NPR News

British judges ruled this morning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited from the U.K. to Sweden, where authorities want to question him about allegations from two women that he sexually assaulted them in August 2010.

Police are on the hunt for the bandits who robbed a Union Pacific Railroad car after it made an emergency stop in Victorville, Calif. They made off with 20 boxes. Police told the Victorville Daily Press that the robbers couldn't have known what was in the car; they made off with $200 worth of pigs feet.

The pro basketball season still hasn't started, but Kevin Durant got a workout. The Oklahoma City star drove across the state to a flag football game. On Twitter the other night, he wrote, "This lockout is really boring. Anybody playing flag football?" An Oklahoma State student invited Durant to join a game his team had planned.

Right now, many people are nervous about the challenges presented by a global population that has reached 7 billion and is still rising. But for a lot of countries, a lack of babies is the bigger worry.

The so-called birth dearth is starting to cause problems across much of Europe and a substantial portion of Asia. With fewer children born, populations in many countries are aging rapidly. Soon, they may also be shrinking.

Government opponents in Syria have not been able to dislodge President Bashar Assad, but they are doing something the country has rarely if ever seen: they are organizing by themselves, outside of government control.

The massive street protests, demanding the end of Assad's regime, have defined the revolt over the past eight months.

But other things are happening as well, far from public view. In one quiet office in Damascus, Ashraf Hamza, 28, is leading a group of men at a session on community organizing.

The Stuxnet computer worm, arguably the first and only cybersuperweapon ever deployed, continues to rattle security experts around the world, one year after its existence was made public.

Apparently meant to damage centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran, Stuxnet now illustrates the potential complexities and dangers of cyberwar.

Secretly launched in 2009 and uncovered in 2010, it was designed to destroy its target much as a bomb would. Based on the cyberworm's sophistication, the expert consensus is that some government created it.

In Wis., Focus Shifts From Union Law To Governor

Nov 2, 2011

A Wisconsin law on union bargaining rights signed by Gov. Scott Walker shows no signs of disappearing.

In February and March, there was a shocking, sometimes strange sight at the Wisconsin capitol: By day, protesters marched shoulder-to-shoulder. By night, they lived in the capitol, sleeping on the building's marble floors.

It began after Walker, a Republican, broke 50 years of Wisconsin precedent, announcing he would not bargain with public employee unions. He said the state was broke and he had nothing to negotiate with. The rest is the stuff of political folklore.

Lawyers for President Obama's Justice Department and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be squaring off in federal court in Washington on Wednesday.

The state has sued the federal government to try to win court approval for its new legislative maps. There are big stakes: Texas stands to gain four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But minorities in Texas, with a boost from the Justice Department, say the new boundaries amount to a step backward for Latino voting power.

If you want to know just how unhappy Americans are with their two-party government, a group called Americans Elect is ready to tell you.

The nonprofit group has scheduled a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in a bid to show the Democratic and Republican establishments that voters want a third choice in presidential candidates.

It's a choice Americans Elect hopes to provide. This might sound like a third political party taking the field, but the group says that's not what it is.

'A New Force'

This week, we're asking what it really means to live in a world with 7 billion people. For some answers, we visit Karachi, Pakistan.

The grandest expression of the world's population growth is in the word "megacity." Dozens of these cities of more than 10 million now ring the globe, like a string of oversized pearls. In a megacity, people and ideas clash: The ancient collides with the modern; secular with religious; global with local. In Karachi, Pakistan, those forces can be seen in the story of a single piece of real estate.

Next week Mississippi voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that redefines a person. Under the proposal, fertilized human eggs would be considered human beings, which would ban all abortions in the state. But abortion-rights activists say it would also limit contraception and threaten fertility treatments.

Les Riley has worked on the initiative for years, gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. Now, in northwest Mississippi, he's talking to voters and assembling yard signs that urge the passage of Amendment 26.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Arizona is one of a handful of states that hands the redistricting to an independent commission, instead of its legislature. At least that's what's supposed to happen. In a stunning move last night, though, the Arizona Senate and its governor ousted the head of the state's independent commission.

NPR's Ted Robbins joins us from our bureau in Tucson to explain. Good morning, Ted.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: What exactly happened?

Deal To Sell Dodgers Sparks Celebration

Nov 2, 2011

Embattled Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball reached an agreement late Tuesday to sell the storied franchise. Roger Arrieta of Los Angeles, who started a website calling on billionaire Mark Cuban to "Save the Dodgers," plans a rally at the stadium to celebrate the sale.

If you're retired, single and looking for love in Shanghai, try IKEA.

Twice a week, hundreds of Shanghai residents who have formed an informal lonely hearts club of sorts gather at the cafeteria of the Swedish furniture megastore for free coffee and conversation.

The pensioners begin arriving around 1 in the afternoon and fill nearly 20 tables in the store cafeteria. They sit for hours drinking coffee, gossiping and subtly checking each other out.

There's an awful lot of games played in November –– even with the NBA locked out –– but it's really just an in-between month in sports... and life. There are no May-and-November romances, no good November songs. It's sort of a semi-final of a month.

Why are they still playing tennis in November? Let the boys and girls rest up for the summer so they're not all hurt when it matters.

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think thank in Washington, D.C., is causing waves with a study (pdf) it released today that found teachers are overcompensated in comparison to "similarly educated and experienced private-sector workers."

The organization said it took a "comprehensive" look at teacher's salaries and tried to take into account what it says are unique areas of compensation for teachers, including generous pension plans and better job security.

Obama: 'Fit For Duty' And Smoker No More

Nov 1, 2011

All middle-aged men should be so healthy.

A summary of the results from President Obama's latest physical were released yesterday, and he's looking good. Very good.

Navy Capt. Jeffrey Kuhlman, the president's doctor, declared him "fit for duty."

Federal officials say they're making headway in their push to stem abuse of addictive painkillers. Still, they say, U.S. doctors are prescribing enough narcotics to medicate every American around the clock for a month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses may soon overtake car crashes as the nation's leading cause of fatal injury.

The United States House of Representatives is expected to vote on a reaffirmation of "In God We Trust" as the country's official motto, today. The bill would also encourage public buildings to include the motto in their architecture.

Across the country on Tuesday, federal judges began reviewing the prison sentences of thousands of men and women jailed on crack cocaine charges. Many inmates could be released or see their sentences sharply reduced.

Congress voted last year to ease federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. But a decision this summer to revisit old drug cases has sparked new controversy.

Some History

Babies digest milk with ease, but it can get harder with age, unless you picked up a gene from your northern European ancestors. Between 30 million to 50 million American adults can't crank out enough of the enzyme that digests lactose, or milk sugar, which can turn a bowl of ice cream into a roller coaster of stomach discomfort.

Lactose-intolerant people who want to indulge in dairy without suffering the consequences have two options: take supplements of the enzyme lactase, or buy lactose-free dairy products, which are made by adding lactase to break down the milk sugar.

Greece, the birthplace of democracy, may be suffering from an overdose of public input.

The decision by Greece's government to hold a January referendum on its deal with the European Union to restructure public debt has thrown the pact — and investors — onto shaky ground. Stocks around the world took a sharp dive on Tuesday's news, and other European leaders left little doubt over how they felt.

A year ago, nearly 1,000 U.S. Marine officers and enlisted men of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to restive Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as "Darkhorse" — suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit during the past 10 years of war. This week, NPR tells the story of this unit's seven long months at war — both in Afghanistan and back home.

Third of seven parts

He had assured Japan that the water inside the nuclear reactors crippled after the tsunami was safe. Yasuhiro Sonoda, a Japanese MP, said he so sure of the safety, he'd drink a glass of decontaminated water from the Fukushima reactor in front of reporters.

Monday, he made good on his promise. Here's the video:

Robert Siegel speaks with Ken Bensinger, business reporter for the Los Angeles Times, about used car sales lots known as "Buy Here Pay Here" dealerships. Bensinger has written a three-part investigative series on this type of business. He tells Robert that "Buy Here Pay Here" lots are very common, and they prey on people with low incomes and bad credit. They charge high prices and very steep interest rates. And in many cases the buyer defaults on the loan, and the car is repossessed and resold again and again.

Book Review: 'Mrs. Nixon'

Nov 1, 2011

11/22/63 is the latest book from author Stephen King.

Rick Perry Video Goes Viral

Nov 1, 2011

Video of a speech Texas Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry delivered in New Hampshire last week has gone viral.

Senators Grill Officials On ATF Operations

Nov 1, 2011

Senators grill a high-level Justice Department official about why they didn't do or say more about two Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive gun trafficking operations that resulted in hundreds of guns going missing in Mexico.

Kardashians Made Bank From Wedding

Nov 1, 2011

Guy Raz speaks with Leslie Bruce, senior writer the Hollywood Reporter, about the money behind reality star Kim Kardashian's wedding to basketball player Kris Humphries. The reportedly multimillion dollar wedding actually earned the Kardashian family money through various deals with entertainment television and magazines. But Kardashian filed for divorce Monday after 72 days of marriage.

At the heart of every convention worth its salt is the exhibit hall. But only at the American Public Health Association annual meeting can you find a plush heart for sale. Along with stuffed spleens, brains and uteruses.

And you know the game where you guess how many candies are in a jar and win something cool? Well, at the APHA meeting, the anti-tobacco American Legacy Foundation is giving away a new Kindle, if you can guess how many cigarette butts are in a huge jar.

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