Robert Siegel

The first Dutch investigators have reached the crash site of the Malaysian airliner shot down in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, fighting broke out in the outskirts of Donetsk between separatists and armed groups supporting the government in Kiev.

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According to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Defense Force has been instructed to begin a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. The move comes 10 days after violence renewed between Hamas and Israel.

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A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying nearly 300 people has crashed in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. In the immediate aftermath, it is not clear whether the plane was shot down, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is calling for a swift investigation.

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One sign of a divided state is a divided military, and Iraq's armed forces are in turmoil. Tens of thousands of troops have taken off their uniforms and fled, rather than fight Sunni extremists. This, despite the fact that the United States spent years and billions of dollars training and equipping the Iraqi army. Well, now American advisors are back, trying to see what can be salvaged.

Federal officials have announced that a young Mississippi girl, once thought to have been cured of HIV, now once again has detectable levels of the virus. This is a setback not just for the child, but also for hope of eradicating HIV in infants with a potent mix of drugs at birth.

After a meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, President Obama addressed the influx of migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border. He signaled his openness to Perry's solutions, saying he'd consider deploying the National Guard, but also called on Congress to offer solutions of its own.

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Israel stepped up its air assault on the Gaza Strip, following the killings of Israeli and Palestinian teens. Unlike air strikes in the past, Israel has tempered its initial show of force for several reasons, but the situation appears to be steadily intensifying.

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House Republicans voted Thursday on leadership positions in the party's caucus. While House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy stepped up to the role of majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise overcame a more crowded competition to replace McCarthy.

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At an unveiling in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon announced its entry into the smartphone market with a new device called "Fire." NPR's Martin Kaste was at the unveiling in Seattle, and he offers his take on the event.

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In a recent Nippon Professional Baseball game in Japan, Kazuhito Tadano threw a slow, arcing pitch that caught the batter by surprise. Video of the play quickly went viral on the Internet, but the pitch has a history — and a name: the eephus pitch. Paul Dickson, author of the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, offers more details.

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Robert Siegel speaks with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is in Kiev leading a team of international election observers set to monitor voting in Ukraine on Sunday.

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President Obama, this week, defended one of his cabinet secretaries and did not create a vacancy at the Department of Veterans Affairs when General Eric Shinseki visited the White House. But as for delays, backlogs and allegations of cooking the books at VA facilities, the president sounded adamant.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable. It is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it, period.

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It's not all politics here in Washington. On Pennsylvania Avenue, there used to be a hotel called the Roger Smith. The top of the hotel's stationery proclaimed it was just one block from the White House. And it's under that heading that one of rock 'n roll's most important figures scribbled out the lyrics to one of his biggest songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A ROLLING STONE")

BOB DYLAN: (Singing) Once upon a time you dressed so fine, you threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?

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There was a time when cell phones were used to make calls and many of the calls were defined by this.

(SOUNDBITE OF NOKIA RINGTONE)

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Long-time fans of the comedy website, "Funny or Die," know this already. But for the rest of you, this is the theme song of "Between Two Ferns." The Web series mimics a low-budget, cable-access interview program.

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Now, health and electrical lighting. Last month, Mariana Figueiro showed me something she has developed to help seniors avoid falls in the night. Figueiro researches health applications at the Lighting Research Center at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Her project is a nightlight. But it's not just a single bulb. It's a string of yellow lights that border the darkened entrance to, say, a bathroom.

It's a doorway and around the frame of the doorway are the yellow LEDs?

MARIANA FIGUEIRO: That's correct.

In Qatar's rapid race to modernity, the emirate has created a distinctive approach to educating its young: It has effectively imported a host of American universities.

Dr. Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of Qatar's ruling family, sits on the Supreme Education Council and owns a few independent schools. For her own children, she wanted a top-flight college education. Her sons were educated in Britain.

Over the past decade, Qatar's population has soared from 660,000 to more than 2 million. Here's the catch: Qataris themselves number only around 260,000.

The rest, more than 85 percent of the population, are not citizens. As Professor Mehran Kamrava, an American scholar at Georgetown University's campus in Qatar, says, they are all migrant workers of varying types.

Qatar is a tiny place that insists on being heard.

The Arab nation just off the coast of Saudi Arabia has made itself a major diplomatic player, a generous donor of foreign aid, and a leader in modernizing education in the region. The ultra-modern capital Doha is full of skyscrapers, museums and history, much of it dating as far back as ... the 1990s.

Qatar is also a commercial capital that aims to become a cultural, sports and tourist center for the Gulf region despite having just 260,000 citizens.

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And I'm Robert Siegel.

An undercover NYPD officer was arraigned Wednesday in connection with a road rage incident that's been viewed thousands of times on YouTube. Det. Wojciech Braszczok is one of several motorcycle riders who've been arrested for their roles in an attack on Alexian Lien, an SUV driver who led bikers on a high-speed chase last month and that ended in his beating.

President Obama, scheduled to address the nation from the White House on Tuesday evening, trekked to the Capitol in the afternoon to address the Democratic and Republican Senate luncheons.

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