Jackie Northam

Jackie Northam is Foreign Affairs correspondent for NPR news. The veteran journalist has more than two decades of experience covering the world's hot spots and reporting on a broad tapestry of international and foreign policy issues.

Based in Washington, D.C., Northam is assigned to the leading stories of the day, traveling regularly overseas to report the news - from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Northam just completed a five year stint as NPR's National Security Correspondent, covering US defense and intelligence policies. She led the network's coverage of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, traveling regularly to the controversial base to report on conditions there, and on US efforts to prosecute detainees.

Northam spent more than a decade as a foreign correspondent. She reported from Beirut during the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. She lived in and reported extensively from Southeast Asia, Indochina, and Eastern Europe, where she charted the fall of communism.

While based in Nairobi, Kenya, Northam covered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She managed to enter the country just days after the slaughter of ethnic Tutsis began by hitching a ride with a French priest who was helping Rwandans escape to neighboring Burundi.

A native of Canada, Northam's first overseas reporting post was London, where she spent seven years covering stories on Margaret Thatcher's Britain and efforts to create the European Union.

Northam has received multiple journalism awards during her career, including Associated Press awards, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, and was part of an NPR team journalists that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.

The Arctic cold snap that has gripped much of the U.S. lately may be causing hardship for many, but it's also creating some spectacular ice formations at Niagara Falls. The spectacle is drawing huge crowds on both the Canadian and American side of the border.

The air temperature is so cold that the water and mist coming off the falls is frozen in place. Some of the formations look like massive boulders, others look like long shards of white glass.

There's some relief on the way for parents who worry what their young children may be watching on the internet. YouTube is set to release a new app that will offer more age-appropriate viewing for kids. An official with YouTube says the app - YouTube Kids - is due to be released by Google on Monday. It will initially be available only on Android devices.

The global shipping industry is a ferociously competitive business, and the trans-Pacific route — from Asia to the West Coast seaports of the U.S. — is considered one of the most lucrative routes. Normally, cargo ships carrying everything from fruits and vegetables to cars and electronics can count on getting into a berth at one of the 29 West Coast seaports in a reasonable time.

British fighter jets scrambled from their base on Wednesday after two Russian long-range bombers skirted the coast of Cornwall, in the southwest of England. The incident comes one day after British Foreign Secretary Michael Fallon warned about Russia's intentions in Europe.

Some 500,000 Wal-Mart employees will soon be getting a pay raise. Starting in April, the company's full- and part-time U.S. employees will earn at least $9 an hour, at least $1.75 above today's federal minimum wage.

The pay boost will also apply to employees of Sam's Club, which is owned by Wal-Mart.

The retailer says wages will jump to at least $10 one year from now.

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If you open an atlas, you'd see pretty quick that Australia is nowhere near Europe. That doesn't seem to matter to the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest, who have decided that Australia can compete this year. The decision to allow Australia into the 2015 competition for the first time was announced on a Eurovision website, followed by the line: "Yes, you read that right!"

The U.S. embassy in Yemen is suspending operations because of the deteriorating security situation. The country has been gripped by turmoil since President Abd Rabuh Mansur Hadi and his cabinet resigned in January. Shiite Houthi rebels have since seized control of the capital, Sanaa, placed Hadi and his ministers under arrest and announced plans to form another another government.

President Obama is defending his decision not to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington. The prime minister was invited by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address a joint meeting of Congress on March 3.

The White House was not told of the invitation until shortly before it was made public. Obama said meeting with Netanyahu while he's in Washington would break protocol. Netanyahu is due to make his address just two weeks before Israel's general election.

It took just one newspaper article to change James Robertson's life.

Last Sunday, the Detroit Free Press ran a front page story about the 56-year-old factory worker. It said every weekday for a decade, Robertson has left his house and walked more than 20 miles to and from his job in suburban Detroit. Robertson's car had broken down years before and so he made a long and lonely commute on foot in every kind of weather.

It is considered legitimate for a girl to be married at the age of 9, most "pure" girls will be married by 16 or 17, and there is no greater responsibility for a woman than being a wife to her husband.

Those are just some of the statements laid out in a manifesto published by female fighters of the so-called Islamic State.

Vietnamese authorities have buried thousands of cats, many of them apparently still alive, that were destined for restaurant tables. The Associated Press says the felines were culled because they posed an environmental and health risk.

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Target says it will pull the supplements identified by the New York attorney general from its stores and website. The company says, with its vendor, it will investigate and will cooperate with the attorney general.

Walmart says it will pull the items from its shelves in New York, and that "based on testing performed by our suppliers we have not found any issues with the relevant products."

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There's a term traders use when the price of a commodity like oil has fallen because of oversupply but seems guaranteed to rise again.

It's a market that's "in contango," says Brenda Shaffer, an energy specialist at Georgetown University. "It almost sounds like a sort of great oil dance or something."

And Shaffer says that some oil speculators see an oil market that is in contango in a major way.

If you want a sobering look at the scale of wildlife trafficking, just visit the National Wildlife Property Repository on the outskirts of Denver. In the middle of a national refuge is a cavernous warehouse stuffed with the remains of 1.5 million animals, whole and in parts.

They range from taxidermied polar bears to tiny sea horses turned into key chains. An area devoted to elephants is framed by a pair of enormous tusks.

It's been a rough ride for the Russian economy and it keeps getting worse. Low oil prices helped push the ruble to another record low on Friday. This spate of bad economic news is probably just accelerating an existing trend: Russia's purchase of gold at an astounding rate.

Russia's central bank bought more than 130 tons of gold this year. Last year, it bought about 75 tons. Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at the brokerage firm, RJ O'Brien, says Russia has shifted even more assets into gold because it has had a particularly bad year.

Imagine you're sitting back one evening, planning your holiday shopping list, knowing that every day you wait to get to the shops, the value of your money will be losing ground.

That's what's happening in places like Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria and other nations that rely heavily on oil exports.

Oil was more than $100 a barrel at the start of the summer. Now it's around $70 a barrel, and many forecasts say it could go lower still.

Oil prices continue to tumble: down about 25 percent since mid-June to a four-year low, and many analysts believe there is no end in sight.

While that's good for consumers and most businesses in the U.S., the falling price is bad for oil-exporting countries such as Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Iraq.

And blame — or credit — for the plummeting prices is falling squarely on Saudi Arabia.

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The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a "tragedy not seen in modern times," said Sierra Leone's president Ernest Bai Koroma.

At the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on Thursday, Koroma and the presidents of Guinea and Liberia are pleading with the international community for help battling the Ebola epidemic. In the three hardest-hit countries, the virus has already killed nearly 4,000 people.

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We're hearing a lot in today's program about the people who care for patients with Ebola. There is a shortage of suits to protect them.

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The Ebola outbreak is having a devastating effect on the economies of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, crippling major industries and forcing people out of work.

The three nations hardest hit by the virus are among the poorest on the African continent. Combined, their GDP is less than 3 percent of Nigeria's, the regional economic powerhouse.

One byproduct of the recurring battles between Israel and its Arab neighbors is that Israel has developed a homegrown weapons industry that addresses its very specific needs.

Over the decades, this has included a number of cutting-edge technologies, from drones to night-vision equipment, which have been widely exported.

A more recent example is the Iron Dome, which was used throughout the latest conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The mobile missile defense system is capable of stopping short-range rockets from places like Gaza, the West Bank and southern Lebanon.

Relations between Israel and the United States are going through a turbulent time. The two sides — normally seen as unshakable allies — have increasingly taken to trading barbs and accusations about the other's policies and decisions, breaking diplomatic protocol.

The occasional frictions of the past few years have been exacerbated by the war in the Gaza Strip.

Itay Maoz climbs into his dusty SUV and presses a series of buttons on his cellphone, which opens an electronic gate surrounding the Nahal Oz Kibbutz. From here, in the far south of Israel, you can see across the border into Gaza and the remains of buildings pulverized by Israeli missiles.

This 2,500-acre collective farm was on the front line during the war between Israel and Hamas, and it sustained millions of dollars worth of damage. Maoz points at a patch of hard earth, gouged with deep tracks, leading toward Gaza.

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In the ongoing war with Hamas, Israel says it is looking for new technology to help detect and destroy tunnels used by Islamist militants.

Israel says 32 tunnels have been demolished so far in the conflict, but there are concerns others remain. In the town of Netiv Ha'asara, along the border with Gaza, the discovery of one tunnel is forcing residents to question whether to remain.

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Wow, Israel and Hamas's three-day cease-fire is over. Moments after it expired, a barrage of rockets left Gaza for Israel, and Israel fired back. NPR's Jackie Northam is in Jerusalem. She's covering the story. Hi, Jackie.

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