NPR’s Audie Cornish interviews Washington Post reporter Loveday Morris about how the city of Ramadi, Iraq, fell to the self-declared Islamic State. She says Iraqi troops in the city were worn down.
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The consensus is that the World Health Organization’s performance on Ebola was miserable. At the agency’s annual meeting, the WHO is set to adopt reforms to make sure what happened with Ebola doesn’t happen again.
In Taiwan, businesses and residents have been learning to adapt to life with less water. The island country is coping with its worst drought in decades.
Princeton University professor John Nash speaks during a news conference at the university in Oct. 1994 after being named the winner of the Nobel Prize for economics.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Updated at 12:01 p.m. ET
John Forbes Nash, Jr., the Nobel laureate known for his groundbreaking work on game theory and differential equations, was killed along with his wife in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, police say. He was 86.
His death was first reported by NJ.com citing a police official. NPR has confirmed the report through longtime colleague Louis Nirenberg. The couple were killed on Saturday.
Nash is best known to the general public as the subject of the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, which depicted the troubled mathematician struggling with paranoid schizophrenia even as he pressed ahead with his research. Nash was played by actor Russell Crowe.
According to NJ.com, Nash and his wife of 60 years, 82-year-old Alicia Nash:
“[Were] in a taxi traveling southbound in the left lane of the New Jersey Turnpike, State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams said. The driver of the Ford Crown Victoria lost control as he tried to pass a Chrysler in the center lane, crashing into a guard rail.
“The Nashes were ejected from the car, Williams said.
“‘It doesn’t appear that they were wearing seatbelts,’ he said.”
Nirenberg, with whom Nash shared the 2015 Abel Prize, tells NPR’s Lauren Hodges that he and his colleague had just returned from Oslo where they received the award. Nirenberg said Nash and his wife were supposed to take a limo home but the driver never showed. So, instead, they took a cab.
Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber later issued a statement saying the university was “stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia.”
“John’s remarkable achievements inspired generations of mathematicians, economists and scientists,” Eisgruber said.
A bio on Princeton University’s website, where Nash was a professor, notes that A Beautiful Mind was “loosely” based on his life. Nash received his doctorate from the institution in 1950.
According to the website:
“The impact of his 27 page dissertation on the fields of mathematics and economics was tremendous. In 1951 he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. His battle with schizophrenia began around 1958, and the struggle with this illness would continue for much of his life. Nash eventually returned to the community of Princeton.”
In a 2004 interview with Nash published on the website of the Nobel Prize, the mathematician was asked how receiving the prestigious award had changed his life.
“It has had a tremendous impact on my life, more than on the life of most Prize winners because I was in an unusual situation. I was unemployed at the time,” he said.
“I was in good health, but I had reached the age of 66 and beginning to get social security, but I didn’t have much of that,” Nash said. “I had many years of unemployment before me. And so I was in a position to be very much influenced by [how] the recognition of my earlier work came about in this way.”
Although Nash shared the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for his work “non-cooperative games” (game theory), the Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced in March was in recognition of “his seminal work in partial differential equations — which are used to describe the basic laws of scientific phenomena.”
Nash was in Oslo on Tuesday to receive it, along with Nirenberg, from King Harald V.
NJ.com says that wife Alicia “was his caretaker while he battled his mental illness. They became mental health care advocates when their son John was also diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
Malaysian authorities say they’ve discovered numerous gravesites in at least 17 abandoned camps used by human smugglers along the Thai-Malay border. The dozens or possibly hundreds of bodies are thought to be migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Voice of America quotes Malaysia’s Home Minister Zahid Hamidi as telling reporters today that the graves had been found near villages used by people traffickers.
“The IGP [Inspector General of Police] and his deputy is currently at the Malaysian-Thailand borders for confirmation and identification of the bodies in the mass grave,” he said. “The mass graves area has been identified by VAT 69 [special police force] and PGA [general police force] as being used for human trafficking activities of refugees.”
Zahid said at least 17 sites had been uncovered but did not say how many bodies. He did, however, say that each of them contained the remains of between one and four people.
The discovery of the graves follows a similar find earlier this month by Thai police, who unearthed dozens of bodies in similar camps on their side of the border.
The Associated Press notes: “Most of those who have fallen victim to the trafficking networks are refugees and impoverished migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, part of a wave of people who have fled their homelands to reach countries like Malaysia, where they hope to find work or live free from persecution.”
Zahid was quoted by AP as saying the sites “have been there for quite some time … We are still investigating, but I suspect they have been operating for at least five years.”
Defense Secretary Ash Carter testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, earlier this month. In an interview on CNN today, Carter complained that Iraqi forces lacked “the will to fight” the self-declared Islamic State.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Defense Secretary Ash Carter says that Iraqi forces lack the “will to fight” the self-declared Islamic State and that they lost western Anbar province to the extremist group despite outnumbering their opponents.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Carter said that although Iraqi forces, or ISF, “vastly outnumber” ISIS in western Anbar, and in their loss of the provincial capital, Ramadi, last week, “What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force.”
The capture of Ramadi was followed quickly by the fall of the ancient city of Palmyra to ISIS.
“We can give them training, we can give them equipment — we obviously can’t give them the will to fight,” Carter tells CNN.
As The Associated Press notes: “The harsh assessment [raises] new questions about the Obama administration’s strategy to defeat the extremist group that has seized a strategically important swath of the Middle East.”
The defense secretary’s remarks echoed those made by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last week that “The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi … They drove out of Ramadi.”
But Iraqi lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the parliamentary defense and security committee, fired back at Carter’s comments. He was quoted by the AP as calling them “unrealistic and baseless.”
“The Iraqi army and police did have the will to fight IS group in Ramadi, but these forces lack good equipment, weapons and aerial support,” he told the AP.
The BBC reports that the Iraqi government has deployed Shiite militias to the area and that on Saturday those forces had retaken Husayba, east of Ramadi and that heavy fighting was continuing in the area.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Boy Scouts of America’s annual meeting in 2014. “There’s no certainty about any of this,” he says of the situation in Iraq.
The self-declared Islamic State gained a real grip on Iraq and Syria this week, capturing the cities of Ramadi and parts of Mosul in Iraq, and the ancient town Palmyra, Syria.
Most recently, ISIS has claimed credit for a suicide bomb attack inside Saudi Arabia on a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers. That attack killed at least 19 and could represent a significant escalation of the extremist group’s operations in the kingdom.
NPR’s Leila Fadel reported that it was the first time a Saudi branch of ISIS known as Najd Province has claimed responsibility for an attack inside the kingdom.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates tells NPR’s Scott Simon that the U.S. should increase its assistance of Iraqi forces in the region.
Gates, who served under both President George W. Bush and President Obama, also spoke about the latest suicide bombing. His best-selling memoir, Duty, has just been published in paperback.
Gates is now president of the Boy Scouts of America and spoke to NPR from the scouts’ annual convention in Atlanta. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Simon: What is the significance of the suicide attack in Saudi Arabia?
Gates: I think it’s evidence that they do have the capability to reach into various parts of the region in addition to consolidating their position in Syria and in Anbar province in Iraq. They clearly are getting a lot of recruits from all over the region and all over the world, and it’s not surprising that they can carry out an isolated attack.
How would you characterize current U.S. strategy?
I think the president has the right strategy in the respect that he demanded the political change in Iraq before we did pretty much anything to help them, to get rid of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and bring in somebody who was willing to be less sectarian — although the new man, Haider al-Abadi, is facing his own challenges. I also think the president was right in saying that the primary boots on the ground need to be Arab and Kurd, not American or Western.
I think that the pacing of the provision of assistance needs to be stepped up, as well as changing the rules of engagement for our troops.
Are you confident that those steps would keep ISIS in check?
No, I’m not confident, but I do think those are measures that can be taken. There’s no certainty about any of this. It’s a very fluid situation. It’s a very difficult situation, frankly.
Would letting ISIS come to power now mean that U.S. soldiers in Iraq had given their lives for nothing?
It’s very troubling to see places, like Fallujah and Ramadi in particular, but also Mosul, where a lot of American blood was spilled, fall into the hands of these fanatics. I’m sure that every soldier and Marine that was involved in these places is looking at it and wondering whether the sacrifice was worth it.
The truth is we had a pretty good situation in Iraq in 2010, 2011, and in some ways, that was a mark of the success of our troops, in terms of security, in terms of a political dialogue. It’s a sad commentary both on the actions of al-Maliki as well as the spillover from the Syrian civil war that the situation that our troops fought so hard to create has, to a considerable extent, been squandered.
The Bank of England in London in a photograph taken in March. The central bank inadvertently revealed that it was planning for a possible withdrawal of the U.K. from the European Union.
In what is being described as an embarrassing release of a confidential email, the Bank of England may have inadvertently revealed that it is making financial plans for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, should that ever come to pass.
Earlier this month, the newly reelected British Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his party’s commitment to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on continued membership in the EU.
According to The Guardian, on Friday the Bank of England — the British equivalent of the Federal Reserve — “accidentally emailed details” to the newspaper of a contingency plan in the works on how to extricate the U.K. from the EU, “including how the bank intended to fend off any inquiries about its work.”
The plan has been dubbed “Operation Bookend,” according to the newspaper.
Jon Cunliffe, center, then Britain’s International Economic and EU Advisor, stands behind Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2011 as he speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a G20 Summit. The Guardian reports that Cunliffe’s secretary accidentally leaked to the paper Great Britain’s plan for a possible exit from the European Union.
The Guardian reports that “the email, from [Deputy Governor for Financial Stability Sir Jon] Cunliffe’s private secretary to four senior executives, was written on 21 May and forwarded by mistake to a Guardian editor by the Bank’s head of press, Jeremy Harrison.
“It says: ‘Jon’s proposal, which he has asked me to highlight to you, is that no email is sent to [the team of James Talbot, the head of the monetary assessment and strategy division] … or more broadly around the Bank about the project.’
“It continues: ‘James can tell his team that he is working on a short-term project on European economics in International [division] which will last a couple of months. This will be in-depth work on a broad range of European economic issues. Ideally he would then say no more.’”
While the United Kingdom is one of 28 EU member states, it maintains its own currency and is not part of the Eurozone.
A man holds an image of late Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Arnulfo Romero during his beatification ceremony at El Salvador del Mundo square in San Salvador, today.
Oscar Romero, the Catholic archbishop who was murdered in El Salvador in 1980 by a member of a right-wing death squad, has been beatified in a ceremony in the country’s capital today that drew at least a quarter of a million people.
The beatification is the last step before canonization, when the Vatican would declare Romero a saint. In January, the Holy See declared him a martyr.
Romero was archbishop of San Salvador at the start of El Salvador’s 1979-1992 civil war. He was gunned down while celebrating Mass in March 1980 after denouncing a crackdown on leftist opponents of the country’s military government.
As NPR’s Carrie Kahn reported on Friday from San Salvador, today’s beatification ceremony “ends a long-fought battle for recognition of Romero’s life and work. But many say it does little to curb the current gang violence terrorizing the country today.”
According to Carrie, “Romero’s beatification has brought visitors and his supporters from around the world to this small Central American nation. They stream through Romero’s spartan home in San Salvador, the capital, now preserved as a tiny museum, where Romero lived up until his death.”
In a letter to the current Archbishop of San Salvador, Pope Francis said the Romero’s beatification created “a favorable moment for true and proper reconciliation.
“In this day of joy for El Salvador and also for other Latin American countries, we thank God for giving the martyr archbishop the ability to see and feel the suffering of his people,” the pope wrote, according to the BBC.
A suicide bomber killed several people in a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia Friday, raising fears of anti-Shiite violence there.