All Things Considered for Tuesday, August 27, 2013

U.S. Builds Its Case For Intervening In Syria

The U.S. says it is still committed to working with Russia to bring together the warring factions in Syria for a peace conference. But Washington postponed a planning meeting, as it weighs military options to respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack. Russia says a U.S. strike will only create more problems and that rebels will have no incentive to negotiate with the Syrian government.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled parliament to consider a motion approving military intervention in Syria in response to the alleged toxic gas attack in Damascus.
If punishment is the objective, said Clark, the mission can be short. The most appropriate parallel, he added, is a 1993 U.S. strike against Iraq.
It's hot in parts of the Midwest this week and student and teachers just back to school are suffering.

For Kids With Special Needs, More Places To Play

Parent advocates and a new federal law making accessible play areas a civil right are changing the landscape for public playgrounds.
Fifty years ago on Wednesday, 250,000 people crowded onto the National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial. They came from all across the country for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and to see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Three of those people from the Detroit area share the lasting impact the event had on their subsequent lives.
Robert Siegel talks to Thomas Sugrue, professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, about the history of labor unions and the civil rights movement and how that relationship compares to today.
In the pages of Marisha Pessl's Night Film, you'll uncover the death of a beautiful woman; her terrifying, filmmaker-father; even a seemingly haunted mansion. But reviewer Meg Wolitzer says that while the book dips into the unsavory and the scary, it stays surprisingly PG.
The nation with the worst HIV epidemic on the planet is finally turning the corner on the disease. South Africa is simplifying AIDS care and giving antiviral drugs to nearly 2 million people every day.
Late summer tends to be a slow month for news. But at All Things Considered, we put on a two hour program, no matter what. So — without a trace of irony — one of our science correspondents offered to help fill some holes in the show with a series of stories about holes. Today he looks at how the brain copes with the ambiguity of "the hole idea," and "the whole idea."
The massive Rim Fire burning near Yosemite National Park has now scorched early 180,000 acres and has reached Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies the San Francisco area with much of its drinking water.
The Geronimo Hotshots are one of seven elite Native American firefighting teams in the U.S. The pay is good, and firefighting jobs are one of only a few ways for many young men on the reservation to earn a living. And it turns out that much of the community there is dependent on the fire season.
Science professor John Mainstone died over the weekend at age 78. The Australian was overseer of what is said to be the world's longest running physics experiment. It was a flask with "pitch" or tar set up to allow it to "drip" — but very slowly. In 87 years only a handful of drops have fallen. The test was to prove that pitch was actually a liquid not a solid, although it shattered like a solid.
Miami, like many cities around the country, is facing a crisis over sewage. Because of the high cost, Miami-Dade County has put off long-needed upgrades to its wastewater system. Now in one neighborhood, businesses can't expand and developers can't build because of a lack of sewage treatment capacity. The federal government has stepped in and is forcing Miami-Dade to spend more than $4 billion to upgrade its sewer system. But even that may not be enough. Environmental groups say the county needs to spend more on a robust system that takes into account sea-level rise expected because of global warming.

Letters: Rim Fire, Antoinette Tuff

Robert Siegel and Melissa Block read emails from listeners about the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park and Antoinette Tuff.

Middle East, Civil Rights Intersect At White House

President Obama reached the White House largely on his opposition to U.S. intervention in the Middle East and his gift for both using and transcending his race. This week, the pressure to intervene in Syria has become overwhelming, just as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington — the iconic climax of the civil rights movement.
The United States is considering its military options following last week's apparent chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, Syria. Russia is opposed to such action. The Russian government says there's no evidence that the Syrian government was behind that attack. And Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that if NATO attacks Syria it would be a violation of international law. To get a better understanding of the Russian view on Syria, Robert Siegel talks with Andranik Migranyan, director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a Russian-funded think tank in New York. He says Russia is opposed to regime change from the outside and that the solution must be a negotiated settlement.
The owner of Vermont's only nuclear plant says it will shut down the facility next year. Entergy had just won a lengthy battle with the state over whether the plant could keep operating. Now the company says market forces and other issues mean the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant isn't profitable.
New technology is revolutionizing disabled peoples' ability to have the kind of outdoor adventures many had before losing functionality in their limbs. Amputees and people with spinal cord injuries are now off-road hand cycling, rock climbing and whitewater kayaking. Companies making innovative new gear describe cool recent innovations and challenges they're still working on. Disabled adventurers experienced and new to the scene talk about liberation through technology.
The Austin singer-songwriter's latest album is his fourth since he started making them in 2004, at age 50. Critic Robert Christgau says Baker's backstory, which includes surviving a terrorist attack, "must be told."
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