World

NPR Story
8:15 am
Sun January 19, 2014

Syria's Main Opposition Agrees To Peace Talks

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 11:59 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. In a close vote, Syria's political opposition agreed to attend peace talks this week in Switzerland. The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the decision as courageous. The vote clears the way for the first face-to-face negotiations in a war that has devastated Syria and destabilized the region. NPR's Deborah Amos has been following the latest developments from Beirut. Good morning, Deb.

DEBORAH AMOS, BYLINE: Good morning.

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Europe
5:16 am
Sun January 19, 2014

From Ashes To Ashes To Diamonds: A Way To Treasure The Dead

Most of the diamonds synthesized from cremated remains come out blue, due to trace amounts of boron in the body. These diamonds, made from the ashes of animals, were created through the same process used to make diamonds from human remains.
Courtesy Rinaldo Willy/Algordanza

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 11:59 am

Diamonds are supposed to be a girl's best friend. Now, they might also be her mother, father or grandmother.

Swiss company Algordanza takes cremated human remains and — under high heat and pressure that mimic conditions deep within the Earth — compresses them into diamonds.

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The Two-Way
11:51 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Dissenters Pushed Aside, Egyptian Voters Approve New Constitution

A boy looks at Egypt's security forces as they try to disperse supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo on Friday.
Aly Hazzaa AP

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 3:02 pm

Almost all Egyptians who turned out to vote last week approved a new constitution, Egypt's Supreme Electoral Committee said on Saturday, according to the state-owned newspaper Al Ahram.

The newspaper reports that 38.6 percent of registered voters went to the polls and 98.1 percent of them voted in favor of the new constitution in the first vote since Mohammed Morsi was toppled in a 2013 coup.

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Latin America
11:35 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Under Government Pressure, Mexican Vigilantes Vow To Fight On

Civilian militia members stand guard in the town of Nueva Italia on Monday. Since a government crackdown last weekend, militia groups say they have laid down their weapons against drug traffickers.
Eduardo Verdugo AP

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 7:20 pm

After a week of fighting between civilian militias, drug traffickers and federal forces, there is a tense calm in the western Mexico state of Michoacan.

It's been the site of clashes between civilian militias defending themselves from ruthless drug traffickers, and federal forces trying to regain control.

For now, businesses are slowly reopening, school will restart on Monday, and the militias who took up arms have put down their weapons. It's unclear how long this fragile peace will last.

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Movies
8:01 am
Sat January 18, 2014

'Lunch' Gets Boxed Out: India's Oscar Pick Controversy

Through a delivery accident, Saajan Fernandes (Irrfhan Khan) begins a correspondence (and love affair) with a despondent housewife in The Lunchbox.
Courtesy of Sony Classics

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 5:58 pm

The nominations for the Oscars were announced this week, and while many of the big contenders, such as 12 Years A Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street, weren't a surprise, there were some controversies in different categories. Top among the film-world controversies was India's submission for best foreign language film, The Good Road, a drama about a truck driver in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

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NPR Story
8:01 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Nigeria's New Anti-Gay Law A Harsh Reminder Of Global Attitudes

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 11:35 am

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. This week, it came out that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan quietly signed into law one of the most repressive anti-gay measures in the world. The law punishes violators with up to 14 years in prison. The development got us thinking about just how difficult it is to be homosexual in so many different parts of the world. To hear more about this, we've reached Jonathan Cooper, the chief executive of the U.K.-based gay rights organization Human Dignity Trust. Thanks for joining us.

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NPR Story
8:01 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Kabul Suicide Attack Kills 21 At Downtown Restaurant

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 11:35 am

At least 21 people — most of them foreigners — died when the Taliban struck a restaurant popular with Westerners in downtown Kabul on Friday. Two of them were Americans. It appeared to be a well-coordinated attack.

Parallels
5:27 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Three Years After Uprisings, Arab States Take Different Paths

Supporters of Tunisia's secular Popular Front on Tuesday celebrate the third anniversary of the ouster of dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The country is on the verge of approving a new constitution that was negotiated by Islamist and secular political parties.
Anis Mili Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 9:57 am

Here's a snapshot of the Arab world on the third anniversary of its uprisings: Tunisians celebrated in the streets this month. Egyptians voted on a constitution that highlighted their bitter divisions. Beleaguered Syrians prayed that peace talks will bring an end to their nightmarish civil war.

The revolutionary fervor that gripped Arab nations in early 2011 has long since dissipated. All those that experienced uprisings have struggled to remake themselves and the prevailing mood across much of the region has been disappointment or worse.

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Afghanistan
4:42 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Restaurant Owner Loved The Patrons He Died Trying To Protect

Kamal Hamade, the owner of the Taverna du Liban, had taken many steps to make his restaurant secure, and it was one of the few that Western agencies allowed their personnel to frequent.
Rahmat Gul AP

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 8:04 am

Taverna du Liban was a welcome respite from the pressures of living in a third-world war zone.

The cozy, Kabul restaurant with its Middle Eastern décor served up a tasty variety of Lebanese dishes and the best chocolate cake I've ever eaten, courtesy of the Lebanese owner, Kamal Hamade, who baked the cakes himself.

But the appeal of Taverna — where I ate nearly every week when I lived in Afghanistan — was about much more than the food. It was about friendship.

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The Two-Way
4:05 am
Sat January 18, 2014

IMF, U.N. Staff Among 21 Killed In Kabul Restaurant Attack

Afghanistan security forces help an injured man from the scene of the attack, where at least 21 — mostly foreigners — were killed.
Massoud Hossaini AP

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 1:19 pm

A suicide attack at a Kabul restaurant popular with foreign nationals killed at least 21 people on Friday, including the country director for the International Monetary Fund and four United Nations employees.

The attacker exploded a bomb at the restaurant gates, clearing the way for two gunmen to enter and start shooting indiscriminately, reports NPR's Sean Carberry. Afghan security forces killed the gunmen in a shootout.

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It's All Politics
6:01 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Congress Vows To Step Up To Surveillance Policy Challenge

National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., after President Obama's speech.
Charles Dharapak AP

If there was a consensus emanating from Congress Friday after President Obama's NSA reform speech, it was — not surprisingly — that Congress itself has a major role to play in the ultimate fix.

Whether from strong NSA supporters or agency critics, the reactions sounded similar: Congress intends to do much of the steering in the drive to overhaul the NSA's gathering of certain non-public information, especially consumer phone records, in the nation's counterterrorism efforts.

Even so, if you listened closely, you could hear the sound of politics in some of the reaction.

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Latin America
5:28 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

A Newsprint Shortage Hobbles Venezuelan Media

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Last year, Venezuelans suffered from a shortage of toilet paper. Well, now thanks to government bureaucracy, another kind of paper is in low supply, newsprint. As John Otis reports, that's forced some Venezuelan newspapers to trim their size or, worse, stop printing all together.

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Middle East
5:28 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Foreign Fighters Flood Both Sides In Syrian War

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:20 pm

When peace talks open in Switzerland, one common concern between the West and Syria is expected to be the threat of Islamist extremists and the rise of al-Qaida-linked militias. Thousands of Sunni militants from around the world have joined the rebel groups in Syria, but there are other groups of militant foreign fighters who support the Syrian regime. Iraqi Shiites are being recruited in the thousands to bolster Syria's armed forces. Recruiting billboards and social media help portray the fight as an existential battle between Sunnis and Muslims.

Africa
4:20 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Flying Doctors Nigeria Began As Female Pilot's Dream

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 12:47 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
3:53 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Week That Was: Smart Fridge Hack, Net Neutrality And The NSA

An LG representative shows off a smart refrigerator at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Nothing ends the tech week with a bang like the president's much-anticipated words on the NSA. But let's start with the weekly roundup of tech news from here at NPR and our friends at publications around the country.

ICYMI

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It's All Politics
3:46 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Tom Coburn, GOP Budget Hawk And Obama Friend, To Leave Senate

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., outlines his annual "Wastebook," which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, on Dec. 17 on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:12 pm

Tom Coburn will leave the Senate with a reputation as "Dr. No," but not necessarily as doctrinaire.

The Oklahoma Republican, who at age 65 is undergoing his fifth bout of cancer, announced that he will resign in December, two years before his second term expires.

"This decision isn't about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires," Coburn, a physician, said in a statement. "As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere."

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NPR Story
3:40 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

'Saturday Night Live' Seeks Diversity With New Hire

Comedienne Sasheer Zamata will make her debut as a Saturday Night Live cast member this weekend. Zamata is the first African-American female cast member since Maya Rudolph's departure six years ago. (Cate Hellman)

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 4:54 pm

This weekend, “Saturday Night Live“ will debut its newest cast member, Sasheer Zamata. Zamata is the first African-American female hire in six seasons — since the departure of Maya Rudolph in 2007.

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The Two-Way
3:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Pope Benedict Reportedly Defrocked Hundreds Of Priests For Abuse

Pope Benedict XVI, seen here in London in 2010, defrocked nearly 400 priests from 2011-2012 for abusing children, according to a document from the Holy See that was obtained by the AP.
Peter Nicholls AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 7:13 pm

In a period of just over two years, Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for molesting children, according to the AP, which says it obtained a document representing a rare collection of such data.

As of Friday afternoon, NPR hasn't independently confirmed the AP's information, not having seen the document. Here's a bit of context from NPR's Sylvia Poggioli in Rome:

"If confirmed, the number of nearly 400 marks a sharp increase over the 170 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of defrocked priests.

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It's All Politics
3:22 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Transcript Of President Obama's Speech On NSA Reforms

President Obama delivered the following speech on reforms to National Security Agency Programs Jan. 17 at the Justice Department in Washington.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you so much, please have a seat.

At the dawn of our Republic, a small, secret surveillance committee, born out of the Sons of Liberty, was established in Boston. And the group's members included Paul Revere. At night, they would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America's early patriots.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:15 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Note To 'Downton Abbey' Viewers: Nellie Melba Was A Big Deal

Opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, circa 1900.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

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