Jason Beaubien

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.

In this role, he reports on a range of health issues across the world including the mobilization of massive circumcision drives in Kenya; how Botswana, with one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, has managed to provide free, life-saving drugs to almost all who need them; and why Brazil's once model HIV/AIDS program is seen in decline.

Prior to moving into this assignment in 2012, Beaubien spent four years a NPR foreign correspondent covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. From his base in Mexico City, Beaubien filed stories on politics in Cuba, hurricanes in Haiti, the FMLN victory in El Salvador, the world's richest man and Mexico's brutal drug war.

For his first multi-part series as the Mexico City correspondent, Beaubien drove the length of the U.S./Mexico border making a point to touch his toes in both oceans. The stories chronicled the economic, social and political changes along the violent frontier.

In 2002, Beaubien joined NPR after volunteering to cover a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast. Over the next four years, Beaubien worked as a foreign correspondent in sub-Saharan Africa, visiting 27 countries on the continent. His reporting ranged from poverty on the world's poorest continent, the HIV in the epicenter of the epidemic, and the all-night a cappella contests in South Africa, to Afro-pop stars in Nigeria and a trial of white mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea.

During this time, he covered the famines and wars of Africa, as well as the inspiring preachers and Nobel laureates. Beaubien was one of the first journalists to report on the huge exodus of people out of Sudan's Darfur region into Chad, as villagers fled some of the initial attacks by the Janjawid. He reported extensively on the steady deterioration of Zimbabwe and still has a collection of worthless Zimbabwean currency.

In 2006, Beaubien was awarded a Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan to study the relationship between the developed and the developing world.

Beaubien grew up in Maine, started his radio career as an intern at NPR Member Station KQED in San Francisco and worked at WBUR in Boston before joining NPR.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:24 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

South African Doctors Uneasy About HIV Prevention Pill

Longtime AIDS activist Dr. Ashraf Grimwood says South Africa has made huge strides in confronting HIV. But he worries that giving anti-retroviral drugs to healthy people could have negative consequences in the long term.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 7:54 pm

The news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week approved the use of Truvada, an AIDS drug, to prevent infections in people who are HIV-negative is being greeted with skepticism, derision and even worry by some doctors in South Africa.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:37 am
Thu July 19, 2012

How HIV Treatment Can Curb The Spread Of AIDS

Anti-AIDS posters at the Eshowe public health clinic in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Clinicians there are hoping to slow the spread of HIV by getting more people treatment.
Jason Beaubien NPR

As the 19th International AIDS Conference prepares to open this weekend in Washington, one of the catch phrases swirling around the AIDS community is "treatment as prevention."

Researchers, clinicians and HIV policy experts are hailing treatment that helps prevent more infections as a possible way to end the pandemic.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:16 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

HIV Prevention Drug Truvada No Quick Fix For Brazil's Epidemic

Researchers with HIV medication at a public research lab at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, or Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration gave the first green light on a drug to prevent HIV transmission.

Many experts say the drug will help hasten the end of the AIDS pandemic. But experts in Brazil say the drug alone isn't the answer.

One of the drug trials the FDA considered was done at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Research Institute, also known as Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro.

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AIDS: A Turning Point
12:37 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Teen Years Pose New Risks For Kids Born With HIV

A boy waits to get his anti-AIDS drugs from pharmacist Rajesh Chandra at the Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Center of Excellence in Gaborone.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 9:33 pm

The southern African nation of Botswana is grappling with a relatively new problem in the evolving AIDS pandemic: It now has a large group of HIV-positive adolescents.

The teenagers were infected at birth before Botswana managed to almost wipe out mother-to-child transmission of the virus. These children have survived because of a public health system that provides nearly universal access to powerful anti-AIDS drugs.

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AIDS: A Turning Point
1:04 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Botswana's 'Stunning Achievement' Against AIDS

Johane Setlhare began taking anti-AIDS drugs, provided by the government, in 2007. Two years later, he regained enough strength to build the house that's behind him.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 6:50 am

The southern African nation of Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. Nearly 25 percent of all adults in the country are infected with the virus. Only the nearby kingdom of Swaziland has a higher rate.

But Botswana is also remarkable for its response to the epidemic. It has one of the most comprehensive and effective HIV treatment programs in Africa. Transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their fetuses and newborn babies has been brought down to just 4 percent.

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Health
1:18 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Kenya's HIV Challenge: Easing Stigma For Gay Men

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 7:20 pm

Health officials in Kenya say reducing the transmission of HIV among gay men is a central part of their national AIDS strategy. But they face serious challenges, including the fact that homosexuality is still a crime in the East African nation.

HIV rates among gay and bisexual men in Kenya are far higher than the national average.

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Health
1:09 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

An AIDS-Ravaged Nation Turns To Circumcision

Joseph Ochieng, 18, gets circumcised at the Siaya General Hospital in western Kenya.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 4:23 pm

The African nation of Kenya is attempting to get more than 1 million men between the ages of 15 and 49 circumcised by the end of 2013. If successful, this could be a groundbreaking effort in the fight to curb the spread of HIV.

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Crime In The City
11:51 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Sleuth Keeps His Good Eye On Mexico City's Crime

In heavily polluted Mexico City, crime writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II describes his exhausted detective Hector Belascoaran Shayne as looking out at his hometown and seeing "a city that was trying to hide itself in the smog."
Ronaldo Schemidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 2:16 pm

In the crowded heart of the Mexican capital, a fictional one-eyed private investigator shares a dingy flat with a flock of ducks and a rotating cast of lovers.

The central character in Paco Ignacio Taibo II's crime novels is Hector Belascoaran Shayne, a former engineer who got a "certificate in detection" through a correspondence course. Belascoaran is a cynical, bumbling private eye who marvels at the chaotic street life unfolding around him in Mexico City.

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Latin America
3:06 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Panama Booms While Poor Watch From Afar

Tourists visit the San Felipe neighborhood in Panama City in December 2011. Panama is experiencing record economic growth, but many fear the benefits aren't trickling down to the poor.
Rodrigo Arangua AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 4:12 pm

The Central American nation of Panama is booming. Fueled by a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal, a thriving banking industry and capital flight from Venezuela, the tiny nation has the highest economic growth rate in the hemisphere.

But even as the government builds a subway system and markets the country as a tropical paradise for multinational corporations, not everyone is sharing in the prosperity.

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Latin America
1:03 am
Wed April 4, 2012

An Upgrade, And Bigger Ships, For The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is undergoing its biggest overhaul since it was opened nearly a century ago. A third channel is being built, which will allow more and larger ships to pass through.
Arnulfo Franco AP

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 6:17 pm

Two giant ships move through the Panama Canal's two parallel channels at the Miraflores locks, heading toward the Pacific Ocean.

The orange and white Bow Summer is a tanker. The deck of the Ever Dynamic is stacked high with burgundy and blue shipping containers. More boats like these are backed up in both the Pacific and the Atlantic waiting to enter the narrow waterway.

Global trade has grown dramatically, but the Panama Canal — one of the most vital transit routes — hasn't changed its basic structure since it opened in 1914.

But that is about to change.

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Latin America
3:54 am
Sat March 24, 2012

Pope Encounters A 'Wounded, Depressed' Mexico

Pope Benedict XVI listens to a speech during his welcome ceremony in Mexico.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Originally published on Sat March 24, 2012 7:49 pm

Crowds of people dressed in white and waving yellow flags lined the highway outside the Leon airport in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato to welcome Pope Benedict XVI. They cheered wildly when the grinning, 84-year-old pontiff sped past in his glass-sided popemobile.

The pope began his weeklong trip to Latin America on Friday afternoon. He's spending the weekend in Mexico before heading to Cuba.

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Religion
1:06 am
Fri March 23, 2012

Pope Expected To Address Drug Violence In Mexico

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to speak out against drug violence during his visit to Mexico, which begins Friday. Here, an actor is shown in front of a poster announcing the pope's visit Wednesday in the Mexican city of Leon, Guanajuato state.
Hector Guerrero AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 10:24 am

Pope Benedict XVI begins a visit Friday that takes him to Mexico, a country with around 100 million Catholics, and to Cuba, a place where church leaders have played an increasingly active role in seeking change.

There are sensitive issues in both countries that the pope is likely to address in some form. In Mexico, it's the brutal drug war that has claimed roughly 50,000 lives over the past five years.

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Latin America
1:52 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Violence Exposes Crisis In Latin American Prisons

In Honduras, female relatives of inmates killed during a fire at a prison argue with soldiers as they try to enter the morgue in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, on Feb. 20. The fire at Comayagua prison on Feb. 14 killed more than 300 inmates.
Esteban Felix AP

A series of fatal riots inside Mexican prisons last week and a deadly blaze at a penitentiary in Honduras are prompting calls for major penal reform in Central America.

Violence at three different penitentiaries in Mexico last week left 48 inmates dead, while the inferno in Honduras earlier this month killed 360 prisoners.

These deadly events underscore the problems of corruption, overcrowding, prison gangs and crumbling infrastructure that prisons face throughout the region.

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Latin America
10:01 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Prison Break Epitomizes Mexican Drug War Woes

A relative of an inmate observes Mexican police behind the security fence after a riot inside Apodaca prison near Monterrey. At least 44 inmates were killed during Sunday's riot, and about 30 alleged members of the drug cartel Los Zetas were rushed out of the prison.
Julio Cesar Aguilar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 6:08 am

Officials in Mexico are offering a reward of nearly $1 million for the capture of 30 inmates who broke out of a prison in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on Sunday.

The governor says the inmates staged a riot, during which 44 people died, to create a diversion for their escape.

It was a jail break that epitomized the Mexican drug war: Rival gang members brutally killed each other, corrupt public officials looked the other way, and dangerous criminals went free.

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Latin America
2:02 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

Female Candidate Battles Machismo In Mexico

Josefina Vazquez Mota celebrates her selection as the presidential candidate of the National Action Party in Mexico City on Feb. 5. She's the first woman to run for president in Mexico on a major party ticket.
Alfredo Estrella AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 9:15 am

Earlier this month, the National Action Party of Mexico nominated the country's first ever female presidential candidate, economist Josefina Vazquez Mota. As Vazquez Mota accepted the nomination, she vowed to be the first woman to become the Mexican head of state.

The PAN, as the conservative party is known in Spanish, is Mexico's current ruling party. It has also put forth a woman, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, in Mexico City's mayoral race. Both elections take place on July 1.

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Latin America
10:01 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Mexican Cartels Push Meth Beyond U.S. Market

Mexican police show the drug and weapons seized from Jaime Herrera Herrera, an alleged drug cartel member, in Mexico City on Tuesday.
Johan Ordonez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 16, 2012 8:49 pm

Mexican Federal Police, some of them covered head to toe in white hazardous-materials suits, paraded Jaime Herrera Herrera in front of the media in handcuffs this week. Officials say he was the methamphetamine mastermind for Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who runs the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

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Latin America
1:11 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Can Vaccines Break Cholera's Deadly Hold On Haiti?

Haitians suffering from cholera symptoms rest at the treatment center in Mirebalais, a dusty town north of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, last June. The cholera epidemic in Haiti began in Mirebalais, believed to be the result of overflowing bathrooms from a nearby U.N. compound.
Eduardo Verdugo AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:05 am

The cholera outbreak in Haiti is currently the worst ongoing episode in the world.

Over the past 15 months, it has sickened more than half a million people and killed roughly 7,000. The bacteria has now spread throughout the Caribbean island, and medical experts say it will be around for years to come.

Partners in Health, a Boston-based nonprofit, is planning to launch an unprecedented cholera vaccination campaign to try to curb the outbreak — but it faces many challenges, including a shortage of the vaccine.

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Latin America
10:01 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Drought Ravages Farms Across Wide Swath Of Mexico

A vulture picks at a dead steer. Ranchers say many cattle have died because of the drought that has ravaged much of Mexico.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Tue February 7, 2012 2:51 am

In the central Mexican state of Zacatecas, 76-year-old Genaro Rodarte Huizar rides his donkey along a dry riverbed. On his left is a dried out pasture; on his right is what used to be a cornfield; now it's just long furrows of gray, dusty dirt.

Rodarte says that for the past two years, the crops that he's planted here have failed. Normally, he plants beans and corn to feed his family, and oats to sell. He says he hasn't harvested anything because the land is too dry and there's no water.

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Latin America
10:01 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

State-Of-The-Art Hospital Offers Hope For Haiti

A worker pushes a wheelbarrow past the new National Teaching Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti, on Jan. 10. When it opens this summer, the 320-bed facility will be Haiti's largest hospital and provide services and a level of care well beyond what's currently available.
Dieu Nalio Chery AP

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 8:04 am

Even before the devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti's public health care system was perhaps the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Then the quake knocked down clinics, killed medical workers and severely damaged the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

Now, the Boston-based group Partners in Health has set out to build a world-class teaching hospital in what used to be a rice field in the Haitian countryside.

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Latin America
4:33 am
Sun January 22, 2012

Church Broadcasts Hope; Haitians Flock Post-Quake

Pastor Junior Antoine on stage at Shalom Tabernacle of Glory evangelical church, in front of a congregation that grew rapidly after the earthquake two years ago.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 7:24 am

On Jan. 12, for the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake, thousands of people flocked to the Shalom Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The "church" is just a plywood stage under a patchwork of tattered tarps.

The crowd was so large that it spilled down a muddy hill toward a tent camp for earthquake victims. Most of the singing, swaying congregation were so far away they couldn't even see the podium.

The evangelical mission now claims to have more than 50,000 members and one of the most popular radio stations in Haiti.

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Reporter's Notebook
1:25 pm
Sun January 15, 2012

Haiti: Reflections On Overcoming A Year Of Disaster

On Thursday, Haiti marked the second anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake. NPR's Jason Beaubien was back in the Caribbean nation for the quake memorials and he sent us this reporter's notebook about covering Haiti over the last few years.

Haiti is a land haunted by ghosts. My translator, Jean Pierre, won't shut up about the ghosts. He points toward some men plodding up the dusty street hauling huge bags of charcoal on their heads.

"Zombies," he declares. "Dead dudes are everywhere."

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Latin America
1:19 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Ordinary Life Resurrected, Slowly, In Haiti

A storefront in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is brightly painted with a message welcoming President Michel Martelly into power. Two years after a devastating earthquake destroyed much of the Haitian capital, progress is palpable.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 8:28 pm

In Port-au-Prince, a radio blares from speakers in front of a guy selling pirated CDs on Delmas, a main street in the Haitian capital. Women sitting along the side of the road hawk everything from vegetables to cigarettes to pharmaceuticals. Overloaded tap-taps, the pickup trucks that serve as the main form of public transportation here, chug up the hill.

The scene is one that's remarkable for being unremarkable: Though it occurred this week, it could just as easily have been Port-au-Prince two years ago, before a massive earthquake destroyed much of the capital.

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Art & Design
10:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Unusual Diego Rivera Work Restored in Mexico City

Diego Rivera's fountain of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc is a pumping station in Mexico City's municipal water system. It fell into disrepair for some time, but has recently been restored.
David Hiser National Geographic

Originally published on Wed December 21, 2011 11:54 am

The Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted in New York City, San Francisco, Detroit, Europe and the Soviet Union. But some of Rivera's most famous murals and most unusual projects are found in Mexico City.

In Mexico City, Rivera did far more than just paint. He collected pre-Hispanic pottery and indigenous folk art. And he experimented with sculpture and architecture.

And between 1950 and 1952, Rivera built a giant tiled fountain to the Aztec rain god Tlaloc as part of an overhaul of Mexico City's municipal water system.

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Latin America
4:01 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

In A Drug War, Mexican Forces Accused Of Abuses

Federal policemen escort the armored car carrying a member of Los Zetas drug cartel on June 17. The security forces have been accused of abuses in the fight against the drug cartels.
Yuri Cortez AFP/Getty Images

In Mexico, the last five years of President Felipe Calderon's drug war have been marked by brutal violence, unsolved kidnappings and tens of thousands of deaths. Most of violence has come from the drug gangs, but some of these atrocities have been committed by the Mexican military and police.

Human rights groups say that as state security forces battle the drug cartels, they've tortured, abducted and killed criminal suspects and even innocent civilians.

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Latin America
12:51 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Mexico Busts Drug Cartels' Private Phone Networks

Mexican soldiers stand guard behind communication radios seized from alleged drug-cartel members in Veracruz, Mexico, Nov. 23.
Lucas Castro AFP/Getty Images

The Mexican military has recently broken up several secret telecommunications networks that were built and controlled by drug cartels so they could coordinate drug shipments, monitor their rivals and orchestrate attacks on the security forces.

A network that was dismantled just last week provided cartel members with cell phone and radio communications across four northeastern states. The network had coverage along almost 500 miles of the Texas border and extended nearly another 500 miles into Mexico's interior.

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Latin America
8:31 am
Tue November 22, 2011

'Miss Bala': Beauty Queen Meets Drug Lord

Stephanie Sigman as Laura in the Canana and Fox International Productions film Miss Bala.
Eniac Martinez 20th Century Fox

Originally published on Tue November 22, 2011 8:14 pm

Throughout Latin America, stories about drug lords have permeated popular culture.

A television series called The Cartel of the Snitches is hugely popular in Colombia. In Mexico, ballads called narcocorridos recount the exploits of drug runners, and soap operas glamorize the lives of drug lords.

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Business
4:09 am
Sun November 20, 2011

Border-Town Factories Give Manufacturers An Edge

Employees of TECMA, a cross-border plant or maquiladora, work in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Business leaders say the quick delivery time of goods from Mexico to the U.S. can help revive manufacturing in North America.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 20, 2011 11:51 am

Officials in the United States have been wringing their hands lately over how to revitalize domestic manufacturing and keep factories from moving overseas.

But not all of those plants are going across the ocean to China or India or some other low-cost production hub in Asia. Many are relocating just south of the border to Mexico, prompting business leaders to argue that the U.S.-Mexico border region may be the key to rejuvenating manufacturing in North America.

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Latin America
1:01 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

In Mexico, Tourism Survives Bloody Drug War

Mexico has launched a publicity blitz to attract more tourists. The vast majority of tourists travel to just one of a half-dozen destinations in Mexico — including Cancun, shown here last year — far from the drug violence.

Gustavo Graf Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yes, the drug war has created an image problem. But Mexico has launched an aggressive publicity blitz to try to attract more tourists, and it seems to be succeeding.

Even President Felipe Calderon is involved in the full court press to tout the wonders, delicacies and marvels of Mexico to potential visitors.

On the PBS program The Royal Tour of Mexico, Calderon serves as the on-camera guide for TV host Peter Greenberg. The president leads a zip-line tour across a rain forest, rappels into a cave, climbs Mayan ruins and snorkels along a coral reef.

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Latin America
2:25 am
Wed September 28, 2011

Education Is Latest Casualty In Mexico's Drug War

In Acapulco, Mexico, teachers are out on strike at more than a hundred schools because of spiraling violence related to the country's drug war. Here, a child looks at a sign announcing the closure of a school in Acapulco, Sept. 1.
Pedro Pardo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 28, 2011 1:41 pm

In the coastal Mexican city of Acapulco, teachers are out on strike — not over wages, working conditions or pensions, but because of crime.

Teachers say they're being extorted, kidnapped and intimidated by local gangs and they're refusing to return to their classrooms until the government does something to protect them. Over the last two years, drug cartels fighting for control of Acapulco have terrorized the once-popular tourist resort.

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Conflict In Libya
10:01 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

Freedoms Flourish On Walls Across Tripoli

Caricatures of the ousted Gadhafi have sprung up all over Tripoli. This image of Gadhafi in chains is on a wall in the capital's Fashlum neighborhood.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Wed September 14, 2011 6:14 pm

In Tripoli, residents are painting the town red, green and black, the new colors of the Libyan revolution.

Under Moammar Gadhafi, the regime strictly controlled the images that were allowed in public. Storefronts had to be painted green. English was banned on signs. Anti-regime graffiti was quickly painted over and could be met with a harsh response.

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