Jason Beaubien

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Mexico City Correspondent. In his current job, he covers Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

Beaubien joined NPR's Foreign Desk in 2002 after volunteering to cover a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast. Over the next four years, Beaubien worked throughout sub-Saharan Africa, visiting 27 countries on the continent. He reported on poverty on the world's poorest continent, HIV in the epicenter of the epidemic, all-night acapella contests in South Africa, Afro-pop stars in Nigeria and a trial of white mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea. He covered the famines and wars of Africa, but also its 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.

From Mexico City he's 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, he 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.

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

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5:04am

Fri June 26, 2015
Goats and Soda

Polio Is Active In Only 3 Countries. Soon It Could Be Down To 2

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 7:35 am

At the health clinic in Minjibir, Nigeria, a child is immunized for polio.
David Gilkey NPR

Nigeria is on the verge of being polio-free. And that would mean that for the first time ever there's no ongoing polio transmission on the African continent.

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5:44am

Sat June 20, 2015
Goats and Soda

North Korea Announces Cure For MERS (As If)

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 7:55 am

To screen for MERS, an official at South Korea's customs gate checks the body heat of a worker arriving from North Korea.
JUNG YEON-JE AFP/Getty Images

As South Koreans continue to struggle with the worst outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, ever recorded outside the Middle East, their comrades to the north say, "We've got a cure for that!"

The World Health Organization says there's no known cure or vaccine for MERS, but state-run media in Pyongyang reports a wonder drug called Kumdang-2 will do the trick. The report makes no mention of whether Pyongyang is going to offer this miracle compound to its neighbor to the south. Or as the news agency puts it: "the Korean puppet authorities" in Seoul.

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2:57pm

Fri June 19, 2015
Goats and Soda

Why Ebola Won't Go Away In West Africa

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 1:19 am

A police officer guards the home of a family under a 21-day Ebola quarantine in Freetown, Sierra Leone, back in March.
Michael Duff AP

Ebola has dug in its heels.

Despite dramatic drops in the overall numbers of reported cases, Sierra Leone and Guinea are still struggling to stop the deadly disease.

Case tallies in both countries have dipped towards zero in the past few months, only to bounce back up. Sierra Leone reported 14 new cases this week and Guinea counted 10.

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5:13pm

Sun June 14, 2015
Goats and Soda

Why MERS Is Likely To Crop Up Outside The Middle East Again

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 2:09 pm

A dangerous nuzzle? A man in western Abu Dhabi hugs a camel brought in from Saudi Arabia for beauty contests. Middle East respiratory syndrome circulates in camels across the Arabian Peninsula.
Dave Yoder National Geographic

Blame it on the camels.

When scientists first detected Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012, the big question was: Where is this virus coming from?

For several years, scientists hunted the deadly virus across the Arabian Peninsula, and eventually they found at least one source — dromedary camels.

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1:14pm

Fri June 5, 2015
Goats and Soda

Behind The Story: What Made NPR Look Into Red Cross Efforts In Haiti?

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 9:01 pm

After the quake of 2010, a man stands on a rooftop yelling for any sign of his missing relatives in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood.
David Gilkey NPR

Where did the money go? An NPR and ProPublica investigation has raised troubling questions about what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the American Red Cross for earthquake relief in Haiti.

Goats and Soda posed a few questions to NPR correspondent Laura Sullivan about her work on this investigation.

What made you decide to look into the American Red Cross's earthquake recovery spending in Haiti?

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5:59pm

Wed June 3, 2015
Goats and Soda

MERS In South Korea Is Bad News But It's Not Yet Time To Panic

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 8:20 pm

A student wearing a face mask stands in a public square in Seoul on June 3. More than 200 primary schools shut down as South Korea has struggled to contain an outbreak of the MERS virus.
ED JONES AFP/Getty Images

Should the world be in a panic about MERS?

That's the global health question of the hour. South Korea is trying to get control of an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome. Officials have now confirmed 30 cases of the disease and two deaths. One of the patients traveled to China and remains hospitalized there. More than 1,000 people are now under quarantine in Hong Kong, China and South Korea as a result of the outbreak.

There's fear that MERS could be the next SARS, the respiratory virus that swept through the region in 2003, claiming hundreds of lives.

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3:46am

Fri May 29, 2015
Goats and Soda

New Jersey Lassa Fever Death Reveals Holes In Ebola Monitoring System

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 3:06 pm

The man who died of Lassa fever flew from West Africa to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

A man died of a hemorrhagic fever in New Jersey this week. This by itself is fairly unusual in the Garden State. Making the case even more odd was that the man was being monitored for Ebola by New Jersey health officials, and the case should have been caught earlier.

The events expose a hole in a public health system meant to track potential Ebola cases.

The 55-year-old New Jersey resident worked in the mining industry and traveled frequently to West Africa. Two weeks ago he landed at JFK International Airport after a flight from Liberia.

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3:32am

Wed May 27, 2015
Goats and Soda

As Antibiotic Resistance Spreads, WHO Plans Strategy To Fight It

Originally published on Sun May 31, 2015 9:44 pm

Patients receive treatment at the Chest Disease Hospital in Srinagar, India. The country has one of the highest rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the world, in part because antibiotics for the disease are poorly regulated by the government.
Dar Yasin AP

The world is losing some of the most powerful tools in modern medicine. Antibiotics are becoming less and less effective at fighting infections. The problem has gotten so bad that some doctors are starting to ponder a "post-antibiotic world."

Common infections that have been easily treatable for decades could become deadly if the current growth of antimicrobial resistance continues.

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3:42am

Thu May 21, 2015
Goats and Soda

WHO Calls For $100 Million Emergency Fund, Doctor 'SWAT Team'

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 8:00 pm

The Ebola outbreak "overwhelmed" the World Health Organization and made it clear the agency must change, WHO's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, said Monday in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 3,000 delegates from around the world are gathering this week in one of the most expensive cities in Europe to debate the fate of the World Health Organization.

There's one main question on the table: Will the WHO be given the power and money it needs to be the world's leading health agency, or will it plod forward in its current state — as a weak, bureaucratic agency of the U.N. known more for providing advice than taking action.

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3:25am

Wed May 20, 2015
Goats and Soda

She's Got One Of The Toughest Diseases To Cure. And She's Hopeful

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 2:44 pm

Jenny Tenorio Gallegos, 35, in Lima, Peru, is being treated for drug-resistant TB. The treatment lasts two years and may rob her of her hearing.
Jason Beaubien/NPR

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is not only airborne and lethal; it's one of the most difficult diseases in the world to cure.

In Peru, 35-year-old Jenny Tenorio Gallegos wheezes even when she's sitting still. That's because of the damage tuberculosis has done to her lungs. The antibiotics she's taking to treat extensively drug-resistant TB nauseate her, give her headaches, leave her exhausted and are destroying her hearing.

"At times I don't hear well," she says. "You have to speak loud for me to be able to understand."

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4:30pm

Tue May 19, 2015
Goats and Soda

Eyes In The Sky: Foam Drones Keep Watch On Rain Forest Trees

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 7:46 pm

A man and his drone: Carlos Casteneda of the Amazon Basin Conservation Association prepares to launch one of his plastic foam planes.
Jason Beaubien NPR

A couple of toy planes are out to catch illegal loggers and miners in the Amazon.

It's an awesome responsibility.

Every year, illegal logging and mining in the Peruvian Amazon destroy tens of thousands of acres of rain forest. The deforestation in remote parts of the jungle is difficult to detect while it's going on.

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3:24am

Tue May 19, 2015
Goats and Soda

They're Going Door To Door In The Amazon To See Why People Get Sick

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 10:14 am

Researchers meet participants: (from left) investigator Jose Luis Roca; Dr. Ernesto Ortiz; study participants Rainer Leon and his mother, Rina Leon Chanbilla; and nurse Jennifer Rampas.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Is it the mercury or the malaria?

Or maybe it's something else entirely that's making people sick in the Peruvian Amazon.

Those questions are bedeviling researchers from Duke University who have been studying gold mining in the region. Illegal mining has exploded in the area in the past decade, and the people living downriver have a variety of medical issues, from malaria to anemia to high blood pressure.

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6:06am

Sun May 17, 2015
Goats and Soda

Who Did This To Peru's Jungle?

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 3:52 pm

This aerial view shows the effects of gold mining on Peru's rain forest.
Courtesy of Gregory Asner, Carnegie Institution for Science

Gold has been a blessing and a curse for Peru for centuries. In the 16th century, one of the first Spanish explorers to arrive, Francisco Pizarro, was so enthralled by the mineral riches that he took the Inca king hostage.

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5:10pm

Fri May 15, 2015
Goats and Soda

What Should Liberia Do With Its Empty Ebola Treatment Units?

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 6:58 pm

A boot-drying rack sits empty at the Ministry of Defense Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia.
Jason Beaubien NPR

The plastic orange mesh fences that once separated Ebola patients in the "red zone" from visitors in the "green zone" have collapsed. Corrugated metal roofing sheets flap in the wind. Some of the tents that served as isolation wards are still in good shape, but many of the tarps used as partitions are torn and frayed.

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4:53am

Fri May 15, 2015
Goats and Soda

It's Like The Story Of Job: Ebola Survivors Who Continue To Suffer

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 12:13 pm

Moses Lasana recovered from Ebola, but he faces a range of medical issues and waves of pain. "The pain just come from one part of the body to another," he says.
Jason Beaubien/NPR

His mother named him Moses, but the story of Moses Lasana over the past year unfolds more like the story of Job: Adversity follows tragedy only to be topped off with pain.

Last summer, Moses Lasana's girlfriend, who was nine months pregnant with his child, got Ebola and died. He has two sons; one of them also got sick and died. Then he came down with the disease.

In September, Moses Lasana was cured of Ebola. That should have been good news for the 30-year-old Liberian. But his suffering continues.

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5:55am

Sat May 9, 2015
Goats and Soda

Block By Block, Health Workers Lead Liberia To Victory Over Ebola

Originally published on Sun May 10, 2015 6:29 am

Caroline Williams is a community organizer in New Kru Town, a suburb of Monrovia. Here's how she got her message through to Liberians about preventing Ebola: "We talk to them, talk to them, talk to them. At last they started listening to us. All the methods that we been giving them, by God's will, they accepted."
Jason Beaubien NPR

They were the ones who went door to door to stop the spread of Ebola. They were accused of passing on the virus and had water hurled at them. They were the community health workers — the unsung heroes of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

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4:30pm

Fri May 8, 2015
Goats and Soda

As Ebola Leaves Liberia, Measles Makes A Forceful Comeback

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 10:38 pm

A nurse holds a young girl who was vaccinated at the kickoff of a national measles prevention campaign in Liberia.
Jason Beaubien NPR

On the northern side of Monrovia, a team of nurses is vaccinating children on the veranda of the AfroMed clinic. Tables with boxes of rubber gloves and vaccine coolers are arranged in the shade out of the intense, tropical sun.

A mother rocks her crying baby, who has just been jabbed with a measles shot. Martina Seyah, who brought her 2-year-old daughter, Irena, to get the shot, says parents in the neighborhood are very worried their children could get measles or other diseases.

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4:00pm

Mon April 20, 2015
Goats and Soda

You Don't Want To Mess With An Angry Mother

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 4:42 pm

Phyllis Omido is one of six winners of the 2015 Goldman Environmental prizes.
Courtesy of The Goldman Environmental Prize

In the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, Phyllis Omido knew that industry could pose a danger to the surrounding communities. She'd worked on environmental impact assessment reports for several factories.

But when her 2 1/2-year-old son, King David, got sick with a mysterious condition, it didn't occur to her that it might be from environmental toxins. He had a high fever that wasn't responding to medication. He couldn't sleep. He was plagued with diarrhea, and his eyes became runny. He spent two weeks in the hospital, and still no one could figure out what was wrong.

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6:25pm

Sat April 18, 2015
Health

WHO Leader Says End Of Ebola Outbreak Is Near, But Hard Work Remains

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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4:06pm

Fri April 10, 2015
Goats and Soda

What's Bigger: Yemen Or Virginia? There's An App For That

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 5:21 pm

From left: How the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen stack up against the United States.
IfItWereMyHome.com

The headlines tell a lot about the crisis in Yemen: internal strife, evacuations of international aid workers, Saudi Arabian airstrikes.

But you may have one very basic question that you can't easily find an answer for: How big is Yemen, anyway?

You can look at maps and check out Wikipedia but wouldn't it be great to just to slap an outline of Yemen on top of a map of the United States to get a sense of its size?

IfItWereMyHome.com lets you do just that.

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5:29pm

Sun March 1, 2015
Goats and Soda

The Brother Went To Fight Ebola. So Did His Sister. Mom Was 'A Wreck'

Originally published on Sun March 1, 2015 7:43 pm

How do siblings get around the "no touching" rule during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone? Alex and Jen Tran grabbed a rare hug when they were geared up for training.
Courtesy of Alex Tran

When Alex Tran went off to Sierra Leone to work as an epidemiologist, his parents were worried. His mom was "a wreck," according to his sister Jen, who followed him into the Ebola hot zone a few weeks later.

Last fall as the Ebola outbreak raged in West Africa, Alex, 28, was working at USAID. Jen, who's a registered nurse, was deployed with the U.S. Navy on a ship in the Arabian Gulf. They both were itching to get to the front lines of the epidemic to help.

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3:36am

Fri February 20, 2015
Goats and Soda

The World Could Be On The Verge Of Losing A Powerful Malaria Drug

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 7:21 pm

A mother holds her ailing son at a special clinic for malaria in Myanmar.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

A new study finds a disturbing trend in the battle against malaria. There are highly effective drugs called artemisinins — and now resistant malaria is turning up in parts of Myanmar, the reclusive country also known as Burma, where it hadn't been seen before.

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4:39pm

Thu February 12, 2015
Goats and Soda

Nigeria Is On The Verge Of Bidding Goodbye To Polio

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 6:29 pm

In this 2012 photograph, Adamu Ali carries his 4-year-old son, Omar, who was stricken with polio earlier that year. They live in the Nigerian village of Minjibir.
David Gilkey NPR

Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the three countries where polio transmission has never been brought to a halt.

Now Nigeria may be leaving this unfortunate club.

In 2006 the West African nation recorded more than 1,000 cases of polio-induced paralysis. Last year it had only six; the most recent was in July.

"This I believe is the first time in history that they've gone this long without having a case," says Gregory Armstrong, chief of the polio eradication branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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4:28pm

Wed February 11, 2015
Goats and Soda

The U.S. Helped Beat Back Ebola — Only Not In The Way You Might Think

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 7:08 pm

Boys run from blowing dust as a U.S. Marine vehicle takes off from an Ebola treatment center under construction in Liberia in October. In the end, the centers weren't always needed, but the military's ability to ferry supplies was critical in fighting the outbreak.
John Moore Getty Images

Hundreds of U.S. troops, sent to help fight Ebola in West Africa, are now coming home. That's the news from the White House today.

Did they make a difference?

Not in the way you'd think. The grand plans to build 17 new field hospitals in Liberia and train thousands of health care workers, announced in September, didn't quite come off. Several of the hospitals weren't needed and were never built. Others opened after the epidemic had peaked and were practically empty. Only a fraction of the promised health workers were trained.

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10:56am

Fri February 6, 2015
Goats and Soda

Measles Vaccination Rates: Tanzania Does Better Than U.S.

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 2:51 pm

This World Health Organization map shows the percent of the population vaccinated for measles in each country in 2013. Dark green is at least 90 percent. Light green is 80 to 89 percent. Orange is 50 to 79 percent. Red is less than 50 percent.
Courtesy of WHO

As debate mounts in the U.S. over whether or not to require measles vaccinations, global immunization rates show something interesting: Many poor countries have far higher vaccination rates than rich ones.

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10:40am

Fri February 6, 2015
Goats and Soda

Critics Say Ebola Crisis Was WHO's Big Failure. Will Reform Follow?

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 12:37 pm

Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, has said of Ebola: "It overwhelmed the capacity of WHO, and it is a crisis that cannot be solved by a single agency or single country."
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Ebola was the Hurricane Katrina for the World Health Organization — its moment of failure. The organization's missteps in the early days of the outbreak are now legendary.

At first the agency that's responsible for "providing leadership on global health matters" was dismissive of the scale of the problem in West Africa. Then it deflected responsibility for the crisis to the overwhelmed governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. After eight months, it finally stepped up to take charge of the Ebola response but lacked the staff and funds to do so effectively.

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11:09am

Wed February 4, 2015
Goats and Soda

New Clues To Mysterious Kidney Disease Afflicting Sugar Cane Workers

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:48 am

A new study finds that strenuous labor in the sugar cane fields of Central America is contributing to a mysterious form of kidney failure. Above: Workers harvest sugar cane in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Something is destroying the kidneys of farm workers along the Pacific coast of Central America. Over the past two decades, more than 20,000 people in western Nicaragua and El Salvador — mostly men and many of them in their 20s and 30s — have died of a mysterious form of kidney failure. Researchers have been able to say definitively that it's not diabetes or other common causes of kidney failure.

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6:35pm

Fri January 30, 2015
Goats and Soda

Measles Is A Killer: It Took 145,000 Lives Worldwide Last Year

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 8:43 pm

A Vietnamese boy is treated for measles in a state-run hospital in April 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

The number of measles cases from the outbreak linked to Disneyland has now risen to at least 98. But measles remains extremely rare in the United States.

The rest of the world hasn't been so fortunate. Last year roughly 250,000 people came down with measles; more than half of them died.

Currently the Philippines is experiencing a major measles outbreak that sickened 57,000 people in 2014. China had twice that many cases, although they were more geographically spread out. Major outbreaks were also recorded in Angola, Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

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6:12pm

Tue January 27, 2015
Goats and Soda

For Dollars Donated To Vaccine Campaigns, Norway Wears The Crown

A Pakistani polio vaccination worker gives a dose to a child in Islamabad during a 2014 campaign.
Farooq Naeem AFP/Getty Images

GAVI asked and the world gave.

GAVI is the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. At a conference in Berlin today, the nonprofit group asked for help in meeting its goals of vaccinating 300 million children in low income countries against potentially fatal diseases.

The response was extraordinary: a total of $7.5 billion pledged to cover GAVI's 2016-2020 efforts.

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5:40pm

Thu January 22, 2015
Goats and Soda

30-Year Sentence Lifted For Woman In El Salvador Abortion Case

In November, women in El Salvador marched for the freedom of 17 women accused of abortion, including Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez Aldana. She was pardoned this week.
Luis Galdamez Xinhua /Landov

Seven years ago, Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez Aldana went to jail in El Salvador. She was initially charged with abortion but prosecutors elevated the charge to aggravated homicide, arguing that the fetus was viable. Vasquez always contended that she did not have an abortion but had lost her unborn son due to medical complications late in the pregnancy.

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