For decades, Myanmar was isolated diplomatically, an economic backwater that seemed almost frozen in time amid a Southeast Asian region that was modernizing at a rapid pace.
But the political reforms under way in Myanmar, also known as Burma, are redefining its place in the world. President Obama's visit in November was a sign of the dramatic turnaround in relations with the United States.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. The Japanese flag flew over Blair House in Washington today. That's where foreign leaders stay when they visit the White House. Japan's new prime minister is here for his first meeting with President Obama, and they've been discussing economic and security issues as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Oscar Pistorius is free on bail. That's after a dramatic four-day hearing that's gripped South Africa. The star athlete with two prosthetic legs is accused of murdering his girlfriend. And the bail hearing was a tense battle over whether the killing was premeditated murder or a tragic accident. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports now on today's bail decision by the magistrate.
Forgiving someone who's done you wrong can be challenging, but learning how to do it can benefit your mind and body. Frederic Luskin of the Stanford Forgiveness Project writes about this in his book, Forgive For Good. He joins host Michel Martin to talk about why learning to forgive is worth it.
South African Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail, but the hearing brought to light bizarre details about the murder charges against him. So will the case turn into another O.J. Simpson fiasco? Host Michel Martin asks the barbershop guys for their thoughts.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. The Internet is the new battleground.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 11:03 am
A week after a meteor exploded over Russia on the same day that an asteroid swung closely past Earth, experts discuss how the potential threats posed by near-Earth objects should be addressed. Astronomers Donald Yeomans and John Tonry weigh in on how to keep the planet safe.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 10:48 am
No place has been as riveted by Oscar Pistorius and the Valentine's Day shooting death of his girlfriend as South Africa.
But even before this sensational story burst into the headlines, South Africans were fiercely debating issues that are more or less permanent fixtures in this country — crime, and violence against women.
Good morning. I'm Linda Wertheimer. At a school in Windsor, Ontario, teachers suspected an eighth grader was going through a teacher's desk. So they planted brochures for a beautiful class trip to Disney World. They even made a presentation, and then said: just kidding. The snooping student got his comeuppance but other kids and parents were furious. The school apologized. The real student trip will be to a bowling alley. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:58 am
A flaming meteor streaked through the skies over Russia last Friday. It exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs over the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk. A thousand people were injured; most of them were watching it and were cut when the shock wave shattered windows.
Italy's election campaign has been dominated by an upstart comedian-turned-politician whose Five Star Movement is soaring in the polls. The movement is not expected to win in the weekend vote, but its strong presence in Parliament could be destabilizing and reignite the eurozone crisis.
Beppe Grillo is a standup comedian and the country's most popular blogger; 63 years old, with a mane of grey curly hair, he's hyperactive and foul-mouthed. His last name means "cricket," and he's the most charismatic politician in Italy today.
Officials in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing knocked down her karaoke parlor for development. She says they then offered her compensation that was less than 20 percent of what she had invested in the place.
Shen complained to the central government. Local authorities responded by sentencing her to a "re-education through labor" camp for a year. Once inside, Shen says, camp workers tried to force her to accept the compensation.
Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 1:29 pm
Several explosions ripped through Damascus on Thursday morning in what was one of the deadliest days in the Syrian capital since the uprising began nearly two years ago.
A huge blast in the al-Mazraa neighborhood was the work of a suicide car bomber, according to media reports. More than 50 people were killed and more than 200 injured, according to both the Syrian state media and opposition groups.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now we are going to turn our attention to Puerto Rico. That's where our colleagues at MORNING EDITION went recently for an in-depth reporting trip. They talked about the island's difficult economy, the many people leaving the island looking for opportunities elsewhere, and how all of that is affecting day-to-day life in the U.S. commonwealth.
There is no end, it seems, to revelations of corruption in Spain, exacerbated by the country's economic crisis. The latest scandal threatens to topple the pedestal on which Spain's royals have long stood.
The newest suspect is the king's son-in-law, who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars in public funds and faces a judge this weekend.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:49 am
Kurt Vonnegut once said, "What makes life worth living are the saints. ... They can be longtime friends or someone I meet on a street. They find a way to behave decently in an indecent society."
And so it is with Gyanesh Kamal, a man I met at India's Kumbh Mela, one of the oldest festivals on Earth. To the uninitiated, this spiritual spectacle is a discombobulating din of prayers, loudspeakers and pilgrims so ceaseless it disorients the senses.
Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 9:03 am
Update at 10 a.m. ET. New Lead Investigator:
A new lead investigator has been appointed in the murder case against South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, The Associated Press reports from Pretoria. That announcement follows the news from earlier Thursday, as we reported below, that the detective who had been in charge of the case faces attempted murder charges of his own stemming from a 2011 shooting incident.
A very different story now, from Egypt. There, sexual violence against women is on the rise. And a warning: Some of what you'll hear in the next few minutes is disturbing, starting with this: Women who show up at protests are in danger of being mobbed by men and gang raped. During the most recent demonstration, one victim was sexually assaulted with a knife, another strangled with her scarf, and another violated in front of her children. As the number of assaults increases, many Egyptian women say they'll no longer be silent.
Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 4:47 am
Syria's minority Christians are caught in the middle of the country's 23-month conflict. Many members of one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East are fleeing Syria. Those who stay say they fear they will be targeted by Islamist militants — a growing force among rebels fighting President Assad's regime.
Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 4:28 am
Two days ago, Morning Edition aired a story about the H-1B program which grants temporary work visas to foreigners with special skills like computer programming. In the story, it was reported that employers have to show they tried to recruit Americans first. But as it turns out, many companies bypass American applicants.
Tucked away in a back street of Semarang, a city in Indonesia's Central Java province, is a tiny, four-table restaurant. In the cramped kitchen, Mahmudi Haryono whips up a plate of ribs — lunch for two customers.
He brings it out and serves it to two Indonesian soldiers in olive drab uniforms.
Haryono is smiling and cool as a cucumber. But he acknowledges that after getting out of jail a few years ago, serving men in uniform set butterflies aflutter in his stomach.
Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years.
But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town's mayor.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 banning violence against women. But the parliament, which is currently on its winter recess, has been unable to pass it and give it permanence as a law.
There's major disagreement on key provisions where Islamic and secular law come into conflict. And activists say the gains made in women's rights since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 are slipping away.
Masooda Karokhi, a female member of parliament, has been pushing to get the proposal through the male-dominated legislature.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. A grim milestone last week in Tibet: Over the past four years, more than 100 people have now set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule. According to the campaign, International Campaign for Tibet, at least 85 died following their protest.