Every six months, one of my next guests ranks the 500 fastest computers in the world, the supercomputers, and back in November 2010, China took number one for the first time with a supercomputer called Milky Way 1. President Obama acknowledged China's feat in his State of the Union address a few months later and said we were facing a Sputnik moment.
By some estimates, about a million people marched in cities across Brazil on Thursday, airing a wide array of grievances. As O Globo frames it, it was a day marked by violent demonstrations, vandalism and intense clashes with military police.
Many are wondering whether Iran's newly elected president Hassan Rowhani will be able to change his nation's posture on nuclear enrichment and convince the West to end crippling economic sanctions. To find out, Steve Inskeep talks to Gary Samore, a former White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction.
The lending rate between Chinese banks spiked dramatically on Thursday, creating a credit crunch. Renee Montagne talks to NPR Shanghai correspondent Frank Langfitt about the turbulence in China's banking system, and how authorities in Beijing are responding.
Until recently, our correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro was posted in the Middle East. She was an eyewitness to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere. Now, she is NPR's South America correspondent, based in Brazil. And guess what's happening on the streets there?
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Last night, demonstrators spread all across that country, with a total of a million people estimated to have taken part. Some protesters clashed with police. One was hit and killed by a car.
U.S. and European officials meet on Saturday to decide how to increase their aid to the rebels in Syria. The U.S. is deepening its involvement in Syria's Civil War. Steve Inskeep, who recently was in Syria reporting for Morning Edition, has the story of two rebels.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
For the first time in modern history, Shiite fighters are crossing borders to wage jihad, much as Sunnis traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and to Iraq to fight Americans. These days, the draw is Syria. The cause is not a foreign invader but a rival sect. And some say, it's about fulfilling a thousand-year-old prophecy, as NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.
Tomorrow, Secretary of State John Kerry heads to the Middle East and South Asia. In a week's time, he'll be meeting with Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis, hoping to advance the prospects for peace. Those prospects are not especially bright, even by the usual dim standards of Middle East diplomacy.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly pulled his representatives out of planned peace talks because of the flag and the nameplate at the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar. Both were legacies of the time the Taliban ruled the country and illustrated how sensitive such symbols can be.
A flag and a nameplate: Those seemingly innocuous items were apparently the reason that Afghan President Hamid Karzai abruptly refused to participate in peace talks also involving the Taliban and the U.S.
The flag was the same white flag the Taliban used when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The nameplate bore the words "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," the name used by the old Taliban government.
Yesterday, seven people were killed and 24 wounded in bomb attacks in Iraq as a surge of violence there continues, 2,000 dead since April; numbers that haven't been seen since the worst days of 2006 and 2007. Then as now, the fighting is largely between Sunnis and Shiites, but this time, inflamed by the civil war raging next door in Syria.
Face mask-clad Singaporeans enduring record-breaking smog got some more bad news from their government on Thursday: The pollution may last awhile.
The choking smog that blanketed the city-state earlier this week, generated by burning clear-cutting fires in Indonesia, has gone well beyond the "hazardous" level on the Pollutant Standards Index, hitting 371 on Wednesday before coming back down to about 250. The previous record was 226, reached in 1997.
When the State Department released its annual report on human trafficking Wednesday, we got a chilling reminder that even in 2013, slave labor is still embedded in the global food system.
As many as 27 million men, women and children are estimated to be trafficking victims at any given time, according to the report. And some of those victims, the State Department says, are later forced to work in agriculture and food processing (though no one has a good idea how many).
Music has influenced - and been influenced by - many social movements. As protesters flood the streets in Brazil, NPR's Alt Latino co-host Jasmine Garsd discusses popular Brazilian protest songs with guest host Celeste Headlee.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, music may often get Brazil into the move for a carnival, but it's also inspiring and being inspired by protests going on in that country. We'll hear some of it in just a few minutes.
Alfredo Corchado, the Mexico bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News, has dedicated his life to investigating government corruption, murders and ruthless drug cartels in his native Mexico.
He received death threats multiple times, and doesn't feel safe, but he says he has "learned to embrace the fear." Corchado, an American citizen, has written a memoir about the complicated relationship he has with the country of his birth, entitled, Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey Through a Country's Descent into Darkness.
Aracelis Upia Montero works at the Alta Gracia garment factory in the Dominican Republic. She says she was desperately poor before she began working at the factory, which pays much higher than usual wages. "I'm now eligible for loans and credits from the bank because I earn a good salary," she says.
Credit Jackie Northam / NPR
Workers at Alta Gracia garment factory make around $500 a month, far above the industry average, though the company has yet to break even since it opened three years ago. Its apparel is sold at hundreds of college bookstores in the U.S.
Credit Jackie Northam / NPR
Maritza Vargas heads the factory's union. "There is a quote that reads, 'From nice dreams, you wake early,' " she says. "But we don't think like that at Alta Gracia."
Aracelis Upia Montero bounds through the front door of her wood and cinderblock house, calling out for her children. The bubbly 41-year-old Montero — whom everyone calls Kuki — proudly shows guests around her cramped single-story home in Villa Altagracia in the Dominican Republic.
Montero points out her new living room furniture. In the past couple years, she has added two bedrooms and now has indoor plumbing. She has also built a little apartment at the end of her dirt driveway that she rents out.
The world's wealthiest nations are promising to fight what they call the scourge of tax evasion. This week's meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized countries concluded with a pledge to end the use of tax shelters by multinational corporations.
But there are still big questions about how they will make a dent in the problem.
In the aftermath of the global recession, countries all over the world have struggled with budget shortfalls. More and more of them have come to blame part of their revenue problems on one culprit — tax avoidance.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
Russia, China and Uzbekistan are among the countries that the U.S. says are not doing enough to combat modern-day slavery. That was one of the many findings in the State Department's annual human trafficking report released this afternoon.
NPR's Michele Kelemen tells us more.
MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Luis CdeBaca runs the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. In front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate today, President Obama stood, as he said, along the fault line where a city was divided. In a speech on the former path of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Obama said that while the barbed wire and checkpoints are gone from the city, the struggle for freedom and prosperity continues in many other parts of the world.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
In Egypt, tourism is a vital source of foreign currency. And Luxor, home to the Valley of the Kings, is vital to attracting tourists. Well, now, Egypt's minister of tourism has resigned, protesting President Mohammed Morsi's appointee to the post of provincial governor of Luxor. The new governor's party is allied to the Gamaa al-Islamiya, an extreme Islamist group that used to engage in armed insurgency and that is synonymous with the 1997 massacre of tourists in Luxor.
And not far from Luxor, on the coast of the Red Sea, is another place with great potential to attract tourists. It's called Marsa Alam. It has miles and miles of beautiful coastline, barrier coral reefs and diving spots. The town started to boom after its airport opened in 2001, but now it's an array of half-finished buildings and unfulfilled promises.
As we hear from NPR's Leila Fadel, Marsa Alam is a microcosm of the neglect that has occurred across much of Egypt since the uprising more than two years ago.
Anna Rodriguez tends the grave of her son, Nick. She learned shortly after Nick's death that, because his death was a suicide, his name would not be included on a local memorial to fallen soldiers. She has since found a memorial garden in York, Pa., that will add Nick's name to its memorial wall this summer.
Credit Courtesy of Anna Rodriguez
Lance Cpl. Nicholas Rodriguez joined the Marines at the age of 21. He "wanted to go and help the world in some way," says his stepfather, Michael Geiger.
Last year, more U.S. service members took their own lives than died in combat. And despite the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, the pullout in Iraq, and hundreds of new programs designed to help troubled servicemen and women, the number of suicides continues to rise.