All Things Considered for Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A peace conference on Syria is due to begin Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland. The start of the conference comes after more than three years of violent conflict and 24 hours of uncertainty over Iran's surprise invitation. But the invitation has been withdrawn, and the diplomats are set to assume their places at the negotiating table.

State Of Emergency Raises New Questions In Bangkok

Thailand's government has declared a 60-day state of emergency in an effort to rein in the anti-government demonstrators who are intent on disrupting next month's snap election. The state of emergency means that the Thai authorities can impose curfews, detain suspects without charge and ban public gatherings of more than five people. But officials insist they will not use the declaration to attempt to remove anti-government protesters from the sites they have been occupying in Bangkok.

Aerial Skiing Is A Game Of Skill — And Strategy

The Olympic sport is like gymnastics in the air, but in the final few rounds, aerialists can't use the same trick twice. Come go time, they have to figure out which trick to do, based on what their competitors have just done.
After hours of interviews with President Obama, David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, has written a feature article in the upcoming issue. He tells Robert Siegel about what he learned from the president and wrote about in his piece, "Going the Distance."

In Kenya, A Fraught Return To The Site Of A Massacre

In Nairobi, four men are on trial for assisting the terrorists who stormed Westgate Mall in September in an attack that killed at least 67 people. On Tuesday, the judge and lawyers on both sides left the stuffy confines of the courtroom and took a field trip — back inside the mall itself. The prosecution said that the trip was necessary to understand how and where the attack was carried out. But the trip — and this trial — has also seemed like a search for closure, in a case that four months later still has so many unanswered questions.
As more and more politicians and businesses court the Hispanic/Latino demographic, there's more and more confusion about how to refer to the people who fit into it.

After Hibernation, Rosetta Seeks Its Stone

The Rosetta spacecraft has awakened. It was put in hibernation for 31 months while its orbit took it nearly half a billion miles from the sun, too far for its solar arrays to keep the spacecraft operational. But now it's close enough, and European Space Agency mission managers will start preparing for Rosetta's rendezvous with a comet later this year.
The choreographer and dancer says that music "helps us bear the pain through sheer beauty and intensity."
The justices heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could decimate public employee unions. At issue is whether nonunion workers can be forced to pay fees that help cover the cost of negotiating a union contract from which they benefit.
The meeting in March will be the two men's first face-to-face encounter. The president and the pontiff have a shared interest in fighting income inequality, but the Roman Catholic Church still has serious differences with the president on issues such as abortion.
Chinooks, podengo pequenos and rat terriers are the three new breeds headed to New York City to compete with some of the best canines in the country for "best in show" at this year's Westminster Kennel Club dog show in February. NPR's Melissa Block talks with Westminster Kennel Club's David Frei about these new furry competitors.
The retailing giant Target is doing what it can to limit the damage from a massive data breach. But there are signs that other hackers are trying to take advantage of the original data theft with elaborate "phishing" schemes.

In Grantland Backlash, Both Ire And Probing Questions

Controversy has dogged an article published last week on the website Grantland. The piece is called "Dr. V's Magical Putter," and it tells the unusual tale of Essay Anne Vanderbilt, who designed a golf putter that attracted positive attention. In the course of reporting the article, writer Caleb Hannon discovered that several purported facts about Vanderbilt's life had been falsified. Hannon also learned that Vanderbilt had been born a man and was living life as a woman. Critics of Hannon's article have alleged, among other things, that his reporting contributed to Vanderbilt's suicide in October 2013.
A new report released Monday claims to show direct evidence of torture by the Syrian government, presenting documents and photographs of scarred, emaciated corpses. For more about the findings, Melissa Block talks to Professor David Crane, the first chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and one of the authors of the report.

Former Va. Gov. And Wife Face 14-Count Indictment

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been charged with illegally accepting gifts and loans from a political donor. The indictment, filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, marks a substantial escalation of a scandal that has marred the end of McDonnell's term in office.
Papers documenting allegation of sexual abuse by priests in the Chicago Archdiocese were released to the public today by victims' attorneys. The documents cover only 30 of at least 65 priests for whom the Chicago church says it has substantiated claims of child abuse. The papers, put online, were made available through settlements between Church and victims' lawyers. Church officials said most of the abuse occurred before 1988, none after 1996, and that all were ultimately reported to authorities.

Storm And Stress Visit The East Coast

An arctic air mass is blanketing the eastern half of the nation today, bringing with it high winds and heavy snow accumulations in some areas. Thousands of flights have been cancelled, schools are closed and federal government offices are closed. Those who don't have to drive or be somewhere also have an opinion on the weather.
With money tight, Italian officials are faced with an unbearable choice: Which works of art should be saved, when the government can't afford to save them all? At the end of 2013, the government organized an online vote to give citizens a say in the matter.
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