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I Am Not Your Muslim

May 6, 2017

If Islam were a skin color, there would be a sliding scale along which you could determine just how Muslim you are. On the extremely Muslim end, there would be classic identifiers — hijab or niqab for women, a beard and skullcap for men. On the light Muslim end, there would be those whose identity can only be determined because of a name or provenance, those who usually "pass" in public and are not immediately identifiable. Let's call this the Identity Matrix.

North Korea now has its own version of Spam in grocery stores. In the capital, Pyongyang, at least, everyone has a smartphone — or two.

These are some of the things journalist Jean Lee didn't see five years ago when she opened the Associated Press bureau in the capital of the impoverished and isolated country.

Now a global fellow at the Wilson Center, Lee was invited to travel to North Korea this week to attend a medical conference in Pyongyang and follow a team of Korean-American surgeons.

Soccer star Sulley Muntari finally got fed up. He's a midfielder from Ghana who plays for the Italian team Pescara. Last Sunday in a match against Cagliari in Sardinia, a bunch of spectators taunted him with racist chants. He reportedly shouted, "This is my color" and went to the referee to ask that the game be halted. Instead, he got a yellow card.

The card means he was booked for dissent, a punishment doled out to players who touch or verbally abuse officials.

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Warning: This post contains graphic photographs and video.

While President Nicolas Maduro has set the gears in motion for a new Venezuelan constitution, the confusion and violence that has engulfed city streets for more than a month only appears to be deepening.

The U.K. held its local elections Thursday, and a brand-new political party won its first seat.

This party is comprised of just one woman, named Sally Cogley. And it has just one issue: rubbish.

In Thursday's vote to fill three Irvine Valley places on East Ayrshire Council, Cogley came in second after the Scottish National Party candidate, enough to win a seat.

Elmo and Big Bird have lots of experience teaching children everything from the ABCs to autism. Soon, they could be bringing smiles — and education — to millions of refugee children forced from their homes in Syria, Iraq and other war-torn countries.

Four men convicted of a notorious gang rape in New Delhi will be hanged to death, after India's Supreme Court rejected their appeals over the 2012 crime that drew worldwide attention and prompted mass demonstrations and calls to stop the harassment of women — calls that the court repeated today.

In 2009, a close aide to former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, who had left office a year earlier, took to a podium on live TV. He looked pale and distraught.

He announced that the former president had taken his own life.

It was a dramatic moment in South Korea. It was also when South Koreans first got to know the man who looks likely to be their next president: Moon Jae-in, that former presidential aide.

"Emmanuel Macron was never a kid like the others," says French journalist Anne Fulda, who has just written a biography about the presidential contender titled Emmanuel Macron, un jeune homme si parfait, translated as "a young man so perfect."

Macron loved to read and existed slightly in his own world, she says. He always felt at ease and mixed easily with adults. Macron's most formative relationship growing up was with his grandmother.

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It's been an awfully long time since a wolf pack has called Denmark home — roughly two centuries, in fact.

The owner of the Pulse Nightclub, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, has announced plans to turn it into a memorial and museum to commemorate the tragic event.

"This must and will be a healing initiative, one that I believe will inspire supporters who share our vision and understand the sacred responsibility to which we have been entrusted," Barbara Poma told reporters on Thursday at the Pulse nightclub site.

An explosion of methane gas collapsed a coal mine in Iran, killing more than 35 people and trapping others underground, according to Iranian state media. Many of those who died had rushed into help miners who were trapped.

Wednesday's blast was caused when workers tried to jump-start a locomotive, Reuters reports.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious Afghan warlord known as the "Butcher of Kabul," returned to the city he so often attacked with rockets and was welcomed Thursday by President Ashraf Ghani, who thanked him for "heeding the peace call."

Hekmatyar, 69, is among the most prominent surviving figures from the early days of war that began with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and grinds on to this day.

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Updated at 10:34 a.m. ET Friday with Amazon's statement

The European Commission announced Thursday that it is concluding its antitrust investigation of Amazon over e-books, citing key changes to the contracts that inspired the probe in the first place.

The executive arm of the European Union had been wary of clauses that required publishers to alert Amazon about terms offered by the company's competitors — clauses that Amazon has now promised to modify.

A court in Ontario, Canada, has cleared an animal rights activist charged with criminal mischief for giving water to pigs en route to the slaughterhouse.

The case against Anita Krajnc, who founded the animal rights group Toronto Pig Save, has garnered international attention. She faced the possibility of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.

North Korea doesn't have a whole lot of longtime friends on the world stage. In fact, as Pyongyang looks beyond its borders, it is likely to find only one world power ready to regularly defend its interests and actions in high-level international negotiations: China, its next-door neighbor, most important trading partner and staunch ally.

Jasson Garcia's daily travels look maddening. The sidewalks of Mexico City are broken and cars block pedestrian crossings. In the subway station, there's no elevator, so he has to labor down the stairs. Busy commuters push to get past him.

But you don't see this in Jasson's demeanor. The skinny 15-year-old seems totally unfazed.

"It just feels normal now," he says. "I can go basically anywhere I want without a problem."

Video of a little girl running onto the playground to show off her new sports blade prosthesis has gone viral — and we'll warn you that the video may induce effects ranging from involuntary "Awwws" to spontaneous tears.

Anu, a cute and plucky 7-year-old, is at the heart of the video from BBC Midlands, which posted footage of the girl wearing her new prosthetic leg at her school in Birmingham, England, for the first time, in a version of show-and-tell on the playground.

Next to a river flowing from lush green hills, Lim Sun-bun, 64, tills her land — onions, garlic, potatoes and peppers.

She's lived in rural Seongju county, about 130 miles from Seoul in the southeastern region of the Korean Peninsula, all her life. It's a quiet, conservative, agricultural place, famous for growing melons.

But this past winter, Lim started hearing U.S. helicopters overhead.

"They fly low, and it's scary," she says. "No one asked us if we want to host this U.S. base. I'm worried about contamination of this river — our livelihood."

Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, will "no longer carry out public engagements" starting in the fall, Buckingham Palace says, announcing what amounts to a retirement at age 95.

The change will come at the end of August, according to the Royal Communications office. Until then, Philip will continue to venture out either on his own or with the queen, who is 91.

"Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full program of official engagements with the support of members of the royal family," a statement from Buckingham Palace reads.

With tensions rising over North Korea's nuclear program, you might expect panic in South Korea — air raid drills or schoolchildren climbing under their desks, Cold-War-style.

But I found an altogether different scene in the capital, Seoul, when I arrived last week: parade floats and pop music.

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The Islamic State keeps losing ground in Iraq and Syria. But defeat wouldn't mean the end of the terrorist group. Here's NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre.

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This story is part of a series of conversations on Morning Edition with politicians, writers, scientists, theologians, tech innovators and others. From globalization to religious tolerance, identity to climate change, our conversations seek to capture this moment and how we're shaped by it — as individuals, nations and as a global civilization.

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Earlier today, President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met at the White House. Here's a bit of what Trump had to say after that meeting.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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