Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 8:24 am
Some movies can be ruined by thinking about them too much. Then there are the movies you ruin by thinking about them at all. The former can be fun exercises in effortless diversion. But when concerted effort is required not to ask any story-deflating questions about what's up on the screen, it kind of flattens the fun.
Every time you turn around it seems like there's a new streaming music service. Pandora was among the first a decade ago. Rdio launched in 2010. Spotify came to the U.S. in the summer of 2011. Apple and Google plan to join the fray this year. Music producer Jimmy Iovine is launching a service tied to his headphone brand Beats by Dr. Dre.
What's odd is they are all jumping into a business that, so far, doesn't seem to be turning a profit.
Rebecca Hall, a veteran of films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Town, is the star of the new surveillance-state thriller Closed Circuit, playing an English barrister charged with monitoring top-secret, closed-to-the-public evidence hearings involving a terrorist bombing.
Crude oil prices are up about 20 percent over the past two months. On Tuesday, the price of the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, hit $109. Events in Syria are driving the price spike. Syria doesn't produce much oil, but there is great concern that the conflict there might spill over and involve other Persian Gulf nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
A UN weapons inspection team is due to leave Syria on Saturday, but it will take time for them to review all of the material they've gathered about an alleged chemical weapons attack. The British government now says it will wait to hear the report before taking any military action to punish Bashar al-Assad's regime. That leaves the U.S. in an awkward position. It has written off the UN route because of Russia's opposition to any action.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Around the world today, there are deliberations about Syria. The governments of the U.S., France and Britain are pushing for action in response to last week's alleged chemical weapons attack. They blame the Syrian government for the deaths of hundreds of people outside Damascus.
You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
States that border the Gulf of Mexico are awaiting some big money. They could garner billions of dollars from fines and penalties stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill back in 2010. The states have been anticipating that income and debating how to spend it. Now, they have a plan.
From New Orleans, here's NPR's Debbie Elliott.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So I'd like to call for a vote by acclamation. All in favor?
Details of the top secret budget of U.S. intelligence agencies have been made public — revealing not only that the nation spends more than $50 billion a year on intelligence but also some detail about how that money is spent. The Washington Post published excerpts of a 2013 budget justification obtained from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. In the past, the total amount spent on intelligence has been declassified by the U.S. government. The document reveals not only which agency spends the money but also what missions are top priority.
The NFL has agreed to a $765 million settlement with more than 4,500 former players and families over concussions. The money will fund medical exams and treatment and provide compensation to players and families.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Protesters took to the streets in more than 50 cities today, calling for better wages for fast food workers. Like the Occupy Wall Street movement, these demonstrations target income inequality and promote workers' rights. But today's demonstrators also have one very clearly stated goal. Their demand: $15 an hour wages for workers at, say, McDonald's and Burger King.
The Department of Justice issued new guidance Thursday on enforcement of marijuana laws. The move comes after two states — Colorado and Washington — legalized marijuana for recreational use. The department said it would not sue to pre-empt those laws as long as the two states follow the new policy, which applies to all 50 states. The government's priorities for prosecutors include keeping drug profits away from gangs and cartels, and keeping marijuana away from children.
For Syrian Americans, the situation in Syria is emotionally wrenching and the prospect of U.S. intervention leaves them torn. NPR's Cheryl Corley talked with two Syrian Americans in Chicago's suburbs about their hopes and concerns.
CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: In Dr. Zahur Salool's(ph) medical office, he and a colleague are setting up a computer and cellphone to make a Skype phone call to another physician in Syria.
ZAHUR SALOOL: We're trying to make some connections. Can we plug the microphone in?
Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 1:29 pm
There's no question that dealing with mortgages, car payments and other bills takes up time and energy. But having a tight budget may also zap our ability to think clearly, scientists report Thursday in the journal Science.
In a series of clever experiments involving farmers in India and shoppers in New Jersey, scientists found that people are worse at solving puzzles — similar to those on the IQ test — when they're first reminded of money problems.
On her latest album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, singer Neko Case lays her heart — and her healthy sense of humor — bare. It's a deeply personal record that, among other things, offers intimate, sometimes wry meditations on the recent loss of both of her parents and a grandmother. NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and I spoke with Neko Case about the music, and shared questions from listeners, in this interview that we originally webcast live on Aug. 29.
A federal appeals court has reversed an injunction that kept California's law banning conversion therapy from taking effect. This composite image shows sate Sen. Ted Lieu, left, who introduced the original bill, and David Pickup, a marriage and family therapist who is a plaintiff in the suit against it.
California's pioneering law that prohibits treating young gay people with psychotherapy in an attempt to change their sexual orientation has cleared a constitutional challenge in federal appeals court. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the ban does not violate essential rights.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 2:59 pm
Spice may be nice, but spices also can carry very bad bugs. About 7 percent of spices tested by Food and Drug Administration researchers were contaminated with salmonella, which can cause serious illness and death. Because of this finding and others, the FDA and international food safety organizations are putting more effort into how to reduce the risk.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 1:16 pm
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced on Thursday that when it comes to federal tax purposes, same-sex couples who have legally married will be treated the same as straight married couples, no matter what state they reside in now.
Pakistani Army soldiers guard nuclear-capable missiles at the International Defence Exhibition in Karachi in 2008. The Washington Post reports that concern over their security is a "blind spot" in U.S. intelligence efforts.
The Washington Post on Thursday reports on U.S. spy agencies' $52.6 billion secret budget for fiscal year 2013, a document that reveals significant "blind spots" obscuring the intentions and motives of U.S. friends and foes alike.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 1:26 pm
The author is a Syrian citizen in Damascus who is not being further identified for safety reasons.
In a west Damascus neighborhood Thursday, a drumbeat all too rare drew people to their windows and balconies. Passersby stopped to investigate. Traffic came to a halt. Some drivers honked to the beat.
They were the drums of a wedding, a tradition known in Damascus as an arada. It involves a troupe of professional drummers, along with dozens of members of a wedding party, that picks up the groom from home.
A third friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has now been indicted on a charge related to what authorities say were attempts by the trio to mislead investigators or dispose of evidence that linked Tsarnaev to the bombings.
The office of the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts posted this statement on Twitter early Thursday afternoon:
A zoo in central China's Henan province swapped a dog — a Tibetan mastiff like the one shown here — for a lion, in another story that recently swept Chinese cyberspace.
Credit Ed Jones / AFP/Getty Images
A police officer tickets a young woman for parking a Maserati (estimated to be worth more than $300,000) on the double yellow lines in the middle of the street in Chongqing, China. Stories like this one that go viral in China are increasingly available to English audiences, thanks for a new breed of websites such as ChinaSMACK.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 12:11 pm
In perhaps the largest nationwide fast-food strike in history, the employees who make your 99-cent burgers and tacos were planning strikes in 50 U.S. cities Thursday. Workers are calling for a $15 minimum wage and hoping to raise attention to the fast-food industry's low pay and limited prospects. The current federal minimum wage standard is $7.25 per hour.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 5:58 pm
Federal prosecutors are being told by Attorney General Eric Holder to focus on cartels, criminal enterprises and those who sell the drug to children, not on casual marijuana users, a Justice Department official tells NPR's Carrie Johnson.
Holder today informed the governors of Washington and Colorado — two states that recently legalized the sale of marijuana for personal use — about the new guidelines for prosecutors, the official adds.
Bu the new guidelines will apply to all states, not just Washington, Colorado and those where "medical marijuana" is legal.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 12:45 pm
The NFL and more than 4,500 retired players have reached an agreement calling for the league to contribute $765 million to a fund that will pay "medical and other benefits, as well as compensation" to those who suffered concussions and related injuries during their careers.
Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 12:41 pm
A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Thursday indicated that he's leaning in favor of a allowing American Airlines to emerge from bankruptcy, clearing a major obstacle to the carrier's planned merger with US Airways.
The hour continues as host Ophira Eisenberg and puzzle editor Art Chung unearth notorious stumpers from the Ask Me Another archives. How well do you know your "qwertyuiop"? We ask contestants to create words using letters found on the "Top Row" of a computer keyboard. Mental math meets pop music in "Algebraic Music" (with an assist from house musician Jonathan Coulton) and the names of esteemed world leaders get reduced to animal-related puns in "Imperial Pets."