300 episodes

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.

From Our Own Correspondent Podcast BBC

    • News

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.

    Lasting tensions in Jaffa

    Lasting tensions in Jaffa

    Israel's new coalition has been sworn in, drawing on the support of parties from across the political spectrum. It includes the first party in an Israeli government to be drawn from Israel's 21% Arab minority - Palestinian heritage, but Israeli by citizenship. One major challenge will be dealing with the tensions sharpened by the worst outbreak of intercommunal violence for a generation. Last month, Jewish and Arab mobs took to the streets of Israel’s mixed cities - attacking passers-by, looting shops and desecrating religious sites. As Yolande Knell reports from Jaffa, these incidents opened up divisions that will be hard to heal.

    Iranians are due to vote in their next President - but not all of them are likely to turn out to the polls. Public apathy seems to be a growing problem; but there have also been open calls for people to boycott the election. Parham Ghobadi works for the BBC’s Persian Service from London, and has been trying to gauge voters’ opinions about their limited options.

    The pandemic has hit Romania hard – the country has endured several rounds of lockdowns and re-openings and two significant spikes in deaths in December and April. They all exposed failings the struggling Romanian health system - particularly in rural areas. Stephen McGrath lives in Transylvania and recently lost a neighbour who was a friend not only to him, but to the whole village.

    On both sides of the Atlantic, there can be no refuge from present controversies in burying yourself in the past - as even matters of historical fact have become incendiary. As a history graduate from Cambridge with a PhD in American politics from Oxford, who's also spent decades reporting from around the world, Nick Bryant is well used to taking the long view. He looks back on his hectic years in New York City covering everything from the rise of Donald Trump to the goings-on at the United Nations HQ - and walks through the many histories of his adopted home.

    Producer: Polly Hope

    • 28 min
    North Korea cracks down on outside influences

    North Korea cracks down on outside influences

    Recent reports from Pyongyang have hinted at an intensified effort to root out foreign fashion, slang and media in North Korea. Its regime has repeatedly punished people who smuggle in DVDs of South Korean TV and film dramas, but the penalties are now even harsher. Laura Bicker reports from Seoul on the risks for North Koreans who try to break their isolation, whether by consuming forbidden culture or even escaping the country themselves.

    As Joe Biden meets other world leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall, there are still many Americans who aren't yet convinced he is the legitimate President of the United States. Gabriel Gatehouse was recently given unusual insight into this mindset.

    Press freedom in Pakistan is a touchy issue - and more so now after a string of incidents where reporters have been physically attacked. Secunder Kermani analyses where the 'red lines' lie for broadcast media, and the allegations that the country's security services have been directly pressuring journalists.

    Turkey's Sea of Marmara is enduring a mucilaginous ordeal - as a slimy, choking layer of so-called "sea snot" smothers its shores. It's a catastrophe for local fishing villages; President Erdogan has launched a clean-up this week. Neyran Elden of the BBC Turkish Service happens to be an experienced scuba diver - so she suited up to go beneath the surface and take a look at the sea bed. What she saw wasn't pretty.

    Citizens of EU countries in the UK are being strongly encouraged to sort out their residency status before the end of this month. For British citizens living abroad, the experience of getting their own paperwork has varied by country. Luke Tuddenham recently had a surprising brush with bureaucracy in Lower Saxony in Germany.

    Producer: Polly Hope

    • 28 min
    Thailand's youth protest movement stalls

    Thailand's youth protest movement stalls

    Not long ago, a wave of unprecedented public protests in Thailand over royal privileges and youth concerns made some Thais feel they were on the brink of change. Now the picture is very different: many of the movement's leading figures are in jail or awaiting trial and their dreams seem to have been deferred. Jonathan Head considers what the youth protest movement has achieved, and what sort of a precedent its fate sets for others in Southeast Asia - most notably for Myanmar.

    Colombia is currently living through its own wave of street protests - over everything from tax policy to austerity, job opportunities to racism. Demonstrators and police have faced off in cities across the country, sometimes with lethal results. Daniel Pardo reports from Cali, one of the focal points of the the nationwide 'resistance' - and hears worries that the country's sliding back into division.

    In the Czech Republic, moves to abolish the rules dictating the correct form for women's surnames are gaining ground. From Praque, Rob Cameron explains the grammatical and gender issues at stake - and the social change reflected in the proposed reform.

    Ferrara, in Italy's Emilia Romagna region, is a famously prosperous and beautiful city with a rich cultural heritage - but whatever its visual splendour, its greatest arts of all might be the culinary ones. Julia Buckley has been getting a taste of its edible history via recipes from a cookbook first put together in the 1540s, by the man who served as master of ceremonies at the palatial court of the Este family.

    And in Georgia, Mark Stratton delves into the extraordinary qvevri - the giant earthenware jars traditionally used to store and age some of the the country's renowned wines. These immense, amphora-like clay pots encapsulate Georgia's ancient identity and are key to the special flavour of many of its most treasured reds, whites - and ambers - as well as the extremely potent liquor known as chacha.

    Producer: Polly Hope

    • 28 min
    A new coalition in Israel's Knesset

    A new coalition in Israel's Knesset

    Benjamin Netanyahu has outsmarted many attempts to drive him from power - but a new alliance is manoeuvring to unseat him. Tom Bateman reports from Jerusalem on the unusual array of parties now teaming up in coalition - ranging from right-wing Jewish nationalists to a religious party for Muslim Israelis of Palestinian heritage.

    Sarah Rainsford has reported on several waves of repression in Belarus for the BBC. But her most recent visit to Minsk revealed a pall of fear settling over the country's news media, dissidents and protesters.

    The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited Costa Rica to talk migration and development aid with the foreign ministers of Central America. What changes in policy is the Biden administration considering - and what does it have to offer the region to deter people from trying to make it to the Mexico/US border? Will Grant was in San Jose to see what was on the table.

    Japan is a nation famous for its team spirit, its hospitality, and its love of a big event. But as Rupert Wingfield Hayes comments from Tokyo, there's little public enthusiasm for the Olympic Games - as the opening ceremony in July draws closer, even as new doubts arise over pandemic safety and travel restrictions.

    For more than twenty years the late Milan Bandic served as mayor of Croatia's capital, Zagreb - and some citizens say he treated it as a personal fiefdom. He had many colourful run-ins with the law, but there was also a far wider range of accusations that corruption and cronyism were spoiling the city's reputation and driving young Croatians abroad. Guy De Launey explains why nearly two-thirds of voters just chose a young, Green candidate to clean up their surroundings.

    • 28 min
    Somaliland's can-do spirit

    Somaliland's can-do spirit

    Somaliland claims to be an independent republic, though it is not internationally recognised and Somalia still claims the territory. It issues passports, has its own army, flag and president - and this week it held long-delayed elections. Mary Harper, a regular visitor, explains what the polls meant to Somaliland's people - especially some of its most marginalised.
    This weekend, Peruvian voters have to choose between two candidates for the Presidency - after a fragmented and confusing first round, the contest is now a neck-and-neck race between Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori. In Lima, Dan Collyns senses the mood polarising - and hears how heated the rhetoric has become.
    Iraq's Jewish community was once hundreds of thousands strong - but it's been whittled away drastically since the 1940s by persecution, emigration and ageing. Lizzie Porter has witnessed how Jewish sites across the country have changed, and how many are crumbling into disuse and neglect. But there are also people working to preserve this unique heritage.
    The pandemic meant many Singaporeans haven't been able to travel far for months, so there's been a surge of interest in the city-states last remaining wild spaces - the green areas where birds and tropical plants still flourish. Sharanjit Leyl is a keen birdwatcher herself, and says her fellow twitchers are worried over the future of their forests.
    And in southwestern France, Chris Bockman recently met a village mayor with unusual powers. Nothing to do with local government guidelines; rather, he's believed by many to be capable of healing illnesses, lifting curses - and even exorcism.

    Producer: Polly Hope

    • 28 min
    Zuma on Trial

    Zuma on Trial

    Former President Jacob Zuma's long-delayed fraud trial saw a surge in interest this week as the accused arrived to plead not guilty to all charges. Andrew Harding has been following this intricate case for years and was in court in Pietermaritzburg.

    The worst of the pandemic may have passed in India's megacities, but the virus is still spreading fast in rural areas - and leaving lasting grief and trauma across the country. Rajini Vaidyanathan reflects from Delhi on the sadness now permeating all levels of society.

    Chinese consumers have been knocking back Australian wine with gusto in recent years, even as political relations between Beijing and Canberra have grown ever more strained. But the export boom might not last. Shaimaa Khalil reports from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, where they're bracing for the impact of new Chinese tariffs on imports.

    In Canada, a Catholic archdiocese has been found liable for damages to be awarded to several survivors of physical and sexual abuse in a Church-run orphanage. Greg Mercer talked to one man who grew up in the Mount Cashel home.

    The city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo is surrounded by dangers - armed rebel groups, a lake with dangerous levels of dissolved CO2 and methane - and now an erupting volcano. Olivia Acland was one of the tens of thousands who had to join a mass evacuation as Nyiragongo rumbled.

    Producer: Polly Hope

    • 28 min

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