PRI's The World on RADIO IQ with BBC

Weekdays at 4:00 pm on our RADIO IQ With BBC network.

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 our RADIO IQ With BBC News network of signals and streaming live on the web.

Local Host(s): 
Beverly Amsler
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Program Headlines

  • Tuesday, May 26, 2015 4:11pm

    India has been suffering from extreme weather lately.

    A scorching heatwave is the problem there.

    A least 800 deaths across the country have been blamed on the heat and authorities have advised people to stay indoors

    To give you an idea, temperatures in India's two southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have reached as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit, or 50 Celsius.  

    In New Delhi, temperatures this week have been over 110 during the day. Summer in the crowded city is shaping up to be hot and dry. So how do people carry on with their normal routines?

    “Let me paint a picture for you,” says BBC reporter Divya Arya in New Delhi. “We sweat a lot for beginners. You tie your hair back instead of leaving it open. You try to eat a lot of fruit like watermelon. You just alter your life because Indian summer in not an aberration, it’s the norm.”

    It seems that summers have been warmer in the past five years, says Arya, and it may be part of the global pattern of more extreme weather conditions. Meanwhile, it’s even more difficult to cope with the heatwave in rural parts of India where there isn’t necessarily access to water coolers, for example, or even electricity to operate fans. Air conditioning is unheard of in most of rural India.

    It's especially difficult for poor people to find ways to beat the heat. Even in cities, many simply do not have the benefit of air conditioned homes and offices. Arya says there are some public water fountains around the city, though the water is not necessarily considered clean and pure. Also, vendors sell water for as little as “one rupee for one glass of water,” but those who can afford it prefer the bottled water that is generally available in stores and shops.

    During the summer, Arya says it’s typical for there to be local water shortages, so some residents have to contract with water tanker trucks to come to their neighborhood.

    Overall, Arya says there’s a lot of frustration with the heatwave. If there’s any cause for optimism, “it’s in the clouds." Everyone’s hoping that the cool monsoon rains will arrive as expected in June. The monsoons will bring relief to city dwellers and they’ll deliver much needed water to rural farmers.

    “The monsoons will not only reduce the heat at an individual level, but also ensure the farming cycle is not disrupted and that there is no food crisis. There are a lot of farmers that are already suffering from drought or untimely rains. In fact, there have even been suicides reported from the western and southern states of India where farmers have not been able to repay their debts because their harvests got spoiled, and they couldn’t get money into their pockets. So really, heat, and the weather, it’s really no joking matter in India.”

  • Tuesday, May 26, 2015 1:03pm

    At least 13 people have been killed by a category 4 tornado that swept through Ciudad Acuña Monday.

    Images from the town, just across the border from Del Rio, Texas, showed cars flipped, buses smashed and hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged.

    The tornado reached speeds of up to 186mph and officials say there are fears the death toll could rise.

    Residents stand next to a damaged car after the tornado hit Ciudad Acuña.


    Ramiro Gomez/Reuters

    Residents stand outside their damaged houses after a tornado hit Ciudad Acuña. The whirlwind damaged as many as 350 homes, knocking down walls and ceilings, and slammed into vehicles in the city that lies across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas.


    Jaime Escamilla/Reuters

    Across the border from Ciudad Acuña, Texas also saw tornados and heavy rains resulting in massive flooding from the storm system.

    Flood damaged vehicles and debris are strewn across lawns in San Marcos, Texas May 26, 2015.


    Tamir Kalifa/Reuters

    Houston received 10 inches of rain during the storm. Many parts of the city are flooded bringing it to a near-standstill Tuesday.


  • Tuesday, May 26, 2015 9:23am

    On Monday, Wolf volcano on the Galapagos Islands erupted spewing fire, smoke and lava.

    Conolophus marthae, the Galapagos pink land iguana.


    Gabriele Gentile/University of Rome

    Authorities say the eruption, the first for the volcano in 33 years, posed no immediate danger to the local population of people.

    Nor, apparently, to Isabela island's pink iguanas, the world's only known population of the the species. The Galapagos National Park says that the lava was flowing in an opposite direction from their habitat, raising hopes they will not be affected.

    The Wolf volcano perched atop one of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands erupted in the early hours of Monday. The roughly 1.1-mile high Wolf volcano is located on Isabela Island, home to a rich variety of flora and fauna typical of the archipelago that helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution following his 1835 visit.


    Reuters/Galapagos National Park/Diego Paredes

    Wolf volcano on Isabela Island, May 25, 2015.


    Reuters/Galapagos National Park/Diego Paredes


  • Thursday, May 21, 2015 3:22pm

    The United States, Canada and Mexico share borders and trade agreements, and now a new plan announced this week by the White House might have the three countries cooperating around butterflies and bees as well.

    ​The plan aims to reverse an alarming decline in the populations of butterflies, bees and other pollinators. American beekeepers lost 40 percent of their honeybee colonies last year, and the news is even worse for monarch butterflies. Over the past 20 years, the number of monarch butterflies that migrate south in winter to escape the cold, mainly to Mexico, has dropped by an estimated 90 percent.

    “The situation is desperate,” says Karen Oberhauser, a conservation biologist with the department of wildlife and conservation biology at the University of Minnesota.

    The stated goal of the bee and butterfly conservation plan is to restore and protect nearly seven million acres of habitat for these pollinating insects using a north-to-south corridor across the country. That will replace the land that's been lost to butterflies and pollinators due to pesticide use.

    A map showing the route of a planned pesticide-free butterfly corridor across the United States.


    David Leveille

    "Patches of high-quality habitat that's rich in flowers and free of pesticides forming a corridor from Mexico to Canada will help monarchs to find nectaring and breeding areas as they travel," says Scott Hoffman Black, the executive director at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

    Some experts say that reversing the declines will require all hands on deck, so Oberhauser points out that everyday people can also get involved. "You don't need a lot of space to put in flowers as sources of nectar for bees and butterflies, and milk weed plants which are the food for the caterpillars," she says. "People can also get involved with citizen science projects that monitor monarchs when they’re caterpillars and when they’re migrating.”

    Although the strategy is a great start, Black says that what happens next is no less important. "The success of the strategy will be in its implementation, in particular, adequate funding and appropriate actions by agencies," he says. "We will continue to work with and support the White House and federal agencies as they move forward."

  • Tuesday, May 19, 2015 4:53pm

    Space junk is a serious problem.

    There's lots of garbage orbiting our planet, everything from nuts and bolt to old satellites and used-up rocket stages. "There are over 500,000 pieces of debris that are between the size of a cherry and a melon," says top space junk researcher Lucy Rogers of the British Interplanetary Society.

    And all of those bits of orbiting trash, even the small ones, can pose big problems. "Something the size of a cherry going at 17,000 miles per hour — which it will be up in space — if that hits a spacecraft it can have the same effect as a hand grenade going off," she says.

    Here are computer generated images of objects in Earth orbit that are currently being tracked. Approximately 95 percent of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites.


    NASA Orbital Debris Program Office

    So why not meet fire with fire? That's what some Japanese researchers want to do.

    They've made a special telescope that tracks debris from the International Space Station and want to pair it with a laser beam that would blast the garbage away — literally.

    "The laser will focus on a piece of space debris and it will repeatedly hit it in bursts like a machine gun — wham wham wham wham!" she says. That will heat the garbage and create little bursts of vaporized plasma that push the junk out into space like a thruster engine.

    But don't get too excited, Rogers says: This laser idea may not fly because of politics.

    "If you can blast a piece of space debris, you can also blast someone else's satellite," she points out. "And due to the 'Star Wars treaties' ... putting a laser into space is causing political problems."