World

Parallels
3:12 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Desperate Chinese Villagers Turn To Self-Immolation

Relatives of He Mengqing walk in front of his house, which the local government has slated for demolition. The rice farmer from Chenzhou in China's Hunan province rejected a government offer of compensation for his land; he set himself on fire when officials came for him.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:07 am

In order to turn China into an urban nation, local governments have demolished tens of millions of homes over the past decade. Homeowners have often fought back, blocking heavy machinery and battling officials.

In recent years, resistance has taken a disturbing turn: Since 2009, at least 53 people across China have lit themselves on fire to protest the destruction of their homes, according to human rights and news reports.

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The Two-Way
6:05 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Sony Explains Why Its PlayStation 4 Costs $1,845 In Brazil

Sony announced U.S. and European prices for its new PlayStation 4 at a news conference this summer. The game system will cost some $1,845 in Brazil, angering fans.
Eric Thayer Getty Images

Sony's new PlayStation 4 won't be on store shelves until next month, but the gaming console has already raised eyebrows in Brazil, after reports that it would cost 3,999 Brazilian real — or about $1,845 at today's exchange rate.

The company says the steep cost isn't a case of price gouging, but instead a sign of Brazil's heavy taxes and fees on imported electronics.

The game system will be released in the United States on Nov. 15 and in countries including Brazil later that month. Large retailers in the U.S. will offer the PS4 at a base price of around $400.

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Europe
4:38 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Report: Illegally Cut Russian Timber Ends Up As U.S. Floors

A report from the U.S.-based NGO Environmental Investigation Agency tracks illegally cut timber from the Russian Far East — a region famous as the habitat of the Amur, or Siberian, tiger — to China, from whence it is sold to a major flooring company in the United States. It's based on an uncover investigation carried out by the group, a follow-up to one that was reported in The New Yorker five years ago.

Asia
4:38 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

China Fights Choking Smog With New Regulations

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 7:13 pm

China's central and local governments are releasing a slew of new regulations aimed at cutting severe air pollution and mitigating its deadly effect on citizens. The seriousness of the problem is obvious in China's northeast, where smog in one city this week cut visibility down to a few yards, and particulate matter soared to 60 times the level deemed safe by the World Health Organization.

Latin America
4:38 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Brazil's Black Bloc Activists: Criminals Or People Power?

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 10:44 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The massive protests that took place in Brazil over the summer may be over, but smaller near daily smaller demonstrations are ongoing and getting more violent.

From Sao Paulo, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on the shadowy anarchist group that's now playing a key role in the protest. It's called the Black Bloc.

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Europe
4:38 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Paris' Traffic-Cutting Gamble Charms Pedestrians, Irks Drivers

Parisians and tourists sit at a cafe along the Seine River. The mayor of Paris recently closed down a major highway along the river to open it up for pedestrians.
Christophe Morin Landov

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 7:51 pm

In a daring gamble, the mayor of Paris recently shut off a major vehicle thoroughfare through the city, the highway along the Seine River.

The move is part of his plan to reduce traffic in the city. The new space delighted Parisians and tourists this summer, but many wonder if it'll be such a hot idea during the cold winter months.

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The Two-Way
3:27 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Cuba To Phase Out Two-Peso Currency System

A woman displays Cuban pesos, or CUP (right) and the more valuable convertible pesos, or CUC (left), in Havana Tuesday. Raul Castro's government announced that it will begin unifying the two currencies.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 4:09 pm

Cuba will end the two-currency system it has used for nearly 20 years. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has used either American currency or a peso that's pegged to the dollar alongside its national peso.

The monetary unification will phase out a system that has become a symbol of exclusivity and foreign wealth. Many products that are imported into the country can be bought only with the dollar-based convertible peso. But most Cubans are paid in the standard peso, which is worth just a fraction of the other currency.

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The Two-Way
12:44 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Nuclear Plant Starts Up On India's Tsunami-Vulnerable Coast

An Indian Coast Guard plane flies over hundreds of anti-nuclear activists during a protest last year. The Kundankulam Nuclear Power, still under construction, can be seen in the distance.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 2:34 pm

A controversial nuclear power plant situated on a stretch of India's southeastern coast that was hit hard by the 2004 Asian tsunami has begun supplying the grid with electricity, officials say.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, a joint project with Russia located at the country's southern extremity in Tamil Nadu state, was connected to the grid on Tuesday, The Indian Express reports.

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The Salt
12:44 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Chocolate Fashions Make For A Truly Sweet Little Black Dress

Breakfast of chocolate at Tiffany's? Ten pounds of the dark, sweet stuff were used to craft this Audrey Hepburn-inspired dress and matching handbag, created by master chocolatier Mark Tilling of Squires Kitchen.
Photo: Paul Winch-Furness Courtesy of Salon du Chocolat

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 12:51 pm

If you find yourself sauntering down the runway wearing 40 pounds of chocolate, don't sweat it. Seriously — you might find yourself dripping on the audience.

So warns Fiona Bitmead, one of 10 models who showed off edible chocolate creations Friday night at the Salon du Chocolat in London. Five handlers helped her get dressed.

"[I] had to worry about a dress melting on me!" she says. "I can't say I've ever wanted to eat the dresses I've worn down the catwalk before."

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Parallels
12:19 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

In Russia's Vast Far East, Timber Thieves Thrive

The Chinese border town of Suifenhe is a port of entry for almost all of the hardwood coming from the Russian Far East. Russia is the world's largest exporter of timber, but illegal logging is a growing problem.
Courtesty of EIA

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 8:11 am

Forests cover about half of Russia's land mass, an environmental resource that President Vladimir Putin calls "the powerful green lungs of the planet."

But Putin himself acknowledges that Russia, the world's biggest exporter of logs, is having its timber stolen at an unprecedented rate.

The demand for high-value timber is fueling organized crime, government corruption and illegal logging in the Russian Far East. The hardwood cut in the endless forests often ends up as flooring and furniture in the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

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