As you know, we at Monkey See enjoy creepy wax figurines maybe more than anything in the world, and now, Wax George Clooney (whose adventures we have chronicled in the past) has been joined at a photo shoot in London by Wax Will Smith, as well as Wax Emma Watson. You know, just to hang out. To talk about movies. To talk about being made of wax.
Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne with a follow-up on the record for oldest person to scale Mount Everest. An 81-year-old Nepalese climber earned the title five years ago when he was 76. Last week, an 80-year-old Japanese climber took the crown. Now Min Bahadur Sherchan has given up his attempt to snatch it back but bad weather, due to the season, forced him to turn back. Disappointing. Still, it wasn't age that proved the ultimate barrier.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
In 1845, Frederick Douglass sailed to Ireland on a speaking tour to raise money for the abolitionist cause back home. About 75 years later, two airmen, Jack Alcock and Teddy Brown, performed the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight, flying 16 hours from Newfoundland to land in an Irish bog. And 79 years after that, George J. Mitchell, the former senator from Maine, repeatedly crisscrossed the ocean — New York, Belfast, New York, Belfast — to steer the Northern Ireland peace process on behalf of President Clinton.
Like his 2009 National Book Award-winning novel, Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann's TransAtlantic is a braided novel that weaves together the stories of various characters — some historical, others invented. The storylines illustrate the deep and complex connections tying Ireland and the U.S. over a span of some 150 years, beginning with Frederick Douglass, who visits Ireland in 1845 to drum up abolitionist support, and ending with Sen.
It's taken awhile, but Tea Party activists and social conservatives are finally beginning to get smiles on their faces. Whether that will last through the November election is another story.
After watching their insufficiently conservative (in their view) presidential nominee lose last November, their opposition to taxing-the-rich fall by the wayside thanks to congressional Republican acquiescence, and changes in same-sex marriage and immigration coming faster than they might have wished, some on the right were becoming inconsolable.
On this Wednesday, we are following developments in Pakistan. A U.S. drone strike has killed four suspected militants, including - according to some reports - the Taliban's second-in-command in Pakistan. Now, we should say the militant group denies that he's dead. This is the first strike since President Obama's speech last Thursday, announcing that the use of drones would be scaled back to limit civilian casualties.
Just a reminder that there is a possibility ScuttleButton may disappear from the NPR Web site in the next month or so. So if I were you, I'd sign up for the Political Junkie mailing list (info below) to make sure you'll be in the know as to where these irreplaceable and delightful features wind up.
The Communist Party's new leadership has pledged to change China's slowing economy by putting a greater emphasis on private enterprise and reining in huge but far less profitable state-owned businesses. Economists say the party has no choice but to update if it wants to stay in power, but they doubt that a genuine overhaul is in the works.
On a Wednesday, it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. You could call it a failing performance review. Recently uncovered correspondence from the North African branch of al-Qaida lays out - in bullet points - the shortcomings of one of its local leaders. In the letter, he is chastised by his bosses for sloppy expense reports, ignoring emails and failing to pull off, quote, "any single spectacular operation."
NPR's business news begins with a big bump for housing.
House prices went up 10 percent between March of this year and last year. That's according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Index. It's the largest gain in housing prices in seven years, putting prices on average where they were in mid-2003.
Pope Francis, shown here at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday, has emphasized inclusiveness in many of his speeches. In recent remarks, he reached out to atheists.
Pope Francis has been in office for just over two months and has been making headlines for many remarks that emphasize inclusiveness, contrasting sharply with his predecessors' style and apparently even with centuries-old Catholic dogma.
The latest was a statement last week that all human beings, even atheists, can be redeemed.
One of President Obama's top economic advisers is leaving the White House later this year, to return to his teaching job at Princeton. Since 2011, Alan Krueger has chaired the President's Council of Economic Advisers.
NPR's Scott Horsley takes this look back at his time in the White House.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: One of Alan Krueger's tasks at the White House is deciphering the many different signals the economy sends, including the closely watched jobs report that typically comes out on the first Friday of the month.
When it was revealed recently that the Justice Department had secretly seized records belonging to journalists, part of an effort to end high-profile government leaks, it sparked a huge debate about press freedom. But in one of the cases involving Fox News, there is a disagreement. Justice officials say they told Fox they were about to obtain telephone records for one of its senior reporters. The man at the center of the story has a different version of events, as NPR's David Folkenflik reports.
The international community talks of arming Syria's rebels against President Bashar Assad, but in the capital many people still hope the rebels will lose.
That's the thinking we found around a Muslim shrine in Damascus, a tribute to the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad. She lived centuries ago, but a Damascus doctor we met spoke of her in the present tense.
A destroyed home in Tawargha, south of Misrata, on June 5, 2012. Residents have not returned home for fear of death.
Credit Leila Fadel / NPR
Ali Arroz, a radiologist, left Tawargha with only the clothes he was wearing, under fire from Misrata militiamen.
Credit Leila Fadel / NPR
Residents of the Libyan town of Tawargha were driven from their homes in Libya's 2011 civil war. Girls from the town hold up a sign that says "we want our homeland, Tawargha" during a protest outside Libya's Parliament. Residents say they will return next month, which could lead to a showdown.
Little boys play soccer in the afternoon heat at a makeshift camp near Libya's capital Tripoli. Their homes, or what's left of them, are in Tawargha, a small town about 20 miles from the Mediterranean coast.
The town has been empty since August of 2011. Its residents fled in cars and on foot, under fire from rebel militiamen from the nearby town of Misrata.
The siege of Misrata was one of the bloodiest battles of the Libyan war. Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi shelled Misrata relentlessly, killing hundreds.