In the last few days we've learned that Iran has released political prisoners and that its new president and President Obama have written each other. Also suggesting a thaw in the relationship, both leaders expressed a desire to resolve their countries' dispute over Iran's nuclear program. These seeming overtures come as President Hassan Rouhani prepares to fly to New York to address the U.N.
The conflict in Syria is causing problems for its neighbors beyond the violence that's spilling over their borders. In Turkey, which has strongly backed Syrian rebels, one of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's most important political efforts is in danger of collapsing.
NPR's Peter Kenyon reports on dimming hopes for a peace process between Turkey and its Kurdish minority.
Brazil's favelas, or slums, are notoriously violent places, and in recent years, the Brazilian government has attempted to establish order through police-run "pacification" programs. A cable car ride above several favelas gives a clearer view of what's happened in the communities in recent years.
Roberto de Carvalho (left), who maintains a truck fleet in Recife, Brazil, is shown here with his daughter Sandra, 22, wife Enilda and daughter Susana, 16. The family makes just enough to belong the rapidly expanding ranks of the country's middle class, though they still can't afford a house or even a car.
Tens of millions of Brazilians have risen out of poverty over the past decade in one of the world's great economic success stories. The reasons are many: strong overall economic growth, fueled by exports. A rise in the minimum wage. A more educated workforce. And big government spending programs, including direct payments to extremely poor families.
But becoming middle class in Brazil means a better life, not an easy one. The new, lowest rung of the middle class is what in the U.S. would be called the working poor, with monthly incomes of between $500 and $2,000.
On a busy avenue in Olinda, in northeastern Brazil, two men in wigs, big red noses and full clown makeup are squeaking horns and making a good-natured ruckus.
"Where's your helmet?" shouts one as a motorcyclist whizzes by. "Fasten your seat belt!" calls out the other.
Uncle Honk and Fom Fom are traffic clowns, or palhacos, hired by the city to make the roads a bit safer. They lean into traffic, making exaggerated gestures, like the sweep of the arm to mimic fastening a seat belt, and a mimed reminder to never drink and drive.
Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 4:17 pm
Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was among several political prisoners released by Tehran on Wednesday, just days ahead of a visit by Iran's newly elected moderate president to the United Nations in New York.
Sotoudeh, who had been held since 2010, was one of eight women and three men released, according to the BBC. Reformist politician Mohsen Aminzadeh was also among the prisoners freed.