Last week in the country of Qatar, a poet was sentenced to life in prison. That was the punishment for writing verse that the country's ruler found insulting. The poet's name is Mohammed Ajami, and his poem skewered governments across the region. At one point, it declared: We are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite.
Well, commentator Andrei Codrescu says this case shows a brazen bit of hypocrisy.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour in Syria, with some tragic news from the fighting and word of a possible defection. First, at least 13 children were killed when a mortar round hit a school today. There are differing reports of who was responsible for the explosion and NPR's Kelly McEvers is reporting on this for us from Beirut.
And Kelly, to start, what have you learned about this explosion at the school?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
The African nation of Mali is one of the many pressing topics facing the U.N. Security Council this month. After a coup in Mali back in March, an al-Qaida affiliate seized control of the northern part of the country, and the terrorist threat there is growing. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, U.S. officials aren't the only ones raising alarms.
More now on those warnings to President Assad that Kelly mentioned about chemical weapons. Here's President Obama speaking yesterday.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command, the world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.
The Republican plan to avert the "fiscal cliff" that the White House rejected Monday includes at least one element that's likely to produce controversy: a proposal that would, among other things, affect the cost of living adjustment for Social Security.
Time now for some home-viewing advice from our movie critic, Bob Mondello. This week, a 50th-anniversary Blu-ray release of the ultimate sand-and-sandals picture: Lawrence of Arabia.
Sand dunes for days, armies astride camels, and 29-year-old newcomer Peter O'Toole as British Army Lt. T.E. Lawrence, leading Bedouin warriors on a charge that would shake the Ottoman empire and shake up moviemaking for decades.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Audie Cornish. American Airlines has been in bankruptcy for more than a year and looks like it will be there a while longer. The airline has asked a judge in New York for yet another extension to file its restructuring plan. Executives are hoping American can remain a standalone carrier. The company's unions, on the other hand, say they've had it and they want the company to merge with U.S. Airways.
Sometimes, you don't have to go far to find a story. For the past few months, just stepping outside NPR's Kabul office has been a drama.
The neighborhood is in the midst of a major road and sewer renovation project. It's just one of many such projects that is badly needed in Kabul and elsewhere in the country.
But as is often the case, the pace and quality of the work has been uneven. And residents aren't so sure whether the final product will be worth the months of gridlock, power outages and business interruption.
North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, fueled by a booming oil economy. In fact, it's been so hard to find workers in Minot, North Dakota, in the north central part of the state, that one big box store is flying them in from Wisconsin. Dan Feldner of the Minot Daily News joins me to talk about it. And Dan, we're talking about the home improvement retailer Menards. The headquarters is in Au Claire, Wisconsin.