Syrian army defectors wave the Syrian revolution flag Thursday, shortly after they defected to join the anti-regime protesters.
Credit Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters/Landov
A woman throws rice as a Syrian soldier carries the coffin of a comrade during a funeral at the military hospital in Homs, Syria, this week. The soldiers were killed by gunmen, a Syrian government official said.
One thing that's certain about the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad is that there is nothing romantic about it.
Unlike Egypt, there's no Tahrir Square filled with hundreds of thousands of people calling for democracy. Unlike Libya, there's no Mad Max warriors in the desert fighting a dictator with guns they've welded to the backs of their pickup trucks.
Instead, grim news seeps out piecemeal from unofficial sources. Most of the reports are little more than body counts, with most of the fatalities blamed on the Syrian security forces.
Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 2:18 pm
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the the Pentagon will propose a $33 billion cut in the military's budget, for the 2013 fiscal year.
The AP reports that will be achieved by reducing ground forces by 100,000 and by eliminating older aircraft.
The AP reports:
"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta tells a Pentagon news conference the administration will request a 2013 budget of $525 billion, plus another $88 billion for operations in Afghanistan. Combined, those totals are about $33 billion less than the Pentagon is spending this year.
It's official: Gardeners and farmers can count on warmer weather. If that's you, it might be a good time to rethink those flower and vegetable beds for this year's growing season.
That's the word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which released a new version of its "Plant Hardiness Zone Map" this week, the first update since 1990. The color-coded zones on this map of the United States are widely used as a guide for what perennial flowers will survive in a particular area, or when to plant your vegetables.
Best-selling author Walter Mosley's book All I Did Was Shoot My Man tells the story of a woman trying to get her life back on track after serving an eight-year prison sentence. Leonid McGill, a private investigator, knows she is innocent and tries to help her start over.
Couples planning their weddings are forced to make scores of difficult decisions — matching the guest list to the budget, and juggling their own values and the expectations of family and friends. Wedding-planning books and blogs can add more pressure than guidance — they make newly engaged couples feel like their weddings must be showstoppers, never mind the bad economy.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden in Washington, sitting in for Neal Conan. In Nigeria, long-held tensions between Christians and Muslims are flaring again. An Islamist sect called Boko Haram, suspected of having links to al-Qaeda, killed at least 185 people in the past week with coordinated bombings in the northern city of Kano.
As baby boomers age and young people struggle to find work, more families than ever before are choosing to pool resources by moving in together. The economic downturn accelerated this already growing national trend toward multiple generations living under the same roof.
Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 12:38 pm
It was so clear for a moment: Mitt Romney was in the lead in the presidential nomination race. Newt Gingrich was a distant second. Rick Santorum — the youthful candidate — was appealing to the socially conservative voters. And Ron Paul was hanging on.
More than 4.2 million Latinos live in the Sunshine State, and that population is in the spotlight as Republican presidential candidates battle to win Florida's upcoming primary. Host Michel Martin discusses this crucial voting bloc with Gary Segura of Latino Decisions, and the Associated Press's Hispanic Affairs reporter Laura Wides-Munoz.
Chinese New Year celebrations kicked off earlier this week to herald the Year of the Dragon. Like many Americans raising children adopted from China, David Youtz and his wife like to use the holiday to instill in their children the importance of their ethnic heritage.
"We want them to feel a lot of pride in where they came from," Youtz says. "I think that's especially important when you're an adopted person."
The Mandarin speaker is the father of four Chinese daughters, three of whom are 7-year-old triplets.
President Obama has called on small, elite military units to carry out several risky operations in the past year, like the hostage rescue this week in Somalia. Here, Navy SEALs are shown during a training exercise at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Credit Pete Souza / AP
With first lady Michelle Obama looking on, President Obama speaks Tuesday with the father of Jessica Buchanan. She is the American aid worker who was rescued from Somali pirates after being held for three months.
Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 1:51 pm
President Obama has authorized several risky military missions in the past year and can claim major successes: the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan; the airstrike that killed terrorism suspect Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen; and the ongoing drone strikes in Pakistan.
The latest operation, a hostage rescue in Somalia carried out by Navy SEALs, is part of a pattern established by a commander in chief who has shown a clear preference for limited, small-scale military action.
In 1974, trumpeter Jimmy Owens helped prepare and played on a Carnegie Hall concert of Thelonious Monk's music. On the night in question, the orchestra featured a surprise soloist: Monk himself. It was one of the pianist's last public performances.
Money Well Spent?: The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History
Credit Lars Klove / PublicAffairs
As an investigative journalist for ProPublica, Michael Grabell has reported on the Lance Armstrong doping allegations, the Federal Air Marshal Service and the Transportation Security Administration's controversial body scanners.
No issue will be more important in the upcoming presidential election than President Obama's handling of the nation's economy. Critical to that debate is an assessment of the Obama administration's economic stimulus program. Republicans claim it was a costly failure. Supporters maintain it saved the U.S. from a depression.
Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 10:30 am
A Texas man whose conviction for sexually assaulting a 6-month-old girl raised questions about the science behind determining how children die has won a key legal battle. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday threw out the conviction of Ernie Lopez, ruling that the Amarillo man's original attorneys failed him by not calling potentially important medical experts as witnesses.
Now the Amarillo district attorney must decide whether to retry Lopez, who has been in prison for nine years. Lopez is serving a 60-year sentence.
As Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close has hair that's cropped and orangey, and a voice that rarely rises above a nasal croak. She lives and works as a waiter in a high-toned hotel, where she stands with lips pressed together, tight yet tremulous, her searching eyes her only naturally moving parts. She resembles no man I've seen, but no woman, either. She's the personification of fear — fear of being discovered to be a woman. Because hers is a society that treats all poor people badly, but poor women worse.
2011 was the worst year on record for sales of new homes. The dismal year was capped by a drop in home sales in December.
The AP reports:
"The Commerce Department said Thursday new-home sales fell last month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 307,000. The pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold in a healthy economy.
"About 302,000 homes were sold last year. That's less than the 323,000 sold in 2010, making 2011 the worst year on records dating back to 1963.
The new food safety recall for salt really got our attention. How could salt be contaminated with salmonella?
If your blog's named The Salt, you've just got to find out. So we dug into the story, and found that it's a collision of two distressing trends: contamination of herbs and spices, and safety issues with organic products.
Over the past week, 21,000 more Americans claimed unemployment benefits, the Labor Department reports. Like most economic news, that's the bad news. The good news, reports the AP, is the that the four-week average is down 2,500, which "still signals a healthier job market."
The Commerce Department also has some good news on the economy: Orders for durable goods rose 3 percent, last month.
The AP reports that this marks a gain for the second straight month. The AP adds:
As the Republican presidential hopefuls head into their final televised confrontation Thursday night at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville (at 8 p.m. ET on CNN), NPR's Ari Shapiro reports that the debate could sway the outcome of the close race.
Usually, there is lots of formality and protocol when a president steps off Airforce One and walks onto a tarmac. But, yesterday, when President Obama landed at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, he was greeted by Gov. Jan Brewer and very quickly the welcome turned into a serious and tense discussion.
Standard issue military eyeglasses are considered so unflattering, service members have an acronym for them: BCGs or Birth Control Glasses. For the first time in more than 20 years, the military is updating its look. Instead of those thick brown plastic frames, recruits can get sleeker black plastic specs.
Fans of Uggie in the silent movie The Artist were outraged when the dog didn't get an Oscar nomination. Now Uggie's owner tells a magazine that movie was the Jack Russell terrier's last. He's retiring the 10-year-old animal. Uggie wants to relax.
Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 7:23 am
President Obama will flesh out the energy goals he laid out during his State of the Union address today. He'll start talking about natural gas in a UPS Facility in Nevada and continue on to the Buckley Air Force base in Aurora, Colo., where the Air Force is installing a one-megawatt solar array.
Reuters reports that in Las Vegas, Obama will propose a tax credit that helps offset the upfront costs of buying natural gas trucks.