Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Our Women on the Ground takes readers to places few dare to go, like the eastern Aleppo home of Zaina Erhaim. The Syrian journalist's prized possession is her video camera, and she urges a friend to bring it to her at the hospital should her building be bombed and reduced to rubble.

She writes: "My camera, my passport, and I live or die together."

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German support for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservatives is at an all-time low, and in few places is that more evident than Bavaria.

A booming economy and ever fewer migrants crossing the border into the wealthy alpine state haven't eased a populist backlash against the Christian Social Union (CSU), which is the closest ally of Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU). The CSU has governed Bavaria for all but three years since 1946, most of the time with an absolute majority.

For decades, the label "Made in Germany" has stood for quality and a guarantee of expensive, precision engineering. Conversely, "Made in China" has long been a marker of substandard, cheap, knockoff products. But this is changing.

Beijing's "Made in China 2025" policy aims to transform its manufacturing sector into an excellence-driven, global leader in high-end technology. While Germany still has the edge in engineering expertise, a steady increase in the number of Chinese firms buying up key German tech firms has triggered angst in Berlin.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's hopes of persuading her peers in the European Union to keep the U.K. in the bloc's single market were dashed at an informal summit in Salzburg that ended on Thursday.

She appealed for compromise to ease the United Kingdom's departure from the EU, speaking in the theater where "So Long, Farewell" was performed by the Von Trapp family in the 1965 film The Sound of Music. But EU leaders clearly were not feeling nostalgic.

Doctors at the Charité hospital in Berlin say it's "highly plausible" Pyotr Verzilov of the Russian protest band Pussy Riot was poisoned last week, although it's unclear with what or by whom. Verzilov is currently being treated in Berlin.

"We have no indication — and this is important — that this was an infection or metabolic disease," the hospital's CEO, Dr. Karl Max Einhaeupl, told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. But "we cannot say anything about the question of how this toxin got into the body. It's not for us to answer this question."

This past week is hardly the first time I've seen far-right groups marching on eastern German streets using forbidden Nazi imagery or slogans.

Long before Chancellor Angela Merkel decided in 2015 that Germany would unequivocally welcome the largest refugee wave in her country's modern history, neo-Nazis and other right-wing nationalists used World War II anniversaries to spread fear and clash with counter-demonstrators.

The difference back then was that few of those protestors were from the communities they demonstrated in.

Under the deal, migrants registered in other European Union countries will be held in transit centers as Germany negotiates their return. The country's rebellious interior minister had threatened to quit and pull his party from Angela Merkel's coalition government if the German chancellor did not take a harder line on asylum seekers.

Tempers are flaring at the highest political levels in Europe — to the point that even the typically stoic German chancellor, Angela Merkel, appears on edge.

A clear sign surfaced Thursday morning, when Merkel tried briefing the German parliament about the European Union summit now underway in Brussels. Hecklers kept interrupting her as she spoke about the need for improved border security and keeping migrants who apply for asylum elsewhere from then doing the same in Germany.

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Richard Grenell has been the U.S. ambassador to Germany for barely a month, but already politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are demanding he be recalled.

On Thursday, Hamburg became the first city in Germany to ban diesel vehicles on its streets — at least in part. But many Germans question whether the limited ban is an environmental milestone, as the city claims, or a political shell game that will ultimately create more pollution.

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Germany waited nearly 16 months for the Trump administration to send a new ambassador to Berlin. But Richard Grenell managed to offend many Germans the day he arrived by posting this note on Twitter:

"As @realdonaldtrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately."

For Germans, Friday's working session between President Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House proved unexpectedly cordial and, at times, odd.

The chancellor, who is usually reserved, looked surprised when Donald Trump greeted her with a kiss on each cheek, a move the president seemed to have picked up from the French during the first state visit by France's president, Emmanuel Macron, earlier this week.

Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET

Solidarity marches to protest anti-Semitism are planned in Berlin and other German cities on Wednesday after an attack last week on a man wearing a yarmulke sparked widespread outrage.

The attack in Berlin, caught on video, involved a 21-year-old man wearing a Jewish skullcap, also called a kippa, who was suddenly attacked by an assailant calling out "Yahudi!" — the Arabic word for Jew.

The man being attacked replies, "Jew or no Jew you have to deal with it."

For four years, the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia over its aggression in Ukraine. The measures restrict travel and target assets of key individuals linked to the Kremlin.

But Ukraine says there's one major confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin whom the Europeans should consider sanctioning, but haven't — former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his populist Fidesz party easily swept to victory on Sunday in a parliamentary election that saw the highest turnout of voters in more than a decade.

It will be the third successive term for Orbán, who is the longest-serving prime minister in post-communist Hungary; it's the 54-year-old's fourth term overall. His party is projected to regain its two-thirds majority in the 199-seat parliament.

What do a chicken, gorilla, invisible man and Santa Claus have in common? They are all candidates on ballots that will be cast during parliamentary elections in Hungary on Sunday.

These costumed humans belong to a satirical political party started in Hungary in 2006. It is called "Two-Tailed Dog," known by its Hungarian acronym MKKP, and is fielding candidates in various districts for the first time in nationwide elections.

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A love story turned murder mystery led to the collapse of Slovakia's government last week. But that failed to quell the largest protests in the Central European country since 1989, when the Velvet Revolution brought down communism there.

The prime minister-designate, Peter Pellegrini, who was a deputy to his predecessor, Robert Fico, is now scrambling to form a new government to calm the situation. Pellegrini's original picks for his cabinet were rejected by the president and he plans to discuss new names on Wednesday.

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A love story turned murder mystery is sparking mass protests across Slovakia and even led to the collapse of that government there earlier this week. But that wasn't enough for many Slovaks who took to the streets again last night, as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

The recent resignation of Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico and his government is not easing public anger in the Central European country, where tens of thousands of protesters thronged streets in the capital Bratislava and dozens of other towns on Friday.

They were protesting last month's murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak, who had been reporting on political corruption. He and his fiancée, Martina Kusnírová, an archaeologist, were shot dead in their bungalow in a small village in Slovakia's countryside.

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Hungary and Poland have come to each other's defense on and off since the Middle Ages. And they are doing so now as the European Union increases pressure on the two countries to tamp down what Brussels views as their attacks on democracy.

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