This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. In a strange way, Barack Obama and Bashar al-Assad find themselves in the same dilemma today: initiate military action that both would prefer to avoid or look weak, even hypocritical. The American president faces a chorus of criticism after he decided to wait for more proof that Syria's government has crossed his red line on chemical weapons, while Syria's president must now decide whether to respond to Israeli airstrikes on his capital or leave his supporters to wonder why not.
Legend has it that the rainforest of Mosquitia hid La Ciudad Blanca, the White City. For centuries, explorers tried to find the fabled city in the jungle of Nicaragua and Honduras. Protected by white water, coral snakes, stinging plants and brutal topography, the White City remained an archeologist dream. But with a new application of recent technology, a documentary filmmaker, not an archeologist, found the White City.
Gail Godwin says one of the inspirations for her new novel, called Flora, is Henry James' ghost story The Turn of the Screw. Both stories take place in isolated old houses, and both revolve around mental contests between a governess character and her young charge. There are ghosts in Flora, too: specters that arise out of what our narrator calls her "remorse." Godwin had me at that word, "remorse": It's such a great, old-fashioned word, and it suggests that there'll be a lot of awful things going on in this novel that will need to be atoned for.
"Pink Champagne," a song on Caitlin Rose's second album The Stand-In, presents Rose's voice in its sparest purity and veiled shrewdness. She sends her voice skyward, the notes as buoyant and light as the bubbles of the pink champagne she's singing about. Her high trills could, with only a slight shift in tone and attitude, become self-conscious with a Betty Boop coyness, as they do once or twice on The Stand-In. But most of the time, Rose keeps her music grounded in the details of yearning, heartache and a welcome sense of gratefulness and enthused energy.