Latin American cities rank as the most violent in the world. The region suffers from sky-high homicide rates, drug wars and gang violence. NPR is examining the region’s turmoil in a series of reports, beginning with a look at the rampant kidnapping problem in Venezuela.

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A court order has allowed the National Security Agency to collect data on millions of Verizon customers’ phone calls. Some lawmakers and privacy advocates have expressed concern about government overreach. The White House is defending the practice.

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Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be in military court Wednesday. Bales is pleading guilty to murder charges in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. He is expected to give his account of the nighttime killing of 16 Afghan civilians last year.

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Some financial experts say the fees charged by actively managed mutual funds are not worth it. Over the long haul, they could cost a retirement account tens of thousands of dollars. So NPR’s Uri Berliner explores funds that have minimal expenses.

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The assassination of the NAACP field secretary galvanized a growing civil rights movement, the effects of which are still being felt across the South today.

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Despite being buffeted by high unemployment and the recession in recent years, African-Americans expressed high levels of life satisfaction and optimism for the future.

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On Spain’s Atlantic coast, the city of Santander has installed 12,000 sensors that measure everything from when streetlights need to be dimmed to when trash dumpsters are full — saving millions for cash-strapped public coffers. It’s becoming a model for cities worldwide.

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The civil war in Syria is expected to become the focus of peace negotiations in the coming weeks. The city of Homs became famous early in the conflict. While not as many reports are being filed from there, the fighting between rebels and government troops continues.

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Tuberculosis is much less of a health threat in the United States than it is in other countries. But a family in Boston discovered that even here, no one is immune from this ancient foe. More than a dozen family members were infected with TB, and matriarch Judy Williams died at age 59.

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Prosecutors say the soldier downloaded thousands of diplomatic cables and war field reports and sent them to the website WikiLeaks. His trial, which begins Monday, highlights the U.S. government’s aggressive campaign to keep secrets.

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Journalism can be a dangerous profession in any war-torn country. And in Somalia, the youth and inexperience of many reporters can make it even more so. A dozen Somali reporters were gunned down last year, including four at a single organization, Shabelle Media.

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As humans have cut into Brazil’s forests, the toucan population has taken a dive. The trees, in turn, have changed, too: Without large-billed birds to eat fruit with big seeds, only trees with small seeds thrive. Eventually, one scientist says, “the impacts on the forest could be quite dramatic.”

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Interest rates on government-backed college loans are set to double July 1 — unless Congress agrees on a fix before then. The president is expected to urge Congress on Friday to block that increase.

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In 2004, Peter Obetz was in the middle of a divorce when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He says the news was not only a wake-up call for him to change his life, but it also brought him closer to his friend Jeff Jarrett. He’s been cancer-free since 2009.

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For years, literally, congressional Republicans called on the Democratically controlled Senate to pass a budget. They marked the days, reaching more than a thousand before the Senate finally did pass a budget earlier this year. Now Democrats are borrowing a page from the playbook, counting the days since the Senate passed a budget and demanding a conference committee.

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As part of his investing adventure, NPR’s Uri Berliner tries his hand at bulk buying. The idea: Stock up on goods now that you know you’ll need later. It’s a hedge against inflation. But figuring out what to buy and how much isn’t so easy.

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There were questions if U.S. regulators will approve the takeover of the iconic American company by China’s Shuanghui International. And there were also concerns that Shuanghui could ratchet up production to feed the growing demand for meat in China.

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For many veterans in out-of-the-way locations, getting medical care at a VA facility can be expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient. Telemedicine is changing that, providing access to doctors over the Internet.

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Syria’s war has polarized the country. But as in many conflicts, a large portion of the population just wants to keep their heads down and stay out of harm’s way. A visit to the Sayida Zeinab shrine offers a look into the complicated nature of the war.

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The natural gas industry wants to export more of its commodity, but first it has to build infrastructure. In Oregon, companies want to build a 230-mile pipeline and an export terminal on the coast. Some welcome the new jobs but others worry about environmental consequences.

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Management gurus have long preached the value of ethical leadership. In the presence of ethical leadership — but the absence of ethical co-workers — what happens to people’s honesty?

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There’s fear and frustration in the capital, but even people who acknowledge Assad’s flaws often grimly hope for the rebels to go away: They believe the government’s description of the rebels as terrorists and foreigners out to destroy the country.

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President Obama often tells audiences that he has waged his last campaign. But that’s not exactly true. The White House is gearing up for a massive push this summer to get uninsured people to buy health care when sign-ups begin Oct. 1.

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