The World

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  • Hosted by Marco Werman

The World brings international stories home to America. Each weekday, host Marco Werman guides listeners through major issues and stories, linking global events directly to the American agenda.

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After the death of Alton Sterling — and Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin and all the other people of color recently killed by police — many questions will likely go unanswered.

Courtesy of the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, University of Minnesota

When 10 athletes from four war-torn countries stepped onto the floor of Rio’s Maracanā Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics, they made history. Never before has a team of refugees participated in the games.

It’s not hard to imagine the millions of people in refugee camps around the world today cheering them on. There’s a good chance many of them are athletes themselves.

It turns out that refugees have been turning to sports to pass the time and cope with the stress of displacement for decades.

Muslims have been coming to the US for centuries, but you wouldn’t know it by the intense debates that continue to surround the movement of Muslims across international borders.

Kentucky's current political office holders are not necessarily kind to the nation's newcomers. Before Matt Bevin entered the governor's mansion, he joined the chorus of Republican governors who claimed they'd refuse the resettlement of Syrian refugees after last November's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Tsuya Hohri Yee’s family was once imprisoned by the US government. They were deemed a national security threat because of their ancestry. That’s why President Donald Trump’s executive order that targets refugees and certain immigrants hit hard.

“The news landed like a ton of bricks and my heart sunk realizing that other communities were to face what we faced 75 years ago,” Yee says in an email.

During WWII, European refugees fled to Syria. Here's what the camps were like.

Oct 2, 2018

Since civil war erupted in Syria five years ago, millions of refugees have sought safe harbor in Europe by land and by sea, through Turkey and across the Mediterranean.

Refugees crossed these same passageways 70 years ago. But they were not Syrians and they traveled in the opposite direction. At the height of World War II, the Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration (MERRA) operated camps in Syria, Egypt and Palestine where tens of thousands of people from across Europe sought refuge.

Nearly a decade ago, I began a search for a family story that is most often relegated to history books — the journey of a World War II refugee. I was captivated by my maternal grandmother’s search for home and felt certain that her unique narrative was far more relevant than had been recognized throughout my childhood.

It took a long time for Andrea Valobra to realize something basic about her culture. She grew up knowing that women were expected to do certain duties that men didn’t have to do, like cleaning and cooking. But she didn’t understand the full extent of the machismo culture until she was in her teens.

Her first boyfriend raped her. Another hit and choked her.

She says her family explained it away.

"'He likes you, so he will rape you,'" she says. "'He loves you too much and that is why he has to control your phone.'"

Hundreds of times each day, people settle into individual mirrored booths in a building in the heart of the Downtown Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia. They unpack the drugs they’ve brought and then do their thing, prepping, then injecting. But here, they shoot up under the watch of a nurse. Clean needles and naloxone are within easy reach. 

Mat Savage credits the place with saving his life.

Every day, Brent Olson travels some 20 minutes by train into Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood. He has a degenerative hip disorder and uses a walker to get around. But there’s no way he’d miss this clinic appointment.

“The best decision I’ve ever made in my life was coming here,” Olson said. “I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you. I’d be dead.”

Gordon Liu, a 28-year-old office worker in Hong Kong, dashes to a Chinese medicine clinic after work to get acupuncture for his shoulder and neck pain. Liu goes inside a large cubicle curtained off for privacy. He takes off his shirt, lies face down on a bed and an acupuncturist puts needles in points near his shoulders, neck and hands, leaving them in for about 20 minutes.

“Now it feels like my neck and shoulders are more moveable, like they’ve loosened up,” he says.

What I learned from my grandmother’s hands

Sep 26, 2018

It is hard for me to feel connected to my heritage in everyday life. My eyes see a different landscape, my tongue is used to a different language and my hands are familiar with a different kind of work.

My parents are from Huai’an, a city of 5 million in Jiangsu province, eastern-central China. China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with thousands of years of history, culture, art and great empires.

Singer and student Zere Asylbek wrote a feminist song and produced a video that's provoked ire in many Kyrgyz. They're mad at the clothes she wears in the video — a lacy bra underneath a blazer — and mad about the lyrics, which advocate independence for women. 

When North and South Korean leaders recently held their third summit in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons weren’t the only items on the table.

Jane Faye was early in her transition from male to female when she was accosted before entering the women's changing area. It was a Saturday morning, and she was getting ready to step into the pool with her then 5-year-old son. A man appeared out of nowhere and threatened her.

“This man just hogged the way. And said, 'You're not going in there.' And I said, "Why not?" And he just said, 'Well, I'm going to hit you if you do,'” said Faye, who lives north of London. 

Kids shriek with oblivion as they play the “Big Bad Wolf” in one of the many migrant shelters in the dusty border city of Tapachula, Mexico, which has become a hub for Central Americans fleeing their countries. Their parents watch on with concerned faces, trying to map out their next steps.

Maciel García, 25, stands off to the side with her 3-year-old daughter, Kayssee. She’s a shy girl with chubby cheeks who’s grabbing onto her mother’s leg with one hand and holding a small video player with the other, watching cartoons.

She was 23 and not allowed to work in 2005 when she first came to the United States. Now 36, Archana Vaidyanathan is interviewing with major technology firms in Northern California to see if her expertise is still in demand.

Vaidyanathan holds an H-4 visa, given to family of those who come to the US with H-1B visas, sponsored by employers. The Department of Homeland Security filed an update in federal court on Aug. 20 that a new rule to rescind the right to work for spouses of H-1B visa holders is in its final stages of “clearance review.”

Fatoumata Diawara is on a mission with her music. In a newly released video for her song “Bonya,” the Malian-born musician says we all need and deserve respect.

The video, featured above, was directed by Juan Gomez at Montuno. “Bonya” features a range of influences from 1960s R&B and is laced with sounds from the West African kora.

When Dave McNeer opened Sunday’s Des Moines Register and saw a four-page advertising supplement paid for by the Chinese government, he shrugged it off. The ad provided China’s perspective about the ongoing trade war between the US and China.

Barranquitas, a rural region of 30,000 people in central Puerto Rico, gets its name from the terrain. Barranca roughly translates to ravine or gully, and the steep slopes here meant the area was especially hard-hit by Hurricane Maria.

Countless landslides blocked roads for weeks. Streets weren’t completely cleared of mud and debris until long after green returned to the lush valleys, three months after the hurricane.

“This one just got here in March. She wasn’t enrolled,” says Carlnis Jerry, lifting an eyebrow and nodding her head toward a third-grader who is speaking in Marshallese.

It’s a Wednesday, and Viona Koniske is sitting with her classmate during a “lunch bunch” gathering in a converted supply closet at Parson Hills Elementary in Springdale, Arkansas.

Alberto Rodríguez has designed an impressive power system for his home in Puerto Rico. A wind turbine and solar panels lead to batteries that are then converted to power for the home.

But Rodríguez isn't trying merely to keep the lights on — he's trying to keep his wife, Mirella, alive. Mirella suffered a stroke about a month after Hurricane Maria came ashore last year. Maria knocked out power to their home, and so if Mirella was to come home from the hospital, Rodríguez had to find a way to generate a stable power supply.

So he did.

Steve Lorch is a surgical nurse by profession. His other job is running a tea farm.

When you think of the world’s great tea-growing regions, you might think of parts of India, Sri Lanka, China or Kenya. Odds are, though, you don’t think of Lorch’s adopted hometown of Pickens, South Carolina — a small, economically depressed place in Appalachia. But Lorch is on a mission to change that.

nz.govt

After thousands of crowdsourced submissions and millions of votes, New Zealand voters have selected a single alternative flag — which will face off against the current national flag in a head-to-head, winner-take-all referendum in March.

Editors Note: After 10 months and millions of dollars spent, 57 percent of New Zealanders voted to keep their original flag.

A media group based in Washington, DC, launched an ad campaign this week in New York City that targets an exclusive audience: World leaders in town for the 73rd United Nations General Assembly. The goal? An end to the war in Yemen.

The group Pure Detroit gives tours of the city’s gleaming landmarks. And its skeletons. That includes the former Packard factory — 43 abandoned buildings on Detroit’s east side, sprawling shells of concrete with graffiti and rubble. Think: Mad Max or a bombed-out city.

“That's why so many movies are filmed here, because it has that sort of post-apocalyptic look,” said Jacob Jones, who regularly gives tours with the company Pure Detroit. 

Billions of people all over the globe are already feeling the impacts of climate change — from the deserts of Somaliland to the peat bogs of northern Canada. Here are some stories from the front lines of climate change that we gathered at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in mid-September (listen to each person talk by clicking the audio players below the images).

Related: California emerges as a leader at climate summit

One year ago, on the afternoon of Sept. 19, Wesley Bocxe was at home with his wife, Elizabeth Esguerra, in their eighth-floor apartment in the trendy Mexico City neighborhood of Condesa. Elizabeth was in the kitchen preparing lunch. Wesley was in bed with a fever. Their young daughter, Amara, was at school.

Rosa Elena Mastache Dominguez, 54, comes from a family of fishermen. Some four generations back, her ancestors claimed a little piece of shoreline on the north-central coast of Puerto Rico. They built a house on the black-speckled sand, looking out onto palms and blue-green water.  

“My grandparents grew up here, my grandparents raised my parents here, my parents raised us [here],” she said.  

Two years ago, Hamissi Mamba was living in Burundi. He came to Detroit as a refugee and joined his wife and young twin daughters who were already living in the US — moving to a new country, navigating a new culture, mastering a new language.

“I think that was a big challenge for me because I didn't even take a class. I’ve been watching cartoons with my girls,” Mamba says.  

Quickly, he’s gone from cartoon watcher to English-proficient budding restaurant owner in Detroit.

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