In New Zealand, the country's most important cut of cloth is at the center of a nationwide debate. New Zealand's flag has long been criticized by some as a symbol of British Colonialism. The U.K.'s Union Jack remains in the flag's upper left-hand corner. But it was only this year that Prime Minister John Key proposed a referendum to change it. Tim Watkin, journalist and founder of the politics and culture blog Pundit, is on the line with us now from Auckland, New Zealand to tell us more. Hello there, Tim.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. More than 20,000 refugees fleeing religious violence in the Central African Republic crossed into Cameroon just in February alone. The refugees are predominantly Muslim and many more are expected to cross over in the coming weeks. They're finding shelter in towns and refugee sites near the border and many are suffering from malnutrition and malaria.
Andres Caballero reports from the border in Cameroon's east region.
It's not often that a broadcast interview by a diplomat wows listeners, but a recent conversation involving the American ambassador to Nigeria, James F. Entwistle, is causing a buzz – and winning applause.
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:54 pm
The United States announced its intention on Friday of relinquishing its remaining control of the Internet.
In a statement, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration said it wants to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 5:48 pm
Commercial aviation pilots tell NPR that they would have no idea how to disable all the systems designed to automatically communicate with ground stations, though they could probably figure it out from checklists and other documentation available aboard an aircraft.
In the rugged mountains of northern Iraq, there are some gleaming new high-rises. They reflect bright sun and also big Kurdish ambitions. The Kurds largely run their own affairs, but their insistence on selling oil without the central government's permission has prompted Baghdad to strike back. The government cut off federal money to the Kurds. NPR's Alice Fordham visited a newly opened five-star hotel in the city of Sulaymaniyah.
The people running Crimea these days have little doubt about the result of this Sunday's referendum. They're confident of getting the majority vote they need to secede from Ukraine. But in a silent protest against the Russian presence, some pro-Ukrainian Crimeans plan to stay home on Sunday. NPR's Gregory Warner reports from Simferopol.
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 12:20 pm
UBS, which was fined $1.5 billion in 2012 for what regulators said was "routine and widespread" rigging of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, has been censured for trying to do the same thing with Hong Kong's benchmark rate between 2006 and 2009.
And as Gregory said a few moments ago, the outcome of the referendum in Crimea is of particular interest to the Tatars, that minority community of Muslims that has a history of being oppressed by Russia. The Tatars have linguistic and religious ties to Turkey, just across the Black Sea. NPR's Peter Kenyon reported from Crimea last week, and has now returned to his base in Istanbul. He says that while Turkey might want to assert itself regionally and stand up for the Tatars, there's a limit to how much it can influence events.
On a Friday, this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
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In its standoff with Ukraine, Russia has imposed its will but it's tried to hide its hand. Russian troops moved into Crimea but in uniforms bearing no Russian insignia. And there are other tools Russia's is believed to have used that leave virtually no trace: cyber operations. They're part of the modern arsenal. Now U.S. officials want to know if the use of cyber weapons could lead to cyber war.
With Russia making moves on Ukraine's Crimea region, German leader Angela Merkel has been talking tough, and perhaps no Western leader understands Vladimir Putin's intentions better than Merkel.
The German chancellor has been on the phone with the Russian president more than half a dozen times since the crisis began. Yesterday, she warned that Russia would suffer massive political and economic damage if Russia follows through on annexing Crimea - if, as many expect, Crimeans vote for that this Sunday.
Not one but two ousted presidents are on trial. In cages. As are a group of journalists from the Al Jazeera satellite channel. Then there are the countless activists facing charges that are widely seen as politically motivated.
If you like courtroom dramas, Egypt is the place to be these days. And while there's no shortage of high-profile trials, analysts say one thing hasn't changed in the three tumultuous years since the overthrow of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak: There's still no guarantee of a fair trial for the accused.
At the National Theater in downtown Tehran, "Waiting for Godot" seems to have captured the mood of a country.
The Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett dramatized endless waiting in vain for someone named Godot. The play, translated into Farsi, got a standing ovation on the night I attended. The characters, in classic white suits, black top hats and black shoes, took endless bows as the audience whistled and clapped.
Crimea isn't the only region in Europe with cessation on its agenda. There's a referendum planned this fall in Catalonia. That's the Mediterranean coastal region of northeastern Spain that includes Barcelona. And the Scots are weighing independence from the United Kingdom. A few years ago in Africa, South Sudan became independent of Sudan, and before that, of course, the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia involved various declarations of independence, not all of them well received by the former power.
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 8:00 am
Malaysia Airlines announced Thursday that it will stop using two flight numbers associated with the plane that disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8, following a long-standing practice of retiring codes after similar incidents.
Flight MH370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. That number, which Malaysian Airlines uses to denote that particular route, will no longer be used after Friday as a "mark of respect" for the passengers and crew. MH371, the code used for the return flight, also will be retired.