Sun August 2, 2015

In Seoul, Where Everything Moves Fast, There's Also Longing For The Past

Originally published on Sun August 2, 2015 6:28 am

Traditional architecture and modern skyscrapers overlap in central Seoul.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Anytime I need to update a bunch of apps on my smartphone, I'm going to fly to South Korea to do it.

I'm only partly joking.

The Internet speeds are so fast here, they make me feel like the U.S. is living in the past.

And it's not just the Internet. The subways here are clean, and on time, with air conditioning and Wi-Fi.

Since I arrived in Seoul, I've lost track of the number of Americans who've told me, "Incheon in my favorite airport in the world."

Now, the journalistic cliché would be to say, "This didn't happen overnight!"

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Sat August 1, 2015

In Germany, Asylum-Seekers Could Fill A Chronic Workforce Need

Originally published on Sun August 2, 2015 2:04 pm

Refugees line up to apply for asylum at a reception center in Berlin, Germany. Figures released last week showed that about 180,000 asylum applications were filed in the first six months of 2015, more than twice as many as in the same period last year.
Markus Schreiber AP

For pharmacists in ever-diverse Berlin, communicating with customers requires a variety of languages.

Just ask German pharmacist Julia al-Erian, who tries in English to engage a young Arab man who is trying to buy acne cream. He gives her a blank stare, so she tries explaining in German how the medicated lotion works.

He looks perplexed, says "hold on" in German, then turns to a friend and speaks Arabic.

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Fri July 31, 2015

Death Of Beloved Lion Heats Up Criticism Of Big Game Hunting

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 11:59 am

The killing of Cecil, a Zimbabwean lion, by a dentist from Minnesota has turned an international spotlight on big game hunting. It's a thriving industry, with more than 1,000 organizations worldwide.

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Fri July 31, 2015

In Cambodia, Rats Are Being Trained To Sniff Out Land Mines And Save Lives

Originally published on Sat August 1, 2015 11:17 am

Victoria, a 2-year-old rat, sniffs for TNT, sticking her nose high in the air to indicate she's found some. She works her way down a 10-meter line with a handler on either end, and is able to detect the presence of TNT at a distance of approximately half a yard.
Michael Sullivan for NPR

It's 5:45 in the morning, and in a training field outside Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, Cambodia's demining rats are already hard at work. Their noses are close to the wet grass, darting from side to side, as they try to detect explosives buried just beneath the ground.

Each rat is responsible for clearing a 200-square-meter (239-square-yard) patch of land. Their Cambodian supervisor, Hulsok Heng, says they're good at it.

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Thu July 30, 2015

Amid Political Dysfunction, Beirut Residents Suffer The Stench Of Garbage

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 6:04 pm

A Lebanese woman covers her nose as she walks past piles of garbage on a Beirut street.
Hassan Ammar AP

Beirut is usually one of the pleasanter places in the Middle East — a bright, cosmopolitan city squeezed between the Mediterranean Sea and a green ridge of mountains. But for the past two weeks or so, the stench from mounds of festering garbage has filled its gaudy streets.

"The trash is climbing up, the mountain is getting higher and higher," says one immaculately dressed, middle-aged woman with a perfect bouffant, wrinkling her nose. She wouldn't give her name because she criticizes powerful people — Lebanon's politicians, whom she holds responsible for the garbage crisis.

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