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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani opened an international conference Wednesday in Kabul with a substantial overture to his government's longtime antagonist: If the Taliban comes to the negotiating table and recognizes Ghani's government, the Afghan leader would in turn offer the insurgent group a role as a legitimate political party and release Taliban prisoners.

Editor's note: Given the subject this story explores, the discussion includes some explicit language.

For generations, women of a secretive Muslim sect have removed what they call "forbidden flesh" from their girls. They were told they had an infection, or an insect, that needed to be cut out. The girls were ordered to never speak of it again. Others knew to stay quiet, understanding that anything involving their genitals should stay secret.

But now the community is talking.

North Korea has reportedly sent ballistic missile and chemical weapons components to Syria in violation of United Nations sanctions, according to a draft of a new report authored by U.N. experts that has been viewed by several news organizations.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


The highest court in the home of Volkswagen and BMW has reached a verdict: And it goes against some diesel cars.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled that cities have the right to ban some heavily polluting diesel cars. The decision could drive manufacturers away from combustion engines and force them to improve exhaust systems.

A new mega-dam being built by Ethiopia on the Nile River is threatening to spark a war over water and shift political influence in northeastern Africa.

Ethiopia sees the dam as the key to its economic future, but its neighbor to the north, Egypt, fears the dam could spell doom for its water supply, says BBC Africa correspondent Alastair Leithead. The Nile supplies nearly 85 percent of all water in Egypt, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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Saudi Arabia replaced a generation of its military leadership, for the first time opened some military jobs to women and promoted a woman to a top post at the Labor Ministry, in a series of rare steps in the ultraconservative kingdom.

Reported by the official Saudi Press Agency late Monday, the royal decrees are the latest move in a dramatic campaign to overhaul the country's institutions led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful son of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

At least 14 people were reported dead after landslides triggered by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the remote central highlands of Papua New Guinea.

The quake struck early Monday morning local time near Porgera, about 350 miles northwest of the capital, Port Moresby, and has been followed by numerous aftershocks.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has ordered a major shakeup of his top military brass amid the country's ever-worsening intervention in neighboring Yemen.

The surprise move, reported by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), is the latest overhaul of Saudi institutions assumed to be led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. They have become a hallmark of his father's three-year reign.

The monarchy sacked the military chief of staff, Gen. Abdul Rahman bin Saleh al-Bunyan, as well as the heads of the ground and air defenses.

Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about whether emails stored overseas are subject to a U.S. warrant. It all revolved around a 1986 law, five years before the "World Wide Web" even existed.

It was the cloud and robots meet Marty McFly.

And the justices didn't seem to be buying arguments from Microsoft, an American tech company headquartered in Redmond, Wash., which is trying to protect the data.

Not long ago, a sudden boom echoed across the rooftops of southern Rio de Janeiro, bouncing off the granite hills and jolting people out of their slumbers in the wee small hours.

It came from a relatively tranquil neighborhood, and it was loud enough to be heard more than a mile away, within the villas beside Sugarloaf Mountain and along Copacabana Beach on the shores of the Atlantic.

Gobee is a no-go — at least in France.

France's first dockless bike-sharing program, which launched in October, has shut down operations across the country, citing "the mass destruction" of its fleet.

The decision to shut down on Saturday was "disappointing and extremely frustrating," the Hong Kong-based company wrote in its announcement. "We hoped for the best. But we were wrong ... In 4 months, 60% of our fleet was destroyed, stolen or privatized, making the whole European project no longer sustainable."

Following the Chinese Communist Party's announcement that it plans to do away with term limits, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to continue his rule, China's internet censors have cracked down on criticism posted and shared on Chinese social media, including a meme featuring Winnie the Pooh.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Nineteen years ago, Fahrije Hoti, 48, fled her home in Krusha e Madhe to the nearby mountains and then to neighboring Albania. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's military forces had descended on this rural village in southwestern Kosovo and separated the men from their families.

A few months later, in June 1999, after 78 days of NATO airstrikes drove Milosevic's army out of Kosovo, Hoti returned with her 3-year-old daughter and 3-month-old son to find her entire village in ruins, her home burned down.

Dressed in a hijab and covered from head to toe, she felt something. Someone — a man — had grabbed onto her butt and would not let go.

The Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, called hajj, was supposed to be the holiest moment of Mona Eltahawy's life. When she was 15, she journeyed there with her family. The magnificence of the Great Mosque had taken her breath away. But that man turned the trip into a nightmare.

Instead of telling the authorities, the young Eltahawy simply burst into tears.

Just days after the U.N. Security Council demanded a 30-day ceasefire across Syria, heavy shelling has resumed in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.

Meanwhile, according to Russian state media, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a "humanitarian corridor" to allow civilians to leave the besieged region.

The area, held by rebels and under attack by the Syrian regime, has been targeted in a series of strikes over the past week — resulting in the deaths of more than 500 people, including many women and children, according to observer estimates.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Kids know the scene in "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" where the heroes are chased by a snow monster...


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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


The 2018 Winter Olympics ended Sunday evening in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a closing ceremony featuring fireworks, K-pop performances, the reappearance of Tongan cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua sans shirt, and a dance party that brought athletes onstage, eager to let loose and celebrate their games.

It's not called a snail's pace for nothing, but just how slow is too slow for the mollusk to move? According to a pub in England, hibernation is where they draw the line.

The Dartmoor Union Inn in Devon was promoting a snail racing championship for Saturday, promising guests, "each thrilling race will last about 4 minutes with guests able to bet on their favourite snail."

Proceeds would go toward city emergency services.

Except it's so cold in the United Kingdom that even the snails are hunkering down.

When Boko Haram extremists snatched 276 girls from a boarding school in northeast Nigeria in 2014, the world reacted and rallied around the cry of "bring back our girls." But now, some four years later, it appears to be happening again.

As the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang that saw the two Koreas come together — if briefly — came to a close on Sunday, another potential sign of détente emerged; North Korea said it was willing to hold talks with the United States, according to South Korea's presidential Blue House.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics concluded Sunday evening in South Korea. The closing ceremony saw fewer athletes than the opening event 17 days ago — some Olympians have already gone home — but didn't skimp on pageantry, K-pop and expressions of hope for peace between the two Koreas.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of the U.S. president, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sat near a visiting North Korean general, Kim Yong Chol, believed to be a former spy chief, whose delegation had earlier been met with a sit-in by conservative South Korean lawmakers near the border crossing.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A good photo can let you see the world in ways you never dreamed of.

That's what struck us about the nominees for the 2018 World Press Photo contest, an annual competition that highlights the best photojournalism of the year. The finalists were just announced.