All Things Considered for Friday, August 30, 2013

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.

Week In Politics: Debate Over A U.S. Strike In Syria

Melissa Block talks with political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution and Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for The National Review. They discuss the latest political wrangling over military intervention in Syria.

Too Weird To Be True? In China, You Never Can Tell

Foreign news coverage of China is often deadly serious: corruption, pollution and the like. Then there's the funny and bizarre that often goes viral — like the zoo that swapped a dog for a lion. A number of websites are making these offbeat and satirical tales increasingly available in English.

Book Review: 'Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman'

Critic Alan Cheuse reviews Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman by Minka Pradelski. He says it's a delightful novel that's a fascinating mix of comedy and pathos.
UN inspectors are winding up their mission to Syria, attempting to determine whether or not chemical weapons were used in last week's attacks in the suburbs of Damascus. On Friday the inspectors went to a military hospital where the government says soldiers hit in a chemical weapons assault are being treated. Damascus residents say the Syrian army is moving troops and equipment into residential areas in anticipation of a U.S. military strike aimed at punishing the regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
Li Na, the sixth ranked female tennis player in the world, advanced Friday to the fourth round of the U.S. Open. Li's career success is remarkable in that she's achieved it after breaking with the Chinese state sports system — a rarity for Chinese athletes. For more, Robert Siegel speaks with Mr. Brook Larmer, author of Operation Yao Ming: The Chinese Sports Empire, American Big Business, and the Making of an NBA Superstar.
From Puerto Rico to Cuba to the Philippines, roast suckling pig is a national dish — but its origins are in the ancient Spanish kingdom of Castile. Vegetarians, stop reading here: Cochinillo asado is a weeks-old piglet, cooked whole in a clay dish over an oak wood fire. The Spanish delicacy has made appearances throughout literary history, from Cervantes to Hemingway. The dish is legendary at Ernest Hemingway's favorite restaurant in Madrid.
Radio and print ads launched this week warn of damage wrought by so-called patent trolls. Business groups and software developers say patents are being used as legal weapons in a tactic that costs the economy tens of billions of dollars a year.

Summer Nights: Phoenix's Piestewa Peak

On a summer night in Phoenix, city dwellers can watch a line of head lamps inch up Piestewa Peak. The mountain rises sharply more than 1,200 feet above the neighborhoods of Central Phoenix. It's the most popular outdoor trek in the city. But in July and August the sun turns deadly there and hikers wait until it's safely below the horizon to begin their ascent. At the top, the view unfolds like magic every time — a desert city of four million people that glows red, white and orange.
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.
The U.S. intelligence community has released its declassified analysis of the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria. The analysis concludes that Syria's government is likely responsible for the attack, which, it says, killed some 1,400 people.
Melissa Block speaks with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, about possible U.S. intervention in Syria.
On Aug. 1, 2007, the interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145 others. Now, survivors of the accident are able to claim pieces of the bridge. Melissa Block talks with Kim Dahl who retrieved one of the pieces of the bridge.
Cybersecurity consultants say their phones are ringing off the hook, with U.S. companies fearing that if it comes to an attack on Syria, they could find themselves on the front lines.
The young, secular revolutionaries who led the 2011 uprising against the Hosni Mubarak regime have been pushed to the margins of the current confrontation in Egypt. They also feel they are battling two sets of authoritarian forces — the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
It's been another long college football off-season complete with a scandal involving reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziell. That scandal has passed, for now, but it's another in a list of headaches for the NCAA as it kicked off the regular season last night. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joins Robert Siegel to talk about it all.
The feeling of solitude in the woods ... the sunlight that filters through trees ... someone who tells a joke so badly that you have to laugh. In English, these things require a whole string of words. Not so in German, Japanese and Indonesian, respectively.

Poet Seamus Heaney Was A Teacher, Critic, Translator

Seamus Heaney was possibly the most-read living poet. He was admired by peers and critics and loved by the general public, which bought his books by the thousands. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. Heaney died Friday in Dublin after what his family described in a statement as a 'brief illness." He was 74 years old.
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