NPR World News

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Our series, "Take A Number," is exploring problems around the world — and the people who are trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

158,000. That's roughly how many refugees are stuck in limbo in Europe right now.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

On Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, initially wiping out electricity and cellular reception on the entire island and causing billions of dollars in structural damage.

Ethiopia's prime minister has announced that the country will free all of its political prisoners, pardon them and close a notorious prison.

It's a surprising turnaround for a government that has launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent and had not previously admitted that it is even holding political prisoners.

The Islamic State no longer controls cities. Its previously large ranks are decimated. Survivors have scattered into the desert. Yet ISIS still has militants with weapons and plans for renewed mayhem.

"We have repeatedly said in this room, the war is not over," Defense Secretary James Mattis noted last week at the Pentagon.

He said U.S. forces are still tracking down small pockets of ISIS fighters. In Iraq, the U.S. is still working closely with the Iraqi security forces, in hopes they can take full control of the country's territory.

A couple hours after sunset, everyone is donning a wetsuit. In minutes, 15 to 20 dark figures are standing in a graveyard on the west coast of Guam. But they're not here for the tombstones. They've come to help rescue something from dying in the waters nearby — the corals.

Corals along Guam's coastlines have been dying in recent years, and they're not alone. Warming seawater and increasing ocean acidity are damaging reef ecosystems around the world. Some scientists and environmentalists fear a worldwide collapse by 2050.

Handling aux cord duties in a car full of girlfriends headed to a party is no small task. Expectations for playing just the right song to soundtrack the shared levels of excitement, confidence and sass are high. It only takes a few faulty shuffles or hesitant moments of silence to get your privileges revoked. It was in such a moment last summer that my friend, Keylah, triumphantly put me on to Parisian afropunk group Tshegue.

Hot chocolate, spiced cider, mulled wine — chances are you've probably had one of these to warm up around the holidays.

For many Puerto Ricans, coquito is the go-to holiday favorite. It's a creamy, boozy rum punch that Puerto Ricans on the island and around the world mix up to sip and to share this time of year.

Think eggnog, but better — with coconut milk and lots of rum.

At the main cemetery on the west side of Mosul, Iraq, kids play among the makeshift headstones sticking out of freshly dug mounds of red earth.

Some of the markers are broken slabs of concrete painted with the names of the neighborhoods where the bodies were found. "Boy and girl" reads one from the Zinjali district. In other places, a single headstone gives no indication of the multiple bodies buried underneath.

But the gravediggers remember everything.

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