The World

Monday - Friday 3 p.m.
  • Hosted by Marco Werman
  • Local Host Mark Wozniak

Each weekday, host Marco Werman and his team of producers bring you the world's most interesting stories in an hour of radio that reminds us just how small our planet really is. The World is heard on over 300 stations across North America.

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On a quiet street in Worcester, Massachusetts, there’s a little white clapboard church with a steeple called Hadwen Park Congregational Church. Over the past decade, this classic-looking, century-old New England church has become a destination for migrants who were persecuted for their gender or sexual orientation and had to flee their homes. Some find the church online: If you google words like “asylum-seeker,” “LGBT” and  “looking for help,” this church comes up. Others hear about it through word of mouth.

On July 26, 2016, a young girl stepped up to the mic at a meeting of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education

“Good evening. My name is Sohaila Gebaly,” she said. “I’m going to 6th grade. I love school and science.” 

Gebaly went on to tell board members that the year before, three boys in school started calling her names. When no one stopped them, they hit her, kicked her and pushed her. 

Sousou and Maher Cissoko make beautiful music together — both in a musical partnership and as husband and wife.

It's also music that brought them together, specifically the West African kora, a 21-stringed lute-type instrument.

The kora is not an instrument often associated with Sousou's native Sweden.

"My father is a musician and he was playing together with a kora player from Gambia," she explains.  

AP world history covered about 10,000 years when 16-year-old Paige Becker took it last year in Lady Lake, Florida.

“For me, it wasn’t too much because I love the course,” she says, “but I know not everybody’s a history lover.”

In the early days of American democracy, you could always count on Benjamin Franklin for a good political joke to put things into perspective. In the early days of Egypt's democracy, you've got Bassem Youssef. He's been called the "Egyptian Jon Stewart." The former heart surgeon, shot to fame during Egypt's revolution in 2011 after he posted videos on YouTube lampooning political figures. And those videos paved the way for a TV show with millions of viewers. But over the weekend Bassem Youssef saw what happens when he thinks he's funny, but the Egyptian government does not.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares for his first one-on-one summit with President Donald Trump in Helsinki next week, Russian political observers say Kremlin expectations are low but for one key deliverable: Russia’s symbolic return from international isolation to a global powerbroker America needs to negotiate with once more. 

Ahead of the summit, Trump — currently amid a contentious week of meetings with traditional US allies in Brussels and London — has suggested his talks with the Russian leader “may be the easiest of them all.”

More than a decade ago, the founding members of A2VT, an Afropop band based in Burlington, Vermont, arrived in the United States as refugees. And when it came time to choose a group name, they wanted it to reflect their journey: from Africa to Vermont. 

Lead singer Said Bulle goes by the moniker "Jilib." He grew up in Somalia and moved with his family to a Kenyan refugee camp at age 10. Five years later, a family in Burlington, Vermont, offered to sponsor him. 

'For people like you, there is no law'

Jul 2, 2018

A few months ago Baner Morales went to the bank. He saw a couple acquaintances, said hi, made small talk and cashed his check. Later he learned that rumors were spreading about him.

One of the employees at the bank who knew Morales had gossiped to a colleague, revealing that Morales is a transgender man. The two employees went through his file and found his identification that still indicates female despite Morales’ male appearance —  the gender he identifies with.

A Spanish-language play in Miami that's been showing since January, until recently, featured a character in blackface.

The promotional video for "Tres Viudas en un Crucero" (Three Widows on a Cruise) shows a fair-skinned actress smeared in brown makeup and overdrawn big red lips, pounding her chest and joking about having fun like gorillas.

After public backlash, the play’s directors announced at the end of May that they would no longer show the character in blackface, though they initially defended the practice.

How far would you go to have a biological child?

Jun 20, 2018

Surrogacy is a multimillion-dollar, global industry. People who face infertility have tough choices when it comes to deciding whether to keep trying to get pregnant via infertility treatments like in vitro fertilization — only to experience disappointment when it doesn’t take — or resort to surrogacy, which can get complicated.

A key battle to capture a seaport in Yemen is entering its second week, as residents and humanitarian workers worry fighting could soon reach civilian neighborhoods.

Yemeni troops, backed by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, claim to have captured an airport just south of the city of Hodeidah. And inside the city center, residents can hear explosions from airstrikes, artillery and mortars.

A Dutch brothel where women work for themselves

Jun 15, 2018

From purple and red walls to safes in every room, just about everything at the My Red Light brothel has been designed with input from the women who work there.

It’s also almost completely run by former or current sex workers, something rare in Amsterdam’s world-famous prostitution district. But the most important thing about My Red Light is that its 14 rooms can only be rented by people who have been thoroughly vetted to ensure they are not being trafficked, pimped or exploited.

What reporters couldn't see when they toured a Texas shelter for child migrants

Jun 14, 2018

Life for children inside a privately run facility for migrant children at the Southern border is a cross between living in a detention center and temporary shelter.  

That’s according to people who got a brief glimpse inside. This week, a small group of reporters toured Casa Padre, a converted former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, that houses nearly 1,500 boys ranging in age from 10 to 17 who were caught crossing the border between checkpoints. Most come from Central America.

Most college students in the US are making plans for the summer. For some of the many Puerto Rican college students who came to the mainland to continue their studies after Hurricane Maria roared through the island last September, this time of the year brings a more complex question — whether to stay or go back home.

Halina Litman Yasharoff Peabody remembers the events of her life during the Holocaust in remarkable detail.

She was only 6 when Russians invaded her Polish town, arrested her father and sent him to a prison camp in Siberia. The Germans arrived in 1941, setting off a string of horrors for Peabody, her mother and her baby sister: the hiding, the ghetto, the mass graves, the escape by train and the bomb that took two of her fingers.

Germany's Jewish population is small, somewhere around 200,000. Yet in German schoolyards, the word “Jew” is heard regularly, and not in a good way.

“'Jew' is an insult here,” says Berlin resident Gemma Michalski. “If you want to insult somebody, whether they're Jewish or not, it doesn't matter, but it's the thing you throw at them: 'Ah he's a real Jew,' or 'You're a Jew.' That's a sort of go-to insult.”

It’s never been a tough question for her.

Irish podcaster Ciara O’Connor Walsh, 37, says she has always been a supporter of abortion rights. But as she was parking her car one day, O’Connor Walsh was suddenly confronted by one of her own prejudices.

There was a bumper sticker on the car next to hers with a picture of a smiling fetus on it saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to play for Ireland.” The sticker also said, “Love both,” a motto used by anti-abortion activists in Ireland.

Lisa Kum has an endless list of tasks every day. The 41-year-old from Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, has a 19-month-old daughter and a high school-aged son. She’s also tending to her health after undergoing elbow surgery earlier this year.

About 700,000 Rohingya refugees to date have fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar.

They're an ethnic minority in the country, and since last year, there have been reports of hundreds of Rohingya villages being burned, and widespread rape and murder.

Khalida Popal was at the top of her game in Afghanistan. She became the captain of Afghanistan's women's national team and was competing on the international field.

It's been a rough ride for the State Department since President Donald Trump took office. Under Secretary Rex Tillerson, who was ousted in March, many seasoned diplomats left. Key posts the world over went unfilled and are still unfilled.

Little wonder, then, that the new man at the helm of America's diplomatic corps is trying to rally his charges. Mike Pompeo was sworn in on Wednesday as Trump's new secretary of state and said it's time to reinvigorate US diplomacy.

If you get a robocall in Mandarin, just hang up

Apr 30, 2018

If you live in New York, Los Angeles or Boston, chances are good you've received a robocall in Mandarin.

"I get them also, in the NYPD building," says Donald McCaffrey, an officer with the New York Police Department’s Grand Larceny Division in Queens. "I have an NYPD department cell phone and I get them on the cell phone also. It is out of control."

McCaffrey, who is investigating the calls in New York, says they first came to his attention in December when a 65-year-old Chinese woman alerted the NYPD that she had been scammed out of $1.3 million.

I’m thinking about getting a hurricane tattooed on my left shoulder.  

Unintentionally, all my tattoos are a reminder of something: Something that I want to forget, something that I tend to forget, something that I can’t forget. My tattoo would be white, grey and turquoise. The eye of the hurricane in the center of my shoulder, three-dimensional, so if you look right into it you would feel as if my skin could suck you in. 

The town of Santa María del Mar, Mexico, hasn’t had electricity for more than three years. At night a generator hums in the town plaza, powering a few pale streetlights. 

Santa María, population 800, rests at the end of a skinny peninsula sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and a shallow lagoon that locals call the Dead Sea. Most days tempestuous winds drawn off the hot plains of Mexico’s Oaxaca state billow across the peninsula out toward the cool Pacific. 

“Everybody needs hope. Everybody needs a purpose.”

It was October 2013. ISIS had splintered off from al-Qaeda earlier that year. 

The militant group grows stronger and attracts recruits from all over the world, many from Western Europe. 

Ayan and her younger sister Leila are Somali-Norwegian teenagers living in an affluent neighborhood outside of Oslo. They leave their adopted homeland to travel to Syria and marry ISIS fighters. 

On Feb. 27, 2017, a man sits, sipping tea at the dining room table in his Pennsylvania home when federal immigration officers arrive at his door. Once inside, they demand his  ID, which shows he is not a US citizen. Then, they arrest him and his co-worker, who arrives for their morning carpool. Neither man has a criminal record.

Four months later, his lawyer argued in immigration court that none of the evidence the officers gathered should have be used.

Finding forms of devotion in Tuyo's Conselho do Bom Senso

Apr 12, 2018

Spring in New England is a reminder to provide your own consistency and structure. 

The weather hints at a new season by brushing chills over tepid weather. It’s almost impossible to keep up with a ritual let alone choose what coat to wear outside at this time. It helps to have a song or two to guide us through the lack of clarity.

The spring of 2016 was a rough time for now 33-year-old Cherise Greer.

She'd just lost her job at Pizza Hut in Marlow, Oklahoma, where she was a regional manager. She couldn't pay her rent and was evicted from her home. She and her daughter, Angelique, then 6, were couch surfing. Oftentimes, Angelique would stay with Greer's grandmother in Duncan, a small town in Stephens County, about 10 minutes away.   

In the first of a set of hearings on Capitol Hill this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced a slew of questions about his company’s mishandling of user data, and its plans to prevent privacy breaches in the future.

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