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Philip Reeves

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Brazilians like to call their Carnival the world's greatest spectacle. The multi-day festival officially begins today, but the street parties got going much earlier. And you can count on NPR's Philip Reeves, our new Brazil correspondent, not to miss them.

Rio de Janeiro's carnival is like one of those lavish parties where all the guests show up early and start guzzling away while you're still upstairs, trimming your eyebrows.

Is there another city on earth that tosses aside its troubles with such gusto, and then dives into the dressing-up box with all the wild-eyed relish of The Cat in the Hat?

The carnival hasn't even officially opened, but this weekend several hundred thousand people were already out parading and partying beneath a steaming tropical sun.

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Now let's go to a small state in southeast Brazil, a state where NPR's Philip Reeves reports troops and armored vehicles are on the streets.

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A few years ago, the Brazilian entrepreneur Eike Batista was one of the 10 richest people in the world. Last night, he was in prison. Here's NPR's Philip Reeves.

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You would think the people of Brazil would be hard to shock after the turbulence that they have endured in the past few years, including a deep recession, and the impeachment of a president.

But today's sudden death of a Supreme Court justice who was a pivotal player in an investigation into the huge Petrobras corruption scandal has come as a blow to the nation of such severity that the government has called for three days of national mourning.

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So if you're one of those people who find it hard to choose gifts, you really need to listen to this next story. NPR's Philip Reeves was recently in Brazil's city of Manaus in the middle of the Amazon rainforest where he found a pretty unusual gift.

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From time to time, NPR reassigns its international correspondents to new countries, and our colleague Philip Reeves has arrived in Brazil to cover South America from our bureau in Rio. Phil sent us this postcard with a few of his first impressions.

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When Donald Trump finally has his feet under the desk in the Oval Office and opens the files marked "Afghanistan" and "Pakistan," he will find much to worry about.

Relations between Pakistan and India, which both have big nuclear arsenals, are in crisis. These days, their armies regularly trade shots along the Line of Control, the de facto border in disputed Kashmir — sometimes with fatal consequences.

Fears abound that Afghanistan could melt down into violent chaos that could spill beyond its boundaries.

Aizaz Azam is a young police detective in Pakistan whose brief career has been devoted to busting minor prostitution and gambling rackets and sorting out street brawls.

Now, though, he's slogging away for up to 20 hours a day, working his first major case. It involves a crime so ruthless that Azam says he and his fellow cops feel "strangely unsettled in our souls."

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Cyril Almeida has a reputation for being one of Pakistan's most astute political observers. His columns for the venerable English-language Dawn newspaper are widely read by South Asia-watchers. More than 100,000 people follow his tweets.

So it was inevitable that the decision by the Pakistani government to ban him from leaving the country would be met with widespread indignation.

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The home in which Pakistan's social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death by her brother has none of the wicked glamour that was her hallmark within her make-believe cyber-world.

She died in a small concrete house, a $100-a-month rental at the end of a cobbled alley inside a half-built housing estate, not far from the central city of Multan. Goats, chickens, street hawkers and kids wander around amid puddles of mud — it is monsoon season — and oceans of trash.

It's been about a month since Amjad Sabri's voice was silenced. He was shot dead in his home city of Karachi by two men on a motorcycle, and his millions of fans are still in shock and anger.

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A few months back, I asked a favor of my friend and NPR colleague Zabihullah Tamanna. We'd just spent a busy day going from interview to interview in Kabul. I had some urgent writing to do. Would he mind going out onto the streets and taking some photographs?

For those who live and work in conflict zones and war zones, it's easy to become somewhat numb. Violence and danger can corrode your sense of humanity. But the pictures that Zabihullah took that day were the work of a journalist whose compassion was entirely intact.

If you drive around Kabul long enough, you will eventually see what must be the most cheerful slogan in Afghanistan.

Cars traverse the city bearing a happy little window sticker about the best way to approach life in a country beset by deep — and, in the eyes of most Afghans, worsening — trouble.

"Enjoy Today!" it reads. "Forget Tomorrow!"

That's harder than it sounds.

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