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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Modern shipping containers are a bit like Legos — you can take them off a ship and snap them perfectly onto a truck or train. This relatively simple innovation, which started in the 1950s, has allowed global trade to go gangbusters.   

“It was in 1992 when 100 million containers moved through all the world’s ports, then in 1998, we went to 200 million,” said Stephen Flynn, founding director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University in Boston. “Roughly we’re at a little over 600 million today.

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Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

The Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk has been under Kurdish control for several years. On Monday, Iraqi soldiers reclaimed it for Baghdad, and that's a big deal.

"It is a different Iraq today than it was two days ago," says journalist Ben Van Heuvelen.

"It's a paradigm shift in Iraq akin to what happened in 2014 when ISIS came in," he says. "The territorial boundaries between the Kurdistan region and the federal government have been redrawn, and the control of northern Iraqi oil resources has shifted." 

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, we’ve seen images of the destruction and heard stories about the lack of electricity and basic supplies like food and water in some areas.

But the main way we measure — and understand — the scope of any disaster is through the death toll.

The official count is now 48 deaths. But the news site Vox thought that number seemed off.

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Violet Law/PRI

It’s been 10 years since Anna Takada was in sixth grade, but she still remembers her history class. The World War II imprisonment of her grandfather and nearly 120,000 others with Japanese heritage merited only a few lines in her textbook. And at school, her teacher skipped over those lines.

“I remember being shocked and hurt how it was glossed over,” Takada, 25, says.

At home, her father, who was born in Chicago where his family resettled after incarceration, told Takada not to ask her grandfather about that time in their family’s history, either. And she didn't. 

US allies turn their US guns on each other in Iraq

Oct 16, 2017

Iraqi forces took control of the contested city of Kirkuk from Kurdish authorities on Monday, as tensions over last month’s independence referendum in the Kurdistan region erupted into violence between two key US allies.

Thousands of civilians fled in panic from the city, which lies in the heart of a major oil-producing region and which both the Kurds and Iraq claim as their own.

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National Archives/Reuters

A few weeks ago, while mowing the lawn, Clifton Daniel began to recite a monologue in character as Harry S. Truman.

“Which is weird,” he admitted recently, in between bites of a Whole Foods wrap. Truman hated mowing the lawn. “My neighbors probably think I’ve lost my mind.”

As some Puerto Ricans fill flights to Miami, we asked a handful of people in San Juan their thoughts about leaving their homes for the mainland US. About 3.4 million people live in Puerto Rico, and some will choose to leave the island behind and move permanently.

The House passed a $36.5 billion aid package last week and on Sunday, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricard Rosselló said he expected power to be restored to 95 percent of the island’s electric grid by Dec. 15. Currently, 85 percent of the island is still without electricity.

Why people stay friends with their rapists

Oct 13, 2017

Since The New York Times reported about how Harvey Weinstein has been paying off accusations of sexual harassment for decades, more and more women have been coming forward to report abuse, in some cases from years ago.

Writer, journalist and playwright, Natalia Antonova, thinks she understands why some have kept silent for so long.

Acid attack victims reverse expectations on the runway

Oct 13, 2017

It's a fashion show to make a difference.

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Raheb Homavandi/Reuters

In the US there's YouTube, Groupon and Uber. In Iran there's Aparat, Takhfifan and Snapp.

"A couple years ago the tech community in Tehran was just really a handful of [venture capitalists] and a [few] young entrepeneuers," said Aki Ito, Bloomberg's tech editor and co-host of the podcast Decrypted.

But the country's tech sector flourished after sanctions were lifted as part of the Barack Obama-era nuclear deal.

The Republic of Ireland marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara, on Oct. 9, with a commemorative postage stamp. It’s become hugely popular, but it’s also causing quite a stink.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara helped lead the communist revolution in Cuba, in the 1950s, but was later captured and executed for trying to launch a revolution in Bolivia.

He was chosen for the stamp, because — to quote the Irish postal service — Che is the “quintessential left-wing revolutionary.” He’s also of partial Irish descent.

Unpredictable winds continue to fan the fires engulfing huge swaths of land in northern California Thursday. Authorities say more than two dozen people have died and hundreds are still missing, as of Thursday afternoon.

Evacuations in Napa and Sonoma counties have put some 25,000 people out of their homes. Many of these residents only speak Spanish, but most emergency information is delivered in English.

Meet the women combing through Puerto Rico, searching for veterans in need

Oct 12, 2017

It’s early in the morning, and the entire city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, seems to be gazing at the sky with concern. It looks like rain but the island just can’t handle any more flooding.

On the highway, under the dark, heavy clouds, a small car makes its way through traffic. In it are four women, Ghislaine Rivera, Mia Lind, Janine Smalley and Katie Blanker, with whom I'm spending the day — it's Oct. 5. 

Our first stop? A school that’s been turned into a hurricane shelter.

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BeBe Jacobs

Vietnamese American writer Viet Thanh Nguyen describes himself as "numb and shocked" after winning a MacArthur "genius grant."

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Sympathizer," his debut novel, was cited by the MacArthur Foundation for "challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it displaced."

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Ako Rasheed/Reuters

In the end, it was their superiors who told the ISIS fighters in Iraq to put down their arms and give up. 

Nearly 1,000 suspected ISIS soldiers and collaborators surrendered to Kurdish militia after losing control of their stronghold in the Iraqi city of Hawija last week. 

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