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A Global Guide For Leery Travelers

5 hours ago

With its tropical beaches and a memorable national park, Venezuela was a popular destination for American tourists a decade ago. But years of political and economic turmoil have left its tourism industry in tatters.

The Great Wall of China. A walk on the moon. Genome sequencing. How did we humans, who share almost all of our DNA with chimpanzees, end up doing all that, while they ended up pretty much where they started?

Some scientists will tell you it was language, or tools, or brainpower.

Fifteen years ago, psychologists Barbara Rogoff and Maricela Correa-Chavez ran a simple experiment. They wanted to see how well kids pay attention — even if they don't have to.

They would bring two kids, between the ages 5 to 11, into a room and have them sit at two tables.

Then they had a research assistant teach one of the kids how to assemble a toy.

The other kid was told to wait. Rogoff says they would tell the second child, "You can sit over here, and in a few minutes you'll have a turn to make this origami jumping mouse," — a different task altogether.

A Worm That Can Really, Really Get Under Your Skin

Jun 21, 2018

It sounds like a scene straight out of a nightmare.

One morning you wake up and something is crawling beneath your skin. It wriggles and writhes across your face, seemingly ready to rip out of your skin at any second. (Anyone remember that one scene from the movie Alien?)

The Refugees The World Barely Pays Attention To

Jun 20, 2018

This month, diplomats from around the world met in New York and Geneva to hash out a pair of new global agreements that aim to lay out new guidelines for how countries should deal with an unprecedented surge in the number of displaced people, which has now reached 65.6 million worldwide.

The Food Insecurity Of North Korea

Jun 19, 2018

In the 1990s, a devastating famine struck North Korea. According to international observers, a combination of drought, flooding and government mismanagement decimated food production. The death toll is uncertain, but estimates range from 240,000 to 2 million.

Every evening after dinner, Herman Agbavor and his 5-year-old son, Herbert, have a ritual. Little Herbert climbs into his dad's lap, unzips his book bag and they go over his kindergarten homework.

The two of them have been doing some variation of this homework routine since Herbert was 1. That's when Agbavor first enrolled the boy in preschool.

They live in a working-class neighborhood of Ghana's capital city, Accra — in a cement block apartment in a multifamily house that has a television and lots of books but no indoor plumbing.

Plants need carbon dioxide to live, but its effects on them are complicated.

As the level of carbon dioxide in the air continues to rise because of human activity, scientists are trying to pin down how the plants we eat are being affected.

Mounting evidence suggests that many key plants lose nutritional value at higher CO2 levels, and scientists are running experiments all over the world to try to tease out the effects.

Jean Marie Rukundo did not accompany his wife to the clinic the first two times she gave birth. Here in rural Rwanda, that was considered the duty of another woman, like her sister. His main job was farming — though his wife farmed too. After work, Rukundo used to leave his hoe with her and then go play cards with men in the village. Meanwhile, his wife went home from the fields, gathered firewood and water, prepared dinner, cleaned dishes and cared for their children.

What do China, India, South Sudan and the United States have in common?

They are among the 92 countries where there is no national policy that allow dads to take paid time off work to care for their newborns.

According to a data analysis released on Thursday by UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, almost two-thirds of the world's children under age 1 — nearly 90 million — live in countries where dads are not entitled by law to take paid paternity leave. In these countries, this policy is typically decided by employers.

It was one of Donald Trump's first acts as President: a Jan. 23, 2017 executive order that cuts off U.S. support to foreign groups unless they promise not to "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning." This includes providing patients with referrals or information about the procedure, even if those activities are funded by non-U.S. government sources.

Every Republican president since Ronald Reagan has adopted a variant of the "Mexico City policy" — so called after the city where it was first announced. And every Democratic successor has reversed it.

Haider Hammoud often goes tent-to-tent at the refugee camps near the Syrian border asking families whether they've enjoyed their iftar meal. It's the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Syrian 32-year-old wants to ensure that when the sun goes down, displaced families break their fasts with a taste of home-cooked food.

The photos are mostly of women, decked in elaborate clothing and jewelry, wearing serious or playful or romantic expressions. Many of the images have been colorized — hand-painted to bring ruby lips, golden pendants, emerald chairs to life.

Back in the early 1990s, psychologist Suzanne Gaskins was living in a small Maya village near Valladolid, Yucatán, when she struck up a conversation with two sisters, ages 7 and 9.

The girls started telling her — with great pride — about all the chores they did after school. "I wash my own clothes," the 7-year-old said. The older sister then one-upped her and declared, "I wash my clothes and my baby brother's clothes."

An Encouraging Prediction About The Ebola Outbreak

Jun 8, 2018

When an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo this spring, there were all kinds of predictions about how the epidemic would play out.

At first the outbreak was confined to a remote rural area, so the hope was it could be easily contained. There simply weren't a lot of people who could have come in contact with the infected individuals.

The first time he touched a football, Gelek Wangchuk was 9 years old.

It was in a settlement of Tibetan refugees in Himachal Pradesh, in northern India, where he and other Tibetan boys attended the Tibetan Children's Village, a school founded by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.

"I didn't know how to play, I didn't have any [football] kit. But I had a lot of interest," said Wangchuk, now 26. "I started playing football only for enjoyment without any shoes."

A hunter with bow and arrow, in a steamy sub-Saharan savanna, stalks a big, exotic animal. After killing and butchering it, he and his hunt-mates bring it back to their families and celebrate.

This enduring scenario is probably what many of us have stuck in our heads about how early humans lived. It's an image with drama and danger. And it happens to coincide with Western ideas about the division of labor and the nuclear family that were prevalent in the 1960s when this so-called "Man the Hunter" theory first emerged.

Armed men first subdued the compound's guards – then went room by room, seizing cash, computers, radios and more from terrified aid workers.

At least nine humanitarian compounds have been looted in recent weeks amid a new wave of violence in the Central African Republic's second-largest city of Bambari – prompting many NGOs to temporarily suspend or curtail assistance to an already-struggling civilian population.

The U.N. Goal That Doesn't Get A Lot Of Respect

May 31, 2018

Of the U.N.'s 17 goals to make the world a better place by 2030, one goal gets much less respect than the others.

It's not improving education. It's not wiping out poverty and hunger.

It's Goal #14 — which aims to "conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development."

Leah Feldman is on Ebola duty — again.

The young Maryland trauma nurse is a veteran of the Ebola wars. She worked on the Doctors Without Borders team in Guinea in 2014 and 2015.

She happened to be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working on a cholera vaccination project, when a case of Ebola was reported in a remote part of the northwest in April.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

What Kind Of Parent Are You: Carpenter Or Gardener?

May 28, 2018

There are two kinds of parents in modern America, says Alison Gopnik in her recent book, The Gardener and the Carpenter.

The "carpenter" thinks that his or her child can be molded. "The idea is that if you just do the right things, get the right skills, read the right books, you're going to be able to shape your child into a particular kind of adult," she says.

Why Ghana's Clam Farmers Are Digging GPS

May 27, 2018

Samuel-Richard Bogobley is wearing a bright orange life vest and leaning precariously over the edge of a fishing canoe on the Volta River estuary, a gorgeous wildlife refuge where Ghana's biggest river meets the Gulf of Guinea.

He's looking for a bamboo rod poking a couple feet above the surface. When he finds it, he holds out a computer tablet and taps the screen. Then he motions for the captain to move the boat forward as he scans the water for the next rod.

Why It's So Hard To Wipe Out Polio In Pakistan

May 26, 2018

Two young women burst through the door of a health center in a Pakistani slum. One woman sobs. The other tries to explain what just happened.

Nida, 21, and Sahar, 19, are front-line vaccinators — a small but essential role in Pakistan's enormous effort to eradicate the virus. They were going down alleys knocking door-to-door, administering polio vaccine drops to children, when a man pulled out a gun, slammed Nida over the head, snatched her bag and ran away. (Nida and Sahar asked that their last names not be used to protect their safety.)

Each year, malaria kills about half a million people around the world. Health officials say a fast, cheap, accurate way to test for people infected with the malaria parasite would be extremely helpful in combating the disease. Now some engineers in California say they've invented a device they hope someday will do just that.

The device takes advantage of the fact that the malaria parasite produces tiny crystals inside infected red blood cells. These crystals have a magnetic property. Put a magnet next to a drop of infected blood, and the crystals move toward the magnet.

Every month, about 300 refugees apply for asylum in Denmark, seeking shelter from conflicts and persecution in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. And many of them need help beyond finding a new home.

A 2013 study calculated that 30 percent of refugees in high-income host countries have experienced torture; about 150 refugees seek treatment at the Danish Institute Against Torture every year.

Health workers have unsheathed their experimental new weapon against the Ebola virus in the northwest reaches of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On Monday, the World Health Organization, together with local and international partners, began administering Ebola vaccinations in the region, where at least 49 suspected cases have been reported since early April and at least 26 people are believed to have died.

Six months ago, Melissa Nichols brought her baby girl, Arlo, home from the hospital. And she immediately had a secret.

"I just felt guilty and like I didn't want to tell anyone," says Nichols, who lives in San Francisco. "It feels like you're a bad mom. The mom guilt starts early, I guess."

Across town, first-time mom Candyce Hubbell has the same secret — and she hides it from her pediatrician. "I don't really want to be lectured," she says. "I know what her stance will be on it."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DON GONYEA, HOST:

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