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Boston Calling


How the world looks through American eyes and the myriad and unexpected ways the world influences the US

How the world looks through American eyes and the myriad and unexpected ways the world influences the US
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How the world looks through American eyes and the myriad and unexpected ways the world influences the US




The long wait

The US and the Taliban are reportedly inching closer to a breakthrough in peace talks. But the Afghan government has been notably missing from these negotiations. Afghanistan's first female ambassador to the US, Roya Rahmani, says that the Afghan government's position regarding the talks is that ‘peace is the highest desire.’ Also, we’ll take you Tijuana, Mexico, just south of the US border, where migrants from all over the world are waiting for a chance to enter the US; and long lost...


Scoring points

The US-China trade war has been going on for almost two years now. Both countries have imposed hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each other, and that number has only been growing. Right now, we may be entering a new, potentially dangerous, phase of the dispute: currency warfare. Also, we’ll take a look at real life consequences that the US-China trade war is already having, both for small businesses and for Chinese-Americans who are now experiencing unwanted scrutiny; and...


Means of destruction

In 1987, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It led to the elimination of more than 2,500 nuclear missile. But as of this week, the INF treaty is no more after the Trump administration announced its withdrawal. Former Secretary of State George Schulz thinks today’s politicians underestimate the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Also, roughly a year after the US announced that it’s creating a military space...


Breaking with tradition

Next month, roughly two million Muslims will travel to the holy city of Mecca for one of the most important religious rituals in Islam. As long as they are in good health and can afford it, every Muslim must complete the Hajj at least once in their lifetime. But the Hajj can only be done in Saudi Arabia, which is making some people feel conflicted about making the journey. Also, Dutton Books is trying to reinvent books for the smartphone generation with something called the ‘Dwarsligger’;...


Let’s talk

There are upwards of 10 million unauthorized immigrants living in the US. Many of those immigrants are children or have children studying in schools throughout the country. For them,fear of deportation and family separation is a constant reality. Students at El Colegio High School in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis know that feeling, so the school has prepared its students and staff for when the immigration agents come knocking. Also, find out how Trump's hard-line immigration policies...


Agree to Disagree

President Trump has backed away from his efforts to include a citizenship question on the 2020 US census. But immigrants still fear being asked that question. Also, there’s an outbreak of measles in two ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City. A nurse there is trying to convince those in the community to get vaccinated; former US Defence Secretary Ash Carter offers his views on current tensions with; and a Venezuelan family divided by distance and politics, a daughter laments.


State of anxiety

In recent months, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other Trump Administration officials have been trying to convince Congress that Iran has ties with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Some say that the Administration is trying to establish this connection because of a law that the US Congress passed three days after the 9/11 attacks. That law gave then President George W. Bush the authority to go to war with al-Qaeda and any related organisation without Congressional approval. Also, we meet...


Refugee story

When Wajed al-Khalifa and her family arrived in the US as refugees in 2015, everything about the United States seemed foreign. They were now far away from their home in Syria and it was time to acclimate to a new life. It wasn’t long though before they started hitting milestones: Khalifa and her husband got driving licences, their four children excelled in school, quickly overcoming barriers such as English-language instruction and a new education system. Over the past 4 years reporter...


Waste land

The coastal lowlands along Malaysia’s side of the Strait of Malacca are a mostly lush place, studded with fat palms and forest canopies dripping with vines. But over the past year and a half, black pillars of smoke have appeared above the treetops. We investigate how plastic waste American municipalities send for recycling, is piling up in illegal dumps thousands of miles away. Also, tiny plastic pellets, called 'nurdles' are the product of plastics producers, but why are these pellets...


Notes from a new world

It wasn’t easy for Elton John to get producers to keep all the scenes in his new fantasy-biopic, “Rocketman.” He was determined that the Paramount film not gloss over his sexuality or past drug use. Despite his efforts, Russia’s version appears to be missing about five minutes-worth of footage. . Also, we meet the American singer who teaches Italian kids how to sing like Beyoncé; plus the story of how Lucia Lucas became the first transgender person to sing a lead part in a standard operatic...


Action plan

The US is reported to have plans for a potential cyber attack that would cripple Iran’s cities. Whether such a plan would be implemented is open to question but it would take cyberwarfare to a whole new level. Also, a doctor in Puerto Rico prepares pregnant women for hurricane season; a plan to change the sound New York City; a NASA scientist is caught up in a clampdown on political dissent in Turkey, with severe consequences for his life back in the US; and Latinos in Texas mix a rite of...


Oath of allegiance

The United States census gets underway next year and the Trump administration wants to ask everyone if they're a US citizen. Critics say the question will discourage some immigrants from participating and lead to an inaccurate census. The Supreme Court will rule on the matter later this month. Also, a same-sex married couple has two sons ; one gets US citizenship while his brother does not; immigrants in New York find it harder to win asylum; a Russian grandmother becomes a US citizen; and a...


Travel plans

Immigrants and refugees from Syria and Iraq lead tours at Philadelphia’s Penn Museum. They help visitors understand where the museum’s artefacts come from and add historical context to the objects. Also, “voluntourism” is a growing part of the travel industry, but critics say there’s sometimes a human cost for volunteer’s good deeds; we meet Terry Tickhill Terrell, who in 1969 became one of the first women to join a US scientific expedition to Antarctica; a long, lost manuscript and its...


At what cost?

The amount of weaponry Saudi Arabia buys from the US has risen dramatically over the past decade or so. We take the latest arms sales data and present it as an audio experience. Also, the human cost behind seemingly ordinary groceries; some states in the US are tightening abortion laws, leading some women to buy abortion pills online; a US fast-food chain introduces a new meat-free burger; and why burping cows are causing climate change. (Image: Supporters of Houthis gather at Babul Yemen...


Be you for you

A ban went into effect this week on athletes with high testosterone competing in women’s track events. South African runner Caster Semenya last week lost her challenge to a new rule by the International Association of Athletics Federations that keeps her out of women’s competitions because of her hormone levels. Many athletes have expressed opposition to the latest ruling, but we hear from a transgender runner who is happy with the ban. We also speak with the author of a graphic memoir...


Signs and signals

Seattle, Washington, is widely seen as a pro-immigrant city. So many residents were shocked to learn that a nearby airport has been used to deport some 34,000 people in the last eight years. Now King County, where the airport is located, is signalling its opposition to those deportations. We also learn about a subversive hand sign adopted from Hollywood and used in Thailand; we visit a radio program whose signals connect families split between central California and southern Mexico; we meet...


Heads Up

The US Department of Homeland Security is turning to facial recognition technology to keep track of people leaving and entering the US, but privacy advocates have serious concerns. Now, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has obtained documents from US Customs and Border Protection that backup their fears. Also, we visit a hair salon in Boston strictly for women who wear hijab; Thando Hopa makes history by being the first model with albinism on the cover of Vogue magazine; the...


Safe spaces

Migrant families are being released to communities around the US. They often have no money and no support. Volunteers are stepping in to help. Also: the White House is considering a plan that would send immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities; climate refugees arrive in a small city in the state of Georgia; a peek inside a KGB Spy Museum in New York City, and the Turkish embassy in Washington DC was once a place to hear jazz legends. (Image: A sign welcomes arrivals at the Refugee Coffee...


History in the making

These days the majority of migrants crossing the US border with Mexico are from Central America. But that wasn’t always the case. For decades, the majority of people crossing the border were Mexicans, seeking jobs and opportunity in the US. Many would stay, without official permission, have families and build new lives. Author Ana Raquel Minian tells us how tighter border regulations had the unintended consequence of encouraging Mexicans to stay. Also, the city of New Orleans is apologizing...


Journey interrupted

In 1976, 13 year-old Benny Davidson was on a flight bound for Paris when two Palestinians and two Germans hijacked his plane and forced it to fly to Entebbe in Uganda. There, he and other Israeli passengers were held hostage for a week before an Israeli commando raid brought the stand-off to end. Benny still stays in touch with many of his fellow hostages. Recently the captain of that flight, Michel Bacos, died at the age of 95. For Benny and many of the other hostages, Michel represented...