For some historical context on the fighting in Mali, we spoke with Gregory Mann. He's an associate professor of history at Columbia University and he's an expert on North Africa, including the area in northern Mali now controlled by insurgents.
As we just heard, Germans are still figuring out how to live with their military history. We're going to take you back now to the 1960s, when one French singer helped Europeans forgive, if not forget, the horrors of the Second World War. And she did it with this song:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. The French-led military intervention in Mali is picking up momentum in the campaign to help the Malian government recapture Islamist-occupied strongholds in the north. And while French airpower has tipped the scales in the Malian government's favor, the question now is whether Mali's beleaguered army is up to the fight. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from Bamako, Mali's capital city in the south.
After two devastating world wars, Germans recoiled from any prospect of military intervention. But today, German troops are posted in Afghanistan and engage in combat. This week, German lawmakers are expected to extend their country's military's mission in Afghanistan for 13 more months.
The Pentagon is expanding a program to training Mexican security forces fighting drug cartels. The training incorporates some of the same strategies the U.S. military has used against al-Qaida. Rachel Martin talks with Associated Press reporter Kimberly Dozier, who first reported the story.
The Washington Post reported this week that Italy's effort to promote solar and wind power isn't so clean. A recent sting operation by the Italian government of the renewable energy sector resulted in the arrest of a dozen mafia figures.
On the main road into the Mexican town of Ayutla, about 75 miles southeast of Acapulco, about a dozen men cradling shotguns and rusted machetes stand guard on a street corner. Their faces are covered in black ski masks.
The men are part of a network of self-defense brigades, formed in the southern state of Guerrero to combat the drug traffickers and organized crime gangs that terrorize residents.
The brigades have set up roadblocks, arrested suspects and are set on running the criminals out of town.
I don't know about you, but there's been something wrong in the United States this week. It felt a little bit - I don't know - more poor, less fabulous. Ah, of course, of course, the rich and powerful folks of the world and the United States are all in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum. That's where the big names in business and politics get together in the Alps.
Spain's economic woes have forced municipalities across the nation to cut back on all kinds of basic services. In the small town of Montserrat, 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean, not even the school bus was spared.
To restore service, neighborhood mothers came up with a rather racy idea to raise money: They transformed themselves into calendar girls.
This essay by NPR correspondent Eleanor Beardsley was borne out of the personal exasperation of living in a beautiful city with one thing she found very, very wrong.
When you walk down the grand boulevards of the City of Light, you have to be careful where you step.
Every day, my senses are assaulted by the piles I have to dodge in the Parisian streets. There are the fresh ones that leave me feeling angry, and the ones from the previous days that have begun to smear down the street on the bottoms of people's shoes.
Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 8:35 am
Syrian activists tend to spend long nights on Skype and Facebook, sending and receiving updates on the battle to oust the government.
And online is also where they sometimes fall in love.
Mohsen, an activist from Hama, says he first met Sara, his girlfriend of nearly two years, on Facebook.
She sent him a friend request because she saw he worked in the field of journalism, and for months they chatted casually about the Syrian uprising. Then, after government troops stormed Hama, Moshen fled to Damascus, where he and Sara finally met face to face.
Moves taken by Japan's central bank are raising fears that the world could face what's called a "currency war." The measures, announced Tuesday, are designed to flood Japan's moribund economy with money and encourage businesses and consumers to spend more.
Steps like these have been tried again and again by countries all over the world — including the U.S. — in recent years, with mixed success.
The Obama administration is closely watching political developments in Israel. This week's elections there surprised many analysts in Washington. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to build a new center-right coalition. His party lost some seats in parliament to a new centrist challenger. The White House has had a rough relationship with Netanyahu, and so Washington is looking for a new opportunity now to promote peace. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.
On the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution on Friday, liberal and secular opposition groups held protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square. The Muslim Brotherhood did not hold counter-demonstrations this time. Instead, its members did charitable work in poor districts of Cairo and other cities.
Detailed satellite images are helping to expose a system of huge prison camps in North Korea, camps that North Korea says don't even exist. Western governments and human rights groups estimate that as many as 200,000 political prisoners are held in these camps under horrific conditions. And a small contingent of Western bloggers is scrutinizing the satellite images, trying to map the camps and look for new detail.
Curtis Melvin is among them. He started the website North Korean Economy Watch. Thanks for coming in.
Another new consequence of Greece's economic crisis is that the skies of Athens and other cities are filled with smoke due to the increase in the use of wood burning stoves. The cost of heating oil has gone up 40 percent — a tax increase imposed by the troika. The Greek Environment ministry has issued a warning that the increase in pollutants in the air is posing public health risk.
One Paris neighborhood is known as "Little Bamako," named after the capital of Mali. It's a place where Malian immigrants welcome and closely follow the French military campaign against Islamist extremists in their home country. Some express disappointment that President Obama did not send U.S. troops alongside the French soldiers. They reject the harsh Sharia law of the extremists, saying Mali is in fact a very tolerant nation.
Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 4:45 pm
In a small border town in northern Syria, there are two groups that both oppose President Bashar Assad's regime. But instead of working in tandem, the Syrian rebels and a Kurdish militia have been battling each other in the town of Ras al-Ayn.
Sally Ali, a 26-year-old resident of Ras al-Ayn, told NPR by phone that the streets are completely empty. "It's a ghost town," she says.
She estimates about half of the town's residents fled to nearby villages; the other half are trapped in their homes by the ongoing violence.
When presented with a tempting buffet of French food, not overeating can be a challenge. But a new study by researchers in Lyon suggests there are strategies that will help people resist temptation.
People trying to keep off excess weight are frequently told that it's better to eat small amounts of food frequently during the day, rather than the typical breakfast, lunch and dinner. The idea is that more frequent eating will stave off hunger pangs that may lead to overeating.
Traditionally, water symbolizes life and renewal, but in Sierra Leone it is also a vehicle for epidemic and death — the focus of photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz's project "Water Is Gold," which documents the causes and effects of the country's recent cholera outbreak.
The French-led operation in Mali, which is intended to drive back Islamist militants, appears to be gaining momentum. The U.S. and European powers are helping airlift French forces into the Sahara nation, and African soldiers from around the region are arriving to lend a hand.
In the past week, French airstrikes and ground troops have helped government forces retake the strategic town of Diabaly in central Mali — the first major victory in the fight to reclaim the north.