From 'Morning Edition': Diplomat Frederic Hof speaks with David Greene about the crisis in Syria
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"Anyone who approaches this logically" would conclude that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for last week's chemical weapons attack near Damascus that reportedly left hundreds dead and thousands more injured, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters early Tuesday afternoon.
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 9:03 am
The government's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) tracks state cancer incidence and mortality rates. So it was only natural that George Johnson would pore over their latest data to gain some insight for his incisive new book, The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery. "Concentrating on overall cancer rates can smear over some interesting details," he writes, "and I wondered what might be lurking underneath."
Shoppers always complain the Christmas season begins earlier every year. And this year, those lunching at Pret A Manger cafes in New York City were treated to Christmas carols starting last week. Only the location in Rockefeller Center managed to override the apparently mistaken holiday tunes coming from corporate headquarters.
The teachers are protesting education changes that would institute evaluations and reduce the power of unions in hiring educators. It's common practice for teachers in Mexico to buy and sell tenured positions. The protests in Mexico City have caused traffic mayhem, and at one point blocked access to the international airport.
The sport of swimming is back in the news, with new questions being raised about whether swimming has effectively confronted a sexual abuse problem, a problem that's been revealed in recent years. USA Swimming - the sport's governing body in this country - announced an independent review of Safe Sport, their organization's program to protect athletes from sexual abuse. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: In the spring of 2010, swimming's secrets emerged in a flurry of media reports.
Things appear to be looing good on the economic front: The stock market is up over the past year, profits have been rising and the U.S. economy has been growing for four years. Yet, wages for many American workers have been stagnant. To find out why, Renee Montagne talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal.
Air conditioning is increasingly becoming a necessity, not a luxury, as the number of Americans living in the Sunbelt grows. In Arizona, many people are struggling to keep up with their utility bills. The federal government does have an energy assistance program, but funding is shrinking, and it favors cold weather states that need heating help.
From member station KJZZ in Phoenix, Jude Joffe-Block reports.
Syria shares a border with Israel and the two countries have never signed a peace agreement after fighting a war 40 years ago. Still, their border has been stable and the Israeli view of U.S. military action against Syria is complicated and centered largely on another regional player, Iran. To learn more, we turn to NPR's Emily Harris in Jerusalem. Good morning.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So does there seem to be any consensus in Israel about what it would like to see the U.S. do?
Secretary of State Kerry has pronounced an all-but-final U.S. verdict against the Syrian government for suspected use of chemical weapons in an "indiscriminate slaughter" of civilians. U.S. warships are within missile range, and U.S. envoys are talking to allies to see what kind of action they might support. David Greene talks to Frederic Hof, who was a special State Department adviser on Syria for the Obama administration. He is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
Across the High Plains, many farmers depend on underground stores of water, and they worry about wells going dry. A new scientific study of western Kansas lays out a predicted timeline for those fears to become reality. But it also shows an alternative path for farming in Kansas: The moment of reckoning can be delayed, and the impact softened, if farmers start conserving water now.
Credit Courtesy of Stefano Piraino / MED-JELLYRISK
Marine biologist Stefano Piraino thinks overfishing is one of the reasons jellyfish populations are growing. He said if you take fish out of the oceans, it leaves more food for jellyfish. The jellyfish here are known as Pelagia noctiluca, the mauve stinger.
Credit David Ramos / Getty Images
The number of people stung by jellyfish on Mediterranean beaches, like those of the island of Ibiza in Spain, is rising. Along some stretches of Spain's coast, scientists have spotted huge, mile-long blooms of jellyfish, sometimes with 30 to 40 animals per square yard of sea.
Blue turquoise waves lap at white sand on the Spanish island of Formentera in the Mediterranean Sea. Sweaty tourists from all over Europe cram the beach. But on this particular afternoon, no one dares take a cool dip in the water.
The reason? It's what Spaniards call "medusas" — named after the monster from Greek mythology, with a woman's face and venomous snakes for hair. In English, they're called jellyfish.
Gabrielle Amand's son was a recent victim of one. He's wrapped in a towel, sitting under an umbrella on the shore.
Tortellini — small circles of rolled dough folded around a filling — are one of the most renowned members of the Italian pasta family. In the land of their birth, the region near the Italian city of Bologna, they're strictly served as broth-like dumplings.
Possibly no foodstuff in Italian cuisine is surrounded by so much history and lore.
Clarence B. Jones this month in Palo Alto, Calif. As Martin Luther King Jr.'s attorney and adviser, Jones contributed to many of King's speeches, including his famous speech at the March on Washington in 1963.
Credit Emily Bogle / FBI
An FBI memo sent two days after the March on Washington identified Martin Luther King as "the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation." Click here to read a page of the original memo, and here for a collection of FBI material on King.
For the month of August, Morning Edition and The Race Card Project are looking back at a seminal moment in civil rights history: the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream Speech" Aug. 28, 1963. Approximately 250,000 people descended on the nation's capital from all over the country for the mass demonstration.
Rico Saccoccio is a junior at Fordham University in the Bronx. He's from a middle-class family in Connecticut and he spent the summer living at home with his parents, who cover about $15,000 a year in his college costs.
According to the U.S. government, Saccoccio is living in poverty. The $8,000 he earns doing odd jobs puts him well below the $11,945 poverty threshold for an individual. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that more than half of all college students who are living off campus and not at home are poor.
In a case closely watched by the intelligence community and the media, the Justice Department urged a federal appeals court on Monday to leave in place a court ruling that gives reporters little protection from testifying against their sources in criminal prosecutions.
Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 4:25 pm
The present Syrian crisis ranks among the most vexing moments of President Obama's presidency.
The recent heart-rending images of Syrian civilians, many of them young children apparently killed by chemical weapons used by the government of Bashar Assad, have raised the volume on calls for the president to act.
But while there's a clarity to the outrage itself, for Obama things quickly get murky.
Fifty years ago this week, when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators came from across the country to take part in the 1963 March on Washington, the city was not yet the cosmopolitan capital that it arguably is today.
But it was a mecca for African-Americans, says historian Marya McQuirter.
"Washington was definitely a different city 50 years ago," she says, "for a number of reasons. By 1957, it had become the largest majority black city in the country."
Jan Scannell, former accountant, has taken on a new identity as "Jan Braai," a South African TV show host and media personality promoting the idea of National Braai (barbecuing) Day, celebrated each year on Sept. 24.
Credit Sarah Isaacs / Courtesy of Sarah Isaacs
For Jan Scannell, the classic South African boerewors is an emblem of national unity. Spices (nutmeg, clove, coriander) brought by former slaves from the East, sausage-making skills imported by settlers from the West, cooked in the classic African style: Over an open flame.
Nelson Mandela is officially "improving," though still in critical condition at a South African hospital. His long battle with a lung infection has South Africans anxiously contemplating their "post-Mandela" future in a still racially divided country. In a unique strategy, one man is hoping to help heal those divisions with a pair of barbecue tongs.
Jan Scannell is a 32-year-old former accountant with a dream: To establish a national holiday in South Africa like July 4 called Braai Day.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca — who oversees the largest municipal jail system in the country — is facing growing pressure to bow out of the race for what could be his fifth term.
There's a lot that's been piling up against Sheriff Baca lately. At the top of the list is an FBI probe into what's been described as a systemic pattern of unnecessary force against inmates in county jails.
In May, the Housing and Urban Development agency closed for a day, as employees were placed on furlough. The HUD and other agencies were reportedly forced to take a fraction of the furlough days that had been threatened earlier in 2013.
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 7:36 am
The threat of furloughs loomed large early in 2013, when mandatory budget cuts seemed certain to force federal workers to skip anywhere from 10 to 22 days of work without pay this year. A new tally by Federal News Radio shows that many agencies have taken fewer than half the days they had predicted.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Melissa Block. Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, died over the weekend in Manhattan. She was 84. As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, Siebert was a pioneer who broke down numerous doors in the male-dominated world of Wall Street.
Cubicle culture can be so confining that it's become a cliche. A line from the cult film classic Office Space sums it up:"I have eight different bosses right now," grouses bleary-eyed tech company employee Peter Gibbons. "So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation. It's not to be hassled."
And we wrap up this week's All Tech Considered with a story out of Finland.
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This past weekend, 80 people from six countries competed in the annual Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships. The Finns shut out the competition, winning first, second and third place overall.
SIEGEL: The top tosser threw his handheld device an impressive 320 feet. The top woman on the field was a 31-year-old Swede - Asa Lundgren. Her distance: 132 feet. She's a newcomer to the sport but threw javelin in her youth.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
Mexican officials say they've identified five more bodies found in a mass grave outside the capital. The dead were among a group of 12 young people kidnapped from a night club three months ago. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, the case has rocked Mexico City, once considered an oasis from the country's brutal drug war.