Ever since the Libyan rebellion that ousted Moammar Gadhafi, and more recently with the fighting in Mali, we've heard occasional mention of the Tuareg people, nomadic people of the Sahara, who are sometimes called the Blue Men of the Sahara. Last year, a Tuareg group seized a large section of Mali and declared it an independent Tuareg country they call Azawad.
Who are the Tuareg? And how do they fit into the tapestry of peoples and movements in that troubled part of Africa?
On Capitol Hill today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was both emotional and angry. Testifying before a Senate committee, she spoke passionately about the attack last September that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. She said she's taking seriously the recommendations of her review panel to better protect U.S. diplomats around the world.
But as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Clinton insisted the U.S. can't retreat, especially from a region now in so much turmoil.
Sen. Rand Paul asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday if she knew that the State Department sent three comedians on a tour of India. We talk to one of the comedians about what it's like to be a political football.
Gen. Carter Ham, who heads the U.S. Africa Command, meets with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika last September. Amid upheaval in the region, AFRICOM is still attempting to define its mission.
Credit Guo Jun / Xinhua/Landov
U.S. soldiers at the closing ceremony for a two-week joint military training exercise with the Botswana Defense Force. The U.S. Africa Command was created, in part, to help train African military forces before crises begin.
Controversial experiments on bird flu could resume within weeks because leading influenza researchers around the world have finally called a halt to an unusual moratorium that has lasted more than a year.
The voluntary pause in the research started back in January 2012. Scientists had genetically altered the bird flu virus H5N1, changing it in ways that allowed it to spread through the coughs and sneezes of ferrets — the lab stand-in for people.
After yesterday's election in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu will remain prime minister but with sharply diminished leverage and new coalitions to calculate. Opinion polls made Netanyahu an overwhelming favorite after his Likud bloc aligned with another right wing faction, but that alliance emerged with fewer seats than expected and with a new centrist rival.
Joining us now from Israel is Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. Good to have you with us today.
Customers chat at a Beijing cafe modeled after the Central Perk cafe in the hit American sitcom Friends, in2010. Nearly a decade after the series ended, the popularity of Friends continues among young Chinese, who use the show as a language-learning tool and enjoy its depiction of young Americans.
Credit Loiusa Lim / NPR
Du Xin, the "Chinese Gunther," owns Central Perk in Beijing. That's not all he has in common with Gunther on the show. "I love Rachel," he sighs.
Credit Getty Images
The six Manhattan singles of Friends (from left, Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Monica (Courteney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Ross (David Schwimmer) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) congregate at Central Perk in this 1999 still photo from the program.
Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide.
Tucked away on the sixth floor of a Beijing apartment block is a mini replica of the cafe, orange couch and all, whose owner Du Xin introduces himself by saying, "Everyone calls me 'Gunther' here."
A well-traveled root: A vendor sells sweet potatoes at a market near Manila in 2011. The Portuguese brought the root to the Philippines all the way from the Caribbean.
Credit Courtesy of Caroline Roullier/PNAS
The sweet potato made three independent trips to Southeast Asia. The Polynesians probably introduced it in 1100 A.D. (red). While the Spanish (blue) and Portuguese (yellow) brought other varieties from the Americas around 1500.
The Polynesians had sophisticated, double-hulled canoes that were built for deep sea voyages. An artist aboard Capt. Cook's ship drew a picture when they arrived in Hawaii.
Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 9:15 am
When it comes to spreading food around the world, Christopher Columbus and his European compatriots get most of the credit.
Yes, they introduced some quintessential ingredients into European and Asian cuisine. Who could imagine Italian food without the tomato? Or Indian and Chinese dishes without the spicy kick of chili peppers?
Update at 3:30 p.m. ET. Clinton Testifies Before House Committee:
One of the defining moments of Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state was her strong advocacy for U.S. military intervention that helped oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
But as she prepared to step down from the post, she faced a grilling from Republicans in both the House and the Senate over what went wrong in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, when four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has not been seen or heard from in public since he underwent cancer surgery in Cuba last month. This has raised concerns about the stability of his country, both in Venezuela and also in South Florida, which is home to tens of thousands of Venezuelan expatriates.
Here's Phil Latzman of our member station WLRN in Miami.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. In Israel last night a surprisingly close election. Voters appear to have reelected Prime Minister Netanyahu for another term. That was expected. But Netanyahu's right wing alliance suffered serious losses. Centrist and left wing parties defied opinion polls and won half the seats in parliament. As NPR's Larry Abramson reports from Jerusalem, the prime minister will now have to turn these fractured results into a government.
If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, what would be the impact on Israel?
Some say this would be an existential threat that Israel cannot tolerate. Iranian nuclear weapons would raise the stakes most every time there was a conflict in the region.
But others argue that Israel could live with a nuclear Iran because the Israelis have such a powerful military of their own, including nuclear capabilities. In addition, an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities could unleash a cascade of events that would further destabilize the region.
This undated image shows the Amenas natural gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages last week. Dozens of hostages and their captors were killed when Algerian forces subsequently raided the facility.
The prime minister of Algeria is defending his government's response to last week's attack on a natural gas plant that left 37 hostages dead. He says the Islamic militants who were behind the attack planned to blow up the facility and would have killed a lot more people if they hadn't been stopped.
The attack happened at a huge, internationally operated facility in the Sahara. And it underscores the dangers that energy companies face when they do business in politically unstable places.
The man who says he masterminded last week's attack on a BP-operated gas facility in Algeria claimed responsibility in a video.
"We are behind the blessed daring operation in Algeria," says Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former member of al-Qaida's arm in North Africa. "Forty men from Muslim and Western countries took part in the operation," he continues. "We did it for al-Qaida."
Today was election day in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected to lead the Israeli parliament, but his right-wing alliance lost at least 10 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. The Likud-Beitenu bloc gave up ground both to the far right and to the center left. And that means Netanyahu could have a tough time building a stable coalition government.
A wave of racist tweets prompted a Jewish student organization to file a lawsuit asking the American company Twitter to reveal the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. Twitter says data on users is collected and stocked in California, where French law cannot be applied.
A French judge will decide this week if Twitter must hand over the identities of users sending anti-Semitic tweets. The case, brought against Twitter by a Jewish student organization, pits America's free speech guarantees against Europe's laws banning hate speech.
The controversy began in October, when the French Union of Jewish Students threatened to sue Twitter to get the names of people posting anti-Semitic tweets with the hashtag #unbonjuif, or "a good Jew."
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Over the weekend, Algerian troops stormed a gas facility in a remote area near the country's eastern border and ended a four-day standoff with Islamic militants who seized the production complex and dozens of hostages.
The scene at a candle light vigil earlier this month in New Delhi. Those gathered want the men accused in a brutal rape and murder to be punished, and they want violence against women in India to stop.
Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 4:55 pm
India's Supreme Court will hear a petition Wednesday on behalf of one of the defendants in the New Delhi rape and murder case that has provoked mass protests in that nation. One of the accused, Mukesh Singh, has asked to remove the case from the capital on the grounds that the atmosphere is too charged to ensure a fair trial.
A haze of smoke hangs over Athens early Jan. 3. The hazy conditions result from residents' switch to wooden stoves and fireplaces for heating, as many households can no longer afford to buy heating oil.
Credit Joanna Kakissis / NPR
Sotiris Sotiriou, 41, and his daughter Sophia, 5, check out the olive-wood kindling in the fireplace that heats their family's home.
In this winter of austerity and Depression-era unemployment, a fog of woodsmoke hangs over the Greek capital on cold nights.
It's coming from the tens of thousands of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves Athenians are using to heat their homes. Most can no longer afford heating oil, the price of which has risen 40 percent since last year. The government also cut a fuel subsidy for low-income families earlier this month.
For the past few weeks a team of scientists, archaeologists and documentary makers has been digging at Yangon's international airport in Myanmar, also known as Burma. They are searching for a legendary trove of Spitfire fighter planes, said to have been buried in Burma in the waning days of World War II.
Yeah. And let's bring one more voice into the conversation, here. Michele Flournoy is a former undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration, was mentioned at one time as a possible secretary of defense in a second term. Ms. Flournoy, where are you this morning?
MICHELE FLOURNOY: We are on our way from Bethesda, downtown.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
President Obama took the oath for a second term yesterday, on January 20th, as the Constitution requires. The public ceremony takes place today at the Capitol, and we'll have live coverage all day long.
The dead are still being counted from last week's attack and hostage drama at a natural gas plant in the remote desert of Algeria. Among those killed are dozens of foreign workers from Britain, Japan and elsewhere, with at least one from America. To get a better understanding of what is unfolding in the region and America's role in it, we're joined by Vickie Huddleston.
The president of the United States, as his title suggests, is the leader of this country, but in many ways is also the leader of the world. And so we're looking at how other countries see the next four years on this Inauguration Day. India enjoyed strong relations with the Obama administration in its first term, but in a second term, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports, the South Asian giant is concerned about the uncertainty seen in American policy toward China and Afghanistan.
In his first term, the president sometimes had prickly relations with Israel. Tomorrow, Israelis vote in a new government. That election comes amid the revolutions of Israel's Arab neighbors and soon after an armed conflict with Palestinians in Gaza. And when David Remnick recently visited Israel, he found, in his words, the vivid and growing strength of the radical right.
Nearly four years ago, President Barack Obama was a new face with new promise and a middle name Hussein that resonated throughout the Muslim world. In a speech at Cairo University, he promised a new beginning for relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world. But as Obama begins his second term, the hope that so many in Egypt had for a new direction under Obama is largely gone. NPR's Leila Fadel reports from Cairo.