There's a development today in Syria's civil war. Syrian rebels surrendered control of an important piece of ground, the city of Homs. That's been the heart of uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hundreds of rebel fighters abandoned the city's central district. They left in rickety green buses, escorted by the United Nations. The rebels had been under siege and were running out of ammunition and food.
For more on the story, we're joined by NPR's Alice Fordham. She's in Beirut.
When the SS Central America sank in 1857, it took down tons of gold with it — enough gold that the shipwreck contributed to a financial panic. And when the wreck was found, decades of legal battles ensued over rights to the recovered treasure. Gary Kinder, author of Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, tells the fraught tale of shipwreck and reclaimed gold.
And I'm Melissa Block. An era in magazine history is closing. Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Co., or JPC, says "Jet" magazine is going digital. Some 700,000 subscribers will no longer see a print edition. It's with the exception of one special print issue a year. "Jet" has been a weekly staple in many African American communities for more than six decades.
NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates, from our Code Switch team, has this report.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Now, the moribund Middle East peace process. People who follow that decades-long U.S. diplomatic effort, remember a moment in 1990. A frustrated U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, fed up with the intransigence of Palestinians and Israelis made this memorable declaration to in testimony to Congress.
Now to the conflict in Ukraine. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin made some conciliatory sounding statements. He called on the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone their planned referendum on autonomy. That vote is currently scheduled for Sunday. Putin also said that Russian troops had withdrawn from the Ukrainian border and that Russia is ready for more talks on ways to resolve the crisis.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
I'm Robert Siegel. And we begin this hour with the head of the department of Veterans Affairs, General Eric Shinseki. I sat down with him at his office today. The secretary is at the center of a roiling controversy over medical care for former service men and women and he's facing calls for his resignation.
Natalie Merchant is back. Merchant's top singing career that spans decades. In the '80s, she fronted the misleadingly-named folk-rock band 10,000 Maniacs. In the '90s, she became a solo success and co-headlined the high-profile Lilith Faire tour. It focused on women musicians. And then in 2001, she released an album called "Motherland." In the aughts, she's been raising a child and rethinking her approach to music.
Well, now comes a brand new LP simply called "Natalie Merchant," and critic Will Hermes has a review.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki tells NPR that he's determined to get to the bottom of allegations that veterans may have died at a Phoenix VA hospital while waiting for care.
The accusations of extended delays in providing health care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system surfaced last month. The facility reportedly kept two lists of veterans waiting for care, one it shared with Washington and another, secret list of wait times that sometimes lasted more than a year.