From the 17 Foreign bureaus of NPR - a look at every corner of our planet and all of the world changing events that define us.

Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator on the Iran nuclear talks, was the third-ranking official at the State Department until she left her position just last week.

One of the most meaningful gifts she received during her job at the State Department was a small thing, she said.

"It was a plastic Rubik's Cube that was given to me by my team that was emblematic of the Rubik's Cube we were trying to settle in the Iran nuclear negotiation," she tells NPR's Steve Inskeep.

Russia's offensive in support of the Syrian government has managed to do what seemed impossible: It's made life even more dangerous for many Syrians. These are people in areas controlled by rebels who want to cast off the four-decade rule of the Assad family.

Abdel Rahman al-Yehiya is an archaeologist in Syria's rebel-held province of Idlib. He's long since severed ties with the government antiquities ministry, which he says is corrupt, and committed himself to preservation work in rebel-held areas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his 63rd birthday Wednesday, amid a controversial bombing campaign in Syria, a weakening economy and tensions with the U.S. and its Western allies. The Russian leader made a point of taking it all in stride — including adulation from his fans.

He occupied an even more prominent place than usual on Russian state television on Wednesday. Putin was shown receiving a briefing on the Russian military operation in Syria, including the news that Russian warships in the Caspian Sea fired more than two dozen rockets at targets in Syria.

Can you fight terrorists the same way you battle ordinary criminals?

A prominent Kenyan crime fighter, Mohamud Saleh, is betting you can. He's testing his theory in Garissa, a city in northeastern Kenya thrust into the spotlight this April when Islamist militants attacked a campus dorm, killing 147 students.

Long before Garissa had a terrorism problem, it had a problem with bandits, as Daud Yussuf, a Kenyan journalist, remembers.

The international aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is calling for an international investigation into what it calls a war crime in Afghanistan — Saturday's U.S. airstrikes that killed 22 people, including medical staff and patients at the organization's hospital in Kunduz.

The best place to see Cuba's Internet explosion is along the busy Havana thoroughfare known as La Rampa, or the Ramp.

Named for its sloping descent toward the sea, it is congested and loud. Still, crowds pack the sidewalks, office alcoves and driveways here to get online. They huddle within a few blocks of huge cell towers atop the Habana Libre luxury hotel. All eyes are glued to smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Raul Cuba, 41, types a lengthy Internet access code and password into his phone. He only learned how to log on a month ago.

More than a year after the U.S. led the formation of an anti-ISIS coalition, the extremists still hold large parts of western and northern Iraq.

In the west, ISIS took the desert provincial capital, Ramadi, four months ago. A much-anticipated counteroffensive never materialized.

In a small area of Anbar Province that ISIS doesn't control, five Iraqi flags on bent brass poles mark out a parade ground bordered by a junkyard and dilapidated warehouse.

Taliban forces stormed the Afghan city of Kunduz on Monday; after several days of fighting, Afghan forces claimed to have retaken the city.

The world's third-largest carbon polluter has submitted its long-range plan to curb greenhouse gas admissions in advance of December's Paris climate summit. India does not commit to an absolute reduction in carbon emissions, but does promise to ramp up renewable energy to help slow global warming.

This story is the latest in NPR's Cities Project.

Getting around a city is one thing — and then there's the matter of getting from one city to another. One vision of the perfect city of the future: a place that offers easy access to air travel.