Today, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Iran and six world powers including the U.S. wrapped up two days of talks. No breakthroughs, but Iran is considering a proposal that would impose new restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some economic sanctions. The two sides will return to Kazakhstan for another meeting in early April. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this report from the scene of the negotiations.
On his last full day as Pope, Benedict XVI had his final general audience in St. Peter's Square before a crowd estimated at 150,000 people. He had a more personal message than usual, saying his resignation was dictated by his ailing health and declining speech. He spoke of the moments of joy in his papacy, but also of turbulent seas and rough winds when it seemed like the lord was sleeping.
Pope Benedict XVI had his final general audience Wednesday in front of a crowd of thousands. On Thursday, he leaves the papacy and becomes "Pope Emeritus". It's a brand new position and there are a lot of questions. What will he wear? Where will he live? How will he fill his time? Melissa Block speaks to long time pope watcher Rocco Palmo, editor of the website "Whispers in the Loggia."
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 9:01 am
Officials at six-nation nuclear talks on limiting Iran's nuclear program say the two-day meeting in Kazakhstan has been a turning point, and Tehran's lead negotiator described the discussions as a positive step.
But NPR's Peter Kenyon, reporting from the talks in Almaty, says it appears that most of what was accomplished was simply laying the groundwork for future discussions.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 9:37 am
Bidding an emotional farewell to a huge crowd gathered in The Vatican's St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI indirectly acknowledged Wednesday that his nearly 8 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church have not always been easy.
Iran now says compromise on its nuclear program may be possible. Of course, that comes with a number of ifs. Tehran says that's if international negotiators continue to take what it calls a more realistic approach. The big question, Western officials say, is whether Iran is willing to curb its nuclear activities. That is the message, after a two-day meeting between Iran and six world powers. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Almaty, Kazakhstan where the talks just concluded.
It was another day of protest in the West Bank. Palestinians are demanding the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails after one prisoner died on Saturday. NPR's Larry Abramson reports.
(SOUNDBITE OF YELLING)
LARRY ABRAMSON, BYLINE: Outside Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank, young men play cat and mouse with Israeli troops. They get as close as they dare, shoot a few rocks with slingshots, then retreat when the Israelis shoot tear gas canisters.
Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 5:05 pm
There's been a tug of war between aesthetically pleasing and safe when it comes to American embassies around the world.
Many embassies have been slammed as bunkers, bland cubes and lifeless compounds. Even the new Secretary of State John Kerry said just a few years ago, "We are building some of the ugliest embassies I've ever seen."
Another round of negotiations on Iran's suspect nuclear program got underway Tuesday in the Kazakhstani city of Almaty. Iran's envoys are pushing for relief from a vast array of economic sanctions while the U.S. and its partners in the so-called P-5 plus Germany are looking for signs that Tehran is prepared to roll back its nuclear program.
An Iranian woman shops at a supermarket in the capital, Tehran, on Feb. 22. International sanctions have hurt Iran's economy, but prospects for a breakthrough on Iran's nuclear program are dim as negotiators meet in Kazakhstan.
Credit Abedin Taherkenareh / EPA/Landov
A view of fruit market in the northern Iranian city of Tonekabon.
A new round of international talks on Iran's nuclear program is under way in Kazakhstan, where the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany are asking Iran to give up any thought of building a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from sanctions.
Western leaders do not predict a breakthrough, but they say small steps could be taken that would increase confidence on both sides.
Still, it's hard to imagine how such negotiations could proceed with lower expectations for progress.
In Quebec, a restaurant's use of the word "pasta" on its menu sparked a government agency into action. Officials who enforce rules that guard French as the official language now say "exotic" words can be allowed in some cases.
Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 4:15 pm
A government agency in Quebec, Canada, has come under intense criticism after attempting to get pasta stricken from a restaurant's menu. The move had nothing to do with the food: Officials said Italian words such as pasta, calamari, and antipasto should be replaced with French words to conform with the law.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. So far, the fighting in Syria's bloody civil war has almost entirely been contained inside Syria. But plenty of outsiders are involved there, including al-Qaida in Iraq, Iran's al-Quds Force, and the Israel Air Force. No country is more deeply involved than Syria's smallest and most vulnerable neighbor, Lebanon.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 10:47 am
Megalomaniacs, consider yourselves warned. Anchovies will not help you build your empire. To rule long and prosper, serve corn.
That's the word from archaeologists who say they've solved a mystery that has been puzzling their colleagues for the past 40 years: How did some of the earliest Peruvians manage to build a robust civilization without corn — the crop that fueled other great civilizations of the Americas, like the Maya?
It's settled. When the pontiff steps down Thursday, he'll still be known as Benedict XVI and have the title of "pope emeritus." In public, he'll wear an understated white cassock and stylish brown shoes from Mexico.
"PYONGYANG, North Korea — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills Tuesday and flamboyant style — neon-bleached hair, tattoos, nose studs and all — to the isolated communist country with possibly the world's drabbest dress code: North Korea.
Few can say they've reached the summit of Mt. Everest, and even fewer can say they've done it twice. And only one woman can say she's done it twice in one month. Her name is Chhurim, a 29-year-old Sherpa from Nepal. She made the climb last May, came down for a few days and then turned around and went up again. This week, she climbed into the Guinness Book of World Records.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
The Five Star Movement's Beppe Grillo is shown on TV Monday at the Democratic Party press center in Rome. The prospect of political paralysis hung over Italy as election results showed the upstart protest campaign making stunning inroads, and mainstream forces of center-left and center-right wrestling for control of Parliament's two houses.
Italian elections have hurled a tsunami against the system: An upstart anti-establishment party that rejects European Union-dictated austerity measures is now the single biggest party in Parliament. Newspaper headlines proclaim the country ungovernable, and world financial markets are spooked by the prospect of gridlock in the eurozone's third-largest economy.
Thanks to a byzantine election law, the center-left Democratic Party came in first by a slim majority. But it can't govern alone.
As Italians struggle to form a new government, another political transition is underway - inside the Vatican. Pope Benedict's historic resignation takes effect on Thursday, giving way to a papal transition that will be unlike any before. But even in the pope's final week, new sex scandals threaten to overshadow the upcoming conclave where his successor will be chosen.
Syrian opposition leaders say they plan to attend a conference this week in Rome. They want to see what the new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has to offer to help them bring an end of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The opposition leaders had been threatening to boycott the meeting, but Kerry is promising he won't leave them dangling in the wind. NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with Kerry this week on his first trip overseas as secretary of state. She filed this report from Berlin.
Workers open ballots in a polling station in Rome on Tuesday following Italy's general elections. The initial results showed a close race with no clear-cut winner, a development that made financial markets jumpy.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
It was yet another turbulent day for the Vatican as Great Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric announced his resignation. That means he will not be taking part in the election of a new pope. Cardinal Keith O'Brien has been accused of behaving inappropriately toward several priests. His immediate departure comes as the pope himself prepares to retire. Benedict XVI stands down Thursday.
We're joined from London by NPR's Philip Reeves. Hi there, Philip.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Afghanistan's president is demanding that American Special Forces, Green Berets, withdraw from a key province. It's located near the capital, Kabul. Hamid Karzai says the Special Forces are linked to allegations of kidnapping, killing and torture. What actually happened, however, is not clear. And to try to make sense of this, we're joined by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.