Politics & Policy : Parallels U.S. policy can change the course of another country and, increasingly, the reverse is true. From social issues to geopolitical strategy, we connect the dots — and seek out possible lessons for the future.

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Politics & Policy

A T-shirt bearing the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin reads "The most polite man" at a St. Petersburg market in Russia on Wednesday. Putin began the year in dramatic fashion by hosting the Winter Olympics and seizing Crimea. His year ended, however, with Russia's economy in turmoil and forecasts of a recession for 2015. Dmitry Lovetsky/AP hide caption

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Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Klaus Iohannis was an underdog who was the surprise winner of Romania's presidential runoff election last month. He was sworn into office on Dec. 21 with a promise to crackdown on corruption, a chronic problem in Romania. Gabriel Amza for NPR hide caption

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Gabriel Amza for NPR

Long Plagued By Corruption, Romania Seeks To Make A Fresh Start

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Turkey's new presidential palace in the capital, Ankara, has an official price tag of $615 million and more than 1,000 rooms. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ak Saray, or the White Palace, is not his palace, but that of Turkey. But not everyone is so sure. Aykut Unlupinar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

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Aykut Unlupinar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkey's President And His 1,100-Room 'White Palace'

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Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters arrive Saturday in Sinjar in northern Iraq, where they have made gains against the Islamic State. The Kurds were talking about independence this summer, but now appear focused on fighting the Islamic State. Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

A member of the activist group Women in White is arrested during a demonstration to commemorate Human Rights Day in downtown Havana, on Dec. 10. Members of the opposition movement say they feel betrayed by the U.S. decision to restore ties with Cuba's communist regime. Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Cuba's Jews, Catholics Have Very Different Takes On The U.S. Thaw

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A woman votes in the first round of the Tunisian presidential election on Nov. 23. The election went smoothly, but no candidate won 50 percent of a vote, forcing a runoff between the top two on Sunday. Hassene Dridi/AP hide caption

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Hassene Dridi/AP

With A Presidential Vote, Tunisia Seeks A Peaceful Transition

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Cuban President Fidel Castro (left) and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Barinas, Venezuela, in 2000. The two formed a close partnership, which has continued with their successors. However, the prospect of normal ties between the U.S. and Cuba may also have an impact on relations between Cuba and Venezuela. Jose Goitia/AP hide caption

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Jose Goitia/AP

In Latin America, Not Everyone Is Thrilled With The U.S.-Cuba Thaw

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Fidel Castro looks up at the Jefferson Memorial on April 16, 1959. The Cuban leader visited Washington several months after seizing power. But U.S.-Cuban relations quickly frayed, and the U.S. imposed an embargo of the island in 1960. AP hide caption

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AP

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff begins to cry as she delivers a speech during the final report of the National Truth Commission on Violation of Human Rights during the military dictatorship from 1964-1985 in Brasilia on Wednesday. She is among the thousands who were tortured during that brutal period. Ed Ferreira/Agencia Estado/Xinhua/Landov hide caption

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Ed Ferreira/Agencia Estado/Xinhua/Landov

Brazil's Tearful President Praises Report On Abuses Of A Dictatorship

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President Hassan Rouhani's election last year gave many Iranians hope, but he has not offered a clear path out of the country's current problems, which include a weakening economy, tough sanctions and nuclear talks that are dragging on. Mohammad Berno/AP hide caption

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Mohammad Berno/AP

For Iran, The Trend Lines All Seem To Point In The Wrong Direction

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Chinese customs officials, like the ones shown here in August at the Lukou International Airport in Nanjing, have broad powers to confiscate items. One woman who had copies of her father's memoir seized has sued the government. Xie Mingming/Xinhua/Landov hide caption

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Xie Mingming/Xinhua/Landov

In China, One Woman's Challenge To The Legal System

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel uses a mobile phone during a meeting of the German federal parliament in Berlin, on Nov. 28, 2013. The country's labor minister supports a call that would prohibit employers from sending emails to employees after normal business hours. Michael Sohn/AP hide caption

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Michael Sohn/AP

German Government May Say 'Nein' To After Work Emails

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Outgoing Uruguay President Jose Mujica's face illustrates a T-shirt supporting his new law legalizing marijuana. Uruguay's citizens are voting for Mujica's replacement on Sunday, and the expected winner is a candidate from his party. Matilde Campodonico/AP hide caption

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Matilde Campodonico/AP

Uruguay Tries To Tame A 'Monster' Called Cannabis

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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, shown in Tehran in March, supports the nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and other world powers. Iran is now receiving some $700 million a month in sanctions relief. Those watching the negotiations include former U.S. hostages in Iran, who have sought compensation for years. STR/AP hide caption

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STR/AP

For Former U.S. Hostages, A Deal With Iran Also Remains Elusive

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Casa Dominique is an ecolodge on Lanzarote's northern coast. Julie Genicot, a French trekking guide, has lived in Lanzarote since her grandparents opened the Casa Dominique when she was a child. She worries that offshore oil drilling might ruin the natural environment she grew up in. Lauren Frayer/NPR hide caption

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Lauren Frayer/NPR

Sun, Sand And Offshore Drilling In Spain's Famed Canary Islands

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