidnapping and forced prostitution. An uproar on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, pushed authorities to free Tang days later.
Credit Carlos Barria / Reuters/Landov
A man holds an iPhone as he visits Sina's Weibo microblogging site in Shanghai earlier this year.
Most people try to avoid ticks. But not Tom Mather.
The University of Rhode Island researcher goes out of his way to find them.
He looks for deer ticks — poppy seed-sized skin burrowers — in the woods of southern Rhode Island. These are the teeny-tiny carriers of Lyme disease, an illness that can lead to symptoms ranging from nasty rashes to memory loss.
On Oct. 9, in Mingora, Pakistan, in the country's picturesque Swat Valley, Kainat Riaz left her high school and climbed into the back of a small van. The bright-eyed 16-year-old sat near another schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai.
At just 15, Malala, an outspoken critic of the Taliban, had already earned a name in her country — and internationally — for her courage. Kainat says there was a lot of chatter in the six-seat van as it shuttled the girls home.
Then, in the middle of a busy road, the van suddenly stopped, and a masked gunman got into the vehicle.
For holiday shoppers, retailers' approach to fees, returns and other practices can bring praise or anger. And when customers rant or rave, Consumer Reports takes note — and compiles them into its annual "Naughty and Nice" list of companies.
"They're policies and practices that people either felt were consumer-friendly or not," Consumer Reports senior editor Tod Marks tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. He adds that the list isn't related to the ratings his magazine is known for.
I'm often asked how I choose the books that I'm going to talk about on Morning Edition's "Under the Radar" segments. Simple: I just pick some of the titles that I've most enjoyed since the last time I was on, without concern for whether they're fiction or nonfiction, genre or not, or aimed or classified as being for children or teens.
After a series of controversial decrees by Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi, the country's judges are conflicted over what to do.
The president and Egypt's highest judicial authority met Monday to try to resolve the crisis, but the decrees, which essentially nullify judicial oversight, remained in place. And the judges are going ahead with plans for a strike.
Yussef Auf has been a judge for 10 years and says he has never witnessed such an affront to his profession.
Intrade, the prediction website that accepted bids on, among other things, the result of the presidential election, is shutting its operations to U.S. customers. The move came Monday just hours after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused the Ireland-based company of violating the agency's ban on off-exchange options trading.
Here's more from Intrade's news release announcing the move:
A Burmese python coils around the arm of a hunter during a news conference in 2010 in the Florida Everglades. New research suggests that the pythons won't spread through the American Southeast, as previously believed.
There are several exotic snake species that have become a problem in the Everglades. But for wildlife managers, the biggest headache is the Burmese python.
Earlier this year, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey captured the largest Burmese python yet in Everglades National Park. Three USGS staffers had to wrestle the snake out of a plastic crate to measure it. The snake was a 17-foot-7-inch female carrying 87 eggs.
Wildlife managers are working to get a handle on the problem of exotic snakes in South Florida; but the snakes have already made a big impact.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 6:42 pm
NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson tells our Newscast unit that despite a meeting with leaders of the judiciary, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has not given any signal that he is backing down from most of his power grab.
A decree that essentially prohibited the judiciary from reviewing any of his decisions has brought violent demonstrations across the country from protesters who say they traded in one dictator for another.
Rosa Maria Ramirez lost most of her belongings in the storm and is moving out of her damaged house on Staten Island. Because she's undocumented, she doesn't qualify for federal financial disaster assistance.
The living room was muddy and foul when 16-year-old Prisma revisited her family's apartment days after Superstorm Sandy washed through it last month. The furniture was tarnished, and most of the family's belongings were scattered and in ruins. The home was uninhabitable.
"Everything was completely in a different place," Prisma says. "It was really nasty."
Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 10:00 am
A handful of congressional Republicans after finishing their Thanksgiving dinners decided to give anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist the brushoff, saying they wouldn't abide by his "no new taxes" pledge as they work on a budget deal.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after a pretrial hearing in June. Manning is charged with aiding the enemy by giving hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables and war logs to the secret-sharing website WikiLeaks.
The young Army private accused of passing diplomatic cables and war reports to the website WikiLeaks has made an unusual offer: Bradley Manning says he'll plead guilty to minor charges in the case. But he rejects the idea that he ever acted as a spy or helped America's enemies.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case that asks the justices to define who is a "supervisor" when the issue is harassment in the workplace. The definition is important because employers are automatically liable for damages in most cases in which a supervisor harasses a subordinate.
Residents of Mutriku, a fishing village on Spain's northern coast, lounge at their local beach, protected from fierce Atlantic waves by a cement breakwater that also houses Europe's first wave energy plant.
Credit Lauren Frayer for NPR
One of the 16 turbines inside the Mutriku breakwater, part of Europe's first wave energy plant.
Waves constantly thrash the fishing village of Mutriku on Spain's northern coast. Records from the 13th century describe the dangerous surf and shipwrecks here. Until recently, water occasionally hurled debris through windows of homes, before the local government built a cement breakwater to shelter the harbor.
A baby hatch that is fixed in a window at Waldfriede Hospital in Berlin. Mothers can bring unwanted babies and leave them anonymously. Baby boxes are a revival of the medieval "foundling wheels," where unwanted infants were left in revolving church doors.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 5:30 pm
For centuries, European mothers who felt they were incapable of caring for a newborn could leave the baby in a "foundling wheel," a rotating crib set up at the entrance to a convent or a place of worship.
Today, there's a debate over the modern version of the practice: the baby box.
At least 11 European countries, as well as Russia and India, now have baby boxes, sometimes known as baby windows or hatches.
Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 8:49 am
For merchants, the stars are lining up — at least so far.
Online shopping jumped more than 28 percent on Cyber Monday compared with a year ago, according to IBM Benchmark. And the National Retail Federation says Thanksgiving weekend spending shot up to $59.1 billion, nearly 13 percent more than last year's $52 billion.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 5:29 pm
Andrew W.K., whom NPR Music described as the "long-haired, wild-eyed, keyboard-pounding, sublimely over-the-top party-rocker," won't be taking his party to Bahrain.
At least not on the government's dime.The State Department has rescinded its invitation, stopped the music if you will, just as word started to spread that the U.S. Embassy in Manama had invited W.K. to perform.