A fertilizer plant exploded near Waco, Texas, Wednesday night. The explosion at West Fertilizer in downtown West, a community about 20 miles north of Waco, happened around 7 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles to the north.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep in Caracas, Venezuela. This country is about to hold a presidential election. Voters are replacing the late Hugo Chavez, who shouldered this oil-rich republic onto the world stage. He often denounced the United States as an oppressive empire - even as he sold Americans oil - and imported gasoline from U.S. refineries. The election of his successor this weekend gives us a chance to listen to a changing Latin America.
OK. The NCAA Tournament has completed the preliminaries, the handful of games deciding the last teams to make it into the round of 64. So today, we begin a massive national overdose of basketball that will continue for weeks. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us from Lexington, Kentucky, where some of today's games will be played. Mike, good morning.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: I'm here to hold your hand as you overdose.
INSKEEP: Oh, that's great. Yeah, yeah. Stay with me. Stay with me, now.
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(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)
INSKEEP: That's the sound of bells in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, as Pope Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass today. The ceremony was infused with meaning, both in the substance of what the new pope said and the symbolism of how he was presented.
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us on the line from Rome.
OK. The field is set for the NCAA Division One men's basketball tournament. Top seeds include Kansas, Louisville, Indiana and Gonzaga. The team previously known for its heroic upsets in the NCAA tournament is now one of the teams to beat. NPR's Mike Pesca is here to discuss the selections. Mike, good morning.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.
INSKEEP: How'd Gonzaga do it?
PESCA: I know, right? You read those other teams, and it's, like, perennial power, perennial power, perennial power, Jesuit school from Spokane.
Gunmen killed a woman in Pakistan yesterday. The news stories about this were formulaic for Pakistan, she was killed in a customary manner by assassins on motorcycles who rolled away with impunity. What's remarkable is the way she lived. Parveen Rehman came from Karachi, one of the world's largest cities. She helped thousands of poor people obtain basic services.
When I first met her in 2008, she told me she studied to become an architect, but doubted the value of the upscale buildings she learned to design.
Thousands of Venezuelans have been filling the streets this week, listening to music and lining up to see the coffin of their leader, Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday. Leaders from around the world have also come to the capital city, Caracas, for a funeral which formally takes place today. And in keeping with his often larger-than-life persona, the Venezuelan government plans to embalm Chavez and keep his body on display under glass, in perpetuity. NPR's Juan Forero is in Caracas, following events there. Hi, Juan.
Pro hockey's Chicago Blackhawks have played 24 games without a loss in regulation time. They defeated the Colorado Avalanche last night. That gets the Blackhawks to the midpoint of the season with 21 wins, no defeats in regulation, three losses in shoot-outs or overtime. It's a league record start for the team that last won the Stanley Cup in 2010, possibly a big deal for a sport playing a season shortened by a lockout.
NPR's David Schaper is a lifelong Blackhawks fan, and just happened to be at last night's game. Hi, David.
In the past, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush favored a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but in a new book, he modifies that position to call for requiring illegal immigrants to leave the U.S. and re-apply to enter if they want to pursue citizenship.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. In Italy the papacy is officially vacant. The Vatican is now under the control of the cardinals who will elect a new leader of the Catholic Church. Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI gave up his ring, his cape and red papal shoes to become Pope Emeritus. Cokie Roberts was there, joins us from Rome. Hi, Cokie.
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Today, a federal judge in New Orleans hears from witnesses to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A civil trial of BP opened yesterday in a case to determine blame and financial liability for the environmental disaster that was the worst disaster in U.S. history.