Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 8:47 am
Blaming the regime of President Bashar Assad for "ruthless suppression of what were initially peaceful and legitimate protests by unarmed civilians," the U.N. Human Rights Office today released a report that estimates at least 59,648 people had been killed in Syria through November in the protests and fighting there since March 2011.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 9:49 am
Here at NPR, we've heard about some wacky food scandals. There have been gingerbread houses harboring bad bacteria, turkeys trotting around with arsenic in their guts and a prison hooch that brewed up botulism.
But a recent report from China may take the cake –- or should we say, the eggplant.
A policeman stands guard at the Parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, in June. The Lower House recently passed a bill similar to the United States' Patriot Act, touching off a debate about privacy in the country.
Earlier this month, Pakistan's powerful Lower House of Parliament passed what analysts have dubbed Pakistan's Patriot Act. Its name here is "Investigation for Fair Trial Bill."
It has been presented to the Pakistani people as a way to update existing law and usher the rules for investigation in Pakistan into the 21st century. Among other things, it makes electronic eavesdropping admissible as evidence in court.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 11:03 am
Following an already violent year in Pakistan, on the first day of the New Year gunmen shot and killed five teachers and two aid workers as they were driving home from work.
According to The Associated Press, the groups director said they may have been targeted for their anti-polio work, which would follow a pattern of attacks against charity and aid workers in Pakistan in recent weeks.
People celebrate the new year following a count-down event at the Summer Palace in Beijing.
Credit Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images
Fireworks illuminate the sky over the Marina Bay in Singapore during an eight-minute display.
Credit Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP/Getty Images
People release balloons during an annual ceremony produced by the Prince Park Tower hotel in Tokyo. More than 1,000 balloons were released, along with visitor's wishes.
Credit Antony Dickson / AFP/Getty Images
Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong.
Credit Bay Ismoyo / AFP/Getty Images
Fireworks are launched over Jakarta's main business road to mark the new year.
Credit Ed Jones / AFP/Getty Images
People cheer following a count-down event at the Summer Palace in Beijing.
Credit Manan Vatsyatana / AFP/Getty Images
Fireworks erupt over the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Sydney kicked off a wave of dazzling firework displays welcoming in 2013, from Dubai to Moscow and London, with long-isolated Yangon joining the global pyrotechnics for the first time.
Credit Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP/Getty Images
French soldiers celebrate the New Year's Eve at Warehouse base in Kabul.
Credit Eranga Jayawardena / AP
Sri Lankan inmates at the Welikada prison pray during a religious ceremony. Over four thousand prisoners at one of the country's largest prisons invoked blessings and ushered in the new year by engaging in Buddhist rituals.
Credit Andrew Medichini / AP
Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the Nativity in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. He marked the end of the year by saying that despite all the death and injustice in the world, goodness prevails.
Credit Martin Mejia / AP
Fake money and coins along with small-scale homes are displayed at the Market of Wishes in Lima, Peru. As part of their New Year's traditions, Peruvians buy miniature representations of the things they desire to acquire in the coming year.
Credit Andy Newman / AFP/Getty Images
Dachshunds and their owners parade in Key West, Fla., during the Key West Dachshund Walk. The annual New Year's Eve tradition attracted almost 200 of the short-legged, long-bodied canines.
Credit Justin Tallis / AFP/Getty Images
Cheerleaders take part in the New Year's Day parade in central London on January 1, 2013.
Credit Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images
Maurizio Palmulli of Italy dives into Rome's Tiber River, continuing an annual tradition which dates back to 1946.
Credit Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty Images
South Korean singer PSY performs with US singer MC Hammer during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square in New York.
Credit Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images
People write "2013" with sparklers as they celebrate the New Year at the shore of the Gulf of Finland in the city of Zelenogorsk.
Credit Dieter Nagl / AFP/Getty Images
Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Moest and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform the traditional New Year's Concert on January 1, 2013, at the music association in Vienna.
Credit Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP/Getty Images
People celebrate the New Year in front of St. Basil's Cathedral on Moscow's Red Square.
Credit Ye Aung Thu / AFP/Getty Images
People wait before the countdown to the New Year near the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Some 50,000 people were expected to gather for the city's first ever public countdown to the New Year and fireworks.
Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 8:46 am
Some people choose to celebrate the arrival of the new year by staying home with a good book and cup of hot tea. Others go out to party, cheer, and bring in the year with as much fanfare as possible. (And of course, those are the people who tend to get photographed...)
Here's a look at how some folks around the world celebrated the arrival of 2013 — some with quiet moments, and some with as much revelry as possible.
And to all readers of The Picture Show, we wish a very happy new year to you.
It has been a busy year in Mexico's war on drugs. The administration of former President Felipe Calderon struck major blows to the country's largest cartels, slowing the violence that has claimed more than 50,000 lives.
But the new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, says he'll change tactics. He wants to go after the crime associated with drug trafficking instead of taking down crime bosses. His new attorney general says this is the right strategy, since the number of crime gangs working in the country has grown significantly.
Imagine getting ready to vote in an election and having no idea what the parties stand for or even who's running for which party. Well, that's close to the reality in Israel, where the political stakes are always high. Parliamentary elections are in just three weeks but a series of dizzying political maneuvers has left voters confused. Sheera Frenkel reports.
SHEERA FRENKEL, BYLINE: A couple of weeks ago, this advertisement by the left-wing Meretz Party went viral.
Gul Mohammed Khan has lost three sons in sectarian violence during the last two years, in Karachi, Pakistan. He stands here with some of his grandchildren who have lost their fathers. When he looks at his grandchildren, he says, he sees his sons.
Credit Fareed Khan / AP
Men mourn over the deaths of their family members during their funeral procession in Karachi, Pakistan last week. Police said gunmen have wounded a prominent Sunni cleric and killed his guards and his driver in an apparently sectarian attack in southern Pakistan.
Credit Reuters /Landov
Rescuers carry a sheet to collect body parts near the scene of a bomb explosion in Karachi on Saturday that killed at least six people and . wounded 48. The sandals in the foreground are displayed for sale.
The sad truth about Karachi in 2012 was that whatever your religion, business affiliation, or political party, someone was willing to kill you for it.
The murder rate in Pakistan's largest city and commercial hub hit an all time high last year. Over 2,500 people died in violent crimes in Karachi in 2012, a 50 percent increase over the year before.
Most of the deaths were attributable to sectarian killings and score settling. Shia Muslims took on the brunt of the violence. But Sunni Muslims were killed in reprisal attacks that added to the tally.
Congolese women wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga III camp for displaced people outside the eastern town of Goma on Dec. 2.
Credit Phil Moore / AFP/Getty Images
On Nov. 20, an M23 rebel walks on the streets of Goma. The rebels initially claimed control of the town, but retreated 10 days later under international pressure. However, many people think M23 never really left — rather, they just changed into civilian clothes and went into hiding.
Credit Gregory Warner / NPR
Mugunga I is a camp of approximately 60,000 displaced people, mostly women and children. Here, soldiers from the Congolese army — who are not supposed to be in the camp — use camp water provided by Oxfam on Dec 19.
Goma, a city on the eastern border of the Congo, has been a magnet for war refugees for nearly two decades. And in an expanding camp for displaced people, called Mugunga I, school principal Emmanuel Kibanja Miteso holds up a three-ring binder that reflects the history of war here.
The pages are a logbook for parent-teacher conferences. Every time fighting flares in the region, people flood into the displacement camps and the roster of names swells in the principal's binder.
Phiona Mutesi is a teenager living in Katwe, the biggest and possibly toughest slum in Uganda's capital city. She's also a rising star in competitive chess.
Her story is told in the book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster.
But when she first started the game, Mutesi wasn't hungry for glory; she was just hungry. A local chapter of a Christian charity hosted a chess program, and it lured Mutesi, her brother and other children with the promise of a meal.
The countdown is on to a new year — and the fiscal changes that are on the other side of midnight. But what else is on the cards economically for 2013, both here and overseas? Guest host Celeste Headlee puts the question to the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 9:14 am
If the thought of watching the ball drop in Times Square again is already making you yawn, consider perking your New Year's Eve celebration with this tradition from Spain: As midnight nears on Nochevieja, or "old night," the last day of the year, the entire country gathers in front of television screens or in town squares, clutching a small bowl of green grapes and wearing red underwear. More on the underwear later.
In India, protestors are vowing to keep up their fight until there is justice for the young victim of a gang rape. The young woman died this weekend after injuries she suffered in the vicious attack. The incident has renewed demands for action against sexual violence. Delhi police say the accused will be formally charged with murder. From New Delhi, here's NPR's Julie McCarthy.
The U.S. economy grew at a steady though not very strong pace this year. But Europe slipped back into recession because of the ongoing debt crisis. European leaders took steps to stimulate growth, but it wasn't enough to reverse course.
The economic crisis that got under way five years ago was felt all over the world. But Mohammed El-Erian, CEO of the investment firm PIMCO, says different regions have healed at much different rates.
The year "2012 was another multispeed world globally, in the sense that different parts did different things," he says.
James Fallows of The Atlantic, breaks down the controversy as he joins host Jacki Lyden for a look ahead at Asia 2013. He looks at economic friction between China and the U.S., human rights and the China-Japan dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
Yesterday, we spoke with NPR's Cairo bureau chief, Leila Fadel, about the news she's covered in Egypt in 2012. Now, we're going to look forward. Robin Wright has written extensively about the Middle East as a former correspondent for The Washington Post. She's a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center and an author. And she joins me now in our studio. Robin Wright, thank you very much for coming in.
Landlords built Lahore in a haphazard way over centuries. They didn't concern themselves with city grids or sensible mapping. As a result, Lahore is renowned in Pakistan for being almost impossible to navigate.
And that's where Asim Fayaz and Khurram Siddiqi come in.
This necklace appears in the 1922 album at the USGS library, but not in the 1925 book on the Russian crown jewels.
After the 1917 revolution, Russia's new rulers debated what to do with the crown jewels. This 1925 photo shows the collection. However, a 1922 album at the U.S. Geological Survey includes photos of four items that are not described in the official 1925 inventory.
This brooch is one of four jewels that appears in a 1922 volume called TheRussian Diamond Fund, recently uncovered in the rare-book room of the U.S. Geological Survey Library in Reston, Va. The four pieces are no longer part of the Russian collection.
With former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ousted, there was space in 2012 for new political leaders to come forward. Host Jacki Lyden talks with NPR's Cairo correspondent, Leila Fadel, about the transformations that took place in Egypt in the past year.
Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 6:49 pm
By Saturday evening, more than 1,000 candles glowed at a somber scene in a central Delhi park as India mourned the death of the young woman whose gang rape two weeks ago shocked the country.
What began 13 days ago with a handful of well-wishers holding a hospital vigil for the rape victim swelled into thousands as a young generation of Indians demanded an end to the culture of violence that produced more than 24,000 cases of rape last year alone.
This week, an ancient and largely inaccessible treasure was opened to everyone. Now, anyone with access to a computer can look at the oldest Bible known to humankind.
Thousands of high-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls were posted online this week in a partnership between Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The online archive, dating back to the first century B.C., includes portions of the Ten Commandments and the Book of Genesis.
France is known as a tolerant country on many social issues, yet the country is embroiled in a debate about same-sex marriage and adoption.
President Francois Hollande is following through on a campaign promise to bring full rights to gay couples. France legalized civil unions more than a decade ago, though same-sex couples must still go abroad to marry or adopt.
But opposition to Hollande's measure has been unexpectedly fierce, something the Socialist government wasn't expecting.
Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 6:51 pm
A woman who survived a brutal gang-rape on a bus in India has died, according to reports. Earlier Friday, hospital officials in Singapore, where the 23-year-old student was being treated, had warned that her condition was worsening.
The Seattle area is seeing widespread, well-organized opposition to an export industry: coal. Thousands of people have turned out to express their disgust with a plan to build export terminals on Puget Sound to ship American coal to Asia. Opponents cite noise, traffic delays, coal dust and global warming.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill today banning Americans from adopting Russian children. It's a move that will add significantly to a downward trend in international adoptions. American adoptions from Russia were already falling from a high of nearly 6,000 eight years ago to less than 1,000 last year. That's according to the State Department.
David Easterling, manager of the Suicide Prevention Program at Fort Riley in Kansas spray-paints Army boots white in 2009 as part of an on-base display to commemorate the six Fort Riley soldiers who committed suicide in 2008.
Credit John Berry / The Post-Standard/Landov
Each responder for the VA National Suicide Prevention Hotline Call Center has a bell on their desk that they ring when they need assistance in handling a call at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center in upstate New York.
Credit Emilio Morenatti / AP
Soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in 2009. This year, more active-duty troops died by suicide than by fighting in Afghanistan.
At a suicide prevention center in upstate New York, America's troops and veterans are calling in for help.
And that help is needed more than ever. This past year witnessed a terrible death toll from suicide. For the first time in a decade of war, more active-duty troops have taken their own lives this year than have died fighting in Afghanistan.
Women shop and trade at a market in Razon city, northeast of Pyongyang, in September. Most private trading, which is the only source of income for almost half of North Korean families, is done by women.
Credit Ng Han Guan / AP
Women work at a bookstore in Pyongyang. With so many men unable to find work and support a family, more young women are willing to delay marriage.
Imagine going to work every day and not getting paid. Then, one day, you're told there's no work to do — so you must pay the company for the privilege of not working.
This is the daily reality facing Mrs. Kim, a petite 52-year-old North Korean. Her husband's job in a state-run steel factory requires him to build roads. She can't remember the last time he received a monthly salary. When there are no roads to build, he has to pay his company around 20 times his paltry monthly salary, she says.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, are you invited to any parties for Kwanzaa, which is going on now? If the answer is yes, you're not alone. If the answer is no, you're not alone, either. We'll ask just how widely observed is this inspired-by-Africa, made-in-America celebration.