This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The last U.N. military observers are pulling out of Syria today. Their mission has been made near impossible by the heavy fighting gripping the country.
A former Algerian foreign minister is taking over as U.N. envoy on Syria, but he's not optimistic about a quick end to the fighting. And neighboring Lebanon remains on edge, after a spate of kidnappings this week related to the Syrian conflict. NPR's Anthony Kuhn joins us from Beirut.
This week, Ecuador announced that it would grant Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, political asylum. He's been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy since June facing extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims that he denies. But somehow he's got to get from London to Ecuador and he can't just buy a ticket, buy a canister of tea in duty-free and fly to Quito. The British government says that Julian Assange will be arrested if he sets a foot out of the embassy door.
The quayside at Compagnia della Vela in Venice, Italy, is largely deserted. Authorities have targeted yacht owners as part of a crackdown on tax evasion, and many boat owners have sailed to other countries in the Mediterranean.
Credit Syvia Poggioli / NPR
A foreign yacht is berthed at Porto Santo Stefano. Italian police have been raiding ports to check if yacht owners have been paying enough taxes.
Italy has a public debt of nearly 2 trillion euros, and it's cracking down on its notoriously wily tax evaders. Owners of luxury yachts are a prime target, with tax police launching dockside raids to see how individual tax files line up with owning and maintaining an expensive boat.
But yachts are mobile assets. In response, many boat owners are simply weighing anchor and setting course for more tax-friendly Mediterranean marinas.
The Romney campaign launched its first event with Ryan on the ticket in front of an excited crowd of supporters in Norfolk, Va., Saturday morning. If the crowd at the event was any indication, the decision has energized the Republican base.
It's been a big day for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Romney officially announced his running mate this morning in Virginia. NPR's Ron Elving tells guest host Linda Wertheimer how the pair are starting out.
For more on Mr. Romney's choice of a running mate, we're joined in the studio by NPR's Washington editor Ron Elving and NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea.
Now, we just heard from congressman Chris Van Hollan of Maryland, who's a Democrat. He told us that the choice that Mr. Romney made tells independent voters to, quote, "take a hike." How do you think that this choice affects independents and undecided voters? You want to start, Ron?
For more on the announcement, joining me in the studio are Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and contributing editor for the Weekly Standard Matthew Continetti. Gentlemen, it's wonderful to see you again.
E.J. DIONNE: Good to see you.
MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Good to see you.
WERTHEIMER: Let's first hear Paul Ryan from an interview with NPR in May of 2012. This was shortly after he released his first budget as chairman of the Budget Committee.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
The Romney campaign is now the Romney-Ryan campaign. The newly minted Republican ticket was presented at an event in Norfolk, Virginia. Mitt Romney named Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate beside the aptly named USS Wisconsin. In his introduction of Ryan, he extolled the Midwestern virtues of the congressman.