as a weekly practice I listen to npr and do a little sketch on one of the stories. take a look, you can click on the illustration to make it bigger!

Monday, June 30, 2008

zimbabwe's mugabe: from liberator to pariah.

Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, flew to Egypt on Monday for an African Union summit, where he's expected to face pressure from other African leaders who want him to negotiate with his country's opposition. Mugabe was hastily sworn in for a sixth term as president Sunday after a widely condemned runoff election. The opposition boycotted the vote.

When independent Zimbabwe was born after a liberation war against white minority rule, there were high hopes for reconciliation in the new nation. Mugabe — a highly astute scholar and the political brains behind the struggle — was to head the new government. "Our theme is really one of reconciliation," Mugabe said at the time. "And there is no intention on our part to use the advantage of the majority we have secured to victimize the minority. That will not happen."

But after defeat in 2000 in a referendum that Mugabe hoped would entrench his hold on power, he retaliated. His supporters targeted minority white farmers and black farmworkers — the backbone of the economy. White farms were often violently occupied.

Journalist and commentator Heidi Holland has known Mugabe since the early days. She recently published a book, Dinner With Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter Who Became a Tyrant. Holland says it's important to understand that his love-hate relationship with Britain and white Zimbabweans, as well a poor and austere Catholic upbringing, underpin many of Mugabe's much-criticized actions today.

"As things started to go wrong — very early on — when the whites of Zimbabwe, former white Rhodesians, voted racially against him five years into his rule, that was the beginning of it," she says. "And he couldn't tolerate it. … When he's rejected or humiliated, he reacts with revenge, he gets revenge, and I very much fear that's what he's doing right now. He's getting revenge against his own people in the rural areas because he knows they rejected him in the March election."

Holland says former colonial power Britain, the United States and other hostile Western governments must be careful not to box Mugabe into a corner. She warns a wounded animal boxed into a corner is a dangerous adversary, and a defiant Mugabe could come out blazing. And she says ordinary Zimbabweans, who've suffered a campaign of terror meted out by Mugabe's security forces and thugs, could end up suffering more violence and oppression.

-excerpt from NPR

Thursday, June 26, 2008

gone fishing.

on a little holiday, back to drawing monday. see you then x, alex

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

teenage pregnancy 'pact' alarms parents.

More than a dozen teenage girls in Gloucester, Mass., are expecting babies in the upcoming months. Allegations that the girls made a pact to get pregnant at the same time, and raise their kids together have been in the headlines for several days. This week's Mocha Moms are joined by author Laura Sessions Stepp and pediatrician Dr. Marilyn Corder to discuss teen pregnancy.

-excerpt from npr

Monday, June 23, 2008

oil prices gone wild.

Oil producing and consuming nations gathered on Sunday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to discuss out-of-control oil prices. The meeting is focused on exploring the possibility of a quick fix to reduce prices. Reporter Caryle Murphy speaks with host Guy Raz.

-excerpt from NPR

Thursday, June 19, 2008

france puts new focus on arms sales.

France recently became more competitive in the international arms market. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has cleared away much of the red tape that delayed government approval for weapons sales.

-excerpt from npr

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

more levees breached along mississippi.

The Mississippi River burst through levees in Illinois on Wednesday and threatened towns in Missouri. The breaks about 45 miles south of Gulfport flooded farmland near the hamlet of Meyer and south of there in the Indian Graves levee district, according to Julie Shepard of the Adams County Emergency Management Agency.

Massive sandbagging efforts were underway Wednesday in Midwestern towns and communities all along the Mississippi, as flood waters continued to rise. Authorities rescued people by helicopter, boat and four-wheeler on Tuesday after the river broke through a levee in Gulfport. In the town of Quincy, Illinois, officials said they had done just about all the sandbagging they could do locally, but volunteers, such as Troy McNay, were still filling sandbags. "You know we're all in this together," McNay told NPR. "Something we can do here will help someone down the line."

-excerpt from NPR

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

neutering nunu: a dog-culture clash in iraq.

In Iraq, one of the connections NPR's Baghdad bureau has made centers on a white terrier that sought refuge from the mayhem of Sadr City. The staff took him, and named him Nunu. But like many impulsive pet adoptions, we didn't anticipate the problems that owning a dog can bring. A few months after Nunu came to live with us in Baghdad, I asked Ghasson, an NPR translator, to call a veterinarian and make an appointment. We needed to have Nunu neutered.

Ghasson didn't have any idea what I was talking about. I explained that in the States, when we own a dog, we think it's responsible to stop it from reproducing. We even call it "fixing." In Iraq, Ghasson explained, it is just the opposite. "The idea of having a dog is to have puppies — and especially that you may give one of the puppies to one of your close friends, your neighbors, your relatives," Ghasson said.

It was Lourdes Garcia-Navarro and I who decided we had to neuter Nunu. Garcia-Navarro is a correspondent in Baghdad. Nunu kept getting lost — slipping out to gallivant with the pack of stray females who roam the street outside our bureau. "The snip," as she called it, seemed like the only solution. "Everyone is sad about Nunu," Ghasson said to me. He explained that for Iraqis, having a big family is a great achievement — a basic right that we shouldn't deprive man or dog.

Sabah explained that veterinarians in Iraq are basically matchmakers. Sabah proudly told us about hundreds of arranged dog marriages. He'd even brokered a few international unions.

But had we done the right thing? I asked Garcia-Navarro what she thought. "I think it's one of the things that you grapple with here all the time," she said. "Whether you're imposing your own system on an alien culture ... and you always end up questioning yourself." And of course no single one of us can say for sure if it was a good decision — except for maybe one dog.

-excerpt from NPR

Monday, June 16, 2008

gay rights, religious liberties: a three-act story.

As gay couples in California head to the courthouse starting Monday to get legally married, there are signs of a coming storm. Two titanic legal principles are crashing on the steps of the church, synagogue and mosque: equal treatment for same-sex couples on the one hand, and the freedom to exercise religious beliefs on the other. The collision that will play out over the next few years will be filled with pathos on both sides.

-excerpt from npr.

Friday, June 13, 2008

nasa's future spacesuits are made for walking

The next astronauts to step out onto the dusty gray surface of the moon will be wearing a suit that's very different from the bulky white armor worn by the Apollo explorers. NASA has selected the company that will be designing and constructing the spacesuits for its Constellation program, which is building a new spacecraft to take astronauts back to the moon by 2020.

NASA awarded the contract, worth up to $745 million, to Oceaneering International Inc. of Houston. "We're ready to put them to work and get ready to put bootprints back on the moon," says Glenn Lutz, NASA's project manager for Extravehicular Activity Systems at Johnson Space Center in Houston.Lutz said that the current suits worn by spacewalking astronauts on the space shuttle and international space station "do great, but they are built for floating in space."

He says moon explorers need to be able to climb ladders, walk long distances and scramble over rocks. That's especially important because NASA wants future moonwalkers to spend far more time roaming about than the Apollo astronauts did during their short visits. Eventually, a moon base could let explorers live on the moon for weeks or months. The new suits should allow far more natural movement than suits did in the Apollo era.

-excerpt from npr

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

u.s. beef flap challenges south korea's president.

After an estimated 80,000 people demonstrated Tuesday against South Korea's plan to resume importing U.S. beef, the president promised that his government would make a fresh start — and his entire cabinet offered to resign. Co-host Renee Montagne talks to BBC correspondent John Studworth.

-excerpt from NPR

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

apple unveils new iphone.

Applie chief Steve Jobs announced Monday that a new version of the iPhone will be available on July 11. Brian Lam, editor-in-chief of Gizmodo, gives us a preview.

-excerpt from npr

Monday, June 9, 2008

iraqis displaced as government reclaims property

The improved security situation in Baghdad has allowed government officials to reclaim abandoned government property. Squatters are being kicked out — often with no warning. Displaced Iraqis had been living in the buildings after they were forced to flee their homes because of fighting. Now, they find themselves homeless again.

- excerpt from NPR

Friday, June 6, 2008

indictment: broadcom ex-ceo built drug warehouse

Federal prosecutors may have charged Broadcom co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III in one of the largest stock-option backdating cases in U.S. history, but it was allegations that the billionaire drugged his business cohorts, hired prostitutes and maintained a drug warehouse that grabbed headlines. A pair of indictments unsealed Thursday charge the 48-year-old with conspiracy and securities fraud in an alleged scheme to backdate stock options that ultimately forced Broadcom to write down $2.2 billion in profits last year. But prosecutors also detailed a litany of drug charges that apparently came as a surprise to Nicholas and his attorneys.

The charges threaten to ground a high-flying lifestyle that prosecutors say featured the former CEO jetting around the world in his two private planes, building a secret lair under his house and hiring strippers to party at a private warehouse stocked with cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy.

The 18-page indictment on drug charges alleges that Nicholas kept four properties in Orange County and Las Vegas, including a warehouse in Laguna Niguel, Calif., where he stashed and distributed cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy. The court documents also claim Nicholas hired prostitutes and escorts for himself, his employees and customers and conspired to get illegal prescriptions for drugs such as Valium.

In 2001, Nicholas smoked so much marijuana during a flight on a private jet between Orange County and Las Vegas that the pilot had to put on an oxygen mask, the indictment states. At a July 1999 Woodstock concert in Rome, N.Y., Nicholas gave a technology executive ecstasy without the executive's knowledge, the indictment states. Nicholas also allegedly spiked a technology executive's drink with ecstacy in New Orleans in early 2000.

That suit was filed by Nicholas' former bodyguard and personal assistant, Kenji Kato. A second lawsuit was filed last year by a construction crew that claimed they were hired to build an underground lair for Nicholas where he could indulge in sex with prostitutes and drug use. The workers claimed Nicholas failed to pay them millions of dollars and used intimidation and death threats to prevent them from leaving the project, which was kept secret from Nicholas' wife and city inspectors.

Nicholas served as CEO and president from Broadcom's inception until he resigned in 2003. At the time, he said he stepped down to try to repair his relationship with his wife. Ruehle joined the company in 1997 as vice president and chief financial officer and retired in 2006.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

obama claims nomination, making history.

Sen. Barack Obama stood before a cheering crowd in a Minnesota convention hall Tuesday night, declaring himself the Democratic presidential nominee. His speech marked the end to what has been, at times, a bruising five-month-long campaign that history will remember as resulting in the first African-American to win a major party's nomination. Obama called it "a defining moment for our nation."

A few hours earlier, his main rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, refused to acknowledge Obama's clinching of the nomination during a speech to a boisterous crowd at Baruch College in New York City. Clinton said she was not ready to make any decisions about her campaign's future. At the same time, the New York senator said she was "committed to unifying our party."

-excerpt from NPR

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

ohio town: mow your lawn or go to jail.

City council members in Canton have approved a measure that's grabbed widespread attention in recent weeks. Homeowners in the northeast Ohio city who don't mow their grass now face stiffer penalties - including a possible 30-day jail term.

The council on Monday night unanimously passed the proposal, which makes a second high-grass violation a fourth-degree misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail. The law is to take effect in 30 days. The proposal drew national attention, much of it negative, when it was unveiled last month. City officials have said the tougher penalties are meant to reduce city costs for mowing grass. The city cuts about 2,000 overgrown private lots a year.

-excerpt from AP

Monday, June 2, 2008

puerto rico gives clinton a sizeable win.

Sen. Hillary Clinton won a lopsided, but largely symbolic victory Sunday in Puerto Rico's presidential primary, the final act in a weekend of tumult that brought Sen. Barack Obama tantalizingly close to the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former first lady was gaining more than 60 percent of the vote in early returns, and a pre-election poll suggested she could wind up with nearly two-thirds support.

-excerpt from NPR