PRI's The World

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PRI's The World® is your world revealed. It's about the events, trends, and personal tales that connect us around the globe. ~Marco Werman hosts an hour of surprising angles, unexpected insights, and engaging voices to illuminate what's going on in the world, and why it matters to you.

International experts investigating the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico in 2014 were targeted with spyware sold to the government, cybersecurity experts said this week.

Adding to a snowballing scandal over spying on journalists, activists and other public figures in Mexico, computer security experts confirmed that the independent investigation into the disappearance and alleged massacre — an atrocity that drew worldwide condemnation — was targeted with highly invasive spyware known as Pegasus.

What a manly week it’s been!

In Kiev, assassinations are becoming commonplace

Jun 30, 2017

An explosion that killed a top Ukrainian military intelligence official in his car on Tuesday wasn’t the only high-profile assassination that’s struck Kiev lately.

In fact, the killing of Col. Maskym Shapoval wasn’t even the only car bomb attack — nor the only assassination the Ukrainian government has blamed on Russia.

At least five attempted or successful assassinations have targeted Ukrainian officials or other prominent figures in Ukraine in the past year.

Yulia Galiamina, a well-respected Russian opposition leader, has been recovering from a concussion at the neurosurgical department of Botkin Hospital, where an ambulance brought her after an opposition rally earlier this month.

A Moscow policeman with the OMON special unit had smashed Galiamina’s face, breaking her teeth and damaging her jaw. But the accident did not break her will and her stamina: Even in a hospital bed with a hellish headache, she continued to organize a new anti-government rally.

The battle is still raging in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

ISIS militants are cornered in the Old City. Iraqi and coalition forces are advancing slowly, capturing as little as one city block per day — if that. And ISIS fighters continue to strike back. On Wednesday, they seemed to detonate explosives at Mosul's 12th-century mosque. That iconic structure — with its famous leaning minaret — is now in ruins.

Nabih Bulos, a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, left Mosul on Tuesday. He says ISIS is using everything it has to hold on.

Mexican women lead initiatives to rescue native tongues

Jun 21, 2017

When Gabriela Badillo traveled to Mérida, Yucatán, more than a decade ago, she encountered children who were timid about speaking the Mayan language. As she later came to understand, fear and discrimination were factors that affected the home teaching and use of the region’s native tongue.

“Children were a bit embarrassed to speak Mayan. ... Some mothers opted to not teach them the native tongue to avoid discrimination,” Badillo recalled.

The US shares the blame for a massacre in Mexico

Jun 20, 2017

The "war on drugs" has been part of American policy for so long that it's sometimes difficult to remember that the DEA wages that war every day, on both sides of the border with Mexico.

But it's incredibly difficult to counter the power cartels can hold over the Mexican government, and when things wrong, there are deadly reprecussions. 

Pakistanis go wild after cricket triumph over India

Jun 19, 2017

Pakistanis went wild Sunday after a surprise sporting triumph over its archrival, India.

“Cricket is the blood and heart of our nation,” says journalist Bina Shah, in the Pakistani city of Karachi. “We are so excited when we win and so devastated when we lose.”

The Pakistani national team stunned the cricket world by beating India in the final of an international tournament called the Champions Trophy, in London.

Russia roiled by protests against Putin and corruption

Jun 13, 2017

On Monday, thousands joined protests in cities across the length of Russia — from Vladivostok on the Pacific coast to St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea, and from Murmansk in the Arctic north to the Olympic city of Sochi in the south.

Citizens were protesting against Vladimir Putin’s government and its corruption. 

In Moscow, the protests turned violent, with police using tear gas to try to disperse the demonstrators. Hundreds of people have been arrested.

While Washington and the media were preoccupied with James Comey hearings and Donald Trump press conferences this week, what else was going on that we didn't hear about? Or, ought to be paying closer attention to?

Nick Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs under George W. Bush, is a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School. The World's Marco Werman caught up with him so he could remind us about some issues that may have been overshadowed by the latest drama in Washington.

Trump's barbed condolences land with a thud in Iran

Jun 8, 2017

The lights will go dark on the Eiffel Tower tonight as a tribute to the victims of Wednesday's terrorist attack in Tehran. 

Still, many Iranians say they're not feeling the sort of outpouring of support and sympathy that usually follows an ISIS assault. 

"Honestly, I didn't expect the people of the world to be so quiet about it," says Tehran resident Roya Saadat. "My friends on Facebook, they felt sorry, but we saw on social media that some countries, especially Arab countries, were happy about it." 

Juanes has a new album out. It's called "Mis Planes Son Amarte." And in my humble opinion, it stands out for several reasons.

First, it’s really good. Juanes made the album with help from some young hip-hop producers from his hometown of Medellín, Colombia. And that collaboration helps many of the songs sound both edgy and rooted in Colombian musical tradition at the same time. You can hear that mix on “El Ratico,” featuring Colombian American singer Kali Uchis.

The recent attack in Portland, Oregon, has gotten many thinking about the kind of bravery it takes to jump in and help someone being harassed. And also the kind of bravery it takes to go out of your home wearing a visible sign that you're a Muslim.

Both forms of bravery were on display in Portland when two men died trying to help a couple of young women on a train, one of them wearing a hijab.

Greece's economic crisis has been going on for nearly a decade, so it may seem like old news. But for the people who live there, the disaster hasn’t faded — it’s only been compounded by the refugee crisis, with thousands of migrants from the Middle East landing on the shores of Lesbos since 2015.

Maybe it’s the gobsmacking, hyperventilating pace of reality in 2017 that’s gotten the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” so much combing over and analysis and appreciation. Fair enough. So here’s one more take.

New questions are being raised over a meeting between Jared Kushner — Donald Trump's son-in-law and special adviser — and a Russian banker named Sergei Gorkov.

In Mumbai, Uber must compete with vibrant taxi roofs

May 26, 2017

In Mumbai, any commute is an adventure. No journey is without a traffic jam. The roads are an obstacle course of potholes and pedestrians. Google Maps often can't tell if the highway it's recommending is closed for repairs, yet again. 

If you need to take a taxi, cross your fingers. Mumbai's 58,000 metered taxis (or kaali-peelis as the black-and-yellow fleet is affectionately called) are driven by a temperamental species. They refuse short-distance rides. They're picky about out-of-the-way destinations. They're simlpy grouchy — even on a good day. 

How to talk to your kids about terrorism

May 24, 2017

As a parent, I can’t begin to imagine the fear, sorrow and nerve-racking anguish families felt during the Manchester attack. It is gut-wrenching to know that parents of children in civil-war-torn Syria face similar horrors, as do the families of ISIS victims in many Muslim-majority nations. No matter where, violence is unconscionable, unjustifiable and makes no sense. For parents, the loss of a child has to be the hardest of trials.

After the release of 82 girls from Boko Haram captivity was announced this month, several of the missing girls’ parents set off from their remote hometown in northeast Nigeria to Abuja, the capital, to see the girls in person. The three represented parents of more than 200 girls kidnapped in April 2014, who have formed an association to work with the government and others for their release.

President Donald Trump's decision to share classified information with Russian officials has the potential to severely harm the United States’ intelligence relationships with allies, a foreign official said.

Russia is ready to fight dirty

May 16, 2017

The US intelligence community, still reeling from the firing of FBI Director James Comey last week, is now worried that a disclosure by President Donald Trump could put the US relationship with other intelligence agencies at risk.

Can you find North Korea on a map?

May 16, 2017

North Korea has been in the news a lot. On Sunday, the reclusive nation launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile. And, cybersecurity experts suspect North Korea may be linked to the mysterious WannaCry ransomware virus. 

The tiny, secretive nation has long threatened to unleash waves of terror in the form of nuclear weapons and viruses to "bring the West to its knees." With its prominence in the headlines and those kinds of threats, you might think we would all know where North Korea is.

And you'd be wrong.

In the town of East Porterville, in California’s Central Valley, there aren’t any sidewalks and there are as many dirt roads as paved streets. It’s also home for Saber Askar, a US citizen from Yemen. Most days, he's found working the cash register at La Buena Vista, a corner store in town with a butcher in the back, a taco truck out front and a stray dog for a mascot. It’s the type of place that sells everything from lotto scratchers to engine oil.

The return of Senegal's Orchestra Baobab

May 8, 2017

I've always wanted to tell the story of the lead guitarist in the legendary Senegalese ensemble, Orchestra Baobab.

His name is Barthelemy Attisso and he's an amazing musical talent. Attisso also happens to be a lawyer in his native Togo, though. So he would commute from there to Senegal to rehearse and tour with the band.

A few years ago, he recommitted himself to the law, which meant that when Baobab was ready to record its latest album, they needed a replacement for Attisso.

How Russia’s hacking and influence ops help Putin

May 8, 2017

In case you missed it, the presidential election in France was rocked at the last minute by a massive hacking attack on Emmanuel Macron's campaign.

No surprise, perhaps, given what happened in the US before the election last year.

Also no surprise: There's evidence that points to Russian hackers as the potential culprits.

How do you capture the loneliness of being kept in a locked room? The shades are pulled. You have no books, TV or smartphone, and you're handcuffed to a radiator. Oh yeah — it's also been months, and you have no idea if you'll ever be released.

The March for Science, happening Saturday in Washington, DC, started as a reaction to the Trump administration’s attitudes toward science. But since it was dreamed up in late January, the movement has spread well beyond the Beltway.

As of Friday afternoon, organizers say there are more than 600 demonstrations planned, including roughly 200 outside of the United States.  

Science events — not all of them actual marches — are happening from the North Pole to Cape Town, from Bhutan to Greenland.

Maria Soria Castañeda grew up in North Carolina but was born in Mexico. She moved to the US with her family when she was 3. She’s also undocumented and, now, a junior at Swarthmore College, where she feels like a bit of a pioneer.

"We don’t really know what undocumented students they had before, but we were under the impression there weren't that many," says Castañeda. "Once we got here, we had to be the ones to sort of bring up what we would like to have here."

US President Donald Trump hasn't won any friends in South Korea this week.

A firestorm has erupted on South Korean social media after Trump said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal, “Korea actually used to be a part of China.”

The Wall Street Journal published the story on April 12, but it gained traction in South Korea this week.

An official with the foreign ministry in Seoul responded Wednesday by saying the Trump comment was “historically untrue” and “not worthy of a response.”

Gerard Fesch didn’t learn that his father was a notorious murderer until he turned 40. Gerard grew up in foster care, with his records sealed. All he knew about his history was his mother’s first name: Thérèse.

“Every time I tried to look into my past, I would come up with possible theories as to why I’d been abandoned. I suspected I might uncover something unpleasant,” Fesch says, “but I never imagined this.”