Mubarak's move to house arrest was just one development in a tumultuous week in the Middle East. The civil war in Syria also took a stunning turn. It appears chemical weapons were used in an attack on a rebel area on a far larger scale than anything that's been alleged before.
To reflect on the state of the region we called Shadee Hameed. He's an analyst with the Brookings Center in Doha and a frequent guest on our program. Good morning.
The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant is back in the news more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a series of meltdowns. New leaks found this week prompted regulators to consider raising the alert level there in Japan. NPR's science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel joined us to explain. Geoff, good morning.
Our next guest says the only thing that can unite all Egyptians is soccer. American Bob Bradley is coach of Egypt's national soccer team. They're closing in on a spot in next year's World Cup, something Egypt hasn't done since 1990. We reached Coach Bradley earlier in Cairo. Good morning to you, Coach, thanks for coming on the program.
BOB BRADLEY: No problem. It's good to be with you.
The former politician Bo Xilai offered a spirited defense in court in China on Thursday, surprising observers who had expected a quick show trial to end the country's biggest political scandal in decades. However Bo was allowed to cross-examine witnesses and tell judges he had been framed in the bribery charges against him. He said he had confessed to the charges under psychological pressure during interrogation.
Hundreds of people are believed to have perished in an alleged government-launched chemical weapon attack earlier this week on the rebel stronghold of Ghouta, outside of Damascus. Melissa Blocks speaks with Abo Abdulrahman, a doctor from a field hospital there, who reports an enormous influx of patients coming into his clinic.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was released from prison on Thursday and immediately flown to a military hospital in Cairo. The court-ordered release does not mean the end of his problems. The 85-year-old Mubarak is still facing charges of conspiracy and murder in a re-trial that could begin as early as this weekend. A small group of Mubarak supporters gathered outside the prison for his release, but overall the decision to transfer him to the hospital has not ignited any street protests.
April 5, 2014 — that's the day Afghans are scheduled to head to the polls to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai. He's constitutionally banned from running for a third term. But, in a country that loves a good conspiracy theory, many think that Karzai will find some way to stay in power. Even if he doesn't, there are still many questions about how free and fair next year's vote will be.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 3:43 pm
The international community once again rose in near unanimity to condemn a mass killing of civilians in Syria. But, as with so many previous episodes, no one proposed concrete action intended to prevent such bloodshed in the future.
The White House on Thursday expressed "deep concern" and urged a U.N. investigation into what the Syrian opposition says was a chemical weapons attack near Damascus on Wednesday that left hundreds dead.
In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, Bo Xilai appears Thursday on the first day of his trial in eastern China's Shandong province. Interestingly, he was photographed flanked by two very tall policemen.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 5:07 pm
In China, recent Communist Party show trials have featured cowed defendants acknowledging their crimes and offering apologies. Not this one.
The country's biggest trial in decades kicked off Thursday with the defendant, former politburo member Bo Xilai, denying guilt, claiming his confession was coerced and branding the testimony of one of his accusers — in this case his wife — "laughable."
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 11:38 am
When Hosni Mubarak was whisked out of prison by helicopter on Thursday, he did not become a free man. The former Egyptian leader, 85, was taken to a military hospital in Cairo, where he's under house arrest and still faces criminal charges.
But to many, the move was highly symbolic, the latest sign that the 2011 revolution is being rolled back and that the country's future is growing messier and more complicated by the day.
Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 11:04 am
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been released from the prison where he's been held while awaiting a retrial on charges related to the killing of protesters in 2011. The protesters lost their lives during the demonstrations that led to the topping of Mubarak's three-decade-old regime.
Earlier this week, a court ruled that after being held for two years while on trial and during his appeals, Mubarak could no longer be kept in prison. He's also facing corruption charges.
From the NPR Newscast: The BBC's Nick Bryant reports
Claims by the opposition in Syria that President Bashar Assad's forces used chemical weapons during an attack Wednesday near Damascus — killing scores of people, they say — are being followed Thursday by word that:
And we turn now to Charles Duelfer, a long-time U.N. weapons inspector. He was the author of the 2004 Duelfer Report, which confirmed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the U.S. invaded. Good morning.
CHARLES DUELFER: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Now, looking here at Syria and based on your extensive experience as a weapons inspector, do the scenes that we're seeing in these opposition videos, look to you consistent with what you would expect to see in a chemical attack?
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. And now to some horrific scenes in Syria.
(SOUNDBITE OF SHRIEKING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking in foreign language)
GREENE: This is the sound from one of the many videos uploaded onto the Internet yesterday showing Syrian civilians, including children, convulsing and gasping for breath in an area outside of Damascus that's a rebel stronghold.
Anti-government activists in Syria are accusing President Bashar al-Assad's forces of deploying a chemical weapons attack on the suburbs of the capital, Damascus. The government denied the attack, but the allegations have prompted the United Nations to call an emergency meeting. Melissa Block talks to Washington Post reporter Loveday Morris for more.
"It helps," she grins. "Did you ever try? It puts you together. If you really are nervous you do bright red."
Calderon, 51, is a scholar and teacher of Jewish religious texts. She is also a novice Israeli politician, part of the new Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party that unexpectedly took 19 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, last January.
A flamboyant politician in China, once considered a presidential contender, will go on trial in the eastern city of Jinan tomorrow. Bo Xilai is one of the highest ranking Communist Party officials to face trial in decades. Many Chinese believe he's being prosecuted for corruption because he lost an internal power struggle.
But as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Jinan, the root causes of Bo's dramatic downfall are unlikely to come out in court.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
A court has ordered that former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak be released from jail, at least temporarily. The news adds another coal to what is already a white-hot fire in Egypt. More than a thousand people have died, most supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, in a brutal crackdown by government troops.
The latest reports of chemical weapon attacks in Syria set off a tense debate in the United Nation Security Council. It met this afternoon in an urgent session. The U.N. has long been divided over how to deal with Syria. The United States and its partners are calling for a full investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons, but Russia is casting doubts on the allegations and is defending the Syrian government's position.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has teamed up with other tech giants to pursue the goal of providing Internet service to five billion people in the developing world. The group, called Internet.org, says data can be used more efficiently and participating partners can work cooperatively to make access to the web affordable in emerging economies. Zuckerberg makes the case on his Facebook page for how a global Internet infrastructure can be created. But the document doesn't have tangible commitments from Facebook or other participating companies.
South Sudanese pan for gold in Nanakanak, in the eastern part of the impoverished country. Tens of thousands of informal miners are looking for gold, and the government is trying to attract international mining companies to carry out the search on an industrial scale.
Credit Hannah McNeish / AFP/Getty Images
A South Sudanese woman, with a child on her back, pans for gold in the Singaita River in the eastern part of the country.
Credit Adriane Ohanesian / Reuters/Landov
A gold miner in the eastern part of South Sudan takes a break. Miners say it used to be easy to find gold nuggets. But now tens of thousands of South Sudanese are mining, and it can take days to find a single gram.
Digging a trench under the punishing midday sun, Thomas Lokinga stops only when he needs to wipe the sweat from his face. He is determined to find a nugget of gold amid the hard-baked ground in Nanakanak, in the eastern part of South Sudan, the world's newest nation.
The Indian rupee has fallen nearly 16 percent against the dollar since May. The drop comes amid a slowdown in the country's economy. India's troubles are mirrored in other emerging economies that drove global growth for the past decade.
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 11:45 am
What's a baker to do when all foodies can talk about, on both sides of the Atlantic, is the cronut craze, a croissant-doughnut that NPR reported on earlier this year? Simple: Come up with an equally addictive hybrid dessert.
Hundreds of samples taken from riders in this summer's Tour de France found no signs of doping, officials say. The epic race, which was put on for the hundredth time in 2013, has been at the center of recent doping scandals.
Anti-doping officials say they took 202 blood and urine samples before the race began, and an additional 419 during competition. Nearly 200 of those samples were taken with the goal of creating a "biological passport" for riders, to establish a baseline of their body chemistry.
Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:57 am
An Egyptian court has ordered that former President Hosni Mubarak be released from custody while he awaits a retrial on charges related to the killing of protesters during the 2011 protests that led to the toppling of his government, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Cairo.
Peter adds that even though that case and others related to corruption charges are still active, Mubarak's release would "likely spark anxiety that the military-backed government now in charge is returning Egypt to the authoritarian state it was in before the Arab Spring."