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Covid-19 is affecting our relationships - some are better, others are more challenging. A jewellery designer in India and a lawyer in the United States share their experiences and discover they have a lot in common when it comes to changing friendships and building your ‘Covid tribe’. For those wishing to meet someone special, this is an especially difficult time. Three single people from Zimbabwe and the US discuss dating during a pandemic. And an Israeli doctor airs concerns about the social effects of isolation, as the country becomes the first in the world to undergo a second national lockdown.
The Netherlands - small and overcrowded - is facing fundamental questions about how to use its land, following a historic court judgment forcing the state to take more urgent action to limit nitrogen emissions. Dutch nitrogen emissions - damaging the climate and biodiversity - are the highest in Europe per capita. And though traffic and building are also partly to blame, farmers say the government is principally looking to agriculture to make the necessary reductions. They've staged a series of protests - what they call a farmers' uprising - in response to a suggestion from a leading politician that the number of farm animals in the country should be cut by half. This is meant to bring down levels of ammonia, a nitrogen compound produced by dung and urine. The proposal comes even though their cows, pigs and chickens have helped make the tiny Netherlands into the world's second biggest exporter of food. Farmers think they're being sacrificed so that the construction industry, also responsible for some nitrogen pollution, can have free rein to keep building, as the country's population, boosted by immigration, grows relentlessly. What do the Dutch want most - cows or houses? Will there be any room in the future for the ever-shrinking patches of nature? And in a hungry world, shouldn't the country concentrate on one of the things it's best at - feeding people? Tim Whewell travels through a country that must make big choices, quickly.(image: Dutch dairy farmer Erik Luiten feeds a new calf. Credit: Tim Whewell/BBC)
Muhammad is a Bedouin shepherd in a remote corner of the West Bank called Rashash. His family has been herding sheep and goats in Rashash for 30 years and in Palestine for generations. But since Israeli settlers recently moved in nearby it has become difficult for Muhammad to graze his flock undisturbed.When producer Max Freedman visits Rashash, he sees this conflict in action. One settler tries to scatter the sheep by driving towards them in an all-terrain vehicle. Another chases after the flock on horseback. An Israeli activist tries to use his body as a human shield.After leaving Rashash, Max sets out to understand what he saw there.Presenter/reporter: Max Freedman Producer: Max Freedman, Ilana Levinson, and Emily Bell Editor: Ilana Levinson
It is six months since the outbreak of a new coronavirus was declared a global pandemic. Very few lives around the world have not been affected by Covid-19. More than 27 million people have been infected. More than 900,000 have died with the virus and the numbers increase daily. Behind every case, there is a story. Since March, BBC OS has been hearing those stories. Presenter Nuala McGovern guides you through the personal tributes and remembers the names and the stories of those we have lost, through the words of those who love them.
Pineapple beer is the universal homebrew in South Africa and pineapple prices trebled when the government imposed a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco during the coronavirus pandemic. South Africa has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in Africa and the government introduced the ban to ease the pressure on hospitals. With the infection rate now falling the ban has been lifted although some restrictions remain in place. Ed Butler and Vauldi Carelse have been hearing from the brewers, both legal and illegal, on the impact the ban has had on their livelihoods and on people’s health, and since the ban has ended, from those considering what lessons the nation might learn from its experiment with being ‘dry’.(Image: Barman working at a bar which has re-opened under new regulations in Val, South Africa, 07 August 2020. Credit: EPA/Kim Ludbrook)
Seven years ago in a sleepy English village a doorbell rang. In that moment, Lauri Love’s life changed completely. Lauri was arrested at the door. He was accused of hacking into US government websites and sharing employee data as part of an Anonymous protest. He faced extradition and 99 years in US jail. That extradition request was denied seven years ago, but the allegation against him still stands. Producer Alice Homewood first met Lauri Love through friends in 2013. Alice tries to understand how her gentle friend came to be accused of one of the biggest cyber-crimes in history.
What is behind the deep-seated and increasing passion for motorcycling in India?The hosts of the podcast Biker Radio Rodcast, explore what drives the love for the two-wheeler. Sunny and Shandy travel from a republic day parade in Delhi to a biker festival in Goa, meeting motor cycle enthusiasts along the way. Through the adventures of these motorcyclists, from mass breakfast rides and long distance tours, to races against the odds and nostalgia, we learn how this generation are taking to motorcycling in their own unique way.
Vanuatu, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands are among a handful of nations that have no registered coronavirus cases. Yet, despite this enviable status, the pandemic is introducing other problems with people suffering from economic and psychological distress. But for two couples in the United States, the pandemic has produced an unexpected positive. Chloe Tilley meets those who found love during lockdown. In Europe, the recent rise in coronavirus cases across the continent is causing some doctors to be concerned about a second wave. We share conversations with doctors in Italy and France, who are especially worried about the number of young people now being infected.
Journalist Naziha Syed Ali has made a career out of investigating sometimes scandalous abuses of power in her native Pakistan. Publishing in the country’s main English-language daily newspaper, “Dawn”, she has reported – often undercover – on land confiscation, illegal organ harvesting and sectarian violence. Her work has prompted significant action against wrongdoers, most notably when she exposed malpractice in a major Karachi property development, resulting in a Supreme Court case and payments worth billions of dollars. Being female, she says, can help - if only because Pakistan’s patriarchal society is so sceptical about women’s ability to make an impact, which can lull male subjects into a false sense of security. Nevertheless, her job is arduous and frequently dangerous. In this interview for Assignment with Owen Bennett-Jones, she explains what drives her to work in one of the world’s toughest journalistic beats.Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Naziha Syed Ali gives an interview at a journalism conference in 2017. Credit: Glenn Chong)
Greenland has been detangling its colonised relationship with Denmark since World War Two. Along the way, each state service and law needs to be rewritten. In 1948, three young Danes were sent to research and write Greenland’s first Criminal Law. They hoped they were writing a blueprint for the world’s first modern prison-less society. Instead their social experiment put the nation in a 70-year-long limbo.
The Soviet women spreading ideas on women’s equality in Afghanistan They were highly trained, focused on their mission and dedicated to their goal of promoting women’s equality in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, they found women activists who had already taken up the struggle for female education and women’s rights.
Children around the world are starting to return to school after months of absence because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nuala McGovern talks to Unathi in South Africa and Jamie in the US - both have a child with special educational needs - about the unique challenges their families have faced during this period. They are joined by Tzofia, a teacher at a special education high school in Jerusalem. We also hear a conversation with mental health professionals from the US, Canada and Sweden about how school closures have affected children.
August in Minsk tells the story of the popular uprising in Belarus this August; a fast-changing revolt against the Soviet-style regime of Alexander Lukashenko. He’s been in power for 26 years and claimed victory in yet another election on August 9th. We're telling the story as it happens, with Minsk reporter Ilya Kuzniatsou.
Hugh Sykes has reported for the BBC since the 1970s and has travelled far and wide to witness some of the most significant events of our age. Here, in conversation with Owen Bennett-Jones, he discusses what some of those stories mean to him, and explains the journalistic values he applied to them. From the historic British coal miners’ strike of 1984-5 to the insurgency in Iraq, Sykes has faced down danger, surviving respectively an attack by angry strikers who threatened to throw him into a canal, and a roadside bomb. Yet he has always insisted on keeping his own feelings out of the story, in order to let his subjects communicate directly to listeners. Meanwhile, we hear too about his love of Iran, formed by years spent there as a child, about his preference for the medium of radio over television – and about how high spirits in the studio once nearly landed him in trouble with BBC bosses.Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Hugh Sykes files a report on location – watched by a donkey. Credit: Hugh Sykes’ collection)
There is a secret map passed down from hobo to hobo. You can’t buy it in stores or download it online but if you’re lucky enough to get a copy you can travel anywhere in America by freight train. They call it The Crew Change Guide and it is a sacred document for those who still ride in boxcars like the hobos looking for work in the great depression. This state by state guide has grown from one man’s obsession into a network of everything you need to get from Aliceville, Alabama to Wendover, Wyoming - all for “low or no dollars”.
President Trump has dramatically reduced the numbers of refugees arriving in the United States, vowing to protect native-born Americans’ interests. But there’s a catch - some of the nation’s reddest communities may not survive without them. Katy Long telsl the story of one small, poor, conservative town — Cactus, Texas — where hundreds of refugees have settled, drawn by the well-paid jobs in meatpacking, shifting the demographics of the community, shaping the refugees’ perspective and saving the town from disaster. Cactus is a town which would have died altogether, taking the meatpacking plant and the jobs there with it, had it not been for these refugees. And so this story begs the question: if you drastically reduce immigration and stop refugee resettlement – as the Governor of Texas has recently announce – what happens to these towns, to the meatpacking industry, and to the idea of beef-and-oil-Texas?
Thousands of people across the globe are experiencing a worrying cycle of Covid-19 symptoms months after recovering from the disease. Four of the so-called 'Covid long-haulers’ - from South Africa, Canada, Bangladesh and New Zealand - share their persistent symptoms, from dizziness to brain fog, with Nuala McGovern. Education is also a long-term concern and US parents discuss the different paths they’ve chosen for returning their children to school during a pandemic. For one teacher in Arizona, however, it resulted in a difficult decision to resign rather than return to the classroom.
North Korea and Tibet are two of the most tightly-controlled societies on earth, and as a consequence their peoples are often misunderstood by the world’s media, caricatured respectively as aggressive communists and spiritual hermits. But Barbara Demick, former Los Angeles Times correspondent in Seoul and Beijing, confesses that she likes a challenge, and so set out to build a more nuanced picture of individuals’ real lives in both places. Moreover, she did this with minimal location reporting; indeed in the case of North Korea, she never visited the city she wrote about at all. Using an almost forensic level of investigation, Demick conducted lengthy and highly detailed interviews with people who had left both places, cross-referencing testimonies and drawing on additional research to corroborate their accounts. She then used the resulting material to inform a vivid, factual storytelling style that she calls narrative non-fiction. As she explains in conversation with Owen Bennett-Jones, it is a difficult process, but one that yields fascinating insight into places whose repressive leaders would rather we knew far less about.Producer: Michael Gallagher Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Soldiers at a military parade in North Korea. Credit: EPA/How Hwee Young)
In Japan, if you want to disappear from your life, you can just pick up the phone and a ‘night moving company’ will turn you into one of the country’s ‘johatsu,’ or literally ‘evaporated people.’ You can cease to exist. Meet the people who choose to disappear and the people who are left behind.
Sandra Kanthal looks at what strategies are being put in place to transport a vaccine to countries around the world, who will be the first in those countries to get the vaccine, and, once it is available, how to convince people to take it.
Nuala McGovern considers alcohol and drug addiction relapse during the pandemic. We hear from two men, in Kenya and the United States, about how they have fought their addictions while under lockdown. Nuala also talks about the importance of family in these times and hears how one man travelled more than 2,000 km across the US to play his trombone for his brother, who was recovering in a rehab centre after a fall. She also talks about how hobbies are helping us and joins a wrestler, a dancer and a musician in conversation about social distancing.
The women of Gee’s Bend have held on to their creative traditions, passed down from mother to daughter: spine-tingling gospel singing, and a unique style of bold, improvised quilting. Made from old clothes out of necessity for generations, used for insulation and burned to keep off mosquitoes, the quilts brought Gee’s Bend fame after they were “discovered” by an art collector in the 1990s and shown in major museums in Houston and New York. Maria Margaronis hears the voices of this small community.
As a child of Soweto, apartheid South Africa’s most notorious black township, Milton Nkosi could easily have become an embittered adult; in June 1976 he witnessed the Soweto uprising in which white police brutally suppressed protests by black schoolchildren, leading to many deaths. Yet, as apartheid began to collapse in the early 1990s, Milton found himself drawn into TV journalism; enabling him to question his former tormentors and helping viewers around the world to see the moral case for change. So began a career that took him from translator and fixer to producer and eventually, the head of bureau for the BBC’s news operation in South Africa, where he then sought to diversify coverage of a fast-changing continent. As Milton explains in this conversation with Owen Bennett-Jones, his humble beginnings turned out to be an asset: Among his childhood neighbours in Soweto were anti-apartheid activists including Nelson Mandela’s wife and children, many of whom would become valuable contacts. However, after the transition to democracy in 1994, Milton also had to ask uncomfortable questions of some of them, as claims of corruption emerged within the ANC government. Moral dilemmas such as this defined his working life: Is it even possible to be an impartial reporter when your subject might be a close associate? For Milton, the issues need to be seen in context. As he points out: “Nobody can ever justify apartheid based on the mistakes of the post-apartheid leaders”.Produced by Michael Gallagher Editor Bridget Harney Image: (Milton Nkosi) Christian Parkinson
When we talk about cancer it’s often hard to find the right words. As we search for the perfect thing to say, we find ourselves reaching for familiar metaphors; the inspiring people fighting or battling their cancer. Cara Hoofe is currently in remission from Stage 3 bowel cancer, she says it would be easy for her to say she has beaten cancer. Cara asks experts what impact these militaristic metaphors actually have on those living with cancer, and asks current and former patients what we should talk about when we talk about cancer.
Nearly every person on the planet is vulnerable to the new coronavirus, SarsCoV2. That’s why there are more than 100 projects around the world racing towards the goal of creating a safe and effective vaccine for the disease it causes, Covid-19, in the next 12 to 18 months. But this is just the first part of a long and complex process, working at a pace and scale never attempted before. In Vaccines, Money and Politics, Sandra Kanthal looks at the vast ecosystem needed to deliver a vaccination programme to the world in record time.
Beirut has been left destroyed by this week’s massive explosion: more than a hundred are dead; thousands injured and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless. It has devastated lives, belongings, buildings, businesses. Lebanon was already struggling from challenges on several fronts, including Covid-19. With many questions still to be answered, it is unclear what the longer term effect of this week’s tragedy will be. Nuala McGovern talks to people in Beirut. She hears from eye witnesses who experienced the blast, three young adults who share their fears for the future of Lebanon, and the doctor who helped a mother give birth after the hospital was badly hit by the blast.
The pandemic has accelerated de-globalisation. Governments worry now about the length and strength of medical supply chains and cross-border trade and travel. But globalisation has had its critics for quite a time. Nationalism has been powered in many countries by the belief that a globalised world has led to rising inequality and fewer middle income jobs in richer countries. And our global institutions - the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation - are under attack too. Philip Coggan considers the long view, looking back to the last great wave of globalisation that ended abruptly with the Great War of 1914-1918.
In the United States a small but increasingly vocal group of people believe that members of the country's Muslim community are working from within to turn America into an Islamic state. This group of right wing thinkers believe this so-called 'Soft Jihad' is being carried out in schools, universities and other institutions across the country and they want to put a stop to it. In Assignment, Pascale Harter travels to America to find out how this fear is finding a foothold in public opinion there and hears from some of those accused of being the 'soft jihadists'.
A mysterious illness appears out of nowhere. The number of cases rises exponentially, as the authorities attempt to downplay the severity of the disease. There is a shortage of medical staff, equipment and arguments about whether people should wear masks. People are forbidden to leave their homes and many are left stranded in unfamiliar places, separated from loved ones. Albert Camus’ novel The Plague set in the Algerian city of Oran under French colonial rule was published more than 70 years ago. But today it almost reads like a current news bulletin and seems more relevant than ever. This edition of Assignment revisits Oran in the age of the coronavirus and investigates the parallels between now and then. For the time being, it seems the pandemic has achieved something the authorities have tried but failed to do for the past year – clear the streets of protesters. Lucy Ash investigates Algeria’s plague of authoritarianism and finds that the government has been using Covid-19 as an excuse to crack down harder on dissent. Reporter: Lucy Ash Producer: Neil Kisserli Editor: Bridget Harney (Photo: Man using an Algerian flag as a mask at an anti-government demonstration in Algiers on 13 March, 2020. Credit: Ryad Kramdi/AFP/Getty Images)
In Karachi, with a population of around 20 million people, ambulance drivers are on the front lines of this megacity’s shifting conflicts. Samira Shackle joins one of these drivers, Muhammad Safdar, on his relentless round of call-outs. As a first-responder for more than 15 years, Safdar has witnessed Karachi wracked by gang wars, political violence and terrorism. At the height of the unrest, the number of fatalities was often overwhelming. With no state ambulance service in Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation, set up by the late Abdul Sattar Edhi in 1954, stepped in to offer services to the poor. Safdar drives one of its fleet of 400 ambulances: rudimentary converted vans with basic emergency provision. His missions bring him to many of Karachi’s most deprived and troubled areas, revealing the complex social and economic problems at the heart of the country.
During a period of huge uncertainty, Spain's tourism industry suffers a setback while musicians in South Africa, Denmark and the United States share creative challenges and how they are reconnecting with audiences during the coronavirus pandemic
A failed coup in Venezuela - a story of hubris, incompetence, and treachery… At the beginning of May, the government of Nicolas Maduro announced the armed forces had repelled an attempted landing by exiled Venezuelans on the coast north of Caracas. Some were killed, others captured. This was Operation Gideon – an incursion involving a few dozen, poorly-equipped men, and two former US Special Forces soldiers. The hair brained plan to depose Nicolas Maduro, and force a transition in Caracas was conceived by Venezuela's political opposition in neighbouring Colombia, the United States and Venezuela. Command and control of Operation Gideon allegedly lay with another former US Special Forces soldier, Jordan Goudreau. But why would men with decades of military experience between them join a plan that, from the outset, looked like a suicide mission? For Assignment, Linda Pressly goes in search of answers.Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly Producer in Venezuela: Vanessa Silva Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Jordan Goudreau and Javier Nieto address the Venezuelan people on 3 May, 2020. Credit: Javier Nieto)
The Milkshake Gene - (LCTL) - More than 90% of people in some parts of the world are unable to properly digest milk, cheese and other dairy products. Most other animals are also unable to drink milk once they leave babyhood behind. So why did some of us evolve the ability to tuck into cheese, butter and cream with a vengeance? The answer lies in the history of human evolution and the early days of farming. The Cyclops Gene - (SHH) Building a baby is a complicated business, with thousands of genes to be turned on or off at exactly the right time and in the right place. One of them is Sonic Hedgehog – named after the computer game character – which has its genetic fingers in all kinds of developmental processes. Sonic Hedgehog helps to decide how many bits you have, where they go, and whether you’re symmetrical, so it’s not surprising that any mistakes can have potentially devastating consequences.
In Karachi, with a population of around 20 million people, ambulance drivers are on the front lines of this megacity’s shifting conflicts. Samira Shackle joins one of these drivers, Muhammad Safdar, on his relentless round of call-outs. As a first-responder for more than fifteen years, Safdar has witnessed Karachi wracked by gang wars, political violence and terrorism. At the height of the unrest, the number of fatalities was often overwhelming.
Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man, was killed after an encounter with police in Colorado last year. He had been put in a chokehold and injected with ketamine. No-one has been punished over what happened. Following the outcry over the killing of George Floyd, a petition gathered millions of signatures calling for justice for Elijah McClain. The state of Colorado has now said it is re-examining what happened. Elijah's mother, Sheneen McClain, explains what happened to her son. And a conversation with two women - both white - with a shared experience of adopting a black child
Why is watching sport so important to us as a species? And what happens when that experience is taken away from us? Award-winning sports journalist and broadcaster Clare Balding explores why sport plays such a crucial role in shaping society, speaking to a field of global experts and elite sportspeople, including the sociologists Akilah Carter-Francique, Mahfoud Amara and Ramachandra Guha; anthropologist Leila Zaki Chakravarty; and philosophers Heather Reid and Andy Martin.
The untold story of Abood Hamam, perhaps the only photojournalist to have worked under every major force in Syria's war - and lived to tell the tale. At the start of the uprising he was head of photography for the state news agency, SANA, taking official shots of President Assad and his wife Asma by day - and secretly filming opposition attacks by night. Later he defected and returned to his home town, Raqqa, where various rebel groups were competing for control. Other journalists fled when the terrorists of so-called Islamic State (IS) took over, but Abood stayed - and was asked by IS to film its victory parade. He sent pictures of life under IS to agencies all over the world - using a pseudonym. As the bombing campaign by the anti-IS coalition intensified, Abood moved away - but returned later to record the heartbreaking destruction - but also the slow return of life, and colour, to the streets. For months, he roamed through the ruins with his camera, seeing himself as ”the guardian of the city." Raqqa's future is still very uncertain, but Abood now wants everyone to see his pictures, which he posts on Facebook, and know his real name. He hopes the colours he's showing will tempt the thousands of families who've fled Raqqa to return home, and rebuild their lives, and their city.Reporter: Tim Whewell Producer: Mohamad Chreyteh Sound mix: James Beard Production coordinator: Gemma Ashman Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Children running in Raqqa, 2019. Credit: Abood Hamam)
A particular version of the ginger gene MC1R underpins the fiery hair and freckled complexion of redheads, famed and feared in many cultures. But it is also linked to increased pain sensitivity and skin cancer risk. So where did it come from? And are redheads really endangered? As far back as the 19th Century, doctors realised that some types of cancer seemed to run in families, but it was not until the last decades of the 20th Century that scientists started to pin down the genetic culprits. Faults in two of these genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, significantly increase the chances of developing breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.
In 1942 in Nazi occupied France Jews were hunted and those helping them could be sent to concentration camps. Despite the dangers a Catholic nun took a stand that saved the lives of 82 Jewish children. Led by Sister Denise Bergon they hid the children for two years in the convent boarding school of Notre Dame de Massip. Out of around 15 nuns, only four knew the identities of the children taking shelter. Three survivors talk of their unique bond with Sister Denise and how they escaped the clutches of French collaborators and an SS Division which would become notorious for its massacres in the area.
For the second time during its Covid-19 outbreak, South Africa has decided to ban sales of alcohol. How does that have an impact on the workload of doctors in hospitals treating coronavirus patients? In Colombia, the economic impact of the pandemic is so desperate in poorer neighbourhoods that some people are hanging red flags outside their homes as a cry for help. Bergamo in Italy was once at the epicentre of the global outbreak as coronavirus spread into Europe. But after 137 days, the intensive care unit at one of the main hospitals now has no Covid-19 patients. We speak to the doctor in charge.
Tony May was only weeks old when he was abandoned as a baby on the Victoria Embankment in London in 1942. There was no clue to who he was or why he was left by the river Thames in the middle of World War Two. Raised by loving adopted parents who named him, Tony has never been able to discover the identity of his birth parents. Now in his 70s, Tony may finally be able to solve the mystery thanks to advances in DNA testing and painstaking detective work by genealogist Julia Bell. Will Tony be happy with the answers he finds?
The terrible choice between hunger and infection, police imposing lockdowns with brutality and the unexpected positives to come out of the pandemic in Africa. Presenter Toyosi Ogunseye in Lagos examines these issues with panellists Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa; Bright Simons, social entrepreneur based in Congo and president of mPedigree, Ghana; Sabina Chege MP, Health Select Committee Chair, Kenya; Ralph Mathekga, political analyst and writer, South Africa.
The discovery of a mysterious delivery of defective, sediment-heavy fuel intended to generate electricity in Lebanon has sparked a huge scandal in the country. More than two dozen people, including senior officials, have been charged with various alleged crimes including bribery, fraud, money-laundering and forging documents. Lebanon has already been in uproar since last autumn, with hundreds of thousands of people involved in street protests demanding the overthrow of the entire political elite – and now the country’s suffering its worst economic crisis in decades. The national currency has collapsed and more than a third of the workforce is unemployed. Electricity shortages – long a problem in Lebanon - have become still more acute, with whole towns plunged into darkness for long periods – and the row over the suspect oil delivery has exacerbated the problem. Now the investigation into the tainted fuel has raised questions about the original deal to import heavy fuel oil – and Lebanese hope it will eventually help explain why they’ve suffered black-outs for so long. Did officials try to cover up the presence of sediment in the shipment? How did the original much-criticised 2005 fuel contract come about? And what do the revelations tell us about the shadowy world of oil trading that the world relies on? Reporters Tim Whewell and Mohamad Chreyteh investigate.(Image: Zouk power station, Lebanon – where the tainted fuel shipment was first discovered. Credit: Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images)
Want to know who you really are? Take an at-home DNA test, just like over 26 million others have around the globe. But the question is: why? For many, it’s just a bit of fun; for others it might be for medical insight. But for everyone, it promises to tell you who you really are – and for many, those results might come as a surprise. For BBC reporter Sophia Smith Galer and her father, an innocent at-home kit led to a series of shocking discoveries about their family
We listen in to four black-owned radio stations in the United States to find out how they are covering the killing of George Floyd and the waves of protest since. From Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago, we hear discussions on preparing young people for encounters with police, on access to finance and housing and on black identity and activism. We also bring the hosts together, in conversation with Chloe Tilley, to find out what it means to be behind the mic on a black-owned station. How is it different to working elsewhere in the US media?
This series comes from the Bradford Royal Infirmary, in the North of England, with recordings made by Dr John Wright, who works there. He is an epidemiologist and as he helps the hospital prepare and cope with a huge influx of patients, he’s also searching for answers about Covid-19.
In March and April, Guayaquil in Ecuador was the epicentre of the Covid pandemic in Latin America. The city’s health services began to collapse fast – hospitals, cemeteries and morgues were overwhelmed. As the bodies of the dead were not collected, hundreds of desperate families kept the remains of their loved ones at home, or deposited them on the streets. Eventually they were picked up. But in the chaos, some corpses went missing.For Assignment, Mike Lanchin teams up with Guayaquil journalist Blanca Moncada, to follow the story of one woman in her dramatic search for the body of her late husband.(Image: Funeral workers with a coffin in the back of a pick-up truck outside Los Ceibos hospital in Guayaquil. Credit: Reuters/Santiago Arcos)
Maps are the scaffolding of the digital age. Without them, and their associated data, a technological revolution is impossible. Vast swathes of Africa are still not mapped to a true local scale. That means governments face huge problems when tackling rapid urbanisation on this fast changing continent – they simply don’t know where people are. It also means that when outbreaks of disease occur, mapping the spread of infections is all but impossible. Katie Prescott travels to Rwanda, to Kigali, which is rapidly changing its layout and erasing signs of the past, to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the maps just seem to stop, and to Tanzania’s commercial hub of Dar Es Salaam, to hear how community mapping projects run by students are helping to tackle flooding, and outbreaks of cholera.
As Americans call for change following the killing of George Floyd, three women share the history of slavery in their families and discuss its impact on society today. Sharon Leslie Morgan in Mississippi is the founder of Our Black Ancestry Foundation, which provides resources for African American genealogical research. She's also co-written a book on the subject called Gather at the Table. Bernice Alexander Bennett is a blogger and radio host in Silverspring, Maryland. Shonda Brooks is a therapist in New Jersey. They've been reflecting with Nuala McGovern on what they uncovered when they researched their own family trees.
The BBC’s China correspondent, John Sudworth, travels to Wuhan – the city on the banks of the Yangtze river where Covid-19 first emerged. As the city returns to life, he examines one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind: did the virus emerge naturally or could it have been leaked, as the US alleges, from a Wuhan lab, where work was being carried out to research bat viruses? As John and his team discover, asking questions and getting answers in Wuhan is no easy task.Reporter: John Sudworth Producer: Kathy LongPhoto: Two motorcyclists in Wuhan, China - June 2020 Credit: Getty Images
Zimbabwe has over 14 million people but fewer than 20 psychiatrists. After years of economic turmoil, unemployment and HIV, mental health is a huge challenge and doctors estimate one in four Zimbabweans battles with depression or anxiety. Lucia is one of the 700 grandmothers in the country turning the nation around. She sits on a wooden bench using a gentle form of cognitive behavioural or talking therapy with her community. This is one of 250 Friendship Benches set up by Zimbabwean psychiatrist Dr Dixon Chibanda, who believed that after a few weeks of simple training, grandmothers could become lay health workers for their communities. Lucia has the time, wisdom and respect to help the people who come to her. She understands them and has direct experience of their problems. Presenter Kim Chakanetsa hears the grandmothers are having astounding results. They have helped over 50,000 people and are breaking down the stigma around mental health. Dixon Chibanda explains how he is facing up to the pandemic, moving his idea online and giving the world access to a virtual Friendship Bench.
In a few short months the coronavirus has turned the world upside down. Alongside the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of deaths, the world is now bracing itself for a brutal economic impact. Whether it is components for manufacturing, our food and medical supplies or the contents of our shop shelves and our fridges we depend on complex global economic relationships which now look shakier than ever. The BBC’s business editor Simon Jack talks to some of the world’s most influential economic and business thinkers on how they think the Covid-19 crisis is changing the worldwide business and economic landscape and what they think the world might be like when the crisis is over.
Health experts and listeners from Ghana, the US, Canada, China, Switzerland and Italy share their views of life in a post-pandemic world.
All over the world engineers are being called on to re-purpose and solve the problems the global pandemic creates. We bring together an audience of engineers and the general public from six continents to share insights to inspire innovation worldwide.How are engineers reinventing our world to fight the virus? What can they do to re-imagine the everyday and make life safer and easier across the globe?Presenter Kevin Fong is joined by a panel of four leading engineers from around the world who respond to questions, comments and first-hand accounts from a global audience linked by Zoom.The panel: Luke Leung: Director of Sustainability at international architecture and engineering firm SOM Linda Miller: Transport infrastructure engineer at the major engineering and construction firm Bechtel Rebecca Shipley: Director of UCL’s Institute for Healthcare Engineering Carlo Ratti: Director of MIT’s Senseable LabThis is a special edition of an annual event series staged in partnership with the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.
East Africa has seen the worst invasion of desert locusts for decades and there are warnings of even larger swarms to come. Millions of people across the region, who are already feeling the impact of coronavirus and floods, will now face increased hunger and poverty. Just an average swarm can eat the same in a day as 2,500 people for a year.For Assignment, the BBC’s Senior Africa Correspondent Anne Soy joins Albert the Samburu herdsman turned locust hunter as he struggles to track the pests who have been decimating crops and pastures across his native northern Kenya. It is a race against time to exterminate this generation before they breed another, larger, more voracious generation.Producer: Charlotte Atwood Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Man chasing away a swarm of desert locusts in Samburu County, Kenya. Credit: Fredrik Lerneryd/Getty Images)
Public health leader Dr Tom Frieden reflects on the ongoing global pandemic. An expert on infectious disease, Dr Frieden is a former director of the US States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was a leading figure in the global response to the Ebola outbreak and he now heads Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies, an organisation dedicated to the prevention of epidemics. From his New York apartment, Dr Frieden provides his unique insight on the unfolding international situation. He records his response to key moments in the development of the pandemic and the measures being taken to face it in the United States, Africa and across the world.
BBC Media editor Amol Rajan and a panel of guests analyse how the coronavirus pandemic has created new opportunities to change our world. They range across topics including geopolitics and the rise of China; the role of technology and ownership of information; and perceived and genuine inequality. Guests will include: Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile George Osborne, former UK chancellor Zoltan Kovacs, Hungarian secretary of state for public diplomacy
As the pandemic continues to impact the world, BBC World Service's Nina Robinson, talks to journalists from two daily newspapers in India and the United States as we explore its impact on people in their regions. Working with experienced editors and reporters from the daily Mumbai Mirror and Kentucky’s Courier Journal, this documentary gets under the skin of two newsrooms during this time of great uncertainty as each country comes to terms with coronavirus, handling lockdowns, hospital admissions and the unequal impact the virus is having on the poor and on ethnic minorities.
The pandemic has led to job cuts and reduced salaries, so does going to university still make financial sense? And if you took a cut in wages during lockdown but are now back at work, how should you talk to your boss about pay? Listeners share their stories and get expert advice on managing money in the time of coronavirus, including: - How to increase your chances of getting a job in the post-pandemic world. - Whether a change of career is a good idea right now. - And where you can get financial help if you are struggling to survive.
We speak to people in China's capital, Beijing, where a fresh spike of Covid-19 cases has been detected. Fan Fan and Richard tell us what it feels like to go through lockdown all over again. Meanwhile, the most intense outbreaks are now in Latin America. We hear accounts of how communities in countries including Peru and Colombia are dealing with the disease. As restrictions ease elsewhere, businesses are preparing to open again in a very different world. We bring together business owners in Botswana, Turkey and the United States to talk about the challenges they face and their hopes for the future.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus something strange has been happening – attacks on telephone masts and telecom workers are being reported all across the world. That’s because some people think that 5G can make you sick – from coronavirus to cancer and a whole host of other symptoms. Even more worryingly, some scientists say they can prove that it’s harmful. But at a time when many businesses are struggling, could this apparent threat be helping to fuel a whole industry of strange and expensive products? And worse, could stoking these fears actually be damaging people’s health? Assignment investigates how bad science could be making you sick.Presenter: Tom Wright Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou(Image: A banner draped across a Place Royale statue during an anti-5G protest in Nantes, France. Credit: Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
When a name very similar to journalist Michelle Madsen’s was used as the cover for a fake news hatchet job on a Senegalese politician, she found herself entangled in a web of deception that she is seeking to unravel.
How has Latin America dealt with the pandemic? The lockdown, the needs of the economy, cash pay-outs to the poor, culture, tradition and safety in a time of crisis are all discussed with an expert panel and questions from the public across the region. Presenter Jonny Dymond is joined by Dr Denise Dresser - political scientist, Mexico. Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Braganca - Chamber of Representatives, Social Liberal Party, Brazil, Laura Alonso - former head of Argentina's Anti-Corruption office. Margarita Lopez Maya - Venezuelan historian and Dr Marcus Espinal - Pan American Health Organisation.
In the days since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May, we have witnessed many things from police officers marching alongside protesters; to the political debate about US police reform; to the toppling of statues that symbolise the history of slavery and racism. Nuala McGovern takes you through conversations with some of the people involved in the global discussion that is taking place.
There are currently 200,000 seafarers stuck working on vessels across the globe and unable to be relieved of their duties. These are the men and women responsible for transporting 90% of the world's trade, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. While goods are still flowing, the people transporting these goods are struggling.Every month, 100,000 seafarers leave their ships and are replaced by others. But due to covid-19, most of these crew changes have been cancelled for several months. Seafarers are in effect prisoners unable to leave the ship.Maritime unions and ships owners are warning that covid-19 restrictions could lead to a “humanitarian crisis” as seafarers’ mental health and performance worsen in the face of increasing fatigue – in a profession, which already had a high prevalence of accidents, depression and suicide pre-pandemic.What will it take to bring seafarers home? Assignment hears from the men and women stuck on board and those trying to help them; offering a unique insight into the often-forgotten human story of the global sea trade.Presented and produced by Estelle Doyle(Image: Seafarer looking out to sea. Credit: Artem Radchenko)
There is a sense of fatigue around the lockdown. Ray Gillenwater owns a gym, and explains that if he’s ordered to close down again – he will civilly resist. Kody Siegal explains how the tight restrictions of Panama are not quite as tough as you would expect, and Luiza Marchiori from Florianopolis returns to explain how the worst case scenario predicted by many in Brazil appears to be coming true.
Riots and protests have broken out in cities across the USA following the death of George Floyd after his arrest by white police officers in Minneapolis. But one black American’s impassioned plea for calm has gone viral in the midst of the violence. Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike made an impromptu speech calling on his fellow citizens not to burn their city but to organise and mobilise and to use their votes to bring about change. Mark Coles has been speaking to people who know Killer Mike well, and finding out more about his past, his music and his life in Atlanta.
Six authors on different continents, write across distances, to convey thoughts and preoccupations, during their present isolation. While the world is held in the grip of this pandemic, there's nowhere to go, no escape, all the exterior space has been taken. The only refuge is inside, a home, a room.. in the interior of the psyche, surfing the seas and landscapes of the mind. In this moment of social distancing and reliance on social media, a group of writers are reverting to an earlier form of communication – to letter writing.
The death of George Floyd has provoked a global response and galvanised opinion. We bring together African Americans to discuss race and share experiences of racism in the US. We hear from people who have sought justice from police aggression, from those attempting reconciliation and from police officers themselves. What changes do they want to see to move America in the right direction?
With America engulfed again by protests against police brutality and racial discrimination, Rajini Vaidyanathan brings together a group of African-American thinkers to discuss how America might move beyond its current racial turmoil. In 2016 Rajini travelled the United States to report, for BBC World Service, on America’s problem with racism. In this discussion Rajini brings together people to find out how much has changed, and how little; and to ask how Americans might come together to heal the wounds of racism.
In February this year, a Chechen blogger in hiding in Sweden was viciously assaulted by a man with a hammer as he slept. In the fight that followed, Tumso Abdurakhmanov managed to grab the hammer and defend himself, and filmed the aftermath of the attack and his interrogation of his assailant.Tumso was the third Chechen to be attacked in Europe in just a few months; he was the only one to survive. All three men were critics and opponents of the pro-Moscow regime in Chechnya, an area in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus mountains where the authorities are accused of serious human rights abuses and violations. For Assignment, Nick Sturdee investigates who may have sent Tumso’s attacker, and explores the blogger’s relations with the Chechen government and leader Ramzan Kadyrov.What are the parallels with another recent attack, in Berlin, where former Chechen fighter Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot dead? A case where the Bellingcat investigative team has identified the killer and revealed his close connections to the Russian Security Services, the FSB.Produced and presented by Nick Sturdee(Image: Tumso Abdurakhmanov takes a selfie in Stockholm. Credit: Tumso Abdurakhmanov)
Abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close their doors during the coronavirus lockdown. For several weeks, women wanting abortions could not get them. So what happened, and how did medical staff help? And, with a major Supreme Court decision on access to abortion due this summer, Philippa Thomas hears from the activists concerned that this period, with abortion unavailable for thousands of Texan women, could be a harbinger of the future.
Tens of millions of young people are leaving school and university only to find themselves job hunting in what could be one of the worst recessions in living memory. With widespread recruitment freezes and redundancies, what hope is there of the class of 2020 finding employment? Ruth Alexander speaks to young people from all over the world about their struggle to find work,
What is the pandemic like for people with autism? We hear from three parents in Chile, Spain and India who discuss the impact lockdown has had on their children with autism. They explain how their children seem happier away from the social environment of school, but that they are also concerned about the impact on their social skills. Plus, three American editors who work on newspaper pages writing obituaries of people who have died with coronavirus.
What did you learn about sexual pleasure when you were growing up? Chances are, you didn't learn much in school. And if the latest research is anything to go by, we still have a lot to learn now. According to a US based study, 90% of heterosexual men said they climaxed during sex, while only 60% of heterosexual women said the same. In the UK, when the new sex education guidelines are introduced in September 2020, pleasure will remain off the agenda. In this programme, we talk to people in the UK and Rwanda to explore how society and culture influence how we experience pleasure. We look at what we were, or weren't, taught about sex at school and meet a man who is finding ways to close the gender pleasure gap outside of the classroom.In Rwanda we find out about a cultural practice that allegedly puts female pleasure first, but is also linked to a controversial form of female genital modification.The World Health Organisation does not explicitly mention labial elongation as a form of female genital mutilation. It periodically reviews the typology and classification of certain practices and the next review is envisioned for 2020-2021. In this documentary, we look at competing attitudes when it comes to female sexual pleasure and explore the collision zone between individual rights and preserving cultural practices.
The 2020 Champions League final was due to be held at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on Saturday 30 May, exactly 15 years after the most extraordinary night in the competition's history, when Liverpool completed “The Miracle of Istanbul”. AC Milan had a star-studded line up and were overwhelming favourites, especially after they raced into a 3-0 lead. However Liverpool launched the most amazing second-half comeback that culminated in winning the trophy in a penalty shootout. To mark that anniversary, we take you back to that iconic night with those who were there - including penalty-saving hero, Jerzy Dudek.
Alan Dein connects with people who are experiencing sleepless nights during the coronavirus pandemic. Salina is a Nepalese student stranded in Bangkok after the borders were closed. With no income, she’s kept awake in her stifling, windowless room as her money runs out. Meanwhile, Keenya is a hairdresser in Detroit, anxious about feeding her seven children as Covid-19 spreads through her community. And Mursalina in Afghanistan worries about increasing poverty on the streets of Kabul in the midst of the pandemic.
Belarus’s all-powerful President has focused global attention on his country by ostentatiously downplaying the coronavirus pandemic. Alexander Lukashenko has allowed shops, markets and restaurants and football stadiums to remain open and is encouraging people to go out to work. In early May he laid on a grand military spectacle celebrating victory in WW2, in defiance of social distancing advice. He told Belarussians they could stay healthy by drinking vodka and driving tractors in the fields and dismissed concerns over the virus as “psychosis.” But medics and bereaved families say otherwise. And with a doubling of infections every two or three days, there is not much to laugh about in Belarus. Medical staff have allegedly been sacked and even detained for speaking out about poor conditions in hospitals and the inaccurate death certificates.Assignment explores what lies behind President Lukashenko’s position. We hear from community activists, war veterans, tech-wizards and many other diverse people in Belarus. Lucy Ash pieces it all together with reporting by Ilya Kuziatsou.Produced by Monica Whitlock(Image: Jana Shostak’s Angry Mask. Human Constanta, a Belarusian human rights organisation, asked eight artists to design facemasks focusing on the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Jakub Jasiukiewicz)
When Anthony Ray Hinton was sentenced to death for a double murder, he used his time behind bars to create a book club for his fellow death row inmates. It was to get him through 28 years of solitary confinement. Now a free man after the State of Alabama dropped all charges against him, he takes listeners back to the echoing corridors of death row and introduces them to his book club.
Giving birth is an emotional experience, but what about during this pandemic? And then there is bringing a baby into a world of lockdowns and restrictions. We hear from new mums in New York, Dublin and London. What is it like to be in prison and pregnant?
Leena Vuotovesi, the leader of environmental work in Europe’s greenest town, Ii in Finland, travels to Chile and Spain to compare recycling practices. First she visits La Pintana - Chile’s unlikely climate champion: an impoverished neighbourhood plagued by crime and violence that recycles more than any other town in Chile. Leena then goes to a pristine part of southern Spain - a country where municipal recycling rates lag way behind EU targets. She speaks to children, teachers and waste management experts to find out why Spanish people don’t appear to care about recycling and to see what could be done to reduce environmental and economic damage.
In Mumbai, Chinu has been has been providing food to the city’s migrant and daily labourers who have been unable to work since the country’s lockdown. Getting up at 4.30am each day, he has served over 415,000 hot meals so far. In Nigeria, optometry student Ismail has been sleeping in a mosque since his college closed its doors three and a half months ago, but is holding on to his dreams of working for the WHO or UN. And deep in the Amazon rainforest, Tatiana, a state politician and academic forecasts trouble ahead.
The story of how chef Marcus Samuelsson made Harlem his home is nothing short of remarkable. He was born in a tiny village in Ethiopia, too small to even appear on maps. Aged two, he contracted TB. His mum carried him for 75 miles to the capital for treatment. She died, but he survived and was adopted by a Swedish family who taught him a love of cooking. Marcus is now a leading light of New York cuisine running an international restaurant chain but with his heart firmly grounded in the stories of Harlem. Jaylene Clark Owens is a spoken word artist, actor and born and bred Harlemite. She’s woven the story of her changing neighbourhood into a play - Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale. Cultural historian John T Reddick gives us a personal tour of his neighbourhood. And Martina da Silva and John Thomas share their musical tribute to Harlem.
People crossing the Central Mediterranean in rubber boats are always putting their lives in danger. Now a bleak situation is made worse by Covid 19 as ports in Malta and Italy are closed to migrants and coastguards are reluctant to mount rescue operations. Over the Easter weekend several boats set out from the Libyan coast. Some made it to Sicily themselves. Two others drifted for days. The engines were broken and the people, including children and babies, ran out of food and water. Twelve people died. Dozens of others were picked up and taken back to Libya where they now languish in hellish detention centres. Others made it to Europe. This is the story of that weekend, told through recordings of distress calls from the boats and the testimony of a network of activists as they monitored the desperate situation.Producer and presenter: Lucy Proctor(Image: Migrants in a dinghy at sea. Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)
More than 17,000 people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus. Among them are frontline medical staff. Dr Adil El Tayar, a British-Sudanese doctor, became the first working medic to die of coronavirus in the UK. His story is illustrative of the many international medics who even now are battling Covid-19. A vast number of doctors, nurses and others have come to Britain and other Western countries after training in the developing world. Naturally, they want to improve their standards of living and work in more sophisticated medical systems. But is it fair for the rich world to benefit by effectively cherry-picking the brightest and best from poorer countries?
Lina Mounzer in Lebanon speaks about the protests which have seen people take to the streets despite lockdown. John McRae shares some good news from Australia and Matthew Krupczak from Atlanta, Georgia, tells us why he is worried that the easing of restrictions in his neighbourhood could mean the sacrifices so far could be for nothing. And Rajesh Kumar Shaw gives us his insights from The Sundarbans in India, where the return of migrant labourers could mean the spread of Covid -19 in an area with only basic medical help.
On Monday 5 August last year the Chicago Sun Times newspaper carried this headline: “Seven deaths, 46 wounded in Chicago Weekend Shootings.” It was referring to the casualty list after one summer weekend in Chicago. This programme reconstructs those three days. Narrated by Clarke Peters (The Wire’s Detective Lester Freamon), and with a specially composed music and sound design, this immersive documentary uses the words of the city newspaper updates on the violence, alongside eyewitness accounts and the sad personal stories of relatives and friends who lost loved ones. ** This programme audio has been updated to reflect the latest events - 28 July 2020
We speak to comedian Sarah Cooper in New York - her President Trump lip-syncs have gone viral on TikTok. Also, Waylene Beukes in Namibia and Anna Piper Scott in Melbourne, who was about to start a full-time comedy career as the pandemic hit. We also hear about the impact of lockdown restrictions for those living alone. Three people: in Manitoba, Canada; Perth, Australia; and New Orleans in the United States come together and tell us how they are miss human touch.
How does the financial help on offer where you are compare to other parts of the world? Listeners share their stories and get expert advice on how to survive the financial fallout from Covid-19: The partners separated by lockdown, the divorcing couple forced into quarantine together and marital tips from a lawyer in India. Plus how to adapt your business during the pandemic and where to turn if you can’t afford to pay your bills.
Alan Dein connects with people who are anxious about their family business during the coronavirus pandemic. Maria Ester in Ecuador is worried about her family’s heavy machinery business while trying to keep her 81-year-old mother safe in one of the Latin America’s worst affected cities. And young farmer Rohan in Jamaica recalls his late father’s wisdom as he tries to keep the family farm running in the midst of a drought and Covid-19. Meanwhile, Sami in Iraq misses his beloved bookshop which has had to close its doors because of lockdown. Plus, Alan speaks to a woman working in one place on earth which is free from the virus - Antarctica.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has led his country’s efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. At one level it turned into a very personal mission. At the beginning of April he was hospitalised having tested positive for the virus and spent three days in intensive care fighting for his life. Jonny Dymond asks how this happened and what it reveals about Mr Johnson’s style of leadership and politics.(Image: Boris Johnson as he gives a statement outside 10 Downing Street on 27 April 27 2020 on his return to work after being hospitalised with the Covid-19 virus. Credit: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty Images)
It is week one of the coronavirus. In this critical time, decisions were made that set the entire trajectory of the crisis. The program uses exclusive interviews with a cast of characters who were on the ground at the hospital in the very beginning. Their stories, combined with striking audio from the heat of the moment, brings listeners into the critical turning-points that defined the crisis to come. We meet Dr Li, the head of the ICU in Wuhan and one of the first doctors to intubate a patient with Covid-19. As his hospital became overrun with patients, he and his colleagues debated just how contagious the virus was, what should be told to the general populace, and the proper government response.
How ‘get Brexit done’ turned into ‘StayatHome’ through the experiences of four first time MPs. They represent constituencies across the North of England – places where voters had switched traditional allegiances in great numbers. Conservative MP Simon Fell, won in Barrow-in-Furness, Olivia Blake, the newly elected Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam, Charlotte Nichols who held on narrowly against the Brexit tide in Warrington North and Richard Holden who took the North West Durham seat from Labour.
We bring together three hairdressers from around the world to talk about how their lives have changed because of the pandemic. Marcel in Jerusalem and Marion in Berlin can cut their clients' hair again - but with restrictions. Tamsyn in Johannesburg has only been allowed to open her salon to sell hair products so far. So what is the future of cutting hair while the world is dealing with Covid-19?
The impact of Covid-19 on Asia is explored with a panel of leading public health experts, politicians and analysts from across the region. What can be done to slow down the spread of the virus? And how should countries balance the needs of their economies with the need to save lives?
Across every continent, people are trying to make sense of a new world – one that happens mostly behind closed doors and often alone. 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 March, Aafiyah was told the garment factory where she worked would be closing. And like many other garment workers, she was left destitute in the slums of Dhaka.Bangladesh’s garment industry employs millions of workers, mainly women, who make clothes for high street brands in Europe and the US. Western retailers, who have seen sales plummet due to the pandemic, have cancelled or suspended more than 3 billion dollars’ worth of orders from Bangladeshi garment factories. Over a million jobs in the sector could now be at risk.For Assignment, Caroline Bayley and Morshed Ali Khan hear Aafiyah’s story, and talk to factory owners and the British Retail Consortium about the huge challenges facing Bangladesh's main export industry.Producer: Josephine Casserly(Image: Women, wearing masks, work in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
Listeners from Brazil, Germany, Rwanda, Australia and Norway report on their experiences of lockdown, from reaction to Jair Bolsanaro's coronavirus policies to the partial easing of lockdown in Germany, to racial abuse experienced by Chinese residents in Australia. By emailing a voice memo recorded on their smartphones listeners from different countries offer their unique perspectives on a global crisis,
We hear about Sophie Fagan, a nurse in London for over 50 years; Dr. J Ronald Verrier, a critical care surgeon in New York; and Vicenzo Leone, a beloved GP in Northern Italy. Their relatives talk about their enduring pride, but also the shock of losing them to Covid-19. And hospital chaplains talk to us about the religious, spiritual and emotional support they are providing for patients and their loved ones. Also, mothers in Spain tell us how the 40-day lockdown is emotionally impacting their children.
Why did so many people die in just one elderly care home in Madrid? After Covid-19 smashed its way across the globe, Spain - one of the worst-hit nations of Europe - is beginning to take stock of the devastation the virus has left in its wake. Most painful perhaps, will be an assessment of how the deadly contagion was able to rip through Spanish care homes at such speed, killing thousands of elderly people. In March 2020, the alarm was first sounded in a privately run institution, Monte Hermoso in Madrid. It is a story that has stayed with the BBC’s producer in Spain, Esperanza Escribano. She was in the capital when the reports of deaths at Monte Hermoso came to light. For Assignment, she joins Linda Pressly, to piece together the story of what happened within the care home’s red brick walls.Editor: Bridget Harney(Photo: Isabel Costales and her husband Ramon Hernandez. Isabel died during the coronavirus pandemic in a care home in Madrid. Photo Credit: Paula Panera)
There is growing interest in the idea of giving every member of society a Basic Income, as a way of tackling extreme poverty and the loss of jobs caused by automation. Pilot projects have been seen across the world - from India to Finland and Namibia to Canada - and there is talk of a one possibly happening here in the UK, in the city of Hull. So, attention is being paid to the Alaskan model. The Arctic American state has been paying out an annual dividend to every one of its permanent residents - man, woman and child - for almost 40 years.
Well over 400,000 elderly and disabled people in Britain rely on home care, and many of the care workers are from other parts of the world: Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Eastern Europe. Some are highly qualified professionals, but have moved into badly paid care roles because they are finding it hard to gain a foothold in their own professions in the UK. As the population ages, these care workers are providing an ever more vital service. Yet their voices are very rarely heard. Blanche Girouard accompanies some of them on their rounds to hear their stories.
People from all over the world discuss our shared experience of the epidemic; from nurses in intensive care and vaccine researchers, to pregnant women and couples getting married in a lockdown. With host Nuala McGovern, they talk together about how they are living with the impact of these extraordinary times in different countries and how they are trying to get through it. This week: Paramedics and care home workers, living in slums during a pandemic, and the Covid-19 vaccine volunteers hoping to save lives.
Alan Dein talks to people around the world about the challenges of family life in lockdown. He connects with Margaret in Uganda who has adopted many children orphaned by HIV. And he reaches out to Alezz in Peru, a trans non-binary person who is confined to their bedroom as their parents struggle to accept them. He also speaks to Pawel who got trapped in Poland at the start of January and does not know when he will be able to return home to his wife in China.
Honey bees, cow dung and mulch; how a company in Zimbabwe is protecting forests in order to offset the carbon emissions of people around the world. Even though many flights are grounded at the moment, there is still a need to reduce the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere. But what happens when you can’t reduce it any further? You can offset it. Charlotte Ashton discovers a company based in Zimbabwe that runs one of the largest projects of its kind in the world and finds out where your money goes if you choose to offset your carbon emissions.Carbon Green Africa’s project focuses on protecting Zimbabwe’s existing forests, rather than planting new trees and her journey takes her to some surprising places. In a programme recorded last November, Charlotte finds that preventing deforestation not only helps her assuage her flight shame, but helps give people in a remote part of Zimbabwe new jobs, more food and an oven powered by cow dung!Presenter: Charlotte Ashton Producer: Phoebe Keane(Image: Forests in Guruve district, Zimbabwe. Credit: BBC/Phoebe Keane)
Has the coronavirus epidemic weakened or strengthened the grip of China’s Communist Party? In the early stages of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, authorities there downplayed its significance. A doctor who sounded the alarm was forced to contradict himself. He later contracted Covid-19 and died from it. Medical facilities were initially unprepared. Mark Mardell assesses how President Xi and his government will emerge from the crisis.
We’re told that our twenties are a time when we’re meant to be finding ourselves, having fun, living our best lives and making the most of our freedom before settling down. But are the twenties really like this for millennials around the world? You might have heard of the midlife crisis, said to hit anywhere between a person’s forties and early fifties. But in this programme, we’re trying to find out whether there’s such a thing as a quarter-life crisis. We’ll hear from young people about their experiences of the crisis and the pressures they say led them to it, from finding a fulfilling job, to landing the perfect partner, to fears they’ll never be able to buy a house and start to actually ‘adult’. We’ll hear experiences from Moscow, Cairo, New York, and London to see if this really is a worldwide issue. We’ll speak to experts about the evidence for whether it actually exists, including a pscyhologist who calls the quarter-life crisis a ‘global phenomenon’. Is this true, or are millennials just moaning and trying to find a new label for problems every generation has faced? We’ll dig in to the reasons people are feeling in crisis, and hear words of wisdom from those who have overcome it. This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – it covers everything from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration. Presented by Katerina Venediktova. Produced by Eleanor Layhe for BBC World Service.
The first episode includes concerns about the impact of a full lockdown in Ghana, the impact of the closure of public buildings on one man in Mississippi, there’s an insight from Hangzhou in China as the restrictions end and a woman in the UK explains how she felt as the symptoms of Covid 19 became clear.
Shaye in the US, Ana in Spain and Elliot in the UK remember the parents they have lost to Covid-19 and the impact it is having on their lives. African Americans in New York, Massachusetts and Georgia consider why black communities in the United States are suffering so much during this health emergency. While social distancing meant Liat and Amir in Israel and Emine and Jon in the UK had to rip up their original wedding plans and come up with new ways to get married.
As coronavirus spreads people are worrying about their money as well as their health. What can you do to protect your finances and what are governments doing to help? You’ve been sharing your stories and advice with Manuela Saragosa and Paul Lewis who are joined by: Professor Ricardo Reis, from the London School of Economics Professor Ila Patnaik, a former economic advisor to the Indian government Oluwatosin Olaseinde, founder of Money Africa in Nigeria Bola Sokunbi, the founder of Clever Girl finance in the US Jürgen Stock, the Secretary General of Interpol.
Across every continent, lives have been put on hold, and people are looking to the day when they can pick up and restart after lockdown. In Mexico, Lucia has spent the past seven years searching for her kidnapped son – one of thousands of disappeared children in the country. For now she has been forced to put that on hold. Captain Jens aboard a vast container ship has not been on land for three months – and does not know when he will next see his family, but he is finding solace in the logs of his ancestors. In Nigeria, student Babatunde Ismail Bale is sheltering in a mosque after his college closed its doors – but is still finding ways to study. And in the Philippine’s capital Manila, armed soldiers on the streets are bringing back fearful memories of martial law in the 1970s.
A much anticipated referendum in Chile on a new constitution has been postponed till the autumn amid safety concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. President Sebastian Piñera had agreed to the vote and a range of reforms following months of civil unrest. Since last autumn, the country has been experiencing a wave of protests with people on the streets angry at the level of inequality in the country. Amongst them thousands of university students, teachers and school children – who have been prepared to face tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets – in a bid to change the education system in Chile. They say a privileged few have access to all the best jobs and the rest are given a substandard schooling with leaky roofs in winter, boiling hot classrooms in summer and inadequate teaching. For Assignment, Jane Chambers spent time with the protestors calling for a fairer education for all.Presented and produced by Jane Chambers Edited by Bridget Harney(Image: A demonstrator kicks a tear gas canister at a police car during a protest about the education system in Chile. Credit: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)
Every year we produce over 2 billion tonnes of solid waste worldwide. Most of it ends up in dumps or landfills, or is thrown into the oceans, or is burned. Only a small fraction is ever recycled. But are there other, more creative uses for all that rubbish? To try and find some answers, BBC Mundo reporter Lucia Blasco visits Paraguay to meet the inspiring young musicians of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, whose instruments are made out of rubbish from the city's main landfill; and she travels to the city of Linköping in southern Sweden, where almost all the houses are heated by energy produced by incinerating waste.This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.
A place to talk about the impact of the disease on you, your family and your communities.
Experts discuss the challenges posed by and the consequences of the outbreak of Covid-19 in Europe. BBC correspondent Jonny Dymond is joined by a panel of experts from across the continent who answer questions from the public.The panel: Dunja Mijatovic: Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe Margaret Harris: World Health Organisation Richard Horton: Editor in Chief of The Lancet Nathalie Tocci: Political analyst and Director of the Institute of International Affairs Danae Kyriakopoulou: Economist from OMFIF, the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, an independent financial think tankBBC World Questions is a series of international events created in partnership with the British Council.
Kim Chakanetsa for an hour of conversation with the acclaimed authors Isabel Allende and Edna O’Brien. Isabel talks about finding love in her 70s and how she is coping with isolation and Covid-19. Edna, now 89, talks about her latest Novel, Girl, which took her to Nigeria - and she too discusses dealing with loneliness and the power of literature in the midst of crisis.
Alan Dein connects with people around the world trying to find moments of calm during the coronavirus pandemic. He speaks to Jens, the captain of a container ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean who is unsure when he may be able to get his crew back home, and Sujatha, an 85-year-old in India who is philosophical about being confined to her home in Delhi. South of Delhi, Alan reaches out to Chinu who is feeding Mumbai's urban poor as the Indian government imposes a lockdown. And he speak to Benedetta, who is eight months pregnant in an anxious and eerily quiet Rome. He also catches up with 16-year-old Ibrahim who was homeless on the streets of Athens when they last spoke - but now has some good news to share.
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 Merritt. It was the first of two violent attacks involving convicted extremists in the space of two months. So just how effective are these schemes designed to de-radicalise extremists? We hear from closely people involved in them. Some say offenders can cheat the system and convince the authorities they’ve changed their ways. A serving prisoner in a maximum security jail tells Adrian that convicted terrorists are ‘gaming’ the system by pretending to comply and he warns that non terrorist offenders are being dangerously radicalised.Reporter: Adrian Goldberg Researcher: Luke Radcliff Producer, Helen Clifton Editor: Carl Johnston(Photo: Jack Merritt courtesy of the Merritt family)
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 like “living cramped within a frame” and who would not give it up as it has fundamentally shaped their personalities. She will also talk to top medical professionals to hear how they are seeking to recognise the positive potential of ADHD and what innovative ways of treating the condition they’re suggesting.The modern working environment has shifted and employers are finally embracing neuro-diversity as a vital tool in building effective teams. Saeedeh will explore what it actually means, how the thinking about workflow, work space and team work reflects the needs of people with the condition and allows them to grow to the best of their potential and to the benefit of business. The programme, of course, certainly won’t suggest that ADHD is entirely a gift. It will, however, seek to emphasise that alongside negatives come strengths and qualities that can help propel individuals to enormous personal success, and how society and businesses are beginning to see it as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage.This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.
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 with a microphone chatting to people.
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 2015. Arriving in Germany, he discovered a teacher retraining programme designed to harness the skills that refugee teachers bring with them.Miriam Vock, an educational psychologist at Potsdam University, transports us back to the summer of 2015. Amidst the chaos of the refugee crisis, she wondered if there might be some teachers among the refugees arriving in Germany. A year later, the first refugee teacher retraining course was launched - an idea that inspired a number of other pilot courses across Germany.Retraining as a teacher in a system with rigid set qualifications is particularly challenging, however, and graduates are finding it difficult to find work. The success of the far-right Alternative for Germany, now the country’s main opposition party, has raised the stakes for refugees trying to integrate.As Germany struggles with an ageing population and a severe labour shortage, Naomi asks if refugees can fill the gap.This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.
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 the successful delivery business he has spent years building up and the future for his parents. In Greece, Ibrahim is homeless, sheltering in an abandoned building. His friend Mikki is self-isolating and cannot help him.
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, was shot as he confronted men he thought were stealing timber. But the men weren’t arrested. They say the ranger shot himself. And in the remote region of Maramures, where many people are involved in logging, that version is widely believed. Locals are afraid to talk about what happened. Is the lucrative logging business protected by powerful interests who turn a blind eye to murder? And are rangers sometimes complicit in the rape of the forest? For Assignment, Tim Whewell tries to find out exactly how a young man employed to protect nature met his death. And he asks how Romania can save its wilderness when more than half the trees cut down are felled illegally?Reporter: Tim Whewell Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Forest guards stand next to wooden crosses bearing the names of their killed colleagues, including Liviu Pop. Credit: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)
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 are celebrated with renewed joy as relatives come together to mark life’s milestones. In this programme, we immerse ourselves in the baptism of a new baby boy, born to first-time parents, and find out if their Eritrean relatives are able to cross the border to join the celebrations as they hope. But there’s a twist. While informal cross border movement continues on foot, the official border checkpoint in the town is closed again for trade and vehicles due to political uncertainty. There’s a construction boom in the region because of the optimism that once prevailed, but for many, their hope has been replaced by despair as business is stagnating once again. This is a programme about how lives are changing in all kinds of ways, and about the hope people hold on to for a better future. We share in both joy and frustration; a conflicted situation that remains to be resolved.
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 stars on Now on My Way to Meet You, a popular and long running variety programme. The show features emotional North Korean defectors sharing their stories and performing to dramatic music. At the same time, the South Korean celebrity guests provide commentary and sometimes jokes.Meanwhile, on the Internet, dozens of North Korean defectors have gained popularity through live streaming, telling stories about their lives in the North on YouTube and Instagram. These defector-celebrities, like 21-year-old Nara Kang, are mostly young, attractive women. Representing a younger generation of defectors, Nara Kang is tapping into an audience with no living memory of the North.Capitalising on their status as defectors to gain fame, these celebrities cannot move on from being defined by their past. They strive to fit into South Korean society, while emphasising their otherness to South Korean audiences.
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 study, and - most importantly - is against religious teaching. For Assignment, Simon Maybin discovers it is part of a wider youth-led surge in conservative Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Opponents see the phenomenon as a backwards step for women and a threat to Indonesia’s religious pluralism.Presenter: Simon Maybin Producer: Josephine Casserly Editor: Bridget Harney Music at the end of the programme was Tubuhku Otoritasku by Tika and The Dissidents (Image: Yati at an “Indonesia Without Dating” demo. Copyright: Simon Maybin/BBC)
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 the neighbourhood block parties. And then, alongside Run and Jam Master Jay, they became a music phenomenon – with their new kind of rap bringing hip hop to the masses. They had their own look, their own style. DMC talks us through those early years and his later battles with alcoholism and depression. What gave him solace in that time was a song, a pop ballad that he listened to for an entire year. He would take it everywhere he went and play it, every day, morning to night. DMC’s other passion is comic books, they fuelled his imagination and education and ultimately gave him the superpower he needed to get up on stage.
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 traces the roots of the crisis in a crazy house buying boom a few years ago. And he hears how a lack of good, affordable housing is affecting everyone from students to young families to Ireland’s many younger migrants who hope to stay in Ireland, but have nowhere to call home.Presenter/Producer: Chris Bowlby Image: Student rent strike in Cork. Credit: Chris Bowlby/BBC
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 China. For Assignment, Umaru Fofana and BBC Africa Eye have been investigating the trade in trafficked rosewood worth hundreds of millions of dollars.Producer: Charlotte Attwood (Image: A "bleeding" rosewood tree. Credit: BBC/Maxime Le Hegarat)
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 premature deaths. The industry insists that serious leaks of toxic gas into cockpits and cabins are relatively very rare, given the number of flights each day. And that no causal link between toxic cabin air and health problems has yet been proven. But airlines face multiple court cases later this year. For Assignment, Mike Powell talks to a representative of the airline industry about fume events, lack of transparency and claims that the health of hundreds of pilots, cabin crew and frequent fliers is being put at risk. Presenter: Mike Powell Producer: Paul Waters
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 some of the students once they have been released. Not just Remy but Angel and Trigger and Enterprise Wise are all enrolled on Ryan’s internship at his studio in West Queens.
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 “Penitents” - a boss and killer whose evidence has jailed his associates. In the city itself, he witnesses, alongside hardened investigators, the ongoing nightly battle against the Camorra - and also hears voices of hope across the city that the tide has finally turned.Presenter: Dominic Casciani Producer: Sheila CookImage: Gennaro Panzuto Credit: Private
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 four-year-old daughter. Suave, a former student from the Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, has recently been released after spending over two years in jail and is trying to adapt to life at home with his mother in the Bronx.
‘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 ride to keep warm and sleep. For Assignment, Sarah Svoboda takes a ride on the bus, known to many as ‘Motel 22’, to hear the stories of its travellers.(Image: Homeless people riding bus route 22. Credit: Sarah Svoboda/BBC)
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 countries, two women, both with an eye on learning more about each other and their approach to farming land.
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 Mineo, Muyiwa Olarewuju and soul singer Samm Henshaw, whose single Church topped the UK charts.
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 family. She also visited the country’s biggest prison to meet Karla’s husband, Mario Hueso. Ever since, Patricia has been following the criminal case against him. Can justice be served in a country where crimes for femicide so often go unpunished?Producer: Poppy Damon(Image: A photograph showing a drawing of Karla Turcios smiling. Credit: BBC/Patricia Sulbarán Lovera)
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 with a quake in the back of their minds.
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 of coffee, ham and eggs or the daily special.
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 family” are gathering strength in Bulgaria – and across eastern Europe. What’s behind them? And why do they treat one Western country – Norway – as the ultimate source of evil? Tim Whewell investigates.(Image: Protestors in Sofia, Bulgaria, demand the return of Katerina, a Bulgarian baby taken into care by social services in Germany. Credit: BBC/Tim Whewell)
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 cane plantations.
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 Europe.In this Assignment, Michael Buchanan investigates what’s behind Colombia’s booming cocaine trade. He gains rare access to smugglers and producers, as well as meeting the indigenous people who are standing up to the traffickers, and often paying with their lives.Producers: Josephine Casserly and Almudena Garcia Parrado Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Farmer picking coca leaves. Credit: BBC)
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 Torres Strait where the locals are fighting to save their land, their language and their cultural traditions – before it’s too late.
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, ‘hell Joseon’.
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 part of the plot to assassinate Hitler.
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, Finland. Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images)
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 over a period of seven years. Forty years later, these women have come together and decided to speak up against their fathers. The BBC’s Valeria Perasso followed them on their journey to become a voice in the ongoing public conversation about human rights to help heal the country – and themselves.
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 country’s deep-rooted social problems, and visits a music school offering a safe space to young people.
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 what they see as the exploitation and appropriation of their cultural heritage by foreigners - who run most of the ayahuasca retreats popular with tourists. This coming together of cultures has thrown up another serious problem too: vulnerable women being sexually abused while under the influence of charismatic healers and this powerful psychedelic.Reporter: Simon Maybin Producer: Josephine Casserly Editor: Bridget Harney(Image: Forest canopy, Peru. Credit: Getty Creative)
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, it seems that the animals Galina knew are returning. But how are they are affected by their radioactive environment? And what can we infer about the state of the land? Monica Whitlock visits the strange new wilderness emerging in the heart of Europe.Producer/presenter: Monica Whitlock Editor: Bridget Harney(Photo: Galina at the door to her cottage. Credit: Monica Whitlock/BBC)
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 national park. BBC Thai’s correspondent, Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai, investigates Billy’s murder and discovers how his death could end up helping the families of other disappeared people in Thailand.Producer, Charlotte Pamment.(Image: Billy Rakchongcharoen. Credit: Muenor Rakchongcharoen)
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 missions and celebrates their contributions.
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.
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 take in what it means.(Image: Glacier lagoon with icebergs, Vatnajokull, Iceland. Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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 girls. For Assignment, Jane Deith hears the stories of young women caught in a world of sexual violence and drug running.Reporter: Jane Deith Producer: Emma Forde(Photo: Young woman by a window. Credit: Cindy Goff/Getty Images)
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. In collaboration with CBC’s The Doc Project, presenter Acey Rowe picks up the story as the women pack to board a flight to an uncertain future.
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 profit by filling the gap left by the failures of the national grid. Some are former warlords who led militias in Lebanon's civil war. They're given an unofficial licence to operate, often in return for favours to the authorities in Lebanon's chaotic and often corrupt sectarian system.Now a huge protest movement is demanding change in Lebanon - and a constant power supply is one of the demonstrators' main demands. They want to break the power of the "fuel mafia" that imports diesel for the generators and has close links to the country's leading politicians. For them, the fight for light is a fight against corruption. But can Lebanon's feeble state ever manage to turn all the lights on?Reporter: Tim Whewell Producer: Anna Meisel(Image: Protesters block the main entrance of the Lebanese electricity company headquarters in Beirut. Credit: European Photopress Agency)
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 the USA could be influencing the campaign.
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 climate of fear now driving many Muslims to emigrate and casting a shadow over those left behind.Producer: Caroline Finnigan(Image: Muslim boy on a bicycle in Kattankudy, Sri Lanka. Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
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 voices through software to make them sound like men. In tribute to its founder, Raed Fares's radio station has refused to die with him. One year on from his killing it continues to broadcast the comedy programmes he loved, as Assad's troops close in and bombs fall around it.Presenter: Mike Thomson Producer: Joe Kent(Image: Raed Fares standing outside Radio Fresh. Credit: Radio Fresh)
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 megalomaniac? What do former peasants in the area think of the city?
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 three girls - the Khachaturyan sisters - who face long prison sentences for murdering their tyrannical father, has sparked mass protests. More than 300,000 people have signed an online petition urging prosecutors to drop the murder charges. The girls’ mother tells reporter Lucy Ash that her daughters were acting in self-defence against a man who had abused them physically, emotionally and sexually for years.Lucy also meets the mother of a woman stabbed to death by her husband who was discovered in her blood soaked bed by her seven year old son. In all three cases, the frightened women had appealed to the police but to no avail. These tragedies might have been averted if only the authorities had taken earlier warnings seriously.In Moscow, Lucy talks to activists who are fighting back by supporting victims, pushing for legal reforms and drawing attention to the cause through art, video games and social media. And she meets a lone feminist MP in the Russian Duma who is trying to bring in restraining orders for violent husbands, boyfriends and family members. Today Russia has no such laws and domestic violence is not a standalone offence in either the criminal or the civil code.(Image: Woman holding sign saying “What is it for? Stop violence!” at a rally in support of the Khachaturyan sisters. Credit: Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images)
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 lives, and achieve any reconciliation with their parents? And if they can’t, will they be tempted to set off again, to seek their fortunes abroad?Reporter: Tim Whewell(Photo: An awkward embrace - Jamilatu Sheriff is reunited with her mother Maryatu after two years absence. Credit: Sayoh Kamara/BBC)
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 Tanzania and Angola during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s
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 the organisation moved to Iraq for around three decades. Migration to Albania was facilitated by the United States, and more than 3,000 members have arrived.But in Albania – a fragile democracy - there’s disquiet. Critics claim MEK’s presence compromises Albania’s security, and is fuelling a crack-down on the press. Meanwhile, dozens of Iranian MEK members have defected but find themselves living a precarious existence in Tirana because they are stateless, without passports.Assignment investigates the improbable relationship between Albania and MEK.Presenter: Linda Pressly Producer: Albana Kasapi(Photo: Gholam Mirzai has left the MEK. He would like to return to Iran. Credit: BBC Credit)
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 foghorns, and his compositions were a combination of classical, traditional jazz and American vernacular. He became a pioneer with a unique attitude to composition and melody, and also invented instruments.
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 village in western Cameroon, where he is investing in the next generation. Zak Brophy travels to Cameroon to hear the story of his incredible life, and his dreams of becoming a role model within his community.
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 from passers-by.In this Assignment, Lucy Ash follows a projects aiming to rehabilitate hundreds of Liberia’s Zogos – including Miatta.Producer: Josephine Casserly(Image: A mural in the Liberian capital called Female Zogos of Monrovia. They are sitting on gravestones because many are homeless and seek refuge in cemeteries. Credit: James Giahyue)
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 promised to fight an armed uprising in the bush if Obote won, and in 1981 he began a protracted guerrilla war.
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 Iwobi in the Senate in Rome and finds out what it’s like to be black in a party that’s widely perceived as racist.At a festival on the bank of the River Tiber, Dickens meets aspiring politician Paolo Diop from the Far-Right Brothers of Italy. Diop moved to Italy from Senegal as a baby and describes himself as “an Italian nationalist and an African nationalist” who wants to “make Africa great” by sending migrants home.We also meet the young black activists coming of age in the midst of the migrant crisis and the rise of the political right. Born and bred in Italy, they feel deeply Italian but are not always recognised as such - among them the rapper Tommy Kuti whose work explores his Afro-Italian identity, the founder of Milan’s Afro Fashion Week Michelle Francine Ngonmo and the writer Igiaba Scego, whose parents grew up in one of Italy’s African colonies.Producer: Helen Grady(Image: Afro-Italian rapper and musician Tommy Kuti in Milan. Credit: Helen Grady/BBC)
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 New York.
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 water the most precious resource, and lithium extraction demanding huge quantities of it, there’s anxiety - and outright opposition.Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly Producer in Argentina: Gert De Saedeleer(Image: Tomasa Soriano keeps goats and llamas – she believes there’s less water locally since the lithium miners arrived. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)
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 asks why today’s billionaire philanthropists aren’t giving away more money and why education is no longer the top priority.
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 wearing of sormeh or black eye makeup has become something much bigger than make-up – it is an important part of their resistance to oppression.
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 President Miguel Diaz-Canel is on Twitter. And unlike staid and traditional state-run media, Cuban social media is relatively open, freewheeling, full of jokes, criticism of the government and, of course, memes. Prices are still high and the government keeps a close eye on dissidents or “counter-revolutionaries”. But online, Cubans are exploring new ways to communicate that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. The BBC’s Cuba correspondent Will Grant and BBC Trending reporter Reha Kansara have been meeting the Cubans at the forefront of their country’s digital revolution. They meet political podcasters, a lesbian activist, a pro-government blogger, a gamer-turned-protester, a dissident journalist and one of Cuba’s biggest YouTube stars. How are Cubans making their voices heard in a way they never have before – and how might social media transform the country?
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 academic settings; abusing their power to try to get what they want. Sex for grades is described as being so normalised it has become an epidemic, where vast numbers of young women have been harassed and abused.Presenter: Kiki Mordi Producer: Jim Frank Editor: Hugh Levinson(Image: Presenter - Kiki Mordi. Credit: Charlie Northcott/BBC)
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 Nawal al-Maghafi of BBC Arabic discovers in this disturbing story, the clerics’ lucrative business comes at enormous personal cost to many women, who are often tricked and coerced into marrying, only to be dumped shortly afterwards. Worse, their life-chances and even their lives are put at risk, because virginity is a prerequisite for proper marriage. Using undercover reporting and secret recording, the programme also finds clerics willing to supply women for sex, and even to officiate for men who want to have sex with children.
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 with children they were told were dead. (Image Mans Backman. Credit: Family photo)
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 for justice will be a series of artworks by visual artist Haroon Gunn-Salie.
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 conduct of the war in 1939 and 1940.
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 its half a million tiny family orchards, where child labour is rife? Tim Whewell investigates Ferrero’s complex supply chain and finds that while hazelnuts are celebrated in Turkish culture and song, it’s a sector where workers and farmers feel increasingly unhappy and reform is very hard to achieve.(Image: Hazelnut picker on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. Credit: Reyan Tuvi)
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 friends have died gravity biking and Marlon has had a near-fatal accident. But he’s not quitting. So what drives young men like him to take their lives into their own hands? And what’s being done to stop more deaths?Presenter/producer: Simon Maybin(Image: Marlon with his bike ready to ride back down into Medellín. Credit: Simon Maybin/BBC)
(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 day, through the eyes of two of its residents: a Muslim who risked his life to save his community and a Catholic priest who was held hostage by extremists.Producer: Josephine Casserly(Photo: Marawi's Grand Mosque pockmarked by bullet holes and small artillery fire - in the area that the authorities call the Most Affected Area (MAA) or Ground Zero of the siege of Marawi. Credit: Howard Johnson/BBC)
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 Blennerhassett and Michael Green
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 Borenstein
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 – the Bendego meteorite. The National Museum and its precious archive of Brazil’s past may be in ruins, but amongst the ashes there’s a battle to revive it.Presenter: Kanishk Tharoor Producer: Maryam MarufWith thanks to Roberta FortunaContributors: Cahe Rodrigues, carnival director; Dom João, photographer and descendent of Brazil’s last emperor; Laurentino Gomes, journalist and author; Monica Lima, historian; Mariza Carvalho Soares, historian and museum curator; Aparecida Vilaça, anthropologist and author of Paletó and Me; Bernabau Tikuna, linguist; Tonico Benetiz, anthropologist; Murilo Bastos, bio-archaeologist; Luciana Carvalho, paleontologist and deputy director of rescue Museu Nacional; Sergio Azevedo, paleontologist and director of Museu Nacional’s 3D printing labVoice over performances by: Fernando Duarte, Marco Silva, Silvia Salek; Thomas PapponPicture: Brazil’s National Museum – or Museu Nacional – on fire September, 2018 Credit: Getty Images
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 people have lost their lives every single day. Many of the dead are not even lawbreakers, but entirely innocent civilians. For Assignment, Hugo Bachega enters Rio’s favelas to meet those who believe the authorities are complicit in extra-judicial assassinations. But as he discovers, the police themselves are both afraid and ill-equipped for their task, while investigatory authorities freely admit that they are incapable of properly investigating suspected illegal killings. What’s more, plenty of people outside the favelas approve of the hardline police tactics, and sympathy for victims is qualified by the pervading fear of crime.Reporter, Hugo Bachega Producer, Michael GallagherImage: A military policeman takes part in an operation at Cidade de Deus favela in Rio de Janeiro Credit: MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images
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, Roger Daltrey, Carlos Santana, Michael Lang, Michael Wadleigh, Arlo Guthrie, David Crosby, Richie Havens, Eddie Kramer and Stephen Stills, explain how the pinnacle of the optimism that they all shared as a generation included 500,000 young people enjoying three days of what was billed as "an Aquarian Exposition". Presenter: Arlo Guthrie
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 National Institute of Music, which is defying tradition as well as the Taliban in teaching musical instruments to young women.Afghan Star is much like any other TV talent show – except that its context is a war zone. The studios are guarded by bomb-proof gates and snipers, and the participants arrive by armoured vehicle. It is watched by millions throughout the country – and has led the way in a resurgence of music in Afghanistan despite constant threats.
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 to discover more than 20 donor half siblings. Julia tells us her own story as she prepares to meet some of her siblings for the very first time
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 champion of road safety, and the families who have paid the highest price for the country’s poor transport networks. Producer, John Murphy (Image: In Romania horse and carts share the roads with fast moving cars – not always happily. Credit : BBC/John Murphy)
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 – except that its context is a war zone.
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 Joseph Kony to engage in peace talks.
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 capitalism’ – governments and business taking advantage of catastrophe to make a profit.Barbuda has long been viewed as ripe for more tourism – Hollywood actor Robert De Niro is part of a commercial enterprise working on the opening of an exclusive resort. One of the obstacles to widespread development has been the island’s unique system of tenure – all land has been held in common since the emancipation of Barbuda’s slave population in the 19th century. But last year the government repealed the law guaranteeing those communal rights, partly to attract investment to the island. Meanwhile, although the hurricane season began on June 1st, families are still living in tents.(Image:The remains of a luxury resort on Barbuda reveal the power of hurricane Irma. Credit: BBC/Linda Pressly)
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 events would revolutionise what was meant by democracy.
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 year when a section of the bridge collapsed killing 43 people and leaving 600 people without a home. Helen Grady speaks to people whose lives have been touched by the bridge from the moment it was built to the moment it collapsed. And she asks how such a vital piece of infrastructure, carrying thousands of cars and lorries every day, could be allowed to fail. Producer Alice Gioia (Image: Flowers placed on railings near the collapsed Morandi Bridge in Genoa. Credit: BBC/Alice Gioia)
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 why black women do not take part in competitive swimming.
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/Neal Razzell
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 hear from his neighbours how he disintegrated under the pressure, to the point of beating the dogs he loved.
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 Chinese willing to accept living side by side with a new African community keen to explore opportunities in their homeland?
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 can allow hackers to remotely install spyware on their targets’ phones. This gives them access to everything on the devices – including encrypted messages – and even allows them to control the microphone and camera. So what are the options for those who are targeted and is there any way to control the development and use of commercially available software? Presenter: Paul Kenyon Producer: Joe Kent(Image: Electronic eye. Photo credit Valery Brozhinsky\Getty)
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 president Robert Mugabe. But his 2001 song Wasakara, meaning "You Are Too Old", was banned as it was seen as a coded reference to Mugabe. The BBC’s Kim Chakanetsa paints an intimate portrait of one of Africa's musical giants
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 school lessons.
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 moved out. Many of the houses have already been pulled down. But a few people still live there against a backdrop of diggers pulling their village apart. Some are sad that the kart track where local boy Michael Schumacher learned to drive is likely to fall victim to the excavators. And many felt threatened last year by the protesters, in hoodies and face masks, when they moved into to occupy empty houses.Yet the protesters seem to have the German government on their side. It recently commissioned a report, which recommended Germany stop burning coal by 2038 in order to meet emissions targets. That’s a problem for RWE, the company that owns the mine and nearby power stations. It’s going to keep digging for as long as it can. Tim Mansel joins the protesters for their monthly gathering on the forest edge; meets the villagers who simply want a quiet life, away from the front line; and asks RWE if it will ever stop mining.(Photo: Protesters defending the Hambacher Forest. Credit: Tim Mansel/BBC)
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 migrants about these controversial policies.(Image: Muslim immigrants cross the street in Copenhagen city centre. Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
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 Technology, and undergoes a brain-scan himself, to find out.
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 rebuild both its buildings and its community.
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 history to bullying. Each group has about seven minutes to impress the judges. The competitors have practised for six months. Many travel across America in buses. Most come from small towns and the activity is not well funded by schools. Yet these young people insist that this is the high point of their lives.
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 disasters, the local government has evacuated thousands of residents from the area - and hundreds are still staying in hotels.This tragedy has morphed into a political scandal which is shaken Marseille to the core – and anger at the local authorities is still palpable.Presenter: Lucy Ash Producer: Josephine Casserly(Image: Graffiti in the neighbourhood of Noailles, Marseille. Credit: BBC)
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 of vaccine, spread partly by doctors, including leading medical specialists. Tim Whewell travels to Ukraine to meet bereaved parents and worried health chiefs - and find out why vaccination rates fell so abruptly in just a few years. It’s a story of lack of confidence in the state, inadequate medical training, government complacency and political manipulation that’s had deadly consequences.(Image: One-year-old girl being given a measles vaccine shot in Kiev health clinic, 2019. Credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
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 Spanish police as they knock down doors looking for the drug and meets a former smuggler who explains how for years he eluded Europe’s authorities to bring in millions of dollars’ worth of Moroccan hash.Producer: Neal Razzell(Image: Spanish police conduct a series of raids hoping to disrupt hash smuggling from Morocco. Credit: BBC)
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 it hard to make the transition. And the ballot itself: is the system fair?
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 Mexico as huachicoleros, there is more evolving than confrontation.
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 Istanbul, especially as the city prepares for a controversial re-run of Istanbul's Mayoral election in late June. Judges have just overturned the declared victory of an opposition candidate, thanks to ill-specified irregularities. There have been public protests over that decision. But then as President Erdogan often says: "He who wins Istanbul, wins Turkey". How has the rivalry on the football field reflected the political division of the city and the country?Reporter/producer: Ed Butler(Image: Fans at a Galatasaray home match, May 2019. Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer)
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. Through the eyes of a murdered medic’s family, Mike Thomson looks at the extraordinary role these unlikely revolutionaries have played in Sudan’s uprising.Produced by Bob Howard(Image:Sudanese doctors protesting in Khartoum. Credit: Mike Thomson/BBC)
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, Fewaz and his family have found refuge near Bremen – and though he is grateful for Germany’s hospitality, he is finding it difficult to integrate. She ends the series with Faysal, who escaped to Turkey before returning to his home city of Kobani in Syria. The war there has finished but danger remains – and he himself was critically wounded.(Photo: Doaa al-Zamel. Credit: Elena Dorfman, Archive: UNHCR)
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. Along the way he saw extortion, slavery, and death in the vast stretches of the Sahara.For Assignment, reporter Joel Gunter tells the story of his journey – a journey that thousands of young Africans like him attempt each year.Producer, Josephine Casserly(Image: Azeteng's secret spectacles. Credit: BBC, taken by Joel Gunter)
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?
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 days.
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 initial confessions in Manitoba were forced under threat of torture. The culture of abuse in the old colonies – physical and sexual – has often been commented on. And it’s partly this that gave the impetus for the foundation of one of Bolivia’s newest Mennonite communities. Hacienda Verde has been hacked out of virgin forest, and is home to 45 families. These are people who were ex-communicated in their old colony homes, often because they would not live by the harsh rules of conservative Mennonites – rules that govern every facet of life, from the clothes and hairstyles that are allowed, to the rejection of any kind of technology.Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly(Photo: Bolivia Mennonite colony, Belice, Girl at school. Photo Credit: @jordibusque)
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 prepare for a future in oil and dream of lives transformed, some fear the so-called oil curse will see a corrupt elite squander and steal the country’s newfound wealth. Presenter/producer: Simon Maybin (Photo: Kiwana Baker, right, hopes that a career in oil will give her opportunities that her mother, Marslyn Pollard, left, never had. Credit: BBC)
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, declared the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel in boats a 'major incident' and since then more than 100 people have been picked up in 2019. For Assignment, Paul Kenyon investigates the British gangs making big money and risking migrants' lives smuggling them across the Channel and reports on the attempts to break up their networks. Reporter: Paul Kenyon Producer: Ben Robinson (Image: An aerial photo shows a boat carrying stranded migrants. Credit: MARCOS MORENO/AFP/Getty Images)
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, especially the judiciary. He then heads on to Sopron, Hungary. Here Victor Orban’s Fidesz party is accused of attacking civil society and the freedom of the press in his pursuit of an “illiberal democracy” – but there are forces fighting back locally.
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 spoiled by huge hydroelectric dams.
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 nearly a million fled Myanmar for Bangladesh - has created further opportunities for the traffickers, as desperate refugees have been employed as drug mules. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, declared a 'war on drugs' last May. Thousands have been arrested. But critics see a disturbing trend - hundreds of suspected Yaba dealers have been killed by law enforcement.Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly with Morshed Ali Khan(Image: Yaba pills being held by a drug-user. Credit: Ye Aung THU / AFP)
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 major disappointment to many who queued for hours to vote in the 1994 election which brought Nelson Mandela to power. Despite spending twenty-seven years in an Apartheid gaol, Mandela was dedicated to creating a 'rainbow nation', with dignity and opportunity for everyone, regardless of race.BBC correspondent Hugh Sykes has visited South Africa regularly since 1994, and in this programme he tells us about the politics of the country, education, corruption and poverty.
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 Palace in Rio de Janeiro, held unique collections of fossils, animal specimens, indigenous artefacts, as well as Egyptian and Greek treasures - and the oldest human skull found in the Americas. Some scientists, who saw their entire life's work go up in flames, were in despair - but others vowed to work to rebuild and restock the museum. Now, months on, painstaking archaeological work in the debris has uncovered items that can be restored, while other specialists are setting out on expeditions to acquire new specimens. Tim Whewell reports from Rio on the agonies - and occasional small triumphs - of the slow, exhausting effort to bring a great national institution back to life.(Image: A Brazilian firefighter attempts to extinguish flames during a fire at the National Museum of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Sept 2018. Credit: Getty Images)
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 blending into a new home. They broadcast music and messages to diverse communities – whether from Latin America or the Caribbean, to born-again Christians and Orthodox Jews.Reporter David Goren has long followed these stations from his Brooklyn home. He paints an audio portrait of their world, drawn from the culture of the street. Vivid soundscapes emerge from tangled clouds of invisible signals, nurturing immigrant communities struggling for a foothold in the big city.With thanks to KCRW and the Lost Notes Podcast episode Outlaws of the Airwaves: The Rise of Pirate Radio Station WBAD.Producer/Presenter: David Goren
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.