News Archive | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

News Archive - September 1, 2011

Md. Sen. Cardin Hopes To Influence Super Committee

Even though Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin isn't on the joint congressional committee charged with cutting the debt, he's hoping to have some influence on the process because of his position in Congress.

Conservationists Cope With A Planet Under Pressure

mike tidwell, conservationist

Conservationists know more than most about the perilous state of our planet -- and with that knowledge comes a considerable amount of stress.

Solar Panel Company Declares Bankruptcy

In 2010 President Obama gave a speech at the plant of a solar panel manufacturer in Fremont, Calif., saying "the future is here." That company, called Solyndra, has now declared bankruptcy. Melissa Block speaks with Bay Area business reporter George Avalos about what went wrong.

Military Medicine's Long War Against Malaria

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center is famous for treating both presidents and soldiers. But the institution is also a longtime leader in the fight to develop vaccines, including one against malaria — something many thought wasn't possible. That vaccine is currently in a large-scale human trial in Africa.

Details Of CIA Operation Revealed In Civil Lawsuit

Details of a secret CIA program used to move suspected terrorists around the globe for interrogation and alleged torture were recently revealed in a New York courtroom. There, the owner of a private jet hired by the government to shuttle detainees was looking for payment for services rendered. Robert Siegel talks with Peter Finn of the Washington Post about his story.

In Jobs Debate, GOP Targets 'Regulatory Burdens'

As President Obama prepares to present his plan to boost employment, House GOP leaders are promising a competing jobs program — one that would repeal or weaken what they call job-killing regulations, especially on the environment.

Human Brain Responds To Animals, Cute Or Creepy

A part of the brain called the amygdala has cells specialized to detect animals, researchers have found. One reason we have these cells may be that some animals posed a threat to our ancestors. But researchers also found cells that respond specifically to cute animals like puppies or bunnies.

Can Turkey Impact Possible Transition In Syria?

The declaration by Turkey's president that Ankara has "lost all confidence" in the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad signals further isolation for the embattled regime in Damascus. International calls for stepped-up sanctions are growing, despite concerns about whether the regime or the Syrian public will suffer most. Analysts say despite Ankara's escalating rhetoric, Turkey remains in an important position to provide incentives for a political transition in Syria.

Amid Flooding, Vt. Kids Hike To School

Many families who live in Mendon, Vt., have been stranded because of road damage from the post-hurricane flooding. One place they can't get to is the local elementary school. But instead of staying home, about 20 kids from Mendon have been hiking over a mountain pass to get to a nearby road, where a group of parents then ferries them to school.

Syrian Official Quits, Cites Regime's Brutality

In an online video, the Syrian attorney general in the embattled city of Hama resigns and accuses the regime of killing hundreds of anti-government protesters. The statement is one of the most detailed accounts of the regime crackdown since the Syrian uprising began in March.

For Protesters, Keystone Pipeline Is Line In Tar Sand

The prospect of a giant oil pipeline running from Canada to Texas has activists up in arms. About 800 people have been arrested in ongoing protests at the White House. The Obama administration says it will decide by the end of the year whether to approve the 1,700-mile-long Keystone pipeline.

Some States Consider Scheduling Earlier Primaries

The line-jumping states are back again in the 2012 presidential cycle, eager to move their primaries into the limelight of January. That could mean Iowa and New Hampshire also move — into 2011. NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins Melissa Block to discuss the primary calendar.

After Irene, Water Pours Into Upstate New York Library

Melissa Block speaks with Marie-Anne Azar Ward, Wells Memorial Library board president, about the heavy flooding that damaged the 100-year old library in New York after Hurricane Irene.

Americans Emerge After Months In Gadhafi's Prisons

Several Americans were among the thousands of prisoners being held in Moammar Gadhafi's prisons. His downfall led to their release — though some have decided to stay in Tripoli for now.

World Leaders Meet To Discuss Libya's Future

World leaders met in Paris Thursday to discuss ways of helping Libya transition from decades of dictatorship and conflict to stability and democracy. The conference hosts were French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose countries took the lead in NATO operations against the forces of Moammar Gadhafi. In a message broadcast Thursday, Gadhafi called on his supporters to keep fighting, saying he will never give up.

LAPD Officer Puts A Muzzle On Illegal Animal Sales

Thousands of animals are sold illegally on the streets of Los Angeles every year — dogs, cats, lizards, rabbits and turtles. But the city passed a new ordinance to help police the problem. And one officer, nicknamed Dr. Dolittle, is helping enforce it.

Can Jon Huntsman Break Away From The Pack?

The Republican White House hopeful is campaigning this week in New Hampshire, a state that has a history of welcoming independent-minded candidates. Huntsman, who's polling at just 3 percent in the state, has a delicate task there: He's trying to set himself apart from the crowded field of GOP candidates — but not too far apart.

Afghanistan Future Uncertain As US Drawdown Looms

The first phase of withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan began in July, in preparation for a full transition of power to Afghan forces in 2014. While some welcome the beginning of the end of the war, others worry that hard-fought progress will be lost as troops leave.

Political Chat: Jobs Plan Scheduling Scuffle

President Obama recently asked for a joint session of Congress next Wednesday so he could discuss his jobs plan. House Speaker Boehner suggested next Thursday instead, and Obama agreed. Meanwhile, other GOP hopefuls are beginning to offer their own job plans. Host Michel Martin talks politics with author Michael Fauntroy and The Weekly Standard Opinions Editor Matthew Continetti.

Prioritizing Health Or Hair?

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin recently said many women, particularly those who spend lots of time and money on their hair, tend to skip much-needed exercise to maintain their locks. Some see this as a narrow topic and thus are confused about why she would focus on it. Host Michel Martin gets two perspectives from United Health Group's Dr. Reed Tuckson and The National Center for Public Policy Research's Jeff Stier.

Will Consumer Queasiness Drag Down The Economy?

In the past, consumers usually talked more about cutting back than they actually did, analysts say. However, the sluggish recovery has left Americans feeling financially insecure — and more reluctant to spend.

Rebels Tasked With Ensuring Libyans Security

Nearly all Libyans agree that security should be a top priority for the country's interim government. Some councilmen and rebel commanders say the first step to ensuring security will be to take away the light arms that both sides handed out en masse.

Pakistan's Biggest City Torn By Ethnic Violence

Karachi is a chaotic place where the government often seems to have limited control. This summer, the city has been plagued by killings that have both ethnic and political overtones.

Labor's Criticism Of Obama Grows Louder

The head of the AFL-CIO has called on President Obama to take bolder action on the economy. The president's speech next week on getting Americans back to work may be critical for determining the loyalty on Election Day of one of the strongest sources of money and organizing power for Democrats.

In Soda Revival, Fizzy Taste Bubbles Up From The Past

Mixologists at cutting-edge restaurants around the country are digging up old recipes from the soda fountains of the past. The renaissance in beverages made with mineral water and unique blends of sweet syrups and bitters reflects a shift away from industrial soft drinks.

Obama Changes Speech Date After Dust-Up With GOP

What should have been a simple matter of scheduling turned into a Washington political incident. At issue: When would President Obama give a policy speech about jobs? The president picked next Wednesday. The GOP told him Thursday would be better a choice.

Justice Department Toughens Stance On Abortion Protesters

The Obama Justice Department has been taking a more aggressive approach against people who block access to abortion clinics, using a 1994 law to bring cases in greater numbers than George W. Bush did. Some believe the stepped-up enforcement has put a damper on clinic violence.

Europe Pressured To Do More To Help Libya

European powers played a key role in helping Libyan rebels defeat Moammar Gadhafi through the NATO bombing campaign. But now EU policy makers face a huge test in helping Libya secure the peace with humanitarian aid, technical and logistical support.

A Push To Curb Auto Service Contract Scams

St. Louis-based US Fidelis sold more than 400,000 faulty contracts before it collapsed in 2009 amid fraud allegations. But Missouri's Better Business Bureau says it's still receiving hundreds of complaints about similar companies marketing auto service contracts.