The international drug trade goes in two directions: Narcotics go north and money goes south. All the drug profits made on the streets of U.S. cities like Chicago and Atlanta and Dallas are funneled down to ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border where they're smuggled back into Mexico. In 2012, one federal agency alone, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seized $411 million in cash hidden in vehicles, mostly heading south.
Crimea is a poor region, heavily subsidized by Kiev, and gets all its gas, water and food from Ukraine. Russia doesn't even have a land link with the Crimean peninsula and absorbing it will affect banks, schools, tourism and pensions for residents.
Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 4:48 am
Australian satellite images found objects that are possibly connected to the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing with 239 people on board March 8. "New and credible information has come to light in relation to the search," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his Parliament on Thursday.
"The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search," Abbott said. "Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified."
Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 8:42 am
When Vladimir Putin announced the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea this week, he made it clear that the region's large Russian-speaking population made the move necessary and inevitable.
In fact, large populations of Russian speakers are common along the fringes of the old Soviet Union. Those groups are made up of a combination of indigenous people and Russians who migrated from the mother country, many as part of Soviet-era policies aimed at altering the ethnic makeup in potentially troublesome satellites.
Russian officials were quick to mock the limited economic sanctions on Moscow announced by the U.S. and Europe this week. In response to Russia's annexation of Crimea, Western leaders have frozen the assets of a handful of government officials and also barred them from getting visas to travel to the West.
One year ago Pavel Rucsineanu was running out of options.
Drug-resistant tuberculosis was ravaging his lungs. And the disease had evolved into an incurable form, doctors said.
It's like an "infectious cancer," Dr. Tetru Alexandriuc said at the time. "We have no other medicines" to treat Pavel, the doctor added. Although he wouldn't say it, the doctor expected TB would kill Pavel.
Even as the United States and Europe ratchet up pressure on Russia, the Russian Federation has a lobbying team here in Washington. That might seem odd but it's not unusual, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.
PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: There's no mistaking how the United States feels toward the Russian Federation. Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration strongly condemns Russia's use of force in Crimea.
In the past year, Russia has been a decisive player in several events on the international stage — often to the chagrin of the Obama administration. It gave asylum to former NSA contractorEdward Snowden, blocked United Nations efforts to impose sanctions against the Syrian government and sent troops into Ukraine.
The intrepid tourist who visits the market in the border city of Matamoros will find her between the onyx chess sets and Yucateca hammocks. She looks like a statue of the Grim Reaper dressed in a flowing gown. She is Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.
Originally revered as an underground folk saint in Mexico, her popularity has jumped the Rio Grande and spread to Mexican communities throughout the United States.
My colleagues and I drove 2,428 miles and remained in the same place.
We gathered a team, rented a car, checked the batteries in our recorders and cameras. We moved from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. We crossed deserts, plains and mountains. But all the while, we were living in Borderland — zigzagging across the frontier between Mexico and the United States.
OK, I don't mean to sound off-color, but there really is a place where the sun don't shine - at least for six straight months. Rjukan, Norway sits in a deep valley that runs east to west. It's walled in by mountains 2,500 feet high that block the sun for half the year.
Reporter Jeffrey Kofman tells us how people in town try to bring a little light back into their lives.
When diplomacy fails, governments can turn to sanctions. That's what the U.S. did this week, issuing sanctions against Russian officials. It charges with, quote, contributing to the crisis in Ukraine.
But one thing that prevents sanctions from working is how easy it is for people to hide their assets. They can use shell companies, which have an anonymous owners, or they can use companies hidden in other company - much like Russian nesting dolls.
Now, Russia's actions are being celebrated in Crimea. Many people there are excited about the idea of joining Russia. The emotion is much more downtrodden in the capital, Kiev, where there's a feeling of loss setting in.
More mystery in the story of that missing jetliner. Malaysian officials say files from a flight simulator owned by the captain of the plane were deleted last month. They're trying to retrieve them. Investigators are examining the pilot's simulator to see if it provides any clues about the fate of the jet.
Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 5:43 pm
Second-term presidents who find their ability to shape domestic affairs limited by congressional constraints often view foreign policy as the arena in which they can post some successes.
Ronald Reagan had his second-term breakthrough with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union's general secretary. Bill Clinton had the U.S. lead its NATO allies into taking military action against the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic. Much further back in time, Woodrow Wilson successfully negotiated the League of Nations Treaty (though he couldn't win Senate passage for it).
Well, now for a pro-Russian take on recent events, we turn once again to political scientist Andranik Migranyan. He's director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation. That's a Russian-funded think tank in New York. Welcome back to the program.
ANDRANIK MIGRANYAN: Oh, thank you for having me.
SIEGEL: When we spoke just over three weeks ago, you raised the subject of Crimea. So first question: Is Crimea unique among regions of Ukraine? Or could you see what happened there happening elsewhere in that country?
Here's a referendum that would overturn centuries of history. Scotland is deciding whether to leave the United Kingdom. The U.K. is home to more than 60 million people. Scotland holds just about five million of those. They'll vote on independence in September.
NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Glasgow on the campaign.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: On a bland street near Glasgow's central train station, the Riverhill Coffee Bar announces itself with a vibrant blue facade. It's a teeny sliver of a place.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin moved today to overturn recent history by reclaiming Crimea for Russia. Putin signed a treaty to annex Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and gave a rousing speech to parliament laying out his case. He is also blasted the West for trying to frighten him with sanctions.
The search for the missing plane has expanded to a vast area, stretching from Kazakhstan in Central Asia to the southern ends of the vast Indian Ocean. For the latest on those efforts, we're joined now by Commander William Marks who is spokesperson for the U.S. 7th Fleet, the Navy's biggest fleet. Commander Marks, welcome.
COMMANDER WILLIAM MARKS: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
SIEGEL: And can you tell us where you are and what the U.S. Navy is doing in this search?