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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Nearly 3,000 delegates from around the world are gathering this week in one of the most expensive cities in Europe to debate the fate of the World Health Organization.

There's one main question on the table: Will the WHO be given the power and money it needs to be the world's leading health agency, or will it plod forward in its current state — as a weak, bureaucratic agency of the U.N. known more for providing advice than taking action.

An avian flu outbreak is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace, ravaging chicken and turkey farms and leaving officials stumped about the virus's seemingly unstoppable spread.

The weed-whacker is a frequent companion to the sounds of chirping birds and rustling pines at Ross Frank's ranch in Chumstick, Wash. With forested land on all sides, he's clearing dense brush beneath a stand of by his house.

"So we're turning that around manually and mimicking what fire would have done naturally," he says.

In Pennsylvania, it's estimated opioids like heroin killed at least 1,300 people last year. In Massachusetts, more than 1,000 have died, and in Connecticut, heroin deaths jumped more than 85 percent in two years.

But figuring out the size and scope of the problem is harder than many people think.

Pennsylvania, like many states, doesn't require reporting of specific details on drug overdoses, and whatever other information is available is at least two years old.

Last month, a Chinese government think tank bashed history professors from Harvard, Georgetown and other leading American universities regarding things they wrote — at least 15 years ago — about events that occurred more than two centuries ago.

"This was a uniquely vitriolic attack," says Georgetown's Jim Millward. The article calls him as "arrogant," "overbearing" and an "imperialist," and dismisses Millward's and his colleagues' scholarship as "academically absurd."

PODCAST: New York as a lesson in economics

May 21, 2015
David Brancaccio

A new report from the OECD shows income inequality in many parts of the world including the U.S. The data shows the gap between the rich and poor is seven times larger than it was in the '80s. Plus, our senior economics contributor Chris Farrell talks about the economic lessons learned and taught by New York City.

How the Disney 'ecosystem' works

May 21, 2015
Nova Safo

Disneyland in California turns 60 this summer, and it's kicking off festivities with a big party this weekend. Revelers can stay overnight at Disney's theme parks in California and Florida.

But Disney, the media company, has more than a birthday to celebrate. A couple of weeks ago it reported second quarter profits that beat expectations—led by its theme parks and the film Frozen.

How can a film from two years ago still be a profit maker for the company?

Parent Gap Inc. benefits as Old Navy gets stylish

May 21, 2015
Gigi Douban

Clothing retailer Gap Inc. reports first-quarter results on Thursday. Revenue in 2014 totaled $16.2 billion, up 3.2 percent from the previous year. For the last four quarters, profit has gone up year-over-year by an average of 4 percent. But there's an interesting fragmentation within parent company Gap Inc. Last fiscal year, store sales fell 5 percent at Gap stores; Banana Republic's sales were also unimpressive. But at Old Navy, sales went up 5 percent.

Old Navy started out as a place where the whole family could pick up cheap fleece jackets and tank tops.

Marketplace Tech for Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21, 2015
Marketplace

A scientific discovery in Kenya, first reported in April, challenges conventional wisdom about human history, say the scientists who made the discovery and are now releasing the details. The scientists say the collection of stone tools they turned up near Lake Turkana were made long before the first humans are thought to have evolved.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has moved to the soccer field. Next week, at the annual meeting of FIFA — the international body governing football — its 209 members are scheduled to vote on a proposal to suspend Israel from international play.

Palestinian soccer officials put the proposal on FIFA's agenda, saying Israeli policies hurt Palestinian players and the sport's development and break FIFA's own rules.

Whoa, I wouldn't want to be Steve Easterbrook right about now.

The newish CEO of McDonald's — who has pledged to turn the fast-food giant into a progressive burger chain — is getting an earful this week, as the company prepares to convene its annual shareholders meeting on Thursday.

You can't miss it as you drive down I-85. The Peachoid, as it's called, is a massive peach-shape water tower near the North Carolina border.

When maintenance crews sandblasted the paint off the water tower recently, people were furious.

Just ask Claire Huminski, with the city of Gaffney.

Farmers and public health advocates have been arguing for many years now about the use of antibiotics on farm animals, yet that argument takes place in a fog of uncertainty, because a lot of information simply isn't available.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The governments of Indonesia and Malaysia agreed Wednesday to allow boats full of thousands of migrants stranded at sea to come ashore.

The news came as Indonesian fishermen rescued more than 400 people from a boat that first made the news last week — and finally got governments to act.

When a Broadway musical feels as effortlessly right as Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's did to audiences in 1956, it's easy to imagine that it simply sprang to life that way. Not My Fair Lady. The musical, based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, is filled to bursting with some of the best-known songs in Broadway history — "The Rain In Spain," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," "On the Street Where You Live" — but it turns out the show originally had other tunes that almost nobody knows.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Six months ago, when President Obama announced sweeping and polarizing executive actions on immigration, immigrant families all over the country were watching his rare prime-time address.

But those actions have now fallen out of the headlines and the highest-profile changes are on hold.

The problem of opiate addiction in Maine is one that state Rep. Barry Hobbins knows something about. "One of my family members has been struggling with this dreaded addiction of opiates for six years," he says.

So when pharmaceutical company Pfizer — which makes opioids that have abuse-deterrent properties — asked Hobbins to sponsor a bill that would require insurance companies to cover these more expensive drugs at the same level as other opioids, he agreed.

A group of more than 60 organizations has filed a complaint with the federal government claiming Harvard holds higher expectations for its Asian applicants than other minorities.

The coalition is made up of nonprofit organizations, including Chinese, Pakistani and Indian groups, and it claims Harvard uses racial quotas to control the number of Asian-Americans on campus.

"Asian-American applicants shouldn't be racially profiled in college admissions," says Swann Lee, a Chinese-American writer from Brookline, Mass. "Asian-Americans should have the playing field leveled."

Stephanie Packer was 29 when she found out she had a terminal lung disease.

That's the same age as Brittany Maynard, who last year was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Last fall, Maynard, of Northern California, opted to end her life with the help of a doctor in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal.

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