Steve Inskeep

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

We're learning this morning of a possible change in the American use of unmanned drones. The change, if it happens, would affect who gives the orders and possibly how much the public learns.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

INSKEEP: That's the sound of bells in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, as Pope Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass today. The ceremony was infused with meaning, both in the substance of what the new pope said and the symbolism of how he was presented.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us on the line from Rome.

Hi, Sylvia.

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When President Obama recently called for stricter gun control laws, he started out by saying this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is the land of the free, and it always will be.

INSKEEP: The land of the free, he said. But he added this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

OBAMA: We don't live in isolation. We live in a society, a government of and by and for the people. We are responsible for each other.

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OK. The field is set for the NCAA Division One men's basketball tournament. Top seeds include Kansas, Louisville, Indiana and Gonzaga. The team previously known for its heroic upsets in the NCAA tournament is now one of the teams to beat. NPR's Mike Pesca is here to discuss the selections. Mike, good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

INSKEEP: How'd Gonzaga do it?

PESCA: I know, right? You read those other teams, and it's, like, perennial power, perennial power, perennial power, Jesuit school from Spokane.

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Gunmen killed a woman in Pakistan yesterday. The news stories about this were formulaic for Pakistan, she was killed in a customary manner by assassins on motorcycles who rolled away with impunity. What's remarkable is the way she lived. Parveen Rehman came from Karachi, one of the world's largest cities. She helped thousands of poor people obtain basic services.

When I first met her in 2008, she told me she studied to become an architect, but doubted the value of the upscale buildings she learned to design.

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Thousands of Venezuelans have been filling the streets this week, listening to music and lining up to see the coffin of their leader, Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday. Leaders from around the world have also come to the capital city, Caracas, for a funeral which formally takes place today. And in keeping with his often larger-than-life persona, the Venezuelan government plans to embalm Chavez and keep his body on display under glass, in perpetuity. NPR's Juan Forero is in Caracas, following events there. Hi, Juan.

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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. In Italy the papacy is officially vacant. The Vatican is now under the control of the cardinals who will elect a new leader of the Catholic Church. Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI gave up his ring, his cape and red papal shoes to become Pope Emeritus. Cokie Roberts was there, joins us from Rome. Hi, Cokie.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

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It's been a tense 24 hours in Southern California. The former Los Angeles police officer wanted in connection with three murders is still at large this morning, despite a manhunt that has spanned hundreds of miles.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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We have a clearer picture this morning of just what an immigration overhaul might look like.

INSKEEP: A bipartisan group of senators is spreading word that they have agreed on principles for change.

MONTAGNE: The proposal would include a pathway to citizen for millions of people now in the U.S. illegally. Republicans have led the opposition to that change, up to now, commonly calling it amnesty.

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OK, the Pentagon says the U.S. commander in Afghanistan is cleared. Gen. John Allen was caught in a scandal last fall. You may recall, he'd been corresponding by email with a Florida socialite; and the question for the Pentagon was whether Gen. Allen's emails were inappropriate. NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman followed the story back then. He's with us now. Tom, good morning.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

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Major League Baseball has enacted new anti-doping policies that are being described as unprecedented in American professional sports. Yesterday, Major League Baseball and its Players Union said that starting next year they will be fighting the use of human growth hormone and testosterone - two allegedly popular banned substances.

NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been covering this story. Tom, good morning.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

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On Monday, Morning Edition explored crime rates in Chicago and how the murder rate went up in 2012. That was against national trends and even against Chicago's long-range decline in crime. We discussed police focus on "hot spots," and the dissolution of gangs. But listeners asked: What about gun bans?

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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Happy New Year.

Let's start with the upside. Congress has yet to rattle the financial markets so far in 2013.

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It is raining in Newtown, Connecticut, where people observed a moment of silence seven days to the minute after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School. NPR's Kirk Siegler is in Newtown; he's on the line. And Kirk, what do you see this morning?

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Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has granted himself almost absolute power, but has not been able to win anything like unanimous approval. The new president faces criticism for a decree stating he can do anything he thinks will advance Egypt's revolution, and that courts cannot review his decisions. Egyptians have taken to the streets in protest. Markets have reacted badly, and the country's top judges are paying Morsi a visit today to discuss this turn of events.

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College football's wild season was not so wild this past weekend. There were no major shifts at the top of the BCS rankings as there were the week before. That's mainly because Notre Dame beat the University of Southern California on Saturday and maintained its number one ranking.

Now that the election is over, Morning Edition is getting back in touch with some voters we met over the summer for our series First and Main. That's when we visited three political swing counties.

Steve Inskeep talks to Jim Meeks and his daughter-in-law Xiomara in Hillsborough County, Florida. Jim supported Governor Romney and Xiomara, President Obama.

David Greene spoke to voters in Winnebago County, Wisconsin. He catches up with farmer Charlie Knigge, who voted for Mitt Romney, and corrections officer Jason Menzel, who voted for Obama.

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Major League Baseball's regular season ended yesterday with the kind of day that would warm the commissioner's heart: fans cheering from coast to coast, a towering achievement for one very good hitter, and the promise of even more excitement to come as the playoffs begin. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been tracking this season. He's on the line.

Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hello.

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A disease that once ravaged the world, killed countless children, even famously affected President Franklin Roosevelt, has now been eradicated in all but three countries: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The disease is polio. And at the United Nations last week, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met leaders of those three countries, who pledged to step up efforts to wipe out polio entirely.

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People are not getting much work done in parts of Europe. Last night, there were violent protests in Spain. They were protests against austerity measures, which is also the case in Greece, where a nationwide strike came today. It closed businesses and schools, and reporter Joanna Kakissis is following the story from Athens.

Joanna, what's been happening?

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Mitt Romney says he's standing by the substance of his comments about American voters. A recording first revealed by Mother Jones magazine captured Romney at a fundraiser. He said 47 percent of Americans are hopelessly lost to President Obama, that they pay no income taxes, quote, "think they are victims, that they're entitled," and that he can't make them take responsibility or care for their lives.

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RENEE MONSTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. All through the morning we've been getting more details about the attack against the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In the city that was at the heart of the Libyan revolution, protesters killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. Here's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep, with Renee Montagne. Let's get the latest, now, from North Africa, in the wake of attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in both Libya and Egypt. In Cairo, as we saw yesterday, protesters went over a wall and took down an American flag. The far more serious attack was against a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where we now know four Americans were killed, including the United States ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.

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Florida has so far been spared the worst of Tropical Storm Isaac. Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana cannot be so sure. If the storm stays on its current course, it threatens to hit Louisiana seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina arrived in New Orleans. NPR's Greg Allen is tracking the storm. He's on the line from Florida this morning.

Greg, good morning.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How much damage was there from Isaac in Florida?

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Today's shooting in New York City draws special attention because of the location: at the base of the Empire State Building, perhaps the most famous building in New York, one of the most famous buildings in the world. The gunman opened fire there. Several people were shot and wounded. We're getting conflicting accounts of how many, although news photographs from the scene do show a number of people down on the ground.

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And some other news on this eventful morning. Lance Armstrong says he is no longer fighting the doping case against him. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says as a result the cyclist will be stripped of his seven titles on the Tour de France. NPR's Mike Pesca joined us to talk about it. Good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

INSKEEP: How did this happen? Did Armstrong effectively admit guilt here by saying he's not fighting the charges?

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