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Ashley Westerman

Ashley Westerman is a producer who occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has produced a variety of stories including a coal mine closing near her hometown, the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh. She is also an occasional reporter for Morning Edition, and NPR.org, where she has contributed reports on both domestic and international news.

Ashley was a summer intern in 2011 with Morning Edition and pitched a story on her very first day. She went on to work as a reporter and host for member station 89.3 WRKF in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she earned awards covering everything from healthcare to jambalaya.

Ashley is an East-West Center 2018 Jefferson Fellow and a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists. Through ICFJ, she has covered labor issues in her home country of the Philippines for NPR and health care in Appalachia for Voice of America.

China and the United States are locked in a trade fight, a technology race and competing world military strategies. Leaders of these countries seem to be pulling the world's two largest economies apart.

These tensions are especially felt by those living with a foot in each country. The NPR special series A Foot In Two Worlds reveals the stories of people affected because of their ties to both nations. Reports from both the U.S. and China show how deeply and broadly the two nations are connected and what's at stake as they reshape their relations.

Centuries ago, the kingdom that made up much of modern-day Laos was called Lan Xang. In English: "Land of a Million Elephants."

Yet while the Asiatic elephant may have endured as a cultural icon for the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the numbers tell a story of a species in crisis.

The Laos government and conservation groups estimate there are only about 800 elephants left in the country — 400 wild elephants, 400 in captivity.

Snow leopards and Marco Polo sheep have not been on the agenda for peace talks involving the Taliban, U.S. officials and Afghan opposition figures.

But going forward, should they be?

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

Press freedom advocates across Manila, Philippines, including students and some faculty at a handful of universities, have been rallying the past two days following the arrest of journalist Maria Ressa this week.

The award-winning journalist and outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration was arrested Wednesday on charges stemming from coverage by her online news website, Rappler, one of the Philippines' few independent news outlets.

In recent weeks, Myanmar has seen renewed violence between security forces and an insurgent group called the Arakan Army. Since fighting broke out in Rakhine state in December, at least 26 military personnel and Arakan Army fighters have died and some 5,000 civilians have been displaced, according to the United Nations.

For one Native American tribe whose land straddles the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump's proposed border wall would, literally, divide its people.

The Tohono O'odham Nation stretches through the desert from just south of Casa Grande in southern Arizona to the U.S. border — and then beyond, into the Mexican state of Sonora. This means that if Trump gets his $5.7 billion border wall, it would cut right through the tribe's land.

On a day meant to celebrate Myanmar's independence from Britain 71 years ago, Buddhist insurgents launched attacks on four police posts that killed seven soldiers in the country's restive Rakhine state.

A Taiwan independent from mainland China is not an option, and no person or party can stop the trend toward "unification," Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a policy speech Wednesday.

A new cybersecurity law has gone into effect in Vietnam that puts stringent controls on tech companies operating inside the country and censors what its citizens read online.

The decree, which was passed by the National Assembly in June, requires companies such as Facebook and Google to open offices in Vietnam, store local user data and to hand over information if the government asks for it. It would also require social media companies to remove any content authorities deemed offensive or "toxic."

The state of New York has a new attorney general and she is, literally, like no one who has ever held the office before.

Democrat Letitia James was sworn in as New York's 67th Attorney General late Monday in a ceremony at the state capitol in Albany. James, 60, is the state's first black attorney general and the first woman ever elected to that state-wide office.

Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling alliance have secured another term in power following Bangladesh's general election Sunday, during which the military was deployed and almost 20 people were killed. The results, announced Monday by the Bangladesh Election Commission, have been rejected by the main opposition party, which accuses Hasina's party of rigging the election, according to the Associated Press.

The prairie town of Enid, Okla. — population 50,122 — is best known as the state's "wheat capital." Enid is also home to a community of around 2,000 people who were born in the Marshall Islands. Most are low-income and struggling to get health care.

A flight chartered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is said to have departed Monday from El Paso, Texas, carrying about three dozen Cambodian immigrants who came to the U.S. legally, but were ordered deported for having committed a crime.

Chrissy Houlahan has done a lot with her industrial engineering degree over the last 30 years including serving in the Air Force, working in the aircraft manufacturing industry, being the COO of a sports apparel company and even teaching high school chemistry.

Houlahan says her science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – background has allowed her to be fluid in her career by helping her tackle everyday problems through a unique lens.

Strong, dry winds are expected to continue through the early part of this week in California as the state battles several wildfires.

The Camp Fire in Northern California, which started Thursday, is the state's most destructive fire ever, scorching more than 113,000 acres north of Sacramento and killing 29 people so far, according to state officials on Monday. In Southern California, officials say the Woolsey Fire, which also started Thursday, has killed at least two people and burned more than 91,000 acres.

Roger Chui first learned about the mass shooting that killed 12 people in a packed bar Wednesday night in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when he woke up the morning after and turned on his phone.

"And I was like 'Oh, that seems really soon after Pittsburgh and Louisville,' " says the software developer in Lexington, Ky. "I thought we'd get more of a break."

Chui feels like these kinds of shootings happen in the U.S. so often now that when he hears about them all he can think about is, "Oh well, it happened again I guess."

He's not alone.

The Justice Department has brought criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and a Malaysian financier in connection with the financial scandal known as 1MDB, which involved the misuse billions of dollars in Malaysian government funds.

For years, Australia has employed a controversial policy for migrants coming by sea without proper documents for entry: It sends them to offshore holding facilities.

The law was passed in 2013, during a time when many refugees and migrants were attempting to cross the ocean from Indonesia to reach Australia. Many died or went missing en route. Those caught by Australian authorities were transferred to centers on Australia's Christmas Island, the island nation of Nauru and Manus Island, which is part of Papua New Guinea.

Major issues such as trade, security and China's expansion are up for discussion when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to Southeast Asia this week. On the first leg of his trip, in Malaysia, he'll be checking in on a new government for the first time.

Other than the campaign posters plastered across Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, there's little sign that general elections are coming up this Sunday, July 29. Traffic hums along as usual. And save for the occasional car spouting ruling party propaganda through a bullhorn, there's no canvassing or active campaigning in the streets and scant open talk about the vote.

"Recently, people are keeping quiet," says May Titthara, executive editor of the Khmer Times newspaper.

Updated, 4:20 a.m. ET Wednesday:

Former Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to charges levied against him in court in connection with the 1MDB scandal, which involved the misuse of billions in government funds.

Najib was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of corruption. His case was immediately moved to High Court, where Najib pleaded not guilty to all the charges, according to The Associated Press. The case will now proceed to trial.

The United Nations and Myanmar have signed a pact that aims to start the process of repatriating some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal crackdown by the government's army last year.

The memorandum of understanding was signed Wednesday in Yangon and is the first agreement of its kind between the two entities. The pact promises to create conditions for the "voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable" return of some of the 700,000 Rohingya who are now living across the border into neighboring Bangladesh in squalid refugee camps.

Updated at 7:53 p.m. ET

Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's former prime minister who came out of retirement in his 90s to challenge his own party's embattled incumbent, has won a surprise victory in elections — ending more than six decades of rule by the country's dominant party.

The list of honors and awards Nobel laureate and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has had revoked because of her handling of the plight of Rohingya Muslims in her country continues to grow.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., rescinded its prestigious Elie Wiesel Award from Suu Kyi for failing to speak out against ongoing persecution of the minority group.

Down a dark, cramped alleyway in the heart of densely packed Manila, a resistance movement is holding strong.

The movement is focused on protecting a beloved Philippine form of public transport, the passenger truck known as the jeepney — but to reach its headquarters in a nearly hidden lane, it's a good idea to ditch your own vehicle. The lane is so narrow that even the slightest wrong move could result in scratches or a dislodged side-view mirror from hitting a wall.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson is no stranger to tough negotiations in global hot spots, but his frustration with Myanmar and its leaders, especially Aung San Suu Kyi, led him to resign Wednesday from an international advisory board tasked with bringing peace and stability to Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state.

On Jan. 6, many Christians around the world will celebrate Epiphany, or Three Kings Day — the day the three kings came to visit baby Jesus.

In parts of Latin America, a big part of the holiday tradition is the rosca de reyes, or Three Kings cake.

The Philippine Congress has extended martial law on the southern island of Mindanao for another year at the request of President Rodrigo Duterte, who says it is needed to continue the fight against armed groups in the region.

The move was overwhelmingly approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives, where Duterte and his allies hold big majorities. Duterte first imposed martial law in the Muslim-dominated south in May, and Wednesday's vote extends it through 2018.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution last week condemning "the ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by that country's military.

The way people perceive their country's economic conditions plays a big role in whether they view their lives more positively now compared with the past, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

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