At the Winter Olympics, the men's singles luge competition wrapped up last night. That's the sport where athletes lie on their backs, feet first, on a tiny sled and slide down an ice track at speeds of over 80 miles an hour. It looks dangerous and it is. But even athletes with little chance of winning gold keep taking the risk to compete. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.
There was a U.S. diplomatic gaff last week. It involved an expletive used by an assistant secretary of State to express a rather rude form of anger at the European Union during a private phone conversation. The phone call was intercepted by someone — presumably another government — and leaked.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Iran is marking the anniversary of its Islamic revolution. It's the 35th anniversary of the protests that ended in 1979 with the overthrow of a U.S. ally, the Shah of Iran. The government that has ruled ever since uses Death to America as one of its basic slogans but the possibility of better relations emerged after the election of a new Iranian president last year.
And it's time to talk sports, specifically the Olympics; the skill, the precision, the pure athleticism. And yes, the style. And we're talking specifically about ice skating, because our own Mike Pesca has some thoughts on that sport.
Good morning, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello. How are you?
MARTIN: Hello. I am well. So, I understand Olympic ice skating has undergone some reforms in recent years. Do tell? What changed?
Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 10:37 am
Controversy is nothing new to figure skating, so perhaps it's not surprising that team figure skating, new to this Olympics, has already come in for some unwanted attention. The Russian and U.S. figure skating teams are strongly denying reports that they are in collusion.
Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 9:59 am
The owners of a Bangladesh garment factory that caught fire in 2012, killing 112 workers, have surrendered to police to face homicide charges.
Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, were charged in December but remained free until their surrender on Sunday. The couple were denied bail. If found guilty, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The Tazreen Fashions factory, which produced clothing for retail giants such as Wal-Mart, lacked emergency exits and other safety measures.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR NEW. I'm Rachel Martin.
This past week, France became the first European country to destroy illegal ivory in a high profile public demonstration. It did so underneath the Eiffel Tower as part of a global effort to call attention to the illicit ivory trade. Officials say the trade not only wipes out the world's population of elephants, it also funds terrorism.
This coming week, the U.S. Agency for International Development plans to announce a new monitoring program that is designed to keep track of the aid dollars being spent in Afghanistan. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Larry Sampler, head of USAID programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Humanitarian workers continue to try to evacuate civilians from the besieged Syrian city of Homs as negotiators in Geneva prepare for the next round of peace talks. NPR's Rachel Martin gets the latest from reporter Alice Fordham in Geneva.
In an open dump, in a village outside of Tacloban in the central Philippines, we're sloshing through rainwater and leachate — that's the goo that comes out of rotting trash — while Tim Walsh surveys the site.
"Just walk on the dry bit," he says. "I've got used to the smell over the years and you get immune to it. But for most people the smell of decaying rubbish is not really very pleasant."
Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 5:11 am
It's one of the most dangerous sports at the Olympic Games. And when Indian slider Shiva Keshavan crashed from his sled during a training run at the luge track Friday, his miraculous recovery went viral.
Flying through icy curves feet first, Keshavan thundered down the frozen tunnel, the scraping blades or "steels" of his small sled sounding like a runaway train.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
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RATH: Unless you've been under a rock, you know the Winter Olympics are here. Vladimir Putin's government has committed massive resources to make this a shining moment for modern Russia. But for months, unwelcome stories have loomed in the background, casting Russia in a very un-modern light. Life is still dangerous for political dissidents. And a crackdown on gay rights has triggered outrage across the world.
Aid workers trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to the besieged, rebel-held district of Homs, were wounded on Saturday after reportedly coming under fire from "armed terrorist groups," the label authorities give to rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
Four Syrian Arab Red Crescent workers were hurt in the reported attack, according to Syrian state television. Opposition groups did not immediately respond to the allegations.
As NPR's Alice Fordham reports, it's the latest sign that a hard-won ceasefire is fraying.
Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 10:36 am
A court in France has ordered a most public shaming for Google, telling the Internet giant it must display a notice on its French search page acknowledging it's been fined over how it tracked and stored user information.
The $200,000 fine was imposed in January by the French National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL) for violating consumer privacy.
According to Google Translate, the above notice reads:
Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Bashar Assad's regime of using starvation as a weapon of war. Critics say the U.S. has not done enough to stop the violence, but Washington doesn't have many options.
Originally published on Sat February 8, 2014 10:44 am
A Spanish-led consortium charged with a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal lock system has halted work after a disagreement over massive cost overruns in the project.
The BBC says the consortium, known as Grupo Unido por el Canal (GUPC), announced that work had been stopped because it's owed $1.6 billion for a project to build a third set of locks designed to handle bigger ships than can currently fit through the canal. The original price tag was set at $3.2 billion.
Before her family went into hiding, Anne Frank gave away some of her toys to her neighbor, Toosje Kupers. The gift included a set of marbles, now on display at at an art gallery in Rotterdam. NPR's Scott Simon takes a moment to note the childhood gift.
The problems with decrepit hotel rooms and stray dogs in Sochi, Russia, are stealing the headlines, but they are hardly the first Olympics to stumble. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Esquire Magazine's AJ Jacobs about some of the more inglorious moments in Winter Olympics history.
Talks are underway between representatives of the Taliban and Pakistan's government. Meanwhile, the U.S. appears to have slowed the pace of drone attacks on Pakistan, which may be intended to allow Islamabad to pursue these peace talks. NPR's Scott Simon talks to Shuja Nawaz, the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council.
That's the sound of protesters outside a courtroom in Spain where Princess Christina, the youngest daughter of the king of Spain is testifying before judges. She's accused of committing tax fraud and money laundering. She could face jail time. This is the first time a Spanish royal has ever been named a suspect in a criminal case and it's shaking the support of Spaniards for their monarchy. Lauren Frayer has been following this story and joins us from Madrid. Lauren, thanks for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. In Afghanistan, the United Nation has just released its annual survey of civilian casualties in the country, and the news is grim. NPR's Sean Carberry reports from Kabul.
SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: Last year at this time, there was a sense of optimism. Civilian casualties finally appeared to be declining. But the new report shows a 14 percent increase in civilian casualties in 2013 with nearly 3,000 killed and more than 5500 injured.