Democratic members of Congress address the worshipers at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center after Friday prayers on Dec. 4 in Falls Church, Va.

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Democratic members of Congress address the worshipers at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center after Friday prayers on Dec. 4 in Falls Church, Va.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Calll

The Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Northern Virginia has seen its share of attention. Two of the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks prayed there, and jihadi propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki served as an imam at the mosque before heading off to Yemen to join al-Qaida.

Now, with a U.S. president-elect who has suggested he will take a hard line with Muslim-Americans, the worshipers at Dar al-Hijrah again are bracing for scrutiny and looking for reassurance.

“For anyone who feels anxiety about the current political crisis and what you hear in the public discourse, I am completely confident,” Imam Johari Abdul-Malik told the men and women assembled at the mosque last week for Friday prayers. “Not only will Islam survive, but it will thrive.”

The worshipers are a diverse group, including security guards, housewives, doctors and educators. Most are immigrants — Dar al-Hijrah means “place of migration” in Arabic — and between them they speak 37 languages.

Many fear they will no longer be welcome in America with Donald Trump as president.

“It’s a concern,” says Wadi Adam Lahrim, who immigrated from Morocco to the United States with his parents as a child 30 years ago. “We have a new president who has the support of a lot of people who are not very friendly to the Muslim community.”

In his sermon, Abdul-Malik reminded worshipers that many of them had immigrated to the United States from countries where Islam is under far greater pressure.

“Many of the people here grew up under dictatorship,” he said. “We had a woman here the other week. She said: ‘Imam, I grew up in Albania, where they outlawed the practice of Islam. There was no freedom of religion under the communists. We had to go in our houses and hide, so we could pray.’ “

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Dar al-Hijrah was visited often by law enforcement officials, and the monitoring led to conflict. In the years since, however, the mosque leadership has worked closely with law enforcement agencies.

As his guest Friday, Abdul-Malik brought along FBI Agent Paul Abbate, head of the bureau’s Washington, D.C., field office, to assure the worshipers that his agency was determined to treat Muslim-Americans fairly.

“The essence of our mission to is keep people safe, to keep all of you safe — your loved ones, your families, [and] the communities that we serve,” Abbate said, “And we do that fairly and equally for everyone, under the Constitution of the United States.”

But Muslim-Americans have heard a more hostile message from President-elect Trump, who last March told an interviewer from CNN, “I think Islam hates us,” and who had proposed a complete ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States.

Trump backed off that plan, and Muslim-American leaders are trying to determine whether Trump’s more incendiary statements were just campaign rhetoric. Last week they closely followed the testimony of Trump’s cabinet picks during their confirmation hearings, eager to see whether a Trump administration would require all U.S. Muslims to register with the federal government.

Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, said he was against a Muslim registry, as did Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, set to be attorney general under Trump.

Sessions, however, said he did think someone’s religious beliefs, not just their actions, should be considered in the decision whether to let them enter the United States. In December 2015, Sessions opposed a nonbinding resolution that declared there should be no litmus test for people seeking to enter the United States, and he reaffirmed that position during his confirmation testimony.

“Many people do have religious views that are inimical to the public safety of the United States,” Sessions said.

As president-elect, Trump has continued to advocate a policy of “extreme vetting” of potential immigrants, to screen out those, such as radicalized Muslims, who might be perceived as a security threat.

Whether he effectively could implement such a policy through executive action is unclear. Under a 1990 law, immigrants can’t be barred from the United States on ideological grounds, but another law allows the president to keep out any “class” of people he considers “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

“The president conceivably could interpret existing statutes in such a way as to allow [extreme vetting],” says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “[He could] direct his subordinates to keep out anyone who is a member of this class of persons — which is to say people who think it’s OK to chop people’s heads off and throw gays off of buildings — even though they have not engaged in that activity themselves.”

Defining a “class” of people on the basis of their beliefs would not be easy, and almost certainly would be challenged by some in Congress and by the courts.

The threat of such a policy alarms many Muslim-Americans.

“It is extremely important to us that this place is safe,” says Wadi Adam Lahrim, who has three children, ages 7, 11 and 12. “We would like the rest of the U.S. to understand us. Just as we took the time to learn your language, your culture, and to understand you and be able to work with you and live with you, I hope that some folks in America will take the time also to understand us and get to know us, rather than hate us.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/16/510128898/muslim-americans-anxious-about-trump-administration?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The inventor of Pinyin – that’s the system of transcribing Chinese characters in the Roman alphabet – has died. Zhou Youguang had just celebrated his 111th birthday. He was also a political dissident, which made him a thorn in the government’s side. Six years ago on this program, NPR’s Louisa Lim sent us a profile of Zhou after meeting him at his home in Beijing. We decided to share it with you again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Speaking Chinese).

LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: A class of Chinese kids learns Pinyin, a system for spelling out Chinese words using the Roman alphabet. This is the first step towards literacy in China, one that hundreds of millions of people have taken over the past half century. Pinyin is largely the work of one extraordinary and extraordinarily modest man. As a young man, Zhou Youguang moved to the States and worked as a Wall Street banker but returned to China after the 1949 revolution.

Today, he’s frail but he still lives in a third-floor walk-up and he still blogs. He’s cheerful as he remembers how as an economist, he was named to head a committee to reform the Chinese language.

ZHOU YOUGUANG: (Through interpreter) I said, I was an amateur, a layman. I couldn’t do the job. But they said, it’s a new job, everybody’s an amateur (laughter). Everybody urged me to change professions, so I did. So from 1955, I abandoned economics and started studying writing systems.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Zhou didn’t start out intending to revolutionize the Chinese language.

LIM: It’s a measure of Zhou’s fame that cartoons like this one are made about his life. It took Zhou and his colleagues three years to come up with the system now known as Pinyin. It was introduced to schools in 1958. Recently, Pinyin’s become even more widely used to type Chinese characters into mobile phones and computers. Zhou is delighted by this.

YOUGUANG: (Through interpreter) In this era of mobile phones and globalization, we use Pinyin to communicate with the world. Pinyin is like a kind of open sesame, opening up the doors (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Foreign language spoken).

LIM: Even though his life is celebrated in official documentaries by the state broadcaster, Zhou’s position is more precarious. In the late ’60s, he was branded a reactionary and sent to labor camp for two years. In 1985, he translated the “Encyclopaedia Britannica” into Chinese and then worked on the second edition.

So he was in a position to notice the changes in China’s official line.

YOUGUANG: (Through interpreter) At the time, China’s position was the U.S. started the Korean War, but the encyclopedia said North Korea started it. That was troublesome, so we didn’t include that bit. Later, the Chinese view changed, so we got permission from above to include it. That shows there’s progress in China but it’s too slow.

LIM: Zhou has unbelievably published 10 books since he turned 100. Some have been banned in China, making him something of a political dissident. But he seems to relish the controversy saying he enjoys it when people criticize him. Zhou believes China has become a cultural wasteland with the communists attacking traditional Chinese culture but leaving nothing in the void.

He becomes animated as we talk about a statue of Confucius, which was first placed near Tiananmen Square earlier this year, then removed.

YOUGUANG: (Through interpreter) Why aren’t they bringing out statues of Marx and Chairman Mao? Marx and Mao can’t hold their ground, so they brought out Confucius. Why did they take it away? This shows the battles over Chinese culture. Mao was 100 percent opposed to Confucius. But nowadays, Confucius’ influence is much stronger than Marx.

LIM: Zhou calls it as he sees it without fear or favor. He’s outspoken about what he believes is the need for democracy in China. And, he says, he hopes to live long enough to see China change its position on the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989. He believes China needs political reform and soon.

YOUGUANG: (Through interpreter) Ordinary people no longer believe in the Communist Party anymore. The vast majority of Chinese intellectuals advocate democracy. Look at the Arab Spring. People ask me if there’s hope for China. I’m an optimist. I didn’t even lose hope during the Japanese occupation in World War II. China cannot not get closer to the rest of the world.

LIM: One final story illustrates Zhou’s unusual position. A couple of years ago, he was invited to an important reception. At the last minute, he was told to stay away. The reason he was given was the weather. But his family believes another explanation. One of the nine men who ruled China was at the event. And that leader did not want to have to acknowledge Zhou and so give currency to his political views.

That a Chinese leader should refuse to meet this old man is telling both of his influence and of the political establishment’s fear of him. Louisa Lim, NPR News, Beijing.

MCEVERS: That story first aired six years ago on this program. Zhou Youguang died over the weekend at the age of 111.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/16/510128936/inventor-who-made-chinese-easier-to-read-dies?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A man adjusts a victim’s photograph displayed with floral tributes and Turkish flags outside the Reina night club following the attack in Istanbul earlier this month.

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A man adjusts a victim’s photograph displayed with floral tributes and Turkish flags outside the Reina night club following the attack in Istanbul earlier this month.

Emrah Gurel/AP

Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin told reporters Tuesday morning that the suspect in the attack on the city’s Reina nightclub has confessed.

NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul that Sahin identified the suspect as Abdulgadir Masharipov, a national of the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan. Sahin said Masharipov was born in 1983 and had received training in Afghanistan.

Sahin said there are strong indications Masharipov was acting on behalf of the Islamic State and had entered Turkey illegally on its eastern border.

Masharipov was arrested in an Istanbul suburb Tuesday night with four others. Sahin said his fingerprints match those found at the crime scene.

The attack occurred early New Year’s Day in an upscale nightclub popular with foreigners. A gunman, apparently acting alone, killed 39 people.

Photographs of Masharipov after his arrest released by the government show him with an apparently bruised and bloodied face.

Peter reports that authorities are questioning Masharipov, especially about accomplices.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/17/510196292/suspect-in-istanbul-nightclub-attack-has-confessed-say-turkish-officials?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A member of the Iraqi special forces’ Counter-Terrorism Service stands guard next to a damaged building at Mosul university on Sunday, during an ongoing military operation against the Islamic State.

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A member of the Iraqi special forces’ Counter-Terrorism Service stands guard next to a damaged building at Mosul university on Sunday, during an ongoing military operation against the Islamic State.

Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi forces have made a crucial step in the bloody quest to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, according to a spokesman for the country’s military. Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool announced that the city’s university has been fully retaken from ISIS militants.

Special forces, known in Iraq as the Counter-Terrorism Service, or CTS, raised the Iraqi flag above the campus Friday, the Associated Press reports — but the troops were still days away from claiming complete control.

“Iraqi forces entered the university grounds Friday and managed to secure more than half of the campus the next day amid stiff resistance from IS militants, who mainly deployed sniper and mortar fire to slow down the advancing troops,” the wire service adds Sunday.

Iraqi military launched its campaign to retake the northern city — the last major Iraqi city still in ISIS hands — last October. The former Iraqi commercial center is the place ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared the caliphate, or Islamic state, shortly after the group captured it in June 2014. And it has been one of the central pillars of the militant group’s diminishing territorial claims.

Earlier this month, Iraqi troops reached the Tigris River, which bisects the city, retaking much of Mosul’s eastern half.

Yet, as Jane Arraf reports for NPR, the toughest fight is likely still to come. ISIS still holds the west side of the city, where more than 700,000 civilians are believed to remain.

Brig. Gen. Scott Efflandt, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, tells Jane that part of the complexity of the fight ahead lies in the urban combat required:

“Picture any large metropolitan city on the U.S. East Coast — dense, older cities with smaller streets. And then picture having to eradicate all crime and any enemy force in there.

“It requires street by street, house by house, room by room operation. There’s no quick way to do it. You have to walk, you have to climb stairs, you have to open doors and then repeat the process again and again and again and then when you’re doing that you have to leave someone behind to guard the area you just went through. “

And they will continue to do so without the presence of American troops on the front lines.

For now, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan tells Reuters the special forces are combing the university’s campus Sunday for remaining militants.

“The university is completely liberated and forces are sweeping the complex for any hiding militants,” Numan said. “Most buildings are booby-trapped so we’re being cautious.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/15/509951576/iraqi-forces-retake-mosul-university-from-isis-military-spokesman-says?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

A train decorated with Serbia’s national colors and the phrase “Kosovo is Serbia” was stopped at the border of Kosovo on Saturday. The incident has stoked tensions between the two sides.

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A train decorated with Serbia’s national colors and the phrase “Kosovo is Serbia” was stopped at the border of Kosovo on Saturday. The incident has stoked tensions between the two sides.

Oliver Bunic/AFP/Getty Images

Bitterness between Balkan neighbors flashed to the surface this weekend after a train was turned back from the Kosovo border. The train, which had been painted with Serbian national colors and the phrase “Kosovo is Serbia,” cut short its journey amid fears it was under threat of violence.

Kosovo had deployed its special forces to prevent the train from crossing its border, The Associated Press reports. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandr Vucic then ordered the train to stop in the Serbian town of Raska, says the BBC, alleging that those forces intended to destroy the track.

“Yesterday, we were on the verge of clashes,” Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said Sunday, according to The AP, accusing Kosovo of “wanting war.”

Kosovo has denied those allegations.

“The institutions of the Republic of Kosovo will always undertake such actions to protect the country’s sovereignty and not allow machines that will provoke with a message of occupation,” Kosovar Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told reporters Saturday, according to Reuters.

A train stewardess passes through the carriage of the train in Belgrade on Saturday. The interior artwork featured Serbian churches, monasteries and medieval towns, while stewards were clad in Serbian national colors.

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A train stewardess passes through the carriage of the train in Belgrade on Saturday. The interior artwork featured Serbian churches, monasteries and medieval towns, while stewards were clad in Serbian national colors.

Oliver Bunic/AFP/Getty Images

The tense exchange renews the animosity that has long simmered between the neighbors.

Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Though its statehood has been recognized by the U.S. and many European countries, neither Serbia nor its ally Russia recognizes it as a sovereign country — and Serbia continues to back the ethnic Serb minority population in Kosovo.

That declaration of independence came nearly a decade after U.S.-led NATO forces stepped in to end a violent crackdown by then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on ethnic Albanian separatists. Before NATO airstrikes forced Belgrade to withdraw from Kosovo in 1999, Reuters says 10,000 Albanian civilians had been killed.

Memories of the violence, never far from the minds of local residents, have surfaced in international headlines in recent months.

A special court was established at the Hague last year, with the express purpose of trying some Kosovar separatists for alleged war crimes during the late ’90s violence. And a former Kosovar rebel commander — and prime minister — was arrested in France earlier this month on a warrant from Serbia, over Kosovo’s objections.

Given this fraught history, Kosovar officials viewed Saturday’s train — which also decorated its interior with Serbian Orthodox icons — as a provocation.

“I believe that turning back the train was the appropriate action,” Mustafa said, according to the BBC, “and its entry into the independent and sovereign Republic of Kosovo would not be allowed.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/15/509957543/sparks-on-the-tracks-kosovo-serbia-spar-over-train-stopped-at-the-border?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

J.Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, arrives at the office of the independent counsel last Thursday in Seoul, South Korea. Prosecutors are now seeking an arrest warrant for Lee.

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J.Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, arrives at the office of the independent counsel last Thursday in Seoul, South Korea. Prosecutors are now seeking an arrest warrant for Lee.

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Prosecutors in South Korea have requested an arrest warrant for the de facto head of the nation’s biggest conglomerate, Samsung, on charges of bribery and embezzlement in connection with a swirling scandal that led to the president’s impeachment.

Investigators say Jay Y. Lee, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and the scion of the one of the largest companies in the world, helped improperly direct company money to the confidant of President Park Geun-hye in order to curry favor with the government.

That confidant is now at the center of a criminal investigation and ongoing political scandal, and the president is awaiting a trial by a constitutional court on whether a resounding impeachment vote in parliament will result in her official removal.

Prosecutors allege that Lee directed funds to Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, and in return won support from the administration for a controversial merger between two company affiliates.

On Thursday, Lee appeared at the prosecutor’s office for questioning which lasted until Friday morning. Before the interrogation began, he said to a throng of cameras, “I am deeply sorry, and I apologize to the Korean people for failing to put our best face forward due to this incident.”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached by the country’s parliament in December and is awaiting a ruling by the country’s constitutional court as to whether she will be removed from office.

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached by the country’s parliament in December and is awaiting a ruling by the country’s constitutional court as to whether she will be removed from office.

AP

In a statement, however, the company denied the accusations:

“It is hard to understand the special prosecutors’ decision. Samsung has never given support or wanted reward in turn. In particular, Samsung cannot accept the special prosecutors’ claims that there was an illegal solicitation regarding the merger or the management succession. We believe the court will make a good judgment.”

Already, lawmakers who supported the ouster of the president have spoken out in support of the charges. The culture of conglomerates, or chaebol, having outsized influence in politics and society has been one of the grievances of protesters who have been demonstrating against the president for months.

“This is a decision that values law and principle,” the Democratic Party of Korea’s spokesman Gi Dong-min said. “Arresting Lee will save Samsung and the national economy. This is the beginning of a real and extensive chaebol reform. It’s a great opportunity to break apart the ugly relationship between politics and business.”

Haeryun Kang contributed to this post.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/16/510030906/arrest-warrant-sought-for-samsung-heir-in-korean-presidential-bribery-scandal?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world









For the past 17 years, Sam Barsky has knit sweaters that depict places he’s seen around the world, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Stonehenge, Jerusalem’s Western Wall — even a field of electrical pylons.

But what’s made Barsky an internet phenomenon, with well over a million hits on various websites, are photos of the knitter himself posing in front of a scene, wearing his matching sweater.

With more than 100 handmade sweaters under his belt, the 42-year-old says the only limitation he has is the one months’ time it takes to make one.

“This is what I enjoy doing, I like creating. I like replicating what I see in life, and what I anticipate seeing.”

And that’s just where he finds his artistic inspiration.

“Pretty much any kind of iconic landmark or natural scene — anything, possibly — it could be in my dreams,” Barsky says.

As for the electrical pylon sweater, “I see them all the time, in all my routine travels around the local area,” he says. “They’re everywhere, so pretty much anything that crosses my eyes is a potential sweater and the pylons are no exception.”

For his next project, he’s setting his sights on a Groundhog Day sweater — featuring a groundhog on it, of course.

Another ambitious knitting feat of his? Faces — he’s working on a Martin Luther King sweater, just in time for the civil rights leader’s birthday.

Now that his art’s virality has garnered him new fame, Barsky says, “I’m flooded with requests — so many I can’t even see all of them.”

But he’s not quite up to fulfilling those requests, sticking to his own artistic direction that got him the attention in the first place.

“I’ve thought about it before, but I’ve realized early on, a long time ago, that it’s not practical for me to be a human sweater mill.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/14/509807323/sweater-selfies-man-knits-his-way-around-the-world?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Zhou Youguang sits at home in Beijing, in 2015. Born when a Qing dynasty emperor was on the throne, he went on to help invent the Pinyin writing system used for transliterating the Chinese alphabet.

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Zhou Youguang sits at home in Beijing, in 2015. Born when a Qing dynasty emperor was on the throne, he went on to help invent the Pinyin writing system used for transliterating the Chinese alphabet.

Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

Zhou Youguang, the inventor of a system to convert Chinese characters into words with the Roman alphabet, died Saturday at the age of 111. Since his system was introduced nearly six decades ago, few innovations have done more to boost literacy rates in China and bridge the divide between the country and the West.

Pinyin, which was adopted by China in 1958, gave readers unfamiliar with Chinese characters a crucial tool to understand how to pronounce them. These characters do not readily disclose information on how to say them aloud — but with such a system as Pinyin, those characters more easily and clearly yield their meaning when converted into languages like English and Spanish, which use the Roman alphabet.

While it was not the first system to Romanize Chinese, Pinyin has become the most widely accepted. For Chinese speakers, many of whom speak disparate dialects, its broad acceptance made education easier, giving instructors a single, relatively simple instrument to teach people how to read.

Beyond China’s borders, Pinyin allowed the standardization of Chinese names. For instance, it’s a big reason why the name Westerners commonly use for the Chinese capital shifted from “Peking” to “Beijing.” And it’s why many other such names changed dramatically along with it.

And yet Zhou, the man behind one of the most important linguistic innovations in the 20th century, said he was reluctant when asked by the Chinese government to take on the task in the mid-1950s.

At the time, he was an economic scholar, only recently returned to China after a stint working on Wall Street in the U.S. He had come back to the country after its 1949 Communist revolution.

“I said I was an amateur, a layman, I couldn’t do the job,” he told NPR in 2011, laughing. “But they said, it’s a new job, everybody is an amateur. Everybody urged me to change professions, so I did. So from 1955, I abandoned economics and started studying writing systems.”

Zhou (shown here in New York in 1947) worked on Wall Street, but he returned to China in 1949 after the Communist revolution. Less than a decade after this photo was taken, he went to work on the system that would become Pinyin.

Courtesy Zhou Youguang


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Courtesy Zhou Youguang

The committee Zhou led spent three years working on its alphabetic system.

“People made fun of us, joking that it had taken us a long time to deal with just 26 letters,” he told the BBC in 2012.

Others took the committee’s invention very seriously, however. The Communist government of China introduced Pinyin in schools in 1958. The international community eventually adopted it as the standard romanization for Chinese writing, as well, with the U.N. doing so in 1986.

Before Pinyin, 85 percent of Chinese people could not read, according to the BBC. Now, UNICEF says the literacy rate in China hovers at about 95 percent.

Lately, Pinyin has also been integral in determining the ways mobile phones and computers transmit Chinese characters.

Still, despite the broad acceptance of his system, Zhou went on to become something of a thorn in the side of the country’s Communist government. During the Cultural Revolution, in the ’60s and ’70s, Zhou drew the scrutiny of the Communist Party. In 1969, he was even labeled a “reactionary academic authority” and exiled to a labor camp for more than two years, reports The New York Times.

But he was not dissuaded from speaking his mind for long. As he aged, he became more vocal about his dissatisfaction with the powers that be.

And, as Louisa Lim noted for NPR, Zhou was not afraid to use his stature to point out discrepancies he found in Communist Party doctrine.

“In 1985, he translated the Encyclopaedia Britannica into Chinese and then worked on the second edition — placing him in a position to notice the U-turns in China’s official line.

At the time of the original translation, China’s position was that the U.S. started the Korean War — but the encyclopedia said North Korea was to blame, Zhou recalls.

” ‘That was troublesome, so we didn’t include that bit. Later, the Chinese view changed. So we got permission from above to include it. That shows there’s progress in China,’ he says, adding, ‘But it’s too slow.’ “

For a man born in 1906, under China’s final dynasty, Zhou did more than most to help encourage the change he wished to see in his country. Though he died Saturday after more than a century of life, he is survived by the system he helped father, which continues to live on around the world.

Clarification: This post has been updated to make clearer the fact that Pinyin was not the first system of Romanization.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/14/509820277/zhou-youguang-architect-of-a-bridge-between-languages-dies-at-111?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now to South Africa where hundreds of fires have broken out in recent days around the Cape of Good Hope. So far, the fires do not appear to have claimed any lives, but the fires have been a threat to something for which the country has become well known – its vineyards and wine industry. As Peter Granitz reports, drought conditions in South Africa are exacerbating the crisis.

PETER GRANITZ, BYLINE: Tourism is big business in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It’s where South Africans flock during the hot, Southern-Hemisphere summer months of December and January, fleeing to winelands, the cool air of Table Mountain and the beaches of the Cape Peninsula, which is where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. But hot weather and strong winds have increased the amount of seasonal fires, some caused by human error.

There have been more than 625 different fires in the Cape Town region in the last seven days alone. That’s nearly a third of the amount of fires that hit the region last summer, says James Styan with the Western Cape’s Ministry of Environmental Affairs.

JAMES STYAN: We do expect another two to three months of these conditions, and we are very concerned about that given the severity of the season to date.

GRANITZ: There has not been any report of fire-related deaths and Styan is not sure how many acres have burned. Neighborhoods on the slopes of Table Mountain have been evacuated because of encroaching fires. And iconic vineyards, such as Vergelegen, have been damaged. Grape vines were first planted there in 1700.

Alexandra McFarlane is the head winemaker at Druk My Niet, a wine label that means pressure me not in Afrikaans. She says fire ripped through the estate earlier this week, destroying a 300-year-old farmhouse, guest cottages and the cellar that held her 2015 vintage ready for bottling. McFarlane estimates about 37 of the 50 acres of vineyards were damaged.

ALEXANDRA MCFARLANE: In terms of the harvest for 2017, it’s not looking great. I think there’s been a lot of heat and smoke damage and also a lot of fire damage. But – so we can only really hope for the best that we’re going to be able to come out of this.

GRANITZ: The South African Weather Service does not predict any much needed rainfall in the next few days in Cape Town. For NPR News, I’m Peter Granitz in Pretoria.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/14/509866828/iconic-south-african-vineyards-damaged-by-wildfires?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

With just a week to go in office, the Obama administration is changing a decades-old policy on Sudan. It is easing some sanctions as a way to encourage that African country to resolve conflicts and to help fight terrorism. Human rights groups say the U.S. is sending exactly the wrong message to a foreign government that has been accused of genocide. NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Sudan has been under U.S. sanctions since the 1990s for its support of terrorism and human rights abuses. The Bush administration piled on more after accusing President Omar al-Bashir of carrying out a genocide in Darfur in western Sudan.

Now the Obama administration says it will start allowing U.S. energy, agriculture, medical and other companies to do business with Khartoum. The decision grew out of months of negotiations, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, explained to reporters in New York…

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SAMANTHA POWER: We, behind the scenes, have been engaged with the government of Sudan in a discreet way, laying out the kind of steps that we would need to see in a number of areas in order for them to see sanctions relief.

KELEMEN: Counterterrorism was a big one, and officials say that Sudan has been cooperating on that front. Power says aid groups have also seen, in her words, a sea change when it comes to humanitarian access to places like Darfur as well as other conflict zones in Sudan.

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POWER: We’re not seeing, you know, suddenly the dawn of peace in our time in those areas but a very significant improvement over that six months.

KELEMEN: That progress will need to be sustained for the next 180 days for Sudan to see sanctions relief, and she believes activists will make sure the Trump administration follows through. But human rights groups say the Obama administration is sending the wrong signal – that if a country cooperates on terrorism, it will get a pass on other issues. One longtime Sudan watcher, Eric Reeves of Harvard, says U.S. officials tend to overstate Sudan’s cooperation on counterterrorism.

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ERIC REEVES: The regime has done nothing really to deserve this, but we’ve seen increasing repression in Khartoum and elsewhere with many arrests, many, many newspaper seizures unprecedented in the two decades I’ve been working on Sudan.

KELEMEN: Reeves says he remembers what Obama said before taking office when the then candidate described the genocide in Darfur as a stain on our souls.

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REEVES: Violence in Darfur never stopped and has been accelerating steadily since 2012, all on the Obama administration watch. His claim that he would never averse his eyes from slaughter has proved, sadly, quite hollow.

KELEMEN: Administration officials say the sanctions that were put in place because of Darfur will remain on the books. And they believe that they’ve given the incoming Trump administration a large carrot and stick, a chance to make the sanctions relief permanent or take it away. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPOON SONG, “BEAST AND DRAGON, ADORED”)

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Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/13/509722754/human-rights-groups-react-to-obama-administration-lifting-sanctions-against-suda?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world