Like a lot of Mexican towns, Florencia has had its share of problems dealing with drug gangs. That is until recently, when new narcos rolled into
town telling residents that they were there to liberate them. They promised that people would live in peace and tranquility. And so far, it's working. As long as the narcos are on the streets with guns, people feel safe. That and other stories of thugs.
Host Ira Glass tells the story of Florencia de Benito Juarez, a small town in Mexico where a new drug gang recently took over. They promised peace and tranquility, and for the most part, they're making good on those promises. Thugs: keeping order. (7 minutes)
"Thug" is a very imprecise word. And as producer Nancy Updike explains, the subjectivity of its meaning has been particularly apparent during the recent revolution in Egypt. Translations in this story are read by actor Michael Chernus. (17 minutes)
Reporter Laura Beil tells the story of a kid named Kenneth Williams and an adult named Ton'Nea Williams (who share a last name but are not related). Ton'Nea has been stuck with this question: is Kenneth a thug or not? (30 minutes)
We hear the story of the Persian Gulf war, as told by Issam Shukri, a family man from Bagdad who was drafted into Saddam's army against his will. He had to explain to his three-year-old son why those usually civilized Americans were bombing their city night after night.