U.S. soldiers look at a crane that tipped over while trying to move a CHU, or Containerized Housing Unit, at a small COP, or Combat Outpost, in southern Afghanistan. A dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a whole new military vocabulary.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
A U.S. military helicopter takes off in southern Afghanistan. They may still be called "choppers" in the movies, but troops universally refer to them as "birds."
It's painful for U.S. soldiers to hear discussions and watch movies about modern wars when the dialogue is full of obsolete slang, like "chopper" and "GI."
Slang changes with the times, and the military is no different. Soldiers fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed an expansive new military vocabulary, taking elements from popular culture as well as the doublespeak of the military industrial complex.
An aircraft-carrying Japanese supersubmarine built during World War II has been found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off Oahu, nearly 60 years after it was hastily scuttled by the U.S. Navy in an effort to keep its technology out of Soviet hands.
"The accidental discovery of the 1-400 ... on the rock- and debris-littered ocean floor, some 2,300 feet beneath the surface, has solved the mystery surrounding a ship long thought to be further afield.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday. Biden met with China's president to discuss issues that include China's recent claim of an air defense zone.
Vice President Joe Biden met with China's president in Beijing Wednesday, in a trip to Asia that has often touched on growing tensions over China's new air defense identification zone.
Biden's two-day visit to China was planned before the country's defense officials surprised neighboring Japan by declaring a defense zone in an area contested by the two countries. The topic of the air zone likely helped extend a closed-door session that had been scheduled for 45 minutes to its actual length of two hours.
The Planet Money men's T-shirt was made in Bangladesh, by workers who make about $3 a day, with overtime. The Planet Money women's T-shirt was made in Colombia, by workers who make roughly $13 a day, without overtime.
The wages in both places are remarkably low by U.S. standards. But the gap between them is huge. Workers in Colombia make more than four times what their counterparts make in Bangladesh. In our reporting, we saw that the workers in Colombia have a much higher standard of living than the workers in Bangladesh.
Since a coup last spring, the Central African Republic has spiraled towards chaos. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes, and civilians are getting caught in the crossfire. Host Michel Martin talks with Lewis Mudge of Human Rights Watch about the growing calls for international intervention.
Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:45 am
European regulators have fined eight large banks a total of more than $2 billion over an illegal cartel scheme to fix interest rates. The fine, the largest ever issued in such a case by the European Union, comes after a two-year investigation into banks' collusion. And the inquiry isn't yet complete.
Two American banks — JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — are included in the list of financial institutions fined as part of a settlement deal. Several banks that cooperated with investigators saw their fines reduced or eliminated.
A photo released by Mexico's nuclear safety agency shows medical equipment containing radioactive source material. The photo was taken as the equipment was being prepared for loading into a truck, which was later stolen.
Hassan al-Laqis, described as one of Hezbollah's founding members, was killed in an attack outside his home in Beirut. He's seen here in a photo released Wednesday by the Hezbollah Media Relation Office.
Thousands of protesters in Ukraine continue to occupy Kiev's Maidan square and to prevent the government from functioning after President Victor Yanukovich refused to allow the country to strengthen trade ties with the European Union. Ukraine is under intense Russian pressure to continue aligning itself with a customs union comprising countries of the former Soviet Union.
After weeks of living with just six hours of electricity a day, residents of the Gaza Strip hope promises of help from Israel and Qatar will materialize quickly. Even if the lights go back on, anger against the broken Palestinian leadership may be hard to extinguish.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are scheduled to visit Iran's heavy-water reactor in the city of Arak on Sunday as part of an international deal on the country's nuclear program.
The nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers will face its first test this weekend. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are due to make a long-delayed visit to a nuclear site in Iran where plutonium could be produced.
A nuclear reactor and associated production plant in Arak are a special concern because plutonium can be used in a nuclear bomb. Under last month's accord, Iran promised to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Officials on both sides say they are committed to the nuclear deal, but keeping it on track will be a challenge.
An Afghan man rides a horse at sunset on Nadir Khan hill in Kabul, Afghanistan. Auliya Atrafi paid thousands of dollars and risked his life to escape the Taliban-controlled country, only to return after 12 years living in England.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
Auliya Atrafi in his office in Nad Ali, next to a selection of the books he had shipped from England. His library is one of his prized possessions, and he shipped them because he's unlikely to find these books in his native Afghanistan.
In 2000, Auliya Atrafi paid thousands of dollars and risked his life to escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. He spent 12 years in England getting educated and becoming a documentary filmmaker.
Last year, he gave up life in the West and returned home to southern Helmand province. Now, he's the father of twins and he's working in a rural government office while trying to readjust to life in a conservative society that he finds dysfunctional.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:44 pm
The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it's received from the former NSA contractor.
In testimony before Britain's Parliament, Alan Rusbridger told lawmakers that about 58,000 files obtained from Snowden, or "about 1 percent," had been used by the paper for its stories. However, he added: "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."
The U.S. and other major powers have been holding historic negotiations with Iran to try to curb that country's nuclear program. But Washington still has many other concerns about Iranian behavior. And while some diplomats may hope to build on the nuclear talks to push Iran to play a more constructive role in the region, experts remain skeptical.
Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says there are a couple of ways to look at the negotiations with Iran.
A former star dancer with Russia's Bolshoi ballet was sentenced today to six years in a penal colony for ordering an attack on the ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin, an attack that left him nearly blind. Also sentenced were the man who admitted he threw sulfuric acid on Filin and the accused driver of the getaway car. It's a story that's exposed a deeply troubling side of the legendary ballet company. Andrew Roth is following the story for the New York Times. He joins me now from Moscow. Andrew, welcome to the program.
Americans see U.S. power in the world declining. That is the key finding of a survey by the Pew Research Center. It also finds that most Americans think the U.S. should be engaged in the global economy, but ought to concentrate on solving domestic problems. Michael Dimock is here to talk about this poll. He's the director of the Pew Research Center. Good to see you again.
MICHAEL DIMOCK: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: And first, how many Americans say the U.S. role is declining and how significant a number is that?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Vice President Joe Biden is in Tokyo today. He's there to reemphasize American support for Japan as it tangles with China over contested air space. China unnerved its neighbors late last month by declaring an air identification defense zone. The zone covers disputed islands in the East China Sea. NPR's Frank Langfitt has more from Shanghai on what's behind China's latest move.
An uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly been dismissed from a key post as the vice chairman of the country's National Defense Commission, an assessment by South Korea's intelligence service says.
In addition, two close aides of Jang Song Thaek were reportedly executed for corruption.
Jang, who is married to the sister of late leader Kim Jong Il, is said to have been fired last month. But, according to The Associated Press, purges against Jang have been reported in the past only to find him later back in power, apparently rehabilitated.
The fifth century Byzantine Stoudios monastery in Istanbul housed a church and was later turned into a mosque and then a museum before falling into disrepair.
Credit Peter Kenyon / NPR
The grass- and weed-strewn interior of the Church of St. John the Baptist — housed inside the Stoudios monastery — has gone to seed. An ambitious restoration project is due to begin next year, when it will open to the public as a mosque, according to the government.
Credit David Cannon / Getty Images
Recent remarks by a Turkish official have rekindled talk that the Hagia Sophia may be reconverted into a mosque. The most famous Byzantine structure in Istanbul, it was built as a Greek Orthodox church in the fifth century, became a mosque in the 15th century, and has been a museum since 1935. Other Christian sites are already being converted into mosques.
A historically significant but now-crumbling fifth century Byzantine monastery in Istanbul is finally slated for restoration. But for Turkey's dwindling Greek community, the bad news is that the government wants to turn the Stoudios monastery into a mosque.
It's just one of several such conversions of historically Christian sites that the government is considering. And there's even talk that the Hagia Sophia, the most famous Byzantine structure in modern Istanbul, will be reconverted into a mosque.
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood run from tear gas during clashes with riot police near Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya square on Nov. 22.
Credit Twitter via Al Arabiya News
Egypt's Mohamed Yousef won a gold medal at the kung fu championships in Russia in October. He then put on a yellow T-shirt with a four-finger salute to express solidarity with protesters opposing Egypt's military-backed government. Egyptian sports officials have suspended him and barred him from tournaments for a year.
Mohamed Yousef is a tall, handsome practitioner of kung fu. In fact, he's an Egyptian champion who recently won an international competition.
But a month ago, when he collected his gold medal at the championship in Russia, he posed for a picture after putting on a yellow T-shirt with a hand holding up four fingers.
That's the symbol of Rabaa al-Adawiya, the Cairo square where Egyptian security forces opened fire in August on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Hundreds were killed, including seven of Yousef's friends.
A young Afghan balloon seller runs toward a customer in Kabul on April 2. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are the most-corrupt countries, according to the annual Corruption Perception Index released Tuesday.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 10:12 am
Anti-government protesters in Thailand are claiming a symbolic victory Tuesday after police allowed them to swarm into the prime minister's compound and shout slogans.
The protests began Nov. 24 but turned violent two days ago when police clashed with demonstrators opposed to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Four people were killed and more than 250 others wounded in the past three days, according to The Associated Press.
Pavel Dmitrichenko, a former leading dancer in Russia's Bolshoi ballet, stands inside the defendant's cage in a Moscow court Tuesday. He was sentenced to six years in prison for ordering an acid attack on the Bolshoi's artistic director, Sergei Filin.
Let's turn to a country in the region that's been racked by violent protest in recent days. And now the capital, Thailand, is suddenly calm. Riot police have taken down barricades and left their defensive positions around Government House, which is the symbolic seat of power there. Protesters are now inside, moving about freely.
To get a better idea of what this all means in a country of nearly 70 million people, where the big industry is tourism, we turn to reporter Michael Sullivan in Bangkok. Good morning.
The World Health Organization has declared a polio emergency in Syria.
After being free of the crippling disease for more than a decade, Syria recorded 10 confirmed cases of polio in October. Now the outbreak has grown to 17 confirmed cases, the WHO said last week. And the virus has spread to four cities, including a war-torn suburb near the capital of Damascus.
A former Amazon executive who helped Jeff Bezos turn shopping into a digital experience has set out to end illiteracy. David Risher is now the head of Worldreader, a nonprofit organization that brings e-books to kids in developing countries through Kindles and cellphones.
Risher was traveling around the world with his family when he got the idea for Worldreader. They were doing volunteer work at an orphanage in Ecuador when he saw a building with a big padlock on the door. He asked a woman who worked there what was inside, and she said, "It's the library."