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Vice President Mike Pence has been offering some reassurance to Eastern European countries this week. He's wrapping up a trip to Estonia, Georgia and Montenegro, some of the countries that feel most threatened by Russia. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

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A Shiite mosque in western Afghanistan was stormed during evening prayers Tuesday, torn asunder by grenades and a suicide bomber's detonated vest, law enforcement officials say. By the time the scene had settled at the place of worship, at least 29 people were killed and dozens more were injured.

And local officials say the death toll could still rise.

Vice President Pence is completing a trip to U.S. allies along the eastern edge of Europe. In Estonia, Georgia and Montenegro, he told local governments that Washington would support them — even after President Trump's many calls for improving ties between the U.S. and Russia.

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The lush, green canopy that is Bialowieza Forest spans 350,000 acres between Poland and Belarus. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to a variety of endangered species like the European bison, which is slightly larger and leaner than its American cousin.

It also has some of the last old-growth forest in Europe, untouched by human hands, and there is a great deal of international interest in preserving the forest's delicate ecology.

In Venezuela, the arrest of opposition politicians overnight mark a shift towards dictatorship.

NPR's Audie Cornish talks with William Dobson, NPR's chief international editor, about how Venezuela reached this tipping point. And she speaks with a Venezuelan man in Caracas about what daily life looks like amid the protests and what his concerns are now.

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In Turkey, the government's crackdown has entered another chapter - a mass trial in the capital, Ankara.

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The women used to be so nervous about playing wheelchair basketball in public that they had opaque screens erected to conceal the court.

Now their faces are being splashed across media outlets in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, Afghanistan's national women's wheelchair basketball team won its first championship at the 4th annual Bali Cup International Tournament in Indonesia. It played against women's teams from India, Indonesia and Thailand, beating Thailand 65-25 in the final match.

Nearly 500 people are standing trial in Turkey's capital, Ankara, for their alleged roles in a failed coup attempt last July.

"They're charged with murder, violating the constitution and attempting to kill the president," NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from Turkey. "Most are military officers who were stationed at an airbase where fighter jets took off and bombed Parliament on the night of the attempted coup last summer."

Chinese President Xi Jinping and many of the country's highest officials gathered Tuesday in Beijing to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army — and to offer two strongly worded reminders to watchers at home and abroad: China's armed forces serve at the will of the Communist Party, Xi said, and those armed forces are prepared to protect the country's territorial interests.

Jordan's lower house of parliament has voted to scrap a law that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims.

The move, widely welcomed as a step forward for human rights in the country, is strongly supported by the Cabinet and a royal committee on legal reforms. So while it still needs approval from the upper house of Parliament and from King Abdullah II, the passage by the lower house essentially guarantees the law will be scrapped.

NPR's Jane Arraf reports on Tuesday's vote:

Updated 8:40 p.m. ET

Venezuelan security agents arrested two key opposition leaders in a midnight raid on their homes, making good on President Nicolas Maduro's promise to crack down on dissent following a vote that gave him broad authoritarian powers.

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Just one day after a nationwide vote to consolidate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's hold on power, the U.S. Treasury Department has leveled a new round of sanctions against the regime — this time against Maduro himself.

"All assets of Nicolas Maduro subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen," the department announced in a statement Monday, "and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with him."

At 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, Israeli police say, authorities arrested five Palestinian antiquities dealers in Jerusalem and confiscated items dating back thousands of years from their homes and shops: papyrus fragments from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the bust of an Etruscan woman, a fresco from Pompeii depicting swimming fish.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has created a mixed martial arts empire that exports fighters to the UFC league in the U.S. — and also serves as a propaganda tool and farm team for the Chechen leader's special forces militia.

David Scott of HBO's Real Sports talks to NPR's Audie Cornish about how professional MMA has became an extension of the government in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim republic within Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir has ordered the U.S. to cut its embassy and consulates staff in Russia by 755 people, in retaliation for new U.S. sanctions against Moscow. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul speaks with NPR's Ari Shapiro about what these reductions could mean.

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Following a heist that's being compared to something out of a Fast & Furious film, Dutch police have arrested five men who allegedly snatched $600,000 worth of iPhones from a moving truck.

And, police say it probably wasn't their first big job.

Attackers in the Afghan capital attempted to storm the Iraqi Embassy on Monday, setting off a bomb before gunmen rushed the compound's gate. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

NPR's Diaa Hadid, reporting from Islamabad, says the attack is likely in retaliation for Iraqi security forces routing ISIS fighters from their stronghold in Mosul, Iraq.

"The group is trying to assert itself – through violent attacks – to show its followers that it still has power, despite losing important battles in Iraq and Syria," she says.

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Yesterday's violence in Venezuela is the latest chapter in a 20-year drama. It was almost two decades ago that Hugo Chavez, a former army officer, won election with an attack on his country's elites. And he did win legitimate elections once upon a time.

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One of President Trump's newer aides, Anthony Scaramucci, said the other day that President Trump is not going to change. So that leads to a question. How much can the newest staffer, John Kelly, really change?

Updated July 31 at 6:50 a.m. ET

Months of opposition to President Nicolas Maduro's plan to strengthen his party's power has resulted in more fatal clashes on the day of the election.

Citing Venezuela's chief prosecutor's office, the Associated Press reports 10 people were killed in Sunday's unrest. The opposition claims 16 people have been killed.

"Seven police officers were wounded when an explosion went off as they drove past piles of trash that had been used to blockade a street in an opposition stronghold in eastern Caracas," the AP says.

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NPR's Invisibilia started a new season this summer examining the forces that shape who we are and who we will become. Today, Invisibilia co-host Alix Spiegel introduces us to a young man whose vision of his future self started at a dance party.

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