This episode of <em>Top Goon</em> featured the Syrian president on the left, a member of the security forces on the right, and a photo of the former president, Hafez Assad, who is the father of the current leader.
Syrians opposed to President Bashar Assad have been posting YouTube videos mocking him. The episodes are called <em>Top Goon</em>, and the Syrian president goes by the name Beeshu. The work is done anonymously because those behind it fear they could face retribution from the Syrian government.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 8:07 am
"I'm not crazy," the figure says, standing alone in a dark room, as if trying to convince himself.
"I'm not crazy?" almost a question this time.
"I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy!" he yells, finally making up his mind.
And, of course, he sounds crazy.
Meet Beeshu, an avatar of the embattled president of Syria, Bashar Assad, rendered in papier-mache and mounted on someone's finger. He's the star of the show Top Goon and the inspiration for its title.
A scene from the early days of the fighting in Iraq in the spring of 2003. In one incident, three members of an Iraqi family were killed. A U.S. Marine involved in the shooting recently tracked down the family to ask for forgiveness.
Credit Laurent Rebours / AP
Dexter Filkins earned a George Polk award in 2004 for his coverage of Fallujah. His book, <em>The Forever War, </em>is about his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On April 8, 2003, in the early days of the Iraq War, the Kachadoorian family found themselves in the middle of a firefight at a major intersection in Baghdad.
They had approached the intersection in three cars and didn't respond to Marines' warnings to stop and turn around; so the Marines opened fire, killing three men and shooting a young woman in the shoulder, not realizing that the people in the car were civilians.
Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 4:11 pm
Update at 6 p.m. ET:
Our original headline on this post was "U.S. Pledges Exceed Pakistan's Spending On Its Own Flood Relief." As we reported, the Christian Science Monitor has looked into the details of a Congressional Research Service report and concluded that U.S. aid to Pakistan for flood relief exceeded that country's own spending.
But Ben Edwards, a spokesman at the U.S. Agency for International Development, tells us in an email that:
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 8:00 am
Austerity measures continue in Greece as the country sinks deeper into a recession. Incomes have dropped nearly 50 percent in some cases, but food prices are at record highs. The Greek newspaper Ekathimerini recently reported that the country has some of the most expensive food and the costliest dairy products in the entire European Union.
The United States and Cambodia are locked in a legal battle with the auction house Sotheby's over this 1,000-year-old statue of the Hindu warrior Duryodhana that may have been looted from the Cambodian temple complex at Koh Ker.
Credit Courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office
King Jayavarman IV built this pyramid-shaped monument at the center of his capital at Koh Ker in northern Cambodia in the 10th century. The ruler of the Khmer empire died two decades later, and the capital was abandoned and swallowed by the jungle.
Credit Anthony Kuhn / NPR
Archaeologist Phin Samnang, 29, surveys the ruins of Prasat Chen temple at Koh Ker. He says that unlike in earlier periods, Cambodia now has the means and duty to reclaim its priceless lost antiquities.
Credit Anthony Kuhn / NPR
Cambodian officials say a kneeling figure now in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art once sat on this pedestal. The statue was one of a group of nine depicting a scene from the Hindu epic the Mahabarata.
The governments of Cambodia and the United States are locked in a legal battle with the auction house Sotheby's over a thousand-year-old statue. The two governments say the statue was looted from a temple of the ancient Khmer empire. Sotheby's says this can't be proved, and a court in New York will decide on the matter soon.
The case could affect how collectors and museums acquire artifacts, and how governments recover lost national treasures.
The BBC is dealing with its worst crisis in decades. At the heart of the affair: allegations that the late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile serially sexually abused underage women. The BBC now is having to defend how it handled an investigative report into the charges.
Pakistani security personnel stand guard in front of a burnt-out school following an attack by the Pakistani Taliban in the northwestern district of Upper Dir in June 2011. The Taliban have destroyed many schools in northwestern Pakistan.
Stop someone in the street. Ask them about the case of Malala Yousafzai. They will likely know — after the worldwide publicity given to her story — that Malala is the Pakistani teenager who was shot for demanding the right of girls to go to school.
They will surely know, too, that the people who shot Malala in the head from close range were the Pakistani Taliban. They will probably view Malala as the heroine she clearly is. And the Taliban will be seen as the violent fanatics that they surely are.
Parisian dance professor Charlotte King says she needs Google for her job and life, but she doesn't trust the world's top Web search engine.
"When I'm doing some research, the day after I have some proposition of products, of stores, of places, and it's really espionage. I was spied on. I don't want that. It's unacceptable," King says.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The Middle East presents a series of challenges for whomever wins on November 6th: immediate problems in Libya and Syria, a seemingly eternal problem with Israel and the Palestinians, but maybe the biggest problem: the looming crisis with Iran.
A Ford Focus on the assembly line in Wayne, Mich. "We have a lot going for us; we've got our problems, but others have problems that are as bad or worse," says Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.
Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 12:28 pm
At Monday night's foreign policy debate, the first round of questions for the presidential candidates will involve "America's role in the world."
The answers from President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney likely will focus on military readiness and anti-terrorism efforts. That's what most Americans would expect to hear, given that their country has been involved continuously in overseas combat since the terrorist attacks of 2001.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. We will hear from a group of women who have all been diagnosed with the disease. We'll hear about how they're trying to rebuild their health and their lives. That conversation in just a few minutes.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Rwanda has just been voted onto the U.N. Security Council for a two-year term. We will speak to the country's foreign minister about that and the country's ongoing efforts to move beyond its painful history of genocide and violence.
Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 1:48 pm
President Obama and Mitt Romney haven't spent much time talking about world affairs on the campaign trail, yet foreign policy can often define a presidency. America's next leader faces tough choices that range from redefining the U.S. role in the Middle East to managing the crucial relationship with China.
With that in mind, let's look at the topics most likely to come up in tonight's foreign policy debate — the candidates' final faceoff — in Boca Raton, Fla., and how international issues will shape the next administration.
In Monday's presidential debate on foreign policy, President Obama and Mitt Romney will spar over China, covering everything from free trade to cyberattacks. But another topic — one that might not come up — is of growing concern: tensions in the waters off China itself.
Steve Inskeep talks with David Ignatius of the Washington Post about his recent story on intelligence reports on the attack in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed, and initial CIA reports appear to support the Obama administration's narrative. Sharp questions about who knew what, when, will likely arise in Monday night's presidential debate.
Iran is hurting. Economic and banking sanctions, plus an effective oil embargo led by the European Union, have brought chaos to Iran's economy. The bottom fell out of its currency, the rial, a couple of weeks ago, provoking street protests. Iranians of all social classes are struggling to cope.
A container ship from China is offloaded at Massport's Conley Terminal in the port of Boston in July. Trade issues with China has been a major talking point for the presidential candidates.
Credit Stephan Savoia / AP
Stand-ins for President Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and moderator Bob Scheiffer rehearse a day ahead of the final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla, on Sunday.
Credit Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images
At the U.N. Sept. 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a graphic to show how far he says Iran will be by mid-2013 in a quest to develop nuclear weapons.
Credit Lucas Jackson / Reuters /Landov
A Palestinian man smokes a nargileh (waterpipe) next to a mural of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a coffee shop in the West Bank city of Jenin in September.
President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney are getting ready to answer any and all possible questions about foreign policy for Monday night's debate, the last one before the Nov. 6 election.
Iran, Israeli-Palestinian talks and China are among likely topics for the debate — and also major issues awaiting the next president. Each case is a matter of building and maintaining alliances while applying pressure to protect U.S. interests.
At least 13 people are dead after a car bomb exploded in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday. The attack comes as Syria's President Bashar al Assad gave no commitment for a ceasefire, blaming the violence in his country on outside interference.
Reporter Rasha Elass in Beirut shares details with our Newscast desk:
"The bomb exploded in front of a police station that overlooks a busy square in Bab Touma, which is a historic Christian quarter in Damascus. It is not yet clear who was responsible for the attack.
Nighttime shoppers pause to look at a display at Cairo's Ataba market in May 2011. The government says shops must close earlier in order to save scarce electricity, but many Cairo residents are complaining.
An empty bullet shell in the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 13, after the attack on the building late on Sept. 11, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
Originally published on Sun October 21, 2012 10:24 am
In the end, it's an argument about competence.
The Obama administration's response to the Sept. 11 killings at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has become a staple of the campaign. It's bound to come up again during Monday's debate about foreign policy.
Mitt Romney will use the event — which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens — to question President Obama's veracity and his handling of foreign policy in general.
Originally published on Sat October 20, 2012 4:20 pm
Thailand's Phi Phi Islands are famous for the sun during the day and beach-side cocktail parties at night. This summer, two Canadian sisters set off for a rite-of-passage trip to the islands' white sands. They never came back.
Noemi, 25, and Audrey, 20, Belanger were found dead in their hotel room. Their deaths were among the latest in a series of mysterious deaths in Southeast Asia. Over the past few years, nearly a dozen young travelers, mostly Western women, have inexplicably died while traveling in the region.
Friday, Twitter agreed to pull racist tweets after a French organization threatened to sue. The company has resisted efforts to police its content. But hate speech is illegal in many European countries, and anti-hate groups there are grappling with how to deal with the challenge of social media.
With the final presidential debate on Monday tackling foreign policy issues, surely China will be a familiar topic. It seems every four years, the U.S. relationship with China takes a beating during campaign events. Host Guy Raz speaks with James Fallows of The Atlantic about why candidates attack China yet presidents always balance their rhetoric.
Guards stand outside the Xinhua Gate of the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in central Beijing earlier this year. China is preparing for a once-a-decade leadership change amid signs of growing public dissatisfaction.
Sidney Rittenberg went to China as an American GI at the end of World War II and fell in love with the country. He was discharged as a Chinese translator for the U.S. Army, but decided to stay there.
By the time Rittenberg came back to the United States, more than 30 years later, he had become one of only a few American citizens to join the Chinese Communist Party. He translated English for Chairman Mao Zedong, told off Madame Mao during the Cultural Revolution, and endured 16 years of solitary confinement in Chinese prisons.
French policemen on Oct. 15 detain topless activists from the group Femen who are protesting the verdict in a gang rape trial. The group was established in Ukraine but is now setting up an office in Paris.
Credit Francois Mori / AP
Topless activists from Femen protest a court ruling that acquitted 10 of 14 men accused of repeatedly gang-raping two teenagers in a Paris suburb.
That's certainly the thinking of the Ukrainian feminist movement Femen, best known for its bare-breasted protests in its home country. Now it has brought its self-described "sextremism" to Paris, opening its first international training camp and wasting no time attracting new recruits, causes and attention.
On a recent sunny morning, seven young women stride purposefully toward the stone facade of France's Justice Ministry. Suddenly they throw their coats to the ground. Slogans are painted across their bare bosoms; garlands decorate their hair.
Circumcisions have been virtually suspended in Germany for the past four months. The practice was effectively banned after a regional court in Cologne ruled that circumcision amounts to assault.
That controversial ruling this summer alienated the country's 120,000 registered Jews and 4 million Muslims, who saw it as a violation of religious freedom. It also fueled accusations of intolerance in a country still haunted by its Nazi past.