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international politics

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On Russian state television, the Russian military campaign in Syria is portrayed as one success after another — terrorists targets destroyed through precision airstrikes, the Syrian army counterattacking against ISIS, and ever new surprises up Moscow's sleeve.

While American officials have disputed the accuracy of those strikes, Vladimir Ryzhkov, a prominent opposition politician, says the Russian campaign, which began in late September, is in fact showcasing effective military reforms carried out under Putin in recent years; this is the new improved Russian army.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET

Germany's interior minister confirmed Sunday that his country would impose temporary controls on its border, halting trains between Austria and Germany for a 12-hour period to stem the flow of refugees flooding into Munich.

"The aim of these measures is to limit the current inflows to Germany and to return to orderly procedures when people enter the country," Thomas de Maiziere said at a news conference.

Seattle-Area Scots React To 'No' Vote

Sep 19, 2014
Flickr Photo/@PaulDCocker (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman gets reactions from Scottish-born locals  Joyce Denton, David McCann and Andrew McDiarmid after the results of Thursday's referendum on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom.

When Nimco Ali was 7, she thought her family was going on vacation. They flew from their hometown in Manchester, England, to Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

Ali doesn't remember the exact location. But she clearly remembers what happened there.

The young girl found herself in a dingy room, with a woman dressed in all black, standing over her. She didn't know what was going on at the time. But she fell asleep. And when Ali woke up, she was confused.

The woman had mutilated her genitals.

Update on Aug. 5 at 6:25 p.m. ET: More On Quarantines

Photographer Tommy Trenchard discussed more about what he has seen in Freetown, Sierra Leone, with NPR's Audie Cornish on All Things Considered.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is spreading at an alarming rate. The death toll rose Monday to 900 when the World Health Organization reported 61 new deaths across four countries.

A new law in Bolivia allows children as young as 10 to work legally, and has led to sharp criticism from many international human rights groups who note that it goes against a United Nations convention setting a minimum age of 14.

But supporters of the legislation say that the law guarantees legal protections and fair wages for children, who have been working regardless of laws against it.

A refrigerated train carrying the remains of the people who died aboard the downed Malaysia Airlines plane arrived in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday. That's a city controlled by the central government in Kiev and 17 hours away from the chaos of Hrabove, the eastern city controlled by pro-Russian separatists, where the debris and remains were scattered.

The New York Times sets the scene:

At least 47 people have been killed in fighting over the past 24 hours between rival Libyan militias battling for control of Tripoli's international airport.

The country's health ministry said late Sunday that the fighting also wounded 120 people. The Associated Press reports:

"The weeklong battle over the airport is being waged by a powerful militia from the western city of Zintan, which controls the facility, and Islamist-led militias, including fighters from Misrata, east of Tripoli. The clashes resumed Sunday after cease-fire efforts failed.

Flickr Photo/Miller Center (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, about President Obama's remarks on Iraq Thursday morning.

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Marcie Sillman talks with Majid al-Bahadli, a Seattleite who fled Iraq after the first Gulf War. He is among a group of Iraqi-Americans who organized a rally Monday to protest the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's escalation of violence.

AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

David Hyde interviews former Washingtonian, diplomat and scholar Haroon Ullah about the recent election of  Narendra Modi to be the next prime minister of India.

Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom for more than 300 years. This fall, that could change. In mid-September, a referendum on independence will determine whether Scotland breaks off from England, Northern Ireland and Wales to become a sovereign nation.

Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, is ground zero in this debate. The East End of this city is poor and run down, with some of the worst health figures in Europe. Men here are expected to live into only their mid-50s, some 30 years less than in wealthy areas.

Post-Chavez Venezuela: A Political House Of Mirrors

Mar 3, 2014
AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

Steve Scher talks with Jose Antonio Lucero, chair of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Washington, about the protests in Venezuela.

Update at 1 p.m. ET. Our Latest Head And Link, Part II:

Russia Denies Issuing Ultimatum Or Warning Ukraine Of 'Storm'

The top of that post:

We're adding updates throughout this post as the day continues.

Tensions continue to rise in Ukraine, where months of public protests led last week to the downfall of President Viktor Yanukovych's government. His opponents are now installing pro-Western ministers to replace the pro-Russian leaders who worked for Yanukovych. The interim government is expected to be in charge at least until new elections can be held, perhaps in late May.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Ross Reynolds talks with associate professor Scott Radnitz about the growing tension in Ukraine and why there has been a rise in violence. Radnitz explains how the situation in Ukraine differs from the other post-Soviet countries.

Flickr Photo/Ryan Lejbak

Marcie Sillman discusses the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with Jill Dougherty, former CNN foreign affairs correspondent.

Dougherty spoke at the University of Washington's Ellison Center about the state of Russia and U.S. affairs.

KUOW Photo/Jeannie Yandel

Ross Reynolds talks with author Joseph Cirincione about his latest book “Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late.” 

Flickr Photo/European Commission DG ECHO

Marcie Sillman speaks with Moses Monynhial Dut, a student and maintenance engineer for Seattle's Smith Tower, about his journey out of South Sudan and how he views the conflict today.

Weird Stuff World Leaders Give Each Other

Jan 14, 2014

You say potato, John Kerry says let's give it to Russia.

Flickr Photo/Kitty Chirapongse

Ross Reynolds speaks with ​Thai political blogger and foreign correspondent Saksith Saiyasombut about the anti-government protests shutting down Bangkok streets, and what it means for the future of democracy in Thailand.

AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon

When former basketball star Dennis Rodman implied to CNN that Kenneth Bae, a Lynnwood, Wash., man imprisoned in North Korea, had committed a crime, Bae’s sister lashed out.

Officials In U.S. Stumped By China's Claim Of Tainted Northwest Shellfish

Dec 16, 2013

Environment and health officials in the U.S. say they are puzzled by China’s decision to ban shellfish harvested from Northern California to Alaska. State officials say their records don’t show the same unsafe toxin levels that were detected by a lab in China.

China says it found toxins in two shipments of geoducks. These giant clams harvested in Puget Sound and Alaska can go for $150 a pound. Washington’s shellfish industry overall is worth $270 million, and China is the top export market.

China Imposes First-Ever West Coast Shellfish Ban

Dec 13, 2013

China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States -- an unprecedented move that cuts off a $270 million Northwest industry from its biggest export market.

China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's 'Greatest Son,' Dies At 95

Dec 6, 2013
AP Photo

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon has died, according to South Africa President Jacob Zuma. He was 95.

Christina Asima seems tired for a 13-year-old. I meet the shy-mannered girl in the remote farming village of Chitera, in the southern African nation of Malawi. She wears a bright pink zip-up shirt and a blue print cloth wrapped up to her chest. Snuggled in that, hugging her side, is a chubby-cheeked baby boy.

My gut assumption is that the infant must be Christina's little brother. I know 8-month-old Praise is actually her son. Still, it's startling when, as we speak, she shifts him around front to nurse.

Lashkar Gah is the capital of the volatile province that alone grows half of Afghanistan's opium poppy. Cultivation here grew by 34 percent over last year.

On Fridays, hundreds of men gather at the bazaar along the Helmand River, the lifeblood of this arid province. Vendors sell everything from livestock to boxes of artisanal medicine.

There's no sign of poppy here. In fact, the farmers we talk to like 26-year-old Khairullah, who goes by one name, say they are actually too poor to grow it.

Big Life Foundation Photo/Nick Brandt

They’re calling it The Crush.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service plans to destroy six tons of elephant ivory on Thursday to draw attention to the ongoing decimation of wild elephants by poachers. Wildlife service officials will grind up tusks, trinkets and carvings seized from traffickers over the past 25 years. The tusks are typically trafficked in the illegal Chinese and Japanese ivory market.

Gun-toting militiamen man the steel gate that leads into the Tripoli zoo. A sign promises a garden of animals. Inside, there are paths that meander through a maze of cages and animal habitats. Monkeys climb trees; hippos submerge themselves in water and lions lounge in the heat.

Just a few hundred yards away, there's a different kind of cage: Inside there are people — migrants waiting to be deported or to prove they are in Libya legally.

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