From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
For nearly two years, Syrians living in the U.S. have watched their home country fall apart. Groups have organized, formed nonprofits and raised money, and some people have made more life-changing decisions. NPR's Kelly McEvers recently met up in Syria with one Syrian-American gun enthusiast. He used his vacation time to travel from California back to Syria. His plan, to help the rebels bring down the government.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks in a televised address in January 2002 at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. Chavez vowed justice for two men who were shot and killed Jan. 3 at a political rally in a battle between Chavez supporters, opposition marchers and security forces.
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Venezuelans wait for hours in gas lines in Caracas on Dec. 21, 2002, the 20th day of a general strike protesting Chavez's rule. The strike temporarily crippled Venezuela's vital oil industry.
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Cuban President Fidel Castro greets Chavez upon his arrival in Havana in December 1994. The two leaders were steadfast allies.
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Standing next to a portrait of independence hero Simon Bolivar, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks during a press conference at Miraflores Palace in the capital, Caracas, in October 2012.
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Chavez delivers a televised address on Jan. 5, 2002, two days after clashes between his supporters and opponents left two men dead. He was briefly deposed a few months later in a coup that he claimed the Bush administration was behind.
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Chavez attends a welcoming ceremony for his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales (left), at the presidential palace in Caracas in September 2011.
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Chavez and his wife, Marisabel, wave to supporters in July 1998, as Chavez arrives at the National Electoral Council to register for the presidential election. He won the election by a landslide.
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As a lieutenant colonel in 1992, Chavez led a failed attempt to oust President Carlos Andres Perez. Here he speaks with reporters at the Defense Ministry after he surrendered to troops loyal to the president.
Credit Fernando Llano / AP
A man holds up an image of Chavez as people gather to pray for him at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas on Dec. 11, 2012. Chavez was in Cuba at the time for cancer treatment.
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Chavez addresses a crowd in Caracas on Feb. 4, 1998, the anniversary of the failed 1992 coup that would launch his military career.
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Chavez inspects the Air Force in Catilletes, near the border with Colombia, in March 2001.
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Chavez waves next to his daughter, Rosa Virginia, during a military parade in Caracas in February 2012, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the failed coup attempt that launched his political career.
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Chavez speaks with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana in June 2011. Chavez went to Cuba to undergo surgery.
As Secretary of State John Kerry wraps up his first official trip overseas, he's walking a fine line on Syria. Kerry says the Obama administration has been stepping up assistance to rebels who are trying to topple the Syrian regime. But the U.S. is also worried about how all of this will play out. NPR's Michele Kelemen spoke with the secretary of State today in Doha, Qatar, and he said he's taking this one step at a time.
A North Korean (right) and a South Korean soldier facing each other at the Panmunjom truce village in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas in Paju, about 30 miles north of Seoul. (2011 file photo.)
While diplomats move ahead at the United Nations on a package of new sanctions aimed at North Korea in another effort to convince that Stalinist state to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, there's also this news:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been battling cancer for months, is in a "very delicate" condition, with breathing difficulties and a severe respiratory infection, a government statement says.
The statement, read out Monday by Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas, spells out the 58-year-old socialist leader's decline since his December surgery in Cuba for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area:
That's not a real bishop on the left: A man later identified as Ralph Napierski of Germany (at left) posed with Cardinal Sergio Sebiastiana and others on Monday at the Vatican. Napierski was an imposter. He was later escorted from the area by Swiss Guards.
Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep with a call for a reform at the United Nations.
Joseph M. Torsella represents the United States on the U.N. budget committee. He says it's a tough budget process, complicated by diplomats who show up drunk. Ambassador Torsella made, quote, "the modest proposal that the negotiating room should be inebriation-free." He says he wants this, even though sloshed negotiators have provided the U.S. with, quote, "strategic opportunities." It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
With baseball gone from the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic is the only international professional baseball tournament. Former Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he put on a uniform again to manage the U.S. team because it's a privilege.
The first pan-African budget airline took to the skies in late November with a series of flights in Tanzania. Fastjet's aim is to offer a low-cost alternative to passengers accustomed to uncertain and costly air travel.
The road that runs along the edge of Shangpu village in south China is littered with the hulks of burned-out cars. Farmers have built tents and simple barricades made of rocks and wire. Police have set up their own cordon in a standoff that is approaching two weeks.
The villagers are demanding free elections following yet another government land grab. They say armed thugs sent by their own village chief attacked the community to pave the way for a new factory on their farmland.
Over the past several days, rebels in Syria have captured a city of more than a million people in one northern province. It the first time rebels captured a provincial capital. The rebels also have taken a step toward setting up a rebel government in another northern province.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. As he prepares to step down, China's prime minister today delivered his version of a state of the union address. He got a big boost in military funding, one that outpaces expected economic growth.
NPR's Louisa Lim has been gauging the mood of China's new leaders, both inside and outside of the Great Hall of the People.
Though the thought of horse meat in British lasagna or Ikea meatballs may be stomach-churning to some people, in some cultures the practice of eating horse meat is not just acceptable, it's a treat. NPR's Peter Kenyon just returned from the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan and checked out the meat market at the Green Bazaar in Almaty.
Votes are now being tallied in Kenya's presidential contest. The country has taken strides to avoid the kind of violence that followed the last election back in 2007, but today did not begin well. More than a dozen people were killed in attacks by separatists in Kenya's port city of Mombasa. But elsewhere, long lines and bureaucratic delays under a hot sun were the main obstacles for voters, who turned out in record numbers.
Islamists from Jabhat al Nusra stage their own protest in the town. Until recently, the group has been reluctant to appear in public.
Protesters in Kafr Nabl have become famous in Syria for their posters criticizing the government. Here they pose for a photo that will instantly be posted on Facebook, in front of a building that was shelled by government forces.
Young boys rush to Kafr Nabl's main square for the weekly Friday protest.
Kafr Nabl is surrounded by rocky hills covered with olive and fig trees. Located in northwest Syria near the Turkish border, it used to be a sleepy town of about 30,000 people. Then it rose up against the government in early 2011. More than a year later, the town was "liberated" by anti-government rebels who forced out soldiers and police who worked for the government.
Rats have been a problem for many years in Tehran. As the BBC reported in 2000, officials back then launched a poison control program that they hoped would kill many of the estimated 25 million rats in the city.
The College of Cardinals is holding its first official meetings at the Vatican on Monday. The top agenda item is choosing which day to start the closed-door conclave that will elect the new pope. With no clear front-runner, the conclave outcome is unpredictable.
The papal resignation has put the cardinals in an unprecedented situation in modern history.
"The real mood is of shock and disappointment — this resignation desacralized the figure of the pope," says Massimo Franco, author of several books about the Vatican. He says a pope cannot be treated like a company CEO.
Kenya votes for a new president today for the first time in five years. It's an important election, in part because the country is still haunted by the ethnic violence that bloodied the last presidential election in 2007. More than 1,200 people were killed and the violence only ended after the international community stepped in. NPR's Gregory Warner is out visiting polling stations and talking to people in Nairobi. He joins us to talk about the election. Good morning, Greg.
A Palestinian laborer works at the site of a residential construction project funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Mar. 21, 2012.
Credit Larry Abramson / NPR
Waji el Jebaley and his daughter stand in front of their newly constructed home in Rafah, a town at the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, on Feb. 20.
The streets of Gaza are busy, but they are also crumbling.
Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel has maintained tight limits on shipments of anything that could be used for military purposes. That includes basic building materials that could be used for bunkers and rocket launching sites.
Ask businessman Ali Abdel Aal what's the toughest thing for him to find, and he'll tell you "cement and gravel."
If they can block the Keystone XL pipeline, they can keep Canada from developing more of its dirty tar sands oil. It takes a lot of energy to get it out of the ground and turn it into gasoline, so it has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional oil.
Bright lights are part of a city's ecosystem. Think of Times Square or the Las Vegas Strip or right outside your bedroom window.
Electric lighting is ubiquitous in most urban and suburban neighborhoods. It's something most people take for granted, but appreciate, since it feels like well-lit streets keep us safer. But what if all this wattage is actually causing harm?
"We're getting brighter and brighter and brighter," warns Paul Bogard, author of the upcoming book, End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.