Germany's Cabinet on Thursday approved sending German Patriot air defense missiles to Turkey to protect the NATO member against possible attacks from Syria, in a major step toward possible Western military role in the Syrian conflict.
Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters that two batteries with a total of 400 soldiers would be sent to the border area under NATO command for one year, although the deployment could be shortened.
The decision must be endorsed by the German Parliament, but approval is all but assured.
Mothers and their children sit among their washing in a refugee camp on the border between Syria and Turkey near the northern city of Azaz on Wednesday. The internally displaced faced further misery as heavy rain was followed by a drop in temperatures.
It's early afternoon when the sun is bright, and it's finally warm enough to come outside. This tent camp on a hill overlooking the Turkish border, near the Syrian town of Atma, houses more than 14,000 displaced Syrians.
The water here is trucked in, and it's the only source. Women line up with plastic jugs to haul the daily delivery back to the tents. What is striking are the children — in dirty clothes and summer shoes, faces red and raw from the cold.
A woman walks by the Grand Mosque of Djenne on market day in Djenne, Mali, on Sept. 2. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town is among the Malian tourist sites suffering from a huge drop in visitors after a coup took place in March and Islamist rebels seized control of the country's north.
Credit CIA World Factbook
Credit Joe Penney / Reuters /Landov
Kadija, a jewelry vendor, stands next to her stall in Djenne on Aug. 31. In previous years, the town had nearly 10,000 annual tourists. But since March, fewer than 20 tourists have come to Djenne, according to the local tourism board.
Tourism, the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people in the West African country of Mali, has ground to a halt. Since the coup in March and the subsequent occupation of the north by militants linked to al-Qaida, Mali has virtually become a no-go zone for visitors. The impact on the economy and people's lives is profound.
In the historic city of Segou, about 150 miles north of the capital, Bamako, the effects are obvious.
On a recent day, the engine of the brightly painted pinasse, a wooden boat handcrafted with a swooping wicker canopy, slowly starts up.
Are we seeing the endgame to the conflict in Syria? Melissa Block talks with Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of the book, In the Lion's Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria. We ask Tabler about what the collapse of the Bashar Assad regime might look like and the possibility that government forces could use chemical weapons.
Patriarch Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem (center), splashes holy water toward worshippers after the washing of the feet ceremony in front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 2009, during Easter celebrations. A crisis was narrowly averted recently when the church's $2.3 million water bill was waived.
Credit Tara Todras-Whitehill / AP
Theofilos III (center) pours water into a basin during the washing of the feet ceremony outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City in April 2011, during Easter celebrations.
Credit Gali Tibbon / AFP/Getty Images
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (right) and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (center) pray in front of the tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in November.
One of the holiest sites in Christendom has also been one of the most contested. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem lies on the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified and buried.
Multiple Christian denominations share the church uneasily, and clerics sometimes come to blows over the most minor of disputes. The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox all have a presence in the church.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. As more and more of Syria slips out of government control, concern deepens over what's believed to be an enormous stockpile of chemical weapons. Last weekend, several reports cited suspicious activity at some chemical weapon sites in Syria.
Must ... stay .... awake: A Chinese paramilitary police officer yawns and his colleagues fall asleep while then-President Hu Jintao delivers a speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Dec. 18, 2008.
Credit Alexander F. Yuan / AP
Even the party's top brass isn't immune to the siren call of the snooze: Jiang Zemin, formerly China's president and top party leader, dozes while then-Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao reads a work report during the opening session of 18th Communist Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 8.
Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 7:14 pm
Suffer from insomnia? The droning rhythm of a Chinese Communist official reading a work report out loud will likely do the trick.
It certainly does for many party members: Just 10 minutes into any party meeting, look down the serried ranks of the attendees, and you'll spot the dozers and snoozers, napping away, heads lolling lazily toward their neighbors.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
After eight days and billions of dollars in lost business, the shutdown at the nation's busiest port hub is over. Striking clerks at the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have reached a tentative agreement with managers. At issue: worries about outsourcing jobs. The clerks, hundreds of them, and ten thousand longshoremen, who refused to cross picket lines, head back to work this morning.
Indian leftist activists rally in front of a Best Price store, owned by Wal-Mart and its Indian partner, Bharti, in Hyderabad in November. The rally was organized to protest foreign direct investment in India's retail sector.
Wal-Mart has long stirred controversy as it has moved into American towns and many small businesses found they were unable to compete. Now the fight has come to India, where the Parliament has been hotly debating whether to ease restrictions on direct foreign investment by such giant retailers.
Across the West Bank, olive harvesting season is drawing to a close once again. But this year, the usually joyous occasion has become grimly purposeful because the Palestinian economy, according to some economists, is being held hostage to politics, and is on the verge of collapse.
In the West Bank village of Deir Ibzie, Amal Karajeh and her husband, Basem, comb through the leaves and branches of an olive tree in their front yard.
More now on those warnings to President Assad that Kelly mentioned about chemical weapons. Here's President Obama speaking yesterday.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command, the world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour in Syria, with some tragic news from the fighting and word of a possible defection. First, at least 13 children were killed when a mortar round hit a school today. There are differing reports of who was responsible for the explosion and NPR's Kelly McEvers is reporting on this for us from Beirut.
And Kelly, to start, what have you learned about this explosion at the school?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
The African nation of Mali is one of the many pressing topics facing the U.N. Security Council this month. After a coup in Mali back in March, an al-Qaida affiliate seized control of the northern part of the country, and the terrorist threat there is growing. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, U.S. officials aren't the only ones raising alarms.
Sometimes, you don't have to go far to find a story. For the past few months, just stepping outside NPR's Kabul office has been a drama.
The neighborhood is in the midst of a major road and sewer renovation project. It's just one of many such projects that is badly needed in Kabul and elsewhere in the country.
But as is often the case, the pace and quality of the work has been uneven. And residents aren't so sure whether the final product will be worth the months of gridlock, power outages and business interruption.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 1:11 pm
Chances are you're familiar with the phrase "a well-balanced diet." Two to three servings of meat, poultry or fish; three to five servings of vegetables — you know the drill. When we talk about being "well-balanced" today, we're usually talking about the specific nutrients we put into our body.
While this might seem like a relatively new development — a product of the past 50 years of fitness programs and diet regimes — as it turns out, this idea goes back much further.
A Syrian soldier aims his rifle during clashes in the Damascus suburb of Daraya on Sunday. There is frequent fighting in and around Damascus, and residents are increasingly worried about a major battle for the capital.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 12:47 pm
Editor's Note: Throughout the Syrian uprising, the government has allowed few foreign journalists and other outsiders into the country, and there has been limited information about many parts of the country. In this essay, a Syrian citizen describes life in the capital Damascus. For security reasons, NPR is not identifying the author.
The people of Damascus seem to be bracing for the worst, fearing that a revolt now 20 months old is building to a ferocious fight for control of the capital.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, years after the big banks got support from the federal government and with interest rates at record lows, small businesses are still struggling to get access to credit. We're wondering why that is, so we'll try to find out in our Money Coach conversation in just a few minutes.
For the first time, Kenya has a film in the hunt for an Academy Award for best foreign language film. Nairobi Half Life chronicles a young man's misbegotten migration from a rural village to the crime-ridden capital. The surprise hit film is helping Kenyans better understand Nairobi's crime culture.
George Mason University professor Mark Katz is an expert on Russia's role in the Middle East. Russia is the Syrian government's main arms supplier. Professor Katz talks to David Greene about whether Russia's support for Damascus is flagging as the Syrian military continues to battle opposition rebels.
Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:42 am
The Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has jailed opposition leaders and recently banned all demonstrations. But the protests continue, particularly in the smaller villages outside the capital, Manama. Independent producer Reese Erlich recently visited one such village.
Just as soon as it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge, that would be Kate Middleton, was pregnant, a slew of breathless headlines followed. To hear what this royal baby really means for the British, we're joined by Ingrid Seward. She's the editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine.
Anyone who has visited Rome and its antique monuments has also seen their four-legged residents: the many stray cats that bask in the sun amid the ruins.
One site in central Rome is known as "cat forum," thanks to its adjacent cat shelter. But Italian archaeology officials have issued the Torre Argentina Cat Shelter Association an eviction notice, and feline lovers from around the world are bracing for a cat fight.
A Syrian rebel walks past the stairs of a bombed building in the Saif Al Duli district in Aleppo, Syria, on Sept. 10. The vast majority of those fighting against President Bashar Assad's regime are ordinary Syrians and soldiers who have defected, but Islamist rebels are also present among the fighters.
It's about 9 o'clock in the morning, and already it's been a long day for Abu Anas. He has lost two men to a sniper serving the Syrian regime. Four more have been injured.
But Abu Anas walks with a striking calm through the bombed-out, ruined streets of Aleppo, a city that has been at war for months. He wears a black headband bearing Islam's holy creed: "There is no God but God. And Muhammad is his messenger."