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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Asking voters to raise taxes on themselves is a tough sell, but there are initiatives around the country doing just that. In Missouri, it's the cigarette tax. Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax of any state, and some of the highest smoking and lung cancer rates. St. Louis Public Radio's Veronique LaCapra reports.

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The U.S. economy has been slowly recovering, but economists warn it could plunge back into recession if Congress does not take action to avoid what's become known as the fiscal cliff.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That is the name that some clever communications specialist gave to the combination of expiring tax cuts - in other words, tax increases - and broad, mandatory spending cuts aimed at reducing the deficit. The two are set to go into effect at the end of the year.

The final days of an election cycle bring an obsession with the short term — the very short term. Daily tracking polls. A relentless get-it, post-it, blog-it news cycle. Trending topics on Twitter telling us something (though it's not always clear what).

But for just a moment, let's slow it down, look at what's happening over a somewhat longer time frame, and see what it tells us about what the country will look like for the winner of the presidential race.

The Long View

Abortion isn't usually a major issue in presidential campaigns.

But this year is different.

Anyone who traveled to Breezy Point, Queens, in New York City in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, even as recently as a few of days ago, would have needed an SUV — its main thoroughfare was under 3 feet of water. Today, you can see pavement. It sounds like a small victory, but this beachfront, blue-collar town is willing to accept progress in increments.

Lianne La Havas was pretty much unknown until she appeared on the influential TV show in Britain called Later with Jools Holland. It was just her, singing and playing guitar. Her voice was clear, pure and soulful. The song she performed — called "Age" — was both jazzy and sassy.

"Time seemed to stand still," wrote one critic of La Havas' live performance. There were much more established artists on the music show that day, but Alison Howe, the producer, says La Havas was the standout.

As relentlessly as the candidates have courted voters, they've also shown their love to donors.

A report by the Center for Responsive Politics places the total cost of the 2012 elections at an estimated $6 billion, which would make it the most expensive election in U.S. history

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Someone at the Vatican is a fan of James Bond. We can relate, since this program did an entire Bond week this year. But we would have trouble matching the coverage in the Vatican newspaper. On Tuesday, it ran not one, but five articles about the new Bond movie "Skyfall." The five articles include a review calling it one of the best Bond movies ever. Just try to think of it not as entertainment, but as an allegory of good versus evil. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. So, it was really hard to get gas in the New York area yesterday. One very simple thing could be done that might change everything: drastically raise the price of gas. Now, if that happened, we would surely consider it price-gouging. But some economists think it would be a really good idea. Here's Zoe Chace of our Planet Money team.

MICHELLE MEDINA: So, everybody here's OK? You guys OK? All right. Yeah, we're still on line with him.

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

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Climate change was a big part of the announcement Mayor Bloomberg made yesterday endorsing President Obama for reelection.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Romney Back On The Attack In Virginia

Nov 2, 2012

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On a Friday - we've made it to Friday - it's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Once a mob began attacking the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on the night of Sept. 11, officials in Washington, D.C., watched with alarm. Now, new details are emerging about their response to the deadly attack.

President Obama and his entire national security team monitored what was going on half a world away. Army Gen. Carter Ham, who was the regional commander for Africa, happened to be in Washington that day.

Scientists say an Asian elephant at a South Korean zoo can imitate human speech, saying five Korean words that are readily understood by people who speak the language.

The male elephant, named Koshik, invented an unusual method of sound production that involves putting his trunk in his mouth and manipulating his vocal tract.

"This is not the kind of sound that Asian elephants normally make, and it's a dead-on match of the speech of his trainers," says Tecumseh Fitch of the University of Vienna in Austria.

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