There have been more political developments in Russia. A jailed member of the protest band Pussy Riot was freed from prison on Monday. Another band member is expected to be released soon. Over the weekend, jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed from prison.
Regular listeners to this program know we are using numbers to highlight some of the stories of 2013. And today, we look at the situation in Iraq. The number here is 6,639. That's how many people have been killed in violence in Iraq so far this year, up to December 21st, according to a regular tally kept by Baghdad bureau of the French Press Agency, AFP.
We're joined now by Will Dunlop, an AFP correspondent in Baghdad. Welcome to the program, sir.
Raed Fares, a pro-democracy activist from the Syrian town of Kafr Nabl, has helped lead that town's anti-government protests since the very early days of the Syrian conflict in 2011. This week, Fares is in the U.S., on only his second trip outside of Syria. Fares is attempting to rebuild support for the revolution among Syrian Americans. He speaks with NPR's Arun Rath about the conflict and the toll it has taken on his town.
More than 240 people have left Germany to join the civil war in Syria — the largest reported number from a European country.
One was Burak Karan, a rising German-Turkish soccer player who died in northern Syria in October at age 26. Bild newspaper quoted his brother saying Karan had gone to the border region between Turkey and Syria to help distribute aid.
It was a year of turmoil in Egypt. After being democratically elected following Hosni Mubarak's ouster, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power. The military-led government has since consolidated its power and cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood. NPR's Rachel Martin and foreign correspondent Leila Fadel review this year's tumultuous developments.
Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 12:15 pm
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon who was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday after serving a decade in prison, says he will dedicate the rest of his life working for the release of other political prisoners.
"I would like to devote this time to pay off my debt to people who are worst off," Khodorkovsky said through an interpreter provided by Russia Today, a state-funded, English language news outlet.
From NPR West, this is ALL THING CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.
We're going to begin the program tonight in Africa where four U.S. servicemen were injured when their aircraft was fired on while flying over South Sudan. They were there to rescue Americans trapped in South Sudan where a political conflict threatens to escalate into a full-blown civil war.
NPR's Gregory Warner is in Nairobi where the injured soldiers were taken. Greg, what can you tell us about what happened today?
When President Obama announced that the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Russia would include Billie Jean King, there was no need to explain who she is or the prestige she brings to her county. Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slam tennis titles, defeated Bobby Riggs in the so-called Battle of the Sexes in 1973, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Sharon O'Flaherty is riding the bus to Limerick, a no-frills city in western Ireland. She's going to see her dying grandmother this Christmas. She hasn't been home in two years.
"I was working for a company for five and a half years," she says. "I got made redundant, and couldn't find a job at an equal level. So the options were immigration, and it was basically take your pick: Europe, Canada or Australia. So I chose Australia."
The 29-year-old now works as a recruitment manager in Perth.
Uganda's Parliament ignored Western criticism and passed a bill on Friday that punishes acts of homosexuality with prison terms that can include life in prison.
The bill has been a source of controversy for years. Western governments and leaders, including President Obama, have criticized the measure, which President Yoweri Museveni must sign for it to take effect.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, it's actual name, also makes it a crime to "promote" homosexuality, which could mean simply offering HIV counseling.
Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:53 pm
There are differing versions of what happened to the Greek Orthodox nuns of Maaloula, who left their convent north of Damascus earlier this month. Some say the nuns are being held hostage by Islamic radicals. Others say they were under missile assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and were rescued by rebel fighters.
Confirming one of the week's less-secret secrets, the White House announced Friday morning that President Obama intends to nominate Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be the next ambassador to the People's Republic of China.
The 72-year-old Baucus has been in the Senate since 1978. He is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 2:09 pm
Politicians in the Dominican Republic have long courted Dominicans in the U.S. for votes. That relationship has strengthened in the past couple of years; in 2011, the Dominican government established seven representatives for its communities abroad.
And that influence means activism in the U.S. matters back on the island.
Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 1:04 pm
Among the memorials to Nelson Mandela put up across India is a billboard in Tamil Nadu that features a photo of actor Morgan Freeman, not the iconic anti-apartheid hero from South Africa who died earlier this month.
Let's get an update now on the violence in South Sudan. Forces opposed to that nation's president have taken control of a major town, and killed at least three United Nations peacekeepers. Hundreds of other people are dead. The United States has flown in troops to protect its embassy, and a conflict is leaving the newest nation in the world close to civil war.
NPR's East Africa correspondent Gregory Warner is following the story from Nairobi, Kenya. And, Gregory, what is the conflict? What's behind this?