All Things Considered for Monday, September 23, 2013

Kenyan Officials Say They Have Control Of Mall Siege

At least 62 people were killed and 175 were wounded when Islamist gunmen attacked the most high-profile shopping mall in East Africa, Kenyan officials say. The siege began Saturday, and by Monday afternoon authorities said Kenyan security forces were in control of the building.

A Primer On The Somali Terrorist Group Al-Shabab

What is al-Shabab? Melissa Block speaks with J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center and co-author of the book Somalia: Fixing Africa's Most Failed State, about the Somali Islamic extremist group that has claimed responsibility for the attack on a shopping mall in Kenya.
In a distinguished career that spanned politics, diplomacy and teaching, Kofi Awoonor is best known as one of Africa's most accomplished poets. The 78-year-old Ghanaian was killed in Saturday's attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.

Booting Up: New NSA Data Farm Takes Root In Utah

Even as it continues to grapple with concerns about its data-gathering operations, the National Security Agency is poised to open a massive facility where cellphone, text message, email and landline data can be stored and analyzed.
It's been a good summer for author Jhumpa Lahiri. Her new novel, The Lowland, has been nominated for two major literary prizes. But reviewer Ellah Allfrey says that while the book is elegantly structured, she wished for more humanity from the characters.

Florida Governor Alters The Plan For Common Core

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that the state is dropping out as fiscal agent for an organization developing tests for Common Core, the new educational standards. Scott, a Republican facing re-election next year, says he agrees with many of his Tea Party supporters who want the state to drop it entirely.
This summer, New Mexico froze Medicaid payments to several mental health agencies due to "credible allegations of fraud." From there, the providers were taken over by Arizona companies, leaving approximately 30,000 patients to navigate New Mexico's complex mental health system alone.

A Young Afghan War Survivor Touches Two American Lives

Last year, two sisters took in Arefa, a badly burned Afghan girl, while she received medical treatment in the U.S. The sisters were ecstatic to host a goofier and wigglier Arefa during a return visit this summer, but they say the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan may make future reunions difficult.

Could Detectives Use Microbes To Solve Murders?

Long after we die, many of the microscopic creatures living in and on us continue to thrive. In field experiments, forensic scientists are tracking changes in communities of microbes on human remains that could one day serve as clues.
An Egyptian court ruling on Monday banned the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered the government to seize all the assets of the Islamist group. This is the latest move in a widening crackdown on the group that ruled Egypt just a few months ago.

Optimism Surrounds Iranian President's Visit To New York

Moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani has made several significant moves since his election, from releasing several political prisoners to taking responsibility for nuclear negotiations out of the National Security Council and moving it to the Foreign Ministry. President Obama says it's time to "test" Iran's willingness to negotiate.

Al-Shabab, Once Thought Weakened, Is Still A Threat

The group that claimed responsibility for the deadly attack at an upscale shopping mall in Kenya operates out of Somalia. Al-Shabab had been thought to be weakened after years of fighting inside Somalia, but the group maintains a core of loyal fighters.

BlackBerry Agrees To Sell Itself For $4.7 Billion

Facing a business death spiral, BlackBerry has made a tentative deal to sell the company to a major shareholder for $4.7 billion. Under the proposed transaction, a group led by Fairfax Financial Holdings would take BlackBerry private. The announcement comes only three days after BlackBerry announced disastrous financial results.

New Rules Allow Companies To Advertise For Dollars

New regulations went into effect Monday that allow companies to advertise to the general public when they need to raise money. These rules, known as general solicitation, are a big change in how private securities offerings are conducted.

Flooding Ravages Colorado Ranch

Melissa Block speaks with David Jessup, co-owner of the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colo. The ranch was partially rebuilt and redesigned after it was damaged in the 1976 Big Thompson Flood.

Don't Try To Clean That Messy Desk

Writer and astrophysicist Adam Frank says: Make friends with science, and the ordinary, everyday stuff will transform into the extraordinary. Now look around you — the mail, the kids' toys, the mess on your desk, the constant daily chaos? It's inevitable, and science proves it.
Two police officers from East Haven, Conn., face federal charges that they conspired to threaten and intimidate members of the town's Latino community. Prosecutors say the men harassed people, made unreasonable searches and seizures, and used unreasonable force.
The already beleaguered, bankrupt city has gotten even more bad publicity from stories saying there are 50,000 homeless dogs roaming its streets. The first wave of reports from a dog census done over the weekend, though, signal there are far fewer. Still, loose dogs are a big problem in the city.
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