After admitting to one of the most surprising art thefts in recent history, two men have been sentenced to 6 years and 8 months in prison. They are part of a Romanian gang that stole seven works by masters including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin from a Rotterdam museum last autumn.
Back in 2001, the U.S. strongly backed Hamid Karzai as the best man to rebuild Afghanistan after the Taliban had been driven out of power.
Karzai had a solid base among the dominant Pashtun ethnic group. With his fluent English, he seemed at ease with U.S. and other Western leaders. And he appeared reasonable and moderate, in stark contrast to the Taliban's extremism.
Yet today, the Afghan president is a source of endless frustration for the Americans.
When Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif confirmed the landmark nuclear deal over the weekend, his announcement not made at a podium or declared in front of television cameras. It was done on Twitter, and that's ironic because the government blocks many Iranians from using sites like Twitter and Facebook. Now, many people in Iran find their way around the restrictions and are able to get on social media.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Violence and chaos are gripping the Central African Republic. Some are even warning of genocide there. The violence traces back to a coup led by a Muslim group, the Seleca rebels. Many of them have since gone rouge, targeting Christians who are now forming their own militias.
Across the world, countries make very different investments in the environment. We're not just talking about measures to combat global climate change. We're talking about investments in clean water, forests, biodiversity. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joins us regularly to share interesting new research, and he's here to tell us about an unexpected factor that seems to influence environmental stewardships. Shankar, welcome back.
People advising President Obama's administration on Afghanistan include John Podesta. Years ago, he was President Clinton's chief of staff. These days, he's chair of the Center for American Progress and part of an effort to offer independent views on Afghanistan to the administration. Last week, he was in that country just before the many delegates to that assembly of elders approved the U.S. presence in the country, after which President Karzai put off signing the deal, anyway.
Many Israelis are critical of the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program, and some are even more worried about what could follow.
"What's important here is that both sides decided: We have to start consulting. Right now," says Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, now head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Hondurans went to the polls this Sunday to elect a new president. The Central American country has a whole host of problems to deal with, including the highest levels of violence in the world and increased drug cartel activity. Most pressing, though, the new leader will inherit a failing economy. Honduras is broke. It just borrowed, for the first time, $500 million on the international bond market, but that wasn't even enough to bail the country out of its devastating financial troubles.
Newly announced talks on ending the conflict in Syria will bring together representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that the talks would convene on Jan. 22.
The Obama administration says one of the most important gains in the Iran nuclear deal is that it will buy time for negotiations on a more permanent agreement. If no such agreement is reached, sanctions that have been suspended could be re-imposed. But analysts say the obstacles to a final agreement are still huge, and it may not be easy to regain the leverage that sanctions have achieved so far.
Secretary of State John Kerry will have to work hard to allay concerns about the Iran deal, concerns from U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. And as Melissa just mentioned, the White House faces criticism from some in Congress. Kerry will need to convince senators not to impose additional sanctions on Iran so that negotiators can come up with a comprehensive deal over the next six months. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Kerry seems to be well positioned to take on the challenges.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The nuclear accord reached over the weekend with Iran is, according to President Obama, an important first step. The new Iranian president calls it a definite achievement but to the Israeli prime minister it's a historic mistake. The six-month deal freezes important parts of Iran's nuclear problem. In exchange, Iran gets temporary relief from economic sanctions amounting to about $7 billion.
Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 11:56 am
The Ukrainian government last week stunned many of its own citizens and much of the European Union when it announced it was suspending association talks with the bloc. The decision led to mass protests that continued Monday in which demonstrators clashed with riot police outside the government building. One protester was injured.
Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 6:49 am
The track record for Middle East diplomacy is pretty dismal, yet this is where President Obama is playing all his important diplomatic cards.
With the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program, the president is now engaged in his fifth major diplomatic initiative in five contiguous countries stretching from Afghanistan in the east to Israel in the west.
Many films have been made about Nelson Mandela. Danny Glover, Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert, and now Idris Elba have all tried to step into the icon's shoes. Host Michel Martin speaks to Sean Jacobs, founder of the blog Africa Is A Country, about which actor played him best.
Christina Asima seems tired for a 13-year-old. I meet the shy-mannered girl in the remote farming village of Chitera, in the southern African nation of Malawi. She wears a bright pink zip-up shirt and a blue print cloth wrapped up to her chest. Snuggled in that, hugging her side, is a chubby-cheeked baby boy.
My gut assumption is that the infant must be Christina's little brother. I know 8-month-old Praise is actually her son. Still, it's startling when, as we speak, she shifts him around front to nurse.
Both candidates in Honduras' presidential election are claiming victory, a day after millions voted in an election that was expected to be close.
But with more than half the votes counted, Juan Orlando, of the ruling National Party, is ahead with about 34 percent of the votes. His main rival, Xiomara Castro, the wife of deposed leader Manuel Zelaya, has about 28 percent.
As we've heard elsewhere in the program, the nuclear agreement reached with Iran over the weekend is a temporary deal with a six-month timeline. There are plenty of unresolved issues and possibly tougher negotiations to come. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this look ahead.
The Central American country of Honduras held a presidential election yesterday. Honduras suffers from extreme poverty and it has one of the world's highest murder rates. The nation's politics have been dominated by elites and the military. Now, so far the vote count appears to favor the candidates from the right wing ruling party, but this election offered a little more choice than usual. Here's NPR's Carrie Kahn.
That's Pope Francis, the 266th Bishop of Rome, holding what the church believes are the bone fragments of St. Peter, the apostle and the first bishop of Rome.
Pope Francis cradled the relics during a mass at St. Peter's Square, which marked the end of the global church's Year of Faith. It was also the first time the Catholic Church has displayed the relics in public.