Editor's note: The author is a Syrian citizen living in Damascus and is not being further identified for safety concerns.
The major blast that rocked Damascus at midday Monday took place in what has come to be called the "Square of Security," an area of about a dozen urban neighborhoods or so that are under tight government security.
It's also home to major government buildings, including the Parliament, various ministries, major intelligence branches and foreign embassies, now mostly closed.
From the NPR Newscast: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson on the protest in Hanover
At a trade fair in Hanover, Germany, on Monday, three women protesters got quite close to Russian President Vladimir Putin before stripping off their blouses and shouting expletives at the Russian leader.
Putin, who was joined at the fair by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, later sarcastically thanked the women for calling the news media's attention to the gathering.
"As to this action, I liked it," Putin said, according to a German translator. The Russian leader added that the protesters were "pretty girls" and said he couldn't hear what they were screaming.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We've been talking a lot about college readiness on this program. Often the focus is kids from tough backgrounds. Now, though, we're hearing that even some high achieving college students just aren't college ready. We'll talk about why that might be later in the program.
Airs Monday, April 8 at 11 a.m. This week's Pittsburgh Symphony concert features Christoph Koning who makes his Heinz Hall debut with the Prokofiev Symphony No. 1 and the Brahms Second Symphony . Pianist Gabriela Montero, who trained at the Royal Academy of Music and is known for her incredible improvisations, returns to Heinz Hall to perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
A new paper in the journal Nature says scientists have been seriously underestimating the amount of dengue around the globe.
The study says there could be as many as 400 million dengue infections worldwide each year making it more prevalent than malaria. This is four times higher than the current dengue prevalence estimate of the World Health Organization.
The mayors of Shreveport and Bossier City have proclaimed April 7 - 13 Barbershop Harmony Week. It coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker presented the proclamation to the River Cities Jubilee Barbershop Chorus on Sunday. The northwest Louisiana chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society was formed more than 60 years ago.
Rutgers University says it plans to have an "independent adviser ... conduct a review of the circumstances surrounding the men's basketball program as well as the procedures used to investigate allegations related to former head coach Mike Rice."
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died Monday following a stroke. She was 87. Despite many accomplishments during her 11 years in office, she was a divisive figure, and there is still much bitterness surrounding the woman who was dubbed the Iron Lady.