The Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C.

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The Vatican’s diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C.

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The Vatican says it has recalled a priest from its diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C., and launched an investigation into allegations of child pornography.

The priest, who has not been named, is currently in Vatican City, according to a statement from the Vatican. It says the U.S. State Department informed Vatican officials on August 21 “of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington.”

The Holy See is party to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity, which grants immunity from prosecution to diplomats in foreign countries. A State Department spokesperson tells NPR that the U.S. formally requested that the Vatican’s diplomatic mission waive that immunity, which it denied.

The Vatican says it has now launched its own investigation into the issue, and has “already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case.” It emphasizes that the content of the probe is “subject to investigative confidentiality.”

Pope Francis has said he has a policy of “zero tolerance” for abusive priests, and he has established a tribunal specifically for bishops who do not report priests accused of sexual abuse.

In 2013, Vatican law specifically criminalized producing, disseminating, selling or possessing child pornography.

Possession of child porn “is punished with up to two years imprisonment and a fine from 1,500 to 10,000 euro,” with the possibility of higher penalties for large quantities of porn, according to the criminal code.

According to Catholic News Service, when discussing the case, Vatican press office director Greg Burke pointed reporters to a portion of the law with a range of child porn penalties, the most severe involving 12 years in prison and a fine of up to 250,000 euro.

The news service adds: “The Vatican yearbook lists the nuncio, Archbishop Christoph Pierre, and three priests — an Indian and two Italians — as making up the diplomatic staff at the Washington nunciature,” another term for the Vatican’s diplomatic mission.

There was another high-profile Vatican diplomatic recall over similar issues – when former Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was recalled from his position in the Dominican Republic in 2013 over accusations of paying for sex with children and possessing child pornography, NPR’s Scott Neuman reported.

Wesolowski was defrocked. The Vatican delayed the opening of his criminal trial because of his health. A month later, he was found dead in his home. And as NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reported, he had been the “first person arrested in the Vatican on charges of pedophilia.”

The Associated Press reports that Pope Francis has a “spotty record on handling sex abuse cases.” Here’s more:

“He won praise from advocates of survivors of abuse for having established a commission of experts to advise the church on keeping pedophiles out of the priesthood and protecting children. But the commission has floundered after losing the two members who themselves were survivors of abuse.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/15/551332787/vatican-recalls-priest-from-d-c-diplomatic-mission-launches-child-porn-probe?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Mohamed Ayas, 15, was shot in the back by Myanmarese soldiers as he attempted to flee his village in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State.

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Mohamed Ayas, 15, was shot in the back by Myanmarese soldiers as he attempted to flee his village in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State.

Tommy Trenchard/Caritas

Nearly 400,000 Rohingya people have fled government violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh. The majority of them are children — 60 percent, by U.N. estimates. And at least 1,100 are separated from their parents.

The challenges for aid groups are unfathomable with a refugee crisis this large, caused by what Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, says seems to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The situation is even more daunting when so many children are at risk.

Kids are vulnerable to physical illnesses like waterborne diseases and skin infections — and mental health problems spurred by trauma. They’ve been shot at and they’ve trekked across areas with land mines.

Hearing some of their stories has shocked Christophe Boulierac, the UNICEF spokesman in Geneva who’s currently posted to Bangladesh.

He remembers a teenage boy he met earlier this week who had fled Myanmar.

“He told me he saw his mother and sister shot dead in front of him, and then he fled,” Boulierac says. “I asked him, what do you feel, how do you feel? And he told me, ‘I am not feeling anything. I just want to eat, some shelter and then maybe I will start thinking.’”

Girls reach out for food handed out by a volunteer organization in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh.

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Aid groups are working to meet such basic needs as food and shelter.

Most of the new arrivals head to Kutupalong, the largest of Bangladesh’s refugee camps, and makeshift settlements next to it. Kutupalong has been there for years, has some infrastructure and is near the Myanmar border.

But it’s been tough for the newly arrived refugees to find a place to camp out. Many people have used materials like bamboo and plastic to make their own improvised shelters.

A Rohingya child sits amid piles of donated clothes at a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.

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“Most of them are just homemade tents that are made from a few skinny bamboo poles that have been either found or purchased, stuck into the ground, that have been tied together with a piece of plastic sheeting thrown on top and another one on the ground if they’ve got it,” says Pavlo Kolovos, the Bangladesh head of mission for Doctors Without Borders. “Space is a premium.”

Even in this dire setting, the humanitarian agencies are seeking to give kids time and space to play — and to add structure to their lives, which can help them recover from the traumatic experiences they might have experienced.

“They need to feel safe,” says Jean Lieby, chief of child protection for UNICEF Bangladesh. “Some have been six days walking through the rainforest.”

Queuing up for food at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh.

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“Child friendly spaces” in camp buildings, often with art supplies, offer a secure place to play and also help staffers identify youngsters who could need extra support such as counseling, Lieby says.

There are different signs to look for, he says: “Some are mute, not talking anymore. Sometimes children are shy just because they are shy. Some that were not shy before and that become extremely shy, we have to look into.”

Abdul Rahman, 21, cares for his four-month-old daughter Sangida. Her mother was shot dead by soldiers in Myanmar while trying to flee to Bangladesh.

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Not all kids who are refugees need counseling, Lieby says. But for some who have been severely affected by trauma, the psychological healing process can take decades.

“Some people that have been affected during the Rwanda genocide [in 1994] are still receiving trauma counseling,” Lieby says.

Asked about providing therapy, Boulierac says: “We are really scaling up. Nobody has expected this influx.”

A team of gravediggers prepares a grave on the hillside near the Kutupalong refugee camp.

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A team of gravediggers prepares a grave on the hillside near the Kutupalong refugee camp.

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Makeshift shelters have been popping up along the main road, which is clogged with trucks and other vehicles — putting refugee children at risk of getting hurt, says Kolovos of Doctors Without Borders.

The weather isn’t helping, either. The dirt roads and paths within the camp have been muddied by rain – it’s monsoon season there.

“Everybody kind of looks like they’re wearing tan socks up to their shins, because it’s just all …it’s a mess,” he says.

What’s it like to be an aid worker in this type of crisis situation? “You work 20 hours a day,” he says, “and keep going.”

Courtney Columbus is a multimedia journalist based in the Washington, D.C. area. She covers science, global health and consumer health. Her past work has appeared in the Arizona Republic and on Arizona PBS. Contact her @cmcolumbus11.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/09/15/551217209/photos-children-caught-in-the-crossfire-of-rohingya-crisis?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Two snow leopard cubs play in their enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo on Tuesday during their public debut.

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Two snow leopard cubs play in their enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo on Tuesday during their public debut.

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Snow leopards are no longer endangered, according to the global authority for assessing risks to species. However, the situation is looking dire for five species of ash tree, now listed as critically endangered.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced the changes to its Red List on Thursday.

Let’s start with the good news.

Snow leopards have been listed as endangered since 1972 and were last assessed to be in that category in 2008.

The leopards’ situation has improved since then owing to major investments in conservation measures, such as procedures to protect the leopards and guard against poaching.

Lessening conflict with herders has helped, the IUCN says — for example, through initiatives to strengthen livestock corrals. The authority also says that a ban on guns in China since 1989 has contributed to the leopards’ improved status.

However, the category upgrade is actually about nine years late. The IUCN says there was an error in its calculations in 2008 — the species should have been listed as “vulnerable” then, not “endangered.”

Still, conservationists are quick to stress that this change does not mean the future of the species, native to 12 mountainous countries in Asia and the former Soviet Union, is guaranteed.

Sarani, a female snow leopard, explores her habitat with one of her cubs at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois in 2015.

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“To be considered ‘Endangered,’ there must be less than 2,500 mature snow leopards and they must be experiencing a high rate of decline. Both are now considered extremely unlikely, which is the good news, but it does not mean that snow leopards are ‘safe’ or that now is a time to celebrate,” Tom McCarthy, executive director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program, said in a statement. “The species still faces ‘a high risk of extinction in the wild’ and is likely still declining — just not at the rate previously thought.”

Threats include poaching and hunting of its prey. The actual number of snow leopards in the wild has proved difficult to pinpoint, and the IUCN said in its assessment that the “various figures available are best regarded as guesses.” But it adds that its population estimates have grown somewhat more precise thanks to new techniques like systematic camera trapping, fecal genotyping and satellite collaring.

The number of mature individuals is estimated to be 2,710-3,386, but the assessment says that number may be considerably higher. Still, the IUCN thinks the population is declining overall, even while it may be “modestly increasing” in some areas.

Now, the bad news.

A beetle called the emerald ash borer is wrecking havoc on North America’s ash trees. Five out of the six most prominent species are listed as critically endangered, and the sixth is now listed as endangered.

The green ash tree (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) is now listed as critically endangered.

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The beetle “arrived in Michigan from Asia in the late 1990s via infested shipping pallets,” the IUCN says, and is believed to be responsible for the destruction of millions of trees.

The relentless destruction is likely to impact some 80 percent of the trees, which could “dramatically change the composition of both wild and urban forests,” Murphy Westwood, member of the IUCN Global Tree Specialist Group, said in a statement. She adds that scientists are racing to try to find a way to stop the attack on trees.

However, they’re up against serious obstacles — the IUCN says that rising temperatures are actually helping the beetle expand to new areas.

The IUCN assessment also found that five antelope species from Africa are “declining drastically as a result of poaching, habitat degradation and competition with domestic livestock.” That includes the giant eland, the largest antelope in the world.

Inger Andersen, the director general of the IUCN, says species generally are declining at a rate that is difficult for scientists to keep up with. “Even those species that we thought were abundant and safe — such as antelopes in Africa or ash trees in the U.S. — now face an imminent threat of extinction.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/14/550983755/good-news-for-snow-leopards-bad-news-for-ash-trees?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Hurricane Irma arrived on the doorstep of the Virgin Islands just over a week ago. A Category 5 storm, historic in its terrible might, Irma shredded homes and hotels into the bare materials that made them, its winds scattering floorboards and roofs and light poles like so many matchsticks.

Within a day, the storm had rendered the islands so unrecognizable, satellites could register the stark change from space. Where once the Virgin Islands — both U.S. and British — gleamed green in their lush vegetation, that vista is buried brown beneath uprooted trees and the debris of broken buildings.

Two natural-color images provided by the NASA Earth Observatory depict the U.S. and British Virgin islands: The top image shows the verdant islands prior to the passage of Hurricane Irma; the bottom image shows the brown the storm left behind after uprooting and wrecking much of the island chain.

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Two natural-color images provided by the NASA Earth Observatory depict the U.S. and British Virgin islands: The top image shows the verdant islands prior to the passage of Hurricane Irma; the bottom image shows the brown the storm left behind after uprooting and wrecking much of the island chain.

Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory via AP

As nightmarish as those hours were, the days since have seemed a lifetime for many residents of the U.S. and British territories.

“While there were some homes that survived — some lost just roofs — there are homes that are totally obliterated right down to the foundation,” David Mapp, executive director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority, tells NPR’s Jason Beaubien. “I mean, all you see is rubble.”

More than eight days after the storm swept through, U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro that St. Thomas and St. John — the two hardest-hit islands on the U.S. territory — are both almost entirely without power. All but 10 percent of the power lines lie in disarray on St. Thomas, which had its one hospital rendered useless by Irma.

For residents of the Virgin Islands, the aftermath has been a time of despair, fear — and occasionally, against seemingly impossible odds, some hope. Here are some of their stories, in their own words: Three portraits of the grave new world Irma wrought.

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

The sun glares down on a severely damaged apartment unit in a St. Thomas high-rise on Tuesday. Many residents say they lost everything to the Category 5 storm, and days later they’re still grappling with how to respond to the rampant destruction.

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The sun glares down on a severely damaged apartment unit in a St. Thomas high-rise on Tuesday. Many residents say they lost everything to the Category 5 storm, and days later they’re still grappling with how to respond to the rampant destruction.

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St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

When the storm hit St. Thomas, Laura Dixon Strickling says she could feel the winds raging not only outside her shelter, but even inside her very skin.

“The pressure — you could feel it in the middle of each bone in your body. It felt like you were going to explode from the inside,” she told NPR over the phone.

She was holed up in her landlord’s basement with her husband and 15-month-old child, along with another couple and their baby. They had packed that basement full with supplies. And the service proved startingly clear: As they hunkered down below the storm, they watched it from above, staring at satellite trackers of Irma’s progress on their phones.

All the while, the winds scoured every surface for a hole, raging to get in.

“It’s like you’re being assaulted in every possible way.”

When the storm had finally passed, she couldn’t recognize the neighborhood she had known before descending into the basement.

“Shock doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of seeing a world that has completely changed. It was like stepping onto another planet. Every green thing was gone. Every tree was snapped. Our neighbors’ roofs were missing,” Strickland said. “We turned around to find our own roof was still there — and you know, there’s a lot of relief in that moment. Because you know that you are going to at least have the things you need for basic survival.”

Once a gift shop for tourists, this building in St. John was on Tuesday no more than a heap of broken trees, fallen light poles and the tossed carcass of an SUV.

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Once a gift shop for tourists, this building in St. John was on Tuesday no more than a heap of broken trees, fallen light poles and the tossed carcass of an SUV.

Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Elsewhere on the island, Jeff Neevel also escaped the worst of it. He had chosen to ride out the hurricane in his own home, which he had built with heavy-duty materials after Hurricane Marilyn made debris of his last house more than two decades ago.

“We lost a window and a tree fell on my truck and all that stuff,” Neevel told NPR in a phone call. “But that’s minor. That’s minor from what other people experienced and what they’re having to put back together.”

Neevel, the pastor of the St. Thomas Reformed Church, said that when the storm had passed and he walked out to find minimal damage, he took it as a sign: “It’s my time to give instead of receive.”

“After the storm, we all kind of went out and said, ‘OK, there it is.’ It’s horrible, but what do you do? You’ve got to bend down and pick something up and move it and put it back in its place,” Neevel says. “And that’s what we did.”

A woman and her two children pass the debris left of the streetside in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Sunday.

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A woman and her two children pass the debris left of the streetside in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on Sunday.

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Together with My Brother’s Workshop, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and other churches in the area, Neevel says his congregation quickly got to work to “get people set and basic needs met.” That means food for more than 400 people a day, canned goods, hygiene kits and diapers for lines of people that stretch out the door.

“And this is all — that I know of — private citizens, nonprofits, churches that are working together to make this happen. I have no idea what’s happening on the government level.”

He has heard helicopters overhead, he has heard that trucks are on the road, he knows the Coast Guard has been unloading supplies — but “the stuff that we requested, we haven’t seen.”

Strickling said she felt the absence of federal assistance acutely.

“I think all of us expected that we would see some sort of official presence on the ground within a day,” she said, noting that her house rests on one of the island’s major transit arteries — and yet she said she saw no one. “By Day 3, sitting there waiting to see a uniform, waiting to see some evidence that help was coming, that’s when we started to panic.”

Melody Zhang, a physician assistant student who had moved to St. Thomas just two weeks before Irma arrived, told NPR by email that she was trapped in her neighborhood for days by impassable roads, but “neighbors invited me in to their home to share their generator.”

By Saturday, she had found a boat willing to take her and her fellow students off the island — but she had to act fast. “So I left behind everything except my backpack and the clothes on my back and was able to get to safety.”

And she had reason to worry, it seems: Some people who remained on the island said they witnessed a breakdown of law and order immediately after Irma.

“The first couple days, I walked around town here. There was some looting I saw going on and some tensions running high,” Neevel said. “It was kind of crazy, like a war zone, and people were just walking around like zombies.”

Still, he stuck it out — and in recent days, he has seen a marked change.

“Now, people are coming here [to the church], they’re getting fed, we’re sharing stories, handshakes and hugs, and they’re going away with a little bit of food to get through the day,” he said. “I think things are looking brighter and under some sort of control.”

Concerned for her baby’s health and still frustrated by the official response, Strickling decided to leave the island on Monday, five days after Irma hit. When she and her family left, they did so on a private boat, part of a group of civilians she affectionately nicknamed the “Puerto Rican navy” — “civilian boats, filled with supplies that Puerto Rican citizens donated to help the people of St. Thomas.”

“They risked their livelihood to come and get us,” she said, adding that the man helming the boat didn’t have power or water at his house back in Puerto Rico, either. Yet he took his boat out to help them.

“I don’t know any better example of like the goodness of humanity than that man and his crew.”

In the absence of cell service Wednesday, a sign serves to communicate that some residents of St. John’s Coral Bay are safe.

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In the absence of cell service Wednesday, a sign serves to communicate that some residents of St. John’s Coral Bay are safe.

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St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Rebecca Ostrander had been vacationing with her family of six on St. Thomas — that was, before the hurricane was upgraded. At that point, they left the villa they’d reserved and headed to a hotel on St. John that was better built to withstand a hurricane.

Still, Irma battered the Westin.

“The sound of the wind was like standing next to a jet engine. Our ears were popping from the pressure, and when a gust hit, it felt like all the air was sucked out of the room,” she told NPR in an email. “The Westin was destroyed, but we were so thankful to survive.”

But the days that followed promised more woe for residents.

As Gov. Mapp acknowledged Wednesday, St. John is “100 percent without power except for standby power generation” — and, he added, we did have some security issues on St. John.”

“We’ve just been very busy amassing security apparatus on St. John, getting them fully protected, getting relief supplies, tarpaulins, water, meals, medicines to our citizens,” he told NPR’s Ari Shapiro. “The bottom line is we are getting tremendous help from our federal partners. But the U.S. Virgin Islands need help.”

Hannah Stein phrased the matter more bluntly. In a Facebook post saying she had spoken Wednesday with her mother, a St. John resident living in Coral Bay, Stein described the scene.

“She said it’s like a war zone,” Stein relayed. “They sleep with knives next to their beds and fear for their safety. ‘People have nothing,’ she said, ‘and they’re getting robbed of the nothing they have.’ “

“Where they are at least,” Stein added, “they’re on their own.”

After Hurricane Irma passed last week, a group of survivors take stock of the damage on Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.

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After Hurricane Irma passed last week, a group of survivors take stock of the damage on Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.

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Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Paul Exner and his family has continued to stay in their “blown-out house in the semi-rural community of Josiah’s Bay” on the island of Tortola.

“We function between insomnia, sleep deprivation, and adrenaline,” Exner wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. Some food stores remain open but packed and pricey, he said, and the clinic has been straining to treat people with “injuries ranging from blindness from flying glass, nails in feet, bee stings, high blood pressure, delirium, broken bones from falling (or flying with the wind in the case of one person), and one gunshot wound to a burglar’s head.”

Even as the residents struggle to regain their footing, there is another segment of the island’s population that has been flourishing in recent days: the bugs.

“The insect population has exploded and they’re pissed off .. swarming the humans aggressively,” he said. “We are all equals upon planet earth.”

Millions of crickets — “rare varieties never seen before ranging in size and color spectrum” — bees and Jack Spaniard wasps have made the damp wreckage their playground, emboldened and aggressive after the brutal storm.

Exner said he spoke with a British commando now stationed on the island, who noted that while there had had been some looting and that some prisoners had escaped confinement during Irma — beneficiaries of a blown-down fence — the security situation on the island was coming under control.

Offered a chance to evacuate Tortola by private plane Tuesday, Exner said he declined.

“The British Virgin Islands is our home.”

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/14/550940009/the-virgin-islands-after-irma-it-was-like-stepping-onto-another-planet?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

North Korean soldiers watch fireworks in Pyongyang earlier this month during a ceremony honoring scientists involved in the country’s largest nuclear blast to date.

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North Korean soldiers watch fireworks in Pyongyang earlier this month during a ceremony honoring scientists involved in the country’s largest nuclear blast to date.

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Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET Thursday

Japanese and South Korean officials have confirmed another missile test by North Korea Friday morning local time. This is the 15th North Korean missile test this year and the first to come after Pyongyang tested its most powerful nuclear bomb yet.

It comes just days after the United Nations Security Council again passed sanctions on Pyongyang. Over the past week, North Korea had been warning about “retaliation” for these sanctions in its state media.

The Japanese chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, says the missile reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (about 500 miles), crossed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and fell into the ocean 2,000 kilometers (about 1,200 miles) east of Cape Erimo, according to Reuters.

U.S. Pacific Command says the missile didn’t posed a threat to North America or Guam.

North Korea’s most recent missile launch — on Aug. 29 — was the first to fly over Japan in several years. That one, like this one, triggered the J-Alert Japanese civil defense system to break into television and radio broadcasts and send messages across mobile phones in northern Japanese prefectures saying, “Missile alert, missile alert … please take shelter underground or in a sturdy building.”

Suga, who is the Japanese government’s top spokesman, condemned the test and said no debris had fallen. “The government will cooperate closely with the United States, South Korea and other relevant countries to respond to this situation … and do its best to confirm and ensure its safety of the people of Japan,” Suga said.

South Korea’s military says the unidentified missile was launched from Sunan, the site of the North Korean capital’s airport. The Associated Press reports that the South Korean Defense Ministry announced a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the missile launch.

The White House press secretary says the president has been briefed on the latest launch.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation.”

He noted that China supplies North Korea with oil and Russia “is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor.” He called on both countries to take direct action to show they oppose the missile launches.

Jihye Lee contributed to this post.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/14/551095592/north-korea-fires-another-missile-over-japan?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Of all the places that hurricane Irma hit, the U.S. Virgin Islands appear to have experienced some of the worst devastation on American soil. They’re known as a tourist destination – a tropical paradise. Now parts of the islands look like a giant stomped on them and kicked the pieces across the landscape. Tourists and some locals have been leaving on Coast Guard vessels and cruise ships to Miami and Puerto Rico. The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands is Kenneth Mapp, and he joins us now. Welcome to the program.

KENNETH MAPP: Good day.

SHAPIRO: How would you describe what you’re seeing as you tour the islands?

MAPP: Well, I lived through Hurricane Hugo and Marilyn, and they were really serious events but no comparison to Irma. It damaged severely, making useless our hospital on St. Thomas. It devastated schools. It crushed homes and buildings. So we are concentrating right now on the personal needs of our community, of our citizens, of our businesspeople and of our guests.

SHAPIRO: I know that the storm passed late last week. Have you been able to assess, for example, what percentage of the islands are without power, what percentage of homes were destroyed, things like that?

MAPP: St. John is a hundred percent without power, except for standby power generation. St. Thomas has more than 90 percent without power generation. Ninety percent of St. Thomas’ distribution power lines, poles are on the ground.

SHAPIRO: Wow.

MAPP: Over 50 percent of the power lines and poles in St. John are on the ground. So we’ve just been getting relief supplies, water, meals, medicines to our citizens. The bottom line is we’re getting tremendous help from our federal partners, but the U.S. Virgin Islands need help.

SHAPIRO: You mentioned safety and security. And the days before relief teams arrived, locals reported looting and violence on social media. What’s your understanding of the safety situation?

MAPP: Well, we did have some safety issues on St. John. I’m pleased to say we did not have mass looting. We did have folks go into a couple of the businesses, took out three ATMs and breached them. We got National Guard units and got police officers. Today I’m doubling up the police presence on the island of St. John.

I spoke with Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, and he pledged 100 New York state troopers and/or MP members from his National Guard bureau. And we’re working with another one of our partners to get additional police officers here. The members of the police force – about 80 percent of them suffered structural damages to their homes.

SHAPIRO: Wow.

MAPP: But we’ve had more than 85 percent of them report to duty, and they’ve just been kind of going around the clock. So we’re just really trying to get support systems in place.

SHAPIRO: Yeah. I know you met yesterday with the FEMA administrator Brock Long. What did you ask him for, and what did he agree to provide?

MAPP: Well, he – the visit was very welcome. I’ve had two good conversations with President Trump, who pledged his support and commitment for the recovery of the islands and actually asked me to let the residents know that in the next five or six days, that he will be paying a visit to see for himself how the federal assets are being deployed to help the citizens and to see the disasters and to underscore to the Virgin Islanders here that he’s fully committed to our recovery.

Brock Long’s visit was a very, very good visit. We asked for a little bit faster mobilization of provisions to the islands. We were asking the DoD’s – the ship has now docked between the islands, and we’re trying to get the marines off and get them situated so they can start to help with the debris removal.

SHAPIRO: When you say faster mobilization of provisions, do people have enough water? What is the most pressing need right now?

MAPP: I would say, yes, that we’ve got great stocks of water, MREs…

SHAPIRO: Meals ready-to-eat, yeah.

MAPP: A number of our large supermarkets remained intact, and so we shrunk the curfew to give people an opportunity to go out and be able to buy food. You know, particularly, like, on St. John, a number of the restaurants that were not severely damaged – they opened up and cooked and just was giving people hot meals and serving them.

The community and the spirit of the people have come together really to help each other. But it’s a huge challenge. The recovery is going to be long. And so we ask for help while we mobilize the Department of Defense and federal assets to help our people.

SHAPIRO: Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands, thank you for talking with us, and good luck rebuilding.

MAPP: And thank you for having me. And I appreciate the time.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVID BAZAN’S “HARD TO BE”)

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/2017/09/13/550757791/u-s-virgin-islands-outlines-recovery-efforts-after-irmas-destruction?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Paris and Los Angeles have been awarded the honor of hosting the 2024 and 2028 Olympic games, respectively. Pictured above: IOC President Thomas Bach (center), Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (left), and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garrett.

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Paris and Los Angeles have been awarded the honor of hosting the 2024 and 2028 Olympic games, respectively. Pictured above: IOC President Thomas Bach (center), Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (left), and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garrett.

Martin Mejia/AP

It’s official, the 2024 Olympics are coming to Paris – and four years later they’ll be in Los Angeles in the first “double allocation” of the Olympic contests in modern history.

The International Olympic Committee announced it had approved the allocations — the result of a three-way deal — by vote Wednesday.

“This historic double allocation is a’win-win-win’ situation for the city of Paris, the city of Los Angeles and the IOC,” said IOC President Thomas Bach following the vote to approve the decision.

The Associated Press reports that Bach declared the vote unanimous after a “show of hands” count raised no objections.

The vote, in addition to setting the Olympic schedule for 11 years, breaks the IOC’s tradition of selecting host cities one at a time. Initially agreed to over the summer, the three-way deal followed an exodus of other bidders for the 2024 games, reported Ben Bergen, of member station KPCC, in June.

“Few governments want to risk the billions in cost overruns that have become synonymous with recent Olympics. That’s why the IOC is considering awarding dual bids,” said Bergen at time.

And once the IOC was looking at just two bidders, as NPR’s Tom Goldman reported, it was down to a matter “of who’d get what.”

“Paris said it didn’t want to host in 2028. 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the 1924 Paris summer games. … LA sent signals that it was open to going second, ” Tom told Morning Edition last month.

Los Angeles, host city to the 1932 and 1984 summer games, conceded the 2024 Olympics to Paris, Tom goes on, and has been promised $180 million by the IOC for doing that.

The AP adds this will be the third Olympics for both cities, and the Los Angeles games will be the first Summer Olympiad in the U.S. since 1996.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/13/550750891/dual-olympic-bids-approved-for-paris-and-los-angeles?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world

Sareum Srey Moch plays a young Loung Ung in Netflix’s First They Killed My Father.

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Sareum Srey Moch plays a young Loung Ung in Netflix’s First They Killed My Father.

Netflix

The film First They Killed My Father begins in 1975 Cambodia, during the rise of the Khmer Rouge. The hard-line communist regime aimed to deport an entire nation into the countryside and form an agrarian utopia — but their experiment failed. People were forced to work, and they were also tortured, starved and executed. In the end, around a quarter of the country’s population — roughly 2 million people — died.

First They Killed My Father was directed by Angelina Jolie, and it’s based on a memoir by human rights activist Loung Ung. Ung was 5 years old and living with her family in Phnom Penh when the Khmer Rouge arrived and essentially emptied the city. At first, her family managed to stay together, but then her older siblings were sent to a camp for teenagers. Not long after, they also came for her father. Ung’s mother decided Ung and her siblings would be safer if they left and pretended to be orphans, so she sent them away.

Ung survived the Khmer Rouge along with four of her siblings, whom she reunited with in a refugee camp. Two of them made it to the U.S., and the others stayed in Cambodia. She says her siblings have all seen the film multiple times. “They can’t stop watching it. They know that Angie … and all those who made the film made it with love, and also made it to honor the lives of not only those lost, but also the lives of those who survived.”

Jolie made the film in Cambodia with a Cambodian cast and crew, and it was shot in Khmer, the Cambodian language. “This is their film,” the director says. “I wanted to bring the tools and make it possible. … It would only be possible if we were allowed to be there, if the people there wanted to participate.”

Interview Highlights

On what Ung thought was happening when the Khmer Rouge told her family they had to leave Phnom Penh

Loung Ung: I had no idea where we were going. … The soldiers, the Khmer Rouge soldiers, came in their trucks with black shirts and pants and carrying guns and grenades on their belts and also wearing huge smiles and screaming to the people that the war was over, the war was over, and to pack as little as we could to sustain us for three days and we could come back after three days. Those were the hopes and the dreams that I held on to. I completely believed that we could come back in three days.

And my family and I eventually ended up at various different work camps moving from one work camp to another. And it didn’t matter if you were 6 or 60; you worked. You built trenches, you [dug] dams, you grew food to support a war you didn’t want, didn’t know about. And we had no say in it at all.

On the last time she saw her father

Ung: This is a little over a year into the Khmer Rouge rule, and information was sparse. We didn’t know what was going on; we didn’t know what was happening. But we did notice that people were starting to disappear in the village — that a brother over there, or a sister or an uncle or a father were quietly disappearing into the night. So we knew something was up. But my child’s heart didn’t want to know any of this until the soldiers — two of them— came to collect my father. And they had, again, guns, and they came in and asked [for] my father by his name and said that they needed him to go and remove an ox cart stuck in the mud.

And I remember very clearly that my father went into the hut and talked to my mother, and then how she sobbed and she cried in a way I’ve never heard her cry before. It was like an animal caged and not knowing where to go next. And then when he came out of the hut, one by one, he picked up my brothers and sister in his arms. And when it was my turn, I had the instinct of heart to wrap my arms around his neck and to rest my face next to his cheek and just knowing that I would never see him again. And he walked off into the sunset with the soldiers on either side of him.

And I remember also very clearly wondering how there could be such beauty in the world when there was only hell and hurt to my heart. And we were told later that my father had been taken and was later executed.

On coming to understand her mother’s decision to send her and her siblings away

Ung: She gathered my brother, Kim, my sister, Chou, myself and another sister, Geak, and told us to leave her. And we didn’t want to leave her. I didn’t want to leave her. And when I said no, she turned me by my shoulders and pushed me out the door and said, “Get out.”

It was the moment where I just did not understand the strength and beauty and courage of a mother’s heart. … For years after this, I thought my mother was weak, I thought she didn’t love me, I thought she wasn’t strong enough to keep me. And I felt abandoned and I wanted to stay with her. And writing it in a child’s voice and to go back into that place and imagine what my mother must have gone through — knowing that if she didn’t send us away, we might not have made it here today. … She gave us a fighting chance to survive apart by separating us and pushing us out of the door. … I never saw her again.

Jolie (left) and Ung (right) worked together to film First They Killed My Father in Cambodia. (Also pictured: Jolie’s son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, center.)

Pax Thien Jolie Pitt /Netflix


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Jolie (left) and Ung (right) worked together to film First They Killed My Father in Cambodia. (Also pictured: Jolie’s son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, center.)

Pax Thien Jolie Pitt /Netflix

On how Jolie discovered Ung’s memoir while on a film shoot in Cambodia

Angelina Jolie: I went into Cambodia like many people in America: I didn’t know what I should’ve known. I wasn’t educated properly, and I felt very ignorant. And one day I was off work and went for a little walk and bought a $2 book at a street corner, and it was Loung Ung’s book. And it was through that book that I really understood what had happened. And I was drawn to the way that she had written it, through the eyes of a child, through the experience of a little girl.

On filming from the point of view of a child

Jolie: We had a lot of crew members walking around on their knees trying to figure out what she would actually see, what could she actually reach, what could she do.

But what was interesting, for me, is it was very clear early that the POV wasn’t just going to be the technical of where she’s at — it was the emotional. Because she’s 5, she’s very distracted. She doesn’t understand what’s happening. She doesn’t want to understand what’s happening. She always looks to Pa: If Pa smiles, it’s OK. That’s how children gauge what’s going on. You don’t have a normal scene where you have five people sitting around telling the audience what’s going on. So in a way, the audience might be confused a little bit about politics because you’re being told by Pa, “It’s OK.” But you have to check the clues around you and try to see beyond what’s she seeing.

On knowing the film could be a trigger for the Cambodians who were working on it

Jolie: It’s very sensitive, and we had to be very conscious of many things. Above all, many of our crew members are survivors of war. So to recreate these things, to have Khmer Rouge soldiers marching over a bridge in an area where people are not used to film … the amount of awareness you have to do, the amount of talking, the amount of therapists on set — would it be cathartic or would it go badly? And it’s to the resilience and the openness of the Cambodian people that it went well, and it was cathartic, and I was honored to witness them make it.

Mallory Yu and Jolie Myers produced and edited this interview for broadcast, and Nicole Cohen adapted it for the Web.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2017/09/13/550651635/-this-is-their-film-angelina-jolie-tells-a-story-of-khmer-rouge-survival?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

There is a massive refugee crisis in Southeast Asia. Since the end of August, hundreds of thousands of people from Myanmar’s Rohingya minority have left Myanmar and gone into Bangladesh.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This crisis was set off on August 25 when a Rohingya insurgent group attacked police posts in Myanmar. That spurred a massive campaign of retaliation by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya civilian population in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Fleeing Rohingya tell stories of indiscriminate killings and villages burned down by Myanmar’s soldiers. Yesterday a top U.N. official said the situation seems to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

MCEVERS: This isn’t the first time Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. The Muslim minority has a long history of persecution in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Earlier today I talked to Zafar Sobhan. He’s editor-in-chief of the Dhaka Tribune in Bangladesh. And I asked him how the people there are receiving the refugees.

ZAFAR SOBHAN: Once upon a time not long ago, there would have been much less sympathy and even a certain amount of prejudice against the Rohingyas in the minds of the average Bangladeshi. But that is changing.

MCEVERS: What changed people’s minds?

SOBHAN: I think the scale of the catastrophe. When you hear the first-person testimony of people who’ve had their villages burned down, who’ve seen massacres before their eyes, children, elderly people killed, people with their legs blown up by landmines, it’s very, very hard to harden your heart.

People remember back in 1971 when we were fighting a war of independence. Ten million Bangladeshis had to seek refuge across the border in India. We of all people should understand what it means to be victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. We cannot turn away other people who are similarly in need. I think that argument has gained a lot of traction. And people – it’s really sort of opened people’s eyes. And I think there’s been a sea change in public opinion because of that.

MCEVERS: And Bangladesh of course is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, and now you’ve got this huge influx of people coming in there. That must cause some problems – right? – for the officials who are handling this, yeah?

SOBHAN: It’s not an easy situation by any means. And right now it’s in the middle of the monsoon season, so you have torrential downpours. That’s not really helping the matter at all. And in fact, many parts of the country over the last month or so have been flooding. And so we have these problems to deal with. And of course it’s a huge challenge.

But I think – I’d like to quote the prime minister, who said a wonderful thing actually earlier today. She said, look; we have 160 million people in Bangladesh. If we can feed 160 million, we can feed 700,000 more. And I think that’s the right attitude. It’s true that it is difficult. It’s true that it’s a challenge. If you look at it in that point of view, that, you know, yes, we are densely populated but there’s 160 million of us, less than a million more – we can handle it.

MCEVERS: Wow. Do you sense that the number of people coming – of Rohingya people coming is starting to go down, or do you expect more?

SOBHAN: I have five reporters from the Dhaka Tribune down on the border area, and we’re not really seeing too much of a drop-off. It’s a steady stream of migrants coming through. And basically what you see is if you listen to the statements of the Myanmar government and the Myanmar army, who are essentially doing the ethnic cleansing, you know, they really have no interest in taking the Rohingya back. Their more or less stated goal is to ethnically cleanse them out of Rakhine State.

So I think this process will continue. We will continue to see Rohingya flee across the border because it’s really the only way they can ensure their safety. And I think the more of them come, the less safe the few who are remaining in Rakhine State are going to be because then they become a smaller and smaller minority. They become more and more vulnerable. And so my fear is we’re not going to see this end any time soon.

MCEVERS: Zafar Sobhan, editor-in-chief of the Dhaka Tribune, thank you so much.

SOBHAN: It’s my pleasure.

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/2017/09/12/550492769/nearly-400-000-of-myanmars-muslim-rohingya-seek-asylum-in-bangladesh?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world



ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

French President Emmanuel Macron says he wants to dramatically change the country. One of his first moves was to overhaul the labor code. That brought out thousands of French union members and the political opposition today in mass demonstrations. NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley says it’s the first major test for the young president. She sent us this report.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Chanting in French).

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Macron wants the law of the bosses, chanted a demonstrator on a megaphone as a crowd marched down a wide boulevard in the center of Paris, carrying flags, balloons and placards. Loudspeaker trucks blared out more chants and revolutionary songs. One of the protesters, Clebert Negre, is a captain on a tourist boat on the Seine River.

CLEBERT NEGRE: Why I am here? Because it’s biggest offensive against workers’ right we have never seen. The government want to wreck all our protection.

BEARDSLEY: Those hard-fought protections, say workers, are enshrined in a massive tome known as the French labor code. Macron wants to change the code in an effort to kick-start the economy and bring down unemployment. Specifically, Macron wants to make it easier for companies to hire and fire, and he wants to allow management and employees to negotiate at a local level without necessarily involving national unions. Far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is the only real opposition to Macron in Parliament, spoke at today’s march.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEAN-LUC MELENCHON: (Through interpreter) The president wants this battle to the death and we are going to give it to him. We will all band together, defend our work code and make him back down.

BEARDSLEY: Earlier this week while speaking in Athens, Macron said France would turn its economy around and he would cede nothing to slackers. Those comments only riled people up more. Nurse Valerie Manuac carried a sign saying I’m a nurse’s aide, I’m exhausted, I’m angry, but I’m not lazy.

VALERIE MANUAC: (Through interpreter) He tried to deny he was calling us lazy, but we know he was. And we’re here in the street to show our anger. And we’ll keep coming back.

BEARDSLEY: Macron is pushing through his labor code overhaul by decree without a parliamentary debate even though he has a big majority in Parliament.

THOMAS GUENOLE: The Parliament is not the problem. The problem is the street.

BEARDSLEY: Political scientist Thomas Guenole says Macron is in complete control, although he’s still concerned about reaction on the street.

GUENOLE: He can write whatever he wants in it. He has the permission of the Parliament. On the other side, you’ve got unions and the left wing dominant force. And if they want the reform to fail, they have to put the government on its knees.

BEARDSLEY: If Macron feared months of strikes and protests, then today would’ve given him some reassurance. The French media described the turnout at today’s marches as smaller than unions had predicted, although there are two more days of protests scheduled for later this month. President Macron believes the vast majority of French people are in favor of changing the labor law to re-energize the French economy.

Bonjour.

GREGORY BOUCHER: Bonjour.

BEARDSLEY: Gregory Boucher runs an employment agency just off today’s protest route. He says he has job vacancies but often can’t fill them even though there are many unemployed. Boucher says he agrees with Macron’s plans to give more incentive to work.

BOUCHER: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: “These people have so many employment protections and they don’t want to let anything go,” says Boucher. “But this isn’t the 1970s, and things now have to change.” Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOCEAN WORKER’S “RIGHT NOW”)

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/2017/09/12/550492832/in-france-demonstrators-protest-macrons-plan-to-overhaul-labor-code?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=world