This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
While there are many signs that the American economy is picking up steam, in much of the European Union, the opposite is true. Austerity programs aimed at reducing national debts have been blamed for crushing growth and sending unemployment in the eurozone nations to a record high of 12 percent.
A Syrian soldier walks through the hotly contested city of Qusair on May 22. The Syrian army, backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, has been waging a fierce fight with rebels in the key western city for the past two weeks.
Credit Mahmoud Zayyat / AFP/Getty Images
Relatives of a Lebanese Hezbollah fighter grieve at his funeral in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on May 22. Hezbollah fighters have been supporting the Syrian army in its battle against rebels just across the border in Qusair, Syria.
Syria's government appears to be making gains this week in a battle against rebel forces in the key city of Qusair, along the border with Lebanon. NPR's Steve Inskeep traveled to the edge of the city, and we hear from him first, followed by Kelly McEvers, who reports from just across the frontier in Lebanon.
A Syrian provincial governor told us this week that the government army has largely retaken Qusair, though a battle continues for the airport. We asked to see for ourselves.
If you're trying to grow a business in Nigeria and you want investors, you want Nigeria's economy to look as big as possible.
Bayo Puddicombe and Zubair Abubakar own a company called Pledge 51, which creates applications for Nigeria's low-tech cellphones. One of their most popular games lets players pretend to drive the notoriously wild buses crisscrossing the Nigerian city Lagos. It's called Danfo, after the buses.
Brazil is a paradise for birds; the country has more than 1,700 species. Among them is the colorful toucan, a bird with an almost comically giant bill that can be half as long as its body. There are lots of different types of toucan — red-breasted, channel-billed, keel-billed, saffron toucanet — each with its own color-scheme and distinctive call.
On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a backhoe stacks freshly cut trees to be made into pulp and paper. Asia Pulp and Paper, or APP, is Indonesia's largest papermaker, and the company and its suppliers operate vast plantations of acacia trees here that have transformed the local landscape.
When I recommend books to kids or grown-ups, I can almost always get them interested if I add "Oh, and after you read this book, you could go on a field trip to the museum/zoo/baseball stadium/library ... or just take a little road trip!" Spring 2013 has been a very good year for children's books that spark the imagination and make kids (and grownups) want to do a little more exploring.
Books like these can be the start of amazing adventures. Enjoy!
Mara Alpert is a librarian in the Children's Literature Department at the Los Angeles Public Library.
It might come as a surprise that for centuries the French have been sans a term for "French kiss."
But, voila! The newest edition of the Petit Robert 2014 dictionary has rectified that with a new verb — "galocher," meaning "to kiss with tongues." It's a clever derivation of la galoche, a word for an ice-skating boot, and so evokes the idea of sliding around the ice — or the lips and tongue.
When Herman Boudreau joined the U.S. Army in 1941, he set in motion a lifetime of public service. Boudreau, who died in April at age 93, served in the Army in New Zealand and the South Pacific during World War II.
He spent more than two years fighting the Japanese, and years later shared many of his war experiences with his daughter, Nancie Smith. In one incident, she says, he had to secure an airfield while removing the last Japanese resistance on three occupied islands.
Melissa Block speaks with New York Times reporter Karla Zabludovsky about El Salvador's national policy restricting abortions under any circumstances — a decision that puts one 22-year-old at particularly high risk.
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) to measure radiation exposure on the way to Mars. Now, it's recording similar data on Mars' surface. This image is a composite self portrait taken on Feb. 3, 2013.
There was great fanfare when the Mars Science Laboratory launched in November 2011, and again when its precious cargo — NASA's Mars rover Curiosity — touched down on the red planet in August 2012.
The eight months in between had drama of their own. Curiosity was constantly bombarded with radiation as it traveled through space — high-energy protons thrown out by the sun, and galactic cosmic rays slicing through the solar system from distant supernovas.
Sometimes the most powerful and transformative technologies emerge by accident, an unintended consequence of other developments. When this happens, the scope and power of the new technology can't be fully appreciated until after we have embedded it in our culture.
On June 9, Kenny Barron turns 70 — and he's celebrating in style. The pianist, composer and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master has booked a week-long residency with his quartet at the Village Vanguard in New York and a live WBGO/NPR webcast on June 5.
All Things Considered's Found Recipes series isn't just about food. It's about drinks, too — including those that require a valid form of ID.
And the best cocktail is one that's well-balanced, according to bartender Chad Phillips. It will "leave you feeling completely satisfied and better about your life than the second you sat down at my bar," he says.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Over more than two years, the conflict in Syria progressed from protest to civil war, opposition aims from reform to revolution, and the nature of the fighting became increasingly sectarian. Now another important turn as foreign troops openly join one side.