File under "one of the oddest jobs ever": professional mourner. China's funeral rituals date back 2,000 years to the Han dynasty, but were banned during the Cultural Revolution as superstition. Now these funeral rituals have become an income source to a select few who stage funeral extravaganzas, marrying ancient Chinese traditions with modern entertainment.
Today in the Afghan capital, Kabul, there was a coordinated assault on the diplomatic green zone. Men in at least two vehicles bluffed their way into a secure area before detonating bombs and getting into a firefight with government security forces. Three security guards were killed, as well as all of the attackers.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
Calm has been restored in southern Lebanon for now. Clashes between the army and followers of a radical Sunni cleric have left dozens dead over the past two days. It's been called the most violent spillover from the conflict in Syria to a neighboring country. And now, a manhunt is under way for that cleric, Ahmed al-Assir.
NPR's Kelly McEvers traveled from Beirut to the scene of the violence today in Sidon, also known as Saida in Arabic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to rebuff the United States when he said NSA leaker Edward Snowden was in Moscow but is a "free person" who is "entitled to buy a ticket and fly to wherever he wants."
Snowden, Putin said, is in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport and has neither crossed the Russian border nor "committed any crime" on Russian soil.
Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 11:45 am
While a few states in the U.S. are debating mandatory labels for genetically modified foods, some African nations are considering a bigger question: Should farmers be allowed to plant genetically modified crops at all?
The question carries extra weight in countries like Uganda, where most people are farmers who depend on their own crops for food.
The tenuous nature of efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan were dramatically underscored Tuesday morning when gunmen attacked buildings near Afghanistan's presidential palace in Kabul as journalists were gathering to hear from President Hamid Karzai about nascent plans for peace talks with the Taliban.
German police say they have arrested a 57-year-old trucker whom they accuse of carrying out 762 shootings on European highways over the past five years.
"We found the famous needle in a hay stack," said Joerg Ziercke, chief commissioner of the German Federal Criminal Police. "A dangerous criminal who on several thousands of kilometers of highway in Germany, France, Belgium and Austria would reach for a gun whenever, wherever to shoot at other vehicles and endanger people's lives. It's unprecedented in Germany criminal history."
A rare event has taken place in the Middle East - the ruler of an Arab country has voluntarily stepped down. The emir of the Gulf state of Qatar handed power over to his son in a quiet ceremony in Doha this morning. NPR's Sean Carberry has our report.
(SOUNDBITE OF CEREMONY)
SHEIKH HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL THANI: (Through Translator) As I address you today, I declare that I will hand over the reigns of power to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani...
Qatar's ruler said Tuesday he has transferred power to the 33-year-old crown prince in an anticipated move that puts a new generation in charge of the Gulf nation's vast energy wealth and rising political influence.
To news of the civil war in Syria now. While the United States has wrestled with the questions of whether, how and when to arm the Syrian rebels, some of those rebels have been getting arms from Libya, that according to the New York Times.
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And as the paper points out, it is a turnabout. The inheritors of one strongman's arsenal, using them in the fight against another. Mark Mazzetti was one of three authors on that article. He joins us now. Welcome, Mark.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
In Italy, today, a guilty verdict for the controversial former prime minister. Silvio Berlusconi was convicted in a Milan court of paying a minor for sex at one of his notorious parties. He was also convicted of abuse of office for trying to cover it up. Berlusconi says he's the target of a left-wing judicial witch-hunt.
Edward Snowden's travels have been underwritten in part by Wikileaks. That organization, of course, has also attracted scrutiny for publishing government secrets. Lately, Wikileaks has retreated from the headlines, but as we hear from NPR's Larry Abramson, the organization has been slowly staging a comeback.
After expressing "frustration and disappointment" because Hong Kong and China did not block "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden from flying to Moscow, the White House said Monday that it expects Russia will decide "to expel Mr. Snowden for his return to the United States."
After hours of breathless reporting about how "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden would be getting on a Moscow-to-Havana flight Monday, it seems he did not in fact board the jet for what what was thought to be a step toward asylum in Ecuador.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. You can spend tens of thousands on a liberal arts degree, or just buy a fake diploma. The artist David Hockney's fake diploma is expected to sell at auction this week for up to $27,000. He created it in 1962 when he was denied a real degree by the Royal College of Art because he refused to write a final essay. And who know? The work of a famous artist might end up worth more in the long run than a real diploma.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
In Turkey over the weekend, police used water cannons against demonstrators in Taksim Square. The latest confrontation comes at a delicate time. Turkey is waiting a decision on whether it will host the 2020 Olympic Games.
NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul that Turks are wondering if the government will react with even tighter restrictions on descent, or bend to demands for greater political openness.
Technology really does seem to make the world smaller, and this morning, we'll hear this morning how that applies to protest movements. Turkey saw a fresh wave of anti-government demonstrations over the weekend.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And in Brazil, the president is holding an emergency meeting today on how to respond to protests sweeping that country. An estimated quarter of a million Brazilians were on the streets yesterday, with a wide range of grievances.
Russia's decision to allow Edward Snowden into the country as part of his around the world search for asylum has sparked outrage in Washington, D.C. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, appearing yesterday on CNN's "State of the Union," accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of aiding and abetting Snowden's escape.