For the first time in 14 years, Hugo Chavez is not on the ballot for a presidential election in Venezuela. The firebrand leftist died last month at 58 after a long fight with cancer.
Pollsters say the sympathy vote and the state's huge resources will translate into a big victory in Sunday's election for Chavez's hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, a 50-year-old former bus driver turned government minister who had been a Chavez loyalist for 20 years.
The man whose research led to the world's first test-tube baby more than three decades ago, has died at age 87.
Robert Edwards, who later won the Nobel Prize, began experimenting with in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in the late 1960s. His work, controversial at the time, eventually led to the birth of the world's first "test tube baby," Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978.
Since then, IVF has resulted in about 5 million babies worldwide, according to the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology.
Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 2:37 pm
Roasted fish on a stick is OK, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to cook up some fish soup?
That's what might have crossed the minds of hunter-gatherers who made the world's first cooking pots. A new analysis of pottery made 15,000 years ago in what's now Japan reveals that it was used to cook seafood, probably salmon.
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 11:41 am
A young man is parading the streets of the city of Glasgow with a slogan daubed onto the back of his black leather jacket in big, freshly painted white letters. "We're havin' a party," it declares. "Thatcher's dead."
In what was the coal belt of northern England, a burly former miner lights up an enormous cigar and takes a satisfied puff. He says he's looking forward to a few celebratory drinks.
Hundreds of miles to the south, in Brixton, south London, a boisterous crowd prances around, joyously boozing and setting off fireworks under the wary gaze of police in riot gear.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The CIA and the military have been transformed in ways that have blurred the boundaries between them. The shape of the new military intelligence complex is the subject of my guest Mark Mazzetti's new book, "The Way of the Knife." He writes: The CIA is no longer a traditional espionage service, devoted to stealing the secrets of foreign governments. The CIA has become a killing machine, an organization consumed with man-hunting.
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 9:23 am
North Korea's next provocative move — the test firing of a medium-range ballistic missile — could happen at any moment, according to South Korean officials.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that "the possibility of a ballistic missile launch is 'very high' and 'may materialize anytime from now,' South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se told lawmakers in Seoul today."
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep in Caracas, Venezuela. This country is about to hold a presidential election. Voters are replacing the late Hugo Chavez, who shouldered this oil-rich republic onto the world stage. He often denounced the United States as an oppressive empire - even as he sold Americans oil - and imported gasoline from U.S. refineries. The election of his successor this weekend gives us a chance to listen to a changing Latin America.
The Focus is the best-selling "nameplate" worldwide, followed by the Toyota Corolla, new data shows. Ford's sales have jumped in recent years as it dropped unsuccessful models and adopted a single global manufacturing system.
Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel today with plans to return soon. He spent the past couple of days going back and forth between meetings with Palestinian and Israeli officials in his bid to restart peace talks. Kerry said he got a lot of constructive suggestions from both sides and that everyone has homework to do. From Jerusalem, NPR's Emily Harris has our story.
Adm. Samuel Locklear, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, was asked by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., if the U.S. had the ability to intercept a North Korean missile launched "within the next several days."
In November, Razan Shalab Al-Sham, the daughter of a wealthy Syrian family, led the way to the Syrian farming village of Khirbet al-Joz to deliver an unusual kind of aid: police uniforms. A cold winter rain turned the frontier forest between southern Turkey and Syria into a muddy march up a mountain ridge along a smugglers' trail. She climbed the mountain to make the delivery herself.
Nearly two decades ago, a North Korean official threatened to turn Seoul into a "Sea of Fire." South Koreans responded by cleaning out the shelves of supermarkets and preparing for an attack that never came.
Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 10:05 am
The culling of candidates in the run-up to Pakistan's May 11 election is providing the country some badly needed levity.
The "Pakistani Inquisition," as it's been dubbed, has election commission officials grilling office-seekers on their Islamic bona fides.
Many have stumbled badly, only to be disqualified.
But not Mussarat Shaheen, who performed impeccably. The former dancer — fabled for her Pushto films — was asked by an official in the city of Dera Ismail Khan to recite a verse of the Holy Quran, to test her mettle as a candidate for the National Assembly.
Beer lovers might be alarmed to hear that beer can pick up small amounts of arsenic as it's filtered to be sparkly clear.
But researchers in Germany reported Sunday that they've found arsenic in hundreds of samples of beer, some at levels more than twice that allowed in drinking water.
When we checked in with experts about arsenic and the filtering process, which is also widely used in the wine industry, they weren't too surprised. That's because the filtering agent in question, diatomaceous earth, is a mined natural product that contains iron and other metals.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
Well, in recent weeks, we have heard that Seoul, the capital of South Korea, will become, quote, a sea of fire. North Korea has said its enemies' windpipes will be, quote, totally cut. Today, North Korea urged tourists and foreign companies to leave South Korea in case of war. These are just some of the threats North Korea has been hurling. But instead of scaring South Koreans, all this blood-thirsty rhetoric seems to be mostly boring them.
Now, as we consider the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, the question arises about her significance as the only woman to serve as British prime minister, and the first woman to lead a government of a major Western nation. Kim Campbell, who briefly served as Canada's first woman prime minister in the early 1990s, put it this way last night on the "PBS NewsHour."
People in Pakistan will go to the polls next month to select a new parliament, and election fever is already building. The country faces chronic energy shortages, deepening economic problems and the specter of violence, as entrenched militants threaten to disrupt the vote. NPR's Julie McCarthy brings us this report from a very active campaign trail in Pakistan.
Buckle up — climate change could make this a bumpy flight.
That's according to a newly published study by two British scientists who say increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will make "clear air turbulence" — which can't be easily spotted by pilots or satellites — more common over the North Atlantic. That means the potential for gut-wrenching flights between the U.S., Europe and points east.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Tensions between North and South Korea show no sign of abatement. Today the North Korean government officially suspended operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and withdrew all of its more than 50,000 workers. Many consider the complex the last remaining symbol of North and South Korean cooperation.
Margaret Thatcher, the iconic former British prime minister, died Monday at age 87 after suffering a stroke. Although she was a towering presence on the world stage in the 1980s, often standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow conservative President Ronald Reagan, some people may have forgotten her contributions.
We decided to highlight five things you ought to know about her:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Margaret Thatcher spoke with utter conviction in her principles and absolute certainty in her actions. If she inspired passionate opposition, she couldn't care less. She reveled in her enemies and made them easily.
As an icon of the American conservative movement in the 1980s, it would have been difficult to find a more unlikely figure than Britain's Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday following a stroke.
Thatcher became prime minister in 1979, a full year and a half before Ronald Reagan became president. She hailed from a country seen as a hopeless bastion of socialism by conservatives, many of whom, like Reagan himself, were strongly invested in the idea of American exceptionalism.
Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 12:18 pm
Editor's note: The author is a Syrian citizen living in Damascus and is not being further identified for safety concerns.
The major blast that rocked Damascus at midday Monday took place in what has come to be called the "Square of Security," an area of about a dozen urban neighborhoods or so that are under tight government security.
It's also home to major government buildings, including the Parliament, various ministries, major intelligence branches and foreign embassies, now mostly closed.
From the NPR Newscast: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson on the protest in Hanover
At a trade fair in Hanover, Germany, on Monday, three women protesters got quite close to Russian President Vladimir Putin before stripping off their blouses and shouting expletives at the Russian leader.
Putin, who was joined at the fair by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, later sarcastically thanked the women for calling the news media's attention to the gathering.
"As to this action, I liked it," Putin said, according to a German translator. The Russian leader added that the protesters were "pretty girls" and said he couldn't hear what they were screaming.