Morning Edition for Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's been five years since Lehman Brothers collapsed and touched off a banking crisis that is still being felt by the global economy. Today, the banking industry is a lot stronger than it was, but some critics say efforts to reform banking regulations have fallen short of their potential.

Long Before Most, Intel Chased The Smart Watch

Long before smart watches became the latest pursuit for tech companies, Gordon Moore of Intel was experimenting with wristwatch computers. Intel's co-founder and his colleagues built a line of chip-powered watches in the late '70s. The concept was visionary, but the business was a failure. Moore now keeps a memento that he calls his "$15 million watch."

Why Painting Tumors Could Make Brain Surgeons Better

Cut a tumor from a child's brain and you may save a life. But surgery can hurt the child if healthy brain cells are removed. A Seattle doctor is working on a substance that might help. It binds tightly to cancer cells and makes them glow, so they're easier to distinguish from healthy tissue.

Protein In Tarantula Venom Could Be Used As Insecticide

Scientists in Australia report they have found a way to turn a protein found in the venom of the Australian tarantula into an insecticide. Tests show the protein is particularly effective against the cotton bollworm.
In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill stripping collective bargaining rights from most public employees, sparking massive protests at the state Capitol. While most demonstrators eventually went away, a small group did not.

Russia's Putin Adds Another Voice To Debate On Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin has written an op-ed piece for Thursday's New York Times. He's calling on the U.S. to forgo military strikes on Syria. For Russia's view of the Syrian conflict, Renee Montagne talks to Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Backers Of Israel Press For Strikes On Syria

One of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill is AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which commands bi-partisan respect on Middle East issues. But on the matter of possible military strikes on Syria, AIPAC is having a rare tough go of it.

Britain Plans To Privatize Royal Mail

British officials unveiled plans Thursday morning to sell the majority of its centuries old postal service. It's the largest privatization of a government service the country has seen in decades. The public offering of the world's oldest postal service would take place in the coming weeks.

Mexico's Tax Overhaul Has Middle Class Crying Foul

Mexico's president has unveiled a major shakeup of the country's tax system. His administration says it's aimed at capturing more of Mexico's paltry tax collection. Critics say it's unfairly targeting the middle class. Among the items slated for taxing: dog food and private school tuition.

Missouri Tax Posturing May Influence Other States

State lawmakers failed to override the governor's veto of a controversial measure that would have lowered state income taxes. Although Republicans had supermajorities in the House and Senate, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon was able to rally school districts, which feared their budgets would suffer from the decline in general revenue.

Village People Singer Wins Copyright Case

Victor Willis has finally won a share of the income from his most famous song. The New York Times reports Willis, you know him as the police officer, has emerged from six years of legal wrestling with a new copyright in hand. The victory gives him substantial control over "YMCA" and 32 other Village People tunes.

Rebels Were 'Eager' To See U.S. Strikes On Syria

Steve Inskeep talks to General Salim Idriss, commander of the Free Syrian Army. They discuss Syrian opposition reaction to President Obama's address to the nation this week, the Russian diplomatic initiative and what assistance the general is hoping to receive from the United States.

Analyst Criticized For Syrian-Rebel Advocacy Connections

During the run-up to possible military action in Syria, the name of an unknown researcher was catapulted into the spotlight. Elizabeth O'Bagy was on NPR, Fox and quoted by Senator John McCain during a hearing. It turns out, O'Bagy is not exactly who she said she was, and her story reveals a lot about how Washington works during times of high drama.

Calif. City Proposes Unique Plan To Avoid Foreclosures

A federal judge in San Francisco on Thursday hears arguments over a radical plan to stem the foreclosure crisis. The City of Richmond is proposing to buy underwater mortgages in order to help keep local residents in their homes. If banks don't want to sell those mortgages, the city says it is prepared to invoke eminent domain to seize the mortgages.

A Check On The Housing Industry

Millions of American homeowners are underwater — that is they owe more than their house is worth. That number though is falling as home prices rise, and as more houses get foreclosed on.

For Native Americans, Mental Health Budget Cuts Hit Hard

Suicide rates among Native Americans are already four times the national average. And with recent cuts in federal funding for mental health services across the country, suicide prevention programs may lose ground in the communities that need them most.

Tina Brown To Leave The Daily Beast

Celebrity editor Tina Brown announced Wednesday that she's leaving the news and opinion website to launch her own media company. She has been a regular guest on Morning Edition. Brown plans to produce live forums on news topics.
In his new book, Average Is Over, Tyler Cowen predicts that America will become a new, more creative meritocracy. Though he believes a rise in income inequality is inevitable, he hopes that "happiness inequality isn't going up in the same way."

Hannibal Buress And The Comedy Of The Unexpected

A former Saturday Night Live writer and an alumnus of 30 Rock, the comic hosts a weekly stand-up night at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, where surprise guests have included Louis CK, Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman. When he's on his game, you're sometimes not at all sure why you're laughing.

Texting Driver Ends Up All Wet

Police say a driver in Waldorf, Md., lost control of her car while texting — she landed in a lake. She wasn't hurt but she does faces criminal charges

Pope Accepts Hand-Me-Down Car

Pope Francis has famously shunned luxury items — including the popemobile. The pope has accepted the keys to a 1984 Renault with nearly 190,000 miles on it. It was a gift from a priest. The pope plans to drive it on Vatican grounds.
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