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.

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.

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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A train arrived in Ukraine's second-largest city. Its cargo was the remains of hundreds of people. They were killed when a Malaysian passenger jet was shot down last week.

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And the movement of the remains is considered a step forward. Until today pro-Russian separatists had prevented the train from leaving the area near the crash. Now the remains will be taken to the Netherlands for identification.

Kurdish security forces, the peshmerga, have taken over two major oil fields near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. The fields have the potential to put billions of dollars into the coffers of the Kurdish regional government.

But there's a hitch: Even if the Kurdish government has control of the oil, it doesn't necessarily mean it can export it — thanks to the Baghdad government and the U.S.

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Germany has told the chief U.S. intelligence officer in Berlin to leave the country. A dramatic turn of events comes after reports that two German government employees are suspected of spying for the U.S. NPR's Jackie Northam has been following this story and she joins me in the studio. Jackie, the announcement about the expulsion of the top American spy in Germany was made by the Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman. Did he explain it?

The ferocious charge across much of Iraq by militants now calling themselves the Islamic State has created something almost unheard of in the highly divisive Middle East: international consensus.

The U.S. and its allies, as well as some American rivals, including Russia and Iran, are all opposed to the Sunni group formerly known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, noted Rachel Bronson, a Mideast expert with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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When Sunni militants began seizing broad swathes of territory across northern Iraq last week, global oil markets shrugged it off. After all, instability in Iraq is nothing new.

But that all changed on Wednesday, when the insurgents swept into the oil refinery town of Baiji, says Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Group, an energy consulting firm. The price of oil climbed nearly 4 percent in just a few short days.

If Russia was aiming to target one of Ukraine's vulnerabilities, natural gas would be the bull's-eye. Ukraine gets about 60 percent of its gas from Russia.

Clifford Gaddy, a Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution, says as the dispute between the two countries grows, Moscow is more willing to use natural gas as a weapon.

The world of finance gave birth in 2001 to a new buzzword: BRIC. The word is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China. Jim O'Neill, an economist with Goldman Sachs who's been credited with coining the term, saw those four countries as turbo-charged engines among emerging markets, ones that would give Western economies a run for their money.

O'Neill says when he dreamed up the acronym 13 years ago, people didn't really focus on the potential importance of some of these countries.

A long-running legal battle between a legendary Washington law and lobbying firm and a major oil company has been settled.

D.C.-based Patton Boggs has agreed to pay Chevron $15 million to settle a case that centers on pollution from drilling activity in the rainforests of Ecuador.

The case has gone on for more than four years, and the stakes were enormous for the two powerhouses.

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Tomorrow, Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet in Geneva with his counterparts from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. It's hoped the multilateral talks will produce a diplomatic breakthrough on the crisis in Ukraine. Analysts say that without that, the U.S. and its Western allies have few other options for dealing with Russia's aggression there.

NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

There was a thin mist in the early morning air when we set off for the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on April 11, 1994. The genocide had begun four days earlier.

There were no flights into the country, so I and three fellow journalists crossed into Rwanda from neighboring Burundi, hitching a ride with a French priest who was shuttling Tutsi nuns out of the country. He took us to the town of Butare, where a Belgian inn keeper rented us an old cream-colored Renault and drew us a map of how to get to Kigali.

The recent oil and natural gas boom in the U.S. is paying major dividends for Washington's geopolitical clout. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. is awash in domestic energy, which is having a ripple effect globally.

If you want to gauge one effect of this newfound energy wealth, you don't have to look any further than the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine, says Michael Levi, a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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