Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:49 am
Kurt Vonnegut once said, "What makes life worth living are the saints. ... They can be longtime friends or someone I meet on a street. They find a way to behave decently in an indecent society."
And so it is with Gyanesh Kamal, a man I met at India's Kumbh Mela, one of the oldest festivals on Earth. To the uninitiated, this spiritual spectacle is a discombobulating din of prayers, loudspeakers and pilgrims so ceaseless it disorients the senses.
Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 9:03 am
Update at 10 a.m. ET. New Lead Investigator:
A new lead investigator has been appointed in the murder case against South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, The Associated Press reports from Pretoria. That announcement follows the news from earlier Thursday, as we reported below, that the detective who had been in charge of the case faces attempted murder charges of his own stemming from a 2011 shooting incident.
A very different story now, from Egypt. There, sexual violence against women is on the rise. And a warning: Some of what you'll hear in the next few minutes is disturbing, starting with this: Women who show up at protests are in danger of being mobbed by men and gang raped. During the most recent demonstration, one victim was sexually assaulted with a knife, another strangled with her scarf, and another violated in front of her children. As the number of assaults increases, many Egyptian women say they'll no longer be silent.
Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 4:47 am
Syria's minority Christians are caught in the middle of the country's 23-month conflict. Many members of one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East are fleeing Syria. Those who stay say they fear they will be targeted by Islamist militants — a growing force among rebels fighting President Assad's regime.
Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 4:28 am
Two days ago, Morning Edition aired a story about the H-1B program which grants temporary work visas to foreigners with special skills like computer programming. In the story, it was reported that employers have to show they tried to recruit Americans first. But as it turns out, many companies bypass American applicants.
Tucked away in a back street of Semarang, a city in Indonesia's Central Java province, is a tiny, four-table restaurant. In the cramped kitchen, Mahmudi Haryono whips up a plate of ribs — lunch for two customers.
He brings it out and serves it to two Indonesian soldiers in olive drab uniforms.
Haryono is smiling and cool as a cucumber. But he acknowledges that after getting out of jail a few years ago, serving men in uniform set butterflies aflutter in his stomach.
Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years.
But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town's mayor.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 banning violence against women. But the parliament, which is currently on its winter recess, has been unable to pass it and give it permanence as a law.
There's major disagreement on key provisions where Islamic and secular law come into conflict. And activists say the gains made in women's rights since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 are slipping away.
Masooda Karokhi, a female member of parliament, has been pushing to get the proposal through the male-dominated legislature.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. A grim milestone last week in Tibet: Over the past four years, more than 100 people have now set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule. According to the campaign, International Campaign for Tibet, at least 85 died following their protest.
Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 2:26 pm
Friends in Karachi had me over for a beer Sunday evening. It wasn't hard for them to do. Alcohol is broadly outlawed in Pakistan, but with so many exceptions and so little enforcement, you can usually find something — in this case, tallboy cans of Murree's Millennium Brew from a Pakistani brewery.
Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 10:07 am
If the Chinese military is regularly hacking into the computers of U.S. organizations, as an American security firm says, it raises all sorts of questions about how the U.S. should respond.
Is this a job for the military or the intelligence agencies? What role should diplomats and trade officials be playing?
The report issued this week by the IT security consultancy Mandiant says it has traced the hacking activity to the People's Liberation Army's Unit 61398, which has "systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations."
In Israel the case of Prisoner X is raising new questions about secrecy and censorship. A Mossad agent by the name of Ben Zygier faced secret charges three years ago, was jailed under a false name and committed suicide in prison. From Jerusalem, NPR's Larry Abramson has a story that until recently was kept secret by military censors.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
President Obama's re-election briefly raised hopes that in a second term the U.S. might be able to engage with Iran, possibly even direct talks between the two countries. Then, harsher rhetoric set in, and now a less ambitious round of talks involving several countries is set to get underway. Iran has long been under pressure over its nuclear program which Western nations suspect is aimed at creating nuclear weapons.
In Pakistan, a controversial Muslim cleric has been shaking up the political scene.
Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri returned to his home country late last year, after spending eight years in Canada. Since coming back, he has ignited a disgruntled electorate and has left many people wondering what exactly his plans are.
On a recent day, a lively drum band wandered among a crowd of about 15,000 Pakistanis gathered in the eastern city of Faisalabad for a rally organized by Qadri.
In the war in Afghanistan, civilian casualties have decreased for the first time in six years. That's according to a U.N. annual report released today. Still, as we hear from NPR's Sean Carberry in Kabul, that's about the extent of the good news in the report.
One of Britain's most celebrated authors has launched a withering attack on the Duchess of Cambridge, the pregnant wife of Prince William, branding her a "shop-window mannequin" with a plastic smile whose only role in life is to breed. Prime Minister David Cameron described award-winning writer Hilary Mantel as "misguided" after she likened the former Kate Middleton to a "machine made" doll, devoid of personality.
Lance Armstrong's ex-teammate testified Tuesday at the trial of a Spanish doctor accused of masterminding one of the world's largest doping rings. Tyler Hamilton, who was stripped of his 2004 Olympic gold for doping, says he was a client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. He described secret meetings with the doctor at the side of a highway in Spain, and how he and the doctor used secret telephones to arrange blood transfusions. Hamilton told the court that one 2004 transfusion from Fuentes went bad, and turned his urine black.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
Authorities in Belgium have an expensive mystery to solve. Last night, on the Brussels airport tarmac, masked gunmen attacked an armored vehicle as it was loading diamonds onto a plane. They made off with an estimated $50 million worth of uncut diamonds.
As we hear from NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, the attack was meticulously planned, leading some to believe the thieves had help from the inside.
The Chinese army is the source of a persistent and prolific cyber espionage unit, whose hackers have attacked dozens of U.S. corporations and government agencies. That's the conclusion of a lengthy report released today by the computer security firm Mandiant. Mandiant says the hacking campaign goes back at least to 2006 and it targeted industries strategic to China's growth, including IT, energy and aerospace.
You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
Next week, Secretary of State John Kerry sets off on his first official trip. He'll head to both Europe and the Middle East. He will not be visiting Russia but aides say he might meet his Russian counterparts somewhere on the trip.
They have a lot to talk about, from the crisis in Syria to a dispute over adoptions, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
Developers in Pakistan will soon break ground on a new amusement park and outdoor activity center, a private, $30 million project billed as a state-of-the-art facility that will bring jobs to a hard-hit area.
But there's one issue that's raising some eyebrows: the site is in Abbottabad, not far from the place where Osama Bin Laden secretly lived until American forces killed him.
This does not trouble Sheikh Kaleemuddin, the project director, who is effusive about the picturesque spot where he plans to build.
Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 12:55 pm
The discovery of horse meat in European beef products created an international uproar. James A. Serpell, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, explains why some foods that are forbidden in some cultures are considered delicacies in others.
Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 12:44 pm
Some people in Shanghai — especially the foreigners — think the city's new Pudong section of town is dull, without character and profoundly unfashionable.
Twenty years ago, Pudong was mostly farms and warehouses. Today, it's home to those sleek glass-and-steel skyscrapers that have come to define the city's skyline in movies like Skyfall and Mission: Impossible III.