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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 7:37 am
As expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed a law "that bans Americans from adopting Russian children and imposes other measures in retaliation for new U.S. legislation meant to punish Russian human rights abusers," Reuters reports.
On China's Internet over the past couple of months, it's felt like open season on corrupt officials. Every week or so, some cyber-citizen posts an incriminating video or allegation. Instead of deleting the material, censors have often left it up. So far, at least seven officials have either lost their jobs or are under investigation. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports on what's driving the recent exposure of graft and why it may not last.
In Italy, a Catholic priest has stirred widespread outrage after he blamed incidents of domestic violence on the way women dress. Father Piero Corsi's remarks were in a Christmas message he put on a church bulletin board; photos of the note soon went viral.
As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, "a record 118 women have been murdered this year alone in domestic violence" in Italy, reportedly the highest number in Europe.
Here's more from Sylvia, in Rome:
"The title of message was 'Women and Femicide, How often do they provoke?'"
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 4:45 am
Sighs of relief were breathed in Austria today, after a missing pony made it back to his circus after an apparent horse-napping. While it might seem difficult to steal, and then conceal, a horse, consider that the animal, named Fridolin, is only about two feet tall.
The miniature pony, a main attraction of the Vienna Christmas Circus, was found after a tip came in that the pint-sized horse "had been abandoned at a bus stop," reports the Vienna Times.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
We reported yesterday on a bill passed by the Russian Parliament. It would block American families from adopting Russian children. Adoption advocacy groups are appealing to President Vladimir Putin not to sign the measure.
And as we hear from NPR's Michele Kelemen, adoption has been a sensitive issue between the U.S. and Russia for years.
French actor Gerard Depardieu speaks outside Paris in March. He recently said he was moving to neighboring Belgium to avoid France's new top tax rate of 75 percent. The news ignited a debate in France over taxes and patriotism.
Credit Philippe Huguen / AFP/Getty Images
A house in the Belgian village of Nechin allegedly bought by Depardieu.
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 9:02 pm
Gerard Depardieu, one of France's most iconic and beloved film stars, is now at the center of a national uproar over French taxes and patriotism.
Depardieu, who has been in around 200 films, says he's moving to Belgium to avoid paying a new 75 percent tax on the superwealthy. The move has divided the country and has focused attention on the Socialist government's controversial new tax policy.
Former prime minister and music producer, Edward Seaga, compiled an album to mark Jamaica's 50th anniversary of independence. It's called, Reggae Golden Jubilee: Origins of Jamaican Music. Host Michel Martin speaks to Mr. Seaga about what he sees as the 100 most significant songs to emerge from the country.