From The Real Story on Jan. 18, 2019, 9:06 a.m.
Donald Trump’s first foreign trip as US President was to Saudi Arabia - and this week his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Kingdom. Despite increased strains on the relationship, including the controversial war in Yemen and the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump Administration has shown no signs of breaking with Riyadh. Is this fully explained by the trade in oil and arms – or are other factors at work? How important is a shared antipathy to Iran? Are human rights always expendable when trade and strategic interests are in the mix? And why and how did the two countries become so entwined? This week on The Real Story, Celia Hatton asks a panel of experts what’s keeping the United States and Saudi Arabia close.
From The Real Story on Jan. 11, 2019, 9 a.m.
It's an old question, but despite many estimates - based on Frank Drake's famous equation - that our own Milky Way galaxy could contain up to a million alien civilisations, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence begun in 1961 has so far failed. Funding for SETI - as it's known - has also been a problem, although private money has partly filled the gap. But SETI scientists are now hopeful that, after a 25-year pause, the US Congress will mandate NASA to spend ten million dollars a year, for the next two years, renewing the search. And it's not all about intelligence, as everyone agrees the discovery of life of any kind on another planet would be astounding - with some of the most exciting developments in this field much closer to home. This week on The Real Story we ask a panel of space scientists: are we any closer to finding extra-terrestrial life? What new approaches are showing promise? How will we know if we've found it? And what might that life be like?
From The Real Story on Dec. 28, 2018, 10:15 a.m.
How do you look ahead in a world which constantly takes us by surprise, sometimes shocks us, often makes us ask 'what happens next?' Who would have predicted that President Trump would, to use his words, fall in love with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whose country he had threatened to totally destroy? Who could have imagined that a prominent Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, would be murdered and dismembered in a Saudi Consulate? And, on a happier note, we’re relieved that, as the year ends, a climate change conference in Poland did manage to save the Paris pact, and maybe our world. The BBC's chief international correspondent, Lyse Doucet talks to correspondents from around the globe about what might happen in the world in 2019. Guests: Katya Adler, Europe editor Yolande Knell, Middle East correspondent James Robbins, Diplomatic correspondent Steve Rosenberg, Moscow Correspondent Jon Sopel, North America editor Producer: Ben Carter Editor: Penny Murphy (Image: King Mohammed VI, Melania Trump, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron. Credit: EPA/BENOIT TESSIER / POOL MAXPPP OUT)
From The Real Story on Dec. 21, 2018, 9 a.m.
After weeks of protests and violence, France's President Emmanuel Macron has bowed to the yellow vests protestors. First he made an televised address to the nation in which he admitted he had made mistakes. Now he has issued a new budget with financial giveaways. It is not just that he has been spooked by weeks of demonstrations - not unknown in French life - but also that protestors have enjoyed high levels of public support. Their demands combine elements from the left and the right: calls for huge increases in government spending and in wages, coupled with the halving of taxes and tough restrictions on migration. But behind these demands, some people detect the grievances of France's left-behinds, either in small towns or in the countryside, and those at the wrong end of globalisation. Ruth Alexander and a panel of experts discuss Macron's options. Can his concessions satisfy the yellow vests, and if not, where does he go from here? The protestors want to have little to do with politicians but are they playing in to the hands of Marine Le Pen and the far right?
From The Real Story on Dec. 14, 2018, 9 a.m.
In 2014, the Chinese government issued a document aimed at increasing the amount of 'trust' in society. Today this emerging system is known as China's social credit system - like a credit score but tracking more than financial transactions. China's central government wants to have the system in place across China by 2020, using a range of information -- including shopping habits, driving fines and even what's written on social media -- to rate and rank individuals. People with poor scores could find themselves unable to get bank loans or buy plane tickets. Advocates claim that a system is necessary in a country where few people have credit ratings. But detractors see it as a kind of dystopic super-surveillance. Celia Hatton and a panel of expert guests weighs up the costs and benefits of social credit. (Photo: A Chinese woman walks along the street holding a broom and dustpan. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Dec. 7, 2018, 9 a.m.
There's only one question in Britain these days: what will happen with Brexit? On Tuesday, the future of the country is at stake when the British parliament takes a historic vote on the withdrawal deal that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has negotiated with the European Union. As it stands, the odds are on parliament voting the deal down. And with the clock to Britain's exit from the EU ticking down, the consequences of the Prime Minister losing the vote are far from certain. Could she go back to Brussels and get a better deal? Could the government fall? Could those who have been hoping to stop Brexit altogether finally get a new referendum? And, what happens if Britain crashes out of the EU in March 2019 with no deal? Chris Morris and a panel of experts discuss the costs and benefits of May's deal, no deal, no Brexit - and everything in-between.
From The Real Story on Nov. 30, 2018, 9:06 a.m.
On Saturday, Mexico gets a new president. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - or AMLO as he's known. He won a landslide victory and now controls both houses of Congress. Born in poverty, AMLO is promising to eliminate corruption, champion the poor, and stand up to big business. His vision is not just government as usual but Mexico's 'fourth transformation', a kind of national renewal. He has already cut his own salary and that of senior civil servants and he has spooked the financial markets by cancelling Mexico City's new airport. But how realistic is his vision? The country is the second most unequal in Latin America, parts of it are controlled by drug traffickers and gripped by violence. And in his first week in power he'll have to deal with the migrant protest on the US border. So, will he change Mexico or will Mexico change him? Ritula Shah and a panel of expert guests profile Mexico's new president and discuss his vision and the challenges he faces.
From The Real Story on Nov. 23, 2018, 9 a.m.
The largest money laundering scandal yet uncovered has been back in the spotlight. 200 billion Euros were allegedly laundered through a tiny Estonian branch of the Danish Danske Bank between 2007 and 2015. The whistleblower who first alerted Denmark's biggest bank to the problem testified in front of the Danish parliament this week. Once upon a time, money laundering meant setting up pizzerias as fronts and building blocks of flats to rent. But things have become more sophisticated. Today's perpetrators are smurfing - investing small amounts in many small businesses, moving dirty money around with crypto currencies and setting up companies within companies within companies. Ruth Alexander and a panel of expert guests discuss how money laundering is done and the ways the authorities can take control of the problem. (Photo: Rolled up US dollars. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Nov. 16, 2018, 9 a.m.
In the two years since the election of Donald Trump the world has heard a lot about 'fake news'. It's a term the president often uses to go after the media and his opponents. But 'fake news' can mean a lot of things. It can refer to inaccurate stories pumped out to generate online ad revenue. It can also describe the sort of political disinformation that Russia used to try to influence the 2016 US election. While propaganda and disinformation have been deployed at home and abroad for centuries - Hitler and Stalin were past masters - the internet has made the dissemination of such lies much easier. So, if trust in information corrodes, what happens to democracy? Ritula Shah and a panel of experts look at what fakes of all kinds are doing to our public life and what solutions are available. (Photo: Fact or Fake concept, change wooden cube. Credit: Getty Image)
From The Real Story on Nov. 9, 2018, 9 a.m.
Germany, the biggest and richest country in the European Union, is going through a period of considerable political turbulence. After Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the CDU, performed badly in state elections, she said she would not seek re-election. Much has been said about the threat posed to her party from the right by the emergence of the Euro-sceptic anti-immigrant AfD. But there's another emerging force - the internationalist and environmentalist Greens. In the recent elections in both Bavaria and Hesse, the Greens came second with a big gain in seats - and polls now have the party polling in second place nationally. Paul Henley and a panel of experts discuss what's behind the rise of the Greens and what it means for the country at the heart of Europe.
From The Real Story on Nov. 2, 2018, 9 a.m.
As the world’s population continues to rise, the numbers of children born per woman is still falling. Worldwide there’s now around 2.49 live births per woman, not far above replacement rate. Many couples are choosing to have smaller families and contraception is helping. But meanwhile, infertility in both men and women, in rich and poorer countries, is increasing. Fifty million couples worldwide cannot have children without medical help. So, what is going on? Celia Hatton and a panel of expert guests discuss why so many men and women are struggling to have children. Are they simply leaving it too late or are other factors, such as diet or pollution, having an effect? (Photo: Couple in consultation with a doctor. Credit: BSIP/UIG/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Oct. 26, 2018, 9 a.m.
This weekend, if the polls are right, Brazilians are expected to elect an obscure far-right politician as their next president. Jair Bolsonaro has spent over 20 years in Congress in a variety of fringe parties to very little effect. Now he is promising to root out the corruption that's endemic in Brazilian politics and crack down on crime. Brazil has some of the highest murder rates in the world and Bolsonaro wants to loosen gun laws and make it easier for the police to shoot to kill criminals. His opponents accuse him of supporting extra-judicial killings as well promoting homophobic and misogynistic views. Ritula Shah and a panel of expert guests looks at what Jair Bolsonaro is proposing for Brazil. How has he come to prominence? Who are his backers? And can a man who speaks so fondly of Brazil's military dictatorship really be trusted with its democracy?
From The Real Story on Oct. 19, 2018, 9 a.m.
In many democracies people are demanding attention based on their identity, on their race, sex, or sexual orientation. We see groups such as Black Lives Matter, or movements for white power or LGBT rights. Are these demands for redress legitimate — assuming their claims are credible — or do they undermine social cohesion by attacking a sense of shared belonging? Is the increase in identity politics a danger for democracy? Or is ‘identity politics’ a new name for an old fact, a name given by the powerful to belittle the struggles of the powerless? As the US mid-term elections approach, Ritula Shah and a panel of experts examine identity politics, left and right, and ask whether identity politics corrodes or empowers democracy. (Photo: Counter-protesters march at the University of Virginia, ahead of the one year anniversary of the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right protests, in Charlottesville, Virginia, US. Credit: Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
From The Real Story on Oct. 12, 2018, 9 a.m.
On Monday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report. The IPCC looked at keeping to a 1.5C rise above pre-industrial temperatures. Scientists say that we can still do it. But there's a lot of work to be done. It will need "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". It will also mean a major reallocation of funds. It will cost about 2.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP), every year for twenty years. But how is that going to happen? While the cost of wind turbines and solar panels have fallen, the global economy still relies on burning fossil fuels. Will politicians grasp the nettle and make the changes outlined in this report or will they, and we private citizens, ignore it and wait for disaster to strike? This week on The Real Story Ritula Shah looks at the economics and politics of climate change. Do developed countries have to give up growth to mitigate climate change? Can democracies sell the necessary sacrifices to their citizens? And will new technology save the day? Image: A woman walking through floodwaters in front of the Grand Palace near the Chao Praya river in Bangkok in October 2011 (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Oct. 5, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
We know that to keep our climate safe we need to stop burning fossil fuels and move to renewables. But how? Leading scientists and government delegates have been asking that question this week at a gathering in South Korea. Perhaps inspiration can be found in Tromso, in the Norwegian Arctic. Norway sees itself as a leading opponent of climate change. It already generates most of its electricity from hydropower and it's looking to turn some of its mountains and rivers into a giant green battery, storing power generated by wind turbines and solar cells elsewhere in Europe, then sending electricity back when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind blow. But Norway is still a major oil exporter. While its North Sea fields begin to run dry, Norway is continuing to dole out exploration permits for the Arctic waters. Ritula Shah and a panel of experts and politicians in Tromso debate Norway's energy future and ask what lessons the country has for the rest of the world. (Photo: Midnight sun over the Arctic Ocean at Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Norway. Credit: Arterra/UIG via Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Sept. 28, 2018, 9 a.m.
Air is all around us. It's invisible and most of the time we don't think much about it. But when the air is polluted, it's deadly. Even when it doesn't kill us, polluted air increases respiratory illnesses, strokes, and Alzheimers; it may even be making us dumb. Air pollution is behind the deaths of at least 4.5million people a year worldwide, the vast majority harmed by tiny particles of soot emitted by burning fossil fuels in cars and factories or by burning wood or coal for cooking. So what can we do? Ritula Shah talks to health and public policy experts about the risks posed by polluted air. How can we clean up our air to have healthier bodies and brains and build better communities?
From The Real Story on Sept. 21, 2018, 9 a.m.
Twenty years after the signing of The Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland, Brexit has unleashed new uncertainty about the island's future. In 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union but Northern Ireland voted to remain. Irish nationalists in the north are unhappy about the possibility that controls on the land border with the Republic of Ireland could return. Supporters of a united Ireland have seized on this to argue that by joining the Republic, Northern Ireland would be able to get back into the EU. The Good Friday Agreement includes a provision for a referendum on unification known as a border poll. Whether nationalists could win is unclear but a mixture of worries about Brexit and demographic change suggest a future border poll would be much tighter than would have been the case ten years ago. Ritula Shah and a panel of experts discuss whether Brexit has opened the door to a united Ireland. (Photo: Farmer standing on the border separating Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Sept. 14, 2018, 9 a.m.
Ten years ago the US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed. The event rocked global stock markets and led to the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression. The decade that followed has been extraordinary. We've seen anger and discontent as living standards have fallen in large parts of the developed world. There's been political upheaval with the election of Donald Trump and the UK's vote for Brexit, while populists and demagogues have gained power across Europe. Ritula Shah and a panel of experts discuss the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis: low growth, a fragile global economy and a transformed political landscape. And, in the event of another crash, would governments have the ideas, the resources, and the goodwill to pull the global economy back from the brink?
From The Real Story on Sept. 7, 2018, 9 a.m.
For years Sweden has been praised for its generous welfare state and the welcoming hand it held out to refugees. But things are changing. Sweden is approaching the end of its most closely fought election in decades. Polls predict that the long dominant Social Democrats will get the largest share of the vote but not enough to govern alone. As in other European countries, significant numbers of the old working class are turning to an anti-EU anti-immigrant party. The Sweden Democrats are socially conservative, talking tough on immigration, and helped by recent criminal incidents that some are pinning on immigrants. They could get enough support to influence the country's future. President Trump has long been tweeting about Sweden, claiming "large scale immigration" there isn't working. But what's the evidence? Is Sweden suffering from an epidemic of crime caused by immigrants? Has it failed to assimilate the people it welcomed in? Or are these at best half-truths deployed in a tough election campaign? Ritula Shah and a panel of experts discuss whether Sweden has turned its back on its social democratic past?
From The Real Story on Aug. 31, 2018, 9 a.m.
Nearly 25 years on from independence the vast majority of South Africa’s farmland is still owned by the country’s white minority. But now the governing ANC is coming under pressure to change that. In the past the government has tried to find “willing sellers” but that’s only led to the redistribution of 10% of farmland. Now the government is considering more controversial moves. President Cyril Ramaphosa his indicated he would introduce a change to the constitution to allow, if necessary, land expropriation without compensation. White farmers are furious. Investors are worried too. They look at what has happened in neighbouring Zimbabwe where land seizures turned what was the breadbasket of Africa into an agricultural basket case. President Trump, too, has got involved, tweeting that he asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into “land and farm seizures” and "killing of farmers", prompting South Africa to accuse Mr Trump of stoking racial divisions. Paul Henley and a panel of expert guests discuss South Africa’s struggle with land reform.
From The Real Story on Aug. 24, 2018, 12:06 a.m.
LSD, magic mushrooms, mescaline, peyote - just some of the most well known psychedelic drugs. Most of them are illegal around the world. Research into psychedelic medicine was virtually shut down in the West because psychedelics were considered mind-altering substances open to abuse. This perception is changing. There is a growing body of evidence that some psychedelic drugs can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. There have been clinical trials of psilocybin - the active ingredient in magic mushrooms - for treatment-resistant depression. Just one dose was found to help people with life-threatening cancer face death. James Coomarasamy and a panel of expert guests discuss the evidence that psychedelics have transformative and beneficial properties. Are most authorities right to continue to ban them or should they be considered for wider use - and if so, under what conditions?
From The Real Story on Aug. 17, 2018, 12:06 a.m.
People around the world continue to want a nation to call their own. There have been recent independence referendums in Kurdistan, Catalonia and Scotland. This trend has being going on for a century, as empires have given way to nation states, and those states have further subdivided. For much of the 20th century this made sense. Politics, the economy, and communications were mostly organised at a national scale. National governments had actual powers to manage modern economies. But after many decades of globalisation, have economies and information grown beyond the authority of national governments? How good are nation states at dealing with trans-national threats such as terrorism, migration or global warming? Carrie Gracie and a panel of expert guests discuss whether the nation state is in decline. And if so, what might replace it?
From The Real Story on Aug. 10, 2018, 12:06 a.m.
In many parts of the world this has been a season of extreme heat. Records have been broken from North America to Europe, from the Middle East to Japan and Korea. We know the climate is changing, and that many of the reasons are man-made. International commitments to limit the average rise in global temperature - to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels - demand concerted action around the world. Chris Morris and a panel of expert guests discuss the science behind extreme heat. What are the political solutions and the new technologies that may be able to help us? And even if we can mitigate against extreme temperatures, are heatwaves going to become the new normal? (Photo: Cameroonian Girl sweating and drinking water from a green jerry can. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Aug. 3, 2018, 9 a.m.
It has been over seven years since the uprising in Syria turned first into a civil war and then into a proxy war that has drawn in countries near and far. During that time at least 350,000 people have been killed, over 5 million have fled the country, and over 6 million have lost their homes. The war has seen sieges, artillery barrages and airstrikes on civilian neighbourhoods, hospitals and schools. With the help of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad has recaptured the major cities. His enemies are, as ever, divided. Rebels cling on to enclaves near the Turkish border in the north and in the north-east the Kurdish dominated SDF still controls about a quarter of the country. But in the south, the Syrian government has this week retaken Deraa province where the uprising began in 2011. So is the war coming to an end? Or is it entering a new phase? This week on The Real Story Chris Morris and a panel of expert guests discuss the Syrian war, how long does it have to go and how can the country start to rebuild? (Photo: A house burns after Syrian forces shelled it with heavy artillery in the besieged town of Douma by Muhammad Al-Najjar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
From The Real Story on July 27, 2018, 9 a.m.
On Monday Zimbabwe will hold elections - the first to take place since former President Robert Mugabe was forced to stand down by the military after nearly 40 years in office. Under his rule the southern African country went from being one of the brightest economies in the region to one of the weakest. Opposition parties were repeatedly frustrated at the polls with violence and intimidation. The country is currently being led by former minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, nicknamed "the crocodile", who is leading public opinion polls. Julian Marshall is joined by government, opposition and expert guests to discuss whether these elections represent a clean break with the Mugabe years and what it will now take for Zimbabwe to attract the investment needed for stability, prosperity, and jobs. (Photo: A man wears a Zimbabwean flag after a rally by Movement for Democratic Change leader and opposition presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on July 20, 2018, 9 a.m.
It has been a torrid week for US-Russian relations. Days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election, President Trump met President Putin in Helsinki. In an extraordinary press conference Mr Trump said he preferred to believe Mr Putin rather than US intelligence agencies when it came to accusations of Russian meddling in the US election. Mr Trump’s comments have caused outrage across the US political spectrum – and led to a rare climb-down from Mr Trump, who said he ‘misspoke’. Next week Mr Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort goes on trial for tax evasion. Mr Trump’s links with Russia have long dogged him but will they now damage him? He has made it clear that he sees the Mueller investigation as biased, in his words ‘a rigged witch hunt’. With the US mid-term elections on the horizon, the fate of the Mueller investigation and Mr Trump’s political future both hang in the balance. Ritula Shah looks at the Mueller investigation and asks what it is doing, what has it discovered, and whether it is political. (Photo: Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on July 13, 2018, 9 a.m.
Donald Trump has arrived in England but he's not getting the red carpet treatment a US president might expect. Big protests are planned in London, featuring a march to Trafalgar Square and a six metre high balloon of Donald Trump as a snarling orange baby. The protests may let people vent their feelings about the US president’s controversial style and policies, but few expect much change as a result. So, while protests still occupy a prominent place in the drama of democracy, do they really achieve anything anymore? How have cultural forces and social media changed the way protests are organised? And can non-violent protests still force elected politicians to change? Presenter: Ritula Shah
From The Real Story on July 6, 2018, 9 a.m.
Poland is one of Europe's economic success stories - and after Brexit, Poland stands to become the EU's fifth-largest state. France and Germany had hoped Poland would work with them to find solutions to the EU's big challenges, such as migration. But Poland is taking a different path. Since taking power in 2015, the Law and Justice Party has attacked EU institutions and criticised the German government in particular for being too welcoming to migrants. Tensions came to a head this week with the implementation of a new law in Poland that requires judges to retire when they turn sixty-five. The European Commission has accused Poland of undermining the independence of its judiciary and has launched legal action against the government in Warsaw. So, is Poland implementing necessary reforms or slipping towards authoritarianism?
From The Real Story on June 29, 2018, 9 a.m.
"The fragility of the EU is increasing," says EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, and, "the cracks are growing in size." The cracks appear in many forms. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel says migration is the issue that "could decide the EU's fate." Her French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, wants urgent economic reform and a "profound transformation" of the EU. His solution in part is to "give Europe back to its citizens." But what do European citizen want? Some want out, as seen in Brexit. Many others don't like the way the EU is currently run. That's behind the rise of Eurosceptic governments in Hungary, Poland, and now Italy. Can the gap be closed between French hopes and German fears? Who has the will and the wherewithal to reform the EU before another political or economic crisis engulfs it? And if no change comes is the EU's very survival at risk? (Photo: EU flag billows all tattered and torn. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on June 22, 2018, 9 a.m.
Images of crying children separated from their parents at the US border with Mexico have brought a new urgency to the migration debate in the US. After a week of intense scrutiny on the issue, President Trump signed an executive order so that families apprehended trying to enter the US illegally would not be split up while criminal proceedings took place. In Europe, too, the migration debate is testing governments. This week, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, went to battle with her Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, over whether migrants at the German border should be turned away if they had registered elsewhere in the EU. So, as the UNHCR says the world is experiencing record levels of migration, should countries get tougher or adjust to the new reality? Are public concerns justified, or are they fanned by populists hoping to make political gains?
From The Real Story on June 15, 2018, 9 a.m.
What is Donald Trump thinking? In one week he calls Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ‘dishonest and weak’ and then proceeds to boast of his ‘terrific relationship’ with the dictator Kim Jong-Un. In just a few days, he riles America’s closest allies at the G7 summit and then signs a nuclear deal with the country considered one of the biggest threats to international security. The president’s critics say he is tearing up the rule book without considering the consequences. His supporters say a new approach to international diplomacy is long overdue. So which is it? Has President Trump decided to abandon the military and political alliances that structured the post-World War II liberal order – or is he simply reminding old allies not to take the United States for granted? Is ‘the West’ dead – or is the alliance mutating into one where the US has more space to put itself ‘first’. On the Real Story this week, Ritula Shah and a panel of guests considers how we have arrived at this great disruption of the international order – and where the world is heading. (Photo credit: Reuters)
From The Real Story on June 8, 2018, 9 a.m.
All eyes will be on Russia shortly as it hosts the FIFA World Cup, one of the world's great sporting occasions. The country will get a boost as tourists visit Russia's many far flung cities and spend freely in hotels and restaurants. But staging the event is not cheap. Russia will be spending at least $12 billion at a time when its economy is suffering from sanctions. And - once the teams and their fans leave, the clean-up is expensive and the legacy uncertain. This week Ritula Shah and a panel of experts ask what's to gain from hosting the beautiful game's greatest showcase.
From The Real Story on June 1, 2018, 12:19 p.m.
After nearly three months of negotiations and disputes, Italy has a new government. The country that road-tested Trump-style populist politics before the Donald has handed power to a pair of anti-establishment parties, The League and the 5 Star Movement. Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, had blocked the coalition's choice of finance minister, Paolo Savona, claiming his views imperilled Italy's position in the Eurozone. But the coalition has backed down. Its new choice for finance minister has been accepted by the president. Nonetheless, Italy is entering uncharted waters. Its coalition is unhappy with the Eurozone's rules and Italian voters are looking for relief from unemployment, a massive debt, and what the 5 Star Movement calls "the sea taxi service" bringing migrants to Italy's shores. Ritula Shah and a panel of politicians and analysts unpick what lies behind Italy's divisions and discuss whether Italians are ready to risk leaving the Eurozone. (Photo of two boys on a bicycle carrying the Italian flag. Getty Images)
From The Real Story on May 25, 2018, 9:06 a.m.
Ebola is back. In 2014, it killed over 11,000 people in West Africa. Now the disease has struck once again in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This time doctors are better equipped, with a vaccine and immunisation campaign but the outbreak highlights the ever-present dangers posed by infectious diseases. One hundred years ago the Spanish flu killed over 50 million people in just one year. And doctors now say the next pandemic will be upon us in a matter of decades. We don't know where it will start but in a hyper-connected world we know it will spread easily. Ritula Shah asks a panel of expert guests about the scenarios that keep them up at night and whether global health infrastructure is ready for the coming pandemic.
From The Real Story on May 18, 2018, 9 a.m.
Hundreds of millions around the world will watch live coverage of the latest British Royal wedding. Queen Elizabeth's grandson Prince Harry is marrying Meghan Markle, an American actress. Divorced and biracial, she wouldn't have been considered British princess material 50 years ago. But times have changed and the British monarchy has had to change with them. The popularity of the Harry-Meghan match appears to show a recipe for a successful modern monarchy - equal parts tradition and change. So, is that the formula to keep constitutional monarchies afloat in Britain, Western Europe, and the Arab World? Ritula Shah and a panel of guests explore the forces working against monarchies and discuss how they manage to survive. (Photo of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on May 11, 2018, 9 a.m.
"This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made," said President Trump as he pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal. "It didn't bring calm, it didn't bring peace, and it never will." So what now for Iran, for the stability of the Middle East, and for future nuclear deals? So far Iran's President Rouhani has reacted cautiously but will the country's hardliners force him to resume enriching uranium, paving the way for a nuclear weapon? How will Iran's regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia react? Can the European Union, Russia, and China still keep Iran within the deal? And if they can't, what will the effect be on the outcome of any future nuclear deals. That's The Real Story with James Coomarasamy this week.
From The Real Story on May 4, 2018, 9 a.m.
Thousands of Nicaraguans have been taking to the streets this week to protest against the killing of anti-government demonstrators. They say Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista Front (FSLN) has betrayed the people in whose name it once fought. For President Ortega - a one-time revolutionary icon - the demonstrations highlight a significant shift. With the Castros out of power in Cuba, and other giants of the Left dead or in jail, Mr Ortega is the last of a generation of Latin American revolutionaries still in office. Ritula Shah and her guests discuss why left-wing politics lost ground in Latin America, and what the future holds for leftist politics in the region.
From The Real Story on April 27, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
The world's population is ageing. According to the UN the number of people aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups. This is putting new pressures on relationships between generations. In richer countries, younger people are not accumulating the wealth their predecessors did and that's causing tensions. In the developing world, urbanisation and technology are challenging traditional family dynamics. So, how can the young and the old stay connected in a fast changing world? As part of the BBC's Crossing Divides season, Carrie Gracie is joined by a panel of expert guests in front of an audience of international students.
From The Real Story on April 20, 2018, 9 a.m.
The decision by the US, France and Britain to bomb Syria after seeing evidence that President Bashar al-Assad had allegedly used chemical weapons on civilians has divided the international community. Are we living in a world where might, not right determines how states behave, or is a more moral legal framework in the process of being born? This week on the Real Story, Carrie Gracie and a panel of expert guests ask what can justify attacking another country.
From The Real Story on April 13, 2018, 9 a.m.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron is taking on the country's powerful unions. The response to his proposed labour reforms has been a wave of public sector strikes across France. It's a battle that has played out many times over recent years in industrialised nations and trades unions have, without doubt, been losing influence globally. Why is this happening? Do workers no longer regard unions as an effective way of representing their interests? Have unions failed to adapt to the changing way we work? That's the Real Story this week with James Coomarasamy as he and his guests discuss the future of unions in the 21st Century.
From The Real Story on April 6, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
We have a problem with plastic. We're making too much of it and not re-using and re-cycling enough of it. Plastic is contaminating our oceans and polluting our world. Until this year China took two thirds of the world's plastic waste, but now it's saying it will no longer be the world's dumping ground. The Chinese ban on low quality plastic has begun to bite with policy makers urgently looking for new solutions. So what happens now? What has the situation done to expose the way our plastics are recycled? And will developments result in a watershed moment where we finally re-evaluate our plastic consumption? Join Carrie Gracie and a panel of experts discuss how we cure our addiction to plastic.
From The Real Story on March 30, 2018, 12:06 a.m.
When the first website went live just over 25 years ago, there was hope that the internet would change life for the better. These days, though, there is deep unease about the direction the internet is taking. Allegations that data firm Cambridge Analytica used personal information harvested from more than 50 million Facebook users without their permission to target US voters with tailored - sometimes misleading - messaging highlights how technology is infiltrating democracy. This week the US Federal Trade Commission said it would investigate Facebook's privacy practices and the company said it would overhaul its privacy tools. The internet is now controlled by a handful of companies and how they acquire and use personal data is poorly understood. They have disrupted the way we shop, work, and live. So how did we get to a place where so few players have so much power, and are these companies still serving the public interest? Carrie Gracie and a panel of experts discuss whether we can change direction. And if we did want to build a different internet from the one we're hurtling towards, what would it look like anyway?
From The Real Story on March 23, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
The UN calls Yemen 'the world's worst humanitarian crisis'. It says more than three-fourths of the population - over 22 million people - are in need of humanitarian assistance. Yemenis face hunger, disease, and the terror of a war which has pitted Iran-backed Houthi rebels against a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. This week marks the end of the third year of that Saudi campaign - with no end in sight. Yemen's Minister of State resigned Wednesday saying Yemen's President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was under house arrest in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. So what are the Saudi aims in Yemen and why are Yemeni civilians continuing to suffer so much? Carrie Gracie and a panel of expert guests bring clarity to one of the world's most complex wars.
From The Real Story on March 16, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
Major Western powers are united in their conclusion. Russia, they say, carried out the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War Two. The attack happened in the English city of Salisbury, where former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent. This Sunday, the Russian people are expected to elect Mr Putin for a fourth consecutive term. So as Russia and the West begin a new diplomatic showdown, what does President Putin want to achieve - for himself, for Russia, and abroad? (Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin sunbathes during his vacation in the remote Tuva region in southern Siberia by Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on March 9, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to put 'America first'. In his first year in office the policy was pursued in a number of areas including immigration and national security, but, when it came to the economy, despite threats, the status quo more or less remained the same. Now that's changed. President Trump has signed an order imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminium imports. So will the move rebuild and protect the US steel industry, as the president has pledged? Will it result in a trade war? And is American economic nationalism pushing its closest trading partners away from the US - towards free trade with each other? (Photo: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on March 2, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
The announcement was low key but the implications are big. The Communist Party of China has recommended that the constitution be amended to allow President Xi Jinping to serve longer than the currently mandated two terms. The move would sweep aside a system of power-sharing that's been in place for decades and the 64 year-old could now be China's president for life. So, what is behind the decision? Is it a legitimate attempt to safeguard and bolster Xi's campaign against corruption and ensure essential economic reforms? Or is it a big step towards authoritarian leadership? Xi has created a powerful cult of personality, but as the example of Chairman Mao suggests, a charismatic ruler for life can bring disaster to China. Carrie Gracie and a panel of expert guests unpick the latest developments inside one of the most opaque nations on Earth. (Photo of a decorative plate featuring an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen behind a statue of late communist leader Mao Zedong by Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Feb. 23, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
The first edition with our new name: Newshour Extra is now The Real Story with Carrie Gracie. Has Russia changed the rules of the game with the use of fake accounts on social media to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election? The US Special Counsel Robert Mueller has now filed numerous charges against Russian individuals and entities in connection with Donald Trump's presidential campaign. But US spy agencies have themselves practised disinformation and interference in other countries over many decades and so critics say Russia is now delivering the US a dose of its own medicine. Has Moscow transformed modern information warfare? And behind the headlines, what other countries and forces are manipulating information and politics in open societies? Answering these questions is our challenge on the real story this week with Carrie Gracie and her panel of expert guests. Photo: Computer hacker typing on keyboard with binary code abstract background. Credit: Getty images
From The Real Story on Feb. 16, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
As European intelligence chiefs meet in Germany calling for greater co-operation to tackle common security threats, we take a look Europe's move towards a more unified defence strategy. Since the Second World War, the NATO alliance has provided the West's defence umbrella. But there are those within Europe calling for the greater integration of national forces and less reliance on the United States and NATO to resolve Europe's defence problems. Russia's annexation of Crimea and the influx of migrants across Europe's southern borders have renewed this security debate on the continent. Would a Trump administration in the US provide NATO military support for crises such as these in the future? What role will Britain play in Europe's common defence policy after Brexit? This week on Newshour Extra, James Coomarasamy and a panel of guests discuss whether greater European military integration is really feasible - or even desirable. Photo: a Polish officer follows a military training exercise, the 'Strong Europe Tank Challenge' in southern Germany. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on Feb. 9, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
Our pay is still largely a private matter - but why is that? What would happen if pay was transparent? Would it be good or bad for business? Would employers have to address inequality and discrimination? Would workers feel demoralized or empowered? And what effect would such a cultural shift have on society? On Newshour Extra this week Ritula Shah and a panel of experts consider what happens when companies or entire countries dare to reveal all.
From The Real Story on Feb. 2, 2018, 9 a.m.
January has been bloody in the Afghan capital Kabul, where more than 130 civilians have been killed and many more wounded in a series of attacks by the Taliban and the Islamic State group. Suicide bombers have targeted not only security forces but also a hotel, and a crowded shopping street. Does this latest spike in violence mean their tactics have changed, and if so why? The US has recently committed a few more troops to Afghanistan, but after 16 years of fighting, is a military solution credible? Is it time, once and for all, to make peace with the Taliban? At what price, to whom? Does any answer inevitably depend on Pakistan? On Newshour Extra this week Razia Iqbal and a panel of experts discuss the war in Afghanistan and the prospects for peace. (Photo: an Afghan man holds a wounded child, after a car bomb exploded near the old Interior Ministry building in Kabul on January 27, 2018. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Jan. 26, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
Turkey has sent tanks and warplanes into northern Syria. Their stated target is a Kurdish militia group, the YPG, regarded by Ankara as a terrorist organisation allied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey for decades. It's an indication of the complexity of this conflict is that while Turkey regards the YPG as a serious threat, the same group has been a key ally of the United States in the battle against the so-called Islamic State in Syria. If Turkey were to achieve its stated aim of destroying the YPG - or even just loosen its hold in the border region - who would fill the vacuum? On Newshour Extra this week Ritula Shah and her guests discuss Turkey's war aims in Syria and ask whether Ankara can persuade Washington to abandon the Kurds. Photo: a Syrian woman and child who fled from the Turkish offensive on the Afrin enclave. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on Jan. 19, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
President Trump says he is a friend of coal country. He promised to end the "war on coal" and bring back jobs in the coal mines. A year on from his inauguration and he seems to have made good on some of his pledges. Late last year his administration overturned several Obama-era regulations on mining and energy production. But can coal really make a comeback? Coal production remains a source of cheap electricity around the world but it's up against the rising availability of natural gas and increasingly competitive renewable energy. Could clean coal technology help re-brand a dirty fossil fuel? And how will China's move away from coal affect the picture? (Photo: a coal miner in Ukraine. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Jan. 12, 2018, 12:01 a.m.
Gaming is big business. More that 2 billion gamers around the world generated more than 100 billion dollars in game revenues last year. But for some people all the fun is coming at a cost. The World Health Organization wants to classify gaming addiction as a mental health condition for the first time. The addiction is described as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour that takes 'precedence over other life interests'. So how concerned should we be? What's the evidence that people can become addicted? And how severe can the addiction become? Do the types of games that are played - role playing vs. shoot'em up - and the environments they're played in make a difference? And how will improvements to augmented and virtual reality technology change the picture? This week on Newshour Extra Jonny Dymond and a panel of experts look at gaming addiction: serious problem or moral panic? (Photo of addicted gamer by Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Jan. 5, 2018, 9 a.m.
It's the first week of the new year, which means many people are recovering from consuming large quantities of meat over the festive season. In fact, people around the world are eating more meat than ever. The average American man now eats more than his own weight in meat every year. And in China meat-eating is rising sharply as people grow richer. But all this meat comes at a cost. The WHO has linked red and processed meats to cancer, and the intensive raising of livestock and the growing of the grains required to feed the animals is doing significant damage to the environment. So what should be done? Calls are coming for meat taxes and a move to more sustainable farming. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are looking into lab grown meat and meat substitutes. But others point out that animal products can be part of a healthy diet and that livestock can eat things that people can't. Razia Iqbal and a panel of experts discuss whether the pleasures of eating meat are worth the costs. (Photo: A butcher holding up cuts of meat during a pre-Christmas meat sale at a market in London. Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Dec. 15, 2017, 9 a.m.
Donald Trump's announcement that he's formally recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and setting in motion a plan to move the US embassy there has been condemned by many world leaders. So where does it leave the Palestinians? The decision has motivated some to take to the streets in protest. Others wonder how peace can now be achieved. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, has said that the US has lost its right to act as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, and Saeb Erekat, his chief peace negotiator, has said 'the two-state solution is over'. So, is that right? Could a one-state solution now be a viable alternative and what would that look like? And how does the peace plan envisaged by Donald Trump's son-in-law and Middle East envoy, Jared Kushner, fit in? Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of experts discuss the options left for the Palestinians. (Photo of Palestinians sitting on a wall overlooking the Dome of the Rock inside the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount by Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Dec. 8, 2017, 12:01 a.m.
In March you could buy a Bitcoin, one of a number of ‘cryptocurrencies’, for about US$1,200. Since then its value has increased more than tenfold to over US$15,000. So why the excitement? Is it yet another irrational speculative bubble driven by what John Maynard Keynes used to call ‘animal spirits’? Or is the excitement really about the de-centralised technology that underpins Bitcoin? Some argue that this technology, known as blockchain, is as revolutionary as the internet and will change how we bank, work, and live. On Newshour Extra this week, Owen Bennett Jones and his guest discuss whether Bitcoin and blockchain are leading us to a brave new world or towards another financial crash.
From The Real Story on Dec. 1, 2017, 12:01 a.m.
A key deadline is looming for Brexit Britain. The British government has until Monday, December 4th, to finalise its offer on three key issues: the Irish border, a financial settlement and European citizens rights. The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said clarity on the British offer had to be provided in advance of the EU leaders' summit in December. The EU's 27 members will then decide whether "sufficient progress" has been made to move the talks on to the next phase about a future trading relationship. So has Britain's offer gone far enough? What sticking points remain? And would Britain walk away from the talks if its position is rejected? Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of guest discuss the state of the Brexit negotiations. What will it take for them to advance - and what happens if they do not? (Photo of EU/UK flag pin by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Nov. 24, 2017, 12:01 a.m.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri shocked his country when he recently resigned while in Saudi Arabia citing fears for his safety. The move plunged Lebanon into a crisis as Lebanese leaders accused Saudi Arabia of forcing him to go. It has also stoked fears of major showdown between Lebanon’s Saudi-backed Sunnis and the Iranian-backed Shia militant group Hezbollah. On his return to Lebanon this week, Hariri agreed to withdraw his resignation and seek ‘dialogue’. So who is ultimately driving events in Lebanon, Hariri, Saudi Arabia, or Hezbollah and Iran? On Newshour Extra this week Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss what Saudi Arabia wants in Lebanon and whether it's gearing up to take on Hezbollah at all costs. (Photo: the Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri with Saudi Chargé d'Affairs Walid al-Bukhari during a ceremony in Baadba, Lebanon on November 22, 2017. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Nov. 17, 2017, 9 a.m.
One of the explanations for the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election was that Trump had pushed back against the progressive cultural values that had been occupying the US political mainstream. There was a feeling that cultural issues championed on the left around identity, race, religion, gender, and sexuality had taken a seat at the political top table in the Obama years, and that many people - mostly white men - sought a return to times when roles were clearly defined and people weren't worried about 'political correctness'. So called 'culture wars' - pitting progressive tribes against traditional rivals - are nothing new in American politics, but the divisions today are more pronounced than ever. Compare that with Europe, where for decades, mainstream political parties have broadly agreed on socially progressive values and sought inclusive societies. But the picture is changing. The politics around values and identity is driving events across Europe. First, there was Brexit and then came the success of a number of anti-immigration political parties, most notably in Germany. This week on Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of guests discuss whether American-style culture wars have taken root in Europe. What are the flash points causing divisions and what is behind them? (Photo of a Black Lives Matter protester in London by Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Images)
From The Real Story on Nov. 10, 2017, 9 a.m.
When President Trump was elected a year ago he promised tough action on China. During his campaign he called the rising Asian power a currency manipulator and threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. But the tone since then has significantly softened. President Trump has gone on to highlight his 'very good' relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and made much of shared cooperation on issues like the threat from North Korea. This week, President Trump put that relationship to the test on his first official visit to Beijing. So what have we learnt? When it comes to security and trade does he view the country more as a partner or a rival? On Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of guests discuss the US-China relationship. Which of the global powers is on the front foot and which has the most to lose? (Photo: US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing on November 9, 2017. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Nov. 3, 2017, 9 a.m.
Donald Trump has said his proposed tax cuts will be 'rocket fuel' for the US economy. He is the latest in a long line of political leaders chasing economic growth as a key policy objective. We are told again and again that GDP - Gross Domestic Product - growth is good for the economy; it lifts people out of poverty, provides jobs and investment, and improves lives. While there is general agreement about the need for growth in the developing world, what about the costs of growth in the rich world? Is growth accelerating environmental damage? Is it causing greater inequality? Owen Bennett Jones is joined by Tim Jackson from the Centre for Sustainable Prosperity, University of Surrey; Daniel Ben Ami - author of Ferraris for All: In defence of Economic Progress; Jared Bernstein, economic adviser to President Barack Obama; and Annie Quick of the New Economics Foundation, to discuss who really benefits from growth and whether we can have prosperity without it. (Photo: The bronze bull statue near Wall Street in lower Manhattan by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Oct. 30, 2017, 3:36 p.m.
Kenya's disputed presidential election has plunged the country into crisis and brought the legitimacy of the whole democratic process there into question. So on this week's Newshour Extra we take a look across Sub-Saharan Africa, and ask whether democracy is the best system of government for the continent; and if so, are there uniquely African models of the democratic process. Join Owen Bennett Jones and his guests as they discuss ethnic division, democracy and autocracy in Africa. (Photo of voter's marked finger in Kenyan election by Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images) (NB: This audio has been altered from its original format due to an inaccuracy.)
From The Real Story on Oct. 20, 2017, 9 a.m.
After its traumatic defeat in the Second World War, Japan turned its back on military power and concentrated instead on economic growth. Japan’s alliance with the US was enough to protect it from threats in the Cold War. But times have changed. China has now overtaken Japan in both economic growth and military spending. And while China flexes new found muscles, Japan’s watches as North Korean missiles fly over its territory. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono announced last month that Tokyo would be seeking a greater role in world affairs, including boosting its military. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quick to establish a relationship with Donald Trump. But is the anti-globalist and America-first President a solid ally? This week on Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and his guests looks at how Japan is responding to threats – and how a tougher new posture might affect the world. (Photo: Ships sail in formation behind the flag of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force during a naval fleet review. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Oct. 13, 2017, 9 a.m.
A nuclear weapon in the hands of the Ayatollahs has long been a nightmare of Iran's opponents in the Middle East and beyond. So when, in 2015, the world's big powers signed a deal with Iran that prevented it from developing a nuclear bomb it was seen as a triumph for diplomacy. But the deal has always had its critics. US hawks want to scrap it or at least bring Iran back to the negotiating table. President Trump is listening, calling the deal 'an embarrassment' and 'the worst deal ever'. On Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of guests discuss the deal's faults and merits, and explore whether or not it has made the world a safer place. (Photo of an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Oct. 6, 2017, 9 a.m.
We live in dangerous times. Conflicts in the Middle East continue unabated; President Trump threatens to "totally destroy" North Korea; and Catalonia opts to secede from Spain with potentially violent consequences. UN Secretary General, António Guterres recently said “We are in a world in pieces. We need to be a world at peace”. So why is it so hard to resolve conflicts and what makes an effective peace-maker? On Newshour Extra this week, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss the art of conflict resolution and the people who make it possible. Photo: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin display their Nobel Peace Prizes December 10, 1994 in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on Sept. 29, 2017, 9 a.m.
What’s so important about having your own country? On Monday many Kurds in Northern Iraq voted for independence, and the Spanish government is seeking to stop a separatist referendum in Catalonia this Sunday. But why do many Iraqi Kurds and Catalans want an independent state given that both regions already have a large degree of autonomy? Is it about national identity or economic independence? Are there common themes or is every case unique? And what are the legal precedents for secession? Owen Bennett Jones and his guests look at self-determination, secession, and what it means to be a nation. (Photo: students in Barcelona demonstrating in favour of Catalan independence. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Sept. 22, 2017, 9 a.m.
With journalists disbelieved, politicians distrusted, judges called ‘enemies of the people’, and scientists and experts dismissed out of hand, established democracies seem to be undergoing a crisis of trust. But what has caused it: growing affluence, austerity, growing inequality, the social media, or aggressive journalists? To what extent is the old democratic model damaged? Or is democracy becoming so advanced, is the attack on unelected authority so vigorous, that liberal democracies are starting to undermine themselves from within? Does the erosion of trust matter, and if so how can it be rebuilt? This week on Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss trust and the lack of it. (Photo: A man dressed in blue surgical scrubs holds up a large syringe. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Sept. 15, 2017, 9 a.m.
The trail of wrecked buildings, overturned cars, and broken boats in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma have reminded the world of the ferocious power of nature. Extreme weather events are becoming more common, more destructive, and much more costly. So who foots the bill to pick up the pieces? The global insurance industry is unable to cover the mounting losses. Meanwhile, governments hesitate to make taxpayers plug the growing gap between damage and the cost of repair. There is also hot debate over to what extent climate change is to blame and by extension what responsibility big industry and the developed world carry. This week on Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of expert guests looks at how we are going to pay the price that comes with extreme weather. (Photo: A woman walks on a street on the French Caribbean island of Saint-Martin after it was hit by Hurricane Irma. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Sept. 8, 2017, 9 a.m.
As tens of thousands of Muslim Rohingya refugees flee Myanmar for Bangladesh we ask who's responsible for the violence in Rakhine state that's forcing them out. It all looked so different two years ago when Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won landmark elections in Myanmar at the start of what looked like a new era for the country, free from dominance by the army. On this week on Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss what has gone wrong in Myanmar and ask why Aung San Suu Kyi - who made her reputation defending human rights - is refusing to denounce the military's actions against the Rohingya. Photo: Rohingya refugees from Myanmar's Rakhine state arriving at the Bangladeshi border. Getty Images
From The Real Story on Sept. 1, 2017, 9 a.m.
The spread of smartphones has come with increasing rates of depression in teenagers. Psychologists are debating whether too much time online and looking at screens is causing rising rates of obesity, depression and even suicide, or whether these problems are - for some reason - affecting all of society including teenagers. (Photo: Teenager using smart phone in bed. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Aug. 25, 2017, 9 a.m.
The violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia - which left one woman dead and many others injured - have intensified the debate about the hundreds of statues and plaques commemorating Confederate leaders right across the United States. So, what is the best way to remember troubled history? Should monuments be re-named, removed or ignored? Does pushing for more removals risk inflaming the identity politics at the root of the clashes in Charlottesville? Plus - what parallels are there with the UK, where events in the US have renewed debate about the many monuments to historical figures in Britain? Owen Bennett-Jones and a panel of guests debate what should be done about statues that offend. (Photo of the statue of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, in Charlottesville, Virginia by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Aug. 18, 2017, 9 a.m.
Facial recognition technology - once a thing of science fiction - is coming to a screen near you. It’s already helping to smooth our travel experiences and assisting police to track and arrest suspects. Facial recognition offers alternatives to fingerprints, passwords and PINs. So where will the technology improve our security, and where will it ‘nudge’ our behaviour? What does it mean for society when corporations can increasingly recognise us as individuals? Are laws and procedures keeping up with the technology – particularly when it’s abused or it goes wrong? Plus - are there warnings in the widespread way the technology is being applied In China? Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss how facial recognition is quietly changing the way we live. (Photo: Facial recognition system showing a blue interface with a human head and biometrics data. Credit Maxiphoto/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Aug. 11, 2017, 9 a.m.
As the 70th anniversary of the partition of British India approaches, Owen Bennett Jones is in Pakistan. In the massive, energetic, creative and sometimes violent city of Karachi, Owen and his guests ask how successful has Pakistan been, what was its purpose and have these goals been fulfilled? Also, was it meant to be an Islamic state at its birth and if so, how has that project gone? Pakistanis often blame foreign powers for their problems but how fair is that? Join Owen for Newshour Extra as we consider Pakistan's record and ask where the country might be heading. (Photo: a Pakistani labourer hangs wedding fabrics to dry after the dyeing process in Lahore. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Aug. 4, 2017, 9 a.m.
In 2014 Narendra Modi's BJP returned to power winning a majority in India's parliament. He offered a billion Indians a blend of pro-business economics and a vision of India as primarily a Hindu state. In recent months, Muslims and Dalits - formerly known as untouchables - have been beaten and sometimes killed on suspicion of having slaughtered cows, which are sacred to many Hindus. So as India approaches the 70th anniversary of its independence Owen Bennett Jones is in Delhi to discuss with a panel of experts the BJP's Hindu Nationalism and ask how much of threat is it to India's secular republic. (Photo by Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on July 28, 2017, 9 a.m.
Water supplies are coming under pressure in many parts of the world. Too much water is taken out of rivers or pumped from underground aquifers to be sustainable. While water has been used as a weapon of war for centuries, could its scarcity become a cause of future conflicts? With a finite supply of fresh water and increasing demands being placed on it, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss the consequences on food production and social stability of an increasingly strained water supply for the planet's growing population. (Photo: waterfall Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on July 21, 2017, 9 a.m.
Half of all people born in industrialised countries today can expect to live to 100. What implications does that have for individuals and for societies around the world? Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss the many issues arising from an ageing society and ask whether one day we could live forever. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on July 14, 2017, 9 a.m.
'Their fictitious state has fallen,' announced an Iraqi spokesman following the retaking of Mosul this week after a long and brutal battle with Islamic State militants. With IS also in retreat in Raqqa in neighbouring Syria, regarded by the militants as the capital of their caliphate, how will they respond? Will IS dwindle into fragmented criminal gangs or can it regroup, re-arm, and continue to recruit foreign fighters to the cause? Will it continue to inspire militants from Libya to the Philippines? This week on Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of experts look at the future of one of the most successful Islamist groups of recent times and ask how will IS fight back? (Photo of man removing Islamic State flag by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on July 7, 2017, 9 a.m.
Globalisation is under fire. Many voters in Britain and America have turned against it, and in President Trump protectionism has found a champion. But the promoters of globalisation are regrouping. As the G20 group of countries with the largest economies meets in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to keep working towards an interconnected world. And China is working on a massive infrastructure programme to stimulate trade flows. This week on Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss whether the era of free trade is at risk and which countries will provide leadership in pushing globalisation forward. (Image: The main gates of the Tata steelworks in Wales. Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
From The Real Story on June 30, 2017, 9 a.m.
Cost, coverage, choice - some of the trade-offs needed to make a healthy nation. As the US Congress struggles to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act - widely known as Obamacare - we ask what makes for a good healthcare system and how does society as a whole get value for money? Is it an insurance based system, like many used world wide, or is a single payer system like Britain's National Health System better and more fair? (Photo: People protesting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on June 23, 2017, 9 a.m.
Greece has been through dark economic times over the past decade. Last week a European Union loan of 8.5bn Euros enabled Greece to meet its latest debt payments. The IMF says this deal will help Greece stand on its own feet again over the course of the next year. But after the years of austerity and hardship, do the Greek people believe this will do anything to improve their lives? For Newshour Extra this week, Owen Bennett Jones is in Athens to discuss the consequences of living with long-term austerity and the prognosis for economic recovery. Photo: Anti-austerity protest in Athens, May 2017. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on June 16, 2017, 9 a.m.
Qatar has been economically and diplomatically isolated by its powerful neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain. They accuse the small Gulf state of supporting terrorist groups and of being too close to the regional Shia power-house Iran. While Qatar enjoys large revenues from oil and gas, it is also highly dependent on imports to feed its population of 2.7 million. So the cutting of trade links is already starting to have an impact with seaports in the region now closed to Qatari-flagged vessels. This week on Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss why Qatar’s Arab neighbours have turned against it and how will a dangerous situation be defused. Photo: a Saudi woman and a boy walking past the Qatar Airways branch in the Saudi capital Riyadh, after it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia following a severing of relations between major gulf states and gas-rich Qatar. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on June 9, 2017, 7:50 p.m.
The UK election has produced a much closer result than expected, with the Conservative Party now seeking to form a minority government. On Newshour Extra this week, Owen Bennett Jones and his panel of experts from around the world take a step back and ask what issues voters really take into account when making their choice in democratic elections; what motivates that very personal choice; and whether old ideologies allegiances have been swept aside to be replaced by new and stronger ties fostered by a more individual brand of politics.
From The Real Story on June 2, 2017, 9 a.m.
Brazil has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals in recent years - Operation 'Car Wash' is just one of the many ongoing investigations that stretch into the highest levels of business and politics. President Michel Temer is himself implicated in a scandal that could well bring his term of office to an early end - making him the country's second president ousted within a year. His approval ratings are rock bottom, street protests against him are growing, and the Supreme Court has now ordered him to answer police questions about the allegations against him. On this week's Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests ask how Brazil, once hailed as a bright hope of emerging BRICS nations, has reached this point of crisis and whether the corruption investigations can clean up the mess. Photo: Two Brazilian students shows their hands with the slogan: 'Enough of Corruption' written on them. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on May 26, 2017, 9 a.m.
In the wake of the suicide bomb attack at a concert venue in Manchester, Newshour Extra this week is asking how major cities around the world can minimise the risk to their citizens from such atrocities. Owen Bennett Jones and his guests consider urban security, counter-terrorism, and the compromises different cities make between civil liberties and public safety. Photo: an armed policeman and a soldier patrol the streets of London, 24th May 2017. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on May 19, 2017, 9 a.m.
President Trump’s connections with Russia is a story that won’t go away. There are so many allegations flying around that it can be difficult to separate what is actually known and what is rumour. The President and his supporters have one key point - that despite all the coverage and official investigations, there is still no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Nor is there evidence that Trump’s business connections to Russia are other than legitimate. But did Russia try to influence the election outcome? And what about the stream of stories linking members of Trump’s team to Russia? As a special counsel is appointed to oversee the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election, Owen Bennett Jones and panel of expert guests marshal the facts and explain what is known for sure about Donald Trump’s longstanding relationship with Russia. Photo: Donald Trump in White House talking on phone to President Putin, 28 January 2017. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on May 12, 2017, 9 a.m.
Next week Iranians go to the polls to elect a new president. But how much of a choice do they really have? All six candidates are men, and all six have been chosen by the unelected Guardian Council. The members of the Council are selected by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has himself never stood for election. So how different are the views of each of the candidates and how much power will the next president have to set a new direction for the country? At a time when the world is looking at Iran following its nuclear deal with the west, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss what difference this presidential election will make. Photo: Woman voting in Iranian parliamentary elections 2016. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on May 5, 2017, 9 a.m.
Science has changed the world - it helps us live longer and more productive lives. It helps us communicate, explore the universe, understand our planet and cure our illnesses. It's so powerful a force that it has undermined confidence in religion and challenged humans to rethink their purpose. Yet some of science's keenest advocates fear that there is a problem with science, that there is something wrong with the way it is currently practiced and this at a time when science is under attack not just from old fashioned creationists but from people opposed to vaccination, climate change deniers and those who are suspicious it serves the interest of big corporations. So, are there fundamental problems with the way science is done today? Join Owen Bennett Jones with his guests this week discussing how science can live up to its promise. Photo: Cancer research laboratory, Cambridge UK. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on April 28, 2017, 9 a.m.
Donald Trump came into the White House promising to tear up the US foreign policy playbook: Russia could be a friend, NATO was ‘obsolete’, and trade deals hurt American jobs. In his first hundred days has President Trump carried out his radical promises or is he beginning to sense the limitations of the most important job in the world? This week on Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of expert guests discuss Mr Trump’s remaking of American foreign policy.
From The Real Story on April 21, 2017, 9 a.m.
Is the increasingly autocratic brand of populism adopted by Hungary’s right-wing government becoming a laboratory for right wing parties around the world? Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s tough policy against Muslim migrants and his call to defend Europe’s Christian civilisation have put him at odds with the rest of the European Union. On Newshour Extra this week, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests discuss this Hungarian vision of an ‘illiberal democracy’ and ask whether what was once considered on the edge of the European right, is now becoming an increasingly mainstream ideology.
From The Real Story on April 14, 2017, 9 a.m.
Highly sophisticated techniques to ‘micro-target’ voters, using personal data and demographics have been credited with contributing to the recent outcomes of both the Brexit vote in the UK and Donald Trump’s victory in America. Strategists involved in the forthcoming elections in France and Germany ignore these latest methods at their peril. But can techniques used in marketing to sell cars and toothpaste really be effective in predicting and then manipulating voters in an election? Join Owen Bennett Jones and his guests on Newshour Extra as they discuss what part micro-targeting will have in the politics of tomorrow.
From The Real Story on April 7, 2017, 9 a.m.
How will President Trump's pledge to remove illegal immigrants and create jobs for Americans impact America's agricultural heartlands? Owen Bennett Jones and his guests are in the rural American state of Nebraska to discuss whether Mr Trump's trade policies could in fact hurt farming communities rather than help them. Photo: Nebraska cattle farmer. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on March 31, 2017, 9 a.m.
The state of Minnesota is home to America’s largest Somali community. This week, Owen Bennett Jones and the Newshour Extra team are there for a special edition of the programme. In front of a live audience, Owen and his guests will examine the impact of President Trump’s executive order to exclude immigrants from majority-muslim countries including Somalia. Mr Trump argues that current immigration laws leave America vulnerable to domestic terror attacks by nationals from those ‘high risk’ countries. So what does this mean for the more than 150,000 Somalis who now live in the United States, many of whom are refugees from conflict in their home country? And what does the future hold for a migrant community President Trump has called a ‘disaster’ for Minnesota. Photo: Members of the Somali community campaigning in Minnesota State elections, Nov 2016. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on March 24, 2017, 9 a.m.
South Sudan, the world’s newest state, faces a humanitarian catastrophe from famine driven by conflict. According to the United Nations many millions are threatened by severe food insecurity, with at least 100,000 facing starvation. Aid agencies are gearing up their efforts to reach some of the country’s remotest regions, but the presence of armed groups makes food distribution difficult. This week on Newshour Extra, Owen Bennett Jones and his guests ask why South Sudan, rich in oil and gas, has failed to live up to the aspirations of its people and what can be done to bring it back from the brink. Photo: Child at an MSF malnutrition centre in Aweil, South Sudan. Credit: Getty Images
From The Real Story on March 17, 2017, 9 a.m.
This week the UK’s parliament gave Prime Minister Theresa May permission to trigger the process that will take the UK out of the European Union. Two years of negotiations will follow. But what kind of deal should Mrs May go for? Hard Brexit that treats the EU like any other trading partner, or something much closer? On this week’s Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and a panel of experts sift through the tough choices facing Britain over the next two years. (Photo: Brexit Sandcastles. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on March 10, 2017, 10:05 a.m.
Pakistan was conceived of as a country where Muslims could live free of Hindu domination and discrimination but was that the extent of the project? Was it meant to be a country in which Muslims could live safely or was the idea to establish an Islamic state? And is, in fact, an Islamic state the final goal of Muslims? Are there ways of blending the ideas of Islam with systems of government that do not take a view on religion and allow individuals to live their religious lives as they see fit? On this week’s Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones is in the Pakistani capital Islamabad to find out whether an Islamic state is possible in the modern world. The guests this week are Zubair Safdar, Public Policy Analyst and Media Coordinator of the Jamaat-e-Islami political party, Dr Soumia Aziz, Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Islamic International University, Islamabad, and Mosharraf Zaidi, the leader of Alif Ailaan, a political campaign that helps to address Pakistan’s education crisis, and also a columnist and former government adviser. Owen Bennett Jones was also speaking to lawyers Asma Jahangir and Justice Muhammad Raza Khan (Photo: Pakistan's national flag Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on March 3, 2017, 9 a.m.
If we had the scientific capability to bring back extinct species should we do it? Which ones would we choose and why? How about woolly mammoths roaming across the Arctic tundra, or vast flocks of passenger pigeons – once the most numerous birds on earth – back in our skies again? Scientists believe they are on the threshold of the technologies that could make all this possible. But could the power to bring animals back make us more complacent about their extinction? And what might the consequences be for the habitats into which they’re introduced? On this week’s Newshour Extra Owen Bennett Jones and his guests take a step back from the global news agenda to consider one of the great challenges facing biological and environmental scientists today. (Photo: artist's impression of a woolly mammoth. Credit: Thinkstock)
From The Real Story on Feb. 24, 2017, 9 a.m.
A presidential race for the Elysee Palace that has torn up the rule book is nearing its tumultuous conclusion. France’s two main parties have cast aside their old leaders and an independent candidate, Emmanuel Macron - the youthful leader of a new left-leaning movement ‘En Marche’ - is now widely seen as the front runner. The only certainty throughout has been the strong support for the far-right Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, riding high in the polls on the populist, anti-establishment policies. Join Owen Bennett Jones and his guests as they discuss which two candidates will make it through to the second round in May, and what the consequences will be for France and the rest of Europe.
From The Real Story on Feb. 17, 2017, 9 a.m.
Six years ago this week the brutal repression of a protest in Libya's second city of Benghazi inspired a revolution that led to the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Today the country is preyed on by more than 1500 militias. Different governments rule in the west around Tripoli and in the east from Tobruk. Now some international powers are considering abandoning the ineffectual UN-led attempts to find political solutions and instead are turning once again to a Libyan military leader to seize control. General Khalifa Haftar commander of a powerful militia, the Libyan National Army, is seen by his supporters as the only man to restore stability to the country. But his critics argue that the last thing Libya needs is a return to the rule of a strongman. (Photo: General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Feb. 10, 2017, 10:23 a.m.
Robots, artificial intelligence and automation are spreading beyond the assembly line to compete for many of our jobs. Economists forecast that as many as half of current jobs in the developed world could be lost to computers in a generation, and as many as two-thirds in manufacturing-heavy China. But what about the new jobs that will emerge? And could we be at the threshold of a world in which robots do all the unpleasant work leaving us free finally, in the words of JM Keynes, to learn how to live ‘wisely, agreeably and well’? (Photo: Robot hand holding an apple. Credit: Getty Images)
From The Real Story on Feb. 3, 2017, 9 a.m.
Steve Bannon is widely seen as one of the most influential – and in some quarters one of the most dangerous - men in President Trump’s administration. He holds the key post of White House Chief Strategist, but who is he and what does he really believe? Join Owen Bennett Jones and his guests on Newshour Extra this week as they consider Mr Bannon's influence in the future direction of policy. How will his mix of right and left-wing views shape President Trump’s economic plans? How might his interest in fringe historical theories impact on social and foreign policy? And what are the consequences of his belief that the Judeo-Christian West is facing an existential crisis in its confrontation with the Islamic world?