The sunny island of Cyprus has been a vacation haven for Arabs and Israelis alike. But recently, it's been the site of a much-watched trial of an admitted Hezbollah operative. He has described himself simply as a pawn in the militant group's hierarchy, tasked with doing surveillance on restaurants, hotels and buses serving Israeli tourists. But his trial has revealed a wide range of details about how Hezbollah operates and how it may be getting more sophisticated.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
Today, Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new aid package for Syrian rebels. For the first time, the administration is vowing to send aid directly to the people who are fighting to topple the regime in Syria. At a meeting in Rome, Kerry had the chance to hear from some of them and from countries backing the rebels. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story from Rome.
Update at 7:45 a.m. ET, March 1. Kims Are "Great Leaders," Rodman Says:
On his way home Friday from North Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman said Kim Jong Un, his father and grandfather have been "great leaders." According to The Associated Press, Rodman also said of the young North Korean leader that "he's proud, his country likes him — not like him, love him, love him. ... Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."
Our original post — Dennis Rodman To Kim Jong Un: 'You Have A Friend For Life':
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 11:33 am
China's answer to accusations of cyber-espionage against the U.S.? The Americans are doing it to us, too.
Barely a week after a report from security firm Mandiant that an arm of the People's Liberation Army was behind the theft of "hundreds of terabytes" of data from U.S. companies, China's Defense Ministry said Thursday that U.S. hackers were penetrating Chinese military websites.
South Africa is still reeling from the recent deaths of two women: Reeva Steenkamp, shot by her sports hero boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, and Anene Booysens, who was brutally raped and murdered at 17. Host Michel Martin talks to independent researcher Lisa Vetten about what the cases may say about violence against women in South Africa.
We're hearing this morning that Pope Benedict has left the Vatican. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is covering the first papal retirement in 600 years, and she joins us now from Rome. And Sylvia, describe the scene for us there.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:26 am
Bruce Reynolds, the brains behind the Great Train Robbery of 1963, has died at the age of 81, nearly five decades after he and his partners in crime made off with 2.6 million pounds at Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, England.
Reynolds was part of the gang that executed an elaborate scheme to swipe the cash from the Glasgow-to-Euston mail train. The clockwork nature of the crime, along with the fact that the bulk of the loot was never recovered and some of the robbers never captured, has made it a favorite subject of television and films, as well as popular music.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:15 am
China isn't a good place to be a horse, if your goal is to avoid ending up as the Russian kabobs known as shashlik.
China exports the most horse meat to the global market, while Russia has the biggest appetite for horseflesh, according to a new infographic on the continuing European scandal over horse meat sold as beef.
(We last updated the top of this post at 2 p.m. ET.)
Precisely on time, under dark skies but with the lights of cameras from news outlets around the world illuminating the scene, Swiss Guards on Thursday closed the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome — marking the official end of Pope Benedict XVI's time as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
For the first time in about 600 years, a pope has voluntarily stepped down. His final moment as leader of the church came at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).
Today is the last day of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Just two weeks ago, the German-born pope stunned the world by announcing he would be the first pope to resign in 600 years. After eight years on the throne of St. Peter, Benedict leaves behind a church in crisis.
Since the announcement, bulletins issued by the Vatican have ranged from the lofty — how Benedict will retire to a life dedicated to prayer and study — to the mundane, such as the details of packing the pope's personal belongings and what he'll leave behind.
And it's thought that the Syrian province of Idlib, near the border with Turkey, might be the first to fall under the control of rebels. If that happens, the area could serve as a safe zone for rebel fighters and aid workers. But one key government-controlled army base is standing in the way.
NPR's Kelly McEvers just returned from Idlib, and sent this report.
KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: The fight for a Syrian army base called Wadi Daif started back in October, and rebels say it's still not over yet.
Kenya will soon have a new president. Voters there go to the polls on Monday. The last election was followed by allegations of vote-rigging, and by weeks of deadly tribal violence, which left more than a thousand dead. NPR's Gregory Warner sat down with a few perpetrators of that violence in a bar to watch a Kenyan presidential debate and to find out what, if anything, has changed this time around.
Here's a signal that the newly elected president of Mexico may be ready to start cleaning house. The longtime boss of Mexico's teachers union is in jail on charges of embezzling more than $160 million in union funds. Prosecutors say the money went to maintain a luxurious lifestyle, as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
After two years and an estimated 70,000 deaths, the U.S. is about to step up its involvement in Syria's civil war. The Obama administration has offered more direct aid to the Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the aid today after meeting with Syrian opposition leaders in Rome.
The Obama administration is rethinking its strategy in Syria. As the death toll mounts and a diplomatic solution seems out of reach, the administration is planning to do more to help Syrian rebels. That could involve what's referred to as direct, non-lethal assistance. It does not include weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry is talking about all this in Rome with members of the Syrian opposition, and NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with him.
Today, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Iran and six world powers including the U.S. wrapped up two days of talks. No breakthroughs, but Iran is considering a proposal that would impose new restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some economic sanctions. The two sides will return to Kazakhstan for another meeting in early April. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this report from the scene of the negotiations.
On his last full day as Pope, Benedict XVI had his final general audience in St. Peter's Square before a crowd estimated at 150,000 people. He had a more personal message than usual, saying his resignation was dictated by his ailing health and declining speech. He spoke of the moments of joy in his papacy, but also of turbulent seas and rough winds when it seemed like the lord was sleeping.
Pope Benedict XVI had his final general audience Wednesday in front of a crowd of thousands. On Thursday, he leaves the papacy and becomes "Pope Emeritus". It's a brand new position and there are a lot of questions. What will he wear? Where will he live? How will he fill his time? Melissa Block speaks to long time pope watcher Rocco Palmo, editor of the website "Whispers in the Loggia."
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 9:01 am
Officials at six-nation nuclear talks on limiting Iran's nuclear program say the two-day meeting in Kazakhstan has been a turning point, and Tehran's lead negotiator described the discussions as a positive step.
But NPR's Peter Kenyon, reporting from the talks in Almaty, says it appears that most of what was accomplished was simply laying the groundwork for future discussions.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 9:37 am
Bidding an emotional farewell to a huge crowd gathered in The Vatican's St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI indirectly acknowledged Wednesday that his nearly 8 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church have not always been easy.
Iran now says compromise on its nuclear program may be possible. Of course, that comes with a number of ifs. Tehran says that's if international negotiators continue to take what it calls a more realistic approach. The big question, Western officials say, is whether Iran is willing to curb its nuclear activities. That is the message, after a two-day meeting between Iran and six world powers. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Almaty, Kazakhstan where the talks just concluded.
It was another day of protest in the West Bank. Palestinians are demanding the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails after one prisoner died on Saturday. NPR's Larry Abramson reports.
(SOUNDBITE OF YELLING)
LARRY ABRAMSON, BYLINE: Outside Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank, young men play cat and mouse with Israeli troops. They get as close as they dare, shoot a few rocks with slingshots, then retreat when the Israelis shoot tear gas canisters.