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During almost two weeks since a cease-fire took effect in Syria, hundreds of people have been killed. The killing continues despite the agreement by Syria's government and rebels, and despite the presence of United Nations monitors. NPR's Kelly McEvers is tracking this situation from Beirut.

Hi, Kelly.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Hi.

INSKEEP: What's gone wrong?

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Now Marco Rubio happens to be one of those regularly mentioned as a possible vice presidential choice for Mitt Romney. And that's where we pick up our discussion with Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays. Cokie, good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: So is the vice presidential choice an opportunity for Romney to appeal to Hispanics?

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In the southern French city of Toulouse, police are in a stand-off with a man suspected of carrying out a series of shootings. The suspect is described as a 24-year-old French citizen, of North African heritage. He is said to be an al-Qaida sympathizer.

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One more Arab nation is changing a longtime leader. Yemen's president for 33 years was Ali Abdullah Saleh. Today, millions of Yemenis vote. And they're being asked to ratify a plan under which Saleh's vice president will replace him. NPR's Kelly McEvers is in Yemen's capital Sana'a.

And, Kelly, where exactly are you in the capital city?

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Some new research throws into question things we say all the time about the Internet. The research focuses on Twitter, the service that lets many millions of people send short messages to each other from computers or cell phones. It's commonly said that social networking like this is revolutionary, that it's created new communities, even that it's obliterated geography. You can connect with people who share common interests, not just people who happen to live nearby. NPR's Shankar Vedantam is here to explode all that. Hi, Shankar.

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The U.S. economy is improving, even though Americans keep having to look over their shoulders at Europe. The state of the economy affects everything in American politics right now, from the presidential election to the budget that the White House lays out today.

NPR's Cokie Roberts has some analysis, as she does the most Mondays. Cokie, good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, so what does the president's budget tell us?

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Fighting in Syria has intensified within a few miles of the capital city. Damascus has remained under firm government control, but in the suburbs, the army has sent in tanks to retake areas that had been under the affective control of rebels. Activists inside Syria say more than 60 people have been killed in the past day. NPR's Kelly McEvers is monitoring the situation from Beirut. She's on the line. Hi Kelly.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Hello.

INSKEEP: How did this fighting develop in the suburbs?

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Pakistan's civilian government is in the midst of one of the many dramas that seem to occupy all its time. The prime minister appeared before the country's Supreme Court. He was ordered to explain why he should not be held in contempt. The prime minister has been refusing to prosecute a corruption case against his own boss, President Asif Ali Zardari.

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Let's talk, now, about the reported settlement in last year's deadly coal mine disaster in West Virginia. Details are expected later this morning, but NPR and other news organizations have confirmed some elements of a $200 million settlement that involves civil and criminal penalties levied against the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine.

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Our colleague David Greene has done so much distinguished work for NPR that we've decided to send him to Siberia - really. David is wrapping up two years in Russia with a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which crosses that gigantic country. He's head east from the capital, Moscow. We reached him about 150 miles into the journey in the city of Yaroslavl. Hi, David.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Hey there, Steve.

INSKEEP: Why wrap up your time in Russia with this train ride?

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Let's remember a bit of very recent history. Back in August, Congress came close to defaulting on U.S. government debts. Republicans wanted big cuts in spending. They finally got some, but a deal with President Obama pushed more deficit reductions off to the future, to a bipartisan committee which has been meeting this fall, and now has one week left until its deadline to reach a deal.

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The pro basketball season had been getting canceled a couple of weeks at a time, but now the entire season could be lost. Players rejected last night what the owners said was their best offer. And the players made a dramatic move as well. They actually disbanded as a union. We're going to talk about this with NPR's Mike Pesca. He joins us from the studios of our member station WBUR in Boston.

Mike, good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

INSKEEP: Hope WBUR is taking good care of you up there.

PESCA: They are.