Afghanistan may be one of the world's poorest countries, but weddings are still a big — and expensive — deal. On most weekends, Kabul's glitzy and somewhat garish wedding halls are packed with people celebrating nuptials.
One of them is the Uranos Palace complex. On the night I attended my first Afghan wedding, all three of its halls were overflowing. I was one of two foreigners in a room of about 200 men. The female guests sat on the other side of a 7-foot-high divider in the middle of the hall.
What happens when you find out that the life you've lived could have been better — much better? That's what a 60-year-old Japanese truck driver had to grapple with when he discovered he was switched at birth after being born to a rich family.
Many Chinese are pleased with the recent announcement that their government will further loosen the country's one-child policy. Some couples there are already allowed to have two children, while others say that even if they are permitted to have another kid, they can't afford it.
A young, professional couple surnamed Gao and Deng went to a government office in Shanghai earlier this month to apply for a marriage license.
Waiting on a metal bench, Gao, the 30-year-old groom-to-be, said he was glad more couples will be able to have a second child.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 3:17 pm
The U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan is apologizing for an airstrike that killed a 2-year-old, a death that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said imperils a long-term security agreement between the two countries.
The International Security Assistance Force said it carried out an airstrike Thursday on a militant riding a motorbike in Helmand Province. The child was also killed, and two women were injured in the attack.
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 3:26 pm
An Egyptian blogger who rose to fame during the 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak has been arrested under a controversial new law that bans unauthorized protests.
Police arrested Alaa Abdel-Fattah at his home late Thursday night as his toddler slept nearby. When his wife demanded to see an arrest warrant, police beat both of them, a press release from the family said. NPR's Leila Fadel is reporting on the story for our Newscast unit:
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 11:11 am
We've been reporting on China's new air defense zone and the criticism it is generating from its neighbors as well as the United States, who say they will ignore it. On Friday, China said it sent warplanes to the zone over the East China Sea, which overlaps with areas claimed by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
NPR's Anthony Kuhn filed this report for our newscast unit:
Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 7:59 am
Pakistani officials said Friday that a suspected U.S. drone strike in the country's tribal belt has killed at least two people and injured several others. The incident comes amid growing controversy in Pakistan over American drone attacks.
NPR's Philip Reeves filed this report for our Newscast unit:
There was an arrest of a high-profile Egyptian activist last night, a well-known blogger. This arrest was part of what has apparently been an expansion in the crackdown by Egypt's military-led regime. Egypt recently issued a new law that broadens the state's powers to stop protests, including by force. We're joined by NPR's Leila Fadel in Cairo. Leila, good morning.
LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Good morning.
GREENE: So tell us about this blogger who was arrested.
We're gonna take a look now at the changing dynamics in the Syrian civil war. It's been going on for two and a half years now. Well over 100,000 people have died. In that time, Islamist extremists have emerged as the best armed and financed opposition to the regime of Bashar al Assad, eclipsing the opposition groups favored by the West.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:36 am
Thanksgiving — like the universe — is expanding.
Traditionally a time for Americans to pause and give thanks to a Supreme Being — for health or harvest or happenstance, Thanksgiving is evolving before our very eyes into a holiday where we give thanks to each other as well.
Just this week we received Thanksgiving-themed thank-you notes from a doctor's office, a lawyers' association, a New Jersey congressman and others. Can Thanksgiving-themed gift cards be far behind?
It's not a bad idea. Saying thank you to more people.
China is flexing its muscles these days. Over the weekend, it declared a sprawling air defense identification zone that covers disputed islands controlled by Japan. And it has sent its lone aircraft carrier for first-time trials in the South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial feuds with other neighbors, including Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.
None of this was making China any friends in Manila, where the Chinese government is particularly unpopular these days.
Should the Afghan government sign a security agreement, the U.S. plans to keep between 6,000 and 9,000 American troops in Afghanistan even after the U.S. and NATO's combat mission officially ends late in 2014.
Beginning in 2015, the remaining troops would train Afghan soldiers and mount operations against any remnants of al-Qaida.
But they wouldn't be the only ones who stay behind: U.S. troops would almost certainly be outnumbered by civilian contractors.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 3:06 am
Popular Syrian radio personality Honey al-Sayed fled the country last year and now lives in Washington, D.C. Both the regime and rebel forces wanted her to be their mouthpiece. She spoke to David Greene about what it was like to broadcast in Syria during the conflict there, and what made her leave.
A court in the Dominican Republic recently stripped many people of Haitian descent of Dominican citizenship. Linda Wertheimer talks to Jacqueline Charles, a reporter with the Miami Herald, about unrest and reports of mass deportations in the Dominican Republic.
A group of environmental activists from Greenpeace were recently granted bail in Russia after two months in detention for attempting to protest on an oil rig in arctic waters. Peter Willcox, the American captain of the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise, talks to David Greene about the experience when he and his crew were arrested by Russian commandos in the Pechora Sea, north of Russia.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 3:11 am
David Greene talk to UNICEF Emergency Coordinator Bob McCarthy about the situation at a Catholic church in Bossangoa in the Central African Republic. Thousands of people are seeking shelter in the compound of the church. They are fleeing the violence that has engulfed the country after militias overthrew the government earlier this year.
Flying to or from Europe, many a transatlantic traveler has gazed down at the brilliant white surface of Greenland and maybe wondered what is beneath those massive sheets of ice. Well, scientists have discovered jagged mountains, ravines that rival the Grand Canyon.
And now NPR's Richard Harris reports that for the first time they've come across some lakes under the ice as well.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 3:28 am
Linda Wertheimer talks to Laura Rozen, a reporter for Al-Monitor.com, about her reporting on the secret talks between the U.S. and Iran. Those talks preceded the interim nuclear deal reached in Geneva last weekend.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 3:17 am
The northeastern city Maiduguri is the birthplace of the Islamist militant movement Boko Haram. Until earlier this year, when President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency in three northeastern states, the extremists regularly hit targets there.
Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 3:08 am
The forecast, by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, was issued on Wednesday. It contrasts with that of the Greek government which says the economy will grow next year.
Baseball season is over in the United States, but it's just getting started in Cuba. It's the first season since Communist authorities lifted a 50-year-old ban on players' signing professional contracts abroad.
The move could bring even more Cuban defections to the U.S. major leagues, but fans on the island aren't booing the change.
Going to a baseball game at Havana's Latin American stadium is a little different from the typical experience in the U.S.
Concerned by China's move to assert itself in an area claimed by Japan, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with his Japanese counterpart Wednesday. China's military says it monitored a flight Tuesday by U.S. bombers through an air defense zone recently outlined by China.
The Francisco Villa Public School is a big, cement block of a fortress in an eastern Tijuana neighborhood just south of the Mexico-U.S. border.
Many of the nearby houses are patched together out of discarded materials, like old garage doors. The roads are unpaved and deeply rutted.
The school bell pierces the dusty air as girls in pink jumpers and boys in navy sweaters stream out of class. For 45 middle school students here who were born in the United States, the sound of the bell is one of the few things that are familiar.
A new political storm is brewing in Egypt. It's over a law that bans unauthorized protest. Egyptian officials are taking to the airwaves to defend the law, in the face of fierce opposition from secular political activists. NPR's Leila Fadel reports from Cairo.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
In Pakistan, the army chief is considered the most powerful man in the land. Now, there's a new one. General Raheel Sharif was appointed today. He has the tough task of responding to an Islamist insurgency that's cost thousands of lives. That involves taking on Pakistan's Taliban militants. And they also have a new leader, as NPR's Philip Reeves reports.
From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Audie Cornish.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called his counterpart in Japan today to discuss new tensions with China. China has declared a new air defense zone over the East China Sea. Japan has refused to recognize it and has continued commercial flights through the area. And yesterday, the U.S. dispatched two unarmed B52 bombers through the zone.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. I'm not trying to scuttle the deal - those words earlier this week from Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. He's one of several high profile Democrats who voiced skepticism of the agreement announced over the weekend to curb Iran's nuclear program. His chief concern with the deal, that it lets Iran off the hook by offering some $7 billion worth of sanctions relief.