An image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows an airstrike hitting the area around Damascus, Syria, early Sunday.
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.
The Obama administration says it's considering providing arms to rebels fighting to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad if the U.S. can confirm his forces did in fact use the debilitating nerve gas sarin in recent attacks. Coupled with news that Israel reportedly launched an airstrike at a target in Syria to prevent a shipment of missiles from reaching Hezbollah, these events could represent a game changer in the conflict-ravaged nation.
The wedding party poses at the Sun City resort in South Africa, on Wednesday. South Africa's government announced the suspension of a slew of officials and military personnel on Friday as it tried to limit the political and diplomatic fallout from the lavish Indian wedding.
Credit HO / Gupta Family via AFP/Getty Images
Vela Gupta is the niece of South Africa's influential Gupta brothers. Her wedding this week to Aaskash Jahajgarhia has the South African government scrambling to hold officials accountable for alleged security breaches and other special treatment for the wedding party
It's been dubbed Guptagate. The real-life story reads like a Hollywood — or Bollywood — script, and it's dominating the national conversation in South Africa.
It starts with a high-society wedding in South Africa, organized by three wealthy, well-connected and influential brothers named Gupta from India. Then the scandal begins: A private jet flies in 200 guests — including Bollywood stars — from India, landing at a restricted air force security base in Pretoria, allegedly without the appropriate clearance.
Today is May 4, unofficially known as Star Wars Day — seemingly for the lone reason that it presents an opportunity for people to tell one another, "May the Fourth be with you." But fans of the George Lucas films are also using the day as an excuse to break out costumes and photos, and generally let their Jedi flag fly.
It's been two months since the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration officially went into effect. The decision on that was made here in Washington, but the effects are being felt all over the country. Take, for example, a chunk of money called impact aid.
JACK BOOGAARD: There's three different kids that can receive this type of money called impact aid.
This week, Slate magazine published excerpts of the 466-page memoir of Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi. It's a remarkable account of the interrogation methods that were used by the U.S. and their effects. Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Kelly McEvers talks to Larry Siems, who posted the memoirs.
In the bustle and craziness of New York's Times Square on a busy afternoon or night, you will see scores of costumed figures: Batman, Elmo, the Statue of Liberty.
But for more than a dozen years, arguably the most original of these is the Naked Cowboy. His fame has now spawned a franchise, with eight different cowboys and cowgirls.
Almost anytime you go to Times Square, you will see the original Naked Cowboy in a white cowboy hat, white boots and white underwear briefs, with the words "Naked Cowboy" written across his butt. That's all he's wearing.
Protesters demonstrate against plans for a factory to produce paraxylene, a toxic chemical used to make fabrics, in China's Yunnan province on Saturday. In nearby Chengdu, planned protests were thwarted.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
Police in Chengdu, China, announced a "virtual combat exercise" over the weekend, which coincides with a planned protest authorities hope to thwart.
How do you prevent protests in China? Move the weekend.
That's the Orwellian step taken by local authorities in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. May 4 is a sensitive date commemorating an influential student movement in 1919. It's especially potent in Chengdu, where it marks the fifth anniversary of a protest against the construction of a $6 billion crude oil refinery and petrochemical facility in Pengzhou, 25 miles away.
A roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan killed five members of the U.S. Army Saturday, according to military officials. The International Security Assistance Force says an improvised explosive device was used in the attack.
Update at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Another Deadly Attack:
An Afghan National Army soldier "turned his weapon on coalition troops in the west, killing two in the most recent of so-called insider attacks, the AP reports. NPR has confirmed that both victims of that attack are American.
When illustrator Ralph Steadman accepted an assignment with writer Hunter S. Thompson at the Kentucky Derby, he never imagined the weekend that would ensue. Here, Steadman depicts the race's winner, a colt named Dust Commander.
Credit Cartoon Museum
A self-portrait of Steadman.
Credit Cartoon Museum
Steadman's trademark style became inseparable from Thompson's writing, particularly the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
In the spring of 1970, a British illustrator named Ralph Steadman had just moved to America, hoping to find some work. His first call came from a small literary journal called Scanlan's. It was looking for a cartoonist to send to the Kentucky Derby. Steadman had heard of neither the race nor the writer he was to accompany, a fellow named Hunter S. Thompson.
Steadman hadn't read any of Thompson's work, and he certainly didn't know that the writer had a bit of a drinking tendency, but he agreed to go.
It's been 70 years since the letters of John Pryor were understood in their full meaning. That's because as a British prisoner of war in Nazi Germany, Pryor's letters home to his family also included intricate codes that were recently deciphered for the first time since the 1940s.
Pryor's letters served their purpose in World War II, as Britain's MI9 agents decoded the messages hidden within them — requests for supplies, notes about German activities — before sending them along to Pryor's family in Cornwall.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Standing on a rooftop, a man looks at the Springs fire's approaching flames in California Friday. The wildfire, reportedly, 20 percent contained, might be weakened by high humidity and cooler temperatures Saturday.
Firefighters in Southern California are welcoming the latest weather forecast, as lower temperatures and higher humidity could help them control the Camarillo Springs Fire. But the wildfire along the coast remains formidable: It has reportedly burned at least 43 square miles of land and property, nearly doubling in size Friday.
Employees scoop ice cream, which is topped with pistachios, at Bakdash's opening in Amman, Jordan, this week. Bakdash has been a landmark in Damascus, Syria, since 1895. But the war there has made it hard to get supplies, so the owners have set up a new shop in Amman.
Bakdash is a landmark in the Syrian capital, serving the Arab world's most famous ice cream since 1895. Manually churned with wooden paddles, loaded with milk, sugar and a generous coating of pistachios, Bakdash ice cream is memorable treat for any visitor to Damascus.
But, when a branch opened this week in Amman, Jordan, it was seen as another casualty of the Syrian war.
"It means there is no sense of security and safety in Damascus," says journalist Fahd al Kheytaan, "which forced the company to move some of its operation to Jordan."
This type of bulletproof whiteboard, produced by the Maryland company Hardwire, has been purchased by a Minnesota school district.
Credit Courtesy of Hardwire
Cold Spring, Minn., Police Chief Phil Jones (left) and Rocori School District Superintendent Scott Staska hold bulletproof whiteboards in April while announcing the school system's $25,000 investment in the shields.
A recent news item out of Minnesota caught our eye: "Bulletproof Whiteboards Unveiled at Rocori Schools."
Bulletproof what? Where?
That would be whiteboards, at the small central Minnesota Rocori School District, which will spend upward of $25,000 for the protective devices produced by a company better known for its military armor products.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Obama is in Costa Rica today. He's talking with leaders of Central American nations about security and economic trade. Yesterday, the president wrapped up a two-day visit in Mexico, where he tried to steer the focus away from contentious issues like immigration and drug violence. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: During their quick visit, Presidents Obama and Pena Nieto stuck to their focus: the economy.