Renee Montagne recently returned from a reporting trip to Afghanistan. While there, she talked to young Afghan men, who are the sons of former warlords. The men who spent their youths fighting the Soviets on the battlefields of Afghanistan, sent their sons to universities abroad.
There's just a sliver of light in the eastern sky as the patrol leaves the American compound through a thick metal door.
They scamper across Highway 2, a narrow asphalt road that leads to Kabul, just an hour's drive away — if not for the war. They cross an old graveyard and head toward the silhouette of a tree line, all seen through the eerie green glow of night-vision goggles.
Ding Zilin has spent the past 24 years on one mission: seeking justice for the death of her son, 17-year-old Jiang Jielian, who was shot in the back by Chinese soldiers on the night of June 3, 1989.
This year, her mood is one of black despair.
"It's possible that before I leave this world, I won't see justice," the frail 76-year-old told me. We're sitting in the living room of her Beijing home, near a shrine to her son that includes a wooden cabinet holding his ashes.
A fire at a poultry processing plant fire in northeast China on Monday has killed at least 119 people, according to the Jilin province government. The blaze is one of the country's deadliest industrial accidents in recent years.
Flames broke out a little after 6 a.m. and the sprawling, low-slung plant filled with dark smoke, witnesses said. About 300 workers were inside the facility owned by the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company in Mishazi Township of Dehui City.
When the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died two years ago, his son Kim Jong Un rose to power. The world knew practically nothing about the young and untested leader. In fact, nobody knew exactly how young he was until his birth date was revealed by a man who goes by the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong Il's former sushi chef and longtime confidante.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. We're going to get a glimpse from the front lines of the civil war in Syria now. That war is expected to be the focus of peace negotiations, in the coming weeks. The U.S. is pressing for those talks after brutal fighting, fighting that's begun to spread to neighboring countries.
The U.N. says hundreds of wounded, along with thousands more civilians, are trapped inside the embattled Syrian town of Qusair. The Syrian army, along with fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, have the town surrounded. Up until recently Hezbollah's involvement in the fight was kept secret. But now, as NPR's Kelly McEvers reports, the group's supporters are readying for what could be a bigger, more regional fight.
This morning central Istanbul was quiet. It was still reeling from two days of anti-government rallies that led to violent confrontations with police. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Turkey that some 900 people were arrested across the country and several hundred were wounded.
Peter said officials "are beginning to ask questions about who ordered the fierce police crackdown on peaceful demonstrators that triggered the massive anti-government reaction."
After two hours of yelling, shooting and getting tough with a group of American businessmen one hot spring afternoon, Steve Gar turned to storytelling.
Gar is an instructor at Caliber3, a private counterterrorism training center in an Israeli settlement area south of Jerusalem that offers short shooting courses for tourists. Wrapping up the Americans' two-hour session, he called them all to gather around.
It starts with the nodding — otherwise normal children begin to nod their heads, pathologically. Then come the seizures. The children stop growing and stop talking. Ultimately, the disease wrecks the children, physically and mentally.
The strange and deadly illness known as nodding syndrome affects only children, and only in a small pocket of East Africa. It has affected more than 3,000 children since the late 1990s, when it first appeared in what was then southern Sudan. And for more than three years, the cause of nodding syndrome has eluded epidemiologists around the globe.
The city of Istanbul for the fifth time is bidding to host the 2020 summer Olympics. It pitched itself as "an emerged nation" to the Olympic Committee. But at the same time, NPR's Peter Kenyon tells guest host Wade Goodwyn, images of police firing tear gas canisters and water cannons at anti-development protesters seemed to send a different kind of message this week.
People might not want to stand near Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard if they want to keep their suit clean, but if they want a snack.... Earlier this month, someone hurled a sandwich slathered in Vegemite, the yeast extract that's Australia's national spread, at the prime minister. It missed by a wide mark. A student was suspended for 15 days, but he denies being the culprit.
Prized Burgundies and Bordeaux once served at the presidential palace in France were sold for the first time ever as the wine cellar at Elysee Palace gets an overhaul.
Some 1,200 bottles, or 10 percent of the palace wines, went on sale this week at the famous Drouot auction house in downtown Paris. On the block were vintages from 1930 to 1990, including famous names such as Chateau Latour, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Montrachet.
Russian media has hinted that Moscow could speed up delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Syria if the U.S. and its allies decide to impose a no-fly zone to aid rebels there. Meanwhile, a Russian airplane maker says Syria is discussing the purchase of additional MiG-29 fighters.
A Russian arms industry source quoted by Interfax news agency says Moscow could hasten delivery of the S-300 to Syria, even though the missiles would still take months to arrive.
Sixteen million men and women served in uniform during World War II. Today, 1.2 million are still alive, but hundreds of those vets are dying every day. In honor of Memorial Day, NPR's All Things Considered is remembering some of the veterans who died this year.
There were no "typical" tours of duty in World War II, but U.S. Army nurse Mildred Dalton Manning's was particularly extraordinary. Manning, along with six dozen other nurses, was held captive by the Japanese for almost three years. The group became known as the "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor."
"Thousands of demonstrators massed on streets surrounding Istanbul's central Taksim Square, long a venue for political unrest, while protests erupted in the capital Ankara and the Aegean coastal city of Izmir."
Scientists in Siberia say they've extracted blood samples from the carcass of a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth, reviving speculation that a clone of the extinct animal might someday walk the earth, if scientists are able to find living cells. But researchers say the find, which also included well-preserved muscle tissue, must be studied further to know its potential.
The Mediterranean diet has long been a darling of nutrition experts as a proven way to prevent some chronic diseases. Heavy on olive oil, vegetables, fruit, nuts and fish, the diet most recently has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and dying compared with a typical low-fat diet.
We are standing in front of a huge bank of screens, in the middle of which is a glowing map that changes focus depending on what the dozens of controllers are looking at.
The room looks like something straight out of a NASA shuttle launch. The men and women manning the floor are dressed in identical white jumpsuits. With a flick of a mouse, they scroll through dozens of streaming video images coming into the center.
If you're trying to grow a business in Nigeria and you want investors, you want Nigeria's economy to look as big as possible.
Bayo Puddicombe and Zubair Abubakar own a company called Pledge 51, which creates applications for Nigeria's low-tech cellphones. One of their most popular games lets players pretend to drive the notoriously wild buses crisscrossing the Nigerian city Lagos. It's called Danfo, after the buses.
Syria's government appears to be making gains this week in a battle against rebel forces in the key city of Qusair, along the border with Lebanon. NPR's Steve Inskeep traveled to the edge of the city, and we hear from him first, followed by Kelly McEvers, who reports from just across the frontier in Lebanon.
A Syrian provincial governor told us this week that the government army has largely retaken Qusair, though a battle continues for the airport. We asked to see for ourselves.