Michele Kelemen

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President-elect Joe Biden's promise of a firm response to the latest hacking attack attributed to Russia signals a much tougher assessment of Vladimir Putin than President Trump's deferential attitude.

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Yelena Leuchanka was lying on a cold, hard bed in a detention center in Minsk in late September when she heard other detainees singing.

"I just laid there because I was still in shock," she recalled. "And the next thing I hear are women singing Kupalinka. It's a Belarus song that women, when they go on their marches, they sing this song."

She joined in. "I have never experienced that type of energy or anything like that," she said, "this greatness, this unity."

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There is a new twist in the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Navalny says he called up one of the Russian agents involved and got him to reveal stunning details of the plot. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched another broadside against China this week, warning of Chinese threats to U.S. research universities.

"Americans must know how the Chinese Communist Party is poisoning the well of our higher education institutions for its own ends, and how those actions degrade our freedoms and American national security," he said in a speech Wednesday at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

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The Trump administration is imposing sharply tighter restrictions on travel to the United States by Chinese Communist Party members and their families, a move Beijing describes as part of a "deep-rooted Cold War mentality."

The restrictions target holders of business (B-1) and tourist (B-2) visas, reducing the travel documents' maximum validity to one month, down from the current maximum of 10 years.

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So a team of international observers is here to watch the election. They've been invited by the State Department, as is customary. But in another sign of these times, they already have major concerns, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Yemen is often described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. A Saudi-led coalition there has been fighting Iranian-backed rebels for over five years. But today there was a glimmer of hope, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of international cooperation, one the U.N. secretary-general says the world is failing. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, that failure was on display at the ongoing General Assembly.

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The White House says it has another Arab official coming to Washington next week to sign an agreement normalizing ties with Israel - the foreign minister of the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain. NPR's Michele Kelemen has the story.

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Today Secretary of State Mike Pompeo goes to the United Nations to try to pressure Iran. And he'll be using the Iran nuclear deal to do it, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

U.S. presidents have a long history of rewarding wealthy political donors with ambassadorships. Many appointees ably take on the work of diplomacy. Some others cause controversy.

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