This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
The Syrian town of Quseir sits just miles from the border with Lebanon and the fierce fighting there is evidence of how the war is reaching beyond Syria's borders. Lebanese militants from Hezbollah are now openly fighting alongside Syrian soldiers in Quseir. And this weekend, rockets were fired on Hezbollah areas inside Lebanon's capital Beirut. Here's NPR's Kelly McEvers.
Arizona Sen. John McCain spent his Memorial Day in Syria. As NPR's Jonathan Blakley reports from Beirut, McCain's spokesman says the senator crossed into northern Syria from Turkey to meet with rebels in the country, ripped apart by the 2-year conflict turned civil war.
Israeli prison officials invited reporters last month on a first-ever tour of the Ofer prison, a concrete-and-barbed wire compound on the northern edge of Jerusalem. More than 700 Palestinians are detained here for alleged security violations in connection with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The phone is ringing off the hook at the crowded waiting room at the Domestic Workers Union in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In the past decade, millions of Brazilians have joined the middle class. Advocates say this isn't just the result of a growing economy or social spending, but also laws like the one just passed that enshrine domestic workers' rights.
City officials in Paris are experimenting with an unconventional way to keep urban lawns trimmed.
Agnes Masson used to be simply the director of the Paris city archives. Now, she's also a shepherdess of sorts, responsible for four black sheep munching the lush grass surrounding the gray archives building at the eastern edge of the city.
Masson says the ewes are efficient and easy to care for.
Violence has erupted over the past week in and around the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Tensions have emerged over joblessness, a growing gap between wealthy and poor and influxes of immigrants. David Greene talks to Alistair Scrutton, Stockholm bureau chief for the Reuters News Agency, for the latest on the chaos.
Every Memorial Day weekend, a ceremony takes place just outside Paris to honor a group of Americans who fought in France. They're not D-Day veterans, but a little known group of pilots who fought for France in World War I, before the U.S. entered the war.
This year's ceremony in the tiny town of Marnes-la-Coquette began with a flyover by two French air force Mirage fighter jets from the Escadrille Lafayette, or Lafayette Squadron, paying tribute to the men who founded the group nearly 100 years ago.
It was 5 p.m. on an ordinary Tuesday, and Li Ping was finishing up the company accounts before going to have a facial. She was working for her brother, Li Qiang, who owned one of the biggest private transport companies in Chongqing, a major city in southwestern China.
Suddenly, five plainclothes policemen barged into the room. They asked her name, then put a black hood over her head and drove her to a secret interrogation site. Her ordeal had begun.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in the capital of Ethiopia this weekend. He was attending the 50th anniversary summit of the African Union, and he was laying the groundwork for President Obama's trip to Africa in the next month. Our East Africa correspondent Gregory Warner is in Addis Ababa. He joins us now. Hi, Greg. Thanks for being with us.
GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: Thanks, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, you spent the day with the secretary. How was he received?
These may sound like the makings of a Roald Dahl children's book (he of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). But at London's Kew Gardens, visitors can now immerse themselves in such fantastic-sounding experiences like rowing down a blue-dyed boating lake to the aforementioned island, which features a 15-foot replica pineapple towering over a banana grotto.
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams, 29, is an Iraq War veteran — and the only post-9/11 Marine to lose every other member of his 12-man squad. It happened in August 2005, when Williams and his teammates were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq.
"That morning, we loaded into the vehicle," Williams recalls. "And I get tapped on the shoulder, and I got told that I need to bounce up to the next vehicle. I said, 'Catch you guys on the flipside.' And that was the last thing I ever said to them."
Secretary of State John Kerry met with political leaders in Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank this week in his effort to try to restart direct peace talks between the two parties. NPR's Emily Harris is in Jerusalem. Emily, thanks for being with us.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: My pleasure, Scott.
SIMON: So if not a concrete plan, is somebody pouring the concrete?
In India, some of the most entertaining reading on a Sunday afternoon is found in the classified ads. Page after page, the matrimonial section trumpets the finer qualities of India's sons and daughters.
Parents looking to marry off their children often place ads such as this one: "Wanted: Well-settled, educated groom for fair, beautiful Bengali girl, 22, 5'3"."
The matrimonial ads are a hallowed tradition in the quest to find a life partner — part of the institution of matchmaking that is as old as the country itself.
Will teaching in English at France's universities undermine the French language? That's up for debate in the country now, and the argument is heated.
The lower house of parliament approved a measure Thursday that would allow courses to be taught in English, something that is currently against the law.
Those in favor of the proposal say it will attract more international students and improve English language skills of French students. But opponents say the move will only impoverish and marginalize the country's tongue.
Gnomes marched their way into one of England's most prestigious gardening events this year. The 100th annual Chelsea Flower Show, which ends Saturday, opened its gates to the flower-friendly creatures for the first time.
In Libya, guns are still everywhere and the elected leadership is struggling to rule as militias use guns and intimidation when they don't get their way. Most recently they surrounded two ministries and state television to force through a political isolation law that bars former members of Moammar Gaddafi's regime from government posts.
Print media are struggling in the U.S. and Europe, but in many Asian countries, including China and India, newspapers are thriving. Another example is Myanmar, also known as Burma. There, only 1 percent of people have access to the Internet and private daily newspapers are rushing into print after decades of being banned. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports on how Burmese journalists are exercising newfound freedoms.
Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo has been extradited to the United States, where he faces charges of laundering tens of millions of dollars through U.S. banks.
Portillo, who served as president from 2000 to 2004, was snatched from a hospital bed in Guatemala City, where he was recovering from liver surgery. He was placed on an airplane bound for New York, according to his lawyer, Mauricio Berreondo.
Irish banking officials should have known there were problems with the controversial 10-euro coin commemorating James Joyce, according to Ireland's RTE News. The coin misquotes the author's Ulysses, and bears an image of Joyce that his estate did not approve.
Two men were arrested and removed from a Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet Friday. It had been on its way from Lahore, Pakistan, to Manchester, England, when something that happened aboard led authorities to scramble Royal Air Force fighter jets and divert the passenger plane to London Stansted Airport.
(We most recently updated the top of this post at 6:45 p.m. ET.)
An explosion followed by gunfire in Kabul on Friday claimed the lives of at least two attackers and wounded a small number of civilians. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which appeared to have been aimed at offices of the International Organization for Migration and stretched over several hours as Afghan security forces tried to hunt down those responsible.
As night fell in Kabul, it was unclear whether the incident was over or not.
Representatives of President Bashar Assad's regime have agreed "in principle" to attend an international peace conference aimed at ending more than two years of brutal warfare in Syria, Russia's foreign ministry said Friday.
Iran's Guardian Council does not hesitate to use its power. That's the legislative body that vets political candidates for their commitment to the Islamic Revolution. Perhaps no surprise in the upcoming presidential election, voters are able to choose from a very narrow range of candidates - all of whom support the regime. All the high-profile or independent candidates have been eliminated by the Guardian Council. And this caused some shock - those include a man who has already held the post of president.