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Waking up is hard to do, but it's easier with NPR's Morning Edition. Hosts Renée Montagne and Steve Inskeep bring the day's stories and news to radio listeners on the go. Morning Edition provides news in context, airs thoughtful ideas and commentary, and reviews important new music, books, and events in the arts. All with voices and sounds that invite listeners to experience the stories. The range of coverage includes reports on the Supreme Court from Nina Totenberg; education from Claudio Sanchez; health coverage from Joanne Silberner; and the latest on national security from Tom Gjelten. Steve and Renee interview newsmakers: from politicians, to academics, to filmmakers. In-depth stories explore topics like "digital generations" about the effect of technology on the way we live; special series delve into the intersection of science and art, and find untold stories of the country's Hidden Kitchens.

More information is available at the Morning Edition website found here.

In a monastery on the Tibetan plateau, monks swathed in crimson robes chant under silk hangings, in a murky hall heavy with the smell of yak butter. Photos of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama — seen by China as a splittist — are openly displayed, as if in defiance. But Chinese security forces have tightened their grasp on this region, and monasteries appear to be emptying out, gripped by an atmosphere of fear and loss.

Officials in Mexico are offering a reward of nearly $1 million for the capture of 30 inmates who broke out of a prison in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on Sunday.

The governor says the inmates staged a riot, during which 44 people died, to create a diversion for their escape.

It was a jail break that epitomized the Mexican drug war: Rival gang members brutally killed each other, corrupt public officials looked the other way, and dangerous criminals went free.

Back when refrigeration wasn't up to modern standards, Fat Tuesday was a time to clear your house of indulgent foods. This led to lots of rich recipes, from Shrove pancakes to King Cake. In Sweden, the specialty is semlor. A group of people in Portland, Ore., are keeping that dish — and a few other Swedish traditions — alive.

Picture soft, sweet rolls, sort of like brioche, piled with creamy almond filling. Now picture them being made by a room full of young, mostly blond children speaking Swedish.

This President's Day, a group of historians in Washington, D.C., decided they wanted to do something different to recognize the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. But how do you memorialize someone who is already one of the most memorialized people in history?

Their solution: to physically illustrate Lincoln's importance by creating a tower of books written about him. The tower measures about eight feet around and 34 feet — that's three and a half stories tall.

With less than two weeks to go before Russia's presidential elections, the country's independent journalists are in a state of anxiety. Government-run media seem more open than ever to divergent viewpoints — but officials may be cracking down on independent outlets that go too far.

Two incidents last week suggest that the Russian government is prepared to lean on journalists — both domestic and foreign.

NPR's Michele Kelemen is a former employee of Voice of America.

Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny has been the victim of many dirty tricks by pro-Kremlin media.

But when the U.S. government-funded Voice of America published an online interview that had him criticizing other Russian opposition figures, Navalny quickly tweeted that the interview was a fake.

"It seems the VOA has gone nuts," he wrote to his Twitter followers.

Parents and doctors around the world have been alarmed by the dramatic increase in childhood asthma.

One factor in the upswing is better detection by doctors, but at least one doctor thinks a common over-the-counter drug also has something to do with it.

One tool doesn't fit all when it comes to surgery.

Pediatric surgeons know this all too well when it's time to operate on a baby. Some infants are born prematurely. Others have congenital defects — some part of their internal anatomy that just didn't develop the way it was supposed to.

Pounding Pavement In Search Of A Smoother Drive

Feb 20, 2012

A sweeping transportation bill being debated in Congress addresses how to prop up dwindling funds for the nation's aging highways. States with their own budget shortfalls are facing the same challenge. In California, researchers are trying to stretch those resources by developing next-generation pavements that are quieter and more fuel-efficient to drive on.

This piece was not my idea. It was Linda Holmes'. If you're reading this blog, you probably share my regard for her take on popular culture. So my ears pricked up when she suggested I look into doing a radio piece on Kyle Killen.

Nineteen-year-old Army Pvt. Cody Dollman has a look in his eyes that makes you think he probably used to fight much bigger kids on the playground back home in Wichita, Kan. He says he always wanted to be a soldier — both his grandfathers served in the military — but he's the first in his family to see action overseas.

When Pat Matthews turned 65, her declining health led her in search of a place that could offer increasing levels of care as she grew older.

And Matthews had one other requirement: She wanted to bring Carol Bosworth, her partner of nearly 20 years. At the very first place they visited, that was a problem.

"They didn't say we couldn't come. But they said that we would be best off if we were sisters," Matthews says. "We crossed them off our list, because that's not the way we want to live."

A federal court in New Orleans is preparing for one of the largest and most complex environmental lawsuits ever to come to court. It stems from the worst oil disaster in U.S. history: the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig nearly two years ago and the resulting oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

Testimony is scheduled to begin at the end of the month. The case combines more than 500 lawsuits in one proceeding designed to determine who's responsible for what went wrong.

What's the best way for Mitt Romney to stop Rick Santorum?

For the answer, we went to someone who has done it before.

Democratic strategist Saul Shorr helped Bob Casey defeat then-Sen. Santorum, R-Pa., in a landslide in 2006. Santorum lost by 18 points.

But Shorr says that was a general election; in a Republican primary, Romney will have a much harder job.

It's a new kind of brinksmanship for U.S. doctors: caring for patients with life-threatening diseases when the supply of critical drugs threatens to disappear.

Military Pokes Holes In Acupuncture Skeptics' Theory

Feb 16, 2012

In a fluorescent-lit exam room, Col. Rochelle Wasserman sticks ballpoint-size pins in the ears of Sgt. Rick Remalia.

Remalia broke his back, hip and pelvis during a rollover caused by a pair of rocket-propelled grenades in Afghanistan. He still walks with a cane and suffers from mild traumatic brain injury. Pain is an everyday occurrence, which is where the needles come in.

"I've had a lot of treatment, and this is the first treatment that I've had where I've been like, OK, wow, I've actually seen a really big difference," he says.

Hiking for the Cause

Feb 15, 2012
Larissa Dannis

Opposition to the Northern Pass Project has inspired lawn signs, bumper stickers and even legislation.   Avid hiker Larisa Dannis has taken her protest of the proposed 180 mile transmission line through New Hampshire’s North Country to the top. 

Third of three parts

The man who's expected to become China's president next year, Xi Jinping, is considered a princeling, the son of a prominent Chinese political figure. But the man who's likely to become premier, Li Keqiang, comes from very different stock.

The son of a minor party official, Li worked as a farmer for four years, before studying law at university.

As several states debate measures to legalize gay marriage, New Hampshire is considering a repeal of its same-sex marriage law. The repeal has the backing of some top leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature. But rescinding rights is never easy, particularly in a state that takes its liberties seriously.

The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.

But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.

Syrian troops have fired rockets and mortars at neighborhoods in the city of Homs that have most fiercely resisted the government throughout the uprising.

Mainstream journalists are barred from entering Homs, so a team of activists decided to record the offensive themselves. The activists positioned their cameras atop buildings in the city. Each morning the view is blue sky, a minaret, a sea of rooftops. Then come the booms.

If you buy organic products, your options may be about to expand. The U.S. and the European Union are announcing that they will soon treat each other's organic standards as equivalent. In other words, if it's organic here, it's also organic in Europe, and vice versa. Organic food companies are cheering because their potential markets just doubled.

New York Fashion Week may be coming to a close on Thursday, but a cycle of fashion shows in cities around the world is just about to begin. Fashion editors and store buyers will descend upon London, Milan and Paris to inspect clothes that may appear in stores next fall. Sally Singer — editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine — is one of those tastemaking jet-setters, and she joins NPR's Renee Montagne to talk about 2012's trends.

By now, most everybody knows Michael Lewis' story of Moneyball — best-selling book or Oscar-nominated film — about the poor little franchise in Oakland that learned how to compete against the big-city rich teams by discovering overlooked players.

The maestro of this policy, Billy Beane, is an endearing character, but I've never been all that charmed by the story, because Beane was just employing cold statistics. Oh, he was right, but it was like rooting for a guy at the blackjack tables who counts cards.

Linsanity is buzzing through the sports world, as New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin has come off the bench to emerge as a star. The unlikely story of an NBA player of Taiwanese descent who attended Harvard — and who, at 6 feet 3 inches, outscored Kobe Bryant to beat the Lakers — has won him many admirers.

There aren't many players like Lin. But in Utah, there's a man who knows something about what he's experiencing. Like Lin, Wat (for Wataru) Misaka is an Asian-American who became an unlikely star and played basketball for the Knicks. But he did it in the 1940s.

Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much. But they do agree that voter registration lists across the country are a mess.

A new report by the Pew Center on the States finds that more than 1.8 million dead people are currently registered to vote. And 24 million registrations are either invalid or inaccurate.

There's little evidence that this has led to widespread voter fraud, but it has raised concerns that the system is vulnerable.

Paul McCartney, Madonna, Doc Watson and Luciano Pavarotti have at least one thing in common: They've all collaborated with Irish folk band

Second of three parts

In northwestern China's Shaanxi province, a neatly manicured and landscaped memorial park the size of six soccer fields is one sign of the revolutionary lineage of Xi Jinping, the man set to become China's next leader.

Known as a Communist Party princeling, Xi is the 58-year-old son of Xi Zhongxun, a deputy prime minister and revolutionary hero who died in 2002.

The elder Xi was born in Fuping county in Shaanxi, more than 600 miles southwest of Beijing, and is considered a hometown hero.

The Senegalese are known for campaigning loudly, musically and enthusiastically, yet the country's reputation for democracy and stability in turbulent West Africa has taken a knock as it prepares for elections on Feb. 26.

When Senegal's top court gave its blessing last month to President Abdoulaye Wade's third-term ambitions, his opponents angrily took to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval.

Senegal was tense as police clashed with protesters demanding that the president withdraw his candidacy.

As comedian John Fugelsang recalls, all in life was dandy until one fateful day, at age 6, he noticed an odd motif in some photos: "In every family picture ... my mother was wearing a habit."

Last August, he tweeted his parents' unusual love story — with photos — on the first anniversary of his father's death. In a series of blurbs 140 characters or less, he tells it better than I ever could:

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