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Out on the wide open plains of West Texas, you can see the horizon for 360 degrees, interrupted only by the nodding up and down of pump jacks pulling oil up out of the earth.

There lies the aptly named town of Midland.

To get the hang of the place, you need to start downtown, on a corner near the Chase Bank, where an electric billboard displays the essentials: the temperature, a message — "God Bless Midland" — and a number. On this day, it's 45.94.

With six years of Olympic preparation behind him, American Jason Pryor took to the fencing strip in Rio on Tuesday.

When I caught up with him a few days before his match, he told me, "I've never been more ready for anything in my entire life."

Pryor, 28, from South Euclid, Ohio, is the top men's epee fencer in the U.S., and ranked no. 24 in the world.

His opening opponent is Benjamin Steffen of Switzerland, ranked no. 13.

For the past few years, the world has been on the edge of one of the biggest medical triumphs of modern history: Wiping out a horrific parasite from the face of the Earth.

In the early '80s, there were 3.2 million cases of Guinea worm — a two-feet long worm that emerges slowly — and excruciatingly — from a blister on the skin.

A massive campaign, led by President Jimmy Carter, has eradicated the worm from all but four countries. And this year, there have been only seven cases, the Carter Center reports.

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Delta canceled about 530 flights on Tuesday in addition to about 1,000 canceled a day earlier after a power outage in Atlanta brought down the company's computers, grinding the airline's operation virtually to a halt.

Seth Kaplan, who follows the airline industry, asks the question on everyone's mind: "If every small business on the corner can manage to keep its website running through a cloud-based server and all those sorts of things, why can't Delta Air Lines with all its resources manage to do that?"

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In Japan today, Emperor Akihito made an extraordinary televised address to the country's citizens.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AKIHITO: (Speaking Japanese).

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We're going to spend the next few minutes now with Avik Roy. He's the opinion editor at Forbes, and in the past, he's advised the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio. Welcome to the program.

Beef cheeks sizzle in a frying pan. Oysters float in melon puree. And culinary students from all over the world huddle in silent rapture around a stove in central London.

Food gods are in their midst.

The Roca brothers — Joan, Josep and Jordi — are the chef-proprietors of El Celler de Can Roca, a restaurant in northeast Spain that's among the top-rated in the world. To international foodies, the Rocas are rock stars of haute cuisine.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ARWEN'S SONG")

PETER HOLLENS: (Singing) Time and tide will sweep all away.

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In 1962, a Syrian-born Hollywood filmmaker named Moustapha Akkad watched the epic film Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean. Akkad was riveted as he watched a scene in which actor Omar Sharif emerges from the sands like a wraith on horseback — an Arab screen hero.

Thai Voters Approve Military-Backed Constitution

Aug 7, 2016
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A Rough Guide To Brazilian Music

Aug 6, 2016
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Despite all of the setbacks in the run-up to the opening ceremonies, Brazil threw the party of all parties last night as it welcomed the world to the first Olympic Games in South America, and Brazilian music played a big part in that opening ceremony.

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Pump Up The Jams: What's Team USA Listening To?

Aug 6, 2016
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Buried below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, there's an abandoned U.S. Army base. Camp Century had trucks, tunnels, even a nuclear reactor. Advertised as a research station, it was also a test site for deploying nuclear missiles.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

We are just a couple of hours away from the opening ceremonies at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Organizers say to expect lots of samba, of course, and a lot more. NPR's Melissa Block is in Rio and is with us now. Hey, Melissa.

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President Obama spoke to the press this afternoon at the Pentagon just ahead of his two-week summer break in Martha's Vineyard. NPR's Scott Detrow was listening in, and he joins us now. Hey there, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

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