National & International News

We follow stories about America and the world, with help from NPR.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's administration has terminated three top employees of the Department of Public Welfare, several weeks after the agency's secretary left.

A department spokeswoman declined Monday to say why the men lost their jobs, calling it a personnel matter.

The men included Philip Abromats, the executive director of audits and regulatory affairs, and special assistants Erik Randolph and Ron Semerjian. Former Secretary Gary Alexander's last day was Feb. 15.

Abromats says he was fired without notice Friday and not told why.

Sandusky Scandal tops $41 Million for Penn State

Mar 11, 2013

Penn State's bill to pay costs associated with the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal has topped $41 million, including $8.1 million to pay for the internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

The latest disclosure posted Monday on a university website offered more itemization for certain costs including the bill for the Freeh probe. The bill also for the first time includes the $12 million payment to the NCAA — the first of five annual installments of the $60 million fine that's part of the sanctions.

Days after news spread that Danish restaurant Noma, three-time winner of Restaurant magazine's "World's Best Restaurant" title, was blamed for a norovirus outbreak in which dozens of diners fell ill, the restaurant has issued a public response and sought to clarify its handling of the situation.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET, March 12. Nearly Unanimous:

In the exiled Tibetan calendar, March 10 is an emotive day, the anniversary of a failed uprising in 1959.

There is one bit of news from last week's Kenyan elections that's just now getting international attention: Malik Obama, President Obama's older half brother, suffered a crushing loss in his bid to become governor of Siaya.

Kenya's Daily Nation reports:

Delegates to an international species conservation conference in Bangkok, Thailand, this week have agreed to limit the trade of shark fins and meat.

NPR's Christopher Joyce reports that government representatives to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, have agreed to put the porbeagle, oceanic whitetip, three kinds of hammerhead shark and two kinds of manta ray on its Appendix II list, which places restrictions on fishing but still allows limited trade.

Saying that the action was required because a confidential email that was leaked to the news media "threatened the privacy and due process afforded students," Harvard University administrators on Monday issued a statement explaining why they last year authorized searches of 16 resident deans' email accounts.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, once a rising star in the Democratic Party, was convicted in a Detroit federal court Monday on a variety of corruption-related charges.

Here's how Michigan Radio sums up the news:

A Pittsburgh man has been scheduled to change his not guilty plea to federal charges that he used a stolen cell phone to call in false bomb threats to the Allegheny County 911 Center, saying that a bomb would go off at Allegheny County Jail, PNC Park, and a Port Authority light-rail station in Pittsburgh.

Federal court records show 22-year-old Termaine Washington was scheduled to change his plea Monday morning before a federal judge in Pittsburgh.

Authorities say Washington called in several false threats from Sept. 15-19.

A coroner says a decomposed body found by kayakers may be that of a southwestern Pennsylvania man reported missing at Ohiopyle State Park in January.

The family of 29-year-old Jeremy Walker, of Somerset, hasn't heard from him since New Year's Eve and crews began searching the park after his car was found parked there Jan. 2.

The park covers more than 20,000 acres and includes whitewater rapids on the river. Dogs had previously traced Walker's scent from his car to a bridge on the river.

Who could have predicted this?

Well, apparently not "the world's most famous predictions market."

Iran and Pakistan are moving closer to completion of a nearly 1,000-mile natural gas pipeline linking the two countries, despite U.S. objections that it could become a source of hard currency for Tehran in defiance of international sanctions.

Monday marks the beginning of construction on Pakistan's part of the pipeline, which will consist of a 485-mile run. Iran has already completed most of its 760 miles of the link, which will stretch from Assaluyeh along Iran's Persian Gulf coast to Nawabshah in Pakistan's Sindh province.

As NPR's Louisa Lim reported Monday on Morning Edition, a week of inflamed rhetoric from North Korea — including talk of a preemptive nuclear strike on the U.S. — is being followed by word that the North has carried through on its threat to annul the 1953 armistice that ended open warfare on the peninsula and has stopped answering calls on the telephone hotline to the South.

Authorities have pulled more than 2,800 dead pigs out of Shanghai's main source of tap water — the Huangpu River. And they're still counting, according to reports on Monday.

The discovery has raised fears of drinking water contamination in China's most populous city, although state media reports that officials have run tests and determined that so far there's nothing to fear.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

The stage is now set for the opening act of one of the more spectacular and intriguing theatrical dramas on the planet: the election of a pope.

In Rome, TV camera crews have set up their positions on big platforms overlooking St. Peter's Square and the Vatican, where the secretive process will begin Tuesday.

Warren, Ohio, is in mourning after the deaths of six teenagers who died Sunday when the SUV they were in ran off a highway, flipped over a guardrail and landed in a small pond.

"It's going to be a rough week, a rough rest of the school year," said Michael Notar, Warren school superintendent, as NBC News reports.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai claims the U.S. is holding talks outside Afghanistan with the Afghan Taliban.

The allegations come as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel continues his first visit to the nation as Pentagon Chief – and after a deadly explosion in Kabul on Saturday that the Taliban called a message to the new defense secretary.

Karzai made his claims in a nationally broadcast address just hours before he was to meet with Hagel, reports NPR's David Welna, who is traveling with Hagel.

With a stroke of her pen, Queen Elizabeth II is giving royal support to equal rights.

Her majesty is expected to sign a new charter for the Commonwealth on Monday. The charter declares the core values for the 54 member states, most of which were once under British rule. It's getting attention for statements on gender equality and what it may imply for gay rights.

A soft-spoken, clean-shaven, 31-year-old aid worker hopes to determine, in part, the future of Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

Venezuela's elections commission announced Saturday that voters will go to the polls on April 14 to choose a successor to President Hugo Chavez, who died this week after a battle with cancer.

The nation's constitution mandated that an election be called within 30 days of Chavez's death on March 5, but the scheduled date falls outside of that window. Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's vice president, was sworn in as interim leader on Friday.

The Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra has been secretive, keeping to itself and refusing to meet Western journalists. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the Obama administration and was thought to be made up mostly of foreign fighters, working alongside Syrian rebels.

But lately, members are starting to open up as more Syrians join the group and they make more gains on the ground in the fight against the Syrian government.

Ex-skater and former US Speedskating President Andy Gabel faces a second accusation of sexual misconduct, as first reported by member station WUWM in Milwaukee.

Former skater Nikki Meyer told the NPR affiliate that she was assaulted by Gabel in the 1990s when she was 15 and he was 26.

A bomb exploded near the Defense Ministry in Kabul on Saturday morning as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was visiting in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility, calling it a message to the new Pentagon chief.

Update At 10:49 a.m. ET: Hagel Not Surprised

Hagel was nowhere near the attack, but the AP reports he heard the blast:

Noma, the Danish eatery that has won fans with its innovative approach to Nordic cuisine, and won Restaurant magazine's "World's Best Restaurant" title the past three years, is getting some unwelcome press, after dozens of people who ate at the Copenhagen restaurant fell sick.

Update: Monday, March 11

A French mother was in court Wednesday for what she says was a simple birthday celebration but what the government alleges is a clear provocation, an allusion to terrorism.

The BBC reports that Bouchra Bagour, 35, has been charged with "glorifying crime" after she sent her three-year-old son — named Jihad — to school wearing a T-shirt that read "I am a bomb" and "Born on 11 September."

The BBC adds:

Update at 7:04 p.m. ET. All Votes Counted:

With all the votes in, Kenya's election commission says Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have won with the slimmest of margins. Kenyatta got 50.03 percent of the vote, the AP reports.

Reuters adds:

"Kenyatta, who faces international charges of crimes against humanity, secured 6,173,433 votes out of a total of 12,338,667 ballots cast, indicating that he had secured the more than 50 percent of votes needed for a first round win."

A week after a sweeping and controversial education bill was adopted by the Alabama Legislature, the measure is on hold, with a circuit judge and the state's supreme court reviewing separate lawsuits filed over it. Democrats say Republicans broke the rules when they inserted school choice language into a bill that was originally meant to give school districts flexibility in meeting standards.

Pages