National / International News

Obama seeks $500m for Syria rebels

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:41
President Barack Obama asks the US Congress for $500m (£294m) to train and equip what he described as "moderate" Syrian opposition forces.

Obama Asks For $500 Million To Train, Equip Syrian Rebels

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:34

The appeal is part of a larger $65.8 billion request sent to Congress to fund overseas operations. A White House statement says "moderate" rebels would be vetted before being funded.

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Kenyan governor on terrorism charges

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:33
A Kenyan regional governor is charged with terrorism and murder over attacks near Lamu in which scores were killed.

NY court rejects supersize soda ban

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:28
A New York appeals court refuses to reinstate a size limit on sugary beverages spearheaded by former city Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Island's answer to China-Japan dispute: Tourism

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:20

If you took an actual pin and pressed it into a world map, the hole it would make would dwarf the size of the tiny speck of an island of Ishigaki in the East China Sea.

The lush paradise is 88 square miles of jungle and white sand beaches. It's 150 miles off the coast of Taiwan, and although it’s part of Japan, it’s 1,000 miles away from Tokyo. It’s surrounded by coral reef and turquoise water – making it one of the best diving spots in Asia.

Tour operator Anichi Miyazato prepares a group of foreign tourists for a dive. In the distance, a fleet of Japanese coast guard ships loom over fishing and tour boats in Ishigaki's tiny harbor. They're here to patrol a chain of islands the Japanese call the Senkaku – and the Chinese call the Diaoyu – just 100 miles away.

"We have to protect our nation, our land, our ocean," says Miyazato when asked about the dispute. "Please go away, Chinese military!"

But it seems the Chinese military is here to stay. Just two weeks ago, a Chinese fighter jet flew less than 100 feet away from Japanese air force jets above the disputed islands. Late last year, China’s government declared the airspace over the islands as its exclusive area to protect, requiring other aircraft to identify themselves.

The U.S. responded by flying two B-52 bombers through the area, unannounced.

Below, among the sugar cane fields and palm trees of Ishigaki island, tour operators watched the escalation, worried about how it would impact their business, and wondering when the first shot would be fired.

"Personally, I think it's inevitable," says tour operator Mike Quinn, one of the few Americans on the island. "The first time a missile is fired or the Chinese overrun the Senkaku islands, a lot of tours are going to be canceled, it's going to affect the bottom line, big time."

For tiny Ishigaki, it's the ultimate China conundrum -- bracing for an invasion by China's military while courting an invasion of Chinese tourists.

Ishigaki's bustling new airport -- complete with runways that can accommodate jumbo jets -- just opened last year. There are already flights to and from Taiwan. As of now, Ishigaki isn't on the radar of the world's fastest growing tourist population in mainland China. But Hirohito Kakazu, who plans tourism for the island's government, would like to change that.

"Japan's population is shrinking and domestic tourism to the island will decline," says Kakazu, "so we need to develop tourism from elsewhere -- that's why we built a new airport."

Kakazu is working on establishing routes from mainland China. A charter flight from Shanghai is planned for the fall.

"If there were a plane from Shanghai, it would only take a couple of hours and then suddenly you're surrounded by nature, fresh air, you can catch and eat fresh fish, and you've got some of the best diving in the world," says Ichiro Ohama, president of the local entrepreneur’s club. "These are things you can’t find in China -- and it's just two hours away!”

It's that proximity to China that has defined local attitudes in Ishigaki. Older residents who were born here see China as an old friend -- the island is part of Okinawa, known to many here as the Ryukyu islands, which has maintained close historical and cultural connections with China.

Shigeo Arakaki owns a noodle shop on the island -- he's a retired assistant to a member of Japan's parliament. He'd like to see a more diplomatic approach to resolving the dispute.

"I think Japan and China should explore how to jointly develop the islands rather than fight over them," he says over a cup of tea.

At the moment, this solution doesn't look likely.

"China is becoming more aggressive and they're invading our territory," says Ishigaki mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama. "These are Japan's islands, and by international law, that's a fact. This is non-negotiable."

Japan's government is considering the construction of a military base on Ishigaki, and it's hired local fishing boats to help patrol the disputed islands and ward off Chinese vessels. Still, back on his boat over a coral reef, diving tour operator Anichi Miyazaki says sharing the islands might not be such a bad idea.

China and Japan could combine forces to build something on those uninhabited rocks that would attract tourists. Maybe a theme park?

"I don't know… Disneyland?" asks Miyazaki, breaking down into giggles. Miyazaki says everyone on this island is a businessman -- and war is never good for business.

Senate's Immigration Reform Bill Is Declared Dead At One Year Old

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The Obama administration is backing away from plans to loosen deportation guidelines. On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Senate's passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, reform advocates concede any changes in immigration laws likely won't come until 2017.

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A Century From Archduke's Death, Spotlight Turns Back To Bosnia

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

Bosnia has been buried in historic floods and paralyzed by political dysfunction. Now, locals in Sarajevo are frustrated that the world has only begun focusing on the region for the upcoming anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination, which helped trigger World War I.

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Crowded By Two Shaky States, Turkey Shifts Its Weight In Policy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The chaos in Iraq has Turks reconsidering their opposition to autonomy for Iraq's Kurds. Turks have viewed the issue as too provocative for the millions of Kurds living in Turkey; now, though, more Turks see the Kurds as a possible security buffer between Turkey and Iraqi extremists.

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Takeaways From Supreme Court Rulings On Buffer Zones, Recess Picks

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The court limited presidential power to make appointments when the Senate isn't in session and narrowed a state's power to have protest-free zones outside abortion clinics. Here are the implications.

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In 2 Rulings, High Court Decides On Buffer Zones And Recess Picks

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

In two cases Thursday, the Supreme Court has limited the presidential power to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in session and also limited a state's power to require buffer zones outside abortion clinics.

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Remembering Salwa Bugaighis, The Libyan Advocate Who Took On Ghadafi

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

A prominent Libyan human rights worker was assassinated Wednesday. NPR's Leila Fadel interviewed Salwa Bugaighis earlier this month and remembers the lawyer's efforts against former dictator Moammar Gadhi's regime.

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In New Iraqi Conflict, 'Sunni Awakening' Stays Dormant

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

During the U.S. war in Iraq, American forces paid Sunni tribal leaders in the western and northern regions of the country to turn against al-Qaida. The episode was called the "Sunni Awakening." But now, with ISIS consolidating its gains in these same regions, the tribes involved in the Awakening are cutting deals with the militant group or staying on the sidelines entirely. Shashank Bengali of The Los Angeles Times explains.

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The Binge-Watch Before The Purge, Now That Aereo Is Likely Done

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The Supreme Court gave big broadcasters a win in their battle against the streaming TV service Aereo. For the service's subscribers in 13 cities, now what?

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A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

This technique for manipulating genes borrows a strategy from the way bacteria fight viruses. It's still experimental, but the possibilities excite medical researchers hoping to tailor treatments.

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Barclays shares fall on fraud claims

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:15
Shares in Barclays fall 6.5% after the New York attorney general filed a fraud lawsuit against the bank.

How British sprinters are breaking down the 10-second barrier

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:06
Britain's "fab four" fliers - James Dasaolu, Chijindu Ujah, Adam Gemili and Richard Kilty - are unfazed by challenge of joining elite.

VIDEO: Banksy spies artwork to be removed

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-26 11:59
A company which has erected scaffolding and panels to cover a Banksy artwork in Cheltenham, confirms it is to be removed and could be auctioned on 4 July.

Pot Use On The Rise In U.S., Report Says

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 11:53

Unlike in the rest of the world, more Americans are using the drug, according to a new United Nations report. Marijuana's potency is also on the rise, the report found.

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US halts work for Germany clash

BBC - Thu, 2014-06-26 11:52
Parts of the US came to a standstill as people took time out from work to watch their team lose 1-0 but still advance to the World Cup last 16.
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