Syrian has come under increasing international pressure in recent days. On Monday, Syrians protested in the capital Damascus against the Arab League's decision to impose sanctions. Syria has also come under sharp criticism from an independent commission that accused the security forces of systematically carrying out abuses against anti-government demonstrators.
An independent commission has released a blistering human rights report that says Syria's security forces have carried out widespread abuses against protesters, including murder and torture.
The commission, appointed by the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, based its report on interviews with more than 220 witnesses or victims of abuse by Syrian security forces. The panel says it collected a solid body of evidence and identified patterns of human rights violations.
Welcome to the second installment of NPR's Backseat Book Club! Every month, we invite kids to read a book along with us, and then send in their questions for the author.
Our book club selection for November is a classic that's celebrating a big anniversary. The Phantom Tollbooth — written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer — was published 50 years ago. Juster tells NPR's Michele Norris that the story sprang from his own childhood.
Thanhha Lai was 10 years old the day in 1975 that North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the presidential palace in Saigon and fear spread through the city on rumors that Communist troops were about to begin a massacre. Lai recalls fleeing with her eight older siblings and her mother to the nearby port and boarding a crowded South Vietnamese Navy ship that then headed to sea.
A package of tough new economic sanctions imposed this week by the Arab League is another blow to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. But will international pressure really help the people of Syria? Melissa Block talks with Kimberly Ann Elliott, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. Elliott co-authored a case study on sanctions against Syria that was published by the Peterson Institute.
President Obama is ramping up his campaign for continuation of a payroll tax cut, which only affects the first $106,000 in individual income. Republicans object, in part because they don't even consider it a tax since the money goes to the Social Security Trust Fund. Democrats see it a progressive tax cut. "Spreading the wealth" is a theme Obama campaigned on four years ago.
NPR's Hard Times series features stories of economic hardship and also stories of hope. We asked for ideas from listeners, and Emily Nugent of Berea College in Kentucky responded, writing: "With a student body composed entirely of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, Berea students know about the challenges Americans are facing." Noah Adams went in search of Emily and the Berea College story.
Key provisions of the Kyoto Protocol expire in December of 2012, and experts say there's no real global framework in place to replace the treaty that was supposed to be the first step toward ambitious actions on climate change. Above, a coal-fired power plant in eastern China. China is now the leading carbon dioxide emitter in the world.
As diplomats from around the world gather in Durban, South Africa, for talks about climate change, a big question looms: What will become of the Kyoto climate treaty, which was negotiated with much fanfare in 1997. The treaty was supposed to be a first step toward much more ambitious actions on climate change, but it is now on the brink of fading into irrelevance. That could have major implications for the future of United Nations climate talks.
Twitter already beat us to all the good puns, including the one in the headline. But, yes, it is true, you will either love or hate this news story from England: A tanker carrying 20 tons of yeast extract — the main ingredient in the loved-or-reviled Marmite — was involved in a late night accident, yesterday, spilling its contents and shutting down the M1, which connects London to the northern part of England.
Originally published on Tue November 29, 2011 2:40 pm
Politicians and food executives have been talking about ending the problem of child labor in the West African cocoa industry for the last decade. After shocking revelations that hundreds of thousands of children were forced to harvest cacao beans under abusive conditions, companies pledged to address the practice as "fair trade" entered their lexicon.
Originally published on Tue November 29, 2011 3:44 pm
Florida A&M's famed "Marching 100" band has been rocked by the death of one of its drum majors on Nov. 19. Police still haven't released all the details of his death, but they said Robert Champion had been throwing up and hazing had something to do with it.
American Airlines is filing for bankruptcy protection. The airline is the last of the so-called legacy carriers, airlines that flew interstate routes before de-regulation of the industry, to reach this step. Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways all went through bankruptcy proceedings in the last 10 years.
In Iran on Tuesday, students and other protesters stormed the British Embassy in the capital Tehran, smashing windows, throwing firebombs and burning the British flag. The crowd had gathered at the embassy to protest new severe economic sanctions imposed by Britain, cutting off all banking with Iran. Renee Montagne talks with Washington Post reporter Thomas Erdbrink, who is in Tehran.
In October, President Obama announced that most U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, after negotiations with Iraqi leaders failed to extend the troops' presence. Only Marine embassy guards and liaison troops will stay behind in the country, where more than a million troops, in total, have served over the past eight years.
The sort of offenses that might land a student in the principal's office in other states often send kids in Texas to court with misdemeanor charges. Some schools have started rethinking the way they punish students for bad behavior after watching many of them drop out or land in prison because of tough disciplinary policies.
In a downtown Houston municipal court, Judge David Fraga has presided over thousands of cases involving students "ticketed" by school police. His docket is still relatively small at the moment, with only 45 to 65 cases per night.
Home prices across the U.S. are still only "back to their first quarter of 2003 levels" and "drifted lower in September and the third quarter," according to the widely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which were just released.
As The Associated Press says, the news is "the latest evidence that the troubled housing market won't recover any time soon."
Diagnostic errors account for as much as 40 percent of medical malpractice claims. And communication lapses, including failing to pass along test results, make up a growing proportion of those claims, according to a recent study.
The work, published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, shows that malpractice payouts due to communication failures more than quadrupled between 1991 and 2010, to $91 million annually.