We turn now to the last U.S. ambassador stationed in Venezuela. Patrick Duddy represented the U.S. first under the Bush administration then later under the Obama administration. He was once expelled from Caracas. Ambassador Duddy is now a visiting senior lecturer at Duke University's Center for International Studies. When we spoke today, I asked him what it was like for him to be an ambassador to Venezuela under Chavez.
Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.
This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.
The world often feels full of fading traditions, from drive-in movie theaters to the dying art of good old-fashioned letter writing.
For the British, add brass bands to that list. Traditional brass bands have played an important cultural role in working-class British communities for centuries. But some warn that without funding, they could become a thing of the past.
Take the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in South Yorkshire. The band was originally formed in 1917, and nearly 100 years later, a group of tuba, euphonium and other horn players still bears the band's name.
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.
The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.
Economists look at many tea leaves as they try to determine the health of the economy. One of the most important surrounds vehicle sales, and more specifically pickup truck sales, which are tied to the construction industry. And as last month's sales rose 18 percent, the auto industry is betting big on a real estate rebound.
It's arguable that the Ford F-150 is the most important vehicle to come out of Detroit since the Model-T. It's also built where many parts for the old Model-T were made in Dearborn, Mich.
Twenty years ago, theatrical clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner collaborated on a Broadway show called Fool Moon — a giddy mixture of slapstick, improv and audience participation that proved such a success that it came back to Broadway for two more runs and toured both the U.S. and Europe. Now Irwin and Shiner have put together a new show called Old Hats, and it's been receiving rave reviews off-Broadway.
Irwin and Shiner's rubber-faced, loose-bodied clowning hasn't gotten easier over two decades.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks in a televised address in January 2002 at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. Chavez vowed justice for two men who were shot and killed Jan. 3 at a political rally in a battle between Chavez supporters, opposition marchers and security forces.
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Venezuelans wait for hours in gas lines in Caracas on Dec. 21, 2002, the 20th day of a general strike protesting Chavez's rule. The strike temporarily crippled Venezuela's vital oil industry.
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Cuban President Fidel Castro greets Chavez upon his arrival in Havana in December 1994. The two leaders were steadfast allies.
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Standing next to a portrait of independence hero Simon Bolivar, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks during a press conference at Miraflores Palace in the capital, Caracas, in October 2012.
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Chavez delivers a televised address on Jan. 5, 2002, two days after clashes between his supporters and opponents left two men dead. He was briefly deposed a few months later in a coup that he claimed the Bush administration was behind.
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Chavez attends a welcoming ceremony for his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales (left), at the presidential palace in Caracas in September 2011.
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Chavez and his wife, Marisabel, wave to supporters in July 1998, as Chavez arrives at the National Electoral Council to register for the presidential election. He won the election by a landslide.
Credit Ali Gomez / AP
As a lieutenant colonel in 1992, Chavez led a failed attempt to oust President Carlos Andres Perez. Here he speaks with reporters at the Defense Ministry after he surrendered to troops loyal to the president.
Credit Fernando Llano / AP
A man holds up an image of Chavez as people gather to pray for him at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas on Dec. 11, 2012. Chavez was in Cuba at the time for cancer treatment.
Credit Jorge Santo / AP
Chavez addresses a crowd in Caracas on Feb. 4, 1998, the anniversary of the failed 1992 coup that would launch his military career.
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Chavez inspects the Air Force in Catilletes, near the border with Colombia, in March 2001.
Credit Ariana Cubillos / AP
Chavez waves next to his daughter, Rosa Virginia, during a military parade in Caracas in February 2012, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the failed coup attempt that launched his political career.
Credit Granma / AP
Chavez speaks with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana in June 2011. Chavez went to Cuba to undergo surgery.
As Secretary of State John Kerry wraps up his first official trip overseas, he's walking a fine line on Syria. Kerry says the Obama administration has been stepping up assistance to rebels who are trying to topple the Syrian regime. But the U.S. is also worried about how all of this will play out. NPR's Michele Kelemen spoke with the secretary of State today in Doha, Qatar, and he said he's taking this one step at a time.