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  • It's a list as varied as the sites it contains: the Statue of Liberty, Angkor in Cambodia, the city of Verona in Italy.

    These and hundreds of other sites make up the World Heritage List, the most notable cultural, natural and historic landmarks around the world. UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -- carefully selects the properties and they are protected by the 40-year-old World Heritage Convention, ratified by 190 countries.

    But this cultural and historic legacy shared by the world is under threat. Of the 962 sites, 38 are listed as "in danger," under siege by pollution, natural disasters, uncontrolled urbanization, unchecked tourism or armed conflict.

    Take, for example, what happened in Syria just a few weeks ago. Amid intense fighting, a fire destroyed hundreds of shops in the vast medieval souk, or marketplace, in Aleppo, Syria's largest city. It's yet another casualty in the uprising that began in March 2011 and has claimed more than

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  • War, persecution, natural disasters. Throughout history, situations such as these have forced people to leave their homes and find shelter elsewhere. Today, 42 million people find themselves torn from their homes, many seeking refuge in other countries, sometimes permanently.

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the agency that has provided worldwide assistance to displaced populations for more than six decades. When its executive committee met earlier this month, the agency's head, Antonio Guterres, said the refugee situation was exacerbated by simultaneous new emergencies around the world.

    "Already in 2011, as crisis after crisis unfolded, more than 800,000 people crossed borders in search of refuge -- an average of more than 2,000 refugees every day. And this was higher than at any time in the last decade," he said.

    The numbers are already more dire this year. The situation is most acute in the Middle East, in Syria. Since the uprising there began in March 2011,

    Read More »from Fleeing Their Homelands: Syria’s Refugees Reflect Global Crisis for the Forcibly Displaced
  • MS-13 and the Threat of Transnational Gangs

    El Salvador is a small country in Central America with the unfortunate distinction of a big number. It has one of the highest murder rates in the world, an average of 18 killings every day. That's in large part because of the country's ruthless street gangs. So when the two biggest rivals called a truce this spring, the murder rate dropped by 30 percent. That tenuous peace lasted just six months. Earlier in September, five schoolboys were murdered after resisting a gang's forced recruitment.

    That gang is thought to be Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as MS-13. The gang is not even native to El Salvador. In fact, it's an American export. Born on the streets of Los Angeles, MS-13, and its rival 18th Street, both took root in Central America after many of their members were deported for crimes committed in the United States.

    MS-13 is now active in almost every region of the U.S. And Sureno gangs, including MS-13 and 18th Street, are the fastest growing of all the national-level

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