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A brief encounter between two leaders has raised hope for better relations between India and Pakistan. India's prime minister hosted Pakistan's president and accepted a return invitation to travel to Pakistan. We talk here of two nuclear-armed rivals whose relations were even worse than usual, after Pakistani militants attacked Mumbai in 2008. And the meeting came as disaster struck Pakistani troops facing Indian soldiers in the Himalayas.

NPR's Julie McCarthy is going to talk us through all this. Hi, Julie.

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We're following news this morning of more killings in the Syrian city of Homs. That's the city where rebel neighborhoods came under artillery fire for weeks and where two Western journalists were killed. Rebels later retreated, but residents and activists say pro-government militias have massacred dozens of civilians, mainly women and children. NPR's Kelly McEvers is following this story from Beirut.

And, Kelly, what evidence you have?

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Here's one thing that many people mean when they say Washington is broken. They may mean that politicians from different parties seem unable or totally unwilling to compromise, and many voters hate that. And yet many voters also hate it if politicians from their own party should compromise with the other side. That could be considered giving in. NPR's science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joins us regularly to talk about social science research, and he's found some that relates to this political problem. Hi, Shankar.

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On a Friday morning, it's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Activists and human rights groups in Syria contend the government has now killed hundreds of civilians this week alone. It's hard to verify that number, but it is clear that mortars, rockets and tanks continue firing into the city of Homs. That gunfire has served as a week-long punctuation mark on the United Nation's failure to approve a resolution against Syria. NPR's Kelly McEvers is following the situation from Beirut. She joins us once again.

Hi, Kelly.

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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Here's the latest on the crisis in Syria. The U.S. State Department says it has closed the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, and evacuated its diplomats. The U.S. also issued a warning for all American citizens to leave the country immediately. A State Department spokewoman says the embassy was shut because of concerns that it's not sufficiently protected from armed attack.

Pakistan Update

Jan 16, 2012

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

The civilian government of Pakistan has been under absurd amounts of pressure ever since it won election about four years ago. It's squeezed by the army - which reluctantly surrendered power - by the United States, by a host of insurgents and also by Pakistan's Supreme Court.

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Now, this past Sunday, Mitt Romney's campaign reserve a school gym in Exeter, New Hampshire. The details of that event tell you the style in which the Republican candidate is presenting himself. The campaign selected a small gym, far too is small for the crowd had arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The next president of the United States, Mitt Romney.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

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Authorities in Los Angeles are celebrating the arrest of a suspect in dozens of fires. L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told reporters that residents can finally get some rest.

ZEV YAROSLAVSKY: Our long, four-day nightmare is over. This has been, literally, a nightmare. I haven't had a good night's sleep since last week, and I'm looking forward to one tonight.

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And let's hear one more number. In a CBS/New York Times poll released on Friday, more than half the respondents, 54 percent, said that President Obama does not deserve to be re-elected.

The president appeared on CBS last night, telling "60 Minutes" why he thought he would win the job again, despite that number. And we're going to talk about that and more with NPR's Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays.

Cokie, good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

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