Tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing what the U.N. calls a campaign of "ethno-religious cleansing" in the Central African Republic. On Sunday, African forces provided a military escort to hundreds of people on a slow convoy toward the Western border with Cameroon.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White are favored to win gold in ice dancing. The pair took silver in the last Olympic Games in Vancouver, and expectations are high that they'll do even better in Sochi.
Let's check in on the Winter Olympics now. It's been a rough time so far for team USA. They have only won four gold medals in ski and snowboard slope style and in women's snowboard half pipe. The U.S. has struggled in the more traditional sports of the Winter Olympics. That could, though, change today. The U.S. has the best bobsledder in the world, Steve Holcomb. And he races the two-man today.
NPR's Robert Smith joins us from the Sanki Sliding track in the mountains above Sochi. Robert, good morning.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 11:33 am
In 2011, I crossed the border with other journalists into a country that had been cut off from the world for 42 years. We had no idea what to expect as we entered what the rebels were calling "Free Libya."
Where before there had been oppressive security, instead what greeted us was a motley group of ecstatic young men with guns who welcomed journalists to the land they'd liberated. There was no passport control, no rules and a sense of relief that the world would finally hear their stories.
The U.S. men's hockey team nearly shut out Slovenia in the Winter Olympics on Sunday but allowed one goal in the final seconds of the game. The 5-1 win gives the U.S. team an automatic spot in the quarterfinals.
Virtually every hockey game here in Russia is, of course, an away game for the U.S. team. The opposing teams have more fans, more flags, more face paint.
Each time one of Slovenia's players prepared to shoot, its fans chanted. But it was only at the very end of the game that they got to stand and cheer their lone goal.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
The Central African Republic is a country in chaos. Muslim rebels seized power last year and then lost it as Christian militias have fought back. And the war rages on. France and other countries have sent peacekeeping troops to the CAR. And today, Muslims are being evacuated under the protection of those international troops.
NPR's Gregory Warner is in the Central African Republic. He joins us now on the line. Greg, where are you and what are you seeing?
Later this month, Pope Francis will welcome his first appointments to the College of Cardinals. Among the 19 men chosen for elevation are seven from Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. This, say observers, reflects the pope's belief that the church must pay more attention to the poor.
One comes from Haiti, a country with a long, troubled history with the Catholic Church.
Bishop Chibly Langlois says he was skeptical when he heard he'd been chosen.
Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 11:30 am
Last August, Jeffrey Lewis saw a North Korean propaganda video, posted in April 2012, which showed its missile launchers holding intercontinental ballistic missiles, shot from an oddly-shaped building.
He was curious. So with a team of students, he modeled what the building would look like and searched for what North Korean defectors had said about the building where the missile launchers were supposedly made.
"I will admit I got a little bit obsessed with this," he says.
We have an update now on the efforts to end the civil war in Syria. A second round of talks in Geneva this week ended in a stalemate. Both sides have raised questions about whether a third round will go forward at all. In homes this week, some residents were allowed to flee the city, which has been under siege for more than two years, the only tangible success from the negotiations.
Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 12:36 pm
The wave just never stopped. The fans kept it going around Bolshoy Stadium at the Canada-Austria men's hockey match. Hands up, yell, sit, wait, repeat. Hands up, yell, sit, wait, repeat. As it moved, again and again, through the stands, the wave was strikingly red and white. A moving, yelling, living, breathing mass of Canadian pride.
It was Valentine's Day in Sochi. And the Canadians were in love — with their hockey teams, which are doing well, and with so many other athletes from their country. Canada is having a great run in Sochi, and its fans here are celebrating.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The U.S. and Russian hockey teams played into overtime and beyond at Winter Olympic in Sochi today. NPR's Robert Smith was in the Bolshoi Ice Dome and joins us now. Robert, thanks for being with us.
ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: Oh, my pleasure.
SIMON: Boy, what a lucky guy you were to see this. Now, get away from the radio if you don't want to hear the score. We might drop it. This is a game that lived up to the hype.
The U.S. Olympic ice hockey team beat Russia 3-2 on the ice at the Sochi Games in a heart-stopping sudden-death shootout.
Although only a preliminary round, the contest was reminiscent of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" at the Lake Placid Games when a group of American college players beat the formidable Soviet team in what became a touchstone of Cold War Olympic rivalry.
T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues scored the game-winning point in the eighth round of the shootout that ended the clash among some of international hockey's best players.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This month marks the third anniversary of Libya's uprising against a brutal dictator, Moammar Gadhafi. After a bloody civil war, he was ousted and later killed - and now Libya is trying to rebuild itself. But the process has been slow. The divided nation still has a weak government and is awash with weapons. NPR's Leila Fadel has just returned from Tripoli and joins us from Cairo. Leila, thanks so much for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The big event today at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi is the U.S.A.-Russia men's hockey game. It is already underway in the Bolshoi Ice Dome. The U.S.A. or Russia can lose and still make the finals but the emotional stakes of these two old rivals meeting today in Russia is huge. NPR's Robert Smith is at the game. He sent us a list of how he prepared for the big event.
In Ottawa, Canada, winter's something to celebrate. Each year, the city turns out for a three-week festival, complete with ice sculpting, music, fireworks, and skating on the city's frozen canals, essentially the world's largest ice rink. North Country Public Radio's Sarah Harris spent an afternoon on the ice and sent this audio postcard.
On Thursday night, I stayed at a motel in the town of Hirono, just outside a restricted zone in Fukushima Prefecture. The motel's residents were all men, all apparently working on the cleanup of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where three reactors melted down and a fourth caught on fire after a quake and tsunami in 2011.
I was told that, except for a few elderly residents, most of Hirono's inhabitants had left for other places.
Riding the bus to Beirut's southern suburbs used to be a bumpy, crowded but fun experience. Everyone crammed in next to each other, bouncing around on the way to the area they call the Dahiyeh, the Arabic word for "suburb."
This sprawling southern district of Lebanon's capital is the place where the Shiite militant group Hezbollah enjoys its strongest support. But it is also a bustling, residential area. There are garages and vegetable stalls. And in the center of the neighborhood, there are juice bars and cafes.
Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 2:25 pm
Passage of a bill to increase the Turkish government's control over the country's judicial system on Saturday came down to a real fight in Parliament, literally.
Two members of Parliament were injured — one with a broken nose — during debate over the controversial measure to give the Justice Ministry greater control over the selection of judges. The measure ultimately passed, but not before some minor bloodshed.
Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 2:35 pm
Direct talks between the Syrian government and the opposition fighting to topple the regime have ended in what international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi described as a frustrating round of negotiations that have "not come out with very much."
About all that was decided in the latest round of the talks in Geneva that ended on Saturday was an agenda for a third set of meetings at an unspecified date.
"I apologize that these two rounds have not come out with very much," Brahimi said.
It is almost impossible to buy soap anymore in most small towns in the Central African Republic. Same with sugar, powdered milk, batteries, baby formula. Up until January, these kinds of imported goods — in the stratified society of this country — almost always would have been sold to you by a Muslim.
But for the past few weeks, bands of Christian militia groups called anti-Balaka have waged war on Muslims and their property.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Finally, on this President’s Day, we hear, again, from a group that was a favorite of another president – former South African president Nelson Mandela. Now if you are a fan of world music, they need no introduction. Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been singing together for 50 years. They were brought together in 1964, after Joseph Shabalala, a young farm boy turned factory worker from the town of Ladysmith, had a dream.
President Hassan Rouhani appeals to Iranian college students when he talks about creating more opportunities for the young. But the clock is ticking. Many of those born long after the 1979 Islamic Revolution see limited prospects at home and envision a better future abroad.
Outside Tehran University, Iran's largest, you can find earnest young students like Fazle Mahmoudian, 21, a math major who says he knows job prospects are grim, though he's not looking to leave.
Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 12:06 pm
The second major volcanic eruption in as many weeks in Indonesia has killed at least three people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands on the island of Java, as Mount Kelud spewed ash and debris 12 miles into the sky.
Thursday night's eruption of the volcano, located 50 miles southwest of the country's second-largest city of Surabaya, could be heard up to 125 miles away, Indonesia's disaster agency says, according to The Associated Press.
Venezuela's deep political divisions turned deadly this week. Three demonstrators were killed in clashes between government supporters and opponents. Cars burned, windows were smashed and the government of President Nicolas Maduro ordered the arrest of a leading opposition figure.
The Wall Street Journal's South American bureau chief Juan Forero is reporting on this story. And he says the immediately cause for the latest demonstrations is a little vague.
The Syrian peace talks in Geneva are in deep trouble. Representatives of the opposition met a delegation from Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime several times this week. But the two sides can't agree on an agenda.