Hannah Bloch

Hannah Bloch is lead digital editor on NPR's international desk, overseeing the work of NPR correspondents and freelance journalists around the world.

Her first contributions to NPR were on the other side of the microphone when, as a writer and editor at National Geographic, she was interviewed by NPR for her reporting from Afghanistan and on the role failure plays in exploration. During her 2004-2014 tenure at National Geographic, she also reported from Easter Island and covered a range of topics including archaeology and global health.

From 2014-2017, Bloch wrote the "Work in Progress" column at The Wall Street Journal, highlighting efforts by social entrepreneurs and problem-solvers to make a measurable difference in the world.

Earlier in her career, she was Time Magazine's first full-time correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, covering the rise and fall of the Taliban regime, Pakistan's nuclear tests, and the regrouping of al-Qaida after Sept. 11. She also established and led CNN's first bureau in Islamabad.

Bloch was part of NPR's Peabody Award-winning team covering the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and was the recipient of a John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University and a Freedom Forum Asia Studies Fellowship at the University of Hawaii.

She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and earned master's degrees in journalism and international affairs from Columbia University.

Day after day this month, Afghan women have taken to the streets in groups large and small to protest against Taliban rule, the regime's new curbs on their rights and Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan. "We want equal rights, we want women in government," women chanted in Kabul this week. Others shouted and held up signs for "azadi," freedom. Some women held signs with a question in English: "Why the world is watching us silently and cruelly?"

Updated August 31, 2021 at 5:25 PM ET

The collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban's recapture of power came after a blitz by the militant group that stunned many Afghans and the world. It is the latest chapter in the country's nearly 42 years of instability and bitter conflict.

Afghans have lived through foreign invasions, civil war, insurgency and a previous period of oppressive Taliban rule. Here are some key events and dates from the past four decades.

In a year dominated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the virus' massive disruptions did not signal an end to other major events. Conflicts continued, resumed and broke out. Natural disasters upended lives. Attempts at peace bore some fruit. The Brexit transition continued. And around the world, protesters came into the streets to demand greater freedoms and an end to racial injustice.

Here is a look back at some of the key events that took place outside the United States and helped define this tumultuous year.

2019 has become known as a year of protest. But this year does not exist in isolation: Protests have been emblematic of the entire past decade.

The 2010s began with the Arab Spring and Occupy protests, and are ending with a swell of anti-government demonstrations in India, Iraq, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Latin America, parts of Europe and beyond. The middle years likewise were marked by major protests on multiple continents, from Iran to Ukraine, South Korea, Zimbabwe and Greece.

In a year that brought North and South Korea closer, British politics to the brink and criticism of Saudi Arabia's human rights record to the fore, NPR's international and national security correspondents stayed plenty busy helping make sense of these and other events around the globe. Meanwhile, plenty else was going on — and those events did not escape their journalistic attention.

As women in Saudi Arabia took the wheel just after midnight Sunday – the first time they could legally do so in the kingdom — it marked the end of the country's longstanding ban on female drivers.

The day began with a historic handshake, the first meeting ever between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. As Kim Jong Un and President Trump strode toward each other and clasped hands Tuesday morning at the Capella resort on Singapore's Sentosa Island, it marked a diplomatic milestone — and the start of what seems certain to be a long negotiation process over North Korea's nuclear program.

"I feel really great," the president said after the handshake.

On June 5, the Parallels blog is closing, and NPR's international coverage is moving to a page called NPR World.

It's part of an effort by NPR to present our digital stories in a new way. So five blogs — Parallels, All Tech Considered, NPR Ed, The Two-Way and The Record — are being retired and stories will instead be organized by topic. In our case, the topic is "World," since that is what we cover.

The United States on Monday inaugurated its embassy in Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel's capital. Jerusalem has deep historic, religious and emotional ties for both Palestinians and Israelis, and both claim it as a capital.

The opening of the embassy marked the fulfillment of a campaign promise by President Trump, who did not attend the ceremony. "May there be peace," he said in video remarks played for the audience.

"No worry man, I am here."

Afghan photojournalist Shah Marai sent the WhatsApp message Monday to a colleague stuck in traffic, trying to reach the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul. Minutes later, Marai, the chief photographer for Agence France-Presse, was killed in a second attack.

The 2018 Winter Olympics ended Sunday evening in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a closing ceremony featuring fireworks, K-pop performances, the reappearance of Tongan cross-country skier Pita Taufatofua sans shirt, and a dance party that brought athletes onstage, eager to let loose and celebrate their games.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics concluded Sunday evening in South Korea. The closing ceremony saw fewer athletes than the opening event 17 days ago — some Olympians have already gone home — but didn't skimp on pageantry, K-pop and expressions of hope for peace between the two Koreas.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of the U.S. president, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sat near a visiting North Korean general, Kim Yong Chol, believed to be a former spy chief, whose delegation had earlier been met with a sit-in by conservative South Korean lawmakers near the border crossing.

By the time the first week wrapped up at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the powerful, icy winds that earlier disrupted or delayed competition had largely calmed. Norway's team led in medals, with 19, and Germany won more gold — nine medals — in the first week than any other country.

The U.S., meanwhile, earned eight medals by Friday, including five gold. Snowboarder Redmond "Red" Gerard, a 17-year-old who overslept on the day of his event and had to borrow a too-big jacket after he couldn't find his own, clinched Team USA's first gold medal last Sunday.

Beginning with fireworks and ending with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, Pyeongchang's Winter Olympics opening ceremony, called "Peace in Motion," took place Friday evening amid gusts of wind and frigid temperatures.

Watching inside the Olympic stadium was a crowd of more than 30,000 — including South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who shook hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Vice President Pence sat nearby.

"Not everything in Saudi Arabia is black and white," says photographer Dina Alhamrani, one of 11 Saudi artists whose work is featured in an exhibition this week at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, called "Women's Point of View," features the creations of students and recent graduates in visual communications from Jeddah's all-female Dar al-Hekma University.

After a harshly worded New Year's Day tweet by President Trump accusing Pakistan of "deceit" and of harboring terrorists, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed Thursday that the U.S. will suspend most security assistance to Islamabad.

The cutoff is not permanent, Nauert said, and only affects military assistance. Civilian assistance is not affected.

As 2017 draws to a close, we take a look at powerful photos from around the world that tell some of the year's most important stories.

Even with unprecedented national developments crowding our news feeds all year, the NPR Parallels blog readers have kept a keen eye on dramatic events unfolding worldwide — and the U.S. role in the world. North Korea's nukes, the aftermath of President Trump's first military strike in Yemen, Russia's kompromat tactics and South Korea's ongoing efforts to seek justice for comfort women were some of the stories you were most interested in.

The U.S. Navy announced it has ended its search and rescue operations for three missing sailors who disappeared after the crash of a transport plane on Wednesday in the Philippine Sea southeast of Okinawa, Japan.

"The U.S. Navy ceased search and rescue operations at 10:00 a.m. Japan Standard Time on Nov. 24 for three Sailors not immediately recovered after a C-2A Greyhound crashed on the afternoon of Nov. 22," the Navy said in a statement.

Three years ago, we published a story about a small start-up in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, that was seeking to make homes more sanitary by replacing dirt floors with sealed earthen floors, which are up to 80 percent cheaper than concrete.

As India and Pakistan celebrate 70 years of independence this week, the legacy of the August 1947 Partition of British-ruled India that resulted in the birth of these two nations is something both are still coming to terms with.

Religious violence exploded as Hindus and Sikhs fled toward India, and Muslims toward Pakistan, the newly created homeland for South Asia's Muslims. Millions of people were uprooted and displaced from cities, towns and villages where their families had lived for generations.

Nawaz Sharif, who served until Friday as the 18th prime minister of Pakistan, is no stranger to his country's courts. In three tumultuous go-rounds as premier over the past 27 years, he's been embroiled repeatedly in judicial cases on charges ranging from corruption and contempt to terrorism and treason.

On an overcast late-spring afternoon, a group of bird lovers from the Earth Conservation Corps are in a boat on Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia River, and point out an osprey circling overhead. "This is like their summer vacation spot and where they have their young," says Bob Nixon, in the boat. "Then they spend most of their lives in the Amazon."

Amid deep strains in the U.S. relationship with Mexico, a country that's been a favorite target of President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security chief John Kelly took part in talks in Mexico City on Thursday that were aimed at smoothing out tensions.

"That's going to be a tough trip," the president said Thursday morning at the White House. Some of the key issues between the two countries: immigration, border security, trade and U.S. aid to Mexico.

As Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president, protests, demonstrations — and a few celebrations — were underway in cities around the world.

In London, demonstrators holding anti-Trump signs gathered outside the U.S. Embassy on Friday evening. Earlier in the day, huge banners saying "Build Bridges Not Walls" were hung across the city's bridges, part of a U.K. campaign that that began after Trump was elected in November.

It hasn't been easy for journalists covering the 2016 presidential race. While doing their jobs, they've had to confront unprecedented threats, abuse, bans and accusations of conspiracy and bias.

Back in January 2010, Patrick Meier, a Ph.D. student in international relations at Tufts University, was checking email at home, with CNN on in the background, when he was jolted by a breaking news alert. An earthquake had struck Haiti, and tens of thousands were feared dead.

"I froze," he says. "Just paralyzed."

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For many of us, Sept. 11, 2001, is one of those touchstone dates — we remember exactly where we were when we heard that the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I was in Afghanistan.

I'd arrived in Kabul on Sept. 9 to cover the trial of eight foreign aid workers who had been arrested by the Taliban regime, which accused them of preaching Christianity to Afghans. Proselytizing was a death penalty crime, and two Americans were among the accused.

Andrew Mack, a former strategic planning director at the United Nations and now a fellow at the One Earth Future Foundation in Broomfield, Colo., coined the term "asymmetric conflict" back in 1975.

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