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Pope Francis plans a symbolically freighted trip to Mexico

Pope Francis travels to Mexico this week, saying he wants to "live the faith" of the overwhelmingly Catholic country but will not shy away from confronting issues of violence and corruption that could make his governmental hosts quite uncomfortable. History's first pontiff from the Americas will...

Great Reads

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Fleeing Syria

Video of a dead city: This is what Syria's devastation looks like

It was oddly tranquil up there on the roof of an obliterated commercial center in the Old City of Homs, once ground zero of Syria’s sanguinary conflict. A panorama of ruin spread in all directions, the ghost of a vibrant community, blown apart in body and spirit. Empty streets sliced through rubble...

Confronting Islamic State

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  • Syrian forces, aided by Russian airstrikes, move closer toward a siege on Aleppo

    Syrian forces, aided by Russian airstrikes, move closer toward a siege on Aleppo

    Pro-government forces backed by Russian airstrikes consolidated their grip Friday on strategic terrain in northwestern Syria, escalating an offensive that has pushed thousands of civilians toward Turkey and raised the prospect of a siege on the long-divided city of Aleppo. The Syrian army, backed...

  • How are Muslims around the world reacting to Obama's visit to a mosque?

    How are Muslims around the world reacting to Obama's visit to a mosque?

    President Obama's first visit to an American mosque since taking office predictably drew criticism from his opponents on the campaign trail and conservative commentators. But what was the reaction from the world's 1.5 billion Muslims? For the most part, a collective shrug.The symbolism of Wednesday's...

  • The media war at Syria peace talks

    The media war at Syria peace talks

    The tightly packed throng of journalists shouted and jostled, straining to grab the attention of United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura at the start of much-anticipated talks aimed at ending the long-running civil war in Syria. Finally, a correspondent for Syrian state TV, Elissar Moualla,...

Around the World

On the Ground

  • Despite theologians' disapproval, more Iranians are discovering the joy of pets

    Despite theologians' disapproval, more Iranians are discovering the joy of pets

    When Ehsan Kaveh was studying for his medical school exams in the Iranian capital, the stress was getting to both him and his wife, Rima, an IT specialist. But a family friend, a veterinarian, thought he had a solution — a snow-white Persian cat named Eli. "He said 'Try keeping this cat for two...

  • Five years later, the voices of dissent are long gone from Tahrir Square

    Five years later, the voices of dissent are long gone from Tahrir Square

    Five years ago, Tahrir Square became the watchword for change in the Middle East. On Monday, it echoed with the voices of the status quo. Hundreds of people gathered in the square on an unusually cold and rainy day to mark the anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising that led to the ouster of autocratic...

  • In Mumbai, club weddings call for grand receptions

    In Mumbai, club weddings call for grand receptions

    It's winter in Mumbai, which means the Queen's Necklace, the nickname for the sea-hugging boulevard whose street lamps evoke a string of pearls, is lighted more gaudily than usual. Along a half-mile stretch of the thoroughfare sits a succession of private clubs known as gymkhanas, where generations...

  • Taiwanese turn old shipping containers into sheds, offices, homes and more

    Taiwanese turn old shipping containers into sheds, offices, homes and more

    They're used as roadside betel nut stands. Tool sheds for farms. And increasingly, as houses, offices, retail showrooms and restaurants. They're the 40-foot steel containers too battered or rusted for continued use in shipping cargo from the western Pacific export powerhouse to markets around the...

  • Myanmar rappers rewrite women's roles in their lyrics

    Myanmar rappers rewrite women's roles in their lyrics

    With their tattoos, loud tank tops and super-short shorts, Thazin Nyunt Aung and Aye Aye Aung don't dress like most Myanmar women. The country's first female rap group, the duo known as Y.A.K. sometimes finds itself at performances or recording studios alongside demure, warbly voiced divas who...

  • Beijing's new favorite gadget reads pollution levels

    Beijing's new favorite gadget reads pollution levels

    For Beijing residents obsessed with air pollution, the stocking stuffer of the season is a smog-detecting gadget called the Laser Egg. The device is the size of a large orange and can be used at home, in the car or anywhere air pollution is a concern — which in Beijing these days is basically everywhere....

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