Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition has won a decisive election victory, extending its control to the upper house of parliament and setting the stage for the country's first stable government in years.
Based on exit polls, national broadcaster NHK predicts that Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, will take 71 seats, giving them a total of 130 seats, eight more than needed for a majority in the chamber.
Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe has been sworn in as the country's seventh monarch, succeeding his father, Albert II, who abdicated on Sunday after a 20-year reign.
Albert, 79, resigned the throne on Sunday, citing ill health. He officially signed away his rights to the largely ceremonial post in the presence of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who holds the real political party in Belgium, a 183-year-old constitutional monarchy.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
Pope Francis is headed to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow for World Youth Day. It's actually a week-long gathering for young Catholics held every few years in a different part of the world. The event is meant to inspire and energize the faithful, and more than a million young pilgrims are expected to attend this year. Pope Francis is the first pope from Latin America and he's making his first papal visit overseas. It is to Latin America.
We've become familiar with the story of India's economic ascent and the creation of a large middle class. While that story is true, hundreds of millions of Indians have not been lifted out of extreme poverty.
Israel said Saturday that it's prepared to release a number of Palestinian prisoners following a breakthrough in talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Yuval Steiniz, Israel's intelligence and strategic affairs minister, said the release would involve "heavyweight prisoners in jail for decades". He said the prisoners would be freed soon. (Note: the translation used by The Associated Press has it as "hardcore" instead of "heavyweight").
A man in a wheelchair detonated a homemade bomb at Beijing International Airport, injuring himself but no one else, China's state media says.
The explosion occurred at about 6:24 p.m. Beijing time on Saturday. State-run China Central Television says the wounded man was taken to a hospital after setting off the device and that no one else was injured, no flights were affected and order had been restored at the airport.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Syria, the army of President Bashar al-Assad appears to be gaining the upper hand on the battlefield, as rebels wait for military assistance from the U.S. and other Western allies, assistance that has yet to arrive. Meanwhile, U.N. officials say the refugee crisis has now reached levels not seen since after the Rwanda genocide.
NPR's Kelly McEvers joins us from Beirut for more. Kelly, welcome.
Today, Russia is wrapping up its biggest military maneuver since the Soviet era, an exercise that's designed to test its military readiness on land, sea and in the air. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports that it may also be an effort to show Russia's Far Eastern neighbors that it is still a force to be reckoned with.
COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Russian President Vladimir Putin watched part of the war games this week at a firing range in southern Siberia.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Foreign language spoken)
An Israeli cabinet member said today that officials plan to release some Palestinians who have been in prison in Israel for decades. This appears to be part of the diplomatic dance around restarting peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. After six visits to the region in six months, Secretary of State John Kerry, announced yesterday that there is enough agreement to begin initial talks next week or soon after in Washington, D.C.
The sun-soaked Spanish Riviera isn't where you'd expect to find a faithful foot soldier of North Korea. But that's exactly what Alejandro Cao de Benos calls himself.
Cao de Benos, 38, is believed to be the only Westerner ever employed by the North Korean government. He's a Spanish aristocrat, born to a family of landed gentry in northeast Spain, where he agreed to meet NPR for an interview one recent afternoon.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. For the past few years, in July the Russia provincial town of Vologda has hosted a European Film Festival. Vologda is a sleepy city far from the Russian metropolises of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and every year the arrival of European filmmakers and actors to the Russian heartland is a very special event.
This year, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley attended the festival.
Somalia hadn't had a case of polio for nearly six years. But in the past few months, the virus has come back. Now the East African country has the worst polio outbreak anywhere in the world.
Twenty new cases of polio were reported this week in Somalia by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. That brings the total number of cases in the Horn of Africa to 73. The rest of the world combined has tallied only 59 cases so far this year.
Today, in cities across Egypt, supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi filled streets and squares. They've been demanding his release from custody and his reinstatement as president. Opponents of Morsi also took to the streets, raising fears of fresh violence. NPR's Leila Fadel paid a visit to the headquarters of the pro-Morsi camp. She sent this report.
Former CIA officer Robert Seldon Lady is on his way back to the U.S. after being briefly detained in Panama. An Italian court had convicted the agent in the first trial anywhere involving the practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which a terrorist suspect is kidnapped and transferred to a country where torture is practiced.
Nothing ever seems to come easy in the Middle East, but Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that there was "a basis" for a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which would be the first such talks in several years.
Kerry made the announcement in Amman, Jordan, after a series of discussions with Palestinian and Arab leaders.
"We have reached an agreement that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," Kerry said. "This is a significant and welcome step forward."
Unlike New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who often takes the subway to work, some prominent politicians in Brazil have a far more impressive way of getting around: private helicopters and government planes.
Perhaps the most over-the-top example of the trend is that of Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral. A recent magazine expose showed that his commute to work is only about 6 miles.
First, we broke the news about fast food overtaking restaurants in France. Then we reported the shocker that more than a third of French restaurants serve frozen meals. If these revelations ruin your impression of France as a bastion of culinary tradition, you may not want to read further.
China's central bank announced that it was removing some controls on the interest rates charged by banks for the loans it issues clients.
Reuters explains that the People's Bank of China said in a statement that it was removing the floor "on lending rates for commercial banks, meaning that banks will now be able to cut rates as much as they see fit to attract borrowers."
Around the world, hundreds of millions of Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sunset. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began last week and continues until Aug. 7. That's 30 days of avoiding food and drink all day. But in many families, someone still has to prepare a hearty, and sometimes festive, dinner every night.
"Ramadan is a big change in routine," says Jehad Outteneh, a Palestinian in Jerusalem who shops and cooks for her family of eight.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Even if you have been bored watching paint dry or grass grow or water boil, you have nothing on these scientists. An experiment that began in 1944 at Trinity College in Ireland just now has a definitive result - to test whether a thick substance called pitch flowed and dripped. A funnel with the stuff was placed over a jar. Seventy years later students saw a drip forming, set up a camera, and witnessed the drip drop. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
A Russian court has convicted one of the country's most prominent opposition leaders of embezzlement. Alexei Navalny faces a sentence of five years in prison in a controversial case that he says was trumped up to derail his political career. Navalny was instrumental in organizing mass protests against the rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After three weeks and more than 2,000 miles, the Tour de France finishes up on Sunday in Paris. The race is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It's also the first year in many that no former winners are suspected of doping. Seven-time tour winner Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping this past spring, ending a years-long saga.
But even after all that, doping is probably not fini - as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris.
The Russian lawyer for NSA leaker Edward Snowden predicts his client will soon get temporary asylum in Russia. Snowden and his allies say his laptops contain files that could be highly damaging to NSA operations. Security experts say it would be challenging but by no means impossible for Russian (or Chinese) cyber technicians to gain access to the files Snowden has with him, in spite of his promises to safeguard them.