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Over the last four years of the Mexican drug war, the country's northern border has become one of the most violent parts of the country. Yet recently that same part of Mexico has been booming economically.

The duty-free maquiladora assembly plants along the border are rapidly adding jobs, and exports to the United States are reaching record levels.

Part 5 of a 6-part series

Let's say you're the mayor. It's your city, it's where you wake up. But are you thinking about Washington each morning, or do you zip out of the house in your mayor's outfit with your smartphone, and see what you can get done yourself?

If you're Wayne Seybold, the mayor of Marion, Ind., it's a bit of both.

Bringing the 1996 Summer Olympic Games to Atlanta was a long shot. Athens, Greece, was the sentimental favorite to host the centennial games, and tension was palpable as IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch made the announcement back on Sept. 18, 1990.

"The International Olympic Committee has awarded the 1996 Olympic Games to the city of ... Atlanta," Samaranch revealed.

During Washington's heated debate over the debt ceiling, President Obama and others in the administration canceled several campaign fundraisers as work on a compromise dragged on. But on Wednesday night, the eve of his 50th birthday, Obama went out to raise money at a pair of birthday-themed events in Chicago. The election is a long way off, but the country's long-term financial obligations seem certain to become a prime issue.

When it comes to this White House and judges, there's a string of firsts. The first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. The first openly gay man on a federal district court. And the first women nominees who are Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Obama administration officials say that's by design.

Alarm is spreading through international markets as Italy, the eurozone's third largest economy, risks being sucked into the debt crisis. After a long silence, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi addressed Parliament — and insisted that the country's economy is strong, while rebuffing opposition calls for his resignation.

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NPR's Kelly McEvers is in Yemen and sends this report.

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The currency of Switzerland has soared to record highs against the U.S. dollar and the euro. And that has the Swiss government worried, as a stronger franc also makes the country's exports more expensive.

Investors have rushed to buy Swiss francs, seeing them as a safe haven. In much the same way, gold prices have soared in recent times of economic uncertainty. Gold hit a new record this week, trading at $1,661 an ounce.

The Good And Bad News On HIV In The U.S.

Aug 3, 2011

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a mixed picture for HIV/AIDS in this country.

While the number of people infected with HIV each year is relatively steady — approximately 50,000 new infections each year — there was a 48 percent increase in the number of young HIV-infected African American men who have sex with men from 2006 to 2009.

'Tis the season of the swimming pool, and here at Shots we've been patronizing our local public pools to escape the heat. One can't, however, frequent a pool without eventually contemplating its cleanliness, especially during a heat wave, when it's packed with people of all ages.

The FAA's partial shutdown will be coming up on the two-week mark Saturday, and there's little sign of movement on the issue. Here's a collection of recent developments to keep you updated:

The shutdown doesn't include air traffic controllers. But it has left 4,000 FAA employees, and an additional 70,000 contractors, either furloughed or fired outright.

NPR's Richard Gonzales spoke to Richard Zemlok, an electrician in Oakland, Calif., who was one of those left without a paycheck:

The stalemate in Congress over funding for the Federal Aviation Administration means the suspension of more than 200 airport expansion and renovation projects around the country, which is putting tens of thousands of people out of work.

Electrician Richard Zemlok is one of 60 engineers and contractors who were laid off in Oakland, Calif., as a result of the dispute.

He's no stranger to layoffs. A taut, barrel-chested man in his 50s, Zemlok spent 22 years at a local Toyota assembly plant before it was shut down last year.

Let's say you're a vampire bat, and you are trying to decide where to bite your victim. You want a spot rich in blood, right? But how do you find such a spot?

Turns out, vampire bats have a kind of remote sensing ability that can tell them where there is a warm patch of skin on a nearby animal. A warm patch of skin means there are blood vessels just below the skin surface. And now scientists have identified the molecular basis for this remote sensing ability.

Watching a lot of TV makes for fatter kids, but media multitasking has taken the place of television in most kids' lives. So parents and pediatricians might want to rethink how they manage children's screen time.

East Africans have always known that crested rats are poisonous. They know that the dogs that tend to attack the foot-long mammal end up viciously sick and deathly scared of the creature.

In eastern Libya, the rebel stronghold of Benghazi is filled with tension following the murder last week of the rebels' top military commander.

Abdel-Fattah Younis was killed in mysterious circumstances. Now, members of his family and his tribe — one of the most powerful in Libya — are accusing the rebel authorities of dragging its feet in the investigation.

Ah, the Out Years.

During the recent debt-ceiling debate, the phrase became a recurring motif. "You've got to look at the deficit not just in the next 10 years," White House political adviser David Plouffe told NPR, "but does it also produce savings in the out years."

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) told the Los Angeles Times that enforcement of the plan will be the key to its success, but "it's always in the out years and it never happens."

When White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley joined President Obama's team at the beginning of the year, he was expected to bring stability and a centrist approach to managing a sometimes chaotic White House.

His close connection to the business world was one of the strongest selling points as chief of staff. Daley built close friendships with business leaders during his years at JPMorgan Chase, and the White House hoped he could undo some of the bad blood that developed between Obama and business leaders during the first two years of the term.

Peer out from an International Space Station window, and you might be greeted by this spectacular view, selected as NASA's image of the day. It's a simultaneous sunset and moonset; because the space station orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, the crew experiences this about 16 times a day. Not bad.

Officials in Jiangmen, China, are banning residents from keeping dogs, in a move that will take effect at the end of August, according to Chinese media. In one week, owners can begin taking their dogs to drop-off centers, where they will be either adopted by residents of rural areas or euthanized.

Update at 6:23 p.m. ET, Thursday: City officials have now relented, and cancelled the ban on dog ownership. Our original post continues:

Last in a three-part series

For a decade, Helen Zhang has had a dream: to run an international scientific journal that meets international standards. So she was delighted to be appointed journal director for Zhejiang University in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

In 2008, when her scientific publication, the Journal of Zhejiang University-Science, became the first in China to use CrossCheck text analysis software to spot plagiarism, Zhang was pleased to be a trailblazer. But when the first set of results came in, she was upset and horrified.

For some inventions, say the light bulb, everyone knows who invented it.

But at the U.S. Capitol on a hot July day, no one seemed to know who invented the air conditioner. Even as the statue of a man many call the air conditioner's inventor stood just down the hall.

After an hour or so of searching, Mike Veselik, from Chicago, came close to knowing.

"I know that a doctor from Florida came up with it, trying to stop people from having fevers I think it was," Veselik said.

The Justice Department announced today that it had made 52 people and charged 72 in connection with an international child pornography ring with members in countries from the United States to Serbia.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the operation was the largest of its kind and took almost two years to complete.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports:

The early Earth had two moons instead of just one — our familiar moon, as well as a smaller companion moon that also rose and set in the sky for tens of millions of years.

That's according to a new theory that says this smaller moon eventually went careening into our moon and is still there, in the form of mountains on its far side.

Scientists have long puzzled over those mountains, and the fact that the two sides of our moon are very different. The near side has flat lowlands, while the far side is high and mountainous.

The White House unveiled its strategy to counter radicalization today, ending months of speculation about how President Obama intends to tackle the problem of violent extremism in this country.

What Washington was worried about and what many Americans have been haunted by has seemed out of synch in recent weeks.

The fiery Washington debate was about the debt-ceiling, while the concerns of millions of Americans was about jobs, either finding or keeping one.

For Washington Democrats, the debt ceiling debate was a distraction from the jobs message they view as key to their re-election efforts.

It turns out the ones with a below average IQ are a number of people in the news media — including us — who were fooled by an elaborate hoax that claimed users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser were slow. We fell for it and so did others like the BBC, CNN, Forbes as well as the IT publication The Register, which we quoted.

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