All Things Considered for Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Syrians are voting in the country's presidential election, even as a civil war continues to rage around them. Sam Dagher of The Wall Street Journal is in Syria, and he discusses the disputed election.
Some Syrians fear that after the elections, President Bashar Assad's regime will get worse. They suspect that truces will evaporate, arrests will increase and more of the country will be partitioned.
During a conversation between a reporter and community activists on Chicago's South Side, gunshots not more than 100 feet away shattered an otherwise quiet afternoon. After the initial shock wore off, the neighborhood leaders expressed their frustration over their community's connection with gun violence and engaged in a deep conversation about its underlying causes — and what can be done to solve them.
A new book looks at words that self-appointed linguistic police have declared contraband, like "lunch," which should be a verb, and "balding," a participle formed from an adjective instead of a verb.
President Obama is starting a European trip in Poland, where he will meet allied leaders from central and eastern Europe. They are worried about Russia's intentions after the recent events in Ukraine.
In June, Russia serves as the president of the United Nations Security Council. Already, that has meant a focus on Ukraine. Russia wants the Ukrainian government to end its military crackdown on separatists. It has also called for consultations on the humanitarian situation in the country.
Suppressing its own people with tanks and guns 25 years ago was a pivotal act of modern China. Beijing hoped economic prosperity would make people forget. But the legacy of Tiananmen remains potent.

Book Review: 'The Director' and 'Night Heron'

Alan Cheuse reviews two new spy novels: David Igantius' The Director and Adam Brookes' Night Heron.
Director Kelly Reichardt lets her films live in the spaces of words unsaid. Her latest movie, Night Moves, is no different different; it's sparse and deliberately paced. She speaks about her work.
A debate has arisen recently over the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: Did the U.S. negotiate with terrorists to win his release, or was this the kind of commonplace prisoner swap that comes in the final months of a war? The five men released in exchange for Bergdahl's safe return weren't common fighters; they were members of the Taliban government. And the arrangements of their release could offer a template for how to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
According to Richard Barrett, the senior vice president of the Soufan Group, the number of foreign fighters in Syria has surpassed the number of those who have gone to Afghanistan.
In response to the crisis in lengthy wait times for medical care, Congress and veterans groups again are debating the proper role of private sector solutions.

Teachers Hit The Common Core Wall

For educators, the challenges of Common Core are huge.
New poll numbers from the Pew Research Center show widespread dissatisfaction in Brazil as the country prepares for the World Cup. The president gets negative marks, and few think the tournament will be positive for Brazil.
The Polish city of Krakow is only the latest to withdraw its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics after a public referendum. So many localities have dropped out of the running that the games might just be hosted by the last contender standing. Robert Siegel talks with Olympic historian David Wallechinsky about what's behind the loss of interest.
In a recent Nippon Professional Baseball game in Japan, Kazuhito Tadano threw a slow, arcing pitch that caught the batter by surprise. The pitch has a history — and a name: the eephus pitch.
Tammy Boudreaux was uninsured in December, and not sure that she wanted any part of HealthCare.gov. Ultimately she persevered to sign up for a health plan. We checked back to find out why.
It's been 36 years since a horse won racing's ultimate trifecta. For California Chrome to break the drought Saturday, the colt must contend with challenges that have stymied a dozen horses before him.

The Confounding, Enigmatic 'Ode To Billie Joe'

Tuesday is June 3, a date memorialized in a 1967 hit by singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry. Even with a suicide in the first verse, the song helped Gentry bump the Beatles off the top of the charts.
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