NPR Staff

Anthony Marra writes about Russia like he was born there.

Actually, the 31-year-old American lived there only a semester, as a college student. "I arrived in January without knowing a lick of Russian," he tells Morning Edition host (and former Moscow correspondent) David Greene. "I just became immediately fascinated with the extremes of life, of geography, of political events that it almost seemed impossible not to want to set a story there."

Annie Duke was about to win $2 million.

It was 2004, and she was at the final hand of the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. Annie had beat out some of the best poker players in the world — all men — to get to this point.

But she wasn't sure she deserved to be there.

Before there was Madonna or Lady Gaga, there was Grace Jones.

The creator of that gender-bending, hypersexual persona has been a supermodel, a muse for artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, and a musician whose influence is still felt throughout popular music to this day. Now, she's telling her story in a memoir titled I'll Never Write My Memoirs, which shines a spotlight on every side of her — including Beverly Grace Jones ("Bev"), the more reserved childhood version of the future star.

Catholic bishops and other representatives of the world's more than 1 billion Roman Catholics are meeting in Rome on Sunday for the start of the Synod on the Family. This meeting will guide Church teaching on issues like marriage, divorce and contraception.

This September alone, three high school football players died after injuries sustained on the field. The latest, a 17-year-old quarterback from New Jersey, suffered a ruptured spleen during a game just over a week ago.

In some high schools across the U.S., deaths such as these — and an increased focus on the risk of head injury and concussions — have raised concerns among parents and diminished interest in the sport. At others, like the Maplewood Richmond Heights High School in suburban St. Louis, the football programs have disbanded altogether.