Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters, and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she made disparaging comments about him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb" comments about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":

Donald Trump wrapped up his public tryout of potential vice presidential candidates in Indiana Tuesday night with Gov. Mike Pence giving the final audition.

The Indiana governor's stock as Trump's possible running mate is believed to be on the rise, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also atop the list. Sources tell NPR the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is close to making a decision, which he's widely expected to announce by Friday.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Donald Trump picked a military town — Virginia Beach, Va. — to give a speech Monday on how he would go about overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs if elected.

He blamed the Obama administration for a string of scandals at the VA during the past two years, and claimed that his rival, Hillary Clinton, has downplayed the problems and won't fix them.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

Growing Pressures Prompt Plunge In Iranian Currency

Jan 26, 2012

The value of Iran's currency — which had been sliding steadily for months — took another plunge this week. Faced with new economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe, the rial now seems to be in free fall.

But at least part of the dive could be linked to currency manipulation by the government itself in an effort to fund candidates in upcoming elections.

In images posted on the Internet, hundreds of Iranians are seen gathered outside the headquarters of the Bank Melli in Tehran Monday. They wanted to buy dollars, but there were no dollars to be had.

It's a classic panic, says Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"It's hard to find Iranians who have a lot of trust in the future of the rial and a strong belief that they should keep their life savings in rials. That's a pretty big bet and it's not a very good one," Alterman says.

The slide started slowly last fall. For years, a U.S. dollar could buy about 9,000 rials.

Many economists believe Iran's central bank artificially maintained this period of stability. Over the past decade, inflation in Iran has been running at more than 20 percent, but banks were paying only 12 percent interest on deposits.

That meant that depositors were losing something in the neighborhood of 10 percent if they kept their rials in bank accounts.

That should have forced a devaluation of the rial. But it didn't, because Iran's central bank — where billions of dollars from oil sales are deposited — kept injecting dollars into the foreign currency market to maintain a steady rial.

Pressures On Currency Lead To Panic

Then a number of factors combined to put irresistible pressure on the Iranian currency — Iran's progress in its nuclear program led to talk of war, growing pressure from economic sanctions, closing the Strait of Hormuz.

The slide had begun, and dollars quickly became scarce, says Djavad Salehi-Isfahani of Virginia Tech, an expert on Iran's economy.

"When they thought the dollar is going to become more scarce people rushed to buy these and they basically disappeared from Tehran. Today if you go to a private exchange, these money-changers in Tehran, they'll say, they don't have foreign exchange, they don't have dollars," Salehi-Isfahani says.

Iranians who want to travel outside the country can't buy enough dollars to make the trip. Iranians whose children are studying abroad can't buy dollars to pay for their courses or cover their rent.

Businessmen who import goods from China or Europe can't get the foreign exchange to finance their purchases.

By New Year's, the rial had lost half its value. And Hossein Askari was predicting it could get much worse. Askari is a specialist on the Iranian economy at George Washington University.

"This could be an avalanche. What you've seen over the last month or two is about a 50 percent depreciation. But I think if really panic sets in, it could be several hundred percent," Askari said.

Panic did hit the currency market in Tehran this week, with the threat of new banking sanctions imposed by the United States and a decision by the European Union to stop buying Iran's oil by July 1.

On Tuesday, the exchange rate plummeted to 23,000 rials to the dollar.

Role Of Domestic Politics

Now suspicions have emerged about more hidden causes of the rial's collapse.

According to Muhammad Sahimi, a professor at the University of Southern California, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies have been accumulating a slush fund to use in the upcoming parliamentary, or Majlis, elections in March.

"The Ahmadinejad camp needs cash in order to prop up its candidates for the Majlis election. Obviously they cannot get that cash directly from the treasury. So what they do is because they control the central bank, they withdraw a lot of foreign currency from the market," Sahimi says.

They can then sell the dollars back into the market for twice as many rials, creating, Sahimi says, an enormous slush fund to buy votes in the election.

Many analysts believe Ahmadinejad is seeking a Parliament that supports him, not Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In Iran, almost nothing, not even a currency crisis, is separate from domestic politics.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.