NPR News

Pope Francis met with the president of Venezuela on Monday for a private conversation about that country's acute political and economic crisis, as the Vatican announced it would be mediating a meeting between Venezuela's government and the opposition.

A statement from the Holy See, as translated by Catholic News Agency, said the pope encouraged President Nicolas Maduro "to undertake with courage the path of sincere and constructive dialogue" and "to alleviate the suffering of the people — first of all, those who are poor."

In a working-class city in southeast Michigan there's a barbershop where kids get a $2 discount for reading a book aloud to their barber.

Antarctica's ice has been melting, most likely because of a warming climate. Now, newly published research shows the rate of melting appears to be accelerating.

Antarctica is bigger than the U.S. and Mexico combined, and it's covered in deep ice — more than a mile deep in some places. Most of the ice sits on bedrock, but it slowly flows off the continent's edges. Along the western edge, giant glaciers creep down toward the sea. Where they meet the ocean, they form ice shelves.

Telecom giant AT&T has reached an $85.4 billion deal to buy media titan Time Warner. The news of this transformational merger has shaken up both industries, raising eyebrows on Wall Street and drawing criticism from lawmakers and even the presidential campaigns.

It's a familiar scene for sleep-deprived parents everywhere: They put down the baby in the bassinet to sleep, and those tiny eyes flutter shut. Then they flutter back open and the crying starts. The only thing perhaps more harrowing than those long wakeful nights of a baby's first year is the fear that one day the child won't wake up.

President Obama's days in office are dwindling, and it's clear he intends to have as much fun as he can on the way out. Last night during a West Coast fundraising trip, he stopped by ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Obama took part in a recurring bit called "Mean Tweets," which consists of reading aloud some of the, you guessed it, mean tweets about him of late.

Such as:

@nathan: "Barack Obama is the Nickelback of presidents."

@woodstockdave: "Obama couldn't negotiate getting a Whopper without pickles."

Four people have died at an amusement park in Australia after an accident on a water ride on Tuesday.

The victims were all adults — two men and two women — Stuart Cohen reports for NPR from Sydney. The accident occurred at Dreamworld amusement park, a popular destination on Queensland state's Gold Coast.

An attack on a police academy in Quetta, Pakistan, has left more than 60 people dead and more than 100 others injured, NPR's Philip Reeves reports.

Most of the dead were young police cadets, he says.

"The cadets were asleep when the assault began. One survivor says three or four gunmen barged into their dormitory and started firing," Philip reports. "Some cadets escaped by jumping off the roof. Officials say all the attackers are now dead, and that two detonated suicide vests."

In the early '90s, the highly publicized Biosphere 2 project in Arizona ignited the nation's imagination. Its attempt to create a hermetically sealed environment — something that might be found on another planet, should the human race make it that far — was beset by problems, and after two missions, it was abandoned. Biosphere left the world with some big questions: Was it a noble attempt at adapting Homo sapiens to an uncertain future? Or was it a flawed, hubristic media stunt?