Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. President Vladimir Putin even wants Russia's birds to get behind him. Yesterday, he flew a motorized glider aimed at leading a flock of Siberian cranes raised in captivity to their winter nesting grounds. To appear to be one of them, Putin donned a white jumpsuit and helmet, though he drew the line at a beak. A Russians news agency reported only one bird followed Putin on his first flight, but he picked up a few more supporters later on. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Prison officials in Massachusetts say they are still reviewing a federal court decision in Boston ordering them to provide sex-change surgery for a prison inmate. Critics are urging officials to appeal what they call an outrageous abuse of taxpayer funds. But as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, the decision this week reflects national trends of prisons treating gender identity disorder as a legitimate medical condition deserving treatment like any other.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Renee Montagne is back at NPR West. Renee, welcome back.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Thank you very much. After a nice vacation, and so glad to be here, because big news: President Obama speaks to the Democratic Convention tonight. Just as with Mitt Romney last week, the president will have a huge audience to make his case.
When the European Central Bank holds its monthly meeting today, investors around the world will be watching nervously to see what the bank's head, Mario Draghi, says about interest rates. Draghi was recently quoted as saying he would do whatever it takes to keep Europe's debt crisis from growing out of control, and that could go beyond just cutting borrowing rates.
As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, any European Central Bank plan to use its resources to prop up Europe's weaker economies will face strong opposition from the Germans.
And after delivering a tribute to her husband on the opening night at the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday by reaching out to groups of minority delegates there in Charlotte. NPR's David Welna reports.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Let's give a rousing welcome for the first lady, Michelle Obama.
DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The African-American caucus was fired up yesterday when Mrs. Obama got there just hours after she brought down the house at the convention arena. She was still getting going.
A male Solenosteira macrospira, left, carries snail eggs on its shell. But not all of the eggs were fertilized by him. Females, like the one on the right, deposit the eggs into papery capsules and attach them to the males' shells.
A man is not a mollusk, and many men probably think that's a good thing. And it's not just because a mollusk is a squishy invertebrate with a shell. It's also because for at least one species of mollusk, the males do all the heavy lifting when it comes to childcare.
The species of mollusk we're talking about is Solenosteira macrospira, a marine snail about 2 inches long. These snails live off the coast of Baja California, and during the mating season, the beach is awash with male and female snails in connubial bliss.
Writer Zadie Smith burst onto the literary scene with her first novel White Teeth more than a decade ago. Set in the Northwest London neighborhood where she grew up, White Teeth captured the diverse, vibrant rhythms of a city in transition. Smith returns to the neighborhood in her new novel, NW, but this is a sobering homecoming.
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 11:52 pm
President Obama still has a case to make for a second term, and specific people to whom he needs to make it.
But while it's two months too early to call former President Bill Clinton Obama's closer, he came about as close as it gets Wednesday night at the Democratic convention with a bravura defense of the current White House occupant.
"We are here to nominate a president," Clinton said after strolling onto the stage to tumultuous applause, "and I've got one in mind."
Investigators are working to determine the legitimacy of a claim that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax records have been stolen from an accounting firm's records.
Naming a million-dollar price, an anonymous ransom note was sent to accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The letter, which was also posted online, gets right to the point: "Using your Office... we were able to gain access to your network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney."
The note's author signs off with a perky "Cheers!"
Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 4:53 pm
States using a federal immigration database to purge noncitizens from voter lists are starting to get results, which so far include few illegal voters.
In Florida, which was first to gain access to the database after fighting the federal government in court, an initial run of roughly 2,600 names has turned up "several" violators, according to a spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
Charlotte, N.C., host of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, is the nation's biggest financial center outside of New York. But Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County have the highest foreclosure rates in the state, and many thousands of homeowners owe more on their homes than the properties are worth.
As thousands of Democrats converge in Charlotte for the convention, some troubled homeowners have also gathered, lamenting that the foreclosure crisis has not been sufficiently front and center in the presidential campaign.
Musician Branford Marsalis performs the national anthem as the West Charlotte High School ROTC present the colors during Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.
Originally published on Sun September 9, 2012 6:33 am
What's usually a formality turned a bit dramatic today at the opening of the second day of the Democratic National Convention.
A motion for a voice vote to amend the party platform to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel — and to reinsert the word "God" into the document — was met with many delegates shouting "no" and with loud boos when the motion was deemed to have passed.
The number of U.S. families struggling to put enough food on the table remains at record-high levels, according to new figures out today from the government. Last year, 1 in almost 7 households were what the government calls "food insecure." That's about the same level as in 2010, but still far higher than before the recession.
Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 4:44 am
Many reports have stated that Matt Bissonnette, the former Navy SEAL who wrote the book No Easy Day, plans to give a large share of his profits to the Navy SEAL Foundation, a group that aids Naval Special Warfare personnel and their families. But the foundation says it won't accept any money from the book, which has sparked questions over whether it contains classified details that could put U.S. military personnel at risk.
In addition to surveying the planets, the Voyager mission also spent time studying the planets' satellites, or moons. This mosaic image, taken in 1989, shows Neptune's largest satellite, Triton. Triton has the coldest surface temperature known anywhere in the solar system.
The two Voyager spacecraft launched on Aug. 20, 1977, and Sept. 5, 1977, on a mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. This true-color image, captured by Voyager 2 on July 21, 1981, shows the moons Dione (small dot at left) and Rhea (lower right) near Saturn.
As Voyager 1 passed by Jupiter on Feb. 5, 1979, it captured this image of the planet and its Great Red Spot, as well as three of its four largest moons — Io, Europa and Callisto.
The Great Red Spot on Jupiter, seen here in an image from Voyager 1 taken on Feb. 25, 1979, is a giant, hurricane-like storm in Jupiter's atmosphere. It's been documented for at least 400 years by astronomers viewing the planet through telescopes.
After the Voyager craft surveyed Jupiter and Saturn, NASA extended their mission and sent Voyager 2 on to Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 kept traveling outward. This image of Uranus was captured by Voyager 2 in 1986, when it was about 600,000 miles from the planet. Uranus' pale blue-green color is a result of methane in the atmosphere.
About three years later, in 1989, Voyager 2 reached Neptune, where it captured this high-resolution color image, which shows bright cloud streaks on the planet.
This image, also taken in 1989, was the first to show Neptune's rings in detail.
Violin with music score (Cavatina)
The Golden Record
Diagram of conception
Diagram of continental drift
Diagram of vertebrate evolution
Man from Guatemala
Children with globe
Demonstration of licking, eating and drinking
X-ray of hand
Street scene, Asia (Pakistan)
Astronaut in space
Credit NASA / JPL
The two Voyager spacecraft launched on Aug. 20 and Sept. 5, 1977, on a mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn. This true-color image, captured by Voyager 2 on July 21, 1981, shows the moons Dione (small dot at left) and Rhea (lower right) near Saturn.
Credit NASA / JPL
This artist's drawing shows one of the Voyager probes, which were launched in 1977. Voyager 1 is hurtling toward the edge of the solar system and might be close to reaching interstellar space, researchers say.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft's 35th anniversary is proving to be unexpectedly exciting, as scientists gathered this week to examine new hints that the spacecraft is on the verge of leaving our solar system.
Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles away from Earth. It blasted off in September 1977, on a mission to Jupiter and Saturn. But it also carried a Golden Record filled with music and the sounds of our planet, in case it encountered intelligent life as it moved out toward the stars.