Look through a series of 15th-century woodcuts, and you'll find that the leper is as much an icon of medieval art as the crown or the cross.
Leprosy was so common in Europe during the Middle Ages that it's estimated 1 in 30 people was infected with the bacteria. But by the turn of the 16th century, after the Crusades had swept across Europe, the disease mysteriously disappeared. And it never returned.
This left scientists puzzled. Did the bacteria mutate to become less harmful, or did Europeans become resistant to the germs?
The European Union is a big fan of traveling pets. It has pet passports that allow them to travel through all the member states. Still, until this week there was a limit. Travelers could only take up to five pets across the borders. Now, thanks to a pet-loving member of the EU Parliament, those who prefer to travel with herds of animals are now free to roam, as long as they're heading for a competition or a sporting event.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
NPR's business news starts with a man, a plan, a canal.
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MONTAGNE: Not Panama this time. This canal is in Nicaragua. Yesterday, the Nicaraguan congress granted a Chinese tycoon the exclusive right to develop a multi-billion dollar rival to the Panama Canal. The bill grants the investor 50 years of control over the potential shipping route - pending a study of its viability. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Linda Wertheimer. The Obama administration has shifted policy on Syria with an announcement, last night, that it will step up support for rebels who've been losing ground in recent weeks. The White House says it will start providing direct military support to rebel commanders.
In Syria's ally Iran, people are voting for president today. It is Iran's first presidential election since the stunning vote in 2009. Back then, a surprisingly early declaration of victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked a wave of protests, followed by years of government repression. This time around, six candidates are contending for power amid widespread skepticism about the election, and intensive security on the streets.
In Maine, the state's effort to keep tabs on its black bear population is getting some help from a group of college kids. The program has undergraduate students capturing bears, running tests on them, and attaching tracking devices before releasing them back into the wild.
Maine Public Radio's Jay Field went along on a recent expedition into the woods.
Kevyn Orr will ask unions, retirees and banks to take big losses on debt the city just can't afford to pay. But Orr is walking a fine line trying to convince those parties to accept a bankruptcy-style settlement, without actually going to bankruptcy court — at least, not yet.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
They're calling it the Road to Majority. It's the third annual meeting of conservative religious activists with the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The conference is underway now in Washington, D.C. Its stated aim: To boost the conservative vote for next year's midterm election.
As NPR's David Welna reports, it's also a platform for Republican stars eyeing the White House in 2016.