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A blockbuster Bollywood movie is raking in millions and trying to change entrenched gender roles in India. It's set in Haryana state, where the sex ratio of newborns skews heavily toward boys.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For the first time in Japanese history three women of different political persuasions are in positions that could be stepping stones to the prime minister's office.

It's especially notable in Japan, where women's labor force participation remains among the lowest among developed nations, and gender roles are traditionally-defined.

"Women have not really been coached or mentored or encouraged to take on leadership roles," Kyoto University diplomacy professor Nancy Snow explains. "Also, women aren't allowed [culturally] to often show ambition, to sort of telegraph that."

The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo., has begun moving into Poland as part of the biggest U.S. military deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

It's part of an Obama administration effort to deter perceived growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin isn't happy.

"These actions threaten our interests, our security," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. It's not even a European state."

The U.N. Secretary-General said today he was hopeful that peace talks on Cyprus, being held in Geneva, could lead to a breakthrough, though he cautioned that "we are not here for a quick fix."

Flanked by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, Secretary-General António Guterres said a breakthrough is what the world needs now.

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After Steve Flatow's daughter was killed in a terrorist attack, he wanted justice. He embarked on a legal quest to get the right to sue a country: Iran. His case opened the doors to a new technique for deterring funding of terrorists, but it also interfered with the U.S. government's diplomatic efforts.

In the closing weeks of 2016, an explosive document was floating around in media and security circles. Reporters tried, and failed, to verify the claims it contained — that Donald Trump colluded with Russia, and the Kremlin held lurid blackmail material as leverage over Trump. Reporting on the document, which was first compiled as opposition research, was rare and carefully vague.

Maracanã Stadium has been a fixture of the Rio de Janeiro skyline for decades. Opened just in time to play host to Brazil's heartbreak in the 1950 World Cup, it underwent massive renovations to host ... well, more heartbreak for Brazilians in the 2014 World Cup.

A U.S. military investigation has cleared the U.S. forces of wrongdoing in fighting that left 33 civilians dead and 27 others wounded last year in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, saying that they acted in self-defense.

"To defend themselves and Afghan forces, U.S. forces returned fire in self-defense at Taliban who were using civilian houses as firing positions," according to the U.S. military report published Thursday.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government agencies to expand access to contraception, especially for poor women. By 2018, he instructs, all poor households in the country should have "zero unmet need for modern family planning."

Duterte's executive order, signed Monday and announced on Wednesday, is the latest development in a long battle over birth control in the majority-Catholic Philippines. It pits the president, who says family planning is critical for reducing poverty, against the country's Supreme Court and Catholic leadership.

The bustling Paris streets were rutted and caked in thick mud, but there was always a breathtaking sight to behold in the shop windows of Patisserie de la Rue de la Paix. By 1814, people crowded outside the bakery, straining for a glimpse of the latest confection created by the young chef who worked inside.

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Let's sort through what we know and don't know about President-elect Trump and Russia. We start with words he resisted saying for months.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

DONALD TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia.

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Medecins Sans Frontieres, the medical humanitarian organization, has added a basic item to its medical bag of drugs, stethoscopes and syringes: food.

Out of nowhere, a shocking video appeared on a Russian TV news program late one evening in March 1999. A surveillance tape showed a naked, middle-aged man who resembled Russia's top prosecutor, Yuri Skuratov, cavorting with two unclothed young women. Neither was his wife.

Italy has been described as the world's biggest open-air museum.

And with illegally excavated antiquities, looting of unguarded, centuries-old churches and smuggling of precious artworks, it's also an art theft playground.

But thanks to an elite police squad, Italy is also at the forefront in combating the illicit trade in artworks — believed to be among the world's biggest forms of trafficking and estimated to be worth billions.

It's been used to buy drugs. Guns. Child porn. And to launder money.

But high-profile institutions like the World Bank, UNICEF and USAID think it could be a force for good, helping the poorest of the poor.

It's a technology called blockchain — a global, online ledger that's free for anyone to use and that isn't regulated by any one party.

Maybe you've heard of it. And maybe you don't know exactly what it is.

That's because it's not easy to define.

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson had a tense confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, clashing even with Republican members over his views on Russia, international human rights violations and the lobbying and deal-making of Exxon Mobil when he was CEO.

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For all of the terrible things that have happened to his city of Jalawla in northern Iraq, Yacub Youssef seems like a happy man.

Youssef is the sub-district director – essentially the mayor — of this small city just a few miles from Iran and about 90 miles north of Baghdad. ISIS occupied it in 2014, a few days after it took over Mosul. When the ISIS fighters were driven out two months later, Jalawla was left in ruins.

China sent its only aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday morning, an unusual and provocative move that comes as tensions are high between the mainland and the self-governing island.

NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Beijing that China says the carrier was returning from weapons drills in the South China Sea, and that its passage through the strait complies with international law. Here's more from Rob:

Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET on Wednesday

Top U.S. intelligence officials have briefed leaders in Washington about an explosive — but unverified — document that alleges collusion between Russia and President-elect Donald Trump, NPR has learned.

The brief, which NPR has seen but not independently verified, was given by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain to FBI Director James Comey on Dec. 9. Details from it have been part of presentations by Comey and other intelligence leaders to Trump, President Obama and key leaders in Congress.

Russia's intelligence agencies compromised the networks of some state-level Republicans and their affiliated organizations, but not the current Republican National Committee or the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump, top U.S. intelligence chiefs said Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey and other spy bosses told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia "harvested" information from Republicans but that it captured "old stuff" and targeted RNC Web domains that were no longer in use.

Two bomb blasts near the parliament building in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, have killed at least 30 people and injured at least 70.

"The first bomb exploded near a parked minibus," NPR's Nishant Dahiya reported. "The second, when the police arrived to help the victims." It happened during the evening rush hour as parliament staff were leaving work.

A female lawmaker was said to be among the injured, Nishant added, and other parliament staff were also reportedly victims of the attack.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Bombs exploded in the Afghan capital of Kabul earlier today. It was the first attack in the city in months. The blasts killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more. NPR's Nishant Dahiya reports.

Jamaica is facing a crisis as specialized nurses leave the island to take jobs in North America and Europe.

The exodus has forced Jamaican hospitals to reschedule some complex surgeries because of a lack of nursing staff on their wards.

James Moss-Solomon, the chairman of the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, says the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are, in his words, "poaching" Jamaica's most critical nurses.

"Specialist nurses is the problem. We have tons of regular nurses," he says.

In a decade, soccer's biggest tournament is set to become even bigger.

FIFA, the game's governing body, unanimously voted to expand the tournament to 48 teams from 32 teams starting in 2026.

The new format starts with the 48 teams playing one another in 16 groups of three. Then, the top two teams from each group will advance into a 32-team group for the knockout stage.

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