It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
The U.S. and other world powers have agreed on a plan with Iran to start rolling back parts of the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief. Secretary of State John Kerry says the deal goes into effect later this month.
The United Nations announced this week it is no longer updating the Syrian death toll, which has surpassed 100,000, because it cannot accurately confirm the number of dead due to chaotic conditions in the country. But Syrians are still being slaughtered, and the fighting has gotten more complicated than ever.
It's not just President Bashar Assad's government army versus the rebels. The rebels are also battling rebels, and civilians are often the casualties, including a male nurse from Aleppo.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
The body of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is lying in state in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, today. He died yesterday after eight years in a coma. Ariel Sharon was a soldier-turned-politician who believed in hard-line military solutions, but who also looked beyond force to try to bring peace in Israel.
On Tuesday, Tunisia will celebrate the third anniversary of its revolution. Tunisia is the country that inspired uprisings across the Arab world. Since then, that country has gone through tough times but it seems to have found its way again. Opposing sides have drafted the new constitution together. It will be ready in a couple days, and new elections are set for this year. That sets Tunisia apart from neighboring Egypt and Libya, where the Arab Spring uprisings have brought violence and political upheaval.
Nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced this coming week. One film widely expected to make the list is the documentary "The Act of Killing." It was just released on DVD and digital platforms last week. The film is about a massacre of communists in Indonesia in the 1960s. But rather than hearing from the victims, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer takes an unusual perspective. He shows the perpetrators reenacting their crimes. The result is haunting, even revolting at points and hard to describe.
To Greece now, a country with one of the highest percentages of smokers in the world. At least 40 percent of the population over the age of 15 smokes, leading, of course, to rising rates of lung disease and lung cancer. Several years ago, the Greek parliament banned smoking inside restaurants, bars and public buildings. But it's rarely enforced. And even a new tax on cigarettes doesn't seem to be deterring Greek smokers. Joanna Kakissis has the story from Athens.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath.
Reporting on Iran is difficult and frustrating, and for those on the ground there, dangerous. It was especially bad after the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, which triggered massive protests. Iran cracked down hard on the dissenters and heavily restricted Western reporters' access. But the country's recently elected president, Hassan Rouhani, has started to change things.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died today at the age of 85. The controversial military and political leader had spent the last eight years in a coma following a stroke. From Jerusalem, NPR's Emily Harris reports.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Ariel Sharon was part of the nearly-gone generation of leaders who fought for Israel before the state's founding. That history built trust, says Israeli military analyst Jonathan Spyer.
Now to another country where the political process has been animated by an intense mix of optimism and fear: Egypt. Voters there are deciding whether to adopt a new constitution this week. The hopes that sprang out of the popular uprising that ejected President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 had been tempered by the political instability in the years that have followed. Last summer, President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in a military coup. And this week's constitutional referendum is the third in as many years.
Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 4:38 pm
Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat. It's hard to speak of one and not mention the other. They were inextricably linked by the Israel-Palestinian conflict, symbolizing a feud so enduring it's now outlasted two of its most prominent protagonists.
Neither would appreciate being compared to the other. But you could track the conflict from its earliest days to its present state by charting the lives of Sharon, who died Saturday, and Arafat, who was recently in the news following the latest inquiries into the still-fuzzy cause of his 2004 death.
This week, the war in Syria jumped two borders - East into Iraq and west into Lebanon. And the combatants come in at all three countries, but belong to an extremist group affiliated with al Qaida, know by the name ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Now, they claimed a car bombing in Lebanon and seized parts of two towns in Iraq's Anbar Province. But in Syria, the homegrown rebel groups mounted a surprising challenge to the extremists, kicking them out of some safe havens in Northern Syria.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. I'm going to take this moment to remember the life of Ariel Sharon, Israel's former prime minister. Mr. Sharon suffered a devastating stroke in 2006 at the height of his political power. He died today after spending years in a coma. Former ambassador Dennis Ross has played a leading role in shaping U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East and he first met Ariel Sharon in 1982, and joins us now. Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for being with us.
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a towering figure in the history of Israel as a soldier and politician, died on Saturday. He was 85.
His death was announced by Shlomo Noy, the director of Sheba Medical Center where Sharon was being treated. Sharon had been in a coma since he suffered a massive stroke in January 2006 during the last Israeli election campaign, in which he was assured of re-election.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shocked the world last month when he accused his uncle and mentor of treason and had Jang Song Thaek executed.
The consequences of that purge are reaching beyond North Korea's border. Jang had been in charge of trade with China, and his death has had a chilling effect on ties with North Korea's neighbor and longtime ally.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:57 pm
For the first time in more than 50 years, the Cuban government began selling new and used vehicles last week to anyone with the money to buy one. And as crowds gathered at state-owned car lots in Havana to check out the inventory, a consensus quickly emerged.
The cars on sale had either been priced by callous, greedy idiots, or the Cuban government had become the most incompetent automobile retailer in the world.
It really wasn't that many years ago, the 1990s, when a power struggle waged by warlords in Afghanistan ended up bringing the Taliban to power in that country. Journalist Mujib Mashal was just a boy when the Taliban marched into Kabul. And in the January issue of Harpers he writes about one of the more memorable characters in that repressive regime: The Minister of Intelligence.