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Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is in Kabul, Afghanistan. He arrived this morning for a quick, unannounced visit with troops and also to check in on the progress of the war. Panetta's trip comes a day after a Taliban attack in southern Afghanistan left over 20 dead and at least 50 people wounded. Also yesterday, NATO forces were being blamed for allegedly killing civilians in an early morning strike.

The New Jersey Devils avoided elimination in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals by beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Game 5 is Saturday night in New Jersey. The Kings have never won the Stanley Cup.

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And let's turn to the issue that is front and center this election year - the economy. Austerity measures aimed at curing Europe's debt crisis have thrown a number of eurozone countries into recession. The threat of defaults in Greece and even larger countries like Spain have rattled U.S. financial markets, and President Obama recently said that Europe's troubles are casting a shadow over the U.S. economy.

To better understand what the president is talking about, we brought in NPR economics correspondent John Ydstie.

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Let's turn to Syria now. Syria's president gave his first public speech in five months yesterday. Bashar al-Assad told the Syrian Parliament that his government was not responsible for the massacre in Houla last month, in which more than 100 people were killed, nearly half of them children. Also, there is new Syria-related violence in northern Lebanon, near the Syrian border. And to talk about this we've reached NPR's Kelly McEvers.

Kelly, good morning.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Good morning.

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The NBA is halfway through two riveting conference final playoff series, and there's absolutely no indication how they're going to turn out. Last night in Boston, the aging and creaky Celtics proved that they are really a match for the star-studded Miami Heat. Boston beat Miami 93 to 91 in overtime to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at two games apiece. In the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder also are tied 2-2, and they play tonight in San Antonio.

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On a recent evening, the Martin family of Harrisburg, Pa., had too many places it needed to be.

AnnaBelle Bowers, the 87-year-old matriarch of the family who is also known as "Snootzie," was at home — watching television and getting ready for bed.

Someone needed to care for her. That fell to Chris Martin, her 14-year-old great-grandson.

His willingness to stay at home meant his sister, Lauren, could play in a softball game.

It also meant her parents, David and LaDonna Martin, could watch.

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NPR's business news starts with the latest in the Murdoch case.

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Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is in damage control mode after an article in The Washington Post accused the candidate of bullying in high school. Romney says he does not remember the incidents. Several of his classmates independently recall him going after students who seemed different, vulnerable or effeminate.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm David Greene. There are new developments this morning in the story of the al-Qaida plot to bomb an airplane heading to the United States. It turns out that the man who was thought to be the bomber was actually a double agent - that, according to U.S. officials.

The White House and FBI have confirmed al-Qaida attempted to target a plane bound for the United States. All indications are the plan was conceived by al-Qaida's arm in Yemen. But officials say the plot was foiled before it was any threat to the public.

The elections in France and Greece signaled a resounding popular rejection of the tough austerity measures being pushed by Germany, Europe's largest economy. But Berlin doesn't appear to be changing course.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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This MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm David Greene.

We are following developing news, this morning, in China. The Chinese dissident who sought protection with American diplomats in Beijing is now free and apparently heading to a new life.

INSKEEP: Chen Guangcheng is a human rights lawyer, a blind man who became involved in issues like forced abortion in China. Last week, he escaped house arrest by Chinese security forces.

America is dotted with countless restaurants large and small. Many of those are well-loved for their distinct character — and for what they can teach diners about cooking, and about life.

One such establishment is Enoteca Maria, an Italian restaurant on New York's Staten Island.

After losing his mom and sister, owner Joe Scaravella missed sitting down with family for home-cooked meals. So he created something of an oxymoron: a place to go out for a home-cooked meal.

Richard Starkey always had dreams of being a musician — long before he took up the drums, joined The Beatles and became Ringo Starr. But his career didn't end when the band broke up.

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