Last week in the country of Qatar, a poet was sentenced to life in prison. That was the punishment for writing verse that the country's ruler found insulting. The poet's name is Mohammed Ajami, and his poem skewered governments across the region. At one point, it declared: We are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite.
Well, commentator Andrei Codrescu says this case shows a brazen bit of hypocrisy.
Sometimes, you don't have to go far to find a story. For the past few months, just stepping outside NPR's Kabul office has been a drama.
The neighborhood is in the midst of a major road and sewer renovation project. It's just one of many such projects that is badly needed in Kabul and elsewhere in the country.
But as is often the case, the pace and quality of the work has been uneven. And residents aren't so sure whether the final product will be worth the months of gridlock, power outages and business interruption.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 1:11 pm
Chances are you're familiar with the phrase "a well-balanced diet." Two to three servings of meat, poultry or fish; three to five servings of vegetables — you know the drill. When we talk about being "well-balanced" today, we're usually talking about the specific nutrients we put into our body.
While this might seem like a relatively new development — a product of the past 50 years of fitness programs and diet regimes — as it turns out, this idea goes back much further.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 12:47 pm
Editor's Note: Throughout the Syrian uprising, the government has allowed few foreign journalists and other outsiders into the country, and there has been limited information about many parts of the country. In this essay, a Syrian citizen describes life in the capital Damascus. For security reasons, NPR is not identifying the author.
The people of Damascus seem to be bracing for the worst, fearing that a revolt now 20 months old is building to a ferocious fight for control of the capital.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, years after the big banks got support from the federal government and with interest rates at record lows, small businesses are still struggling to get access to credit. We're wondering why that is, so we'll try to find out in our Money Coach conversation in just a few minutes.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 11:50 am
The U.S. Navy says all its drones are "fully accounted for" — casting doubt on Iran's claim to have captured one of the small spycraft after it allegedly flew into Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:42 am
The Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has jailed opposition leaders and recently banned all demonstrations. But the protests continue, particularly in the smaller villages outside the capital, Manama. Independent producer Reese Erlich recently visited one such village.
For the first time, Kenya has a film in the hunt for an Academy Award for best foreign language film. Nairobi Half Life chronicles a young man's misbegotten migration from a rural village to the crime-ridden capital. The surprise hit film is helping Kenyans better understand Nairobi's crime culture.
George Mason University professor Mark Katz is an expert on Russia's role in the Middle East. Russia is the Syrian government's main arms supplier. Professor Katz talks to David Greene about whether Russia's support for Damascus is flagging as the Syrian military continues to battle opposition rebels.
Just as soon as it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge, that would be Kate Middleton, was pregnant, a slew of breathless headlines followed. To hear what this royal baby really means for the British, we're joined by Ingrid Seward. She's the editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine.
Anyone who has visited Rome and its antique monuments has also seen their four-legged residents: the many stray cats that bask in the sun amid the ruins.
One site in central Rome is known as "cat forum," thanks to its adjacent cat shelter. But Italian archaeology officials have issued the Torre Argentina Cat Shelter Association an eviction notice, and feline lovers from around the world are bracing for a cat fight.
It's about 9 o'clock in the morning, and already it's been a long day for Abu Anas. He has lost two men to a sniper serving the Syrian regime. Four more have been injured.
But Abu Anas walks with a striking calm through the bombed-out, ruined streets of Aleppo, a city that has been at war for months. He wears a black headband bearing Islam's holy creed: "There is no God but God. And Muhammad is his messenger."
When Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was elected, some Egyptians jokingly referred to him as the Muslim Brotherhood's "spare tire." He was the backup candidate of the Islamist organization, whose first choice for the presidency was barred from running.
But Morsi has proved much more formidable than many Egyptians believed.
In the southern part of Mali, which includes the capital, Bamako, it's not hard to find people who are angry about the Islamist militants who have taken over the country's north.
But there's little reason to believe the Islamists will be ousted soon. The United Nations Security Council is expected to meet this week to discuss plans for a 3,300-strong regional force to enter Mali. But it is unlikely any sort of military operation will take place in the near future.
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Audie Cornish. In Britain, palace officials have confirmed that Prince William's wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, is in the very early stages of pregnancy. The former Kate Middleton has been hospitalized with severe morning sickness but her health is not believed to be in danger. From London, Vicki Barker has the story.
Life can be especially cruel for girls growing up on Kenya's Swahili Coast. Some families sell their daughters to earn the bride price, while others encourage them to become child prostitutes for tourists. The girls drop out of school and have babies, and their childhoods are stolen. Now, a coalition of educators, religious and traditional leaders is fighting back.
Thirteen teenage girls — all with babies on their laps — are gathered around a table in the town hall of Msabaha village, not far from the beach resort of Malindi.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:21 am
One of the rising stars in the Latin American literary world is Hector Abad. The Colombian-born author has released a searing book, Oblivion: A Memoir, in the U.S. that took him a generation to write. It's the story of his father, a beloved doctor who was murdered in the 1980s.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Renee Montagne.
Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who took power last June, is facing a rebellion against his rule. It all started with a set of controversial decrees by the president that put him above the law until a constitution is in place. That move has polarized the country. Judges are on strike and critics say the president is pushing through an illegitimate constitution.
Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:00 am
Representatives from more than 190 countries are convening in Dubai to discuss the treaty regulating global telecommunications. It hasn't been updated since 1988, when the Internet was in its infancy. There is fear that countries known to censor or restrict Internet access will push for global governance that could hamper speech and innovation. Renee Montagne discusses the issues with Ambassador Philip Verveer, who coordinates U.S. policy on global communications.
For years the United States has urged the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a peace accord based on a two-state solution. Well, there are growing concerns within the international community that the chances of that ever happening are dimming.
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The Palestinians angered Israel last week by securing a symbolically important vote at the United Nations General Assembly, upgrading their status from a non-member entity to a non-member state. Israel responded with reprisals.
The story of Afghanistan — its history, its culture — is a narrative writer Tamim Ansary says he "carries in his bones." Ansary was born there to an Afghan father, educated in the United States, and an American mother.
He spent much of his 1950s childhood in the town of Lashkar Gah. There, his father worked on a massive irrigation project, funded by the U.S. and aimed at turning a dusty valley into fertile farms.
London-raised Ahmed Jama won't give up on Mogadishu, Somalia, even though his restaurants have been attacked by suicide bombers more than once. In fact, he's leading the city's cultural revival, one dish at a time, by offering residents and visitors a taste of authentic Somali cuisine and hospitality. (This piece initially aired Nov. 26, 2012, on Morning Edition.)
High on a hill overlooking Pakistan's scenic Swat Valley sits a recently excavated cemetery. Italian archaeologist Luca Maria Olivieri walks across the site and lays a sun-beaten hand on a clay slab jutting out from a high, dun-colored wall. It's an ancient grave.
Olivieri says the remains still have to be carbon-tested, but archaeologists believe the graves contain members of a Dardic community, which dominated this part of Pakistan 3,000 years ago.
It's believed Alexander the Great fought one of his battles here, in the village of Udegram.
On Dec. 1, Kazakhstan celebrated a new holiday: "First President's Day." The central Asian country feted its long-time leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, though outside observers have criticized what appears to be a growing cult of personality around the president in the oil-rich country.