From NPR News

Uganda Mission Part Of Military's Wide Reach

Oct 21, 2011

President Obama's decision to send 100 U.S. troops into central Africa to help combat a rebel group may have struck many as a surprise, but there's a long precedent for such operations.

U.S. forces have worked collaboratively with numerous militaries around the globe in recent decades, whether to put down insurgencies in places like the Philippines and El Salvador, or to fight the drug trade in Colombia and Mexico.

Japan's Uniqlo Eyes Manhattan, And More

Oct 21, 2011

At the same time that Gap is closing 20 percent of its stores, a big Japanese clothing retailer called Uniqlo plans to open hundreds of shops in the U.S. Uniqlo is sort of like the Gap of Japan: The low-priced casual clothing retailer has been around since the 1980s, but sales are flattening out in its home market so the company is looking overseas for growth.

The U.S. is at the heart of its strategy, according to the head of Uniqlo's U.S. operation, Shin Odake.

The Syrian government has barred most international journalists from the country, restricting coverage since an uprising began last spring. In response, Syrian activists have played a crucial role in providing information to the wider world.

One of the most prominent is Alexander Page — an alias that a young Syrian used for his safety. He was often cited by international media outlets, including NPR.

But he recently fled Syria after his identity was compromised and he was in danger of arrest.

President Obama said Moammar Gadhafi's death marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the Libyan people. The seven-month military campaign that toppled the Libyan leader also marks a high point for the kind of international cooperation that Obama has championed.

The White House was careful Thursday not to claim vindication for the president's policies, but the Libyan exercise does offer an example of what an "Obama Doctrine" might look like.

France And Germany: A Love Story

Oct 21, 2011

France and Germany are trying to come up with a bailout plan for Europe. This isn't the first time they've fought over money.

Like any bickering couple, they've spent centuries fighting over finances. In fact, the history of their relationship is so dramatic — so theatrical — it's best to tell it in song.

(Read the lyrics, and see the credits, here.)

Our story begins in 1870.

With the nation's student-loan debt climbing toward $1 trillion, it's taking many young people longer than ever to pay off their loans. Two-thirds of college students now graduate with debt, owing an average of $24,000. But some borrow far more and find this debt influencing major life decisions long after graduation.

"I was very naive, and I realize that now," says Stephanie Iachini, of Altoona, Pa. She was the first in her family to go to college and financed it herself. "Basically I was just signing papers because the education part meant a lot to me."

Although dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, there are still thought to be a few species left over from those days. Plants called cycads are among these rare "living fossils" — they have remained pretty much unchanged for more than 300 million years, but a study in Science magazine suggests that glamorous title may not be deserved.

There's no time machine in Washington, D.C., but Harvard botanist Sarah Mathews leads me to what's arguably the next best thing — a room made of glass in the U.S. Botanic Garden, just downhill from the U.S. Capitol.

The Institute of Medicine sympathizes with us consumers and the confusion we suffer weighing health claims on food packaging at the grocery store. Our convoluted food labels might have something to do with why so many Americans aren't eating as healthfully as they could, and are shouldering too much weight and diet-related health problems, the IOM says.

Early voting is underway in Ohio, where a fierce fight with political and economic implications is forcing voters to pick sides between Republican budget-cutters and public workers' unions. At issue is whether to keep or repeal SB 5, a controversial bill supported by Gov. John Kasich and passed by the GOP-dominated legislature this spring. Among other things, SB 5 dramatically restricts Ohio's public sector workers collective bargaining rights. Under SB 5, public employees cannot strike or negotiate for wages or working conditions.

The host of a public radio opera show that is distributed nationally by NPR will keep her job after drawing criticism for her involvement with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Lisa Simeone, the freelance host of the show World of Opera, also has been acting as a spokeswoman for Washington, D.C., protesters affiliated with the "October 2011" group.

Teenage drivers have fewer crashes after they've been driving for a while, but new research suggests that a few months behind the wheel doesn't improve their driving skills all that much.

Researchers persuaded 42 newly licensed teen drivers to have data-recording systems installed in their cars — a camera, a GPS, and an accelerometer to measures rapid stops, sharp turns and swerves. They also checked up on how their parents did when driving the same cars.

The idea was to compare the driving habits of novices with those of more experienced drivers under similar conditions.

Moammar Gadhafi proved true to his word that he would remain in Libya and "die as a martyr," though his final hours were an ignominious end for a man who long ruled from a fortress-like compound in the heart of Tripoli.

His last moments were reportedly spent holed up in a culvert under a road in his hometown of Sirte as loyalist forces waged a losing battle to keep control of the city.

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice held a special place for Col. Moammar Gadhafi. We know that because he once referred to her her as "my darling black African woman," and said, "I love her very much."

We also know that because after he was toppled, his compound was ransacked and among the things found was a scrapbook packed with photos of Rice.

This past summer, two assassinations paralyzed the southern Afghan city of Kandahar with fears of a power vacuum.

In the first incident, President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, considered the unofficial kingpin of the south, was gunned down in July by a close associate. Two weeks later, a Taliban assassin killed the city's mayor, Ghulam Hamidi, with a bomb concealed in his turban.

Commuters on Northern California's I-80, which connects the Bay Area to Sacramento, saw something unexpected early this morning. Two rigs collided and about 5,000 chickens spilled onto the highway near Vacaville.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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