A flower left in tribute to the victims of Wednesday’s attack is seen next to the Palace of Westminster that houses the Houses of Parliament in central London.

Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

A flower left in tribute to the victims of Wednesday’s attack is seen next to the Palace of Westminster that houses the Houses of Parliament in central London.

Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

The man who is believed to have carried out a deadly attack near the U.K. Parliament has been identified by Britain’s Metropolitan Police as Khalid Masood, 52.

Police believe the man acted alone. He was shot and killed after carrying out an attack that killed a police officer and two civilians and wounded several others around 2:40 p.m. local time Wednesday.

Masood was born in Kent and is believed to have been living in the West Midlands. Police say he “was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.”

“However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH [grievous bodily harm ], possession of offensive weapons and public order offences,” Scotland Yard said Thursday.

Masood, who used “a number of aliases,” according to police, has a criminal record that dates back to at least November of 1983, when he was convicted of criminal damage. His last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife, police say.

“He has not been convicted for any terrorism offences,” the agency says.

Those killed include an American, Kurt Cochran of Utah, who was visiting London and was hit by the attacker’s vehicle on Westminster Bridge. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Cochran, 54, was on the final day of a wedding-anniversary trip with his wife, who was injured in the attack.

“A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack,” President Trump said in a tweet. “My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends.”

In a visit to the House of Commons Thursday morning, Prime Minister Theresa May said the suspect in the case was British-born and had previously been under the eye of security agencies.

“Some years ago, he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism. He was a peripheral figure; the case was historic; he was not part of the current intelligence picture,” May said of the attacker. She added that investigations are continuing.

A police officer places flowers from a member of the public next to a photo of Keith Palmer, the police officer who was stabbed Wednesday as he guarded the Palace of Westminster. Prime Minister Theresa May said of Palmer, “He was every inch a hero.”

Jack Taylor/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

A police officer places flowers from a member of the public next to a photo of Keith Palmer, the police officer who was stabbed Wednesday as he guarded the Palace of Westminster. Prime Minister Theresa May said of Palmer, “He was every inch a hero.”

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

“Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology,” the prime minister said.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, through a media outlet with ties to the extremist group. In a brief statement, it called the attacker an ISIS soldier — but the British government says a direct link with ISIS has not been confirmed.

Calling it “an attack on free people everywhere,” May said, “We are not afraid, and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.”

In a counterterrorism operation launched after the attack, Britain’s Metropolitan Police made eight arrests and searched six addresses in Birmingham and London.

In London Thursday, extra officers — both armed and unarmed — are out on the streets, the Metropolitan Police says. The department observed a moment of silence this morning, and a public vigil is scheduled for 6 p.m. local time Thursday in Trafalgar Square.

May also shared more details about the attack and those it harmed, saying it injured around 40 people. Of three police officers who were wounded, two remain hospitalized.

The wounded are from around the world, May said. In addition to 12 Britons, there are four South Koreans, three French children, two Romanians and two Greeks, along with nationals of the U.S., Germany, Poland, Ireland, China, Italy and other nations.

Speaking of slain police officer Keith Palmer, 48, a husband and father who had previously been in the military, May said, “He was every inch a hero, and his actions will never be forgotten.”

On Thursday, Queen Elizabeth said via a statement:

“My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy are with all those who have been affected by yesterday’s awful violence.

“I know I speak for everyone in expressing my enduring thanks and admiration for the members of the Metropolitan Police Service and all who work so selflessly to help and protect others.”

As we reported Wednesday:

“Authorities say a small SUV barreled into pedestrians along the sidewalk of Westminster Bridge, causing multiple ‘catastrophic injuries’ to pedestrians. … After striking the pedestrians on the bridge, the SUV then crashed into the fence that surrounds Parliament. A man armed with a knife emerged and stabbed a police officer before being shot to death by police.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/23/521204418/westminster-attacker-was-peripheral-figure-in-earlier-investigation-may-says?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Denis Voronenkov was shot in the head on a sidewalk in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, on Thursday. He’s seen here with his wife, Maria Maksakova, in February.

Oleksandr Synytsia/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Oleksandr Synytsia/AP

Denis Voronenkov was shot in the head on a sidewalk in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, on Thursday. He’s seen here with his wife, Maria Maksakova, in February.

Oleksandr Synytsia/AP

A former Russian parliamentarian named Denis Voronenkov, who fled Russia last October and has criticized President Vladimir Putin’s government, was killed in Kiev on Thursday, in an apparent assassination that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is reportedly calling “state terrorism.”

Voronenkov, 45, had just left the Premier Palace hotel when he was shot twice in the head on a sidewalk along a busy street in Ukraine’s capital, according to the Kyiv Post. Citing police, the newspaper adds that both Voronenkov’s bodyguard and the attacker were wounded and in the hospital.

The killing has the “handwriting” of the Russian special services, Poroshenko said in a statement Thursday. According to a translation by Reuters, he said Voronenkov’s murder was “an act of state terrorism on the part of Russia, which he was forced to leave for political reasons.”

Responding to those accusations, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We believe that all speculations about a Russian connection are absurd,” according to state-run Tass media. He also said Ukraine “had proved unable to take care of Voronenkov’s security,” the outlet reports.

Poroshenko said Voronenkov was a key witness in Ukraine’s inquiry into former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian military involvement in the country.

When he fled Russia, Voronenkov did so along with his wife, Maria Maksakova, who is also a former lawmaker. She was seen at the site of her husband’s killing today, being restrained by police and emergency workers.

Here’s how Radio Free Europe recently described Voronenkov:

“A former Communist Party legislator elected in the 2011 Russian vote viewed by many as rigged, Voronenkov is perhaps best known for co-authoring the 2014 bill in the State Duma that banned the foreign ownership of Russian media, a move Bloomberg View columnist Leonid Bershidsky called ‘perhaps the single worst thing that happened to press freedom as an institution in Putin’s Russia.’”

“Now, though, Voronenkov appears to have flipped, becoming a fiery critic of most everything he once supported in Russia and a citizen of Ukraine, to boot.”

In an interview last month, Voronenkov told RFE that Russia “has gone crazy. People are behaving in a pseudo-patriotic frenzy.”

Describing the dynamic in Russia, he and Maksakova told the news outlet that lying had become commonplace, and “the lack of professionalism has been replaced by loyalty to power.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/23/521215078/former-russian-lawmaker-is-shot-to-death-outside-hotel-in-kiev?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K-9 officers search the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada after an employee received a suspicious phone call that led to the evacuation of about 10 people from the building on Feb. 27. A suspect in Israel has been arrested in connection with the waves of bomb threats like this one.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K-9 officers search the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada after an employee received a suspicious phone call that led to the evacuation of about 10 people from the building on Feb. 27. A suspect in Israel has been arrested in connection with the waves of bomb threats like this one.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A man in his late teens has been arrested in Israel as the “primary suspect” behind a string of phoned-in bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the U.S. and elsewhere.

The arrest was the result of an investigation by Israeli police and the FBI, a police spokesman says.

The suspect is Jewish and holds both Israeli and U.S. citizenship, according to multiple news outlets citing a police spokesman. His age has been variously reported as 18 or 19.

Israeli police say he was using masking technology to disguise the fact that he was making threatening calls to Jewish centers in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Authorities have not identified a motive.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the arrest “is the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents for hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country.”

As NPR has reported, multiple waves of bomb threats targeted Jewish community centers across America over the past three months. Each wave consisted of threats made by telephone, with multiple states and centers targeted at once. Day care centers were evacuated, and no actual bombs were ever located.

The Anti-Defamation League says there have been more than 160 bomb threats at 120 institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

A former journalist in St. Louis accused of making at least eight of the threats, allegedly as part of a cyberstalking campaign against an ex-girlfriend, was arrested March 3. NBC reports suggested that the St. Louis man was believed to have made “copycat” threats and was not suspected of carrying out the broader wave of threats.

The American-Israeli 19-year-old, in contrast, is being identified as the “primary” suspect.

The Associated Press has more on the arrest:

“Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear. Police banned publication of his name, but said he was an American-Israeli dual citizen and that he would remain in custody until at least March 30.

” ‘He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,’ Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past two months. Israeli media said the man had been found unfit for compulsory military service.

“Israel’s Channel 10 TV showed footage of the suspect appearing in court in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion. He wore tan pants and a blue sweater that he used to cover his face as he walked past reporters.

“The channel said the young man had lived in the U.S. for a period of time and had been home-schooled. It showed images of a large antenna outside his house and said his father was also arrested.”

The FBI confirmed that “the individual suspected” of the threats had been arrested early Thursday in Israel, but provided no other details.

Haaretz reports the arrest was carried out by an Israeli cyberattack police unit and that the suspect is not cooperating with police. Officers seized “computers and other items … including antennas he used to access other people’s networks” to mask his trail, the Israeli newspaper reports.

The president and CEO of the JCC Association of North America said he was “gratified” by the progress of the investigation.

“We are troubled to learn that the individual suspected of making these threats against Jewish Community Centers, which play a central role in the Jewish community, as well as serve as inclusive and welcoming places for all – is reportedly Jewish,” Doron Krakow said in a statement.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/23/521220521/israel-arrests-man-suspected-in-wave-of-bomb-threats-against-jewish-centers?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

People watch news footage of a missile launch outside the main railway station in Pyongyang earlier this month. A North Korean missile test failed just moments after launch Wednesday, according to the U.S. and South Korea.

Kim Won-Jin/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Kim Won-Jin/AFP/Getty Images

People watch news footage of a missile launch outside the main railway station in Pyongyang earlier this month. A North Korean missile test failed just moments after launch Wednesday, according to the U.S. and South Korea.

Kim Won-Jin/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea fired a missile from its east coast Wednesday, in a test that appears to have failed in an explosion within seconds of launch, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry and U.S. Pacific Command. Both groups confirm the launch occurred at North Korea’s air base in Wonsan.

The ill-fated missile, which marks the country’s third test of the year and second so far this month, is seen as a response to annual joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea.

“North Korea opposes these drills,” NPR’s Elise Hu reports, “calling them a rehearsal for invasion” — a “rehearsal” the country often greets with its own weapon tests.

As Jason Strother tells our Newscast unit, the launch also coincides with a visit to South Korea from Joseph Yoon, the U.S. envoy on North Korea policy. Yoon is holding talks in Seoul on the North’s weapons programs, just one week after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson punctuated his own visit to the peninsula with some strong words for Pyongyang.

“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said, according to The Korea Times. NPR’s Bill Chappell notes the remarks were in an apparent reference to the Obama administration’s policy toward North Korea. “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, economic measures. All options are on the table.”

At a news briefing after the launch Wednesday, Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokeswoman for China, cautioned the U.S. and other concerned countries to “exercise restraint,” according to CNN.

“The current situation on the peninsula is extremely tense — ‘everyone with his dagger drawn’ would be a fair description,” Hua said.

China is one of the few remaining countries on relatively friendly terms with Pyongyang — though even they have recently shown signs of frustration with the secretive regime.

The launch Wednesday comes a little more than two weeks after Pyongyang test-fired four medium-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, at least one of which flew about 620 miles before dropping into the water.

Despite the increasing frequency of such tests, they are banned under United Nations resolutions.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/22/521071643/north-korea-missile-explodes-within-seconds-of-launch-u-s-says?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Salaried employees file their income tax papers at an tax office in New Delhi in 2013. Many Indians, including the entire agricultural sector and those living on less than $3,700 a year, are exempt from income tax. The Finance Ministry says just 27 million Indians paid income tax last year.

Manish Swarup/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Manish Swarup/AP

Salaried employees file their income tax papers at an tax office in New Delhi in 2013. Many Indians, including the entire agricultural sector and those living on less than $3,700 a year, are exempt from income tax. The Finance Ministry says just 27 million Indians paid income tax last year.

Manish Swarup/AP

Late last year, India sought to force people with large amounts of cash stashed away to deposit it in bank accounts. It was a tax-collecting exercise to get people to disclose unreported wealth and pay up.

The government credits the move for a 12 percent increase in tax collections from the previous year.

Enlarging that base in no small thing in a country where only a tiny percentage of people actually pays income tax. India ranks 13th of 18 among its democratic peers within the G-20 countries when it comes to paying tax, according to the country’s 2017 Economic Survey.

At a cavernous office complex in Gurgaon, Delhi’s modern neighboring city, India’s professionals are employed at corporate firms where tax compliance is high. That’s in large part because taxes on the wages of this growing class of analysts, technocrats and consultants are directly withheld.

Devika Dhingra, a 23-year-old analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says she’s proud to pay taxes “because I’d like to believe it’s going toward helping someone.” But her “building-the-nation” attitude puts her in a distinct minority.

Dhingra says she finds herself in arguments with her peers, and says most people tell her, “Paying taxes is of no use to us because the government won’t do anything for us.” For them, she says, it is like pouring money “down a drain.”

Salaried workers can feel put upon “because we have to pay,” says Nandita Upahaya, a 28-year-old environmental consultant. “Other [unsalaried] people who are richer than me, they are not paying tax.”

Her colleague, Abhishek Verma, 26, interjects with a view not often heard from Indian taxpayers. “Paying taxes is just like a legal instrument … to make the government accountable,” he says. It is, he believes, “just acquiring your rights.”

For Indians who are paid in cash, it can be easy to avoid tax payments.

Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

For Indians who are paid in cash, it can be easy to avoid tax payments.

Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

But the number of salaried workers represents only about 10 percent of the organized workforce. It’s estimated that about half of Indians work in the informal sector, where the percentage of those who are tax-compliant tends to be far less than in the formal or organized sectors.

In fact, an astonishingly small number of Indians actually pay taxes.

Out of 37 million Indians who filed tax returns last year, 10 million were exempt, leaving just 27 million to actually pay anything, according to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

That’s a little more than 2 percent of the entire country.

“Tax compliance is abysmal,” says economist Mythili Bhusnurmath with the National Council of Applied Economic Research, an independent policy group.

But she observes that a “significant segment” of Indians are exempt from income tax because they are too poor to pay. In a country where the per capita income is $1,600 per year, they fall below the approximately $3,700 annual income level required to pay taxes.

“Income levels are low, so even if we are a population of 1.2 billion, there are not that many as a proportion of the population who can pay,” Bhusnurmath says.

Tens of millions of farmers are also exempt. In fact, India’s entire agricultural sector — 55 percent to 60 percent of the country’s entire workforce — falls outside the tax net. But Bhusnurmath says not only do lots of farmers in rich states like Punjab make considerable money, but their water, seeds and electricity are also subsidized.

“So on the one hand, their inputs are cheap and their income from outputs is not taxed,” Bhusnurmath says. “It’s an inequity that needs to go.”

Deloitte tax analyst Rohinton Sidhwa says farmers are a politically sensitive group and are not likely to be pulled into the tax pool anytime soon.

“No political party has actually grabbed the bull by the horns and said, ‘It’s time for some of you rich farmers to actually pay taxes,’” Sidhwa says. “And probably the reason for that is many of our politicians actually come from that class.”

Others argue that the taxable income level should be lowered to pull in more people. This year, the government proposed lowering the tax rate from 10 percent to 5 percent for those who make less than $7,600 a year, which would reduce tax revenues from that taxpayer category.

But economist Kavita Rao of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy says it’s better to concentrate on making those already in the tax system pay everything they owe.

“The monies don’t come from bringing in the small guys. You have to be talking about the upper-income categories,” Rao says. “That’s where you’ll get the big money from.”

It is easy to evade taxes in an economy such as India’s, where cash has traditionally been the preferred mode of payment. With no paper trail, Rao says, the self-employed doctor, lawyer or factory owner can under-report income.

“Businessmen will perhaps not pay all the taxes due,” she says. But many would like to “pay a little tax. Cash allows you to play that game.”

At Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar Central Market, business hums late into the evening. Vinod Gupta, the vice president of the market’s traders’ association, confirms that income tax evasion is prevalent among businesses that rely on cash. He says the small shop owners and stall vendors who make up about 25 percent of the market evade paying altogether.

When asked how they manage that with tax inspectors investigating the local businesses, Gupta lets out a knowing laugh.

“Sometimes they hire their services,” he says. “They pay bribes” to officials to evade taxes, he explains.

At other times, he says, the authorities may penalize the vendors with small fines or insist they “register with the tax department,” meaning get compliant.

Gupta says a large number of Lajpat Nagar traders — about half — don’t pay everything they owe, but do pay something. “They are definitely paying,” he says — just not enough.

Rao, the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy economist, says compliance suffers because Indians generally do not connect the duty to pay taxes with the right to receive government-provided services. She says the government must do a better job delivering what the public needs.

“I need some evidence to see things are functioning, right?” she says. Indians would like to see their substandard schools, hospitals and roads improved.

Competing priorities can also leave citizens frustrated. Wealthy Gurgaon may like to see its roads fixed, while a rural village might prefer an anti-poverty program, says Rao.

But Bhusnurmath, with the National Council of Applied Economic Research, says when an Indian earning roughly $4,000 a year sees no personal benefit from paying tax, he makes a choice: “I’m barely surviving, [the] government can perhaps get other sources of income” or “I’d rather cheat a little bit, maybe, and send my children to a better school or give them a better meal to eat.”

Kamal Jain, a businessman who runs a travel and money-changing business in Delhi’s Old City, laments that he’ll have nothing to show for paying taxes when it comes time for retirement. “If my future is secure, we’re happy to pay the government,” he says. But “while it’s my duty to pay,” he says, “they don’t reciprocate with anything.”

In the absence of social security or guaranteed health care in old age, Indians rely on family members for their welfare rather than government. As long as that remains the bargain, India is unlikely to see any great improvement in tax compliance.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/03/22/517965630/why-do-so-few-people-pay-income-tax-in-india?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Police in London say they are responding to an ongoing situation near the U.K.’s Parliament.

“We are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

“There has been a serious incident within the estate,” Commons Leader David Lidington told members of parliament. “It seems that a police officer has been stabbed. That the alleged assailant was shot by armed police. An ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties.”

NPR has not independently confirmed these casualties.

The U.K. House of Commons is under lockdown, as NPR’s Frank Langfitt in London reports.

The Metropolitan Police said on Twitter that armed officers are among the law enforcement personnel “on scene and dealing with the incident.” It says police were called to the scene at around 2:40 p.m., local time.

The nearby Westminster metro station is closed “due to a police investigation,” city authorities said.

This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/22/521095756/u-k-parliament-under-lockdown-after-firearms-incident?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

The party of India’s prime minister swept state assembly elections in the country’s largest state. Over the weekend, a controversial Hindu priest was picked to the influential post of chief minister.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/03/21/520922496/hindu-priest-with-a-history-of-bigotry-selected-to-run-india-s-uttar-pradesh?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Emirates passenger planes are parked at their gates at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. is imposing new restrictions that require most electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cameras, to be placed in checked baggage on direct flights to the U.S. from eight mostly Muslim countries, including the UAE. Passengers can still carry smartphones.

Kamran Jebreili/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Kamran Jebreili/AP

Emirates passenger planes are parked at their gates at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. is imposing new restrictions that require most electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cameras, to be placed in checked baggage on direct flights to the U.S. from eight mostly Muslim countries, including the UAE. Passengers can still carry smartphones.

Kamran Jebreili/AP

Airline passengers coming to the U.S. on direct flights from eight majority-Muslim nations must now place most electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cameras, in checked baggage under stepped-up security measures, Trump administration officials said.

Passengers can still carry smartphones into the plane’s cabin, but nothing larger, the officials added.

The measures took effect Tuesday morning and cover about 50 incoming flights a day from the eight countries — Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

All are traditional U.S. allies and none is among the six majority-Muslim nations on President Trump’s controversial executive order that seeks to temporarily suspend immigration. The president issued a revised executive order on March 6, and this one, like the original in January, has been blocked by the courts.

The six countries cited in Trump’s order all have fraught relations with the U.S., and several are plagued by unrest or civil war, including Syria, Libya and Yemen.

In contrast, the countries on the new airline list are mostly stable, have generally good relations with the U.S. and include four wealthy states in the Gulf.

The U.S. officials said the airplane restrictions are based on intelligence indicating that terror groups are still plotting to blow up civilian planes. The officials stress that the latest measure is not related to the president’s executive order, but it’s certain to draw comparisons amid the ongoing political and legal battle over Trump’s immigration order.

Royal Jordanian informs passengers

Royal Jordanian Airlines announced the security steps on Twitter on Monday afternoon. The tweet was deleted shortly afterward, but it prompted administration officials to speak to reporters Monday evening, and they said the measures would take effect Tuesday morning.

The measure is open-ended and will be reviewed periodically. It covers 10 airports in the eight countries — Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

That list includes every major travel hub in the region except Israel’s main airport just outside Tel Aviv.

U.S. authorities have expressed concerns in the past that explosives could be placed inside electronic devices.

However, the administration officials declined to say specifically how this move would enhance security since it doesn’t ban electronic items currently permitted on planes, it just requires that most be placed in checked bags.

Passengers can still take smartphones or essential medical devices into the cabin. But larger items, including laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games will have to be checked.

The officials cited attacks in recent years by extremists, including the downing of a Russian charter plane in Egypt in 2015, which was apparently caused by an explosive device on the aircraft. The officials also noted airport attacks carried out by gunmen in Brussels and Istanbul in 2016.

U.S. carriers are not affected because none travels directly to the U.S. from airports in the eight named countries. The measure does not cover flights leaving the U.S.

American officials said they started reaching out on Sunday to make sure the countries and airlines knew the new regulations were coming.

For the past several years, U.S. authorities have expressed great concern about the bombmaking skills of the al-Qaida satellite in Yemen and have cited group member Ibrahim al-Asiri in particular.

Yemen is on Trump’s immigration ban, but there are no direct flights from that country to the U.S. However, Yemen is relatively close to the four Gulf states on the airline list.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/21/520896835/u-s-limits-electronic-devices-on-flights-from-8-muslim-countries?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Martin McGuinness, seen here arriving at 10 Downing Street in central London last October for meetings in his role as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, has died at age 66.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Martin McGuinness, seen here arriving at 10 Downing Street in central London last October for meetings in his role as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, has died at age 66.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Former Irish Republican Army commander Martin McGuinness, who left violence behind to choose peace — and eventually meet Queen Elizabeth II — has died at age 66. For nearly a decade, McGuinness served as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister.

From London, NPR’s Frank Langfitt reports:

“McGuinness retired from politics in January, suffering from a rare genetic disease. Today, he was lauded for his crucial role in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland.

But he was also remembered for his early days as a ruthless commander of the IRA, notorious for bombings and responsible for 1,800 killings during the so-called Troubles.”

In many ways, the unusual arc of McGuinness’s public life culminated in his 2012 meeting with the queen. The two smiled and looked each other in the eye as they shook hands; both of them said it was an important moment for peace.

McGuinness met Queen Elizabeth at least one other time: in November, the pair again shook hands and exchanged pleasantries during the unveiling of a large portrait of the monarch in London.

The encounters were an extraordinary development for a former senior leader of the IRA, the group that in 1979 used a bomb to kill Lord Louis Mountbatten, the uncle of Prince Philip and a distant cousin to the queen who had also held leadership posts in the British armed forces.

Discussing that sort of violence in 2013, McGuinness said, “regrettably the past cannot be changed or undone.” As reported by The Irish Times, he added, “Neither can the suffering, the hurt or the violence of the conflict be disowned by Republicans or any other party to the conflict.”

Responding to the death of his longtime ally, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.

“He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country. But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Martin McGuinness today. His passing represents a significant loss, not only to politics in Northern Ireland but to the wider political landscape on this island and beyond.

“Martin will always be remembered for the remarkable political journey that he undertook in his lifetime. Not only did Martin come to believe that peace must prevail, he committed himself to working tirelessly to that end.”

Prime Minister Theresa May released a statement saying in part:

“While we certainly didn’t always see eye-to-eye even in later years, as deputy First Minister for nearly a decade he was one of the pioneers of implementing cross community power sharing in Northern Ireland. He understood both its fragility and its precious significance and played a vital part in helping to find a way through many difficult moments.

“At the heart of it all was his profound optimism for the future of Northern Ireland – and I believe we should all hold fast to that optimism today.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/21/520931786/martin-mcguinness-a-former-ira-leader-and-a-peacemaker-dies?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Back to South by Southwest. The music festival alone draws artists from all over the world, including the six countries included in the Trump travel ban that was supposed to go into effect on Thursday, although federal courts have blocked it for now. Here in Austin, musicians from those six countries are drawing attention to the ban by serving on panels and performing. Siham and Iman Hashi make up one of the groups that’s performing here. They are Faarrow. The two sisters are originally from Somalia. They left the country in the 1990s with their family to escape the civil war. They found a new home in Toronto initially. Fast forward to today. Faarrow has had a deal with Warner Brothers, released the E.P. “Lost” last summer, made the decision to produce themselves independently, and over this weekend performed at South by Southwest at what was called the ContraBand Showcase. They were nice enough to speak to us just a few hours before their performance.

IMAN HASHI: Thank you so much for having us. We are grateful to be here.

MARTIN: Iman and Siham. And explain Faarrow. What does the name mean?

I. HASHI: Our names are Arabic. Iman means faith. Siham means arrow. And then together we put faith and arrow, Faarrow.

MARTIN: How did you come up with your sound? Yeah, describe it for people who haven’t had a chance to hear it.

I. HASHI: We love to use words like stadium music, anathemic. We like to call it world music because it is world pop. We like to put, you know, hip-hop influences, RB influences. You know, even the percussion, you know, and the drums give that African feel. We try to, like, kind of put all of our experiences and all of the places we’ve been to into our music.

SIHAM HASHI: It’s really a fusion of everything. Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “WERK”)

FAARROW: (Singing) I like the way you make me feel. Say you want to be my everything. Yeah, you’re saying all the right things. Make a believer out of me. I’m a hard one to please. Got to…

MARTIN: How do you feel about being part of a showcase like ContraBand? I mean, on the one hand it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your music. On the other hand, I wonder – does it make you feel sad, in a way, that you have to represent a political idea?

I. HASHI: I feel like for us, from the beginning, because we’re former refugees, I feel like it was just kind of like a badge of honor we wore. Even though sometimes people thought it was, like, weird we’d talk about that because, you know, looking at us you would never think refugee. And then people would be like, whoa, and they’d hear about our story. I just feel like because it’s been a part of our life, it also kind of is a reason why we have, like, underdog music and why we kind of tell certain stories in our music.

MARTIN: What is your story?

I. HASHI: Our story – well, you know, we are born in Somalia. Civil war broke out. We came to Toronto, Canada, in the early ’90s. And one thing that I love – our parents have been so strong and amazing. And I guess we’ve never felt like refugees because they sheltered us and protected us. But our parents’ story is so incredible, which is the reason I feel like we’re such fighters and warriors now. Our mom was – worked for the Somali embassy. She was a diplomat.

And while the war was happening, a lot of people needed to get out of the country. My mom was, like, approving visas. And at the time the government wasn’t allowing her to do that. But she just did it because she knew it was the end of that era. So, like, so many people are so grateful to my mom because she’s such a huge leader in the community and she saved so many people’s lives. So when we started to do music, it just was like, we had to talk about it. So it’s like even if in our songs we’re not saying Somalia, Somalia, it’s like there’s an undertone of that underdog, that fighter.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “CHASING HIGHS”)

FAARROW: (Singing) If I start a riot, will you be part of my crowd? Trying anything to stay up, but nothing’s every really enough, so I’m running for my life till you come around. You got me chasing highs.

MARTIN: When you were growing up in Toronto – I don’t know how old you were when you first arrived there. How old were you?

I. HASHI: Oh, we were like 5. Yeah, we were super young, 4 and 5, yeah.

MARTIN: Four and 5 years old. So that was pretty much what you knew. Did you feel different? Did you feel there was something different about you when you were growing up? Or did you feel like, we’re just Canadian?

S. HASHI: I think the moment that we felt a little different was the day that we got our citizenship, which was – was it ’96?

I. HASHI: Yeah, ’96.

S. HASHI: Yeah, that day we were just like, OK, so we take this picture and now we have this card, so now we’re Canadians? Like, now this makes us different?

I. HASHI: What were we before?

S. HASHI: Yeah, like what were we before this card, you know?

I. HASHI: Yeah. And just to add to that, I think really middle school is when – because for me, I didn’t think that the word refugee was a bad thing. My mom was like, you know, we’re former refugees of Somalia. And it just stayed with me. But I remember being in middle school and I remember I talked about it in class and I remember everybody thought it was funny. But I was so proud. I didn’t know it was, like, a negative thing. And…

S. HASHI: Or people perceived it as a negative thing.

I. HASHI: You know, and just – you know, I think things have changed a lot. But in the media when, somebody’s from Africa or a former refugee, they just think, oh, starving. Like, there’s just – there’s, like, this one mindset of what being African or what a refugee is. So I think I just took it upon myself to be like, no, being a refugee is amazing and, like, just being the champion for that. We just started being that so young. I don’t even know – nobody told us to. We just did it.

S. HASHI: Yeah. It was just innate, I feel like.

I. HASHI: Yeah.

MARTIN: Well, you definitely have a very, you know, powerful look, a very powerful sound. You’re right that people would just think you’re just two very hip sisters who are doing your thing. Has it changed now? Do you – I mean, on the – I’m just wondering whether you think the idea of being a refugee now – so many people are on the move around the world now for so many different reasons. Does it feel like a weight to carry to represent so many people who are on the move? Does that feel like something you have to do, or…

S. HASHI: I think that it’s just natural. It’s a part of our, you know, driving force. It’s a part of, like, why we do what we do. And yeah, you know, I like showing people that, you know, there’s not one look of a refugee. Like, you know, we have so many friends that are – you know, you would perceive as just, like, American or just Canadian that are former refugees. And, you know, I feel like people don’t connect the two. They just think it’s, like, other.

I. HASHI: Yeah.

MARTIN: Your music has been so well received. And I wonder whether there’s something, in a way, puzzling about that because you – on the one hand, you’ve have a record deal. You’ve decided to go independent, to do your own thing. Just walking around here, I see people responding to you and I see people recognizing you. And I just wonder, does that feel a little complicated? On the one hand, you have, like, a political dialogue that is very hostile in a lot of places around the world. On the other hand, people are loving you.

S. HASHI: I feel like that’s been our whole life. Like, it’s been the – like, the culture clash of our life, I feel like. And just to go back to just, like, our music and everything, you know, a lot of people have tried to steer us away from even talking about this. Like, you know, people from the label. And, you know, it’s always like, OK, you guys could just be, you know, these Canadian girls. You know, you don’t have to talk about all this stuff. It’s a little too sophisticated. You know, it’s a little too, you know, intense. Why don’t you just be, you know, cute and sing pop songs? And, you know, it’s so offensive. And I feel like that’s why we just wanted to just take our power back and go independent and just be authentically ourselves without having to hear about it.

MARTIN: And Iman and Siham Hashi are Faarrow. They are here at the South by Southwest Conference and music festival. They are appearing on a panel. They’re performing at a showcase. And they were nice enough to stop by our workspace at South by Southwest, the media center, to talk with us for a few minutes on a very busy day for them at a very busy time in their lives. Faarrow, thank you so much for speaking with us.

I. HASHI: Thank you so much…

S. HASHI: Thank you for having us.

I. HASHI: …For having us, yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LOST”)

FAARROW: (Singing) But I ain’t lost. I might not win ‘em all, but I ain’t lost. Living life on my time, even if it takes too long. Running blind in the night, I feel daylight coming on. If your grind’s 9 to 5, pay your bills, ain’t nothing wrong. But I’m on my 24/7, finna (ph) change the world forever. No way, no I ain’t lost. No way.

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/2017/03/19/520752751/faarrow-joins-south-by-southwest-bands-in-drawing-attention-to-travel-ban?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world