The international spotlight has been on North Africa this year, where Arab autocrats have been overthrown by government opponents seeking democracy in three separate countries – Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.
But farther south on the continent, a less dramatic democratic trend has been playing out for years.
Seventeen of the 49 nations in sub-Saharan Africa are holding national elections this year. That's partly an accident of timing. But it's also a sign that holding power in Africa these days increasingly requires a leader to hold regular elections.
Pakistan is a leading recipient of U.S. economic aid, receiving billions of dollars every year in both civilian and military support. However, the recent rocky patch between the two countries is pushing many members of Congress to reevaluate the assistance package.
Turkey's leaders have called Israel the "West's spoiled child," and the "bully" of the eastern Mediterranean. When a Tel Aviv soccer team showed up in Istanbul recently for a match, the welcome was less than warm.
In September, Turkey kicked out the Israeli ambassador, suspended military and trade deals and threatened legal and naval action to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.
A joint CIA and U.S. military operation targeted and killed the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in an air strike this week. Awlaki had been linked to terrorist attacks against the United States and was a key target for several years. NPR's Rachel Martin shares the latest with host Scott Simon.
The 2011 baseball playoffs have begun, but fans are still reeling from perhaps the single most exciting end to baseball's regular season since Babe Ruth ate 30 hot dogs. Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Tom Goldman about this week's playoff action and more.
It's been more than a hundred days since Matt Rutherford has walked on dry land. With any luck, it'll be another 200 before he does. The 30-year-old Marylander is sailing around North and South America. Alexandra Gutierrez of member station KUCB in Unalaska reports that if he makes it, he'll be the first person to do the 23,000-mile trip alone and without stopping.
This week, a military court in Bahrain handed down harsh sentences to 20 doctors and medical personnel accused of stockpiling weapons and illegally occupying a hospital during recent protests. The doctors say they're being punished for treating demonstrators injured in anti-government protests. Host Scott Simon speaks with Dr. Fatima Hajji, one of the medical professionals sentenced to prison.
Many political watchers say the 2012 presidential campaign is shaping up to be the most expensive election cycle in American history. One reason: the growing influence of political action committees, independent groups that raise money largely from corporations, trade unions and the wealthy. Host Scott Simon talks with Bill Burton, co-founder of the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA, about his group's fundraising efforts for the 2012 presidential election.
The books closed at midnight on another reporting period for the Federal Election Commission, as candidates and political action committees continue to fill their coffers for the 2012 election. Host Scott Simon talks with Tony Corrado, professor of government at Colby College, about campaign fundraising for the 2012 presidential race.
Gliding along in a flat-bottom boat on the San Antonio River thorough the heart of downtown San Antonio is a beautiful and authentic Texas experience.
There's one thing a boat tour guide is not going to mention, however. Texas is in the middle of a historic drought, and the river that tourists are cruising along with ducks, big bass, catfish and perch is actually treated sewage water.