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.

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When Maria was six in August 2017, she was separated from her mother, Magdalena, by border patrol agents near El Paso, Texas.

“I didn't understand them,” Maria says. She and her mother speak Akateko, an indigenous Mayan language. “I kept saying, ‘Ummm ummm ummm.’ And then when they took my mom, I got scared and didn’t understand anything.”

Tomoko Shinkai is on the front lines of Japan’s demographic decline. She works for the small city of Hamada, and it’s her job to get people to move there. It’s hard to imagine a better cheerleader for the place. When you ask her what people should know about her hometown, Shinkai says there are too many wonderful things to name. “Come and see it for yourself!” she laughed.

Fasting can be tough for pretty much anyone. But what about the men and women who are fasting during daylight hours and spend all day preparing and serving food to the public?

This question got video producer Aymann Ismail thinking. What's it like to be a Muslim food truck owner during the month of Ramadan? Ismail was born to Egyptian parents and he grew up in New Jersey.

Residents of Yemeni port city prepare for an invasion

Jun 5, 2018

News over the weekend that the Trump administration was considering expanding the US role in the Yemen war may have been premature. 

A National Security Council spokesperson on Monday denied reports that the White House was weighing whether to directly assist a possible Saudi-led coalition invasion of Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodeidah. 

When Neriza Caspe said goodbye to her four children in the Philippines 18 years ago, she didn't know how long she'd be gone — just that she wanted to work abroad to better provide for them, and escape her abusive husband.

Breaking into the hyper-competitive K-pop music industry is notoriously brutal. But what if you’re a foreigner — and gay?

Meet Marshall Bang, better known to audiences as MRSHLL. He’s a Korean American singer from Orange County, California, who's trying to conquer South Korea’s music scene with his rich, chocolatey voice, and at the same time upend its culturally conservative mores. 

Two years ago, Vanessa Roanhorse was in Taos, New Mexico, with her husband, and they walked by the Kit Carson museum.

"My husband was like 'who's Kit Carson?'” says Roanhorse. “I'm looking at him thinking, ‘how do you not know who Kit Carson is?'”

Although Carson is a significant part of US history, people outside of the Southwest generally have no idea who he was. He was a frontiersman, famous as a tracker and wilderness guide and for shaping New Mexico.

Halina Litman Yasharoff Peabody remembers the events of her life during the Holocaust in remarkable detail.

She was only 6 when Russians invaded her Polish town, arrested her father and sent him to a prison camp in Siberia. The Germans arrived in 1941, setting off a string of horrors for Peabody, her mother and her baby sister: the hiding, the ghetto, the mass graves, the escape by train and the bomb that took two of her fingers.

At a café near Williams College in the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, students crammed for final exams. Sitting in the back, junior Tyler Tsay, an American studies major, had something else on his mind as well.

“It's very necessary to have an Asian American studies program, if only to complete the American Studies program that already exists on campus,” Tsay said.

Germany's Jewish population is small, somewhere around 200,000. Yet in German schoolyards, the word “Jew” is heard regularly, and not in a good way.

“'Jew' is an insult here,” says Berlin resident Gemma Michalski. “If you want to insult somebody, whether they're Jewish or not, it doesn't matter, but it's the thing you throw at them: 'Ah he's a real Jew,' or 'You're a Jew.' That's a sort of go-to insult.”

Pa’lante, meaning “onwards” or “forward,” was the title of a newspaper published by the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican leftist group advocating for social change in the '70s. Now the newspaper and Pedro Pietri’s poem, "Puerto Rican Obituary," are leading inspirations for a new song by the band Hurray for the Riff Raff — and also for a new music video that captures life in post-storm Puerto Rico.

In 1942, there were 44 people living on Attu Island, nearly all Alaska Natives. They were taken as captives to Japan, where half of them died. And after the war, the federal government forbade them from returning.

But in August, a group of 11 descendants finally visited their ancestral home for the first time.

Related: Seventy-five years after the Battle of Attu, veterans reflect on the cost of reclaiming US soil

A note to listeners and readers: A person in this story uses an offensive word for Japanese people.

Seventy-five years ago, Japan and the United States were locked in one of the bloodiest battles fought on American soil: the Battle of Attu.

Army veteran Allan Serroll served on Attu Island, which sits at the westernmost end of the Aleutian Islands — closer to Japan than Seattle.

Serroll is now 102. But he’s still haunted by the experience of staring down young men like himself.

Delivering food is now a dangerous job in Venezuela

May 29, 2018

After 10 hours on the road from the central Venezuelan plains, Gregorio Pinanco reaches the capital, Caracas. It’s 6 a.m., but Pinanco says it’s already been a terrible day. The road was blocked and people tried to loot his truck. He rubs the fatigue from his eyes and starts unloading his precious cargo — 6,000 pounds of white Guayanés cheese.

It wasn’t even close. 

Right up until the day of the vote last Friday, most observers thought the outcome of Ireland’s national referendum on abortion was too close to call. In the end, the "yes" side — voting to repeal Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which declared the equal right to life for both the mother and the unborn — won by a landslide. 

“A historic day for Ireland,” is how Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar characterized the results, which began to be clear on Friday night, even before the official count was announced. 

Two years ago, during Ramadan, Saagar Shaikh and Shaan Baig were in a car hanging with friends when they went down the rabbit hole of revisiting all of their favorite ‘90s Bollywood songs. It started with “Oh Oh Jane Jaana,” the 1998 classic from the film "Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya," which Shaikh credits with getting him into Bollywood in the first place.

Then they moved onto Baig’s favorites, all the old-school Shah Rukh Khan hits. Soon, they were reminiscing about how they used to try to memorize the dance moves when they watched the movies.

Sweden's new law on affirmative consent is hailed, but questions remain

May 26, 2018

As Sweden joins 10 other western European countries with a new consent law, there’s still much to figure out about what happens next.

The new law was passed Wednesday by an overwhelming majority (257 to 38, with 54 absentees) in the country’s parliament. Still, the two biggest opposition parties, The Moderate Party and the Sweden Democrats, are skeptical.

For a group of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, the first few days of the holy month of Ramadan have not brought forgiveness and compassion. On the contrary, they have been a time of silencing and intimidation.

The activists were taken away from their homes and placed in detention for campaigning against the driving ban and demanding an end to the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia — the system that requires the consent of a male relative for major decisions such as getting a passport or traveling outside the Kingdom.

After years of wrangling, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have agreed to a controversial hydroelectric dam, Africa's biggest, being built on a major branch of the Nile River.

Under the deal, Ethiopia will give Egypt a share of the electricity from the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project. Ethiopia also has promised the project will “not damage the interests of the other states” involved.

It’s a breakthrough in a region that has a history of tension among the countries that share on of the world’s great watersheds.

For these activists, oil and art just don't mix

May 25, 2018

On a recent cold night in Trafalgar Square, a group of 30 or so people rehearsed a new piece of musical theater in front of Britain’s National Gallery of Art. But if the venue was highbrow, the production — including sinister characters and lyrics such as “A gallery of art-wash ... to benefit the oil boss” — definitely was not.

Even for a country used to flooding, this has been something beyond pretty much anyone's experience.

Roughly 175,000 people displaced, widespread destruction of staple crops like maize, and a looming public health crisis following what observers say is the worst flooding in Malawi in half a century.

You could say the people living along the banks of the Thondwe River in southern Malawi were lucky. At least they’d been warned of the flash flood in early January that would burst through an earthen dike, wash away their homes and crops, and leave more than 4,000 of them homeless.

Amazingly, no one in the dense cluster of villages called Makawa died in the flood. But they’ve been living in pretty desperate conditions here since.

Imagine a Hawaiian island rising up out of a huge lake and you’ve got something like Nicaragua’s Ometepe. It’s the largest island in Central America’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua. It’s where Luvys and Dayton Guzman grow plantains in the dark soil nutured by the volcano Concepción and water their cows on a black sand beach.

It’s a pretty sleepy place, which is why Luvys Guzman was surprised when a team of surveyors showed up a few months ago.

“They measured everything,” she says, “including our water tanks, laundry, houses and sheds.”

Wolfram Walter is a man obsessed with things electric.

He’s electrified his bicycle. He’s electrified his Porsche. When he introduces his dog, Paula, you almost expect him to tell you that he’s electrified her, too.

In a city bursting with 20th century history and 21st century glitz, the scrap of Berlin I’ve found myself in on a grey winter’s morning is the definition of ordinary, an American-style mini-mart /gas station where my companions and I are ordering bad coffee to a soundtrack of generic schmaltzy pop.

No one knows for sure what started the West Africa Ebola outbreak, which has killed 10,000 people. But some scientists think it might have begun with a 2-year-old Guinean boy, a hollowed out tree he liked to play in, and a colony of free tailed bats that lived in it.

So the idea of standing in a grove of trees in central Tanzania below hundreds of roosting fruit bats isn’t exactly comforting. But it’s the kind of place the researchers I’m with need to be.

She opposed Putin. They tried to take away her kids.

May 25, 2018

They arrested her. Called her a spy. Then they tried to take away her children.

All for opposing the bulldozing of a forest preserve that President Vladimir Putin supported.

After years or pressure, leading environmental activist Evgenia Chirikova has left Russia, the latest departure among a long list of people who have antagonized Putin.

A recipient of a 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize, Chirikova plans to continue her work from across the border.

Beekeeper Jon Otis runs Lake Superior Honey. He has hives here and there around the city of Duluth. He says the idea is that the honey each hive produces has the flavor of the neighborhood it’s in, from the different flowers that grow there.

Recently, Lake Superior Honey started a new project. They’re selling a mix of wildflower and grass seed. They don’t make money off the seeds. They just want more people to tear out their lawns and put in habitat for pollinators.

Take a step back from Zanzibar’s white sand beaches and big hotels and you’re in a very different world. One where the island’s dusty, inland villages largely go dark once the sun sets. This is when the differences between people who have electricity and those who don’t are most pronounced.

Recent scenes of Beijing smog so thick it made noon look like an apocalyptic dusk, were a vivid reminder to world leaders meeting at the climate change summit in Paris, of the urgent need is to reduce both greenhouse gases and the particulates that cause smog. 

China’s own scientists and experts have issued an urgent call to action, with grim predictions of how climate change could affect China. 

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