Insight, wit and analysis as BBC correspondents, journalists and writers take a closer look at the stories behind the headlines. Presented by Kate Adie and Pascale Harter.
This week, the Irish Taoiseach described the findings of an official report into decades of abuse of women and children at mother and baby homes as a “dark, difficult and very shameful chapter of very recent Irish history.” The report acknowledged the harsh treatment was supported and condoned by the Irish State and the country’s churches. Those who survived the homes battled with long running prejudices and emotional scars, finds Chris Paige.
Indonesian airlines have one of the worst safety records in Asia. The fatal crash on January 9th has again raised questions about how safe the country’s airlines are and brought back painful memories. The BBC’s Asia editor, Rebecca Henschke, reports.
There’s been a sluggish start to Covid vaccinations in many parts of the EU complicated by public resistance and disinformation. In the Czech Republic, anti-vaccination activists made international headlines this week by wearing yellow Stars of David, claiming they were being ostracised just as Jews were in Nazi Germany. Rob Cameron has more.
Somalia has been in a state of conflict for three decades and this is reflected in media coverage of the region. And yet, life goes on, with even a construction boom in Mogadishu. Mary Harper, the BBC’s Africa editor found that Somalis are tiring of stereotypes about their country as a place of violence and suffering.
In Nova Scotia - the lobster season usually starts late in November and finishes in May – and between those months, most fishermen are not allowed to catch the crustaceans. But thanks to a treaty, signed with the British in 1761, the Mi’kmaq people are exempt from this and can fish all year round. One businessman is doing rather well out of it much to the consternation of those who do not have these rights, finds Greg Mercer.
Presenter: Kate Adie
Producer: Serena Tarling
President Trump’s Legacy
In Washington, he storming of Capitol Hill this week by President Trump’s supporters has dominated headlines, but many political pundits said that this should not have taken people by surprise. Anthony Zurcher has covered the White House throughout Donald Trump’s term in office – he charts the clear path that led to this moment, from President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
On Thursday, Uganda will go to the polls pitting two very different presidential candidates against each other. Yoweri Museveni has served five consecutive terms and his main challenger, the charismatic Bobi Wine has galvanised support among the youth. But can it guarantee Bobi Wine victory? Our Africa correspondent, Catherine Byaruhanga has been finding out.
One day in April , 2015 an old fishing boat overloaded with refugees and migrants sank en route to Italy from Libya – drowning more than a thousand people. Then Italian Prime Minister declared the Italians would salvage the shipwreck and recover the corpses. The boat was raised from the seabed and transported to Sicily. Linda Pressly met the man in charge.
Deep among the frosty pines in Baden-Württemberg, a factory is manufacturing the industrial freezers that are needed to keep the supplies of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at extreme cold temperatures. Germany's Covid infection and death rates are rising steeply. It’s a race against time as the vaccine is rolled out. Jenny Hill visited the factory dealing with a huge influx of new orders.
And we visit Venezuela which has been suffering a deep socio-economic crisis for years. But our correspondent Katy Watson found out on a recent trip to the Hotel Humboldt, which overlooks Caracas, there are those who have benefitted.
Key moments of 2020 reported by our correspondents
Kate Adie reflects on key moments of 2020 with some of the most thought provoking dispatches by our correspondents.
Andrew Harding, who covers Africa and is based in Johannesburg, spends a lot of his time travelling around the continent to witness events at first hand. The Coronavirus pandemic put a stop to much of that but he still had a dramatic story to tell in the autumn. He reflected on the somewhat ironic parallels he was seeing as he compared the situation within Africa with that of another key country in the world which was facing a significant election.
Afghanistan is a country where it’s not easy to define the term outrage. Violence there has not abated despite peace talks between the government and the Tailiban. But an attack on Kabul University on November 2nd sent shock waves across the country and beyond. At least 35 people were left dead and 50 seriously wounded. Photographs of the murdered students and their blood-stained classrooms spread widely through Afghan social media. Lyse Doucet spoke to one university lecturer about the students he lost and the damage done to Afghanistan’s hopes for the future.
The death of George Floyd, an African American living in Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota last summer triggered mass demonstrations across America and the world. He died whilst under arrest as a white police office knelt on his neck. Derek Chauvin has since been charged with murder. There was fury about police brutality and racist treatment of black Americans. In a country which has a massive gap between the richest and poorest, Emma Sapong, an African American journalist based in Minnesota reports that there is more than money that separates white and black lives there.
The enormous blast in Beirut's port in August killed 200 people in the city and injured thousands. Buildings were destroyed and lives up-ended after stock piles of ammonium nitrate caught alight and exploded. People took to the streets to protest at a political elite who they accuse of mismanagement and negligence. One of those who was badly hurt was Leila Molana Allen, a journalist in the city. But as she reports, in the immediate aftermath she realised that her dog was missing.
2020 will be remembered by many as a year of lock downs and restrictions as countries around the world battled to control the coronavirus pandemic. It was a way of living that most of us had never experienced before and we all longed for a return to normality. Our correspondent in Brussels, Kevin Connolly had been confined at home for weeks when the rules were relaxed briefly in the summer. He was surprised by his urge to indulge in some rather unusual shopping.
Producer: Caroline Bayley
The true state of the pandemic in Turkey
Turkey has had record numbers of new coronavirus infections recently with around 30,000 positive cases a day. That number has now dropped slightly, and the Health Ministry says restrictions have begun to bear fruit. But how did it get to this, in a country which was initially regarded as doing well in the pandemic? Now the government has been accused of covering up the spread of the virus, and putting lives at risk, as Orla Guerin reports from Istanbul.
In Sudan’s western region of Darfur, the long-running armed conflict has cost 300,000 lives, and forced two and a half million people to flee their homes. After a peace deal in August, the international peacekeeping force is preparing to pull out this month. Hopes now rest on the new part-civilian, part-military government, which came to power after 30 years of dictatorial rule. But as Mike Thomson found, the dual structure of the new administration can pose challenges on the ground.
People in Bethlehem are preparing for an austere Christmas without the income from foreign pilgrims and tourists – but you can still find stories of hope there. Especially at the Milk Grotto – near the Nativity Church – where the Virgin Mary is said to have nursed baby Jesus. It’s long been claimed that women who have difficulties conceiving are blessed with children after praying at the grotto, or using bits of soft chalk, or “milk powder”, from its walls, as Yolande Knell reports.
New York City was hit worse than many places during the first wave of the pandemic, and Nick Bryant and his wife both caught the virus. So his adopted home is the perfect perch from which to observe, and now reflect on, the extraordinary year that was 2020.
Presenter: Kate Adie
Producer: Arlene Gregorius
American presidents and the Middle East
When there's change in the Middle East, there is a good chance the United States had something to do with it, as with the recent accords between Israel and four Arab states. And now a new American president is preparing to move into the White House. What could this mean for the region, asks Jeremy Bowen.
Thailand has been convulsed by large demonstrations this year, in which young people have been calling for reform and for changes to the once untouchable monarchy, even though criticising the king carries long prison sentences. Royalists are shocked by these campaigns and want things to stay as they are, says Jonathan Head.
Italy's coronavirus crisis started in the north and eventually reached the far south, including the region of Calabria. An area blighted not just by the pandemic, but also by the powerful and ruthless 'Ndrangheta mafia whose crimes have made it much harder to cope with the virus for restaurants and even for hospitals, as Mark Lowen found out.
Relations between China and the west have come under strain in recent years – but we buy vast amounts of Chinese products, and so China has developed its “Belt and Road” initiative. Part of its purpose is to enable the transport of goods from China to Europe by train. This has brought investment as far as Germany's former industrial region of the Ruhr, says Caroline Bayley.
The Galapagos islands off the coast of Ecuador are known for their wildlife, from slow giant tortoises to fast baby iguanas. Charles Darwin spent five weeks there, and then developed the theory of evolution. Apart from the survival of the fittest, it's also about adaptation. Something that's been happening on these islands during the pandemic, as Jamie Lafferty reports.
Presenter: Kate Adie
Producer: Arlene Gregorius
Stamping out dissent in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong,the authorities are showing that they mean business with the new security law to stamp out demonstrations and dissent. The pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been detained, and young campaigners including protest leader Joshua Wong were sentenced to prison this week. Before that, the pro-democracy opposition resigned en masse, as Danny Vincent reports.
Seventeen weeks after the presidential election that is widely thought to have been rigged and that led to Belarus's largest-ever anti-government protests, President Alexander Lukashenko still refuses to step down. But he has lost the support of some of his police officers, a few of whom have fled to Poland. Lucy Ash meets one of them.
Araucania in southern Chile is a land of ancient volcanoes, virgin forests and agriculture. But recently it has been making headlines for arson attacks on timber lorries and prisoners on hunger strike. This is the homeland of one of Chile’s main indigenous peoples – the Mapuche. They want their land back that was taken from them not by early colonisers but by General Pinochet, as Jane Chambers found out.
In Australia there has been a new impetus to look at past injustices this year, as elsewhere. And these include a little-known practice akin to the slave trade. In what is known as “black-birding”, islanders from the South Pacific were brought to work in Australia against their will, as Will Higginbotham reports.
Across Europe, coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions have shut opera houses, theatres and concert halls. Despite receiving large government grants and loans, the performing arts are now facing a critical period in countries like Italy, France, Germany and Austria, says Joanna Robertson.
Presenter: Kate Adie
Producer: Arlene Gregorius
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