Amid the protests and clashes in Istanbul's Taksim Square, a pianist has been hauling in his instrument at night to entertain the crowds. Each time he does, the raucous crowd stills itself while he plays. In between tunes, chants rise up and he stands on his piano bench to conduct the crowd.
The White House is taking its first tentative steps toward arming Syrian rebels. Host Jacki Lyden speaks with James Fallows, national correspondent with The Atlantic, about the U.S.' ongoing struggle to determine when is the right time to intercede. They also discuss moderate candidate Hasan Rowhani's victory in the Iranian presidential election.
Google has launched — quite literally — a new idea to bring the Internet to some of the world's remotest places.
The tech giant's engineering hothouse, Google X, is testing the use of 12-mile-high helium balloons to get coverage in areas where it's impractical to put in conventional infrastructure.
Google said Saturday that it has 30 of the balloons, or "high-altitude platforms" (HAPS), flying over New Zealand as part of something called Project Loon. They will hover at about twice the altitude of a passenger jet.
Now that President Obama's administration says it's prepared to arm Syria's rebels, this raises a question relatively few people can answer: Who exactly are these guys?
The rebels have been fighting President Bashar Assad's regime for about two years, and more than 90,000 people have died in Syria's civil war. But in the U.S. and elsewhere, the rebels have not established a clear identity.
Here are five things worth knowing about the rebels:
Turkish riot police backed by armored vehicles sealed off Istanbul's Taksim Square, firing tear gas and water cannons to dislodge protesters after two weeks of anti-government demonstrations.
The police moved into the square hours after an ultimatum issued by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that security forces "know how to clear" the area. Erdogan had given the demonstrators until Sunday, but police made their move late Saturday.
A bomb ripped through a bus in southwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 14 students from a women's university in Quetta. Shortly afterward, militants burst into a nearby hospital that was treating the injured. Pakistani security forces stormed the hospital and regained control after a five-hour standoff.
Our original post continues:
A bomb on a bus in Pakistan has killed at least 11 female university students and teachers, and hurt 20 others. Militants later attacked the hospital where the victims were taken.
Protesters who were camped out in Istanbul's Gezi Park say they won't pack up and go home despite a government offer to avoid bulldozing the park without court approval and a public referendum. Protest organizers say that other demands such as releasing detained protesters have not been met.
We have to remind ourselves now, the nationwide protests in Turkey began with a small group of people who were protesting the government's plans to pave over a small park in Istanbul. Elif Shafak is an award-winning writer who divides her time between Istanbul and London. We spoke with her yesterday, and asked her how what began as a kind of modest stand to protect a city park broadened into nationwide protests.
A 94-year-old man who allegedly was a top commander of a Nazi SS unit responsible for the massacre of civilians during World War II is reportedly living quietly in Minnesota, according to an exclusive report by The Associated Press.
The news agency says it obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that show Michael Karkoc lied to officials in 1949 about his past in order to immigrate to the United States.
Australian archaeologists using remote-sensing technology have uncovered an ancient city in Cambodia that has remained hidden for more than a millennium under dense jungle undergrowth.
The discovery of Mahendraparvata, a 1,200-year-old lost city that predates Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat temple complex by 350 years, was part of the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire that ruled much of Southeast Asia from about 800 to 1400 A.D., during a time that coincided with Europe's Middle Ages.
After determining that the Syrian government has crossed a red line by using chemical weapons, the White House has agreed to start sending military aid to the rebels. Some analysts think it may be too late to tip the balance in Syria, where Assad's forces backed by Hezbollah, Iran and Russia have been gaining ground.
The voting is over in Iran's presidential election to choose a successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The vote comes amid controversy over Iran's nuclear program, ever-tightening sanctions led by the U.S. and economic trouble. This is the first presidential election since 2009, when the disputed result sparked months of protest, followed by intense repression.
The White House will begin sending direct military aid to the Syrian opposition after concluding that the Syrian government has been using chemical weapons against rebel forces. For the past two years, President Obama has taken a cautious approach to the conflict and has been reluctant to intervene.
"The United Nations, and in particular I, have been making it consistently clear that providing arms to either side would not address this current situation," Ban told reporters during a briefing. "There is no such military solution."
Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 12:51 pm
Look through a series of 15th-century woodcuts, and you'll find that the leper is as much an icon of medieval art as the crown or the cross.
Leprosy was so common in Europe during the Middle Ages that it's estimated 1 in 30 people was infected with the bacteria. But by the turn of the 16th century, after the Crusades had swept across Europe, the disease mysteriously disappeared. And it never returned.
This left scientists puzzled. Did the bacteria mutate to become less harmful, or did Europeans become resistant to the germs?
In Syria's ally Iran, people are voting for president today. It is Iran's first presidential election since the stunning vote in 2009. Back then, a surprisingly early declaration of victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked a wave of protests, followed by years of government repression. This time around, six candidates are contending for power amid widespread skepticism about the election, and intensive security on the streets.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, BYLINE: And I'm Linda Wertheimer. The White House announced last night it will now give direct military aid to Syrian rebel forces. Administration officials say this follows intelligence assessments that indicate the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly against opposition forces in the past year. For more on what this means, we go to NPR's Deborah Amos who is in Amman, Jordan. Deb, welcome.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer. The Obama administration has shifted policy on Syria with an announcement, last night, that it will step up support for rebels who've been losing ground in recent weeks. The White House says it will start providing direct military support to rebel commanders.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The Obama administration has now joined France and Britain in concluding that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people. That crosses a red line that President Obama has repeatedly warned would change the U.S. calculation in Syria.
The White House announced Thursday that Syrian President Bashar Assad had crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons against the opposition. The announcement comes amid calls for greater U.S. engagement in the conflict. We take a look at what is happening in Syria and who the major players are.
The United Nations announced today that the death toll in Syria has jumped to nearly 93,000. Since last July, more than 5,000 people have been killed every month. And the numbers in reality are likely even higher.
They're compiled for the U.N. by a nonprofit group in San Francisco called the Human Rights Data Analysis Group. Researchers go through a complicated process, scouring eight different sources that document deaths. Megan Price led that study, and she joins us now to talk about it. Welcome to the program.