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Morning Edition

Weekdays from 4:00-8:00 a.m.
  • Hosted by Steve Inskeep, David Greene & Rachel Martin

Morning Edition takes listeners around the country and the world with multi-faceted stories and commentaries every weekday.  For over three decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with up-to-the-minute news, background analysis and commentary. Regularly heard on Morning Edition are familiar voices, including commentator Cokie Roberts, as well as the special series StoryCorps, the largest oral history project in American history.  Morning Edition has garnered broadcasting's highest honors -- including the George Foster Peabody Award and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.

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In China's capital, they're calling it the "airpocalypse," with air pollution that's literally off the charts. The air has been classified as hazardous to human health for a fifth consecutive day, at its worst hitting pollution levels 25 times that considered safe in the U.S. The entire city is blanketed in a thick grey smog that smells of coal and stings the eyes, leading to official warnings to stay inside.

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A week from Monday, President Obama is to take his public oath of office for a second term.

The inauguration will be marked by celebratory balls and other festivities, sponsored by the privately financed Presidential Inaugural Committee. The first Obama inauguration had strict fundraising rules. But this year, the rules have been loosened, and critics wonder what happened to the president's old pledge to change the way Washington works.

Vice President Joe Biden is getting ready to make recommendations on how to reduce gun violence in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

But he says his task force is facing an unexpected obstacle: slim or outdated research on weapons.

Public health research dried up more than a decade ago after Congress restricted the use of some federal money to pay for those studies.

A Researcher Under Fire

When students at the University of Vermont resume classes on the snow-covered Burlington campus Monday, something will be missing: bottled water. UVM is the latest university to ban on-campus sales of bottled water.

At one of UVM's recently retrofitted refill stations, students fill up their reusable bottles with tap water. For many of the 14,000 students and staff on this campus, topping off their refillable bottles is an old habit.

This week, Morning Edition explores the "nones" — Americans who say they don't identify with any religion. Demographers have given them this name because when asked to identify their religion, that's their answer: "none."

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor readily concedes that she was the beneficiary of affirmative action in higher education, and she doesn't really know why her view is so different from that of her colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas.

"As much as I know Clarence, admire him and have grown to appreciate him," she says, "I have never ever focused on the negative of things. I always look at the positive. And I know one thing: If affirmative action opened the doors for me at Princeton, once I got in, I did the work. I proved myself worthy. So, I don't look at how the door opened."

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Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

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Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Evidence of loss remains even three years after a massive earthquake claimed the lives of as many as 200,000 people in Haiti. In the middle of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, there is a cathedral whose sun-washed walls reach into the sky where a roof used to be.

A lone flagpole marks the spot where the National Palace, a symbol of Haiti's government, once proudly stood.

And on a downtown street that once bustled with storefronts, there is now a row of vendors who sell their wares under tent poles and umbrellas.

Part of the nation's physical landscape is changing. Nature writer and commentator Craig Childs has been watching the dramatic transformation of a mighty river that is running dry.

Small porpoises once swam in the brackish estuaries of the Colorado River delta. Jaguars stalked the river channels and marshes. It's not like that any more, though. The Colorado River no longer reaches the sea in Northern Mexico. It hasn't since 1983.

An apparent feud between two black market pharmacies has shed light on a shady global industry.

"Rx-Promotion and SpamIt probably are responsible for upward of 50 or 60 percent of spam that you and I got in our inboxes over the last five years," said Brian Krebs, a cyber-security reporter who chronicled the alleged feud on his website. "It's just a ridiculous amount of problems that these two guys cause for everybody."

Outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has had a bruising four years. He took office when the U.S. economy was plunging into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Nominating Jack Lew as Geithner's successor Thursday, President Obama praised his departing Treasury secretary for helping to get the economy back on track.

For more than a week, it was the belle of the ball, the butter with no better: a giant 1,000-pound dairy sculpture that occupied the place of honor at the annual Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pa.

For the first time in five decades, Cubans will no longer need an "exit permit" to travel. The change, which takes effect Monday, is part of a broader immigration reform by President Raul Castro making it easier for Cubans to go abroad — and also to return.

But critics say the communist government continues to treat travel as a privilege, not a right, and a useful tool to punish dissent.

The second season of HBO's critically acclaimed series Girls begins Sunday night, but the show about 20-something girls navigating their social and work lives in New York has itself been criticized for not being diverse enough.

By now, most of you have heard the buzz about Girls: It's written by 26-year-old Lena Dunham, and stars a quartet of young women whose plans sometimes crash face-first into life's nasty realities.

The show's smart dialogue attracted writer Allison Samuels, a cultural critic for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

Diane Tells His Name, 61, grew up never knowing she was adopted.

"When did you first feel like you were different?" Bonnie Buchanan, 23, asks her mother during a recent visit to a StoryCorps booth.

"Probably elementary school," she replies. "I had a younger sister, and I really didn't like doing the same things that she would do."

Instead of tea parties and dolls, Tells His Name spent her time outdoors, peering at the clouds and stars.

"And my sister was blond, tall and thin like my mother, and I was round and brown," she says with a laugh.

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And this morning here in Los Angeles the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced. The movie with the most nominations: Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," with 12 nods.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LINCOLN")

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LIFE OF PI")

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And today's last word in business goes out by special request to people listening in their cars. A new study finds that the music you listen to can affect how safely you drive.

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And there's more trouble for Foxconn, the electronics giant which makes Apple products in China. The company is acknowledging that Chinese police are looking into allegations that Foxconn employees took bribes from parts suppliers.

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Paul Salopek is already a well-traveled journalist — a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who has spent most of the past two decades roaming across Africa, Asia, the Balkans and Latin America.

This, apparently, has not sated his wanderlust. So now he's in a dusty village in Ethiopia's Rift Valley, ready to launch a seven-year, 21,000-mile journey on foot that will take him from Africa, across the Middle East and through Asia, over to Alaska and down the Western edge of the Americas until he hits the southern tip of Chile.

Why?

On average, YouTube streams 4 billion hours of video per month. That's a lot of video, but it's only a fraction of the larger online-streaming ecosystem. For video-streaming services, making sure clips always load properly is extremely challenging, and a new study reveals that it's important to video providers, too.

Maybe this has happened to you: You're showing a friend some hilarious video that you found online. And right before you get to the punch line, a little loading dial pops up in the middle of the screen.

A plain, one-bedroom apartment in Williston, N.D., rents for $2,100 a month. For this price, you could rent a one-bedroom apartment in New York City.

Williston is not New York City. There are 30,000 residents and one department store. The nearest city is two hours away.

Rents are so high in Williston because the town is in the middle of an oil boom. Unemployment is below 1 percent, and workers are flooding into town.

In Ethiopia, the donkey is more than just a beast of burden.

The Horn of Africa nation is home to more than 6 million donkeys and comes second only to China in global donkey numbers. The country is both donkey heaven and donkey hell, but though the animal is highly prized, it can also be mistreated.

"In Ethiopia, there's a good saying: 'A farmer without a donkey is a donkey himself,' " says Bojia Endebu, a veterinary surgeon and seasoned donkey doctor. "Because the donkey does lots of work, so they are very valuable for Ethiopian farmers."

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