China's government has recently jailed officials and issued a slew of new rules to curb corruption, but it's apparently not an effort that independent citizens groups are welcome to join.
On Sunday, a Chinese court sentenced Xu Zhiyong, a leading proponent of civil society, to four years in jail. Police have also arrested around a dozen other members of his group, called the New Citizens' Movement.
Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.
William Wiley has made a career out of international criminal law, working on cases in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Iraq. He now oversees a nonprofit called the Syrian Commission for Justice and Accountability (SCJA).
Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition have now moved to separate rooms in Geneva. The two sides met face to face this morning but so far have failed to find agreement on a humanitarian cease-fire that would allow humanitarian aid into the city of Homs. U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said today that he hopes people will be able to leave Homs in the next few days. Women and children are already beginning to depart. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In fact, women and children have not yet begun to leave.]
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
In the Ukraine, the streets have erupted into violence again this morning with protesters vowing they will keep up the pressure on the government until it folds. The country's president this morning offered concessions but they were rejected by the opposition. And now, protesters are back in the streets, demanding that the president step aside and hold new elections.
Joining us now from Kiev, the capital city, is NPR's Corey Flintoff. Good morning, Corey.
Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 1:23 pm
Anti-government protesters clashed with security forces overnight in the Ukraine capital, Kiev. The latest violence comes a day after embattled President Viktor Yanukovych tried unsuccessfully to quell unrest by offering top political posts to the opposition.
The political crisis in Ukraine has taken a stunning turn with news that embattled President Viktor Yanukovych may be near an agreement with leaders of the opposition. The move comes as anti-government protests spread to more parts of the country. And demonstrators in Kiev, the capital, seemed poised to launch violent clashes with police.
After months in the making, Syrian peace talks began today in Geneva. Leaders from the Syrian government and the opposition met face-to-face today in the first ever direct negotiations between the two sides. The goal: to end the violence that's killed more than 100,000 people.
NPR's Deborah Amos is in Geneva, and she joins us to talk about the day's events. Hi, Deb.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Kelly McEvers, in for Arun Rath.
Today marks the first time the two sides in the Syrian conflict have sat together for talks. Today also marks three years since a revolution ousted a dictator in Egypt. Since then, Egyptians have experienced the first free elections in decades, the toppling of an Islamist government and a resurgent military-led government.
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has acknowledged that the first day of face-to-face talks between representatives of Syria's government and the opposition coalition failed to yield anything in the way of results.
"We haven't achieved much," Brahimi said following the day's discussions. "But, we are continuing."
"The situation is very difficult and very, very complicated, and we are moving not in steps, but half-steps," he said.
The Associated Press described the talks, which are set to resume on Sunday, as "painstakingly choreographed."
Thousands of Egyptians poured onto the streets to celebrate the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that brought an end to President Hosni Mubarak's regime, but the festivities were marred by violence as security forces crushed counter-demonstrations aimed at the military.
At least 29 protesters were killed, according to health officials.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 5:41 am
For most of us, measles and whooping cough are diseases of the past. You get a few shots as a kid and then hardly think about them again.
But that's not the case in all parts of the world — not even parts of the U.S.
As an interactive map from the Council on Foreign Relations illustrates, several diseases that are easily prevented with vaccines have made a comeback in the past few years. Their resurgence coincides with changes in perceptions about vaccine safety.
The Olympics are less than two weeks away. The Russian host city of Sochi is busily preparing for the influx of athletes and media, but it's the security preparations that have people talking. Andrei Soldatov, the editor-in-chief of www.Agentura.ru, spoke to NPR's Jacki Lyden about security for the Games.
Newspapers from the U.K. to the U.S. were reporting a sensational story this week about an abandoned cruise ship drifting across the Atlantic with a crew of cannibal rats aboard. It sounded too outrageous to be true, so we dug into the story and smelled, well, a rat.
When a suicide bomber and gunmen attacked a popular restaurant in Kabul on Jan. 17, two of those who died worked for the American University of Afghanistan. Their deaths have shaken the young campus, which has been largely immune from violence. NPR's Jacki Lyden speaks to the university's president, C. Michael Smith, about how the bombing has affected both students and faculty.
The Australian Open is drawing to a close with Li Na of China winning the women's tournament on Saturday. If Rafael Nadal wins on Sunday, he'll be the first man to win all the majors twice in the era of opens. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine joins NPR's Jacki Lyden to talk tennis and weigh in on the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms.
The U.S. World Cup soccer team is in Brazil for 12 days of training and acclimation. The team drew a challenging schedule for the competition and will be playing in the northern cities of Natal and Recife as well as the Amazonian city of Manaus.
There were signs of progress at the Syria peace conference Saturday after the government and the opposition agreed to meet in the same room for the first time. Reporter Deborah Amos shares the latest from the talks in Geneva with NPR's Jacki Lyden.
Fighting in Syria has internally displaced some 4 million people, and aid has only reached half of them. Humanitarian groups hope the talks in Geneva will allow them to get more aid into the country. NPR's Jacki Lyden speaks with Khaled Erksoussi, the head of operations for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
Lebanon's stylish capital is looking shabby. Mounds of stinking garbage are piled in Beirut's streets, byproducts of an ongoing political crisis that has paralyzed the government. Angry locals have staged a sit-in outside an overflowing landfill, and waste disposal has ground to a halt. The protesters — and the trash — could be there awhile.
Friday was the first day of negotiations at the Syrian peace conference. There were no direct talks, however. Instead, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi shuttled between government and opposition delegations in separate rooms.
Firefighters are painstakingly combing the frozen rubble of a nursing home in eastern Quebec. The seniors' residence was quickly engulfed in flames shortly after midnight on Thursday, killing at least five residents and trapping dozens of others.
Mohammed Asghar, 69, was arrested in Rawalpindi, near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, in 2010 shortly after returning from a trip to the U.K., where he was treated for paranoid schizophrenia, his lawyer said.
It was then that he allegedly wrote letters to various individuals, including a police officer, claiming that he was the revered prophet of Islam.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 10:37 am
As New Year's resolutions go, cutting back on food and drink are right at the top of the list. And while those resolved to change their eating habits may cut the carbohydrates or say a sweet goodbye to sugar, for regular drinkers, the tradition may involve what's known as a dry January: giving up booze for a month.
But could such a short-term breakup with alcohol really impart any measurable health benefits?
A firefighter walks past what is left of a seniors home in L'Isle Verte, Quebec. At least five people died and 30 are still missing after a fire there. The water used to fight the flames has frozen into ice that is a foot thick in places.
Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 9:38 am
Eight people are known to have died and the families of about 30 others are "bracing for the worst" as the search resumes for victims of Thursday's fire at a home for senior citizens in eastern Quebec.
Correspondent Dan Karpenchuk says in a report for our Newscast Desk that: