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President Obama's two-year-old campaign against the Islamic State is clearly weakening the extremist group. But he's unlikely to finish the job during his final months, leaving it to his successor, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, to figure out how to keep ISIS on the run.

U.S.-backed Iraqi troops are on the march against the ISIS stronghold of Mosul in northern Iraq. In neighboring Syria, ISIS recently lost the symbolically important town of Dabiq.

More than 40 years after she became the first woman to climb the world's highest mountain, Junko Tabei has died at age 77, according to Japanese media. Tabei was just 4'9", but she was a giant in mountaineering, as the first woman to conquer the "Seven Summits" — the tallest peak on each continent.

Tabei "was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago but continued her mountaineering activities while undergoing treatment," Japanese broadcaster NHK reports, adding that she died Thursday in a hospital in Kawagoe City.

The death toll is rising at the site of a train derailment in Cameroon, with President Paul Biya saying the crash of the crowded car Friday killed more than 70 people and wounded 600 more. The train was packed with people because rains had washed out a frequently used road Thursday.

"My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the #CAMRAIL train derailment in #Eseka," Biya wrote on his Facebook page Saturday.

In the sunlit courtyard of a mosque, overlooked by jagged mountains, dozens of men arrive to offer condolences to the family of Brigadier Hamid Birmous.

The commander with the Iraqi Kurdish forces known as peshmerga was killed in action by an ISIS bomb during the operation to retake the city of Mosul, which began this week. Iraqi security forces continue to fight their way through villages and countryside outside the city.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

The church of San Lorenzo in Accumoli is tiny and dark. The electricity has been out since a powerful earthquake ripped through the area and killed nearly 300 people less than two months ago. It also knocked over three rows of pews on the church's wooden floor, soggy since parts of the foundation receded.

"Don't step over there, you could fall through," warns Silvio Santi, the church caretaker.

Episode 731: How Venezuela Imploded

Oct 21, 2016

Things are pretty bad right now in Venezuela. Grocery stores don't have enough food. Hospitals don't have basic supplies, like gauze. Child mortality is spiking. Businesses are shuttering.

It's one of the epic economic collapses of our time. And it was totally avoidable.

Venezuela used to be a relatively rich country. It has just about all the economic advantages a country could ask for: beautiful beaches and mountains ready for tourism, fertile land good for farming, an educated population, and oil, lots and lots of oil.

The French-speaking Belgian region called Wallonia is holding up Europe's free-trade agreement with Canada. CETA, or The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, would reduce or eliminate tariffs and make it easier for goods to move between countries, similar to NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Venezuelan authorities have halted a campaign to hold an election intended to recall President Nicolas Maduro, who is deeply unpopular and presiding over an economic implosion.

The opposition had been preparing to gather signatures next week for a petition drive required to trigger a referendum on Maduro's leadership, the BBC explains.

ISIS fighters launched attacks on police Friday in the city of Kirkuk, as Iraqi security forces continued a massive military offensive to try to pry Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities, from the militant group.

"The fighters struck [Kirkuk] before dawn, with suicide bombers hitting four police stations and gunmen killing police," NPR's Alice Fordham reports from Irbil, Iraq, though the number of casualties wasn't immediately clear. "A curfew is imposed in Kirkuk, but eyewitnesses say fighting continues."

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman could be brought to face trial in the U.S. by early next year, after a federal judge in Mexico City refused to stop his extradition process. El Chapo is now down to his last appeals.

South Africa has decided to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, after previously ignoring an ICC arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Reuters and The Associated Press both say they have seen a document, signed by South Africa's foreign minister, declaring the country's intent to withdraw. The AP reports that legislation to finalize the move has to pass South Africa's parliament, but notes that passage of such a bill is likely.

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic

About Emily Penn's TED Talk

Ocean advocate Emily Penn has seen first hand how much plastic ends up in the oceans. She explains how the toxins from plastic makes their way into our food chain and how we might be able to stop it.

About Emily Penn

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep with Halloween news. A Mississippi county temporarily banned clowns. Given a rash of clowns sitings, county supervisors fear trick or treating with a clown costume could end badly.

A group of teenage girls in school uniforms giggle as they share crepes topped with candy and chocolate sauce and oozing hazelnut Nutella. It's a Saturday afternoon and the girls are at the new Nutella shop in Jerusalem's Shuafat Palestinian refugee camp.

The scene is rare in this densely populated and impoverished urban camp. The potholed street outside the café is tense and crowded, as a group of little Palestinian schoolboys fight alongside zigzagging traffic.

It's the land of pop-up protests.

Using hashtags and spur-of-the-moment public demonstrations, Zimbabweans are demanding reforms — and the departure of 92-year-old president Robert Mugabe, who has led the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.

To find Mosul's cops, you drive to a gray dot of a village in an endless desert. The village, Mahana, was retaken from the Islamic State a few months ago and for now it's the police base for cops who left Mosul when ISIS took over more than two years ago.

Iraq's army and its allies are now battling their way through rural areas toward the larger prize of retaking Mosul. Helicopters buzz back and forth from the frontlines. Every breath is bitter with smoke from oil wells set alight by ISIS.

Mexico City's Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera is handing out plastic whistles. A half-million of them. At three bucks a pop, he's hoping that women will use the whistles to scare off harassers on the packed public transportation system.

When the plan was announced this summer, it received a flurry of scathing criticism and mocking memes on social media. But city officials are moving forward and have been handing out the whistles by the thousands at subway and bus stops.

It's easy to believe in a definitive American immigration story. So much of this country's mythos is built on that idea. ("Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...") It foretells a fairy tale ending where parents have worked hard, sacrificed much, and settled their children into the new country. The family has assimilated, and the life that came before is a distant memory.

But it's more complicated than that. The telling of immigration stories exposes a rich array of experiences: loss, longing, duality, triumph and contradiction.

On Friday the United Nations is set to appoint Wonder Woman its honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. The cartoon character, turning 75 this year, will be the face of a social media campaign that the U.N., will launch at a star-studded ceremony in New York. The actress Gal Gadot — who plays Wonder Woman in the movies these days — is scheduled to be there. So is Lynda Carter, who portrayed the superhero in the 1970s television show.

Russia and Syria have temporarily halted airstrikes on the beleaguered eastern part of Aleppo, the part of the city controlled by the rebels. Instead, Aleppo has been showered with leaflets that urge rebel fighters and civilians to flee.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday his country's air force was extending for another day a "humanitarian pause" so civilians in need of medical care can get out of the city.

"We are appealing [to] countries that have influence on armed groups in eastern Aleppo to convince them to stop fighting and leave," Shoigu said.

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Spain's top court reversed a ban on bullfighting in the Catalonia region, saying it was unconstitutional and infringed on the government's responsibility to preserve Spain's cultural patrimony.

Catalan lawmakers approved the ban in 2010, citing animal cruelty. As NPR reported at the time, it was seen as a victory for animal rights activists and a "stinging anti-Spanish rebuke," from the fiercely independent region.