National/World

Libya may be months from a new government, but the still-infrequent international flights to Tripoli are packed with businesspeople looking to land contracts with this oil-rich North African state. The Turks and Europeans appear to be moving quickly, while the Americans seem to be several steps behind.

On one recent afternoon, the plush Rixos hotel in Tripoli hosted hastily organized meetings between Libyans and a swarm of Turks representing 150 different companies.

Russia and the former Soviet Union haven't had much luck when it comes to missions to the red planet. On Tuesday, it launched a probe destined for Mars. It was supposed to land on Phobos, one of the planet's moons, scoop up some rocks and return home with its specimens.

Instead, the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft launched successfully into orbit, but then its boosters failed to ignite, so for now, it's stuck orbiting our planet.

Paging Danny Glover. A new species needs your help.

These photos, which came to us via email from the World Wildlife Fund, show an amazing scene: Nineteen sedated black rhinoceroses were airlifted out of an area in South Africa, and spent about 10 minutes upside down in the air en route to a new home.

Bil Keane, whose "Family Circus" comics have been appearing in newspapers since 1960, died Tuesday in Arizona at the age of 89.

The Chinese government slapped artist Ai Weiwei — one of China's most famous dissidents — with a $2.4 million tax bill last week. The move was widely seen as punishment for Ai's relentless criticism of the Communist Party.

Since then, in an outpouring of support rarely seen for a government critic, thousands of people have loaned Ai nearly $1 million to help pay the fine.

When talking to people who have given to a candidate's campaign, you'd expect to find true believers.

"I liked what I heard, and he seemed to be the kind of person that I would like to see be president of the United States," says Carl Ploeger, who has donated twice to embattled GOP hopeful Herman Cain.

Lots of kids have tried lentils. But what about Ethiopian-style lentils, accompanied by injera bread, couscous and cucumber salad?

Fourth graders in Santa Fe, N.M. prepared this lunch feast themselves as part of a nutrition education program called Cooking with Kids. And nutrition experts say programs like this one are not just about expanding timid kids' palates.

The world would be a very different place if we could bottle up a bit of the sun here on Earth and tap that abundant and clean energy supply. Governments have spent many billions of dollars to develop that energy source, fusion energy, but it's still a distant dream. Now a few upstart companies are trying to do it on the cheap. And the ideas are credible enough to attract serious private investment.

Speaking as world markets began to react to the gloomy prospects of the Italian economy, the head of the International Monetary Fund added a little more darkness to the picture. Radio Free Europe reports on comments Christine Lagarde made at the International Finance Forum in Beijing:

For many Mexican migrants who've just been deported from the United States, the border city Reynosa is where the American Dream dies.

Maria Nidelia Avila Basurto is a Catholic nun who heads a church-run shelter for deportees in Reynosa, in the northeast corner of Mexico, just across from McAllen, Texas.

"Many of them arrive with nothing," she says. "We have to give them everything — clothes, shoes, everything."

Kids aren't usually eager to wake up and get to school in the morning. They might be, though, if their favorite musician or professional athlete called to coax them out of bed — or if a shiny new bike were on the line.

At least, that's what adults in Seattle think. So the city has a new plan to improve school attendance.

Isaac Bennett, 16, lives a few houses down from his high school in north Seattle. Yet the junior didn't make it there very often last year.

"I had like 167 absences for sophomore year, which wasn't good," he says with a laugh.

'Epic' Storm Damages Buildings In Alaska

Nov 9, 2011

A historic storm hit Alaska's west coast overnight. The Anchorage Daily News called it "epic." Here's how one meteorologist described the storm's scale to the paper:

Following the exit of producer Brett Ratner from the upcoming Oscars telecast yesterday, Eddie Murphy — whose new film Tower Heist is also Ratner's latest directorial effort — has stepped aside as host of the 2012 show, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.

The fact that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's 2001 biography was called Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story, is generating some pretty pointed commentary on Amazon.com this week.

Italy's Debt Woes Roil World Markets

Nov 9, 2011

It was Greece, now it's Italy. Worries about the country's debt have sent world markets lower, today. Here's the Los Angeles Times with a roundup:

The yield on Italian bonds rose to a recent record this morning, signaling the distrust that investors have in Italy's ability to repay its debts.

Has Iran Become Less Dangerous?

Nov 9, 2011

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency presents more evidence than ever before that many aspects of Iran's nuclear program are geared toward military purposes. Yet some analysts argue that overall, Iran represents less of a threat today than it did a year ago.

The IAEA report issued Tuesday largely focuses on historical matters, and some observers say Iran is still having a great deal of difficulty in many areas of weapons technology. And it's clear that Iran has experienced several other setbacks in recent months.

This video is generating stories about whether an Oakland police officer used excessive force on Nov. 3 when he fired a rubber bullet in the direction of 30-year-old Scott Campbell, who was videotaping the scene at the time.

Why Italy Is So Scary

Nov 9, 2011

Italy crossed into bailout territory today. The interest rate on the country's 10-year bonds, which has gone through the roof in the past few weeks, rose to over 7 percent.

We've seen this story play out before in other European countries.

A country is in debt trouble. Investors demand higher interest rates to lend money to that country. Paying those higher interest rates mean the country will fall even further into debt. So interest rates go up even more.

[The alleged mastermind of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole was seen today for the first time in nine years during an arraignment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's the first test of the Obama administration's revamped rules for military commissions. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston was there.]

When Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri walked into the Guantanamo courtroom this morning, he was all swagger.

The first birth control clinic in the United States opened in 1916. It was operated by Margaret Sanger, who started the clinic after becoming outraged that she couldn't give her patients — poor women in the tenements on New York City's Lower East Side — information about contraceptive options.

"Sanger [went] to these squalid, crowded homes of these young women bearing many children who are begging her — while giving birth — for information about contraception," says historian Jill Lepore. "And it [was] illegal for her to give them any information."

Don't be alarmed at 2 p.m. ET today when broadcasters across the U.S., including NPR stations, take part in the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.

After all, as NPR's Brian Naylor reports for our Newscast Desk, "remember, this is only a test."

Saying "I wish I had done more" about accusations that one of his former assistants had been sexually abusing young boys for more than a decade, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno just confirmed that he will retire at the end of this season.

The 84-year-old Paterno, who holds the record for most wins by a Division I coach, released this statement moments ago:

"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief.

Ah, to be a Harvard laboratory mouse. The pay stinks, but the food is delish! Researchers at the venerable school have been serving lab mice tiny organic burgers made with meat from Savenor's Market, where Julia Child bought her steaks.

"It came out looking like a beautiful little mini hamburger," says Rachel Carmody, a graduate student in evolutionary biology at Harvard who cooked up the mini-burgers in Petri dishes.

A few of the developments since our last post about the sexual harassment allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain — who calls them "false, anonymous, incorrect accusations":

Catching up on some of the latest developments in the scandal at Penn State University — where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing young boys, two university officials have been charged with lying to a grand jury and not alerting police, and there have been calls for legendary coach Joe Paterno to step down because of concern that he didn't do enough to alert authorities to what was allegedly happening:

As news outlets try to decipher what Tuesday's election results tell us about what voters are thinking, they're reaching various conclusions.

Conservative activists in the Tea Party want Congress to cut government budget deficits. At the same time, liberal protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement want lawmakers to reduce wealth inequality.

Both goals could be achieved by doing one thing: reducing Social Security payments to retirees, the wealthiest demographic group in the country.

Part of a monthlong series

Driving into Huntsville, Ala., it's clear what this city is all about: A giant Saturn V rocket looms ahead in the skyline. This is the city that made the Saturn rockets that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning. We're at the point of the election cycle sometimes called the off-off year. Not many offices were up for grabs but yesterday, some high-profile measures were on state ballots.

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