Yet again, Iraqi civilians are fleeing violence in Iraq's sprawling western province of Anbar. Years of under-the-radar daily tension and bloodshed has erupted into another al-Qaida surge and retaliatory Iraqi government airstrikes.
But the violence that brought Iraq back to the headlines, while tragic, was not surprising.
For months, observers had been warning about the combustible combination of the Syrian civil war next door and the alienation of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority.
And with much of the nation is in the middle of this brutal cold snap, let's take a moment to hear from scientists who study other planets or even the chilliest places on Earth. Those researchers commonly encounter temperatures that make this news-making cold seem downright balmy. We asked NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel to find out just how low it can go.
GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: I caught up with researcher Paul Mayewski yesterday just as he was headed out of town.
It sometimes feels like church in the auditorium of the Professional Musicians union in Hollywood. It's a Sunday morning, and hundreds of people are gathered to meditate, sing and listen to inspirational poetry and stories.
But then the live band starts up — performing songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jerry Lee Lewis. And instead of a sermon, there's a lecture by experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Jessica Cail about the biology of gender identification and sexual orientation.
Panama's president on Monday expressed confidence that a multi-billion dollar Panama Canal expansion will get back on track after a European-led consortium threatened to halt construction unless it gets paid for massive cost overruns.
Britain's southwest coast is getting slammed by a winter storm, with high winds driving waves as high as 27 feet ashore in an unusual event that meteorologists say is likely linked to the bone-chilling "polar vortex" gripping much of the U.S.
The unmarked, unpaved streets of Juba, the capital of South Sudan, can be tough for an outsider to navigate.
By the time I found the house of Peter Adwok Nyaba, the country's former minister of higher education, science and technology, it was already 5 p.m. The sun was dangerously low on the horizon. I had less than an hour to interview Adwok and get back to my hotel before the citywide curfew — imposed when the violence began three weeks before — took effect. After 6, there would be no one on the streets except myself and soldiers.
Bangladesh's parliamentary election Sunday proved to be among the most violent vote in the country's short history. At least 18 people were killed, including an election officer who was beaten to death, and scores of polling stations firebombed, according to local media reports.
Switching gears now. Unemployment for young people is another one of those contentious political issues as well as a burden for people living through it. Overall, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is just over 7 percent, but for younger workers it's much higher. For some young workers or would-be workers in sub-groups like black teens, unemployment is at depression levels. But what you might not know is that youth unemployment is a global concern.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, high unemployment in the U.S. is an ongoing political issue - one reason lawmakers right now are starting to talk about extending long-term unemployment benefits. But younger workers have been particularly hard hit during the world-wide economic slowdown. We're going to take a look how youth unemployment around the world is affecting political discussions. That's in just a few minutes.
One of the challenges of writing about China is the country moves fast — sometimes faster than the publishing business. Take Enigma of China, the latest detective novel by Chinese-American author Qiu Xiaolong.
In one scene, Qiu's main character, Inspector Chen, sits in a Shanghai restaurant scanning a hotel where government agents are holding a corrupt official in secret detention.
Recently, Qiu took me on a tour of the book's real-life settings, including the site of that eatery.