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Cuba Announces Plans To Change Currency System

Cuba has announced that it's going to eliminate its two-currency system, which was meant to protect the Caribbean island's communist system. The government says the unification of the currency would happen in stages, but it provided no details.
NPR

Desperate Chinese Villagers Turn To Self-Immolation

Over the past decade, local governments have demolished millions of homes as China rushes toward urbanization. Protests against such land seizures have taken a disturbing turn recently: A 42-year-old rice farmer set himself on fire last month when authorities came to his home. There have been more than 50 such cases since 2009.
NPR

Haitian Cholera Strain Spreads To Mainland With Mexico Outbreak

A cholera outbreak in Mexico has been traced to the same strain that first appeared in Haiti three years ago. It has appeared in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, too. So far nearly 9,000 people have died in the four countries, and health authorities think it will spread further in the Americas.
NPR

Sony Explains Why Its PlayStation 4 Costs $1,845 In Brazil

The steep cost isn't a case of price-gouging, the company says, but a sign of Brazil's heavy taxes and fees on imported electronics. Prospective customers say it could be cheaper to fly to the U.S. to buy the game console.
NPR

Paris' Traffic-Cutting Gamble Charms Pedestrians, Irks Drivers

In a daring move, the mayor of Paris recently shut off a major vehicle thoroughfare through the city, the highway along the Seine River. The effort is part of his plan to reduce city traffic. The move delighted Parisians and tourists this summer, but many wonder if it'll be such a hot idea during the cold winter months.
NPR

Brazil's Black Block Activists: Criminals Or People Power?

The protests that swept through Brazil last summer raised the profile of the Black Bloc — masked anarchists who use violence to get their anti-capitalist message across. The secretive members explain that their tactics are intended to shake up a corrupt and complacent government. But many regular protesters feel that the Black Bloc has hijacked their movement and that they do more harm than good.
NPR

China Fights Choking Smog With New Regulations

China's central and local governments are releasing a slew of new regulations aimed at cutting severe air pollution and mitigating its deadly effect on citizens. The seriousness of the problem is obvious in China's northeast, where smog in one city this week cut visibility down to a few yards, and particulate matter soared to 60 times the level deemed safe by the World Health Organization.
NPR

Cuba To Phase Out Two-Peso Currency System

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has used either American currency or a peso that's pegged to the dollar alongside its national peso. The country says it will unify the two currencies.
NPR

Nuclear Plant Starts Up On India's Tsunami-Vulnerable Coast

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, a joint project with Russia, begins producing electricity on the country's southern tip.
NPR

In Russia's Vast Far East, Timber Thieves Thrive

The demand for Russia's high-value timber is fueling organized crime, government corruption and illegal logging. The hardwood often ends up as flooring and furniture in the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

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