Philip Reeves

You would think the people of Brazil would be hard to shock after the turbulence that they have endured in the past few years, including a deep recession, and the impeachment of a president.

But today's sudden death of a Supreme Court justice who was a pivotal player in an investigation into the huge Petrobras corruption scandal has come as a blow to the nation of such severity that the government has called for three days of national mourning.

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So if you're one of those people who find it hard to choose gifts, you really need to listen to this next story. NPR's Philip Reeves was recently in Brazil's city of Manaus in the middle of the Amazon rainforest where he found a pretty unusual gift.

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From time to time, NPR reassigns its international correspondents to new countries, and our colleague Philip Reeves has arrived in Brazil to cover South America from our bureau in Rio. Phil sent us this postcard with a few of his first impressions.

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When Donald Trump finally has his feet under the desk in the Oval Office and opens the files marked "Afghanistan" and "Pakistan," he will find much to worry about.

Relations between Pakistan and India, which both have big nuclear arsenals, are in crisis. These days, their armies regularly trade shots along the Line of Control, the de facto border in disputed Kashmir — sometimes with fatal consequences.

Fears abound that Afghanistan could melt down into violent chaos that could spill beyond its boundaries.

Aizaz Azam is a young police detective in Pakistan whose brief career has been devoted to busting minor prostitution and gambling rackets and sorting out street brawls.

Now, though, he's slogging away for up to 20 hours a day, working his first major case. It involves a crime so ruthless that Azam says he and his fellow cops feel "strangely unsettled in our souls."

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Cyril Almeida has a reputation for being one of Pakistan's most astute political observers. His columns for the venerable English-language Dawn newspaper are widely read by South Asia-watchers. More than 100,000 people follow him on Twitter.

So it was inevitable that the decision by the Pakistani government to ban him from leaving the country would be met with widespread indignation.

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Relations between India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed neighbors, are in trouble again. And this time, the crisis is affecting the entertainment world. NPR's Philip Reeves sent this report from Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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The home in which Pakistan's social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death by her brother has none of the wicked glamour that was her hallmark within her make-believe cyber-world.

She died in a small concrete house, a $100-a-month rental at the end of a cobbled alley inside a half-built housing estate, not far from the central city of Multan. Goats, chickens, street hawkers and kids wander around amid puddles of mud — it is monsoon season — and oceans of trash.

It's been about a month since Amjad Sabri's voice was silenced. He was shot dead in his home city of Karachi by two men on a motorcycle, and his millions of fans are still in shock and anger.

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A few months back, I asked a favor of my friend and NPR colleague Zabihullah Tamanna. We'd just spent a busy day going from interview to interview in Kabul. I had some urgent writing to do. Would he mind going out onto the streets and taking some photographs?

For those who live and work in conflict zones and war zones, it's easy to become somewhat numb. Violence and danger can corrode your sense of humanity. But the pictures that Zabihullah took that day were the work of a journalist whose compassion was entirely intact.

If you drive around Kabul long enough, you will eventually see what must be the most cheerful slogan in Afghanistan.

Cars traverse the city bearing a happy little window sticker about the best way to approach life in a country beset by deep — and, in the eyes of most Afghans, worsening — trouble.

"Enjoy Today!" it reads. "Forget Tomorrow!"

That's harder than it sounds.

A few months ago, the U.S. military gave Zabihullah Niazi $3,000. He lost his left eye and left arm when an American AC-130 gunship repeatedly fired shells into the hospital in which he worked in northern Afghanistan.

The money was what officials term a "condolence payment," an expression of sympathy and sorrow for injuring Niazi when the U.S. military mistakenly hit the Kunduz hospital, killing 42 people.

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A strange new shrine has appeared on the eastern edge of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, amid the low hills that roll towards the Himalayan mountains.

Within a small gazebo, crowned by a green dome, there is a grave, decorated with silver tinsel and surrounded by flowers and richly patterned red carpets.

Inside lies the body of Mumtaz Qadri, a former policeman whose recent hanging for murder suddenly galvanized the mass forces of Pakistan's religious right into a fresh, potentially destabilizing, confrontation with the state.

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Lahore Bombing Update

Mar 27, 2016

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It took Abdul Arian months to realize that his decision to migrate from his home country, Afghanistan, to Germany was a huge mistake.

He set off nearly a year ago, hoping to be granted asylum so he could attend a university and study psychology.

His journey, organized by smugglers, was long and perilous. Arian, 24, says he nearly drowned off the shores of Greece, when the inflatable dinghy he was traveling in capsized.

He says he and his fellow travelers got lost somewhere in Hungary and walked through the rain for 24 hours before they found the path again.

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