Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 12:13 pm
At a cafe in Turkey, near the border with Syria, Dr. Monzer Yazji steps out of his car in the parking lot and encounters a man with a bandaged left hand.
Yazji, a Syrian who now works in the U.S., examines Abu Hamad, a fellow Syrian who has fled the fighting in his homeland.
The doctor, a tall man with glasses and a trim graying beard, is becoming well-known among Syrian activists. Yazji has been periodically leaving his thriving practice in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas to coordinate emergency medical aid for Syria.
It's one of the most serious actions the U.S. government could ever take: targeting one of its own citizens with lethal force.
Since last year, U.S. drones have killed three Americans overseas. But Attorney General Eric Holder says the ongoing fight against al-Qaida means those kinds of deadly strikes are now a way of life. And judging from the reaction to his national security speech at Northwestern University Law School on Monday, so is the hot debate over the legality of the U.S. drone program.
In several hours of talks, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have different timelines and red lines on the issue of Iran's nuclear program: Obama said he prefers diplomacy and pressure; the Israeli leader made clear his country reserves the right to attack pre-emptively, saying Israel must remain master of its fate.
The troubled relationship between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency doesn't appear to be getting any better.
Back in February, senior agency delegations traveled twice to Iran to clarify its concerns about possible nuclear weapons work.
And on Monday, the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation that would allow the agency to give credible assurances that Iran's nuclear work is entirely peaceful.
Ernie Lopez calls it his "rebirth." After spending nearly nine years in prison for the sexual assault of a 6-month old girl, a top Texas court threw out the conviction. And on Friday, the 41-year-old Lopez walked out of the detention center in Amarillo, Texas, where family and friends were waiting.
There's little dispute among educators that kids are not reading as well as they should be, but there's endless debate over what to do about it. Now, a growing number of states are taking a hard-line approach through mandatory retentions — meaning third-graders who can't read at grade level will automatically get held back.
To those pushing the idea, it's equal doses of tough and love: You are not doing kids any favors, they say, by waiving them on to fourth grade if they aren't up to snuff on their reading.
More than 2,000 young people in Pennsylvania are trying to put one of the nation's worst juvenile justice scandals behind them. It's been a year since a former judge was convicted in the so-called "kids for cash" scandal.
New rules intended to protect the rights of children took effect this week, but questions about Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system remain.
Australia is a huge island, with stretches of lonely, rocky coastline that extend for thousands of miles. What's more, there are lots of harbors and airports.
In short, opportunities are plentiful for an enterprising Mexican drug trafficker to move his product 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to service the vibrant new market Down Under.
One such drug lord is Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. He's a cunning, small-statured, exceedingly dangerous outlaw recently dubbed "the world's most powerful drug trafficker" by the U.S. Treasury Department.
When the New York Hotel Trades Council ratified a new contract for hotel workers last month, much of the media coverage focused on "panic buttons." Coming after the sexual assault allegations against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the idea of housekeepers wearing a badge that could call for help was all over the news.
Just three months ago, Russia's parliamentary elections prompted widespread allegations of fraud and drove thousands of protesters into the streets in the days afterward.
The Russian government and government critics both say they are trying to prevent a similar outcome in Sunday's presidential poll.
Valdimir Putin, who has been either the president or the prime minister for the past 12 years, is widely expected to win another six-year term as president. But the credibility of Russian elections is also at stake.
Until this week, New Yorker Andrew Schiff's personal finances were his own personal business. That changed last Wednesday when Schiff — communications and marketing director at the Wall Street brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital — was featured in a Bloomberg article about how smaller bonuses are leaving Wall Street workers strapped for cash.
Interest in natural gas vehicles soared in the 1990s and then faded. Twenty years later, the cost of gasoline is going up while the cost of natural gas is going down. And that difference in price explains the resurgent interest in natural gas vehicles.
In Indiana, Fair Oaks Dairy Farm does more than just produce milk — it is also in the transportation business. The farm owns 60 trucks, which deliver milk to a processor halfway across the state. Last September, most of the trucks were converted to natural gas.
When Grant Coursey was a toddler, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer often found in young children. A tumor had wrapped itself around Grant's spinal cord and had grown so that it pushed against his lungs.
Now 12, Grant is cancer-free; he received his first "clean" scan 10 years ago in March 2002. He had to undergo several procedures to rid his body of the cancer.
Recently, Grant and his mother, Jennifer, sat down to talk about his young life and how cancer has affected it.
Armed with tips from animal welfare activists, I recently went on an ivory hunt with my Chinese assistant, Yang, in an antiques market in Beijing.
Activists say China's growing purchasing power is driving global demand for products from vulnerable animals, everything from elephant ivory to rhino horn.
Two huge stone lions stood sentinel outside the four-story market nestled among a forest of buildings off one of Beijing's beltways. In China, vendors usually accost shoppers and try to lure them into stores.
One clear threat once menaced civilization: nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The Cold War is over, but decades later, some of the fortifications built to fight that war still dot the American landscape.
Four years ago, Larry Hall bought a nuclear missile silo out on the open rolling land north of Salina, Kan. Hall paid $300,000 and spent much more to clean out all the scrap metal and stagnant water.
Many religious traditions stress the importance of charity. But Mormons are remarkable for the amount and the precision with which they give to their church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that each Mormon in good standing should tithe 10 percent of his or her income. The money goes right to church headquarters in Salt Lake City and then is distributed back to congregations around the world.
"That's written in stone, and preached from the pulpit," says Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, who is Mormon.
When Russians go to the polls Sunday, they will have several choices for president. But none is a serious threat to Vladimir Putin, who has been the most powerful figure in Russia for the past 12 years.
Boris Makarenko, a longtime observer of Russian politics, says the candidates arrayed against Putin are all more or less part of what Kremlin leaders call "the systemic opposition."
In other words, he says, they are "the tolerable opposition ... which can never even hope of replacing them in the Kremlin."
Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 12:17 am
A key rebel stronghold in the central Syrian city of Homs has fallen to the Syrian army.
Residents fled as government forces bombarded the city's Baba Amr neighborhood for nearly a month. On Thursday, the rebels withdrew.
When the Syrian uprising began nearly a year ago, Baba Amr saw regular, daily protests. Then after months of being shot, detained and tortured, protesters began taking up arms. Those armed civilians were later joined by defectors from the Syrian military, and together, they called themselves the Free Syrian Army.
College and university presidents are wringing their hands over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to revisit the issue of affirmative action next fall. Critics of racial preferences are thrilled because the court could significantly restrict the use of race in admissions, but proponents of affirmative action say this would be a huge setback for institutions struggling to diversify their student body.
President Barack Obama was in New Hampshire today talking about energy. As New Hampshire Public Radio’s Josh Rogers reports, the president said the country needs to increase oil production while also investing in newer sources of energy.
Billed an official visit, at times the President’s stop had the feel of campaign rally. Mr. Obama told the crowd he knew NH’s "political bull detector" was sharp, and urged voters to be wary of election year promises.
Iran holds parliamentary elections on Friday, the first since the disputed, and many believe fraudulent, presidential election in 2009.
But unlike that presidential poll, candidates seeking to take on the country's conservative rulers will not be taking part Friday; they are mostly under house arrest or have been in prison for years now.
The focus will be on which conservatives end up on top and how many votes are cast.
Cars decorated with white ribbons and carnations drove around Moscow's Garden Ring Road in a wet snow this past Sunday, honking cheerfully to the thousands of demonstrators on the sidewalk who formed a human chain around the city.
Elena Korobova was a link in that chain.
"I want to get rid of Putin, because I don't like his policy, I don't like what he's doing for Russia," she says of Vladimir Putin, Russia's current prime minister.
The sound of one of this year's Grammy-nominated reggae albums, Harlem-Kingston Express Live, may seem perplexing at first. But don't let the blend of swing and dub confuse you: That's just the unique sound of pianist Monty Alexander.
Alexander's music has variously been described as bebop, calypso and reggae. But after 50 years in music and more than 70 albums, he's earned the right to call his music simply his own.
Alexander grew up in Jamaica playing the piano and the accordion, and he was versed in the up-and-coming popular music of the island.