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Waking up is hard to do, but it's easier with Morning Edition from NPR and HPPR. Hosts Renée Montagne, Steve Inskeep, and David Greene bring you the day's news stories and interview newsmakers from politicians, to academics, to filmmakers. Morning Edition provides news in context, airs thoughtful ideas and commentary, and reviews important new music, books, and events in the arts. All with voices and sounds that invite you to experience the stories. Morning Edition is a world of ideas tailored to fit into your busy life.

Mind-Numbing TV Shows Are A Hit In Norway

Jun 17, 2013

Boring TV is such a hit in the Scandinavian nation of Norway that broadcasters are scrambling to produce even more shows to satisfy the appetites of viewers. One idea being considered is a live show with knitting experts, according to The Wall Street Journal.

When New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft met with then-Russian President Vladmir Putin in 2005, he showed off his Super Bowl ring. Kraft told a crowd last week Putin put the ring on, and said, "I can kill someone with this ring." He then put it in his pocket, and walked away. The Kremlin says the ring was a gift.

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More than 40,000 scientists in Spain have signed a petition calling on the government to end cuts to their budget. They're blaming austerity for an exodus of the country's best and brightest researchers.

Lauren Frayer has more from Madrid.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Spanish spoken)

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Hundreds of lab-coated scientists delivered their petition to Spain's Economy Ministry. They marched there last week because the Science Ministry, itself, was closed in budget cuts.

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Now, as we've been reporting elsewhere in the program, President Obama is in Europe this week for the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland. On Tuesday, he heads to Germany to meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany is the EU's powerhouse. Its economic success has given the country political power, in part, because it's the region's biggest lender.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, Scott just made clear economic issues have some competition for top billing at the G 8 Summit in Northern Ireland. We do, though, want to drill down into one economic question this morning, and that's why interest rates here at home are going up. The bond market has pushed them to the highest levels in 15 months, and that includes mortgage rates.

Let's turn, as we often do, to David Wessel. He's economics editor of The Wall Street Journal. David, good morning.

DAVID WESSEL: Good morning.

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Let's look now at another change in health care, and this one has to do with paperwork. Hospitals and clinics are slowly replacing paper files with sophisticated electronic health records. But with a variety of systems in use, they often can't easily share medical information with each other, and this can be a pretty serious problem in the case of an emergency.

As Elizabeth Stawicki reports, smartphones might be one way to bridge this electronic gap.

Lowe's Looks To Acquire Hardware Stores

Jun 17, 2013

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NPR's business news starts with an acquisition for Lowe's.

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GREENE: The home-improvement retailer Lowe's has reportedly agreed to buy Orchard Supply Hardware Stores. The sale price is expected to top $200 million. Now, Orchard is a California-based hardware and garden chain. It was once owned by Sears, and it's now about $230 million in debt.

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Syria's Arab neighbors are increasingly being drawn into that country's conflict. Over the weekend, the Egyptian president cut all diplomatic ties with Syria and called for a no-fly zone to protect rebels there.

In Jordan - right next door to Syria - King Abdullah told graduates at the country's military academy that he would defend against any spillover from the fighting. That followed a Pentagon decision to base Patriot missiles and a squadron of F-16 fighter planes in the country.

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Now let's hunt for a hidden treasure - although it's not worth all that much - except to history buffs. Archaeologists are on Lake Michigan today looking for the oldest shipwreck in the Great Lakes. They're searching for the Griffin, which was being sailed by the French explorer Robert de La Salle when it sank in 1679. The archaeologists might be on the right track. They uncovered a wooden beam that looks like the mast of a ship. Peter Payette of Interlochen Public Radio reports.

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And let's stay in this part of the world. Over the weekend, Iran overwhelmingly elected a new president, a man seen by many as a reformer. More than half the voters in that country opted for this change.

The relatively moderate cleric, Hassan Rouhani, replaces Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who's been in power since 2005. Rouhani campaigned on a message of ending Iran's international isolation.

For reaction from Tehran, we're joined by The New York Times bureau chief there, Thomas Erdbrink.

Thomas, good morning.

President Obama is in Northern Ireland Monday — the first stop on a three-day European visit that includes a G-8 summit meeting and a side trip to Berlin.

The president begins his tour with a speech in Belfast, celebrating Northern Ireland's peace process and urging young people in the country to keep it moving forward.

Later, Obama joins leaders of other industrial countries at a remote golf resort in County Fermanagh for talks on Syria, trade and the global economy.

Call it the Affordable Care Act, call it Obamacare, call it whatever you want — it's coming. And soon. In less than four months people without health insurance will be able to start signing up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

A lot has been said about the law, most of it not that understandable. So starting now, and continuing occasionally through the summer and fall, we're going to try to fix that.

At 41, with long black hair, Stuart Neville looks more like the rock guitarist he used to be than the author he is now. He lives in a small town with his family — not in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the city that plays a central role in his thrillers, but just outside it.

This Blumesday Celebrates Judy, Not Joyce

Jun 16, 2013

Today is Blumesday. Not the Bloomsday where readers celebrate James Joyce's novel Ulysses — that was Sunday. Today's Blumesday is also a holiday for literature lovers, but of a different sort.

Blumesday creators Joanna Miller and Heather Larimer are writers, and they're pretty well-read. But they were never huge fans of Ulysses. "We sort of self-deprecatingly said, 'Well, the only way we could participate in Bloomsday was if it were Judy Blumesday.' And then the joke turned into, 'Wait, why aren't we doing this?' " Miller explains.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

The European Union is a big fan of traveling pets. It has pet passports that allow them to travel through all the member states. Still, until this week there was a limit. Travelers could only take up to five pets across the borders. Now, thanks to a pet-loving member of the EU Parliament, those who prefer to travel with herds of animals are now free to roam, as long as they're heading for a competition or a sporting event.

It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Harley Davidson Sends Pope Francis Gifts

Jun 14, 2013

The company sent the pope two motorcycles and a leather jacket. The occasion is a gathering of bikers in Vatican City this weekend hoping for a blessing of the motorbikes.

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And that brings us to our last word in business, which is luxury pavement.

In Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, real estate is expensive, and space is tight.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And so it was that a bidding war broke out there yesterday. According to the Boston Globe, the price for the item in question started at $42,000.

MONTAGNE: And was bid up to a final price $560,000 - which got the winners two parking spots on crumbling asphalt in an alleyway.

Business News: A Man, A Plan, A Canal

Jun 14, 2013

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a man, a plan, a canal.

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MONTAGNE: Not Panama this time. This canal is in Nicaragua. Yesterday, the Nicaraguan congress granted a Chinese tycoon the exclusive right to develop a multi-billion dollar rival to the Panama Canal. The bill grants the investor 50 years of control over the potential shipping route - pending a study of its viability. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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And I'm Linda Wertheimer. The Obama administration has shifted policy on Syria with an announcement, last night, that it will step up support for rebels who've been losing ground in recent weeks. The White House says it will start providing direct military support to rebel commanders.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

They're calling it the Road to Majority. It's the third annual meeting of conservative religious activists with the Faith and Freedom Coalition. The conference is underway now in Washington, D.C. Its stated aim: To boost the conservative vote for next year's midterm election.

As NPR's David Welna reports, it's also a platform for Republican stars eyeing the White House in 2016.

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In Maine, the state's effort to keep tabs on its black bear population is getting some help from a group of college kids. The program has undergraduate students capturing bears, running tests on them, and attaching tracking devices before releasing them back into the wild.

Maine Public Radio's Jay Field went along on a recent expedition into the woods.

Kevyn Orr will ask unions, retirees and banks to take big losses on debt the city just can't afford to pay. But Orr is walking a fine line trying to convince those parties to accept a bankruptcy-style settlement, without actually going to bankruptcy court — at least, not yet.

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In Syria's ally Iran, people are voting for president today. It is Iran's first presidential election since the stunning vote in 2009. Back then, a surprisingly early declaration of victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked a wave of protests, followed by years of government repression. This time around, six candidates are contending for power amid widespread skepticism about the election, and intensive security on the streets.

The Afghan farmer in Panjwai District, outside the southern city of Kandahar, is finally fed up with the Taliban.

His name is Abdullah Razik. He's slight, with a trim beard and a dark green shirt that falls below his knees.

The Taliban plant roadside bombs in his fields, he says, and shoot near his house. The area is one of the most dangerous in Afghanistan — the birthplace of the Taliban.

Not long ago, something worse happened, Razik says.

"My friend ... lost his hand," he says. "The Taliban were putting IEDs in my village" four months ago.

Why More People Are Renting Tires

Jun 13, 2013

"Oh, I checked every place in town, and they were outrageous," says Shannon Kelly. "It would be anywhere from $4[00] to $500, and I just don't have that right now."

Kelly had just walked into Rent N Roll, a rent-to-own tire store in Ocala, Fla. She was looking to rent a set of tires for her truck. Tire rental stores like this one have been around for a while, but until recently, most of their customers rented fancy rims. These days, it's becoming more common for the stores to rent simple tires to people who don't have the cash to buy tires outright.

Captain Sunshine wears a yellow yarmulke, yellow T-shirt and a bright-yellow cape held around his shoulders with a silky red ribbon. At a recent rally of about 200 electric-car owners in Israel, he called out questions to the crowd.

"We're saying to the government and to the army," he shouted through a squawky mic, "20 percent of your fleets should be electric cars. Do you agree?"

The crowd cheered yes.

The Navy has been issuing orders and messages in capital letters since the 1850s when teletype machines didn't have lower case. But to young sailors, raised on texting, "all CAPS" signifies shouting.

Rare 'Superman' Comic Sells For Big Bucks

Jun 13, 2013

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Good morning, I'm Linda Wertheimer. A rare copy of the comic book featuring Superman's first appearance sold for $175,000 this week. Considered the "Holy Grail" of comics by many collectors, it is one of about 100 copies. Published in 1938, the comic was found by David Gonzalez in the insulation of a house that he was restoring in Minnesota. The selling price is ten times what he paid for the house. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

When Iranians vote Friday for president, it will be an election unlike any other.

Clerics who hold supreme power in the Islamic Republic have allowed elections for decades.

But while the people vote, clerics and their allies make the rules. Those already in power choose who can run for office and limit what they do if elected.

Restrictions are tighter than ever after massive protests that followed a disputed election in 2009. In fact, the country has come to redefine the whole purpose of an election.

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