Robert Ford (left), the U.S. ambassador to Syria, speaks to an unidentified U.S. military attache during a guided government tour in the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur last June. The U.S. has closed its embassy in Syria owing to security concerns, but Ford is using Facebook to stay involved in the country.
The U.S. evacuated the staff of its embassy in Damascus earlier this month owing to security issues. But that hasn't stopped Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, from using social media to keep in touch with events on the ground, and to try to shape them.
Some new research throws into question things we say all the time about the Internet. The research focuses on Twitter, the service that lets many millions of people send short messages to each other from computers or cell phones. It's commonly said that social networking like this is revolutionary, that it's created new communities, even that it's obliterated geography. You can connect with people who share common interests, not just people who happen to live nearby. NPR's Shankar Vedantam is here to explode all that. Hi, Shankar.
Syrian troops have fired rockets and mortars at neighborhoods in the city of Homs that have most fiercely resisted the government throughout the uprising.
Mainstream journalists are barred from entering Homs, so a team of activists decided to record the offensive themselves. The activists positioned their cameras atop buildings in the city. Each morning the view is blue sky, a minaret, a sea of rooftops. Then come the booms.