Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.
Iran’s presidential election: What do the people want?
Iranians go to the polls next week to decide who’ll be the country’s next president. Hundreds of potential candidates were disqualified, some of whom represent the reform movement, leaving just seven men in the running. Whoever wins will inherit a dire economy, with one-in-ten Iranians unemployed, inflation running at roughly 50%, and growing queues to buy everyday items like chicken. The victor will also have to share power with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), and parliament. So what kind of mandate will he have? How democratic are the country’s elections? And what impact will the new leader’s policies have on Iran, its people and its place in the world? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of Iranian guests.
Israel will soon have its first new prime minister in over 12 years if a freshly formed coalition holds. Benjamin Netanyahu is the country's longest serving leader, but in recent years he’s presided over an increasingly fractious political system. In a recent speech Israel’s largely ceremonial president repeated his warning that the country's population has evolved into four unique groups, often attending separate schools and living in separate communities. Israel’s had four elections in two years and there’s talk of another before the end of 2021. Mr Netanyahu has been criticised from the right for failing to stop rockets being fired into Israel by the Palestinian group Hamas, and is accused from the left of encouraging extremist nationalists. But internationally he’s forged new alliances with Middle Eastern countries through the Abraham Accords, successfully persuaded the United States to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and celebrated the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem. After 15 years of leadership by the man they call ‘Bibi’, Israel is at a crossroads - but where will it go next? Are the religious and cultural divisions making the country ungovernable? What changes are needed in order to encourage the formation of more stable governments? And what could such changes mean for the country’s Arab minority? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests.
Why is corporate America getting political?
This week Exxon Mobil saw a board revolt over its stance on climate change. One of the energy giant's biggest shareholders supported rival directors to successfully replace two Exxon board members with more green-friendly candidates. This reflects a growing trend across the United States of corporations and investors being more willing to take a stand on climate, race and other social issues. Following the new and restrictive voter laws in Georgia, Major League Baseball pulled its All Star Game from the state. Nike announced a fund to help Black communities during the Black Lives Matter protests. While these moves are being welcomed by many activists and politicians, there's also been a backlash from those saying CEOs should focus on serving customers and not get involved in debates. So, what's behind corporate America's desire to delve into issues not necessarily linked to their companies' bottom line? Ritula Shah and a panel of experts discuss why corporate America is wading into politics.
China in space
China has successfully landed and operated a rover on the surface of Mars, a feat only previously achieved by the United States. It follows Beijing’s successful robotic mission to the Moon to return lunar samples to Earth and comes just weeks after the launch into orbit of the first module of the country’s very own space station. China only sent its first human into space in 2003, but since then its technological capabilities have multiplied. But so too have the controversies. The mission to launch the space station module resulted in the uncontrolled return to Earth of debris from the Long March-5b rocket used, and a good deal of the ‘space junk’ currently orbiting the planet can be blamed on a Chinese missile test back in 2007. China says it has no intention of taking part in the militarisation of space and that its intentions are purely scientific. The country’s been banned from working with the United States and its partners on the International Space Station, but it is forming new alliances - with Beijing and Moscow agreeing to develop a joint base on the Moon. But what are the ultimate goals of China’s space programme? And as technologies needed to take humans to Mars are developed, are we about to witness a new ‘Space Race’? Paul Henley is joined by a panel of expert guests.
Ransomware on the rise in the US
A cyber-attack on an oil pipeline in the United States has caused widespread disruption and alarm. The Colonial Pipeline stretches thousands of kilometres from Texas to New Jersey and was shut down as a result of the attack, causing fuel shortages and price spikes on America's East Coast. This is the latest in a long list of recent ransomware attacks on US institutions and infrastructure, where groups have shut down crucial information networks or threatened to reveal trade secrets unless a fee was paid.
President Biden has blamed a group based in Russia for the Colonial Pipeline attack; and while he did not hold Moscow directly responsible, he has blamed it and other nations for conducting cyber-espionage against America on a regular basis. Despite the advanced technological abilities of many US companies, and the investment of millions in digital security, hackers are continuing to find ways to break into government and commercial networks. So who are the hackers and how are their methods evolving? And how can the Biden administration ensure global cooperation in the fight against cyber-crime? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts.
Germany after Merkel
Angela Merkel is the longest serving leader in the European Union. Known as Mutti, or mother, to her supporters, Merkel is credited with keeping Germany stable in the midst of global and European crises with her steely yet non-confrontational style of leadership. But the German Chancellor is stepping down later this year when the country goes to polls. Voters will then decide whether to choose a successor who'll maintain her style, or back more dramatic change. Support for Mrs Merkel’s CDU has dropped after a series of unpopular lockdowns and a patchy coronavirus vaccine rollout. The Greens, who are promising more climate-friendly policies at home and a pivot towards Nato and the United States abroad, are polling well. And the far right still garners hundreds of thousands of votes. So what does the future hold for Germany after 16 years of Angela Merkel? Will it now enter a period of uncertainty after years of stability? Does it have the right leadership to navigate the uncertainties of a post-Covid economic recovery? And how will it balance the economic and strategic interests of the United States and EU on one side, and Russia and China on the other? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts.
Ritula is the best!
Great show with wide selection of topics, panelists and perspectives
Intelligent questions and guests. Brexit episode was illuminating covering large as well as subtle issues and controversies
Thorough. Well backed up.