All Things Considered for Monday, January 20, 2014

The long-anticipated Syrian peace conference is again in turmoil. The U.N. secretary-general's surprise decision to invite Iran to attend the conference prompted a boycott threat from Syria's exiled opposition. At issue is the fact that Iran has not publicly committed to the framework for the conference or pledged to withdraw its troops and allied militias from Syria. Under pressure from the opposition groups and the U.S., the U.N. has since withdrawn its invitation to Iran.
This week in Iran, international inspectors are stepping up surveillance of the country's nuclear program. The inspections are at the heart of a landmark deal that freezes Iran's uranium enrichment in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from sanctions, but they are just a first step.

As Protests Renew In Ukraine, Fears Of Violence Return

Anti-government protests have shaken Ukraine for two months. With the passage of a new law intended to limit public protests, the crisis is once again intensifying. Protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, clashed with police for a second day on Monday, one day after a massive protest in the city turned violent.
As the Obama administration touts an increasing number of people signing up under the Affordable Care Act, there's a push to get Latinos enrolled. This demographic represents the most underinsured group in the country. Politics around Obamacare and Latinos are heating up, with a new ad attacking the ACA and a Latino congressman who supports the measure.
Last fall, curators and interns at the New York State Museum were digging through their audio archives in an effort to digitize their collection. They unearthed a treasure: a reel-to-reel tape of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech commemorating the centennial of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Over the past decade, thousands of mentally ill people have been funneling in and out of the nation's jails, landing in places that are ill-equipped to treat them. Illinois' Cook County Jail has some of the most innovative programs in the country, but staff say it's a far cry from actual treatment.

Book Review: 'Starting Over,' By Elizabeth Spencer

Alan Cheuse reviews a collection of stories by Elizabeth Spencer called, Starting Over.
Car theft is less a crime than a security threat in Kabul: It's feared that militants could use stolen vehicles as car bombs. So the police have started puncturing the tires of cars parked on the street after dark, a policy that's raising ire among those whose cars that have been "protected" this way.

'The Hunt' Turns 'Enormous Love' To Fear, Hate

What happens in a small town when a teacher is falsely accused of molesting a child? That's the story of a Danish movie called The Hunt. Director Thomas Vinterberg and star Mads Mikkelsen discuss the Oscar-nominated film.

Silicon Valley Responds To Obama's NSA Proposals

On Friday, President Obama delivered a speech outlining his proposed reforms of the National Security Agency's surveillance practices. In All Tech Considered, our weekly look at technology, we explore how the speech was received by many of the big tech companies in Silicon Valley.
Melissa Block talks to Alex Fowler, the chief privacy officer at Mozilla, for the company's response to President Obama's speech about government surveillance reform.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere enjoys making waves — or perhaps he feels as if there's no choice, because he helms the smallest of the four major telecom companies. Legere is engaged in a feisty battle for market share. In Las Vegas recently, he crashed AT&T's party at a trade show and was summarily kicked out, and T-Mobile is going hard after its competitors in new commercials. But where this all ends is an open question. Many analysts believe T-Mobile will eventually be gobbled up in a merger.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing new allegations about whether he used the powers of his office to punish a local politician. This time, the charge is that he withheld a city's federal recovery money for Superstorm Sandy because the mayor wouldn't support an ally's redevelopment project. Matt Katz of member station WNYC reports on the unfolding accusations.
Since 1969, Ray Benson has been the frontman for country swing band Asleep at the Wheel. The band's wild productivity has meant that Benson has released only one solo effort, 2003's Beyond Time. On Jan. 21, he releases his second solo album, A Little Piece. Meredith Ochs has a review.

Rural Regions Lobby For State Medicaid Expansion

Hospitals in rural regions in the U.S. are adjusting to many new requirements under the Affordable Care Act. For those in states that are not expanding their Medicaid roles, that adjustment is even harder. Rural lobbies are pushing these states for the expansion, saying that without it, many of their hospitals could close.

The Second Lives Of 'Stuff' In Chicago Public Schools

In 2013, the Chicago Public Schools decided to close some 50 schools to save money and consolidate resources. In recent months, the system has been emptying out those buildings, creating a giant collection of reusable materials, from textbooks to Bunsen burners, to desks and chairs. From member station WBEZ in Chicago, Linda Lutton takes a look at all the stuff that is getting reused.

D.C. Barbecue Joint Serves Food For Soul And Mind

The owner of Inspire BBQ caters to the tastes of discerning barbeque lovers, but he's also on a mission to reclaim troubled young people and teach a profession that will help them sustain themselves and the community.
Melissa Block talks with Nicholas Griffin about his book, Ping-Pong Diplomacy, which explores the importance of the tabletop game in Chinese political history and foreign policy.
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