International Affairs

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Cache Valley residents Roy and Kathleen Sneddon have been living with their son’s disappearance since 2004. 24-year-old David Sneddon was last seen hiking in China, leaving no physical trace. The Sneddons and several sources in Asia believe David was kidnapped by North Korea. The Sneddons believe their son is likely one of many who have been abducted and held captive in North Korea.

 

In Haiti, a celebration for Carnival became a source of sorrow and concern, after a crowded float came into contact with a power line during a parade early Tuesday. Conflicting reports on the number of people killed range from 16 to 20, with dozens more wounded.

Details about the accident are still coming in; we'll update this post as news emerges.

Update at 1:45 p.m. ET: Death Toll Lowered; Carnival Canceled

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Alexis Tsipras, who led his left-wing Syriza party to a momentous win in Greece's parliamentary election, was sworn in today amid fears about what his win means for the country's bailout agreements with the European Union.

Reporter Joanna Kakissis in Athens, who is following the story, tells our Newscast unit that Tsipras now leads the first anti-austerity government in Europe. She adds:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The White House says it could consider congressional action against Iran later in the year, but emphasized it wants more time to see if negotiations over the Islamic republic's nuclear program can work.

"If Congress wants to act later in the year, we could consider that, but at the moment they ought to give us the space to let these negotiations work," Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.

Overnight, police in France, Belgium and Germany arrested more than two dozen people suspected of having ties to terrorism.

In Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that police moved in at dawn and arrested about a dozen people, who police said were tied to Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, who attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, and Amedy Coulibaly, who attacked a kosher market in eastern Paris.

"These people are said to have been in their entourage," Eleanor told our Newscast unit. "They may have helped them to obtain cars, guns or may have been drivers."

The "whole U.S. mainland" would be under threat of attack if America were to seek vengeance for last month's Sony hacking, North Korea says. An official at its defense commission called the U.S. a "cesspool of terrorism" after President Obama called the hack "cyber-vandalism."

North Korea's National Defense Commission, which is headed by the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, said its military was ready to fight America "in all war spaces including cyber warfare space," issuing a wide threat that specified targets in the U.S.

Amelia Wolf, an American Jewish college student, was living in the Palestinian city of Ramallah when the holiday of Hanukkah rolled around last year.

She liked the Palestinian family that was hosting her in the West Bank, but she felt a little lonely. She wasn't going to celebrate in Israel, where she had friends and relatives, as she had other Jewish holidays.

For many Norwegian-American families, the biggest Christmas treat isn't foil-wrapped chocolate or sugar-dusted cookies. It's lefse, a simple flatbread.

Lefse are sort of like soft tortillas, made mostly out of mashed potatoes (with a little fat and flour mixed in to form a tender dough). They're usually spread with butter and sugar, or rolled up with a bit of lingonberry jam. And families that make them make them by the dozens.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Think Cuba, think cigars. David Savona is the executive editor of Cigar Aficionado magazine. David, welcome to the program.

DAVID SAVONA: Thanks, glad to be here.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The United States has released four Afghan detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were returned to Afghanistan — the latest in a series of releases of inmates in recent weeks.

Reuters says: "The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a U.S. military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009, a U.S. official said."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that the "difficulties" his country faces "also create new possibilities," and insisted that while he isn't interested in a "long-term arms race" with the West, Russia would do what it takes to defend itself.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Next, we'll report on a casualty of war. The war was the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Earlier this week, the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints announced it would be reassigning missionaries stationed in two western Africa countries due to the Ebola outbreak.

Wednesday, the church announced that all missionaries have been safely removed from Sierra Leone and Liberia—two of four countries, including Guinea and more recently Nigeria, in which the deadly outbreak has surfaced.

Many signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet. The men and women sitting in the cafes are speaking Russian. The shops sell vodka, black bread, pickled herring and Russian-brewed Baltika beer. You have to pinch yourself to remember where you are.

This scene, with all its echoes of the former Soviet Union, is not in St. Petersburg or Vladivostok, or anywhere else in that vast sweep of bleak northern lands. It is in Ashdod, Israel, a palm-lined, pastel-colored port city that sprawls along the mild shores of the Mediterranean.

About a dozen men prayed recently at Darkei Shalom, a Hasidic Jewish synagogue in the working-class neighborhood of Otradnoye in north Moscow.

Except for the Star of David on its squat tower, the building is as plain and utilitarian as the linoleum on the floor. It sits — along with a Russian Orthodox church and a mosque — on a leafy stretch of land surrounded by towering apartment blocks.