Robert Siegel

Jordan's King Abdullah has faced a delicate balancing act ever since he ascended the throne in 1999 following his father's death. His country shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Israel among others, and there always seems to be trouble in the neighborhood.

His latest challenge has been to convince Jordanians that it's in the country's interest to play a prominent role in the U.S.-led coalition against the self-declared Islamic State.

Jordan's King Abdullah was way out ahead of the people in his support of the war against the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS. Many Jordanians used to say it was someone else's war even though it's only a 90-minute drive from the capital, Amman, north to the Syrian border.

But Jordanian opinions changed dramatically after the horrific video in which ISIS immolated a Jordanian pilot, Moaz Kassasbeh, who was captured back in December.

It's still more than 15 months until the Iowa caucuses, and no one in the crowded field of Republicans with presidential ambitions has announced. But things are already happening in Iowa, especially for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Paul has reached out to Iowans who never considered voting for his father, Ron Paul, who made a respectable third-place showing there in 2012.

He's still popular with his father's old supporters. Many of them are in the so-called liberty faction of the Iowa GOP.

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The U.S. has begun airlifting humanitarian aid and conducting limited airstrikes in the attempt to protect Iraq's refugee populations of religious minorities. NPR's Tom Bowman talks with Robert Siegel about the possible policy options for the U.S. in Iraq.

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How well do we understand and act on probabilities that something will happen? A 30 percent chance of this or an 80 percent chance of that?

As it turns out, making decisions based on the odds can be an extremely difficult thing to do, even for people who study the science of how we make decisions.

The first Dutch investigators have reached the crash site of the Malaysian airliner shot down in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, fighting broke out in the outskirts of Donetsk between separatists and armed groups supporting the government in Kiev.

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According to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Defense Force has been instructed to begin a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip. The move comes 10 days after violence renewed between Hamas and Israel.

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A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying nearly 300 people has crashed in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. In the immediate aftermath, it is not clear whether the plane was shot down, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is calling for a swift investigation.

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Israel stepped up its air assault on the Gaza Strip, following the killings of Israeli and Palestinian teens. Unlike air strikes in the past, Israel has tempered its initial show of force for several reasons, but the situation appears to be steadily intensifying.

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House Republicans voted Thursday on leadership positions in the party's caucus. While House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy stepped up to the role of majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise overcame a more crowded competition to replace McCarthy.

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At an unveiling in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon announced its entry into the smartphone market with a new device called "Fire." NPR's Martin Kaste was at the unveiling in Seattle, and he offers his take on the event.

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MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. The State Department has confirmed that a U.S. citizen was involved in the suicide bombing in Syria earlier this week. Today, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed the man's identity in response to a reporter's question.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you confirm, at least, the name that he went by - as was published - Abu Huraya al-Amriki?

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