World News

Middle East
4:05 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Qatari Poet Sentenced To Life In Prison For Writing

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 4:50 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

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Afghanistan
3:31 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Kabul's Roads, Paved With Good Intentions

Afghan laborers work on a roads project last month in Kabul. A huge project to fix the city's roads and sewers is causing huge headaches.
Daniel Berehulak Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 11:00 pm

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.

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The Two-Way
12:43 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Remembering Kim Jong-Il ... And His Parka

Kim Jong Il and his favorite parka in 2009.
STR AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 2:16 pm

For three generations now, the dynastic Kims who have ruled North Korea for more than six decades have been a rich source for parodies.

Before Kim Jong Il died in December 2011, his trademark pompadour hairdo attracted its share of attention.

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The Two-Way
11:43 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Europeans Summon Israeli Diplomats On Settlement Plan

Construction workers are seen at the E1 construction site near the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem in 2007.
Sebastian Scheiner AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 7:11 am

The U.S. has called the latest Israeli settlement plan "counterproductive," and now the Europeans have weighed in, with even more pointed criticism.

Israeli ambassadors to Britain, France, Denmark, Spain and Sweden were summoned Monday to hear opposition to the settlement plan.

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The Salt
10:33 am
Tue December 4, 2012

From Humors To Self Control: The Evolution Of A Well-Balanced Diet

How a wealthy table set with a second course in the month of January would look, according to Mary Smith of Newcastle, in her 1772 book, The complete house-keeper and professed cook.
British Library

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.

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The Two-Way
9:47 am
Tue December 4, 2012

In Damascus, Bracing For The Worst

A Syrian soldier aims his rifle during clashes in the Damascus suburb of Daraya on Sunday. There is frequent fighting in and around Damascus, and residents are increasingly worried about a major battle for the capital.
HOPD AP/SANA

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.

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Africa
9:41 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Rebels Hold The Cards In DR Congo

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 10:33 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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.

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The Two-Way
5:22 am
Tue December 4, 2012

U.S. Disputes Iran's Claim To Have Captured Drone

A screen image from the video released by Iranian TV of what the military there claims is a captured U.S. drone.
Press TV

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.

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Middle East
4:55 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Despite Ban, Protests Continue In Bahrain

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.

Movies
4:55 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Nairobi Film Depicts Crime And The City

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 8:02 am

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.

Middle East
4:55 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Is Russia Changing Its Relationship With Syria?

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:46 am

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.

NPR Story
4:25 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Baby On The Way For Britain's Royals

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:38 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

Good morning.

INGRID SEWARD: Good morning.

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Europe
1:39 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Cat Fight In Rome: Beloved Shelter Faces Closure

A stray cat rests at the Torre Argentina ruins in Rome in October. Officials say a cat shelter that sits adjacent to the site must be shut down.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 8:23 am

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.

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Middle East
1:33 am
Tue December 4, 2012

A Rebel Fighter Sees Islamic Law In Syria's Future

A Syrian rebel walks past the stairs of a bombed building in the Saif Al Duli district in Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10. The vast majority of those fighting against President Bashar Assad's regime are ordinary Syrians and soldiers who have defected, but Islamist rebels are also present among the fighters.
AP

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:18 pm

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."

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World
3:56 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

U.S. Steps Up Aid (But No Arms) To Syrian Exiles

Rajiv Shah (left), the head of USAID, speaks with children during a visit at the Oncupinar Syrian refugee camp in Turkey, near the Syrian border, on Nov. 27.
Adem Altan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 5:12 pm

The Obama administration remains wary about arming Syria's rebels. But when it comes to humanitarian aid, the U.S. contribution, over $250 million, is second only to Turkey.

Then there is non-lethal aid, an additional $50 million for communication equipment and training courses.

If you are surprised by the numbers, so are Syrian activists, who say American support is still almost invisible on the ground. Now, U.S. officials are highlighting the American aid profile.

High-Profile Visit

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Africa
3:19 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Is Morsi Morphing Into Authoritarian He Opposed?

Egyptian protesters hold a banner depicting Morsi as a pharaoh, during a rally expressing opposition to Morsi's decrees, in Cairo, on Nov. 23.
Andre Pain EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:08 pm

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.

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Africa
2:56 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Malians In The South Want Islamists Out Of The North

People originally from northern Mali carry signs that call for military action to retake that part of the country, now under the control of Islamist militants. The rally was held in Mali's capital, Bamako, in October.
Harouna Traore AP

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:08 pm

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.

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Europe
2:28 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

A Royal Baby On The Way In The U.K.

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:08 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

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Africa
1:21 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

A Battle For The Stolen Childhoods Of Kenyan Girls

A schoolgirl participates in a lesson in Kilifi, about 30 miles northeast of Mombasa on Kenya's Swahili Coast, in 2010.
Tony Karumba AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:08 pm

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.

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The Two-Way
9:21 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge, Is Pregnant

April 29, 2011: Their Royal Highnesses Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after their wedding.
Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 11:23 am

Here's the news you've been waiting for, royal watchers:

"The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, St James's Palace has announced." (BBC News)

That would be Catherine, wife of Prince William (the Duke of Cambridge). They, of course, are the potential future king and queen.

The BBC adds that:

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The Two-Way
9:04 am
Mon December 3, 2012

A Syrian Tank Shells Turkey, Yet The Response Is Silence. Why?

Turkish soldiers stand guard in the town of Akcakale, just across the border from Syria, on Oct. 4. The Turks have often issued stern warnings and retaliated when shooting from the Syrian war has come across their border. But Turkey did not respond to an incident over the weekend.
Bulent Kilic AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 10:28 am

Whenever the Syrian military fires across the border into Turkey, it threatens to ignite a major confrontation.

But sometimes the Turks choose to play down cross-border attacks on their territory, and an episode Saturday shows how complicated these shootings can be in a war that continues to evolve.

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The Two-Way
6:02 am
Mon December 3, 2012

His Holiness Comes To Twitter: Pope Benedict Is '@Pontifex'

Pope Benedict XVI. He'll be spreading the word on Twitter.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 10:29 am

Starting Dec. 12, the Vatican says, Pope Benedict XVI will be on Twitter to answer questions about faith.

His Holiness will be posting as @Pontifex.

"The handle is a good one. It means 'pope' and it also means 'bridge builder'," Greg Burke, senior media adviser to the Vatican, tells Reuters.

Can he say a lot in 140 characters or less?

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Latin America
2:57 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Abad's 'Oblivion' Puts A Face On Colombia's Dead

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.

Middle East
2:57 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Egypt's Draft Constitution Divides Nation

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 3:12 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

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World
2:57 am
Mon December 3, 2012

U.N. Telecommunications Conference

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.

Middle East
2:57 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Israeli Settlement Plan

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

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Books
1:20 am
Mon December 3, 2012

No Rules In The Great 'Game' Of Afghan Politics

Courtesy of PublicAffairs

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 2:57 am

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.

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Food
3:06 pm
Sun December 2, 2012

Somali Chef Seizes The Chance To Return Home

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.)

Asia
3:59 am
Sun December 2, 2012

In Pakistan, Secrets Of A 3,000-Year-Old Cemetery

The graves were apparently opened and reopened multiple times, serving more than one generation.
Courtesy of ACT Project

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 1:46 pm

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.

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World
3:58 am
Sun December 2, 2012

Kazakhstan Celebrates First, And Only, President

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 3:59 am

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.

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