The World on WLRN

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A one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe.

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The summer movie season is rapidly drawing to a close. But you've still got two weeks (maybe three, if your summer runs through Labor Day) to squeeze in a couple of new, foreign documentaries. Matt Holzman, the host of The Document, a podcast from KCRW about seeing the world through documentary films, gave The World's Marco Werman a few recommendations.

1. "Barbecue"

It’s a dance that’s been playing itself out for millennia. On average, once every year and a half, the moon slips directly between the Earth and the sun, punching a hole of darkness into the daytime sky. And whenever possible, there have been people below, looking up.

By all accounts, experiencing a total solar eclipse is revelatory, especially so for people who study them.

For decades, Red Delicious represented the definition of an of apple. Kids across the nation got them in their lunch bags, and they were ubiquitous on store shelves. But with the explosion in more tasty apple varieties — like Gala, Fuji and Honeycrisp — the Red Delicious has largely fallen out of favor in the US.

Not so in China, though — Red Delicious are huge there. And that’s a big consideration for Washington state growers.

What it was like that day in Charlottesville

Aug 14, 2017
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Lidia Jean Kott 

I knew that things in Charlottesville were going to be intense, but I still was not prepared for what I saw when I drove into town early Saturday morning.

We parked behind a McDonald's and then walked towards the park where the main protest and counterprotest was happening. On our way, we encountered a group of people carrying a huge wooden sign that read, “There is no master race."

I tried to take a picture of them, but they waved me off. Later, I saw them on TV, using the sign as both a shield and a weapon when the fighting got intense.

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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

If you’ve been talking to people about hate crimes since the election, like I have, you’d know that Charlottesville didn’t come out of nowhere. People have been priming for a fight for months.

The string of hate crimes across the country has people scared, defensive, a little paranoid, and preoccupied with their own safety. And when President Donald Trump initially failed to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville, instead saying there was violence “on many sides,” that wasn’t surprising either — because there’s a long history of American failure to acknowledge white hate. 

The US far-right is a fan of — Syria's Assad?

Aug 14, 2017

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has some unlikely fans in the US among far-right communities.

In a video that was posted on Twitter, three men who took part in the Charlottesville protests talk about their support for Assad, the notorious Syrian leader accused of killing thousands of his own people. One of the men is wearing a T-shirt that reads “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.”

"Support the Syrian Arab army," one of them says.

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Edgar Su/Reuters

Throughout much of history, witnessing a total solar eclipse would mean one thing above all else. And that is fear.  

For the ancient Greeks, an eclipse was a sign that the gods were angry. The Vikings saw eclipses as a potential apocalypse. And the ancient Chinese apparently believed that an eclipse meant that a giant dragon was trying to devour the sun and that people needed to make as much noise as possible to scare the dragon away.

South African artist Lady Skollie explains why she paints burning vaginas

Aug 11, 2017
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Jasmine Garsd/PRI

Laura Windvogel unlocks the heavy outer door to her studio on a quiet Sunday morning. She climbs the warehouse stairs. And she unlocks the next lock to another metal door. And through that door, she turns the key on yet another lock to get into her work space.

It’s a reminder that this is Johannesburg. And security is everything — especially for women.

Helping the blind 'see' the solar eclipse

Aug 11, 2017
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Carolyn Beeler/PRI

It sounds like the beginning of a riddle. How can someone who’s blind “see” the upcoming eclipse on Aug. 21?

It’s a question solar astrophysicist Henry “Trae” Winter started thinking about several months ago after a blind colleague asked him to describe what an eclipse was like.

“I was caught completely flat-footed,” Winter said. “I had no idea how to communicate what goes on during an eclipse to someone who has never seen before in their entire life.”

At 14, she tested positive for HIV — now she calls herself an HIVictor

Aug 11, 2017

It’s a clear winter morning in Pretoria.

On a suburban lawn, under the shade of a tree, a group of young actors is rehearsing for an upcoming production of the play, "My Children! My Africa!" 

Sadie Brown, 22, plays the character of Isabella. Brown is a young actress, but she’s spent a lifetime performing. She started when she was a teenager. She was at a school event, and health workers were doing free HIV testing. Brown thought it would be fun.

"So, I went in there, and I had an HIV test, and ... " she trails off.

Travel the world on an ice cream tour in Los Angeles

Aug 11, 2017

Among life's pressing questions, which ice cream to have poses an eternal conundrum. There's coffee, obviously, and chocolate, but what about raspberry, pistachio, rum raisin and mint chocolate chip? Toppings are a further challenge — sprinkles, whipped cream, hot fudge, the proverbial cherry on top?

So it's a relief to learn that Filipinos have an answer: halo-halo.

We want your eclipse plans, stories and photos

Aug 11, 2017

On Aug. 21, the contiguous United States will see its first eclipse in nearly 40 years. It will span coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina. About 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the “path of totality,” meaning this eclipse will be among the most viewed and photographed of all time.

We want you to be part of our coverage of the big event.

A young Japanese voice breaks the silence of autism

Aug 10, 2017
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Jun Murozono

Japanese author Naoki Higashida might not seem immediately approachable if you were to run into him on the sidewalk. 

"If you see him walking down the street toward you, he has all the classic autistic ticks, and you think 'Whoa, I'd better stand off the sidewalk and let this guy go by because he obviously needs the space more than I do,'" says author David Mitchell. "And yet when you read him and sit down opposite the table from him, he will spell out these sentences letter by letter and he's articulate, he's eloquent."

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US Air Force/Senior Airman Ian Dudley/Defense Department handout

If there was any doubt that President Donald Trump was talking about nuclear weapons when he talked about "fire and fury" descending on North Korea, that doubt was dispelled Wednesday with a statement from the secretary of defense, James Mattis.

Mattis, long considered a moderate in the Cabinet, said North Korea should "cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people."

Mattis also called directly for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapon ambitions.

It's been a little over a year since Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel died.

He was celebrated around the globe as an activist and a writer, and for his lifelong efforts to keep the world from forgetting the horrors of the Holocaust.

But for his only child, Elisha Wiesel, coming to terms with who his father was and what he represented was a difficult road.

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