Gregory Warner

Although New Zealand is about as far — in miles, at least — as you can get from Minneapolis, protests have erupted there over the killing of George Floyd. The Indigenous Maori people in particular have pushed back against police use of force, which disproportionately affects them.

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New Zealand is about as far in miles as you can get from Minneapolis, but protests there have erupted over the killing of George Floyd.

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Baruch Shpitzer, the reception manager at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel, prides himself on making tourists feel at home in his sprawling 9-story hotel and spa, built into a cliffside and featuring panoramic Old City views.

In March, though, his hospitality skills were put to the test. His reception desk was encased in plexiglass. His new arrivals were sometimes delivered by ambulance. None of them was staying at his hotel by choice.

"We speak to them to get them out from the shock that they're in when they're coming into the hotel," Shpitzer says.

The new coronavirus pandemic felt thousands of miles away, until it didn't. As cases in the U.S. skyrocketed, many noticed a shift — from watching the headlines, to watching what we touch. Listeners wrote in to our podcast, Rough Translation, describing feeling out of sync with their government, their friends, their neighbors.

But what about the disconnect inside one's own home?

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Mohamed Barud was a 31-year-old newlywed when he was sentenced to life in prison in Somalia.

This was 1981. Somalia was ruled by a military dictator, Siad Barre. And Mohamed's crime, if you can call it that, was writing a letter complaining about conditions at the local hospital, a complaint the government saw as treasonous. Mohamed was put in solitary confinement.

"It was strictly forbidden to talk to your neighbors. So you walk forward and backward." Just three short steps.

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Mohamed Barud was a 31-year-old newlywed when he was sentenced to life in prison in Somalia.

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Editor's note: This post is an update of an earlier story, from the Invisibilia podcast and program, which is broadcast on participating public radio stations.

In what countries are women and men on the most equal footing?

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This story comes from NPR's Rough Translation podcast, which explores how ideas we wrestle with in the U.S. are being discussed in the rest of the world.

Sophia Lierenfeld didn't set out to give dating advice to Syrian refugees.

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Two days before my first trip to Afghanistan, in 2007, I was terrified, speaking no Dari and having never interviewed anyone in a war zone. On impulse, I grabbed my little red travel accordion, mumbling something about using the "universal language of music" to connect with people whose world seemed wholly different from my own.

Michael Sharp believed in the power of persuasion. The 34-year-old Kansan with the round face and a penchant for plaid shirts would walk, unarmed, deep into rebel-held territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo, sit in the shade of banana trees with rebels and exchange stories.

Inevitably, those stories would turn to the past. "Rebels love talking about the past," Michael once told me.

As part of the project A Nation Engaged, NPR and member stations are exploring America's role in the world heading into the presidential election.

Everyone knew President Obama would say something about gay rights when he visited Kenya last summer. Many American activists were pressing him to publicly condemn Kenya's colonial-era law making homosexuality a crime.

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