When Zarrina Mulloboeva got invited to go apple picking the other day, she thought it would be a taste of home. She's an exchange student from Tajikistan, in central Asia — a country close to the ancestral homeland of apples. Her uncle has a small orchard. In fact, when Mulloboeva came to the United States six weeks ago, she brought with her a large bottle of homemade dried apple slices.
Things go wrong in most stories. It would be a dull plot that did not include an upset, a setback or an obstacle.
But it takes a special kind of reversal to turn one of these plots into a black comedy. Often it's a tiny slip that becomes a vortex of disaster; sometimes it's a growing avalanche of humiliation.
But it's always hewn from the stuff of everyday life, which we see transformed into a minefield using only the slightest shift in perspective. And it allows us to laugh while giving thanks it's not happening to us.
Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 9:07 am
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded this morning to a British and a Japanese researcher who discovered that mature and specialized cells "can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body," according to the Nobel committee.
This year's honorees are John B. Gurdon of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, England, and Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in Japan. They will share the prize, worth about $1.2 million.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with news of the evacuation of Akron City Hall. Authorities found a suspicious pipe labeled with the word Kaboom. Turns out it was accidentally left behind by Natural Hunka Kaboom, who comes to watch city council meetings. The pipe was an extendable shower rod he used as a walking stick. Mr. Kaboom tells the Akron Beacon Journal he meant no harm and that his name really is Kaboom. He changed it legally to promote his pest control business. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Oregon residents are being asked to please contact police if they happen to see a 30-foot tall gorilla. He's wearing sunglasses and polka dot shorts, carrying a hot tub and may or may not be inflated. This giant gorilla stood for years on top of the Spas of Oregon store in Gladstone. John Harrison, the owner, is not sure how the thieves took down that gorilla, but he is offering a reward for the return of the animal he calls Marty. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Which brings us to our next story. As Americans try again to heat up the solar industry, let's get an update on the competition. We reported last week on the West Coast solar power company that is trying to succeed where companies like Solyndra famously failed. American companies have struggled because they've been undermined by cheap imports from China. So it is meaningful to note that China's solar power industry is a mess.
We're going to talk about that with Beijing-based economist Patrick Chovanec. Welcome back to the program.
More Syrian mortar fire struck inside Turkey today. That's the sixth consecutive day that Syrian artillery shells have exploded across the border. The Turkish military, once again, responded with artillery fire back into northern Syria. There is a growing international chorus of calls for restraint as this cross-border fires continues, amid fears that Turkey could be dragged into the Syrian conflict. NPR's Peter Kenyon is following the story from Istanbul.
President Hugo Chavez waves a Venezuelan flag as he greets supporters at the Miraflores presidential palace balcony in Caracas on Sunday. Chavez won re-election and a new endorsement of his socialist project Sunday, surviving his closest race yet after a bitter campaign against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has beaten his most serious political challenge in years. He defeated a young former governor handily in Sunday's presidential election. With this victory, Chavez has another six years to consolidate his socialist system in the country with the world's largest oil reserves.
It was the toughest challenge to his rule that he'd received in years — a young, vigorous candidate whose election would have ended Chavez's self-proclaimed revolution.
The ice covering the Arctic Ocean was at a record low, in keeping with a sharp warming trend in the far north. At the same time, the amount of the ocean around Antarctica covered by sea ice hit a record high. It's winter in Antarctica when it's summer in the Arctic. But why in a warming world is wintertime ice growing?
OK. Let's review an exciting weekend of Major League Baseball playoffs. Two teams won single game playoffs to get into the full-blown playoff series that are now underway. The Yankees, Reds, Nationals and Tigers have all been winning. And if I did not just mention your team, that's because your team is now in a hole. NPR's Mike Pesca's here to help feel your pain.
Mike, good morning.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: In a hole, or out of it entirely.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
Mitt Romney's campaign spent almost the whole month of September in freefall. Almost nothing he did seemed right and almost everything was criticized, at least in part because he was trailing in the polls. That's a perception that feeds on itself. Then came last week's presidential debate, and surveys over this past weekend show the race much tighter. Now we watch to see what happens next.
Bruce Osterweil, 59, of San Francisco has long relied on his wife's employer-sponsored health plan for coverage, but she recently turned 65 and signed up for Medicare. She's going to retire in January and now Bruce is on his own to find a plan on the individual insurance market.
Bruce Osterweil is a lucky man to live just a short walk from where San Francisco's Golden Gate meets the cold, rough waters of the Pacific Ocean. He is also a lucky man to have married his wife, Patricia Furlong, who has long provided the family's health insurance through her job at a small financial consulting firm.
But last month, Osterweil's wife turned 65 and decided to retire, and although she may walk away with a crystal bowl or a golden watch for all those years of service, she will also walk away from her company's generous health insurance benefits.
Roland Jahn, a former East German dissident, is now Germany's federal commissioner of the Stasi archives. His agency is painstakingly piecing together the shredded documents of the former East German secret police. Jahn is shown here in March 2011 at a former Stasi prison at Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen.
Credit Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty Images
A worker in the former headquarters of the Stasi sorts hundreds of thousands of torn or shredded Stasi documents in January. Workers are sifting through thousands of bags, containing between 50,000 and 80,000 fragments each.
After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.
With a growing population of baby boomers, officials are bracing for a surge in senior drivers. Statistics tell us that accidents increase after the age of 65, and fatal accidents are more likely after the age of 75.
In the mid-1970s, a man approached singer Kenny Rogers after a performance in the lounge at the Las Vegas Hilton. The mysterious stranger simply said, "Hey, man, I really like your music." Rogers learned later that the fan at the dressing-room door had been Elvis Presley.