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NPR Topics: World Story of the Day Podcast: Episodes

Astrakhan, on the Volga River, once was known as Russia's caviar capital -- but no more. As the fish neared extinction, Russia banned all commercial sturgeon fishing in the area and the export of all black caviar. Now, both the sturgeon and the local people struggle to survive.
Nowhere is the Volga River more hallowed than in the city named after it: Volgograd, better known as Stalingrad, site of one of World War II's most important, and bloodiest, battles. Today, Volgograd residents are still adjusting to the post-Soviet changes that have altered Russia.
Far downriver from Moscow's affluence, the struggling Volga River city of Saratov is trying to catch up. For some, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's pervasive and all-powerful party is helping to provide solutions. For many others, it's part of the problem.
The contradictions of today's Russia are evident along the banks of the Volga River. In the post-Soviet world, personal freedoms, unshackled capitalism and the paradox of Vladimir Putin's centralized state controls run on a parallel course.
The 2,300-mile Volga River is Russia's pride and lifeblood. It provides water, power and transport and has played a key role in Russia's history. Now, in post-Soviet times, the river and its communities are under threat from economic woes and environmental concerns.
Iraq has hundreds, maybe thousands, of Saddam Husseins, named for the country's former president during his reign. But nowadays the name is so hated that a group of Saddam Husseins in Diyala Province is petitioning the government to change their names.
The favored candidate in Brazil's presidential runoff Sunday was born in the middle-class mountain city of Belo Horizonte, now the country's third-largest metropolis. Dilma Rousseff and her hometown helped shape Brazil's democratic movement.
Forget Halloween. In Ukraine, the orange vegetable is scary, for real. It is synonymous with rejection, especially in matters of the heart. For centuries, men proposing marriage might have received a pumpkin as a form of "no."
In Germany, a new government-sponsored study finds that the country's foreign ministry staff was much more involved than previously believed in the mass killing of Jews and others during the Holocaust.
Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, is trying to set itself apart from the violent, war-torn images of Somalia. The territory has set up a bicameral legislature, largely disarmed its people and is attracting increased aid from the United States.
Just underneath China's modern, shiny surface, many aspects of life are still very traditional. Marriage is one of those areas. And women, in particular, and their parents fret about not finding a suitable partner before they grow too old and become a "leftover woman."
In Iraq, reaction to the WikiLeaks documents has focused mainly on allegations of wrongdoing by Iraqi officials. But as details are revealed, Iraqis anticipate the documents will hold some answers to long-unresolved questions.
Reports of brutality and torture of fellow Iraqis at the hands of government forces have Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the defense as his rivals citing the documents as proof he's unfit to lead.
Across Europe, economic woes and fears of terrorism are feeding anti-immigrant -- particularly anti-Muslim -- sentiment. Last weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel added fuel to the debate when she said Germany's attempts to build a multicultural society had "utterly failed." Host Scott Simon talks ...
Afghanistan combines some of the world's roughest war-torn mountains with one of the world's most complicated political landscapes. U.S. soldiers navigate both kinds of terrain. A typical day on patrol in eastern Kunar province along the Pakistan border illustrates the balancing act.
Bye-bye PowerPoint. A new, speedier way to give presentations, called pecha-kucha, began in a grungy basement in downtown Tokyo in 2003 -- and has now taken root in hundreds of cities worldwide. The speed technique forces those who pontificate to get to the point -- in 6 minutes, 40 seconds.
The practice, a way of having a "legitimate affair," was banned during Saddam Hussein's reign but returned after the American invasion. Some say there's a right way to do the <em>muta'a,</em> or fixed-term marriage, but others claim rampant misuse.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her nation's attempts to create a multicultural society have failed. Her comments reflect a growing and increasingly bitter anti-immigration mood -- especially for Muslims -- in Germany and across much of Europe.
This Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Australia's first saint, Mother Mary MacKillop. In 1871, MacKillop was briefly excommunicated for insubordination after her order of nuns reported a case of child sex abuse by a priest. Liane Hansen speaks with James Martin, who, in a recent op-ed in the Catholic ...
Last year, Reynosa — a dusty, sprawling city of half a million people across the border from McAllen, Texas — was a relatively peaceful part of the country. Now it's one of the most dangerous places in Mexico.
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