Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai claims the U.S. is holding talks outside Afghanistan with the Afghan Taliban.
The allegations come as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel continues his first visit to the nation as Pentagon Chief – and after a deadly explosion in Kabul on Saturday that the Taliban called a message to the new defense secretary.
Karzai made his claims in a nationally broadcast address just hours before he was to meet with Hagel, reports NPR's David Welna, who is traveling with Hagel.
Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 1:59 pm
With a stroke of her pen, Queen Elizabeth II is giving royal support to equal rights.
Her majesty is expected to sign a new charter for the Commonwealth on Monday. The charter declares the core values for the 54 member states, most of which were once under British rule. It's getting attention for statements on gender equality and what it may imply for gay rights.
Syrians carry a large revolution flag and chant slogans during a protest in Aleppo, Syria, where young people and children sang songs against President Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime, Dec. 21, 2012.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking his first overseas trip since taking the top job at the Pentagon. He'll be visiting troops and key officials in Afghanistan. Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's David Welna, who is along on the trip.
Military Police Sgt. Joshua Hancock and Nero, his Dutch shepherd, play at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. Nero is trained to sniff out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and to attack.
Credit Sean Carberry / NPR
Hancock says Dutch shepherds like Nero aren't that common in the field, but they are great working dogs.
Lucy is a stereotypically giddy black labradoodle. She's not what you picture when you think of a military dog serving on the front lines in Afghanistan. She wiggles around the room chasing her tennis ball and thinks my microphone cover is a chew toy.
But her handler, Spc. Heath Garcia, says when Lucy is on a mission, she's all business. She's highly trained to sniff out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which are the No. 1 killer of civilians and troops in Afghanistan.
Listen to the full story on Hugo Chavez's legacy on All Things Considered
Venezuela's elections commission announced Saturday that voters will go to the polls on April 14 to choose a successor to President Hugo Chavez, who died this week after a battle with cancer.
The nation's constitution mandated that an election be called within 30 days of Chavez's death on March 5, but the scheduled date falls outside of that window. Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's vice president, was sworn in as interim leader on Friday.
An Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission official carries closed ballot boxes to be counted in Mombasa.
Credit Ben Curtis / AP
An electoral worker at the National Tallying Center reads a newspaper headlining the problems in the vote counting and tallying process in Kenya this week. Election officials had to count the ballots from the nation's presidential election by hand after abandoning the electronic tabulation system.
Credit Ben Curtis / AP
Voters queued for hours across Kenya as old-fashioned paper ballots had to be rushed to polling stations.
It was supposed to be the most modern election in African history. Biometric identification kits with electronic thumb pads, registration rolls on laptops at every polling station, and an SMS-relayed, real-time transmission of the results to the National Tallying Center in Nairobi.
Ambitious? Of course. Only 23 percent of the country has access to electricity.
Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 4:51 am
The Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra has been secretive, keeping to itself and refusing to meet Western journalists. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the Obama administration and was thought to be made up mostly of foreign fighters, working alongside Syrian rebels.
But lately, members are starting to open up as more Syrians join the group and they make more gains on the ground in the fight against the Syrian government.
Not every Syrian American can go to the lengths that Abu Ahmed did, but here in the United States, they are watching the conflict closely. Muna Jondy was born in this country, but her father's family is from Daraa where the first protest back in 2011 began. She's an immigration lawyer in Flint, Michigan and president of a group called United for a Free Syria. She joins us from Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. Thanks for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A court in Egypt today upheld the death sentences of 21 soccer fans from Port Said for murder during a bloody soccer riot that occurred there last year. And the court's decision apparently enraged the city.
Some Syrians in the U.S. are wracked with guilt that they can't do more to help their countrymen. Others are taking action. One Syrian-American gun enthusiast is doing his part to arm and train the rebels, and a Syrian doctor hopes to help train civilian doctors in conflict zones on trauma medicine. (This piece initially aired March 5, 2013 on All Things Considered.)
Host Scott Simon talks with reporter and author John Thavis about the divisions among cardinals voting at the conclave to select a new pope for the Catholic Church. Thavis is the author of The Vatican Diaries.
Venezuela's late president, Hugo Chavez, was a tremendous supporter of Latin American countries, especially those sympathetic to his socialist ideals.
The country's vast oil reserves are a key source of economic aid, but the Chavez didn't just help out his ideological peers like Cuba and Nicaragua. He was also a great benefactor to key U.S. allies in the Caribbean — many of whom now worry whether their vital oil lifeline is about to be shut off.
An Egyptian farmer drinks tea near his home on Qursaya island, in the Nile River, next to Cairo, in January. The Egyptian military says it is the registered owner of the island's land, a claim disputed by the farmers and fishermen who live there.
Credit Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters /Landov
The 70 acres of Qursaya island are largely agricultural. Residents are now fighting the government, which has sold the land to an investor for a tourism project.
It's not easy to get to Qursaya island, a tiny bit of land in the middle of the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt's capital. You have to take a boat from the riverbank. There are no cars on the island, and it's only had running water for a few years.
It's a quiet 70-acre patch of agricultural land amid a megacity, where mooing cows provide the soundtrack, and farmers and fishermen have lived for generations.
But not all is as bucolic as it seems: The island is at the heart of a yearslong legal battle between those farmers and the government.
Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 6:18 am
When it comes to talking a big game, no one does it better than the North Koreans.
Just this week, Pyongyang vowed to turn Seoul, the capital of archrival South Korea, into a "sea of fire," promised to launch a "pre-emptive strike on the headquarters of the aggressors" (read: the United States) and called on its army to "annihilate the enemy."
Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 10:12 am
Noma, the Danish eatery that has won fans with its innovative approach to Nordic cuisine, and won Restaurantmagazine's "World's Best Restaurant" title the past three years, is getting some unwelcome press, after dozens of people who ate at the Copenhagen restaurant fell sick.
The Roman Catholic Church is one small step closer to a new pope today. Church cardinals have picked a date to begin their conclave. That's the gathering behind closed doors to elect the next pope. The cardinals will gather next Tuesday morning for a special mass, and they'll enter the Sistine Chapel in the afternoon, after which point they'll be incommunicado with the outside world until a new pope is elected.
It's been 10 years since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. That conflict drastically changed the lives of Iraqi women. On International Women's Day, host Michel Martin talks with Iqbal al-Juboori, about how the war affected her personally, and what it's like for women to live in a conflict zone. al-Juboori works to provide job training and life skills to women and their families in rural parts of Iraq.
Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:22 am
North Korea responded to new U.N. sanctions aimed at starving its nuclear program by vowing to cut a Cold War-style hotline and scrap a nonaggression pact with the South.
State-run media said North Korea "abrogates all agreements on nonaggression reached between the North and the South ... and also notifies the South side that it will immediately cut off the North-South hotline."
Roman Catholic cardinals have been meeting at the Vatican to get to know each other better and to set a date for the start of the conclave that will choose the next pope. On Thursday, this cardinal was walking to one of those meetings.
"The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013," reads a statement just sent to reporters by the Vatican Press Office. It adds that:
"A pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave."
Our original post — "Cardinals Expected To Set Date For Start Of Conclave":
It is International Women's Day. To mark that occasion, First Lady Michelle Obama joins of Secretary of State John Kerry to recognize women around the world who have shown exceptional courage, as they put it, in advancing women's rights. The nine honorees include the 23-year-old Indian woman whose brutal gang-rape last December inspired a movement to end violence against women in India.
A formerly lost archeological treasure has made its way to the United States for the first time. It comes from Iran and dates back to the days of the ancient Persian Empire. It's called the Cyrus Cylinder. It'll be on tour across the U.S., starting tomorrow, with the Smithsonian Museum here in Washington.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The Cyrus Cylinder isn't too much too look at - made of clay and shaped kind of like a loaf of bread. What's special about it is that it's etched with writing from the time.