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. He's covered mass circumcision drives in Kenya, abortion in El Salvador, poisonous gold mines in Nigeria, drug-resistant malaria in Myanmar and tuberculosis in Tajikistan. During 2014, he reported extensively on the West Africa Ebola outbreak. His current beat also examines development issues including why Niger has the highest birth rate in the world, can private schools serve some of the poorest kids on the planet and the links between obesity and economic growth.

Prior to becoming the Global Health and Development Correspondent in 2012, Beaubien spent four years based in Mexico City covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In that role, Beaubien filed stories on politics in Cuba, the 2010 Haitian earthquake, 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.

Transcript

LAURA SULLIVAN, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Laura Sullivan.

It's Election Day in Nicaragua where President Daniel Ortega is running for an unprecedented third term. The country's constitution sets a two-term limit, but the Supreme Court declared that unconstitutional. The longtime Sandinistan leader has been leading in the polls. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from Managua.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, host: Nicaraguans go to the polls today and are expected to reelect President Daniel Ortega, who is running in spite of a constitutional ban on presidents serving consecutive terms. Ortega, a Marxist icon of the 1980s, has become a polarizing figure in the Central American nation. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

JASON BEAUBIEN: Martha Alicia Alvado loves Daniel Ortega. After all, it's because of him that she has her own house.

MARTHA ALICIA ALVADO: (Spanish spoken)

Nicaragua has a constitutional ban on sitting presidents running for re-election. But Daniel Ortega is doing just that, and he looks set to win an unprecedented third term.

This is an election filled with shifting ghosts. Characters from all sides of Nicaragua's tumultuous recent history are involved in the campaign.

Ortega, the former Marxist guerrilla and longtime Sandinista leader, is promising neoliberal reforms and a pro-business environment to attract foreign capital.

Ortega is leading in the polls — but legal scholars say he is ineligible to run.

In the latest twist to Mexico's drug wars, a new group has vowed to launch a paramilitary offensive against a leading drug cartel in Veracruz, a city that has become a flash point in the violence.

Over the past month, more than 100 bodies have been strewn around the city, which is one of Mexico's largest and oldest ports. The violence prompted Mexican President Felipe Calderon to declare that Veracruz has been "left in the hands of the Zetas," one of the most brutal criminal organizations in the country.

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.

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.

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.

The fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has brought about a dramatic change on the radio dial in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

In the past, Libyans could only tune in to the government stations. Foreign broadcast signals were blocked. And what the state-run stations offered was tightly controlled and laden with pro-Gadhafi propaganda.

Now, the airwaves that used to only carry four state-run stations — broadcasting only in Libyan Arabic as a mouthpiece for the Gadhafi regime — are filled with broadcasts from across the Mediterranean and neighboring Tunisia.

In Libya, there's growing concern over the vast arsenals of weapons that have flooded on to the streets since Moammar Gadhafi's ouster. Warehouses of surface-to-air missiles, mortars and anti-tank mines have been looted.

Soon after the rebels overran the headquarters of Gadhafi's much feared Khamis Brigade on the south side of Tripoli, rebels and ordinary citizens scavenged through a bombed-out warehouse on the base.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, host:

And let's turn now to Libya, where the capital Tripoli is rapidly rebounding from the fighting that ousted Moammar Gadhafi from power. Less than three weeks after the rebels launched their assault on the city, shops are re-opening, the water and electricity are back on, and garbage is being picked up. Tripoli's new city officials are also working to re-establish security. NPR's Jason Beaubien is in the city and sent us this report.

Rebel forces in Libya have surrounded the town of Bani Walid, southeast of the capital Tripoli. The rebels are still hoping to negotiate a peaceful takeover of the town, a stronghold of embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi, and avoid further civilian casualties. But Gadhafi loyalists are refusing to surrender.

Last week, Matthew VanDyke, a freelance journalist and travel writer from Baltimore, went from solitary confinement in one of Moammar Gadhafi's most notorios prisons to one of Tripoli's most luxurious hotels.

VanDyke acknowledges that in early March, shortly after the uprising against Gadhafi began, he arrived in Libya in order to help the rebels.

"I was here to do whatever I could to help the revolution and I'll leave it at that," said VanDyke, who is now a guest at the Corinthia Hotel in the Libyan capital.

Libya's Transitional National Council is calling on police to return to the streets of Tripoli. The police fled as rebels took control of the capital. Despite being associated with Moammar Gadhafi's regime, and no money to pay them, some police are returning to work.

Now that Moammar Gadhafi's regime has lost control of the Libyan capital Tripoli, some Africans have been left vulnerable to attack. Many rebels believe any dark man from sub-Saharan Africa is a Gadhafi mercenary. The Africans say they are in Libya either as laborers or waiting to get to Italy. The International Organization for Migration says their plight is a significant problem.

Though rebels have consolidated control over Tripoli, life in the Libyan capital grows more difficult by the day. Residents scramble just to get basic supplies, such as food and water.

The city's tap water normally comes from what Moammar Gadhafi touted as the "Eighth Wonder of the World," the Great Man-Made River. The system channels water from deep wells in the desert to Tripoli and other parts of Western Libya.

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