PRI's The World on RADIO IQ

Weekdays at 4:00 pm on RADIO IQ.
Marco Werman

PRI’s The World is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. Launched in 1996, PRI’s The World, a co-production of WGBH/Boston, Public Radio International, and the BBC World Service.

The World's coverage is provided by a global network of international journalists. The program also has access to the 250 BBC correspondents located around the world. Unique in public radio, this network works in concert with the program's multinational team of producers and editors, and brings an exceptional depth of understanding and freshness of perspective to the program content. The result is an award-winning hour of breaking news, in-depth features, hard-hitting commentaries, and thought-provoking interviews found nowhere else in U.S. news coverage.

PRI's The World -- international news for an American audience -- weekdays at 4:00 on ourRADIO IQ With BBC News network of signals and streaming live on the web.

Program Headlines

  • Monday, March 23, 2015 5:03pm

    Sorry, folks: Despite some breathless headlines, no one has found actual Nazis hiding out in a remote stone building in northeastern Argentina.

    But a team of Argentine archaeologists says it may have uncovered a secret Nazi hideout dating back to World War II. 

    "Apparently, halfway through the Second World War, the Nazis had a secret project of building shelters for top leaders in the event of defeat," explains Daniel Schavelzon, who's leading a team of researchers from the Urban Archeology Center at the University of Buenos Aires. He says the shelters are in "inaccessible sites, in the middle of deserts, in the mountains, or in a jungle like this."

    Schavelzon's team found the ruins of three stone buildings in the Teyu Cuare provincial park, close to the border with Paraguay. He believes they were built around 1943 as a potential hideout for Nazi officers fleeing Germany.

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    To suppport his theory, Schavelzon points out the spot is hundreds of miles from any villages, yet conveniently close to the Paraná River, which runs along the border between Argentina and Paraguay. "You'd only need to cross with a boat and you are in another country," he says.

    Schavelzon and his team also unconvered five German coins, minted sometime between 1938 and 1941. The coins were found underneath the walls of the houses, which Schazelvon says matches an old building tradition in which builders put coins or other mementos under floors and walls as a way to mark their participation.

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    So does it all add up to a Nazi hideout?  Schavelzon says it could take several more trips to dig for more evidence. "Archaeology takes time," he says. "We need time to think, to talk it over and to study the objects."

    And if it was intended for German officers, the hideout wasn't necessary. Thousands of Nazis and Italian fascists did arrive in Argentina after Germany's defeat, but they were welcomed by then-President Juan Perón. And Schavelzon says that's an important historical lesson to remember.

    "For us it's important to know this history, remember we still have a Peronist government today. And for the last half-century, Perón was the main figure of our history," he says. "There are so many people who don't like to hear about the country's relationship to Perón, with Nazis and all that dusty history of Argentina. For us it's important to re-open this question and to study not only what I heard or what somebody told me, but ... these objects, these buildings — hard evidence." 

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  • Friday, March 20, 2015 3:16pm

    People fly around the globe to watch the solar eclipses. The events get intense media coverage these days. But what if you weren't aware that one was going to happen?

    That's what happened to one woman in Moscow.

    "She was a pensioner and claims to have survived the siege of Leningrad," says reporter Charles Maynes. "She says she witnessed a solar eclipse in Moscow in 1952 or 1953 under Stalin. She says that, at the time, she was down by the Moscow River and there wasn't a lot of warning ... suddenly, a full eclipse emerged. And everything went dark."

    So there she was, standing in the dark, frightened. Well, maybe.

    Maynes talked with some experts at the Moscow planetarium. "They went back and checked the books and said, 'Well, maybe she saw a partial eclipse or something, but there was no full eclipse in '52 or '53.' They say that only happened in the Soviet republic of Kazakhstan."

    Such is the power of solar eclipses to capture the imagination. And in Moscow this week, where a partial eclipse was visible, Maynes says it was an interesting day to talk with Russians.

    "There's so much negativity in Moscow these days and in Russia, generally speaking," he says. "And it was just this kind of interesting event to see people so connected to something that was happening all through Europe."

    "We’re all children of one planet," said onlooker Tatiania. "The world is big and endless and we’re on this little planet. And you feel this sense of unity during these astronomical events. You understand that there’s no need for war, we need to live in peace under this beautiful sky … That’ the best thing that we, as a people, possess."

    A guide at the Moscow Planetarium, Evegeny Cherbakov, was equally moved.

    "I’ve already seen a total eclipse in Novosibirsk in 2008," he said. "But this is a much more rare experience because in Moscow it's very rare to see an eclipse at all. So it’s special. It’s special. I  think when you think about space, the Earth is so small and we all live on this blue world and when you think about all our conflicts, all our arguments … In space, it’s all meaningless."

    As for the woman who said she saw that earlier total eclipse in Moscow, she told Maynes the one this week impressed her. But she kind of missed the surprise.

  • Thursday, March 19, 2015 1:31pm

    The skies will go dark over the Faroe Islands for about two minutes on Friday.

    A total solar eclipse will take place just after 9:40 a.m. over the remote islands, which lie far, far north in the Atlantic — halfway between Iceland and Norway. 

    “Total eclipses choose where they want to go and you have to chase them,” says David Baron, former science editor here at The World and a longtime hunter of eclipses.

    The only two places this total solar eclipse will cross land are the Faroe Islands and the tiny Norwegian island of Svalbard, which is even closer to the Arctic Circle. The total eclipse is only visible in what’s called the “path of totality,” which is a couple hundred miles wide.

    Baron has previously witnessed three other solar eclipses. He's travelled to these remote islands to hopefully catch a glimpse of his fourth. He is far from alone.

    “I think this is the biggest invasion of foreigners here since the Vikings arrived,” Baron jokes. The islands have a population of around 50,000 and an additional 8,000 eclipse chasers are expected to gather and stare at the sky Friday.

    “I’ve been meeting eclipse chasers, who this will be their 10th, their 12th, their 15th total eclipse — so some people are really fanatical about it,” says Baron.
    Many Europeans will also get to experience a partial eclipse.

    “Most everyone has seen a partial solar eclipse. The moon goes across a part of the sun and you put on special glasses; it’s not safe to look at the sun directly with the naked eye and you’ll see the moon cut a little piece out of the sun. And it’s all very intellectually interesting,” Baron says.

    But a partial eclipse is nothing, says Baron, like the experience of a total solar eclipse. As the writer Annie Dillard describes in her essay “Total Eclipse”:

    “Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.”

    In a total solar eclipse, the sky doesn’t go black as if it's night, rather, Baron says it's like a deep twilight on another planet.

    “It really is like standing on another planet and looking at an alien sky,” he says, “Where the sun is supposed to be is a glorious ring of light. It looks like a wreath of slivery thread. It’s called the solar corona and it’s the outer atmosphere of the sun.”

    Dillard describes the silvery light from the corona in her essay.

    “This color has never been seen on earth. The hues were metallic; their finish was matte. The hillside was a nineteenth-century tinted photograph from which the tints had faded. All the people you see in the photograph, distinct and detailed as their faces look, are now dead. The sky was navy blue. My hands were silver. All the distant hills' grasses were finespun metal which the wind laid down.”

    Watching a total eclipse is a very emotional experience, Baron adds.

    “It connects you in a way to the solar system, to the universe, like nothing else has for me and that’s what gets people hooked. I’ll admit to you, I’ve never done LSD, but it’s very psychedelic,” Baron says.

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2015 5:10pm

    The boat trip took two hours from Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga.

    Branko Sugar piloted his son Zandy and GP Orbassano to a place he'd been many times before to spearfish.

    That's when they came upon an entirely new island. It formed after an eruption at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano in December, the BBC reported. And scientists were wary about the stability of the land. That didn’t stop the explorers, even if one lacked a certain physical skill.

    "GP Orbassano don't know how to swim," Sugar wrote to me on Facebook. "My son had to get off the boat first and land on the islands beach so that he can receive GP."

    So Zandy Sugar was also apparently the first to set foot on the island. "He was also the first to reach the top of the volcano," adds Sugar. "More or less running up to the top wearing his island flip-flops."

    Sugar and Orbassano followed, slowly. Orbassano took photos.

    And man, what photos he took. They've been shared all around the globe. Everyone, it seems, loves the idea of exploring a brand new world that erupted out of the ocean. And that they could be the first, and last, people to ever set foot on it. The island could disappear back into the sea.

    But Sugar says they will be going back to the volcanic island soon.

    "We will take closer photos of the crater’s lake," he promises.

    The island formed after an eruption at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, a two hour boat ride from the island of Tonga.
    Credit:

    GP Orbassano

    The island formed after an eruption at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, a two hour boat ride from the island of Tonga.
    Credit:

    GP Orbassano

    The island formed after an eruption at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, a two hour boat ride from the island of Tonga.
    Credit:

    GP Orbassano

    The island formed after an eruption at the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, a two hour boat ride from the island of Tonga.
    Credit:

    GP Orbassano

  • Monday, March 9, 2015 2:52pm

    In a small factory in the northeastern India, a strange type of swill churns in a vat. Bits of chopped-up old hosiery swirl around in almost 200 gallons of water while, at six-second intervals, 72-year-old Mahesh Bora adds fists full of rhino dung.

    Yes, you read that right.

    Bora is making paper. The rhino dung adds fiber to the paper, and Bora says the whole enterprise will help save the endangered Asian one-horned rhinoceros.

    Two thousand of the world’s 2,500 Asian one-horned rhinos live in this northeastern state of Assam, but the rhino population is dwindling rapidly because of poaching and sprawl. Bora says the farmers who live on the edge of the rhino's forest habitat often see them only as a menace to crops, or a cash opportunity with poachers.

    Manesh Bora says he was inspired to try a new approach to protecting rhinos after others had failed. When he heard about an effort elsewhere in India to use elephant dung in paper, he figured the same could work for rhinos. "Someone should do it," he remembers saying to himself, "and why can it not be me?"

    Credit:

    Chirodeep Chaudhuri

    “No amount of telling them to save the rhino is actually going to work,” he says. “But nothing works better than economic dependence. If they get some livelihood from rhinos, they’ll always try to save it.”

    Bora, a retired coal mining engineer, got the idea for the paper factory after reading about a project that used elephant dung. He visited the elephant project, came back to Assam, and set up a business called Elrhino. It started with his wife’s kitchen blender and some window screens, but now employs 50 people. They gather the dung and other natural ingredients and work in the factory.

    Rhino dung is rich in fiber useful in making paper, and relatively easy to find in the animals' territory. One rhino can drop up to 900 pounds in one spot over 10 days or so.

    Credit:

    Chhavi Sachdev

    The dung is easy to find; when rhinos find a good place to poop, they tend to return there for at least 10 days. And they drop a lot of it, maybe 900 pounds or so in one spot. 

    Bora avoids the national parks, where the dung is protected because it provides fertilizer for the forest. All he needs is the dung on the periphery, where rhinos are often seen plodding across village roads. Even using the relatively smaller amounts on periphery has made a difference in local attitudes toward the rhinos, says Bora's daughter and business partner, Nisha.

    “I can see the acknowledgement of the animal in their livelihood,'' she says. "So for us that’s a great validation of what we’re doing.”

    Bora says they’re also trying to make a broader impact. Elrhino sells rhino-dung paper, lampshades, diaries and other products as far away as Europe, and each item includes a message about the rhinos.

    “Each one of those pieces of communication from me is a little bit of advocacy done," she says. "[It's] one person reading about the rhino and feeling concerned about it.”

    For now, Elrhino’s business is growing, and Nisha and Mahesh Bora hope to eventually involve entire villages in spinning a stronger thread linking conservation, advocacy and the rhino paper.

    Workers at the Elrhino factory spread rhino-dung pulp on wire screens before hanging the sheets up to dry. The sheets are used to make products such as decorative paper, lampshades, calendars and notebooks.

    A worker places leaves from a common local plant onto a sheet of Elrhino paper. After being pressed into the paper the leaves will leave a unique impression in each sheet.

    Credit:

    Chirodeep Chaudhuri

    ElRhino's dung-based paper products are sold as far away as Europe. Each item includes a message about rhino conservation.

    ElRhino's dung-based paper products are sold as far away as Europe. Each item includes a message about rhino conservation.