Jackie Northam

Jackie Northam is Foreign Affairs correspondent for NPR news. The veteran journalist has more than two decades of experience covering the world's hot spots and reporting on a broad tapestry of international and foreign policy issues.

Based in Washington, D.C., Northam is assigned to the leading stories of the day, traveling regularly overseas to report the news - from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Northam just completed a five year stint as NPR's National Security Correspondent, covering US defense and intelligence policies. She led the network's coverage of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, traveling regularly to the controversial base to report on conditions there, and on US efforts to prosecute detainees.

Northam spent more than a decade as a foreign correspondent. She reported from Beirut during the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. She lived in and reported extensively from Southeast Asia, Indochina, and Eastern Europe, where she charted the fall of communism.

While based in Nairobi, Kenya, Northam covered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She managed to enter the country just days after the slaughter of ethnic Tutsis began by hitching a ride with a French priest who was helping Rwandans escape to neighboring Burundi.

A native of Canada, Northam's first overseas reporting post was London, where she spent seven years covering stories on Margaret Thatcher's Britain and efforts to create the European Union.

Northam has received multiple journalism awards during her career, including Associated Press awards, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, and was part of an NPR team journalists that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.

The massive container ships that ply the high seas bring us pineapples and mangoes in winter, and computers and cheap t-shirts all year round. But the shipping industry is a volatile, cyclical and ferociously competitive business. There are good years and bad years.

And then there's this year.

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It's vacation season. Your suitcase is packed and you've got your tickets in hand. And if you're heading overseas, you may want to check to see if the State Department has issued a travel alert or warning for your destination. Hardly a week goes by that some warning isn't issued, about everything from natural disasters to terrorist threats. These warnings can have a sharp impact on travelers — and diplomatic relations.

On Tuesday, an international tribunal soundly rejected Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea, an area where China has been building islands and increasing its military activity.

The case before the international tribunal in the Hague was brought by the Philippines, challenging what's widely seen as a territorial grab by Beijing. The tribunal essentially agreed. Beijing immediately said the decision was null and void and that it would ignore it. There are concerns now that the tribunal's decision could inflame tensions between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. is imposing a new round of sanctions on North Korea — this time for human rights abuses. The sanctions target senior officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, and are part of an ongoing effort by the U.S. to isolate the government. This is the first time that Kim has been directly targeted with sanctions.

The Obama administration says human rights abuses in North Korea are among the worst in the world.

There are still skeptics and lots of potential problems, but a tentative airplane deal between Boeing and Iran seems to be moving forward.

A provisional agreement has been signed for the sale or lease of more than 100 Boeing aircraft to Iran's national carrier over the next decade. The price tag is $20 billion.

If it goes through — and there are still unresolved questions — the deal could bring a windfall to Boeing, badly needed commercial jets to Iran Air, and encourage international companies still wary of doing business with the Islamic Republic.

From the moment it became clear Britain would be leaving the European Union, the Obama administration has been effusive in emphasizing the bond between the two nations. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated in London on Monday that the U.S. "could not ask for a better friend and ally" than the U.K.

The decision is made and now comes the long and complicated job of decoupling the U.K. from the European Union. On paper, there is a tangled legal process, but it has never been tested and leaves some issues unaddressed.

Boeing says it has signed an agreement with Iran Air for the purchase of commercial passenger airplanes, making it the first major U.S. company to do business in Iran since sanctions were lifted earlier this year.

Boeing stopped selling planes to Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

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Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation corn and soybean farmer. He and his dad run a small farm about 30 miles from Topeka, Kan.

President Obama's decision to lift the arms embargo against Vietnam was about much more than selling weapons. It was about sending a message to China.

Not only may Vietnam begin buying American ships and surveillance equipment, it could also begin hosting regular visits by U.S. military units, including U.S. Navy warships at Cam Ranh Bay. Such trips would put American sailors square into waters that China is claiming it controls, making clear the U.S. rejects those claims and reassuring China's nervous neighbors in the region — or so Washington hopes.

President Obama's decision to lift a decades-old ban on the sale of lethal military equipment to Vietnam opens up potentially lucrative contracts for U.S. defense companies.

The Vietnamese leadership has been pushing hard for access to American military systems and has a relatively small but quickly growing defense budget, says Ben Moores, a defense specialist at the consultancy IHS Janes. He says that includes a roughly $13 billion wish list for military equipment.

Chinese companies are on a major shopping spree in the U.S. They're set to break a record for investment deals this year, snapping up everything from entertainment companies to methanol plants.

Most of these investments are takeovers, though Chinese companies are also expanding their existing operations to the U.S.

They include Fuling Plastic, one of China's largest manufacturers of plastic cutlery, cups and straws. Its biggest customers are fast food chains in the U.S.

For decades, the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders has been known for going places many other aid groups won't. But several times over the past two years its facilities have been hit by airstrikes in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. And now the group must adapt to a more threatening world.

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