The World Today for August 16, 2018

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Lemons to Lemonade

Americans rarely think of South America as a destination for immigrants and refugees.

But Chile is now experiencing an influx of newcomers that’s one of the largest immigration surges in the nation’s history.

Annual immigration to Chile, the continent’s wealthiest country per capita, has grown from around 460,000 in 2015 to 2 million last year, according to Voice of America. That’s double what Germany saw in its so-called refugee crisis in 2015.

In Chile, immigrants are now around 7 percent of the population, more than double the proportion three years ago.

Chile’s population is aging. The economy needs more workers. As illustrated by Al Jazeera’s story on the Palestinian community in Chile, the largest outside the Middle East, the country already has an immigrant culture where newcomers settle and assimilate without losing their roots. Those factors come together to make Chile an ideal destination for migrants.

“As US Slows Immigration, One Latin American Nation Embraces It,” read a Wall Street Journal headline early this year.

Today, however, immigration is stirring controversy in Chile, and ghettos are appearing where previously little poverty could be found.

Haitians are among the largest cohort of newcomers. They are discovering that Chile, settled largely by white Europeans who speak Spanish, is not always so welcoming to black Francophones, reported the Miami Herald.

A flood of Venezuelans fleeing their country’s economic mess also led Chilean authorities to tighten up rules designed to keep refugees out, the Washington Post wrote.

Officials are also moving to bring illegal immigrants into the open so they might join the formal economy rather than work on the black market, Bloomberg explained.

“The time of illegal immigration is behind us,” even as Chile “remains a welcoming country,” President Sebastian Pinera told the financial news service.

Think tank Stratfor noted that those efforts come as Chile is revising other immigration rules with an eye toward building a tech sector and a more diversified economy that might lessen the country’s dependence on copper exports. Stratfor noted that 40 percent of employees at 1,300 startups launched in the past eight years were foreigners.

Those efforts stand in contrast to efforts in the US and Europe to repel refugees or blame them for crime and other problems, wrote former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos in the Argentine newspaper Clarin. “We must widen our outlook and understand the migrant not just as social burden or political pawn, but as a source of economic development,” he argued.

Social tensions will inevitably arise from immigration. But Chile shows natives can make lemonade from lemons.



Sticks and Carrots

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday offered to open joint economic zones along the border and build railway links with the North, along with other measures to expand economic ties between the two countries, in a bid to push North Korea to begin disbanding its nuclear program.

“We must overcome division for our survival and prosperity,” Moon said during a speech commemorating National Liberation Day, the end of Japan’s colonial rule following World War II.

If the proposals are implemented, they could significantly ease tensions between the two Koreas, but would also risk going well beyond what the US is prepared to offer, the New York Times reported. Since agreeing to give up his nuclear program at the June summit with US President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has taken no meaningful steps toward that goal, the US says.

To boost pressure on Kim, the US Treasury Department on Wednesday issued new sanctions on companies based in China, Singapore and Russia that facilitated illicit shipments to North Korea, the Times said separately.


Doubling Down

The US is more than doubling the number of troops stationed in Norway and moving soldiers closer to the country’s border with Russia in a move that has raised hackles in Moscow.

Russia called the plans to boost America’s troop presence to 700 from 330 soldiers “clearly unfriendly,” Reuters reported. Oslo said the US soldiers are there only for training purposes and the increase in their numbers should not be interpreted as a military escalation.

Until the plan was first announced in June, the contingent of Marines, which had been deployed to train for fighting in winter conditions in 2017, had been slated to leave Norway at the end of this year. The first foreign troops stationed in Norway since World War II, the US troops are now slated to remain in the country for five years, the agency said.

The deployment follows US President Donald Trump’s recent criticism of America’s NATO allies for failing to meet defense spending targets, suggesting Washington remains more concerned about Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea than European defense budgets.


New Players, Old Song

A suicide bombing that killed 48 young men and women at a private education center in a Shiite area of Kabul on Wednesday was blamed on Islamic State, while across Afghanistan the Taliban killed scores of Afghan troops and civilians in a series of attacks this week.

Wednesday’s attack on a center where high school graduates were preparing for university entrance exams illustrated that militants remain able to mount large-scale attacks, even in the heart of the capital, even as the US attempts to pass the responsibility for security to local troops, the Associated Press reported.

The spokesman for the public health ministry said the death toll from the latest bombing could rise, as 67 people were also wounded in the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility, but a local Shiite leader blamed IS, saying the group has carried out at least 13 such attacks on the Shiite community in Kabul over the past two years.


Shark-osaurus Rex

An asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs 66 million years ago is now thought to have also caused an Armageddon among ancient sharks, according to a recent study.

Researchers examining fossilized shark teeth found that several large species known as anacoracids went extinct after their food sources – large marine mollusks and reptiles – were wiped out by the cataclysm at the end of the Cretaceous era, National Geographic reported.

The anacoracids were replaced by smaller, fish-eating species, which became the ancestors of most of the shark species we know today.

Meanwhile, following the extinction of those sharks, bony fishes proliferated, paleontologist Nicolas Campione, a co-author of the study, explained. “So anacoracids, which would have relied on large marine organisms for sustenance, did poorly across the extinction, whereas predominantly fish-eating forms, such as smaller-bodied houndsharks, did well.”

Nearly 34 percent of the large shark species of that period are believed to have perished after the impact. Today, at least 50 percent of living shark species are threatened or declining.

Campione hopes that understanding what led to shark extinctions in the past might offer insights into preventing today’s threatened species from suffering the same fate.

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