The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been in the Middle East, Rome and Russia this week trying to find some kind of diplomatic end to Syria's civil war. He's also been trying to revive Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. Mr. Kerry has been the U.S. Secretary of State for just over 100 days, spending more than a third of that time overseas.
NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on how his tenure at the State Department seems to be shaping up.
Congregants pray in front of a stained-glass window depicting South African statesman Nelson Mandela during Easter services at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in the Soweto of Johannesburg, South Africa, March 3. The church held prayers for Mandela, 94, who was in the hospital at the time.
Credit Uncredited / AP
The poor health of the anti-apartheid icon (shown here in this image taken from video April 29) has attracted a swarm of foreign journalists to South Africa.
The Food and Drug Administration is currently embroiled in a surprisingly heated culinary standoff — pitting French cheese-makers (and American cheese-lovers) against regulators, all because of one very small problem: cheese mites.
Cheese mites are microscopic little bugs that live on the surfaces of aged cheeses, munching the microscopic molds that grow there. For many aged cheeses, they're something of an industry nuisance, gently brushed off the cheeses. But for Mimolette, a bright orange French cheese, they're actually encouraged.
Imagine you're flying in a two-seater plane over Africa, and, in an effort to see how elephants are faring, your job is to count all the ones you see. Over the savannah, that's easy. But how do you peer into the forests, where all you see is treetops?
For years, the zoologists who tried to do this just guessed. But in the late 1980s, conservationist Richard Barnes devised a method to take an elephant census in the densest of forests.
This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee began marking up an immigration bill. We used to speak of immigration reform, but in recent years it's become circumspect to say overhaul, which is presumably more neutral. Our Friday political commentators don't seem especially neutral about the issue. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and the Brookings Institution, good to see you here.
Robert Siegel speaks with former top diplomat Thomas Pickering, who led the State Department's investigation into the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Pickering's report was criticized by witnesses at this week's congressional oversight hearing about the administration's handling of the attacks.
World Shattered, a cocktail by Tyler Fry of the Chicago bar The Violet Hour. The drink includes R. Franklin's Original Recipe Malort, and tames the bitterness with lemon, honey syrup, raspberry and mint.
Credit ThreeIfByBike / Flickr
A photo from the Flickr group Malort Face, memorializing the facial expressions of people who try malort.
The people who make Jeppson's Malort, a harshly bitter spirit that's consumed in shots or cocktails, don't mind that their product makes people grimace. Instead, they celebrate it.
Carl Jeppson Co., a Chicago company, has built a minor social media empire around malort's "brutal" flavor; one winner of its slogan contest described the drink as "turning taste buds into taste foes for generations."
The giant panda Lin Ping, a star in Thailand whose mandatory trip to China was due at the end of May, can spend up to 15 years in Thailand, under a deal announced this week. The 43-day-old Lin Ping was held by her mother, Lin Hui, in this 2009 photo.
The citizens of Thailand are breathing a sigh of relief, after a breakthrough moment in panda relations was reached with China Friday. After much negotiation, Lin Ping, a female giant panda who became a reality TV star after being born in Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo, will be allowed to stay in Thailand for 15 years.
The pact comes just weeks before Lin Ping was to travel to China; under the terms of the deal that brought her parents to Thailand, zoo officials were obligated to send Lin Ping to China by her fourth birthday, on May 27.
A supporter greets Imran Khan at a campaign rally on May 6, in Multan, Pakistan. Pakistan's parliamentary elections will be held on Saturday, and Khan's party is hoping the large, enthusiastic crowds at rallies will translate into a strong showing at the polls.
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford can soon add the title 'United States Representative' to his name. And an announcement that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made regarding his weight has people talking. Host Michel Martin catches up on the some of this week's political news with commentators Keli Goff and Mary Kate Cary.
Pakistan holds elections this weekend. It's a milestone, as the balloting takes place as an elected civilian government finishes its entire five-year term. That's the first time that's ever happened. Steve Inskeep talks to Shuja Nawaz, director of the Atlantic Council, and the author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within.
Congressional hearings are beginning to shine a light on the drone program that for the past 12 years has been cloaked in secrecy. NPR's Kelly McEvers talked to a former Air Force pilot who operated drones for several years.
Garment workers sew T-shirts at a factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2009. Bangladesh, the world's second-largest clothing exporter, has lured clothing makers through a combination of low wages and light regulation.
Eight people died Wednesday in a fire at a Bangladeshi sweater factory. This follows the much deadlier collapse of the Rana Plaza building, where more than 900 people died.
The deaths are taking place in a garment sector that has seen explosive growth over the past three decades. The country has managed to lure clothing-makers through a combination of low wages and light regulation.
As a manufacturing center, Bangladesh has little to recommend it. The roads are poor. There's no port to speak of. The electricity is notoriously unreliable. It's politically unstable.
Ambassador Robert Ford, the State Department's point man on Syrian policy, crossed into northern Syria on Wednesday. The secret visit was confirmed by Syrian activists at the media office at the Bab al-Salama crossing on the Turkish frontier.
One of the few women competing in Pakistan's parliamentary election on Saturday is Naz Baloch, 33, a first-time candidate. She's the daughter of a politician, but is running for a different party than her father.
Flags of the competing political parties whip in the wind of seaside Karachi. But little else is stirring in this city of 18 million this day.
The MQM, a leading political party in the megacity, has shut Karachi down with a general strike in response to a deadly bombing at its election office. But as soon as the strike ends, the streets spring to life as if nothing were amiss.
This is the tale of turkey tail — it's convoluted arrival, disappearance and highly anticipated return to the Pacific island the Republic of Samoa (not to be confused with American Samoa).
It's hard to pinpoint precisely when turkey tails started being imported into Samoa from the U.S. and when they became a favorite, affordable dish. Meat byproducts (Spam and fatty lamb cuts from New Zealand) started showing up sometime after World War II, and turkey tails came shortly thereafter.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. This Saturday, Pakistanis head to the polls. The vote will mark the first transition between two democratically elected governments in the country's history. In the past, Pakistan's leaders have been overthrown, imprisoned or assassinated. The build-up to this election has been marked by a tremendous amount of violence and drama.
Just today, one candidate, the son of a former prime minister, was kidnapped.
Gunmen in Pakistan stormed an election rally and abducted the son of a former prime minister — the latest violence in a bloody campaign ahead of nationwide polling.
Armed men drove up to an election rally in the city of Multan, opened fire, grabbed Ali Haider Gilani and sped off, witnesses said. Gilani, who is running for a seat in the Punjab provincial assembly, is the son of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Eight people in New York have been charged as part of what prosecutors say was a global ring of cybercriminals who stole $45 million by hacking into prepaid credit card accounts and then using the data to get cash from thousands of ATMs around the world.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch described the alleged scheme as "a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe. In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet."
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. At the beginning of this week, as we absorb news of Israeli air strikes outside Damascus and questions about nerve gas and red lines, there was a report that a Shiite shrine near the Syrian capital had been ransacked by Sunni extremists and the body of a Shia holy man exhumed and hidden away.