A father remembers when Korea was one country. His son dreams of seeing the same someday.

World War II ended, the Japanese army left Korea, and communism took over in the north. In 1975, he began working at Livermore National Laboratory, a US nuclear weapons research facility. It was the start of a journey that would bring the Kang family to the United States. “That’s what I will do.”

David Kang and his father,   Sang-Wook Kang. “One day, he burned the deeds. “The fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons is, sadly, one of the reasons that unification — or solving the problem — is so hard,” he said. In early 2016, after North Korea claimed to test a hydrogen bomb and put a satellite in orbit, the collaboration ended. “He is a good son. “Everywhere else in the world, no matter how bad it is, the Cold War is over,” reflected the younger Kang. “Just to give them the message, you have to make them feel that we are stronger,” he remembers thinking. “I’m glad I pass on that desire to my son,” he said. And so, when Kang joined   the laboratory, he was asked a question. Livermore scientists often played “war games,” which helped them imagine what might happen in the event of a nuclear war. PRI.org

But they let him through — and on the other side, in an industrial city called Kaesong, he spoke Korean with workers who could almost be considered his countrymen. It’s the optimism that stems from a family bond, a family’s commitment to its roots. “We’re back now to where we were 10 years ago.”
David Kang and his father, Sang-Wook Kang, have learned to live with the yearning for a reunified Korea. Credit:

Courtesty of   David C. But it was also deeply personal. What’s more, his encounter with communism in northern Korea had made him fiercely anti-communist — a stance that shaped his career as a physicist. David Kang holds a memorial banner from his visit to Kaesong, North   Korea. “You couldn’t do even experiments because both sides bombed the heck out of the infrastructure.”
At 20 years old, Kang left Korea to study in the United States. The whole family moved south, to Seoul. “Very fond memories,” he told me, sitting in his living room in Livermore, California. When I described his son’s dream of a unified Korea, his raspy voice grew warm. “It was emotional just going through,” Kang said. In other words, Sang-Wook Kang can’t go home in part because of the same logic of deterrence he embraced at Livermore National Laboratory. His optimism has eroded over the years, he said. The city of Kaesong helped   keep alive the memory of a unified Korea. His ancestors had lived in the same town for centuries. “To do that the only way is nuclear.” Kang believed in the Cold War concept of deterrence: the idea that if two countries have the power to destroy each other, neither one will. Dreams of reunification have been tested and thwarted many times in recent decades. “I’m the 39th generation of this family,” said the younger Kang. “Especially the prospect of being alive, with my son.” Now he thinks that the North Korean regime may outlive him. For more than a decade, it was home to collaboration across the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, dividing north and south. Alongside stories about Sang-Wook Kang’s homeland of Korea, the younger Kang heard about Cold War concepts like deterrence. But Sang-Wook Kang has a different kind of optimism. This was the height of the Cold War. “I wouldn’t, no,” he replied. “I would love to fly to Seoul, with my father,” he said. “Except one place — and that’s North and South Korea.”
Kang became an expert on the place of his father’s birth and co-published a book called “Nuclear North Korea.”
The irony, Kang said, is that as long as North Korea has nuclear weapons, it’s unlikely that his father will see his hometown again. A North Korean employee works in the   factory of a South Korean company at the Joint Industrial Park in the Kaesong industrial zone, a few miles inside North Korea from the heavily fortified border, Dec. Proud of him.” His father was born in northern Korea, 81 years ago. He used to be almost certain it would happen during his lifetime. “And drive — and go see where he was born.” The thought made his eyes well up with tears. South Korean companies there employed 50,000 North Korean workers. Both men know from experience,   and from research into the impact of nuclear weapons,   how deeply the divisions run. Credit:

Courtesy of David Kang

A few days later, I visited Sang-Wook Kang in Livermore, and asked him what he thinks his hometown looks like today. Though he mostly worked on energy projects, any work on the nuclear arsenal would have been classified. He remembers ice skating in winter and swimming in summer. They didn’t like it when he tried to snap some pictures.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. He took a deep breath. 19, 2013. “To be in the northern side, with real North Korean people.”
The trip was a treasure trove of information for Kang, a professor of Korean studies at the University of Southern California. Kang said yes. If the US wanted him to help build nuclear weapons, would he? At first, he planned to go back, but then he met his American wife at the University of California, Berkeley. I asked Kang what he’ll do if that day comes. But David Kang believes that, just as the stalemate of the Cold War had to end, Korea will reunify one day. “Politics took over,” Kang said. Credit:

Kim Hong-Ji   /Reuters

But the project, like so many efforts at Korean reconciliation,   didn’t last. A recent photo of Sang-Wook Kang at his home in Livermore, California. Credit:

Courtesy of David Kang

When the   Soviet Union disintegrated 25 years ago, the nuclear arms race seemed to be a thing of the past. Korea had a thousand-year history of unity, and the Kang family lived through it. At the border, guards inspected his US   passport. Ten years ago, David Kang walked from South Korea to North Korea. The Soviet Union was still considered America’s greatest adversary. He pointed to his bookshelf, which included a thick volume on the Korean war. “They grew up there, they got old there.”
But in 1945, all that changed. At 81, his voice is weak, but his stories are many. Kang went to graduate school in Korean studies. “‘Mum’ is the word.”
War games
David Kang first learned about nuclear weapons by listening to stories his father told. I asked Kang if, after two decades at Livermore National Laboratory, he would be allowed to say whether he’d actually helped construct nuclear weapons. “My guess is that the village is completely gone,” he said. “At the time, it was one,” Kang said. But in 2006, North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon, and suddenly the politics of the Cold War were back. “Used to be high,” he said. A family dreams of unity
North and South Korea have now been adversaries for 71 years. But their family history is also a reminder of the deep connections between North and South Korea. He was convinced that nuclear weapons were essential in the fight against the USSR. “It’s an extraordinary sense of belonging.”
‘I will never go back’
When Sang-Wook Kang was born in 1935, there was no North Korea. “Destroyed, in 1950 October.”
I asked Kang if he, like his son, still dreamed of seeing Korea reunified. Kang

In the years after Korea split in two, South Korea struggled to recover from the effects of war and partition. He said, ‘In my lifetime, I will never go back,’” Kang recalled. Landowners, including Sang-Wook   Kang’s grandfather, lost their rights. Though the Korean   peninsula was then occupied by the Japanese army, Kang describes his childhood as happy. Kang wanted to become a physicist in Seoul, but the country could barely provide electricity and sanitation   for its citizens. “My field of physics was in shambles,” he said. Kang hasn’t been back to his hometown in 71 years.

Trump’s public disagreement with intelligence community unprecedented and ‘adversarial’

On Twitter is one thing but just in public in general. He published a book last year on the Presidential Daily Briefing   called, “The President’s Book of Secrets.” He was himself a daily intelligence briefer for Cabinet-level officials under President George W. — Donald J. But he says “it certainly doesn’t build a good relationship. It’s for the president to get to know the intelligence community, and for the intelligence community to get to understand the preferences and style and policy direction of the incoming president. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2017
Trump is referring to the assessment of the CIA and FBI that Russia used cybertools to try to gain information and use it to influence the US election. And we’re not seeing that at the same level in this transition.”   
Priess points out it’s not clear what Trump has been briefed on yet. “We don’t have any record of a president-elect going public with disagreements on intelligence assessments and waging this out in the public sphere. PRI.org

This thought came out Tuesday night:
The “Intelligence” briefing on so-called “Russian hacking” was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Bush. Listen to the full interview. If the president prefers to have judgments expressed in easy-to-digest short form, that’s doable, and there is precedent for that.” This kind of thing has not done before,” he says. And that’s been the goal of all presidential transitions, on both sides. Very strange! Let’s start this story with a tweet, since that’s the way President-elect Donald Trump seems to prefer communicating.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. He’s confident that assessments on Russia would have figured in any briefing he’s received, “and he may simply disagree with them.”
“On the other hand, he made some judgments and conclusions of his own about the likelihood of Russian interference before seeing that intelligence.”
Priess says the intelligence community will continue to try to adapt to the new president, and suggests “at one extreme that could mean producing the President’s Daily Brief in the form of tweet-length analysis. It was an assessment presented with “a high level of confidence,” but has not been accepted by Trump. Unnamed officials, quoted in different news media, said the intelligence community sees Trump’s tweet as “adversarial.”
“This kind of thing is simply unprecedented,” says David Priess, who spent his career in the CIA. The Obama administration has responded by letting it be known that the intelligence briefing had always been scheduled for Friday. Priess declined to comment on morale inside the intelligence community, or whether they see this tweet as adversarial.

Mexico’s peso is tanking, and a new administration in Washington isn’t expected to help

From her base in Mexico City, reporter Karla Zabludovsky has been writing about it for BuzzFeed News. 1 and frustrated by the currency’s ongoing fall — the peso lost about 20 percent against the dollar last year — Mexicans were confronted Tuesday with Ford’s announcement that it had scrapped plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico. Since Donald Trump’s election, Mexico’s economy has been reeling.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. “This bloodbath could continue in a massive way for the next few months.”
The peso was the second-worst performing major currency in the world last year, behind the post-Brexit UK pound. Its deep tumble is widely attributed to a number of factors: a fall in oil prices, the resignation of the president of the Mexican central bank last month — and Trump’s victory. She told us the streets there erupted in protests this week in response to spiking gas prices. … “This catches us at a moment of enormous complexity,” said Armando Rios Piter, a senator from the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party. PRI.org

The latest blow is a hike in the price of gasoline. Still reeling from a sharp increase in gas prices on Jan. And she filed this report on the latest for BuzzFeed:
If Mexico ended 2016 concerned about the consequences of US President-elect Donald Trump’s protectionist economic policies, it has grown outright fearful in 2017. Earlier that day, Trump threatened General Motors with a “big border tax” for building one of its compact car models south of the border. Read the rest of the story here.  

Britain’s Brexit plans are rocked by the resignation of the UK’s ambassador to the EU

“He was very competent, but not convinced by the Brexit decision and the British government line, leading the UK into an area of dangerous uncertainty.”
In the June 2016 referendum, 52 percent voted for Britain leave the EU. Triggering Article 50 will start a two-year countdown after which Britain will leave all the institutions and the single market unless alternative arrangements have been agreed. Rogers urged colleagues to provide British ministers with their “unvarnished” understanding through Brexit negotiations — “even where this is uncomfortable.”
“I hope you will continue to challenge ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking and that you will never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power,” Rogers said. ‘Massive’ headache for May
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that May and her senior team had “lost confidence” in him over his “pessimistic” view of Brexit. British diplomatic sources at the time of the leaked “10 years” comments voiced suspicions that he may have been knifed in the back by pro-Brexit forces who wanted him out. “His resignation is not a surprise for those who work with him,” one European diplomat told AFP. Speak truth to power
“We do not yet know what the government will set as negotiating objectives for the UK’s relationship with the EU after exit,” he said, revealing that the embassy was no clearer on the issue than what May has made public. “We regret the loss of a very professional, very knowledgeable while not always easy interlocutor and diplomat, who always loyally defended the interests of his government,” said Natasha Bertaud, a spokeswoman for the commission, the EU’s executive arm. The Guardian described it as “a blow for this country,” while the choice of his successor would send a “critical” message to other European capitals. Rogers said Tuesday he accepted his departure would add to the “uncertainty” over the coming years of Brexit negotiations. The mild-mannered Rogers is widely respected in Brussels where he is known as a vastly experienced operator. The European Commission said Wednesday it regretted, just as London prepared to launch fraught Brexit divorce negotiations. The government insisted, though, that he was only reporting back what was being said in European capitals. Ivan Rogers’ resignation from his position as the UK’s ambassador to the EU shed new light on the difficulties faced by Prime Minister Theresa May, who wants to hand in Britain’s notice for withdrawing from the European Union by the end of March. The unexpected departure “delighted Brexiteers but left the PM with a massive New Year headache,” said The Sun newspaper. London is set to appoint a new ambassador and deputy ambassador shortly. However, he left with some pointed remarks in his resignation email to staff at the UK’s EU embassy. He also criticized the British government for its short supply of “serious multilateral negotiating experience” in London and said the structure of the UK’s negotiating team “needs rapid resolution.”
Rogers came under fire last month for saying it could take 10 years for Britain to conclude a trade deal with the EU. His critics say he is a europhile, but European diplomatic sources described him as being a realist. May has faced criticism for saying little about Britain’s divorce settlement objectives: Last month she went beyond her “Brexit means Brexit” mantra to specify that she wanted a “red, white and blue Brexit.”
And Rogers made clear that he knew little more about how Britain intended to tackle thrashing out its future relationship with the EU. The move to trigger the Article 50 mechanism would start a two-year clock ticking on sorting out future relations between Britain and the EU before it leaves the bloc. A highly-regarded diplomat who had been due to end his four-year stint in October, Rogers quit nine months early so his successor could see through the whole Article 50 process.

Families in Chicago are tired of gun violence. Will 2017 be different for them?

To date, only three arrests have been made in those shootings. And by the time I got there, I was saying in my head, ‘This can’t happen to me again.’ Because I have been the mother of seven kids, and I’ve lost four — two died in a fire and one died at birth.”
Robert’s older sister, Sharon Burgman-Owens, still feels the blistering sting of loss that came with her brother’s death. “I took out my anger with what happened to Mushy on all teenagers,” says Burgman-Owens. Arthur Morris, the grandfather of Tacarra Morgan, a 6-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet in July, says that justice should be sought even if community members are afraid to talk to the police. “I took off running, but for some reason my legs were just like lead. PRI.org

Last year, violence there reached levels not seen since the late 1990s, with 3,550 shooting incidents and 762 murders. “The impact [of gun violence] isn’t just on the family, it’s on the whole community,” Smith says. Some in the Chicago Police Department, including Johnson, believe community members are reluctant to come forward to report gang-related crime because there is a fundamental distrust of law enforcement in the Windy City’s poorest communities. No, I didn’t want to be there anymore.”
When gun violence kills one person, it ripples through an entire family, she adds. Will 2017 be different for Chicago?Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Robert’s friend, 14-year-old Delvon Harris, also died during the incident. “I heard it again and again from people in every neighborhood in the city, and also from criminologists, and I heard it from police,” Smith says. “I got bars on my doors — I couldn’t get the key to work to save my life,” she says. Though the shootings in 2016 placed the Windy City under a microscope, many there have been struggling with the pain of gun violence for decades, including Seonia Owens. And the city’s kids were often the unintended victims of a spiking crime rate. I had seen seven of my friends’ sons get killed and stuff, and [I wondered if] I was next. “My son had a friend who was about the size of the kid that killed my brother — I hated this kid.”
The family has since relocated to Kenosha, Wisconsin. He argues that law enforcement will aggressively search for suspects if one of their own is killed or injured, but not if a community member is. While the debate over justice and policing marches forward, Smith says Chicago is left in a vulnerable position. She lost her 15-year-old son, Robert “Mushy” Owens, when he was fatally shot in 1998. “It wasn’t safe for my family — people was getting killed. “When you take that one bullet, you have destroyed a whole family,” she says. “You might as well say you shot everybody.”
Though Robert Owens was killed nearly 20 years ago, his story is all too familiar for many families in Chicago. “The day Mushy got killed, my mind just went completely blank,” Owens says. Seonia Owens says she was crippled when she found out that her young son had been killed. “Forty-one shootings is just so much higher than any time in the last 10 years,” says Patrick Smith, a reporter for Chicago’s WBEZ. “It’s basically 2013, 2014   and 2015 combined.”
As gun violence claims more and more young victims in Chicago, residents are readjusting. “I left Chicago because I didn’t want to be there any more,” says Owens. According to authorities, Robert Owens was killed by a 12-year-old boy during a gang initiation. “That is certainly what you hear from police, but I don’t know if that’s true,” says Smith. “I talked to Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who leads our police department here, and he said he not only is seeing that callousness from gang members, but he thinks that people in the community are also not as shocked when an innocent victis is killed or wounded.”
“There’s no outrage when you see a young kid killed by a gang member, and I don’t understand that,” says Johnson. According to Smith, unintended gun deaths are being normalized among some residents. In 2016, children under the age of 13 were wounded or killed in 41 shootings, a figure that doubled from the previous year. “When you have something like this where an innocent kid can be shot and there are no repercussions for the people who do the shooting, it sends shock waves — it kind of means no one is safe, or at least that’s what I’m hearing from people.”
This story was first published as an interview on PRI’s The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to be part of the American conversation.

Finding the long-lost ‘City of the Monkey God’ in dense Honduras jungle

Mystery surrounds The Lost City of the Monkey God.  


Dave Yoder/ National Geographic Magazine  

So who were the people who lived in this grand City of the Monkey God? “In this case, they flew over the valley with this million-dollar LIDAR machine in the plane. “I can recall the very moment when I first saw that jaguar head coming out of the ground. And how did this city disappear back in the 16th century? pic.twitter.com/k1KtVsZfR1
— Grand Central Pub (@GrandCentralPub) December 16, 2016 They were all almost entirely buried, with only the tops visible, like stone icebergs. It was a treacherous undertaking. “But when we saw these images,” Preston says, “you didn’t have to be an archaeologist to see a pyramid, plazas, mounds, terracing — it was incredible and stretching for several miles along this valley.”

The jungle at dawn, seen from the banks of the unknown river flowing through the valley, 2015. stumbled over a cache of objects at the base of the pyramid that would prove to be of singular importance. A shout went up and everyone crowded in to see. As we were strolling past a leafy hollow in the drenching rain, a team member spied, peeking from the leaves, the carved head of a snarling jaguar. David Yoder photographed the artifacts using a special   “light-painting” photographic technique. Seeking the lost city, also called “the White City,” is a fabled search adventurers have taken on since conquistador times. The answers are all in Preston’s book. Even so, we had some close calls. Three years earlier, scientists had deployed advanced LIDAR (Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging) technology to peer through the rainforest canopy to reveal a sprawling ancient metropolis. Read all about it in Douglas Preston’s new book, available for pre-order. The objects took shape in the forest twilight: vessels with carved rims; thrones decorated with the heads of half-animal, half-human deities; bowls; and effigies. What had been theoretical became real: this spirited image had been created by people who were confident, accomplished, and formidable. In three days they mapped the valley; the next day they had an image of the ground with the trees removed, and the reaction of the scientists was something I’d never seen before.”
Preston has detailed the experience in a new book, “The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story.”
The archaeologists Preston followed had the advantage of detailed survey maps to guide them to precise locations. Just poking out of the ground were the tops of dozens of stone sculptures. What was their   fate after Christopher Columbus and Europeans arrived to the New World? “On the third day, we … In his book, Preston writes about one of the team’s first moments of discovery in the jungle:
“We had to win every foot by machete, our blades marked with stripes of pink Day-Glo tape so we could avoid one another’s slashing strokes cutting through the vegetation. Preston says many of the scientists on the mapping expedition were skeptical there would be anything in this remote valley, and initially felt it was a crazy, obsessive search. Legend had it that an ancient metropolis was buried under centuries worth of jungle growth. It was an image that spoke directly across the centuries — forging an immediate, emotional connection to these vanished people. Gleaming with rain, it rose up snarling, as if struggling to escape the earth. Standing in the gloom among the ancient mounds, I could almost feel the presence of the invisible dead.”

The jaguar head as it first appeared emerging from the ground. This expedition was a success. The river valley where the team headed is near a corridor used by cocaine smugglers. When archaeologists ventured into a thick Honduran rainforest in 2015, they were searching in an unexplored valley for the remnants of a long-lost city. Credit:

Douglas Preston

The 2015 ground expedition was mounted in cooperation with Honduras. Deep in the forest, with the help of new technologies, scientists discovered the untouched ruins of a vanished culture: the so-called “Lost City of the Monkey God.”
“Usually an archaeological discovery takes a long time. There were mosquitos (and malaria) to contend with, not to mention jaguars and deadly snakes. There’s a lot of digging, you sit around doing nothing,” says Douglas Preston, who went along on the expedition.

Advocates suggest another option for US-bound Central Americans: Stay and work in Mexico

“Just as they were about to shoot him I bowed my head and I prayed to God: ‘Forgive him.’ They didn’t forgive him. “If anyone opens up a little stand, [the gangs] start to pressure them to pay monthly extortion fees. He asked that we use only his first name to protect his and his family’s safety. “They treated us worse than dogs,” he says. Only 123 of them were unaccompanied minors, children who crossed the border alone. As he sits on the bed in a room he shared with at least four other youths, he touches a brown, beaded rosary around his neck. It’s not clear how a President Donald Trump and his talk of a wall along the US-Mexico border might affect the plans of Central American migrants seeking to get to the US, and whether more of them might ask for protection in Mexico. And they’re all escaping violence or poverty back home. More: On the way to the US, children seeking asylum are often put in Mexico’s detention centers
But Solalinde says it shouldn’t be an option to send them home. Esteban admits the officer wasn’t wrong. In Esteban’s case, it was both. Those eligible for humanitarian visas include migrants who report being victims of a violent crime in Mexico, as well as those who might qualify for refugee status. He also accompanies them on the journey to Mexico City. So Esteban set off for the US in June to earn enough money to help his family move somewhere else in Honduras. He swam across the Rio Grande into Texas and then walked for two days in the desert. They also presented him with a new option: stay and work in Mexico. “Gangs are arriving in even the most distant towns,” Esteban says in Spanish. “I accompany them from the south to get them away from danger,” he says in Spanish. After that, he was held in a jail for two weeks for entering the US illegally. And that makes them more vulnerable to gangs. They shot him in the head and took his body away. Esteban, 19, arrived at the Adolescentes en el Camino   shelter   in July after he an another group of young migrants were transported by bus from Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Esteban got a job working in a thrift store, where he earned the equivalent of about US$40 per week. Still, Solalinde knows he can’t keep kids from leaving his shelter in Mexico City. Mexico apprehended close to 360,000 undocumented migrants from 2015 to October 2016, and it granted refugee status to a little more than 3,000 people. They made everyone take off their clothes to see if they were hiding money — and also to check if any of them had tattoos from rival gangs. “They face extortion, kidnapping, disappearance, sexual exploitation and trafficking.”
And that journey has only gotten more dangerous for Central Americans, as Mexico has stepped up immigration enforcement in the past few years. He played drums in church and soccer at school — he likes to joke that he become a fast runner and that came in handy when he had to outrun immigration authorities. But it wasn’t enough to help his family in Honduras so after four months at the shelter, he took off for Texas. “Given the increase in the crisis in their countries, meaning violence and poverty, teenagers can no longer live in their homeland,” he says. But it didn’t take long for him to run into the very problems he was trying to escape. Credit:

Valeria Fernández/PRI

When gangs arrived in his town and demanded that his family pay a cuota,   a monthly fee, they couldn’t afford it. Some advocates and analysts of Mexico’s immigration policies say that it could drive greater numbers of detentions and deportations of vulnerable migrants. If the US won’t help them, he says, Mexico should. Most of them have gone to Central Americans. “When he took off his shirt, they saw his tattoos. Valeria Fernández is a fellow of “Bringing Home the World,” a program from the International Center for Journalists, which helped make this report possible. Over the past year, officials say applications for refugee status in Mexico have soared. It’s like sharing ghost stories, but these are real. “I have a friend who can get me a job, and if I send that money to Honduras it would go a long way.”
The humanitarian visa Esteban obtained in Mexico made it easier for him to travel through the country by bus, out in the open. They don’t know what is to be poor or anything like that. One of them did. Before US immigration officers put him on a plane back to Honduras, he says that one of them tore up his Mexican humanitarian visa, so he wouldn’t try the journey again. Blood speaks to them,” he says during an interview in the shelter in July. I don’t know why.”
Esteban shakes when he talks about what he saw. All of them are young Central Americans traveling on their own, hoping to reach the US. Then he got caught and spent a couple of nights inside a Border Patrol processing cell known as a   hielera, or refrigerator because of how cold the facilities are. But given the opportunity, he says he would still do it again. Father Alejandro Solalinde runs several shelters for Central Americans across Mexico, and he helped open the shelter in Mexico City for young migrants where Esteban was staying. The visas are temporary — usually one year — but they can be renewed, and they’re faster and easier to get than refugee status. One day, when he was walking along the train tracks with other Central Americans, gang members stopped them and held them   at gun point. And you have to do it or they might kill your family.”
Esteban, 19, grew up on a farm in a small town in Honduras. “In the US you get paid in dollars,” he says. The number of humanitarian visas granted in the past year has more than doubled, from 1,303 to 2,951, according to immigration records. “I felt scared because those people don’t have pity. Esteban is one of a growing number of Central American migrants who have applied for Mexico’s humanitarian visas. I didn’t dare open my mouth because if I said anything they’d think I was his friend,” Esteban says. However, it didn’t help him on the US side of the border. The result has been that migrants are increasingly altering their routes to avoid checkpoints, pushing into more dangerous areas in the jungle. Late in the evening, Esteban and his new friends at the Adolescentes en el Camino shelter in Mexico City are sitting around a kitchen table, trading tales about their journey. Credit:

Valeria Fernández/PRI

On July 7, 2014 Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto launched a new southern border strategy known as “Plan Frontera Sur.” The plan promised to protect migrants, in part by conducting inspections on freight trains to prevent migrants from traveling on them. Central Americans making their way through Mexico are increasingly traveling through isolated areas to avoid checkpoints. He eventually made his way to Ixteptec, Oaxaca, where human rights advocates put him on a bus to the shelter in Mexico City, 500 miles away. Once Esteban crossed into Mexico, he traveled on foot and on top of freight trains to avoid immigration checkpoints.

With a deaf community of millions, hearing India is only just beginning to sign

“It makes me happy to see all of these people signing and learning.”
Sharma is also part of a society called Children of Deaf Adults (CODA). “The education system urgently needs to be updated to make the development of social and life skills easier as well.”
And this is before factoring in India’s high illiteracy rates — close to 26 percent according to the 2011 census — and the many villages short on public services. This group is chatting in Bangalore. “People can easily listen to and learn other languages, but they don’t try to learn sign language,” signed Chhetri, who is deaf. As Indian Sign Language is not formalized or widely taught, however, the signs themselves vary widely across regions and states. Every Saturday since April, Chettri and 15 to 20 others have met in Delhi’s public parks to teach and learn basic sign language for free. Credit:

Courtesy of Finger Chats

“The way there are so many different dialects in oral language, sign language has a lot of variations,” says Aparna Dass, who has worked with Enable India for 14 years. Credit:

Courtesy of Finger Chats

“We are a multilingual nation, and we need to look at the deaf community as a linguistic minority,” says Ruma Roka, the founder of the NGO Noida Deaf Society. Currently, there are close to 400 government-funded schools for the hearing-impaired across the country. “People at the policy level should be exposed to places where the deaf are working and learning,” says Dass. Credit:

Courtesy of Finger Chats

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment does oversee the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre, which is currently compiling a crowdsourced ISL video and print dictionary. Language ability is also often stunted, as the deaf are forced to communicate in a language they know only partially. While members of CODA are fluent in Indian Sign Language and often in American Sign Language as well, they cannot be certified interpreters without completing a mandatory nine-month diploma training. The boy was brought to an outreach program when his relatives learned that he could get a job through the organization. According to several social workers, deaf Indians who cannot access formal education learn signs primarily when they meet other deaf people. As she signed rapidly, those around her practiced the basic words they had learned over the last few months. But the mainstreaming of Indian Sign Language faces many more roadblocks, the biggest one being the   lack of official recognition. But the law does not include specific measures for the deaf, nor does it mention Indian Sign Language or its promotion. Unaware of how they sound and conscious of the reactions of hearing people, many deaf students are too uncomfortable to attempt speech. Often there’s an emphasis on training the deaf to accommodate the hearing community — by forcing speech therapy, written communication and lipreading — while discouraging sign language. The ministry’s Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities runs programs like a job search portal for the hearing-impaired, and a program for the prevention and control of avoidable hearing loss. In September, Rupmani Chhetri sat in a circle of people in a park in central Delhi. Among other things, the new law reserves 4 percent of government jobs and seats at educational institutes for people with disabilities. However, Dass emphasizes the need for awareness campaigns to make India’s deaf community known to the hearing majority. “I met a boy who is deaf and who didn’t even know any sign language, he had no method of communication,” says Vishnu Soman, who works with the nongovernmental organization Enable India on improving deaf people’s access to the workforce. “Since we have systematically created barriers in their way, the onus also stays on us to break down those barriers,” says Roka. (The wide range in population estimates exists because the Indian census doesn’t track the number of deaf people —   instead, it documents an aggregate number of people with disabilities.)
Chhetri and other deaf and hearing volunteers are looking to bridge this gap, one sign at a time. “ISL needs to be accepted as another Indian language, and the effect of that recognition would percolate to schools, universities and parents.”
In December, a revised bill on the rights of persons with disabilities was passed by both houses of parliament. A “Finger Chat” gathering in Bangalore is pictured here. “Deaf kids go through 12 years of school without learning anything,” she continues. “Every communication I have with hearing persons is very short because the interpreter also has trouble communicating as quickly.”
There are only about 250 certified sign language interpreters in India, translating for a deaf population of between 1.8 million to 7 million. “National organizations for the deaf are limited to Delhi and Mumbai, but they need to be scaled up and replicated across the country.” However, over 12 years of work with the deaf community in India, Roka has found a troubling pattern at schools as well as in society. “A sign I use at home may not be used outside, but ISL can allow people to communicate across the country.”
For now, government programs focusing on skill development for people with disabilities, and the improvement of physical and workforce accessibility are seen as steps in the right direction. They call the gatherings “Finger Chats.”
“Both my parents are deaf, and Indian Sign Language is my mother tongue,” said Sarah Sharma, who volunteers at Finger Chats sessions.

US drama over congressional ethics resonates in Latin America

“I’m worried … “The US has historically had very strong institutions that create checks and balances and through their autonomy they can control those they are meant to be controlling.”
Salas also worries about what that will do to the United States’ credibility. Latin American transparency activists are keen to see what becomes of the Office of Congressional Ethics, a corruption watchdog in the US House of Representatives that’s now in the media spotlight.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Alejandro Salas, Transparency International’s regional director for the Americas, worries that the US is sending mixed signals to those fighting corruption around the world. with many of the things President-elect Trump is doing like saying ‘Well no problem for me with the conflict of interest,’ or appointing people that are likely to have conflicts of interest. PRI.org

Republican lawmakers voted to gut the powers of the independent office Monday night. “I’m very worried, not only from what happened [Tuesday] in the discussion in the [US] Congress about the ethics office, but also this issue that the president had to hold to certain conflict of interest rules,” Salas says. And they are not disclosing their whole tax history,” Salas says. But is that about to change? “I’m not accusing anyone because maybe it’s too early to say, but the fact that these things are called into question and are constantly in the news is a yellow light that at least we need to pay attention to closely.” “One has to lead by example. So we have to be very careful that the US doesn’t start sending the wrong messages.”
Transparency International has programs all over the Americas, including in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Peru and the Dominican Republic. If you look in the recent past, many of the big scandals at the global level — for example FIFA, or last year there was also a scandal in the United Nations and more recently with Odebrecht, the huge Brazilian construction company linked to the Petrobras scandal — the US has been prosecuting, chasing and has been putting a stop even to these global corruption problems. But on Tuesday they withdrew the plan under heavy criticism, including from President-elect Donald Trump. Within the region, only Canada is seen as “cleaner” than the United States when it comes to official corruption, according to the group’s data.

New evidence indicates Nixon himself tried to sabotage Vietnam War peace talks

Johnson made a private phone call to a friend of Richard Milhous Nixon, and bluntly accused the Republican presidential candidate of treason.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. He received an emphatic denial from Nixon in person the next day. Haldeman later became Nixon’s chief of staff and was one of those later found guilty in the Watergate conspiracy trial. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.). He even asks, “Any other way to monkey wrench it?” and, “Anything RN can do?”
One instruction that Haldeman noted from his boss: “Keep Anna Chennault working on SVN” — South Vietnam. She had very close ties to the government of South Vietnam, and was identified by US intelligence as one of the principal people trying to persuade the South Vietnamese to delay or boycott the peace talks in Paris. The Communists stopped shelling cities and halted attacks across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. Johnson ordered a halt to the massive US aerial bombing campaign. 22, 1968, Haldeman made notes of a phone conversation with Nixon. They were afraid that peace in Vietnam would help Nixon’s Democratic rival, Hubert Humphrey, to clinch the election. Tragically, the world never got a chance to find out. The South Vietnamese did boycott the talks, which collapsed. That’s distasteful, but not illegal for the executive office. Some have reservations, but most agree with author Ken Hughes that Farrell has found the long-sought “smoking gun.”
Historians acknowledge that Johnson was himself using the peace talks as a tool to help Democratic candidate Humphrey. Many historians say it’s implausible. “My god,” he told Johnson on Nov. On Oct. 2 call to Nixon’s friend, Sen. 2, 1968, President Lyndon B. More than 21,200 Americans died in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia after the collapse of the Paris peace talks, along with hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. The election was just days away. The peace process in 1968 was real. At the beginning of November, both sides made goodwill gestures to prepare for the talks. PRI.org

Treason. One intercepted message from her to the South Vietnamese embassy was said   to be from “her boss,” and it read, “Hold on, we are gonna win.”
To his dying day, Nixon insisted he had nothing to do with efforts to sabotage the 1968 peace talks. Of course, it’s not clear that the talks in Paris could have led to peace or even a temporary cessation of hostilities. Johnson threatened to go public with his information. Several of these appear to show Nixon himself talking about ways to scupper the peace process. It’s published in The New York Times. On Nov. The Soviet Union had persuaded North Vietnam to come to the table, the US just needed to deliver South Vietnam. 3, 1968, “I would never do anything to encourage [South Vietnam] not to come to the table.” Farrell argues that that too was a lie, writing in the Times that “given the human lives at stake and the decade of carnage that followed in Southeast Asia, [his efforts to hurt the peace talks] may be more reprehensible than anything Nixon did in Watergate.”
Historians surveyed by the   Times show a range of responses to Farrell’s revelation. “If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that’s going to be his responsibility. And perhaps more importantly, Johnson never had the definitive evidence he needed tying Nixon himself to the efforts being made by his campaign team. There was no doubt, said Johnson, that Nixon’s campaign team was trying to scupper peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam War. That’s a reference to Republican doyenne Anna Chennault, the widow of a World War II hero who’d fought in East Asia. Listen to the full interview. Up to this point, that’s why they’re not there.”  
Farrell has found notes kept by close Nixon   aide H.R. But as a private citizen, candidate Nixon would have been in violation of federal law if proven to have taken steps to “defeat the measures of the United States.” Both men were willing to use issues of war and peace as a mere political football. But Johnson never did go public. A new discovery by historian John Farrell might well be the smoking gun that Johnson needed. “We’ve had 24 hours of relative peace,” he said in that Nov. The war went on. Haldeman.

Defying Trump, Obama administration says it will continue transfers from Gitmo

With Guantanamo’s closure blocked, Obama’s White House has focused on whittling down the number of inmates. The White House on Tuesday pledged to move ahead with the transfer of inmates out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, rejecting President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze. Trump’s declaration is the latest in a series of public disputes between Obama and the outspoken Republican president-elect, who has jettisoned the notion that there is “one president at a time.”
Obama came to office vowing to shutter the facility, saying detention without trial did not reflect American values. With President Barack Obama set to leave office on January 20, White House spokesman Josh Earnest put Trump on notice that more inmates would be moved. George W. “He will have an opportunity to implement the policy that he believes is most effective when he takes office on January 20,” he added. But finding countries to take them has often proven time-consuming. Earnest’s comments come just hours after Trump tweeted that “there should be no further releases from Gitmo. Trump has vowed to “load (Guantanamo) up with some bad dudes” once he is in the White House. “No, it will not,” Earnest said. Bush had released or transferred around 500 inmates before leaving office. But he has run up against political and legal hurdles, Pentagon foot-dragging and stubborn Republican opposition in Congress. Around 20 of the remaining prisoners have been cleared for transfer. Many of the others are in legal limbo — not charged but deemed too dangerous to release. Obama has released or transferred around 179. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”
There are 59 prisoners remaining at the controversial detention center, only a handful of whom have started moving through the military tribunals, including the alleged plotters of the 9/11 attacks. The White House pointedly responded when asked if Trump’s position would impact Obama’s thinking. “I would expect, at this point, additional transfers,” he said.

The effort to save Syria’s Palmyra gets help from a drone and an algorithm

The war in Syria has lots of people   worried about the country’s future. It gave them plenty of data for use in recreating the ruins with 3D printing. But some are also worried about preserving Syria’s past. Take the ancient city of Palmyra. Ubelmann says they used a drone that could take thousands of photographs per hour. “So we can put into this program the thousands of pictures and create a model of Palmyra that is picture-perfect.”
Ubelmann believes that heritage can be rebuilt digitally. ISIS militants destroyed part of it, and they rigged many of the sites there with explosives before they were driven out last spring. So an architect working with the Syrian government had an idea: Send in a drone. “We use a picture to show how nice these sites are. French President François Hollande opened it, and The New York Times reports that he “described the works as ‘an act of resistance’ against terror and intolerance.”
How it got to Paris was a story itself. The result is an art exhibit, “Eternal Sites: From Bamiyan to Palmyra,”   on display in Paris. And I also think it’s a response to violent people who try to destroy sites like Palmyra and Bamiyan [in Afghanistan],” he says. “The situation wasn’t very stable,” says Yves Ubelmann, co-founder of Iconem, the group behind the project. “The problem is that this destruction is the result of ignorance. He also says it’s a way to combat ISIS propaganda. And if we give these people the culture and a way to love this heritage I think we can fight violence in this way.”
As for Palmyra, it’s still in a war zone. But Ubelmann hopes his team can return and protect what’s left. “We use a specific algorithm that is able to reconstruct a 3D model based on 2D pictures,” he says. “It was difficult for us to stay on the site.”
But in the little time they did stay, much was done.

Smog in New York City could be affecting the stock market, new research says

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood. A very large change in particulate matter leads only to a “moderate-to-small-size effect on returns.” If particulate matter rises from the bottom 25th percentile, the best quartile, to the 75th percentile, the worst quartile, returns would decrease by two basis points, Neidell says. PRI.org

When particle pollution rises, the market goes down by small but measurable amounts, says team leader   Matthew Neidell, an associate professor at Columbia University. So, if we’re doing a study in Beijing or London, where air quality is generally worse, we might see much bigger changes.”
‘A role for mood and emotions’
Neidell says his study builds on previous research that has found various effects of air pollution on human well-being, beyond health. High levels of “fine particulate matter” (PM2.5) in the air — such as in haze or smog — can lower the stock market, a research team at Columbia University has found.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. What’s interesting about this is that in New York City, the air quality is actually surprisingly good. “This is a .02 percent decrease, so it’s not the most enormous effect, but we do see it.”
Two cents on the dollar may not sound like   a big deal, but traders make a lot of money by consistently squeezing a 10th of a penny out of many, many transactions. “We had a small inkling that there might be a relationship between these two [things], but we were going a bit on a whim … We were surprised to find as robust of an effect as we did. More pertinent to this study, however, was evidence showing that when someone’s mood drops or their   mental abilities falter, they tend to become more risk averse in the decisions they make, Neidell says. “They pass through our lung barrier and into our blood, which can have effects.”
What surprised the researchers the most was the fact that they “found any relationship at all” between pollution and the behavior of traders on the exchange, Neidell says. Traders may, for example, move away from stocks and shift toward bonds, which are typically safer bets. They were able to compare the times when air pollution   reached   certain levels   with the returns on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index for that same day. We think that has important implications for the effects on the economy on a broader level,” he says. “Given how small they are, they’re able to penetrate deep within our body,” Neidell explains. There’s a role for moods and emotions and things like that affecting a stock price.”
“The other thing that we think is interesting from a policy perspective is that pollution is affecting the performance of workers in a high-skilled occupation, in a very knowledge-based setting. Neidell sees two important features of his results: “The first is that there’s a strongly held belief that stock markets work efficiently — something called the ‘efficient market hypothesis’ — that the price of a stock solely reflects the expected future profitability of a firm,” he says. Results from previous studies have indicated that air pollution might influence mood and cognitive performance. “We found when the entire day had a higher level of particulate matter, we saw the S&P 500 dropped,” Neidell says. When this happens, the price of the S&P 500 drops. To find out about a possible correlation here, Neidell and his colleagues placed an air pollution monitor close to the New York Stock Exchange and took hourly measurements of air pollution. Listen to the full interview. “What we find is that on days with higher fine particulates, we also see a decrease in that index … We think that’s suggestive of risk aversion being what’s driving the results.”
Neidell notes that the study doesn’t necessarily prove anything. They come from natural sources, such as forest fires and volcanoes, but in cities, most of it comes from the combustion of fossil fuels. “But our research shows and other research has shown before, that there’s more to it than just that. The effect, while statistically significant, isn’t very big, he says. “In particular, we found that when particulate matter levels were higher in the morning and throughout the early afternoon, [that] had the biggest impact on the S&P 500.”
Fine particulate matter are less than 2.5 microns in diameter, so they can’t be seen with the human eye. Neidell and his team looked at something called the “volatility index,” which   “a lot of people use as a measure of trader fear,” Neidell says.

Brazil’s deadly prison riot is just one piece of a bigger drug gang war

The victims — many of them beheaded and thrown over the prison walls — mainly included members of Brazil’s feared First Command gang, known by its Portuguese initials PCC, according to local and international media reports. As of Tuesday, officials had recaptured about 50 of the escaped inmates and a manhunt was underway for the rest. The riots finally ended Monday. Credit:


Brazil’s drug gangs are notoriously fierce. At least 56 people were killed during a prison riot over the weekend in the northern city of Manaus. For months, the state hasn’t been able to pay public employees, including police officers, on time. Last month, media outlet O Globo reported that the PCC had taken root in Rio’s massive Rocinha favela. 2017 is off to a bloody start in Brazil’s prisons. A total of 184 prisoners escaped from that and nearby prisons. Exacerbating the situation, Rio state is in a dire financial crisis. For favela residents, internecine wars between different drug dealer factions are just one of the many threats the population has to endure, said Sergio Leal, a resident of the Cidade de Deus favela in Rio. 1. The gangs control much of the drug trade in the largest cities. Historically, the São Paulo-based PCC has largely left Rio de Janeiro’s lucrative drug trade in the hands of the Red Command, Muggah explained. The move is a gutsy incursion into Rio de Janeiro by the criminal organization, and experts like Muggah worry that it will lead to increased intergang violence in the months to come. Fear of drug violence, fear of violence from the police, fear of drug dealers fighting between themselves or one faction taking over from the other. “It appears to be as much about control over national prisons as the country’s drug trade.”

Drug gangs sparked a prison riot that killed 56 people on Jan. That identifying detail has security experts particularly worried. Both the PCC and the Red Command, the country’s   No. 1 and 2   criminal organizations,   were born inside the chaotic prison system in the early 1990s. Sérgio Fontes, security secretary for Amazonas state, home to the prison, cited an ongoing war between rival drug gangs as the cause of the violence. That’s just the fear we live under,” Leal said. The clash between the First Command and the Northern Family and its allies could spell more trouble to come. But the killings in Manaus are more evidence that the São Paulo gang is looking for more territory in Rio and elsewhere and that the Red Command and its allies are fighting back. A “pacifying” program that deployed military police into Rio’s favelas is now considered largely a failure, as drug gangs have retaken control   of many of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods. Favelas, or marginalized neighborhoods, are typically demarcated by which gang is in charge. “It is the death blow to a decade-long truce between the country’s major factions, especially the PCC and the Red Command, who are aligned with the Northern Family,” Robert Muggah,   research director of Rio-based security think tank   Igarapé Institute, wrote in an email. “Look, we live in fear of a lot of things.

Pentagon says its confident the US can defend itself from a North Korean ballistic missile attack

US President-elect Donald Trump, who will take office on January 20, dismissed Pyongyang’s missile claims late Monday. “And we’re watching this very, very carefully.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a New Year’s speech Sunday, said the country was “in the final stages of test-launching the intercontinental ballistic missile.”
In 2016, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches last year alone in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland. “It won’t happen!”
North Korea’s drive to develop nuclear ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States and its allies has prompted Washington to reinforce its antimissile defenses in the region. “We remain confident in our ballistic missile defense and in our defense of our allies and our defense of the homeland,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing. The United States is certain it can defend itself from an attack by North Korea, the Defense Department said Tuesday after Pyongyang warned it was close to test launching a ballistic missile. “We’re constantly adjusting to the threat North Korea poses,” Cook said. “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US,” Trump tweeted. The Pentagon spokesman declined to comment to reporters on whether the US had prepared scenarios on deterrent military actions to stop North Korea from developing nuclear missiles. The defense strategy is based notably on the AEGIS system, powerful TPY-2 radars and the antiballistic missile system THAAD that Washington is relocating to South Korea, a move that has provoked China, North Korea’s main ally. Analysts are divided over how close Pyongyang is to realizing its full nuclear ambitions, especially since it has never successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). “We would once again call on the North Koreans to refrain from provocative actions,” Cook said. Pyongyang   “has shown disregard to the international community for its international obligations,” he said.

This Orthodox Jewish camp took in hundreds of firefighters battling a fire in northern Georgia

They require a lot of protein,” he says. It’s a very small price to pay to cook for them.”
In the cafeteria, there’s a wall honoring the different firefighting teams that have played a role in stopping the Rock Mountain Fire. As many as 340 firefighters bunked at the camp in one night. At dinnertime, the different crews gather in the camp’s cafeteria. This article is based on a report by Sean Powers of Georgia Pubic Broadcasting. Many of the firefighters have been moving from one big blaze to another throughout the US. While the fire is now gone, the firefighters will remain, honored in memory. So, it’s almost like a family. Many of the firefighters and camp staff have even connected on Facebook. “They burn a lot of calories a day, probably three or four times what you or I would in one day, just with the type of labor that they do. Chef Jones says food is a way to thank these firefighters. The experience of taking in these firefighters has been eye-opening, he adds. The camp is located in the North Georgia mountains, in the town of Clayton, just a couple hours from Atlanta. “It’s been very humbling. When these firefighters headed south to fight this fire, they found their welcome at a campsite that can house hundreds of people in cabins and hotels. They eat a lot. PRI.org

Ramah Darom, whose Hebrew name means “southern high place,” opened its doors to these crews as they fought to contain the blaze. Executive chef Todd Jones prepares kosher meals that include   lamb, red roasted potatoes and glazed carrots. The report aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood. “Our understanding was, these firefighters are accustomed to sleeping in tent cities out west,” says Anthony Franklin, the general manager at Ramah Darom. “They’re big guys. We’ll be seeing these same guys for a long time. Fighting the huge blaze in the tinder dry hills was a tough battle, but when it came time to rest, the firefighters, well-accustomed to makeshift lodgings, were offered an unusual, yet comfortable upgrade: a local Orthodox Jewish camp.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. “It is November, and we are in the Georgia mountains, and we wanted to offer them at least a nice mattress to sleep on even if it was in a bunking situation,” Franklin says. Very encouraging to meet people of all walks and talks and become friends and realize, you know what? One firefighter describes the   crews as “almost like a noncombative type of army.” Though the Georgia fires are now largely out, and the firefighters have mostly moved on, the connections they made to the Jewish camp in Georgia will be long lasting. They’re just like the rest of us,” Franklin says. At the end of November, hundreds of firefighters from all over the country battled the Rock Mountain Fire in North Georgia.

Children fleeing violence in Central America who don’t make it to the US, often end up in Mexican detention centers — or deported

Only a third were referred to the state’s shelter system for children. And his experience only got worse. On their third try, Carla and Carlos made it across the border without being detained by Mexican authorities. No one asked him if he was seeking refugee status either, which is information children and teenagers won’t often volunteer immediately, according to experts. Because, according to Mexican laws, as a minor he shouldn’t have been in an immigration detention center in the first place. He shouldn’t have had to make that choice. The guards told him not to say that he had been detained with adults. In comparison, the US has deported 6,055 youth that came to the country as unaccompanied children from October 2013 to September 2016. The National System for Integral Family Development, which oversees children’s shelters, did not respond to inquiries for this story. “They started to admonish me and they said that since I like being with adults, they’ll put me back there. “I very much appreciate Mexico’s efforts in addressing the unaccompanied children who we saw spiking during the summer. In practice, that’s not what happened. “Afterwards immigration officials came for me and told me, ‘Why did you tell them that?’” Carlos says in Spanish. When you wake up in the morning you will have your guts out,’” Carlos recalls. Carlos is afraid of being found by gangs, so he asked not to use his last name in this report. They were headed to Tijuana, Mexico, where Carla’s mother lives. “I wish I could be in my country. Credit:

Juan Manuel /Reuters

After the holding facility, Carlos spent 10 days sleeping on cement beds in an immigration detention center meant for adults in Tapachula, Chiapas, near the Guatemalan border. He was at Siglo XXI, one of the largest government-run detention facilities for migrants in Mexico. The center can hold up to 960 people at a time. Obama praised the collaboration with Mexico during a meeting with Peña Nieto in January 2015. “I was going to ask for asylum but I instead asked for my deportation.”
He says he was beaten inside the station by a gang member, and that he complained to officers who didn’t do anything. Mexican immigration officials also turned down an interview request; they said most personnel were busy dealing with an influx of Haitians. Mexico too is being criticized for the incarceration of thousands of children crossing the border to escape violence in Central America. In Texas this month,   immigration officials released 500 women and children from detention after a federal judge ruled their facilities couldn’t be licensed to provide childcare. But human rights advocates say the US is putting political pressure on Mexico to intersect and deport US-bound minors. They should, instead, be moved to a shelter that cares for children. “We’re conscious here that the responsibility when it comes to immigration policies comes from the US and descends toward Mexico and Central America,” says Espinoza of the Córdova Human Rights Center. On a humid and hot afternoon, I meet Carlos and Carla’s newborn, Carlos Steven. According to government policy, when Carlos was apprehended seven months ago, he should have been transferred to a children’s shelter, where he could have received services and likely would have told authorities that he was seeking protection from violence. According to a Congressional Research Services report released last March, the State Department contributed $20 million, mostly in the form of equipment and immigration enforcement training, as part of Plan Frontera Sur. “If a wall is built, it will be a challenge for Mexico because its southern border remains permeable,” says Espinoza. This would have allowed him to begin the process of seeking asylum. The US has condoned Mexico’s immigration strategy. ICE recognizes that UAC [unaccompanied alien children] are a particularly vulnerable population and must be repatriated with special consideration and care,” ICE said in statement. Guards at the small station put him in a separate room when the human rights commission staff came to interview him on one of their regular monitoring visits. Journalists are not allowed in the facility and our requests for a tour were turned down. I met him and his 19-year-old girlfriend, Carla, then nine months pregnant, in mid-July at a privately-run shelter for underage youth in Tapachula, Chiapas, near the border with Guatemala. They had travelled by small shuttles or by foot, sleeping on the street or hiding in the jungle to avoid immigration checkpoints. The first four days, he was held in a humid and cramped cell in a temporary holding facility near Veracruz. Instead, he spent 14 days detained with adult men. But it does allow for children to be placed in detention in “exceptional circumstances,” when children’s shelters are at full capacity. Carlos looks his age. From January through October of 2016, at least 12,000 unaccompanied minors were detained in immigration stations for adults in Mexico, while another 4,749 received attention in children shelters, according to a public records request in Mexico. Mexican law makes it clear that children’s best interests need to be protected regardless of their country of origin. “Unaccompanied children should not enter, much less be detained at any point at an immigration station,” says Edgar Corzo Soza, general inspector for Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission. He is among more than 15,000 children who were detained after crossing the border into Mexico in the first 10 months of 2016. They are housed in shelters under the oversight of the Office of Refugee Resettlement; the facilities are only for children. Because their son was born a Mexican citizen, they can apply for residency in Mexico, where they plan to stay. But we can’t.”
Valeria Fernández is a fellow of “Bringing Home the World,” a program from the International Center for Journalists, which helped make this report possible. They will no longer pursue asylum. His tiny wrist has a red bead bracelet to protect him from the evil eye. Carlos was deported in June after two weeks in detention. The nonprofit has some access to children and detainees at the Siglo XXI detention station. Each shelter operates independently, sometimes under state or municipal authority.  

Policemen stand outside the facilities of the Siglo XXI immigration facilities in Tapachula, in the Mexican state of Chiapas October 29, 2014. Unlike the great majority of Central American youth who cross alone into Mexico, Carla and Carlos are not trying to reach the US. Carla had faced similar hardships in women’s immigration detention facilities. This was their third time trying to cross, and this time they managed to evade authorities and find shelter on their own. Their National Human Rights Commission issued a 250-page report this October denouncing conditions and treatment of children in detention centers, like the one where Carlos was held. Carlos was so scared inside the Mexican immigration detention center that instead of telling officers he was fleeing El Salvador after gang threats, the 16-year-old asked to be deported back to his country. On July 7, 2014, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto launched a new southern border strategy called “Plan Integral Frontera Sur.” The Mexican president emphasized that the plan included increased protections for migrants and that unaccompanied minors would have a special place to be processed before being repatriated. Carla gave birth about 10 days after they arrived at the privately-run shelter. “We’re going to start seeing Mexico as a destination country because many people will be trapped here.”
And that could mean more children in detention on their way to deportation. As a result of its new border enforcement initiative, Mexico has deported more than 36,000 unaccompanied Central American children, toddlers to 17-year-olds, from July 2014 to October 2016. In the US, immigration officials are facing increased scrutiny about the conditions in which they hold Central American minors. And they did.”
That experience solidified his distrust of Mexico’s immigration authorities. The food, he says, was so bad that he became ill and vomited. Most of them were 18-year olds by the time they were deported, but some were minors, according to an ICE spokesperson. She lays in bed with her baby, who is covered in a white cotton blanket. Some view the exchange as positive cooperation between countries. In part because of strong efforts by Mexico, including at its southern border, we’ve seen those numbers reduced back to much more manageable levels,” Obama said. But he didn’t take long to return to Mexico. The cell had a clogged toilet that smelled terrible. “It is a disappointment to have an experience like the one we had,” Carlos says. “He told me, ‘I’ll kill you at night, you’ll see. He told them anyway. She spent a lot of time resting on a patio, ready to give birth at any minute. He says they slept on dirty pads with bugs. “It’s not normal that an institution dedicated to detain and deport minors at the same time is the institution that protects them. Credit:

Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters

In 2015, Mexico’s Human Rights Commission found that 36,174 minors, unaccompanied or not, were detained by the National Institute of Migration, the country’s immigration enforcement agency. “If an immigration judge orders an unaccompanied child removed from the United States, or grants voluntary departure, ICE arranges for the child’s safe return to his or her country of nationality according to agency policy and procedures. Stretches of the wild, tropical and largely uninhabited Guatemalan border with Mexico are as porous as ever. Children play in the Suchiate River near Tecun Uman on August 7, 2014. Carla has dark skin and deep black eyes. Credit:

Valeria Fernández/PRI

As the number of Central American children escaping violence alone or with families continues to spike, the campaign promises of US President-elect Donald Trump are also a concern for advocates. There’s something counterintuitive in this situation,” says Corzo Soza from the human rights commission. In the US, there is a separate agency that takes custody of unaccompanied minors while they go through immigration proceedings for their deportation or to gain some form of asylum or humanitarian relief. Their son was born after they arrived at a privately-run shelter. Inside there was a marero (gang member) who threatened his life for supposedly being part of a rival gang, which he wasn’t. The US and Mexico have cooperated to try to handle the increased numbers of families and children who are alone and crossing the borders to escape violence and poverty in Central America. Many of those children have a right to apply for refugee status under Mexican law. “That’s why it’s so important for them to have specialized attention for children and not for them to be locked in an immigration station,” says Gerardo Espinoza, an investigator at the Fray Matías de Córdova Human Rights Center. He is light skinned with tiny baby curls in his hair.

In 2017, let’s embrace renewal

America’s race relations, for instance, are being stirred by events. The law dissolves the fact and holds it fluid. But I want to propose something bigger. Yet a little waving hand built this huge wall, and that which builds is better than that which is built. They will disappear. America’s rigid self-images are being re-examined by whoever is in the oval office. Or just turn a corner. PRI.org

Perhaps you had today off and could spend another day thinking about the 363 days ahead. The hand which built can topple it down much faster. That 2017 can become, in an instant, the year zero. They urge us variously onward to make good on once outlandish-seeming promises   or to hold back and defend, to hold in place an America we were once certain was on a far different course than we see today. A flaw when we gloss over history and reconciliation that needs to happen. Let us rise into another idea. New arts destroy the old. Or you, like us, have rolled up your sleeves already.    
One more thing. Begin again. We can become someone else, we can choose a different path, we can begin a grand project unconcerned that we might have begun too late, or without the proper training, missing some supposedly crucial paperwork. The universe is fluid and volatile. I want to reach out to the entire community of curious, interested people and renew the idea of public radio, public media. We don’t have to be the greatest country in the world, because we can all reinvent ourselves, renew ourselves. Our globe seen by God is a transparent law, not a mass of facts. Let’s make public media even more public, make it a powerful voice of all of America and hear that full-throated voice in these conversations on this program and every other. They are all in play. Simple as that — we begin again. This is a curiously American trait. This renewal is a strength when we see that our nation need not be imprisoned by inflexible myths and traditions. A strength and a flaw, this renewal. The contests we have lost or the contests we have won. Let’s use that knowledge, put aside fear   and begin. Whatever battle we see before us, let’s remember that our nation, for all of its flaws, is dedicated to the idea that we can be renewed. Everything looks permanent until its secret is known.”
So let’s choose a cause. Ralph Waldo Emerson — that very strange New Englander of the century before last — had this to say about the American idea of renewal:
“There are no fixtures in nature. This commentary was first broadcast on PRI’s The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to be part of the American conversation. This is well beyond the impulse for the familiar New Year’s resolution. We seem to come upon this new page of the calendar with anxiety and girded for battle. “The Greek sculpture is all melted away as if it had been statues of ice; here and there a solitary figure or fragment remaining as we see flecks and scraps of snow left in cold dells and mountain clefts in June and July. Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to even have something to say to that:  
“You admire this tower of granite, weathering the hurts of so many ages. By silicon, by the computer, by global network communications. Better than the hand, and nimbler, was the invisible thought which wrought through it, and thus ever behind the coarse effect is a fine cause which, being narrowly seen, is itself the effect of a finer cause. Our culture is the predominance of an idea which draws after it this train of cities and institutions.  
If you are on one of these personal quests, I’m with you all the way. Let 2017 be the year we make something more public, more new, less categorizable, more young, more of everyone in this country. Permanence is but a word of degrees. So much has been made of that absurd and menacing sounding border wall that was a promise during the campaign. But it is still happening. Let’s take action. And we know a lot more as 2017 begins. See the investment of capital in aqueducts made useless by hydraulics; fortifications, by gunpowder; roads and canals, by railways; sails, by steam; steam, by electricity.”  
We could, of course, add to that list. Happy 2017.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. Let’s do it. For the genius that created it, creates now, somewhat else.”
Emerson continues:   “The new continents are built out of the ruins of an old planet; the new races fed out of the decomposition of the foregoing.

A New Year’s report card for ISIS

Iraqi forces are trying to push into Mosul, in northern Iraq. It’s significant that ISIS claimed responsibility for the New Year’s Istanbul attack, according to Rukmini Callimachi,   a correspondent for The New York Times who specializes in covering ISIS and al-Qaeda. A series of car bombs struck the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, since New Year’s Eve. “One is how to deal with Turkey,” says Callimachi. “We know they have done numerous other attacks [in Turkey] that have also resulted in mass casualties,”   says Callimachi, “most importantly perhaps the Istanbul airport bombing last summer. The US recently declared that since 2014, they have killed 50,000 ISIS fighters. They have faced significant casualties. Turkey once patronized Syrian rebel groups, including ISIS, providing direct and indirect aid and safe routes for foreign fighters to enter Syria. The group   then proclaimed a new   Islamic caliphate and began calling itself the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Turkish ground troops are attacking the small but strategically important city of al-Bab, in northern Syria. “But I think the fight ahead is a long one, and we see that despite these efforts, despite the numerous casualties that ISIS has suffered, they are still very much able to hit outside of their territory.”
“Another way to measure it is the extent of their digital caliphate, the extent of their caliphate online,”   she says. And yet despite all of those deaths, we still see that the group is holding strong in Mosul.”
“ISIS is under pressure,”   she adds. ISIS has proved to be a much more venomous and difficult enemy than I think perhaps they expected.”
“That’s not to minimize what the West has done,”   says Callimachi, highlighting the destruction of the ISIS stronghold in Libya, and territorial losses elsewhere in Iraq. “Another way to measure it is the number of fighters they have.  
Turkish troops entered Syria last August. The attacks are claimed by ISIS as responses to military pressure from Iraq and Turkey. But this is the first time that they have claimed an attack of this nature.”
Callimachi says this signals a major shift in relations between ISIS and Turkey. Listen to the full interview. The worst one killed at least 35 people, on Monday. PRI.org

A gunman, apparently acting alone, killed at least 39 people at an Istanbul nightclub, in the early hours of New Year’s Day. The Russian air force is providing air support for the Turks in al-Bab. The switch in Turkish policy leaves ISIS with almost no friends at a time when they’re coming under intense military and financial pressure. ISIS responded with terror attacks, which have only hardened Turkish hostility. “Turkey has pushed back very hard against America’s alliance with the Kurds.”
She says the second question is whether the new administration will consider it necessary to send troops on the ground to help the Iraqis take back Mosul. But relations have soured as Turkey tightened up the border. I just came back from the areas north of Mosul, and more than two months into that advance, Iraqi troops are basically just hunkered down at the eastern edges of the city really unable to go forward. “Of course the territory has shrunk,” says Callimachi. Their main goal appears to have been occupying territory to counter the growth of Kurdish separatists, but the incursion also brought them into direct conflict with ISIS. “I would caution us not to make too much of that. But it still appears to have the means to lash out, claiming responsibility for terror attacks in Istanbul and Baghdad over New Year’s weekend.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. ISIS starts the new year under pressure. ISIS burst onto the scene as a territorial power in eastern Syria in 2013, then stormed into Mosul in June 2014, inflicting a staggering defeat on the Iraqi army. “Yes, we’ve seen somewhat of a pullback in their propaganda, but they’re still very much there.”   
“The thing that’s difficult about this group is that we’re fighting not just people, we’re also fighting an idea, and that idea is very potent,”   she says, “and it’s not clear how you kill an idea.”
More immediately, President-elect Donald Trump will face two challenges when he comes into office.

Starry nights and empty streets in Idlib: PHOTOS

Thousands of refugees from Aleppo have been evacuated there, and UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has warned the city could face the same fate as Aleppo. A mosque stands in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province. It looks sleepy, peaceful. I used to go out with my friends to cafes at night and stay up until dawn, we never used to check our watches.”
But now “we hang out at a different friend’s house every weekend and sleep over until morning,” he added. Damaged buildings stand in the rebel-controlled town of Binnish in Idlib province. In fact, the atmosphere is so stark that the stars appear especially bright. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

Idlib was bustling with people before the Syrian war began in 2011, but now, few residents venture   outside their homes at night. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

“In case of emergencies we can get out at night, but that’s still very risky. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah

This is another view of a mosque that stands in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province. At night, Idlib, Syria, has a romantic glow. Syrian and Russian warplanes and helicopters have carried out strikes for months against rebels in Idlib province, which lies to the southwest of Aleppo. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

Resident Abdullah Haj Asaad, 29, says he no longer sends clothes from his sewing shop to the markets at night. “Nowadays, we can only send the finished goods in the morning, cars stop driving at night because of thieves and bandits fearing looting and theft,” he said. Now that Syrian government forces have recaptured Aleppo in a crushing campaign, many suggest they are likely to turn their attentions to Idlib. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

The night sky is seen through damaged windows in the rebel-controlled town of Binnish in Idlib province. … Damaged buildings stand in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

A digger stands amid the rubble in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

A vehicle drives past a mosque at night in Idlib, Syria. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

The city of Idlib is seen at night. But the rebel-held city, where the streets are eerily quiet once darkness falls, may soon be in harm’s way — as the possible next target of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military offensive. A damaged building stands in the rebel-controlled town of Binnish in Idlib province. Damaged buildings stand in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

Sometimes aircraft can be heard overhead. Credit:

Ammar Abdullah/Reuters