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The Documentary Podcast

Download the latest documentaries investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

Tous les épisodes

  • 22.10.2020
    12 MB
    26:54
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    The British and their fish

    By the middle of the 20th century, the English town of Grimsby was the biggest fishing port in the world. When the catch was good “fishermen could live like rock stars”, says Kurt Christensen who first went to sea aged 15. He was instantly addicted to a tough and dangerous life on the waves. But from the 1970s onwards, the industry went into decline. Today it contributes just a tenth of one percent to Britain’s GDP – less than Harrods, London best known department store. So how can such a tiny industry cause so much political havoc and threaten to scupper a post Brexit deal with Europe? Fishing communities have often blamed EU membership - and the foreign boats that have arrived as a result - for a steep fall in catches over the last half century. Many coastal towns voted overwhelmingly for Britain to leave the European Union. Now, Grimsby’s recently-elected Conservative MP – the first non-socialist the town has sent to Westminster in nearly 100 years - has spoken of a modern fleet and fresh opportunities. For Assignment, Lucy Ash travels to Grimsby to hear how fishing towns like this, ignored for decades by London’s political elite, now hope finally to turn a corner. She explores the huge place fishing plays in the British psyche and asks if the cold, stormy seas around Britain really can make coastal communities rich once again.Producer Mike Gallagher(Image: A trader examines a haddock at the daily Grimsby Fish Market auction. Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

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  • 20.10.2020
    13 MB
    28:33
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    A perfect match

    Thirteen years ago, journalist Ibby Caputo underwent a bone marrow transplant in the US to treat an aggressive form of leukaemia. Because she is of Northern European descent, she believes she had a greater chance of survival, after finding a donor who was "a perfect match." Her friend, Terika Haughton, who was Jamaican, died of transplant-related causes in 2017. Terika did not have a perfect match, and after she died, Ibby explores how much that lack of a perfect match may have played a part in her death. Through these contrasting stories, Ibby explores race and ethnic disparities in healthcare.

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  • 18.10.2020
    24 MB
    52:04
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    The TikTok election

    TikTok has become one of the political stories in the run up to the US elections, exposing America's distrust of China. But its users and influencers could help decide who takes the White House. Journalist Sophia Smith Galer enters the hype houses of TikTok to find out how influential it really is.

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  • 18.10.2020
    24 MB
    51:13
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    The Response USA: The return

    As an election approaches in America, we return to a unique experiment which took the temperature of the USA after the surprise election of Donald Trump. In 2016 the BBC World Service, in association with American Public Media, focused on areas which the media had neglected – but made all the difference. We asked for smartphone voice recordings from key areas in the middle of America about their lives now, about why they voted the way they did, and their hopes for the future. Now, in 2020, we return to those contributors to see how their lives changed in the last four years. What do they want to happen now?

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  • 19.10.2020
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    25:22
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    US election: Losing your job

    Our conversations reflect the impact Covid-19 has had on the US economy and on people’s jobs and wellbeing. We hear from a cook in northern California and a PBX switchboard operator in Massachusetts, who both lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet and pay the bills. They talk about how they feel forgotten, how the social system isn’t working for them, and how the main presidential candidates are not talking to them. And we hear from three flight attendants, who all lost their jobs after an economic relief plan in Congress stalled. One of them, Breaunna Ross, posted a video of her emotional farewell to passengers on her final flight, which has been viewed more than two million times on YouTube.

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  • 15.10.2020
    13 MB
    27:08
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    Reza's story

    A death-defying migrant's story... Said Reza Adib was a TV journalist in Afghanistan. In 2016, about to break a story about the sexual abuse of children by Afghan men in authority, he received a threat to his life. Reza fled across the border to Iran. But journalism was in his blood, and in Iran he began to investigate sensitive stories related to the war in Syria. When Iranian authorities confiscated his laptop, he knew his life was again in danger. That same day, with his wife and two small children, he began a perilous journey to safety in Finland – an odyssey that would last four years. The family would survive shooting on the Turkish border, a voyage across the Aegean Sea on an overcrowded makeshift vessel with fake lifejackets, and then the nightmare of refugee camps in Greece. It was here that Chloe Hadjimatheou met Reza, and for Assignment she tells the story of a remarkable journalist who’s continued to ply his trade - in spite of the odds stacked against him.Producer: Linda Pressly(Image: Said Reza Adib. Credit: Sayed Ahmadzia Ebrahimi)

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  • 13.10.2020
    13 MB
    28:51
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    Dyslexia: Into adulthood

    Stella Sabin, who has dyslexia herself, looks at the impact of the condition in adult life, and asks what difference does it make to know the name of what you are experiencing? Dyslexic people are disproportionally represented in low paying jobs and in the US and the UK 50% of the prison population are dyslexic. She visits the intelligence and security organisation GCHQ who are positively recruiting dyslexic thinkers, who are able to find unusual and imaginative solutions to complex problems…like cracking codes.

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  • 11.10.2020
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    50:59
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    Spitfire stories

    In September 1940, in two factories in Southampton, one of the most iconic planes of World War Two was being painstakingly assembled, piece by piece. This sleek and beautiful fighter, with record breaking top speeds and a deadly reputation for precision, was to be Britain’s most notorious weapon against the Nazi air invasion. But, the factory making them was about to be destroyed by devastating German bombing raids. How could the Battle of Britain be fought without the Spitfire? With the factory a smoking ruin, a plan was hatched to keep the planes coming, against some pretty extraordinary odds

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  • 10.10.2020
    11 MB
    24:21
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    US election: Testing positive for Covid-19

    The President of the United States is recovering from Covid-19, after a week when the world watched him leaving hospital briefly in a motorcade to wave supporters and - on his return to the White House - moving his mask on a balcony. Donald Trump then told the country there was nothing to fear from the disease. So how were his words received by the Americans across the country? Nuala McGovern hears from those in California, Iowa and Alabama who were thrilled by the president's show of strength against Covid-19 and from others less enamoured by his attitude.

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  • 08.10.2020
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    26:28
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    Portland, prisons and white supremacy - part two

    The second part of this two-part documentary continues the story of Portland, Oregon and its struggle with white supremacists.Portland has a reputation as one of the United States’ most liberal and tolerant cities. Since the death of George Floyd, it has been at the forefront of protests and violence as anti-racist demonstrators and far right groups have battled with each other and with the police. Yet, in 2016, the killing of a young black man sparked a national debate about race hatred. Nineteen year old Larnell Bruce died after a white man called Russell Courtier drove his car at him. A trial for murder and a hate crime followed, and exposed a culture of white supremacy in Oregon, rooted in the state’s history and which endures today despite its easy-going image. In this two-part documentary for Assignment, Mobeen Azhar follows the trial of Russell Courtier and investigates the issues it exposed.Part Two follows Mobeen as he leaves the courtroom to meet Portland’s white supremacists and find out how they operate. He discovers that violent gangs are thriving because of the very institution meant to prevent crime – the prison system. Then, it is time for the verdict.(This programme was adapted for radio from the feature-length TV documentary, “A Black & White Killing: The Case That Shook America”, made by Expectation Entertainment.)(Photo: Prisoner being escorted by guards. Credit: BBC)

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  • 06.10.2020
    13 MB
    27:51
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    Dyslexia: Language and childhood

    Toby Withers who is dyslexic himself, reveals the challenges of learning English, with all its inconsistent rules and odd spellings. He talks to the subject of a ground-breaking study into bilingual dyslexic children – Alex - who is dyslexic in English but not in Japanese. From Hong Kong University he discovers how dyslexia in character-based language systems is different to dyslexia in English.

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  • 05.10.2020
    11 MB
    23:40
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    US Election 2020: Trump and coronavirus

    The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the US and there are more than 7 million confirmed cases. President Trump, whose approach to the virus divides opinion, has now himself tested positive. As Americans prepare to vote for a new president or give Donald Trump four more years, coronavirus is one of the issues that will inform voters' thinking. During the election campaign Nuala McGovern will be hearing from those Americans right across the country.

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  • 01.10.2020
    12 MB
    26:28
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    Portland, prisons and white supremacy - part one

    Portland, Oregon, has a reputation as one of the United States’ most liberal and tolerant cities. Since the death of George Floyd, it has been at the forefront of protests and violence as anti-racist demonstrators and far right groups have battled with each other and with the police. Yet these tensions are nothing new.In 2016, the killing of a young black man sparked a national debate about white supremacy. Nineteen year old Larnell Bruce died after a white man called Russell Courtier deliberately drove his car at him. A trial for murder and a hate crime followed, and exposed a culture of white supremacy in Oregon, rooted in the state’s history and thriving today despite its easy-going image. In this two-part documentary for Assignment, Mobeen Azhar follows the trial of Russell Courtier and investigates how the prison system has become a recruitment ground for racist gangs.Part one reveals the disturbing details of what happened to Larnell Bruce when he encountered Russell Courtier outside a convenience store in one of Portland’s most deprived neighbourhoods. Then, as the murder trial gets underway, we learn that Russell Courtier had once joined a white supremacist gang and continued to bear its insignia on his clothes, and tattooed on his body. However, new evidence emerges to suggest that the case might not be as straightforward as it first appeared.(Image: Safely behind bars? Some white prisoners have found themselves targeted by gangs. Image: Prisoner being escorted by guards. Credit: BBC)

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  • 29.09.2020
    12 MB
    27:00
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    Songs of the Humpback Whale

    Songs of the Humpback Whale was released in 1970 and went multi-platinum, becoming the best selling environmental album of all time. But it also became emblematic of the West’s shifting attitudes towards environmentalism, inspiring a global movement to save the whales which continues to this day. Marking the 50th anniversary of bio-acoustician Roger Payne’s unlikely smash hit, this programme considers the legacy of sounds that caught the imagination of the world. With contributions from the world of music, science and ecology, including the folk singer Judy Collins, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Willie Mackenzie, Greenlandic musician Peter Tussi Motzfeldt, marine biologist and electronic musician Sara Niksic, music writer Simon Reynolds and Roger Payne.

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  • 27.09.2020
    23 MB
    49:41
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    What has Nobel done for the World?

    Brilliance is a must to win a Nobel Prize, but is that the only requirement? What else does it take to become a laureate? Ruth Alexander tells the stories of those who have been overlooked – in some instances, astonishingly so. Why do some countries, and some academic institutions have a bountiful number of laureates and others none at all?

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  • 26.09.2020
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    23:40
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    Coronavirus: Back to normal in Wuhan?

    What is life like now in the Chinese city where Covid-19 was first detected? Officials have declared Wuhan virus-free. Lots of people have been sharing pictures from bars in the city, which suggest life has gone back to the way it was before. Two people who live in Wuhan tell Nuala McGovern about their newly restored freedoms. In the Czech Republic, "farewell" to coronavirus parties were held at the end of June. As cases surge again, one of the organisers of that party talks about their tolerance for restrictions and how their lives have been changed. Meanwhile, people in Panama have just emerged from one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, which had one unusual feature. Men and women were allowed out of their homes on alternate days. We hear how three Panamanians feel about what they've been through and the implications for the future.

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  • 24.09.2020
    12 MB
    26:28
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    Poland's gay pride and prejudice

    A number of small towns in Poland have been campaigning against what they call 'homosexual ideology'. Local authorities in the provinces have passed resolutions against perceived threats such as sex education and gay rights. LGBT activists complain that they are stoking homophobia and effectively declaring ‘gay-free zones’. Both sides argue that they are protecting the universal values of free speech and justice. But the row has attracted international condemnation. The European Union has withheld funds to six of the towns involved, and some of their twinning partners in Europe have broken off ties. Meanwhile, politicians within Poland’s conservative ruling coalition stand accused of exploiting the divisions to further a reactionary social agenda.Presenter: Lucy Ash Producer: Mike Gallagher(Image: A woman wears a rainbow face mask at a pro-LGBT demonstration in Poland. Credit: European Photopress Agency/Andrzej Grygiel Poland Out)

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  • 21.09.2020
    11 MB
    23:10
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    Coronavirus: Friendships during lockdown

    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.

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  • 17.09.2020
    12 MB
    26:35
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    The trouble with Dutch cows

    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)

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  • 16.09.2020
    12 MB
    26:43
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    The shepherd and the settler

    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

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  • 11.09.2020
    23 MB
    49:15
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    Remembering those lost to Covid-19

    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.

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  • 10.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:15
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    South Africa moonshine

    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)

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:33
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    Accused of hacking the Pentagon

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:33
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    Why India is mad for motorbikes

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    11 MB
    23:09
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    BBC OS Conversations: Covid-free nations

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
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    26:28
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    Naziha Syed Ali: Pakistan’s fearless female reporter

    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)

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  • 09.09.2020
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    27:29
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    Rulebreakers: A beautiful prison

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:28
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    The Soviet Feminist Army

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    11 MB
    24:04
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    Coronavirus: Children with special needs

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    11 MB
    24:07
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    August in Minsk

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    12 MB
    26:28
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    Hugh Sykes: Reporting from the frontlines

    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)

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:34
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    Rulebreakers: Veteran on the tracks

    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”.

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:37
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    Red State refugees

    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?

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  • 09.09.2020
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    24:25
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    BBC OS Conversations: Covid-19 'long-haulers'

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    12 MB
    26:28
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    Barbara Demick: True stories from North Korea

    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)

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:52
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    Rulebreakers: How I disappear

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:50
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    Vaccines, money and politics

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    11 MB
    24:34
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    BBC OS Conversations: Addiction during a pandemic

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    24 MB
    50:52
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    Stitching souls

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    12 MB
    26:28
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    Milton Nkosi: The apartheid child who changed Africa’s story

    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

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:55
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    Fighting talk: How language can make us better

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
    13 MB
    27:56
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    Vaccines, money and politics

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
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    BBC OS Conversations: After the Beirut explosion

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
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    Worlds Apart

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
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    Soft Jihad Assignment

    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'.

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  • 09.09.2020
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    Algeria's plague revisited

    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)

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  • 09.09.2020
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    Karachi's ambulance drivers

    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.

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  • 09.09.2020
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    BBC OS Conversations: Spain's tourism industry

    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

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  • 09.09.2020
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    Venezuela's 'Bay of Piglets'

    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)

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  • 09.09.2020
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    Ingenious: The milkshake and the cyclops gene

    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.

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