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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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Bitterness between Balkan neighbors flashed to the surface this weekend after a train was turned back from the Kosovo border. The train, which had been painted with Serbian national colors and the phrase "Kosovo is Serbia," cut short its journey amid fears it was under threat of violence.

Iraqi forces have made a crucial step in the bloody quest to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, according to a spokesman for the country's military. Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool announced that the city's university has been fully retaken from ISIS militants.

Special forces, known in Iraq as the Counter-Terrorism Service, or CTS, raised the Iraqi flag above the campus Friday, the Associated Press reports — but the troops were still days away from claiming complete control.

Updated at 3:32 p.m. ET

Foreign ministers and other diplomats from some 70 different countries descended on Paris on Sunday, with the intent to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The summit, which was held without leaders from either side of the conflict, pushed for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"We are here to reiterate strongly that the two-state solution is the only one possible," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, in his opening remarks to top envoys at the conference.

Celebrities, politicians and activists, ranging from Bernie Sanders to Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are asking President Obama to grant clemency to a man who was part of a militant group that fought for Puerto Rican independence.

There's a popular saying in Spanish — O todos en la cama, o todos en el suelo. It conveys a selfless commitment to equal treatment, and translates roughly like this: Either we all get the bed, or we all get the floor.

Among many immigrants in the U.S., there's been a feeling that when it comes to the spoils of U.S. immigration policy, the government has given Cubans the bed all to themselves, while it has relegated others – Mexicans, Haitians, Central Americans — to the floor.

When Kennedy Odede was a kid, he lived on the streets of a slum in Kenya.

He'd grown up in tough circumstances. His stepfather was violent. There wasn't enough food to go around. He wasn't sent to school. A friend convinced him he'd do better out on his own. He'd have his freedom, he'd be able to find his own food.

So when he was around 10, Kennedy left home. His new world was a world of violence. He was caught up in gang fights. He remembers being stabbed in the arm: "I still have the scar," he says.

Iraqi forces are nearing what is expected to be the toughest part of the fight for the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. As troops push toward the river dividing the city, they face new tactics from Islamic State fighters adapting to an urban environment and the limitations of U.S. air and artillery support.

The more densely populated west side of the historic city, with its twisting streets and covered market, is still in ISIS hands. But Iraqi counter-terrorism troops this week for the first time reached the east bank of the Tigris River that splits the city.

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Zhou Youguang, the inventor of a system to convert Chinese characters into words with the Roman alphabet, died Saturday at the age of 111. Since his system was introduced nearly six decades ago, few innovations have done more to boost literacy rates in China and bridge the divide between the country and the West.

For the past 17 years, Sam Barsky has knit sweaters that depict places he's seen around the world, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Stonehenge, Jerusalem's Western Wall — even a field of electrical pylons.

But what's made Barsky an internet phenomenon, with well over a million hits on various websites, are photos of the knitter himself posing in front of a scene, wearing his matching sweater.

Charts can seem dull. But not to data scientist Tariq Khokhar at the World Bank. When he looked through a year's worth of charts, graphs, maps and more, he was excited by the numbers.

For example, although the world's population has increased by 2 billion people since 1990, there are 1.1 billion fewer people living in extreme poverty, under $1.90 a day (highlighted in blue in the chart below). "I'm amazed at the progress," Khokhar says.

President-elect Trump told a press conference Wednesday that he would step back from running his company to prevent possible conflicts of interest once he's in office. To help prove it, he said he had just rejected a $2 billion deal to develop a golf course in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, adding that he wasn't required to do so because he isn't bound by any conflict-of-interest laws once he's president.

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Editor's Note: The photos in this story may be distressing to some viewers.

More than one year later, the photo that woke up the world to the Syrian refugee crisis remains indelible: three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face down on a sandy beach in Turkey. The Syrian boy's lifeless body had washed ashore after the rubber boat carrying him and his family — to what they had hoped would be new lives in Greece — capsized.

After President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state made strong statements about China's actions in the South China Sea, Chinese officials have responded with muted, measured statements — while state-run media have warned of the potential for conflict and retaliation.

Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO nominated to lead the U.S. State Department, had a confirmation hearing Wednesday. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that China's actions in the South China Sea were "extremely worrisome" and compared them to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

When I meet Nineb Lamassu at England's Cambridge University, where he's a researcher, he transports us to his Middle Eastern homeland by opening his computer and playing me a recording of a man reciting a poem.

Somewhere between speech and song, the voice is old, a little gruff, rising and falling rhythmically. Even in Aramaic — I don't speak a word of Aramaic — the effect is hypnotic.

A Hungarian camerawoman who was caught on film kicking migrants running from police near the border with Serbia was sentenced to three years of probation.

A judge said Petra Laszlo's behavior "ran counter to societal norms" and rejected Laszlo's claim that she acted in self-defense.

The Syrian government says Israel has attacked a military airport west of Damascus, and warns of "repercussions" without promising any specific retaliation.

The Syrian state news agency SANA reports that rockets fired by the Israeli air force caused a fire at the al-Mezzeh airport just after midnight local time on Friday morning. The report did not identify if there were any casualties.

A blockbuster Bollywood movie is raking in millions and trying to change entrenched gender roles in India. It's set in Haryana state, where the sex ratio of newborns skews heavily toward boys.

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For the first time in Japanese history three women of different political persuasions are in positions that could be stepping stones to the prime minister's office.

It's especially notable in Japan, where women's labor force participation remains among the lowest among developed nations, and gender roles are traditionally-defined.

"Women have not really been coached or mentored or encouraged to take on leadership roles," Kyoto University diplomacy professor Nancy Snow explains. "Also, women aren't allowed [culturally] to often show ambition, to sort of telegraph that."

The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo., has begun moving into Poland as part of the biggest U.S. military deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

It's part of an Obama administration effort to deter perceived growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin isn't happy.

"These actions threaten our interests, our security," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. It's not even a European state."

The U.N. Secretary-General said today he was hopeful that peace talks on Cyprus, being held in Geneva, could lead to a breakthrough, though he cautioned that "we are not here for a quick fix."

Flanked by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, Secretary-General António Guterres said a breakthrough is what the world needs now.

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