Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. more than a decade ago. But in recent years, the highly infectious disease has cropped up in communities with low vaccination rates, most recently in North Texas.
There, 21 people — the majority of whom have not been immunized — have gotten the disease, which began at a vaccine-skeptical megachurch.
The outbreak began when a man who contracted the virus on a recent trip to Indonesia visited the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, about an hour and a half northwest of Dallas.
Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.
Jill Biden's most visible role is wife to Vice President Joe Biden. But she has also had her own career as a teacher for more than three decades. Even now, she's a full-time professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
It was a stunner today for pundits on the Potomac. President Obama announced in the Rose Garden that while he has the authority to unilaterally attack Syria for its use of chemical weapons, he won't use it. Only 24 hours after Secretary of State John Kerry made the case for military action, the president made the case for congressional approval.
Tom Cole is a U.S. congressman from Oklahoma. He's a Republican and has served in the Congress since 2003. Congressman Cole, thank you for being with us.
REPRESENTATIVE TOM COLE: Thank you.
LYDEN: Congressman, you signed a letter with more than 100 of your colleagues asking the president to consult with Congress before acting in Syria. Well, President Obama now says he will do exactly that. Are you happy with the president's approach?
With us now to talk about congressional reaction to the president's announcement this afternoon is NPR's congressional reporter Ailsa Chang. Thanks for being with us.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: You're welcome. Good to be here.
LYDEN: So it seems the president has been listening to the rancor this week, Ailsa, from members of both parties. What's been the reaction from congressional leaders you've had a chance to speak to since the announcement?
The U.S. will not be acting alone if and when it launches military strikes against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. French President Francois Hollande spoke with President Obama today. France and the U.S. will act together after congressional discussions.
As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, this Franco-American alliance is a complete turnabout from the lead up to the war in Iraq 10 years ago.
If you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
The chemical weapons attack in Syria on August the 21st was the first time in a quarter century that such weapons had been used against civilians during a conflict. In 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War, the Iraqi city of Halabja was subjected to a gas attack by Saddam Hussein. At least 5,000 people died.
A transcript of President Obama's remarks on possible U.S. military action in Syria, as released by the White House:
Good afternoon, everybody. Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people.
President Obama said Saturday he had decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons, but that he will seek a congressional authorization for the action that could come "tomorrow, or next week or one month from now."
Speaking from the Rose Garden, the president said he believed that he had the authority to act without Congress, but said, "I know the country will be stronger if we take this course."
Now, let's take a look at what the U.S. military might do in Syria. The Pentagon has prepared military options that would allow the U.S. to launch a punitive strike against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has been at the center of that military planning, even as he visited Asia this past week. NPR's Larry Abramson has been traveling all week with Secretary Hagel. He's had a unique vantage point on those deliberations and joins us now. Larry, thanks for being with us.
As the Obama administration argues for a military intervention in Syria in response to a chemical attack that it says killed more than 1,400 Syrians, analysts say the case for a strike lacks a legal framework.
President Obama said Friday that the decision to act is part of a U.S. obligation as a world leader to make sure that regimes are held to account if they are found targeting their own people with weapons prohibited by international norms.
"If there's a sense that if nobody's willing to enforce them, then people don't take them seriously," he said Friday.
What would Iraq and Israel do if the U.S. launches military action against the Syrian government? Former analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency Joshua Foust speaks with host Scott Simon about the wider consequences for the Middle East.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A U.N. inspections team left Syria this morning and that team is making its way back to Europe where it will analyze samples that were collected at the site of a poison gas attack outside of Damascus. In Washington, D.C. the Obama Administration says it is already convinced that Bashar Assad's regime used chemical weapons during that attack, and yesterday the White House released a summary of intelligence that says that more than 1400 civilians were killed by chemical weapons.
The small town of Waldoboro, Maine, boasts two attractions: Moody's Diner, reputed to be one of the oldest in the country, and the Toy Museum. It was founded in 1996 by John Fawcett. Karen Michel paid the museum's founder a visit as she wrapped up her summer vacation.
KAREN MICHEL, BYLINE: The sign says world class museum enjoyed by adults, a Maine vacation delight - open.
To Damascus now, as Syrians prepare for what might be coming. Nada Keuttnen works helping visiting journalists there in Damascus, including several NPR reporters. She joins us over Skype. Nada, thank you very much for being with us.
NADA KEUTTNEN: You are welcome.
SIMON: What's Damascus like today?
KEUTTNEN: It doesn't seem different than two, three, even a week ago. The life is going on. People are a bit may be worried and they're trying to buy extra dry food, expecting that something will happen but nothing is.
As U.S. forced reportedly prepare to launch a limited military action against the Syrian government, we turn now to a voice who's long made the case that the U.S. must take some action in Syria. Michael Ignatieff is a leading voice for the idea of humanitarian intervention. He helped develop the concept of the responsibility to protect. He is the former leader of Canada's Liberal party and now back on the faculty of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 6:07 pm
As President Obama attempts to make good on his threats to punish Syrian officials for crossing a "red line" by allegedly using deadly chemical weapons, he's being buffeted by political crosscurrents.
Some arise from the structure of U.S. democracy itself, and the balance of powers between the branches. Others emerge from the nation's particular state of mind after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Here are six points to keep in mind as Obama considers how best to demonstrate American resolve to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Patent trolls — a term known more among geeks than the general public — are about to be the target of a national ad campaign. Beginning Friday, a group of retail trade organizations is launching a radio and print campaign in 17 states.
They want to raise awareness of a problem they say is draining resources from business and raising prices for consumers.
Six years ago this month, the I-35 West Bridge in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed during the evening rush hour. Thirteen people died and 145 were injured when the eight-lane bridge fell into the Mississippi River below. Among those hurt that day was Kim Dahl. She was on the bridge driving a school bus full of dozens of children, including two of her own and eight other adults. She remembers the bus rising up then freefalling 45 feet, crashing onto a road below.
Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California is among nearly 200 members of Congress who've signed letters to President Obama demanding he seek authorization from Congress before ordering the use of military force in Syria. To do otherwise, they say, is unconstitutional.
Congresswoman Lofgren joins me now from San Jose. Welcome to the program.
Secretary of State John Kerry says there is clear evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its citizens. He laid out that evidence at a briefing at the State Department, and pledged a "tailored and limited" US response to hold the Assad regime accountable.
President Obama says the world cannot accept the use of chemical weapons on a mass scale in Syria, but much of the world seems unwilling to act in response. The president says the U.S. has not made a final decision either.
Labor Day is right around the corner, so before we mark the unofficial end of summer, here is the final installment in our series, Summer Nights. And for this last evening adventure, we head to Phoenix, where urban hikers strap on headlamps to ascend Piestewa Peak. This time of year, the desert heat can be deadly, so hikers wait until dark to climb to the summit, about 1,200 feet above the city.
Peter O'Dowd of member station KJZZ sends this postcard of one family that's been making the night trek for years.
Originally published on Mon September 2, 2013 10:03 am
Television talk show host Wendy Williams is known for pushing the envelope and dishing the dirt on celebrities. But her rise to fame wasn't always glamorous. Host Michel Martin speaks with Williams about her career, her battle with addiction, and her latest book Ask Wendy. This segment initially aired May 6, 2013 on Tell Me More.
Originally published on Mon September 2, 2013 10:03 am
A recent report suggests that more white students are heading to top tier colleges, while their black and Hispanic counterparts are turning to low tuition, open-access institutions. Host Michel Martin speaks with Georgetown's Anthony Carnevale, about what the numbers mean. This segment initially aired July 31, 2013 on Tell Me More.