This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. At the beginning of this week, as we absorb news of Israeli air strikes outside Damascus and questions about nerve gas and red lines, there was a report that a Shiite shrine near the Syrian capital had been ransacked by Sunni extremists and the body of a Shia holy man exhumed and hidden away.
Randy Newman never considered himself a rock star. He's had his hits like, "I Love LA" and "Short People," but may be better known for his work in TV show themes and film scores. His unmistakable voice has graced the soundtracks of dozens of films, including the Toy Story films, A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc.
When the singer and composer got a call saying he'd be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was shocked. He told Rolling Stone, "I really thought maybe I'd have to die first."
The federal government launched a database Wednesday that shows how much hospitals charge for the 100 most common procedures. The data reveals extreme variances in hospital billing. One hospital in Dallas, Texas charges $38,000 for treating pneumonia, while another charges over $14,000.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The recession and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico hit New Orleans hard, and that was after Katrina. The population has yet to return to pre-hurricane levels. Some houses lie empty, some properties abandoned, and the city continues to suffer from crime and unemployment.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. All of us prefer to be told the truth - at least we say we do - even when the diagnosis is terminal. And doctors believe they have an obligation to deliver bad news except that often they don't. In a survey of nearly 2,000 physicians by the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital, a majority said they believe they should never lie to a patient, and yet more than half delivered a rosier prognosis than warranted, and 10 percent outright lied.
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.