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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There's talk on Capitol Hill of a deal to protect the people some immigration activists call "Dreamers."

Under a cloudy sky, Ravi Ragbir quietly reported for his scheduled check-in with immigration authorities at 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan on Thursday morning. It is the same office where he has attended each of his routine meetings for years.

Today, though, Ragbir didn’t walk out.

Like many others, cartoonists are reacting to the anti-#MeToo manifesto signed by 100 notable French women, including film star and sex symbol Catherine Deneuve.

Here’s a sobering thought: “Studies have shown that as we look out to 2030, global demand for water is expected to outstrip supply by 40 percent,” says Brooke Barton with CERES, a Boston-based non-profit that helps businesses build sustainability into their work, including water conservation.

Right now, that’s a challenge that’s just not on the radar of a lot of companies. 

The highly decorated Ukrainian chess grandmaster Anna Muzychuk says she's boycotting the latest world championship competition because it's being held in Saudi Arabia, where women's rights are severely restricted.

The two-time world champion wrote on her Facebook page that she doesn't want to wear the abaya — the religious conservative covering — and abide by the rules of women's behavior in the kingdom.

Pointedly, she writes that she doesn't want to feel like a "secondary creature."

Has the #MeToo movement gone too far or not enough?

Jan 11, 2018

France's most revered actress, Catherine Deneuve, declared Tuesday that men should be "free to hit on" women, condemning a new "puritanism" she claimed has been sparked by sexual harassment scandals.

She was one of around 100 French women writers, performers and academics who wrote an open letter in Le Monde deploring the wave of "denunciations" that has followed claims that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed women over decades.

Yassi Ashki left Iran seven years ago, and she came to the US to study. When she first got to the Indiana University campus, she noticed two things. 

First, "They were all wearing Uggs and pajamas," and at the health clinic, "there was a huge box of free condoms [...] and so many pamphlets about STDs."

Ashki took a couple of the pamphlets about sexually transmitted diseases home. Over the next couple of days, and after she'd gotten her own pair of Uggs and pajamas, she pored over the pamphlets. "I thought I knew everything," she recalls, "but I knew very little."

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.

A year ago, President Donald Trump was getting ready to take office and scientists and hackers around the world were backing up US environmental data before he did.  

Canadian researcher Michelle Murphy summed up the fears of many environmental scientists who relied on that data for their work.

A lot of jokes start with the line “a man walks into a bar.” But in Canada, it’s a case of “a bar runs into a man.” Only this is no joke.

The bar Morrissey House in London, Ontario, has become the center of a gender discrimination complaint from an area man.

The man — who has not been named — complained to Morrissey House owner Mark Serre after the pub launched a new promotion.

The promotion offers a 13 percent discount on food to women on Monday nights. No discounts are allowed on alcohol in Ontario.

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.

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.

Ronyde Christina Ponthieux's smile widens as her father, Rony, gives her a nod of approval. The 10-year-old proudly rattles off a list of interesting facts about the United States's unique connection to Haiti but isn't sure if she correctly remembers the number of Haitian soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War.

His nod is all the confirmation she needs.

"I knew I was right," she giggles excitedly. "It's 477!"

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. 

Carlos Barria (United States Conflict Politics Society)/Reuters

More than 58,000 Haitians who stayed in the United States with a special protected status since a catastrophic 2010 earthquake will be allowed to stay another six months, the Department of Homeland Security said Monday.

Mexico City residents are forced to cope with bad air

Jan 9, 2018
Edgard Garrido/Reuters

Mexico City is in the grips of a pollution crisis.

Authorities have issued the first smog alerts for the city in more than a decade and recently implemented restrictions on when cars can be on the road. On Wednesday, for example, two-in-five cars were ordered off the road, because the pollution reached such high levels.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

In the next few months, you may see a new phrase on the labels of some foods at the grocery story: “produced with genetic engineering.”

These disclaimers have been mandated in dozens of countries for years, but until now they’ve been voluntary in the US.

Now, a state law in tiny Vermont is causing many large food companies to label GMO-containing products nationwide.

Local law pushed through by grassroots support

The Vermont GMO labeling law was pushed through thanks, in large part, to grassroots activism by people like Will Allen.

Adeline Sire

French gastronomy may evoke thoughts of butter, cream, duck fat, hollandaise and fancy pastries — in other words, rich, fatty food that will fill your belly.

But French cuisine has had a makeover over the past years and that is due in no small part to the Earth’s changing climate.

In fact, many restaurants now have on their menu dishes that have been deemed “Good for the climate.”

François Pasteau has run his small gourmet restaurant l’Épi Dupin in Paris for 20 years. I met him in his kitchen as he was stirring a fragrant soup.

Mosul Dam could be scarier than ISIS

Jan 9, 2018
Azad Lashkari/Reuters

Amina Mohammed has lived in the village of Wana on the banks of the Tigris River her whole life. She was here during the years of Saddam Hussein and the US war. She’s even lived under ISIS.

“They surprised us one afternoon,” she says, recalling the day ISIS swept into Wana in 2014. “They just entered the village.”

Early last year, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pushed ISIS out of Wana with the help of US airstrikes.

But a potentially bigger threat looms just six miles upstream — the deteriorating Mosul Dam, which is holding back billions of cubic meters of water.

Zady/Maxine Bédat

Meet British fashion designer Tom Cridland.

“I’m really someone who had no fashion or business background. I’m a 25-year-old designer now, but I really got into the fashion world because I’ve always been entrepreneurial.”

Here’s his latest entrepreneurial idea: T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets that are guaranteed to last for 30 years. 

Many young girls take fashion cues from their Barbie dolls, and I suppose I was no different. OK, I was pretty different. I have spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, and when I was about 10, someone gave me a Share-a-Smile Becky.

Alexandre Meneghini/ Reuters 

As Cuba-US relations thaw, environmentalists on both sides of the Florida Straits are worried about how an influx of American tourists may impact ecosystems that have been relatively protected up until now.

The island has been called an “accidental Eden” in the Caribbean, and boasts pockets of great biodiversity on land and at sea.

Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

In 2006, the World Wildlife Fund named Cuba the only country in the world to achieve "successful sustainable development," in large part, Greg Watson says, because of the island nation's approach to agriculture. 

But this sustainability wasn't part of some large government plan.

“It was out of necessity,” says Watson, the founder and director of the new Cuba-US Agroecology Network and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture.

Fukushima radiation still seeping into the Pacific

Jan 9, 2018
Reuters/ Damir Sagolj

Five years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the radiation in the ocean off the coast of Japan is thousands of times lower than it was the month after the disaster, but water contaminated by the power plant is still slowly seeping into the ocean. 

Radioactive isotopes from Fukushima have been detected off America's West Coast, but in levels so low they don’t pose a health risk.

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.

Humans for the very first time have an idea of what the deep sea sounds like, far away from the world of people and machines.

And it’s not at all what scientists expected.

“I expected it to be very, very quiet,” said Robert Dziak, a research oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last July, Dziak led a NOAA team that sunk a hydrophone into the deepest place in the ocean: the bottom of the Mariana Trench, near Guam, seven miles down in the Pacific.

The effects of climate change are starting to make themselves clear just about everywhere, but nowhere more dramatically than Greenland. The giant island holds the world's second largest ice sheet, and it's melting fast—an average of 287 billion metric tons of ice a year.

Warm ocean temps could be starving Alaskan seabirds

Jan 9, 2018

An estimated 8,000 black and white seabirds, called murres, were found dead on a beach in Alaska earlier this month.

Their bodies were found floating in the surf and washed ashore in the Prince William Sound community of Whittier. Wildlife ecologist Dan Grear said this is the biggest die off of the common murre in Alaska this season, but not the first.  

"Carcasses started to be noticed this fall in Alaska, and as the winter has progressed into December and early January, observers ... have started to find thousands of dead murres on specific beaches,” Grear said.

Volkswagen’s new chief Matthias Mueller is scheduled to meet with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency in DC Wednesday.

Mueller is expected to propose a fix to bring the German automaker’s hundreds of thousands of tainted diesel models into compliance with US pollution standards.

The company’s proposed solution in the EU was approved by authorities weeks ago. That fix includes software changes and the installation of a simple plastic tube and mesh device meant to better aim air toward emissions sensors. 

Want to install solar panels but can't? No problem.

Jan 9, 2018

Coming up with a climate agreement in Paris last month, getting nearly 200 countries to commit to lowering their greenhouse gases, well, that was the easy part. Now nations have to actually achieve their targets to transition to a lower-carbon future, which includes investments in more renewable energy.

Follow all of our coverage of the Paris talks and the global climate crisis