Numbers are down at the American International School in Bamako, the capital of Mali.
In just over a year, the country has witnessed a rebellion, a military coup and the occupation by Islamist fighters of the desert northern region, recently largely liberated in a counteroffensive by French-led forces. Despite the troubles, the school is open and classes continue.
Teacher Paul Chandler is taking his combined class of 6th- and 7th-graders through their early paces, learning the Malian music they'll be performing at the annual school concert.
Say what you will about the slow pace of Congress. Lawmakers were really cooking yesterday. Yes, the Minnesota delegation held its Third Annual Hotdish Competition. Nine lawmakers entered but only one could take the official golden casserole dish trophy home. Representative Tim Walz won handily with an artery-clogging recipe, a casserole made of Kraft cheese, tater tots and bratwurst, all seasoned with a bottle of beer.
"Flakes are flying in Minnesota and North Dakota, where up to 10 inches of snow has fallen from an 'Alberta Clipper' that is barreling southeastwards across the U.S.," Weather Underground writes this morning.
The shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in December revived a national debate about gun violence. It's one that is emotional and often highly personal, and it's happening in places far from the halls of Congress. Earlier this week, President Obama was in Minneapolis advocating new limits on guns; no law or set of laws, he said, can keep children completely safe. NPR's David Welna was there for the visit and sent this reporter's notebook about the voices he encountered.