From the NPR Newscast: The BBC's Nick Bryant reports
Claims by the opposition in Syria that President Bashar Assad's forces used chemical weapons during an attack Wednesday near Damascus — killing scores of people, they say — are being followed Thursday by word that:
Good morning. I'm David Greene. If you board a plane excited about a trip but dreading the possibility of a baby crying loudly for the whole flight, this news is for you. The budget arm of Singapore Airlines - called Scoot - is now offering a $14 upgrade to sit in a child-free zone, no one under 12 allowed.
In downtown Madrid, music floats through the air, amateur musicians playing for money. Sadly, many are not that good, but the city is on the case. To shield residents from mediocre musicianship, it's created an Acoustic Protection Zone. Buskers who wish to perform will be talent-tested. A panel will issue permits to those who have what it takes. The rest will be booted off the stage or, in this case, the sidewalk.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
In New York, the city council is poised to vote today on some of the toughest police oversight laws in decades. The vote comes just weeks after a judge ruled that the NYPD violated the civil rights of minorities with its practice of stopping mostly young men of color on the streets.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is appealing the judge's ruling and refusing to back down on a policing program he has championed. NPR's Joel Rose reports.
And today's last word in business is: Dress like Diller.
In Beverly Hills, Phyllis Diller's estate will be auctioned off next month.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
On stage, the late comedienne dressed like a disheveled, chain-smoking housewife with freakish hair - and now some lucky bidders can too. The sale will include many of her trademark props: blond fright wigs, feather boas, ankle boots and cigarette holders.
Some Bank of America branches with drive-through tellers from Georgia to Texas have already closed the lanes, according to spokeswoman Tara Burke.
She wouldn't divulge exactly how many are closing. She did say the decision is not a cost-cutting move but a response to the way people are banking.
About 13 million customers bank by mobile phone and 29 million participate in online services. Among them is 19-year-old Brittney Sprague who says, "Not too many folks will really miss the drive-through teller because everybody uses apps. It's all about the new technology."
We'll begin NPR's business news with fallout from the Fed.
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GREENE: Stock markets across Asia fell and India's currency continued its plunge after minutes from the July meeting of the Federal Reserve were released yesterday. The records from that meeting showed that officials were comfortable with scaling back its huge bond-buying program as the economy grows stronger.
And we turn now to Charles Duelfer, a long-time U.N. weapons inspector. He was the author of the 2004 Duelfer Report, which confirmed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the U.S. invaded. Good morning.
CHARLES DUELFER: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Now, looking here at Syria and based on your extensive experience as a weapons inspector, do the scenes that we're seeing in these opposition videos, look to you consistent with what you would expect to see in a chemical attack?
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm David Greene. And now to some horrific scenes in Syria.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking in foreign language)
GREENE: This is the sound from one of the many videos uploaded onto the Internet yesterday showing Syrian civilians, including children, convulsing and gasping for breath in an area outside of Damascus that's a rebel stronghold.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. We're following developments in Egypt after today's release from prison of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. We'll go to Cairo in a moment. We begin this hour with stories of two military trials in this country. Both involve horrendous massacres.
Of all the creatures in the sea, one of the most majestic and mysterious is the whale shark. It's the biggest shark there is, 30 feet or more in length and weighing in at around 10 tons.
Among the mysteries is where this mighty fish migrates and where it gives birth. Now scientists have completed the biggest study ever of whale sharks, and they think they have some answers to those questions.
No place seems safe these days from someone's terrifying, post-apocalyptic imaginings. Los Angeles is wrecked in the movie Elysium, the South is zombie-ridden in TV's The Walking Dead, and now— thanks to writer Ben Winters — even the quiet streets of Concord are at risk of annihilation.
Sometimes you have to give up a little privacy in order to find out how much — or how little — privacy you really have. So I handed over the keys to my Gmail account to Cesar Hidalgo, a professor at the MIT Media Lab and the designer of a program called Immersion.
In just the past week we've seen a bunch of signs that the housing recovery is gaining steam. Data out Wednesday showed that existing-home sales rose to their highest level in nearly four years, while prices were up 14 percent from a year ago.
Retailers Home Depot and Lowe's both reported strong earnings growth and attributed that to the housing rebound.
And most important for the economy, homebuilders are hiring more workers and building more houses.
"I think he was looking for good musicians, and he knew quite a few. He sees the heart of a person."
That's how Cynthia Robinson, founding member of Sly & The Family Stone, characterizes the charismatic frontman's choice of backing players. The band, which pioneered a blend of funk, soul, jazz and pop, began in 1960s San Francisco as a kind of blended family: black and white, men and women.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 4:11 am
Details of the massacre of 16 Afghans by a U.S. soldier last spring are emerging in a courtroom near Tacoma, Wash., where survivors of that attack traveled to confront Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. A six-member military jury is hearing testimony at a sentencing hearing for Bales.
At least seven people made the trip from Afghanistan to Washington state to speak at the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Bales' Army unit is based.
It's back-to-school season for college students — and President Obama plans to be right there with them.
The president will spend the next two days on a bus tour of New York and Pennsylvania that includes stops at three colleges and a high school. At each stop, he'll be talking about ways to make college more affordable.
The president's big black bus will make its first stop at the University at Buffalo on Thursday — the same day incoming freshmen will be moving in, hauling suitcases and mini-refrigerators.
A flamboyant politician in China, once considered a presidential contender, will go on trial in the eastern city of Jinan tomorrow. Bo Xilai is one of the highest ranking Communist Party officials to face trial in decades. Many Chinese believe he's being prosecuted for corruption because he lost an internal power struggle.
But as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Jinan, the root causes of Bo's dramatic downfall are unlikely to come out in court.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Audie Cornish.
A court has ordered that former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak be released from jail, at least temporarily. The news adds another coal to what is already a white-hot fire in Egypt. More than a thousand people have died, most supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, in a brutal crackdown by government troops.
The latest reports of chemical weapon attacks in Syria set off a tense debate in the United Nation Security Council. It met this afternoon in an urgent session. The U.N. has long been divided over how to deal with Syria. The United States and its partners are calling for a full investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons, but Russia is casting doubts on the allegations and is defending the Syrian government's position.
Anti-government activists in Syria are accusing President Bashar al-Assad's forces of deploying a chemical weapons attack on the suburbs of the capital, Damascus. The government denied the attack, but the allegations have prompted the United Nations to call an emergency meeting. Melissa Block talks to Washington Post reporter Loveday Morris for more.
"It helps," she grins. "Did you ever try? It puts you together. If you really are nervous you do bright red."
Calderon, 51, is a scholar and teacher of Jewish religious texts. She is also a novice Israeli politician, part of the new Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party that unexpectedly took 19 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, last January.
The president's education tour is part of a broader campaign aimed at boosting the fortunes of the middle class. A study out today shows just how widespread the nation's economic pain has been. It finds that over the past decade, wages have been flat or even declined for the bottom 70 percent of American workers. NPR's Jennifer Ludden has that story.