Syrian President Bashar Assad, in apparent response to Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks last week in support of opposition forces in Syria, says only the Syrian people can tell him to step down.
"Only Syrian people can tell the president stay or leave, come or go. No one else," he said in an interview to Britain's Sunday Times.
It was a rare TV interview for the Syrian president, whose regime has battled rebels as well as calls to step down for nearly two years.
Cardinals from all over the world are gathering at the Vatican, as they take their first steps toward electing a new pope. They'll meet Monday for their first official meeting since Pope Benedict stepped down last week. Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walked into a chaotic situation in Egypt, the first Arab country he's visited in his new role. The country is in economic and political turmoil, and he is trying Sunday to encourage Islamist President Mohamed Morsi to open up the political process and carry out much-needed reforms. After their meeting, he announced the U.S. would release $190 million in aid to Egypt.
Kerry has also been hearing complaints from opposition figures, who have vowed to boycott upcoming elections.
In this image from video, Mokhtar Belmokhtar claims responsibility for a deadly attack on a BP gas facility in Algeria. The Chadian military reported its forces had killed him in a raid in Mali on Saturday.
Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 12:55 pm
Strange as it may seem, a pierced, tattooed and occasionally cross-dressing former basketball star is now one of the West's leading experts on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, following his improbable visit to Pyongyang this week, has become the only Westerner to have had a one-on-one with the reclusive Kim, who by all accounts enjoys basketball at least as much as testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
There are just 2,000 lions left in Kenya, according to estimates. Their population is dwindling in part because they are killed in retaliation for attacks on livestock. Richard Turere's invention could help save the lions.
A truck burns on a street outside Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, on Thursday. Violence erupted, and dozens have been killed, after a court sentenced an Islamist leader to the death penalty for crimes dating to the country's 1971 war of independence.
Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 11:34 am
A wave of violence has rocked Bangladesh after a special war crimes tribunal Thursday imposed the death penalty on an Islamist leader for his role in the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
Demonstrators for and against the convicted leader clashed with security forces, leaving dozens of people dead, including police.
The violence demonstrates the deep sensitivities that remain over the war of independence that played out more than 40 years ago.
Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 12:54 pm
In a country where executions are so commonplace as to barely rate a mention on the evening news, the death by lethal injection of a drug lord and three accomplices in China on Friday got its own two-hour special on state television.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. In Italy the papacy is officially vacant. The Vatican is now under the control of the cardinals who will elect a new leader of the Catholic Church. Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI gave up his ring, his cape and red papal shoes to become Pope Emeritus. Cokie Roberts was there, joins us from Rome. Hi, Cokie.
A pair of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles are lined up for a convoy to Kandahar Airfield. One of the trucks broke down before leaving Forward Operating Base Frontenac. The unit has to move out 50 vehicles from the compound.
Credit Sean Carberry/NPR
Surplus razor wire is seen at the scrap yard on the base. For years units dumped trash and surplus construction materials there, and now the 2-3 Field Artillery has to clear it out.
In addition to training and equipping Afghan soldiers, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have another critical mission: packing up more than 11 years worth of equipment and sending it home. The number of containers to move out is in the six figures, and some question whether everything can be shipped out by the end of 2014.
As Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican and his papacy, he slipped out of his trademark red shoes and put on a pair of Mexican leather loafers. The shoes, actually three pairs, two burgundy and one brown, were a gift to the Pope during his trip last year to Mexico.
After decades living and working abroad, Saeed Malik (left) returned to his native Pakistan and wanted to do something to help rectify what he saw as a poor education system. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library, which now serves about 2,500 children.
Credit Jackie Northam / NPR
Virtually none of the public schools in and around the capital Islamabad have libraries. The Bright Star Mobile Library is often the only access schoolchildren have to books.
On a cold, rainy morning, a van pulls up outside a rural elementary school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The fluorescent green vehicle provides a flash of color on this otherwise gray day. There's a picture of children reading books under a large apple tree, and the words "Reading is fun" are painted in English and Urdu, the national language in Pakistan.
For American policy analysts, today's announcement of direct food aid and medical supplies to Syrian rebels is a significant shift. But a top commander in the forces fighting the Syrian regime says it's not nearly enough. NPR's Deborah Amos met that commander in northern Syria today.
The sunny island of Cyprus has been a vacation haven for Arabs and Israelis alike. But recently, it's been the site of a much-watched trial of an admitted Hezbollah operative. He has described himself simply as a pawn in the militant group's hierarchy, tasked with doing surveillance on restaurants, hotels and buses serving Israeli tourists. But his trial has revealed a wide range of details about how Hezbollah operates and how it may be getting more sophisticated.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Today, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new aid package for Syrian rebels. For the first time, the administration is vowing to send aid directly to the people who are fighting to topple the regime in Syria. At a meeting in Rome, Kerry had the chance to hear from some of them and from countries backing the rebels. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story from Rome.
Update at 7:45 a.m. ET, March 1. Kims Are "Great Leaders," Rodman Says:
On his way home Friday from North Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Kim Jong Un, his father and grandfather have been "great leaders." According to The Associated Press, Rodman also said of the young North Korean leader that "he's proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him. ... Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."
Our original post — Dennis Rodman To Kim Jong Un: 'You Have A Friend For Life':
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 11:33 am
China's answer to accusations of cyber-espionage against the U.S.? The Americans are doing it to us, too.
Barely a week after a report from security firm Mandiant that an arm of the People's Liberation Army was behind the theft of "hundreds of terabytes" of data from U.S. companies, China's Defense Ministry said Thursday that U.S. hackers were penetrating Chinese military websites.
South Africa is still reeling from the recent deaths of two women: Reeva Steenkamp, shot by her sports hero boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, and Anene Booysens, who was brutally raped and murdered at 17. Host Michel Martin talks to independent researcher Lisa Vetten about what the cases may say about violence against women in South Africa.
We're hearing this morning that Pope Benedict has left the Vatican. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is covering the first papal retirement in 600 years, and she joins us now from Rome. And Sylvia, describe the scene for us there.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:26 am
Bruce Reynolds, the brains behind the Great Train Robbery of 1963, has died at the age of 81, nearly five decades after he and his partners in crime made off with 2.6 million pounds at Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, England.
Reynolds was part of the gang that executed an elaborate scheme to swipe the cash from the Glasgow-to-Euston mail train. The clockwork nature of the crime, along with the fact that the bulk of the loot was never recovered and some of the robbers never captured, has made it a favorite subject of television and films, as well as popular music.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:15 am
China isn't a good place to be a horse, if your goal is to avoid ending up as the Russian kabobs known as shashlik.
China exports the most horse meat to the global market, while Russia has the biggest appetite for horseflesh, according to a new infographic on the continuing European scandal over horse meat sold as beef.
(We last updated the top of this post at 2 p.m. ET.)
Precisely on time, under dark skies but with the lights of cameras from news outlets around the world illuminating the scene, Swiss Guards on Thursday closed the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome — marking the official end of Pope Benedict XVI's time as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
For the first time in about 600 years, a pope has voluntarily stepped down. His final moment as leader of the church came at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).
Kenya will soon have a new president. Voters there go to the polls on Monday. The last election was followed by allegations of vote-rigging, and by weeks of deadly tribal violence, which left more than a thousand dead. NPR's Gregory Warner sat down with a few perpetrators of that violence in a bar to watch a Kenyan presidential debate and to find out what, if anything, has changed this time around.