British physicist Stephen Hawking has stepped into a political black hole.
He announced this week that he was withdrawing from a conference in Israel to protest that country's treatment of Palestinians, throwing his weight behind an academic boycott of the Jewish state. The Guardian reports:
A congressional committee on Wednesday heard testimony from three witnesses about the events that led to deaths of four Americans at Benghazi in September, 2012. The Benghazi attack has become a political controversy — Republicans accuse the Obama administration of mishandling security there and of misleading the American public after the attack. One new allegation: that a four-person team set to deploy to Benghazi the night of the attack was told not to go.
Three witnesses billed as whistle-blowers appeared before a House committee Wednesday to challenge the Obama administration's explanation of what transpired on Sept. 11, 2012, as the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked and the ambassador and three others killed.
A cargo ship slammed into a dock in Genoa, Italy, on Wednesday, killing at least seven people and toppling the control tower at one of the country's busiest ports.
The Associated Press reports that divers had found seven bodies in the wreckage. Four others have been hospitalized and two were still unaccounted for, Luca Cari, a spokesman for the fire rescue teams at the scene, told The Associated Press.
A photo taken by the Nazis during World War II shows a room filled with stolen art at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris. Using improved technology and the Internet, the French government is making a renewed push to track down the rightful owners of art looted by the Nazis.
Credit Courtesy of Archives des Musees Nationaux A Paris
American Thomas Selldorff and Austrian art historian Sophie Lillie, who helped him identify the paintings, pose for the media during a ceremony at the Culture Ministry in Paris on March 19 to return paintings taken from their Jewish owners during World War II. Selldorff, 82, was a young boy when the Nazis took the paintings from his grandfather.
During World War II, the Nazis plundered tens of thousands of works of art from the private collections of European Jews, many living in France. About 75 percent of the artwork that came back to France from Germany at the end of the war has been returned to their rightful owners.
But there are still approximately 2,000 art objects that remain unclaimed. The French government has now begun one of its most extensive efforts ever to find the heirs and return the art.
Today marks the beginning of the pullback of thousands of militant PKK fighters from Turkey back to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. It's an important milestone in a delicate effort to end nearly three decades of bloodshed that have killed an estimated 35,000 people since 1984.
The resignation of veteran Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is an event causing ripples that go way beyond the island where the Scotsman spent his long and illustrious career.
Walk into a bar pretty much anywhere from Buenos Aires to Bangkok, mention Ferguson or his star-studded team of Red Devils, and you can be sure of a lively conversation — and perhaps a heated argument.
Let's turn to a conflict now, that has been simmering for three decades. Turkish forces have spent years battling militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK as it's known. Today, thousands of PKK fighters begin a withdrawal to northern Iraq and this could lead to the group's eventual disarmament. Despite entrenched animosity, both Turks and Kurds seem, so far, to be pushing ahead with a peace process.
Authorities in Europe are concerned about their countries being used as incubators for terrorist attacks. You will recall that some 9/11 attackers had lived in Germany. Two Boston Marathon bombing suspects had links to Russia. Even peaceful Belgium is now asking just who's living there and what they do when they go abroad. Teri Shultz reports.
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TERI SHULTZ, BYLINE: Members of the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front in Syria exchange words amid gunfire and alarm a nation far away from the warzone.
In Afghanistan, where most people are illiterate and live in areas without paved roads or regular electricity, a state-of-the-art smart-chip ID card may seem extravagant. But the government believes it can help with everything from census data to voter registration to health care.
The format of the proposed card, however, is fueling debate over ethnicity and identity at a time when anxiety is already high over the drawdown of NATO troops.
What appears to be a missile is carried during a mass military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 15, 2012. Some analysts say the half-dozen missiles showcased at the military parade were fakes.
Credit Ng Han Guan / AP
Close inspection of the nose of the missile shows the warhead's surface is undulated. Some analysts suggest the wrinkles mean the material is a thin metal sheet, unable to withstand flight pressures.
As Orthodox Christians around the world celebrated Easter this week, the Orthodox communities in Syria and neighboring Lebanon postponed festivities. Instead, they gathered in churches to pray for the safe return of two bishops kidnapped outside the Syrian city of Aleppo last month.
While the Syrian opposition and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad continue to trade blame for the abduction, the bishop's whereabouts remains a mystery. NPR's Susannah George has our story from Beirut.
President Obama says the United States and South Korea are determined to stand firm against North Korean threats and that the days of Pyongyang manufacturing a crisis to get international concessions "are over."
In a joint news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday, Obama said the two leaders "very much share the view that we are going to maintain a strong deterrent" against North Korea.
"We're not going to reward provocative behavior, but we remain open to the prospect of North Korea taking a peaceful path," he said.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I 'm David Greene. Our understanding of the role chemical weapons are playing in Syria is no clearer today than it was a week ago. That's when President Obama said while there is evidence of chemical weapons used in the Syria, there is none pointing to who is responsible.
Some other news. For the second time in less than a week, Afghan and Pakistani forces have exchanged fire along their shared border. The countries clashed again yesterday over a gate that Pakistani forces have been building on what Afghans say is their side of the line. The roots of this problem run much deeper.
Europe is debating whether austerity - with its deep budget cuts and tax hikes - is the right cure for the continent's debt crisis. But in Portugal, one of the first countries bailed out by the European Union, the austerity drive goes on. The government there is struggling to repay its loans, and has announced more steep job and benefit cuts, as the country struggles to avoid what was Greece's fate - a second bailout.
German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen (at left, shown here with German Chancellor Angela Merkel) has been the main government architect of measures aimed at helping women reconcile careers with having children.
Germany is regarded as one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to helping women raise families. The government invests about $260 billion each year into 156 separate family-friendly benefits, including health care, generous parental leave, subsidized day care and tax breaks.
Yet on a continent with low birthrates, Germany has the lowest of all, with just 1.39 children per woman.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
To Syria now and two views of the war that has claimed more than 70,000 lives over the past two years. Among the latest developments: Airstrikes over the weekend on a military complex outside the capital city, Damascus. Those strikes are presumed to have come from Israel, aimed at stopping weapon shipments to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.