A Tunisian politician received death threats in recent days. Chokri Belaid was in a high-profile position. He was among the leaders of a group of politicians urging Tunisia to remain a secular state. That brought him into conflict with religious parties. Despite the death threats, his family says Belaid refused to limit his activities, and as he left home this morning someone shot and killed him.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. It's still hard to believe that Japan and China could ever go to war over a few specks of land in the East China Sea, but here's a reminder of how easily war could come. Japan has disclosed that one of its navy ships was recently targeted by the radar off a Chinese navy ship. That form of radar is used for targeting weapons.
Investigators in Ireland have been pursuing an excruciating question: It is how women came to be stuck in a modern day workhouse. That's a kind of forced labor camp we associate with some earlier age, yet these Irish facilities persisted almost until the end of the 20th century.
NPR's Philip Reeves reports on what an investigative panel calls secrecy, silence and shame.
In Egypt, tensions have risen in recent weeks as government security forces have clashed with street protestors. For more, Robert Siegel talks with Abdul Mawgoud Dardery about the political situation in Egypt. He's a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A Somali court on Tuesday handed down one year sentences to a woman who claimed she was raped and to a journalist who interviewed her about the alleged sexual abuse. The Mogadishu judges decided the woman had lied. The journalist was accused of insulting the government, even though he never published anything from the interview. Rights groups have decried the case as politically motivated because the woman had accused security forces of the assault.
Now to Mali, where the French are winding down their mission. As they do, librarians and scholars in the city of Timbuktu are breathing a sigh of relief. Timbuktu is home to an untold number of manuscripts and antiquities from Qurans to texts on medicine and mathematics, invaluable to Islamic history. But recently, Malian rebels and Islamic militants set the city's largest library on fire as they fled town. As it turns out, the scholars were one step ahead of the vandals. Only a very small percentage of the items were destroyed.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:48 am
A confidential Justice Department memo obtained by NBC News outlines legal theories the Obama administration has used to justify killing American citizens abroad. Here are five key questions and answers about the document:
Rape has long been a weapon of war, but documenting sexual violence usually happens after a conflict is over. Researchers are taking a new path with the Syrian conflict: tracking the incidents of rape as they occur.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. For most of this hour, we'll focus on the experiences of mixed-status families and the complications of navigating the gray areas in the shadows of immigration, when one or some are citizens and others are here illegally.
Across Syria's eastern border, Iraq is nearing the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led international invasion. The war that ended the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein is over but the killing is not. Insurgents sprang up under U.S. occupation and sectarian and ethnic rifts left thousands dead. Though the bloodshed peaked about six years ago, the death toll there is still stunning. Last month across the country it reached 246. And we're learning this morning about more violence in Iraq.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rene Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
The world's most popular sport is under investigation for corruption. European police say they've found evidence of a vast criminal network that fixed hundreds of soccer matches. The conspiracies are alleged to span continents and involve players, team officials, league staff and serious criminals. Investigators say they're looking at teams competing for places in soccer's biggest tournament, the World Cup.
In New Delhi, prosecutors called their first witness to the stand in the trial of five men accused of a gang-rape and the murder that's horrified India and the world. The victim's male companion, who was beaten and left for dead alongside her, appeared in court in a wheelchair to testify.
Indians are eager to see justice done, but as NPR's Julie McCarthy reports, the realities of government and the courts are dampening expectations.
There are growing calls for Syria's leaders to face war crimes charges for the fierce assaults against rebel targets and civilian areas. If that happens, veterans of past war crimes prosecutions say, Syrians will have one big advantage: The widespread gathering of evidence across the country is happening often in real time.
After visiting a Syrian refugee camp in southeastern Turkey recently, Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, reacted sharply to a question that suggested Washington, D.C., has kept quiet about the Syrian regime's attacks.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Robert Siegel.
A few months ago, the British were told that a royal skeleton might have been located under what the Brits call a car park. And they were told the remains might belong to the 15th century King Richard III. Many were skeptical, but now they can believe it. Today, experts confirmed that the bones belong to Richard III, a monarch immortalized by William Shakespeare.
Palestinian students attend a class in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday.
Credit Tsafrir Abayov / AP
Israeli students attend class at an elementary school in the coastal city of Ashkelon. A U.S.-funded study released Monday said both Israeli and Palestinian textbooks present largely one-sided narratives of their conflict but rarely resort to demonization of the other side.
Iranian authorities are using cyberpolice units to crack down on people who try to access banned websites, including social media sites such as Facebook. Here, Iranians use computers at an Internet cafe in Tehran in January.
Credit Behrouz Mehri / AFP/Getty Images
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shown here in 2009, recently set up a Facebook page, though the Iranian government bans ordinary Iranians from access to Facebook and other social media sites.
When Iran's supreme leader got a Facebook page in December, Iranians sat up and blinked.
Some thought it was a fake, finding it hard to believe that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would be using a technology that his own government blocks. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman skeptically wondered how many "likes" it would attract.
But some of Khamenei's supporters quickly rallied behind the move, which first came to light in a reference on — you guessed it — the ayatollah's Twitter account.
Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 12:31 pm
After Islamic extremists seized parts of Mali, the country's former colonial ruler, France, intervened with a ground and air offensive. This action raises questions about the role of former colonial powers in modern conflicts.
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is flanked by senior military officers as he reviews maps of battlefield developments in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. He's shown at army headquarters in Cairo on Oct. 15, 1973. Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, catching Israel and the CIA off-guard.
Credit Keystone/Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Egyptian soldiers cross to the eastern side of the Suez Canal during the 1973 war. Egyptian forces initially broke through the Israeli forces on that side of the canal.
Israeli soldiers take a break near Suez City in Egypt on Oct. 29, 1973. The Egyptian military made advances against Israeli forces in the first days of the war, but Israel's army eventually recovered.
Government agencies do not often acknowledge their own errors, but the CIA has done just that with the declassification of intelligence memoranda on the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
The documents show that agency analysts, down to the last minute before the outbreak of fighting, were assuring President Nixon, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other policymakers that Egypt and Syria were unlikely to attack Israel.
Singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo was born in Benin, West Africa. Today, she lives in New York City and is widely considered Africa's greatest living diva.
For Kidjo, music provides an outlet for both activism and pleasure. "Those two things are part of my stability," she tells NPR's Michel Martin. "I need that. No human being has endless compassion, you need to replenish yourself, and I know that if I didn't have music, I'd go crazy."
Georgia Kolia, 63, has two adult children, both unemployed. She works as a volunteer distributing loaves of bread at the Agia Zonis Orthodox church soup kitchen for the poor in Athens, Greece, in April 2012.
Credit Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP/Getty Images
Unpaid for five months, nurse Paraskevi Petropoulou holds her unpaid electricity bill outside the Ministry of Health in Athens during an anti-government protest on Sept. 28, 2012.
Greeks are feeling the squeeze. The social repercussions of three years of austerity measures imposed by international lenders are hitting hard. Thousands of businesses have shut down, unemployment is nearly 27 percent and rising, and the once dependable safety net of welfare benefits is being pulled in.
With further cutbacks and tax hikes about to kick in, Greece's social fabric is being torn apart.
Nowhere are cutbacks more visible and painful than in health care.
It now appears that the militants who stormed a gas plant in Algeria last month, resulting in the deaths of dozens of hostages, ultimately wanted to create a giant fireball by blowing up the plant. They just couldn't figure out how. David Greene talks to Adam Nossiter of The New York Times, who recently went to the plant and gathered accounts of some former hostages.
A protester holds a petrol bomb during clashes with riot police after a demonstration against new austerity measures outside the parliament in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 7.
Credit Aris Messinis / AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Pakistani community in Athens carry the coffin of Shehzad Luqman, the victim of what appears to have been a racist attack, on Jan. 19. It's the latest in a wave of violence associated with the right-wing, anti-immigrant Golden Dawn party.
Escalating political violence from both the left and right is raising fears of political instability in debt-burdened Greece. The conservative-led government is cracking down on leftist groups, vowing to restore law and order.
But the opposition says authorities are trying to divert people's attention from growing poverty and despair.
Take the latest explosion in Athens — a firebomb at a crowded suburban mall last month that slightly injured two security guards.
Refrigerators, foam buoys and even ketchup bottles are piling up on Alaska's beaches. Almost two years after the devastating Japanese tsunami, its debris and rubbish are fouling the coastlines of many states — especially in Alaska.
At the state's Montague Island beach, the nearly 80 miles of rugged wilderness looks pristine from a helicopter a few thousand feet up. But when you descend, globs of foam come into view.
As Malian forces backed by French and African troops have retaken the West African nation's contested northern region, there have been allegations of human rights abuses. Human Rights organizations accuse the Malian army of summary executions, among other abuses.
Moaz al-Khatib sent waves through the Syrian activist community this week when he announced via Facebook that he was open to talks with representatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on two conditions: that political prisoners, thought to number in the tens of thousands, be released; and exiled Syrians be able to renew their passports at embassies abroad.