NPR World News

Simon Says
10:56 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Despite Its Beauty, Cuba Isn't Quite Ready For Tourists

In 1959, Fidel Castro imposed a law forbidding the import of foreign cars, so many Cubans drive and maintain older models.
Kate Skogen JetKat Photo

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 11:39 am

I've always had a good time in Cuba. The people are friendly and funny, the rum is smooth, the music intoxicating and the beaches wide, white and soft.

But you're accompanied everywhere by government minders. They call them responsables. Any Cuban you interview knows your microphone might as well run straight to their government.

If you want to talk to someone with a different view, you have to slip out of your hotel in the middle of the night without your minder — though dissidents say other security people follow you.

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4:43 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

With A Presidential Vote, Tunisia Seeks A Peaceful Transition

A woman votes in the first round of the Tunisian presidential election on Nov. 23. The election went smoothly, but no candidate won 50 percent of a vote, forcing a runoff between the top two on Sunday.
Hassene Dridi AP

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 8:32 pm

The main boulevard in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, is alive with political debate about the two candidates for president in this Sunday's election.

In one tent, campaign workers play music and hand out fliers for Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old candidate who held posts in the old regime and then served as an interim prime minister after the country's revolution in 2011.

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Planet Money
1:17 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Hello, I'm Calling From 'La Mafia'

A bus travels through downtown Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Meridith Kohut Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 9:01 pm

If you are a bus driver in Honduras, there's this thing that happens all the time. You'll be behind the wheel of your bus at an intersection, and a kid will come, knock on your window, and hand you a cellphone.

The voice on the phone will say something like this: "Hi, I'm calling from such-and-such a gang. If you want to keep driving this route, you have to pay me money, every week. Or else we will kill you."

And it's not like you pay this one gang, and they protect you from other gangs. The bus owner who told me about this is currently paying off five different gangs.

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4:39 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

In Gaza, The Specter Of ISIS Proves Useful To Both Sides

The Islamist group Hamas, shown here in a rally in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 12, is the strongest faction in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic State, or ISIS, is not believed to be in the territory, though fliers purporting to be from the group have circulated in Gaza. They are widely believed to be fake, but both Israel and Hamas have tried to use them to their advantage.
Mahmud Hams AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:15 pm

Earlier this month, more than a dozen writers, poets and activists in Gaza got threatening fliers signed with the name ISIS, the Sunni extremists fighting with brutal violence in Iraq and Syria.

But a few days later, a new flier, also signed ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, denied responsibility and apologized.

The incident is raising the question of whether ISIS is taking root in Gaza — or if someone is just playing around.

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World Cafe
3:37 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Hailu Mergia On World Cafe

Hailu Mergia & Low Mentality.
Courtesy of the artist

Hear an unusual session today with Hailu Mergia, a keyboard player and Ethiopian music star who now lives in the U.S. He came to World Cafe's attention through Awesome Tapes From Africa, the website where Brian Shimkovitz posts cassette tapes of African music he discovers. That's what led Shimkovitz to Mergia.

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