KRWG

Deborah Amos

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Updated at 5:38 p.m. on Monday

The Trump administration retaliated Saturday against Syria's suspected chemical weapons attack, launching missiles with France and the U.K. targeting Syrian regime facilities.

"This is about humanity, and it cannot be allowed to happen," President Trump said earlier last week, pledging a forceful response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's aggressions.

New evidence presented in a Washington, D.C., federal court claims that American journalist Marie Colvin was killed in a targeted assassination by the Syrian regime in 2012.

Colvin, who was 56 when she died, was reporting on the Syrian war for The Sunday Times of London. Rémi Ochlik, a 28-year-old French freelance photojournalist, died in the same attack in the western Syrian city of Homs.

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As Christians all over the world celebrate Easter weekend, dozens of fellow faithful are growing weary — waiting for the virtual gates of America's refugee services to reopen.

With Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman embarking on a nearly three-week road show across the United States, he will have one major hurdle: Americans don't like his country very much.

Despite a 75-year economic and military alliance with Saudi Arabia and regular royal visits, 55 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the kingdom, according to a Gallup poll in February.

Even longtime U.S. adversaries like China and Cuba have scored more favorably.

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Saudi Arabia replaced a generation of its military leadership, for the first time opened some military jobs to women and promoted a woman to a top post at the Labor Ministry, in a series of rare steps in the ultraconservative kingdom.

Reported by the official Saudi Press Agency late Monday, the royal decrees are the latest move in a dramatic campaign to overhaul the country's institutions led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful son of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

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Last year began with an angry phone call about refugees, famously leaked later. The newly inaugurated Donald Trump exploded when Australia's prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, asked him to honor a U.S. pledge to resettle some 1,200 refugees from Australia's offshore detention centers.

"This is a stupid deal," Trump fumed to an astonished Turnbull. "This shows me to be a dope."

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In this riveting detective story, Vancouver writer Deborah Campbell goes undercover in Syria in 2007. At first, she is a journalistic sleuth: On a tourist visa in Damascus, her aim is to collect the stories of Iraqis fleeing to Syria as the brutal war in Iraq drives more than a million civilians across the Syrian border, stories that depict the legacy of the U.S. invasion.

It will be four years before Syria begins to come apart — but the signs are there, as past and future conflicts converge.

Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the United States, is not known for surprises. But in a sudden shift in power, the 31-year-old son of the 81-year-old Saudi king moved one step closer to the throne on Wednesday.

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud promoted Mohammed bin Salman, his youngest son, to crown prince. At the same time, the king ended the career of his nephew, 57-year-old Mohammed bin Nayef, the previous crown prince, who had served as interior minister since 2015.

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President Trump's administration is about to stop Syrians from entering the United States. Some, of course, are already here. And NPR's Deborah Amos has the story of what one of them does.

Groups that resettle refugees in the United States are facing uncertainty, disarray and possible deep budget cuts as a result of President Trump's executive order on immigration, even after a California appeals court has temporarily halted enforcement.

Here's why:

The federal appeals court that blocked the president's travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim nations did not directly rule out two provisions in the executive order. Refugee resettlement agencies are scrambling to figure out what they will do if those provisions survive.

The Trump administration says it is suspending all refugee admissions to the United States until it can come up with a plan for "extreme vetting."

So what could that mean?

Refugees are already subjected to multiple interviews and a security vetting by nine U.S. law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies that check their backgrounds, social media activity and the reasons they fled their countries. The process usually takes 18 months or more, according to resettlement agencies.

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When Almothana Alhamoud, a 31-year-old Syrian data analyst, arrived in Chicago two years ago after fleeing the Syrian war, he jumped at his first job offer, a nightshift cashier at a convenience store.

"When I came over here I just want to find anything to survive," he says over dinner with his family in Chicago. His parents and two sisters fled Damascus six months after he did. The family has applied for asylum in the U.S.

Osama, a Syrian refugee who resettled five months ago in Princeton, N.J., did not sleep on election night after listening to the results.

"The whole world is affected by American elections," he said during an English lesson with his wife, Ghada, the next morning at their dining room table. The family, which still has relatives in Syria, has asked that it be identified by first names only.

Donald Trump's election has sent tremors through America's refugee advocate community, and caused fear and uncertainty among the most recently resettled refugees, the Syrians. They listened with alarm as candidate Trump called them "terrorists" and blamed them, incorrectly, for violent attacks in America.

Fadi al-Asmi has learned to adjust his Syrian pastries to American tastes at the City Steam Brewery café in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. "America, chocolate!" he says, as he adjusts his baseball cap and serves his latest chocolate-encrusted confection.

It's not the only thing he's learned since he and his family were catapulted into a new life after arriving as refugees in May.

On a bright spring afternoon this May, Tom Charles drove to Newark International Airport to pick up a family of Syrian refugees. Charles is an attorney and a bank consultant, devoted to data and details, but he had scant information on the family that would become part of his life for the next year.

He was also sure the Syrian family knew nothing about his team from Nassau Presbyterian Church, who would drive them from the airport to a donated house in Princeton, N.J.

For Alissa Berger and her family, it was the first visit to the Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, N.J.

"We are from Temple Emanu-El," says Jenny Tananbaum, who came with the Bergers and refers to the nearby Jewish synagogue.

"We are here to adopt a Syrian family," says Berger. "We are going to work with a family for a year to help them." This is not a handout, she says, but practical help to upgrade inadequate housing, make sure the utilities work and help with employment and navigating American culture.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

When 31 governors called for a ban on Syrian refugees coming into the U.S. after last November's terrorist attacks in Paris, it united faith-based communities across the country. They are challenging the wave of opposition to these refugees by taking a leading role in resettling them.

The Obama administration is on track to make its goal of admitting and resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees before the end of September, despite concerns that Islamic militants could enter with them.

"The current pace of arrivals will continue through the end of this fiscal year so we may exceed 10,000," said Anne Richard, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration in a conference call with reporters on Friday. "For next year, we will continue to welcome large numbers of Syrians."

Four years ago, veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin, an American reporter for a British newspaper, was killed in Syria.

Now her family has filed a lawsuit alleging that high-ranking Syrian officials deliberately killed the award-winning reporter.

Abdulnasser Gharem doesn't have the background you might expect for a successful artist – let alone one famous for edgy work from Saudi Arabia. He was once a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi army. He went to high school with two of the 9/11 hijackers.

Here's something that never used to happen in Saudi Arabia:

In the wake of the crisis with Iran, Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's deputy crown prince and defense minister, as well as King Salman's favored son, gave a five-hour interview to a reporter from The Economist, and the British news magazine published the entire transcript.

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