Ten years and $60 billion in taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether U.S. efforts to rebuild it were worth the cost. That's the finding of a report to Congress by Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
A decade and $60 billion later what does the U.S. have to show for the reconstruction efforts in Iraq? That's the question being answered by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction in his final report to Congress.
The report by Stuart Bowen was based upon audits and inspections, as well as interviews with Iraqi and U.S. officials and politicians. Here's the crux of what happened to that money, according to the report:
I first encountered Hugo Chavez in Caracas, starring in his own television show, Hello, Mr. President. I couldn't take my eyes of the program, which began at 11 a.m. and ended after 7 p.m.
It was an endurance test for even the most die-hard sycophants and terrific entertainment for a first-time viewer. While the camera would pan droopy-eyed Cabinet members seated in the front row, El Presidente showed no signs of flagging.
At the seven-hour mark, he chirped, "Bueno!" and declared, "It's early! Let's keep talking."
It's been nearly two months since a masked man in Moscow threw sulfuric acid in the face of the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director, Sergei Filin. He suffered burns and his sight was damaged. Well, today, Moscow police announced they've arrested three men who have confessed to the crime and that includes a lead soloist with the Bolshoi.
The police released footage of the dancer after his arrest. He's 29-year-old Pavel Dmitrichenko.
More than three decades ago, Soviet soldier Bakhretdin Khakimov went missing in Afghanistan after he was wounded in battle with Afghan mujahedeen forces.
His whereabouts remained unknown until two weeks ago, when he was tracked down by a team from the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee, a Moscow-based nonprofit that looks for Soviet MIAs in Afghanistan.
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.
The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.
And as I've just mentioned, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday. He led his country for 14 years. A passionate defender of the poor, Chavez had closed ties with Cuba's Fidel Castro, but alienated the United States with his socialist agenda. His politics reverberated throughout the region.
Kenyan election observers and voters in the mixed slum of Kiambiu — where the first fires started in Nairobi after the disputed presidential election of 2007 — vote in this year's elections. Could something as innocent as the color of the ballots and ballot boxes be contributing to voting "irregularities"?
Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:44 pm
In Kenya, colorblindness may be contributing to more than just questionable sartorial combinations. Some observers say it may have something to do with the hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots — a term for disqualified or invalidated votes — in Monday's presidential election, adding new delays to declaring a winner and raising the possibility of a costly and contentious runoff election in April.
Reaz Qadir Khan, 48, was accused Tuesday of giving money and advice to terrorists. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Khan helped plan a suicide bomb attack on Pakistan's intelligence headquarters in 2009.
A Portland, Ore., resident was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The FBI alleges that Reaz Qadir Khan, 48, gave money and advice to a man involved in a deadly 2009 suicide bomb attack on the headquarters of Pakistan's intelligence service in Lahore.
The attack resulted in an estimated 30 deaths and 300 injuries. Khan, a naturalized U.S. citizen, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is found guilty. FBI agents arrested him at his home Tuesday morning.
When residents of the southern Chinese village of Shangpu staged an uprising, police set up a roadblock on the main road to keep outsiders away, including reporters. Here, a policeman mans the roadblock on Saturday.
Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 10:41 am
On occasion my job requires me to sneak into a Chinese village as I did earlier this week to report a story on a rural uprising. This does not come naturally. I'm 6-foot-2 with gray hair and blue eyes and don't look remotely like a Chinese farmer.
South Korea upped the ante Wednesday after Pyongyang threatened to scrap the armistice that ended a brutal war between the rival neighbors in 1953, promising retaliation for any North Korean attack.
"If North Korea carries out provocations that threaten the lives and safety of South Koreans, our military will carry out strong and resolute retaliations," South Korea's Gen. Kim Yong-hyun told reporters in Seoul.
Secretary of State John Kerry says he believes that arms are reaching the rebels in Syria and that the U.S. supports international efforts to put weapons in the hands of the opposition to step up pressure on President Bashar Assad.
At a news conference in Doha with Qatar's Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, Kerry said Tuesday that "there are greater guarantees that weapons are being transferred to moderates and directly to the Syrian opposition."
Baby Haobo. For many netizens in China, this pixelated image of the infant who suffered a grisly death is a stark reminder of disturbing changes in the country's values system. The picture has spread quickly across Chinese websites.
Kenya is in the midst of counting votes - slowly - in its presidential election, which went off smoothly despite fears of political violence. So far the candidate who is the favorite to win is one of the richest men in Africa and a man who is also accused of crimes against humanity. NPR's Gregory Warner has this update from Nairobi.
Now, when Hugo Chavez was in power, tens of thousands of Venezuelans fled their homeland and rebuilt their lives in South Florida. They're not losing a lot of time mourning now. Christine DiMattei reports from member station WLRN in Miami.
CHRISTINE DIMATTEI, BYLINE: It's busier than usual inside Cafe Canela, but owner Ramon Peraza repeatedly comes out from behind the counter to give new arrivals a hug or a handshake. All of them are jubilant.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Let's review the legacy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He loomed larger than almost any other leader in Latin America. After failing to take over his oil-rich country in a coup, the former military officer won election to the presidency and kept it until his death yesterday.
The death of Hugo Chavez could mean as much for Cuba as it will for Venezuela. As we just heard, Chavez looked to Fidel Castro for inspiration, and Castro has supplied Venezuela with thousands of Cuban doctors, health workers and security specialists. In return, Chavez sent a massive amount of Venezuelan oil to Cuba at cut-rate prices, and thus helped keep the Cuban economy afloat during years of crisis.
Joining us now is NPR's Tom Gjelten. Good morning.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
Venezuela is in a state of mourning for its late president, Hugo Chavez. The outsized leader died yesterday in the capital, Caracas, after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 58. Hugo Chavez was both a polarizing and charismatic figure, and during his long rule he became an icon, beloved by Venezuela's poor and others in the region who admired his defiant stance toward the U.S.
A new study of Central African forest elephants has found their numbers down by 62 percent between 2002 and 2011. The study comes as governments and conservationists meet in Thailand to amend the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Some Syrians living comfortably in the U.S. are understandably wracked with guilt that they can't do more to help their countrymen. Each has his own way of dealing with the situation. But now that the liberated north is easier to reach, they're starting to come back and many of them visiting parts of the country they've never seen before. We profile a Syrian-American gun enthusiast who's doing his part to arm and train the rebels.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks in a televised address in January 2002 at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. Chavez vowed justice for two men who were shot and killed Jan. 3 at a political rally in a battle between Chavez supporters, opposition marchers and security forces.
Credit Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Venezuelans wait for hours in gas lines in Caracas on Dec. 21, 2002, the 20th day of a general strike protesting Chavez's rule. The strike temporarily crippled Venezuela's vital oil industry.
Credit Adalberto Roque / AFP/Getty Images
Cuban President Fidel Castro greets Chavez upon his arrival in Havana in December 1994. The two leaders were steadfast allies.
Credit Rodrigo Abd / AP
Standing next to a portrait of independence hero Simon Bolivar, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks during a press conference at Miraflores Palace in the capital, Caracas, in October 2012.
Credit Miraflores/Getty Images
Chavez delivers a televised address on Jan. 5, 2002, two days after clashes between his supporters and opponents left two men dead. He was briefly deposed a few months later in a coup that he claimed the Bush administration was behind.
Credit Juan Barreto / AFP/Getty Images
Chavez attends a welcoming ceremony for his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales (left), at the presidential palace in Caracas in September 2011.
Credit AFP/Getty Images
Chavez and his wife, Marisabel, wave to supporters in July 1998, as Chavez arrives at the National Electoral Council to register for the presidential election. He won the election by a landslide.
Credit Ali Gomez / AP
As a lieutenant colonel in 1992, Chavez led a failed attempt to oust President Carlos Andres Perez. Here he speaks with reporters at the Defense Ministry after he surrendered to troops loyal to the president.
Credit Fernando Llano / AP
A man holds up an image of Chavez as people gather to pray for him at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas on Dec. 11, 2012. Chavez was in Cuba at the time for cancer treatment.
Credit Jorge Santo / AP
Chavez addresses a crowd in Caracas on Feb. 4, 1998, the anniversary of the failed 1992 coup that would launch his military career.
Credit Egilda Gomez / AFP/Getty Images
Chavez inspects the Air Force in Catilletes, near the border with Colombia, in March 2001.
Credit Ariana Cubillos / AP
Chavez waves next to his daughter, Rosa Virginia, during a military parade in Caracas in February 2012, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the failed coup attempt that launched his political career.
Credit Granma / AP
Chavez speaks with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana in June 2011. Chavez went to Cuba to undergo surgery.
Secretary of State John Kerry is wrapping up his first official overseas trip to Europe and the Middle East. He's shifted U.S. policy on Syria, offering direct assistance to the opposition coalition and non-lethal aid to fighters. He's also offered Egypt's Islamist government $190 million to avert a budget crisis and he's warning Iran that talks can't go on indefinitely.
A North Korean (right) and a South Korean soldier facing each other at the Panmunjom truce village in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas in Paju, about 30 miles north of Seoul. (2011 file photo.)
While diplomats move ahead at the United Nations on a package of new sanctions aimed at North Korea in another effort to convince that Stalinist state to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, there's also this news:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been battling cancer for months, is in a "very delicate" condition, with breathing difficulties and a severe respiratory infection, a government statement says.
The statement, read out Monday by Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas, spells out the 58-year-old socialist leader's decline since his December surgery in Cuba for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area:
That's not a real bishop on the left: A man later identified as Ralph Napierski of Germany (at left) posed with Cardinal Sergio Sebiastiana and others on Monday at the Vatican. Napierski was an imposter. He was later escorted from the area by Swiss Guards.
Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep with a call for a reform at the United Nations.
Joseph M. Torsella represents the United States on the U.N. budget committee. He says it's a tough budget process, complicated by diplomats who show up drunk. Ambassador Torsella made, quote, "the modest proposal that the negotiating room should be inebriation-free." He says he wants this, even though sloshed negotiators have provided the U.S. with, quote, "strategic opportunities." It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
With baseball gone from the Olympics, the World Baseball Classic is the only international professional baseball tournament. Former Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he put on a uniform again to manage the U.S. team because it's a privilege.