Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 10:56 am
With the current focus on Syria it's easy to miss that things are getting worse again in Iraq. Since the spring, the country has been pounded by waves of attacks on civilians and security forces by extremists with links to al-Qaida. Three car bombs in the Iraqi city of Baquba killed 10 people Tuesday.
On 'Morning Edition': Free Syrian Army Gen. Salim Idris
As Secretary of State John Kerry was preparing to sit down with his Russian counterpart Thursday to discuss whether the Assad regime's chemical weapons can be handed over to international monitors, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army was telling NPR that "the Russian initiative is just a lie."
Mexico's president has unveiled a major shakeup of the country's tax system. His administration says it's aimed at capturing more of Mexico's paltry tax collection. Critics say it's unfairly targeting the middle class. Among the items slated for taxing: dog food and private school tuition.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:26 am
During the run-up to possible military action in Syria, the name of an unknown researcher was catapulted into the spotlight. Elizabeth O'Bagy was on NPR, Fox and quoted by Senator John McCain during a hearing. It turns out, O'Bagy is not exactly who she said she was, and her story reveals a lot about how Washington works during times of high drama.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:04 am
Russian President Vladimir Putin has written an op-ed piece for Thursday's New York Times. He's calling on the U.S. to forgo military strikes on Syria. For Russia's view of the Syrian conflict, Renee Montagne talks to Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Now, those who favor U.S. military intervention in Syria include backers of Israel. One of them is Republican campaign contributor Sheldon Adelson. Another is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
NPR's David Welna reports on their lobbying efforts.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:21 am
Steve Inskeep talks to General Salim Idriss, commander of the Free Syrian Army. They discuss Syrian opposition reaction to President Obama's address to the nation this week, the Russian diplomatic initiative and what assistance the general is hoping to receive from the United States.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 4:46 pm
North Korea appears to be in the process of restarting a nuclear reactor used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, five years after shutting the facility down as part of international disarmament efforts.
New satellite imagery appears to reveal that the 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon, which experts believe can produce enough plutonium for one to two bombs a year, shows signs of being operational.
Robert Siegel talks with David Hanney about prospects for a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria's chemical weapons. Lord Hanney represented Britain in the United Nations during the first Iraq war, when the UN Security Council voted unanimously to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
This week's diplomacy over Syria was widely described as improvisational. John Kerry made a comment that his own aides were at pains to describe as rhetorical. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pounced on it opportunistically. Well, today there's some revisionist reporting on that score, reporting that Kerry and Lavrov were actually building on a year's worth of U.S.-Russia conversations.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 2:06 pm
If you're following the Syrian debate, there's a good chance you've come across Elizabeth O'Bagy, an analyst on the Syrian war, who went from obscure think tank analyst to media darling to unemployed in roughly a week.
Here's how she did it.
O'Bagy, 26, was a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. Her specialty, the Syrian rebels, received only periodic flickers of attention.
Then came the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria, followed by President Obama's declared intent to carry out a military strike in Syria.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 2:07 pm
Satellite imagery and seismic data have identified two huge underground aquifers in Kenya's drought-prone north, a discovery that could be "a game changer" for the country, NPR's Gregory Warner reports.
The aquifers, located hundreds of feet underground in the Turkana region that borders Ethiopia and South Sudan, contain billions of gallons of water, according to UNESCO, which confirmed the existence of the subterranean lakes discovered with the help of a French company using technology originally designed to reveal oil deposits.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 2:07 pm
It's one of the great paradoxes of our time: Hundreds of millions of people go hungry, and yet we waste a whopping 1.43 billion tons of food — one third of what we produce. Food waste is a problem in rich countries and poor countries alike, and it's happening throughout the supply chain — from the farm to the truck to the warehouse to the store to your refrigerator.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 1:25 pm
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to treat foreign multinational companies on a par with the country's own state-owned enterprises, but he warned that an economic rebound remains fragile.
Li, speaking at a business forum in the northeastern city of Dalian on Wednesday, cautioned that the global economic outlook was a "complex situation" and outlined a series of steps designed to keep the country on a moderate but sustainable growth path.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 11:33 am
The deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, which took place a year ago Wednesday, symbolized the violence, chaos and struggles that have defined Libya since the ousting of dictator Moammar Gadhafi two years ago.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 12:50 pm
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, one of the broader goals was to send a strong deterrent message to other dictators who might have weapons of mass destruction (even if Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein didn't).
Recent events in Syria show that President Bashar Assad didn't heed the warning. But Libya's Moammar Gadhafi did.
From the NPR Newscast: Jean Cochran rounds up the latest news about the crisis in Syria
Now that President Obama has made his case to the nation for holding Syrian President Bashar Assad responsible for a chemical weapons attack last month near Damascus, the next key moment in the quickly evolving crisis appears to be Thursday's meeting in Geneva between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Diplomats continue to consider a Russian plan to get Syria to hand over its chemical weapons to international control. If nations can agree on the details, the plan could avert a U.S. strike against Syrian targets. But accounting for and destroying Syria's chemical arsenal is a complicated undertaking.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.
President Obama's push for a military strike on Syria is on hold, at least for now. The administration is exploring a possible diplomatic alternative that calls for Syria to surrender its stockpile of chemical weapons. That could provide a face-saving out for the president, who appeared unlikely to win Congressional approval this week for a strike.
How feasible is the task of taking control of Syria's chemical arsenal? Could the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the body that implements the Chemical Weapons Convention, do it with confidence?
We're going to ask Amy Smithson, who is senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Welcome to the program.
Is the Russian proposal to have Syria's chemical weapons placed under international control sincere? And if so, what's in it for Russia and can the Russians be trusted to help rid Syria of chemical weapons? Joining us, is Strobe Talbott, a Russia hand and former deputy secretary of state. He joins us from the Brookings Institution, of which he is the president. Welcome to the program once again.
The U.S. and its allies await details of Russia's proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons arsenal under UN supervision. Meanwhile, senior Obama administration officials are continuing to press for congressional approval of a potential military strike against the Bashar al-Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons in August.