When Iran's supreme leader got a Facebook page in December, Iranians sat up and blinked.
Some thought it was a fake, finding it hard to believe that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would be using a technology that his own government blocks. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman skeptically wondered how many "likes" it would attract.
But some of Khamenei's supporters quickly rallied behind the move, which first came to light in a reference on — you guessed it — the ayatollah's Twitter account.
Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 12:31 pm
After Islamic extremists seized parts of Mali, the country's former colonial ruler, France, intervened with a ground and air offensive. This action raises questions about the role of former colonial powers in modern conflicts.
Government agencies do not often acknowledge their own errors, but the CIA has done just that with the declassification of intelligence memoranda on the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
The documents show that agency analysts, down to the last minute before the outbreak of fighting, were assuring President Nixon, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other policymakers that Egypt and Syria were unlikely to attack Israel.
Singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo was born in Benin, West Africa. Today, she lives in New York City and is widely considered Africa's greatest living diva.
For Kidjo, music provides an outlet for both activism and pleasure. "Those two things are part of my stability," she tells NPR's Michel Martin. "I need that. No human being has endless compassion, you need to replenish yourself, and I know that if I didn't have music, I'd go crazy."
Greeks are feeling the squeeze. The social repercussions of three years of austerity measures imposed by international lenders are hitting hard. Thousands of businesses have shut down, unemployment is nearly 27 percent and rising, and the once dependable safety net of welfare benefits is being pulled in.
With further cutbacks and tax hikes about to kick in, Greece's social fabric is being torn apart.
Nowhere are cutbacks more visible and painful than in health care.
Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 6:33 pm
Escalating political violence from both the left and right is raising fears of political instability in debt-burdened Greece. The conservative-led government is cracking down on leftist groups, vowing to restore law and order.
But the opposition says authorities are trying to divert people's attention from growing poverty and despair.
Take the latest explosion in Athens — a firebomb at a crowded suburban mall last month that slightly injured two security guards.
It now appears that the militants who stormed a gas plant in Algeria last month, resulting in the deaths of dozens of hostages, ultimately wanted to create a giant fireball by blowing up the plant. They just couldn't figure out how. David Greene talks to Adam Nossiter of The New York Times, who recently went to the plant and gathered accounts of some former hostages.
Refrigerators, foam buoys and even ketchup bottles are piling up on Alaska's beaches. Almost two years after the devastating Japanese tsunami, its debris and rubbish are fouling the coastlines of many states — especially in Alaska.
At the state's Montague Island beach, the nearly 80 miles of rugged wilderness looks pristine from a helicopter a few thousand feet up. But when you descend, globs of foam come into view.
As Malian forces backed by French and African troops have retaken the West African nation's contested northern region, there have been allegations of human rights abuses. Human Rights organizations accuse the Malian army of summary executions, among other abuses.
Moaz al-Khatib sent waves through the Syrian activist community this week when he announced via Facebook that he was open to talks with representatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on two conditions: that political prisoners, thought to number in the tens of thousands, be released; and exiled Syrians be able to renew their passports at embassies abroad.
Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 3:24 pm
Iran's foreign minister on Sunday welcomed Vice President Joe Biden's comments that the U.S. was willing to hold direct talks with the Islamic republic over its nuclear program.
"We have no red line for bilateral negotiations when it comes to negotiating over a particular subject," Ali Akbar Salehi said at a security conference in Munich, Germany. "If the subject is the nuclear file, yes, we are ready for negotiations but we have to make sure ... that the other side this time comes with authentic intention, with a fair and real intention to resolve the issue."
Five men accused of the brutal rape and murder of a woman student in New Delhi were charged today. The attack in December launched an international outcry and led to nationwide protests. NPR's Julie McCarthy joins host Laura Sullivan from the Indian capital with the latest.
Originally published on Sat February 2, 2013 11:02 am
The Japanese Meteorological Agency says an extremely strong earthquake rattled the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Saturday. The magnitude was 6.4. The U.S. Geological Survey's report puts the tremor at a higher magnitude of 6.9; the epicenter was very deep, about 65 miles below ground, near the city of Obihiro. That's about 120 miles east of Hokkaido's largest city, Sapporo.
Originally published on Sat February 2, 2013 9:15 am
The security situation in Northern Mali has improved with the arrival of the French military last month, so French president Francois Hollande traveled there Saturday for a one-day visit. He didn't stay in the southern capital, Bamako, which has remained under Malian government control, but instead flew north to the ancient city of Timbuktu to meet residents and thank French troops for their work in ousting Islamist rebels from the historic city.
Originally published on Sat February 2, 2013 7:10 am
Armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, militants attacked an army camp in Northwestern Pakistan early Saturday morning.
According to officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, 12 militants and 13 security officials were killed in the attack. TheNew York Times is reporting that 10 civilians — including three women and three children — who were living in a nearby compound, were also killed.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
CORNISH: And we begin this hour with a report on today's suicide bombing in Turkey. The target, the U.S. embassy in Ankara. The attack killed two people, a guard and the bomber. The White House called it an act of terror but had no information on the motive behind the blast. Turkish authorities identified the bomber as a member of an outlawed left-wing group. NPR's Peter Kenyon has our story from Istanbul.
Swiss bank accounts, bribes, embezzlement, fraud up to the highest levels of government. Those are the headlines out of Spain this week amid allegations of under-the-table payments to top conservative politicians, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. His party denies it all and Rajoy has called an emergency meeting for tomorrow.
Lauren Frayer reports from Madrid on how Spaniards are finally saying enough.
The iconic black cabs of London got a lift Friday when a Chinese company rescued the British automaker that manufactures the taxis. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said it will pay $17.5 million to buy Manganese Bronze Holdings, which has been making the cabs since 1899.
Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 11:46 am
China burns nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined--and has 300 more coal plants in the works. But China also leads the world in solar panel exports and wind farms, and has a national climate change policy in place. Is the U.S. falling behind on climate? Ira Flatow and guests discuss how the world is tackling global warming--with or without us--and what it might take to change the climate on Capitol Hill.
Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 9:49 am
Authorities in Mexico City said Friday morning that at least 32 people had been killed and another 120 or so injured by the explosion Thursday afternoon at the headquarters of Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company.
We've been closely tracking events in Mali since French forces led a military campaign to rid that country's vast northern desert of militants linked to al-Qaida. Those Islamists had taken over much of the region last spring and imposed a harsh form of Islamic law. But the fabled Timbuktu and other cities have been taken back with almost no fight. Now the French say it's time for them to step back and hand over to an African peacekeeping force.