From NPR News in Washington, I'm Windsor Johnston.
Black smoke has emerged from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signifying that the cardinals selected to choose next pope have not reached a decision on their first try. Earlier today, cardinals chanted the Litany of Saints as they filed into the chapel to start the process of electing anew pope. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan was among the first to recite the oath of secrecy before the start of the papal conclave. Pope Benedict is said to be following the proceedings from home. He is the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says his newly unveiled budget plan will balance the U.S. budget within a decade. NPR's Brakkton Booker reports this year's spending plan is nearly identical to the one Ryan proposed last year.
There was much anticipation for the Wisconsin congressman's new budget plan. It calls for repealing the president's health care law and reshaping medicare into a voucher-like program for future recipients. Both were hallmarks in his 2012 budget.
"What we believe in this divided government era. We need to put up our vision. We think we owe the country a balanced budget."
Congressman Ryan's budget projects a $7 billion surplus in fiscal year 2023 and is likely to sell to the House. Senate Democrats unveil their own budget plan tomorrow and it's expected to vastly differ from the House GOP plan. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, the Capitol.
The United Nations Children's Fund says the conflict in Syria is producing what it calls a lost generation of children. NPR's Paul Brown reports on UNICEF's findings, two years into the Syrian uprising.
UNICEF spokesman Simon Ingram says the million or more Syrian children either displaced within their country or in refugee camps elsewhere are suffering profoundly.
"Children in many respects have lost a sense of what their childhood was all about. There are children who've been traumatized by what they've seen, who are distressed and unable to deal with or assimilate the kind of experiences they've been through. "
UNICEF also says as the war jostles the complex mosaic of Syrian society, children are more prone than ever to acquiring sectarian and ethnic prejudices as the adults around them express resentments. Paul Brown, NPR News.
The nation's top intelligence chief says budget cuts are j eopardizing America's security and safety. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper says the U.S. is facing threats extending beyond other nations and terror groups.
"When it comes to the distinct threat areas, our statement this year leads with cyber and it's hard to overemphasize its significance."
Clapper says the across-the-board funding cuts have shaved an estimated $4 billion from intelligence budgets, that amounts to about 10% of national intelligence.
On Wall Street, the Dow was down 13 points.
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Two space launch workers remain hospitalized after they suffered serious burns following an electrical explosion at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast on Saturday. The United Launch Alliance, a company that launches spacecraft for the U.S. government, has not yet issued details on the cause or circumstances regarding the incident.
The body of the prime suspect in the Delhi gang-rape trial, who was found dead in his jail cell yesterday, was released to his family today following a post-mortem exam. From New Delhi, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports the results of the exam have not yet been made public and the details of the circumstances are being closely held.
Whether a suicide or foul play as his family and lawyer have alleged, Ram Singh's death is an enormous security failure at one of India's best-known prisons. It calls into question the monitoring of the defendants of the case that already had the world watching India's criminal justice system. Critics asked how could authorities tasked with protecting the main accused, allow him to die. The former director of the Tihar jail, Kiran Bedi said prison officials had a moral and legal obligation to insure Singh's safety. Government and jail officials remained silence, saying only that the circumstances are under investigation. The court that was trailing Ram Singh has ordered jail authorities to provide daily updates of the security for the remaining four accused being held at the jail. Julie McCarthy, NPR News, New Delhi.
Five American service members were killed after their helicopter crashed near Kandahar city in Afghanistan. NATO says the crash is under investigation and initial report showed no sign of enemy activity. The latest casualties made yesterday, the deadliest so far for American forces this year.
This is NPR News.
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