The World

Weekdays at 8 PM
  • Hosted by Lisa Mullins

PRI’s The World is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. Hosted by Lisa Mullins in Boston, it is the first global radio news program developed specifically for an American audience.

Ways to Connect

It’s 5 a.m. and light is just beginning to show behind the brown desert hills that surround the Yakima Valley. Patricia and Javier just arrived to work at Sonrise Orchards. They’re placing their ladders among the thick green leaves of the cherry trees. 

In Michigan, the North American Free Trade Agreement has been a source of controversy for more than 25 years. Many argue that NAFTA has allowed American car companies to compete in a hyper-competitive global market. Others say the trade deal, which took effect in 1994, bled auto jobs from the US to Mexico.

There’s a dimly lit convenience store in the mountains of western Puerto Rico where an 82-year-old man sits behind the counter ringing up snacks and sodas.

Luis Ruiz, who has watery blue eyes and a white beard, wishes he were somewhere else: outside in the sun, tending the coffee plants he farmed for decades.

“I’ve been here for 55 years. But now I can’t continue because of Maria,” Ruiz said. “I lost everything: the coffee, bananas, the oranges. I lost everything.”

Siberian war games send a signal to the West

Aug 31, 2018

It was a hot September day. We were dug in to a potato field on the edge of a village somewhere in West Germany, waiting for the next attack.  

I distinctly remember Corporal Olding wandering over and saying, “I feel like a potato.”   

After two weeks on the exercise — two weeks of being tired, dirty and hungry — it seemed like the funniest thing ever.   

Before Santa Fe High School started its school year in August, school officials fortified the building with new metal detectors and panic buttons in every classroom. That’s because in May, an armed student killed eight classmates and two teachers.

Some parents are calling for even more security at the school near Houston, Texas, but one of the family members of the victims wants a different kind of change.

Joy walks along an overgrown path winding through a village on the rural outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria. She points out a few shops that have closed and a big house on an overgrown plot owned by somebody who has left for a job overseas. The neighborhood landmarks serve as constant reminders of the problem Joy grapples with daily: There is no work here. And she wants out.

“See I’m where I’m living?” she asked, sounding exasperated. “I can’t cope. I can’t cope at all. I don’t like it.”

The humanitarian crisis at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, where nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled to, is also a communication crisis. With an array of Southeast Asian languages spoken in the camps, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are having a tough time talking to aid workers. Even with the assistance of translators, it's hard to sort out all the languages and dialects.

Scotland became the first country in the world to give out free sanitary napkins to students this past Friday.

Victoria Heaney, who led the charge to provide free sanitary napkins, conducted a survey on period poverty last year for Women for Independence, a grassroots group in Scotland. She found that nearly one in five respondents had difficulty affording period products each month.

The border between North and South Korea is one of the most heavily guarded in the world. Separating the nations is the Demilitarized Zone — the DMZ. It’s a 150-mile-long, and 2.5-mile-wide swath of land that neither side occupies. It’s both a potential conflict zone and a tourist destination.

As relations thaw between North Korea and South Korea, visitors are flocking to the DMZ for a glimpse of what may soon be a relic of the past.

An official South Korean tourism site notes more than a million people visit the DMZ every year.

Nina is worried about her potato field.

She’s standing in the middle of a two-lane road in the village of Karpylivka, Ukraine, showing me the bugs she’s just pulled off her plants in the field nearby. The insects squirm inside a small, tin bucket.

In Japan, working mothers battle overwork culture

Aug 25, 2018

Kumi Matsumoto has a problem. She has a full-time job. But she’s Japanese and working full-time in Japan can mean something different than in other places, like the US.

“I think in Japan, working full-time means working 24 hours. I mean full time, 100 percent warrior,” she says. “We call it business warriors.” 

José Saldaña is one of the very last of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents to get power back after last fall’s hurricanes.

It was finally restored Friday morning, more than 11.5 months after it first went out and more than a week after the island’s power authority announced electricity had been fully restored across the island. 

When The World visited his home and business in El Yunque National Forest in mid-August, Saldaña, who everyone calls Tonty, was clearly agitated about having lived without power for almost a year.  

Last year marked a deadly turn for both Mexico and the United States. Mexico suffered record levels of homicides due largely to cartel-related violence. Across the border in the United States, driven by the deadly opioid epidemic, drug overdoses reached an all-time high.

Now the US and Mexico have joined forces on a new initiative to try and dismantle the financial infrastructure of drug kingpins in Mexico, an effort they hope will stem the tide of violence in Mexico and curtail the flow of heroin and illicit fentanyl flowing into the US.

Samir Constantini would have been born in France, but his Syrian mother insisted on traveling back home to Damascus just to give birth.

Even though Constantini grew up in France, he never lost his affinity for his parents’ culture, including a love for an ancient household staple — Aleppo soap.

Con ‘zonas de refugio’, pescadores de Baja California restauran el ecosistema marino

Aug 24, 2018

Read this story in English: With no-fishing zones, Mexican fishermen restored the marine ecosystem

Parece inverosímil que el océano pudiera quedarse sin peces. Sin embargo, si le preguntas a Jesús Enrique León Lara, eso es exactamente lo que ha estado sucediendo durante la última década en su pequeño pedazo de paraíso, un pueblo llamado Agua Verde al sur del estado mexicano Baja California.

For decades, Lebanon’s Bekka Valley has hosted a vibrant and sometimes violent hashish industry. Police often clash with the well-armed cannabis growers who use machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to defend their crops, which bring in billions of dollars every year.

But now the Lebanese government is milling a controversial idea: Taking over the illicit cannabis trade and developing a medicinal marijuana industry to help the country’s struggling economy.

The writer behind my favorite Soviet cartoon died last week. Cheburashka, Eduard Uspensky’s most famous character, helped me to retrace my roots.

Cheburashka is often described as the Soviet version of Mickey Mouse.

Except he’s not a mouse. He may also look like a bear cub or even a monkey, but he’s not that either. That’s the point.

He remained a constant theme throughout my life. He was the Olympic mascot of Russia for several years. My dad would bring back Cheburashka dolls and T-shirts from his work trips.

In central Athens, the sun-drenched streets are filled with tourists clutching at shopping bags and locals crowding cafes. It’s a far cry from the turmoil that has rocked this country over the past eight years.

At long last, things seem to be looking up here. On Monday, after eight years of emergency loans, Greece exited the international bailout program that prevented it from going bankrupt.

The idea that the ocean can run out of fish might seem implausible. Yet if you ask Jesús Enrique León Lara, that’s exactly what has been happening over the last decade in his tiny patch of paradise, a village called Agua Verde in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur.

“We lived off what we caught, from what the ocean gave us,” León said. “There was so much fish, so many types of fish. But now it’s not like that. There’s a lot less fish.”

Zaid Nagi, vice president of the Yemeni Americans Merchants Association in New York City, is mad.

“There is real pain here,” he said, “there is real suffering. I’m in direct contact with people whose lives have been destroyed.”

What ever happened to Steve Bannon?

Bannon was the chief executive officer of the Trump campaign in its final months and then chief strategist at the White House for seven months.

He's seen by many on the left as perhaps the main architect of the identity politics of the Trump administration. But Bannon is also seen by many of his supporters as the champion of the "little guy."

The Argentine Senate voted against a bill to legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy on Thursday, even after the reform passed through the Argentine House and opinion polls showed that it had strong public support.

It’s an overcast summer day at the Normandy American Cemetery. Taps plays as a flag-draped casket is carried to a freshly dug grave. A small group gathers to bury a fallen soldier.

For decades, the remains of this sailor were labeled only as Unknown X-9352. Today, he has his name again: Julius “Henry” Pieper.

Henry is finally getting a proper burial. It’s 74 years after his death, on the exact day his Naval ship was sunk by a German mine during World War II D-Day operations.

Back in the 1970s, long-distance phone calls were expensive. So the Guinto family, separated by the Pacific Ocean, used cassette tapes to stay connected.

In the Philippines, Glady Lee remembers her grandparents holding out a tape recorder to say a message to her parents living in San Francisco.

“‘Glady, come here. It's time for you to say hi to your mom and your dad. Tell them what it's like here. Do you want them to bring you anything from the States?'" Lee remembers.

Like many aspiring actors, Shuhei Kinoshita works as a server at a restaurant.

One night, he took a quick break and saw an email from Warner Brothers asking if he’d be available to play a small part in the film “Crazy Rich Asians.” They had gotten his contact information from an audition video he had posted to YouTube months earlier.

“It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t register in your mind when you first read it,” says Kinoshita, who’s based in New York. “I was like, ‘Is this really happening? Is this real?’”

On a Sunday night, Jerry Pinksen and his girlfriend Danielle Kane took a friend out for a birthday dinner. They went to the Danforth, a hip area in Toronto with lots of bars and restaurants.

“And we were out on the patio, and all of a sudden we heard what we thought were gunshots,” Pinksen says. “And we started talking about the recent gun violence that’s been in the city and stuff like that.”

That’s when the restaurant waiters came over and hustled them inside.

Cheryl Narumi Naruse remembers watching the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” in a theater in Singapore in 2003. There’s a scene where Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) dives into the ocean to save Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) from drowning. Once she’s back on the ship, Jack Sparrow rips off her corset with a knife so she can cough out water and breathe again.

One of the soldiers says: “I would never have thought of that.”

Jack Sparrow responds: “Clearly, you’ve never been to Singapore.”

Many people in the United States have reacted to the separation of families at the border with sadness, protests, donations and a lawsuit against the federal government. But for some, the story feels especially personal, and familiar.

At least 30 children were among the people killed Thursday when their bus was struck by a missile fired from a warplane in northern Yemen. While authorities vow to investigate, Yemenis are drawing their own conclusions.

The bus, parked at a busy market in Saada in northern Yemen, was filled with boys returning to school following a picnic outing. Yemeni social media lit up with reports of civilian deaths.

On a hot August morning, tour guide Carsten Dedert leads a group of tourists to the entrance of a German anti-aircraft fortress known as a Flak Tower. When this building stood intact during World War II, each of its four towers was mounted with a 27-ton gun to shoot down Allied aircraft. Civilians also used the building as a shelter during air raids.

“This is the main reason the ceiling above your head was built quite thick,” Dedert tells visitors. “Nearly 12 feet.”

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