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Beginning next week, NPR News will be taking an in-depth look at the unprecedented oil drilling boom happening on the Northern Plains, where the state of North Dakota has fast become one of the nation's most productive drilling regions. NPR's Kelly McEvers talks with NPR reporter Kirk Siegler, back from a recent reporting trip in North Dakota for the series.

What does the growing income gap between the richest and poorest Americans mean for social mobility? An academic study published last week found that, contrary to popular perception, it has not gotten harder to climb the income ladder in the U.S. in the last two decades.

A Chinese court sentenced Xu Zhiyong, a leading proponent of civil society, to four years in jail on Sunday. China's government has recently jailed officials and issued new rules to curb corruption, but it's apparently not an effort that independent citizens groups can join.

A new food safety law in California bans culinary workers from touching uncooked food with their bare hands. That means bartenders can no longer drop ice cubes or add garnishes without gloves on, and that's got some unhappy.

Russia may be the world power with the greatest influence over Syria. As diplomatic talks on Syria continue in Geneva between the two sides, what is Russia's role? NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Russian-American journalist Vladimir Pozner.

West Virginia is still assessing the impact of a major chemical spill on Jan. 9 into the Elk River, which left 300,000 people without safe drinking water for days. Guest host Kelly McEvers speaks with Ken Ward Jr., a reporter for the Charleston Gazette, about the spill, and public reaction to conflicting messages from health officials.

The political crisis in Ukraine is spreading, with tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Kiev's central square, demanding that President Viktor Yanukovych step down. From Kiev, NPR's Corey Flintoff speaks with guest host Kelly McEvers about some surprising developments.

Negotiations between the Syrian government and Syrian opposition leaders continue in Geneva this weekend. Guest host Kelly McEvers talks to Frederik Pleitgen of CNN, who is in Damascus, reporting about the current situation on the ground in Syria.

This week, representatives of the Syrian government and opposition met in Geneva, Switzerland, beginning negotiations to end Syria's violent civil war. Guest host Kelly McEvers speaks with NPR's Deborah Amos, who is following developments at the international conference.

Protests and violent clashes erupted throughout Egypt on Saturday, as the country marked the third anniversary of the beginning of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. At least 29 people died in the violence, according to Egyptian officials. Guest host Kelly McEvers speaks with NPR's Leila Fadel, who is in Cairo.

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