This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
Syria has accused Israel of flagrantly violating international law after a series of airstrikes on targets near the Syrian capital over the weekend. Now, Israel has not officially accepted responsibility, but Israeli sources say the targets included Iranian-made missiles bound for Hezbollah fighters in neighboring Lebanon.
Secretary of State John Kerry sets off for what he calls "a long overdue" trip to Russia on Monday, and Syria is likely to top the agenda.
But U.S.-Russian relations are frosty these days. The U.S. is imposing targeted sanctions on Russian human rights violators, while Moscow is preventing American families from adopting Russian children.
Emotions ran high as Germany's biggest terrorism trial in decades got underway Monday in Munich. The hearing is on the murders of 10 people who were the victims of a nearly decadelong neo-Nazi terror campaign against the Turkish community there.
The National Front coalition that has governed Malaysia for 56 consecutive years won a majority of parliamentary seats in a general election Sunday, extending its streak of victories that began in 1957.
Malaysian election officials reported a record voter turnout in Sunday's national election, as more than 10 million voters — or 80 percent of the electorate — cast ballots.
One day after being arrested over allegations that he raped one man and sexually assaulted another, a senior British legislator says the accusations are without merit. Britain's House of Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans says the claims were made by people "who until yesterday I regarded as friends."
The complaints made against Evans accuse him of abuse in a period from July 2009 to March of this year. The men who filed the complaints are believed to have been in their 20s in that time span. Evans says that the two men who made the accusations know one another.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
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MARTIN: A series of explosions shook the Syrian capital Damascus overnight. Syria's state news agency accused Israeli jets of carrying out the attack on a military research facility. There has been no official confirmation from Israel's government, though officials there have warned they will act to stop weapon transfers from Syria to Hezbollah. That's the Shiite guerilla movement based in Lebanon which is a staunch ally of the Syrian regime.
Our perspectives on personal space — the distance we keep between the person in front of us at an ATM, the way we subdivide the area of an elevator — are often heavily influenced by the norms of the places we inhabit.
Jerry Seinfeld once focused an episode of his sitcom on the concept of personal space, giving us a new term: the "close talker."
President Obama traveled to Central America this weekend, to Mexico and then to Costa Rica, where he met with other leaders from the region. Host Rachel Martin speaks with Eric Olson of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who attended the meeting.
Who has the most to lose if the fighting in Syria continues and the country becomes a failed state? Host Rachel Martin poses the question to Rami Khouri, a columnist and director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University in Beirut.
Israeli warplanes attacked a military research center near Damascus early Sunday, according to intelligence reports and Syrian state media. The attack prompted Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad to deem it a "declaration of war" by Israel, CNN reports.
The Obama administration says it's considering providing arms to rebels fighting to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad if the U.S. can confirm his forces did in fact use the debilitating nerve gas sarin in recent attacks. Coupled with news that Israel reportedly launched an airstrike at a target in Syria to prevent a shipment of missiles from reaching Hezbollah, these events could represent a game changer in the conflict-ravaged nation.
It's been dubbed Guptagate. The real-life story reads like a Hollywood — or Bollywood — script, and it's dominating the national conversation in South Africa.
It starts with a high-society wedding in South Africa, organized by three wealthy, well-connected and influential brothers named Gupta from India. Then the scandal begins: A private jet flies in 200 guests — including Bollywood stars — from India, landing at a restricted air force security base in Pretoria, allegedly without the appropriate clearance.
How do you prevent protests in China? Move the weekend.
That's the Orwellian step taken by local authorities in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. May 4 is a sensitive date commemorating an influential student movement in 1919. It's especially potent in Chengdu, where it marks the fifth anniversary of a protest against the construction of a $6 billion crude oil refinery and petrochemical facility in Pengzhou, 25 miles away.
A roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan killed five members of the U.S. Army Saturday, according to military officials. The International Security Assistance Force says an improvised explosive device was used in the attack.
Update at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Another Deadly Attack:
An Afghan National Army soldier "turned his weapon on coalition troops in the west, killing two in the most recent of so-called insider attacks, the AP reports. NPR has confirmed that both victims of that attack are American.
It's been 70 years since the letters of John Pryor were understood in their full meaning. That's because as a British prisoner of war in Nazi Germany, Pryor's letters home to his family also included intricate codes that were recently deciphered for the first time since the 1940s.
Pryor's letters served their purpose in World War II, as Britain's MI9 agents decoded the messages hidden within them — requests for supplies, notes about German activities — before sending them along to Pryor's family in Cornwall.
Bakdash is a landmark in the Syrian capital, serving the Arab world's most famous ice cream since 1895. Manually churned with wooden paddles, loaded with milk, sugar and a generous coating of pistachios, Bakdash ice cream is memorable treat for any visitor to Damascus.
But, when a branch opened this week in Amman, Jordan, it was seen as another casualty of the Syrian war.
"It means there is no sense of security and safety in Damascus," says journalist Fahd al Kheytaan, "which forced the company to move some of its operation to Jordan."
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Obama is in Costa Rica today. He's talking with leaders of Central American nations about security and economic trade. Yesterday, the president wrapped up a two-day visit in Mexico, where he tried to steer the focus away from contentious issues like immigration and drug violence. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: During their quick visit, Presidents Obama and Pena Nieto stuck to their focus: the economy.
In many ways, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico is complicated and conditioned by the long and the bloody war on drugs. It's difficult to say exactly how many people have been killed in that war, but Mexican media have estimated that around 70,000 people have died since 2006; many thousands more have been disappeared. The United States has been closely involved, providing money, technology and intelligence to the Mexican government.
Several thousand young Afghans are attending a music and arts festival of their own this week in Kabul. NPR's Sean Carberry sent this postcard from the third annual Sound Central Alternative Music and Arts Festival.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Chanting in foreign language)
SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: While this is going on outside the French Cultural Center in Kabul...
Expanding trade abroad is a high priority for President Obama. This week, he nominated a trusted adviser named Michael Froman to become the next U.S. trade representative. Froman is currently deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports on the challenges he would face as trade representative.
The 2013 U.S. and Women's Chess Championships are under way in St. Louis, Missouri. Host Michel Martin speaks with two of the competition's youngest players. Kayden Troff is the current under-14 World Youth Chess Champion, and at 15, Sarah Chiang is the youngest woman competing in the Women's Chess Championships.
The trial in Munich of an alleged neo-Nazi woman accused as an accomplice in a string of murders of mostly ethnic Turks is, as The Associated Press writes, "forcing Germans to confront painful truths about racism and the broader treatment of immigrants in society."
The Walt Disney Co.'s decision to end its apparel production in Bangladesh after more than 500 people died in the collapse of a garment factory complex has sparked fears of a mass exodus of Western retailers.