There has been a small but potentially important breakthrough in the faltering Afghan peace process. In what is considered a good-faith gesture, Pakistan last week released at least nine Afghan Taliban prisoners. The move is seen as part of an emerging new strategy by Pakistan as it eyes the looming drawdown of U.S. and Western troops in Afghanistan.
Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:25 pm
Robert Siegel talks to Aaron David Miller, Vice President at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars who has worked on Middle East policy at the State Department under past Republican and Democratic administrations. Miller points out that while the world is focused on the issue of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the leadership in the other Palestinian territory, the West Bank, is seeing diminished clout. Milller says the militant approach of Hamas is drawing support from many Palestinians.
With the conflict in Gaza on its seventh day on Tuesday, Egypt dispatched its foreign minister to Gaza City at the head of an Arab delegation. Egyptian officials say a ceasefire deal could be reached soon, but meanwhile the Israeli air strikes and Hamas rocket attacks continued. Anthony Kuhn talks to Audie Cornish.
Russia has a problem with drunken passengers on airplanes. On its national airline, for example, more than 1,000 incidents of disorderly conduct in the past three years, most of them involving drinking. Now, aviation officials are considering drastic measures, as NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow.
Since an escalation in fighting between Gaza and Israel last week, there have been more than 100 casualties on Gaza's side of the border. On Israel's there have been three. That low death count in Israel, despite many rockets fired into its territory, is thanks largely to the Israeli "Iron Dome" air defense system. For more on how that system works, Robert Siegel speaks with Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel bureau chief for Defense News.
Berlin is known as the "wild boar capital" in Germany, with thousands of the animals roaming its residential neighborhoods. In the past, the city and animal rights activists battled over hiring hunters to kill the streetwise swine, who cause a lot of damage. But with attacks like the one in late October in which four people were injured by a male boar, curbing the wild pig population in the German capital is a growing priority.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour with growing talk of a cease fire in the fight between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, but at this point, it is still just talk. Officials in Israel and in Egypt, where negotiations are underway, say there is no agreement yet. In the meantime, the fighting has intensified, with more casualties on both sides.
The Grand Place in downtown Brussels can be a feast for the senses: the wafting scent of hot waffles, shop windows chock-full of chocolate, exquisite Baroque architecture.
But that's not all you'll find on the quaint cobblestone streets as the city that serves as both the capital of Belgium and the headquarters of the European Union. There's also puke, dog poop, trash, spit, drug addicts, drunks and brawls.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Congolese rebels today captured the city of Goma, as government troops melted away and U.N. peacekeepers stood by. And if that sounds a bit like deja vu, you may be remembering a similar battle on the same ground four years ago, or parts of other wars that have ravaged the eastern part of Congo for nearly two decades now, wars blamed for the deaths of five million over those years, along with a long list of associated crimes including systematic rape, looting and child soldiers.
Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 12:50 pm
Editor's Note: This story on the smuggling tunnels in the Gaza Strip was originally published in November 2012, the last time the Israelis and Palestinians were engaged in heavy fighting. In light of the current fighting, and with the tunnels being a key point of contention, we are republishing the story with minor changes to bring it up to date.
Calling it the "sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said today that the U.K. is officially recognizing the Syrian National Coalition, Reuters reports.
According to NPR's Jackie Northam, who is in Islamabad, Pakistan's High Court today threw out the charge against Rimsha because there was no hard evidence that she ever burned pages of the Quran, as neighbors had charged.
Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 7:53 am
(We rewrote the top of this post at 6:55 p.m. ET to sum up the day's news.)
Diplomatic efforts accelerated and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the region on Tuesday, but despite the buildup, despite the rumors of imminent peace, there was no cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer in for Steve Inskeep.
After attending the annual summit of Southeast Asian leaders, President Obama is winging his way home this morning. And tomorrow, he'll issue the traditional Thanksgiving turkey pardon. Then after the holiday it's back to budget talks with congressional leaders deciding what else might be spared, and what government programs or tax breaks might feel the knife.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won't be hurrying home today, along with the president, but rather she's going to Jerusalem. There, she'll meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then on to meetings with Palestinians on the West Bank - and then to Cairo. The swirl of diplomatic activity is aimed at brokering a truce between Israel and Gaza. Rockets and missiles continue to fly, today, between Israel and the Hamas militants that now control Gaza.
For more on the politics within the Palestinian territories, we turn now to NPR's Anthony Kuhn in Gaza. He reports that the current conflict has helped unite Palestine's various factions and strengthened Hamas' domestic political position.
ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: A video on the Internet shows a concealed metal trapdoor in the ground opening automatically. On the underside of the door are missile tubes and the flag of the Islamic Jihad movement.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Even as talk grows louder about a possible truce, intense air assaults went back and forth over the Israeli and Gaza border today. More Palestinians were killed overnight, pushing the death toll for days of fighting to over 100 for Palestinians and three Israelis.
You may remember that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's only daughter, who had defected to the U.S. in 1967, died last year. Today, The Associated Press reports that the FBI kept close tabs on Lana Peters after her defection to determine how her presence in the U.S. was affecting international relations.
The AP obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act following Peters' death at age 85 in a Wisconsin nursing home.
President Obama visited Myanmar, also known as Burma, on Monday. In doing so, he became the first sitting U.S. president in history to visit the country. He was greeted by cheering crowds and promised the Burmese people that the U.S. would stand by them as Myanmar moved towards greater freedom and democracy. The president's visit was a controversial one, since the government there has yet to release many people the U.S. considers prisoners of conscience and large sections of the population are still suffering inter-communal violence.
Egypt has stepped up negotiations on a cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Hamas' top leader and two senior Israeli envoys were in Cairo and met separately with Egyptian officials, including President Mohammed Morsi. One of Morsi's aides said a truce deal could be imminent.
The Obama Administration is hoping allies like Egypt and Turkey use their influence to persuade Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. But can the U.S. count on that kind of help, with a new government Egypt that doesn't see things the same way? The U.S. has shown no sign that it will pressure Israel to ease tensions. Officials have repeatedly said that Israel has the right to defend itself.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Mumbai was shut down yesterday for a funeral. Not just any funeral, the funeral of Bal Thackeray, the 86-year-old political boss of the city and the Indian state of Maharashtra. Thackeray was a Hindu nationalist extremist who championed the local Marati population of Mumbai against newcomers to the city, including Muslims.
More now on Hamas, which is an Islamist group. It won the 2006 legislative elections in the Palestinian territories. After briefly belonging to a coalition with the nationalist Fatah movement, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, and it has governed there ever since, under a blockade. For more on Hamas, we're joined now by Professor Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University. Welcome to the program once again.
Israeli war planes bombed the center of Gaza City again on Monday, as the Palestinian death toll neared the 100 mark. At least one Palestinian journalist was killed in an air strike on a building that housed media organizations, including those affiliated with Hamas and other militant groups. Israeli officials, meanwhile, say they are still hoping for a ceasefire agreement that would make a ground offensive into Gaza unnecessary. Audie Cornish talks to Sheera Frenkel.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Jennifer Ludden, in Washington, Neal Conan is away. Conflict between Israel and Gaza continues for a sixth day, as Israel has responded to a barrage of rocket fire from Hamas with air strikes and missiles fired by the Israeli navy. More than 90 Palestinians have been killed and three Israelis. Israel has called up tens of thousands of reservists in case of a possible ground invasion.
Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 7:49 am
This round of Israeli-Palestinian fighting may seem almost identical to all the battles that came before. After all, the Israelis and Palestinians waged an intense fight over the Gaza Strip just four years ago, in December 2008 and January 2009.
But since then, the Arab Spring and its aftermath have radically altered the dynamics of the Middle East. Here are several reasons to look at this clash from a different perspective:
NPR's Scott Horsley, reporting on 'Morning Edition'
We've noted before that whether you call the Southeast Asian nation Burma or Myanmar has mattered to many for many years.
It's official U.S. policy, out of support for the opposition that has pressed for democratic reform in that country, to call it Burma. That's the name the nation was known by before a military regime took power in 1989 and started using Myanmar.
Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 7:07 am
President Obama, in the midst of a five-day trip to Asia, is making stops in Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. But the strongest diplomatic signals are probably aimed farther north, at China, which has significant economic and strategic interests in the region.
Obama, who has billed himself as "America's first Pacific president" has already made several trips to Asia, but his administration's goal of making a "pivot" to the region — both militarily and diplomatically — has been hamstrung by the need to wind down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.