Can extremists be de-radicalised? For Assignment, Adrian Goldberg, hears from the ‘intervention providers’ in the United Kingdom tasked with turning offenders away from violence. Usman Khan was released from prison in 2018 for plotting a terror attack. He’d undertaken two de-radicalisation programmes designed to turn him away from violent extremism. Yet despite efforts to rehabilitate him, Khan launched an attack near London Bridge, in the capital, killing two people – one of them was Jack Merri...more
For many years ADHD was dismissed by sceptics as a dubious condition. Later, when it achieved recognition, if not acceptance, the focus was very much on the negative impact it had on the lives of people it affected and their close ones. As Saeedeh Hashemi - herself diagnosed with ADHD - will show, there is now increasing understanding that living with the condition also brings positives. Saeedeh will meet others who, for all the downsides of the disorder, feel that life without it would be...more
Peter's latest spot of tourism takes him to Melbourne. As a huge sports fan, he is used to listening on his crackly radio to cricket commentaries. So he heads to the Melbourne cricket ground, as a first stop. In the spirit of the Ashes, he went with David, another blind cricket nut and a native of the city. His next stop is Melbourne’s version of the golden mile, where Peter indulged another obsession - funfairs. But the real joy of Melbourne is the outdoors, and the delight of wandering around ...more
Coronavirus Global Conversations is a place to talk about the impact of the disease.
Five years on from the refugee crisis of 2015, Germany is now home to over a million refugees. Naomi Scherbel-Ball explores a classroom experiment with a difference: a scheme to retrain refugee teachers and place them in German schools, to help the country with a shortage of 40,000 teachers. Naomi visits a school in Mönchengladbach in Western Germany, where Mustafa Hammal teaches English. Mustafa, an English teacher with eight years of experience, fled the civil war in Syria with his family in ...more
Alan Dein connects with seven individuals whose lives have shifted under the coronavirus pandemic as they nervously anticipate what will come next in an uncertain future. In Tehran, Golnar, an Iranian who describes herself as ‘constant traveller’ is inside her apartment – all future trips postponed. Across the town is the hostel she set up with a friend. Forced to close in the city’s lockdown it is now serving a crucial role. In Dhaka, as the pandemic takes hold, entrepreneur Fahad worries for t...more
Romania's forests are the Amazon of Europe - with large wilderness areas under constant pressure from loggers. For years, corrupt authorities turned a blind eye to illegal felling. But now a series of killings in the woods has intensified demands across the continent to end the destruction. Six rangers - who defend forests from illegal cutting – have been killed in as many years. Two died in the space of just a few weeks late last year. The latest victim, Liviu Pop, father of three young girls, ...more
Peter White, who was born without sight, takes a tour of Miami, navigating primarily with his ears. Peter joins a new blind friend, George, who takes him on a relaxed stroll around a well-heeled area on a sunny afternoon. Peter talks to Carlos, a homeless man trudging the streets each day looking for work. And, on the outskirts of Miami, Peter meets his first alligator.
In September 2018, the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was opened for the first time in 20 years. Physical travel between the two countries and even telephone communication had been next to impossible, separating families and devastating businesses in borderland towns such as Zalambessa in Ethiopia. The communities on either side have had the opportunity to reconnect, rebuild and move on with their lives. The town is undergoing a transformation. Now, family events and religious ceremonies ar...more
According to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, there are more than 30,000 North Korean defectors living in the South. The lack of access to North Korea makes defectors one of the few windows to what life is like in the secretive regime. As a result, the defectors and their stories have become a hugely valuable commodity in South Korea’s popular culture and media. There are a number of popular reality TV programmes starring North Korean defectors. Hyun-joo Yu is one of the most established...more
Saying no to dating is part of a growing ultraconservative social movement in Indonesia being spread through Instagram and WhatsApp. “When I look at couples, I see my old self, how I used to be affectionate in public, holding hands, hugging,” says 23-year-old Yati, “and now I think that’s disgusting.” When Yati broke up with her ex, she didn’t just swear off dating; she joined Indonesia’s anti-dating movement - Indonesia Without Dating. Its leaders say dating is expensive, gets in the way of stu...more
The manager of Liverpool Football Club, who lead them to victory in the Champions League. But Jurgen Klopp has not always been this successful. When he was a young footballer at Mainz 05 in Germany, his former team mate Guido Shafer says he 'had no talent'. So what can we learn from his childhood in Germany's Black Forest? How did he become the manager he is today?
He’s the DMC in the legendary Run-DMC, a titan of the music industry. The group became known as the movie stars of rap. Busta Rhymes said of them “They didn’t just change music, they changed everything.” Presenter Joe Pascal meets the Devastating Mic Controller himself - Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels. He grew up in Hollis Queens and was at the forefront of revolutionary change in the New York music scene with the explosion of hip hop. He was there, watching, from the early days, with the DJs and MCs at...more
Ireland has booming investment and lots of new jobs. But Chris Bowlby discovers how a huge housing crisis is haunting the country’s young people in particular. Anger about poor housing, and fear of mass emigration by the young are issues with deep roots in Irish memory. And the housing crisis was a crucial factor in the recent Irish election which shocked the main parties and saw big gains for the nationalists of Sinn Fein . Chris travels to the city of Cork in the southwest of the country. He t...more
A new wave of end of life rituals is emerging across northern England. As funeral costs increase, the influence of the traditional undertaker is declining. Communities are building pyramids containing their dead loved one's ashes and a growing number of people are choosing to organise their own bespoke events.
What motivated the demonstrators on the city’s streets – and their opponents? It all began as a peace movement to block a piece of legislation. Millions of people came out onto public spaces calling for greater democracy. Protests have ended in violence between protesters and the police. Thousands have been arrested. Laura Westbrook travels to her birthplace to find out what’s behind the protests, which are now continuing on a smaller scale because of the outbreak of coronavirus.
The rosewood tree is one of the most trafficked wild products on earth. When it is cut it bleeds a blood red sap. Having exhausted stocks elsewhere, Chinese traders have turned to West Africa to feed demand back home where the hardwood is prized for use in traditional Chinese furniture. In Senegal it is illegal to fell or export a rosewood tree. And yet they are being logged and smuggled at an alarming rate from the forests of Casamance, through the port of neighbouring Gambia and all the way to...more
Nele and Ellie are detransitioners too. In their early 20s, they were brought up as girls, and began to identify as transmen in their teens. To present as more masculine, both took testosterone and had their breasts removed in double mastectomy surgery. Connecting online, these two young women are now supporting each other to re-identify as female.
Jump on-board a doomed mission to the Moon. Apollo 13: the extraordinary story, told by the people who flew it and saved it. Search for 13 Minutes to the Moon wherever you get your podcasts. #13MinutestotheMoon
How safe is the air inside airline cabins? In January 2020, a British Airways flight from Athens to London issued a mayday emergency call when the pilot flying the plane became incapacitated during a "fume event". The airline industry does not reveal how often fume events happen, but according to some estimates they occur every day. Pilots and cabin crew say that sudden fume events and long term low level exposure to toxic cabin air are making them seriously ill and in some cases causing prematu...more
Brian Belovitch was born a boy, and then transitioned and lived for more than a decade as Natalia – a performer, club hostess and glamorous party animal. Then at a crisis point in his life he made a momentous decision – to live again as Brian. These are not easy choices. Daniel was brought up male, then had gender reassignment surgery and became Danielle. Now he has detransitioned, married a woman, and is awaiting a complex operation to reconstruct his male genitalia. They tell their stories.
We are back on Rikers island – New York’s largest and most notorious jail where Ryan Burvik works with inmates on a unique hip hop program. We hear Ryan working with Mikey MTA and Zig on raps that express their regrets and their ambition for the future. What is new is the inclusion of women using hip hop as a way of telling their story. We hear from the talented Remy who used her skill as a performer during her three years in jail to leverage visits from her six-year-old daughter. We also follow...more
Across Italy hundreds of mafia leaders, hitmen and drug-traffickers are being jailed thanks to the most powerful weapon now in the hands of Italy’s anti-mafia investigators: the words of one clan against another. Italy’s state collaborator scheme has seen mafia chiefs breaking the code of silence - in return for a lifetime in witness protection, rather than a life behind bars. For Assignment, Dominic Casciani gets exclusive access to an anti-mafia prison to meet one of Naples' most important “Pe...more
Alan Dein connects with strangers across the world via social media, exploring the things that unite people across cultures and borders. He connects with people who are all seeking fulfilment in their lives. This week Alan reaches out to people in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and beyond - exploring what it means to belong. He hears people yearning for a better life elsewhere - and those determined to make a go of it where they are.
One year ago, voters in Houston, Texas, elected a slate of liberal Democrats to their local courthouse. These new judges promised to remake justice in America’s fourth-largest city, together with the liberal District Attorney, herself elected just two years earlier. Marshall Project criminal justice reporter Keri Blakinger, who lives and works in Houston, asks how far they have been able to make good on their promises of reform, and whether that has been a good thing.
MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light. Ayosay has been on Rikers for five months. He is an experienced rapper from New York who dreams of making it in hip hop. Trigger is working on two tracks that express his desire to make a better life for his f...more
‘Motel 22’ is an unusual shelter for California’s homeless people. The state is one of the wealthiest in America yet it has the largest population of homeless people – more than 151,000 - in the US. In the Silicon Valley the bus route 22 runs an endless loop from Palo Alto to the Valley’s biggest city, San Jose. Along the way it passes some of the world’s biggest tech giants: Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Facebook. It is the Valley’s only all night bus and many of its night-time passengers ...more
Alan Dein connects with strangers across the world via social media, exploring the things that unite people across cultures and borders. He speaks to a young gay man in China troubled by homophobia, and an Egyptian woman determined to resist the religious extremism she witnesses in her small city. He also reaches out to an Iranian man struggling to pursue his passion for foreign languages against the odds, and a jobless Nigerian distressed by his inability to provide for his family.
Casey Spradley is a beef rancher in New Mexico – and runs a sustainable business with a responsible approach to irrigating the land. Thousands of miles away in Free State South Africa, Tracy Khothule Marobobo is a beef farmer, on land redistributed as part of a post-apartheid settlement. She now faces the challenge of establishing a business in an increasingly difficult climate. Open minded and willing to share their knowledge, the pair begin a digital dialogue that spans continents. Two countri...more
Some of the biggest rappers in the world like Kanye West, Chance the Rapper and Stormzy are combining gospel and hip-hop in their music. It is bringing attention to ‘gospel hip-hop’. Gospel and hip-hop are closely related, but the relationship hasn’t always been an easy one. UK rapper Guvna B has been making faith-based hip-hop for the past 10 years and wants to find out what’s behind this shift. He travels to the USA to meet gospel legends Donald Lawrence and Kierra Sheard, Lecrae and Andy Mine...more
How can beauty pageants, a competition steeped in tradition, reinvent itself in the wake of a seismic shift in women’s rights? The #MeToo movement has rocked Hollywood in a way that could not have been imagined a decade ago. It resulted in a new all-female leadership team at Miss America who are busy trying to reform their organisation. But is there really a place for pageants in today’s society? Can a competition known for its glitz and glamour really reinvent its image?
On 14th April 2018 El Salvadorean journalist Karla Turcios was brutally murdered. Twelve days later prosecutors pressed charges against her husband for aggravated femicide. Across the country, her murder triggered outrage and the President of El Salvador announced a national crisis. In El Salvador – which has the highest rate of femicide in Latin America - a woman is killed every 3 days. Six months after Karla’s death, Patricia Sulbaran travelled to El Salvador to tell her story and speak to her...more
Ithra and Tumelo have the world at their feet. Both 24, both in the last year of medical school, both from loving families, and in love. Ithra is Asian and Tumelo black, and both are born in post-apartheid South Africa (part of the Born Free generation). But is love enough to keep them together as they prepare to introduce their families to each other for the first time?
Billions of people across the world live in an area that runs along a fault line, where everyday life is balanced with a constant risk of an earthquake rocking their community. Journalist Tabinda Kokab knows how this feels after the devastating 2005 Kashmir earthquake killed more than 70,000 people, including her brother. In this documentary she explores the emotional and psychological impact of living life on the line, discovering the risks and rewards for people who go about their daily lives ...more
The best place to hear about the twists and turns of the 2020 presidential election is over the countertop at an iconic New Jersey diner. Sandra Kanthal returns to Freehold to hear what the regulars at Tony’s Grill have to say about the presidential candidates, their campaigns and whatever else comes up for discussion regarding the state of politics in America. They have some astute observations and colourful tales to tell, though stories may be interrupted by important things like the arrival ...more
Schools in Roma districts of Bulgaria emptied in minutes in a mass panic recently. Parents dragged their children out of class, fearing that if they stayed, they would be abducted by social workers, and possibly sent for adoption abroad. Meanwhile many other parents are protesting against a draft law they say puts 70% of children at similar risk. Are they right to be scared? Or have rumours and fake news spread hysteria about the power of the state? Suddenly, campaigns to defend the “traditional...more
On the tiny island of Tanna in Vanuatu in the South Pacific the ocean is a huge part of everyday life. The Tannanese rely on the sea for their livelihood and the beach for cultural ceremony. But 150 years ago something happened on their beaches. In the 1860s throughout the Pacific Islands tens of thousands of boys and young men were kidnapped and coerced from beaches and put onto boats. They were then taken thousands of kilometres away to Australia. On arrival they were made to work on sugar can...more
Muslim Malaysians often have complex and tangled views about polygamy. Their feelings and beliefs are not always mirrored by their actions. What role does pragmatism play? What role does faith play? ABC producer Damien Carrick meets an adventure sportsman, an academic researcher, a feminist activist and Malaysia's first female Shariah High Court judge and examines the different attitudes towards polygamy.
Colombia produced a record 1.5 million kilograms of cocaine last year - about 70% of the world’s supply. In the regions where coca is grown, gangs fight for control of territory and smuggling routes, killing anyone who stands in their way. These are some of the most dangerous places in South America. A peace deal signed in 2016 with the FARC rebel group was meant to reduce coca growing by offering farmers alternatives. But instead, cocaine production has rocketed, flooding markets in the US and ...more
Climate change is lapping at the shores of Poruma, a tropical island in Australia’s Torres Strait. It is a dot in the Pacific Ocean, just two kilometres long and 300 metres wide, that sits halfway between the northern tip of Australia and the south of Papua New Guinea. Christianity came to the Torres Strait in the late 1800s and it has been embraced by the Islanders. But when the people of Poruma gained this faith, they lost parts of their culture and language. Siobhan Hegarty journeys to the To...more
Academic expectations, job competition and financial pressures are forcing some young South Koreans to give up on relationships, marriage and kids. This phenomenon is known as the ‘sampo’ or ‘give up’ generation. The daily struggle to succeed within a patriotic and competitive culture is a shared experience. The suicide rate in Korea is the second highest among developed countries. In recent years, the quality of life reached such a low point, young people started referring to the country as, ‘h...more
In the heart of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, members of the Resistance worked tirelessly and at great risk to themselves to help those whose lives were threatened. Amongst them was Elisabeth Charlotte Gloeden – known as Liselotte or “Lilo” – who, along with her husband Erich, hid Jews in their home in Berlin, before arranging safe passage for them out of Germany. The couple’s efforts went undetected until 1944 when they took in General Fritz Lindemann, who was being hunted by the Gestapo for being par...more
How do you achieve net-zero carbon emissions in just fifteen years? In Finland, a fisherman-turned-climate scientist believes he has part of the answer: re-wilding the country’s peat fields. Gabriel Gatehouse travels to the country's frozen north to meet Tero Mustonen, as he battles lobbyists and vested interests in government and the peat industry, in a race to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: A boat in a lake - Lakeland,...more
Why do we hold our opponents in contempt? Former British politician Douglas Alexander believes that disagreement is good - it is how the best arguments get refined. But, today, public discourse has become so ill-tempered, snide and lacking in respect that we are no longer engaged in a battle of ideas but a slanging match. Time to dial down the rhetoric, rein in the insults - they will persuade no-one that your opinion is worth listening to - and pay attention.
“Did you actually kill hundreds of people, Dad?” This is certainly not a question that many people feel the need to ask their parents. But for a group of young women in Argentina, it was one they could no longer ignore. Their fathers have been accused, held under trial and in some cases sentenced for some of the worst crimes in Argentina’s history – all members of the military and police forces during the country’s last military regime, that kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of people ove...more
Kate Molleson visits the world’s largest island to explore the role of traditional and new music for its communities today. Between the capital of Nuuk and smaller fishing town of Maniitsoq, Kate encounters drum dancers resurrecting a traditional Inuit practice which almost died out on Greenland’s west coast, discovers the political and sonic influence of the Greenlandic language on music from hymn singing to hip-hop, meets artists using their lyrics to engage with issues from the climate to the...more
Psychedelic plants, the spiritual tourism backlash - and sexual abuse. Increasing numbers of tourists are travelling to the Peruvian Amazon to drink ayahuasca, a traditional plant medicine said to bring about a higher state of consciousness. Foreigners come looking for spiritual enlightenment or help with mental health problems like trauma, depression, and addiction. But not everyone is happy about Peru’s booming ayahuasca tourism industry. A group of indigenous healers are fighting back against...more
In 2010, Katie Williams – a former palliative care nurse – started the first Coffin Club in her garage. The idea was that elderly New Zealanders would come together to sand, assemble and decorate their own coffins. Word got around and now - nearly a decade later - The Coffin Club, Rotorua, is a huge success and has inspired spin-offs around the world. Award-winning documentary-maker Cathy FitzGerald visits Katie and meets club members.
This year, 2020, sees the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Its legacy remains. Nowhere more so than in Germany, where the rise of Nazism led to the war, and terrible crimes against humanity. Chris Bowlby explores how post-war Germans have faced this inheritance and discovers how a search for justice in relation to Nazi crimes has continued, despite heavy pressure to stop.
Ninety year old Galina is one of the last witnesses to the wild natural world that preceded the Chernobyl zone in southern Belarus. 'We lived with wolves' she says 'and moose, and elk and wild boars.' Soviet development destroyed that ecosystem. Forests and marshland were tamed and laid to farmland and industrial use. But when the Chernobyl reactor exploded in 1986, the human population was evacuated; their villages were buried beneath the earth as though they had never existed. A generation on,...more
In Japan to change gender, people must be sterilised, have gender reassignment surgery, not have any children under the age of 20 and must be single. The government further state you cannot have gender reassignment surgery if you are on any type of hormone replacement - and you must accept the psychiatric diagnosis of "gender identity disorder". Mariko Oi investigates The controversial laws over how people can change gender in Japan.
For more than a century, the world has revolved around fossil fuels. Wars have been fought over them. The nations that had oil and gas had power. They controlled the price, they controlled the supply and could tell their customers what to do. What will happen as countries around world develop enough renewable energy to end their dependence on hydrocarbons?
Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen was last seen on April 17, 2014. At the time the human rights activist was working with lawyers in Bangkok to stop the eviction of Karen indigenous people from Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan National park. For five years his wife fought to solve the mystery of his disappearance, suspecting a cover up by local park authorities. But this summer Billy’s body was found burned and stuffed into a 200-litre oil drum which had been dumped in a reservoir on the outskirts of the ...more
Space travel is not always high-tech. When the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969, seamstresses made their spacesuits at a company famous for stitching latex into Playtex bras. During the Space Shuttle era, a group of 18 women were in charge of all soft goods - the fabrics for machine and hand sewing the spaceplane’s thermal blankets. These women became known as the Sew Sisters. Presenter, artist and former Nasa astronaut Nicole Stott meets some of the sew sisters from past and present...more
The story of the Soviet war in Afghanistan told through its teenage soldiers and the music they created. The 10-year conflict from 1979 to 1989 was one of the most dramatic and consequential wars of modern times. It saw the end of an empire, and triggered a political shockwave that we still live with today. Time Has Chosen Us tells the story of this under-examined war through the oral histories of Soviet soldiers who reveal honest, sad and funny accounts of their teenage years on the frontlines....more
Iceland's glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate, with scientists predicting that they could all be gone 200 years from now. How is this affecting the lives of local people, and the identity of a nation that has ice in its name? Maria Margaronis talks to Icelandic farmers and fishermen, scientists and environmental activists about their (sometimes surprising) responses to climate change, and asks why it’s so difficult even for those who see its effects from their windows every day to ta...more
The town of Ii in northern Finland is a green trailblazer. It has managed to stop burning fossil fuels and will have reduced carbon emissions by 80% by 2020; that is 30 years ahead of the EU target. It is also aiming to be the world’s first zero-waste town. It is happening because of the collective effort of the community. Erika Benke discovers how everyone is involved; from local businessmen to the mayor and from schoolchildren to their parents and grandparents.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the leading liberal Judge on the US Supreme Court. At 86 she has spent many decades fighting for women’s rights, including equal pay and access to abortion. A pioneer, this is a rare interview with a living legend. Razia Iqbal presents this special programme from New York as she receives the $1m Berggruen Prize for philosophy and culture.
This is the true story of how Star Wars Episode IV-A New Hope got made. A film that, as plain old Star Wars, transformed cinema to become part of a pop culture phenomenon known across the world. As Episode IX arrives in our cinemas, wrapping up the destinies of the original trilogy characters and much more, we travel back a long, long time ago to the often agonising, challenging and ground breaking creation of the first film.
New figures released in the UK have revealed at least 4,000 young people are currently caught up in what are known as "county lines" – meeting orders for heroin and cocaine via mobile phone "deal lines". They are transporting drugs from cities to rural and coastal towns, and carrying weapons too – knives, hammers and acid. Many find themselves selling drugs in a strange town, trapped, too scared to leave. Increasingly, when police raid the "traphouses" where the drugs are held, they are finding ...more
Thirty years after Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed on Christmas day, Tessa Dunlop looks back at the violent birth of post-Communist Romania and asks if it has shaken off the legacy of decades of ruthless totalitarianism.
Jane and Patricia fled their home in the middle of the night. Days before they had narrowly escaped an arson attack. It’s illegal to be gay in Barbados. You can be sent to prison for life. Now they needed out. A few months before they had reached out to an organisation in Canada, the Rainbow Railroad which helps move gay people, persecuted for their sexuality, to safety. After the arson attack Jane and Patricia contacted them again - “Please help us now”. In Canada, the team leapt into action. I...more
Judy Garland's last concerts at London's the Talk of The Town in 1969 is the subject of a new feature film. Weaving together newly restored archive recordings and eye-witness accounts, we separate the woman from the myth, examine her exceptional talent, exploitation and troubled relationship with Hollywood.
Life in Lebanon is a daily battle to beat the power cuts caused by the country's chronic electricity shortage. If you live in a block of flats, you have to time when you go in and out to avoid getting trapped in the lift. Food goes bad because fridges don't work, families must often choose between air-conditioning and watching TV, and those on life-support machines live in constant fear of a switch-off. But if it's hell for citizens, it's heaven for operators of illegal private generators who pr...more
Gordon Corera becomes the first journalist allowed to record inside GCHQ's listening station at Bude on Britain’s south-west coast. The station has spied on global communications satellites for decades, sucking in signals from space. He takes us from the Cold War, when GCHQ was quietly eavesdropping on the front lines in Berlin, to the current digital era. And Gordon finds out how, following the revelations of Edward Snowden, the agency has been forced out into the open.
Hossein Sharif is an Iranian boy, about to marry Hee Sue, a South Korean girl. As the families begin to meet, Sharif discovers all the criss-crossing roads that the couple's home countries have travelled. In the last 50 years, South Korea and Iran have switched places in the world table of economic prosperity. South Korea has risen while Iran has fallen behind. Hossein and Hee Sue's families begin to discover a parallel universe, a world of “might have beens” and divergent paths.
In the UK’s 2019 general election, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are playing a more prominent role than in any previous campaign. As the election enters its final stages, political scientist Travis Ridout, co-director of the highly respected Wesleyan Media Project – travels to the UK to immerses himself in current online activity. He finds out what strategies and techniques are being used to influence – or manipulate voters – and considers what lessons from...more
There’s a new climate of fear in Sri Lanka. This time it’s the Muslim community who are fearful of the future. The Easter bomb attacks in Sri Lanka - targeting churches and international hotels - horrified the island. It’s suffered civil war but never known jihadi violence. But the attacks also intensified a creeping campaign by the Sinhala Buddhist majority against the Muslim community - with Muslims murdered, their businesses burned or boycotted. Jill McGivering investigates the growing climat...more
The work of GCHQ started just after the end of World War One as telegraph became a vital means of military communications. We hear from people who worked at the listening station in the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough during World War Two and the Cold War. BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera reveals how Government Communications Headquarters – GCHQ - has been listening in for 100 years.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono's bed-in for peace protest and the people who witnessed it
Raed Fares, founder of Syria's legendary Radio Fresh FM, was mowed down by unknown gunmen as he left his studios in rebel-held Idlib in November 2018. The death of the man who fought hatred with humour and laughed in the faces of President Assad, ISIS and al-Qaeda, sent shockwaves way beyond his troubled homeland. When ordered by Islamist extremists to stop broadcasting music he had replied with bird song and clucking chickens. On being told to take his female presenters off air, he put their vo...more
In the span of five years, Chairman Huang turned farmland in China’s Sichuan province into Seaside City. The ocean-themed town, which Huang says was inspired by Dubai and Disneyland, is now home to more than 400,000 people. In the city centre, numerous maritime spectacles attract visitors from afar. The crown jewel is the world’s largest aquarium with several whale sharks and a community of sea turtles. But is Seaside City a forward-thinking economic experiment or the personal fiefdom of a megal...more
A race is on to save thousands of tapes of traditional Malawian music in danger of disintegrating in the archives of state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. The old reel-to-reel tapes date back to the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s and were recorded in towns and villages all over Malawi and in the MBC studios. The folk songs, traditional chants, dances and contemporary music of the time all provide a snapshot of Malawi’s social and musical history.
Domestic abuse in Russia is endemic with thousands of women dying at the hands of their partners every year. Despite this a controversial law was passed in 2017, which scrapped prison sentences for first-time abusers. Beatings that do not cause broken bones or concussion are now treated as administrative offences rather than crimes. As one activist puts it: “the punishment for beating your wife now feels like paying a parking ticket.” But Russian society is waking up to the crisis. The case of...more
Fatmata, Jamilatu and Alimamy all see themselves as failures. They’re young Sierra Leoneans who risked everything for the sake of a better life in Europe. Along the way, they were imprisoned and enslaved. They saw friends die. Eventually, they gave up. Now, they’re home again - facing the devastating consequences of what they did to their families before they left, actions that have left them ostracised by their nearest and dearest. Who will help them to survive back home? Can they rebuild their...more
Unprecedented mass protests have caused chaos in Hong Kong’s public sphere – but what has it meant for private life? How have they affected the increasing number of couples who have married across the divide, with one partner from Hong Kong and another from the Chinese mainland? BBC World Affairs correspondent Paul Adams hears from one such couple, for whom the political has become personal.
How Communist East Germany tried to influence Africa via radio, during the Cold War. The West often saw the GDR as a grim and grey place, so it’s something of a surprise to find a radio station based in East Berlin playing swinging African tunes. Yet Radio Berlin International (RBI), the ‘voice of the German Democratic Republic’, made it all happen over the many years it broadcast to Africa. It built on the little known strong bonds between East Germany and several large states in Africa such as...more
Who are Albania’s Iranian guests? In July, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani visited an Albanian village just outside Tirana. At a tightly-guarded encampment, he addressed the Iranian group who live there - the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). MEK has been a leading opposition voice against the Islamic Republic of Iran for decades. Following the revolution of 1979, MEK fell out with the Iranian government – members were persecuted, and ...more
New Yorker Huey Morgan examines the life, work and enduring appeal of the musician known as Moondog, who lived and worked on the city's streets in the 1950s and '60s. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in Kansas in May 1916, he played musical instruments from an early age and lost his sight in an accident when he was 16. He went on to teach himself music and composition by ear, as well as music theory through books in braille. His music would take inspiration from street sounds like the subway and foghorn...more
By the age of 10 Francis Ngannou was working in a sand quarry, where he dreamed of becoming a world class boxer. As a young man he traversed the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea to find himself homeless in Paris. From there, within an extraordinarily short amount of time, he exploded through the ranks to the highest echelons of the fastest growing sport in the world, mixed martial arts. He is now a leading contender for heavyweight champion of the world and a global star. He returns to his v...more
When Miatta was 14 years old, armed rebels stormed into her classroom and forcibly recruited her and her classmates. They were trained to use machine guns and then sent to the front line to fight in Liberia’s devastating civil war. Nineteen years later, Miatta is what many Liberians would call a Zogo. The Zogos are Liberia’s underclass: jobless, homeless and addicted to drugs. They’re a menace on the streets of the capital, Monrovia, where many make their living by snatching purses and phones f...more
Ruth Sanderson grew up in Northern Ireland yet never really understood how the Troubles started. In the second programme, looking back at Scarman testimonies and talking to her parents who were caught up in events, Ruth is trying to work out how Northern Ireland spiralled out of control. Fifty years on and with her first baby on the way, Ruth wants to know if the legacy of the Troubles will ever be lifted in a Northern Ireland which is still divided today.
Alan Kasujja tells the story of the guerilla war in Uganda which began nearly 40 years ago and led to the current President Yoweri Museveni taking power. After the fall of Idi Amin there was a power vacuum in Uganda which led up to a general election. The former President Milton Obote returned from exile and was declared the winner. But amidst accusations of gerrymandering and intimidation, opposition groups claimed the 1980 election had been rigged. A young politician, Yoweri Museveni, had prom...more
Dickens Olewe meets Italy’s first and only black senator, Tony Iwobi, and hears how a new generation of black Italians are fighting to claim their place in a society that’s still very white. Born and raised in Nigeria, Senator Iwobi moved to Italy as a young man and carved out a successful career in business. Now he’s immigration spokesperson for the right-wing Lega party and wants to stop the illegal flow of migrants coming to Italy from Africa. BBC Africa journalist Dickens Olewe follows Iwo...more
Ruth Sanderson grew up in Northern Ireland, yet never really understood how the Troubles started. Although the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement effectively brought peace in 1998, Ruth believes the fallout from the violence continues to cast a long shadow over a society which is still divided. Now Ruth returns to the same courtroom in Belfast where the Scarman Tribunal sat, and begins to piece together the events of August 1969, when Northern Ireland spiralled out of control.
The Zoroastrian community has given the world Freddie Mercury, produced some of India’s richest businessmen and practises one of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism. Yet the community faces extinction: there are less than 200,000 Zoroastrians left worldwide. Shazneen is one of them. She is 31, lives in London and is on the lookout for someone to settle down with. The problem? Members of her small community can only marry other Zoroastrians.
In 1979 a young girl named Melissa Rich asked her mother Lois why there were no women trading cards. So Lois decided to produce her own set called “supersisters”, 72 trading cards highlighting inspirational women, many of whom were athletes. Exactly forty years later we reunite Melissa, Lois and some of the supersisters together for a discussion based on the cards and the importance - and establishment - of icons in women’s sport in front of a live audience at the Lower Eastside Girls Club of Ne...more
Are lithium-powered electric vehicles as ‘green’ as we think they are? With the advent of electric cars, manufacturers tell us we’re racing towards a clean-energy future. It’s lithium that powers these vehicles. Most of the world’s stocks of this lightest of metals are found in brine deep beneath salt flats, high in the Andes.In Argentina, in Jujuy - the province with the highest percentage of indigenous households in the country - massive projects are underway. But in a super-dry region, with w...more
What should billionaires do with their money? The world’s greatest philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie said they should give it all away. Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland and moved to America where he became a steel magnate and the richest man in the world. In his guidebook to philanthropy, The Gospel of Wealth, he challenged people who acquired great wealth to give it back to the community. He also believed the most important cause to support was education. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown...more
The eyes have always been a focal point of Persian beauty for men and women and they have always been embellished with sormeh, or thick black eyeliner. Presenter Nassim Hatam's grandmother taught her mother how to apply sormeh, which originates from a 4000-year-old recipe, and when the family was scattered to the four winds by revolution she made it her responsibility to supply the family women with their sormeh wherever they had settled. Now for Nassim, and millions of modern Persian women, the...more
A revolution is underway in Cuba. The country’s communist leaders, who normally retain tight control of the media, have encouraged Cubans to become more connected online. Internet access used to be the preserve of a privileged (and relatively rich) few. But prices have come down, public wifi spots are popular, and less than a year ago 3G data access became available on Cuban phones. Along with a huge uptake in the internet has come a flood of Cubans signing up to social media accounts. Even Pres...more
University lecturers sexually harassing and blackmailing their students. It's a problem which plagues West Africa but it's almost never proven. Until now. This week Assignment teams up with the World Service investigative series, Africa Eye, which sent female journalists posing as students inside a top university in Nigeria to secretly record men who sexually harass and abuse young women. A year-long investigation reveals how lecturers - who can make or break academic careers - groom victims in ...more
Across the UK, in supermarkets, hospitals, council houses and solicitors’ offices, children and young people are doing vital unpaid work: interpreting for their parents. Psychologist and former child migrant Humera Iqbal takes us inside the lives of Britain’s young translators as they try to make the most of their childhood and teenage years while shouldering adult responsibilities – from dealing with the landlord to taking mum for a smear test.
Citizenship is changing; and half the world’s governments are making money through citizenship schemes. In Vanuatu, a tiny Pacific Island Nation, a blossoming and controversial passport scheme is in place. Vanuatu’s government says it needs the revenue to boost the weak economy, but many are asking why the money from passport sales does not seem to have trickled down, while growing Chinese influence in the region is becoming a common cause of concern.
Muslim men and women are forbidden to sleep together outside marriage, but in Iraq, it’s possible for men to find a way round this obstacle to sexual freedom through a deeply controversial custom. So-called 'pleasure marriages' allow time-limited wedlock, sometimes for as little as half an hour, and with no commitment whatsoever. The practice is illegal, though some Shi’a clerics nevertheless claim it is permitted under Sharia, and offer to oversee pleasure marriages in return for payment. As ...more
Citizenship is changing; and half the world’s governments are making money through citizenship schemes. We investigate the booming trade in passports, and in a rare interview with the boss of the world’s biggest citizenship brokerage, we hear how easy it can be to get a second – or third – passport, for the right price.
A tense debate is taking place in states across America. At what age should someone be allowed to marry? Currently in 48 out of 50 states a child can marry, usually with parental consent or a judge's discretion. In 17 states there is no minimum age, meaning in theory, a two year old could marry. But there is a campaign to change the law and raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 without exceptions across all American states.
A Chilean man - adopted at birth and sent overseas - searches for the mother forced to give him up. He is among thousands now finding out the truth about their past. Many mothers were pressurised into giving up their children during General Pinochet’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s. A government investigation is gathering evidence from judges, socials workers, medical staff and nuns who are all thought to be involved. Families are meeting after decades. And mothers are being reunited...more
On 27 September 1969, Imam Abdullah Haron – an outspoken Muslim cleric in South Africa – died in police detention. Abdullah Haron was the only Muslim cleric in Cape Town who used his sermons to speak out against apartheid policies and laws. His family do not accept the official conclusion that he fell down the stairs. And, to mark 50 years of his death, they want the government to commission a new inquest, which they say will uncover torture and murder. At the centre of the family’s renewed push...more
The story of World War Two is usually told in terms of heroism on the battlefield, but perhaps the most important struggle was the economic battle. Across the world countries were fighting to feed their populations, maximise production from their factories and fund their armies. To mark the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two, economist Duncan Weldon examines how the economies of the European powers, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Soviet Union, set the scene for the condu...more
Every August tens of thousands of Kurdish migrant workers, including children, toil long hours for a pittance in the mountains of northern Turkey picking hazelnuts for the spreads and chocolate bars the world adores. Turkey provides 70% of all hazelnut supplies – and the biggest buyer is Ferrero, maker of Nutella and Kinder Bueno. The confectionery giant says it’s committed to ethical sourcing, and aiming for its hazelnuts to be 100% traceable next year. But how is that possible in Turkey, with ...more
When Aleks Krotoski was six years old she lived in a world surrounded by people with leprosy, or Hansen's Disease as it's officially known. Both her dad and step mum worked at the US's last leper home, the National Hansen's Disease Centre in Carville Louisiana, tucked away in a bend of the mighty Mississippi. Today she makes a return journey to find out if the stigma of leprosy still exists and how the disease is being treated.
Precipitous mountain roads, specially-modified bikes, and deadly consequences. Simon Maybin spends time with the young men who race down the steep roads of Colombia’s second city Medellin. Marlon is 16 and he’s a gravitoso - a gravity biker. He hooks onto the back of lorries or buses climbing the precipitous roads to reach high points around the city. Then, he lets gravity do its thing and - without any safety gear - hurtles back down the roads, trying to dodge the traffic. This year, two of his...more
(This programme contains audio effects that may cause discomfort to people living with hearing conditions. There is a modified version of this programme, with quieter effects, on this page https://bbc.in/2TrInga) What does life sound like for someone whose hearing has suddenly changed?
Audrey Brown looks back at the life of the former Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, who has died in Singapore aged 95.
Marawi in the southern Philippines is a ghost town. In 2017, it was taken under siege for five months by supporters of Islamic State who wanted to establish a caliphate in the predominantly Muslim city. After a fierce and prolonged battle, the Philippine army regained control – but Marawi was left in ruins. Two years on, reconstruction has barely begun and over 100,000 people are yet to return home. Philippines correspondent Howard Johnson tells the story of Marawi from the siege to the present ...more
A small Costa Rican surfing city is the unexpected final home for people leaving Asia and Africa in search of a better life in the US. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the last episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected. Producer: Katy Long
Imran fled violence in Myanmar – now he is in detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, with no papers and no idea what will happen to him. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the fourth episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected. Producer: Elyse Ble...more
Follow the dead bodies – 18 each week – that travel along the mountain passes in northern Greece for cremation in another country. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the third episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected. Producer: Portia Crowe
Wild elephants surround a village in Assam, India. And they’re hungry. Spend time with the night watch, trying to keep people safe. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the second episode in a five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected. Producer: Damon Smith
Fake news pays. Medical student Elena ran out of money, so she joined her friends in Veles, North Macedonia, writing fake stories for cash. Hosted by Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), this is the first episode in a new five-part series from BBC World Service in collaboration with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. Detours takes us off the main roads of our lives, following people who didn’t end up where they expected. Producer: David Boren...more
Michelle Bachelet's father died after being detained and tortured during the first year of General Pinochet's dictatorial rule in Chile. More than 40 years later, Michelle became Chile's first female president. Lyse Doucet hears the story of her remarkable life.
It’s been a year since Brazil’s National Museum burned down in a fire. Not only was its collection one of the most extraordinary in the world, but Brazil’s entire history ran through the museum. On the second floor you could meet the prehistoric skeleton that was the ‘mother’ of all Brazilians; on the third, listen to Amazonian folklore about exploding jaguars; and downstairs, slide into the slippers of a slave king. Now, the only intact artefact on site is a huge iron rock from outer space – th...more
Brazil’s party capital, Rio de Janeiro, is witnessing a killing spree. Nothing new there, you might think – it’s long suffered from violent crime. Yet in this case, it’s the police who stand accused of perpetrating much of the bloodshed. The city’s impoverished informal townships - known as favelas - are home to criminal gangs with whom security forces are doing battle on a daily basis, using armoured vehicles, high velocity firearms and even helicopter gunships. This year an average of five peo...more
The Woodstock myth is a potent and evocative symbol of the '60s utopian hippie dream – the ultimate example of the unifying power of music, peace and love. To mark the 50th anniversary of one of the festival, this programme explores the impact of the now legendary celebration and why the spirit of Woodstock still carries important social lessons, providing evidence that the power of ordinary people can effect change. Musicians, artistes and organisers who were there, including John Sebastian, R...more
The TV talent show Afghan Star has been running for 14 years, and has never been won by a woman singer. This year one of the two finalists is an 18-year-old girl – if she wins, it will be a historic breakthrough for the country. Sahar Zand meets finalist Zahra Elham, who has received death threats for singing on the show, and Afghanistan's most famous woman pop star Aryana Sayeed, a judge in the competition, who is constantly accompanied by an armed guard. She also visits the Afghanistan Nationa...more
Maria Ressa, the Filipino-American journalist and author was included in Time's Person of the Year 2018 as one of a collection of journalists from around the world combating fake news. Earlier this year she was arrested for "cyber libel" amid accusations of corporate tax evasion. As an outspoken critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, her arrest was seen by the international community as a politically motivated act by the government.
Two years ago Julia, a high school student from Ohio, received an email from a woman in New York she had never met, claiming that her daughter and Julia shared the same biological father. The phone call that followed changed her life forever, as she discovered that she had not only one half-sibling, but more than she could ever have anticipated. Julia grew up with her two mums Betsy and Kathleen and her adopted sister Sarah. She always knew she was donor conceived – what she never expected was...more
Everybody in Romania knows someone who has died in a road accident. The country has the highest road death rate in the European Union – twice the EU average and more than three times that in the UK. A young businessman, Stefan Mandachi, has built a metre long stretch of motorway near his home in the rural north-east of the country, as a visual protest against political inaction and corruption. For Assignment,Tessa Dunlop travels to one of Romania’s poorest regions, Moldova, to meet this new cham...more
Sahar Zand is in Kabul for the finals of Afghan Star, a TV talent show that is on the front line of the fight to keep music alive in Afghanistan, following the years of the Taliban regime, when music was banned. She hears from a singer who has been targeted by extremists, meets one of the Taliban’s senior figures to explore the reasons behind the cultural conflict, and follows the votes as the TV audience chooses between the two young finalists. Afghan Star is much like any other TV talent show ...more
Betty Bigombe spent much of her career trying to negotiate peace with the notorious warlord Joseph Kony. She was born in northern Uganda as one of 11 children. Betty focused on her education from an early age. She won a fellowship at Harvard where she received an MA in Public Administration. On returning to Uganda, she was asked by the newly-installed president to go back to the north of the country, where she grew, up to try and stop the war raging there. The only way to do that was to convince...more
Who will shape the future of the hurricane-hit, tropical isle of Barbuda? In 2017, category-5 hurricane Irma devastated much of Barbuda’s ‘paradise’ landscape, and its infrastructure. The national government – based on the larger, neighbouring island of Antigua – evacuated the population of some 1800 people. But within days, although the people weren’t allowed to return, bulldozers were clearing ancient forest to build an international airport. Critics called this another case of, ‘disaster c...more
On 16 August 1819, troops charged the crowds in St Peter's Field - 18 people lost their lives and around 700 were injured. Within days, the press were referring to it as "The Peterloo Massacre" after the battle of Waterloo just four years earlier. The events shocked the nation and eventually led to widespread change. Katharine Viner meets descendants of those there that day, she looks at the background and build up, hears graphic accounts of the slaughter, death and injury and examines how the e...more
Vaira Viķe-Freiberga became the first female president of Latvia in 1999, just eight months after returning to the country she left 54 years earlier. A dramatic childhood saw her leave Riga with her family in 1944, aged seven, after the Soviet invasion. After a spell in German refugee camps and some schooling in French Morocco, she and her family moved to Canada when she was 15. After returning to her homeland she became president a mere eight months later.
An icon of Italian design; a centrepiece of a community; a tragedy waiting to happen? When the Morandi bridge opened in 1967, it was one of the longest concrete bridges in the world, connecting the port of Genoa with the rest of Italy and Italy with northern Europe. Built during the post-war economic boom, it was the centrepiece of Italy’s plans to modernise its roads and was a proud symbol of the country’s engineering and architectural expertise. But all that came to a tragic end in August last...more
Seren Jones swam competitively for 13 years in the UK and in the US collegiate system. But in that time she only ever saw six other black girls in the pool. Why so few? A survey published by the University of Memphis and USA Swimming found that black respondents were significantly more concerned about getting their hair wet, and about the negative impact of chemicals on their appearances, than white respondents. Seren explores whether maintaining ‘good’ hair really is the leading factor behind w...more
A small town goes on life-support after its lone hospital closes. The story of Jamestown, Tennessee, recorded in the emotional hours and days after its 85-bed facility shut. Rural hospitals are closing across the United States, leaving patients dangerously exposed. Can Jamestown buck the trend and reopen? Produced and presented by Neal Razzell. Image: Montage – 1960s headline announcing hospital opening with sign announcing the 2019 closure of Jamestown Regional Medical Centre. Credit: BBC/Ne...more
Kevin Mallory lived a double life - he helped people on his street with yard work, went to church and showed off his dogs. Yet at home he communicated with Chinese agents through social media and sold them US secrets. Tara McKelvey tells the story of how Mallory was recruited, deployed and eventually caught by the FBI. It is a very human story of a man who thought he had found an answer to his problems only to find himself trapped. We hear about simple mistakes he made which blew his cover. We h...more
Everyone knows how China is changing Africa but what is less well known is how Africa is changing China. Linda Yueh uncovers the growing number of African’s who are moving to work and live in China. She investigates problems some African’s are having obtaining Chinese visas, and instances of perceived racism. She also hears success stories of African businessman now employing local Chinese workers and reasons why Africans prefer China over western countries to make their life. But are the Chines...more
Anti-obesity campaigners in Mexico, human rights advocates in London, and friends of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi all claim they’ve been targeted by surveillance software normally used by law enforcement to track drug-dealers and terrorists. Assignment reveals compelling evidence that software is being used to track the work of journalists, activists and lawyers around the world. Paul Kenyon investigates the multi-billion pound “lawful surveillance” industry. Sophisticated software ca...more
Simon Calder meets speakers of indigenous languages (like Welsh in Britain), of dialects (like Moselfrankish in Germany) and vernaculars (like African-American Vernacular English, in the US). These speakers all use the mainstream language every day, but code-switch to their variants, questioning whether their societies are monolingual. Is there even something sinister and oppressive to the idea of monolingualism?
On the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landings, Beatriz De La Pava researches how real life events are reflected in the lyrics of popular songs, and shows how music can paint a vivid picture of the social, political, economic, and cultural landscape. She plays the music that chronicles the history of the space race, and speaks to the people who knew it, made it and loved it.
Oliver Mtukudzi was loved by people all over the world for his unique melodies – and by Zimbabweans for the messages of hope contained in his lyrics. There was a huge outpouring of grief when he died on 23 January 2019. His songs spoke out against women who were thrown out of homes when their husbands died, the stigma of HIV/Aids and spoke up for children suffering at the hands of alcoholic, abusive fathers. To the chagrin of some, he steered clear of direct political confrontation with former p...more
With the rise in ethical consumerism, Assignment explores the hidden suffering of tea workers in Africa. Attacked because of their tribal identity, reporter Anna Cavell hears harrowing stories of murder, rape and violence and asks whether more could, or should, have been done to protect them when trouble broke out. Producer: Nicola Dowling Reporter: Anna Cavell Editors: Gail Champion & Andrew Smith (Photo: Freshly plucked tea leaves. Credit: Getty Creative Stock)
What is it like to live in a place where you have to speak several languages to get by? Simon Calder travels to India, where a top university only teaches in English, the one language that the students from all over the country have in common. And he meets people who use four different languages with their friends and family, depending on whom they are talking to. In Luxembourg, it is not so much family, but other situations that require four languages, such as going shopping, watching TV, or sc...more
In 1959, a group of nine Russian students met a mysterious death in the Ural mountains. Experienced cross-country skiers, their bodies were found scattered around a campsite, their tent cut from the inside, as they seemingly panicked to escape from someone – or something. Sixty years on, Lucy Ash traces their footsteps to try to find out what happened.
The beautiful Hambacher Forest is disappearing. Over the past four decades, it has been slowly devoured by a voracious coalmine in the German Rhineland. The forest has become a powerful symbol of climate change resistance. Protesters have been staging a last stand to protect the trees. But they have arrived too late to prevent the demolition of two villages that also stand in the way of the mine’s relentless progress. Manheim has become a ghost village. Most of the 1600 residents have now move...more
Simon Calder asks how to go about acquiring a new tongue. He gets tips from those who know - innovative teachers and polyglots. The answers are surprising. At school, it is repetitive drills, shouted out loud by the whole class, that seem to lodge the grammar and pronunciation in the pupils’ brains. But if you are an adult learning by yourself, then, on the contrary, don’t stress about grammar and pronunciation, there are better, and more fun things to focus on.
Denmark's efforts to better integrate its migrant population are attracting controversy at home, and abroad. Twenty nine housing districts, known as 'migrant ghettos', are now subject to special measures to tackle crime and unemployment, and encourage greater mixing between migrants and wider Danish society. In the run-up to Denmark's recent landmark election, Sahar Zand travelled to Copenhagen and witnessed immigration shaping the campaign debate, and questioned the country's politicians and mi...more
Simon Calder meets people who keep learning new languages not because they have to, but because they want to. What motivates them? Situations like this - an immigrant hotel cleaner who is moved to tears because you speak to her in her native Albanian; A Nepalese Sherpa family that rolls about laughing in disbelief at hearing their foreign guest speak Sherpa. But do polyglots have a different brain from the rest of us? Simon travels to a specialised lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technolog...more
In a wide ranging interview the Dalai Lama talks to the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan about President Trump and his America First agenda, Brexit, the EU, and China’s relationship with the world. The interview also challenges some of the Buddhist spiritual leader’s more controversial statements and explores his views on the institution of the Dalai Lama.
Shaimaa Khalil is reunited with eight women from Mosul after their training in London. She hears about the work the archaeologists are doing now to assess the damage to Iraq's heritage sites like the iconic Al Nuri mosque and minaret, which Islamic State militants blew up at the end of their occupation. Perhaps the greatest damage of all is to the people of Mosul and their culture. The women share stories of their city and what life was like under IS and now, and the work they hope to do to rebu...more
An unlikely pageant takes place every year in the American Rust Belt town of Dayton Ohio. Three hundred teams of high school and college students have made it to the finals of a national competition known as the Colour Guard. In a giant sports arena, they throw, spin, and twirl flags, sabers and wooden rifles. It requires risk, skill, attentive teamwork, dramatic storylines and soundtracks. The subjects of performances this year ranged from the death of a pet to tornados to women in rock music h...more
On the 5th November last year, two apartment buildings collapsed in Marseille’s historic centre. Eight people died in a tragedy which has sent shockwaves through France’s second city, and the country. The accident shed light on something that residents have been saying for years: Marseille’s city centre is falling apart. After decades of neglect by slum landlords, the poor, multi-ethnic area in the heart of the city is in a desperate state of disrepair. In a frantic attempt to avoid further dis...more
Rashid Khan was born in Nangarhar in Eastern Afghanistan in 1998 but his early life was spent in a refugee camp in Pakistan away from the conflict that has swept across his homeland for decades. He grew up playing cricket with his ten siblings eventually returning to Afghanistan to complete his schooling. And now he is named for the second year running as the leading Twenty20 cricketer in the world. Is Khan really the finest spin bowler on the planet?
For three years Mosul was occupied by the extremist group known as the Islamic State. During the occupation which lasted until July 2017, the group destroyed many important ancient sites with hammers, bulldozers and explosives. Work is now beginning to assess the damage, but in order to undertake this vital work, Iraqi archaeologists are in need of training and equipment. Shaimaa Khalil meets the women in London as they participate in the British Museum’s ‘Iraq Scheme’.
Until recently, health authorities in developed countries appeared to be well on the way to wiping out measles – a highly contagious disease that’s one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths, particularly in children. But now measles is on the rise again, and Ukraine is worst-hit. More than 100,000 people have caught the disease since 2017, and 15 have died already this year. Parents who could have protected their children often failed to do so – mainly because of a mass mistrust o...more
The Wellcome Trust reveals how attitudes towards vaccinations vary around the world in its Global Monitor. The most vaccine-sceptical country is France – because of scares around vaccines. In neighbouring Germany one state has approved plans to make vaccinations compulsory because of low rates. But in Madagascar where more than 1200 children have died since last autumn from measles, parents walk for miles to have their children inoculated. What can be done to persuade people to vaccinate?
Despite the political uncertainty in the UK at the moment the country’s reputation for top-class education, if you can afford it, is still on the rise. Liyang Liu meets two very different school children who have travelled thousands of miles to go to private boarding school in the UK. Recorded over six months she finds out what happens when they get there.
Ahmad Zahir with his dark shock of hair, sultry voice and overwhelming stage presence more than earned the nickname "The Afghan Elvis". He remains Afghanistan’s most beloved musician even though he died at the age of 33 after a short, dazzling career. Ahmad Zahir was killed in a mysterious car crash in the terrible year of 1979. Monica Whitlock hears a new generation of musicians interpret some Ahmad Zahir classics and explores the life and lasting impact of the "Afghan Elvis".
In Amsterdam’s cafes, you can buy hashish openly, over the counter. But go around back to see how the drug comes in, and you’ll get a lot of smoke blown in your face. The entire supply chain is illegal. BBC Arabic’s Emir Nader holds his breath and traces it thousands of kilometres back to the mountains of Morocco, where cannabis is grown and processed into bricks of hash. There, he finds farmers in poverty and officials claiming "there is no organised crime" in the country. In between, he joins ...more
Jacob Rosales, a 20-year-old student at Yale, takes a closer look at some of the varied challenges facing Native American young people today. With alarmingly high rates of alcohol abuse, suicide and unemployment, Jacob delves behind the stats to reveal human stories of both suffering and hope.
Ana is a winner in the annual Pacific Access Category ballot. It is a visa lottery. Each year, Tonga gets up to 250 places, Fiji the same, and there are up to 75 each for Tuvalu and Kiribati. In a separate draw, 1100 visas are available in the Samoan Quota ballot. But it is not as simple as a ticket to a new life. If you win, you have around 9 months to find a job in New Zealand. And that’s not easy. The system is open to bogus job offers and corruption. And what of those who make it? Many find ...more
In a country infamous for its drug cartels, Mexico has another booming black market - petrol. Starting out as just a few individuals tapping lines to sell to their local communities, petrol theft has now attracted the heavyweights of organised crime who see the appeal in peddling a product that is used by more of the population, and that does not even need to cross a border to be sold. Yet, as the government and gas company Pemex race to find a way to stop the fuel thieves, known throughout Mexi...more
Football in Turkey's biggest city always means colour, passion and noise, but this season has an added edge. The big three Istanbul clubs, which have generally had a vice-like grip on the Super Lig crown are this year facing a new challenger, another city club, Basaksehir. This club has been assembled with international stars thanks to the money of close business associates of the President Erdogan himself. The political symbolism of the title race has not been lost on many football fans in Ista...more
The Tanzanian mothers forced to hide their children with Down syndrome due to social stigma and their defiant determination to change this.
Sudan’s doctors on the frontline. When ongoing street protests finally pushed Sudan’s repressive president from power last month, it was the country’s doctors many thanked. Ever since Omar al-Bashir’s successful coup in 1989 they had defied him. Staging strikes, organising demonstrations, and campaigning for human rights, the country’s white-coated men and women opposed all he stood for. In the last few months alone scores of them were jailed, beaten, tortured and some deliberately gunned down. ...more
During the migrant crisis, thousands of Nigerian women were trafficked into Italy for sexual exploitation. In 2016 alone, 11,000 made the perilous journey through lawless Libya and then in flimsy boats across the Mediterranean. Naomi Grimley asks what became of them when they got to Europe.
For over five years, British-Lebanese journalist Zahra Mackaoui has been following the stories of a group of Syrians, who have scattered across the world in search of safety. She originally met and interviewed them in the early years of the long-running civil war in Syria. Zahra travels to rural Sweden to meet Doaa Al-Zamel, who survived the sinking of a boat in the Mediterranean by floating on an inflatable ring. Her story has now been optioned for a film by Steven Spielberg. Also in Europe, F...more
He was known as “the little boy who lost everything”. In 1991, Amar Kanim’s disfigured face was shown on newspaper front pages around the world, an innocent young victim of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime. His entire family, it was reported, had died in a napalm attack. The British politician Emma Nicholson found him “alone in the world” during a visit to an aid camp. She took him to the UK. He was, the world assumed, an orphan. So who was the woman claiming he is her son?
The extraordinary story of an undercover migrant and his ‘secret spectacles’. When Azeteng, a young man from rural Ghana, heard stories on the radio of West African migrants dying on their way to Europe, he felt compelled to act. He took what little savings he had and bought glasses with a hidden camera – his ‘secret spectacles.’ Then he put himself in the hands of people smugglers and travelled 3,000 miles on the desert migrant trail north, aiming to document the crimes of the traffickers. Al...more
The world’s biggest car makers and technology companies are investing billions of dollars in autonomous vehicles. They believe it is just a few years before computers with high-tech sensors do the driving for us, filling our roads with robot cars ferrying human passengers from A to B. But is a driverless future really just around the corner?
Introducing the new podcast about how humans reached the moon. Theme music by Hans Zimmer. Search for 13 Minutes to the Moon or go to www.bbcworldservice.com/13Minutes #13MinutestotheMoon
The Syrian war has created one of the largest human displacements in history – with millions of people on the move seeking safety. For over five years, British-Lebanese journalist Zahra Mackaoui has been following the stories of a group of Syrians, who have scattered across the world in search of safety. She hears about the challenges they have faced, the choices they have made and how they have managed to survive and on occasion, to thrive.
What is it like to be taken away from your childhood home, to be brought to a strange new country where you are locked away? That is what happened to reporter Sahar Zand when she became a refugee from her home country of Iran at the age of 12. She had to leave with her mother and sister after her father got into political trouble with the regime. Sahar explores the complex and often painful role reversals, deceptions and sacrifices that the three of them experienced during those often desperate ...more
In 2009, Mennonite women in a far-flung Bolivian colony reported mass rape. Now leaders of this insular, Christian community with its roots in Europe are campaigning to free the convicted men. More than 100 women and children were attacked in the colony of Manitoba, and their courage in telling their stories secured penalties of 25 years for the rapists. But within Mennonite circles, doubts continue to be aired about the imprisonment of the men. They too protest their innocence, claiming their i...more
In Oklahoma, Tayo Popoola discovers the story of the slaves owned by the Cherokee Indian tribe. Since the emancipation of the slaves in the 19th Century, there has been an often uneasy relationship between the so called “Freedmen” and their former masters, both racial minorities with long histories of persecution in the US. In 2017 the Freedmen won a long battle to be admitted as full members of the Cherokee tribe.
This is the flipside of migration. Migrants make headlines all the time, but what about those they leave behind? The so-called ‘motherless villages’ of Indonesia; rural Senegal where not enough men are left to work the fields and the Guatemalan parents who risk their children’s lives, sending them on the perilous journey to the US. Stories of deserted families and communities, revealing the bigger picture of the country that has been abandoned.
South America’s second poorest nation is about to get very rich - but will the prosperity be shared? A series of oil discoveries in Guyanese waters has revealed almost unimaginable riches beneath the seabed; enough oil to catapult Guyana to the top of the continent’s rich list. Next year, the oil - and cash - is due to start flowing. The major new industry could help solve two of Guyana’s big problems: high youth unemployment and the emigration of most of its graduates. But as young Guyanese pre...more
Political scientist Yascha Mounk travels through countries which were on the West of the former Iron Curtain. Graz in Austria is the birthplace of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Here, populists have been brought into the fold – with the coalition between the centre-right Austrian People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria running the country. His journey ends in Italy where a peculiar coalition between the Five Star and Lega parties is accused of attacking minorities and immigrants.
The internet of things, devices that communicate with each other across networks are becoming increasingly part of everyday life – controlling the heating systems in our houses, or entertainment provided by voice activated assistants. What is the potential, and what are the potential pitfalls, of living in this world of ‘things’ which talk to each other, as well as to us? Are we just beginning to understand the broader implications of what happens when the ‘things’ start to talk?
It’s over two years since the authorities in France closed down the Jungle, the large migrant camp in Calais on the French coast. At its height more than 9,000 people from around the world lived in the camp while attempting to make it across to the UK, often hiding in the back of lorries or packed into small boats. It was hoped the camp's closure would stem the number of people risking their lives to try to get to Britain. But has it worked? In December, Britain’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, de...more
Political scientist Yascha Mounk travels from Szczecin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, the route of the former "Iron Curtain" and finds out what is changing under the new populist governments that been elected. He begins in the north in the Polish city of Szczecin (Stettin) – where Solidarity was originally created. Today the PIS party governs the country, with its appeal to traditional religious values and social conservatism. Critics say it is attacking independent institutions, espe...more
If data is the new oil, are data centres the new oil rigs? Far into the north of Norway are some of the biggest data centres in the world. As a more internet enabled future, with AI and the internet of things, becomes reality – data more than ever needs a physical home. Inside a former mineral mine lies a huge data mine, next to a deep fjord, and the data is pinged back and forth across the globe. But the Sami, the traditional people of the region, have found traditional lands in some parts spo...more
On 14 June 2017, a fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in West London; it caused 72 deaths and more than 70 others were injured and 223 people escaped. On the fourteenth floor of Grenfell Tower, firefighters moved eight residents into one flat – 113. Only four would survive. Piecing together evidence from phase one of the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry, Katie Razzell tries to understand what went wrong that night in flat 113.
Thousands of Bangladeshi addicts are hooked on Yaba - a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine. It's a powerful drug that gives big bangs for small bucks. The Yaba epidemic has ripped through the population of Bangladesh, urban and rural, poor, middle-class and rich. This is a drug that's manufactured in industrial quantities in the jungles of neighbouring Myanmar. As the economy of Bangladesh has boomed, drug lords have worked to create new markets for their product. And the Rohingya crisis - when...more
From a US president who is turning the world upside down – with a relish for dismantling global agreements – the message is clear: it’s America first. But where does that leave old European allies? Few expect the transatlantic relationship to go back to where it was before Trump. Europe, says Angela Merkel, now has to shape its own destiny. James Naughtie explores the uncertain future for America's friends.
There's a generation in South Africa who are known as the Born Frees. They were born in 1994, the year of the elections in which black citizens were allowed to vote for the first time. The Born Frees are 25 years old now – graduating from universities, getting established in their careers, or still living in enduring poverty, which has reduced since 1994 but is still profound. The government estimates that 13 million South Africans still live in what they call 'extreme poverty.' This is a majo...more
Taking place over just eight months, four perilous and eventful space missions laid the foundations for a successful Moon landing. Each pushed the boundaries of technology and revealed new insights into our own planet. As we count down to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, astronaut Nicole Stott tells the story of the build-up to mankind’s giant leap.
Brazilians wept when their 200-year-old National Museum went up in flames last September. Twenty million items, many of them irreplaceable, were thought to have been reduced to ash when it was gutted by a massive fire. Staff said the loss to science and history was incalculable - and the tragedy, possibly caused by faulty wiring in the long-underfunded institution, led to much national heart-searching about the country's commitment to its heritage. The museum, housed in Brazil's former Imperial ...more
Once a game associated with the backrooms of British pubs, snooker is now a global sport, with most of its growth coming from China. Seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry presents this exploration into how snooker became so popular in China, and why its future is looking young, cool and Chinese.
As the 2019 Indian election campaign kicks off, BBC World Service follows journalists from the daily Mumbai Mirror newspaper to get under the skin of the stories that matter to Mumbaikers. From daily editorial meetings to exclusive investigations, this ‘fly-on-the-wall’ radio documentary offers insight into how a newspaper covers the life and news of India’s largest city.
As the workday winds down across New York, you can tune in to a clandestine world of unlicensed radio stations; a cacophonous sonic wonder of the city. As listeners begin to arrive home, dozens of secret transmitters switch on from rooftops in immigrant enclaves. These stations are often called ‘pirates’ for their practice of commandeering an already licensed frequency. These rogue stations evade detection and take to the air, blanketing their neighbourhoods with the sounds of ancestral lands b...more
The BBC’s parliamentary correspondent Mark D’Arcy reviews the bizarre twists and turns of the extraordinary and chaotic past few weeks of debates and voting on Brexit in the British Parliament, from the record-breaking defeat for the government to the crucial vote prevented by procedural rules dating from 1604. And he examines the role played by the personalities of the controversial characters in this drama, including prime minister Theresa May and the House of Commons speaker John Bercow.
For some in Poland the Cursed Soldiers are national heroes; for others they are murderers. A march in celebration of a group of Polish partisans fighting the Soviets has become the focus of tension in a small community in one of Europe’s oldest forests. Those taking part believe the partisans – known as the Cursed Soldiers – were national heroes, but others remember atrocities committed by them 70 years ago. Some partisans were responsible for the burning of villages and the murder of men, women...more
At a time when religious extremism and honour killings have been dominating the political and social discourse, we take a look at the issues surrounding marriages between inter-faith and inter-caste couples ahead of India’s parliamentary elections. Divya Arya, the BBC’s Women’s Affairs journalist in India tells the story of couples who have fled their homes and communities in fear of their lives in the name of love.
Ian Goldin asks if robotisation will prevent poorer countries taking the traditional route to prosperity. Since World War Two, nation after nation has more or less followed the same growth path. As the workforce has moved away from farming, they have created low-skilled industrial jobs, utilising their advantage of cheap labour. Gradually they have moved up the value chain, producing more and more sophisticated goods, before moving towards a service economy. But robots can now can replace even a...more
Hunting western paedophiles is a priority for a new police unit tasked with safeguarding children in Nepal. Mired in poverty and still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2015, Nepal is increasingly being targeted by foreign paedophiles who recommend it as a destination when they share child abuse tips on the dark web. In recent years a series of western men have been charged with raping or sexually assaulting Nepali boys. Jill McGivering follows the under-resourced police unit, hea...more
Will the growing competition between China and the United States inevitably lead to military conflict? One leading American academic created huge attention when in 2017 when he posed the idea of what he called a "Thucydides Trap". Drawing on the work of the ancient Greek historian, he warned that when a rising power (Sparta) threatens an existing power (Athens) they are destined to clash, unless both countries change their policies. He warned that the same pattern could play out with the US an...more
In 2016 when #MeToo spread around the world, thousands of women followed in France using the hashtag #balancetonporc (expose your pig). Some criticised the aggressive wording of the hashtag itself, others didn’t agree with the call to name perpetrators. Why was #MeToo so controversial in France? Was it lost in translation?
Eastern Ukraine has been under assault from Russian backed rebel forces for the past five years, but few have heard of a smaller conflict, which could be brewing in the west of the country, between Ukraine and Hungary. Some have accused the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of trying to create a breakaway state in impoverished Transcarpathia, once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Ukraine and Hungary both expelled diplomats from each other’s nations, following a row over passports and a ...more
Romanians are the second largest foreign nationality in the UK. Why did they come and will they stay? One politician famously once said he "would not like to live next door to Romanians." But now they work in the health service, they teach in British universities, pick fruit on farms and wash cars. Yet sensational headlines have described them as "criminal gangs" and "begging Roma." Tessa Dunlop, a Romania-phile historian, uncovers a misunderstood, multi-layered immigrant community and asks why ...more
Catherine Carr talks to people on the move in London. From the American who left her young children on the other side of the Atlantic, and the Russian buying Soviet propaganda posters at a tube station, to a ‘born and bred’ Londoner who protests that “we all voted out, we should be out”. With the original date for Brexit just days away, we find out what is really on people’s minds.
Mariko Oi has young children starting school in Singapore, where robots are increasingly being used in education, and ageing parents back in her home country Japan, where they are now assisting in elderly care. She has some understandable concerns about the future, and is setting off to find out just what these machines are being used for, why we need them, and what they’re really capable of.
You can't take money with you when you die.... or can you? In this episode of Assignment the stranger than fiction story that's the latest cryptocurrency scandal to leave tens of thousands of people out of pocket. The news about QuadrigaCX broke almost to the day that crypto-currencies celebrated a decade in existence. On this anniversary, we investigate the current state of the market and uncover how these sometimes tragic events have unfolded both here in the UK and across the world. With the ...more
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. In India, Neil meets Gaj Singh, the former Maharaja of Jodhpur; Ram Narasimhan, proprietor of The Hindu Newspaper; professor Kavita Singh of Jawaharlal Nehru University; former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar; and the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Shobana Kamineni.
One question – Where are you going? – reveals hidden truths about the lives of strangers around the world. In this new series, with Brexit fast approaching, Catherine Carr talks to people on the move in Cardiff. Are the people she meets downcast, delighted, or disinterested? At a time of political and social upheaval, we find out what is really on their minds
A couple of years ago a cute little robot was sent out to hitchhike, to prove how well humans and robots could get on. It was an exercise in trust, and it went very wrong. Hitchbot was found decapitated, slumped next to some bins in Philadelphia. The robot’s head has never been found. Neither has the “killer”. We explore robot torture, and whether there is an ethical issue with harming a machine, other than damage to property.
When a light aircraft carrying two families from local Indian tribes disappeared over the Amazon recently, relatives scoured the rainforest for weeks, until hunger and illness forced them to give up. Why did the Brazilian authorities ignore appeals for an official, properly-resourced ground search? And why was there no flight plan to indicate where the plane might have gone? Tim Whewell reports on the dangers of flying in the world’s greatest remaining wilderness - where most flights are clandes...more
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. In Canada, Neil hears from French-Canadian film director, Denys Arcand; writer and Booker Prize nominee, Madeleine Thien; and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland.
Cardiff in early February is freezing cold but the people have a warm welcome. Catherine Carr meets strangers in the city of Cardiff to find out what people here feeling in the weeks before Brexit. What’s on their minds? At a time of such unprecedented political flux, the simple device of her one question - where are you going? - will work to uncover some of that in people's lives.
In Nairobi’s slums, more than 90% of residents rent a shack from a slum landlord. These so-called slumlords have a less than shining reputation in the popular media, for exploiting the lives of the some of the poorest people in Kenya. Who are the faceless figures who own hundreds of shacks and make massive tax-free profits? Who is bulldozing whole areas of Kibera and leaving hundreds homeless? BBC reporter Anne Soy investigates.
How did a priest of the Church of Denmark manage to sexually abuse children for a decade without being detected? Gry Hoffmann investigates the case of Dan Peschack, who is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for the abuse of eight children. Through interviews first recorded for Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s P1 documentary, she discovers “The Seducer” - a man who used his charisma and the power of his position in the Evangelical Lutheran state church to abuse children in the village of Tø...more
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. Neil visits Nigeria to meet Nobel Laureate for Literature, Wole Soyinka; Yeni Kuti, dancer, singer and eldest child of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti; and Muhammadu Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano.
With Brexit fast approaching, Catherine Carr talks to people on the move in Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and London. Are the people she meets downcast, delighted, or disinterested? At a time of political and social upheaval, we find out what is really on their minds. In Glasgow, the first programme in the series, we find a city with a festive hangover, still counting the cost of Christmas and facing a cold January.
In the wake of independence an explosive music scene gripped the southern African country of Zambia. Mixing western rock 'n' roll with traditional sounds, enterprising young musicians kick-started a raucous movement that came to be known as Zamrock. Leading this charge was the charismatic frontman Emmanuel 'Jagari' Chanda with his band W.I.T.C.H. Join Jagari as he takes to the streets of Lusaka to tell his remarkable story as Zambia’s first ever rock star, why he is one of the last standing and ...more
How does a lonely, Spanish shepherd find love when single women have left for the city? Antonio Cerrada lives north of Madrid, in the heart of what’s been nicknamed the, "Lapland of Spain" because its population density is so low. With only a handful of families left in his village, and people continuing to leave for the cities, Antonio struggled to find a partner. Then Maria Carvajal arrived. She came in a bus full of single women – a ‘caravana’ - to attend an organised party with men like Anto...more
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. In Egypt, Neil hears from political historian Said Sadek; magazine publisher and editor Yasmine Shihata; and writer and activist Ahdaf Soueif.
(This programme contains audio effects that may cause discomfort to people living with hearing conditions. There is a modified version of this programme, with quieter effects, on this page https://bbc.in/2TrInga) What does life sound like for someone whose hearing has suddenly changed? Carly Sygrove is a British teacher living in Madrid. She was sitting in her school’s auditorium when suddenly her head was filled with a loud screeching sound. Diagnosed as sudden sensorineural hearing loss, Carl...more
In the late 1960s, parole officer Bob Hurley became basketball coach at St Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. In the years that followed, as the city got poorer and its streets more dangerous, Hurley’s infamously exacting coaching style turned class after class of young men into championship material and put St Anthony’s—a school that didn’t even have its own gym—on the basketball map, winning multiple state championships and hundreds of games. Former NBA basketball player and one...more
Byson expected to be dead long ago. Now in his sixties, he was given a death sentence quarter of a century ago. But instead of being executed, he’s found himself back at home, looking after his elderly mother, holding down a job, and volunteering to help other prisoners leaving jail. His release was part of a re-sentencing project in Malawi. Anyone who was given the death penalty automatically for killing someone can have their case re-examined. What is known as a mandatory death sentence was ...more
Neil MacGregor visits different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain. In Germany, Neil talks to Wolfgang Schäuble, the president of the Bundestag; TV host, writer and cultural commentator Thea Dorn; and Hartmut Dorgerloh, the new director of Berlin's Humboldt Forum. As the UK prepares to place itself on the world stage as an independent power, he explores the relatio...more
George Weah, former World Footballer of the Year and star of AC Milan, Chelsea and Monaco, was elected president of Liberia in a landslide victory just over a year ago. Having been raised in one of Liberia’s worst slums, many saw him as a man who understood the needs of the poor. But some now doubt that he will deliver on campaign promises to help lift people out of poverty. Mike Thomson, who was granted a rare interview with the President, reports from Monrovia.
Last month, law enforcement officials in Spain said they had broken up a major match fixing ring in tennis. The Guardia Civil said 28 players competing at the lower levels of tennis were implicated. It's alleged that a group of Armenians had bribed the players to fix matches. Assignment reveals the inside story of how players and betting gangs are seeking to corrupt the lower tiers of the sport. In many cases, a player only has to lose a set or certain games - not the whole match - to get paid...more
Republican insider Ron Christie discovers how Donald Trump's presidency is changing his party. Trump arrived in the White House offering a populist revolt in America, promising to drain what he calls "the swamp that is Washington D.C". So what does his own Republican Party - traditionally a bastion of the nation’s establishment - really make of him? Where is he taking them and what will he leave behind?
Vulcans, Daleks, Martians, Grays - our culture is pervaded by alien beings from distant worlds – some benevolent…most not so much. In our galaxy alone, there should be tens of billions of planets harbouring life, but we have not heard any broadcasts or seen any flashing lights from distant civilisations. Chief astronomer for SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), Seth Shostak, has devoted his career to searching for signs of alien life. In this programme he tackles the fundamental ...more
**Some listeners may find parts of this programme upsetting** Emmett Till, fourteen and black, was put on the train from Chicago by his mother Mamie in August 1955. She got his corpse back, mutilated and stinking. Emmett had been beaten, shot and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for supposedly whistling at a white woman. His killers would forever escape justice. What Mamie did next helped galvanise the Civil Rights Movement and make Emmett the sacrificial lamb of the movement.
On college campuses across the United States, students die every year as a result of “hazing” - sometimes violent and dangerous rituals designed to initiate new members into a group to which they pledge loyalty. In 2011, Pam and Robert Champion Sr. lost their son Robert to a hazing incident. Robert was a student at Florida A&M University and a drum major in the college’s prestigious marching band, the Marching 100. He was brutally beaten to death by his fellow band members in an initiation rite...more
Adrian Goldberg is a BBC reporter. His father was German and came to the UK on Kindertransport just before the start of the Second World War. For Adrian, Brexit has raised a dilemma: should he get a German passport?
In Sweeping the World, award-winning poet, Imtiaz Dharker presents a reflective evocation in words, sound and music of the broom in many cultures. Whether it’s dust, spirits or the mythic power of the broom to break free and cause havoc, this programme takes a sweeping look at a never-ending story.
MC Dizraeli hears how Mongolia’s massive hip hop scene is shaping the country’s future. He finds surprising lyrics that dispense moral advice, worry about alcoholism or praise the taste of fresh yoghurt on the Mongolian steppe. Freestyles and conversations across Ulaanbaatar reveal global hip hop influences and deep resonances with Mongolia’s musical heritage. Hip hop is so popular that Mongolian politicians try to buy up rappers to support their campaigns. However, in the midst of a changing Ul...more
Elderly pensioners in Japan are committing petty crimes so that they can be sent to prison. One in five of all prisoners in Japan are now over 65. The number has quadrupled in the last two decades, a result it seems of rising elderly poverty and loneliness, as seniors become increasingly cut-off from their over-worked offspring. In jail old people at least get a bed, a routine and a hot meal, and for many, as Ed discovers, the outside world can seem like a threatening place. For the prison autho...more
In the Netherlands, people with dementia can legally chose euthanasia but the debate is going back and forth there. When can dementia patients consent to euthanasia? The answer it turns out - is ethically very complicated and a Dutch doctor is now being prosecuted for performing euthanasia on a patient with advanced Alzheimer’s. In South Korea and the UK we hear from some of the most promising initiatives; and how a dementia friendly society is possible, with action not just from governments and...more
Aleksander Kulisiewicz spent six years in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, imprisoned soon after the Nazi invasion and their attempted destruction of Poland. In the camp he found a unique role both as a composer and living tape recorder of the world of the unfree and the damned. Blessed with a photographic memory prisoners, many of whom knew they were to be killed, would ask him to remember their songs. Songs of resistance and defiance, songs of love and home, songs that captured the brutality ...more
Uganda is a country that has seen massive growth in the number of ‘orphanages’ providing homes to children, despite the number of orphans there decreasing. It is believed 80% of children now living in orphanages have at least one living parent. The majority of the hundreds of orphanages operating in Uganda are illegal, unregistered and now are in a fight with the government trying to shut them down. Dozens on the government's list for closure are funded by overseas charities and church groups...more
Dementia is now a trillion-dollar disease, and with the numbers of patients doubling every 20 years, the burden will fall unevenly on developing countries where the growth rate is fastest. We travel to South Korea, the fastest ageing country in the world, where the country’s president has declared the challenge of Alzheimer’s to be a national crisis. We meet families struggling to look after loved ones with Alzheimer’s and visit the Netherlands, where an innovative approach to Alzheimer’s care o...more
It is one of the world's great unsolved murders. Ten years ago, Pakistan's most prominent politician, a woman people would form human chains to protect from assassins, died in a suicide blast. The intervening years have brought allegations, arrests and a UN inquiry – but not one murder conviction. The victim was Benazir Bhutto.
President Emmanuel Macron has recently done something unusual for a French President – he made a declaration recognising that torture was used by the French military during the Algerian War of Independence. He described a system that allowed people to be arrested, interrogated and sometimes killed. Many families still don’t know what happened to their loved ones. At 87, Josette Audin, has campaigned for more than 60 years for the French state to take responsibility for the disappearance of h...more
While the idea of retail giants like Amazon dropping parcels from the sky via drone may be a long way off, in East Africa momentum is building over the idea of drone delivery in hard to reach places. In the island of Juma near Mwanza, one of hundreds of remote inhabited islands in the vast expanse of Lake Victoria, an ambitious new drone project called the Lake Victoria Challenge is taking place. Technology reporter Jane Wakefield visits Juma to see first-hand how the concept could work.
Few of us will escape the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease. The grim pay-back from being healthy, wealthy or lucky enough to live into our late 80s and beyond is dementia. One in three - maybe even one in two of us - will then get dementia and forget almost everything we ever knew. But it is far more than just a personal family tragedy. We explore how fear in some parts of the world is stigmatising those who have it, and denying help to those who need it.
Ten years ago, Benazir Bhutto, a woman people would form human chains to protect from assassins, died in a suicide blast. The intervening years have brought allegations, arrests and a UN inquiry – but not one murder conviction. It is one of the world's great unsolved murders. Through the mystery of this murder Owen Bennett Jones reveals a little of how Pakistan works.
Old enemies Serbia and Kosovo discuss what for some is unthinkable - an ethnic land swap. This dramatic proposal is one of those being talked about as a means of normalising relations between these former foes. Since the bloody Kosovo war ended with NATO intervention in 1999, civility between Belgrade and Pristina has been in short supply. Redrawing borders along ethnic lines is anathema to many, but politicians in Serbia and Kosovo have their eyes on a bigger prize... For Serbia, that is member...more
Ordinary Cubans reveal what their lives have really been like under Castro’s socialism and, more recently, its transformation into a more capitalistic economy. For some, the Cuban Revolution was the last bastion of the communist dream; for others, a repressive, authoritarian regime. Largely missing from those debates were the voices of ordinary Cubans. Almost 60 years on from the Revolution, professor Elizabeth Dore discovers how people from different walks of life and generations have experienc...more
The Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries on earth. Years of conflict have left hundreds of thousands of people displaced. Sexual violence is rife and extreme poverty is endemic. Yet despite this dire humanitarian situation, reporting from CAR is rare. Anna Foster explores the challenges facing this nation from the inside, and hears from those trying to improve its fortunes.
At 12, Douglas Braga arrived in Rio de Janeiro, a wide-eyed boy, ready to live out the Brazilian dream and become a professional footballer. At 18, he was signed by one of the country’s top teams - but was also starting to realise he couldn’t be true to himself and be a footballer. By 21, he’d quit the game. He knew he was gay and felt there was no place for him in a macho culture where homophobia is commonplace and out gay men are nowhere to be seen. Now, at 36, Douglas lives in a country that ...more
New York’s historic 28th Street flower market opens early. The sidewalk is a rush of colour by 5am, packed with cheerful yellow sunflowers, frothy lime-white hydrangeas and vibrant lilies. Office workers pick their way to work round tropical plants and tall leafy palms sway in the city breeze. Cathy FitzGerald hears the market’s stories, and finds out what it takes to make it in this very beautiful - and very tough - business.
In May 2018 the American actor and singer Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) released what has been described as “the most talked about music video in recent history”. The controversial video of This is America addresses the issues of gun violence, mass shootings, racism and discrimination in the US. It has been viewed more than four hundred million times on YouTube. It has also spawned covers of the song and, importantly, the video across the world, which have also garnered millions of views....more
Thirty years on from the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, what’s happened to the devastated town of Spitak? Rescuers from all over the world came to help search for survivors – among them a team of British firefighters. Now, with reporter Tim Whewell, two of those men are returning - to see how the town’s been rebuilt - and to remember a rescue effort that marked a turning point in East-West relations. The disaster came as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was developing his policy of glasnost (opennes...more
Melania Trump is the second foreign-born First Lady and Donald Trump’s third wife; an ex-model, 24 years his junior, who once posed pregnant in a gold bikini on the steps of her husband’s jet. It was modelling – for GQ, Sports Illustrated and others – that took Melania from small-town Slovenia to New York and her fateful first encounter with the future President. The most notable thing about Melania Trump as First Lady has so far been her absence. It took her five months to relocate from New Yor...more
From the age of eight, Bob Chilcott sang with the world renowned King's College Choir in Cambridge. Every Christmas Eve the choir gather in the chapel to sing for a service that is known and loved across the globe. At 3pm a boy chorister steps forward to sing the opening verse of Once in Royal David City and so begins the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. To mark the centenary of this Christmas tradition, composer Bob Chilcott returns to King's College Chapel to explore the history of the ser...more
Where do you come from? Tracing your ancestry in the USA is one of the most popular hobbies along with gardening and golf. TV is awash with advertising for the do-it-yourself genetic testing kits which have become much sought after gifts, especially at Christmas time. The kits have revolutionised family tree research and gone are the days of sifting through old documents. But, as Lucy Ash reports, the DNA results are now revealing far more than many had bargained for. How do you react when you f...more
It was a brazen and violent attack by North Korean forces on an American ship sailing in international waters, leading to the death of one sailor and the imprisonment of the remaining 82 crewmen who were confined and tortured for 11 long months. Yet the capture of the spy ship the USS Pueblo, the only active-duty vessel of the US Navy still held captive by a foreign government, remains a largely forgotten chapter in American naval history.
A journey in sound along the mighty Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This adventure transports you to the heart of the country on the eve of long-delayed elections. You’ll encounter busy ports, vibrant markets and rare gorillas. You’ll learn why this mineral-rich country the size of western Europe is so poor. You’ll ride on the river to the soundtrack of its music, meet its wrestlers, its acrobatic fishermen and explore how history has shaped what the Congo is today.
China is accused of locking up as many as a million Uighur Muslims without trial across its western region of Xinjiang. The government denies the claims, saying people willingly attend special "vocational schools" to combat "terrorism and religious extremism". But a BBC investigation has found important new evidence of the reality - a vast and rapidly growing network of detention centres, where the people held inside are humiliated and abused. Using detailed satellite analysis and reporting from...more
Somaliland’s rich archaeological heritage was practically unknown 15 years ago. Now thanks to Dr. Sada Mire, Somali archaeologist and author, medieval Islamic towns, pre-Islamic Christian burial sites, and pre-historic cave paintings have been uncovered. One of them, Laas Geel, has been described as one of the most important rock-art sites in eastern Africa. Dr Sada Mire takes us there to see astonishing rock paintings more than 5000 years old in near perfect condition.
Our lives are consumed more and more by the online world whether it be for entertainment or every day activities. For some people it becomes too much – and here, musician turned broadcaster Ana Matronic meets some young people whose online use has quite literally taken over their lives. She visits a centre in Seattle, Washington, near where she grew up, which has been set up to help people, mainly young men, who feel their relationship with the online and tech world has become too stifling.
Access to pornography though mobile phones has been sudden and widespread in India: some say way too sudden for a conservative society, and blame this for the sexual violence against women. But when legal attempts are made to ban pornography, a strong resistance emerges in the name of freedom of expression, including sexual expression. Others argue that online pornography is the wrong target, pointing out that around a third of porn viewers in India are women. But what do Indian men themselves...more
An investigation into the 'killing machine' of one of Africa's most repressive and secretive countries. Three years ago there was widespread unrest in the East African country of Burundi when the country’s president ran for a third term. Protestors said he was violating the constitution that limits presidential terms to just two. Since then street protests have ended but a BBC investigation has now uncovered evidence of government sponsored torture and killings designed to silence dissent. The g...more
This is the story of Vicky Phelan, a mother of two from Limerick, Ireland. Vicky has cancer of the cervix and in 2017 she was given just six months to live. As she battled to save her own life, Vicky uncovered a scandal that rocked the Irish establishment and exposed a country still coming to grips with radical social upheaval. As part of the ‘BBC 100 Women’ season, Helen Devlin meets the woman who changed Ireland.
How is a radio station in an Argentinian psychiatric hospital changing the way people view mental illness? Radio La Colifata - slang for loon, or crazy person - airs from Hospital Jose Borda in Buenos Aires every Saturday afternoon. In-patients produce and present the shows, discussing everything from Argentinean politics and the economy to their own mental health and treatment. Millions of Argentinians tune in and interact with the show as it goes out live, encouraging a dialogue between the La...more
In a Cambodian hospital, a group of terrified new mothers nurse tiny babies under the watch of police guards. They're surrogates, desperately poor women promised $10,000 to bear children for parents in China. But they were arrested under new anti-trafficking rules, and now they face an agonising choice: either they agree to keep children they didn't want and can't easily afford to bring up, children who aren't genetically theirs - or they honour their surrogacy contracts, and face up to 20 years...more
Kim Tserkezie explores how migrants have used their entrepreneurial skills to become part of British communities, and finds out whether the experiences of successful businesses accrued over generations still resonate with migrants arriving today. Kim begins her journey by the golden sands of England’s North East coast, where we hear the Italian family history of England’s ice cream champions. Michael Minchella shares the experiences and struggles of generations of his family setting up and run...more
In Canada many women volunteer to give birth to a stranger's child and do not get paid in return. Under Canadian laws, gestational surrogates receive only expenses in exchange for getting pregnant and carrying a baby for nine months. But, why do they do it? We meet the surrogate women to find out. We follow them as they navigate the emotional challenges of giving life to a baby that they will say goodbye to after birth, and we meet the families who will welcome home these special babies.
Women make up roughly 50% of the world but is the media reporting the issues that matter to them? Do women want to hear more debate around taboo subjects like abortion and domestic violence or do they want to hear more success stories about women in the media? How could the media’s reporting of rape cases be improved? And, as news sources become more diverse, how can the mainstream media reflect the stories being discussed by women on social media?
Narrated by Bristol’s first poet laureate Miles Chambers, from costumes to sound systems this tale looks at the history of the St Pauls Carnival, meets the family of four generations who all have a stake in it, and follows the new organisation grappling to appease a fractured community in order to put this year’s event on. Failure to do so “will spell the end of carnival forever.”
Nigerian patients held in hospital because they can’t pay their medical bills. In March 2016, a young woman went into labour. She was rushed to a local, private hospital in south-east Nigeria where she gave birth by caesarean section. But when the hospital discovered this teenage mother didn’t have the money to pay for her treatment, she and her son were unable to leave. They remained there for 16 months – until the police arrived and released them. This is not an isolated case. In Nigeria, ve...more
We follow a unique group of Sahrawi women working alongside the world’s longest minefield, the 2,700km sand wall or berm built by Morocco across the region. Baba, Minetou, Nora and the team work in temperatures exceeding 42°c (107°f), hundreds of miles from even rudimentary medical care, risking their lives in Western Sahara’s so-called “Liberated Territories” east of the Berm, clearing some of the seven million landmines and unexploded bombs left over from the still unresolved conflict between ...more
Argentina is on the brink of a female-led revolution, and in Buenos Aires women are fighting for an equal footing everywhere from the institutions of government to the Tango hall. Since 2015 political pressure around women’s rights has peaked, following a string of horrifying femicides. It spawned a social media movement #NiUnaMenos, and continent wide strikes and protests. Katy Watson speaks to the activists who started this latest feminist wave and how tango is being re-interpreted with equali...more
What is the most traded legal item in US prisons? Instant Noodles. Celia Hatton explores the story behind instant noodles. It's a journey that starts in Japan, at the nation's instant noodle museum, and then takes her to China, still the world's number one market for "convenient noodles" as they're known there. And she hears why instant noodles have emerged as the prisoners' currency of choice.
In Louisville, Kentucky, drug overdose related deaths are twice the national average. What will the impact be on the next generation? This fly-on the-wall documentary series follows the work of a team of reporters from the Louisville Courier Journal. We hear of babies born addicted as a result of their mothers’ drug use, an inspiring school choir and the families finding ways to face up to the epidemic. A mother is campaigning to hold pharmaceutical companies to account and citizens, faith grou...more
Exploring how the opioid epidemic in America is impacting the criminal justice system. Through reporters on the Louisville Courier Journal we meet the drug court judge who tells us about her hopes for those going through the court. We attend the drug court graduation ceremony and follow the police as they search for drugs. And, we assess the impact on Louisville's city jail, which runs the state Kentucky's biggest detox centre.
The opioid epidemic in America is hurting all levels of society – in this three part documentary series we explore its impact, in real-time, on people in one city, Louisville, Kentucky. We work with a team of reporters on the Louisville Courier Journal as they follow opioid stories across the community.
In 1904 the Herero people of South West Africa made their final stand against German Colonial troops with their backs against the slopes of Waterberg mountain in today’s Namibia. The battle marked the beginning of what has been called the first genocide of the 20th Century as tens of thousands were killed, driven into the desert to die and thousands more held in concentration camps. The Nama, another indigenous group suffered the same fate soon after. And their deaths fed a bizarre and gruesome...more
The final interview with the veteran American politician Senator Joe Tydings, with his vivid memories of working with the Kennedy dynasty - and his unhappy relationship with Donald Trump. He recalls the protests, assassinations and political upheaval which marked the 1960s. And we find out why Senator Tydings never forgave Donald Trump for pinching the family crest.
Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come under intense scrutiny since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with many believing he may have been behind it. Mohammed bin Salman has condemned the act. But a secret source has told the BBC that they believe Khashoggi’s killing wasn’t the first to be carried out by people close to the Crown Prince. With BBC Arabic we investigate these allegations and ask if Mohammed bin Salman can survive the furore over Jamal Khashoggi’s killing. (Imag...more
A celebration of the amazing work of the little known astronomer (the world’s first astrophysicist) George Ellery Hale. He covered the peak of Mount Wilson with a constellation of instruments for observing the sky. His first objective - to study one particular star, our Sun. Hale’s monumental discovery in 1908 – that the Sun generated powerful magnetic fields - has been a source of inspiration for the world’s astronomer's
Moira Stuart tells the astonishing story of the idea of the Unknown Soldier - a powerful prism for national grief, a brilliant interplay between anonymity and universal recognition, an icon which spread across the globe. But even from the beginning the concept of the Unknown Soldier was not without its critics. Some saw it as emblematic of the callousness of states and their governments in wartime - the Unknown could be read as figure of righteous anger, of the terrible, mass anonymity of countl...more
Singer-songwriter Doug Levitt hears the stories of America’s struggling people as they ride across the country on long-haul coaches – and turns their tales into songs. For 12 years and 120,000 miles, he has crossed the United States by Greyhound, guitar on his back, and notebook in his pocket. The people on the margins ride Greyhound, the only form of long distance travel they can afford. It makes for a singular community of people on the move, looking for work, dealing with family emergencies a...more
Overfishing is blighting traditional livelihoods along the coast of Senegal. Fish catches are collapsing there after years of overfishing, mainly by foreign trawlers, some of whom are fishing illegally. Meanwhile, Senegal’s traditional fishermen have been evicted from the rich waters of neighbouring Mauritania, leading to a vicious circle of rapidly falling catches, economic desperation and yet more overfishing. Some have continued crossing the border, provoking an armed response from Mauritania...more
Giles Edwards travels to North Carolina to investigate whether new voting laws and partisan district maps could swing November’s elections. Over the last two decades the controversy over voting laws has become increasingly bitter. President Trump regularly complains about unfair rules and illegal votes, and North Carolina has become a key location where these arguments play out.
More than 25 years after independence, young Kazakhstanis are still trying to make sense of their dark history and their place in the new world order. At least half of the 18 million population of Kazakhstan is under 30 - born and raised in the post-Soviet era. Russian journalist Tatyana Movshevich goes to Almaty, the cultural capital of Kazakhstan to meet young Kazakhs and find out how they are moving their country forward, how they navigate their lives under an authoritarian regime and play th...more
Violence against women is a persistent problem in Serbia. The numbers aren’t clear, but in the last decade more than 330 women have been murdered by men, mostly partners or close family members. Already this year, more than twenty women have been murdered and countless others abused. According to some studies, 1 in 3 women has experienced physical violence, and almost half of all women have endured psychological violence. In November 2016 the Serbian Parliament adopted a new law on the Prevent...more
In February 2017, President Trump made a speech to his supporters. He moved on to the topic of immigration and Sweden. "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden," he told the crowd at a rally in Florida. "They took in large numbers; they're having problems like they never thought possible". This confused the Swedes because they had not noticed anything happening that Friday night in their country. But since then there has been a spate of violent crime in Sweden. Ruth Alexander investiga...more
With the rise of a wealthy class of high net worth individuals in Africa, home-grown philanthropy is on the rise. We meet some of these rich givers to find out what motivates them. The concept of philanthropy among communities is not new here, but as the economic landscape changes Alan Kasujja looks at what impact Africa’s new wealth might have, the impact of social media on how people donate, and what the future might hold for the concept of philanthropy in Africa.
Down but not out in a Colombian border town, four Venezuelans pin their hopes on music. Cucuta is a desperate place, overflowing with Venezuelans who are streaming across the nearby border, fleeing economic collapse. In among the desperation are glimmers of hope, like the four young musicians busking their way round the city’s restaurants to earn money. Karenina Velandia, who grew up in Venezuela, follows her compatriots’ highs and lows as they try to scrape together enough to survive - not just...more
Around one in four people in sub-Saharan Africa is malnourished, and tackling food insecurity is a huge challenge. Alan Kasujja explores how big philanthropy is putting a lot of money into supporting agriculture to improve livelihoods. He talks to farmers in Kenya about the development of new seeds and scientific solutions like fortified crops. But he also discovers that not all farmers are happy about it.
Last year, Assignment investigated whether some athletes and coaches game the Paralympic classification system in order to win medals. We heard allegations that some competitors had gone to astonishing lengths such as taping up their arms to make their disability appear worse. A parliamentary select committee hearing looked into the way British Paralympic athletes are classified and questions were raised over whether the system was fit for purpose. In this programme, we examine fresh claims ...more
In 2016 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to invest five billion dollars in poverty reduction and health in Africa. Other big givers like the Rockefeller Foundation have spent billions on health, agriculture and livelihood programmes. Some say governments and global agencies have come to depend on the donations of big philanthropic donors for their programmes, but how much influence do they have, and with the rise of home-grown African wealth what is the future is for philanthropy he...more
When someone takes their own life, how does it affect those left behind? Suicide claims the life of someone, somewhere in the world, approximately every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organisation. And that rate is increasing. The devastating effects on those left behind can go on for generations, especially where suicide is taboo or difficult to talk about. Mark Dowd hears the stories of people bereaved by suicide and reflects on his own experience following the suicide of his brothe...more
Hundreds of people are killed by the police in the US each year. Much of the media attention has been on the race of victims, but there is another disturbing pattern to the deaths. A large number of those killed in interactions with police have a disability, with some research suggesting the figure is as much as half of the total number. Many of the dead had been living with mental illness, learning difficulties or a physical disability and recent incidents include those involving police officer...more
Christopher de Bellaigue presents an exploration of loneliness – told through a conversation with one woman – his 94 year old aunt, Diana. As she follows her usual routine at her home on Vancouver Island, Diana charts her life story, recounting her abandonment by her parents in the 1920s, her reunion with them years later, a life full of transitory friendships but extraordinary determination and independence.
In April 1945 a 15-year-old Dutch Jewish girl, Hetty Werkendam, was interviewed by the BBC in the Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen shortly after its liberation by the British. Mike Lanchin travels to the site of Bergen-Belsen in Germany with the now 88-year-old Hetty and her family. Hetty vividly recalls the deprivations of the camp, and of seeing the dead bodies piling up outside the children’s barracks. Hetty says its a story that needs to be told again and again in order not to be for...more
Three years ago, doctors in the north-east of Brazil noticed a worrying new trend - a spate of babies being born with abnormally small heads, or microcephaly. The cause was traced to an outbreak of the Zika virus earlier in 2015. More than 3,000 babies were born with significant disabilities. BBC Brasil’s Julia Carneiro goes back to the state of Pernambuco to meet children affected by congenital Zika syndrome, who are now toddlers. She finds families who have been rocked by adversity but are sus...more
The name ‘Macedonia’ is hotly disputed by two neighbouring nations. The Greek province of Macedonia and the country calling itself the Republic of Macedonia border Lake Prespa. The villagers on the lake’s shores share a language and a culture, but it’s impossible to cross or drive around the lake because of the dispute with Greece over the Republic’s name. After years of stalemate, the governments of the two countries have agreed on a new name, the Republic of Northern Macedonia. But this has sp...more
In Paris, aspiring models have to adjust to rather spartan conditions - from sharing a flat with strangers to moving around an unknown city all alone and surviving on a mere 80 euros a week. Despite their best efforts to get a job, most of the girls will leave Paris with empty pockets. Former model and now BBC journalist, Alina Isachenka, follows 17-year-old schoolgirl Anna Vasileva from the city of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia on her challenging journey through tough competition and over-demanding...more
Simon Cox is in Austria where the authorities have launched an unprecedented operation against a new far right youth organisation, Generation Identity. They prosecuted members of the group including its leader, Martin Sellner, for being an alleged criminal organisation. They are currently appealing the judge's not guilty verdict. The Austrian group is at the heart of a new pan European movement that is vehemently opposed to Muslims and immigration. GI says it is not racist or violent. In Germany...more
Editor David Cannadine delves into stories about some of the colourful figures who lurk in the holdings of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, from Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, alias Grey Owl, the impostor conservationist of the early 20th century, to Alice Lucas, the earliest female UK parliamentary candidate, and recent figures from popular culture like Amy Winehouse.
How humans make babies could be about to change, thanks to advances in IVF and reproductive technology. Krupa Padhy meets the new kinds of families that could become the norm, and explores how reproductive technology may soon alter the way all of us make babies.
Iceland is a small island nation of just 340,000 people, but at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, it was the scene of one of the biggest banking collapses in history. Ten years on the economy has recovered, thanks to the millions of tourists who now visit every year. But what scars have been left on this close-knit island nation’s collective psyche? Edwin Lane speaks to the Icelanders hit hardest by the crisis, the small-town chief of police charged with pursuing the erra...more
Dark secrets of Chile's Catholic Church - one of South America's devout congregations
Editor David Cannadine takes us behind the scenes at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) to examine why this late Victorian institution, with thousands upon thousands of detailed and vivid entries about the great and the good, is still relevant in the internet age. We hear the processes by which candidates are selected for inclusion, how the style and content have changed over the years, and why, in a period which tries to look beyond the praise of famous men and women, there is s...more
Krupa Padhy examines where we have got to after 40 years of IVF. In England, she visits a family made up of white British parents and their three boys, plus a ‘snow baby’: created during an IVF cycle for her Indian-American genetic parents, but adopted as an embryo by her birth family. She hears from ethicists and law makers from around the world about how countries have struggled to adapt to new technological realities, and discovers stories that challenge ideas of what IVF is for, like that of...more
In parts of Nevada, prostitution is legal - the only such state in the US. The 'live and let live' mentality is a hangover from the gold rush days; in certain counties, brothels have been officially licensed since 1971. Today, no fewer than seven of them are owned by one man: Dennis Hof, a gun-toting restaurateur, entrepreneur and reality TV star. He calls himself the 'Trump from Pahrump', after a town where he recently won the Republican primaries for the Nevada State Legislature. Now, ...more
How has comedy helped Northern Ireland cope with conflict and move on? -- An atheist is driving in Belfast and he gets stopped by a paramilitary road block. A paramilitary walks up to the window and asks him "Catholic or Protestant?" The atheists looks at him and says "well I'm an atheist" The paramilitary nods "Ah okay, but are you a Catholic or a Protestant atheist?" -- Northern Ireland is renowned for its friendliness and sense of humour but after 40 years of violence how do you keep l...more
'He was using prisoners like oxen for ploughing for his own gain'. An ex-convict in Uganda recalls the prison officer in charge of the prison farm he worked on. Uganda has one of the most overcrowded prison systems in Africa. It also has one of the continent’s most developed systems of prison labour. Ed Butler reports from Uganda where most of the country’s 54,000 inmates are now serving an economic purpose, working for the benefit of an elite collection of private farmers and other business...more
Few American politicians have carved such a distinctive career as the late John McCain, the Republican Senator for Arizona. Anthony Zurcher, the BBC's North America reporter, looks back at his life, including his military service, during which he endured five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and his two unsuccessful bids for the American presidency. He also examines how McCain gained a reputation as a political maverick, and inflicted one of the most high-profile policy defeats of Donald ...more
Over the last seven years as many as a million people in Syria lived under siege, 400,000 of them in Eastern Ghouta alone. Some were trapped for more than four years of bombardment, sniping and near starvation. The walls that stopped them fleeing also prevented many of their stories leaking to the outside world. They could not leave and journalists, along with aid workers and human rights groups, could not get in. Over recent years, Mike Thomson has been using internet links and social media to ...more
Some people just love to be naked in public. Dr Keon West travels far and wide to speak to those who enjoy taking their clothes off to find out why they do it, and what the benefits – and disadvantages – might be. His work showed that those of us who are naked in public are more likely to be happier not just with our bodies, but also with our lives more generally.
When someone in Jamaica emigrates to the UK, it is said they have 'gone to foreign'. Over the past 70 years several hundred thousand Jamaicans have done this, following in the footsteps of the so-called 'Windrush generation' who first arrived in Britain in the late 1940s. But the spirit of adventure and optimism those early pioneers bought with them has changed over the years and a recent political scandal now finds some of them unwanted and rejected by Britain. Following changes to immigration ...more
Composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein is perhaps the most influential American musician of all time. A champion of cultural inclusivity, he tore down musical barriers to declare the symphony hall open to all and offered the classical music world a dynamic new model of what a maestro could be. As a conductor he achieved early worldwide acclaim, as a composer his work defied genre divisions and brought him popular and critical success, notably with his most well-known work West Side Story. As a...more