The World | KUOW News and Information

The World

Monday - Friday, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. on KUOW2

The World brings you award-winning coverage of breaking news, in-depth features, hard-hitting commentaries, and thought-provoking interviews found nowhere else in US news coverage.

Venetia Rainey/PRI

It's just after 2 p.m. on a sunny day in September, and a motley group of people are standing outside Amsterdam's main courthouse. Among them is a worried-looking couple: a young Arab man with dyed hair, a diamond earring and a tight T-shirt, holding the hand of an older white man in a more nondescript outfit.

An independence movement may seem to be the perfect trigger for a great song.

It's bound to be energetic and optimistic, and ought to have all sorts of emblems of identity of the people seeking independence.

Take a band called Txarango, from Catalonia. It's pure Catalan rock music in the Catalan language.

Kim Hong-ji/Reuters 

Donald Trump is the first US president in 25 years to go to South Korea on a state visit. In honor of the occasion, South Korea went all out to welcome Trump at Tuesday's state dinner.

During these lavish events, there are certain protocols. Like, don't do anything that is politically insensitive.

For example, don't invite guests whose mere presence highlights a potentially contentious issue. But that's exactly what happened.

In October, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a bold statement in publically positioning his country as the next global leader in combating climate change.

“Taking a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change,” Xi said at the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress last month. “China has become an important participant, contributor, and torch-bearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization.”

Travel to Cuba by American citizens just got harder with the Trump administration's release of new regulations governing relations with the island nation. While the rules are largely a formalization of what Donald Trump promised earlier this year, they include a long list of entities that are now off-limits to US travelers including an elegant new downtown hotel and favored shops in Old Havana.

After every mass shooting — like the one in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday — the satirical news website The Onion publishes the same article: 'No Way to Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.

But epidemiologist Gary Slutkin says there is a way. 

Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

Belarus has a plan to build a nuclear power plant funded by the Russian government. Twelve miles across the border, Lithuania has serious concerns about what they think is a growing nuclear threat.

Lithuania is a tiny country that still relies on Russia’s power grid for electricity, and the memory of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster also looms large in the region.

Besides questions about the environmental and safety standards, says reporter Reid Standish, Lithuania fears the possible geopolitical impact of the Ostrovets power plant.

How does fake news spread?

Nov 8, 2017
Max Massey/ KSAT 12/via Reuters

He has been misidentified as the lone gunman in the shootings in San Bernardino, in Kalamazoo, in Baton Rouge, in Orlando and, now, in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

His name is Sam Hyde. And he's actually a comedian.

But somehow, his name has become an internet meme, resurfacing after nearly every mass shooting in the past few years.

What the missile strike on Riyadh means

Nov 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia has been dropping bombs on Yemen's capital city for 32 months. On Saturday, Yemen fired back.

The missile, identified by Yemeni rebels as a domestically built Burkan II ballistic missile, also known as a Volcano, was blown out of the sky above King Khalid International Airport by an American-made anti-missile defense system. No injuries were reported, but this was a significant event in the ongoing Yemen war. 

A century after the October Revolution, Moscow shrugs

Nov 7, 2017

The diorama showing how Ulyanovsk looked when Vladimir Lenin was born here in 1870 is noticeably full of Orthodox churches.

Their gleaming onion domes are positioned overlooking the Volga River in the model Ulyanovsk, which was renamed for its most famous son. He was born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, and then changed his name to Lenin before spearheading the Bolshevik Revolution that led to the creation of the atheist Soviet Union superpower 100 years ago.

Ahmet Ustunel remembers his daily commute to high school well. He'd wake up at home, on the Asian side of Istanbul, Turkey, a city that straddles two continents. Then he would take a ferry across the Bosphorus Strait to the European side of the city.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

High-profile arrests of prominent Saudis over the weekend indicate that the kingdom's crown prince is consolidating his power. And that may be just fine with the White House.

Grassroots efforts in Tunisia to advance women’s rights

Nov 7, 2017
Danielle Villasana/PRI 

In a building tucked away on a dusty street in Tunis’s Lafayette neighborhood, a classroom full of a dozen young Tunisian women listen to lectures amid bursts of laughter on a spring day earlier this year. The group is a diverse mix of women sporting smartly tucked headscarves, brightly colored blazers and fitted jeans. One by one, they stand in front of the classroom and explain to their peers why they want to pursue politics.

I cannot recall a year of my life when talk of invading North Korea has not been part of the news cycle.

Even before President George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil speech, in which he declared Iran, Iraq and North Korea enemies, the specter of the unresolved war in Korea had always haunted my life.

Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have been testifying before Congress over the past few weeks about how their platforms were used by Russian agents to interfere in the 2016 US election.

Remember the Panama Papers — that huge trove of more than 11 million documents leaked in 2015 detailing financial data on more than 200,000 offshore entities? 

Now, there's a sequel.

It's called the Paradise Papers, and it's brought to you via the same two German journalists who received the earlier data dump. 

"Here we are again with another leak and new revelations," says Süddeutsche Zeitung correspondent Frederik Obermaier, one of the two reporters who received the Paradise Papers from an anonymous source.

Of all the things Syrian refugees leave behind, one of the most surprising is language. Not the dialect they speak at home, but the Arabic of written and formal speech. It’s the form of Arabic used in school, books, public life and media.

It’s a simplified version of the Arabic of the Quran, and you need it to function in the Arab world. One displaced Syrian, concerned that her daughter becomes literate in Arabic, turned to cartoons for help. 

Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Woo Seung-yep keeps a camouflage backpack loaded with supplies just in case he needs to grab it and go.

Inside are things like a flashlight, canned food and a pair of socks.

Woo runs an online forum with 20,000 members called Survival 21 and consults with local governments on how to prep for disasters. The 44-year-old consultant says he’s trying to help people prepare for war, but most South Koreans don’t take North Korea’s threats seriously.

Mattea Mrkusic

From the air, Kiribati's capital island resembles the cross-section of a polished geode. You’ll see a painfully thin crust of land and a glassy lagoon that shifts with rising tides. For years, media outlets have called this equatorial nation “a canary in the coal mine for climate migration.” But what you perceive at a distance may be misleading.

New Zealand could become the first country in the world to recognize climate change as a valid reason to be granted residency, according to an interview with a government minister on Tuesday.

Stephanie Keith/Reuters

Allahu akbar made headlines again this week.

The suspect in the New York City terrorist attack reportedly shouted the Arabic phrase meaning “God is greatest” after driving his truck down a bike path on Tuesday, killing eight people.

What it is like to win the green card lottery

Nov 3, 2017

Since this week’s terror attack in New York, attention has focused on how Sayfullo Saipov came to be in the US. Saipov was admitted under the US diversity visa lottery — better known as the green card lottery — a scheme which lets around 50,000 people every year into the country, selected at random and vetted for police records. 

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that he would be taking action to cancel the lottery — although he initially called it the "diversary" lottery. 

The narrow, black tunnel at the bottom of a 70-foot dirt shaft about two hours north of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, is so small that you can’t stand up. But there are three men down here using headlamps to illuminate a section of rock where they’ve been digging for gold.

There is a sound so prevalent on the streets of Beirut that locals hardly even hear it anymore: the two-tap beep on the horn by a taxi driver looking for business.

Unlike in New York or London, where a passenger might have to crane their neck looking for a cab, residents in Lebanon’s capital practically have to fight them off with a stick.

“When passengers walk, sometimes they don’t notice the taxi behind them. So we make the horn to get his attention,” says Gabriel Saad, who has been driving a taxi in the city for 15 years.

The surprising history of the green card lottery

Nov 2, 2017
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Shortly after the vehicle attack in New York on Tuesday that killed eight people and injured about a dozen others, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to react:

Denis Balibouse/Reuters

What does it mean to grant citizenship to a robot?

That's the question many have been asking since last week, when a robot was granted Saudi citizenship at an economic and financial summit in Riyadh.

The robot in question is Sophia — the product of a Hong Kong-based company called Hanson Robotics.

According to its makers, Sophia was designed to look like Audrey Hepburn. (Although the author finds it hard to see the resemblance.)

Is tourism harming the Galápagos Islands?

Nov 2, 2017
Matt Rogers

Mathías Espinoza has a deeply crinkled brow as he squints at the vast ocean around the Galápagos Islands on a July morning. “Bien brava,” he murmurs softly, meaning, “rough.” He has looked out on the ocean many times over his years in the Galápagos Islands, but it never ceases to intrigue him.

What other countries (and history) can teach Americans about taxation

Nov 2, 2017
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Republicans in Congress unveiled a bill Thursday to rewrite the US tax code. The bill is facing an uphill struggle, as it threatens to eliminate some popular credits and deductions while handing large cuts to corporations.

Republicans say the plan will simplify taxes and strengthen the economy. Democrats argue it will hurt blue states, and favors the wealthy.

But if you really want to understand the tax bill, take a look at other countries — and history.

How other countries do it

Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

In the days since Tuesday’s terror attack in New York, the alleged attacker’s country of origin has received a lot of media attention.

Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek national, is suspected of killing eight people and seriously injuring 12 others when he barreled down a busy Manhattan bike path in a pickup truck on Tuesday.

Several terror attacks in recent years have been carried out by individuals with ties to the country and broader Central Asia region, leading to media narratives that experts who study and know the region say are troubling.

Movie remakes are the rage in Hollywood right now. "Murder on the Orient Express" and "It" are both remakes and both in box offices now. 

Now it's Disney's turn. The mouse will bring back "The Lion King" — in 2019 — and it's creating a lot of buzz.  

A lot of the excitement is over the cast. The new film will star Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones returns to voice Simba's father, Mufasa. Alfre Woodard lends her voice as Simba's mother, Sarabi. Seth Rogen and John Oliver also have roles.  

Courtesy of Senator Nick McKim

Hundreds of asylum-seekers in an Australian offshore detention camp on Papua New Guinea are hunkering down and refusing to leave. The power lines have been cut, there's no air conditioning and food is running out.