Robert Siegel

In 1995, NPR's All Things Considered invited tech writer Walt Mossberg on to the show to report on an increasingly popular phenomenon: the World Wide Web.

Mossberg shared a tool that helped to make sense of a disorganized and chaotic Internet, a website called Yahoo. At the time, Yahoo was a directory service for searching online, he explained.

North Korea now has its own version of Spam in grocery stores. In the capital, Pyongyang, at least, everyone has a smartphone — or two.

These are some of the things journalist Jean Lee didn't see five years ago when she opened the Associated Press bureau in the capital of the impoverished and isolated country.

Now a global fellow at the Wilson Center, Lee was invited to travel to North Korea this week to attend a medical conference in Pyongyang and follow a team of Korean-American surgeons.

In 1995, 22-year-old Steven Mallory imagined a life completely unlike his own — one without gangs, drugs and welfare dependency. He imagined having a solid family and savings.

But in Dayton, Ohio, he had a job literally doing the city's dirty work: cleaning up after the garbage trucks dumped their load at the county incinerator.

He had been a fast-living teenage drug dealer, making about $500 or $600 a day. Given to fancy cars and expensive suits, he had been known on the streets of West Dayton as Monte Carlos.

This week marks the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I, a conflict that shattered empires and cost millions of lives. On the American home front, it made this country less culturally German.

Today, when the question of loyalty of immigrants has again become contentious, what happened a century ago has special relevance. World War I inspired an outbreak of nativism and xenophobia that targeted German immigrants, Americans of German descent and even the German language.

An estimated 11 million immigrants live and work in the United States illegally. Their fate is one of the big policy questions facing the country. The story of how that population grew so large is a long one that's mostly about Mexico, and full of unintended consequences.

Prior to the 1920s, the U.S. had few restrictions on immigration, save for a few notable exclusions.

"Basically, people could show up," says Jeffrey Passel, of the Pew Research Center.

For workers in Mexico, crossing into the U.S. made a lot of economic sense, then and now.

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