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Why is there something rather than nothing? This has been described as perhaps the most sublime philosophical question of all. Today, on The Colin McEnroe Show, we answer it. But as we do, we realize that it's not just a philosophical quandary; it's a scientific, cultural, and theological one as well.

Rifle fire crackled over a snowy field in central Estonia, interrupted by the rhythmic thumping of a heavy machine gun. From their position on a ridge, paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade opened up on the opposite tree line, as their comrades below inched toward an imaginary enemy bunker.

The foe in the exercise earlier this month was unnamed. But with the Russian border just 70 miles away, it was clear what kind of scenario was being played out.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been selected as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in President-elect Donald Trump's administration, according to Trump's transition team.

Haley has accepted the position, which requires Senate confirmation.

NPR State Department correspondent Michele Kelemen reports the position was elevated to Cabinet rank by President George W. Bush and that President Barack Obama kept the designation. But Kelemen says the job of U.N. ambassador was not traditionally Cabinet-rank and it's unclear whether Trump will maintain that status.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani remains one of the leading contenders for secretary of state in the Trump administration. Foreign policy is not an official part of the mayor's job. But there were a few times when Mayor Giuliani clashed with visiting diplomats and foreign heads of state.

Before Rudy Giuliani was America's Mayor, he was the mayor of New York. Part of the job is to make sure parking tickets get paid, and some of the biggest parking scofflaws in town were the visiting diplomats at the United Nations — some of whom owed tens of thousands of dollars.

Ninian Reid / Creative Commons

From businessman to president-elect -- it was a victory that surprised many. This hour: the rise of Republican Donald Trump. We recap Tuesday’s election results and we also hear from you.

Did you vote? What does a Trump presidency mean to you, your friends, and your family? 

Theresa Thompson / Creative Commons

American democracy is limping to the finish line this election week, dehydrated and injured from many stumbles during this race. Can it recover before Americans lose faith that America has the will or ability to help them? Can it recover before foreign friends and foes alike lose faith in America's sanity and stability? 

CFR

The CEO of Farmington-based United Technologies has delivered a rebuke to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his stance on trade. 

Foreign journalists' access to Syria is severely restricted, but this week, the regime of Bashar Assad extended an unusual invitation to a group of Western reporters to visit Damascus, the capital. NPR's Peter Kenyon and Alison Meuse are among the foreign journalists who've been granted visas to Damascus this week. For Kenyon, it's the first time back since 2008, before the 2011 uprising that led to Syria's war. He spoke with Morning Edition host Renee Montagne about the visit.

A Mediterranean-bound convoy of Russian warships will not be stopping for fuel at a Spanish port, Russia said Wednesday, after Spain's NATO allies objected to the refueling plan.

NATO members are worried the ships are intended to support increased Russian airstrikes in Syria. The convoy includes Russia's only aircraft carrier.

Some ships in the convoy had been planning to stop for fuel in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa directly across from Gibraltar. It's normal practice for Spain to allow Russian warships to stop at its ports, The Associated Press reports.

South Africa has decided to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, after previously ignoring an ICC arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Reuters and The Associated Press both say they have seen a document, signed by South Africa's foreign minister, declaring the country's intent to withdraw. The AP reports that legislation to finalize the move has to pass South Africa's parliament, but notes that passage of such a bill is likely.

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Running a small business will always be a challenging way of life. But if your home country is occupied by a foreign power and you are part of a diaspora of refugees spread across the world, your challenges rise to a new level. 

id Reneke / Flickr

If Anthony Bourdain and Wes Anderson were to ever collaborate, chances are they'd end up creating something like Atlas Obscura. The founders of the website -- dedicated to strange, forgotten and hidden wonders around the world -- are now out with a new book featuring 700 of their most spectacular examples.

Courtesy of Sen. Blumenthal's office

Congress voted to reject President Barack Obama's veto of a bill that would allow the families of September 11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. 

The last surviving leader of Israel's founding generation, Shimon Peres was a three-time prime minister, the architect of the country's secretive nuclear program and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.

The Senate voted Wednesday to give families of 9/11 victims the right to sue the Saudi Arabian government, overriding President Obama's veto for the first time.

The vote was lopsided, with 97 Senators voting in favor of the override, well above the two-thirds majority needed to overcome the president's objection. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid cast the lone "no" vote. Senators Tim Kaine, D-Va. and Bernie Sanders, D-Vt. did not vote.

UConn

Big tax deals with First Five corporations or with aerospace giants have been grabbing headlines, as Connecticut tries to improve its economy. But the state is also making a much less publicized effort to recruit small companies from overseas. 

Kenneth Lu / Creative Commons

News of General Electric's departure rang loudly across Connecticut this year, causing some to point fingers at the state's so-called “anti-business climate.” Still, that hasn't stopped some international businesses from putting down roots here. 

In an interview with The Associated Press, Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed the U.S. for the collapse of a fragile cease-fire earlier this week and denied carrying out well-documented human rights abuses, such as besieging civilians or using chemical weapons against them.

At least five emergency medical workers were said to have been killed in airstrikes near the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday, following the collapse of a fragile cease-fire in Syria.

President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly this morning, his final speech before the international governing body.

As he nears the end of his two terms in office, the president spoke about some of his administration's biggest foreign policy initiatives, including the importance of the Paris climate accord, the nuclear deal with Iran and fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The Syrian military announced Monday it is no longer observing a cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia to allow food and medicine into besieged areas.

Seven days after the agreement was reached by Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the U.S., which backs anti-Assad rebels, the regime blamed the truce's collapse on the rebels, and unilaterally declared that the cease-fire is over.

NPR's Alice Fordham reports this about the cease-fire:

For nearly eight years, President Obama has been putting his stamp on U.S. foreign policy both by what he's done and by what he chosen not to do.

His legacy includes achievements like the international climate agreement.

It also includes festering problems like the Syrian civil war.

Obama is summing up that legacy himself Tuesday, as he addresses the United Nations General Assembly for what's likely to be the last time as president.

The ground had barely stopped shaking from North Korea's most recent nuclear test last week when the international condemnations began.

Four days after Secretary of State John Kerry announced — with many notes of caution — a new U.S.-Russia deal on a cease-fire in Syria, he tells NPR's Steve Inskeep that it is the best option, and one to which the U.S. remains committed.

"What's the alternative?" he asks. Without the deal, he suggests, there would be even more deaths in a conflict that already has killed nearly 500,000 people.

Ron Cogswell flickr.com/photos/22711505@N05 / Creative Commons

Just days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. House unanimously passed legislation that would allow families of the victims to have their day in court. The bill, which passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year, now heads to President Barack Obama’s desk, where politicians speculate it may be vetoed. 

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