The World on WLRN

Weekdays at 3:00pm

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

What do the North Koreans want?

Jan 9, 2018

They met, they talked, they issued a joint statement. And they will meet again. 

This is no small matter for North and South Korea, two countries that remain technically at war and whose peninsula in northeast Asia has been cause for global anxiety in recent months. 

The war of words between the North’s baby-faced dictator Kim Jong-un and the US's quick-tweeting President Donald Trump has raised the specter of a possible military confrontation that could conceivably include the use of nuclear weapons. 

Social media and other technology companies operating in Germany could now face massive fines — up to 50 million euros ($60 million) — if they fail to promptly remove hate speech and other content from their platforms.

The German law — Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, or NetzDG for short — went into full effect on the first day of 2018 and applies to large companies with more than 2 million users, according to Bloomberg.

The official announcement landed early Monday morning. Vanessa Velasco received a 7 a.m. text from a friend, also from El Salvador. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will end a program that has allowed Velasco and her husband, her friend, and more than 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants to work and live in the US without fear of deportation.

Velasco was not surprised. Neither was her husband.

Five years ago, a massive tsunami hit the coast of Japan, killing nearly 16,000 people and leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Tens of thousands of people are still displaced from homes near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and workers are using shovels and rakes to remove radioactive topsoil from towns that may never rebound from the devastation.  

Crews at the nuclear facility are building tanks to hold the tons of water that needs to be piped into the damaged reactors every day to keep nuclear material cool.

There’s some good news for monarch butterflies this winter.

The iconic black and orange-yellow migratory butterflies have been dying off over the past several years due to habitat loss.

But this winter, the number of monarchs hibernating in southern Mexico has rebounded, according to a December survey. Winter colonies covered about 10 acres of forest this winter, up from around three last winter.  

The US helped lead nearly 200 countries to an international climate change agreement in Paris this past December.

The upcoming election could determine if the US continues that leadership role, or if it reneges on its commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

Climate policy falls along party lines

If former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wins the White House, US climate policy would, in broad strokes, stay the current course.  

The water crisis gripping Flint, Michigan has exposed thousands of the city’s residents to dangerous lead levels, triggering a federal emergency declaration and a national conversation about basic public health protections. Lead can be toxic to the brain, and the developing brains of children can be particularly vulnerable.

The satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo is well-versed in the art of sarcasm and dark humor, to the point of upsetting many with controversial covers.

In their first issue this year, the weekly opens up about the trials of maintaining a publication that has been the target of deadly attacks and wonders how long they will be able to keep the lights on.

Less than two weeks from now, the federal government could shut down unless Congress can pass a spending bill. But the status of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children has once again become a point of contention.

In Iceland, a new law that works to ensure that men and women get paid equally went into effect this month.

It requires all companies with at least 25 employees to obtain government certification of their equal pay policies. Those that fail to receive this certification will be fined and publicly outed.

California legalized marijuana on New Year’s Day.

But pot possession and use could still have dire effects for noncitizens and undocumented immigrants.

Marijuana is still illegal federally. And federal law controls immigration. 

“It’s really unfortunate,” says Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods. “For immigrants, anyone who is convicted of possession of over 30 grams of marijuana, whether here legally or not, will be deportable.”   

A-side B-side is a reoccurring segment on The World as part of a partnership with Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The series compares the sounds and ideas of two songs, albums or artists. On the A-side: a folk or traditional selection; on the B-side: a contemporary selection.

"Stambul Naturil" and "Beatriz" are both folk songs, but they are not one and the same simply because of the genre.

A billionaire who is known throughout the financial world has been held in detention — for two months — by Saudi Arabian authorities. But like the billionaire, the story has disappeared. 

The 'Truce Village' between North and South Korea

Jan 5, 2018

Next week, top officials from both South Korea and North Korea will be going to a village in the demilitarized zone called Panmunjom to discuss the Winter Olympics.

Panmunjom is historic.

It's where the armistice was signed in 1953 that brought fighting in the Korean War to an end.

Now, it’s become a tourist destination — although a dangerous one — known to some as ''the most tense place on the planet.''

It’s one of the only places where soldiers from the North and South stand face-to-face.

Washington accuses Pakistan of playing a dangerous double game of accepting billions in US aid while supporting militants who attack US forces in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. 

The dramatic freeze in deliveries of military equipment and security funding comes after President Donald Trump lambasted Pakistan for its alleged support for militant safe havens, including in a furious New Year tweet.