All Things Considered for Thursday, August 29, 2013

Britain's prime minister called a special gathering of Parliament to argue forcefully for military intervention in Syria in response to the apparent chemical strike that he said killed hundreds there. He met with opposition among legislators who don't want to rush to war.
The recent chemical attack on civilians in Syria galvanized international condemnation against the supposed perpetrator, Bashar al-Assad's regime. The U.S. is expected to take some sort of military action. But what should be the goals of the U.S. and its allies? Experts, diplomats, world leaders are weighing in — but, perhaps, nowhere else are these questions felt more deeply than among those in Syrian-American community.

DOJ Won't Sue To Overturn Recreational Pot Laws

The Department of Justice issued new guidance Thursday on enforcement of marijuana laws. The move comes after two states — Colorado and Washington — legalized marijuana for recreational use. The department said it would not sue to pre-empt those laws as long as the two states follow the new policy, which applies to all 50 states. The government's priorities for prosecutors include keeping drug profits away from gangs and cartels, and keeping marijuana away from children.
Age-related fumbles of memory are often feared as early signs of Alzheimer's dementia, but recent research confirms an important difference. The underlying biology of the two sorts of memory loss aren't the same. And the age-related form may be reversible someday.
There are few things more chilling than the sound of a nearby rattlesnake. That distinctive sound serves as a warning that trouble could be on the way. The only thing worse than hearing a rattlesnake within striking distance — is not hearing it at all. A herpetologist in South Dakota's Black Hills has discovered a growing number of Prairie Rattlesnakes with atrophied tail muscles; he believes it's a genetic issue that multiplies because those snakes that can rattle usually end up being killed. But others think the situation could be an evolutionary development to avoid detection.
The fast food industry has become the focal point in the drive by organized labor and its supporters for so-called living wage laws. Union members and activist groups staged another round of protests Thursday at restaurants and retail stores, calling for a minimum wage of $15 an hour. How are the protestors playing with consumers and what would happen to workers and the industry if organizers achieved their goal?

Antibiotic Use On The Farm: Are We Flying Blind?

No one knows exactly how farmers use antibiotics. Many public health experts say the government should collect and publish detailed information because antibiotic-resistant bacteria are an increasingly urgent problem. But many farm groups are opposed.
Greenland is covered in an ice layer that's up to 2 miles thick. But below the ice, there's a vast terrain of bedrock. Now scientists have found a mega-canyon there, twice the size of the one in Arizona. The hidden canyon is drawing oohs and aahs from scientists around the world.
The British-American actress co-stars opposite Eric Bana in the surveillance-state thriller Closed Circuit. She joins NPR's Robert Siegel to talk about playing a barrister, working with her celebrated Shakespearean father and being inspired by her opera-singer mom.
A UN weapons inspection team is due to leave Syria on Saturday, but it will take time for them to review all of the material they've gathered about an alleged chemical weapons attack. The British government now says it will wait to hear the report before taking any military action to punish Bashar al-Assad's regime. That leaves the U.S. in an awkward position. It has written off the UN route because of Russia's opposition to any action.
Melissa Block talks to BBC reporter Jeremy Bowen about the situation on the ground in Syria from the capital of Damascus.
The NFL has agreed to a $765 million settlement with more than 4,500 former players and families over concussions. The money will fund medical exams and treatment and provide compensation to players and families.

Can Streaming Services Make Money?

Pandora, Rdio and Spotify are changing the way we listen to music, but all have had money issues. Apple and Google join the fray this year and music producer Jimmy Iovine is launching a service with Beats by Dr. Dre.
Details of the top secret budget of U.S. intelligence agencies have been made public — revealing not only that the nation spends more than $50 billion a year on intelligence but also some detail about how that money is spent. The Washington Post published excerpts of a 2013 budget justification obtained from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. In the past, the total amount spent on intelligence has been declassified by the U.S. government. The document reveals not only which agency spends the money but also what missions are top priority.

Threat Of U.S. Strike In Syria Drives Up Oil Prices

Crude oil prices are up about 20 percent over the past two months. On Tuesday, the price of the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, hit $109. Events in Syria are driving the price spike. Syria doesn't produce much oil, but there is great concern that the conflict there might spill over and involve other Persian Gulf nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Why Syria Is More Complicated Than Libya

To start with, unlike Moammar Gadhafi's regime when the U.S. intervened in Libya in 2011, the Syrian government still has international allies. As the U.S. considers a strike on Syria, here's a look at some of the key differences between the two situations.
Federal and state officials voted Thursday on a plan to restore the Gulf Coast. The meeting in New Orleans is intended to set a course for recovery from the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Officials of the Treasury Department and the IRS announced new rules allowing same sex couples who marry in states with gay marriage to file jointly if they move to other states.
Kristen Johnson, also known as Lady Houdini, goes far beyond the role women usually play in escape acts. "It was important for me to be a strong example for young women in particular," she says.
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