This Friday the 13th, fans of horror films and hobbits, science fiction and fantasy are descending upon the San Diego Convention Center. They're gathering for the annual explosion of pop culture fandom that is Comic-Con. One of the biggest phenomena in pop culture at the moment will be making an appearance, and it's not a man of steel or a boy slinging webs.
It's a 40-something woman who writes... wait for it... steamy romance.
Voting rights have been a big topic at this year's convention of the NAACP in Houston. Republicans across the country have been pushing for tougher voter I.D. laws, which the nation's oldest civil rights organization contends are aimed at hurting voter turnout among African-Americans. Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden joined a long list of convention speakers addressing that issue, as NPR's Don Gonyea reports.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renée Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. China's economic growth has slowed down to a three-year low. That's according to new figures released today. The numbers matter to us because of the way the world economy is so interconnected. Americans import a lot from China, sure, but have also been working to boost exports to other nations, including China.
NPR's Louisa Lim joins us from Beijing to make sense of the latest news. Hi, Louisa.
The ancient desert town of Timbuktu is under assault in the west African nation of Mali. Islamist forces have taken over much of northern Mali where Timbuktu is located. One group, allied with al-Qaida, has begun systematically destroying Shrines that celebrate ancient Muslim saints. Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher Corinne Dufka talks to Renee Montagne about the destruction.
NPR's business news starts with a warning about LIBOR.
It came years ago. We now know that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner pointed out problems with the way that London's key interest rates were set. He did this in 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis at the time he was head of the New York Federal Reserve.
And the biggest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase, says it has lost $4.4 billion from its failed hedging strategy involving a secretive trader. That's more than twice the bank's earlier estimate. The company released its second-quarter earnings report this morning, and NPR's Jim Zarroli is with us now to talk about them. Jim, what is the company telling investors this morning about that money?
Some future news now. The Olympics begin two weeks from today in London, and we can already tell you the likely big winners. China will take the most gold medals, followed by the U.S. and host country, Great Britain. Team USA will win the most overall medals, followed by China and Russia.
And today's last word in business comes from the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan, which by the way, won six medals in the last Olympics. But today's last word is about another kind of competition, this one between social networking sites. And the word is: YouFace. That's the name of a new social networking site that aims to lure local Internet users away from Facebook, and, quote, "boost patriotism among young people in Uzbekistan."
This month, the U.S. Postal Service begins cutting back hours and services at rural post offices across the country. One store facing changes sits inside the Wood & Swink general store in the northern Florida town of Evinston. The store has been in Freddie Wood's family for more than 100 years. In that time, it's gone through only small changes.
Some of the most interesting discoveries in archaeology come from sifting through ancient garbage dumps. Scientists working in Oregon have found one that has yielded what they say are the oldest human remains in the Americas and a puzzle about the earliest American tools.
Early Americans used Oregon's Paisley Caves for, among other things, a toilet. Little did they know that scientists would be picking through what they left behind.
Europe is struggling, thanks to a relentless debt crisis. Compounding its problems: It is not one country, but 17.
Many observers agree that to solve their problems, those countries have to start looking a lot more like one country. And there is a force in Europe trying to make that happen: the European Central Bank. The weapon it has that everyone else lacks? Money.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Prosecutors say no cats were harmed in the making of this news story. A man in Tacoma, Washington told a sad tale. He was involved in a car crash and two years later he said that collision had killed his cat named Tom. He filed a $20,000 insurance claim. But now, according to KOMO, he's been accused of fraud. Authorities say the cat never existed. The man allegedly backed up his claim with cat photos from the Internet. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Both Republicans and Democrats will tell you, the Jewish vote is vital in the upcoming presidential election. And this year, one party is going very far in its efforts to woo Jewish voters, all the way to Israel. Israel is home to a large American community, and for the first time, the Republican Party has crossed the Atlantic to actively campaign.
NPR's Middle East correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports that Republican Party envoys find themselves on fertile ground.
Mobile apps are aggressively placing unwanted ads on phones. Lookout, a mobile security firm in San Francisco, tested mobile apps and found some disturbing practices. Those include transmitting consumer phone numbers and email addresses and transmitting to third parties and placing ads on the mobile phone's desktop.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
It's a sobering morning at Penn State University. Today, former FBI Director Louis Freeh release released a scathing report on how Penn State dealt with a series of shocking allegations that led to the by Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Sandusky was the revered former defensive coach for the Penn State football team. He was found guilty last month of 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
We are following other stories around the world this morning, including this one from Ireland, where because of the eurozone crisis many people don't trust the banks anymore. They'd rather put their money, if they still have some, in art or antiques, and they had an opportunity to just that when an Irish aristocrat named Ambrose Congreve died last year at the age of 104. He left behind a mansion full of treasures, and the contents of his estate have gone up for auction. Here's NPR's Philip Reeves.
NPR's business news starts with a giant deal for Boeing.
It's a big deal that would be worth billions of dollars for Boeing. United Airlines is set to buy about 100 of its planes - the single-aisle 737s. Boeing would still be behind Europe's Airbus when it comes to new orders for the next generation of narrow body jets.
Today's announcement on United's Boeing purchase has long been rumored. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Sometimes friends become more than friends and Facebook just won't do. And if the friend in question are dogs, they may want to hear today's last word in business.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PUPPY LOVE")
PAUL ANKA: (Singing) And they called it puppy love, oh I...
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Brazil's dog population is second only to the U.S. Two entrepreneurs - a brother and sister team - are hoping to capitalize on that by building an eight-story hotel for pets. With one floor apparently is dedicated to mating.
The Turkish border is a key link for the revolt in neighboring Syria. Turkish ambulances are stationed at border crossings to cope with the flood of injured Syrians, often as many as 30 a day. And now, Syrian-American doctors are volunteering in a humanitarian effort to help the wounded and to bring crucial medicines for field hospitals inside Syria.
Most Americans use electricity, gas or oil to heat and cool their homes. But the small city of Brainerd, Minn., is turning to something a bit less conventional: the sewer.
As it turns out, a sewer — the place where a city's hot showers, dishwashing water and organic matter end up — is a pretty warm place. That heat can generate energy — meaning a city's sewer system can hold tremendous potential for heating and cooling.
It's just that unexpected energy source that Brainerd hopes to exploit.
This week, President Obama signed a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw fake marijuana, which has been blamed for hundreds of emergency room visits and a handful of fatalities.
But the bans have proved largely ineffective, and there are fears that the federal law won't be any different.
Synthetic marijuana looks a bit like dried grass clippings. It's readily available on the Internet and in convenience stores and smoke shops, where it's sold as herbal incense or potpourri.
The app simulates a rescue phone call. The app can show a telephone number — a coworker's, your mother's — and a photo of the supposed caller. Although it can't guarantee your date will believe the fake excuse.
President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are hitting the campaign trail hard this week. On Tuesday, the president was campaigning in Iowa — the state that helped to launch his White House bid in 2008. He told supporters in Iowa he wants a second term in order to finish what he started.