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Syria's president has vowed to crush the rebels by any means; his air force has not spared the towns and villages that support rebel brigades. In August, the death toll often topped 250 a day, according to Syrian activists. The fighting between troops loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebel forces has also sparked a refugee crisis for Syria's neighbors as thousands flee to the borders.

Although discussion of foreign policy was in scant evidence at the Republican National Convention, one country did loom large in the lineup: Israel.

Republican delegates in Tampa, Fla., were treated this week to images of Mitt Romney's recent visit to Israel. With stirring music and pictures of Jerusalem's iconic sites, the message of the Romney campaign is that the Republican candidate is a better friend to Israel than President Obama is.

It's been the political world's obsession for weeks leading into the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Would nominee Mitt Romney manage what would be miraculous for any candidate, and in a handful of days and one big speech wash away the problems of a modern candidacy?

Turns out Romney's moment Thursday night was a fine one, if not a great one.

His speech continued the campaign's concerted effort to reach out to skeptical female voters, reminding the audience that his strong mother ran for Senate.

If you missed some of Thursday's action at the Republican National Convention, when Mitt Romney accepted his party's presidential nomination, we were live blogging here and you can always read through it to see how the day and evening went.

But if you'd like to save some time, here are five things that struck us (skip to the end if you only want to read about Clint Eastwood):

Family Roots Matter, If You're A GOP Convention Speaker

Aug 30, 2012

If Republicans really do have a problem with the issue of immigration — as even former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush intimated on Thursday — you wouldn't know it from the litany of GOP convention speakers who have made a point of stressing their country of origin.

Mitt Romney accepted the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nomination tonight and told the nation that if he's elected he will end the four years of "disappointment and division" brought upon America by President Obama.

"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," Romney said. "But his promises gave way to disappointment and division. This isn't something we have to accept. Now is the moment when we can do something. With your help we will do something."

Mitt Romney will tell Americans tonight that he understands why they voted for "hope and change" four years ago, but that President Obama has not delivered and that "my country deserves better."

"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed," he will say after accepting the Republican Party's presidential nomination, according to excerpts of his address released by the candidate's campaign.

The trial of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of passing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website, has been scheduled to begin in early February. That news came on the last of three days of pretrial hearings held in Fort Meade, Md., this week.

Garden Of Youth In Moab, Utah

Aug 30, 2012

The mission of the Youth Garden Project in Moab is to cultivate healthy children, families and communities through educational programs and the profound act of connecting people — from seed to table.

The project works to fulfill this mission by organizing the local Farmers' Market, providing a CSA program, inviting the community to Weed N Feeds, hosting fundraisers like Garden Dinners and organizing large community events like Pumpkin Chuckin'.

End Of The 'Tell President Obama' Ads?

Aug 30, 2012

"Tell President Obama ... "

Remember that command from TV ads through the spring and summer? "Tell President Obama" to stop spending, cut the debt, increase oil production, or whatever.

Farmers markets are popping up in cities all across the country, and people expect lots of different things from them: Better food, of course, but also economic development and even friendlier neighborhoods.

At its core, though, the farmers market is a business, and it won't survive unless the farmer makes money.

So what's the key to success for these markets?

You may remember the story from South Africa earlier this month in which police opened fire on a group of striking miners, killing more than 30 people. There's an update to that story: South African authorities charged about 270 miners Thursday with the murder of their colleagues under a law that was commonly used during the apartheid era.

In Tampa, "Republican Party" can take on a whole new meaning as it gets later in the convention day. That's when delegates, lobbyists, business executives and others begin to mingle, filling up the city's nightspots.

NPR producer Brakkton Booker and I began Tuesday night with a trip to 7th Street in Ybor City, the Tampa neighborhood made famous for its cigar factories of the past. Now it's a mix of restaurants, bars and trendy shops similar to New Orleans' Bourbon Street.

For every farmer who is hurting this year during the drought, others are benefiting. Many fields in the South, Northwest and Upper Midwest are producing bountiful corn crops. And because the drought has pushed prices to record highs, farmers who have corn to sell expect a terrific payday.

"The corn has actually really, really taken off all the way through season. It's grown fast. It's been accelerated. The corn looks really good now," says John Scott, whose family farm in Sargeant, Minn., is just bursting with corn.

Chances are you have a bunch of gizmos at home that contain button batteries, those sleek coin-size power sources that pack an electronic punch.

Batteries like these can keep your TV remote or a child's toy up and running for months. And with more gizmos, there are more of these batteries kicking around.

The ready supply of batteries poses a safety risk, it turns out.

The Justice Department has closed an investigation into the deaths of two detainees in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan without bringing any criminal charges.

Attorney General Eric Holder said prosecutors had declined to proceed "because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt."

This paragraph from NASA worried us:

"In one study, astronomers used WISE to identify about 2.5 million actively feeding supermassive black holes across the full sky, stretching back to distances more than 10 billion light-years away. About two-thirds of these objects never had been detected before because dust blocks their visible light. WISE easily sees these monsters because their powerful, accreting black holes warm the dust, causing it to glow in infrared light."

Heart Of A Hawk In Iowa City, Iowa

Aug 30, 2012

In the fall of 2008 my friend, TJ Anderson — a member of the University of Iowa's Herky the Hawk mascot squad — took note of an unused space in the southwest corner of Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. And the idea of "Herky's Nest" was born.

TJ envisioned creating Herky's Nest — a home for Herky — that also serves as a premium seating area for children and families from the University of Iowa Children's Hospital. The goodwill gesture brings the community together in a lighthearted and meaningful way.

If CNN's John King is right, Dirty Harry is indeed tonight's "mystery speaker":

"Clint Eastwood is the #gop mystery speaker for Thurs night. #cnnelections"

We've come to accept the baby-fication of our vegetables – baby spinach, baby lettuce, and baby squash prized for their tenderness and cute size have staked out territory in the produce section of many a grocery store.

Scientists in Germany have been able to get enough DNA from a fossilized pinky to produce a high-quality DNA sequence of the pinky's owner.

"It's a really amazing-quality genome," says David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston. "It's as good as modern human genome sequences, from a lot of ways of measuring it."

The pinky belonged to a girl who lived tens of thousands of years ago. Scientists aren't sure about the exact age. She is a member of an extinct group of humans called Denisovans. The name comes from Denisova cave in Siberia, where the pinky was found.

There are claims flying back and forth today over whether Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has falsely accused President Obama of breaking a promise to make sure a GM plant in Ryan's hometown stayed open.

We posted earlier about Ryan's words in his acceptance speech Wednesday and the "false" rating they got from PolitiFact.com.

Anti-Trafficking Barista In Houston, Texas

Aug 30, 2012

My friend Erica Raggett is one of those rare individuals who, when she heard about something atrocious, didn't forget about it, feel sad about it, or throw money at it.

She did something about it.

The just-opened A 2nd Cup is Erica's vision of a non-profit coffee shop that seeks to raise awareness of human trafficking in the Houston community, partner with other anti-trafficking organizations and fund aftercare solutions for survivors.

"This situation could happen to me at the Democratic convention or standing on the street corner. Racism is a global issue," CNN camerawoman Patricia Carroll, in an interview with an institute that promotes diversity in the news media, says of the ugly racial taunts directed her way Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Almost daily, Taliban assassins target Afghan government officials and community elders with ambushes or bombings. The United Nations says such killings are up more than 50 percent compared to the same period last year.

On Monday, the target was the powerful police chief in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province. A suicide bomber struck the convoy of Gen. Abdul Raziq, who survived the attack and is at a U.S. military hospital recuperating from burns and other injuries.

Mitt Romney has a tough to-do list.

He has to walk an ideological tightrope. As he accepts the GOP presidential nomination tonight, Romney will try to fire up partisans in the convention hall and watching at home, without turning off moderates and independent voters.

He also has to convey certain intangible qualities. The former Massachusetts governor will want to appear presidential while also attempting to lift his low "likability" ratings.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, this country is facing history again this year. It's a chance to elect this country's first Mormon president. So we decided to ask a group of faith leaders representing different traditions to tell us what role they think religion plays or should play when it comes to choosing the next president. That's coming up later in the program.

Is Your Candidate Keeping The Faith?

Aug 30, 2012

As the Republican convention continues, the major political parties are defining their positions — and many are focused on faith. Host Michel Martin speaks with a diverse panel of religious leaders to weigh how they balance faith and politics.

A 100-year-old driver accidentally backed up his car onto a sidewalk full of children in south Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Times reports nine children and two adults ranging in age from 14 months to 48 years old were injured seriously but were in stable condition.

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