Three Latin American presidents turned up, as did foreign diplomats. And thousands of President Hugo Chavez's supporters flooded the streets Thursday outside the presidential palace in Venezuela's capital, Caracas.
But Chavez himself didn't show — he remained in Cuba, incapacitated after his latest round of cancer surgery.
Still, the carefully choreographed show did go on, and Chavez's aides said he remains in charge.
When Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner travels to Asia and the Middle East this month, she won't be flying on the official presidential plane. That's because Argentina fears the Boeing 757 jet known as Tango 1 will be seized when it lands by creditors, bond holders who hold sovereign debt that Argentina has defaulted on. So, instead of taking that risk, President Fernandez will be flying on a rented charter plane at the cost of $880,000.
Audie Cornish talks to sportswriter Stefan Fatsis about news in the National Football League. They cover the injury of Washington Redskins' quarterback Robert Griffin III, new information about brain damage sustained by the late linebacker Junior Seau, and a preview of the weekend's playoff games.
Florida and several other states are wrestling with a decision: whether to expand Medicaid.
When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act last year, the court said states could opt out of that part of the law. But it's key. It would provide coverage to millions of low-income Americans who currently have no health insurance.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he's concerned about how much expanding Medicaid would cost. But others charge the governor is exaggerating.
Regularly ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Afghanistan has implemented what for it is a novel new program: selecting provincial and district officials on the basis of their skills, rather than connections.
By all accounts, Afghanistan's corruption is endemic at all levels of government. It's hoped the new effort will begin to curb graft, patronage and nepotism in the country's 34 provinces and roughly 360 districts.
You practically can't visit a news site these days without seeing a story about why President Obama should or should not order the Treasury Department to strike a platinum coin "worth" $1 trillion and deposit it with the Federal Reserve.
The small river town of Steubenville, Ohio, is in turmoil over an alleged rape involving high school football players, a 16-year-old girl and accusations of a cover-up.
Steubenville is nestled in the foothills of Appalachia at the juncture of Ohio and West Virginia, less than 10 miles from the Pennsylvania border. To the west, reclaimed strip mines, woods and hills stretch far into rural Ohio. Pittsburgh lies 37 miles to the east.
It's no news that the U.S. has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than most high-income countries. But a magisterial new report says Americans are actually less healthy across their entire life spans than citizens of 16 other wealthy nations.
In Mexico, a country plagued by drug cartel violence, the mayor of the capital city is offering residents cash, new bikes and computers in exchange for their guns. He says the buyback program will get dangerous weapons out of the hands of residents and make the streets safer.
But not all mayors in Mexico — where it's extremely difficult to legally buy a gun — are rushing to replicate the program. In fact, in cities overrun by drug traffickers, some say law-abiding citizens should be able to have them for protection.
Newtown, Conn., was so inundated with teddy bears and other donations after last month's school shootings that it asked people to please stop sending gifts. Relief groups in New York and New Jersey are still trying to figure out what to do with piles of clothes and other items sent there after Superstorm Sandy.
It happens in every disaster: People want to help, but they often donate things that turn out to be more of a burden. Disaster aid groups are trying to figure out a better way to channel these good intentions.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. A grass-roots indigenous movement is shaking up politics in Canada. It's called Idle No More. Like Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, it spread quickly through social media. And it's now got the attention of Canada's leaders, thanks to the efforts of one chief from a tiny tribe whose hunger strike has galvanized the movement. David Sommerstein, of North Country Public Radio, has the story.
You know how sometimes in life you make a friend, and at first you want to talk to her all the time, feverishly telling her details that, by their very personal nature, will bind you to this other person forever, or so you hope? But inevitably, of course, friendships shift and change and become something different from what they initially seemed.
Concerned about spillover from Syria's civil war, Israel says it will build a fence in the Golan Heights along the line that has effectively served as the border since wars between them in the 1960s and 1970s.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently made the announcement, says he's concerned about Syrian rebel groups that have succeeded in capturing areas close to the frontier. He says that building the fence, which would extend for more than 40 miles, is a precaution.