Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 9:01 am
Okinawa's governor has approved a plan to relocate the U.S. Marine base on the Japanese island.
Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima's decision Friday is a reversal of his pledge to move the base off the Japanese island.
The project would involve land reclamation for a new base that would consolidate the U.S. presence on the island.
"We decided to approve the application for the landfill as we judged it contains all possible steps that could be taken at present to protect the environment," Nakaima said at a news conference in Naha, the prefectural capital.
Correspondent Susannah George describes the scene in Beirut
An explosion in Beirut on Friday killed at least six people, including a former Lebanese ambassador to the U.S. who was a leader of the Western-backed coalition that opposes the militant group Hezbollah.
More than 70 other people were injured by the car bomb, authorities say.
In these last days of the year, we're airing conversations about the future. Today, we turn to David Kilcullen, who imagines future wars in his book, "Out of the Mountains." Kilcullen served in the Australian Army then went on to advise U.S. General David Patraeus in Iraq. Kilcullen told my colleague Steve Inskeep that warfare is chanting in three ways. First, it's becoming more urban. Second, technology is changing warfare; he notes how quickly news spread of Moammar Gadhafi's death in Libya in 2011.
To many Afghans, 2014 is more than a year — it's a sword of Damocles hanging over the fragile nation. It's the year the country will elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.-led military mission will end. Many fear that will open the door to chaos.
But on a chilly winter day in Kabul, it's still business as usual in the city center.
In a stationary market, you can still buy calendars for this year — the year 1392. Afghanistan uses the Persian solar calendar, and in March the year 1393 begins.
In a clinic in southern Turkey, Mohammed Ibrahim helps 23-year-old Syrian Mustapha Abu Bakr take his first steps since he lost his legs, holding on to a set of bars for balance.
"He can't express his feelings," Ibrahim says. "It's a new thing completely for him."
Ibrahim explains that patients who have lost a leg below the knee can walk out of the clinic without crutches after a day of practice. For double amputees like Abu Bakr, who was injured in Syria's civil war, the adjustment takes more time.
Reporter John Otis was looking for a flight to Venezuela. That may sound like a simple task, but air travel to and from that Latin American country turns out to be extremely complicated these days. Here's his story.
A direct flight from my home in Bogotá, Colombia, to Caracas, Venezuela, takes about 90 minutes. But when I tried to buy a ticket recently, none were available. I was offered a flight with an overnight stop in Miami, but that would have cost $5,000.
The Gulf nation of Qatar has nearly depleted its groundwater, and will increasingly need to import food. Some farms still operates on ground water, but in the long haul, Qatar is counting on desalination and using money to import food.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:04 pm
Thailand's government has rejected a call from the country's Election Commission to delay a February vote to choose a new parliament, as protesters opposed to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra increasingly resort to violence to disrupt the polls.
Anti-government demonstrations have been going on for weeks as "yellow shirt" protesters — most drawn from the ranks of Thailand's urban middle class — have sought to oust Yingluck, whose government was elected in a 2011 landslide, mostly with support from the country's poorer, rural farming communities.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:41 am
An American development worker and Peace Corps veteran who was kidnapped more than two years ago from his home in Pakistan by men claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaida, asks President Obama in a newly released video "to instruct your appropriate officials to negotiate my release."
Warren Weinstein, 72, is also heard saying he feels "totally abandoned and forgotten."
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, economic growth has been slowing this year. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed an ambitious plan to lure large-scale foreign investment. But details of his plan remain under wraps. Small businesses make up the vast majority of companies in the West Bank.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
NPR's Emily Harris has this profiles of one new one.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Before opening a cafe, Palestinian Tariq el-Ayyan worked on documentary films.
Recently my colleague Steve Inskeep heard an Israeli journalist give a talk. The journalist said that people in Israel had over the past few decades forgotten their nation's narrative.
ARI SHAVIT: We've lost this basic understanding that we are the ultimate victims of the 20th century. We are the ultimate victims of Europe. And Israel, with all its flaws, is a remarkable project of life-saving of a nation that was facing extinction and took its own fate in its own hands and tried to save itself and in many ways succeeded.
Now NPR's Zoe Chase, from our Planet Money Team, reminds us about one industry that played a big role in NAFTA's passage: men's underwear.
ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: Now you're used to the labels: made in Mexico, made in China, made in Bangladesh. But back in the '80s, when they were first talking about NAFTA, about half of American clothing was made in America, by people like this.
BERTHA MARR: Graduated from the eighth grade, then went straight on in to working at Fruit of the Loom.
Among the things to celebrate this holiday season is the fact that there are fewer hungry people in the world. Just how many? Well, since 1965, researchers in Europe have been tracking the world's food supply and where it's going.
The good news is: The percentage of the world's population getting what the researchers say is a sufficient diet has grown from 30 percent to 61 percent.
In Qatar's rapid race to modernity, the emirate has created a distinctive approach to educating its young: It has effectively imported a host of American universities.
Dr. Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of Qatar's ruling family, sits on the Supreme Education Council and owns a few independent schools. For her own children, she wanted a top-flight college education. Her sons were educated in Britain.
Three government ministers in Turkey have resigned in a corruption scandal. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the anti-graft investigation as part of an international conspiracy. For more on the political developments, Robert Siegel speaks with Turkish columnist and television commentator Astli Aydintasbas.
It was a somber Christmas day in South Sudan. Despite an appeal for a Christmas cease-fire from the African Union, government soldiers and rebels clashed in an oil-rich part of the country.
At a church in the capital of Juba, President Salva Kiir called for peace and unity. Even the leader's choice of clothing — traditional robes instead of army fatigues — seemed to signal that he wants to move past the violence.
A look back and a look ahead as NATO prepares for the final year of its mission in Afghanistan. This year saw several major events as Afghan forces took responsibility for security and the U.S. and Afghanistan came close, but have so far failed to ink a security deal to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends next year.
The film Captain Phillips is "based on a true story" of the 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates. But how faithfully does the movie capture real events? Robert Siegel puts that question to Colin Freeman, chief foreign correspondent with Britain's Sunday Telegraph. Freeman covered the 2009 incident and has himself been kidnapped by Somali pirates.
Six brand new Challenger corporate jets sit on a showroom floor waiting to be picked up here at the Bombardier Aerospace plant on the outskirts of Montreal. Manager Frank Richie watches as technicians polish the gleaming aircraft and make last-minute adjustments. Each one is personalized, from the leather trim inside to the fancy paint job on its exterior.
Through a side door, you enter an enormous assembly line for more than a dozen other Challenger jets. The factory floor spans nearly 900,000 square feet.
Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 12:14 am
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had a Christmas Day warning for Britons: "A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all."
Britain's Channel 4 televised Snowden's short address as the network's "Alternative Christmas Message," an annual address delivered by a public figure that mimics the style of Queen Elizabeth's Royal Christmas Message. You can watch the full 1:43 video at Channel 4's website.
Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:15 am
Who doesn't love a Danish pastry?
And in Denmark, they like their pastries sprinkled with plenty of cinnamon.
But now, Denmark's bakers are being told that their time-honored recipe for the beloved kanelsnegle — or cinnamon swirl — may be unhealthy and against the law. Recent testing by the Danish government found that a large number of the rolls had too much cinnamon — more than the recommended limits set by the European Union.