August 11, 2006 This just in: We got a press release, “First Homeopathic Ice Cream for Dogs Promotes Wellness with Holistic Mix-Ins.” The makers of Frostbite Doggie Ice Cream,” in Framingham, Mass., say that they now have five, count ‘em, five refrigerated trucks that ferry their secret doggie desert recipes throughout dog-loving neighborhoods in Massachusetts, Beverly Hills and Philadelphia
August 11, 2006 The main information so far about the alleged terrorist plot is coming from government sources. But NPR's folks are digging for details behind the briefings. Now that we have names and photos of the suspects, we're scouring their neighborhoods and talking to neighbors for clues. Who are these young men and women? How close had they actually come to trying to blow up almost a dozen airplanes? And, if you're heading for an airport this weekend, should you camp out in the terminal the night before, with a sleeping bag? OK, that's an exaggeration. But should you expect nightmarish lines at the baggage counters and security?
August 11, 2006 Good morning. The more we hear, the worse it sounds. Ten airplanes, at least. Days from doing it. A sophisticated, international conspiracy. Plotters perhaps at large, perhaps in Pakistan. Not many details yet, and no way to verify, but this is what officials are telling us. Meanwhile, remember all the worry about potential threats to trains? So answer a couple questions for me: How come nobody on Amtrak's busiest line, from Washington to New York, has ever -- ever -- asked me or my loved ones to show an ID during our dozens and dozens of trips? Amtrak's Web site says, "We regularly conduct random ticket verification checks" as part of their security policy. My Web dictionary defines "random" as "Having no specific pattern, purpose or objective." Hmm. And has anyone on Amtrak ever inspected even one piece of your luggage?
August 10, 2006 The plotters were planning to blow as many as 10 airplanes out of the sky. That's what U.S. and British officials are saying. And they add that the alleged terrorists were getting ready to rehearse their attacks, in a "dry run." Rob Gifford's digging for more details in London, Pam Fessler's tracking down sources here at home and Ina Jaffe has been caught in the crush of delayed passengers at LAX. Now: if you were senior producer at All Things Considered, how would you segue from a package about this alleged plot to murder thousands of people, to a story about an art exhibition of… cadavers? Answer: Boldly. No tiptoeing around it. Everybody we know who's seen the Body Worlds show, which is traveling around the country, comes away in awe. Human bodies unpeeled, sliced open, nerves and muscles and bones transformed into colorful plastic. People say there's something inspiring and beautiful about it; my sister Judy, who used to get frightened during Peter Pan, says the cadaver exhibition is one of the most astonishing and important shows she's ever seen. And as Neda Ulaby tells you this evening, she was blown away, too. But not by the inventive if grisly beauty: Neda has uncovered evidence that raises disturbing ethical questions about how, and where, the doctor who created the show gets the bodies. She left the exhibition so shaken that she, a long time carnivore, went vegetarian for a month. But she admits she's lapsed
August 10, 2006 Remember the war in Iraq? Bizarre, isn't it, how we media folks suddenly shove The Big Story aside when another crisis bursts on our collective consciousness. My edition of today's Washington Post didn't even mention Iraq until Page A-10 -– and they put out the paper before we'd even heard about the alleged U.K. terrorist plot. Maybe the media and the public are unable to multitask. Or maybe we get numbed and bored after hearing the same troubling kind of news day after day, month after month. And sadly, year after year. True, Geneva Overholser says the media are going great places these days (link to previous post), but that doesn't mean we're always perfect. Obviously, the war in Iraq hasn't gone away. Here's an AP report today: "NAJAF, Iraq -- A suicide bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded more than 120 on Thursday near one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites, the Imam Ali shrine in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf." And the showdown with Iran hasn't gone away, either. Some media have just put it on a back burner. Although Tom Bowman hasn't -- he's roaming around the Pentagon as I write this, examining, what do U.S. leaders really plan to do to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power? Before Tom joined us earlier this year to cover the Pentagon, he had already spent nine years roaming its hallways for The Baltimore Sun. We mean literally roaming around its hallways. So he'd already stumbled on one of the strangest secrets of covering America's mightiest and deadliest institution: reporters who use their feet can get amazing access to people in power.
August 10, 2006 One news junkie who's been around says mergers in old and new media are reinvigorating the profession -- and audiences. America's media machine raced into high gear today, as soon as British officials announced that they had broken up an alleged terrorist plot. Breaking news, speculating on the news, debating the news, dissecting the news. Crisis and tragedy inspire the best -- and worst -- in American journalism. And from what one of our esteemed colleagues tells us, we can feel optimistic that the nation's media will generally do a good job with this story.
August 10, 2006 Security specialists have been fretting since the 1980s about precisely the kind of plot that British and U.S. officials seem to be talking about today -- and you'll hear more details as soon we hear them, on all NPR's shows. Here's one possible version of the plot: An airliner takes off. A terrorist on board strolls to the lavatory with his or her carry-on toiletry bag. They take out a harmless-looking bottle of liquid, hook it up to a few other ordinary gizmos in their pockets -- and boom, a fiery explosion, and the plane plunges out of the sky. That's just about what investigators think really happened on a Korean airliner in 1987, after it took off from Bahrain. In that case, they think the terrorists disguised the explosive liquid as a bottle of duty-free wine. Then in 1995, Ramzi Yousef used similar techniques and almost blew up a Philippine airliner over the Pacific. The bomb went off and killed a passenger -- Ramzi had hidden the liquid explosive in a contact lens case, and he wore the timer on his wrist in a Casio watch. But amazingly, the plane stayed intact and the pilots managed to land it. Incidentally, Ramzi was just doing a little test: He was planning to blow up a dozen airliners at the same time.
August 10, 2006 This shaggy dog story is strange but true Researchers from around the world have gathered this week in the charming Anglo-Saxon town of Bristol, England, partly to ponder a profound and difficult issue: Does the food industry truly need to raise chickens and hogs and other animals in such horrendous, cruel conditions? As long as we insist on eating meat, aren't there more humane ways to produce it?
August 10, 2006 Good morning. Although I guess it depends on how you look at it. We're rattled, vulnerable, jangled as we hear law enforcement folks tell us that they've uncovered a terrorist plot to blow airliners out of the sky. People had been making fun of the infamous color chart; this morning, Code Red doesn't seem funny. At the same time, we're encouraged, reassured, we're... impressed, yes, that public servants are truly protecting us. Assuming that the sparse details we're hearing so far are accurate. We'll be learning more on all our shows today. Meanwhile, we have another breaking development this morning -- not as grave, but with its own cosmic implications.
August 9, 2006 When that familiar theme floats out of the radio, as it just did, it feels like a clock tower tolling the hour, familiar and reassuring. All's right with the world and All Things Considered is on the air. Sadly, of course, all is not right with the world. Israel's security cabinet decided to invade deeper into Lebanon. Hezbollah's leader said his troops would turn the area that Israel tries to seize "into a graveyard for the occupying Zionists." Back in the U.S., in Michigan, both Arabs and Jews have been hearing events unfold in the Middle East with a terrifying sense of deja vu. As I hope you heard yesterday, Guy Raz explained why some Muslims are so frightened. This evening, he introduces us to an 82-year-old Jew named Michael Weiss, who survived both Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II. Weiss says people have asked him over the years if another Holocaust could happen. And Weiss says, "I don't think so. But what's happening in the last month when you see a president of a state, Iran, say openly that the state of Israel should be wiped off the map?" Weis asks. "Hitler wanted to do the same thing."
August 9, 2006 The Museum of Sex in New York City unveiled its latest acquisition today: a bust of Hillary Clinton, cast in resin. The Museum of Sex really and truly exists. On Fifth Avenue, in New York City. It's serious. When a former software magnate opened the museum four years ago, yours truly covered it (meaning NPR, not me personally). According to the museum's press release: "Artist Daniel Edwards describes this new sculpture as capturing Clinton 'with her head held high, a youthful spirit and a face matured by wisdom. Presented in a low cut gown, her cleavage is on display prominently portraying sexual power which some people still consider too threatening...'"
August 9, 2006 Reviewers at the New York Times and Newsweek hailed it. So did Gene Shalit at Today. Our reviewer, Ken Turan, dissed it. As you must have heard by now, there are no neutral reactions to Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, which debuts nationally today. And you'll hear more opinions this afternoon on Talk of the Nation. One of the best-known "9/11 widows," Lorie Van Auken, tells me that she went to see a comedy recently. She settled into her seat, waiting to laugh -- and then the trailer for Stone's movie exploded across the screen. "And I see people trapped under the rubble and I start crying and running hysterically out of the theater," Lorie says. Her husband, Kenneth, worked on top of the North Tower, in the investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Lorie and other family survivors played a key role in pressuring Congress and the federal commission to investigate Sept. 11. "I am not going to see the movie," she says. "I've spent five years imagining a million different ways of how my husband was trapped and died, and I've seen a lot of them in my nightmares. I can't handle going to a theater and watching them." Lorie says she doesn't begrudge Stone for making the film, but says "If I had made it, I would have made it a lot more political and investigative. There are still so many questions about Sept. 11 that the government has never answered." Now, if you do see the movie, I don't want to distract you from the wrenching re-enactment in any way. But you have to keep an ear out for one of our colleagues: NPR's very own Alex Chadwick. Yes, Alex's vocal chords (but not his mug) play a role in this acclaimed drama.
August 9, 2006 Reviewers at the New York Times and Newsweek hailed it. So did Gene Shalit at Today. Our reviewer, Ken Turan, dissed it. As you must have heard by now, there are no neutral reactions to Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, which debuts nationally today. And you'll hear more opinions this afternoon on Talk of the Nation. One of the best-known "9/11 widows," Lorie Van Auken, tells me that she went to see a comedy recently. She settled into her seat, waiting to laugh -- and then the trailer for Stone's movie exploded across the screen. "And I see people trapped under the rubble and I start crying and running hysterically out of the theater," Lorie says. Her husband, Kenneth, worked on top of the North Tower, in the investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Lorie and other family survivors played a key role in pressuring Congress and the federal commission to investigate Sept. 11. "I am not going to see the movie," she says. "I've spent five years imagining a million different ways of how my husband was trapped and died, and I've seen a lot of them in my nightmares. I can't handle going to a theater and watching them..."
August 9, 2006 Our brethren -- and, well, is there a counterpart for sisters? -- at the BBC share this ditty. It turns out that tens of thousands of summer revelers who've been dumb enough to think that they should still be allowed to have fun swimming in the Mediterranean have got their come-uppance this season. They got stung by giant swarms of jellyfish, which came jiggling closer than usual to shore because the shallow water's been unusually warm. A researcher at the Institute of Marine Science in Barcelona told the BBC that global warming could make the jellyfish invasion worse. And he said that over-fishing -- another one of those awful dilemmas that makes a lot of people yawn -- might be exacerbating the problem by killing off predators that would normally turn the jellyfish into a meal.
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