Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep with a case of product placement. Corporations pay millions to have their products turn up in the hands of famous people but somehow, they were not thrilled when a photo showed a smartphone on a table next to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This set off fevered speculation about which brand it was.
We've heard that necessity breeds invention. Well, so does discomfort. This weekend, 200 million Chinese are traveling home for the Chinese New Year. And for some this means entire days on standing room only trains.
One gadget being sold to travelers is a padded metal pole. It's to lean your head on so you don't fall over when you doze off. Or how about a luggage cart that doubles as a seat, with cup holders? Many people, though, are going old school with a simple upside down bucket.
Let's get a glimpse of the troops now fighting Islamist insurgents in Somalia. Forces from multiple African nations have been battling a group called al-Shabaab for years. They're being closely watched now because the international community is considering how to intervene in future months and years against an insurgency in Mali. NPR's Gregory Warner is traveling with a force in Somalia. Gregory, welcome back to the program.
GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: So where are you, and what have you been doing?
NPR's business news starts with Boeing's battery problem.
Boeing's new fleet of Dreamliner 787 aircraft is grounded. But there is one in the air right now. The FAA cleared the plane's flight this morning from Fort Worth, Texas to Seattle. Engineers at the Boeing factory there will study the plane's lithium ion batteries and look for ways to reduce fire risk. Regulators around the world grounded the Dreamliner last month after batteries overheated on two planes. Only crew are aboard the 787 currently on its way to Seattle.
In exchange for multibillion-euro bailouts, Greece was required to sell state-owned assets. But the sweeping privatization process is behind schedule. In addition, European governments are nervous that Chinese, Russian and Arab companies are lining up to take advantage of the Greek fire sale.
Who are you rooting for this season? If it's the Phoenix Sins, then watch out--your starting lineup may include sloth, gluttony, envy and pride. Puzzle guru John Chaneski has taken the names of U.S. pro sports teams and swapped out a vowel for the letter "i" to imagine some hilarious team names you might hesitate to wear proudly on a jersey.
"He played Rick in Casablanca, and it's also one stroke over par in golf." Crossword puzzlers will delight in this game's clues, which appear to be about two very different things, but the answer to which is, in fact, the same. If you knew the answer to the clue above was "Bogey," this game will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
You remember the chorus to Jimi Hendrix' famous song "Purple Haze": "S'cuse me while I kiss this guy." No? You caught us. This game, led by guest musician John Roderick, is made of often-misheard lyrics, known as "mondegreens." Get your karaoke voice ready, because you'll want to sing along with these answers.
In this Ask Me One More final round, John Chaneski names a world city, and contestants must decide whether or not it is its nation's capital. Former geography bee champions and map enthusiasts, rejoice!
If you call in the next ten minutes, we'll throw in an extra-special trivia game hosted by Ophira Eisenberg and puzzle guru John Chaneski about those fabulous late-night commercials selling products that you must buy right now! Operators are standing by.
Just a stone's throw from two of Los Angeles' busiest freeways lies the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, a unique spot in an urban jungle.
The northern portion of the reserve is adorned with 30-foot-tall cottonwood trees, spots of coyote bush and other plants. Native plants cover 50 percent of the nature spot, says Kris Ohlenkamp with the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society.
"On the other side it was significantly more than that," he says.
John Brennan, President Obama's nominee to be the next CIA director, worked closely with Saudi Arabia to set up a secret U.S. drone base there, <em>The New York Times</em> reported. Brennan's confirmation hearing is Thursday.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 6:50 am
The Obama administration says lethal airstrikes, delivered stealthily by drones, have been a major success in its counterterrorism efforts. But the administration has been much less successful in keeping secret the details of the often controversial drone program.
Minnesota has a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, and Democrats control both houses of its Legislature. So it may have come as no surprise when President Obama went there earlier this week to rally support for his proposals to reduce gun violence.
But even in the politically blue state, there's considerable resistance to placing further restrictions on gun ownership.
During his visit to a Minneapolis police facility Monday, Obama urged Minnesotans to find common ground in curbing gun violence.