Cyprus is facing a run on its banks after the government proposed taxing bank deposits. The government has put off a vote on the plan in a bid to calm things down. Banks are set to re-open on Thursday after a bank holiday was declared on Monday.
As Jim Zarroli mentioned, Russians are the main foreign depositors in Cyprus. They've used the island as an offshore haven, thanks to low taxes and lax regulations, same things that have lured some rich Americans to bank in, say, the Cayman Islands. Well, according to Moody's Investor Services, Russian banks and businesses have around $30 billion in Cypriot accounts and that's why today, Russian President Vladimir Putin lost no time in denouncing the tax on bank accounts as unfair, unprofessional and dangerous. Those were his words.
The winners of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering were announced Monday in London. Five Internet pioneers — Marc Andreessen, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, and Louis Pouzin — will share the honor and the one million pound prize. The new U.K.-based award aims to be a "Nobel Prize" for engineering. Robert Siegel talks to Lord Browne of Madingley about the winners.
In a Guatemalan courtroom Tuesday, prosecutors will present their case against a former military dictator who ruled during one of the bloodiest periods in the Central American nation's 36-year civil war.
Efrain Rios Montt is accused of genocide in the murder of tens of thousands of Guatemala's Indians. Human rights advocates and the families of victims have struggled for years to bring him before the court, and they say it is the first trial in Latin America of a former president in the country where he ruled.
Ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. This is an NPR news special. I'm Tom Gjelten. Neal Conan is away. March 2003, U.S. troops sped up across the desert from Kuwait into Iraq. The goal was to topple Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator. Resistance to the invasion was light. Within weeks, the Hussein regime had fallen.
As Syria's revolt enters a third year, Syria's political opposition is meeting in Istanbul this week to choose a rebel government, despite opposition from the Obama administration.
Twelve candidates are in the running to lead the efforts, including an economist, a former agriculture minister and an IT specialist who is overseeing the Syrian National Coalition's aid operation on the Turkish border.
Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 8:46 am
The U.S. still leads the world in one area — arms sales. But even there, China is closing the gap.
Made-in-China weapons have moved into the No. 5 slot, displacing U.K.-manufactured arms, but the Asian giant still trails far behind the U.S. and Russia, whose weapons account for 30 percent and 26 percent of the market, respectively, according to a new report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday.
About 80 percent of Afghans live in the countryside, so what happens there is key to that country's future. Let's go now and hear now about a successful effort at involving communities in their own development. It's called the National Solidarity Program. Funded by international aid, it distributes small grants to rural villages so villagers can choose what projects they need most. They do this through democratically elected community development councils, councils that include both men and women.
We're also marking a milestone today. Two years ago this week, the Arab Spring spread to Syria. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest against their government. Back then, they called it a revolution. Some still do. But Syria's uprising has become a civil war with tens of thousands killed. Many more Syrians are now living in exile, including the young Syrians NPR's Rima Marrouch found in Beirut.
Despite Afghanistan's fierce winter, it's rare to find a house with insulation or a modern heating system. So Afghans rely on bukharis, stoves that look like an oil drum with a big rusty pipe growing out of the top that bends off into a hole in the wall.
That fact keeps the hundreds of wood vendors around Kabul quite happy. This winter, NPR staff fed several tons of firewood into their bukhari — and that's just one house in a city of about 5 million people.
There's news from Cyprus that could have broader implications for Europe when the eurozone's banks open Monday.
It comes a day after officials from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund signed off on a $13 billion bailout for Cyprus. The money was needed because Cyprus' banks lost 4.5 billion euros on their Greek bond holdings, which were written down last year after Greece's second bailout.
Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 9:59 am
Editor's Note: The author is a Syrian citizen living in Damascus and is not being further identified for safety concerns.
In Damascus, you can smell the scent of gunpowder that wafts in from shelling on the outskirts of the capital. You hear fighter jets buzzing above. Ambulance sirens wail throughout the day, and death notices are regularly plastered on city walls.
Damascus is not under direct bombardment, like many other places in Syria that have been ravaged by an uprising now two years old. But the war is creeping closer, and residents feel the heat.
Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi has closely watched the role of the United States as mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In his new book "Brokers of Deceit," he argues that U.S. involvement has made the goal of a lasting peace less attainable than ever. Rashid Khalidi is with us now from our studios in New York.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: It was early 2003: Doctors reported the first known case of the SARS virus; the musical "Chicago" won the Oscar for Best Picture; and Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush made their case for war.
DICK CHENEY: There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 4:59 pm
Sunday is the final day of a week-long Russian festival that celebrates folk traditions, heroic eating and the distant promise of spring. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports on Maslenitsa, or "pancake week," the last culinary blow-out before the austerity of Lent.
Ten years ago this Tuesday, the U.S. invaded Iraq, and by any count — and there have been many — the toll has been devastating.
So far, about 4,400 U.S. troops and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, and the combined costs of the war come to an astounding $2 trillion, including future commitments like veteran care.
So where do we stand today?
Stephen Hadley was the national security adviser under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2009, and part of the White House team that helped sell the war to the public.
Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 5:54 am
A Swiss woman cycling with her husband in India was allegedly beaten and gang-raped, police say. It's the latest high-profile sexual assault in a nation that's facing intense pressure to increase its protections for women.
The couple was on a cycling tour from Mumbai to New Delhi when they were attacked Friday night. The New York Times continues the story:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
On the third day of his pontificate, Pope Francis held an audience for the thousands of journalists who've been covering the transition from one papacy to another. And the new pope made it clear that he will try to embody a different style and tone from that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI. He called for an austere church that will serve the poor.
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli was in the audience and joins us now from Rome. Sylvia, thanks for being with us.
Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 11:51 am
Last year, Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was greeted by adoring crowds during triumphant tours of Asia, the U.S. and Europe. She eclipsed President Thein Sein, who remained in Burma, as the country is also known, and managed a series of domestic crises.
The eyes of the world were fixed on St. Peter's Square this week as Roman Catholic cardinals elected a new pope. Host Scott Simon reflects on the rituals and the silence that followed Pope Francis's call for prayers.
Host Scott Simon talks to MIT professor of music and media Tod Machover about his work with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He crowdsourced street sounds gathered by local Torontonians and blended them with traditional instruments to create an orchestra.
Ten years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, NPR is taking a look back, revisiting people and places first encountered during the war. In 2006, NPR aired a story about a 9-year-old girl who loved her father so much, she wrote him letters to take to work with him. Even after he died, in a carjacking that appeared to have a sectarian motive, she still wrote to him.
Pope Francis' status as the first Jesuit marks a momentous milestone in history. Relations between Jesuits and the Vatican have seen deep crises in the 479 years since the order was founded as humble missionaries. Their growing power and monopoly over education generated suspicion and hostility around Europe. In the 18th century, Jesuits were repressed by some of Europe's Catholic super-powers — Portugal, Spain, France. Emaciated, ragged Jesuit priests began roaming Europe, looking for refuge.