This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
It was a stunner today for pundits on the Potomac. President Obama announced in the Rose Garden that while he has the authority to unilaterally attack Syria for its use of chemical weapons, he won't use it. Only 24 hours after Secretary of State John Kerry made the case for military action, the president made the case for congressional approval.
As a journalist and essayist, Bob Shacochis has covered conflict in the Balkans and Haiti, the abuse of American power overseas, spycraft, and the sexual politics that divide men and women. He is also a novelist and the winner of a National Book Award. His new novel, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, was a long time coming, but critics are saying it was well worth the wait.
The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is a 700-page work that spans continents and generations. It's been compared to the work of Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene and Norman Mailer.
Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink have the news of the weird covered: they're the creative masterminds behind the popular sci-fi podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Though only a year old, the spooky Night Vale — which channels David Lynch, Orson Welles and H.P. Lovecraft in its descriptions of a small, weird desert town — has rocketed up the iTunes ratings list to claim the number one most downloaded spot.
The U.S. will not be acting alone if and when it launches military strikes against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. French President Francois Hollande spoke with President Obama today. France and the U.S. will act together after congressional discussions.
As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, this Franco-American alliance is a complete turnabout from the lead up to the war in Iraq 10 years ago.
If you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
The chemical weapons attack in Syria on August the 21st was the first time in a quarter century that such weapons had been used against civilians during a conflict. In 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War, the Iraqi city of Halabja was subjected to a gas attack by Saddam Hussein. At least 5,000 people died.
A transcript of President Obama's remarks on possible U.S. military action in Syria, as released by the White House:
Good afternoon, everybody. Ten days ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in Syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. Yesterday the United States presented a powerful case that the Syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people.
President Obama said Saturday he had decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons, but that he will seek a congressional authorization for the action that could come "tomorrow, or next week or one month from now."
Speaking from the Rose Garden, the president said he believed that he had the authority to act without Congress, but said, "I know the country will be stronger if we take this course."