Lauren Frayer

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It was a strange day in the Spanish region of Catalonia. The separatist leader there was first expected to declare independence. Then he was expected to call fresh elections. But neither thing happened. Lauren Frayer reports.

Did he or didn't he declare independence? That is the question in Spain.

The answer has huge implications for what the Spanish government does next and how the country's relatively young democracy — indeed, possibly even the whole European Union — might stay intact.

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Inside a Barcelona film studio, a technician cues up a scene from the movie Prisoners, showing Jake Gyllenhaal's latest car chase.

Then a local actor — albeit one who's slightly older, balder and plumper than Gyllenhaal — delivers the Hollywood actor's lines in Catalan.

In Spain's northeast region of Catalonia, that's the official language, along with Spanish. Movies, television programs — even Netflix series — are all dubbed into Catalan. Dubbing is especially popular in children's programming for youngsters who don't yet know how to read subtitles.

Over the summer, Turkey's Twitter-sphere went abuzz after the appearance of a cryptic tweet: "The bird has flown away."

It was posted July 14 on the account of Sevan Nisanyan, a famous jailed intellectual, announcing he'd escaped from a Turkish prison. He had been behind bars since January 2014 and wasn't eligible for parole for another 10 years.

For 28 years, Joaquim Paladella has been mayor of his hometown of Batea, a pretty sandstone village of 2,000 people, nestled in vineyards west of Barcelona.

It's a place with more tractors than cars. There's so much farmwork, Batea has almost full employment. The jobless rate is 3 percent, one of the lowest in Spain.

Whenever there are elections for local, regional and national offices, Paladella sets up ballot boxes in the basement of the town hall. People line up outside.

But not this coming Sunday.

Teenagers chain-smoke in the village square in Ripoll, a tidy Catalan town in the foothills of the Pyrenees in northeast Spain. They're trying to process what happened over summer vacation.

Theirs is one of those towns, population about 10,000, where everyone seems to know everyone. There's a Benedictine monastery, window boxes bursting with geraniums and almost zero crime.

When children in Turkey head back to school this fall, something will be missing from their textbooks: any mention of evolution.

The Turkish government is phasing in what it calls a values-based curriculum. Critics accuse Turkey's president of pushing a more conservative, religious ideology — at the expense of young people's education.

At a playground in an upscale, secular area of Istanbul, parents and grandparents express concern over the new policy.

In a neighborhood of Istanbul that's plastered with Arabic signs, a Syrian refugee whips up his specialty — avocado cream smoothies — at the small, colorful cafe where he works.

Majd al-Hassan has been in Turkey for two years, but has yet to learn much Turkish. He doesn't need to. This area is filled with fellow Syrians. He's paid in cash, under the table, and has yet to really integrate into Turkish society, he acknowledges.

At the Istanbul carpet shop he manages, a salesman named Abdullah flips through a stack of rugs, showing them off to a customer.

He ignores another pile of carpets rolled up in the corner. They're the Pierre Cardin brand — until recently, a coveted brand in Turkey. But they're on discount now.

"The brand is now associated with this cleric blamed for last year's failed coup," Abdullah says. "They're just carpets. Carpets aren't terrorists. Still, people are worried about guilt by association."

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In Turkey, the government's crackdown has entered another chapter - a mass trial in the capital, Ankara.

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UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in foreign language).

Less than two months ago, U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was way behind in the polls when he took the stage at a music festival in Liverpool.

With his shirt untucked, Corbyn, 68, introduced the indy rock band the Libertines and delivered an impassioned defense of public funding for the arts before a crowd of some 20,000, most of them youngsters.

He urged them to demand "a government that cares about sport, culture and the arts — and gives you the space to play and rehearse your music!"

British Prime Minister Theresa May is not a touchy-feely politician. She can come across as quite formal. Critics call her a "Maybot."

Stepping off the train in Crawley, 30 miles south of London, you hear less English and more Romanian, Estonian, Portuguese and Polish.

Crawley is an affordable place to live, if less scenic than some other English towns. Other than a medieval church and old stagecoach inn, most of Crawley was built after World War II, to house people displaced by bombing in London. More recently, many immigrants have settled here and work at Gatwick Airport nearby.

Brexit has many of them worried. It's still unclear how many people from the European Union will be allowed to stay.

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Outside a London pub on a sunny afternoon, pints of beer in hand, Brittney Cornwell and Amy Hussey are gabbing about their love lives.

They're in their early 20s and work together at a bank around the corner. They say one thing seems to come up more than ever on dates these days: Brexit.

"You can't avoid it," Hussey says. "It's always a topic!"

Tourists flood the area of Madrid's "Museum Mile" — a stretch of the huge, eight-lane Paseo del Prado thoroughfare that's home to Spain's most renowned art museums. It's smoggy and crowded with all the traffic.

At the CaixaForum, an arts foundation, people pause. It's what's on the outside of this museum, rather than what's inside, that's halted them: a giant vertical garden with more than 15,000 plants from 300 native species — begonias, yucca plants, ferns — coating an entire outer wall stretching the length of a city block.

Wild horses and cattle graze on the marshy banks of southern Spain's mighty Guadalquivir River.

From the mouth of this river, Christopher Columbus set off for the New World.

But since then, the river has gotten more salty. As fresh water is extracted for agriculture, drought — made more frequent by climate change — means less rainfall replaces it. Tides send salt water farther upriver.

Inside a cement building straddling part of the river, pumps suck 800 gallons out of the Guadalquivir per second — diverting it to irrigation canals.

Jeon Chung-won tends sheep on the hilly farm where he was born in PyeongChang, a rural county a few hours' drive east of South Korea's capital Seoul.

"It's a simple, peaceful place where the mountain air hugs you," says Jeon, 32. "I really love this place."

Only a handful of domestic tourists typically come to PyeongChang, to hike green hills dotted with Buddhist temples or visit a small ski station nearby. But that is about to change.

Hidden in green hills east of South Korea's capital is the House of Sharing, a nursing home for elderly women.

It's a bright, spacious place. But its residents are survivors of a dark chapter of history.

"It was 1942 and I was only 15, running an errand for my parents [in our Korean hometown of Busan], when two Japanese men in uniform grabbed me by the arms and dragged me away," recalls Lee Ok-seon, now age 90. "That's how I became enslaved."

She was sent to work in a brothel in a Japanese-occupied area of northeast China.

Watching footage of April's military parades in North Korea — with soldiers marching in formation to patriotic tunes — Lee So-yeon recalls all the steps. She was once one of those soldiers.

The daughter of a university professor, Lee, now 41, grew up in North Korea's North Hamgyong province. But when famine devastated the country in the 1990s, women — including Lee — volunteered for the military in droves, often for the food rations.

A liberal human rights lawyer born to North Korean refugees has won South Korea's presidential election with a promise to improve the economy and hold talks with the nuclear-armed North.

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