The road that runs along the edge of Shangpu village in south China is littered with the hulks of burned-out cars. Farmers have built tents and simple barricades made of rocks and wire. Police have set up their own cordon in a standoff that is approaching two weeks.
The villagers are demanding free elections following yet another government land grab. They say armed thugs sent by their own village chief attacked the community to pave the way for a new factory on their farmland.
Over the past several days, rebels in Syria have captured a city of more than a million people in one northern province. It the first time rebels captured a provincial capital. The rebels also have taken a step toward setting up a rebel government in another northern province.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. As he prepares to step down, China's prime minister today delivered his version of a state of the union address. He got a big boost in military funding, one that outpaces expected economic growth.
NPR's Louisa Lim has been gauging the mood of China's new leaders, both inside and outside of the Great Hall of the People.
Votes are now being tallied in Kenya's presidential contest. The country has taken strides to avoid the kind of violence that followed the last election back in 2007, but today did not begin well. More than a dozen people were killed in attacks by separatists in Kenya's port city of Mombasa. But elsewhere, long lines and bureaucratic delays under a hot sun were the main obstacles for voters, who turned out in record numbers.
Though the thought of horse meat in British lasagna or Ikea meatballs may be stomach-churning to some people, in some cultures the practice of eating horse meat is not just acceptable, it's a treat. NPR's Peter Kenyon just returned from the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan and checked out the meat market at the Green Bazaar in Almaty.
Kafr Nabl is surrounded by rocky hills covered with olive and fig trees. Located in northwest Syria near the Turkish border, it used to be a sleepy town of about 30,000 people. Then it rose up against the government in early 2011. More than a year later, the town was "liberated" by anti-government rebels who forced out soldiers and police who worked for the government.
Rats have been a problem for many years in Tehran. As the BBC reported in 2000, officials back then launched a poison control program that they hoped would kill many of the estimated 25 million rats in the city.
The College of Cardinals is holding its first official meetings at the Vatican on Monday. The top agenda item is choosing which day to start the closed-door conclave that will elect the new pope. With no clear front-runner, the conclave outcome is unpredictable.
The papal resignation has put the cardinals in an unprecedented situation in modern history.
"The real mood is of shock and disappointment — this resignation desacralized the figure of the pope," says Massimo Franco, author of several books about the Vatican. He says a pope cannot be treated like a company CEO.
Kenya votes for a new president today for the first time in five years. It's an important election, in part because the country is still haunted by the ethnic violence that bloodied the last presidential election in 2007. More than 1,200 people were killed and the violence only ended after the international community stepped in. NPR's Gregory Warner is out visiting polling stations and talking to people in Nairobi. He joins us to talk about the election. Good morning, Greg.
The streets of Gaza are busy, but they are also crumbling.
Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel has maintained tight limits on shipments of anything that could be used for military purposes. That includes basic building materials that could be used for bunkers and rocket launching sites.
Ask businessman Ali Abdel Aal what's the toughest thing for him to find, and he'll tell you "cement and gravel."
If they can block the Keystone XL pipeline, they can keep Canada from developing more of its dirty tar sands oil. It takes a lot of energy to get it out of the ground and turn it into gasoline, so it has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional oil.
Bright lights are part of a city's ecosystem. Think of Times Square or the Las Vegas Strip or right outside your bedroom window.
Electric lighting is ubiquitous in most urban and suburban neighborhoods. It's something most people take for granted, but appreciate, since it feels like well-lit streets keep us safer. But what if all this wattage is actually causing harm?
"We're getting brighter and brighter and brighter," warns Paul Bogard, author of the upcoming book, End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, in apparent response to Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks last week in support of opposition forces in Syria, says only the Syrian people can tell him to step down.
"Only Syrian people can tell the president stay or leave, come or go. No one else," he said in an interview to Britain's Sunday Times.
It was a rare TV interview for the Syrian president, whose regime has battled rebels as well as calls to step down for nearly two years.
Cardinals from all over the world are gathering at the Vatican, as they take their first steps toward electing a new pope. They'll meet Monday for their first official meeting since Pope Benedict stepped down last week. Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walked into a chaotic situation in Egypt, the first Arab country he's visited in his new role. The country is in economic and political turmoil, and he is trying Sunday to encourage Islamist President Mohamed Morsi to open up the political process and carry out much-needed reforms. After their meeting, he announced the U.S. would release $190 million in aid to Egypt.
Kerry has also been hearing complaints from opposition figures, who have vowed to boycott upcoming elections.
Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 12:55 pm
Strange as it may seem, a pierced, tattooed and occasionally cross-dressing former basketball star is now one of the West's leading experts on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, following his improbable visit to Pyongyang this week, has become the only Westerner to have had a one-on-one with the reclusive Kim, who by all accounts enjoys basketball at least as much as testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 11:34 am
A wave of violence has rocked Bangladesh after a special war crimes tribunal Thursday imposed the death penalty on an Islamist leader for his role in the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
Demonstrators for and against the convicted leader clashed with security forces, leaving dozens of people dead, including police.
The violence demonstrates the deep sensitivities that remain over the war of independence that played out more than 40 years ago.