Series focusing on foreign affairs issues
Saving the Vaquita
Jacques Cousteau called Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, ‘the aquarium of the world’. It is home to one of the most critically endangered species on earth. The vaquita is a small porpoise facing total extinction, whose numbers have dwindled to less than a dozen. In particular, the vaquita get caught in the nets used to catch totoaba. Casting nets for this large marine fish is illegal. But the totoaba’s swim bladder is believed to have potent medicinal properties in China, and sells for thousands of dollars in a trade controlled by Mexican organised crime. So efforts to save the vaquita have brought conflict to poor fishing communities in northern Baja California – people who often rely on an illicit income from totoaba. On New Year’s Eve, 2020 one fisherman was killed and another seriously injured in an altercation between local boats and an NGO ship patrolling to stop the sinking of illegal nets that kill the vaquita. Linda Pressly reports from the coast of Baja California on a dangerous clash of interests. Can the vaquita be saved?
Producer: Michael Gallagher
Producer in Mexico: Ulises Escamilla Haro
Editor, Bridget Harney
(Image: Illustration of a vaquita in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Credit: Greenpeace/Marcelo Otero)
Myanmar: The Spring Revolution
More than 750 people have been killed by the Myanmar military since they seized power in a coup three months ago. Mass protests demanding a return to democracy and the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been met with brutal force. Borders are closed and the internet effectively blocked. This is a story the military does not want the world to hear. But people are bravely documenting their resistance. We follow three young activists now in a fight for their future. As their options close…Can they win back democracy?
Produced and presented by Rebecca Henschke with Kelvin Brown
Drug Free in Norway
Can Norwegians with psychosis benefit from radical, drug-free treatment? In a challenge to the foundations of western psychiatry, a handful of Norway’s mental health facilities are offering medication-free treatment to people with serious psychiatric conditions. But five years after the scheme began it is still being questioned by the health establishment. For Crossing Continents, Lucy Proctor hears the testimony of Norwegian psychiatric patients, and the doctors who have aligned themselves on either side of the debate. Why is this happening in Norway? And how much power should people with debilitating psychosis have over their own lives?
Presenter: Lucy Proctor
Producer: Linda Pressly
Editor: Bridget Harney
Kenya's Unhappy Doctors and Nurses
All over the world, frontline workers have paid the ultimate price during the pandemic. But in Kenya the story of one young doctor’s heroism has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. 28-year old Stephen Mogusu died from Covid 19 in December after working on an isolation ward and complaining he lacked adequate protective clothing. Despite his vital service, he hadn’t been paid for five months. Stephen’s tragedy exposes a wider malaise in Kenya’s health system: A corruption scandal involving overpriced masks, aprons and other protective clothing. Meanwhile, across the country, a series of on-off strikes have disrupted care, as doctors, nurses and clinicians made sporadic protests against mismanagement and a devolved power structure they say is dysfunctional. As Kenya continues to battle against the virus, Lucy Ash finds out what’s ailing Kenya’s healthcare system.
Produced by Michael Gallagher. Editor, Bridget Harney
Sexual Healing in the Israeli Military
Soldiers returning from the line of duty with injuries affecting sexual performance are universal to all militaries around the world, but Israeli psychologist Dr Ronit Aloni set about making hers the only nation that offers a unique therapeutic approach to restoring the sexuality of their troops as a matter of course: surrogate partner therapy (SPT), or sexual surrogacy. After studying the niche treatment in the US in the early nineties, Dr Aloni conducted studies, lobbied the government and met with religious leaders in order to make this therapy, considered fringe and often taboo in other nations, available to those who need it via Ministry of Defense funding. But why is Israel alone in this? The therapy is best described as traditional psychotherapy combined with intimate sexual therapy with a surrogate lover, in every form that can mean, and it was Dr Aloni’s dogged belief in its life-changing benefits for her clients that caused her to pursue provision for the troops. For Crossing Continents, Yolande Knell tells the story of that policy through Dr Aloni’s work and her Tel Aviv clinic, the work of surrogate partner Seraphina, and two military veterans who have accessed the service: one of the first to be offered it on the MoD’s time in the late nineties, and one a conscripted young man paralysed by his injuries who after years of begging for death, says the therapy “restored his humanity”.
Produced by Philip Marzouk.
Editor, Bridget Harney
Denmark: goodbye to mink
Can Denmark's mink industry rise again? Denmark was the world's top producer of mink for the luxury market. Last year a coronavirus variant was found in the animals, and transmitted to people. There was a fear the variant - Cluster 5 - might interfere with the efficacy of any vaccine developed for humans. So in November, the Danish government ordered a cull of all 17 million farmed mink. But questions have continued to be asked about the decision to effectively end production. Was it driven by an anti-fur, political agenda? Was the science reliable? For Crossing Continents, Linda Pressly and Danish journalist, Rikke Bolander, meet some of those with skin in the game. What are the chances of a revival of Denmark's mink business?
Producers / presenters: Linda Pressly and Rikke Bolander
Editor, Bridget Harney