April 2nd: What's On Today's Show

In our second hour, author David Crystal talks about his new book and the challenge to come up with one hundred words that best tell the history of the English language.

hide captionIn our second hour, author David Crystal talks about his new book and the challenge to come up with one hundred words that best tell the history of the English language.

Syria
The violence between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's troops and the opposition has entered its second year and persists as a major humanitarian issue for international human rights organizations. Both the Arab League and the "Friends of Syria" held summits to focus on the question of how to best deal with the continued violence in Syria, which the UN estimates has claimed more than 9,000 lives to date. President Assad agreed to a UN peace plan that called for a cease fire between opposition and Syrian forces, but many analysts remain skeptical of whether or not his regime will honor the agreement. Some analysts wonder if there's still time to engage in peaceful negotiations with the Syrian government, while others call for armed intervention in the region. Host Neal Conan speaks with Middle East analyst Steve Heydemann, who believes it's not too late for diplomacy in Syria, and professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, who advocates for armed intervention in the region. He also speaks with former State Department official Aaron David Miller, who believes the UN peace plan will do more harm than good.

Opinion Page
Trayvon Martin's death was especially troubling for author Donna Britt. Britt's 26-year-old brother was killed by Gary, Indiana police officers decades ago, and the unusual circumstances of his death continue to haunt her. Did the two white police officers shoot her brother, Darrell, because he was black? Why was he wearing a cooking pot on his head? Did the police doctor the crime scene? On this week's Opinion Page, host Neal Conan speaks with Britt about her Washington Post piece, "In Trayvon Martin's Death, Echoes of My Brother's Shooting," and coming to terms with the way Darrell died.

The Story of English in 100 Words
Linguist David Crystal believes every word has a story to tell, even the ones as commonplace as "and." For example, there's a "b" in the word "debt" although we never pronounce it. Many of us were taught to answer the phone with a "hello." And the fictional word "muggle" has somehow worked its way into everyday conversation. In a new book, Crystal takes on the challenge of compiling a list of words he thinks best tell the way the English language developed. Neal Conan talks with Crystal about his new book, The Story of English in 100 Words.

Kelly Thomas Moment
After punching through windows of a school and an office building during a psychotic break 17 years ago, Carmelo Valone found himself chained to a hospital bed, bloody, scared and confused after a run-in with Boston Police. When Kelly Thomas, a homeless, schizophrenic man, was brutally beaten to death by police in California in 2011, it reminded Valone of his own encounter with the police, and the particular vulnerability of the mentally ill in such encounters. Host Neal Conan talks with Valone about the experience of dealing with police when you're mentally ill.

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