Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:22 am
North Korea responded to new U.N. sanctions aimed at starving its nuclear program by vowing to cut a Cold War-style hotline and scrap a nonaggression pact with the South.
State-run media said North Korea "abrogates all agreements on nonaggression reached between the North and the South ... and also notifies the South side that it will immediately cut off the North-South hotline."
Roman Catholic cardinals have been meeting at the Vatican to get to know each other better and to set a date for the start of the conclave that will choose the next pope. On Thursday, this cardinal was walking to one of those meetings.
"The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013," reads a statement just sent to reporters by the Vatican Press Office. It adds that:
"A pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave."
Our original post — "Cardinals Expected To Set Date For Start Of Conclave":
Thousands of Venezuelans have been filling the streets this week, listening to music and lining up to see the coffin of their leader, Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday. Leaders from around the world have also come to the capital city, Caracas, for a funeral which formally takes place today. And in keeping with his often larger-than-life persona, the Venezuelan government plans to embalm Chavez and keep his body on display under glass, in perpetuity. NPR's Juan Forero is in Caracas, following events there. Hi, Juan.
Parts of the northern Syrian province of Idlib are a U.N. World Heritage site, known for its ancient archaeological wonders. Walking along muddy, rocky ground covered in new grass and wild daffodils, we start to see remnants of Roman structures — the columns and doorways of dwellings, temples and churches that date back to the 1st century.
They're known as the Dead Cities, and they trace the transition from ancient pagan Rome to Christian Byzantium. Until recently, they were deserted, frozen in time.
It is International Women's Day. To mark that occasion, First Lady Michelle Obama joins of Secretary of State John Kerry to recognize women around the world who have shown exceptional courage, as they put it, in advancing women's rights. The nine honorees include the 23-year-old Indian woman whose brutal gang-rape last December inspired a movement to end violence against women in India.
A formerly lost archeological treasure has made its way to the United States for the first time. It comes from Iran and dates back to the days of the ancient Persian Empire. It's called the Cyrus Cylinder. It'll be on tour across the U.S., starting tomorrow, with the Smithsonian Museum here in Washington.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The Cyrus Cylinder isn't too much too look at - made of clay and shaped kind of like a loaf of bread. What's special about it is that it's etched with writing from the time.
Syrian rebels celebrate in a street in the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqah after capturing the provincial capital on March 4. The government has responded with air strikes, creating a new wave of refugees.
A new flood of Syrian refugees is streaming into southern Turkey after the Syrian air force bombed the city of Raqqa, a provincial capital that the government lost control of earlier this week.
The Syrian rebels overran Raqqa, capturing several high-ranking prisoners, including the provincial governor. Many residents supported the rebels, but when the airstrikes began, they packed in a hurry and fled, believing it was safer to make a dash for the border than stay at home.
In Venezuela, thousands of mourners are paying their last respects to their larger-than-life leader, Hugo Chavez. The man who ruled Venezuela for 14 years died Tuesday, and his body is now lying in state in Caracas, the capital, as presidents and dignitaries fly in for the funeral Friday.
The U.N. Security Council agreed to tighten sanctions against North Korea on Thursday as punishment for its recent nuclear test. The Council's unanimous agreement came after three weeks of negotiation between the U.S. and China, which has opposed such measures in the past. North Korea was furious at the U.N. action, issuing a threat to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons as the sanctions came up for a vote.
The Newsroom, starring Jeff Daniels, is one of the most popular American TV series in China. It's a favorite among a cadre of young, informal translators who see it as a way to challenge conventional Chinese thinking.
Credit Nick Briggs / AP/PBS
At least three translating groups in China focus on British drama Downton Abbey. For many young Chinese, it provides a window onto a foreign world of privilege and class dynamics.
Every week, thousands of young Chinese gather online to translate popular American movies and TV shows into Mandarin. Some do it for fun and to help people learn English, while others see it as a subtle way to introduce new ideas into Chinese society.
Among the more popular American TV shows on China's Internet these days is HBO's The Newsroom. One reason is an exchange between a college student and a news anchor played by Jeff Daniels. The young woman asks the aging newsman why the United States is the greatest country in the world.
Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 2:54 pm
A swarm of locusts that has devastated crops in Egypt made its way into neighboring Israel this week. And with Passover just around the corner, many news outlets couldn't resist noting the shades of the biblical tale of Exodus, when the insects were one of 10 plagues that descended upon Pharaoh and his people.
Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 12:19 pm
China's citizens do not report as much as $2.34 trillion of what they make every year, hiding "gray income" that would represent nearly 20 percent of the country's GDP, Chinese economics scholar Wang Xiaolu says, in a report from the news site Global Voices.
In Russia, a prominent dancer with the fabled Bolshoi Ballet has confessed to ordering an attack on the company's director. The director suffered third degree burns after acid was thrown onto his face. For more on the scandals at the Bolshoi, Renee Montagne talks to writer Christina Ezrahi, author of Swans of the Kremlin: Ballet and Power in Soviet Russia.
An Egyptian military police officer argues with protesters during a demonstration on June 14, 2012, outside the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo.
Credit Tareq Al-Gabas / APA/Landov
Egyptian policemen arrest an alleged rioter during clashes in Cairo on Wednesday.
Credit - / AFP/Getty Images
Egyptians carry the body of a person killed in clashes between police and protesters in Mansura on Saturday. Mansura is the latest province to launch a campaign of civil disobedience, following in the footsteps of the canal cities of Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez.
Egypt's police force was the underpinning of former President Hosni Mubarak's iron-fisted regime, and it quickly became the enemy of Egypt's 2011 revolution.
Yet there has been little to no reform of the police force to date. Human rights groups say the police have begun to act like armed gangs, laying down collective punishment in restive areas across the country. But the police say they are the victims, under constant attack by anti-government protesters.
There's a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that's unlike any rice ever seen before. It's yellow. Its backers call it "golden rice." It's been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A.
Bacon and bologna are hardly health food. But a huge new study offers the strongest evidence yet that eating processed meat boosts the risk of the two big killers, cancer and heart disease.
A multinational group of scientists tracked the health and eating habits of bacon-loving Brits, wurst-munching Germans, jamon aficionados in Spain, as well as residents of seven other European countries — almost a half-million people in all.
We turn now to the last U.S. ambassador stationed in Venezuela. Patrick Duddy represented the U.S. first under the Bush administration then later under the Obama administration. He was once expelled from Caracas. Ambassador Duddy is now a visiting senior lecturer at Duke University's Center for International Studies. When we spoke today, I asked him what it was like for him to be an ambassador to Venezuela under Chavez.
Ten years and $60 billion in taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild it were worth the cost. That's the finding of a report to Congress by Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
A decade and $60 billion later what does the U.S. have to show for the reconstruction efforts in Iraq? That's the question being answered by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in his final report to Congress.
The report by Stuart Bowen was based upon audits and inspections, as well as interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials and politicians. Here's the crux of what happened to that money, according to the report:
I first encountered Hugo Chavez in Caracas, starring in his own television show, Hello, Mr. President. I couldn't take my eyes of the program, which began at 11 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.
It was an endurance test for even the most die-hard sycophants and terrific entertainment for a first-time viewer. While the camera would pan droopy-eyed Cabinet members seated in the front row, El Presidente showed no signs of flagging.
At the seven-hour mark, he chirped, "Bueno!" and declared, "It's early! Let's keep talking."
It's been nearly two months since a masked man in Moscow threw sulfuric acid in the face of the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director, Sergei Filin. He suffered burns and his sight was damaged. Well, today, Moscow police announced they've arrested three men who have confessed to the crime and that includes a lead soloist with the Bolshoi.
The police released footage of the dancer after his arrest. He's 29-year-old Pavel Dmitrichenko.
More than three decades ago, Soviet soldier Bakhretdin Khakimov went missing in Afghanistan after he was wounded in battle with Afghan mujahedeen forces.
His whereabouts remained unknown until two weeks ago, when he was tracked down by a team from the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a Moscow-based nonprofit that looks for Soviet MIAs in Afghanistan.
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.
The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.
And as I've just mentioned, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday. He led his country for 14 years. A passionate defender of the poor, Chavez had closed ties with Cuba's Fidel Castro, but alienated the United States with his socialist agenda. His politics reverberated throughout the region.
Kenyan election observers and voters in the mixed slum of Kiambiu — where the first fires started in Nairobi after the disputed presidential election of 2007 — vote in this year's elections. Could something as innocent as the color of the ballots and ballot boxes be contributing to voting "irregularities"?
Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:44 pm
In Kenya, colorblindness may be contributing to more than just questionable sartorial combinations. Some observers say it may have something to do with the hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots — a term for disqualified or invalidated votes — in Monday's presidential election, adding new delays to declaring a winner and raising the possibility of a costly and contentious runoff election in April.
Reaz Qadir Khan, 48, was accused Tuesday of giving money and advice to terrorists. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Khan helped plan a suicide bomb attack on Pakistan's intelligence headquarters in 2009.
A Portland, Ore., resident was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The FBI alleges that Reaz Qadir Khan, 48, gave money and advice to a man involved in a deadly 2009 suicide bomb attack on the headquarters of Pakistan's intelligence service in Lahore.
The attack resulted in an estimated 30 deaths and 300 injuries. Khan, a naturalized U.S. citizen, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is found guilty. FBI agents arrested him at his home Tuesday morning.
When residents of the southern Chinese village of Shangpu staged an uprising, police set up a roadblock on the main road to keep outsiders away, including reporters. Here, a policeman mans the roadblock on Saturday.
Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 10:41 am
On occasion my job requires me to sneak into a Chinese village as I did earlier this week to report a story on a rural uprising. This does not come naturally. I'm 6-foot-2 with gray hair and blue eyes and don't look remotely like a Chinese farmer.
South Korea upped the ante Wednesday after Pyongyang threatened to scrap the armistice that ended a brutal war between the rival neighbors in 1953, promising retaliation for any North Korean attack.
"If North Korea carries out provocations that threaten the lives and safety of South Koreans, our military will carry out strong and resolute retaliations," South Korea's Gen. Kim Yong-hyun told reporters in Seoul.