We're going to turn to other news for a moment and a story out of Egypt. Voters in that country began to turn out for the first phase of a controversial constitutional amendment. Opponents of that Islamist-backed draft constitution have been mounting protests for weeks. Some of those clashes turned deadly. Reporter Merrit Kennedy is in Alexandria, and she sent this report.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 3:49 pm
Former South African President Nelson Mandela was recovering Saturday after surgery to remove gallstones, the government said. There was no indication when the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader would be released from the hospital, though the government said he was recovering well.
Mandela was admitted to the unnamed hospital in the capital, Pretoria, a week ago. As the BBC's Karen Allen told our Newscast Unit, there's been much concern about his health and limited detail about his medical condition.
Argh, it's on the tip of my tongue! Contestants in the Names and Faces competition focus at last year's World Memory Championships held in Guangzhou, China. A new field of mental athletes is currently vying for the 2012 championship.
In the gymnasium of a South London technical school, site of this year's World Memory Championships, Norwegian Ola Kaere Risa checks his stopwatch.
Risa is Norway's only contestant this year.
"I hope to defend the glory of my country," he says, laughing.
The 21st World Memory Championships are under way in London this weekend. About 75 competitors from some two dozen countries are vying to see who can memorize the most numbers, faces, playing cards or random words in a set amount of time.
Voter turnout on the first day of a referendum on Egypt's controversial draft constitution was so high in Cairo and nine other governorates that election officials decided to extend poll hours from 7 until 11 p.m. local time.
Supporters hold up posters of Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a rally in Osaka on Thursday. Considered a nationalist hawk, Abe is expected to become prime minister for a second time after parliamentary elections Sunday.
Credit Yoshikazu Tsuno / Getty Images
Japanese nationalists condemn China at a rally in Tokyo in September. Japan and China are locked in a bitter dispute over a group of islands claimed by both countries.
Egyptians are voting on a new constitution - but the vote is polarizing the country. Meanwhile, in Syria, the main opposition group is now recognized by the U.S., but there are questions about al-Qaeda affiliates fighting alongside them. To make sense of the developments, host Michel Martin talks with Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera International.
"Being welcomed by and embraced by Igbos, who take Judaism so seriously ... it raises the question of what it means to be a Jew," says William Miles.
Three years ago, Miles, a self-proclaimed semi-practicing Jew, decided to celebrate Hanukkah in Africa's most populous country. He wrote about his experience in a new book called Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey. He tells NPR's Tell Me More host Michel Martin that he found "a very Jewish community, but also a very African community."
This monitor screen image shows a graphic of the orbit of the satellite carried by the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea launched this week. The image is from the Korean Central News Agency, distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service.
Allegations of the existence of a secret network of doctors and nuns who stole newborn babies and sold them for adoption are reviving a dark chapter in Spain's recent history.
More than 1,000 people have gone to court hoping to track down sons and daughters or brothers and sisters they were told died in childbirth.
In Madrid's Puerta del Sol square last month, Antonio Iniesta stood next to a poster with the words bebes robados (stolen babies). His demonstration is intended to publicize his search for a brother he's convinced is alive.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
European leaders have taken a big step forward in their efforts to address the continent's debt problems. At a meeting today in Brussels, they approved the idea of a single regulator who would have power over most of Europe's banks. Officials say such a regulator could have averted the kind of credit bust that has crippled the economies of Spain, Greece and Ireland.
In Egypt, the road to democracy is anything but easy. President Mohammed Morsi has set a vote on a new constitution to begin this Saturday. But Egyptian rights groups are warning of possible election fraud.
Stop anyone on the street in Europe, Latin America, Africa and even Asia, and chances are they'll know the name Lionel Messi — and they'll probably know what he did this week. The soccer phenom scored his 88th goal of the year, which is widely thought to be a world record.
And the year's not over yet.
On Sunday, Messi, 25, scored his 86th goal of the calendar year in a Spanish league game against Real Betis, in Seville. The goal, Messi's second of the game, gave Barcelona a 2-1 win over Betis, with the announcer booming, "A new goal king!"
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Many of us may not be able to point to Mali on a map, but this landlocked nation in West Africa has emerged as a crisis. Here's a quick synopsis: A government once hailed as a model of democracy collapses in a coup last March. Three northern provinces, an area the size of Texas, break away and declare themselves independent.
Zakale Creations is a jewelry-designing operation that employs 30 young people who were previously involved in crime. The Nairobi-based operation is the brainchild of John Mucheru, himself a former mugger.
Credit John Burnett/NPR
John Mucheru of Zakale Creations poses with his jewelry designs in Nairobi's Huruma slum.
After covering East Africa for five months, a profound problem I encountered in every country was what will happen to the continent's exploding cities.
The U.N. predicts that by 2040, six in 10 Africans will live in cities — an estimated 1 billion people. One of the pressing questions for African leaders is how to occupy all the idle young men who turn to crime because there are no jobs.
In Nairobi's Huruma slum, I came across a point of light — one man's attempt to take in thieves and prostitutes and give them honest work, of all things, making jewelry.
Switching gears now, the issues of Palestinians, both in the U.S. and abroad, are often in the news, but not, I think it's fair to say, because of the comedy scene, which is where Maysoon Zayid comes in.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 10:33 am
"Syria's most powerful ally, Russia, said for the first time Thursday that President Bashar Assad is losing control of his country and the rebels might win the civil war, dramatically shifting the diplomatic landscape at a time of enormous momentum for the opposition," The Associated Press writes.
Here's what Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, according to the AP:
Egyptian clerics from Al-Azhar University hold a national flag as they shout support for President Mohammed Morsi and a new constitution at a rally in Cairo on Dec. 1. Secular and Islamist Egyptians disagree on the constitution, which critics say gives too much power to the clerics of Al-Azhar, the seat of Sunni Islam learning.
Egyptians are deeply divided over a draft constitution that will be put to a nationwide referendum starting Saturday. The document was drafted by an assembly dominated by Islamists. Most secular members of the panel, along with women and Christian representatives, walked out in protest before the draft was complete.
Critics say the draft gives key Islamic scholars too much power on a broad range of legislative issues, but it's still unclear what that would mean in practice.
For more analysis, we turned to Issandr El Amrani. He is a journalist living in Cairo, whose blog is called The Arabist. We've been talking with El Amrani since the early days of the Egyptian revolution. He's in Washington, D.C. this week and we asked him into our studio to get his view on the latest turmoil in Egypt.
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, center, addresses the nation flanked by Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, left, and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. British Prime Minister David Cameron stood up in Parliament today and apologized for one of the most notorious killings of Northern Ireland's sectarian troubles. But unlike past official apologies, this one may have reopened more wounds than it closed. Vicki Barker reports from London.
North Korea's missile launch comes at a sensitive time for South Korea, which will hold national elections in a week. NPR's Anthony Kuhn joins us from Seoul now to discuss how the launch is affecting politics on the Korean Peninsula. And Anthony, have we heard any more news out of North Korea about how this success is being received by people there?
The U.N. Security Council has condemned Tuesday's missile launch by North Korea. The North Koreans say their rocket put a satellite into space — but the move violated U.N. resolutions aimed at curbing North Korea's attempts to develop ballistic missile technology.
Robert Siegel talks to Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma, about the recognition by the Friends of Syria of the Syrian opposition. He says it's an important step, but the longer the group of exiles go before naming officers in the transitional government, the harder it will be to exert any authority over the small local governments and militias that have sprung up all over rebel controlled Syria.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 2:31 pm
North Korea's successful rocket launch may conjure up visions of nuclear missiles in the hands of one of the planet's least predictable regimes. But building a satellite launch vehicle doesn't directly translate into an ability to rain warheads on distant enemies.