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NPR Story
4:01 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Partisan Squabbles Raise Questions Over U.S. Global Influence

The U.S. Capitol is shown at sunset on Oct. 15, the 15th day of a government shutdown that some analysts say damaged the U.S. reputation worldwide.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 5:39 pm

The U.S. performance on the global stage has looked a little rocky in the past few weeks.

The Obama administration had to let Russia take a lead in managing the security challenge in Syria. The United States was also embarrassed when allies like Germany, France and Brazil reacted angrily to the news that the National Security Agency had monitored their leaders' communications.

Finally, the government shutdown and the congressional fight over the debt ceiling prompted critical comments about U.S. political dysfunction.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

A Toddler Remains HIV-Free, Raising Hope For Babies Worldwide

HIV-positive babies rest in an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Treatment right after birth may make it possible for HIV-positive newborns to fight off the virus.
Brent Stirton Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 4:31 pm

A 3-year-old girl born in Mississippi with HIV acquired from her mother during pregnancy remains free of detectable virus at least 18 months after she stopped taking antiviral pills.

New results on this child, published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, appear to green-light a study in the advanced planning stages in which researchers around the world will try to replicate her successful treatment in other infected newborns.

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Parallels
1:10 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Women Lose Election, Vow To Return

Michal Chernovitsky was one of several ultra-Orthodox women who ran for a seat on the all-male local council in El'ad, Israel. None of the women won a spot in Tuesday's vote, but they said they would continue to be active in politics.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 6:31 am

We wanted to follow up on our story about the ultra-Orthodox women in Israel who were running for the local council in El'ad, or Forever God, a small, religious Jewish town.

Five women had challenged not only El'ad's norms, but practices across Israel's various ultra-Orthodox communities just by getting their names on the ballot and running a campaign.

None of them won a seat, but they say they will be back.

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The Two-Way
11:07 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Chinese Paper Makes Unprecedented Plea For Reporter's Release

A woman reads the New Express newspaper with Wednesday's headline: "Please Release Him."
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 3:55 pm

"Please Release Him."

That was the simple but startling front-page headline on Wednesday in New Express, a cutting-edge newspaper based in China's southern city of Guangzhou. "Him" is Chen Yongzhou, one of the paper's investigative journalists who New Express says was taken away by police after reporting "problems with the accounts" at Zoomlion Heavy Industries."

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Parallels
10:14 am
Wed October 23, 2013

5 Things To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Activities

Massive government surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet activity is drawing protests from civil liberties groups, but major legal obstacles stand in the way of any full-blown court hearing on the practice. Among them: government claims that national security secrets will be revealed if the cases are allowed to proceed.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:47 am

It's hard to keep track of all the leaks by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

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The Two-Way
10:05 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Iran Minister: Man Who Survived Hanging Shouldn't Be Executed

A blindfolded man convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping and the slaying of two policemen awaits execution in Tehran in 2011.
Mohammad Hadi Khosravi AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 2:23 pm

Iran's justice minister says a convicted drug smuggler who survived an attempted execution by hanging earlier this month shouldn't go back to the gallows.

As we reported last week, the 37-year-old man, identified as Alireza M, was found alive in the morgue by his family following a 12-minute hanging. After the incident, an Iranian judge reportedly said Alireza would hang again once he had recovered from the botched execution.

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U.S.
9:49 am
Wed October 23, 2013

What Latinos Want From Immigration Reform

President Obama recently announced that he would be turning his attention to immigration reform. But what's a realistic expectation, and what are immigrant communities really hoping for? Host Michel Martin talks with Fernando Espuelas of Univision, and Eduardo De Souza, a soccer coach at Longwood University.

The Two-Way
9:10 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Norwegian Town's Bright Idea Is A Shining Example Of Ingenuity

People gathered on a spot in front of the town hall of Rjukan, Norway, last week, where mirrors have focused sunlight.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 12:22 pm

Archimedes would be proud of the town of Rjukan, Norway. So would Sam Eyde.

Rjukan, home to about 3,500 residents and situated about 70 miles west of the capital, Oslo, has installed a trio of giant mountaintop mirrors to focus light into the valley town's square during the cold (and dark) winter months.

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The Two-Way
8:25 am
Wed October 23, 2013

'Bishop Of Bling' Suspended By Pope Francis

Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst.
Fredrik Von Erichsen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 10:17 am

  • NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome

The "bishop of bling" has been suspended by Pope Francis while the Roman Catholic Church investigates allegations of overspending on renovations at the German cleric's residence and offices.

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The Two-Way
6:49 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Crisis Averted For Now In Australia's Fight Against Fires

"A high-risk gamble by firefighters" has paid off in Australia, says The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Parallels
5:53 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Headlines From Around The World

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talks during a joint news conference with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday.
Peng Sun AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:18 am

We begin with an agreement between the world's most populous and second-most populous countries.

India and China signed an agreement in Beijing on Wednesday on border defense following a military standoff earlier this year in an area they both claim.

Here's more from the official Chinese Xinhua news agency:

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World
3:19 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Cuba Announces Plans To Change Currency System

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 4:47 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Cuba, President Raul Castro is continuing his uphill effort to revive the economy and overhaul the socialist system he inherited from his brother, Fidel.

Nick Miroff reports from Havana, his latest move is to scrap a dual currency system that made little sense to locals or visitors.

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Shots - Health News
1:12 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Haitian Cholera Strain Spreads To Mexico

A nurse treats a cholera patient at the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in August. Health officials say that the strain of cholera circulating in the countryโ€” the same one that first appeared in Haiti three years ago โ€” has also caused outbreaks in Cuba and now Mexico.
Erika Santelices AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:21 am

A South Asian strain of cholera that was introduced into Haiti three years ago this month has now spread to this continent's mainland.

Mexico is the fourth Western Hemisphere country to experience the cholera outbreak. It's a disease that's very hard to stamp out once it gets into an area with poor water and sanitation.

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Parallels
1:12 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Desperate Chinese Villagers Turn To Self-Immolation

Relatives of He Mengqing walk in front of his house, which the local government has slated for demolition. The rice farmer from Chenzhou in China's Hunan province rejected a government offer of compensation for his land; he set himself on fire when officials came for him.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 9:07 am

In order to turn China into an urban nation, local governments have demolished tens of millions of homes over the past decade. Homeowners have often fought back, blocking heavy machinery and battling officials.

In recent years, resistance has taken a disturbing turn: Since 2009, at least 53 people across China have lit themselves on fire to protest the destruction of their homes, according to human rights and news reports.

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The Two-Way
4:05 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Sony Explains Why Its PlayStation 4 Costs $1,845 In Brazil

Sony announced U.S. and European prices for its new PlayStation 4 at a news conference this summer. The game system will cost some $1,845 in Brazil, angering fans.
Eric Thayer Getty Images

Sony's new PlayStation 4 won't be on store shelves until next month, but the gaming console has already raised eyebrows in Brazil, after reports that it would cost 3,999 Brazilian real โ€” or about $1,845 at today's exchange rate.

The company says the steep cost isn't a case of price gouging, but instead a sign of Brazil's heavy taxes and fees on imported electronics.

The game system will be released in the United States on Nov. 15 and in countries including Brazil later that month. Large retailers in the U.S. will offer the PS4 at a base price of around $400.

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Parallels
3:25 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Paris' Traffic-Cutting Gamble Charms Pedestrians, Irks Drivers

Parisians and tourists sit at a cafe along the Seine River. The mayor of Paris recently closed down a major highway along the river to open it up for pedestrians.
Christophe Morin Landov

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 5:51 pm

In a daring gamble, the mayor of Paris recently shut off a major vehicle thoroughfare through the city, the highway along the Seine River.

The move is part of his plan to reduce traffic in the city. The new space delighted Parisians and tourists this summer, but many wonder if it'll be such a hot idea during the cold winter months.

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Asia
2:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

China Fights Choking Smog With New Regulations

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 5:13 pm

China's central and local governments are releasing a slew of new regulations aimed at cutting severe air pollution and mitigating its deadly effect on citizens. The seriousness of the problem is obvious in China's northeast, where smog in one city this week cut visibility down to a few yards, and particulate matter soared to 60 times the level deemed safe by the World Health Organization.

Latin America
2:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Brazil's Black Bloc Activists: Criminals Or People Power?

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 8:44 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The massive protests that took place in Brazil over the summer may be over, but smaller near daily smaller demonstrations are ongoing and getting more violent.

From Sao Paulo, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on the shadowy anarchist group that's now playing a key role in the protest. It's called the Black Bloc.

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The Two-Way
2:09 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Cuba To Phase Out Two-Peso Currency System

A woman displays Cuban pesos, or CUP (right) and the more valuable convertible pesos, or CUC (left), in Havana Tuesday. Raul Castro's government announced that it will begin unifying the two currencies.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Cuba will end the two-currency system it has used for nearly 20 years. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has used either American currency or a peso that's pegged to the dollar alongside its national peso.

The monetary unification will phase out a system that has become a symbol of exclusivity and foreign wealth. Many products that are imported into the country can be bought only with the dollar-based convertible peso. But most Cubans are paid in the standard peso, which is worth just a fraction of the other currency.

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The Two-Way
10:44 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Nuclear Plant Starts Up On India's Tsunami-Vulnerable Coast

An Indian Coast Guard plane flies over hundreds of anti-nuclear activists during a protest last year. The Kundankulam Nuclear Power, still under construction, can be seen in the distance.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 12:34 pm

A controversial nuclear power plant situated on a stretch of India's southeastern coast that was hit hard by the 2004 Asian tsunami has begun supplying the grid with electricity, officials say.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, a joint project with Russia located at the country's southern extremity in Tamil Nadu state, was connected to the grid on Tuesday, The Indian Express reports.

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Parallels
10:19 am
Tue October 22, 2013

In Russia's Vast Far East, Timber Thieves Thrive

The Chinese border town of Suifenhe is a port of entry for almost all of the hardwood coming from the Russian Far East. Russia is the world's largest exporter of timber, but illegal logging is a growing problem.
Courtesty of EIA

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 6:11 am

Forests cover about half of Russia's land mass, an environmental resource that President Vladimir Putin calls "the powerful green lungs of the planet."

But Putin himself acknowledges that Russia, the world's biggest exporter of logs, is having its timber stolen at an unprecedented rate.

The demand for high-value timber is fueling organized crime, government corruption and illegal logging in the Russian Far East. The hardwood cut in the endless forests often ends up as flooring and furniture in the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

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The Two-Way
10:19 am
Tue October 22, 2013

As Smoke Blankets Sydney, Australians Brace For Worse Days

A general view of play as the Sydney skyline is shrouded in smoke during the Ryobi Cup match between the South Australian Redbacks and the Western Australia Warriors at Drummoyne Oval in Australia.
Mark Metcalfe Getty Images

Wildfires are burning to the north, south and west of Sydney, Australia, and smoke "has been rolling in for days," correspondent Stuart Cohen said Tuesday on Morning Edition.

While the fires are mostly in sparsely populated areas, Sydney is blanketed โ€” "you can smell smoke inside buildings" and health authorities are expecting a surge in cases of people with respiratory problems, Cohen added.

Things may get worse.

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The Salt
10:14 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Chocolate Fashions Make For A Truly Sweet Little Black Dress

Breakfast of chocolate at Tiffany's? Ten pounds of the dark, sweet stuff were used to craft this Audrey Hepburn-inspired dress and matching handbag, created by master chocolatier Mark Tilling of Squires Kitchen.
Photo: Paul Winch-Furness Courtesy of Salon du Chocolat

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:51 am

If you find yourself sauntering down the runway wearing 40 pounds of chocolate, don't sweat it. Seriously โ€” you might find yourself dripping on the audience.

So warns Fiona Bitmead, one of 10 models who showed off edible chocolate creations Friday night at the Salon du Chocolat in London. Five handlers helped her get dressed.

"[I] had to worry about a dress melting on me!" she says. "I can't say I've ever wanted to eat the dresses I've worn down the catwalk before."

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Parallels
8:47 am
Tue October 22, 2013

European Parliament Joins List Of Those Upset With The NSA

U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin (in red tie) leaves the Foreign Ministry in Paris after being summoned Monday following reports that the National Security Agency spied on French citizens.
Thibault Camus AP

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:44 am

The fallout from revelations about the National Security Agency's spying activities continues: A key European Parliament committee approved new rules strengthening online privacy and outlawing the kind of surveillance the U.S. has been conducting.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson says the legislation could also have significant implications for U.S. Internet companies. Here's what she told our Newscast unit:

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The Two-Way
8:26 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Roma Couple Charged With Abducting Girl; Missing-Child Tips Pour In

A woman takes a call at the Greek charity The Smile of the Child, which is caring for a girl who police say was abducted by a Roma couple. Officials are trying to find her biological parents.
Thanassis Stavrakis AP

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:03 am

Greek officials who are trying to determine the origin of a young blond girl found living in a Roma settlement last week have received thousands of calls since releasing her photo. Some callers offer information; others say the girl may be their child. The head of a charity that's now caring for the girl says about 10 missing-children cases are being reviewed.

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The Two-Way
6:19 am
Tue October 22, 2013

U.S. Drone Strikes Violate International Law, Reports Allege

Last month, protesters in Multan, Pakistan, expressed their anger about U.S. drone strikes.
S.S. Mirza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:07 am

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Philip Reeves discusses the Amnesty International report on U.S. drone strikes

Two reports released on the eve of a White House visit by Pakistan's prime minister allege that the U.S. has "violated international law with top-secret targeted-killing operations that claimed dozens of civilian lives in Yemen and Pakistan," as McClatchy Newspapers writes.

In one of the reports, Amnesty International says that:

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Parallels
6:01 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Headlines From Around The World

A firefighter hoses down the flames in a backburn at Faulconbridge in Australia's Blue Mountains on Tuesday. The inferno is one of the stories making headlines around the world.
William West AFP/Getty Images

What is God? It's one of the eternal questions, and it's front-page news in Malaysia.

A recent court order said the word Allah can only be used by Muslims โ€“ and not by members of the country's other faiths. But Malaysian Prime Minister Najik Razak said Tuesday that Christians in the states of Sabah and Sarawak can continue to refer to God as Allah.

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World
3:35 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Australian Wildfires Threaten Sydney

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 4:53 am

Sydney, Australia, is suffering under a blanket of smoke and officials are sounding air quality alerts because of vast wildfires in the area. And it's still early in the fire season. Steve Inskeep talks to Stuart Cohen for the latest.

Parallels
2:50 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Election In Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Town Tests Gender Norms

Candidates for town council Michal Chernovitsky (left) and Adina Ruhamkin campaign in a park in El'ad, or Forever God, a small religious community in Israel. They could be the first women on El'ad's council, and the first ultra-Orthodox women to win public office in Israel.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 6:29 am

Voters across Israel choose new mayors and city councilors in local elections Tuesday. In one small town, a handful of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women are defying the norms of their community by running for office.

On a recent day, children mob two women in skirts, stockings and purple T-shirts in a neighborhood park in El'ad, or Forever God. The women are candidates for town council. As part of their get-the-word-out campaign, they're blowing up balloons for kids.

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Middle East
2:59 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Unrest Erupts In Egypt After Attack On Christian Wedding

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 8:10 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Sunday was supposed to be a day of joy in Egypt at the Church of the Virgin Mary in suburban Cairo. There were four weddings scheduled. But after a drive-by shooting ripped through the celebrations, there were four burials today instead. At least 18 other people were wounded in the attack. It was the latest act of violence in a country experiencing divisions and great crisis. From Cairo, NPR's Leila Fadel sent this report.

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