There's a fight going on for the soul of France. Since 1906, Sunday has been deemed a collective day of rest in the country, and French law only allows stores to open on Sundays under very specific conditions — for example, if they're in a high tourist area. Sunday work is also tightly controlled.
But some people are questioning the sense of such a tradition in a languishing economy and 24/7 world.
And to talk further about chances for that nuclear diplomacy, we're joined by veteran diplomat Dennis Ross. Most recently, he was the Obama administration's chief adviser on Iran at the State Department and the National Security Council. Ambassador Ross, welcome back to the program.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish at NPR West in California.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block in Washington, D.C. Russian gay rights activists are making the rounds here in the nation's capital. They want the U.S. to keep up pressure on Moscow ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. They're not calling for a boycott. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, they want to raise awareness about anti-gay discrimination in Russia.
Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 12:31 pm
Now that President Obama has apologized to those who've seen their health care plans canceled due to the Affordable Care Act, losses he pledged beforehand wouldn't happen, he joins the line of modern presidents who have had to look the American people in the eye and give their regrets.
Polio outbreaks in the Middle East and Africa could spread to Europe if precautions aren't taken, researchers say.
The recent discovery of the poliovirus in Syria, Somalia and Israel should be a wake-up call for European health officials, according to epidemiologist Martin Eichner at the University of Tuebingen in Germany.
This week, India launched Mangalyaan, its first robotic mission to orbit Mars and probe its atmosphere. Only Russia, Europe, and the U.S. have successfully orbited the planet. Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor in national security affairs, and planetary scientist Bruce Jakosky discuss the Indian space program, as well as NASA's upcoming mission to the Martian atmosphere.
Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 12:57 pm
It was prostate cancer, not an assassin's poison, that killed poet Pablo Neruda, officials in Chile announced Friday. The Nobel laureate's body was exhumed for testing this spring, due to claims from an employee and Neruda's family that the Chilean poet had been murdered at age 69.
Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 10:22 am
A Palestinian investigator says Israel is the "only suspect" in the 2004 death of the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.
"We consider Israel the first, fundamental and only suspect in Yasser Arafat's assassination," Tawfik Tirawi, head of a Palestinian committee looking into the case, said Friday at a news conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
"The truth is that we made a mistake," CBS News correspondent Lara Logan said Friday as she apologized for an Oct. 27 report on 60 Minutes in which a State Department security contractor claimed he had been on the scene of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack at a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
That attack left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead.
Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 3:49 pm
NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, who is based in Dakar, Senegal, fielded topics ranging from progress in the Democratic Republic of Congo (it "still has troubles") to racism in Africa ("remains prevalent") and her favorite dish (gari foto from her native Ghana) during her Reddit "Ask Me Anything" Friday.
Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 1:38 pm
Noor Khan traveled more than three hours through treacherous mountain roads from his remote village of Bajaur to the city of Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan. He makes the journey every few months in an effort to quiet the whirring he hears in his head.
The 27-year-old farmer has family and neighbors among the estimated 49,000 Pakistanis killed in conflict since 2001, when the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan first began to seep across the porous border.
Standard and Poor's has lowered France's credit rating one notch from AA-plus to AA, citing the country's limited ability to get its public finances in order.
French officials called the downgrade unfair. Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault said France's rating remained one of the best in the world while Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici said the country's rating was among the top six in the EU.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
There appears to be momentum this morning in nuclear talks between Iran and Western countries, led by the United States.
For years, American-led economic sanctions have been meant to squeeze Iran into proving that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, not for bombs. But the election of a new Iranian president this summer raised hopes for a new approach: negotiations.
Before the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the head of Pakistan's armed forces visited President Obama. In the room, as the two men talked, was Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. As then-Ambassador Hussain Haqqani remembers it, President Obama hinted at what was likely to happen.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
For Haqqani, that conversation and all that followed was a classic moment in relations between the United States and Pakistan. Those relations have always been filled with miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 2:17 pm
The new leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazlullah, is perhaps best known for being the man behind the shooting attack on Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who courageously campaigned for girls' education.
Fazlullah, who was elected Thursday as head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, rose to prominence in Pakistan's Swat Valley earlier through his fiery religious radio broadcasts, which earned him the nickname "Radio Mullah."
Add "obviously, I was extremely, extremely inebriated" to this week's amazing quotes from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
The mayor, who on Tuesday admitted that "yes I have smoked crack cocaine ... probably in one of my drunken stupors" after reports about one video he appears in, issued his "extremely inebriated" mea culpa on Thursday in response to another.
Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 8:52 pm
Classified as a super typhoon, the Pacific storm Haiyan has made landfall in the Philippines, bringing top sustained winds that were measured at more than 195 miles per hour before landfall. The measurement reflects the winds sustained by the storm for one minute; the storm was also producing gusts of 230 mph.
Updated at 10:40 p.m. ET: Storm Strength Could Be Historic
The strength of the massive super typhoon could be record-setting, weather experts were saying Thursday night.
But the really big business news is that "the European Central Bank startled investors Thursday with a surprise cut in its benchmark interest rate." As The Associated Press adds, "The bank lowered the benchmark refinancing rate to a record low 0.25 percent from 0.5 percent."
In the U.S., graffiti is often condemned as vandalism. But during the Arab Spring, artists say city walls were often the only places where they could talk back to tyrants.
Street art can be found across the Middle East and North Africa, and the Arab Spring protests inspired an artistic revolution. The "Creative Dissent" exhibit at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan is putting that art on display.
Zintan, a mountain town in northwestern Libya, is a place of gray and brown buildings, with little infrastructure, about 50,000 people and no central government control.
The Libyan government doesn't provide basic services, not even water. People use wells to provide for themselves. The local council runs all of Zintan's affairs out of a building in the center of town.
At the local militia base on the outskirts of town, we meet the keeper of Saif el-Islam Gadhafi, the son and one-time heir apparent of Moammar Gadhafi.
The eastern Congo is known to some as the 'rape capital of the world' because nearly 50 women are raped there every hour. Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist, has put his practice, and his life on the line, to help save these women. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with him about his work.
The Congolese rebel group M-23 is has been condemned for its years of brutal violence against civilians. But now, they've vowed to lay down their weapons. Guest host Celeste Headlee discusses the issue with NPR's Eastern Africa correspondent Gregory Warner.
There's guarded optimism as the second round of talks between Iran and international powers over the Islamic republic's nuclear program got under way in Geneva.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met for an hour with Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, ahead of Thursday's talks. A tweet from Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann described the meeting as "good."