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Every day, GlobalPost delivers written reports, video and photography that inform and entertain, taking people to far flung places around the globe most will never visit but where events are shaping all of our lives.

Years after the Obama administration announced a “deliberate and strategic decision” to pivot to Asia, the US president is trying to revive the foreign policy initiative with a trip to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

As President Barack Obama headed to his first stop — Japan — reports emerged that nearly 150 Japanese lawmakers had visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine on Tuesday, a move that could potentially raise tensions with neighbors China and South Korea. 

The shrine honors those who gave their lives fighting for Japan. But more controversially, it also enshrines several war criminals executed found guilty of “crimes against peace” in the Tokyo trials following World War II.

Did Japanese lawmakers intend to provoke Obama by honoring war criminals?

Photos by AFP/Getty Images

The armed pro-Russian protesters who stormed regional government buildings over the weekend in eastern Ukraine were given an ultimatum on Wednesday.

The country’s interior minister said the situation would be brought under control, either through political negotiation or force, within 48 hours.

As the deadline approached, negotiations were underway in Donetsk — one of the two cities with occupied buildings — with the governor expressing hope in reaching an agreement.

GlobalPost’s Ronny Roman Rozenberg was on the scene and captured these pictures of both the building occupiers and locals who supported them.

These are the faces of pro-Russian protesters in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk

Photos by Ronny Roman Rozenberg

April 10th — and source with 5 notes

LONDON — An “environmental train wreck.”

That’s what leading environmental scientists say that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has engineered, in less than one year in office. They say the changes he’s implementing could result in irreversible damage to some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems.

And they say they are “screaming in the dark” to get the country’s ultra conservative government to take a more sustainable course, so far with little luck.

Abbott’s government has permitted a coal port to dredge up and dump millions of cubic feet of sand into the iconic Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a decision that the Chairman of the Marine Park Authority has rigorously defended.

And in another unprecedented move, the government has asked UNESCO to remove 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest from its World Heritage List

Scientists say Australia’s Tony Abbott is engineering an ‘environmental train wreck’

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

April 9th — and with 25 notes

NAIROBI, Kenya — Crowds weave their way through street stands selling fruit, DVDs and textbooks. Shop owners raise rusty shutters and hip-hop music blares from motorcycles zigzagging through the pothole-ridden roads.

Six people died in this neighborhood last Monday, when three explosions tore through two restaurants and a clinic at rush hour. More than 600 people were arrested the following day. But that’s business as usual in Eastleigh, a Somali-dominated suburb of the Kenyan capital.

Nicknamed “Little Mogadishu” for its immigrants, Eastleigh is unusual: Seen as a source of terrorism, it’s also a target for terrorists.

Fresh violence means residents of Eastleigh must brace themselves anew for profiling and harassment from the Kenyan authorities, while fearing being caught in the attacks themselves.

"Life has become hard for the Somali people since the Westgate attack,” said Ahmed Ali Abdikadir, a shop owner in Eastleigh, referring to the attack on an upscale Nairobi shopping mall by gunmen with hand grenades and AK-47s in September.

Life in Eastleigh, where a bomb attack Monday means you’ll be arrested Tuesday

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

April 9th — and source with 17 notes

MUMBAI — His face is everywhere in this coastal city of more than 12 million, India’s commercial capital and the home of Bollywood. His chosen hue is saffron, Hinduism’s most sacred color which is splashed on the glitzy billboards adorning busy overpasses, the signs of supporters at street corner rallies and the cups of chai handed out at political tea parties. 

He is Narendra Modi, the leading political face of a growing Hindu nationalist movement and a leading candidate in India’s national elections, a six-week, $5 billion “festival of democracy” which gets underway Monday. Voters will elect a lower house of parliament that will represent the country’s 1.2 billion people — and NaMo, as he is known, has seized the moment. 

The charismatic, gray-bearded prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and his allies say they are hell-bent on cleaning up deeply ingrained political corruption, kickstarting India’s sputtering economic growth and boosting the country’s prestige on the world stage. Modi is expected to win a seat in parliament and his party favored to secure considerably more clout in a multi-party election that could even yield a rare majority for the BJP.

But there are many critics here in Mumbai, the birthplace and traditional stronghold of the incumbent Indian National Congress, who oppose the BJP’s platform. 

Hindu nationalism takes driver’s seat in Indian election

8 reasons why India’s elections really matter to the world

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

April 7th — and source with 6 notes

BANGKOK — It should have been an extraordinary scene: more than 100 factory hands fainting in unison as if possessed by spirits.

But in Cambodian garment factories, which play a major role in supplying American malls, mass fainting is no longer a freak phenomenon. It’s disturbingly common. The enigmatic problem is persistent despite waves of government studies, activist campaigns and vows to investigate factory conditions by global fashion empires such as H&M.

The latest mass fainting episode took place this month in a factory that, according to Reuters, supplies sportswear giants Puma and Adidas. Like other fainting outbreaks in Cambodia, it began with one worker falling ill and ended with more than 100 sprawled on the factory floor.

The companies told the news agency they were cooperating with authorities and closely monitoring the situation, and that the victims had received medical treatment.

This is 2014’s first major fainting incident. It probably won’t be the last. Government statistic suggest that, since 2011, between 1,500 and 2,000 Cambodian factory workers have fainted each year — often in groups of 100 or more. The laborers almost always recover after a short hospital stay.

The Cambodians who stitch your clothing keep fainting in droves

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

April 7th — and with 19 notes

NAIROBI, Kenya — The International Criminal Court’s crimes-against-humanity case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is on the verge of collapse. Regardless of the merits of the case, the lack of a full trial is bad news for both the ICC and the thousands of victims who have been waiting for justice. But it’s a big victory for Kenya’s current government, which both prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office and foreign analysts have accused of working actively to undermine justice.

It’s good news for other nations’ governments looking to beat charges, as well, because inadvertently or not, the Kenyan government appears to have just written the playbook for beating the ICC.

How Kenya took on the International Criminal Court

Photos by AFP/Getty Images

March 27th — and source with 10 notes

The dust has settled, and international attention has shifted from Kyiv’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, to Crimea and beyond.

But the wounds are still fresh at the Maidan.

GlobalPost’s Greg Brosnan shot this video of the scenes as Ukraine’s capital remembers its fallen “heavenly hundred,” and begins to rebuild.

In his own words:

I’d seen the battles on TV, the snow and the fire, and knew the death toll.

But to get a real sense of the divide between east and west Ukraine, I needed to smell the gasoline and see people crying as they left bunches of carnations on piles of burnt out tires, all amid a sea of yellow and blue flags. And to see how delicate the balance is in this country right now, even without a Russian invasion. 

60 Seconds on Earth: This is what Kyiv’s Maidan looks like now

March 27th — and source with 18 notes

CAIRO, Egypt — Field Marshal Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, who resigned his position as armed forces chief and announced his candidacy for the Egyptian presidency Wednesday, is the most popular figure in modern Egyptian politics. Polls suggest he is likely to win the upcoming election by a landslide.

But what would a Sisi presidency look like?

His vague public pronouncements, filled with calls for national unity and praise for the common man, have won him millions of Egyptian admirers, for whom he represents a much-needed aspiration of stability after the turbulent past three years.

But away from the speeches, there is another Sisi.

Between October and December 2013, a series of private recordings appeared on YouTube and were publicized by Rassd, an online news outlet associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Jazeera. The recordings, which included off-the-record interviews between Sisi and unidentified journalists as well as internal military video, are thought to have taken place between late 2012 and shortly before they became public, though it’s difficult to tell, as the Egyptian Armed Forces refuse to comment.  

What the recordings reveal might surprise Egyptians who think Sisi is their ticket out of hard times.

"The people think that I’m a soft guy,” the military commander’s voice is heard saying in one. “It’s not like that … Sisi is torture and suffering." It isn’t clear whether or not he’s being ironic.

What a Sisi presidency in Egypt would look like

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

March 27th — and source with 9 notes

SEOUL, South Korea — Every few months, North Korea tests short-range rockets, hurling them into the sea with hardly a glance from the rest of the world. The frequency of those launches, however, has increased dramatically in the past month. On Saturday alone, Kim Jong Un’s military fired off 30, as if they were bottle rockets.

And today, the garrison kingdom raised the throttle significantly, shooting off what South Korea believes were two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles. If true, the launch would violate United Nations resolutions. The pair of rockets flew off the east coast toward Japan, landing in the ocean, Seoul said.

Pyongyang hasn’t tested the Rodong since 2009, when the UN condemned its second nuclear test.

In theory, the Rodong missiles can reach US bases in Japan, although experts say North Korea probably hasn’t mastered the technology to miniaturize nuclear weapons, needed to mount them on rockets.

It’s not possible for outsiders to say why North Korea chose to test a Rodong missile at this time. But its launch coincides with a number of potential irritants for the regime.

Why North Korea test fired medium range missiles today

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

March 26th — and source with 19 notes

BURGOS, Spain — Until recently, Spaniards associated this chilly capital of the northern Castille region mainly with its magnificent Gothic cathedral and morcilla, or pork blood sausage.

Ask anyone about it today, however, and you’re more likely to hear about a working-class neighborhood that made international headlines in January.

That’s when Gamonal was rocked by massive, sometimes violent demonstrations against an $11 million municipal development project to convert its main drag into a boulevard with a bicycle lane and underground parking.

Two months on, locals say the protest movement provided strong evidence that five years into Spain’s economic crisis, society is fragmenting.

“Politicians and bankers, same cr*p,” says a graffito spray-painted on tin sheets still protecting the windows of a well-known bank.

Spanish disaffection mounts despite improving economy

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

March 25th — and source with 24 notes

5 scary things that happened in Europe while you were watching Ukraine

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

March 25th — and source with 14 notes

Poland wrestles with the legacy of a secret CIA torture site

March 18th — and with 7 notes

Ukrainian prime minister accuses Russia of 'war crime' for shootings on military bases (LIVE BLOG)

March 18th — and with 6 notes

ISTANBUL, Turkey — At 7:40 a.m. on March 11, a Twitter feed notified followers that 15-year-old Berkin Elvan had died. He had spent 269 days in a coma, unconscious since police fired a tear gas canister that struck his head outside a bakery in Okmeydanı, the Istanbul neighborhood where Elvan lived.

In the days since his death, country-wide demonstrations have rocked an already tense Turkey, where critics and opponents say the government has lost legitimacy.

“My son wasn’t taken from me by God,” Gülsüm Elvan, Berkin’s mother, said. “He was taken from me by Tayyip Erdoğan.”

Up the steep main street of Okmeydanı, already darkened with drizzling rain, most shops and storefronts—the barbers, grocers, stationaries—were closed-up, lights-out, iron grills locked, and metal shutters down. Red flags of the revolutionary left stood fluttering where they had been planted in the road’s median.

“We are shutting down Okmeydanı!”

48 hours on the streets with Istanbul’s protesters

Photos by AFP/Getty Images

March 17th — and source with 38 notes