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Conflict & Justice

No one in the West understood what the war in Afghanistan was really about

A new book documents the insurgency in Afghanistan's Helmand province, where British, and later US, forces struggled to put a lid on the Taliban. Author Mike Martin is a British army officer who interviewed 150 locals to try to learn about the insurgency. The British Ministry of Defense paid for his research, but tried to stop him from publishing his findings.

Global Scan

iPhone won't stay charged? Blame Facebook

A German researcher and a former American Apple store employee both say iPhone battery problems are mainly caused by one app: Facebook. Meanwhile, Russians hear that the rest of the world's problems are all the fault of moral decay and political fascism outside the country. And in the developing world, a soccer ball was supposed to provide light for study, but is prone to break.

Global Scan

Paris wants all of you lovers to stop putting locks on its bridges

Paris is the city of lovers, but maybe a little less today. Paris bridges have long been a spot people publicly declared their love — with a lock. But a new effort seeks to stop that trend. Meanwhile, an account from the New York Review of Books looks at the day in the 2000s when the NSA metadata gathering program nearly died. That and more in today's Global Scan.

Global Politics

European Union prepares to adopt 24th official language as costs mount, calls for English rise

In the European Union, every language is an official language. Government officials speak in the official language of their country, and those comments are then translated into 22, soon to be 23, other languages. All of that costs $1.4 billion per year — and that total will increase when Croatian becomes an official language later this year.

Lifestyle & Belief

Does the West have a monopoly on romantic love?

Updated

Is love, romantic love, a universal emotion? In the West, it often seems we live, die and even kill for love. Love is passionate, foolish and cherished. But in many cultures, arranged marriages are the norm and romantic love is, well, disruptive. It turns out people across the globe feel romantic love, but they don't necessarily act on it.

Arts, Culture & Media

You wouldn't believe the situations a hard-working Lego photographer finds himself in

Everything is Awesome. That's the theme song to The Lego Movie, a recently released film that imagines a richly detailed life for its animated minifigure characters. But what's it like to be a working Lego stiff, a one-and-a-half-inch tall freelance Lego photographer? Andrew Whyte's been finding out. He's been carrying around a little Lego man for more than a year, photographing him every day, rain or shine.

Global Scan

Will that be cash, check or bitcoin?

Bitcoins have soared in value in recent weeks, touching $1000 per bitcoin earlier this week. They've become so popular some traditional businesses are accepting them for payment — but not everyone has embraced them.

Global Scan

What happens when you're proudly gay and proudly Sikh?

A gay Sikh man created a social media stir when he posted a photo on Facebook that was taken down by the network. The posting, which Facebook said violated its terms, created a firestorm within the Sikh community and outside. Also, a US presidential commission has made 46 recommendations for reining in the NSA, and we introduce you to a Czech treat likely coming to a bakery near you soon. All that and more, in today's Global Scan.

Global Scan

New evidence suggests systematic torture by Syria's government

New images and reports have surfaced of wholesale torture and starvation on the part of the Syrian regime, just as peace talks to end the war are set to start on Wednesday. On the US west coast, scientists dispel fears that Pacific Ocean fish are contaminated with Fukushima radiation. And side-by-side men's toilets at an Olympic venue have become a social media joke. That and more, in today's Global Scan.