Philip Reeves

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Brazilians like to call their Carnival the world's greatest spectacle. The multi-day festival officially begins today, but the street parties got going much earlier. And you can count on NPR's Philip Reeves, our new Brazil correspondent, not to miss them.

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When Donald Trump finally has his feet under the desk in the Oval Office and opens the files marked "Afghanistan" and "Pakistan," he will find much to worry about.

Relations between Pakistan and India, which both have big nuclear arsenals, are in crisis. These days, their armies regularly trade shots along the Line of Control, the de facto border in disputed Kashmir — sometimes with fatal consequences.

Fears abound that Afghanistan could melt down into violent chaos that could spill beyond its boundaries.

Aizaz Azam is a young police detective in Pakistan whose brief career has been devoted to busting minor prostitution and gambling rackets and sorting out street brawls.

Now, though, he's slogging away for up to 20 hours a day, working his first major case. It involves a crime so ruthless that Azam says he and his fellow cops feel "strangely unsettled in our souls."

Cyril Almeida has a reputation for being one of Pakistan's most astute political observers. His columns for the venerable English-language Dawn newspaper are widely read by South Asia-watchers. More than 100,000 people follow his tweets.

So it was inevitable that the decision by the Pakistani government to ban him from leaving the country would be met with widespread indignation.

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The home in which Pakistan's social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death by her brother has none of the wicked glamour that was her hallmark within her make-believe cyber-world.

She died in a small concrete house, a $100-a-month rental at the end of a cobbled alley inside a half-built housing estate, not far from the central city of Multan. Goats, chickens, street hawkers and kids wander around amid puddles of mud — it is monsoon season — and oceans of trash.

A few months back, I asked a favor of my friend and NPR colleague Zabihullah Tamanna. We'd just spent a busy day going from interview to interview in Kabul. I had some urgent writing to do. Would he mind going out onto the streets and taking some photographs?

For those who live and work in conflict zones and war zones, it's easy to become somewhat numb. Violence and danger can corrode your sense of humanity. But the pictures that Zabihullah took that day were the work of a journalist whose compassion was entirely intact.

If you drive around Kabul long enough, you will eventually see what must be the most cheerful slogan in Afghanistan.

Cars traverse the city bearing a happy little window sticker about the best way to approach life in a country beset by deep — and, in the eyes of most Afghans, worsening — trouble.

"Enjoy Today!" it reads. "Forget Tomorrow!"

That's harder than it sounds.

A few months ago, the U.S. military gave Zabihullah Niazi $3,000. He lost his left eye and left arm when an American AC-130 gunship repeatedly fired shells into the hospital in which he worked in northern Afghanistan.

The money was what officials term a "condolence payment," an expression of sympathy and sorrow for injuring Niazi when the U.S. military mistakenly hit the Kunduz hospital, killing 42 people.

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