The frail 79-year-old in a pale brown shirt with close-cropped hair sitting at a fast-food restaurant table looks absolutely unremarkable. But Bao Tong has a lightness in his eyes, a confidence that speaks of a man whose conscience is clear, a man with nothing to fear.
"I have become my own person," he says. "When I was a Communist Party member, I had to follow party discipline. When they threw me out of the party, my brain was set free."
One of the most common complaints from Afghan forces and officials is that they don't have the equipment they need to lead the fight in Afghanistan. They routinely call on NATO to provide more cutting-edge hardware for Afghan troops.
Certainly, when you see a U.S. soldier standing next to an Afghan one, the difference is striking. U.S. soldiers are often saddled with pounds and pounds of electronics and gadgets, ranging from GPS units to night-vision goggles and radio-jamming devices.
There's a new development in the British investigation into the allegations of child sex abuse against a late BBC television host: U.K. media, including the BBC, are reporting that police Sunday arrested rocker and convicted sex offender Gary Glitter on suspicion of sex offenses.
Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 11:59 am
Move over Abba, Sweden has found new fame. The small Nordic country is breaking records — in waste. Sweden's program of generating energy from garbage is wildly successful, but recently its success has also generated a surprising issue: There is simply not enough trash.
Not so long ago, many Chinese commentators wrote in a cautious, oblique style designed not to offend the nation's famously humorless leaders — then came the Internet, blogs and a cheeky young man named Han Han.
The voice of China's post-'80s generation, Han is ironic, skeptical and blunt — writing what many young Chinese think but dare not say publicly.
Now 30 years old, Han has boy-band good looks, drives race cars and has 8 million followers on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:43 pm
Reporting in Afghanistan isn't just challenging because of the security concerns and the complexity of society and the stories here; it's challenging because "facts" are often in the eye of the beholder. Just last week, an incident that seemed to be factual is now an open question: Was there a deadly firefight or not?
And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
Now to a story that comes to us from Chile, which has such a thriving economy that it's often heralded as the most developed country in Latin America. But Chile lags when it comes to equality and women's rights. Women couldn't vote for president until 1952, and less than half of the women who can work do. They also earn a quarter less than men.
Eid al-Adha is one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar. The day marks the end of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It's the feast of the sacrifice, when any Muslim who is able should sacrifice an animal and donate the meat to the poor.
There is little to celebrate in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, however. A cease-fire called for the holiday is already crumbling, and in some areas it never took hold.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has won praise for its unexpected transformation from military dictatorship to civilian rule. But that progress has been overshadowed this week. Fighting among Muslims and Buddhists in the west of the country has killed at least 67 people.
The guns have fallen silent in some areas of Aleppo, but there are still reports of scattered fighting in several parts of Syria. The military and Syrian rebels had agreed to a temporary cease-fire during the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice.
The religious holiday Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, began on Friday across the Muslim world. What is normally a time of celebration is for the 1.6 million residents of the Gaza Strip a reminder of their desperate financial straits after five years of Israeli blockade. This week's fierce exchange of Palestinian rockets and Israeli air and artillery strikes has also sparked fears of another Israeli military operation in Gaza.
One place you don't expect to see waves lapping against the shore is in the middle of a desert. But that's exactly what's happening deep inside the United Arab Emirates, where a recently formed lake is nestled into the sand dunes, and a new ecosystem is emerging.
Drive through the desert in the United Arab Emirates, and all you see mile after mile are red, rolling dunes. Maybe some occasional trees or shrubs, but otherwise a dry, red sandscape.
And then, suddenly, a bright blue spot comes into view. It must be a mirage, you think. But it's not.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we'll sit down with MacArthur Genius fellow, Maurice Lim Miller, and talk about what some call his groundbreaking work on poverty.
But, first, it's time for Faith Matters. That's the part of the program when we talk about faith, religion and spirituality. Many of us are familiar with significant spending on religious holidays and rituals like massive Christmas parties and lavish bar mitzvahs.
There is a remarkable change going on in Mogadishu, Somalia — often dubbed the world's most dangerous city. For starters, it may not deserve that title anymore.
Last year, African Union forces drove the Islamist militant group al-Shabab out of Mogadishu. Now, Somalia has a new president and prime minister who have replaced the corrupt and unpopular transitional government.
Hope is edging aside despair, and Mogadishu is coming back to life.
Britain's Supreme Court has ruled that anyone who believed they were paid less than colleagues of the opposite sex can sue in civil courts, where the statute of limitations is six years. Until now Britons, like Americans, could only file discrimination cases within six months. The initial case involved 174 former "dinner ladies" and other city employees in Birmingham — but it may have reverberations at private and public sector workplaces.
Reston, Manitoba, Canada wants you. The small town is trying to attract new residents and is offering plots of land for $10 to encourage growth. Audie Cornish and Melissa Block have more on what Reston has to offer.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 11:08 am
If you're reading this blog, you're probably into food. Perhaps you're even one of those people whose world revolves around your Viking stove and who believes that cooking defines us as civilized creatures.
Well, on the latter part, you'd be right. At least according to some neuroscientists from Brazil.
Reuters and Fox News have obtained copies of an email sent about two hours after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which the White House, Pentagon and other agencies are told that the Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia had "claimed responsibility."
America's exit strategy in Afghanistan is to have Afghan forces take the lead in fighting for their country. But too often these days, the job still falls to U.S. troops.
A senior officer in Afghanistan tells NPR that Americans continue to coddle Afghan forces and that this must stop. Tough love is in, the officer says. He says the Afghan forces are far more capable than the U.S. estimates and have simply grown accustomed to the U.S. doing everything for them.
That pretty much sums up the situation in southern Afghanistan earlier this year.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
The Emir of Qatar visited the Gaza Strip today. He's the first world leader to do so since 2007, when the Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the Palestinian territory and Israel responded with a blockade. The emir called on Hamas to reconcile with the rival Fatah movement. He also promised some $400 million in reconstruction projects, as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Gaza.
The new head of the British Broadcasting Corporation got a grilling today. It came from British lawmakers probing a widening pedophile scandal at the BBC. George Entwistle was asked how the late DJ and show host Jimmy Savile could get away with molesting underage girls for decades, and the members of Parliament wanted to know why and how a BBC expose on Savile was killed before it could air last year. Vicki Barker reports.
Scientists around the world were stunned yesterday when a judge in Italy found six Italian earthquake experts and a government official guilty of manslaughter. The judge found that the men downplayed the risk of a major earthquake in the city of L'Aquila. A 6.3 magnitude quake struck in early April 2009 and killed more than 300 people. Shortly before that earthquake struck, the scientists had held a meeting in L'Aquila to examine a recent spate of tremors, a so-called swarm of seismic activity.