Secretary of State John Kerry met with political leaders in Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank this week in his effort to try to restart direct peace talks between the two parties. NPR's Emily Harris is in Jerusalem. Emily, thanks for being with us.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: My pleasure, Scott.
SIMON: So if not a concrete plan, is somebody pouring the concrete?
A bride and groom exchange rings during a traditional Indian wedding ceremony. Although most marriages in India are still arranged, a growing number of women are taking matters of the heart into their own hands, using social networking clubs and matrimonial websites.
In India, some of the most entertaining reading on a Sunday afternoon is found in the classified ads. Page after page, the matrimonial section trumpets the finer qualities of India's sons and daughters.
Parents looking to marry off their children often place ads such as this one: "Wanted: Well-settled, educated groom for fair, beautiful Bengali girl, 22, 5'3"."
The matrimonial ads are a hallowed tradition in the quest to find a life partner — part of the institution of matchmaking that is as old as the country itself.
Will teaching in English at France's universities undermine the French language? That's up for debate in the country now, and the argument is heated.
The lower house of parliament approved a measure Thursday that would allow courses to be taught in English, something that is currently against the law.
Those in favor of the proposal say it will attract more international students and improve English language skills of French students. But opponents say the move will only impoverish and marginalize the country's tongue.
Gnomes marched their way into one of England's most prestigious gardening events this year. The 100th annual Chelsea Flower Show, which ends Saturday, opened its gates to the flower-friendly creatures for the first time.
In Libya, guns are still everywhere and the elected leadership is struggling to rule as militias use guns and intimidation when they don't get their way. Most recently they surrounded two ministries and state television to force through a political isolation law that bars former members of Moammar Gaddafi's regime from government posts.
Print media are struggling in the U.S. and Europe, but in many Asian countries, including China and India, newspapers are thriving. Another example is Myanmar, also known as Burma. There, only 1 percent of people have access to the Internet and private daily newspapers are rushing into print after decades of being banned. NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports on how Burmese journalists are exercising newfound freedoms.
Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo has been extradited to the United States, where he faces charges of laundering tens of millions of dollars through U.S. banks.
Portillo, who served as president from 2000 to 2004, was snatched from a hospital bed in Guatemala City, where he was recovering from liver surgery. He was placed on an airplane bound for New York, according to his lawyer, Mauricio Berreondo.
Irish banking officials should have known there were problems with the controversial 10-euro coin commemorating James Joyce, according to Ireland's RTE News. The coin misquotes the author's Ulysses, and bears an image of Joyce that his estate did not approve.
Two men were arrested and removed from a Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet Friday. It had been on its way from Lahore, Pakistan, to Manchester, England, when something that happened aboard led authorities to scramble Royal Air Force fighter jets and divert the passenger plane to London Stansted Airport.
(We most recently updated the top of this post at 6:45 p.m. ET.)
An explosion followed by gunfire in Kabul on Friday claimed the lives of at least two attackers and wounded a small number of civilians. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which appeared to have been aimed at offices of the International Organization for Migration and stretched over several hours as Afghan security forces tried to hunt down those responsible.
As night fell in Kabul, it was unclear whether the incident was over or not.
Representatives of President Bashar Assad's regime have agreed "in principle" to attend an international peace conference aimed at ending more than two years of brutal warfare in Syria, Russia's foreign ministry said Friday.
Iran's Guardian Council does not hesitate to use its power. That's the legislative body that vets political candidates for their commitment to the Islamic Revolution. Perhaps no surprise in the upcoming presidential election, voters are able to choose from a very narrow range of candidates - all of whom support the regime. All the high-profile or independent candidates have been eliminated by the Guardian Council. And this caused some shock - those include a man who has already held the post of president.
Skyscrapers are obscured by heavy haze in Beijing on Jan. 13. Air pollution remains a serious — sometimes overwhelming — problem, but researchers say environmental technology is available to solve it.
Credit Frank Langfitt/NPR
Environmental regulation can make a difference. In Shanghai, the government limits car ownership by auctioning off license plates each year at prices exceeding $14,000 apiece. Shanghai also benefits from its location on the water and winds coming off the East China Sea.
Denise Mauzerall arrived in Beijing this year at a time that was both horrifying and illuminating. The capital was facing some of its worst pollution in recent memory, and Mauzerall, a Princeton environmental engineering professor, was passing through on her way to a university forum on the future of cities.
"I took the fast train from Beijing to Shanghai, and looking out the window for large sections of that trip, you couldn't see more than 20 feet," Mauzerall recalled.
To Mauzerall, the lesson was surprising and inescapable.
Educated in the U.S., Aung worked in Silicon Valley for a number of tech companies, including Google, before returning to Myanmar. Here he is at his office shortly after closing time. His employees keep to a tight schedule, starting early in the morning and leaving at 5:30 p.m. every day.
Credit Lam Thuy Vo / NPR
Aung gives one of his employees feedback during a monthly meeting. Giving regular feedback is one of the management techniques he brought from Silicon Valley to Myanmar. After the meeting, he hands his employees thick envelopes that contain their salaries in cash. Even though Nay eventually hopes to develop online and mobile payment services, most of his employees prefer to be paid in cash.
Credit Lam Thuy Vo / NPR
One of Aung's employees holds up the receipt of a payment he is about to deliver to one of Aung's partner hotels. Even though Aung enables tourists to handle their travel bookings online, he still has to deliver cash to his partners by hand.
Credit Lam Thuy Vo / NPR
One of the main challenges Aung faces in running an Internet startup in Myanmar is not having a consistent Internet connection. There are several Internet and electricity outages every day.
Credit Lam Thuy Vo / NPR
Nay Aung is the founder of Oway, a tech startup in Yangon, Myanmar. He used Taste Cafe as his unofficial office when he started his company — in part because it was one of the few places in Myanmar with a stable Internet connection.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. In London, authorities and the public are grappling with the brutal murder yesterday of a British soldier who was hacked to death on the street. All the evidence suggests this was a terrorist attack by Islamist extremists. Investigators moved quickly today, pursuing leads, making additional arrests and filling in the picture of what happened and who was involved.
Over the past few months, the security situation in the Syrian capital Damascus has been deteriorating. For many Damascenes, the city they always called home is no longer a livable place. They can't make a living anymore, and everyday is a risk that tempts fate. In an exodus from Damascus, many young professionals are abandoning their lives at home to flee abroad and face the unknown.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Close to half of the world's maritime traffic passes through the South China Sea. Vast deposits of oil and natural gas are believed to lie beneath the ocean floor there. These waters are also the scene of bitter international rivalry as at least five smaller countries find themselves in lopsided disputes with China.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) walks with Myanmar's then-prime minister, Gen. Thein Sein, at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on March 16, 2009. Both men are former military officers, leading their Southeast Asian nations along a sometimes rocky path to democracy.
Credit Tatan Syuflana / AP
Police and students stand off at Trisakti University in West Jakarta, Indonesia, on May 8, 1998, before scuffles erupted. Student protests against President Suharto that ignited throughout Indonesia ultimately ended the 30-year rule of the military leader.
Credit Choo Youn-Kong / AFP/Getty Images
Angry Indonesian mobs burn cars and Chinese shops in Jakarta on May 14, 1998. Indonesia has made great progress since the ethnic and religious violence of the immediate post-Suharto era.
Credit Munir uz Zaman / AFP/Getty Images
Rohingya Muslims, trying to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence in Myanmar, look on from an intercepted boat in Teknaf on July 13, 2012.
Credit Khin Maung Win / AP
Buddhist monks and others walk across a road in downtown Yangon, Myanmar, on May 13.
The world's highest sushi bar: On Tuesday, Yuichiro Miura, right, and his son made hand-wrapped sushi on the side of Mount Everest, at the fourth campsite during their climb to the top. The photo won many fans on Facebook.
A Japanese mountaineer has become the oldest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, as Yuichiro Miura, 80, reached the 29,035-foot peak Thursday morning. The feat marks Miura's third time atop Mount Everest; he previously climbed the mountain at ages 70 and 75.
As in 2008, Miura's accomplishment is in danger of being surpassed by his main rival, Nepalese climber Min Bahadur Sherchan, 81. But that possibility didn't seem to bother Miura Thursday, who was joined by his son, Gota, on the climb.
One day after a British soldier was hacked to death on a busy southeast London street by two men who were heard claiming that they wanted to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Prime Minister David Cameron declared Thursday that "we will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms."
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Five years ago, at the age of 75, a Japanese mountaineer raced a 76-year-old Nepalese climber to the top of Mount Everest. Japan's Yuichiro Miura lost. This morning, in an epic rematch, the now 80-year-old Miura won, becoming the oldest person ever to reach the summit. But that record may not last. Next week, his Nepalese rival, at 81, plans to make the ascent again. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
London is no stranger to terrorist attacks. But yesterday's events had a peculiar horror. A British soldier was hacked to death on a London street. in broad daylight. His two attackers did not try to escape. They stuck around and made speeches to bypassers, trying to justify the brutal killing. Here's one attacker, addressing a passerby filming on a cellphone.
And let's turn to another story that we've been following, the aftermath of that factory collapse in Bangladesh last month. In a report out today, the Bangladeshi government says the Rana Plaza factory was, quote, "a disaster waiting to happen."