World News

The Two-Way
4:41 pm
Sun May 19, 2013

Syrian Troops Target Key Rebel-Held Town

Dozens of people are dead in heavy fighting around the Syrian rebel-held city of Qusair where troops loyal to President Bashar Assad are making a strong push.

News reports say as many as 50 people are dead.

NPR's Jonathan Blakley, who is in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, is reporting on the fighting for our Newscast Unit:

"Qusair is a strategically important town that lies between the city of Homs, where the Syrian uprising began two years ago, and the Lebanese border. The area has been under siege for weeks.

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Parallels
3:25 pm
Sun May 19, 2013

Young Kenyans Build Mobile Apps For Local Use

Kenyans watch a presentation at the "mobile apps garage showcase" this in Nairobi.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 7:59 pm

You're out navigating the jammed sidewalks of Kenya's capital city when you suddenly realize you're in desperate need of a toilet. You crane your neck over the crowds, vainly seeking a McDonalds, a Starbucks — no such luck. What next?

There could be an app for that. Twendeloo, which is Swahili for "Let's Go to the Loo," would allow you to use your phone to locate the nearest public restroom in Nairobi's business district, then give it a rating for cleanliness.

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Parallels
4:07 am
Sun May 19, 2013

Russian Lawmakers: Don't Criticize Soviet Actions In WWII

A column of Russia's T-90 tanks rumbles over the cobblestones in Moscow's Red Square on May 9 during the country's Victory Day parade celebrating the anniversary of its costly victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

World War II remains a monumental event in the collective Russian mind. It's known as the "Great Patriotic War," and Russians believe no one made greater sacrifices than the Soviet Union when it came to defeating Nazi Germany.

The end of the war is celebrated with a huge military parade in Moscow's Red Square on May 9, commemorating the millions of men and women, military and civilian, who died during the struggle.

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Afghanistan
3:41 am
Sun May 19, 2013

Afghans With Disabilities Fight For The Right To Rights

A technician shapes a cast mold for a prosthetic limb at the Red Cross orthopedic clinic in Kabul. The clinic produces about 2,000 prosthetic limbs each year.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 4:44 pm

Climbing the rickety metal staircase is precarious enough if you aren't on crutches, but it's simply dangerous if you are. At the top is the office of Janbazan-e-Mayhan, one of many social councils for disabled Afghans. Men missing arms, legs or hands sit around the small room.

Afghanistan isn't an easy place for anyone to make a living. But for those with disabilities, it's a downright hostile environment. Tens of thousands have been maimed and disabled during decades of conflict. Jobs are scarce, and there's almost nothing that's handicapped-accessible.

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Parallels
2:20 pm
Sat May 18, 2013

Spaniard's Song Brings YouTube Fame ... And Maybe A Job

Enzo Vizcaíno, a 24-year-old unemployed Spaniard, isn't singing for his supper. He just wants a job.
mrenzovic/youtube.com

In his grainy homemade video, Enzo Vizcaíno looks like a busker, strumming away on his ukulele and singing as he roams a Barcelona metro car.

But the lyrics of this song are a bit unusual.

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The Two-Way
1:14 pm
Sat May 18, 2013

Bashar Assad: A Political Solution In Syria Is 'Unreal'

Syrian President Bashar Assad made it clear in an interview with the Argentine newspaper El Clarin that he was not resigning.
Louai Beshara AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 1:22 pm

Syrian President Bashar Assad essentially dismissed attempts by the United States and Russia to bring the civil war in the country to a political solution.

"Believing that a political conference will stop terrorism on the ground is unreal," Assad said in an exclusive interview with the Argentine newspaper El Clarin. Assad also took the usual stance on a wide range of issues.

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Africa
5:23 am
Sat May 18, 2013

In Zimbabwe, Will Next Election Be More Peaceful?

Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about Zimbabwe's upcoming presidential election and efforts to alleviate its international isolation.

Parallels
3:13 am
Sat May 18, 2013

Afghan Mineral Treasures Stay Buried, Hostages To Uncertainty

An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Matthew C. Rains MCT/Landov

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 5:23 am

For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.

But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.

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The Two-Way
11:58 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

French President Signs Same-Sex Marriage Into Law

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 12:11 pm

France is officially the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. Saturday, President Francois Hollande signed a bill that Parliament had passed in April, which gives same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt.

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The Two-Way
4:16 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Need A Tattoo Translated? Forget The British Foreign Office

A man gets a tattoo in Bangkok. The British Foreign Office says its citizens abroad have some odd requests.
Saeed Khan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 4:54 pm

The British Foreign Office is happy to assist its citizens, but officials want to make clear that there are some requests they won't fulfill.

Such as supplying Olympic tickets or doing a background check on that Swedish woman you met online.

Those are just a few of the "often good natured" but distracting requests that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) says it received over the past year, according to a press release issued Thursday.

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Middle East
2:20 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

U.S. Doctor: 'We Truly Are Failing The Syrian People'

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 4:52 pm

Stephen Cornish of Doctors Without Borders was recently in Syria. He talks to Audie Cornish about how medical personnel are managing to reach patients in the war-torn nation where he says there is a lack of respect for doctors on both sides of the conflict.

Latin America
2:20 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Architect Of Argentina's 'Dirty War' Dies In Prison

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 4:52 pm

Jorge Rafael Videla was a former senior commander in the Argentine Army who was the de facto president of Argentina from 1976 to 1981. He came to power in a coup d'etat that deposed Isabel Martinez de Peron.

World
2:20 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

U.N. Tries To Get Syria Peace Talks Back On Track

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 4:52 pm

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, saying it is important not to "lose momentum" in the effort to convene a peace conference on Syria. Ban was only the latest in a string of foreign dignitaries who have come to Russia, seeking Putin's blessing for such a conference, expected to be held in early June. There's a lot at stake. Russia has been a long-time supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and continues to supply weapons to his regime. U.S.

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The Two-Way
12:32 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Mother Of India Gang-Rape Victim Faces Suspects In Court

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 12:31 am

In India, the mother of the 23-year-old woman fatally gang-raped on a moving bus last December appeared in court Friday and for the first time put eyes on the men accused in the heinous attack on her daughter.

The four men on trial have been charged with murder and face capital punishment for the crime that convulsed the country and prompted harsher punishments for rape.

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The Two-Way
12:24 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Former Argentine Dictator Who Oversaw Death Squads Dies At 87

Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla (center) is sworn in as president in Buenos Aires after seizing power in 1976.
Eduardo Di Baia AP

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 1:19 pm

Jorge Rafael Videla, an ambitious Army chief who seized power in Argentina in 1976 and orchestrated a campaign of terror against his opponents, has died in prison at age 87.

Videla, whose "Dirty War" killed at least 15,000 people, perhaps twice as many, died of natural causes in Argentina's Marcos Paz prison, where he was serving multiple life sentences for crimes against humanity, officials said.

After leading a bloodless coup that toppled President Isabel Martinez de Peron on March 24, 1976, Videla became the head of a junta.

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NPR Story
9:23 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Insects May Be The Taste Of The Next Generation, Report Says

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

What's on your plate? What do you like to eat? What are you eating for lunch, dinner at this point? As with many things, the answer to that might have a lot to do with what you're accustomed to do and, you know, what part of the world you live in. In some parts of the world, insects can be a delicious part of the diet. Well here not so much.

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Parallels
8:39 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Young Gazan Men Get Unwanted Haircuts, Courtesy Of Police

Tarik al-Nakib (left) says Gaza Strip police officers picked him up on the street and forced him to get his hair cut recently. He's growing it out again in a style similar to that of his friend Mohammad Abu Ramadan.
Emily Harris/NPR

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 8:39 am

As 17-year-old Tarik al-Nakib tells it, he was just out to buy some bread one afternoon in April when a silver bus from the Gaza Strip police department pulled up next to him.

"One guy opened the door and asked me to get in the bus," Nakib says. "Another came out and pushed me in. I was trying to understand what was going on, what did I do? No one wanted to answer me."

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Parallels
7:28 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Venezuelans Stock Up On Toilet Paper Amid Shortage

A woman who just bought toilet paper at a grocery store reads her receipt as she leaves the store in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday. The government says it will import 50 million rolls of toilet paper amid a shortage.
Fernando Llano AP

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 8:00 am

Venezuelans may be used to a dearth of medicine, milk and sugar, but there's a new shortage that's, shall we say, a bit more problematic: toilet paper.

The government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that it would import 50 million rolls of toilet paper to meet the growing demand.

"We will saturate the market so the people will be calm," Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming told the official AVN news agency.

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Afghanistan
3:14 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Select Young Afghans Chosen As Commandoes In Training

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 12:11 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

All right, through much of this week, we've been hearing from young Afghans on the future of their country after NATO troops withdraw in 2014. Yesterday, our colleague Renee Montagne met with the American general who commands coalition forces in Afghanistan. They traveled to a special forces base where young Afghan men - and a few women - are being trained.

(SOUNDBITE OF HELICOPTER)

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Parallels
1:00 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Are Buddhist Monks Involved In Myanmar's Violence?

Some Muslims say Buddhist monks have been inciting followers during recent violence in Myanmar. Monk U Wirathu acknowledges that he is a Buddhist nationalist but says he has tried to prevent fighting. He's shown here at the Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay, Myanmar, on March 27.
Gemunu Amarasinghe AP

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 8:05 pm

In the Western stereotype, Buddhists are meditating pacifists who strive to keep their distance from worldly passions. But last month, more than 40 people were killed in fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in the central Burmese town of Meiktila. Witnesses say some Buddhist monks joined in the violence, while others tried to stop it.

One prominent monk in particular has been blamed for being behind it.

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Parallels
4:32 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Gerard Depardieu To Star In Two Chechnya-Based Films

French actor Gerard Depardieu (right) chats with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov shortly after his arrival in Chechnya's capital, Grozny, on Feb. 24.
Musa Sadulayev AP

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 5:20 pm

Actor Gerard Depardieu is reportedly set to begin filming a new thriller with British actress-model Elizabeth Hurley, to be set in Moscow and Grozny, the capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya.

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The Salt
3:17 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

No More Smuggling: Many Cured Italian Meats Coming To America

Even Sophia Loren felt compelled to smuggle mortadella, despite a U.S. ban — well, her character did, anyway, in the 1971 film Lady Liberty.
Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 9:36 am

American gourmets and lovers of Italian food products, your days as food smugglers are over.

No more stuffing your suitcases with delicacies bought in Italy, hoping the sniffer dogs at JFK or other American airports won't detect the banned-in-the-USA foodstuffs inside your luggage.

In the U.S., they're called cured meats, the French say charcuterie and in Italy, the word for cured-pork products is salumi.

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Parallels
3:04 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Brazil Looks To Build A 10,000-Mile Virtual Fence

A drug-sniffing dog checks bags at a Brazilian border crossing with Bolivia on April 3. With an increase in illegal immigration and drug smuggling, Brazil is planning to build a virtual fence along its 10,000-mile border.
Yasuyoshi Chiba AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 5:44 pm

Brazil's borders are so vast, and the terrain so inhospitable, that attempting to secure them has seemed a virtually impossible task.

But Brazil's rapidly expanding economy has made the country a magnet for illegal immigration, drug smuggling and other illicit activities, and now the country has announced its own border protection program.

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World
2:29 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Pressure Grows In Australia To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 12:01 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's growing pressure in Australia to legalize same-sex marriage. That's after neighboring New Zealand did so just last month. As Stuart Cohen reports from Sydney, several high-profile opponents in Australia have now changed their views and many believe public opinion has reached a tipping point.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The ayes are 77. The nos are 44.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

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Parallels
2:25 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Underground Tunnels Feed Gaza's Hankering For KFC

KFC is delivered in one of the many underground smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
Wissam Nassar Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 8:38 am

Hundreds of underground passageways wind like a maze beneath the Egypt-Gaza border, providing a way for Gazans to maneuver around the 2007 Israeli-led economic blockade that took effect after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip.

And while subterranean tunnels may seem like something out of a thrilling spy movie, the reality and practicality of these channels is somehow not surprising.

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Parallels
1:39 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

From The Heart Of Egypt's Revolt, The Pulse Of Artistic Life

Egyptian folk singer Dina El Wedidi performs at Qasr El Nil Theater during the Downtown Cairo Arts Festival. Wedidi says efforts to revitalize venues like the Qasr El Nil are important because there aren't enough places for musicians of the post-revolution explosion to perform.
Mostafa Abdel Aty Courtesy of Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 6:34 pm

Egypt's capital, Cairo, is now synonymous with protests and sometimes violence. Late at night, the once-bustling downtown streets are largely empty these days. People worry about getting mugged or caught up in a mob.

But the recent Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival is an attempt to revitalize the area with music, art and culture in the old and forgotten venues of downtown Cairo, like the Qasr El Nil Theater.

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Middle East
12:01 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Ex-Ambassador To Iraq Weighs In On Talking To 'Monsters'

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

As the death toll in Syria climbed over the past two years, many critics charge that President Obama has not done enough to aid the opposition. In an op-ed in today's New York Times, former Ambassador Christopher Hill argues that the administration has made a serious mistake, but, quote, "The real shortcoming of the administration's policy on Syria has not been an unwillingness to engage militarily, but the ill-advised decision in August 2011 to preclude the possibility of a diplomatic resolution involving all sides."

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Parallels
10:51 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Women In Combat: Some Lessons From Israel's Military

Soldiers of Israel's 33rd Caracal Battalion take part in a graduation march in the northern part of the southern Israeli Negev desert on March 13. The Caracal was formed in 2004 with the chief purpose of giving women a chance to serve in a true combat role.
Menahem Kahana AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 8:39 am

As the U.S. moves to open up combat positions to women, it's catching up with other countries that have been doing it for years.

But the experience in these countries, including Israel, suggests that access to combat jobs doesn't lead directly to equal treatment within the ranks.

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The Two-Way
8:42 am
Thu May 16, 2013

David Beckham Retires From Soccer, Ending Storied Career

David Beckham, seen here on the sidelines of a 2010 World Cup match, has announced that he is retiring. The 38-year-old midfielder appeared in 115 matches for England's team and won titles in four different national leagues.
Michael Regan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 11:37 am

David Beckham, who starred for Manchester United, Real Madrid and England's national team before heading to the United States and Paris, is retiring. The news was confirmed Thursday by England's Football Association.

The midfielder played his first game for Manchester United in 1992 and eventually rose to become captain of England's international team for more than 50 games, including several World Cup tournaments. He appeared in 115 matches for the squad.

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The Two-Way
6:35 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Twitter Users Risk Damnation, Say Saudi Religious Police

In January, this Saudi man in Riyadh had Twitter open on his computer.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 7:57 am

"The head of Saudi Arabia's religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis," the BBC reports. "Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites — and especially Twitter — 'has lost this world and his afterlife.' "

International Digital Times notes that:

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