This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will give another $45 million in aid to Syria. That aid will mostly go toward humanitarian assistance, but it will also include communications equipment for the opposition in Syria. The news came at the end of a week of speeches at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where many raised alarms about the bloodshed in Syria. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
Decades before people would camp out for days, to get the latest next-big-thing in new technology, there was the magic of pictures you could snap and see instantly - or almost. Edwin Land created a company in his garage - sound familiar? - that would be both a success, and an inspiration, to Steve Jobs and other inventive entrepreneurs of a new era, Polaroid. Its products were considered elegant, original and desirable. The company was miles and dollars above any other, in innovative technology. So why couldn't it last into the 21st century?
Writing's often depicted as a private act - scribbling, crossing out, then crumpling two sheets into a fireplace; trial, error and angst - all of which is best kept private. Silvia Hartmann is now writing on a kind of electronic stage - in an open document, a Google doc - so that readers can see her story appear line by line, edit by edit. Silvia Hartmann joins us from the south coast of England. Thanks so much for being with us.
SILVIA HARTMANN: Hi.
SIMON: So what are you trying to do here, write a novel?
Opening a new package of Tylenol can take some effort. There's the cardboard packaging, plus the push-and-twist top and the safety seal.
It used to be a matter of just popping off a cap. Thirty years ago, seven people died in Chicago suburbs after taking poisoned Tylenol. Pharmacies pulled Tylenol off the shelf in a panic, and the nation was in shock.
The southern French city of Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea has long been famous for its spicy fish soup, known as bouillabaisse. The soup started as a poor man's meal, made with leftover fish scraps, but these days, it's evolved to the point that it can run connoisseurs about $75 for a generously sized meal.
I can't think of anything I loved more than talking to Leonard Bernstein. Or, more accurately, listening to him talk — about music or any topic under the sun. I remember a long discourse we had about one of my favorite books, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, and Bernstein's summarizing statement: "Well, of course, every author spends his whole life writing the same book."
In the spring of 1963, as the U.S. was mired in conflicts with Vietnam and Cuba and the Soviet Union, President John F. Kennedy called his old friend David Hackett to express his frustration at the U.S. men's ice hockey team — and their miserable record overseas.
JFK: Dave, I noticed that in the paper this morning that the Swedish team beat the American hockey team 17-2. Hackett: Yeah, I saw that. JFK: Christ! Who are we sending over there? Girls?
In Utah, the state's lone Democratic congressman is in a tough battle for a seventh term. Jim Matheson's opponent, Mia Love, has the support of national GOP superstars and, if elected, would become the first black Republican woman in Congress.
In a state where only about 25 percent of residents vote as Democrats, Matheson has successfully gotten enough Republicans to vote for him and keep him in office for the past 12 years. He can trace his political roots back to his father, Scott Matheson, the state's last Democratic governor.
Los Angeles County's sheriff is under fire. A blue-ribbon commission issued a scathing report Friday accusing Sheriff Lee Baca of failing to address long-standing allegations of inmate abuse in his jails. The accusations include deputies beating inmates, cover-ups and a persistent culture of violence.
The sheriff has been able to weather many storms during his 14-year tenure, but this may be the toughest fight of his political career.
If there is a boogey man in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China. According to Bloomberg, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have aired nearly 30,000 ads that mention trade with China, many airing in the key swing state of Ohio.
Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 8:09 pm
Talk of a Tomato War is simmering in agricultural circles, after the U.S. Commerce Department issued a report Thursday that recommends ending an agreement on how fresh tomatoes grown in Mexico are sold in the United States. The issue could create an expanding trade conflict; Mexican officials have said they would retaliate to defend the tomato growers.
The western Afghan city of Herat has become a thriving hub for the money exchange business, a consequence of geography and politics. Money-changers throng the currency market carrying thick stacks of Iranian currency, much of it brought in by the hundreds of thousands of Afghan workers who earn their living in Iran.
While the stacks of crisp 100,000 rial notes that money-changers bring to the market might look like a small fortune, the 10 million rials in each of these stacks is worth less than $400, because the Iranian currency recently lost more than half of its value.
According to Bloomberg, President Obama and Mitt Romney have aired nearly 30,000 TV spots addressing the issue of trade with China, and that's just in the past month. Many of those ads aired in Ohio where both candidates are spending a lot of time. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains the Ohio-China nexus.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: If there's a boogeyman in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China.
Today at All Things Considered, we continue a project we're calling NewsPoet. Each month, we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's stories.
Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 9:30 am
After inadvertently airing live coverage of a car chase that ended with a man's suicide, Shepard Smith of Fox News has issued an apology to viewers of his show. The incident occurred as the cable network carried a live feed of a man fleeing police on the interstate west of Phoenix.
In the footage, the man abandoned his vehicle and began running across a field, before pulling out a gun and shooting himself in the head. Despite being filmed from a helicopter hovering above the scene, the footage was graphic enough to prompt immediate yelling in the Fox News studio.
This Sunday, a landmark composition of the 20th century will be webcast by NPR, and led by the quintessential 21st century conductor: 31-year-old Gustavo Dudamel, who will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring). Dudamel spoke about his experience of this earthshaking piece with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.
Back in the 1920s, the U.S. government thought blimps might be the next big thing in warfare. So the government started producing helium. And they created the Federal Helium Reserve, a vast store of helium that sits underground in the Texas panhandle.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 2:31 pm
A big embarrassment came this week for the Republican Party, which has made voting integrity and fighting voter fraud a major issue.
A consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in five battleground states has been let go after one of its workers apparently submitted over 100 questionable registration forms in Florida's Palm Beach County.
The party severed its ties with the firm — Strategic Allied Consulting — because it has "zero tolerance" for voter fraud, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 1:19 pm
An oddity of U.S. presidential politics is that candidates and their campaigns spend nearly all their time telling voters how superior they are to their rivals in virtually every area: the wisdom of their policy proposals; the soundness of their characters and judgments — everything, really.
Except for debating.
It's the old game of setting the bar high for your opponent and lower for your candidate, of course. That way, anything short of a disastrous debate performance can be claimed as a knockout victory.
On the surface, the new coronavirus detected in the Middle East this month looks quite similar to SARS. It apparently causes severe respiratory problems, and can be lethal.
But with viruses, the devil is in their details — the genetic details.
Dutch virologists have just published the whole genome of the new coronavirus — all 30,118 letters of its code. And, the sequence reveals that the mystery virus is most closely related to coronaviruses that infect bats in Southeast Asia.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 2:52 pm
The Food and Drug Administration isn't sure, but Rita Desollar of Pekin, Ill., feels she knows what killed Heidi, her 7-year-old German shepherd. She feels it was the chicken jerky strips she bought at her local Walgreen's.
Desollar says on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, she gave two pieces of Waggin' Train jerky to Heidi as a treat. A few days later, Heidi was throwing up and "in a lot of distress," she says. By the time the holiday rolled around on Monday, Desollar says, Heidi was convulsing in her bed. She died that day, before Desollar could even take her to the vet.
Federal authorities in Southern California have arrested the man who produced the now infamous anti-Islam video, the one that recently sparked unrest in many Muslim countries. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested for violating his probation from a previous bank fraud conviction. The judge at his hearing this afternoon denied Mr. Nakoula bail, calling him a flight risk, that's according to news agency reports. We now go to NPR West, and we're joined by NPR's Carrie Kahn, who has the latest on Nakoula's arrest.
When Laura Kate Whitney enrolled her 4-year-old, Grey, at Avondale Elementary, a public school in Birmingham, Ala., she and her husband were bucking a trend. Whitney and her husband are white, middle-class professionals. Public schools in Birmingham are 95 percent black, and 90 percent of the students are on free or reduced lunch.
Whitney's is one of about two-dozen similar families who are not buying into the conventional tradeoff that if you live within city limits and have means, you send your kids to private schools.