Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 6:44 am
We told you earlier this week about the massive anti-government protests in Thailand in which demonstrators took over parts of the Finance and Foreign ministries and called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. On Wednesday, the fourth day of demonstrations, protesters forced the evacuation of the country's top crime-fighting agency.
China announced over the weekend that it had expanded an air-defense zone to cover islands that are claimed by both it and Japan. The U.S., Japan and others said they wouldn't recognize that new zone. The U.S. has since flown two bomber jets through the space without notifying China.
Editor's Note: One out of three Africans paid a bribe in the past year to obtain a government document, get medical care, place kids in school or settle an issue with police, according to a recent survey. Police consistently attracted the highest ratings of corruption, including those in Kenya. NPR's Gregory Warner looks at the impact it has on the country.
The crime, poverty and unemployment rates have increased in Honduras under outgoing President Porfirio Lobo of the conservative National Party. But voters have chosen to keep the party in power by electing Juan Orlando-Hernandez. Linda Wertheimer talks to Tracy Wilkinson, the Mexico bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, about the election.
There's an old joke that if Moses had turned right when he led Jewish tribes out of Egypt, Israel might be where Saudi Arabia is today — and be rich from oil. Consultant Amit Mor of Eco Energy says that joke is out of date.
"Israel has more oil than Saudi Arabia," he claims. "And it's not a joke."
But that oil will be difficult to reach, if it can be recovered at all. The oil he's talking about is not yet liquid but is trapped in rocks underground.
Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 7:53 pm
Dozens of Haitians have died in a desperate attempt to reach the Bahamas, after their crowded 40-foot sloop capsized. Deployed from Florida, Coast Guard crews scrambled to work with Bahamian forces to rescue more than 100 survivors Tuesday. The Coast Guard says the craft ran aground in the Bahamas' Exuma Cays.
The six-month agreement struck between Iran and Western nations last weekend lays out a detailed plan of inspection for Iran's nuclear facilities. The White House calls it "unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring." So how will that work? Melissa Block speaks with Dr. David A. Kay, former U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector, to find out.
Much of the criticism of the interim nuclear deal reached with Iran Sunday has focused on the sanctions relief Iran will receive over the next six months if it follows through on restricting its nuclear program. Although the only irreversible relief being offered is a gradual release of $4.2 billion in frozen Iranian revenue, critics warn that the "architecture of the sanctions regime has been undermined." Analysts say all the important sanctions hampering Iran's economy remain in place, but the announcement of the deal itself is having a psychological impact on markets.
World powers are scrambling to get a hold of a crisis in Central African Republic that U.N. officials have warned could lead to genocide. The nation slipped into bloody anarchy after rebels ousted the president in March.
The United States military flew two B-52 bombers into air space that China recently designated as an air defense identification zone. The showdown is part of a larger dispute involving China and Japan and territorial rights in the East China Sea.
After admitting to one of the most surprising art thefts in recent history, two men have been sentenced to 6 years and 8 months in prison. They are part of a Romanian gang that stole seven works by masters including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin from a Rotterdam museum last autumn.
Back in 2001, the U.S. strongly backed Hamid Karzai as the best man to rebuild Afghanistan after the Taliban had been driven out of power.
Karzai had a solid base among the dominant Pashtun ethnic group. With his fluent English, he seemed at ease with U.S. and other Western leaders. And he appeared reasonable and moderate, in stark contrast to the Taliban's extremism.
Yet today, the Afghan president is a source of endless frustration for the Americans.
Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 7:21 pm
Congratulations. The October lottery is complete. Your name was pulled. For immediate placement, report to the Ministry of Admission at Grestin Border Checkpoint. An apartment will be provided for you and your family in East Grestin. Expect a Class-8 dwelling.
Across the world, countries make very different investments in the environment. We're not just talking about measures to combat global climate change. We're talking about investments in clean water, forests, biodiversity. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joins us regularly to share interesting new research, and he's here to tell us about an unexpected factor that seems to influence environmental stewardships. Shankar, welcome back.
People advising President Obama's administration on Afghanistan include John Podesta. Years ago, he was President Clinton's chief of staff. These days, he's chair of the Center for American Progress and part of an effort to offer independent views on Afghanistan to the administration. Last week, he was in that country just before the many delegates to that assembly of elders approved the U.S. presence in the country, after which President Karzai put off signing the deal, anyway.
Many Israelis are critical of the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program, and some are even more worried about what could follow.
"What's important here is that both sides decided: We have to start consulting. Right now," says Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, now head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
When Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif confirmed the landmark nuclear deal over the weekend, his announcement not made at a podium or declared in front of television cameras. It was done on Twitter, and that's ironic because the government blocks many Iranians from using sites like Twitter and Facebook. Now, many people in Iran find their way around the restrictions and are able to get on social media.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Violence and chaos are gripping the Central African Republic. Some are even warning of genocide there. The violence traces back to a coup led by a Muslim group, the Seleca rebels. Many of them have since gone rouge, targeting Christians who are now forming their own militias.
Hondurans went to the polls this Sunday to elect a new president. The Central American country has a whole host of problems to deal with, including the highest levels of violence in the world and increased drug cartel activity. Most pressing, though, the new leader will inherit a failing economy. Honduras is broke. It just borrowed, for the first time, $500 million on the international bond market, but that wasn't even enough to bail the country out of its devastating financial troubles.
Newly announced talks on ending the conflict in Syria will bring together representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that the talks would convene on Jan. 22.
The Obama administration says one of the most important gains in the Iran nuclear deal is that it will buy time for negotiations on a more permanent agreement. If no such agreement is reached, sanctions that have been suspended could be re-imposed. But analysts say the obstacles to a final agreement are still huge, and it may not be easy to regain the leverage that sanctions have achieved so far.
Secretary of State John Kerry will have to work hard to allay concerns about the Iran deal, concerns from U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. And as Melissa just mentioned, the White House faces criticism from some in Congress. Kerry will need to convince senators not to impose additional sanctions on Iran so that negotiators can come up with a comprehensive deal over the next six months. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Kerry seems to be well positioned to take on the challenges.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The nuclear accord reached over the weekend with Iran is, according to President Obama, an important first step. The new Iranian president calls it a definite achievement but to the Israeli prime minister it's a historic mistake. The six-month deal freezes important parts of Iran's nuclear problem. In exchange, Iran gets temporary relief from economic sanctions amounting to about $7 billion.