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Welcome to 'Parallels,' NPR's International News Blog

Here's the paradox with international news.

In our wired and rapidly shrinking world, there is no distant war, no isolated economic crisis and no social trend that observes national borders.

When a building collapses in Bangladesh, photos of the dead and grieving appear instantly. When a battle takes place in Syria, YouTube videos surface in real time. You can even get tweets from North Korea.

Yet all this technological wizardry can easily become a confusing cacophony, a discordant electronic buzz that has erupted at a time when many American news organizations have retreated from international coverage. There's no substitute for having a reporter at the scene, and yet they have become increasingly scarce.

But NPR has been bucking that trend. We have reporters around the world who are willing to go anywhere to find a good story and explain what it means. And they are the reason we are launching this blog.

Our correspondents won't just be reporting the news, they will be looking to tell stories that connect us all. They will be seeking out, well, parallels, between stories far away and those close to home. And in the process, we hope to offer up some uncommon answers and alternate perspectives.

So many stories cross borders and we have the reporters to cover them at both ends. After the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the focus of the story soon moved to the family roots of the suspects, who came from the Caucuses region in southern Russia. NPR's Corey Flintoff was there to help explain the complicated history of this troubled territory.

As we begin the blog this week, our reporters will be taking you from Africa to Asia as we look at the increasingly sophisticated nature of international poaching. South Africa has the largest number of rhinos, and the best protected. Yet high-tech poachers are slaughtering them by the hundreds for their horns. The destination may surprise you: it's often Vietnam, where the newly emerging rich are prepared to spend big money in the misguided notion that these horns can cure everything from hangovers to cancer.

We'll be visiting many other countries as well. We know we have well-traveled readers engaged in the world, and your feedback will be invaluable. As the host of this blog, I invite you to join in the conversation.

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

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