It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. You know, years ago I was talking with a man in Baghdad. It was amid the chaos and the warfare following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And the Iraqi man said it took us 35 years to get this way and it will take 35 years to change.
Next, let's try to make sense of the warring sides in Iraq. Sunni Muslim extremists have captured much of that country. Secretary of State, John Kerry, was in Baghdad yesterday seeking ways to help the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
On this program yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, suggested neither side is much worth helping.
The Mexican town of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco is the heart of a region that produces the legendary spirit. Any bottle of tequila must be made from the Weber Blue species of agave, grown and distilled in this region.
Field after field of agave gives this land a blue hue, defining an economy and its traditions.
The Associated Press today offers "a more sober picture" than it and other news organizations (including NPR) did earlier this month regarding reports of nearly 800 bodies of infants and young children at a former Catholic home for unwed mothers in Ireland.
Over the past several years, I've had the opportunity to be involved in a remarkable project in China. With the publication of a paper in The Lancet today that details the nation's performance in the care of patients with severe heart attacks, a pivot to include quality in addition to access to care in their health care reform has begun.
The leader of Thailand's onetime opposition, who led mass anti-government demonstration in the run-up to last month's military coup, has acknowledged for the first time that he acted as an adviser to the army general who seized power.
It's a case that's drawn international condemnation. Today, an Egyptian court sentenced two journalists to seven years in jail, and a third to 10 years. They all work for the Al Jazeera English news network and were convicted of being or aiding terrorists and tarnishing Egypt's image. No evidence of their alleged crimes were present - was presented in court. NPR's Leila Fadel has more.
Along Iraq's long border to the west with Syria, ISIS fighters have seized control of two key crossings between the two countries. Al Qaim and Al Waleed are now in the insurgents' and hands. Joining me to talk about what that means is Ned Parker, the Baghdad bureau chief for Reuters. And Ned, the first to go was Al Qaim followed very quickly by Al Waleed. Did the Iraqi army put up a fight there?
Tens of thousands of Iraqi men brandishing assorted weapons are responding to a call to arms. They invoke the Mahdi, a figure from Shiite Muslim prophecies, as they march in a recent parade in Sadr City, a Shiite suburb of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
"We volunteer to protect our dear country," says Hazem al-Shemmari.
When Sunni militants took over parts of Iraq this month, Shiite religious leaders called for volunteers to fight back.
Well, the U.S. couldn't do it until the Iraqi government gave U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution, through what's called a "diplomatic note." If those U.S. soldiers committed any crimes or had any legal troubles while advising Iraqis, the U.S. wanted to handle any prosecutions.
Three journalists who work for the Al-Jazeera news network have been sentenced to prison terms — two lasting seven years and a third lasting 10 — by an Egyptian court. The three were accused of aiding terrorists, a term that in this case applies to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu joins us next. Israel's military has been rounding up politicians or operatives linked with Hamas. That military operation on the West Bank came after the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. Prime Minister Netanyahu, welcome back to the program.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Thank you. Good to be with you, Steve.
As Sunni militants make gains against Iraq's Shiite-led central government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid a previously unannounced visit to Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.
Maliki has been criticized for not being more inclusive of Sunnis and Kurds in his government — a change the Obama administration is calling for as part of any plans for military support.
Let's go now to David Greene who's in Miami, just back from a week reporting in Cuba. It's a hard place to get in, and he's been looking into the changes and reforms that are being put into play in what has been a largely closed Communist state for decades now. David, welcome back, and tell us what we'll be learning from your reporting in the coming days.
FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup, says it has zero tolerance for racist and homophobic conduct by players and fans at this year's international soccer event.
Late last week, FIFA opened an investigation into the display of neo-Nazi banners by both Russian and Croat fans at the World Cup. And Brazil and Mexico face possible sanctions for chanting a homophobic slur during their match last week. But soccer fans say the world is misinterpreting the use of the word and their team spirit.
Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.
Iqbal al-Juboori is well acquainted with the ethnic tensions coming to a head in her home country of Iraq right now. In 2005, her family, who is Sunni, was attacked in their home and her brother was kidnapped simply because of his ethnicity, Juboori believes.