This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Over the past week, military tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been building. Those tensions are fed by a stream of threats made by North Korea against the South and against the United States. Yesterday the hard-line regime in Pyongyang announced it was re-starting its nuclear program. And today another move has come.
NPR's Louisa Lim is here to tell us about it. She's in Beijing. Hi, Louisa.
President Obama is expected to name Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, ambassador to Japan. The job has been critical to U.S. trade and business interests with the world's third largest economy. But Kennedy has no prior experience in government or business.
Hey Siri, can I take a shower on the Trans-Siberian Railway?
(SOUNDBITE OF BEEPING)
SIRI: I found 15 places matching the trend, southern of Denmark. They're pretty far from Railroad, Pennsylvania.
GREENE: Mm-hmm. OK. Not that accurate, Siri. Well, you know, what might work better than an iPhone? A travel guidebook, the good old fashion kind. Let me see I'm looking to see what it says in "Trans-Siberian Railway Guide" from Lonely Planet: There are no showers on passenger carriages except for a few top-quality trains.
In recent weeks, we've heard a lot of threats from North Korea. Yet we know little about their leadership when it comes to domestic policy. For a window into what changes might be like, David Greene talks to North Korean expert Marcus Noland, director of Studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
A former House historian, prolific biographer and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Robert Remini spent a lifetime exploring handwritten letters and other documents that illuminate the 19th century. He won a National Book Award for the three-volume The Life of Andrew Jackson.
NPR's business news starts with a record high in Europe.
The jobless rate in the eurozone hit 12 percent for the first two months of the year. That's the highest unemployment has been in the eurozone since the euro currency was introduced in 1999. Analysts say rising unemployment is partly due to budget cuts and tax hikes aimed at reducing heavy levels of government debt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Tina Brown, editor of the Daily Beast and Newsweek, joins NPR's Steve Inskeep again for an occasional feature Morning Edition likes to call Word of Mouth. She talks about what she's been reading and offers recommendations.
This month, as Brown prepares for her annual Women in the World Summit in New York City, her reading suggestions address just that: the role of women in the developing world.
Despite growing up in Virginia, I never tasted grits until I was in college. I remember that first bite vividly, because it left me with the impression that grits were truly disgusting. My freshman roommate would make them with her hot pot, and this vile, gluey goo made me swear they would never pass my lips again.
Fast-forward a couple of years, when I was once again duped into trying instant grits — this time doctored with cheddar cheese and butter. Still horrible. Twice fooled, it's a wonder I ever tried them again.
It being the start of baseball season, that means we've been inundated by predictions — who'll win the divisions and the pennants and the World Series? We know two things on this subject. In every sport, at the start of the season, the experts are bound and determined to make these long-range predictions. And second, they are invariably wrong.
Egyptian authorities are stepping up efforts against a popular TV comedian known as the "Egyptian Jon Stewart" and are now threatening to revoke the license of the private TV station that airs his weekly program.
As we reported Sunday, satirist Bassem Youssef was questioned for five hours over accusations he insulted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Islam.
Polio is on the verge of being eliminated. Last year there were just over 200 cases of polio, and they occurred in just two remote parts of the world — northern Nigeria and the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border region.
A new $5.5 billion plan being pushed by the World Health Organization strives to eliminate polio entirely, phase out vaccination campaigns and secure polio vaccine stockpiles in case the virus somehow manages to re-emerge.
If the effort is successful, polio would be just the second disease in human history, after smallpox, to be eliminated by medical science.
The Alawites of Syria were a poor, little-known Shiite minority until longtime dictator Hafez Assad, a member of the sect, rose to power in 1970. His son, President Bashar Assad, is now fighting to maintain that power in a country that has risen up against him. Now, even some Syrian Alawites say they are willing to denounce the regime, despite the risks.
A recent gathering in Cairo was much like other conferences hosted by the Syrian opposition — a flurry of activity in the hotel lobby, late-night conversations and lots of cigarettes.
How close are we to the end? How close are we to being among the last humans to ever live? Depending on who you are — your religion, politics, relative degree of pessimism or optimism — that question is bound to bring up images of some particular kind of cataclysm. It could be an all-out nuclear exchange or a climate change-driven mass extinction. But what if there was a way of answering the doomsday question in the most generic way possible.
We told you on Monday about the death of one of the stars of the MTV reality show Buckwild. The Kanawha County, W.Va., Sheriff's Office said there were no signs of foul play in the death of Shain Gandee, 21, his uncle David Gandee, 48, and a third, unidentified person.
More than 1 million people are dying prematurely every year from air pollution in China, according to a new analysis.
"This is the highest toll in the world and it really reflects the very high levels of air pollution that exist in China today," says Robert O'Keefe of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, who presented the findings in Beijing this week.
ROBERT SIEGEL. HOST: The aim of international sanctions against Iran is to inflict so much economic pain that the Tehran government will eventually back off its nuclear program rather than sink deeper into poverty. So far, there is no indication that the sanctions have led to a nuclear policy re-think by the Iranian leadership.
But as for inflicting economic pain, that appears to be very real. The government there says inflation is running at over 30 percent a year and some independent observers say that's an understatement.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
The United Nations chief, Ban Ki-moon, fears North Korea is on a collision course with the international community. He's urging dialogue and negotiation in response to the North's announcement that it plans to restart its main nuclear complex. This comes after weeks of escalating threats, including warnings of nuclear strikes against South Korea and the U.S., as NPR's Louisa Lim reports.
President Obama is reported to be considering Caroline Kennedy for ambassador to Japan. She would succeed a political appointee in Tokyo, a Silicon Valley lawyer and donor to the Obama campaign. For Britain, Bloomberg News and others report that the Obama campaign finance chair, Matthew Barzun, is the leading candidate. A hedge fund manager, evidently, has the inside track on France. This is an old tradition of generous donors getting plum embassy assignments. And we wondered how it looks these days to career diplomats.