When the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died two years ago, his son Kim Jong Un rose to power. The world knew practically nothing about the young and untested leader. In fact, nobody knew exactly how young he was until his birth date was revealed by a man who goes by the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong Il's former sushi chef and longtime confidante.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
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And I'm Renee Montagne. We're going to get a glimpse from the front lines of the civil war in Syria now. That war is expected to be the focus of peace negotiations, in the coming weeks. The U.S. is pressing for those talks after brutal fighting, fighting that's begun to spread to neighboring countries.
The U.N. says hundreds of wounded, along with thousands more civilians, are trapped inside the embattled Syrian town of Qusair. The Syrian army, along with fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, have the town surrounded. Up until recently Hezbollah's involvement in the fight was kept secret. But now, as NPR's Kelly McEvers reports, the group's supporters are readying for what could be a bigger, more regional fight.
NPR's business news starts with some European optimism.
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WERTHEIMER: The president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, says he expects to see a gradual economic recovery in the eurozone nations this year. Speaking in Shanghai yesterday, he acknowledged the region still faces challenges, including record unemployment, but he cited growing European exports and rising regional stock markets as factors indicating better times ahead. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Tornado Safety, School Suspensions, And Darius Rucker
In this week's podcast of Weekends on All Things Considered: A look at tornado safety, and one LA school district's decision to end school suspensions. Plus, the rise of bike sharing, Sheri Booker on 9 years spent working in an inner-city Baltimore funeral home, and Darius Rucker.
When Garfield High School in Los Angeles stopped suspending students for "willful defiance" several years ago. Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District board voted to follow suit in all Los Angeles schools.
On a three by five index card, you scrawled in heavy black permanent marker letters, "YOU NOW OWN MY SOUL." Initialed under that. Today's date under that. It's a neat little binding contract. I bet it would hold up in the highest court, even if you meant it as a joke. You shouldn't be so cavalier with your immortal essence. I spied it between a wad of chewing gum and a mangled plastic bottle. Anyone could have found this card where it laid half-in, half-out of the gutter with the collected effluvia of a thousand passers-by.
She was cleaning out the closet, looking for items to give to Goodwill, when she found it. It was balled up at the back of the top shelf and had sat, collecting dust, for how long? Eight years? Nine? At least since they'd moved into the house and Will was a baby. It was Ted's old shirt from his single days, part of his "going out" outfit that he thought was so retro hip and cool, but which was really just fugly.
When freelance journalist Anna Badkhen returned to Afghanistan in 2011, she set her eyes on a region so remote it doesn't exist on Google Maps.
In her new book, The World Is A Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village, Badkhen chronicles her time in Oqa - a rural, rainless village of 240 people and "40 doorless huts."
For many of its residents, survival hinges on the fingers of women and children. They engage in the local tradition of carpet weaving, earning about 40 cents a day for carpets that eventually sell for $5,000 to $20,000 abroad.
NPR's Bob Mondello and Susan Stamberg read excerpts of two of the best submissions for Round 11 of our short story contest. They read Litter by Kalad Hovatter of Orange, Calif., and The Shirt by Jennifer Anderson of Shorewood, Wis. You can read their full stories below and find other stories on our Three-Minute Fiction page or on Facebook.
And if you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Wade Goodwyn.
Jean Stapleton will always be known as Edith Bunker, the subservient housewife with the high-pitched voice on the TV show "All in the Family." The character was a saint compared to the bigoted, close-minded Archie Bunker played by Carroll O'Connor. People who knew her said Stapleton put a lot of herself into the character of Edith. Jean Stapleton passed away on Friday. Kyle Norris has this remembrance.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Wade Goodwyn.
Like most Americans, Colonel Martha McSally had never heard of The Rutherford Institute. By any measure, she was an Air Force star, flying one of the deadliest planes in the U.S. arsenal, the A-10 tank killer. But while she led the way in the skies, she also had to fight on the ground against her own military hierarchy.
Arthur Geisert is the author of more than two dozen children's picture books. Three of his titles have won The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book Award. He's most famous for his intricate illustrations of the Midwest — sprawling prairie, family farms and his signature mischievous pigs.
Detroit doesn't have to wait for Antiques Roadshow to come to town to know the city owns priceless treasures. The city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts holds works by van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir and other artists that could bring in tens of millions of dollars each.
And they just might sell. With the city more than $15 billion in debt, Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager trying to straighten out Detroit's finances, has asked the museum to inventory its works with an eye toward potentially selling them off.