A tanker truck carrying gasoline exploded near Mexico City Tuesday morning, reportedly killing at least 20 people. The explosion, which early reports indicate was an accident, occurred after 5 a.m. local time on the busy highway between Mexico City and Pachuca.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I 'm David Greene. Our understanding of the role chemical weapons are playing in Syria is no clearer today than it was a week ago. That's when President Obama said while there is evidence of chemical weapons used in the Syria, there is none pointing to who is responsible.
Some other news. For the second time in less than a week, Afghan and Pakistani forces have exchanged fire along their shared border. The countries clashed again yesterday over a gate that Pakistani forces have been building on what Afghans say is their side of the line. The roots of this problem run much deeper.
Europe is debating whether austerity - with its deep budget cuts and tax hikes - is the right cure for the continent's debt crisis. But in Portugal, one of the first countries bailed out by the European Union, the austerity drive goes on. The government there is struggling to repay its loans, and has announced more steep job and benefit cuts, as the country struggles to avoid what was Greece's fate - a second bailout.
Germany is regarded as one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to helping women raise families. The government invests about $260 billion each year into 156 separate family-friendly benefits, including health care, generous parental leave, subsidized day care and tax breaks.
Yet on a continent with low birthrates, Germany has the lowest of all, with just 1.39 children per woman.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
To Syria now and two views of the war that has claimed more than 70,000 lives over the past two years. Among the latest developments: Airstrikes over the weekend on a military complex outside the capital city, Damascus. Those strikes are presumed to have come from Israel, aimed at stopping weapon shipments to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
Even if you haven't been to Venice, you're probably familiar with the city's famous tourist gondolas: With baroque silver ornaments, shiny black lacquer, and sumptuous red seat cushions, they're unabashedly fancy, not to mention ubiquitous. A ride with a gondolier costs at least 80 euros (about $105), rain or shine (and it's 110 â€” $144 â€” more to be serenaded).
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. In a strange way, Barack Obama and Bashar al-Assad find themselves in the same dilemma today: initiate military action that both would prefer to avoid or look weak, even hypocritical. The American president faces a chorus of criticism after he decided to wait for more proof that Syria's government has crossed his red line on chemical weapons, while Syria's president must now decide whether to respond to Israeli airstrikes on his capital or leave his supporters to wonder why not.
Update at 1:55 p.m. ET: White House Is "Highly Skeptical":
At the White House this afternoon, spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is "highly skeptical" of the comments made over the weekend by international prosecutor Carla del Ponte, who said there are "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof" that rebels in Syria have used sarin gas.
We've been covering del Ponte's comments, and the reaction to them, through the day. Scroll down to see an earlier update and our original post.
Over the weekend in Philadelphia, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and niece of Fidel Castro received an award for her gay rights advocacy. To understand the significance of Mariela Castro's honor, you have to go back to the 1960's when gay people were sent to forced labor camps.
This winter I walked 400 miles up the Rift Valley of Ethiopia in the company of three grizzled Afar nomads, two taciturn camels and a barrel of powdered milk.
The milk was a tragedy.
Early on, I had asked a friend from Addis Ababa, via satellite phone, to resupply us with food â€” scarce vegetables in particular. But he was a thoroughly modern African, an urbanite. His idea of the outdoors was absorbed largely from TV commercials. So he brought us instead a 10-quart drum of powdered coffee creamer.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene. A story we have been closely following for months, the bloody war in Syria has taken a fresh turn. Syria is blaming Israel for a series of air attacks that rocked the Syrian capital, Damascus, over the weekend.
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 â€” or 80 percent of the electorate â€” 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 â€” the distance we keep between the person in front of us at an ATM, the way we subdivide the area of an elevator â€” 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.