Renee Montagne

In London, Prime Minister David Cameron had planned to get backing from Parliament Thursday – approving a possible military intervention. Instead, he's been forced to back down. The Labour Party announced it would vote against military action in Syria.

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The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant is back in the news more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a series of meltdowns. New leaks found this week prompted regulators to consider raising the alert level there in Japan. NPR's science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel joined us to explain. Geoff, good morning.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Why raise the alert level?

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There are alarming reports from Syria this morning of a chemical weapons attack near the capital. Syrian opposition activists say government forces have killed hundreds of people in air raids and shelling on rebel neighborhoods close to Damascus and a sizeable number of people, they claim, have died from poison gas. Those claims have not been confirmed and the Syrian government has strongly denied the accusations.

A UPS cargo plane crashed near the airport in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday morning. The pilot and co-pilot were both killed.

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The Justice Department is bringing civil charges against one of the nation's largest banks. The government alleges that Bank of America made false statements about the quality of home loans it sold off to investors, $850 million worth of loads. The Justice Department move is the latest in a series of cases being brought against financial firms.

NPR's Chris Arnold has been following all of this and joins us now. Good morning.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

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So now the challenge for Major League Baseball: Winning back the trust of fans. The suspensions themselves were a start but there is a wrinkle because, as we've heard, Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game ban. It means the narrative in baseball will continue to be about suspicions rather than the play on the field.

Joining us now to talk about the league and its efforts is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

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Major League Baseball appears set to hand down suspensions to several players implicated in performance enhancing drug use. New York Yankees All-Star Alex Rodriguez is the biggest name by far on that list and he also faces the longest suspension. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now for an update. Good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

MONTAGNE: So what length of penalty does Alex Rodriguez face?

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

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And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Ben Bernanke's latest comments are at the top of NPR's business news.

Stock and bond markets reacted positively to the Federal Reserve chairman's latest remarks on the economy this morning. Ben Bernanke is on Capitol Hill delivering the Fed's twice-yearly update on the economy and Fed policy before the House Financial Services Committee. NPR's John Ydstie joins us now to talk about it. And John, what was it that Bernanke said that impressed the market?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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In many ways, the trial of George Zimmerman has been a Rorschach test for America. What people saw and heard about the case was often colored by their own life circumstances, and there are lots of opinions out there, many expressed quite loudly.

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The best players in major league baseball take the field tonight in New York. Fans voted for their favorites in the American and National Leagues. The All-Star game is an exhibition - or mostly an exhibition - and there is a real prize. The winner gets home-field advantage during the World Series. The game also offers a chance to check on how teams are doing midway through the season.

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Here to talk all things baseball is NPR's Mike Pesca. Good morning.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Edward Snowden may have intended to stir things up about secret American surveillance programs. It turns out, he's also shaking up diplomatic relations between the U.S. and three countries where those relations are already edgy. The former intelligence contractor who leaked classified documents is believed to be still at a Moscow airport.

He arrived there from Hong Kong on Sunday. NPR's State Department Correspondent Michele Kelemen joins us to talk about the countries drawn into Snowden's travels. Good morning.

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This was the scene last night in the Texas Capitol building.

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MONTAGNE: Crowds who came out to support a nearly 11-hour filibuster by Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis erupted in screams in an attempt to stop a vote on a bill that would have forced all but a handful of abortion clinics in Texas to close. That's because, among other things, the bill would require clinics be upgraded to ambulatory surgical centers, something that the clinics say they can't afford.

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Let's now delve into the mysteries of the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court handed down a handful of important decisions yesterday but left the nation in suspense over the most watched cases of the year: affirmative action, gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act. There's a week left in the high court's term and we wanted to know why the justices always seem to leave the biggest decisions until the very last minute. So we called in NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Good morning, Nina.

A federal judge on Thursday hears arguments over whether a lawsuit against the NCAA should be expanded. The case was brought by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon. He contends the NCAA unfairly benefits from student athletes by forcing them to sign away their licensing rights.

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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.

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The biggest players in the video gaming are gathered here in Los Angeles this week for E3, the industry's annual trade show. Gamers have been anticipating the unveiling of new products from Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and other companies.

NPR's Laura Sydell has spent the past few days with zombies, assassins and one little plumber. Good morning.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Good morning.

At least six people have died in Wednesday's collapse of a commercial building in Philadelphia. More than a dozen victims have been rescued from the rubble.

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All right, through much of this week, we've been hearing from young Afghans on the future of their country after NATO troops withdraw in 2014. Yesterday, our colleague Renee Montagne met with the American general who commands coalition forces in Afghanistan. They traveled to a special forces base where young Afghan men - and a few women - are being trained.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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And I'm Steve Inskeep, in Washington, with David Greene.

James Everett Dutschke faces charges of sending poisoned letters to President Obama and other officials. He's the second suspect federal authorities have arrested in the case. Another man was released from jail last week after a lack of physical evidence tying him to the ricin-tainted letters.

Tuesday night, forward Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers became the latest star to go down with an injury. The Memphis Grizzlies took advantage of Griffin's absence and beat the Clippers 103-93 to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

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The world has heard some relatives of the Tsarnaev brothers.

INSKEEP: On this program, we heard an aunt of the young men defend the accused Boston Marathon bombers.

MONTAGNE: An uncle has very vocally denounced them.

INSKEEP: Now federal investigators have been interviewing the parents, both of whom now live in Russia.

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We've been hearing some really astonishing voices this week that have prompted a big reaction online - women who have served on the battlefield and on bases here at home. Women are no longer excluded from combat but their exact role is still to be fully decided.

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People in Colorado are still trying to make sense of the shooting death of that state's respected head of the prison system. Tom Clements was gunned down Tuesday night as he answered the door at his home in the small, quiet town of Monument. Police are still searching for the killer. And this happened just hours before Colorado's governor signed strict new gun control measures into law.

Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee has been following this story. Good morning.

MEGAN VERLEE, BYLINE: Good morning.

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Lawmakers in Cyprus are trying to ease rage over a proposed tax on all bank deposits by exempting people who have relatively small accounts. It's part of a bailout plan for that Mediterranean country negotiated with the E.U. and IMF over the weekend, but the compromise on taxes may not be enough for Cyprus' parliament to pass the plan.

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

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

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And I'm Renee Montagne. Just before noon yesterday, with much of Washington at home for a snowstorm that never really materialized, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky took the floor of the Senate.

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SENATOR RAND PAUL: I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak.

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