Morning Edition for Thursday, August 22, 2013

The sentencing hearing for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales continues near Tacoma, Wash. He's pleaded guilty to attacking two Afghan villages last year, massacring 16 men, women and children. Because of the guilty plea, Bales is guaranteed a life sentence. The only question is whether he'll have a chance at parole.
The court martial of Army Major Nidal Hasan is heading into its final phases at Fort Hood in Texas. Hasan has elected to offer no defense. Closing arguments begin Thursday morning, and then the case is set to go to the jury. Hasan faces the death penalty, accused of massacring 13 people and shooting 32 others.

Bo Xilai's High-Profile Trial Gets Underway In China

Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai is on trial — accused of accepting bribes, corruption and abuse of power. Once a powerful Communist Party boss, Bo became the most senior leader to fall from power in years after revelations emerged that his wife had killed a British businessman.

Writer William T. Vollmann Uncovers His FBI File

David Greene talks to author Willam T. Vollmann about this latest article in Harpers Magazine. In it, Vollmann details his discovery, following a Freedom of Information Act request, that the FBI was watching him, and that he was suspected of being a domestic terrorist.
Thursday's vote comes just weeks after a federal judge ruled the NYPD violated the civil rights of minorities. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg refuses to back down. He's appealing the judge's ruling, and working to block the council bills as well.
In just the past week we've seen a bunch of signs that the housing recovery is gaining steam. Most important for the economy, home builders are hiring more workers and building more houses.

China's College Grads Face A New Reality: Fewer Jobs

Young Chinese are graduating in record numbers, but the country's once-red-hot economy has cooled. And critics say because many young Chinese have known only booming growth and have higher expectations than earlier generations, they don't show much commitment in looking for work — echoing a complaint about millennials in the U.S.

Asian Markets Move Lower On News From Fed Meeting

Stock markets across Asia fell and India's currency continued its plunge after minutes from the July meeting of the Federal Reserve were released on Wednesday. Records showed Fed officials were comfortable with scaling back the huge bond-buying program as the economy grows stronger.

Bank Of America To Close Some Drive-Up Tellers

Bank of America says too few people are using drive-through teller windows. So, the bank is cutting that service at some branches.
Lobsters are Maine's signature industry, but it's Canada who seems to be doing the better job of marketing its crustaceans. And as Maine lobstermen face record-low prices, the state is hoping to take a few lessons from the success of its northern neighbor.

Phyllis Diller's Estate To Be Auction Next Month

On stage the late comedienne dressed like a disheveled, chain-smoking housewife with freakish hair — and now some lucky bidders can too. The sale will include many of her trademark props: blond fright wigs, feather boas, ankle boots and cigarette holders.
The National Security Agency illegally collected emails of tens of thousands of Americans. The numbers are revealed in a newly declassified secret court opinion. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found the collection of those emails unconstitutional and ordered the NSA to fix the problem.
The NSA says it's only examining traffic information, not the content of Americans' phone calls. How much can that information tell you? Quite a lot, and in some ways it's more useful than actual content. NPR's Larry Abramson learns what analysts can discover about his life and contacts just by looking at his Gmail account.

Where The Whale Sharks Go

A nine-year study tracked more than 800 of the massive and largely mysterious whale sharks. For the first time, researchers have tracked the sharks' far-flung migration and where they may go to give birth.
While a photographer has been an official part of the White House staff since John F. Kennedy was president, an official videographer is something new. Scholars say the thousands of hours of behind-the-scenes footage could be a vital resource, but it may not be very easy to use.
The United Nation's is calling for an investigation into whether the Syrian government launched a gas attack on suburbs of the capital Damascus. For more, David Greene talks to Abigail Fielding-Smith, who reports on Syria for the Financial Times from Beirut, Lebanon.
United Nations Weapons inspectors are already in Syria investigating previous allegations the Assad regime used chemical weapons. Renee Montagne talks to Charles Duelfer, a former U.N. weapons inspector, about this week's apparent evidence of a chemical attack on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.

Awaiting The Apocalypse In The Quiet Town Of Concord

Ben Winters' mystery novels are set in the capital of New Hampshire, a community hardly known for its crime or intrigue. The twist? In his books, the planet is about to be hit by an asteroid, and everyone knows they're soon going to die. Amid the chaos, one Concord cop fights for law and order.

Madrid Creates 'Acoustic Protection Zone'

In downtown Madrid, music floats through the air — amateur musicians playing for money. But many are not that good. To shield residents from mediocre musicianship, the city created an "acoustic protection zone." Buskers who wish to perform will be talent tested.

Airline Offers Upgrade To Sit In Child-Free Zone

If you board a plane excited for your trip but dreading the possibility of a baby crying, this news is for you. The budget arm of Singapore Airlines — called Scoot — is offering a $14 upgrade to sit in a child-free zone — no one under 12 allowed.
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