Nuclear Crisis in Japan Grows / A Recipe for Peace in Sri Lanka / Air Force One

In Japan, the nuclear crisis grows. The U.S. and Brazil partner to boost the farm sector in Mozambique, while a U.S. groups partners with Ethiopia on a clean water initiative. After decades of conflict, Sri Lanka is showing great economic and developmental promise. An ambitious agenda was set out during preliminary meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. And finally, for globetrotting presidents, Air Force One is the perfect ride.

Responding to Japan's Nuclear Crisis

In Japan, Nuclear Crisis Grows
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The Japanese government is telling citizens within 30 kilometers (48 miles) of a damaged nuclear power plant to stay indoors to protect themselves. The March 15 advisory said people near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant should attempt to prevent exposure to the colorless, odorless radiation which escaped from reactors.

U.S., Brazil Partner on Farming
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An agricultural collaboration among the United States Agency for International Development, the Brazilian Cooperation Agency and the government of Mozambique is set to bolster the latter’s farm sector. Mozambique imports most of its food, much of it from its neighbor South Africa, but many Mozambicans cannot afford the imported food.

In Ethiopia, a Clean Water Push
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Lori Pappas is the founder of the Global Team for Local Initiatives, which seeks to increase access to drinking water for the people of Ethiopia.

A Recipe for Peace in Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka’s government needs to hold those who committed injustices and abuses during the country’s civil war accountable and work to create a political climate that will facilitate healing and durable peace, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake says. After decades of conflict between the government and Tamil rebels, Sri Lanka is showing great economic and developmental promise that can benefit its whole population, says Blake.

APEC 2011 Concludes
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Preliminary meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), the premier economic organization in the Asia-Pacific region, concluded March 12, setting an ambitious agenda for enhanced partnership in 2011. APEC fosters growth and prosperity by facilitating economic cooperation and expanding trade and investment throughout the region.

President Obama exits Air Force OneAir Force One
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It is unquestionably the most exclusive ride in the world: the gleaming, blue-and-white jumbo jet that answers to the call signal Air Force One.
It’s an American icon, as recognizable as the Statue of Liberty or the Grand Canyon — the airplane that will take President Obama on his second journey to Latin America March 19. At right, Obama arrives at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City, April 16, 2009.

Nuclear Accidents in Japan / Russians Visit U.S. Parks, Lakes / Dazzling Indian Art

The March 11 earthquake in Japan triggered accidents at two nuclear power plants. President Obama’s visit to El Salvador during his trip to Latin America will underscore the strong U.S.-El Salvadoran relationship. Depsite challenges, U.S. aid is reaching the Libyan people. A group of Russian park officials visit protected sites in Florida to observe conservation efforts, while Russian hydrologists visit U.S. lakes to study watershed management practices. And finally, many dazzling pieces of Indian art are currently on display at the Kennedy Center as part of the maximum INDIA festival.

Hospital patients awaiting evacuationReactor Accidents in Japan
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Nuclear experts are on the relief team that the U.S. Agency for International Development sent to Japan after the March 11 earthquake, which triggered accidents at two nuclear power plants. At the Fukushima Daiichi and the Fukushima Daini facilities, the cooling systems meant to dissipate the intense heat of the reactor core failed. Explosions occurred at the Daiichi facility, though their cause is not clear. At right, hospital patients awaiting evacuation risk radiation exposure.

U.S.–El Salvadoran Relations
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The United States and El Salvador have enjoyed strong political and economic ties for more than two decades, and President Obama’s visit during a five-day, three-nation trip to Latin America is designed to underscore the value of that relationship.

U.S. Aid Reaching Libyan People
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Although the security situation in Libya is preventing a U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team from entering the country, Obama administration officials say U.S. humanitarian assistance is arriving through nongovernmental organizations on the ground.

Russians Visit U.S. Parks
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A group of Russian park officials recently visited several federally protected sites in the state of Florida to gain firsthand insight into issues such as wildlife conservation, resource management, the role of volunteerism and the balance between public access and environmental conservation.

Russians Study U.S. Lakes
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A delegation of Russian hydrologists recently visited Lake Tahoe and two other nearby U.S. lakes on a program sponsored by the California-based Tahoe-Baikal Institute designed to find solutions to shared economic and development problems.

Pankas, Indian handcrafted fansDazzling Indian Art
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Many works of art are currently on display at the Kennedy Center in Washington as part of the maximum INDIA exhibition, a 20-day festival of music, theater, art and artifacts. At right, pankas, or handcrafted fans, by the artist Jatin Das.

U.S. Responds to Japan Quake / Obama Welcomes Arab League Action / From Burkina Faso to the U.S.

The United States plans assistance for Japan in the wake of a devastating earthquake.  President Obama welcomes Arab League backing for Libyan no-fly zone. President Obama plans a major speech on Latin America during his upcoming visit to the region. Arab-Americans see themselves as a “bridge” to their homelands and want to help ease unrest and build democracy. Ceramic water filters are saving lives. The Yemen American Benevolent Association offers support for Yemeni Americans. Two sixth-grade students from Burkina Faso visit the U.S.

U.S. Mobilizes Japan Aid
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The United States is mobilizing military and civilian assistance for relief efforts throughout Japan, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos says. “The Japan Self-Defense Forces are among the most prepared and capable in the world in dealing with a disaster-response situation, and the U.S. military is prepared to augment their efforts with all available assets and equipment upon request,” Roos says.

Obama Cheers Arab League Action
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The Obama administration welcomes a decision by the 22-member Arab League to support a no-fly zone over Libya because the move strengthens international pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, White House press secretary Jay Carney says.

Chile to Host Obama Latin America Speech
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President Obama will deliver a major address while in Santiago, Chile, to explain the importance of Latin America to the United States. The address coincides with the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s 1961 announcement of the Alliance for Progress that established economic cooperation between the United States and Latin America nations.

The Arab-American View
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Arab-American civic activists say they are excited to see political protest across the Arab world and are ready to help build democracy in their homelands — if asked. “I think that we can play a very important bridge role when it is needed,” says Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute, which is dedicated to the political and civic empowerment of Americans of Arab heritage.

A Low-Tech Clean Water Solution
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Low-tech ceramic water filters have been saving lives and making people healthier in Ghana and Cambodia. According to the World Health Organization, diseases associated with unsafe water claim the lives of about 2 million people worldwide every year, most of them children under the age of 5.

Support for Yemeni Americans
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The Yemen American Benevolent Association, founded by a few Yemeni immigrants in 1969, has become a well-organized, vital resource for thousands in the larger Arab-American community and other residents of Dearborn, Michigan.

Burkina Faso Students in U.S.
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The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) welcomes two sixth-grade students from Burkina Faso to celebrate International Women’s Day in Washington and have a chance to see the inner workings of the United States government.  At left, First Lady Michelle Obama thanks Aissatou Diallo for her introduction at the White House’s International Women’s Day reception.

U.S.-Brazil Cooperation / A Regional Response in Libya / Blending Indian Dance Styles

President Obama heads to Latin America as the United States and Brazil are partnering on regional and global issues.  The Obama administration wants a regional response to the violence in Libya. Vice President Biden meets with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Meet Coca-Cola’s global clean water advocate. The United States, Canada, Norway and others join a health care initiative for poor mothers and their children. And, finally, two of India’s most respected dancers blend traditionally styles.

For U.S. and Brazil, a Partnership of Global Significance
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President Obama’s visit to Latin America comes as Brazil and the United States are cooperating closely on regional issues and global challenges that run the gamut from security and economic prosperity to food security, clean energy and global inequality. “Brazil and the United States seek to promote open and accountable government, civil rights, a vibrant civil society and social inclusion,” says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A Regional Response to Libya Violence
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The Obama administration wants regional participation in any potential military response to the political violence in Libya, and also says it has been in direct contact with a variety of opposition groups that have de facto control over much of the eastern part of the country. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon says any military action by NATO, such as the enforcement of a no-fly zone, “would need to respond to a demonstrable need and have a sound legal basis.”

Biden, Putin see Improved U.S.-Russian Relations
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Vice President Biden and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin welcome the improved relationship between Russia and the United States following the 2009 “reset” in relations. Speaking with Putin in Moscow, Biden says he and President Obama “agree 100 percent on the need to continue to establish a closer and closer relationship.”

On Water and Sugar Mills
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Joe Rozza travels the world on behalf of Coca-Cola Company to oversee water and wastewater management projects initiated by the Water and Development Alliance, a partnership between his employer and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Saving Mothers and Babies
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The United States, Canada, Norway and other partners join in a development initiative – Saving Lives at Birth — to commit science and technology to saving more lives in rural, under-developed villages around the world. “It is simply unacceptable that millions and millions of people, women and children, die from conditions that we know how to prevent,” says Secretary Clinton.

A Blend of Indian Dance Styles
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The appearance by two of India’s most respected dancers and teachers — Alarmel Valli and Madhavi Mudgal — highlights a 20-day festival of Indian dance, music, theater, film, arts and crafts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. At right, Valli, left, and Mudgal, right, in a production called Samanvaya: A Coming Together.

Locke Named U.S. Ambassador to China / Biden on Russia WTO Bid / Women of Courage

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is tapped to be the next U.S. ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. The United States supports Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discusses the common interests of APEC nations. A top U.S. national security advisor offers praise for American muslims. The United States honors 10 women of courage.

Locke Named Ambassador to China
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President Obama announces the appointment of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to become the next U.S. ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and, if approved by the Senate, he would become the first Chinese-American to hold the post in U.S. history. Locke would succeed Ambassador Jon Huntsman, the former Republican governor of Utah who recently asked to step down.

U.S. Supports Russia’s WTO Bid
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Vice President Biden says the United States is a strong supporter of Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Obama administration also wants to end Soviet-era restrictions on bilateral trade. “The primary purpose of my visit is to explore how we can resolve the remaining challenges in our economic relationship,” Biden says.

APEC Economies’ Common Interests
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the 21 economies in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) share a common interest in increasing business opportunities across the region, and urged members to embrace long-term strategies that will benefit everyone. Speaking in Washington March 9, Clinton says the United States and its partners in APEC are all looking for more opportunities to do business with each other. “We are well positioned to rise together, to achieve greater prosperity in partnership, to offer all of our people a chance at a better future,” she says.

Praise for American Muslims
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Denis McDonough, the president’s deputy national security advisor, travels to one of the country’s largest mosques to talk about President Obama’s approach to combating terrorism and to praise American Muslims for their contributions to strengthening America. “The bottom line is this — when it comes to preventing violent extremism and terrorism in the United States, Muslim Americans are not part of the problem; you’re part of the solution,” he says.

Women of Courage
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Ten women have been honored by first lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Clinton for their exceptional courage in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. At left, First lady Michelle Obama, Women of Courage winner Eva Abu Halaweh of Jordan and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Australian PM in the U.S. / Progress in Afghanistan / A Report on Hunger

While in the U.S., Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and will address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sees progress in Afghanistan, but challenges remain.  Leaen how female farmers in the developing world could help feed up to 150 million more hungry people.  Clinton discusses International Women’s Day in an op-ed.

Australia’s Prime Minister Visits the U.S.
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s meetings with President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton focus upon shared efforts to transition the security control of Afghanistan to Afghan forces as well as expanding trade in the Pacific region. Gillard will also be addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress March 9, which Obama says is “a high honor that is reserved for only our closest friends.”

Gates Sees Progress in Afghanistan
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Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that security gains achieved by Afghan and coalition forces across Afghanistan are significant, but the momentum must be maintained to begin a formal security transition later this year. “The gains we are seeing across the country are significant,” he says at a joint press conference in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai.

Secretary Clinton’s Op-Ed on International Women’s Day
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You’ve heard about the opportunities opening up in countries like China, regions like Asia and industries like green technology. But one major emerging market hasn’t received the attention it deserves: women. Today, there are more than 200 million women entrepreneurs worldwide. Women earn more than $10 trillion every year, which is expected to grow by $5 trillion over the next several years. In many developing countries, women’s incomes are growing faster than men’s.

A Report on Feeding the Hungry
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 With a little bit of help, female farmers in the developing world could help feed up to 150 million more hungry people in the world, according to a report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Farming women in the rural areas of the world have lesser productivity than men currently, the report finds, but if they were given improved access to land, fuel, fertilizer, and seeds, they would have greater yields.

New Humanitarian Aid for Libya / Food Costs Soar Globally / A Monumental Work by an Indian Artist

President Obama announces more humanitarian aid for Libya. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton unveils a new initiative on women’s leadership. Global food prices have reached record highs. Learn about the legacy of the Alliance for Progress, launched by President Kennedy in 1961. And an Indian artist offers up a monumental work.

Aid for Libya Refugees
More Humanitarian Aid for Libya
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President Obama says the United States and other countries will stand with the people of Libya and announces additional U.S. humanitarian assistance to support international aid organizations in Libya. Both the United States and Australia support democracy and human rights around the world and will stand with the Libyan people, says Obama in remarks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Women’s Leadership Initiative
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launches a new initiative aimed at using international exchanges to nurture women in leadership positions around the world. “Women’s Leadership: The Next Hundred Years” is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and is bringing 100 women leaders from 92 countries to the United States this year to explore women’s political, economic and civic leadership.

Food Prices Reach Record High
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Global food prices reached a record-high level in February, driven mainly by higher prices for cereals, meat and dairy products. The increases have raised concerns that millions more people could be pushed further into poverty and civil unrest could result, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The Alliance for Progress
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In 1961, President John F. Kennedy launched the Alliance for Progress, an ambitious foreign-aid program for Latin America which called for broad social and economic reforms. Although the Alliance is perhaps largely forgotten now, it marked a fresh approach to U.S.-Latin American relations, says Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Maximum India’s Falling Fables 
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Indian artist Reena Saini Kallat’s monumental installation, Falling Fables, celebrates and mourns the passing of time and disappearance of architecture. On display at “maximum INDIA,” a 20-day festival of dance, theater, music, art and crafts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, the work is a massive fallen pillar covered with more than 30,000 hand-crafted rubber stamps, Kallat’s signature motif.

Biden to Europe / Not a “Facebook Revolution” / Rare Russian Stamps

Vice President Biden travels to Russia, Finland and Moldova. The events in the Arab world should not be termed a “Facebook Revolution,” a panel of media experts warns. And a rare collection of Russian stamps was recently uncovered at the Smithsonian.

Biden Visits Europe

Biden’s Europe Trip to Focus on U.S.-Russia “Reset”
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During a during a March trip to Europe, Vice President Biden plans to “take stock” of the reset in relations between the United States and Russia that began after President Obama’s January 2009 inauguration. He also will visit Finland and become the first U.S. vice president to visit Moldova during the trip.

Not a “Facebook Revolution”
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Though social media may have been an important tool for the political upheaval in the Arab world, many media experts say that discussion over its role should not divert attention from the courage being shown by people standing up for their rights. Speaking at a panel on this issue, Michael Nelson, a Georgetown University professor, said, “At the end of the day, the Internet is not causing this revolution, but it is enabling it.”

Photo Gallery: Russian Imperial Stamps
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One of the best collections of Russian stamps in the world was recently found in a storage vault at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum. The collection, composed of more than 14,000 Russian stamps, is truly exceptional in terms of its quality and rarity. At right, a rare 1896 design that was rejected because it did not include an image of post horns. The post horn was used throughout Europe to sound the arrival and departure of mail coaches and became the international symbol of mail service. The design ultimately approved for this stamp included the Russian Imperial eagle with thunderbolts across post horns.

U.S., Mexico Unite Against Drugs / “Heavy” Team Aids after NZ Quake / 50 Years of the Peace Corps

The U.S. and Mexico vow to work together to fight drug trafficking. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls for a new nuclear weapons treaty. The U.S. and international relief organizations are increasing their efforts to airlift those fleeing from the violence in Libya. The Los Angeles “heavy” team has flown to New Zealand to help after the earthquake. And, the Peace Corps turns 50.

U.S.-Mexico relations

U.S., Mexico Anti-Drug Efforts
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President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon pledged to work more closely to thwart continuing illicit drug trafficking and its related violence. “As I’ve said before, President Calderon and the Mexican people have shown extraordinary courage in the fight for their country,” Obama said during a joint press conference at the White House.

A Nuclear Materials Treaty
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls for the Conference on Disarmament to move ahead quickly on a proposed multilateral treaty that would ban the production of nuclear-weapons using fissile materials. “Our long-term goal, our vision, is a world without nuclear weapons,” says Clinton.

Airlifting Libyan Refugees
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President Obama announced that U.S. planes will fly Egyptian citizens home from Tunisia, where they fled to escape weeks of violence in Libya. Obama’s announcement came as an internationally-backed airlift began, with more than 50 flights carrying migrant workers home.

“Heavy” Team Aids after NZ Quake
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After the February 22 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, The U.S. Agency for International Development called the Los Angeles County Urban Search and Rescue “heavy” team. Within about 30 hours, the 74-member unit and all their equipment were flying across the Pacific. Explains Los Angeles Battalion Chief Larry Collins, “It’s heavy muscle coming in.”

Peace Corps Marks 50 Years
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On March 1, the Peace Corps celebrated 50 years of service. President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps as a challenge to American college students to give up two years of their lives to help people in countries in the developing world. Over five decades, more than 200,000 volunteers have served 139 host countries. At right, the community of Likpe Todome in the Volta region of Ghana with their Peace Corps volunteer, Leanne Polachek.

U.S. Anti-Crime Aid to Mexico / The Peace Corps is 50 / Russian Imperial Stamps

The United States is stepping up efforts to help Mexico fight crime. The Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary. An all-women technology delegation of leading U.S. innovators and entrepreneurs heads to Africa to help offer opportunities for women and girls. Some dentists are going green. And more than 14,000 rare Russian stamps were recently uncovered at the Smithsonian.

U.S. Anti-Crime Aid for Mexico
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The United States can accelerate the implementation of its security assistance to Mexico and other countries in the fight against transnational criminal organizations, a senior Obama administration official says. The announcement comes ahead of a meeting between Mexican President Felipe Calderón, left, and President Obama in Washington. 

Peace Corps Marks 50 Years
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On March 1, the Peace Corps celebrated 50 years of service. President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps as a challenge to American college students to give up two years of their lives to help people in countries in the developing world. Over five decades, more than 200,000 volunteers have served 139 host countries.

For African Woman, Tech Opportunities
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The United States sends an all-women technology delegation of leading U.S. innovators and entrepreneurs to Liberia and Sierra Leone to help offer opportunities for women and girls. “While in West Africa, the group will explore how technology can increase opportunities for women and girls,” the State Department says in an announcement.

When Your Dentist Turns Green
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A movement is building to “green” America’s 125,000-plus dental offices. Since Ina and Fred Pockrass founded the Eco-Dentistry Association in 2008, dental offices in 45 states and 13 other countries have pledged to reduce their impact on the environment.

A 1863 Russian stamp

Photo Gallery: Russian Imperial Stamps
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One of the best collections of Russian stamps in the world was recently found in a storage vault at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum. The collection, composed of more than 14,000 Russian stamps, is truly exceptional in terms of its quality and rarity. At right, a rare carmine proof stamp, created in 1863, that was never produced. The stamps were ultimately issued in blue for use under the Ottoman Empire by Russian post offices in the Levant. The inscription reads “Dispatch small parcel to the Orient.” The Russian Imperial double-headed eagle is depicted with the orb and scepter in its claws.