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October 18, 2019
Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson has a newly struck European Union divorce deal in hand. He has defied the expectations of many, but he still faces a tricky vote in Britain’s parliament. Turkey’s pummelling of the Syrian border area will pause for five days, but the decline of America’s role and image in the region has not been halted. And the burgeoning business of therapeutic psychedelics. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 17, 2019
Our journalists interview Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president, about his efforts to clean up his country and his party. He’s the right man for the job, but the clock is ticking. The markets are rife with funds run by computers, but handing decisions to the machines comes with plenty of risk. And how political polarisation is driving a new dictionary of discourtesy. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 16, 2019
Amid the growing disquiet in Hong Kong are a few survivors of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. These once-moderate voices are changing their minds about whether the protesters should keep provoking the Chinese government. Even as a currency crisis unfolds, Lebanon’s central bank is keeping things stable—so far. The bank has a solid history, in part because of one man who guarded a pile of Ottoman gold. And an effort to wrangle the dialects of the Canadian Arctic. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 15, 2019
Twelve candidates take to the stage again tonight, with two clear front-runners. We ask how the winnowing field reflects the mood of the party. We also examine an unlikely candidate in a lesser-watched race: that for the Republican nomination. And, why the shattering of the two-hour-marathon mark has much to do with snazzy footwear. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 14, 2019
Turkey’s violent strikes on north-eastern Syria came as swiftly as America’s withdrawal. The overwhelmed Kurds, once America’s staunch allies against Islamic State, now want protection from Syria’s Russian-backed forces. “Microfinance” experiments are intended to alleviate poverty, but in Sri Lanka one trial has gone badly wrong. And, why China’s 30m truckers aren’t the folk heroes they might be elsewhere. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 11, 2019
It is at once a post-communist success story and a case of populist threats to the rule of law. What direction will Poles choose for their country? Gay rights are few and far between in China, but couples have found protection in a little loophole in guardianship law. And, how Elvis Presley’s last flash in Las Vegas changed the city forever. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 10, 2019
The White House is stonewalling the impeachment inquiry. Could that hinder the Democrats’ ability to build a strong public case? We look at this year’s crop of Nobel prizes in the sciences and ask why, once again, all the winners are men. And, Japan’s government-led efforts to match lonely urbanites with rural folk. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 9, 2019
Two months after India’s Hindu-nationalist government stripped the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy, 7m people are still in limbo. How will it end? Could America’s angrily partisan politics be explained by a rise in loneliness? We visit the Midwest to find out. And, companies are going big on “financial wellness” initiatives for their employees. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 8, 2019
The president’s sudden talk of departure from a contested strip of the Turkey-Syria border betrays the Kurds who helped beat back Islamic State—and risks throwing the region into chaos. A look at the cashew industry in Mozambique reveals the tricky trade-offs between agriculture and development. And, an unusual opera outlining the life and letters of birth-control pioneer Marie Stopes. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 7, 2019
Chinese and American trade negotiators will again be trying to avoid more eye-watering tariffs this week; meanwhile a years-long dispute with the European Union has sparked yet more levies. Where does it all end? We describe the recent “quantum supremacy” result, and what it realistically means for computing’s future. And, the coming submersion of 12,000 years of human history in Turkey. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 4, 2019
A phone call between the presidents has on one side of the Atlantic sparked an impeachment inquiry. But how do the people of Ukraine view the kerfuffle? Massive student protests put Indonesia’s president in a bind, balancing his programme of reforms and growth against uncomfortable social pressures. And, a revealing read through the Democratic presidential contenders’ autobiographies. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 3, 2019
Political deadlock in Israel is now inextricably intertwined with a case against the prime minister. An eventual coalition could provide him with immunity, or could seal his political fate. The signature social reform of Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, faces furious opposition—but it might be even more risky for him not to pursue it. And, South Korea’s beauty industry has gone global, even as its biggest cosmetics retailer struggles. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 2, 2019
A long-running dispute between the president and the opposition-controlled Congress has spun out of control—and it’s not clear who will end up leading the country. A visit to a protest camp in coal-country Kentucky is a revealing look into several of America’s divides. And, why India has ended up with a 7m-tonne pile of sugar. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
October 1, 2019
As at the founding of the People’s Republic, the 70th anniversary featured a tightly controlled parade bristling with the country’s latest military kit. That marks a sharp contrast to the growing chaos in Hong Kong, where a protest spirit has sparked new art, and an impromptu anthem. And, we ask if hot-desking costs employees more than companies are saving. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 30, 2019
Lawmakers are back in Parliament while the ruling party is elsewhere, laying out its legislative mission. The Tories are divided, more scandals are arising and the only consistent message is “Get Brexit done”. We meet a Georgian film-maker whose love story challenges the country’s socially conservative mores. And, how young people’s blood may hold secrets that can halt ageing. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 27, 2019
The country is set for another violent and disputed election. But the fact that Afghans will head to the polls anyway is an encouraging story. Insurance could mitigate the risks that climate change presents to lives and livelihoods—if it weren’t threatening the insurance industry, too. And, a look back at the life of Jan Ruff O’Herne, a courageous war-rape survivor. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 26, 2019
President Donald Trump’s call to his Ukrainian counterpart is under ever-greater scrutiny. An unexpected impeachment inquiry has started; how will it end? For the world’s small-island states, climate change is literally an existential concern. So they’ve banded together to become a potent negotiating force. And, why India’s science funding features so much mysticism and cow dung. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 25, 2019
Once again, Britain’s prime minister has been thwarted, this time for trying to stymie Parliament as the European departure looms. How will Boris proceed, and how will Brexit progress? We take a look at economists’ rise to policy prominence, and what they did wrong when they got there. And, a surprisingly cheery Congolese doomsday sect. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 24, 2019
President Donald Trump’s critics say a telephone call with his Ukrainian counterpart would reveal his most egregious offence yet. But it’s hard to say what would tip lawmakers into pursuing impeachment. Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel agency has folded—but that’s not to say package holidays are passé. And, what the reviews of a propaganda film reveal about China’s international infrastructure efforts. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 23, 2019
International sanctions have crimped the regime, and the country’s people. Yet President Nicolás Maduro is still in charge. The only way out is for him to share power, not relinquish it. The “internet of things” will eventually comprise perhaps a trillion connected devices—each a tempting target for hackers. And, how cities came to be, and why they’ve been such a draw through the millennia. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 20, 2019
As the Global Climate Strike gets under way, we look at all matters climatic. History shows that fervent debate—and self-interested misinformation—go back to the mid-20th century. Uncertainties in scientists’ climate models are swamped by uncertainties about what people will do. And, plenty of people are already adapting to climate change, but that presents its own risks. Finally, climate-minded artists add their voices to the debates. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 19, 2019
Artificial intelligence is making its way into every aspect of life, including military conflict. We look at the thorny legal and ethical issues that the newest arms race raises. Three executives from Fukushima’s melted-down nuclear-power plant were cleared of negligence today, but the disaster’s aftermath is far from over. And, what a swish new Chinese restaurant in Havana says about China-Cuba relations. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 18, 2019
In the 20th century Russia was the more powerful partner. Take a look at the flows of money and influence today, though, and it’s clear the situation has reversed. Part-time work first took hold because it offered flexibility to women just entering the labour market—but it costs them both in terms of pay and prospects. And, a look at the burgeoning sports-betting market in Ethiopia. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 17, 2019
The country has never had two elections in a year, and the second looks to be as close-run as the first. Could that at last spell the end of the Binyamin Netanyahu era? A mysterious illness linked to e-cigarettes has now killed seven Americans—but vaping is still less dangerous smoking. Also, we consider the lobster roll, and a wider truth it reveals about lunch economics. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 16, 2019
Strikes on the world’s largest refinery are bad news for the state oil firm ahead of a record-breaking stock listing—and worse news for the proxy war between Iran and America. Another coming listing is that of WeWork; we consider whether the office-rental firm can prove its critics wrong. And, how the Spanish Inquisition is affecting some Europhile British Jews. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 13, 2019
He was once a liberal reformer, but now no institution is safe from Viktor Orban’s iron grip. His transformation into an autocrat is a troubling lesson about the decline of liberal democracies. Afghanistan’s drug trade has for decades mostly meant opium and heroin; thanks to a native bush, now methamphetamines are on the rise. And, a look at the resurgent musical genre called yacht rock. Additional audio: Soundsnap For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 12, 2019
The tech giant finds itself enmeshed in a broad battle between China and America. But Huawei’s boss has an idea that might extricate it: selling off its 5G crown jewels. The battle isn’t only in technology; the documentary “American Factory” examines what happens when a Chinese company comes to Ohio. And, the surprising ease of shutting down an airport using drones. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 11, 2019
Migrants have become a convenient scapegoat for South Africans frustrated by a slumping economy and rampant unemployment—and for the politicians who might otherwise take the blame. We take a look at the ever-sharper divisions in America’s abortion debate. And, why the improbably complex business of getting cabs in Beirut is preferred over disrupters like Uber. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 10, 2019
Parliament is suspended for weeks. The Conservative party has been hollowed out. The prime minister’s hopes for an election have been dashed, twice. What does all this portend for the Tory party? And a special election in a solidly Republican district in North Carolina may shed light on President Donald Trump’s re-election chances. Also, a look at the unsung human superpower of language. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 9, 2019
President Trump has abruptly cancelled talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, raising fears of renewed internal strife. Wales dabbles in nationalism, and it could follow the Scottish push for separatism. Finally, could a deal finally be on the horizon in the US-China trade war? Our correspondent searches for answers in the well-stuffed secrets of Chinese upholstery. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 6, 2019
This weekend’s vote will fill some fairly inconsequential city positions. But how it plays out will indicate the strength of a rapidly broadening, national movement against the ruling United Russia party. China has long been repressing the Muslim-minority Uighurs; worryingly, it’s now starting to squeeze the Huis, more dispersed followers of Islam. And, a well-intentioned anti-knife-crime push in Britain draws ire after targeting fried-chicken shops. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 5, 2019
President Emmanuel Macron embarks on a serious policy challenge today over pensions. Will his efforts at reform re-ignite the protests that have dogged his presidency? And, a look at the legacies of two opposing figures of environmentalism: David Koch, a billionaire industrialist who undermined the science of climate change, and Steve Sawyer, an activist who elevated Greenpeace to a formidable global movement. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 4, 2019
Boris Johnson has lost his parliamentary majority. Conservative party rebels will now help push for a bill precluding a no-deal Brexit, making an early election look even more likely. Violence in Afghanistan continues, even as America’s negotiations with the Taliban wrap up; we ask where America’s longest war went wrong. And, unreadably long terms and conditions lead to more than consumer confusion—they break some basic economic principles. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 3, 2019
Workplace raids catch many undocumented migrants in one place. But they do nothing to tackle the criminal element that the Trump administration has so vilified. Many of the 2,000 Turkish citizens that fought alongside jihadists in Syria now want to return; the whole region is struggling with its expat extremists. And, a “culinary balance of trade” reveals which cuisine has most conquered the world’s menus. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
September 2, 2019
The territory’s authorities have used live rounds, pepper spray and water cannon with blue dye to mark participants in ever-growing protests. What else might they resort to? The Baltic states, worried about Russian expansionism, are countering the old-school spycraft of the Kremlin’s agents. And, drag acts sashay into the mainstream. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 30, 2019
There is a push in America to subscribe to a “no first use” policy on nukes, in a bid to reduce risks and anxiety. But could that actually make things less stable? We tour through South Asia, where the annual monsoon is increasingly disrupted by climate change. How will the region cope? And, a look at Taylor Swift’s off-again, on-again “Love Story” with streaming services. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 29, 2019
Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, sparked widespread outrage by suspending Parliament in the run-up to Brexit. What recourse do lawmakers still have? Taiwan’s deal to buy American fighter jets reveals wide political support for tooling up against Chinese aggression. And, the exceptional efforts to save New Zealand’s chubby parrot, the kakapo. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 28, 2019
Century-old discord is never far from the surface for the two countries, but the latest flare-up risks disrupting stability in the region. We estimate how much the grounded Boeing 737 MAX plane is costing airlines, suppliers and the planemaker itself: about $4bn a quarter. In other no-fly news, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, arrives in New York by boat. We examine data showing that she’s not the only Scandinavian with “flight shame”. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 27, 2019
The weekend summit hosted by France’s President Emmanuel Macron resulted in few concrete actions; mostly the diplomatic dance was intended to keep President Donald Trump on side. Such meetings may not always go smoothly, but they’re still worth having. We ask why Uzbekistan is at last closing Jaslyk, its notorious gulag. And, the emerging science of investigating planets in other solar systems. Additional sounds by Soundsnap. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 26, 2019
The region accounts for three-quarters of the world’s coal consumption—even as giants such as China and India consider its environmental effects and opportunities in renewables. For a while, international aid and attention were showered on Liberia; now they’re gone, things aren’t going well. And, a look at cruise lines’ new wheeze in the Caribbean: real travel it ain’t. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 23, 2019
China’s central government has made an example of the huge, Hong Kong-based carrier. Will the ploy work to quell protests in the territory, or just further rattle the nerves of its international firms? We examine the spectacular rise of Pentecostalism in Ethiopia, and its effects on the country’s politics. And, the plight of the puffin in the Faroe Islands. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 22, 2019
Britain’s prime minister is on the continent ahead of this weekend’s G7 meeting. We ask whether he’ll be able to ditch the Irish “backstop” that has become Brexit’s stickiest sticking point. We take a look at FedEx, its old-school disrupter founder and how it is itself being disrupted in the age of Amazon. And, economists tease out the long-suspected link between marijuana and the munchies. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 21, 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has pulled the rug from under the country’s government, betting that his charismatic right-wingery might win him more-complete rule. Will it work? We take a look at Latin America’s state energy giants—and find the shared ills of mismanagement, politicisation and sticky fingers. And, a curious film-making boom in Siberia. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 20, 2019
After months of unceasing protests, military leaders have struck a deal to share power with civilians, while Omar al-Bashir, the country’s deposed dictator, is in court. But can Sudan break out of its cycle of violence? We examine the curious notion that the shapes of parliamentary chambers shape the debates within them. And, politics meets choral music at Estonia’s Laulupidu festival. Additional audio of the International Criminal Court courtesy of ICC-CPI. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 19, 2019
Electricity, food, water: everything is in short supply in the country, including faith in the government’s ability to recover from Robert Mugabe’s kleptocracy. China produced a record 8.3m university graduates this year; we take a look at the changing labour market they’re entering. And, experiments in the Netherlands to house the young with the old are going remarkably well, in part because both parties benefit. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 16, 2019
Investors are piling into safe assets as markets whipsaw: what’s driving the global economy these days is anxiety. Is all the worry justified? Nestled among the conflicts and suffering in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a vast national park that is trying to make the most of its stunning natural beauty. And, why are some languages so damnably hard to learn? Additional audio by ‘sctang’ from Freesound.org. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 15, 2019
President Mauricio Macri’s thumping presidential-primary loss in Argentina left the markets fearing a left-wing resurgence. To win over voters, he’s announced a relaxation of some austerity measures. Will it be enough? In the Arctic, wildfires are rampant—and they’ll amplify the very temperature rises that caused them. And, a look at the unlikely rise of Gulf-state book fairs. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 14, 2019
Talk grows ever-louder of Britain exiting the European Union without a divorce agreement. Most parliamentarians would rather avoid that—but can they do anything to stop it? We join a Ukrainian military exercise as the country seeks to beef up defences that were nearly wiped out by Russia’s annexation of Crimea. And, China’s tech companies train their sights on the tech-savvy elderly. Additional audio: "English Dawn Chorus, Rural, late spring" by odilonmarcenaro at Freesound.org and “Puzzle Pieces” by Lee Rosevere. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 13, 2019
Companies are rushing to fill new niches for would-be parents: in vitro fertilisation extras, swish egg-harvesting “studios” and apps to track reproductive health. But some companies promise more than science can deliver. The worrying flare-up of piracy off west Africa presents new challenges and unmitigated risks to sailors. And, lessons learned from a shooting simulator for police. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 12, 2019
Over the weekend, armed rebels overran Aden, the seat of Yemen’s internationally recognised government. They had defected from a loose, Saudi-backed coalition that looks increasingly shaky. The gaming business is huge, but isn’t yet part of the streaming revolution seen in films and music; who will become the Netflix of gaming? And, an update to a 1970s book on sexuality reveals much about modern female desire, and how it’s perceived. Additional music by Rymdkraft and Kuesa. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 9, 2019
America’s envoy claimed “excellent progress” in negotiations ahead of the country’s planned exit from Afghanistan. But stickier talks await, between the Islamist militia and the Afghan government. A promising new vaccine may at last tackle typhoid fever, which claims 160,000 lives every year. And, we travel to Scotland and hop on the world’s shortest scheduled flight. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 8, 2019
Deforestation is on the rise and Brazil’s government is all but encouraging it. Beyond a certain threshold, the world’s largest rainforest will dry out into a savanna—with dire consequences. We ask why Malaysia’s reformist coalition isn’t doing much reforming of the country’s illiberal laws. And, Norway’s growing scourge of fish-smuggling. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 7, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has gutted the autonomy of the restive and disputed Jammu & Kashmir. India’s only majority-Muslim state is locked down and fearful of a vast demographic reshuffle. We meet the deep-sea divers of the oil industry, finding that their work is as dangerous as it is dependent on oil prices. And, what is a “deepfake”, how are they made and what risks do they pose? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 6, 2019
China’s central government held another press conference to address increasingly chaotic unrest in Hong Kong. A close listen reveals language that may be presaging a military intervention. There’s much to be said for employee share ownership—but a push from left-leaning politicians to mandate its availability is creating controversy. And, the dirty secret behind the exorbitant costs of music-gig tickets. Additional audio courtesy of cgeffex from Freesound.org. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 5, 2019
Two mass shootings over the weekend add to the unrelenting stream of gun violence in America. We look at the political and social forces that ensure it will continue. The collapse of Venezuela’s infrastructure has left its people desperate for medical care. We meet some of the women crossing into Colombia to seek help. And, the politics behind the ever-shifting travel advice dispensed in the Middle East. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 2, 2019
As America abandons the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty we examine the future of arms control. New weapons abound and new countries are using them, but new treaties will be hard to come by. With Baltimore in the news as President Donald Trump’s latest point of provocation, we ask how the city’s crime rates got so high, and what can be done. And, the surprising rise of rosé wine in France. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
August 1, 2019
As aid workers battle the second-worst outbreak in history, they face violence and disbelief. A history of conflict, suspicion of the rich world and wild conspiracy theories make fighting a difficult battle far harder. Architects are tackling the dark, loud, violent nature of jails to make them more about rehabilitation than retribution. And, the increasingly absurd language of job adverts. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 31, 2019
Canada’s prime minister may not have an easy campaign ahead; we sit down with Justin Trudeau to discuss his tenure so far. The country’s role as a liberal bastion seems safe, for now. Bayer is now reckoning with the problems presented by its latest acquisition, Monsanto—and it may emerge stronger. And, we meet a Mongolian band on a heavy-metal mission. Track “Remember Your Thunder” courtesy of SnakeBiteSmile For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 30, 2019
The fields of American presidential candidates just keep getting bigger, and party rules incentivise extreme views and dark-horse entrants. That might not be what’s best for either party. The fast-shipping arms race sparked by Amazon is radically reshaping how stuff gets around the world. And, on a visit to Shanghai’s flagship Lego store, we ask what makes the bricks so popular in China. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 29, 2019
Authorities in Beijing held a rare press conference addressing unrest in Hong Kong. That gives lie to the region’s “one country, two systems” governance; fears of a vicious crackdown are growing. Beneath what might seem to be advancements of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is a mess of contradictions. And, why youngsters are turning away from Facebook—but toward the social-media giant’s other platforms. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 26, 2019
Beji Caid Essebsi promised to fix the economy, re-establish security and consolidate Tunisia’s democracy—but all of that remains unresolved as the country begins its search for a new leader. Pet ownership is surging around the world, as are ways to pamper pets. Who owns whom here? And, homeopathy gets diluted as France removes its state subsidy for the pseudoscience. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 25, 2019
As promised, the special counsel revealed no more than appeared in his report into Russian election-meddling and obstruction of justice. The story hasn’t moved on, but Democrats would be wise to. Economists are returning to an old idea: that cultural forces should figure into their theories. And, a look at the blindingly fast hands—and feet, and robots—of Rubik’s Cube competitions. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 24, 2019
Rolling protests have rocked the island after leaked texts revealed the governor’s insults. But Puerto Rico’s problems are far greater than almost 900 pages of tasteless jokes. We consider the merits of challenging Latin America’s amnesties; justice might be served, but unearthing the past comes with its own perils. And, why women are so well represented among eastern Europe’s scientists. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 23, 2019
Britain has a new prime minister—who will inherit all the same problems his predecessor had. Good luck guiding a divided nation through Brexit with a paper-thin majority in parliament. Europe’s steel industry is getting hammered by tariffs and gluts, but one tucked-away mill in Austria has steeled itself for tumult. And, what single characteristic do Americans least want in their roommates? Additional audio "Fly" by Benboncan at Freesound.org. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 22, 2019
The seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf may seem counter to Iran’s international objectives. But at home, hardliners are in the ascendancy—for them, it’s a public-relations coup. The rise of populism, particularly in Europe, suggests voters are angry. But polls suggest otherwise; we dive into this “happiness paradox”. And, the curious rise in borrowing against high-end art. Additional music "Puzzle Pieces" by Lee Rosevere. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 19, 2019
Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party looks set to make big gains in Ukraine’s parliament this weekend. It must, if it wants to weaken oligarchs’ hold over the country. If space exploration and exploitation is to really take off, there’s one big thing missing: the laws to regulate it. And, we remember João Gilberto, the father of bossa nova, whose rise coincided with an all-too-brief cultural renaissance in Brazil. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 18, 2019
The opposition’s momentum has faded; many protesters are too tired to go on. Nicolás Maduro, the illegitimate president, is showing his grip on power with shows of force. Global shipping is in a slump—but a visit to the Port of Rotterdam reveals that the industry itself got the message late. And, assessing whether the internet is as ruinous to language as many assume. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 17, 2019
Ursula von der Leyen has a tough task ahead, pressing a broad agenda in a fragmented European Parliament. We take a look at the vast international collaboration that is weather prediction, where it’s heading and how climate change could make it harder. And, why the villages of Japan are where to head if you love getting close to bears. Additional sound by Solostud at Freesound.org. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 16, 2019
A dispute about industrial chemicals reveals tensions that have remained unresolved since the second world war—and threatens the global electronics market. In the Indian state of Assam, a trumped-up rule on citizenship singles out Muslims for detention and deportation. And, a look at why American and European working hours have diverged so much. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 15, 2019
There was little evidence this weekend of the widespread immigration raids long promised by President Donald Trump. But his campaign of sowing fear seems to be working. Many of China’s infrastructure projects in Africa have been costly flops, and China is tightening its purse strings. Also, Colombia’s centuries-old ceremonies under the influence of a hallucinogenic brew are bringing in tourists and new problems. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 12, 2019
The delicate diplomatic dance that America is performing during Tsai Ing-Wen’s visit hints at the island’s strategic importance. Two of the deadly blazes of Australia’s “Black Saturday” were deliberately set; we ask what makes someone start fires. And, the hunt for a cheap holiday read in France: by law books must be sold at full price, but sellers are finding ways around that. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 11, 2019
The “special relationship” has been strained this week, following the leak of frank diplomatic cables. The conditions of Sir Kim Darroch’s departure are a window into both Britain’s current politics and its future. International development projects don’t always work, and often the problem is scale: what works for a few may not work for many. And, why, in a country with a riot of regional accents, do almost all British politicians sound the same? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 10, 2019
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces increasing pressures at home and abroad, and he’s adding to them—most of all by acquiring Russian missile defences that make Turkey’s NATO allies nervous. As Colombia emerges from a half-century of conflict with FARC rebels, a government push aims to stem cocaine production; so far, it’s not going well. And, we examine the retirement homes for elderly LGBT people that are cropping up. Music courtesy of Lee Rosevere - "Introducing the Pre-roll" For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 9, 2019
For years, management at Germany’s largest bank knew the firm was in serious trouble. Why didn’t they do more? The massive cuts announced this week may be too little, too late. We consider Texas and California as political and social laboratories: which one looks like the America of the future? And, a bit of monkey archaeology shows our distant cousins have been honing their tools far longer than previously thought. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 8, 2019
For years, Syria’s Kurdish people were largely invisible: their language, flag and festivals were all suppressed. Now, in much of the country’s north and east, they rule over the Arabs who once ruled over them. A brutal murder in a sleepy German village sparks angst about a resurgent far right. And, the surprising trend of American-style debate in China. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 5, 2019
Kyriakos Mitsotakis looks likely to lead his New Democracy party to victory in this weekend’s snap election. But can he deliver on all the promises of his big-tent campaign? We examine the controversy and the politics surrounding the detention of migrants at America’s southern border. And, it’s clear that the quality of women’s football is rocketing—we’ve got the data to prove it. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 4, 2019
Russia’s president is glad-handing in Italy, where his anti-liberal roadshow resonates. But Mr Putin’s is a twisted vision of liberalism, and at home many of his compatriots see through the ruse. We examine the “Swedish model” of prostitution laws, and how the approach endangers sex workers. And, the push to make robots that can handle environments like the melted-down Fukushima Daiichi power plant. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 3, 2019
What’s behind the record-breaking economic boom and how much longer can it last? Does America’s central bank have the tools it needs to handle the inevitable downturn? The racial gap in Americans’ life expectancy is as small as it’s ever been; we examine what’s been making black lives longer. And, why spoilers are so prominent in entertainment, and how that can spoil the craft. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 2, 2019
Protesters are in a defiant mood—a hard core of them has smashed up Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. But demonstrations aren’t going to make the territory any more free. The state-owned investment vehicles known as sovereign-wealth funds are usually cautious; those of the Gulf region are proving much more adventurous and less transparent. And, a look at the future of New York’s island of the dead For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
July 1, 2019
Protesters returned to the streets of Khartoum this weekend, again with deadly consequences. We look back to last month’s violent crackdown, and consider Sudan’s troubled push for democracy. China’s swine-flu outbreaks threaten hundreds of millions of pigs—but might spark long-overdue reforms in the country’s pork industry. And, we examine San Francisco’s e-cigarette ban: if vaping is safer than smoking, should it be stubbed out? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 28, 2019
America’s highest court has handed down decisions that will shape voter representation for years to come. The rulings make clear the court’s reluctance to become politicised. As China’s and America’s leaders meet on the sidelines of the G20 gathering, we examine the likelihood that a trade war could turn into the shooting kind. And, a view from Silicon Valley, where surrogacy has become a trendy life hack. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 27, 2019
Life in Libya’s capital seems calm, even as a warlord backed by ragtag forces bids to take the city. Meanwhile the putative government can muster little political power—or electric power. We examine a miracle in Moldova: after years as a swamp of post-Soviet corruption, an anti-graft campaigner has become prime minister. And, historical data reveal the overlooked power of primary debates. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 26, 2019
A bill to recognise same-sex marriage has failed in Japan’s parliament, exposing a widening divide between the views of its politicians and the values of its people. For some officials, Burundi’s election tax is an excuse for extortion; for some citizens, a reason to flee the country. And, why you should be circumspect about that next promotion opportunity. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 25, 2019
Tensions between Iran and America are distracting from Jared Kushner’s long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. It’s got plenty of dollar signs, but no sign yet of a political solution. We ask why Argentina’s former president is now running for vice-president, and whether Argentines will want more of her populism. And, be careful what you tweet if you’re heading to America; more and more, border officials are watching. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 24, 2019
Exactly three years after the referendum result, it’s clear: Brexit has driven Britain a bit batty. We look into the grand societal divides that the vote exposed. In Istanbul, a repeat mayoral election reaches the same result: the ruling party lost. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan no longer seems so invincible. And, in Kenya, an “Uber for ambulances” saves time and lives. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 21, 2019
Charming buffoon or cunning chameleon? Welcoming liberal or snarling Brexiteer? We ask why, despite having no guiding philosophy, Boris Johnson is so likely to become Britain’s prime minister. Our obituaries editor remembers the socialite Claus von Bülow, his sensational attempted-murder trials in America and the enduring question of whether he did it. And, despite appearances, China’s and America’s film markets are growing further apart. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 20, 2019
Iran’s downing of an American drone today is just the latest source of tension between the countries. Where does it end? As facial-recognition technology improves, rising privacy concerns are hampering its adoption. And in Britain, advertisements that play to gender stereotypes are under more scrutiny from regulators and consumers. Additional music by Lee Rosevere "Puzzle Pieces". For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 19, 2019
The worldwide count of people forced from their homelands has increased sharply, again. What’s driving these movements, and what are governments doing about incoming refugees? The Democratic Republic of Congo is suffering the world’s second-largest outbreak of Ebola—we ask why it hasn’t been declared an international emergency. And, why Thailand is getting into the weed business. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 18, 2019
America’s president heads back to the Sunshine State today to announce his candidacy. What to expect this time around? Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, has died in court. We look back on his troubled leadership and ignominious end. And, this year’s Women’s World Cup is drawing much more attention than past tournaments, in part because of a long-overdue reckoning about money in the sport. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 17, 2019
Calls for the resignation of Carrie Lam, the territory’s leader, are intensifying. Hong Kongers may have put a recent freedom-crimping bill on ice, but more challenges to their independence await. We speak to the mother of a child genius who reveals the private agony of being an exceedingly clever kid. And, a new podcast in Latin gets our columnist thinking about language evolution and resurrection. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 14, 2019
America has blamed Iran for yesterday’s tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. If that’s true, Iran is playing a dangerous game that involves the whole of the region. The violent militias that control much of Rio de Janeiro might be easy to beat if they weren’t so well-connected. And, a breakaway hit reveals the racial fault lines in country music. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 13, 2019
An investigative journalist’s release may look like a press-freedom win in Russia—but it represents much more than that. Democratic presidential hopefuls have no shortage of transformative ideas, yet Senate arithmetic ensures there’s little hope of realising them. And, we visit a place where malaria rages while a cure literally grows on trees. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 12, 2019
Half of humanity is now online. What will the second half do when it logs on? The same as the first: friendly chat, personal expression and a lot of cat videos. Despite appearances, racism in America is actually going down; the problem is that America’s politics is increasingly fractured along racial lines. And, why is it that screams are so prevalent in popular culture? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 11, 2019
A proposed change to the judicial system is just the latest sign that mainland China is exerting pressure on Hong Kong’s autonomy. Authorities seem ready to quell further demonstrations. Although solitary confinement is widely condemned, it’s still common in America; we speak with an inmate who’s spent half a lifetime in solitary. And, the sheikhs of Iraq who help resolve disputes—and are available for hire. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 10, 2019
In the end, President Donald Trump’s tariff threat did what he had hoped: Mexico has pledged to tighten immigration flows. But such weaponisation of tariffs bodes ill for the future. China’s “green Great Wall” of trees—a bid to halt desertification—may be doing more harm than good. And, we meet some of the Filipino sailors who keep the global shipping industry afloat. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 7, 2019
Today Theresa May stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party, and would-be replacements are already lining up. There’s little hope that any would be able to arrange an elegant exit from Europe. Also, we take a look at the astonishing range of ailments that could be treated by magic mushrooms. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 6, 2019
European officials have threatened a substantial fine if Italy doesn’t shrink its debt and budget deficit. Whether or not it follows through, markets are already punishing the country. Tens of thousands of refugees have snuck into Canada from America, but as an election looms, the government is rethinking its openness. And, the plague of “presenteeism”: when your work is done, just go home. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 5, 2019
Nearly two months after staging a coup, military leaders have brutally cracked down on protesters in Sudan. Talks with the opposition have fallen apart—as have hopes for a resurgent Sudanese democracy. We examine the rise in gun violence in Latin America and how much of it can be pinned on American-made weapons. And, a look at the striking effects of a striker: how one footballer’s image is reducing Islamophobia in Liverpool. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 4, 2019
On the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square tragedy, our correspondents reflect on a dark and confusing day—and the Chinese government’s efforts to suppress the memory of it. Could such widespread dissent flare up in today’s China? Also, why laws requiring immigrants to speak host-nations’ languages are counter-productive. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
June 3, 2019
President Donald Trump kicks off his state visit to Britain with some opening shots at London's mayor Sadiq Khan. But larger issues will take center stage. Amid Brexit, a leadership contest and simmering security tensions, we discuss the strains to the “special relationship”. We consider how regulators and the tech giants can tackle the wilds of the internet to make browsing safe for children. And, a Ramadan drama in Saudi Arabia that reveals how the crown prince wants his kingdom to be perceived. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
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