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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Two emotions are palpable this week on the streets of Havana. Publicly, Cubans are mourning the death of Fidel Castro who was their president for nearly half a century. Privately, some express hope for change in the unyielding rule of the Castro family. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports. CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Throughout the country and state offices, workers gathered to mourn in official ceremonies. MARIA IRENE BALBIN: ...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: In Syria, the civil war, which has been raging for more than five years, might have reached a turning point. Forces who are loyal to Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, have made a big push into rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo. And NPR's Alice Fordham has been covering this story from Beirut. Alice, good morning. ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: Good morning, David. GREENE: So you've been covering this war in this...

A plane carrying a Brazilian professional soccer team crashed in the mountains near Medellín, Colombia, late Monday, killing 71 people. Five people survived the crash of the charter plane, according to authorities. Officials initially reported that the plane was carrying 81 people and that, variously, 75 or 76 of them had died. "The British Aerospace 146 aircraft was carrying Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team to a tournament in Medellín, Colombia's second-largest city," John Otis reports for...

Markenson Germain sits on a rickety, pieced-together bench, devouring fork after fork of poul fri (fried chicken) sizzling over a bed of rice and beans, a staple of Haitian cuisine. He keeps his head down, smiling every so often as he fills up on the savory, delicately spicy dish. Germain, a Haitian refugee living in Tijuana, crossed 10 countries before arriving in the Mexican border city just under three weeks ago. The road has been long, incredibly difficult and is not yet over. He waits in...

It's the fifth annual #Giving Tuesday — a holiday marketing tradition inspired by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, but with a twist. Today thousands of charities are asking us to open our wallets. But how can we be sure the group we donate to is effective — that we're getting the most bang for our charity buck? That question was vexing Elie Hassenfeld several years ago. He worked at a hedge fund, and he and a colleague wanted to give money to charity. Since they are...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: People in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq have lived under ISIS for two years. Now they are living under assault from troops that are trying to free the city from ISIS control. The assault on the city started more than a month ago and civilians are caught in the crossfire. As winter approaches, things are getting worse. Alex Milutinovic is the International Rescue Committee's Iraq country director. He joins us...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Some people see reason to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro - among them, surviving veterans of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. That's when about 1,500 Cuban exiles trained by the CIA landed on the island's shores in a failed attempt to topple Castro's government. From Miami, NPR's Adrian Florido reports that for the surviving fighters, the celebration of Castro's death has been bittersweet. ADRIAN FLORIDO,...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: In Cuba today, thousands of people lined up to pay their respects to the late Fidel Castro whose body was cremated over the weekend. NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro filed this report from a packed Plaza of the Revolution in the heart of Havana. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: In life, Fidel towered over his people, and so he did in death. His memorial has been erected, perched on a hill at the massive stone obelisk...

When President Obama began opening up to Cuba two years ago, reversing U.S. policy that dated back more than a half-century, he relied on executive orders that did not require the blessing of Congress. That means President-elect Donald Trump could easily undo Obama's actions. And on the campaign trail, Trump said he would "terminate" Obama's orders that opened the way for travel and trade with Cuba, unless the U.S. could negotiate better terms. Trump's election victory, Fidel Castro's death...

On Nov. 18, Dambara Upadhyay slept in a hut outside her house. It's a common practice in some villages in western Nepal — women who are menstruating sleep in a small hut or shed out of a fear they will contaminate the home or anger the Hindu gods if they remain indoors. Many people in this part of the country believe family members or livestock will get sick, or even die, if a menstruating woman doesn't stick to the rules. The next morning, family members discovered that 26-year-old Upadhyay...

Across India, protesters rallied Monday against a controversial government decision to void the country's largest-denomination bank notes. All existing 500- and 1,000-rupee notes have been canceled. Critics say the currency move, which was designed to combat corruption and target the black market, has been mismanaged. They say it has made life disproportionately difficult for India's poorest people because they are less likely to have a bank account. The protests were organized by several...

When I visited Chief Inspector Paulito Sabulao in September, he was getting heat from his boss — who was getting heat from his bosses — about why Sabulao's men hadn't killed any drug suspects in the two months since the drug war began. Sabulao is not in trouble anymore. "We've recorded 12 dead," he says, with dozens more arrested. In one of the most recent encounters, Sabulao had a close call when a suspect fired at him with a .38 caliber revolver. His vest saved him, Sabulao says,...

Ask any displaced Texan what they miss from home and they'll likely list a few items: brisket, football, higher speed limits, tacos and kolaches. Now, if you're lucky enough to have had a kolache, you know it's a Texas staple, but if you haven't had one, you're probably still trying to figure out how to pronounce the word. It's "ko-lah-chee." Kolaches are Czech pastries made of a yeast dough and usually filled with fruit, but sometimes cheese. The ultra-traditional flavors — such as poppy...

There's a new museum in the West Bank dedicated to an iconic and controversial world figure: the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Visitors can get a peek at Arafat memorabilia and walk through the small compound in Ramallah where he was kept confined, surrounded by Israeli tanks, in the final years of his life. When Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, died in 2004, he was buried in a parking lot amid the ruins of his compound, which Israel had partially...

In Syria, thousands of civilians are fleeing eastern Aleppo as pro-government forces advance on rebel-held territory. The city has been divided between the regime-held west and rebel-controlled east since 2012. Now, as The Two-Way reported Sunday , government forces are pushing to split the rebel-held territory in half. The pro-Assad troops have made substantial gains; according to Syrian state media and an opposition-leaning monitor, the forces have taken several key residential areas, NPR's...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: We're about to hear something that nobody has heard in decades - the sound of Cuba without Fidel Castro. He left power back in 2008, passing the presidency to his brother, but his hold on the Cuban people persisted until his death, which was announced on Friday. NPR's Carrie Kahn is in Havana. Hi, Carrie. CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve. INSKEEP: What have you been seeing and hearing? KAHN: It's quite...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Francois Fillon has won the French mainstream conservative party's presidential primary. He's now going to face off against a candidate from the left and another from the far right next May in France's presidential election. Fillon was a distant third in polls but won big with two-thirds of the vote. So what happened here? Well, let's ask NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who's on the line from Paris. Hi, Eleanor. ELEANOR...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Mogadishu, Somalia, the city once synonymous with chaos, is slightly more functional than it used to be. And one reason may be the man we'll hear about next. He was mayor of Mogadishu from 2010 to 2014. Mohamoud Tarzan Nur was on this program a few years ago. Yes, Tarzan, that's his nickname. He spoke of his ambitions back in 2012. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST) MOHAMOUD NUR: Mogadishu used to be one of the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Now let's check in on a European country that has been resisting the flow of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Europe. Hungary has not been the final destination for very many refugees, but it has been a stop on the road farther north. And it has now slowed the flow through a border with Serbia using a long fence and patrols. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson visited before the fence was in place and went...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Let's get a look at the fight to retake the city of Mosul in Iraq from the Islamic State. Iraqi forces have been waging that fight for some weeks with U.S. help. And NPR's Peter Kenyon is in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq not far away. Hi, Peter. PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve. INSKEEP: How's the Iraqi offensive going? KENYON: Slowly but it's still an advance. There's a brigadier general from the Iraqi Army who...

When two starving lions were brought to Jordan this year from an animal park in the Gaza Strip, the animals had never set foot on anything but concrete and metal. The lions — Sultan and Sabrine — are among the first inhabitants of a new wildlife preserve that opened in October amid almost 350 acres of protected forest. The animals will live in large enclosures in their new home. "It was the first time ever they had been off concrete. It was the first time ever they had felt a tree," says...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST: The Cuban government's nine-day period of mourning for Fidel Castro has begun in Cuba. The former leader and revolutionary was cremated yesterday. His ashes will be interred at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery a week from today. NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro is in Havana. She joins me now. Lulu, you got to Havana today. What is the mood there? LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: It's strange. It's extremely subdued, as you...

For years, Americans have been eager to visit Cuba, not just for its Caribbean warmth, but to seek out the roots of the island's music, to watch its films, to thumb through its books and meet its writers. Fidel Castro's death Friday has again spiked interest in the country among Americans. And, with diplomatic relations thawing between the U.S. and Cuba, now more than ever it's possible to explore the island's culture at its origin. But where to start? To answer that question, we turned to...

In France's presidential primary election for the mainstream conservative party, Alain Juppé conceded defeat to Francois Fillon. The 71-year-old Juppé congratulated Fillon, 62, on a "wide victory," according to The Associated Press. The AP reported the election results showed Juppé winning 32 percent of the vote compared to Fillon's 68 percent. Fillon had surged "in popularity in recent weeks over longtime favorite" Juppé, the news service said. Fillon, whose policies fall further to the...

Hundreds of Turkish military personnel working for NATO have been accused by their government of trying to overthrow Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July. Since that failed military coup attempt, in which 260 people were killed, high-ranking officers at NATO installations across Europe and the U.S. have been summarily fired or had their foreign assignments curtailed. In Brussels, several Turkish officers, who until recently had been assigned to NATO, spoke with NPR and requested...

In the Syrian city of Aleppo, forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad have established full control of the largest rebel-held district, Masaken Hanano, according to Syria's state news agency. The government fighters are moving to take back the battered eastern side of Aleppo that has been largely under rebel control since 2012. NPR's Alison Meuse reports Assad's forces are "pressing to split the besieged side of Aleppo in two." The BBC said , "Syrian forces regained [Masaken Hanano] on Saturday — a...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: Fidel Castro's death comes at a time of a changing relationship between the U.S. and Cuba and a changing administration here at home. Nearly two years ago, the Obama administration and Castro's brother, Raul, announced a prisoner exchange and agreed to restore diplomatic relations after decades of hostility. How much of a role did Fidel Castro play? That's a question NPR's Michele Kelemen put to Cuba-watchers....

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: Fidel Castro is being remembered all over the world, as far afield as the Lebanese capital Beirut. There, NPR's Alison Meuse found a shrine to the heyday of Lebanon's Communist Party. UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hello. ALISON MEUSE, BYLINE: When you walk into the hole-in-the-wall that is Abu Elie, you feel nostalgia. The playlist hasn't changed in years, maybe decades. Neither has the decor. The walls are lined with...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: Fidel Castro took power in Cuba in 1959, forcing dictator Fulgencio Batista out. At that point, most of Cuba's sugar plantations and other assets were owned by Americans and there was tremendous pressure in this country to remove Castro. In 1961, President John Kennedy tried, supporting a coup attempt that came to be known as the Bay of Pigs. It failed almost immediately. And after that, Castro's control of...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: There is now no doubt among scientists that the Zika virus causes microcephaly in babies born to infected mothers. These babies, born with very small heads, are generally diagnosed at birth. But new research from the federal Centers for Disease Control finds that some babies who appear to be normal at birth develop microcephaly within months due to the Zika virus. Dr. Denise Jamieson is incident manager for...

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