This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. So far, the fighting in Syria's bloody civil war has almost entirely been contained inside Syria. But plenty of outsiders are involved there, including al-Qaida in Iraq, Iran's al-Quds Force, and the Israel Air Force. No country is more deeply involved than Syria's smallest and most vulnerable neighbor, Lebanon.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 10:47 am
Megalomaniacs, consider yourselves warned. Anchovies will not help you build your empire. To rule long and prosper, serve corn.
That's the word from archaeologists who say they've solved a mystery that has been puzzling their colleagues for the past 40 years: How did some of the earliest Peruvians manage to build a robust civilization without corn — the crop that fueled other great civilizations of the Americas, like the Maya?
It's settled. When the pontiff steps down Thursday, he'll still be known as Benedict XVI and have the title of "pope emeritus." In public, he'll wear an understated white cassock and stylish brown shoes from Mexico.
"PYONGYANG, North Korea — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills Tuesday and flamboyant style — neon-bleached hair, tattoos, nose studs and all — to the isolated communist country with possibly the world's drabbest dress code: North Korea.
Few can say they've reached the summit of Mt. Everest, and even fewer can say they've done it twice. And only one woman can say she's done it twice in one month. Her name is Chhurim, a 29-year-old Sherpa from Nepal. She made the climb last May, came down for a few days and then turned around and went up again. This week, she climbed into the Guinness Book of World Records.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 12:08 pm
The final death toll has not yet been determined, but the number is high. A hot air balloon carrying tourists on a flight over historic sites around the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor caught fire Tuesday. It then plunged to the ground.
Italian elections have hurled a tsunami against the system: An upstart anti-establishment party that rejects European Union-dictated austerity measures is now the single biggest party in Parliament. Newspaper headlines proclaim the country ungovernable, and world financial markets are spooked by the prospect of gridlock in the eurozone's third-largest economy.
Thanks to a byzantine election law, the center-left Democratic Party came in first by a slim majority. But it can't govern alone.
As Italians struggle to form a new government, another political transition is underway - inside the Vatican. Pope Benedict's historic resignation takes effect on Thursday, giving way to a papal transition that will be unlike any before. But even in the pope's final week, new sex scandals threaten to overshadow the upcoming conclave where his successor will be chosen.
Syrian opposition leaders say they plan to attend a conference this week in Rome. They want to see what the new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has to offer to help them bring an end of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The opposition leaders had been threatening to boycott the meeting, but Kerry is promising he won't leave them dangling in the wind. NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with Kerry this week on his first trip overseas as secretary of state. She filed this report from Berlin.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
It was yet another turbulent day for the Vatican as Great Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric announced his resignation. That means he will not be taking part in the election of a new pope. Cardinal Keith O'Brien has been accused of behaving inappropriately toward several priests. His immediate departure comes as the pope himself prepares to retire. Benedict XVI stands down Thursday.
We're joined from London by NPR's Philip Reeves. Hi there, Philip.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Afghanistan's president is demanding that American Special Forces, Green Berets, withdraw from a key province. It's located near the capital, Kabul. Hamid Karzai says the Special Forces are linked to allegations of kidnapping, killing and torture. What actually happened, however, is not clear. And to try to make sense of this, we're joined by NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman.
As Kenya prepares for a presidential election next Monday, it's trying to prevent a recurrence of the last such poll, in December 2007, when more than 1,000 people were killed in postelection violence.
Last time, technology helped incite that violence. This time, the hope is that technology will help prevent a similar outburst.
Last time around, a text message came on Dec. 31, 2007, four days after a presidential election that many people in the Kalenjin tribe thought was rigged.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden in Washington. More than a week has passed since Olympic athlete and South African sports hero Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He faces charges of premeditated murder. On Friday he was granted bail and left jail.
Talks between the U.S., its allies and Iran about the Persian giant's nuclear ambitions are due to begin Tuesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan. As the time draws near, we're seeing stories about how each side will approach the discussions.
The new South Korean president, Park Guen-hye, steps into office at a particularly challenging time, with archnemesis North Korea's own recently installed leader rattling missiles and nuclear weapons in an apparent attempt to solidify his hold on power.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:36 am
Bad news for those whose shopping trips at Ikea are partly motivated by the allure of the store's famous meatballs: The giant Swedish furniture retailer on Monday said it had recalled a batch of frozen meatballs sent to more than a dozen European countries after tests detected traces of horse meat.
Food inspectors in the Czech Republic discovered the horse meat DNA last week in 2.2-pound packs of frozen meatballs labeled as beef and pork and sold under the name Kottbullar.
-- Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric has resigned and will not be taking part in the conclave of cardinals that will select the next pope. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports from London, "Cardinal Keith O'Brien's decision was announced a day after revelations that he behaved inappropriately with several priests."
European budget problems prompted governments to cut back on investments in digital services and broadband networks. Industry officials say this damages Europe's ability to compete.
Terri Schultz reports from Brussels.
TERRI SCHULTZ, BYLINE: The European Union's own officials acknowledge there's a serious disconnect between what Europe is doing and what it needs to do to stop falling behind in the telecommunications industry.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. There's now a timeline to the end of the rule of the Castro family in Cuba. President Raul Castro said on TV he will step down after one final five-year term. And he named a replacement. Nick Miroff reports from Havana.
For decades after the devastation of World War Two, Germany recoiled from any prospect of military engagement. Now the country is under pressure to get involved in foreign military conflicts as the U.S. cuts back its role as the world's policeman. Germany's growing military role is now being debated in government and academic circles.
For centuries, Aramaic was the language of an entire empire. It was the language of Christ, of biblical scholars, and of the Middle East. And for that reason, Esho Joseph, a former translator for the Iraqi regime who now lives in the U.S., is saddened by its slow disappearance.
"This language ... is ... [of] historical importance," says Joseph, who grew up speaking the language. "... And now it ... [is], you know, dying. It is really painful."
Originally published on Sun February 24, 2013 11:08 am
We're getting word that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered U.S. special forces to leave Wardak Province within two weeks amid allegation of torture and disappearances centering on Afghans who are part of the U.S. forces.
Update at 1:07 p.m. ET. Order Came After Report
NPR's Sean Carberry is reporting on the move for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:
"Benedict told the crowd that God is calling him to dedicate himself 'even more to prayer and meditation,' which he will do in a secluded monastery being renovated for him on the grounds behind Vatican City's ancient walls.
Like many countries, Israel tried to drain many of its swamplands, then realized it was destroying wildlife habitats. So the country reversed course, and has been restoring the wetlands of the Hula Valley in the north.
The effort has had a huge and rather noisy payoff. Unlike many birding sites, where the creatures take off when you approach them, you can practically touch the cranes that inhabit the Hula Valley.