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When the Soviet Union splintered two decades ago, one of the biggest U.S. worries was how to ensure that the vast Soviet arsenal of nuclear weapons was kept secure.

The American response was the Cooperative Threat Reduction program of 1992. The U.S. provided money and expertise to lock down and track weapons of mass destruction and make sure they stayed out of the hands of rogue regimes or terrorists.

The program has been hailed as a great success, with thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons dismantled over the years.

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This morning, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize and they chose the European Union.

Nerds, rejoice! It's Nobel season — the Oscars for lab rats, peacemakers and cognoscenti alike. Every fall, big thinkers around the world wait for a middle-of-the-night phone call from Sweden, dreaming of what they might do with the $1.2 million prize.

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Like other hunter-gatherers of Central Africa who've been cast out of their jungle homes, when the Batwa forest people of southwest Uganda lost their forest, they lost their identity.

The Batwa were evicted from their rain forest kingdom in 1991, when two neighboring national parks, Mgahinga and Bwindi, were created to protect shrinking habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla.

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There's a new guerilla art form in London. As Vicki Barker reports, it is intended to bring some levity to the Underground.

(SOUNDBITE OF LONDON UNDERGROUND TRAIN ANNOUNCEMENT)

A 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl remains in critical condition after being shot in the head for defying the Taliban and championing the right of girls to go to school. Malala Yousafzai rose to prominence during the recent war in Pakistan's Swat Valley by writing a blog under a pen name. NPR's Philip Reeves reported on that war — and twice met Malala's father. Reeves sent this account of the tough world in which Malala spent her childhood.

Concerns Build Over Violence In Syria

Oct 11, 2012

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A few hundred scientists gathered in the small French city of Nancy recently to present scientific papers related to a chemical reaction. Now that may seem a bit humdrum and hardly worth mentioning in The Salt, but in this case, it isn't.

The spread of neo-Nazi influence in Germany came to light fully last year with the shocking discovery of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell responsible for the worst right-wing violence since World War II.

At least nine people of migrant origin were murdered, and there were bomb attacks and bank robberies.

In response, Germany last month established the first centralized neo-Nazi database, similar to those that existed for decades for Islamic and leftist extremists.

Exile Defends Unity Of Syrian Opposition

Oct 11, 2012

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And this morning brings news of a literary prize. The Nobel for Literature goes to Chinese writer Mo Yan. Making the announcement, the Swedish Academy's permanent secretary, Peter Englund:

When you hear the term "film premiere," you are likely to think of Hollywood or New York — not Kabul. But just last week, an award-winning short film was screened in the Afghan capital, and for a good reason: The movie was shot entirely in Kabul and tells the story of two Afghan boys dreaming about their future.

At Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, 50 years ago this week, the newly elected pontiff stunned the world by calling the first Catholic Church Council in nearly a century — the Second Vatican Council, or what's known as Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII called for the institution's renewal and more interaction with the modern world.

As a result of Vatican II, the Catholic Church opened its windows onto the modern world, updated the liturgy, gave a larger role to laypeople, introduced the concept of religious freedom and started a dialogue with other religions.

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A terrorism trial unfolding in a federal court in Minneapolis is providing a rare look inside a jihadi pipeline that funneled some two dozen young Somali-Americans to Somalia to join a terrorist group there.

The testimony from three young men who joined a group affiliated with al-Qaida and subsequently returned to the U.S. has shown just how easy it is for young men to leave the U.S. and join a terrorist organization.

Two very different views from two different witnesses today as the House House Oversight and Government Reform Committee opened its probe into the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

Doctors use liquid nitrogen — a substance registering a wickedly cold 321 degrees below zero Fahrenheit — to freeze warts so they dry up and fall off. Yes, folks, this stuff kills tissue. So imagine what it might do to your stomach if you drink some.

"Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable," economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, dictators have been toppled and new leaders have begun to emerge. Islamists, once marginalized, have been voted into power. Which leadership scenario is better?

The argument for dictators is that a number have been reliable allies for the United States. But under their rule, dictators use repressive means to squash opposition and stay in power.

One member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot was set free by a Moscow court today. But two others who were given two-year prison sentences after being convicted of "hooliganism connected to 'religious hatred' " will remain in prison.

After several hours of surgery, the girl whose shooting by the Taliban has caused deep anger in Pakistan and has exposed that nation's "deepest fault line," is said to be in stable condition.

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

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