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Deborah Amos

The dark side of Saudi Arabia's reform campaign became apparent last week when 10 activists, mostly women's rights campaigners, were arrested as the Saudi media denounced them as "traitors." The clampdown comes just weeks ahead of the kingdom's much-publicized June 24 lifting of its prohibition on women driving.

The arrests were widely condemned by Western human rights organizations. But even supporters of the kingdom were taken aback by the move.

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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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The Saudi prince behind the weekend's unprecedented arrest of high-level Saudi officials and businessmen is known as young and brash, and has even been called reckless. He is also known to be in tune with Saudi Arabia's youth; those under 25 make up a majority of the country's population.

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In Saudi Arabia, women are celebrating the king's decision allowing women to drive.

MADEHA AL AJROUSH: As a woman, I really feel that my self-dignity and respect is returned.

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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The weapon involves smart technology, though not a smart bomb. It's actually smart water. NPR's Deborah Amos reports on people fighting extremists with a paintbrush.

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