World Tour

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour.

Now, both Mindy Belz and Onize Ohikere are traveling this week.  So we will be taking you on a tour of important stories from around the world.

Asia Bibi hearing—We begin today in Pakistan, where the Supreme Court upheld its earlier acquittal of Asia Bibi. Tuesday’s ruling clears the way for the Christian mother of five to leave the country.

AUDIO: She is obviously not safe here—she has to leave this country.

That’s Asia Bibi’s lawyer, speaking to reporters after the ruling.

A Pakistani court sentenced Bibi to death in 2010 for blasphemy. Her defense team insisted the charges against her were baseless and stemmed from a personal dispute with her Muslim co-workers. Bibi spent eight years on death row before Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted her last year.

That ruling sparked violent protests from extremists who called for her beheading. To stop the protests, the government agreed to have the court reconsider its decision.

Bibi and her family have remained in hiding while they awaited the final decision. Now that she’s free to leave the country, her lawyer said he expects her to do so quickly.

AUDIO: When she go you better ask her, but most probably very soon, maybe today, very soon.

Bibi’s daughters are already in Canada, which reportedly granted them asylum.

Arrests in Brazil dam disasterNext we go to Brazil, where officials have issued five arrest warrants in connection with last week’s dam collapse. The official death toll stands at 65.

AUDIO: [Sound of helicopter flying over area]

But that number will likely rise as the search for victims continues. On Tuesday, rescuers discovered a minivan buried in mud, with bodies inside. Nearly 300 people remain missing.

Most of them worked for Vale. That’s the mining company that operated the dam. The judge who issued Tuesday’s arrest warrants said he could not believe a dam of such magnitude would break suddenly, with no warning. A German company in charge of inspecting the dam confirmed two of its employees are under arrest.

Migrants returned to LibyaNext, North Africa, where commercial ships returned at least 250 migrants and refugees to Libya after rescuing them at sea.

AUDIO: [Sound of rescue, yelling]

International aid groups working in the region say sending the migrants back violates international law and the migrants’ safety.

The returning migrants face ongoing clashes in Libya and over-crowded detention facilities. During a visit to Austria, the Libyan prime minister acknowledged the challenges.

AUDIO: [Man speaking in Arabic]

He saying here, —“I wish we had a comprehensive approach to dealing with this problem—we’re talking about development for the countries of origin, about putting pressure on them to take back their citizens.”

This year, nearly 5,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean trying to enter Europe. More than 200 have died.

Japan prepares for OlympicsNext to Japan, where preparations are underway for next year’s Olympic games. One Tokyo bus company debuted a driverless shuttle this week that can help take people to and from the airport.

AUDIO: [Sound of road noise]

If they work, the driverless buses could become a fixture in Japan. The country’s shrinking population makes bus drivers hard to find.

In another Olympic-related move that could have long-lasting effects, the country’s three major convenience-store chains have agreed to stop selling pornographic magazines at nearly all of their stores.

Cubans inaugurate new Catholic churchWe end today in Cuba, where Catholic worshippers opened their first new church in 60 years. The Cuban government approved the new church in 2014. But it took more than four years to build, in part because building materials are still in short supply on the Communist-run island.

The new, bright yellow church seats 200 people. Before it opened on Sunday, Catholic parishioners in the western town of Sandino worshipped in a converted garage. Despite the lack of official churches in Cuba, the house church movement has flourished, especially among evangelical congregations.

That’s this week’s World Tour.

(AP Photo/B.K. Bangash) Saiful Malook, center, lawyer of Pakistani Christian woman Aasia Bibi who is facing blasphemy charges, arrives at the Supreme Court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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