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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How a soldier gets ready for deployment

Mar 14, 2018

First Lt. Erica MacSwan was just 7 years old when 9/11 happened. Yet, she has vivid memories of it.

Her family lived in New Hampshire at the time. Her dad, who worked for IBM, commuted to New York City for work. On that morning, he was running late for a meeting.

"He didn't get far before a black blanket covered him," MacSwan recalls, "and he just crouched down, and then he couldn't see anything. The city went absolutely silent, which is obviously so unusual for New York City."

Nearly 2 million Muslims take part in the pilgrimage to Mecca each year.  

Egyptian journalist and author Mona Eltahawy first participated in the five-day pilgrimage when she was a teenager and something happened that still haunts her today — she was sexually abused.  

Following the momentum of the #MeToo campaign, Eltahawy set in motion #MosqueMeToo, to tell her story and to encourage other Muslim women to step forward and share their experiences of sexual abuse while on the Muslim pilgrimage.

One of the most visible ways that cultures mingle in America is through food. So it’s no wonder that when PRI's The World asked, as part of our Global Nation coverage, why Filipino cuisine hasn't spread like Thai or Chinese in this country, the reaction was strong.

A guide to Russian ‘demotivator’ memes

Mar 12, 2018

Long before Russia ever launched social media campaigns in the US, Kremlin-backed trolling was alive and well at home. In this online underworld of paid seeders, twitterati and trolls, “demotivators” — Russian internet picture memes — play a special bottom-feeder role.

In Russia, a ‘ghost empire’ rises

Mar 12, 2018

In July of 2016, I wrangled a rare invitation to the Baltic Factory, a legendary shipyard in Saint Petersburg, for the maiden voyage of the Arktika. 

This was no ordinary ship. The first of a series of next-generation Russian nuclear icebreakers, the Arktika was and is touted as the biggest and most powerful ship of its kind — a mammoth football field-sized vessel that could cut through ice almost 10 feet deep on ostensibly endless journeys through the most desolate areas of the globe. And while it’s doing that, Arktika is also securing Russia’s economic future. 

Yoo In-sik slides open the front door of his repair shop, and a man on a mobility scooter pulls in. Yoo grabs an air hose, he fills his tires and backs out onto the street of this neighborhood in northern Seoul.

Yoo’s office is filled with parts of motorized wheel chairs and other adaptive equipment for persons with disabilities. Resting against the wall is a pair of skis and next to those is a device he made himself called an outrigger — it has ski blades which attach to his legs and helps Yoo stay balanced whenever he hits the slopes.

My dad, Danilo, got a contract at White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, California just after my brother Chris was born. My two younger brothers and I didn't see him again for almost 10 years.

During the school year, we lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment in Quezon City in Metro Manila, sharing the space with my uncle, an accountant for an American company, and two aunts, a librarian and a nursing student.

In the summer, they shipped my brothers and I to my grandparents’ home in the rural province of Isabela.

Inside the student union at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), members of the campus College Republicans club are holding their monthly meeting, brainstorming questions for a congressional candidate debate they are hosting on campus.

One student suggests a question on border security, “If not a wall, how do you suggest we secure our border?”

California is often called a “sanctuary” state, a place that is attempting to defy the Trump administration’s get-tough approach on immigration and protecting undocumented people in the state. But Jesús Ruiz sees things differently.

“There is a lot of chaos, a lot of confusion,” he said this week, following a recent burst of federal immigration operation throughout California.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko, history’s deadliest female sniper, is considered to be a Soviet propaganda myth by some, including some people in Russia. The divorced teenage mother from the tiny Ukrainian town of Bila Tserkva is credited with killing at least 309 Nazis — she simply sounds too good to be true.

Pavlichenko was certainly used in the Soviet propaganda effort to get the United States involved in the war effort in Europe in 1942. While on a tour of the States, she frequently surprised American reporters by not attempting to be traditionally feminine or smartly dressed.

For the first time, North Korea has sent athletes to compete in the Winter Paralympics.  


The North’s team received a warm welcome as they entered Pyeongchang’s Olympic stadium on Friday. Thousands of LEDs placed throughout the stands glowed red, blue and white to form the shape of the country’s flag — a display that if for any other occasion, would be illegal in South Korea. 

Related: Ice Warriors: USA sled hockey team prepares for the 2014 Paralympics

After sexual assault, this former aid worker found little help from UN

Mar 8, 2018

Editor's note: This piece's author, Amy Costello, is reporting on aid workers' experiences with sexual harassment and abuse. She would like to hear from you. Call us at 857-285-4157 and leave a confidential message. 

Shannon Mouillesseaux was violently assaulted a decade ago in Sri Lanka while working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The attack itself was deeply traumatic. But Mouillesseaux says the way she was treated by UNHCR in the aftermath was even more damaging.

Six months after Maria, Puerto Rico is burdened with challenges

Mar 8, 2018


As Puerto Rico approaches the six-month mark since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, many want to know why thousands of residents are still without power.


For the past three weeks, Maram, a young Syrian mother, has been living in an underground shelter with her 3-year-old son, Ahmad, and his 8-month-old brother, Omar.

Like other underground shelters around their neighborhood in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, this one is filled to capacity. They eat and sleep and wait out the days alongside 150 people as bombs fall overhead, reducing everything to rubble. They hardly see daylight and can’t get enough food. When they get a chance to peek outside, they can hardly recognize their own homes and streets.

Sudan Archives has a funkier approach to violin.

After taking a few lessons in Western classical styles and playing Irish jigs in fiddle club, she started experimenting. Sudan Archives researched West African and Sudanese fiddling styles and that’s where she draws her influence.

There is a much more informal relationship with the instruments, and the style is much more candid and playful in West African fiddling than classical styles. In some recordings, it comes through as an almost industrial or full-texture sound.

Many economists are sounding alarm bells over President Donald Trump's apparent push toward protectionism and an all-out retaliatory trade war. They say history is clear: It's a bad idea.

The Great Depression pushed millions of Americans into catastrophic poverty — which lasted for years. Savings were wiped out. Unemployment reached 25 percent, and in an age without public assistance, many depended on charity to simply survive. The hunger and humiliation scarred a generation.

On Tuesday, the arrests on Capitol Hill totaled 116 people, immigrant groups reported. Several dozen people chained themselves together and blocked midday traffic. Police labored to sever the chains in order to arrest the demonstrators. Others were arrested during a sit-in at the offices of Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. 

“We believe that we will win!” the demonstrators chanted.

This happened as about 900 young immigrants protested inaction by Congress to pass legislation to give them permanent legal status the United States.

Progressives side with Trump on trade

Mar 6, 2018

Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro was at the US Capitol when the North American Free Trade Agreement, which governs trade rules among Canada, Mexico and the US, was signed into law 24 years ago.

DeLauro, who represents Connecticut’s 3rd District, an area in and around New Haven, opposed NAFTA from the start, fearing that the trade deal would cost her state, and the nation, jobs.

In February 1968, the Beatles embarked on their famous discovery of India to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Now 50 years later India is rediscovering the Beatles — or at least the tourism potential of the world’s most famous rock band seeking salvation in the country.

Editor's note: Cartoonist and blogger Ramón Esono Ebalé was released from prison on March 8 after serving more than five months in jail in Malabo. Ebalé, who has lived outside of Equatorial Guinea since 2011, was arrested and charged with money laundering and counterfeiting last September while on a trip home to renew his passport. He was aquitted on Feb. 27 after a policeman, the state's main witness, recanted his story under cross-examination and said he was only following orders when he accused Ebalé of criminal activity. 

Sylejman Neziri owns a grocery store in Ferizaj, a city in southern Kosovo where the population is mostly ethnic Albanian. He has a policy in his store: No Serbian products allowed.

The war in Kosovo happened nearly 20 years ago, but it’s still fresh in Neziri’s mind.

“The Serbian army and police massacred thousands of Albanians, raped more than 20,000 women, poisoned children,” Neziri says. “Considering this massacre, I cannot imagine having their products on my table.”

Cheng doesn’t take his eyes off the floor as he enters Annalisa Bressan’s house. His cheeks are pink from crying and despite Bressan’s insistence, the boy doesn’t say a word about what happened. His sister, Cheng Jun, does the explaining. Turns out, the kids’ father didn’t like Cheng’s grade in Italian class and took away his cellphone.

“But you had a beautiful grade! I will talk to your father and explain. Don’t worry,” Bressan says, laughing.

Suddenly at peace, the boy sits down at Bressan’s kitchen table, ready to do some homework.

One of Egypt's most beloved pop stars, Sherine Abdel Wahab, was sentenced this week to six months in prison after joking with concertgoers. She's just one of several entertainers targeted in a crackdown by Egyptian authorities in the lead-up to this month's presidential elections.

Egyptian American author Mona Eltahawy says Sherine, as the singer is known, is one of the most famous pop stars in the Middle East.

"She's on one of those talent shows where she's one of the judges. She's one of the biggest names in the region," Eltahawy says. "So, this is really shocking."  

Two brothers who spent 14 years apart sit at a kitchen table in a mobile home outside of Minneapolis. The elder one, David, looks around at the freshly painted blue walls with pride. He’s adding new window frames, flooring and appliances bit by bit to make a home for his family.

David left El Salvador on Sept. 1, 2005. He was 20 and the journey to Minnesota, where his father was living, took 22 days.

“You remember the whole trip, counting each day to get here,” he says. “We didn’t come on the plane.”

Daffodils in the park, covered in snow. A snowball fight on the roof of BBC headquarters. Such were the scenes this week in London — echoed across much of Europe — as a blast of cold and snow dubbed “the beast from the east” dragged the continent back into deep winter just as spring was beginning to emerge.

Clara is a college student in Toronto, and in a few days, she's flying home to Paris to visit her family and friends. She also stopping at a fromagerie to buy some cheese to bring back to Canada, specifically Comté, a cousin of Gruyere made under strict rules in the French Alps. 

The Sung sisters, Vera, Jill and Chantrelle, still find it bewildering that they went from being accused of mortgage fraud to being the stars of an Oscar-nominated documentary.

On March 4, they’ll attend the Academy Awards ceremony, where the film about their fight against fraud charges is nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

Before the documentary, the family's only connection to Hollywood was by name. Two of the sisters were named after actresses, Jill St. John and Vera Miles.

Right whales are in serious trouble. Over the past year, there have been a record 18 deaths and zero births, and the population of North Atlantic right whales has dwindled. Now there are only 430 left in the world.

“The story is just a simple one of arithmetic,” says Dr. Charles “Stormy” Mayo, director of the Right Whale Ecology program at the Center for Coastal Studies.   

“Most of the bodies were floating face down. Some wore life jackets. But there were a lot of life jackets without any bodies inside. At first I saw just one body, then another and another and another. It was terrible. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

In the latest chapter of a closely watched immigration case, the Supreme Court this week shot down a lower court’s ruling that some detained immigrants have a right to bond hearings.

The case centers on the Jennings v. Rodriguez class-action lawsuit. Its lead plaintiff, Alejandro Rodriguez, a legal permanent resident, was convicted as a teenager of joyriding and minor drug possession. He was detained for three years with no bond hearing. Eventually, he won his release.