World

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Medecins Sans Frontier, the medical humanitarian organization, has added a basic item to its medical bag of drugs, stethoscopes and syringes: food.

Out of nowhere, a shocking video appeared on a Russian TV news program late one evening in March 1999. A surveillance tape showed a naked, middle-aged man who resembled Russia's top prosecutor, Yuri Skuratov, cavorting with two unclothed young women. Neither was his wife.

Italy has been described as the world's biggest open-air museum.

And with illegally excavated antiquities, looting of unguarded, centuries-old churches and smuggling of precious artworks, it's also an art theft playground.

But thanks to an elite police squad, Italy is also at the forefront in combating the illicit trade in artworks — believed to be among the world's biggest forms of trafficking and estimated to be worth billions.

It's been used to buy drugs. Guns. Child porn. And to launder money.

But high-profile institutions like the World Bank, UNICEF and USAID think it could be a force for good, helping the poorest of the poor.

It's a technology called blockchain — a global, online ledger that's free for anyone to use and that isn't regulated by any one party.

Maybe you've heard of it. And maybe you don't know exactly what it is.

That's because it's not easy to define.

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson had a tense confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, clashing even with Republican members over his views on Russia, international human-rights violations and the lobbying and dealmaking of Exxon Mobil when he was CEO.

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For all of the terrible things that have happened to his city of Jalawla in northern Iraq, Yacub Youssef seems like a happy man.

Youssef is the sub-district director – essentially the mayor — of this small city just a few miles from Iran and about 90 miles north of Baghdad. ISIS occupied it in 2014, a few days after it took over Mosul. When the ISIS fighters were driven out two months later, Jalawla was left in ruins.

China sent its only aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday morning, an unusual and provocative move that comes as tensions are high between the mainland and the self-governing island.

NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Beijing that China says the carrier was returning from weapons drills in the South China Sea, and that its passage through the strait complies with international law. Here's more from Rob:

Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET on Wednesday

Top U.S. intelligence officials have briefed leaders in Washington about an explosive — but unverified — document that alleges collusion between Russia and President-elect Donald Trump, NPR has learned.

The brief, which NPR has seen but not independently verified, was given by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain to FBI Director James Comey on Dec. 9. Details from it have been part of presentations by Comey and other intelligence leaders to Trump, President Obama and key leaders in Congress.

Russia's intelligence agencies compromised the networks of some state-level Republicans and their affiliated organizations, but not the current Republican National Committee or the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump, top U.S. intelligence chiefs said Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey and other spy bosses told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia "harvested" information from Republicans but that it captured "old stuff" and targeted RNC Web domains that were no longer in use.

Two bomb blasts near the parliament building in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, have killed at least 30 people and injured at least 70.

"The first bomb exploded near a parked minibus," NPR's Nishant Dahiya reported. "The second, when the police arrived to help the victims." It happened during the evening rush hour as parliament staff were leaving work.

A female lawmaker was said to be among the injured, Nishant added, and other parliament staff were also reportedly victims of the attack.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Bombs exploded in the Afghan capital of Kabul earlier today. It was the first attack in the city in months. The blasts killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more. NPR's Nishant Dahiya reports.

Jamaica is facing a crisis as specialized nurses leave the island to take jobs in North America and Europe.

The exodus has forced Jamaican hospitals to reschedule some complex surgeries because of a lack of nursing staff on their wards.

James Moss-Solomon, the chairman of the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, says the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are, in his words, "poaching" Jamaica's most critical nurses.

"Specialist nurses is the problem. We have tons of regular nurses," he says.

In a decade, soccer's biggest tournament is set to become even bigger.

FIFA, the game's governing body, unanimously voted to expand the tournament to 48 teams from 32 teams starting in 2026.

The new format starts with the 48 teams playing one another in 16 groups of three. Then, the top two teams from each group will advance into a 32-team group for the knockout stage.

Clare Hollingworth, the war correspondent who told the world of the outbreak of World War II, has died at 105.

She died Tuesday evening in Hong Kong, according to long-time friend Cathy Hilborn Feng, who says Hollingworth "had a smile before she left us."

Iran's former president, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was buried Tuesday, and the large outpouring of grief at his funeral reflects the uncertainty facing Iranian moderates.

Rafsanjani may have risen along with the country's 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah, but in later years, his pragmatic streak and respected position made him a leading voice of moderation.

Sylvana Simons got her start as a soul music VJ on the Dutch version of MTV. She went on to anchor the evening news in the Netherlands, and performed on the local version of Dancing with the Stars.

It's still unclear whether Verizon will follow through on a $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo's core internet business, but if the sale is finalized, there's a name for what will be left behind.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We've got a Mexican perspective this morning of President-elect Donald Trump. The incoming president will soon translate his rhetoric about Mexico into reality.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Media coverage of tragedy — terrorist attacks, homelessness, the refugee crisis — can be so overwhelming it's numbing. Charities say it can also make it harder to get support.

Some are hoping a new form of media will be more persuasive — virtual reality or VR, which they think makes people more empathetic.

In Venezuela, food has become so scarce it's now being sold on the black market. One person tells the Associated Press, "it's a better business than drugs."

And the food traffickers are the very people sworn to protect Venezuela: the nation's military.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave the military complete control of the food supply last summer, after people began protesting in the streets over food rationing. Shortages had become so bad that people were even ransacking grocers — though many were largely empty.

Beijing is launching a new police force aimed at tackling its persistent smog problem.

This comes after a month of particularly severe air quality that left the capital and dozens of other Chinese cities blanketed in thick, brown smog.

Tom Hiddleston is trending on Twitter, and not for a good reason. Last night at the Golden Globes, he won a best actor award for the AMC series The Night Manager. But his acceptance speech didn't go over as well as his performance. Hiddleston recounted a visit he made to see medics from Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan.

Mothers should feel comfortable breast-feeding infants in public, Pope Francis said on Sunday, even if they are in one of the most sacred spaces in Catholicism.

Speaking at an annual ceremony to commemorate the baptism of Jesus, the pope addressed the families of 28 infants who were to be baptized in the Sistine Chapel. Some of the babies began to wail as the ceremony wore on, according to Vatican Radio:

French police have reportedly arrested more than a dozen people during raids linked to the high-profile robbery of reality TV star Kim Kardashian West in Paris last October.

During the robbery, a group of thieves burst into the private residence where Kardashian West was staying, held her at gunpoint, then escaped on bicycles with jewelry worth about $10 million.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Pining For A Cozy Winter Drink? Try An Evergreen Liqueur

Jan 9, 2017

Though the great outdoors becomes more inhospitable when winter winds rise and temperatures drop, there's nothing like wandering through an evergreen forest as snow squeaks underfoot. And once people have trudged stiffly back inside, they can keep those forests with them by imbibing one of the world's many pine liqueurs.

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