Nearly two years ago, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered that gun-toting private security companies in his country be brought under state control. But the Afghan force to replace the foreign-funded contractors is off to a rocky start.
According to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the new force will increase security costs for USAID projects and could even shut some of them down, at a loss of about $899 million. USAID in Kabul disagrees, and the dispute has gone public.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:47 pm
Tonight, when Ryan Seacrest announces who has won the 11th season of American Idol — when the confetti falls and Jennifer Lopez sheds a perfect dewy teardrop and Randy Jackson's thought bubble explodes with "Dude, that was a moment moment MOMENT" and Steven Tyler purses his immortal lips in that vampire-connoisseur way he does, smelling the perfume of another sweet young victory — I will be out to dinner with friends, far from the agony and ecstasy finalists Jessica Sanchez and Phi
Two New Jersey men have found a way around high gas prices and traffic jams. The mile long trip from Hoboken across the Hudson River to their Manhattan office takes about a half-hour to paddle. They also get their exercise in for the day.
A mass tax revolt is under way in Ireland, and hundreds of thousands of people have resolved to break the law and refuse to pay a newly-introduced levy on households. The tax is $125 a year, but protesters say it could lead to larger property taxes in the future.
Ever since Syria descended into a brutal armed conflict, there have been fears that the sectarian bloodletting would spill over its borders. That may have come to pass. This past week, clashes in neighboring Lebanon have left more than a dozen people dead. NPR's Kelly McEvers has the story from Beirut.
Economic issues are shaping this year's presidential campaign, as we're hearing in this morning's news. Arthur C. Brooks, of the American Enterprise Institute, says that debate involves more than money. It's a question of which economic policies are morally right.
For the second straight year, one of the NBA's greatest players is leaving the playoff party early. Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers are out. Last night, they lost their second round series against the young and explosive Oklahoma City Thunder, four games to one. The Thunder's big three - Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden - combined for 70 points in Oklahoma City's 106-90 win. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us now on the line.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
A Chinese dissident is settling into life in New York. And Chen Guangcheng is thinking about those he left behind. His story captured worldwide attention when people helped him escape from house arrest to the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Those people remain within the reach of Chinese authorities. NPR's Michele Kelemen has more.
New York has its first million dollar parking spot. The 12 by 23 foot space in lower Manhattan's East Village comes with its own deed and maintenance fees just like the luxury condo it's attached to. The New York Post calculates the investment this way: It's the same as paying $115 parking ticket every day for the next 24 years.
With world leaders gathered for a NATO summit in Chicago, high on their agenda is the future of Afghanistan once Western troops withdraw. Among the leaders there is the president of Pakistan. Pakistan has been keeping NATO from using critical military supply routes running through that country to Afghanistan, something that's irritated NATO countries, whose troops are fighting in Afghanistan.
The TV show House is airing its final episode Monday night on FOX, Desperate Housewives on ABC ended last week and NBC has announced that 30 Rock will have its final episodes this fall. TV and media critic Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times explains why choosing to end a show, rather than getting canceled, presents a creative opportunity for the producers.
A giant of American business goes on trial in New York today. Rajat Gupta is accused of insider trading. He's the one-time chief executive of the consulting firm McKinsey and Company and a former board member of Goldman Sachs.
Prosecutors allege he passed on information about Goldman to billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, who's already in prison for insider trading.
NPR's Jim Zarroli is covering this story from New York. Hi, Jim.
Astronomy buffs in the western U.S. were treated to an eclipse known as the Ring of Fire over the weekend. Technically, it's an annular solar eclipse, during which time the moon passes between the earth and sun. The moon blocks out much of the sun's light and casts a giant shadow on the earth.
Unlike a lot of people I know, my summer reading doesn't differ significantly from the reading I do the rest of the year. I'm always looking for new authors, older titles I might have missed, books I want to reread, and a nice mixture of fiction and nonfiction. While I understand the concept of beach reading, for me it doesn't mean light reading, but rather choosing books whose ultimate destruction by sand and water won't concern me overly much because I know that I can easily replace them.
Greece keeps cutting its budget to help pay debts and avoid default but then its economy keeps contracting, making the problem worse. The new French President Francois Hollande wants to find a way to stimulate Europe's economy.
All right. As protestors make their preparations outside, inside the NATO summit, there's an expectation that leaders will showcase a unified, long-term commitment to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop drawdown. The United States already signed a strategic security pact with Afghanistan, pledging support for that country until 2024. The Obama administration hopes to convince other countries at the summit to do the same, but as NPR's Jackie Northam reports, it could be a hard sell.
INSKEEP: Technology giant Hewlett-Packard is poised to eliminate as many as 30,000 jobs worldwide. These cuts, though, will reportedly spare China - the company's largest source of growth, as well as its research and development divisions.