Frank Langfitt

On a recent Friday afternoon, Imran Akhtar set up a folding table loaded with drug paraphernalia outside the Birmingham Central Mosque in the English Midlands. Akhtar's wares included a pair of syringes and a baggie containing a brown substance that looked like heroin.

Some 30 feet away, people were showing off more conventional fare, including perfume, hijab and prayer rugs. As worshippers poured out following prayers, Akhtar, a bearded father of three, made his pitch.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

In a break with diplomatic protocol, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has recommended that pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage become the United Kingdom's ambassador in Washington, D.C.

In a tweet Monday night, Trump said: "Many people would like to see @Nigel_Farage represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States. He would do a great job!"

On Monday in North Carolina, Donald Trump promised to pull off a "Brexit, Plus, Plus, Plus." He was referring to the surprise vote in June by people in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Given the polls at the time in the U.S., pollsters in London saw that boast as a stretch — but early Wednesday morning, Trump delivered on that pledge.

Speaking in North Carolina on the final day of the presidential campaign, Republican nominee Donald Trump urged voters to go to the polls and deliver an Election Day upset.

"It's going to be Brexit plus, plus, plus," he said Monday, referring to the surprise victory in last June's referendum in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

Angela Gui is sitting on the floor of her living room, stuffing clothes into a suitcase. Amid her master's degree studies and a part-time job helping one of her professors at the University of Warwick in the English Midlands, the history student has carved out a few days to spend in Geneva for human rights training.

"I think that's going to be really useful, because this is something I've been thrown into without any prior experience," says Gui, a soft-spoken 22-year-old who grew up in Sweden.

Daniel Brewer arrived in London on Sunday morning wearing a Jacksonville Jaguars onesie and face paint, complete with black whiskers, brown spots and a blue nose. He had come with fellow fans from the English city of Reading to cheer on the Jags as they took on the Indianapolis Colts beneath sunny skies at Wembley Stadium.

"None of us naturally are Jags fans," Brewer confided. "We all have our own roots, but because they signed a contract, they've got our hearts."

Light streams in through the bay window of Mike Nelson's home in London's Chelsea neighborhood as he pitches it like a polished salesman.

"It's a fantastic, six-bedroom house" says Nelson of his row home, which sits on a quiet street, lined with Japanese cherry trees in a section of town between Kensington Palace and the Thames. "It's got 3,100 square feet. It's over five stories and has a very nice, western-facing back garden and a roof terrace at the top."

There's even a gray, marble fireplace in the master bathroom, which served as a reception room in an earlier era.

The British pub is as much a part of the fabric of the United Kingdom as fish and chips and the queen, but each year hundreds close their doors for good. The reasons include the high price of beer, more people drinking at home and rising land prices.

Now — in an apparent first — the London borough of Wandsworth has designated 120 pubs for protection, requiring owners who want to transform them into apartments or supermarkets to get local government approval first.

The United Kingdom's planned split from the European Union is expected to take years, but it's already creating uncertainty for multinational companies operating in the U.K., including many American firms. Brexit also poses challenges to the U.S. government, as Washington ponders a future in which a key ally has less influence in Europe and likely becomes less relevant on the global stage.

London police have arrested a man on suspicion of murder after they say he knifed a woman to death and injured five other people in central London overnight.

The woman who was killed was an American citizen, and the injured include American, Australian, Israeli and British citizens, the BBC's Russell Newlove reports. Police don't believe that the nationalities of the victims motivated the attack.

Police say the initial investigation suggests mental health was a significant factor in the attack, but add that they are keeping an open mind as they investigate the motive.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

When Maggie Ranage woke up to the results of last month's vote to leave the European Union, she couldn't believe it.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, another shocking turn of events in British politics this morning.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

When American Erik Bidenkap arrived in London from the U.S. six weeks ago, he thought he was leaving behind the toxic politics of the U.S. presidential race.

Bidenkap said he was hoping for a more intellectual, perhaps even philosophical, discussion of the question U.K. citizens will decide Thursday: whether to leave the European Union.

"I expected there would be more civility, politeness, I guess," Bidenkap said over pints at a pub near his apartment in London's Notting Hill section. "I expected the conversation to be of a higher level."

Tony Thompson hopes the United Kingdom votes on Thursday to leave the European Union. Standing in a green smock behind his meat counter in the town of Romford, a short train ride from central London, the 58-year-old butcher explains why in four words.

"Got to stop immigration," says Thompson. "It's only an island. You can only get so many people on an island, can't you?"

One recent afternoon, I was walking up Nanjing West Road, Shanghai's traditional shopping street, when I ran into a crowd of protesters being chased off by a plainclothes cop wielding a bullhorn and a line of uniformed police. Demonstrations like this in the heart of the city are rare and sensitive for the government, which fears political unrest as China's economic growth continues to slow.

I asked a fleeing protester what had happened.

"Don't walk alongside me," pleaded the woman, named Zhao, staring straight ahead. "The police will detain me."

It's 9:30 on a Thursday night and Chinese and foreign jazz fans descend on the JZ Club in Shanghai's former French Concession. Glasses clink and the splashing sound of cymbals ripple through a cabaret setting bathed in soft red light.

Andrew Field, an American historian, says clubs like JZ represent a return to Shanghai's cosmopolitan past.

Last summer, a Chinese-American woman and NPR listener reached out with an unusual request. She asked me to help find her sister, who'd vanished in the mountains of Yunnan province in southwest China.

"My little sister has been missing since Nov. 23, 2013," the woman wrote in an email. "She married a farmer in a remote village and was abused by her husband shortly after her marriage. She escaped from him after a few abuses."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Men driving mountains of Styrofoam on the back of three-wheeled, motorized scooters are a common sight in Shanghai, but the one captured on this video is the biggest I or any of my friends have ever seen.

Grave robbers in central China pilfered a cemetery in Henan province last week, stole ashes from several grave sites and held them hostage. The robbers ripped open tombs at the Hongshan Cemetery in Xinyan City, according to the news website ifeng.com, where they spirited away ash-filled urns and left notes with phone numbers.

In a landmark moment, the presidents of China and Taiwan held an 80-second handshake ahead of a historic meeting in Singapore on Saturday.

The handshake marked the first time that the two sides of the Chinese Civil War have come together since the Communists won the war in 1949, forcing the losing Nationalists to begin running their government from Taipei.

"History has left us with many problems which we need to deal with practically," Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said following the hour-long meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

When you drive the new expressway to the airport in the Chinese city of Luliang, you are as likely to come across a stray dog as another vehicle. When I recently drove it, a farmer was riding in a three-wheel flatbed truck and heading in the wrong direction. But it didn't matter. There was no oncoming traffic.

Inside Shanghai's cavernous Yuz Museum, there's a two-story metal box.
And inside that box: a fire hose dangling from a chain.

Every hour, the hose fills with water and dances about, spraying in a frenzy for just one minute.

"It's like a Chinese dragon," says Karen Cong, who's 25 and works in digital advertising.

Private museums like the Yuz are sprouting up along the riverfront in Shanghai, part of a government plan to build a Museum Mile on the waterfront and help turn China's financial hub into a cultural capital as well.

NPR's Frank Langfitt has covered China for nearly a decade. After reporting on the Aug. 12 explosion in Tianjin that killed more than 100 people, he offered this commentary.

There's a moment when you're covering a disaster in China when you know what happened.

You know it wasn't an accident, as the government initially says.

You know someone did something awful that put lives at risk to make money.

For me, that moment came when I was sitting in the hallway of a Tianjin middle school.

Editor's Note: NPR Shanghai correspondent Frank Langfitt once drove a taxi as a summer job. He decided to do it again, this time offering free rides around Shanghai in exchange for stories about one of the world's most dynamic cities. Here's his latest installment.

I'd been renting a Toyota Camry to give free rides around the city for my series Streets of Shanghai, about the lives of ordinary Chinese. But the monthly rental fees were killing me, so I figured I could save money by buying a used car.

I went to a reputable used car dealership. The first hint that this would be different than shopping in the U.S. came when I met my salesman, a fresh college grad.

Pages