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Each football season brings exciting plays and game heroes, but Frank Deford says the real heroes are often overlooked.

As another school year and college football season gets underway, Deford looks at the frustrations and challenges facing educators to keep student athletes eligible.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.

Corrections officials in Ohio say convicted Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro is believed to have committed suicide in his cell Tuesday night.

They say he was found hanged around 9:20 p.m. EDT at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, a short distance southwest of Columbus.

Castro was serving a life sentence for holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade.

With Republican House leaders lining up behind President Obama's planned U.S. military strike on Syria, the chances for congressional authorization seemed higher on Tuesday than they did over the weekend.

It's been a long time since the people who lived in rural Xuanping saw their little town, which was flooded by a powerful earthquake in 2008. But thanks to a steep drop in water levels, parts of their village in China's Sichuan Province are visible again, from homes and businesses to its school.

The village's ghostly return began in July, when water levels fell from 712 meters to 703 meters above sea level — a difference of nearly 30 feet, as news site China Daily Asia reported.

South Florida-based Spirit Airlines is known for being cheap. It boasts "ultralow" base fares and then charges for items such as carry-on luggage or printing out your boarding pass at the airport.

That thrift carries over to Spirit's advertising. Even compared with other low-cost airlines, Spirit spends almost nothing on ads. And yet the company makes a surprising splash with its campaigns. A visit to Spirit headquarters reveals the secrets of its marketing.

The revered Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, 72, announced this weekend at the Venice Film Festival that he's retiring from making full-length feature films. (He previously went into "semi-retirement" after directing Princess Mononoke in 1997.)

President Obama cleared one of the most important hurdles Tuesday in his effort to win support in Congress for taking action against Syria: Both of the top Republican House leaders — Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia — said they would support such a resolution.

Beginning next year, the Boy Scouts of America will allow openly gay youth to join as members. But the policy change doesn't go far enough for Democratic lawmakers in California. They're on the verge of passing a bill that would strip tax breaks for the Boy Scouts and any other group that discriminates against gay, lesbian or transgender members.

Known as the "Carpet Capital of the World," Dalton, Ga., has struggled and lost 17,000 manufacturing jobs over the past decade.

But now, Engineered Floors is investing $450 million in two new manufacturing facilities and a distribution center in the area. The Dalton expansion is part of a resurgence in manufacturing in Georgia and it reflects an optimistic outlook for manufacturing across the Southeast.

Something Different, Something New

Labor Day weekend marks the close of the official summer season on the Jersey Shore. But for some towns, it's like the summer never really began. Destruction from Hurricane Sandy last October kept tourists away. Some towns are still struggling to rebuild. Businesses that rely on seasonal visitors for much of their yearly take are wondering if they'll be around next year.

Could health insurance be the remedy for 200,000 deaths a year from heart attacks and strokes? It might be a big part of the cure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about one-quarter of the 800,000 deaths from those causes could be avoided, according to a report released Tuesday.

It's worth trying. "Nothing is more important than reducing heart disease and stroke," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a briefing for journalists.

From gross to gourmet. That pretty much sums up civet poop coffee.

The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal's digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.

Allegations that U.S. agents spied on Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto when he was a candidate during last year's campaign have led Mexico to summon U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne and demanded "a thorough investigation."

The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says if his inspectors find that chemical weapons were used in Syria, it would represent a "serious violation of international law and an outrageous war crime."

"Our common humanity compels us to ensure that chemical weapons do not become a tool of war or terror in the 21st century," Ban said before departing for a G-20 meeting in Russia. "Any perpetrators must be brought to justice. There should be no impunity."

Would there be a troll under the new Bay Bridge that links San Francisco and Oakland?

That seemingly silly question was being taken pretty seriously by some in California until Monday evening, when the official Twitter page of the San Francisco-Bay Bridge put out the word that, yes, there will be a little fellow under the new span. He'll be there to "protect" travelers.

Houndmouth On World Cafe

Sep 3, 2013

Houndmouth is a rootsy rock band from New Albany, Ind., right across the river from Louisville. In an age of loops, samples and all things digital, Houndmouth is a refreshingly straightforward rock band with guitars, B-3 and all members singing in harmony.

The group recently released its debut album, From the Hills Below the City. Hear Houndmouth perform four of its songs on this installment of World Cafe.

Two alligators, each weighing more than 720 pounds, were caught in Mississippi this past weekend, setting a new state record for heaviest male alligator. Both animals measured more than 13 feet in length; it took hours to get the trophies into the hunters' boats.

The huge reptiles were brought down on the same day, setting a state record that stood for less than two hours before it was broken again.

"I am going to withdraw from the world," says a snail in Hans Christian Andersen's tale The Snail and the Rosebush. "Nothing that happens there is any concern of mine."

It didn't take long for people to figure out that Facebook could be a great place to connect with other people dealing with the same health problems. But public health officials have moved cautiously, lest their efforts backfire. Do you really want to "like" STDs?

But there is now evidence the social media approach can help, even when the health condition is sensitive. Facebook can play a role in persuading people at high risk of HIV/AIDS to use a home HIV test kit, a study finds.

On this week's episode of All Songs Considered, ­co-hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton jump into fall by playing songs from big upcoming releases by Paul McCartney, Moby and Tim Hecker.

At some point in the coming weeks, users of Apple iPhones and iPads will wake up to an alert that there is a new version of the company's mobile operating system, known as iOS, for them to install.

If users follow historical patterns, within a few days of the launch of iOS 7, almost all of them will install the updated software and, just like that, more than 500 million phones and tablets will be made new. Never before has a technology industry launch come close to matching the scale and speed of this switch.

If you eat fish on a regular basis, chances are some of it is coming from Thailand. The Asian country is the world's No. 3 exporter of seafood (after China and Norway), and the U.S. is its top destination.

The Thai fishing industry has grown dramatically, and it is now coming under increased scrutiny. A new report details "deceptive and coercive labor practices, and even forced labor and human trafficking within" the Thai fishing sector.

A skyscraper under construction "melted my Jag," reads the headline from London's City A.M.

"Beam of light from Walkie Talkie skyscraper 'melts man's Jaguar,' " says London's Metro.



President Obama's call for Congress to give him the go-ahead to strike targets in Syria has put House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the same side of an important issue for one of the few times in recent years.

Calling Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons "a barbarous act," Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House to say he supports Obama's request.

Diana Nyad: Dream Accomplished

Sep 3, 2013



Finally, we want to end today's program on an inspiring note. We want to talk about Diana Nyad. The 64-year-old recently became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. That's a distance of 110 miles. This was Nyad's fifth try at completing the swim, and you might remember we spoke with her in July 2010, just before her second try, and she told us what got her thinking about it.


The Space Fence is down. That's the message we get from the SatWatch site, following up on our report last month that the U.S. Air Force was poised to shut down the radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth. It had been in operation since 1961.

Washington Group Aiding Syrian Opposition

Sep 3, 2013

While President Obama is trying to convince members of Congress that action is needed in Syria, one Washington-based group is already aiding opposition forces. Host Michel Martin talks with Dan Layman of the Syrian Opposition Group about their efforts to fund the Free Syrian Army.

If the volume of reader email is any indication, people are finally thinking hard about how the health care overhaul will affect them.

Online health insurance marketplaces will open in less than a month. Some people who get insurance through employers want to know if it's OK to buy a plan on an exchange instead. The answer is yes, but the purchasers may not qualify for subsidies.

At 60, New York City-based composer John Zorn is wiser, sure, but no less prolific, thoughtful and antagonistic than before. His oeuvre is fantastically wide, from cutthroat jazz improvisation and pummeling noise-rock to gorgeous chamber music and, believe it or not, a genuine Christmas album.