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Table's Laid And Guests Are Ready: Syria Peace Talks Set To Begin

A peace conference on Syria is due to begin Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland. The start of the conference comes after more than three years of violent conflict and 24 hours of uncertainty over Iran's surprise invitation. But the invitation has been withdrawn, and the diplomats are set to assume their places at the negotiating table.
NPR

State Of Emergency Raises New Questions In Bangkok

Thailand's government has declared a 60-day state of emergency in an effort to rein in the anti-government demonstrators who are intent on disrupting next month's snap election. The state of emergency means that the Thai authorities can impose curfews, detain suspects without charge and ban public gatherings of more than five people. But officials insist they will not use the declaration to attempt to remove anti-government protesters from the sites they have been occupying in Bangkok.
NPR

Which Artworks Should We Save? Cash-Strapped Italy Lets Citizens Vote

With money tight, Italian officials are faced with an unbearable choice: Which works of art should be saved, when the government can't afford to save them all? At the end of 2013, the government organized an online vote to give citizens a say in the matter.
NPR

Thai Government Declares State Of Emergency

It's an attempt to cope with anti-government protests that began in November. The measure, which goes into effect Wednesday, will last for 60 days. Anti-government protesters are trying to stop elections, scheduled for Feb. 2.
NPR

Om My: Chinese Buddha Booted Over Booty

A restaurateur in the Chinese city of Jinan wanted to advertise a dish so good that the Buddha himself scaled walls for a taste, so the owner put up giant sculptures of naked Buddhas climbing over the restaurant. Not everyone was amused.
NPR

Japanese Government Defends Dolphin Hunt As Killing Goes On

The "drive hunt" by fishermen in one village is "a form of traditional fishing," a government spokesman says. Dolphins are trapped. Some are selected for sale to marine parks. Others are killed for meat. Thirty died Tuesday. Caroline Kennedy, the new U.S. ambassador, called the practice inhumane.
WAMU 88.5

Security Concerns At The Sochi Olympics

When the Olympics open in Sochi on Feb. 7, visitors will encounter a Russian city under virtual lockdown. Terror threats and recent bombings blamed on separatists in the neighboring Caucasus have forced unprecedented levels of security, a move many say may mar the spirit of the games. We find out what the scene is like in Sochi, and how serious the threats are from Russia’s neighboring Islamist insurgency.

NPR

Ukraine Tracks Protesters Through Cellphones Amid Clashes

People with cell phones who were in the vicinity of violent protests in Kiev reportedly received this disturbing text message from the government: "Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance."
NPR

Report Details Alleged 'Systematic' Killing By Syria's Assad

The report by three former war crimes prosecutors is based on what are said to be thousands of photographs of dead prisoners that allegedly were smuggled out by a Syrian defector. The revelation comes just ahead of Syrian peace talks set to begin in Switzerland.
NPR

Hunt Is On For At Least One 'Black Widow' In Sochi

Russian security forces are reportedly searching for at least one young woman who may be intending to set off a suicide bomb. She's said to be the widow of an Islamic insurgent. Meanwhile, the U.S. will have warships in the Black Sea in case evacuations are necessary during the Winter Olympics.

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