And after years of economic stagnation, Japan is experiencing growing confidence. And voters in Japan handed a big victory yesterday to the ruling party in parliamentary elections. The election gives Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ambitious economic agenda known as Abenomics quite a boost. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
In India, the families of the children poisoned to death by a school lunch are still reeling from that tragedy. There have been no arrests since 23 children died last week after authorities say they ingested a toxic insecticide.
As NPR's Julie McCarthy reports, the lack of police action has deepened the anguish and anger of parents already crushed under the weight of poverty.
Pope Francis arrives Monday evening in Rio de Janeiro for a weeklong visit celebrating World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have made the pilgrimage to see the Argentine-born pontiff, and he is expected to receive a rapturous welcome.
Still, Pope Francis's visit comes at a delicate time for the church in Brazil. Catholicism — the nation's main religion — is facing a huge challenge from evangelicals.
Richard Crompton stops on the street to talk to "George," a local supplicant and an inspiration for one of the characters in Crompton's first crime novel. Crompton says many of his characters are amalgams of people he met as a Nairobi journalist and resident.
If not for his earlobes, Detective Mollel would cut a classic figure of the crime fiction genre: moody, obsessive and a widower estranged from his son. But Mollel is a Kenyan from the Maasai tribe and the flesh of his earlobes is long and looped, stretched since childhood to hang below his jawline.
Cards depicting the 'royal baby' either as a boy or a girl, specially made by a games company as a publicity stunt are pictured, backdropped by members of the media waiting across the St. Mary's Hospital exclusive Lindo Wing in London on July 11, 2013.
Race leader Chris Froome of Great Britain finishes Stage 20 of the 2013 Tour de France. The penultimate stage of the Tour put Froome ahead by 5 minutes and practically guarantees he finishes Sunday in Paris in the yellow jersey.
Credit John Berry / Getty Images
Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver rides ahead of Colombia's Nairo Quintana in the coveted white jersey and Britain's Christopher Froome in yellow during the 75-mile 20th stage of the Tour.
Credit Jeff Pachoud / AFP/Getty Images
Colombia's Nairo Quintana celebrates his polka dot jersey, which signifies he's the best climber. In addition to be "King of the Mountains" jersey, Quintana also bears the white jersey signifying the best young rider.
Credit Jeff Pachoud / AFP/Getty Images
Race leader Christopher Froome of Great Britain finishes Stage 20 of the 2013 Tour de France, clinching is his win of the 21-day race.
Credit John Berry / Getty Images
Yellow jersey winner Christopher Froome of Great Britain and second-place Nairo Quintana of Colombia raced neck and neck on the final climb during stage 20 of the 2013 Tour de France.
The City of Light is, in fact, lighting up for an evening showdown on the final day of the Tour de France. In a break with tradition, the 21-stage cycling race is starting later than usual from Versailles and ending 83 miles later in Paris with 10 laps of a circuit up and down the Champs-Elysees.
Yet the winners of the 100th Tour de France were pretty much set on Saturday at the end of the 20th stage. For the second year in a row, a Brit is taking the coveted yellow jersey grand prize.
Something to cheer about: Scotland's Andy Murray (second from left) speaks with Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron (center) after winning the men's title at Wimbledon.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition has won a decisive election victory, extending its control to the upper house of parliament and setting the stage for the country's first stable government in years.
Based on exit polls, national broadcaster NHK predicts that Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, will take 71 seats, giving them a total of 130 seats, eight more than needed for a majority in the chamber.
Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe has been sworn in as the country's seventh monarch, succeeding his father, Albert II, who abdicated on Sunday after a 20-year reign.
Albert, 79, resigned the throne on Sunday, citing ill health. He officially signed away his rights to the largely ceremonial post in the presence of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who holds the real political party in Belgium, a 183-year-old constitutional monarchy.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
Pope Francis is headed to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow for World Youth Day. It's actually a week-long gathering for young Catholics held every few years in a different part of the world. The event is meant to inspire and energize the faithful, and more than a million young pilgrims are expected to attend this year. Pope Francis is the first pope from Latin America and he's making his first papal visit overseas. It is to Latin America.
We've become familiar with the story of India's economic ascent and the creation of a large middle class. While that story is true, hundreds of millions of Indians have not been lifted out of extreme poverty.
Israel said Saturday that it's prepared to release a number of Palestinian prisoners following a breakthrough in talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Yuval Steiniz, Israel's intelligence and strategic affairs minister, said the release would involve "heavyweight prisoners in jail for decades". He said the prisoners would be freed soon. (Note: the translation used by The Associated Press has it as "hardcore" instead of "heavyweight").
A man in a wheelchair detonated a homemade bomb at Beijing International Airport, injuring himself but no one else, China's state media says.
The explosion occurred at about 6:24 p.m. Beijing time on Saturday. State-run China Central Television says the wounded man was taken to a hospital after setting off the device and that no one else was injured, no flights were affected and order had been restored at the airport.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Syria, the army of President Bashar al-Assad appears to be gaining the upper hand on the battlefield, as rebels wait for military assistance from the U.S. and other Western allies, assistance that has yet to arrive. Meanwhile, U.N. officials say the refugee crisis has now reached levels not seen since after the Rwanda genocide.
NPR's Kelly McEvers joins us from Beirut for more. Kelly, welcome.
Today, Russia is wrapping up its biggest military maneuver since the Soviet era, an exercise that's designed to test its military readiness on land, sea and in the air. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports that it may also be an effort to show Russia's Far Eastern neighbors that it is still a force to be reckoned with.
COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Russian President Vladimir Putin watched part of the war games this week at a firing range in southern Siberia.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Foreign language spoken)
An Israeli cabinet member said today that officials plan to release some Palestinians who have been in prison in Israel for decades. This appears to be part of the diplomatic dance around restarting peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. After six visits to the region in six months, Secretary of State John Kerry, announced yesterday that there is enough agreement to begin initial talks next week or soon after in Washington, D.C.
Spanish aristocrat Alejandro Cao de Benos is believed to be the only foreigner working for the North Korean government. He divides his time between North Korea and Europe, where he organizes university conferences on North Korean ideology. He's shown here with a North Korean military officer in Panmunjon, on the border with South Korea.
The sun-soaked Spanish Riviera isn't where you'd expect to find a faithful foot soldier of North Korea. But that's exactly what Alejandro Cao de Benos calls himself.
Cao de Benos, 38, is believed to be the only Westerner ever employed by the North Korean government. He's a Spanish aristocrat, born to a family of landed gentry in northeast Spain, where he agreed to meet NPR for an interview one recent afternoon.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. For the past few years, in July the Russia provincial town of Vologda has hosted a European Film Festival. Vologda is a sleepy city far from the Russian metropolises of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and every year the arrival of European filmmakers and actors to the Russian heartland is a very special event.
This year, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley attended the festival.
Somalia hadn't had a case of polio for nearly six years. But in the past few months, the virus has come back. Now the East African country has the worst polio outbreak anywhere in the world.
Twenty new cases of polio were reported this week in Somalia by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. That brings the total number of cases in the Horn of Africa to 73. The rest of the world combined has tallied only 59 cases so far this year.
Today, in cities across Egypt, supporters of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi filled streets and squares. They've been demanding his release from custody and his reinstatement as president. Opponents of Morsi also took to the streets, raising fears of fresh violence. NPR's Leila Fadel paid a visit to the headquarters of the pro-Morsi camp. She sent this report.
Former CIA officer Robert Seldon Lady is on his way back to the U.S. after being briefly detained in Panama. An Italian court had convicted the agent in the first trial anywhere involving the practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which a terrorist suspect is kidnapped and transferred to a country where torture is practiced.
Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank, on Friday. Shortly afterward, Kerry announced a "basis" for the Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations.
Nothing ever seems to come easy in the Middle East, but Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that there was "a basis" for a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which would be the first such talks in several years.
Kerry made the announcement in Amman, Jordan, after a series of discussions with Palestinian and Arab leaders.
"We have reached an agreement that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," Kerry said. "This is a significant and welcome step forward."
A helicopter carries VIPs to the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo in 2010. Politicians taking expensive helicopters and government planes have generated controversy in Brazil.
Credit Jefferson Bernardes / AFP/Getty Images
A helicopter is refueled at an airfield in Sao Paulo in 2009. The wealthy rely on helicopters in Brazil to avoid the gridlocked traffic. Politicians who frequently use helicopters, even for short commutes, are now coming under criticism.
Unlike New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who often takes the subway to work, some prominent politicians in Brazil have a far more impressive way of getting around: private helicopters and government planes.
Perhaps the most over-the-top example of the trend is that of Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral. A recent magazine expose showed that his commute to work is only about 6 miles.
First, we broke the news about fast food overtaking restaurants in France. Then we reported the shocker that more than a third of French restaurants serve frozen meals. If these revelations ruin your impression of France as a bastion of culinary tradition, you may not want to read further.
China's central bank announced that it was removing some controls on the interest rates charged by banks for the loans it issues clients.
Reuters explains that the People's Bank of China said in a statement that it was removing the floor "on lending rates for commercial banks, meaning that banks will now be able to cut rates as much as they see fit to attract borrowers."