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The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Rome's New Mayor Wants The Monuments Pedestrian Friendly

Aug 9, 2013
Originally published on August 9, 2013 9:38 pm

On the first Saturday of August, a funny thing happened to 150,000 people on their way to the Roman Forum.

While a pianist and sax player set the mood, people looked upward and watched anxiously as acrobat Andrea Loreni made his way slowly on a tightrope stretched across Via dei Fori Imperiali, the wide avenue flanking the Forum and leading to the Coliseum.

The acrobat's walk was meant as a metaphor, a bridge reuniting ancient squares.

Dictator Benito Mussolini built the avenue in the 1920s as a tribute to fascism's imperial aspirations. In the process, he destroyed a densely populated neighborhood and separated the forums of the emperors Trajan, Augustus, Caesar and Nerva.

In 1953, the thoroughfare was immortalized by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on a scooter ride in the movie Roman Holiday.

Since then, traffic has gotten out of control, with some 1,600 motorists an hour using it at peak times. But now, pedestrians won't have to plug their ears against beeping horns or duck for cover from speeding SUVs. The new restrictions mean the Coliseum is no longer a traffic circle.

Buses and taxis will still be able to use the Via dei Fori Imperiali leading up to the Coliseum, but a 20 mph speed limit has been put in place.

The mayor, Ignazio Marino, hopes to eventually close several more streets around the ancient monuments, ultimately leading to the Apian Way.

Several of his predecessors tried, however, but failed to limit cars.

On Saturday, tens of thousands strolled toward the Coliseum, one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.

Entertainment filled the avenue and the ancient Roman Forum was open for visitors. From now through October, tourists and archaeological buffs will be able to take moonlight guided tours of the ancient temples and civic buildings, and walk in the footsteps of Julius and Augustus Caesar.

The crowd was young and old. Many came by bike. Parents pushed strollers, kids on fathers' shoulders admired the massive Maxentius Basilica.

"I think it was long overdue, I think it was necessary somehow, I'm enjoying the night, I like the idea of having everything pedestrian and walkable and cyclable, it's much nicer this way," said visitor Barbara Marcotulli.

By banning private traffic along this avenue, Marino — who became mayor in June — fulfilled a decades-old dream of archaeologists and conservators.

"We will have a place where people can bike, walk, enjoy this incredible archaeological site. We need to give back this place to the entire planet," he said.

But Romans are dedicated car lovers. There are 980 cars per 1,000 people — three times as many as in London — and many are opposed to the traffic ban.

Still, the mayor is on a crusade.

He plans to widen the pedestrian area as much as possible in order to create what he envisions as the largest archaeological park in the world.

"This incredible place is living testimony of our art, culture, literature, in other words, everything that has to do with our civilization," he says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.