Child Actors Spirited Out of Afghanistan

Four young actors in the Kite Runner have left their native country to protect them from backlash over their appearance in a rape scene.

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BILL WOLFF (Announcer): This is NPR.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hey, good morning, everyone.

Four child actors from Afghanistan have been spirited out of their native country to protect them from backlash over the American film they starred in, called "The Kite Runner." The film, which was based on the bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini, depicts a scene in which the main character witnesses his friend being raped. The film has stirred up a controversy in Afghanistan, and the boys have already face threats because of their involvement in the film. So Paramount Vantage, the company which is producing the film, has been working for the past couple of months to get the boys out of Afghanistan. The four boys, each accompanied by a relative, left the country late last week and arrived in United Arab Emirates.

"The Kite Runner" was originally scheduled for a November 2nd release, but the opening was delayed six weeks so the boy actors could leave Kabul.

Closer to home, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has fired the landscaping company that cuts the lawn at his Massachusetts home. It's an issue that dogged Romney during last week's YouTube/CNN debates. Remember this little exchange between Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani?

(Soundbite of YouTube/CNN debate)

Mr. RUDY GIULIANI (Former Republican Mayor, New York): At his own home, illegal immigrants were being employed.

(Soundbite of crowd chatter, applause)

Mr. GIULIANI: Not being turned in to anybody or by anyone. So I would say he had sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary city.

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Man: All right. I got to allow Governor Romney to respond, then we move on.

Mr. MITT ROMNEY (Former Republican Governor, Massachusetts; Presidential Candidate): Mayor, you know better than that.

Mr. GIULIANI: No. I…

Mr. ROMNEY: Yeah. Okay, then, let…

MARTIN: Romney said he had to fire the company after finding out that the company had hired illegal immigrants, but The Boston Globe revealed that fact more than a year ago. The former Massachusetts governor wrote a letter to the firm, saying, quote, "I am disappointed our relationship must end on this note."

And finally, sure, we're the undisputed hegemonic superpower of the world - at least for now. But when it comes to math and science, American students are far from world domination. Scores released yesterday for the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment test showed that American 15-year-olds trailed far behind their peers from many industrialized countries. The test is given every three years, and it measures the ability of 15-year-olds to apply math and science to real-life situations. About 400,000 students took it around the world, including about 5,600 Americans. U.S. students came in 17th place in science and 24th place in math. Students in Finland got the highest scores, and Mexican students the lowest.

That's the news, and it's always online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

BURBANK: I've almost never…

STEWART: That is so embarrassing.

BURBANK: …I've almost never heard a news story that started with tests on how U.S. students did in - fill in the blank - showed we kick butt.

STEWART: We - I know. It's like - yeah.

BURBANK: That's almost never how that story goes.

MARTIN: Better start testing Wii, the Wii playing.

BURBANK: The video game?

STEWART: The Wii - yeah.

MARTIN: The Nintendo? Yeah.

BURBANK: Yeah. Testing Wii. I think that's what they're doing in baseball. You know, get the steroids. Hey, yo. Thank you, Rachel, very much.

MARTIM: Thanks.

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