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The opening weekend of the Summer Olympics was marked by highs and lows, of course, and the swimming pool had its share of both. World records, a stunning loss and a medal for the home team — and that was all in just one afternoon.

Before American Dana Vollmer answers how a 55.98-second 100-meter butterfly — the fastest time ever, and worth a gold medal — feels, consider this: Vollmer was diagnosed as a teenager with two life-threatening heart conditions that prompted her mom to carry a defibrillator to Dana's races.

An epic battle between the two biggest smartphone makers begins Monday in a federal district court in San Jose, Calif., where computing giant Apple is asking for more than $2.5 billion from rival phone maker Samsung for patent violations.

The suit would be the most expensive patent violation in history, and it's just one front in Apple's war against phones running Google's Android operating system.

Best-selling crime novelist Karin Slaughter (yes, that's her real name) grew up just south of Atlanta in the 1970s and '80s, when the city saw some of its most gruesome crimes: A rash of child murders in which dozens of African-American children disappeared, their bodies turning up in nearby woods and rivers. The realization that horrid crimes can happen even to children changed Slaughter's life.

A Portrait Of A Country Awash In 'Red Ink'

Jul 30, 2012

As the federal debt balloons, reducing it would seem more and more pressing. Yet policymakers remain far apart. Debt, deficit and budget rhetoric is often accompanied by numbers cherry-picked to support a particular political view.

But a new book by Wall Street Journal economics writer David Wessel lays out the numbers that both political parties face.

'Lifting,' And Lifted By, Words

Jul 29, 2012

Poet Ouyang Yu comes to NPR's Poetry Games representing two continents: Asia, where he was born (in China); and Australia, where he moved in 1991. He is a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, literary translation and criticism in English and Chinese.

Of his poem "Lifting," he writes: "Much as I admire weightlifting heroes or heroines, I can't help reminding myself that, however powerful a weightlifter is, he or she can't lift himself or herself up. The magic of the word is that, when well lifted, it has the power to transform."

Here in the U.S., McDonald's food is not usually considered all that healthy. But in China, it is.

That's because Chinese consumers trust American brands more than their own, says Shaun Rein, founder of China Market Research, who studies Chinese consumer behavior. Rein says that in China, McDonald's is seen as providing safe and wholesome food.

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Olympic Gymnasts Take The (Hot Pink) Floor

Jul 27, 2012

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Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

An occasional series, Fiscal Cliff Notes breaks down the looming "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and deep automatic spending cuts set to hit around the first of year.


About 80 percent of Americans would see their taxes go up if all the tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush were to expire as scheduled at the end of this year. And nearly 100 percent of the highest income earners would have to pay more — including both the Obamas and the Romneys.

For decades, the primary goal of those who would fix the U.S. health system has been to help people without insurance get coverage. Now, it seems, all that may be changing. At least some top Republicans are trying to steer the health debate away from the problem of the uninsured.

The shift in emphasis is a subtle one, but it's noticeable.

Greece's Latest Crisis: Rising HIV Cases

Jul 27, 2012

One of the alarming consequences of the financial crisis in Greece appears to be a sharp rise in the rate of HIV infection.

The country, which is struggling through a historic debt crisis and a deep recession, still has one of the lowest HIV infection rates in Europe. But budget cuts to health and social services seem to be driving a recent and dramatic increase, especially among injecting drug users.

Setting up an offshore company in a tax haven is surprisingly easy. A simple Google search offers up thousands of companies willing to help you do it.

In the days of the ancient Greeks, poetry and sport went hand in hand at athletic festivals like the Olympics. Poets sang the praises of athletic champions and, at some festivals, even competed in official events, reciting or playing the lyre. Here at NPR, we're reviving that tradition with our own Poetry Games.

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It's State Fair Season; What's On The Menu?

Jul 26, 2012

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Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

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Meet The Drug Dealer Who Helps Addicts Quit

Jul 26, 2012

A prescription drug called Suboxone helps wean people off of heroin and pain pills, but addicts have a hard time getting prescriptions. So they're turning to the black market.

An Albuquerque man who goes by the name Mystery Man has stepped in to fill the void. He says he illegally sells Suboxone every day.

To get Suboxone, Mystery Man has to find a patient with a Suboxone prescription, and give that person the $50 co-pay to fill it. He gets that money by selling, among other things, crack and guns.

The big question hanging over the International AIDS Conference this week is whether all 34 million people in the world with HIV can possibly get antiviral drug treatment.

Andy Cohen has been yakking for most of his 44 years. He has a book titled Most Talkative — a title he earned in high school.

"My mouth has been my greatest asset and also my biggest Achilles' heel," he says.

Most days, it's an asset.

Bagpipes and Scotland? Aye, it's a natural association: Played for centuries, the instrument is especially identified with the Scottish military and traditional Scottish dress, tartan kilts and shawls.

But bagpipes and Pakistan? Nae, you say? Think again.

Turns out no place in the world manufactures more bagpipes than Pakistan. And no city in Pakistan makes more of them than Sialkot.

Bagpipe Central

The statistics on HIV and AIDS in South Africa are daunting.

In a country of 50 million people, more than 5.5 million people are living with HIV and almost 2 million people are on HIV drug treatment. Each year, roughly 300,000 more South Africans are infected with HIV, and half a million come down with tuberculosis.

Survey Shows Londoners Are A Crabby Bunch

Jul 25, 2012

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Joggler To Make World Record Attempt

Jul 25, 2012

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M1 Abrams battle tanks are the rock stars of military armor. They're made in only one place: Lima, Ohio. The Army says it's done ordering them, but Congress appears intent on spending millions for more, arguing that cutting production is bad for the economy and national security.

NATO officials were hoping that insurgent activity in Afghanistan would taper off during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but so far, insurgents appear to be pressing ahead with their summer offensive.

More than a dozen NATO troops and contractors have been killed since the beginning of Ramadan last Friday. In general, insurgents have been busier this summer than last, and more often than not, civilians are paying the price.

The cool weather in London is good news for the Olympic athletes because their bodies won't need to put as much energy into cooling off.

But most of us aren't lucky enough to be headed to London, and we could use some help keeping cool.

When you get hot you sweat — but it's not enough to just sweat. To cool off, you need that sweat to evaporate. It's evaporation that drains the heat from your body.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, influential conservative and pugilistic dissenter, is challenging everything from a recent leak about Supreme Court deliberations, to conventional wisdom about the court and its history.

In a new book co-authored with Bryan Garner, Scalia spells out his judicial philosophy, and on Tuesday, the always voluble, charming and combative justice sat for a wide-ranging interview — about the book, his relationships on the court, and the recent leak alleging anger among the justices over the recent health care decision.

Why do we like the Olympics?

If somebody hadn't thought to start them up again 116 years ago, would ESPN have invented them to fill in summer programming?

I'm not being cranky. It's just that most of the most popular Olympic sports are the groundhog games. Swimming, gymnastics and track and field come out every four years, see their shadow and go right back underground where nobody pays any attention to them for another four years. Can you even name a gymnast?

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