Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:06 am
Nicholson Baker has become a sort of poet of the particular and the peculiar. His books are filled with people who focus minutely on what captivates them – in other words, obsessives. A positive way of looking at obsession is as passion taken to an extreme. The danger, of course, is that the object of one person's intense fascination — such as the broken shoelaces in his unforgettable first novel, The Mezzanine, or the disquisitions on Debussy, dance music, and drones in his latest, Traveling Sprinkler — may spell another's total snore.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Let's talk next with the United Nations official who oversaw the U.N.'s report on the use of poison gas in Syria. This report does not specify who used those chemical weapons, but the United States and others say evidence in that report backs their claim that the Assad regime was behind the attack.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:33 am
Matson Inc., the shipping company that spilled 233,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor earlier this month, has pledged to pay all the costs stemming from the disaster that has devastated marine life there.
I approached this review with a little bit of dread. How do you write about the iconic novelist Thomas Pynchon, whose books are strange and difficult things, and whose die-hard readers gather online to wax poetic, and use words like Pynchonian, Pynchonalia and Pynchonesque? They are just so into him, and often so articulate about their love. If you read the thoughtful and detailed writing by Pynchon devotees, they make a very persuasive case.
-- Investigators now do not think there was a second shooter, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said late Monday evening. Throughout Monday, authorities had run down witness reports and other evidence indicating there might have been additional gunmen.
On July 18, 1863, the Union Army's famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry — a black military unit — made a desperate assault on Confederate forces at Fort Wagner near Charleston, S.C. In the end, they were unsuccessful and lost almost half of their forces. Escaped slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman bore elegiac eyewitness to the terrible day: "We saw the lightning and that was the guns," she said later.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne with an update on a Hawaiian woman with a very long name - Janice Lokelani Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele. She goes by Loke, but Honolulu's KHOM2 reported on her complaint that her name was cut off on ID cards, which led to issues with travel and cops.
Now, Hawaii will expand its limit on the length of names on IDs so Loke won't need to use her maiden name - Worth.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
The head of a Rhode Island school was named Providence Principal of the Year, but that was only the start of the accolades. Police say an employee, Christopher Michael Sheehan, gave his boss a present to celebrate - a half ounce of marijuana. Mr. Sheehan was arrested. Just to be clear, since it can apparently be easy to forget, Rhode Island is not one of the states that has legalized pot, and especially not in a school zone.
Next, we go to a wildly successful Japanese export that specializes in cute. I'm talking about the white cat with a red bow and a button nose, whose image adorns everything from school supplies to rifles to RVs.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Yes, our last word in business today is: Hello Kitty - in a can.
The Japanese company Sanrio has licensed the pudgy face cartoon cat to a Taiwanese beverage maker which is selling fruit-flavored beer in China and Taiwan.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:57 am
Throughout the Syrian war, President Obama has insisted that President Bashar Assad must go. But now, the U.S. may want, or even need, Assad to remain in power for a while longer so he can oversee the dismantling of his chemical weapons stockpile.
"For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside," Obama said back on Aug. 18, 2011, in his first explicit call for Assad's ouster, something the U.S. president went on to repeat on multiple occasions.
And the shooter is known to have been, as we've just reported, a former Navy reservist. But DC's police chief did say yesterday that no active duty servicemembers were killed, no one in uniform. The dead included contractors and civilians, apparently. And to learn more now about those victims of yesterday's shooting, we turn to NPR's Hansi Lo Wang.
And what are you hearing from the people for whom this is a personal tragedy - that is, those who knew one or more of these victims?
Five hundred and six people were murdered in Chicago last year. It was the kind of news that got John Lippert thinking.
JOHN LIPPERT: I live in Chicago and a lot of what we get is overnight stories saying, you know, three people shot, six people shot, day after day. And I just felt like, okay, well, what does it mean? Where are we going with this?
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. A report by United Nations' chemical weapons inspectors does not blame Syria's government for last month's chemical weapons attack. The inspectors were not authorized to do that. But they did provide substantial evidence, the most detailed look available, of an August 21 attack that led the United States to threaten military action.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
President Obama says the nation does not want to watch another game of chicken in Washington, D.C. this fall, and he's warning congressional Republicans not to force his hand. Congress must, once again, raise the debt ceiling, or the federal government won't be able to pay all of its bills. Mr. Obama told GOP lawmakers yesterday they should lift that limit on borrowing, without trying to extract concessions from him.
And we are following other stories this week, including possible action by the Federal Reserve. Many analysts expect the Fed to announce the first reduction in its massive intervention in the economy, $85 billion per month, a decision that may come at the end of a two-day meeting. Here's NPR's John Ydstie.
The heavy rain has finally stopped in Colorado, but days of flooding have devastated the most populated region of the state, known as the Front Range. As of this morning, we know that eight people have died, though hundreds have not been heard from, some in very remote areas. Officials estimate 1,500 homes have been destroyed, and thousands more damaged. Grace Hood from member station KUMC reports federal aid is making its way into the state, even as crews assess the damage.
Police say the gunman, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, died after a gun battle inside a building at the Navy Yard on Monday. He was a veteran with a history of gun-related incidents. His last known address was in Fort Worth, Texas.
A shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. killed 13 people including the shooter. By late Monday, authorities said they were convinced the shooting was the work of a lone gunman, and the lockdown around the area was eased.
The French novelist Marcel Proust immortalized the connection between food and memory when the narrator of his novel Remembrances of Things Past bit into a madeleine and was transported to thoughts of his childhood.
But what if that madeleine were poisoned, so to speak?
That is the question underlying Russian American writer Anya von Bremzen's new memoir, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. Though it contains recipes, this is not a cookbook but rather, a history of a family and of Soviet Russia.
When the Affordable Care Act was working its way through Congress, Gary Lauer was nervous. Part of the bill sounded grim. It said people could buy required health coverage online, but only through websites run by state and federal governments.
"That was going to pretty much delete us from the landscape," he says.
The Japanese city of Narita is best known to the outside world for its major airport that serves Tokyo, the nation's capital city.
Narita is also a rural area of Chiba Prefecture, however, with a long tradition of rice farming.
Toward the end of the summer, Narita's rice farmers gather to pray for bountiful harvests. They dance, play music and ride elaborate festival carts. From afar, the wagons appear to glide through a sea of lush green paddy fields as villagers pull them down Narita's placid country lanes.
When critics of industrial agriculture complain that today's food production is too big and too dependent on pesticides, that it damages the environment and delivers mediocre food, there's a line that farmers offer in response: We're feeding the world.
It's high-tech agriculture's claim to the moral high ground. Farmers say they farm the way they do to produce food as efficiently as possible to feed the world.
How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their earwax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of earwax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.
The study used the earwax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.