In 2011, we talked to Freeway Rick Ross (pictured), about the economics of illegal drugs. Ross was one of the biggest crack dealers in LA in the '80s and '90s, and he confirmed for us what a lot of economists say about illegal drugs — making them illegal drives up the price and makes criminals rich. Ross told us that he once grossed $3 million in a single day.
Syrian soldiers stand in the main square of the western city of Qusair. Government troops recaptured the town on Wednesday after rebels had held it for more than a year. It's seen as a significant victory for President Bashar Assad's government.
Qusair is a sleepy farming town not far from my hometown. I passed through it many times as a child and never imagined it would one day make international headlines as the focal point of Syria's civil war.
I wish it had remained a quiet place defined by the many agricultural fields of wheat and barley, along with apricot and apple trees, all of them well-watered by the Orontes River.
Less than 10 miles from the Lebanese border, Qusair was a mixed town of Christians, Sunnis and Shiites. Not anymore.
Last week NASA scientists put the space telescope Kepler in a kind of technological coma. The craft, designed to search for Earth-like planets orbiting stars in our cosmic neighborhood (within a few thousand light-years, that is), failed and seems to be unfixable. (Hope remains, though.)
I have substantial affection for both Hollywood Reporter TV critic Tim Goodman and the Fox executive who tweets as "Masked Scheduler." They're both amusing, resolute grumps at times, but great fun to follow on Twitter. So you can imagine how uncomfortable it was to see them have a testy exchange about the new episodes of Arrested Development (which, remember, was on Fox and is now not). Tim liked them, and was reacting to early criticism of the first couple of episodes.
For Percival Zhang, growing up in China meant learning to appreciate just how critical a stable food supply is to avoiding social unrest and disasters like famine.
When he became an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, he got to thinking just how risky growing food has become because of the finite resources it requires: land, water, seeds and fertilizer.
Plenty of other plants on Earth, on the other hand, aren't so demanding.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie outlines plans for a special election to be held to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat of Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who died on Tuesday, at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. Christie did not disclose who would fill the vacant seat until the election scheduled for Oct. 16.
Credit Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images
Lautenberg's GOP opponents: Millicent Fenwick 1982, Pete Dawkins 1988, Chuck Haytaian 1994, Doug Forrester 2002 and Dick Zimmer 2008.
Credit Ken Rudin collection
Nobody — Democrats or Republicans — seems happy with Christie's plan for replacing Sen. Lautenberg.
Credit Ken Rudin collection
He was the Senate's last remaining World War II veteran.
One of the last things Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel did before he resigned to join the Nixon Cabinet was to fill a Senate vacancy caused by the December 1968 death of E.L. Bartlett, a Democrat. Hickel picked a GOP state representative by the name of Ted Stevens. Stevens, who only months before lost a Republican primary bid for a different seat, went on to serve more than 40 years in the Senate, longer than any Republican in history. Appointing Stevens was by any definition a good move.
On the heels of Liz & Dick, Lifetime's campy take on the love story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that starred none other than Lindsay Lohan, BBC America will be delivering another made-for-TV version this fall. Because they couldn't call it Liz & Dick, this one is called ... Burton And Taylor. (Innovation!)
This one stars Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter, and the first photo was released yesterday.
Dark clouds hang over Major League Baseball. There are reports that about 20 players may be suspended because of their connections to a Miami clinic that dispensed performance-enhancing drugs. (Photo taken Sunday at Yankee Stadium.)
"Major League Baseball will seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, possibly within the next few weeks," ESPN's Outside the Lines reports.
Anton DiSclafani's debut novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, is a painstakingly constructed ode to a young girl's sexual awakening — just ladylike enough to be more bodice unbuttoner than bodice ripper. Like Rumer Godden's classic 1958 novel, The Greengage Summer, this is perhaps one of the classier books a young teen would hide under her covers to read with a flashlight. It features a 15-year-old narrator, Theodora "Thea" Atwell, whose family banishes her to a North Carolina equestrian boarding school in 1930. There's been a scandal.
The Obama administration is expressing deep concern about guilty verdicts in Egypt against 43 people who were working on democracy programs in the country. Sixteen of them are Americans, though most left Egypt when the charges were brought against them. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports that issue is one of many complicating Washington's relations with Cairo.
MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Charles Dunne wasn't even in Egypt when he first heard about the charges against him and he never received anything official from the court.
In Syria, the battle for Qusair is over with the government saying it is in full control of that strategic town, which has been in rebel hands for two years. Qusair sits along a key supply route in and out of Lebanon. And one Syrian general, a government general, told Lebanon's Mayadeen TV that whoever controls Qusair controls the country.
NPR's Kelly McEvers is in Beirut. She joins us now for an update. Good morning.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Today will be a dramatic one at the Lewis-McChord military base in Washington state. That is where Sergeant Robert Bales will stand before an Army judge and confess to killing 16 Afghan villagers in a late-night rampage last year. His confession is part of a plea deal that could save Bales from the death penalty.
Sectarian violence has flared in Iraq a year and a half after the departure of American forces. The U.N. reported that more than 1,000 people were killed there in May, the deadliest violence since the height of the insurgency during the U.S. occupation. For more on what's causing the chaos, Linda Wertheimer talks with Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq expert with the International Crisis Group.