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There is a cease-fire in Syria. Really. The 17 nations of the International Syria Support Group signed it in February. The United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations can all say they negotiated a cease-fire.

But in just 48 hours this week, an average of one Syrian has been killed every 25 minutes. One Syrian has been wounded every 13 minutes.

Staffan de Misturahe, the U.N. special envoy for Syria, has said that the cease-fire is "still alive, but barely."

Which, is, perhaps, as close as a diplomat can get to saying it's no more.

One photo of a pensive Congolese woman in her distinctive makeup could be mistaken for a Renaissance painting. Another, of a coal plant sending smoke plumes over a town in China, looks like a still from a 1950s propaganda film. And another, of a little girl yawning during an Indonesian festival, will just make you smile.

When I meet the captured ISIS fighter, he doesn't look much like the bombastic murderers in the propaganda videos.

Ahmed Darwish, 29, is slight, hunched and shuffling in orange plastic sandals, wincing in pain as he walks into a police station in Rumeilan, northern Syria, escorted by the Kurdish fighters who captured him running away after a battle. His arms are bandaged and head is wounded: he was struck in a coalition airstrike in support of the anti-ISIS forces.

President Obama has slashed defense spending and will leave his successor with a weaker military force — or so Republican presidential candidates, led by Donald Trump, charge.

THE CLAIM:

"Our military is depleted," Trump said in his foreign-policy address on Wednesday, "and we're asking our generals and military leaders to worry about global warming."

In the past, Trump has claimed the U.S. military under Obama has become "a disaster," and other Republicans have described it as "gutted" since Obama took office.

The Pentagon's final report on the deadly U.S. airstrike on a Médecins Sans Frontières trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last October concludes the incident was caused by "human errors, compounded by process and equipment failures."

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On Tuesday, our colleagues over at NPR's Hidden Brain talked about the role race plays in the sharing economy — specifically, the online peer-to-peer apartment rental service Airbnb. They spoke with one African-American woman about her persistent difficulties booking rooms through AirBnb, and who had a feeling it was due to her race.

International trade disputes used to be relatively simple.

One country would build up an industry to create jobs, and then dump excess products in another country at below-cost prices. Competitors facing unrealistically cheap imports would file "anti-dumping" complaints to seek government-backed protections.

North Korea's Supreme Court has sent another U.S. citizen to prison, sentencing a Korean-American man to 10 years in prison and hard labor over espionage charges. Kim Dong-chul, 62, is reportedly a former resident of Fairfax, Va.

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Sixteen U.S. service members have been disciplined after the Pentagon reviewed the U.S. airstrikes that killed 42 people at a civilian hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last fall.

NPR's Tom Bowman reports that none of the military personnel face criminal charges.

Watching Disney's remake of The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling's stories, took me straight back to my childhood in India, and to Sunday mornings spent watching an animated series of The Jungle Book in Hindi, on India's national television channel. (It was originally a Japanese series, dubbed in Hindi for an Indian audience.)

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In the southeastern Chinese city of Quanzhou, a well-known Buddhist monk named Fu Hou has been mummified and encased in gold leaf.

According to The Associated Press, it's "a practice reserved for holy men in some areas with strong Buddhist traditions" and was done to honor Fu Hou's dedication to the religion.

Li Ren, the Chongfu Temple's abbot, said that after the 94-year-old's death in 2012, "the monk's body was washed, treated by two mummification experts, and sealed inside a large pottery jar in a sitting position," according to the wire service.

It might not have been a drone that struck a British Airways plane on April 17 after all.

British Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told Parliament on Thursday that it was probably "not a drone incident," according to The Register, an online tech publication.

Randy Berry has seen dramatic changes during his more than 20 years at the State Department.

When he moved from a post in Nepal to New Zealand years ago, he had to pay for his husband's plane ticket because such spousal benefits were not covered for gay and lesbian couples.

"Those days are gone," Berry says in an interview at his State Department office.

The extremely high-profile dispute between Apple and the FBI has ushered in a new phase in the debate over the future of secure communications. Though many Americans still struggle with the technical implications of encryption, it's now a household word.

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Airstrikes in Syria's largest city killed more than a dozen people at a well-known hospital, says aid group Doctors Without Borders, adding that the violence claimed one of the last pediatricians working in Aleppo.

"We are outraged at the destruction of Al Quds hospital," the group said in a tweet Thursday, saying that the facility included an intensive care unit and an emergency room.

A friend of the pediatrician who died told NPR's Alice Fordham via Skype that Mohammed Wassim Moaz was "very kind" and that the children in Aleppo "love him very much."

Assessing The Myth Of Vladimir Putin

Apr 28, 2016
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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

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