Ukraine says its military has killed 30 pro-Russian separatists as government forces try to retake Slovyansk and other cities near the border with Russia. At least four Ukrainian soldiers have died, and separatists shot down a helicopter in eastern Ukraine.
The helicopter's "crew escaped because they apparently crashed into a riverbed once it was shot down," NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.
Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the death toll in Slovyansk on Tuesday.
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Let's get an update now on a struggle starting to look more like a war in Ukraine. At least four Ukrainian soldiers and 30 pro-Russian fighters have been killed in this latest round of fighting as the government tries to retake cities near the border with Russia. Several Ukrainian helicopters have been shot down by well-armed separatists.
At the end of a weathered street lined with sooty apartment blocks and minimarkets, in a smoky budget hotel in central Athens, the refugees wait.
"This lobby is like Syria," says a small, green-eyed man who calls himself Muhammad and says he's from Aleppo. "That guy is from Damascus," he says, pointing. "That one is from Homs, that one from Latakia."
There are about 80 Syrians here, including six neighbors from Yarmouk, the Palestinian neighborhood in Damascus. They sit together at a table in the hotel's breakfast room, sipping sweet, hot Nescafe from tall glasses.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new measure that will give the government much greater control over the Internet.
Critics say the law is aimed at silencing opposition bloggers and restricting what people can say on social media. It would also force international email providers and social networks to make their users' information available to the Russian security services.
It is, says the World Health Organization, "an extraordinary event." Polio is spreading to a degree that constitutes a public health emergency.
The global drive to wipe out the virus had driven the number of polio cases down from 300,000 in the late 1980s to just 417 cases last year. The World Health Organization has set a goal of wiping out polio by 2018.
A Human Rights Watch report documents brutal force used by Venezuelan security forces against peaceful demonstrators — including beatings, shootings and, in some cases, torture. The report also shows how security forces work in cahoots with pro-government armed gangs, calling the abuses the worst they have seen in years.
Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry called the kidnapping of the Nigerian girls an unconscionable crime. And he promised the U.S. would do everything possible to help return the young women to their homes and hold the perpetrators to justice.
So, just what might that everything possible mean? For insights on that I'm joined by Richard Downie. He's deputy director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington.
Nigerian Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed credit for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls. The girls remain missing, and parents are pressing the government to find and bring them home. The president's wife has ordered the arrest of the parent who is leading the protests demanding government action.
When Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, was released in September 2013 — along with 11 other high-profile political prisoners — many Iranians saw the move as opening a new era following the election of centrist President Hassan Rouhani.
He had promised to release political prisoners rounded up after the contested 2009 elections, when thousands of protesters, known as the Green Movement, were tried and jailed.
I am Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Continuing with our top story today we want to look at what activists have been doing around the world in response to the kidnapping of those 200-plus schoolgirls in Nigeria. On Twitter, activists have started a hashtag campaign #BringBackOurGirls to keep focus on the crisis and to keep-up pressure on the government.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. We're going to start the program today with a story we've been covering closely for the last few weeks - the kidnapping of more than 200 girls at a boarding school in Nigeria last month. There have been a number of new developments we want to tell you about, including mounting pressure on the government of Nigeria to step up its efforts to find the girls. That pressure coming from the streets of Nigeria, online and in cities around the world.
And a new round of nuclear talks get underway with Iran today in New York. Hopes are high for a deal that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. For one thing, just yesterday, Iran announced that international inspectors would be allowed to visit two key Iranian production sites there. Still, human rights groups are concerned that Iran's poor record on human rights are being ignored in a rush to reach a nuclear deal, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
It seems hard to believe now, but the tit-for-tat ethnic killing that threatens to tear apart the country of South Sudan began with little more than a political tug of war. I was almost pulled into it myself on a trip there in December. One early evening, I was in the middle of interviewing the former Minister of Education Peter Adwok when police came to arrest him.
And if you're just joining us, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Climate change is melting polar ice at an alarming rate. While this terrifies many people, especially those living near sea level, some businesses are seeing an opportunity, a big opportunity. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the year-round ice cover in the Arctic is now half the size it was in the 1980s. And previously inaccessible natural resources are now there for the taking.
Gerry Adams, the leader of the mostly Catholic party Sinn Fein, was released Sunday after five days of police questioning about a 1972 murder. Adams' arrest had rattled the delicate power-sharing arrangement in Northern Ireland. His release was confirmed by a police statement today.
Urging the release of separatists detained during Friday's unrest that left dozens dead, more than 100 pro-Russia activists surrounded a police station in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa Sunday.
Update at 4:30 p.m. ET: More Activists Released
Police in Odessa say 67 pro-Russia activists were freed Sunday.
CNN quotes the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's website:
This past month in North Korea, Will Phillipps was one of a group of foreign amateur runners who were allowed to participate for the first time in the Pyongyang marathon. Phillipps is a British expat living in Beijing. And he wrote about his experience for the Roads and Kingdoms online travel magazine. We reached them via Skype, and he told us that, as you can imagine, there were a few restrictions for participants.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. There is more grim news out of Afghanistan this weekend. As many as 2,500 people are feared dead after two devastating landslides in the northeastern part of the country Friday. Torrential rains caused a hillside to collapse, burying hundreds of homes and more than 30 feet of mud.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Next week, South Africa will go to the polls. It's a milestone election, coming 20 years after the country's first free election in 1994. It is also the first general election since the death of Nelson Mandela last December. For academics Katherine Newman and Ariane De Lannoy, this was an important moment to assess South Africa.
The Ukrainian government is describing its offensive against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country as an "anti-terrorist operation," language that offends the separatists and Russia.
In turn, Russia is using even stronger language, saying that the Ukrainian military has launched a "punitive operation." While that may not carry any special meaning to Western ears, it has far more sinister implications for Russians.