In New Zealand, the country's most important cut of cloth is at the center of a nationwide debate. New Zealand's flag has long been criticized by some as a symbol of British Colonialism. The U.K.'s Union Jack remains in the flag's upper left-hand corner. But it was only this year that Prime Minister John Key proposed a referendum to change it. Tim Watkin, journalist and founder of the politics and culture blog Pundit, is on the line with us now from Auckland, New Zealand to tell us more. Hello there, Tim.
The crisis in Ukraine has many in this country wondering what on earth Vladimir Putin is thinking. Hillary Clinton compared him to Hitler; many world leaders have called his actions insane in recent weeks. How is it that we know so much about Russia's president and yet so little? To help us with that, we've called in someone who's spent a lot of time thinking about Vladimir Putin. Masha Gessen is the author of a best-selling biography of Putin called "The Man Without a Face." Masha Gessen, thank you for joining us.
Iranian shoppers buy vegetables from a street vendor in Tehran last November, a day after a six-month nuclear deal took effect. The U.S. says crippling sanctions — which caused prices for necessities like bread, rice and soap to increase — forced Iran's hand.
It's hard to see crippling sanctions at a modern shopping mall in north Tehran — the shops are stocked, the cafes are full. The latest western electronics – even iPhones and iPads, are available for those who can afford it.
But talk to middle class Iranians and you hear dire stories. They say they suffered as prices on almost everything rose dramatically for two years. International sanctions fueled skyrocketing inflation, estimated at 45 percent. Practically, that means that necessities – bread, rice, soap – got more expensive every month.
Discovering Zara McFarlane's voice is like discovering something exquisite and lush and gorgeous.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
ZARA MCFARLANE: (Singing) There you are, though I cannot see your face. I feel you, your presence just entered this place...
LYDEN: Zara McFarlane's latest album is called "If You Knew Her." And she's at our London bureau to talk to us about her music and so that we can get to know here. Zara McFarlane, thank you so much for joining us.
LYDEN: This week, former Miami Dolphin's offensive lineman Jonathan Martin found a new home with his new team, the San Francisco 49ers. Martin tweeted this week that he's beyond blessed about being traded and can't wait to get to work. Jonathan Martin is, of course, the player who was the primary target of taunts and racist insults by his teammates on the Dolphins.
ESPN's Howard Bryant is with us now taking a break from the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament. Hello there Howard.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. More than 20,000 refugees fleeing religious violence in the Central African Republic crossed into Cameroon just in February alone. The refugees are predominantly Muslim and many more are expected to cross over in the coming weeks. They're finding shelter in towns and refugee sites near the border and many are suffering from malnutrition and malaria.
Andres Caballero reports from the border in Cameroon's east region.
Every now and again I come across a book that makes me wish to do violence to my learning, to tear away words like tour de force and magnificent in order to excavate something more true, more raw, more appropriate to the experience of reading it. Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World is such a book. Like fire, it feeds as it consumes: It gives off the warmth and light by which to read, understand, marvel at it — but in order to do so it absorbs the reader's gaze, knowledge and attention and combusts them, transforms them into the brightness by which it is read.
Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 3:56 pm
As the search continues for the Malaysia Airlines plane that's been missing since last Saturday, we're hearing stories about some of the 239 people on board.
There is Philip Wood, one of three Americans on the flight, who worked for IBM in the Chinese capital where he'd lived for two years. He was returning to Beijing after visiting family in Texas. Wood and his girlfriend, Sarah Bajc, were planning to move to Malaysia.
Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 8:51 am
Malaysia's prime minister says he is now certain that someone disabled the communication systems on the passenger jet that disappeared last week with 239 people aboard.
The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flew more than six and a half hours after its last communication with air traffic control, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a news conference early Saturday.
"These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane," he said.
The bipartisan agreement in the Senate over a five-month extension of federal unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless may seem like a breakthrough.
But for Sister Marge Clark, senior lobbyist for NETWORK — a national Catholic social justice lobby that welcomes the news, the fact that the agreement is seen as a progress shows just how far the political situation in Washington has deteriorated.
Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 4:52 pm
Five months before his 2012 re-election, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deportations of more than a half-million young adults, often referred to as "Dreamers," brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
Latinos subsequently turned out to vote in record numbers that fall. More than 70 percent marked their ballots for Obama — helping him win the popular vote and triumph in key battleground states.
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 6:54 pm
The United States announced its intention on Friday of relinquishing its remaining control of the Internet.
In a statement, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration said it wants to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 6:41 pm
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has filed a lawsuit against 16 of the world's biggest banks, accusing them of fixing the London interbank offered rate and costing smaller, failed American banks money.
In this photo released by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, a patrol vessel of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency searches for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane off Tok Bali Beach in Kelantan, Malaysia, on Sunday.
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 7:48 pm
Commercial aviation pilots tell NPR that they would have no idea how to disable all the systems designed to automatically communicate with ground stations, though they could probably figure it out from checklists and other documentation available aboard an aircraft.