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.

Courtesy of Lucas Chapman

It was Oct. 1. The dead of night. Lucas Chapman was as close as he'd ever been to realizing his dream. He was finally getting smuggled into Syria.

The small group he was traveling with had just left the Iraqi Kurdish region. And the plan was to make it into Syria on foot.

"The entire walk was about seven hours," Chapman recalls. "So even after the first maybe half-hour, just walking up and down these gentle hills, I was like wheezing, gasping for air."

<a href="">Courtesy of the&nbsp;Boise State University Arborglyph Database</a>

John Bieter never knew his grandfather. A Basque immigrant from Spain, his grandfather had died by the time his grandson was born in Idaho.

But Bieter has found a way to connect with the world where his grandfather walked: names, pictures and messages carved into the aspen groves that cover the mountains surrounding Boise, carved by the last century’s Basque sheep herders.

Laignee Barron

Peace and quiet is hard to come by in Myanmar, where overenthusiastic use of megaphones has long frazzled the nerves of locals and foreigners alike.

The amplified calls of snack vendors, public officials and religious leaders add to the din of traffic and jackhammers — this is the soundscape of a country desperate to modernize after decades lost to isolation and military dictatorship.

Bryan Woolston/Reuters

More than half of Florida’s population is estimated to have lost power because of Hurricane Irma. Many of the nearly 7 million Floridians who remained without power Tuesday will likely have to wait weeks before it's restored.

Darren Whiteside/Reuters

Aung San Suu Kyi has been celebrated around the world and received the Nobel Peace Prize for her long struggle for democracy in Myanmar.

When her party gained power in 2015, there was a sense that Suu Kyi’s leadership would move the country forward.

Pierre Albouy/Reuters

On Sept. 25, Iraqi Kurds will vote in a referendum that will reveal whether they want to stay part of Iraq, or go their own way and establish an independent Kurdish state. Kurdish leaders, especially President Masoud Barzani who has been the driving force behind the movement, say the vote is binding and it is for independence.

Claudia Daut/Reuters

As Hurricane Irma churned toward Cuba last weekend, residents on the island switched on their televisions and radios, hoping to hear a familiar, reassuring voice. 

No, it wasn't the words of the late leader Fidel Castro they longed for — it was the forecast of esteemed Cuban meteorologist José Rubiera. 

But the beloved weatherman was nowhere to be found.

Tanner Lee Swiger graduated from high school in Wayne County, West Virginia this spring. His father and grandfather both worked in West Virginia’s coal industry. But not Swiger, or any of his high school classmates.

Nobody from his graduating class is working in coal, says Swiger. “[They’re] honestly working in fast food, or not working at all.”

Not Swiger. He has a job installing rooftop solar panels. He says his family is delighted with it.

Why a former DHS secretary thinks DACA should continue

Sep 12, 2017
Herwig Prammer&nbsp;/ Reuters

When Janet Napolitano was secretary of homeland security under Barack Obama, she created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal program that protects some young immigrants from deportation and gives them temporary work authorization.

Why Australians handed in 26,000 guns to the government

Sep 12, 2017
David Gray/Reuters

Since the start of July, Australian citizens have handed over more than 26,000 illegally held firearms to police, as part of a historic gun amnesty.

Under the amnesty, normal penalties for holding an unlicensed weapons are waived, as part of an effort to reduce the pool of weapons available to criminals.

Once the amnesty expires at the end of September, fines of up to $225,000 or a maximum jail term of 14 years in prison will apply.

How Nancy Dupree became the 'Grandmother of Afghanistan'

Sep 12, 2017
Mohammad Ismai/Reuters

Nancy Hatch Dupree, who died in Kabul this weekend at the age of 89, was probably better known in Afghanistan than in the United States.

She was the founder of the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University which holds hundreds of thousands of primary and secondary source documents, many of which were collected and preserved by Dupree herself.

It’s the first center dedicated to the study of the country’s own history.

Terror expert warns of al-Qaeda's comeback

Sep 11, 2017
Sara K. Schwittek/Reuters

“We need to start preparing for a big comeback by al-Qaeda,” warns terror expert Ali Soufan. Following a memorial observance for 9/11, Soufan said that the jihadi group is on the threshold of re-entering the global stage.

Soufan is a former FBI agent and interrogator who tracked al-Qaeda for years. He led the investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and is the author of "Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State."

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

I was sitting in the back seat of my dad’s Toyota, trying to convince him that I didn’t really need to go to school after my early morning visit to the dentist.

Just as I was about to launch into my final appeal, my dad shushed me and leaned in, turning up the volume on the radio.

It was Sept. 11, 2001, and although I was in elementary school, I could tell he was shocked and horrified — something big had happened.

Monica Campbell/PRI

For the last several weeks, headlines have been dominated by hurricanes and floods, causing devastation from India and Nepal to the Caribbean. Hurricane Irma is just the latest in a ferocious season of natural disasters.

With long-term recovery in mind, I partnered with the BBC World Service to produce "Seeking Refuge in Houston," which focused on Houston and what happens in the aftermath of a terrible storm.

Deepa Fernandes/PRI

Jose López Ramirez had big dreams. He wanted to be a famous singer and he believed he would be discovered and become a star. But the 16-year-old couldn’t realize these dreams from his rural, mountainous town in Guatemala. He also couldn’t find work in his tiny town of Comitancillo, so he left for the United States.

Ramirez made it to Alabama in May 2016. He found work in construction, and even applied to a performing arts high school. But he was undocumented. And according to his brother, Hageo López Ramirez, he wasn't actually that good at singing.