PRI's The World on RADIO IQ with BBC
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.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 4:29pm
Officials are still trying to figure out why an Airbus A320 flown by discount airline Germanwings slammed into the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 passengers on board.
One possible explanation for the crash is that something went wrong with the highly automated jet's computers, but not everyone thinks that's the key to unlocking this mystery.
"Computers are not flying your plane," says airline pilot Patrick Smith. "Pilots are flying your plane through the automation, and the automation is only as good as the pilots controlling it."
Smith hosts AskThePilot.com and is the author of "Cockpit Confidential: Questions, Answers, and Reflections on Air Travel."
"It's a very hands-on job, still," Smith says. "It's just that your hands, rather than grasping the steering column as was the case decades ago, are now managing and programming all of these auto-flight components."
Smith takes issue with another assumption about modern aviation: The notion that airlines outside of North America and western Europe are, for the most part, crash-prone and should be avoided. "That's not really the case," he notes. "Some of the safest carriers in the world are from developing countries."
Smith admits airplane accidents are more likely in sub-Saharan Africa than in North America, but he also praises strong carriers like Ethiopian Airlines, which has experienced only three fatal accidents in more than seven decades in operation. Tunisia's national airlines has flown fatality-free for more than three decades, while Ghana Airways operated for more than 40 years without a fatality, according to Smith.
"Part of it is luck, but some of these countries have very old and very proud aviation cultures," he says. "They take their airlines very seriously and they pride themselves on safe operation."
Smith places some of the blame for erroneous perceptions on reporters, who he criticizes for remembering some air tragedies and forgetting others.
"Some simmer or fester in the media longer than others," he notes. "It speaks, I think, to the way the media treats air disasters and sort of chooses for us which ones are going to remain in the public consciousness longer."
Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down near Ukraine's border with Russia last July, has all but disappeared from the news, he says. "Meanwhile, the missing Malaysian Airlines jet from several months earlier — that story is still out there because it's so much of a mystery."
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 2:34pm
Here's yet another food dilemma for the 21st century: Ethically speaking, what's left that you can actually eat from the ocean?
Given how hard it is to know the backstory of the fish on your plate, is there any effort being made to draw down demand for seafood in this country?
Are we a nation of fish eaters?
[Americans eat] 15 pounds of seafood per person per year. Compare that to Asia [where] you’ve got 35 to 40 pounds of seafood per person per year [or] with the American meat consumption, land food meats. That’s like 200 pounds per person per year.
What's the best fish to buy?
The best fish you could buy isn’t a fish, it’s a mollusk. I’m really big these days on mussels, farmed mussels, particularly those grown in the United States — and Canada is not bad either. The reason being is that these are creatures that are very high in Omega-3. They have a very small environmental impact. They are filter-feeders, so you don’t have to feed them any fish or anything. And they are just a very good thing to have in the water because they create habitat for other fish. I’d like to see America grow more mussels.
What's the most common seafood American eat?
Far and away, the thing we eat the most of is shrimp. We eat four pounds of shrimp per person per year, and 90 percent of the shrimp we eat is imported. A lot of it is coming from Southeast Asia. It’s coming to us from pretty far away. It’s kind of hard to figure out exactly what goes on in the farms that grow that shrimp.
We have so much coastline in the US. Why do we import so much seafood?
We import a lot of seafood, but we also export a lot of seafood. We export about a third of what we catch, and that’s about 3 billion pounds every single year. What we export is mostly wild, pretty high quality things. Like 80 percent of the salmon we catch, we export. And we import sort of cheap stuff. We import a lot of tilapia, we import a lot of shrimp and we import a lot of what we call a Pangasius catfish, which you probably never heard of — but it’s the sixth most consumed seafood in America.
What is a Pangasius catfish?
You’re most likely to come across a Pangasius catfish in a hospital. ... Say you’ve just had an operation and the orderly comes by and asks you, "What you would like for lunch today, chicken or fish?" And you’re like, "What’s the fish?" And he says "I don’t know, mister, it’s just fish." A lot of times that's the Pangasius catfish. It’s just a white neutral fish that people use in industrial settings, and so that’s where you’ll see it a lot of the times.
Is it safe to eat American seafood?
American seafood is generally well-managed. If it’s farmed, it’s generally farmed under good regulations. We really do focus our seafood consumption around the big four, which are shrimp, salmon, tuna and pollock ... which you find in your Filet-o-Fish. We could be doing a lot more growing of clams, mussels, oysters, because it’s really, really good for the environment and just a great health food as well.
And your advice on eating seafood?
You’ve got to inform yourself. Seafood is complicated. It’s the last wild food, so if we’re going to take on that very complicated task of eating the last wild food, we have to bone up intellectually and be prepared to answer some questions.
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.
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.
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."
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.”
How the solar eclipse and vernal equinox have cast shadows across literature http://t.co/s5D35GxuqE
— Guardian Books (@GuardianBooks) March 19, 2015
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.