Syrian exiles, both defecting soldiers and civilian protesters, have slipped across the border into northern Lebanon seeking safety from the Syrian government and its relentless crackdown on opponents.
But even here, they can literally hear the shooting from across the border in the restive Syrian town of Homs, less than 20 miles away. They express fear that President Bashar Assad's forces will track them down in Lebanon. Those most at risk are army defectors who are hiding out in small Lebanese villages.
Hollywood inhabitants always joke that nobody can understand the profit and loss statements of films. There's an old expression: "We shoulda shot the deal instead of the movie — it's got a better plot." The same, it seems to me, could be said of the economics of college athletics.
One week before the pro baseball season ended, Florida Marlins pitcher Leo Nunez made a stunning admission: For the past 10 years, he lied about both his age and his name. As the subterfuge finally came apart, Nunez left for his native Dominican Republic. Details about why he assumed someone else's identity are only now coming out.
"His real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo," Miami Herald reporter Frances Robles tells NPR's Lynn Neary. "And when he was 17, he assumed a friend's identity, who was 16 — because the teams pay so much more money for 16-year-olds."
In the past 17 days, people visiting Munich's Oktoberfest drank a record 7.5 million liters of beer — around 1.98 million U.S. gallons. That figure is made more striking if one notes that the festival, which ended Monday, hosted some 6.9 million visitors this year — or 200,000 people short of a record turnout.
Despite that number, there was less violence this year, with the police being called about 100 times fewer than they were in 2010. And Reuters says that only 58 conflicts involved people knocking one another over the head with steins — a drop of 4 from last year.
Brian Vandevender says a tough economic market prevented him from getting a good job until the state brought back the program it calls STEPS 2 last month. He just got a position working for a company that makes auto parts and supplies and hopes it will turn into a full-time job when STEPS ends in December.
Credit Kathy Lohr / NPR
Jamita Washington was unemployed for two years before the STEPS program was introduced in Mississippi. She landed a full-time position at a manufacturing plant in Vicksburg and has remained employed for 18 months.
As President Obama sells his jobs initiative across the country, people in Mississippi point to a program they say is already creating jobs. Mississippi has attracted attention because economists like the way the state got employers to share the cost of hiring workers.
Under the Subsidized Transitional Employment Program and Services, or STEPS for short, the state pays part of the cost of workers' salaries in the hopes that the subsidy will lead to full-time jobs.
Some analysts say this could be a national model, but it comes with a price tag.
A man walks up to an ATM machine outside a Bank of America branch in Los Angeles on Sept. 12. Bank of America has said it will charge customers a $5 monthly fee to use its debit card — a plan that has set off grumbling from consumer advocates at the highest levels.
President Obama has waded into the controversy over bank card fees, suggesting that Bank of America is mistreating its customers with a plan to start charging a $5 monthly fee for the use of its debit card.
In an interview Monday with ABC, the president seemed to suggest the fee could become a target for the federal government's new financial watchdog agency.
"This is exactly why we need this Consumer [Financial] Protection Bureau that we set up, that is ready to go," he said.
For years, it was common to see images of Chinese people riding bikes in massive packs, coursing along the streets of Beijing or other sprawling metropolises. Then, as the nation's economy took off, bicycles came to be seen as part of the country's past — and cars as a sign of its future.
In Tripoli, Libya, women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime and call for a strengthening of women's rights, Sept. 2. After playing large but largely unsung roles during the uprising, women are now seeking a greater political role.
Credit Karim Sahib / AFP/Getty Images
A woman flashes the victory sign with the colors of Libya's new flag on her fingers as demonstrators rallied in support of the Transitional National Council in Tripoli on Monday. Women are seeking an expanded role following Libya's revolution.
One recent day in Tripoli, hundreds of people strolled through a charity fundraiser organized by the women in Libya's capital city.
Ladies sold baked goods and handicrafts in rows of stalls. For the kids, there was a moon bounce and face painting. There was even a rock band that could use some practice.
It was a lot like charity bazaars in towns across the U.S., with a couple of notable exceptions: most of the women wore headscarves and among the more popular items for sale were hand-knitted versions of the Libyan flag.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou addresses a meeting of the Federation of German Industry in Berlin, Sept. 27. He is the son and grandson of Greek prime ministers, but his critics say he is betraying the work of his father, who built up the Greek welfare state.
Credit Sylvia Poggioli / NPR
A poster depicts Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou as an American puppet. The words on the hand hitting Papandreou's face are "never again".
Greek Prime Minster George Papandreou, who was born and raised in the U.S., belongs to Greece's most important political dynasty — he's the son and grandson of prime ministers.
And yet just two years after he led the Socialist party to victory, his popularity has plummeted, his debt-stricken country is at the heart of the eurozone crisis and he faces the daunting task of dismantling the generous welfare state his father created.
Originally published on Wed October 12, 2011 8:03 am
You think your job is tough? Some scientists examined sewage from Pittsburgh, Barcelona and Addis Ababa in a hunt for unknown viruses.
They found scads. How many? At least 43,381.
To put that number into perspective, consider that up to now scientists have charted only about 3,000 viruses. And among the known viruses found in the sewage samples, only 17 were bugs that cause human disease — things like the common cold virus, diarrhea-causing Norwalk virus and human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer and genital warts.
Originally published on Tue October 4, 2011 4:01 pm
Today was widely expected to bring the announcement of the iPhone 5 — maybe with a bigger screen, a different home button, or a differently shaped case — at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California.
That's not to say Apple didn't say anything of note at its rather lengthy presentation. Not at all. But the big game-changing piece of new hardware didn't come to pass. Aficionados waited, wondering and chattering on liveblogs and on Twitter to see if it would come at the end in Apple's traditional "one more thing" fashion.
With the Dow Jones industrial average and other market indexes around 20 percent below their recent peaks, the very definition of a "bear market," there's understandably a fair amount of concern among investors and everyone else who watches the economic indicators.
Apple Inc. has unveiled the company's updated version of the iPhone 4, called the iPhone 4S. The phone, which will be launched on Oct. 14, is very similar to the iPhone 4's styling. But it features all-new hardware inside, according to Apple.
With an improved battery and software, the phone allows six hours of browsing on a 3G network, and nine hours of Wi-Fi browsing, according to Apple. And the phone also has an 8 megapixel camera with an improved sensor. The camera will reportedly allow for HD video recording in 1080p resolution, with image stabilization.
Last year Americans hit the road 112 million times after drinking too much.
That statistic, just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is nothing to be proud about. But it's worth noting that the number of alcohol-impaired driving episodes has declined 30 percent since peaking at 161 million in 2006.
Some 4 million adults in the U.S. drove while impaired by alcohol last year, the CDC estimates. That works out to about 479 episodes for every 1,000 adults.
Nearly 18 months after a disastrous oil spill killed wildlife and endangered the futures of fishermen and resort businesses along the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government announces it will regulate not only the operators of offshore oil rigs, but the contractors who own and work on them, as well.
The shift in enforcement is one of several changes announced in the past 24 hours, as federal regulators seek to ensure the Gulf spill catastrophe does not recur.
Guy Narbonne, a paleontologist at Queen's University in Ontario, inspects a fossil at the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland. It is filled with half-a-billion-year-old treasures like this one.
Credit Marc Laflamme for NPR
Look closely. See a horizontal ridge running through the middle of the photo? That's a closeup of a fossil of the oldest and largest multi-cellular creature on Earth.
Sometimes the solution to a new problem is right in front of you – or, in the case of one community in Newfoundland, right under their feet. That's where residents, who partnered with paleontologists, discovered that fossils could serve as engines for tourism — and scientific research — in an area that had hit tough times.
Originally published on Tue October 4, 2011 9:50 am
The trial of the Nigerian man who authorities say tried to set off a bomb hidden in his underwear as a jetliner prepared to land in Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 began with some drama today in Detroit.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab declared as jury selection got underway that "Anwar is alive" — a reference to American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed on Friday by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
There's a poignant moment right at the top of Sesame Street's new prime-time special, "Growing Hope Against Hunger." Everybody's gathered for a food drive near Hooper's store when, Lily, a new Muppet developed specifically for the show, reveals to Elmo that "sometimes I go with my family to the food pantry." Elmo is clearly jolted by the news. "Elmo never even has to think about where his next meal is coming from," he says.
Tinkering with success can be a dangerous thing. A redesigned version of the Toyota Camry, America's best-selling car for the past nine years, is going on sale in the U.S.
Toyota recently lost market share and has suffered through bad PR due to recalls, in addition to dealing with the continuing aftereffects of the Japan earthquake. Toyota executives are betting on the new Camry to jump-start the company's future.
One of the hottest stories this morning is word that, as The Associated Press puts it, "mortgage giant Fannie Mae knew about allegations of improper foreclosure practices by law firms in 2003 but did not act to stop them, a government watchdog says."
There's been a deadly bombing today in the capital of Somalia.
"Islamist militants detonated a truck bomb Tuesday in front of the Ministry of Education in Mogadishu, killing at least 70 people, wounding dozens and shattering a relative calm that had prevailed ... for weeks," The Associated Press reports.