169 episodes

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

The Briefing Room BBC

    • Podcasts

David Aaronovitch and a panel of experts and insiders present in-depth explainers on big issues in the news.

    Covid and the NHS

    Covid and the NHS

    More than 80 thousand people in the UK have now died with Covid-19; there are currently more than three million confirmed cases across the country. In the worst affected areas one person in 20 is infected. The strain on the National Health Service is immense. Even with the whole of the UK now in some form of lockdown, there are more than 35,000 people in hospital with the virus. That is around 50 per cent more than at the peak of the epidemic in the UK last spring. And, as hospitals reprioritise to deal with Covid cases, patients with other conditions are bearing the brunt. One London hospital trust announced this week it was cancelling some cancer operations. So this week we are asking if the NHS is coping with the Covid crisis.

    With Jennifer Dixon of the Health Foundation, Nigel Edwards of the Nuffield Trust, Siva Anandaciva of the King’s Fund and David Salisbury, the former head of immunisation at the Department of Health.

    Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    • 29 min
    America: what just happened?

    America: what just happened?

    The past day has been an extraordinary one in the history of modern America.

    Firstly, the Democrats secured a majority in both houses of Congress.

    Secondly, Congress certified Joe Biden’s election victory - although many Republicans challenged the votes of some states.

    Thirdly, while the political debates were underway, pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and four people died.

    David Aaronovitch is joined by an expert panel of guests to examine what just happened and what does this mean for the United States, its institutions and its politics.

    Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight and May Cameron
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    • 28 min
    Facebook's Monopoly Problem

    Facebook's Monopoly Problem

    US federal regulators and dozens of state prosecutors are suing Facebook accusing it of illegal actions in buying up rivals and stifling competition. It's one of the biggest antitrusts in US history and is one of several cases being taken against big tech companies.

    David Aaronovitch explores the case against Facebook and the evolution of antitrust law in the US. What is the basis on which these companies are being held to account, and is this law an outdated tool in confronting tech titans?

    GUESTS:
    Gilad Edelman - Political writer at Wired magazine
    Scott Hemphill - Professor of Law at the University of New York
    Lina Khan - Associate Professor at Columbia Law School
    Ariel Ezrachi - Professor of Law at the University of Oxford

    Producers: Serena Tarling, Viv Jones
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    • 28 min
    The Climate Crisis: Are We Moving Fast Enough?

    The Climate Crisis: Are We Moving Fast Enough?

    While the world’s attention has been distracted by Covid, the climate crisis has continued to pose an existential threat. But there have been significant developments this year, not least the announcement by China that it has set 2060 as the year when it will become carbon neutral.

    Joe Biden was elected president of the United States with promises to set a carbon neutral target of his own and to spend trillions of dollars on new green jobs and new green infrastructure.

    The EU, Japan and South Korea have all designated 2050 as the year they will reach net zero emissions. Meanwhile the world continues to get hotter.

    So is this all too little, too late? Hopefully not, especially, as we’ll hear, given the way that industry and finance are now reorganising.

    Contributors:

    Professor Mark Maslin of University College London

    Byford Tsang of the climate change think tank E3G

    Pete Ogden, who worked on climate change in the Obama White House and is now at the United Nations Foundation

    Dr Gabrielle Walker, a writer and consultant to private industry on climate change adaptation.

    Producers: Tim Mansel, Sally Abrahams, Kirsteen Knight
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    • 28 min
    Living with the Taliban

    Living with the Taliban

    The war in Afghanistan has just entered its twentieth year. It has come at an enormous cost, most notably to Afghan civilians, but also to Britain. Nearly 500 British military personnel have lost their lives there since 2001. But now, for the first time the Taliban and the elected Afghan government are involved in direct peace negotiations. The talks in Doha, which have been going on since September, follow an agreement reached earlier this year between the US government and the Taliban. Under that agreement the US promised to withdraw its remaining troops within 14 months and the Taliban said it would cut all ties with terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. The Taliban’s place at the negotiating table reflects its strength on the ground in Afghanistan as a fighting force; and it implies that it the way is open for a return to government in Kabul. But, given memories of public executions, the exclusion of women from public life, and the banning of music and kite flying, how acceptable will that be to the Afghan people? And how easy will it be for western governments to do business with the Taliban?

    David Aaronovitch is joined by:
    Lyse Doucet, the BBC's Chief International Correspondent
    Orzala Neemat, Director of the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit,
    Annie Pforzheimer, a former deputy Head of Mission at the US Embassy in Kabul.

    Producers: Tim Mansel, Kirsteen Knight, Sally Abrahams
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    • 28 min
    Brexit: Is It Oven Ready?

    Brexit: Is It Oven Ready?

    With just weeks to go till the Brexit transition period ends, David Aaronovitch and The Briefing Room team explore Britain’s readiness for 2021. What will it mean for you? What have supermarkets, airlines, businesses, ports and the government done to get ready – and will it be enough?

    Producers: Serena Tarling, Kirsteen Knight, Sally Abrahams
    Editor: Jasper Corbett

    • 57 min

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