World

The Two-Way
4:28 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Germany's Merkel To Visit U.S. Amid Anger Over NSA Spying

President Obama walks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sept. 6, 2013. Relations between the two allies are strained after documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, suggested the agency had spied on Merkel and other world leaders.
Ivan Sekretarev AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:09 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted an invitation Wednesday from President Obama to visit the U.S., just months after relations between the two allies hit a low following revelations the U.S. was spying on Merkel and other world leaders.

Obama made the invitation during a conversation Wednesday with the German chancellor. Steffen Seibert, a German government spokesman, said the visit would occur in the next few months.

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Parallels
3:49 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

As Costs Soar, Who Will Pay For The Panama Canal's Expansion?

A view of the Panama Canal last Thursday. The canal is being widened to accommodate larger ships, but the builders and the canal operators are locked in a dispute about who will pay the higher-than-expected costs to finish the project.
Alejandro Bolivar EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:29 pm

For five years, a multibillion-dollar expansion has been underway on the Panama Canal so that ships three times the current size can pass through the vital waterway. The new, wider canal will alter global trade routes and dramatically increase revenue for Panama's government, primarily from toll charges.

The expansion is more than two-thirds done, but now a funding dispute between the builders and the canal operators threatens to bring construction to a halt.

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Europe
3:18 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

The 'Pussy Riot' Arrests, And The Crackdown That Followed

Pussy Riot members Yekaterina Samutsevich (left), Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass-walled cage in a Moscow court on Oct. 10, 2012.
Natalia Kolesnikova AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 4:19 pm

Masha Gessen is a prominent journalist who is also a lesbian and an outspoken LGBT rights advocate in Russia. After Russia passed two anti-gay laws in June, she decided it was time for her, her partner and their children to leave. In late December, they moved to New York.

"The only thing more creepy than hearing someone suggest the likes of you should be burned alive is hearing someone suggest the likes of you should be burned alive and thinking, 'I know that guy.' "

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The Two-Way
1:36 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Sing Along, Now: Rodman's 'Happy Birthday' For Kim Jong Un

Dennis Rodman sings "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, before an exhibition basketball game Wednesday at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Kim Kwang Hyon AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 2:10 pm

When it comes to controversy, there's no time out for Dennis Rodman in North Korea.

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Shots - Health News
12:25 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Where The Smokers Are Now: Bulgaria, Greece And Macedonia

Where are the smokers? Look for the colors reminiscent of a cigarette ember.
IHME

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 3:01 pm

Since the surgeon general's report laid bare the health hazards from smoking 50 years ago, the proportion of Americans who smoke has fallen dramatically.

About 19 percent of American adults smoke these days, compared with about 42 percent in 1965.

Smoking has become less prevalent in other countries, too, including Canada, Mexico and Iceland.

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The Two-Way
7:30 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Ships Break Free In Antarctica, U.S. Icebreaker Not Needed

The Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xue Long broke free from ice and was back in the open waters off Antarctica on Tuesday.
Zhang Jiansong Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:56 am

There's good news from Antarctica, where two ships that had been stuck in ice — one of them for about two weeks — have managed to get to open waters.

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National Security
5:33 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Why One Expert Says Edward Snowden Deserves Clemency

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:26 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Edward Snowden is, of course, facing some serious criminal charges here in the United States for stealing classified documents and leaking details of domestic and international surveillance programs. It's unclear if Snowden will ever return to this country to face charges, but that hasn't stopped a vigorous debate in recent days over whether Snowden should be eligible for clemency.

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Middle East
5:18 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Egypt's Coptic Christians Celebrate Christmas Amid Fear, Hope

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 7:12 am

Coptic Christians in Egypt celebrated their Christmas on Tuesday in an atmosphere of uncertainty. There were dozens of attacks on churches and Christian homes both during and after the tenure of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Coptic leaders publicly supported the military coup that ousted Morsi.

Africa
5:17 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Despite Warning Signs, South Sudan's Violence Escalated Fast

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 7:12 am

The United States played a key role in helping South Sudan gain independence. But, U.S. diplomats are having a hard time helping the country emerge from internal political and ethnic violence.

Parallels
3:31 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Even In Snowden-Friendly Brazil, Asylum May Be 'Bridge Too Far'

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks in Sao Paulo on Dec. 19, framed by posters held by protesters calling for asylum for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Andre Penner AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:21 am

Should they or shouldn't they? That's the question Brazilians are asking themselves after Edward Snowden's "open letter" lauding Brazil's role in protecting privacy rights and alluding to his hand in uncovering spying on their president.

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Shots - Health News
6:03 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

50 Years After Landmark Warning, 8 Million Fewer Smoking Deaths

Tobacco companies incorporated doctors in their ads, such as this 1930 Lucky Strike campaign, to convince the public that smoking wasn't harmful.
Stanford University

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 3:22 pm

Saturday marks an important milestone in public health – the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.

Few if any documents have had the impact of this one — both on the amount of disease and death prevented, and on the very scope of public health.

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Iraq
5:39 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

The Pentagon Weighs Its Options In Syria And Iraq

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 8:40 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour with the rising violence in both Syria and Iraq and American military options in the region. A group linked to al-Qaida has been fighting in Syria, battling the regime of Bashar al-Assad. That group has also crossed the border into Iraq where it is fighting for control of Ramadi and Fallujah, cities where hundreds of Americans died years ago.

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Iraq
5:39 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Fallujah Veterans Ask Hard Questions About Their Sacrifices

A U.S. Army soldier guards the remains of a burned-out military ammunition truck after it was attacked in Fallujah, Iraq, on Oct. 19, 2003. Fallujah and its surrounds were the site of some of the bloodiest fighting for U.S. troops during the Iraq war.
Khalid Mohammed AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:17 am

Will Walsh got to know the Iraqi city of Fallujah while running across its bridges in the middle of the night, under fire, looking for IEDs. That was nearly 10 years ago.

Last weekend, the former Army captain heard the news that Fallujah had fallen, again, to al-Qaida-linked groups.

"The question I have to ask myself is was that effort in vain?" he says now. "Was all the work that we did, all the sacrifice that we had, what is the benefit?"

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The Two-Way
12:48 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

U.N. Suspends Counting Deaths In Syria's Civil War

Syrians inspect the rubble of destroyed buildings following a government airstrike in Aleppo, in this image provided Monday that was taken by a citizen journalist.
AP

The United Nations says it can no longer verify the death toll in Syria's civil war and, as of Tuesday, will leave the figure at 100,000, where it stood in late July.

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The Two-Way
11:27 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Run Run Shaw, Kung Fu Movie Pioneer, Dies

Sir Run Run Shaw in 2010.
Bobby Yip Reuters/Landov
  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's David Greene talks about Run Run Shaw

"If you've ever enjoyed an action-packed Kung Fu film," Morning Edition host David Greene says, "take a moment to thank Sir Run Run Shaw, who passed away Tuesday."

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Parallels
11:15 am
Tue January 7, 2014

How Al-Qaida Returned To A Troubled Part Of Iraq

Sunni Muslim fighters in the western Iraqi city of Fallujah take up positions on Sunday. The insurgents have been fighting government troops in battles similar to those a decade ago in the area.
Mohammed Jalil EPA /Landov

Yet again, Iraqi civilians are fleeing violence in Iraq's sprawling western province of Anbar. Years of under-the-radar daily tension and bloodshed has erupted into another al-Qaida surge and retaliatory Iraqi government airstrikes.

But the violence that brought Iraq back to the headlines, while tragic, was not surprising.

For months, observers had been warning about the combustible combination of the Syrian civil war next door and the alienation of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority.

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The Two-Way
9:39 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Dennis Rodman Defends North Korean 'Basketball Diplomacy'

Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 11:48 am

In a combative interview from North Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman defended his "basketball diplomacy" in the repressive country and seemed to imply that he believes American businessman Kenneth Bae, sentenced to 15 years' hard labor for allegedly trying to overthrow the Kim Jong Un regime, is guilty.

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Parallels
6:57 am
Tue January 7, 2014

London's Cheeky Skyscrapers

The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe at 1,016 feet, was inaugurated in London in 2012. It got its formal name when the builders adopted the term used by critics, who called it a "shard of glass" in the city's skyline.
Ben Fitzpatrick AP

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 7:58 am

I arrived in London a few days ago for my new NPR assignment. As an unofficial part of my orientation, I decided to take a guided walking tour of the old city.

Yes, the history was fascinating. Yes, the city is beautiful. Well, most of it. Parts are not exactly my taste.

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NPR Story
4:59 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Can't Stand The Cold Snap? Don't Go To Antarctica

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 6:56 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And with much of the nation is in the middle of this brutal cold snap, let's take a moment to hear from scientists who study other planets or even the chilliest places on Earth. Those researchers commonly encounter temperatures that make this news-making cold seem downright balmy. We asked NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel to find out just how low it can go.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: I caught up with researcher Paul Mayewski yesterday just as he was headed out of town.

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Around the Nation
2:57 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Sunday Assembly: A Church For The Godless Picks Up Steam

Ian Dodd (center), co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Sunday Assembly, sings with other attendees. Chapters of the godless church, founded by British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, have been spreading since launching in London in January 2013.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 3:41 pm

It sometimes feels like church in the auditorium of the Professional Musicians union in Hollywood. It's a Sunday morning, and hundreds of people are gathered to meditate, sing and listen to inspirational poetry and stories.

But then the live band starts up — performing songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jerry Lee Lewis. And instead of a sermon, there's a lecture by experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Jessica Cail about the biology of gender identification and sexual orientation.

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