Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 12:28 pm
Sen. John Kerry is considered the leading candidate to become the next secretary of state, and that gave added weight to his remarks Thursday as he oversaw testimony on the most volatile foreign policy issue in recent months: the deadly Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi.
The two top deputies of the current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, acknowledged that the State Department failed to provide adequate security in Benghazi, which has remained extremely volatile following last year's ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
South Korea will have its first female president, following Wednesday's close presidential election. Park Geun-hye says she will be open to better relations with North Korea, but she leads a conservative party known for its hardline with Pyongyang.
Friday is the last day of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar, sparking talk about the possible end of the world. About two years ago, a rumor began circulating on the Internet that the French village of Bugarach, population 200, would be the only place to survive this apocalypse.
But despite many news stories of people flocking to the village, less than two weeks before "doomsday," there was no one on the streets. Houses were shuttered against the cold.
Tourists are seen in front of the "Gran Jaguar" Mayan temple at the Tikal archaeological site in Guatemala, where ceremonies will be held to celebrate the end of the Mayan cycle known as Baktun 13 and the start of the new Maya Era on December 21.
It is Dec. 20, 2012 — and citizens of Earth are panicking, consumed by the idea that the world will end Friday, something they say was predicted by Mayan astronomers. Of course, most people are not panicking, and Maya expert David Stuart says no one should. The calendar, he says, has plenty of room to go.
South Korea will have its first woman president with the election of Park Geun-hye after a very tight election. With most of the votes counted, Park was elected with a small majority over her liberal opponent. Park's father was the country's military dictator for 18 years.
An investigative report found that less than a third of Pakistani lawmakers filed tax returns for 2011. The report said Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, photographed in Paris in December, did not file a return, though his spokesman says he did.
Tax evasion is a chronic problem in Pakistan — only about 2 percent of the population is registered in the tax system, and the government collects just 9 percent of the country's wealth in taxes, one of the lowest rates in the world.
But now a new investigative report is making headlines. It says that just a third of the country's 446 federal lawmakers bothered to file income tax returns last year.
South Korea's Park Geun-hye claimed victory Wednesday in the country's presidential election. Park, the daughter of a former military dictator, will be the first female leader of the country. Here, she greets supporters at party headquarters.
Chris Stevens speaks to the media in Benghazi, Libya, in 2011. Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed on Sept. 11 of this year. Three U.S. government officials resigned Wednesday following a report that cited inadequate security.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 7:28 am
Update at 9:25 a.m. ET, Dec. 20: Four Officials Disciplined, One Has Resigned:
A sharply critical report about the State Department's handling of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, has led to disciplinary action against four of the department's officials. One of them, the head of the Diplomatic Security Bureau, has resigned.
Greece got a rare bit of good news late yesterday. Standard and Poor's upgraded the country's credit rating six notches to a B minus. I mean, not the worst grade on your report card, but in the financial world this is junk bond status.
Still, Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens that there is a more stable outlook.
Pakistani gunmen staged new attacks Wednesday on health workers carrying out a nationwide polio vaccination program. Six workers were killed Tuesday as they went house to house to administer the immunizations to area children in Karachi and the northwest city of Peshawar.
Although there were additional attacks, the Pakistani government vowed to continue the vaccination campaign — and eradicate the disease — even if there is bloodshed.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
South Korea holds a presidential election tomorrow. And, for the first time there, public opinion polls favor a woman. Park Geun-hye is promising more support for single parents and a push to get more Korean women into the workforce. Still, even if she wins, no one is expecting any radical changes to the traditional male-dominated Korean society.
China and India are projected to propel coal's challenge of oil as the world's top energy source within the next five years, according to a new study. Here, a man rides a bicycle toward a coal-fired power station in China's Guangdong province last year.
Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:49 pm
Despite a slowdown in U.S. consumption, coal is poised to replace oil as the world's top energy source — possibly in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency. The rise will be driven almost entirely by new energy demands in China and India, the IEA says.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Grim and rapid developments in Syria: 40,000 now believed dead in almost two years of uprising and rebellion. Palestinians become the latest to flee after rebels seize a densely packed refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. Reports that the regime resorted to medium-range missiles. The United States formally recognizes Syria's opposition coalition. The rebel groups forms a military command. Russia seemed to accept that Bashar al-Assad may not survive the civil war.
The family of this Palestinian boy was among many that fled the Yarmuk refugee camp near the Syrian capital Damascus after fighting in recent days. The boy and his family are shown at another refugee camp, this one in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, on Tuesday.
An employee tidies boxes of medicines displayed in a pharmacy in the city of Caen in western France last month. Beginning in 2013, girls between the ages of 15 and 18 will be able to get birth control free of charge, and without parental notification.
Credit Eleanor Beardsley / NPR
The new law will also protect girls' anonymity at their family doctor's office. Under current rules, teenagers wanting absolute anonymity with a doctor have to pay for the visit in cash without submitting a claim to get reimbursed.
Beginning next year, young women in France between the ages of 15 and 18 will have access to birth control free of charge, and without parental notification. The French government says the new measure is intended to reduce pregnancies in this age group that result from a mixture of ignorance, taboo and lack of access to contraception.
One place where information is available on birth control, abortion and sexual abuse is a family planning clinic in a gritty neighborhood in the east of Paris.
We've had to focus on news about the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., since Friday, which means we missed some interesting stories over the past few days. NPR intern Rachel Brody shares one of them.
This is a story about a daily commute that spanned regimes, not just miles.
The Obama administration will soon be dealing with new leadership in Japan. Over the weekend, Japanese voters returned a former prime minister to the country's top job. Shinzo Abe took an assertive stand on several issues during the election, sparking concern in the U.S. his win could stir up tension in the region.
South Korean presidential candidate Park Geun-hye, who appears slightly favored in Wednesday's election, is the daughter of a military dictator who ran the country for nearly two decades. She would be South Korea's first female president.
Credit Song Kyung-Seok-Pool / Getty Images
Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, is also a leading candidate in Wednesday's election. A former presidential chief of staff, he's shown here at a presidential debate on Dec. 4.
Her presidential campaign rallies present blaring pop music and dancing supporters, but Park Geun-hye's campaign involves managing some tricky legacies.
Her father, Park Chung-hee, was a military dictator who ran the country from the time he carried out a 1961 military coup until his assassination in 1979. His memory still stirs mixed emotions among South Koreans.
Japanese politics is not known for second acts. But last night, Shinzo Abe won a rare second chance to serve as Japan's prime minister, that's after his Liberal Democrats swept to victory in parliamentary elections. Abe's return has caught people's attention across East Asia. That's because, despite his party's name, Abe is conservative. He's also pro-U.S. and he's promised to get tough on China.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 12:10 am
It's a big day in the religious and culinary calendar of the Republic of Georgia. Georgian Orthodox believers observe Dec. 17 as St. Barbara's Day, in honor of an early Christian martyr. And they typically mark the occasion by eating a type of stuffed bread called lobiani, baked with a filling of boiled beans with coriander and onions.
An official says at least 10 young girls were killed in eastern Afghanistan Saturday when a bomb went off as they were gathering firewood. It was not immediately clear if the explosion was caused by a newly planted bomb or a previously unexploded landmine, left over from decades of conflict.
In Egypt, unofficial results show the country's controversial draft constitution was narrowly approved in the first stage of a referendum held this past Saturday. The draft constitution has deeply divided Egyptians. The second round of voting will take place this Saturday.