Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 7:22 am
Ali Harzi, the only person who had been known to be in custody in connection with last September's attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, has been released by authorities in his native Tunisia, the suspect's lawyer tell The Associated Press.
Let's hear now two critical views of the foreign policy and national security team that President Obama is assembling for his second term. Yesterday, the president nominated his longtime aide John Brennan as director of the CIA. He named Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator, as secretary of Defense.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in Washington this week for meetings with President Obama and other senior administration officials. The talks are expected to help set the framework for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan after the bulk of American and NATO forces leave at the end of 2014. One of the key issues to be discussed is the number of American troops to remain in Afghanistan after that date.
In the Bolivar Plaza of downtown Caracas, supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrive carrying photographs of their leader and singing songs urging him on. Music blares from loudspeakers, repeating over and over, "Chavez, my commander, is here to stay."
Chavez, however, is most definitely not here, and increasingly many Venezuelans wonder if he'll ever be back. He flew to Cuba, Venezuela's closest ally, for an operation that took place on Dec. 11. Before leaving for his fourth cancer surgery, Chavez named a successor.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 4:39 pm
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, has landed in North Korea. His trip there is a bit of a mystery.
Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, has been a vocal proponent of providing people around the world with Internet access and technology. North Korea doesn't even let its citizens access the open Internet, and its population is overwhelmingly poor — so it's not exactly a coveted audience for advertisers.
Originally published on Sun January 13, 2013 7:02 am
So why did President Obama choose Chuck Hagel to be his new defense secretary?
First, Hagel is Obama's kind of Republican. The former senator from Nebraska is a realist and pragmatist who hasn't been afraid to buck the orthodoxy of his chosen party, for instance when Hagel opposed the Iraq War.
Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 3:52 pm
It's become an annual tradition: bidding up an outrageous price for a Pacific bluefin tuna during the first auction of the new year at Toyko's Tsukiji fish market.
And on Saturday, a bluefin tuna big enough to serve up about 10,000 pieces of sushi fetched a mind-boggling price: $1.76 million. That's about three times as much as last year's tuna and equates to about $3,600 per pound for the 489-pound fish.
As Afghan President Hamid Karzai comes to Washington to meet with President Obama and other U.S. officials this week, there is renewed discussion in Afghanistan about the possibility of a negotiated end to the country's war.
Recent talks hosted by France have rekindled hopes for some sort of reconciliation between the Taliban and Karzai's government. But given the decades of war in Afghanistan, many think the prospect of a peace deal remains nothing but talk.
China has indicated that it will stop handing down sentences to its controversial labor camps, which allow detention without trial for up to four years. According to Chinese media, some 160,000 prisoners were held in "re-education centers" at the end of 2008.
Critics of the system greeted the announcement — which was slim on details — with cautious optimism.
Pressure to change the system has been mounting after a number of high-profile cases, including that of Ren Jianyu, who had been a young village official.
With elections in Italy just weeks away, polls show leftist parties with a comfortable lead. Yet attention is focused on the battle between the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and the current prime minister, Mario Monti, an austere technocrat.
Monti's platform calls for continued austerity, budget cutting and labor reforms.
While Berlusconi and Monti are the two big names in next month's race, the expected winner is the leader of the leftist Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani.
For decades, journalists at the Tijuana newspaper Zeta have doggedly covered government corruption and narco-trafficking. That's made them the target of violence and threats. Bernardo Ruiz tells their stories in his new documentary, Reportero. He talks with guest host Celeste Headlee.
The Venezuelan president hasn't been heard from or seen publicly since undergoing cancer surgery last month. How is the uncertainty affecting Venezuelans and their relations with the US? Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with NPR's Juan Forero.
French President Francois Hollande has vowed to improve his country's competitiveness. But to better compete, France has to overhaul its labor market, and some hard-earned workers' rights and privileges could be lost.
Venezuela is facing a political crisis. Longtime President Hugo Chavez is being treated in Cuba for a recurrence of cancer and resulting complications. He is supposed to be sworn in to a third term as president this week, but he might not be well enough to attend the inauguration. What then?
Syrian President Bashar Assad appeared before his people Sunday and delivered his first public address since early June. He remained defiant in the face of the uprising that has raged for two years, describing the rebels as al-Qaida terrorists. Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Kelly McEvers.
Originally published on Sun January 6, 2013 8:17 am
As 2013 begins with wealthy Americans in line for bigger tax bills, they're not alone. Tax fairness takes the spotlight worldwide this year, as cash-strapped governments look to impose more of the burden on well-heeled companies, individuals and institutions, and to catch and punish tax cheaters.
This week, as the U.S. Congress averted a plunge off the fiscal precipice, British Prime Minister David Cameron sent a letter to leaders of the Group of Eight countries that make up about half of the world's economic output.
In Mexico these days, the majority of babies are born in hospitals. That hasn't helped reduce the number of maternal deaths, though. So health officials are re-making the centuries-old tradition of midwifery. They are betting a new kind of midwife, one trained in a clinical setting, can offer a solution.
Originally published on Sun January 6, 2013 6:55 am
Syrian President Bashar Assad addressed his country publicly for the first time in months on Sunday, maintaining his prior assertions that the violence estimated to have killed more than 60,000 of his citizens is the work of terrorists.
NPR's Peter Kenyon tells our Newscast Unit that Assad insisted he could win the battle. Kenyon reports:
In Pakistan, there's a cafe called the Second Floor. It's listed in a local Karachi social blog as one of the coolest cafes in town. Since it opened its doors five years ago, it's become a haven in a city more known for its violence than its civil discourse. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston paid a visit.
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: The artwork on the front stoop of the Second Floor Cafe in Karachi says it all.
SABEEN MAHMUD: I wanted something right at the entrance...
It's hard to tell whether the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo is a battle between rival ethnic groups or a fight for resources. There are so many militant groups in Eastern Congo with so many shifting alliances and demands. But a tiny ethnic minority in Congo has been at the center of this conflict for the past 20 years. NPR's Gregory Warner tells their story from the Eastern Congoli city of Goma.
After the eurozone provided billions in bailout loans to Greece in December, the prime minister declared a new beginning for his country, despite a third year of wage cuts and tax hikes. But a scandal over a list of wealthy Greeks with Swiss bank accounts is roiling the country's fragile government.
Few Western countries are as conservative about home ownership as Germany, where less than half the country's citizens own property.
German banks have tough lending rules. Would-be buyers are usually asked to provide hefty down payments to secure mortgages, meaning few Germans even think about buying a home until they are settled and financially secure.
But the European debt crisis appears to be changing the traditions around home ownership. The resulting surge in homebuying, some officials warn, is driving prices too high and threatens the nation's economy.