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For four days, a 7-year-old boy has been missing in bear-inhabited woods in northern Japan. His parents initially said he disappeared as the family was gathering food in the forest, but later admitted leaving him alone intentionally, as a punishment.

More than a hundred people continued to search for Yamato Tanooka on Tuesday, to no avail.

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Immigrants fleeing gang violence in Central America are again surging across the U.S.-Mexico border, approaching the numbers that created an immigration crisis in the summer of 2014. While the flow of immigrants slowed for much of last year, nothing the U.S. government does seems to deter the current wave of travelers.

More than 2 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, driven out by the fighting that erupted in their homeland in 2011. But none can claim an odyssey quite like that of Mohammed Faris.

As Syria's first and only cosmonaut, Mohammed Faris rocketed into orbit with two Soviet colleagues in 1987. He conducted experiments and photographed his country from space. By the time he returned to Syria, most everyone in the country knew his name.

Zelalem Kibret remembers the day: July 8, 2015. He was in a prison library reading a biography of Malcolm X, his own copy, when some guards called his name and handed him a piece of paper. The message: All charges against him were withdrawn. He was being released.

"I was asking why," says Zelalem, a 29-year-old lawyer and blogger. "And nobody was giving us a reason."

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The lush Whitehall Gardens are just a five-minute walk from Britain's Parliament and 10 Downing Street, where the prime minister lives and works. Behind the gardens, with their grand fountains and flowers, sprawls an ornate stone building, overlooking the River Thames.

This is prime London real estate.

Forces fighting against the Islamic State have launched an offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

NPR's Alison Meuse reports that international aid groups have seen hundreds of civilians fleeing, but they represent only a fraction of those still trapped in the city.

Alison filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Government officials in charge of energy policy from around the world are scheduled to gather in San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday for the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial. It's a conference to serve as a follow-up to December's climate change talks in Paris.

A British museum has been searching for parts of the Lorenz cipher machine, used by the Nazis in World War II to send secret messages.

So when sharp-eyed museum volunteers happened upon what appeared to be a Lorenz teleprinter on eBay, it almost seemed too good to be true.

National Museum of Computing volunteer John Whetter went to Essex to investigate. There, he found "the keyboard being kept, in its original case, on the floor of a shed 'with rubbish all over it'," the BBC reports.

The U.N. Refugee Agency and Italian authorities say they fear at least 700 migrants have died in three separate shipwrecks in the Mediterranean since last Wednesday.

This comes amid a surge of migrants attempting to make the dangerous crossing between Libya and Italy, UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler tells The Two-Way. He adds that search and rescue teams have been able to save 14,000 people making the crossing during the past week.

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President Obama's decision to lift the arms embargo against Vietnam was about much more than selling weapons. It was about sending a message to China.

Not only may Vietnam begin buying American ships and surveillance equipment, it could also begin hosting regular visits by U.S. military units, including U.S. Navy warships at Cam Ranh Bay. Such trips would put American sailors square into waters that China is claiming it controls, making clear the U.S. rejects those claims and reassuring China's nervous neighbors in the region — or so Washington hopes.

More than 40 people were injured from lightning strikes in two separate incidents in Europe on Saturday.

Lighting hit a children's birthday party in an upscale Paris park, injuring at least 11 people, AFP reports. Police say most of the victims were children and six of them were seriously injured, according to the news agency.

According to Paris city councilor Karen Taieb, the group at Parc Monceau had "taken shelter under a tree," AFP adds.

The World Health Organization is trying to ease concerns about spreading Zika as a result of this summer's Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

"Based on current assessment, cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus," a statement released Saturday reads.

Shoulder patches are the subject of a diplomatic incident between the U.S. and Turkey. The flap highlights the complicated regional politics the U.S. is navigating in its offensive against Islamic State militants in Syria.

The central issue: the Kurdish YPG militia, which the U.S. views as a key ally against the Islamic State in Syria, has been branded a terrorist group by Turkey's government.

Editor's note: John Otis has reported from Latin America since the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, and first covered Venezuela 19 years ago. He's returned many times since, and reflects here on how the country has changed since he first arrived.

During my first reporting trip to Caracas in 1997, I was nearly robbed leaving a subway station. While riding up the escalator, I was sandwiched by two rather inept thieves who pried my wallet out of my pocket, but then dropped it. I snatched the billfold and ran.

An Argentine court has sentenced Reynaldo Bignone, the country's last dictator, to 20 years in prison for his part in Operation Condor.

It's the "first time a court has ruled that Operation Condor was a criminal conspiracy to kidnap and forcibly disappear people across international borders," The Associated Press reports.

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