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.

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Parallels
6:29 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Do You Know Who Owns Your Favorite Liquor?

The Japanese drinks company Suntory plans to buy Beam Inc., which includes Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon. They are shown next to Suntory's Yamazaki and Hakushu whiskies at Suntory headquarters in Tokyo on Tuesday. The deal makes Suntory one of the world's leading drinks companies in an industry where a handful of companies increasingly dominate the global market.
Issei Kato Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 1:18 pm

Liquor companies like to make drinkers think their favorite spirits always have been and always will be attached to a very particular place — Kentucky bourbon, Irish whiskey, Russian vodka.

But like many other industries, the liquor business has gone global, and a small number of players increasingly dominate the industry worldwide. The distilling may still be local, but ownership is definitely international.

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Parallels
1:49 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

As Costs Soar, Who Will Pay For The Panama Canal's Expansion?

A view of the Panama Canal last Thursday. The canal is being widened to accommodate larger ships, but the builders and the canal operators are locked in a dispute about who will pay the higher-than-expected costs to finish the project.
Alejandro Bolivar EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 8:29 pm

For five years, a multibillion-dollar expansion has been underway on the Panama Canal so that ships three times the current size can pass through the vital waterway. The new, wider canal will alter global trade routes and dramatically increase revenue for Panama's government, primarily from toll charges.

The expansion is more than two-thirds done, but now a funding dispute between the builders and the canal operators threatens to bring construction to a halt.

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Parallels
1:04 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

NAFTA Opened Continent For Some Canadian Companies

The Bombardier Challenger 300 is one of the most popular midsize business jets in production. Canada-based Bombardier has boomed in the two decades since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed.
Todd Williamson AP

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:27 pm

Six brand new Challenger corporate jets sit on a showroom floor waiting to be picked up here at the Bombardier Aerospace plant on the outskirts of Montreal. Manager Frank Richie watches as technicians polish the gleaming aircraft and make last-minute adjustments. Each one is personalized, from the leather trim inside to the fancy paint job on its exterior.

Through a side door, you enter an enormous assembly line for more than a dozen other Challenger jets. The factory floor spans nearly 900,000 square feet.

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Parallels
12:49 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Battle Of The Bottom Feeder: U.S., Vietnam In Catfish Fight

Freshly caught catfish wriggle in large nets in Doddsville, Miss.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 11:17 am

Bill Battle peers through the window of a pickup truck at his catfish farm, Pride of the Pond, near Tunica, Miss. The land is pancake-flat, broken up by massive ponds, some holding up to 100,000 pounds of catfish.

Cormorants fly low over the ponds, keeping an eye out for whiskered, smooth-skinned fish. Battle keeps a shotgun in the front seat; business is hard enough without the birds cutting into his profit.

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Business
2:06 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Trains Gain Steam In Race To Transport Crude Oil In The U.S.

A Norfolk Southern train pulls oil tank units on its way to the PBF Energy refinery in Delaware City, Del. As U.S. oil production outpaces its pipeline capacity, more and more companies are looking to the railways to transport crude oil.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 4:00 pm

On a quiet fall morning in the Delaware countryside, a lone sustained whistle pierces the air. Within moments, a train sweeps around a broad curve, its two heavy locomotives hauling dozens of white, cylindrical rail cars, loaded with 70,000 barrels of crude oil.

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World
3:21 am
Tue October 15, 2013

For European Gangs, A Gem Of A Growth Industry: Jewel Heists

Police display some of the jewelry recovered from the 2008 robbery of Harry Winston jewelers in Paris. Thieves snatched loot estimated to be worth $105 million.
Francois Guillot AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 2:53 pm

Thieves, using axes and smoke grenades, break into a Swiss luxury watch store and make off with more than $2 million in loot.

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Business
3:37 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Trade Gets Sluggish As The Shutdown Leaves Agencies Shortstaffed

The government shutdown is starting to hamper trade. More than 40 federal agencies involved in trade shipments — from the EPA to the Commerce Department — have trimmed their staffs, resulting in a slowdown or halt of goods.

Asia
1:35 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Asian Investors Find Hot Market In U.S. Properties

In May, a large piece of the General Motors Building in Manhattan was purchased by a Chinese real estate developer.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 7:51 am

The General Motors Building in Manhattan is a majestic 50-story, white marble structure that takes up one full city block. This is prime New York City real estate. A flagship Apple store sits on the ground floor, across the street is the Plaza Hotel, and on another corner is an entrance to Central Park.

The GM building is considered one of the most valuable office towers in the U.S. In May, a large piece of it was purchased by a Chinese real estate developer.

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U.S.
2:36 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Why Do Chemical Weapons Evoke Such A Strong Reaction?

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 3:22 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It took more than two years and at least 100,000 lives lost for the U.S. government to threaten Syria with military action. The catalyst was the Syrian military's alleged use of chemical weapons. President Obama called the attack on August 21st an assault on human dignity.

NPR's Jackie Northam examines why chemical weapons evoke such a strong and different reaction than conventional weapons.

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Middle East
5:57 am
Sat August 31, 2013

If It's Not Legal, Can A Strike On Syria Be Justified?

President Obama says any military strike he makes against the Syrian government in retaliation for suspected chemical attacks would be limited.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 9:59 am

As the Obama administration argues for a military intervention in Syria in response to a chemical attack that it says killed more than 1,400 Syrians, analysts say the case for a strike lacks a legal framework.

President Obama said Friday that the decision to act is part of a U.S. obligation as a world leader to make sure that regimes are held to account if they are found targeting their own people with weapons prohibited by international norms.

"If there's a sense that if nobody's willing to enforce them, then people don't take them seriously," he said Friday.

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Parallels
11:13 am
Wed August 14, 2013

French Maker Of Military Rafts Gets An American Identity

U.S. Marines with 4th Force Reconnaissance Company slide off F470 Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts during training in Waimanalo, Hawaii. The French company Zodiac has been the U.S. military's choice for inflatable rubber rafts for roughly two decades. Now the company is making the rafts in the U.S.
Lance Cpl. Reece E. Lodder Marine Corps Base Hawaii

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 6:40 am

For roughly two decades, the Zodiac has been the U.S. military's choice for inflatable rubber rafts. These rafts, especially the high-end model F470, are not the recreational rafts you take out to the lake on a Sunday, says Lionel Boudeau, the head of Zodiac's North America operations.

"It is used for a large variety of missions, like assault landings, infiltration and exfiltration," he says. "It can be deployed from the shore or deployed from the air by an aircraft, a helicopter, by a submarine. It is used by special forces and regular Army."

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Middle East
3:12 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Mideast Peace Talks On Again, But Roadblocks Remain

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 6:31 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

It's been more than four years since Israelis and Palestinians held direct peace talks. Today, Israeli officials said talks will resume next week in Washington. The State Department will not confirm that date, but a spokesperson said Secretary of State John Kerry expects negotiations to begin soon.

NPR's Jackie Northam has this story about the opportunity and the obstacles.

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Parallels
1:52 am
Mon July 8, 2013

EU-U.S. Trade: A Tale Of Two Farms

Farmer Richard Wilkins, a firm believer in genetically modified crops, examines the corn crop at his farm in Greenwood, Del. U.S. and EU officials begin talks Monday on an ambitious free-trade agreement. One stumbling block is agriculture. Unlike the U.S., the EU bans the cultivation of genetically modified crops.
Jackie Northam/NPR

Originally published on Mon July 8, 2013 12:12 pm

U.S. and EU officials begin talks Monday on an ambitious free-trade agreement aimed at generating billions of dollars of new trade. But negotiators must overcome barriers created by cultural and philosophical differences over sectors like agriculture. In Europe, the cultivation of genetically modified crops is banned, while in the U.S., they are a central part of food production. NPR's Jackie Northam visited a farm in Delaware and NPR's Eleanor Beardsley visited one in Burgundy, France, to look at those deep-seated differences. We hear from Jackie first.

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Parallels
12:58 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Can This Dominican Factory Pay Good Wages And Make A Profit?

Aracelis Upia Montero works at the Alta Gracia garment factory in the Dominican Republic. She says she was desperately poor before she began working at the factory, which pays much higher than usual wages. "I'm now eligible for loans and credits from the bank because I earn a good salary," she says.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 8:37 am

Aracelis Upia Montero bounds through the front door of her wood and cinderblock house, calling out for her children. The bubbly 41-year-old Montero — whom everyone calls Kuki — proudly shows guests around her cramped single-story home in Villa Altagracia in the Dominican Republic.

Montero points out her new living room furniture. In the past couple years, she has added two bedrooms and now has indoor plumbing. She has also built a little apartment at the end of her dirt driveway that she rents out.

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Parallels
12:59 am
Tue May 21, 2013

The Global Afterlife Of Your Donated Clothes

Worker Charles Lee sorts through clothes at Mac Recycling near Baltimore. Textile recycling is a huge international business, and a small facility like Mac ships about 80 tons of clothes each week to buyers around the world.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 7:04 pm

On a bright and warm Saturday morning, there's a steady flow of people dropping off donations at Martha's Table, a charity in downtown Washington, D.C. A mountain of plastic and paper bags stuffed with used dresses, scarves, skirts and footwear expands in one corner of the room. Volunteers sort and put clothes on hangers. They'll go on sale next door, and the proceeds will help the needy in the area.

It's a scene played out across the U.S.: people donating their old clothes, whether through collection bins or through large charities, to help others.

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Around the Nation
3:14 am
Fri May 17, 2013

First U.S. Company To Enter Export Market For Natural Gas

With supplies high and prices at historic lows, there's debate whether companies should be allowed to export the gas overseas for a higher price. Many energy companies have applied for government approval to ship liquefied natural gas worldwide. So far, only one company has gotten a license to do that in the past 30 years..

Around the Nation
1:42 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Port Of Baltimore Seeks Boost From Panama Canal Expansion

The Port of Baltimore recently completed a major expansion, which included building a 50-foot berth and dredging the channel. It's in anticipation of increased traffic following the completion of a project to widen the Panama Canal.
Jonathan Blakely NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 9:59 am

There is constant motion around four new supersized, Chinese-made cranes as they unload cargo from a ship at the Port of Baltimore's freshly constructed Seagirt Marine Terminal.

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World
3:14 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Labor Watchdog Groups Limited In Their Power To Enforce Laws

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 3:27 pm

The collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh is seen as a gross violation of safety and workers rights. There are international organizations which try to guide and encourage companies and governments towards better codes of conduct, but the groups have no legal recourse.

Remembrances
6:57 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Britain's Iron Lady, Former Prime Minister Thatcher, Dies

Margaret Thatcher became Britain's first female prime minister in 1979 and served until 1990. In 1992, she was elevated to the House of Lords to become Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. Thatcher died Monday at age 87 following a stroke, her spokesman said.
Harry Dempster Express/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 11:14 am

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died Monday following a stroke. She was 87. Despite many accomplishments during her 11 years in office, she was a divisive figure, and there is still much bitterness surrounding the woman who was dubbed the Iron Lady.

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Business
1:00 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Google's Eric Schmidt Heads To Another Isolated Asian Nation

Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman and former CEO, stands near a statue of the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang in January. He's headed now to Myanmar, another largely untapped market.
David Guttenfelder AP

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 8:55 am

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, who went to North Korea in January, is making a short visit Friday to Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Why is the senior executive of a U.S. technology powerhouse visiting some of the poorest and least wired countries in Asia?

Schmidt will be the first top U.S. executive to travel to the Southeast Asian nation since it began emerging from decades of international isolation under a military dictatorship.

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Asia
2:34 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

At A Pakistani Mobile Library, Kids Can Check Out Books, And Hope

After decades living and working abroad, Saeed Malik (left) returned to his native Pakistan and wanted to do something to help rectify what he saw as a poor education system. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library, which now serves about 2,500 children.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 4:30 pm

On a cold, rainy morning, a van pulls up outside a rural elementary school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The fluorescent green vehicle provides a flash of color on this otherwise gray day. There's a picture of children reading books under a large apple tree, and the words "Reading is fun" are painted in English and Urdu, the national language in Pakistan.

This is the weekly visit of the Bright Star Mobile Library.

Volunteer Ameena Khan starts pulling books from shelves on either side of the van.

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Asia
1:03 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Controversial Cleric Stirs Protests Upon Return To Pakistan

Pakistani Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri (center), speaks to a crowd from a bulletproof box in Islamabad in January. The cleric recently returned to Pakistan after years in Canada, and his calls for an end to corruption have brought supporters to the streets in large numbers.
Farooq Naeem AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 6:34 pm

In Pakistan, a controversial Muslim cleric has been shaking up the political scene.

Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri returned to his home country late last year, after spending eight years in Canada. Since coming back, he has ignited a disgruntled electorate and has left many people wondering what exactly his plans are.

On a recent day, a lively drum band wandered among a crowd of about 15,000 Pakistanis gathered in the eastern city of Faisalabad for a rally organized by Qadri.

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Asia
1:52 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Amusement Park Planned In The Town Where Bin Laden Hid Out

The Hazara Heritage Park will be built on the edge of Abbottabad, Pakistan, set in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:42 pm

Developers in Pakistan will soon break ground on a new amusement park and outdoor activity center, a private, $30 million project billed as a state-of-the-art facility that will bring jobs to a hard-hit area.

But there's one issue that's raising some eyebrows: the site is in Abbottabad, not far from the place where Osama Bin Laden secretly lived until American forces killed him.

This does not trouble Sheikh Kaleemuddin, the project director, who is effusive about the picturesque spot where he plans to build.

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Asia
4:42 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Momentum Grows For Pakistan-Taliban Peace Talks

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 5:02 am

Both sides say they're ready to talk, but the Taliban is putting stiff conditions on any negotiations. All previous attempts at a peace deal have failed. Analysts say the Pakistani government lacks a coordinated strategy.

Middle East
3:28 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Pakistan Says U.S. Drone Strikes Violate Its Sovereignty

There was another U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday. At least three people were killed when missiles struck a compound in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. The strike comes as Washington debates the use of drones and not long after Ambassador Sherry Rehman said the use of drones was a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and international law. Throughout Pakistan, popular reaction to the drone strikes continues to be vociferously negative. Robert Siegel talks to Jackie Northam.

Africa
3:12 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Algeria Offers No Apologies For Its Tactics During Hostage Crisis

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:53 pm

The Algerian government was criticized for its handling of the gas plant hostage crisis which left 37 foreigners dead, including three Americans. But Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told a press conference he was proud of how the security forces handled the crisis.

National Security
1:35 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Obama's Promise To Close Guantanamo Prison Falls Short

Demonstrators, dressed as detainees, march on Jan. 11 against the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and call for President Obama to close the facility.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:13 am

In one of his first acts as commander in chief, President Obama in 2009 signed an executive order to close the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It was part of a campaign promise the president made, to close the camp and "determine how to deal with those who have been held there." But four years on, the controversial prison remains open.

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Africa
3:38 am
Sat January 19, 2013

'Algerian Style': Cooperative, To A Point

People gather Friday outside a hospital in eastern Algeria as they try to get information on those wounded during a military raid on a gas plant where Islamic extremists were holding hostages.
Anis Belghoul AP

Originally published on Sat January 19, 2013 9:19 pm

The Algerian government gave no advance notice that it was planning to launch a military operation to rescue hostages at the remote In Amenas natural gas field, despite offers of support and advice by many nations, including the U.S.

The anger and disappointment in Washington is muted, however, because the U.S. sees Algeria as a critical ally in the fight against terrorism.

Logistical Dependence

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Afghanistan
4:51 am
Sat January 12, 2013

As U.S. Starts Afghanistan Drawdown, Long-Term Concerns Linger

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 10:08 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has concluded a four-day visit to Washington, D.C. The president met with senior administration officials, including a private meeting in the Oval Office with President Obama. Their discussions reportedly centered on the U.S. role in Afghanistan after 2014. That's when most of the U.S. and NATO troops are due to withdraw from the country. NPR's Jackie Northam has this report.

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Afghanistan
2:46 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Obama: U.S. Forces Will Transition To Support Role In Afghanistan

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 4:11 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The leader of Afghanistan has had a rocky relationship with the U.S., but today at the White House, President Hamid Karzai and President Obama spoke of progress. As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, today's discussion on what role the U.S. might play in Afghanistan in the future.

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