Every week we provide online briefings on key issues and places around the world. It’s a subscription service. Membership will give you unique Insight into the places and issues we cover around the world, and keep our team together so that we can be in a position to provide tours as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. If you have any enquiries about the service or requests please email us at [email protected]
Recent Insight Briefings
Throwing it all away with Vivienne Walt and Graham Forbes
Vivienne Walt is an award-winning foreign correspondent who, together with photographer Sebastian Meyer, were commended by the Pulitzer Prize committee for their work on recycling. The duo’s article in Fortune magazine reveals that, in the US, trash is no longer being recycled domestically but is shipped 8000 miles to countries such as Malaysia – where the majority is then thrown away! Even in environmentally conscious Europe only 30% of waste plastics are fully recycled, but at the same time the plastics industry is pumping more and more plastic into the system.
In discussing Viv’s story, we’re also joined by Graham Forbes, who is the Plastics Global Project Leader for Greenpeace.
“Mummy est Morte” with Christopher de Bellaigue
Christopher de Bellaigue was only 13 and at Eton when he was told his mother was dead. Nobody dared to mention the word suicide; stiff upper lips were still de rigueur in 1980s England. Many will know Christopher from our tours to Iran or may have read his books on Persia, Turkey and Islam. But over the past year he has turned his mind and his pen back to the events that defined his childhood. We speak to him about that dreaded day and how it has shaped his life and writing ever since.
It is worth reading Christopher’s recent diary in the London Review of Books below and listening to a podcast interview with his aunt, on the BBC ahead of our talk. Please contact us for links to these. Tough stuff but worth tuning in for.
Seven Lessons from Pandemics with Iain King
Iain King is a British diplomat and defence strategist who has served in the British Embassy in Washington, Libya, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. He now works at the Royal College of Defence Studies. In May last year, while at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, he made seven predictions regarding pandemics which were based upon historical precedent; among them were the claims that militarism declines, beliefs are challenged, and governments come in for heavy criticism. So far, so obvious, but there were some surprises among Iain’s other predictions and, eight months later, he returns to tell us how accurate his predictions were…
Brexit – the final gambit
At midnight on 31 December, the UK will leave the EU’s single market and customs union, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Alex Pigman, a journalist with Agence France-Presse, has followed the UK-EU negotiations from the outset, and here takes a broad look at relations between the two sides, and how they might develop from January 1 under the terms of the trade deal struck on Christmas Eve. David Gavaghan, meanwhile, who is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known businessmen, joins us from Belfast to offer an Irish perspective on the situation, together with Lolita Cigane, a Council member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
How to Subscribe
If you like what we are doing you can join the service and enjoy a minimum of 6 sessions a month. You can pay for your subscription to Insight’s limited membership with PayPal (you can use a credit or debit card) or by bank transfer to Beyond the Headlines Ltd. Fee options for full membership subscriptions are as follows:
£80.00 per month (minimum 6 briefings, £13.33 per view)
£240.00 every three months
Six monthly: £432.00
10% discount for a six month subscription (total would be £480.00, saving of £48.00)
To trial membership: £18.00 Pay per view.
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Payable online by PayPal (also with debit or credit card) or by Bank Transfer.
What to Expect
Help us to Carry On. As well as giving you a unique perspective at this critical time, Insight with Beyond The Headlines will help keep our team together so that we are in a position to provide tours as soon as travel restrictions are lifted. We will continue to give you access to our contacts and communities around the globe. And you don’t even have to get on a plane to do it!
Multiple Time Zones. We’ll rotate talks so you are guaranteed to get at least 3-4 talks a month within your time zone. If you miss a broadcast you will be able to see it online within 24 hours. These are all live and interactive – so you can put your questions directly to speakers.
Join the Debate. At the end of each session you’ll be able to exchange views on air with other members of the club, just as we do on the tours. This will give us a chance to discuss points of interest amongst ourselves. We have a great community of travellers, many with their own areas of expertise. Those views add to the quality of our debates.
Limited Membership. The new subscriptions club will be limited to just 100 peopled uring the first six months. This means you won’t be one of several hundred or thousand people viewing a discussion. You are guaranteed access and able to ask our own questions. You will also be able to propose new debates. We want to hear your ideas on what topics you would like to explore, and who you would like to hear from.
Unlike Anyone. Like our tours – the key thing you’ll get from us is access to people on the ground. We steer clear of armchair experts that populate most online forums. We have experts and access to people around the globe, so whether its speaking to someone in Soweto or hearing a North Korean defector speaking – you are guaranteed to get a unique view of what’s happening at the moment.
We have a great line-up and will confirm further briefings when we have the dates & times. There are a minimum of six briefings each month. Thus far we have the following confirmed Insight discussions:
Friday 3 December 2021 4am PST (San Francisco), 7am EST (New York), Noon GMT (London), 1pm CET (Berlin), 11pm AEDT (Sydney), 1am NZDT (Wellington+1)
Not much COP: Carbon emissions and COP26 with Prof. Pierre Friedlingstein
Pierre Friedlingstein is the chair of mathematical modeling of climate at the University of Exeter. As well as being a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change he has contributed to the Global Carbon Project, a consortium of scientists that collect and analyse greenhouse gas information. They revise and assess the amount of carbon being discharged into the atmosphere and its likely impact on global warming.
Consistent with the pledge by many countries to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, carbon dioxide emissions need to decline by 1.4 billion tonnes each year, on average. This was achieved last year during the pandemic, but has rebounded dramatically since, reflecting the huge changes needed before emissions targets can be met.
Professor Friedlingstein gives us his assessment of countries’ announcements at COP26.
Tuesday 7 December 2021 2pm PST (San Francisco), 5pm EST (New York), 10pm GMT (London), 11pm CET (Berlin), 9am AEDT (Sydney+1), 11am NZDT (Wellington+1)
Overruled – Fans, Big Finance and Football with Matt Slater
In the second of our series on money in football Matt Slater, one of Britain’s leading sports writers, analyses the changes afoot for football teams large and small following a major review of the money flowing into the game. The basic allegation is that football, fuelled in part by leverage buyout and huge salaries, has got too costly and indebted for its own good and making it more and more costly and remote for ordinary fans. A new UK government report says that “the long term health of football is under threat.” Is a revolution really underway and what does it mean for the billions of people around the world who watch?
Tuesday 14 December 2021 12pm PST (San Francisco), 3pm EST (New York), 8pm GMT (London), 9pm CET (Berlin), 7am AEDT (Sydney+1), 9am NZDT (Wellington+1)
Climate NIMBYs with Dr. Pippa Bailey, Ipsos MORI
Most of the focus on climate change is on governments and policy. But what about personal attitudes to curbing carbon emissions? Pippa Bailey from Ipsos MORI, one of the world leading polling organisations, looks at personal attitudes to climate change. While people across all generations see global warming as a top concern, they also think they are doing enough to tackle the problem in their own lives. Her discussion looks at some of the myths surrounding public attitudes towards the problem and how they might be changed.
Friday 17 December 2021 12pm PST (San Francisco), 3pm EST (New York), 8pm GMT (London), 9pm CET (Berlin), 10pm IST (Tel Aviv), 7am AEDT (Sydney+1), 9am NZDT (Wellington+1)
Israel and Palestine – A Moral Problem with Amira Hass
Most of the debate about Israel and Palestine has focused for decades on the peace-process. But as the prospects of a two-state solution seem all but dead a shift is taking place in Israel and elsewhere. The occupation of the West Bank has become a moral problem. Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass asks how can one state occupy another and deny its people basic rights. She explains how some young Israelis are asking the same questions and doing the unthinkable – refusing to do national service in the Israel Defence Force.
Monday 20 December 2021 1pm PST (San Francisco), 4pm EST (New York), 9pm GMT (London), 10pm CET (Paris), 8am AEDT (Sydney+1), 10am NZDT (Wellington+1)
East of Warsaw with Fabrice Deprez
Fabrice Deprez is the Ukraine correspondent for La Croix. But he also runs a review of blogs, podcasts and news websites that cover all things east of Warsaw. It gives him an unusual view of the former Soviet bloc – from separatist attitudes in Donbas, protestors in Tajikistan and covid curbs in Kazan. You won’t have heard of most of it – and that’s the point.
Wednesday 22 December 2021 1pm PST (San Francisco), 3pm CST (Dallas), 4pm EST (New York), 9pm GMT (London), 10pm CET (Berlin), 8am AEDT (Sydney+1), 10am NZDT (Wellington+1)
War Story with Thorne Anderson
Thorne Anderson now teaches journalism at the University of North Texas but for the best part of two decades he a was a photographer in conflict zones that ranged from the Balkans to Iraq and Afghanistan. In a world where covering the action (bang bang) is normally the rule, Thorne and his partner Kael Alford spent much of their time fully immersed with the people they were covering. He talks about their take on photojournalism and conflict zone photography.
Past Insight Briefings
Please contact us if you would like to view a members recording.
Thursday 4 November
Turkey: Persona Non Grata with Ayla Jean Yackley
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to expel 10 western ambassadors – 7 of them from NATO allies – a new low point in relations with his allies. Erdoğan was furious that they called for the release of a civil society figure from jail. The expulsion of diplomats seems to have been averted. The spat could also be a distraction from an enduring economic crisis says Istanbul based reporter Ayla Jean Yackley.
Friday 12 November
Eastern Update with Leonid Ragozin
Leonid Ragozin gives us an update on politics east of the Vistula: Vladimir Putin is cashing in on Europe’s gas shortage; Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko is hoping illegal migrants will give him similar leverage; in Georgia former President Mikheil Saakashvili is in jail, and in Ukraine comic turned President Volodymyr Zelensky is trying (again) to curb the power of the oligarchs.
Tuesday 16 November
Taliban Embed with Nabih Bulos
As the last US forces left Kabul airport an elite unit of Taliban fighters entered accompanied by an unlikely embed; Nabih Bulos, an American-Jordanian journalist and Middle East Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times. Nabih filmed the insurgents, clad in US fatigues and carrying American made assault rifles, as they surveyed abandoned material. The images have now become one of defining moments of the US withdrawal. Nabih joins us to give an overview of the fall of Kabul and a wider view of his patch that stretches from Kabul to Beirut. (Nabih’s other role in life is as a professional violin player and member of the Divan Orchestra!)
Thursday 18 November
So Bad It’s Biden with Malcolm Brown
After a convincing win against President Trump last year both in voter numbers and the electoral college, Biden is down in the polls – quite considerably. Our US expert, Malcolm Brown gives an assessment of Biden’s time so far, including his enormous spending program that is grinding its way through congress.
Tuesday 23 November
The Best Catholics in the World with Derek Scally
When Berlin-based correspondent for the Irish Times Derek Scally goes to mass on a visit home to Dublin the once-packed suburban church where he was an altar boy is quiet and ageing – just like its congregants. The dwindling power of the Church in Ireland is undeniable. Sex scandals and an increasingly secular identity have caused many to question religion’s influence, still many are reluctant to probe. Derek speaks to us about Irelands’ changing identity, the role of the Church today, and how people are still grappling with a troubling past.
Wednesday 6 October
George Blake, Spy & Traitor with Simon Kuper
Most spy biographies are tales of derring-do, caddish behaviour, betrayal and often incompetence. Simon Kuper’s take on George Blake is different. The FT writer met Blake in Moscow in 2011 but promised not publish anything in English until after his death. Blake died in December last year. What follows now is a book that not only looks back on the KGB double agent’s career but is a study of conscience. Blake arguably sent hundreds of Mi6 agents to their deaths for the communist cause only to see the Soviet Union collapse around his ears. He was buried with full state honours last year.
Tuesday 12 October
Germany After Merkel with Irish Times Correspondent Derek Scally
After 16 years in office Mutti has left office. Derek Scally reviews her legacy and the government that is replacing her CDU led coalition. The German electorate have chosen the Social Democrats. But the big parties have seen their vote share fall, and the Greens and AfD seen their’s rise. How has Germany changed and does Mutti’s departure mark a shift in German politics?
Thursday 14 October
Flags, Maps, and Mountains with Tim Marshall
Tim Marshall has an ingenious way of explaining how politics and history work. His best-selling books – from Prisoners of Geography, Worth Dying For and Divided – explain how nations and politics have been shaped by their surroundings, symbols and ideas. We look at a flag, a map and a wall (or two) with the former Sky New correspondent and author.
Tuesday 19 October
Xi’s Brave New World with George Magnus
One of China’s largest construction funds has just defaulted on its debts prompting fears of a possible stock-market crash in China. In reality, says world renown China specialist George Magnus, China’s central bank and government can step in to save the day. But the crisis highlights huge uncertainty over Beijing’s direction. With a weakened economy and an increasingly authoritarian leader at the helm don’t expect China to be the core of growth and stability that it once was.
Tuesday 26 October
Argentina: Buenos Aires Bust with Bendict Mander
Benedict Mander has spent the last seventeen years reporting for the Financial Times firstly in Venezuela and more recently in Argentina. He gives us an overview of the recurring crises that have plunged many Argentinians into further poverty as well as the unorthodox responses of the Peronist coalition. History seems to have a habit of repeating itself in Buenos Aires. Benedict will also be able to comment on events in Venezuela.
Wednesday 27 October
Climate Change – The Tipping Point with Prof. Michael Bevis
As the world leaders gather next month in Glasgow for the COP26 summit on global warming, US based scientist Michael Bevis explains the speed at which global warming is taking place. His research shows how quickly the Greenland ice sheet is melting, a change that he says is now irreversible. He points to similar climatic events around the world.
Wednesday 1 September
Debacle II – The Fall of Afghanistan with Dr Antonio Giustozzi
How the Taliban took Afghanistan: Antonio Giustozzi is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on the Taliban and the author of six books on the group. He explains how the insurgency was able to overcome Afghan government forces and the nature of the US withdrawal from the country. Dr. Giustozzi is a lecturer at Kings College London and a Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.
Wednesday 8 September
How to Vaccinate the World with UNHCR Katerina Kitidi & Prof. Gabriel Scally
The pandemic is not going to subside until the world is vaccinated. That much seems common sense, but few can agree on how it should be done. As wealthier nations forge ahead with their own programs much of the developing world is being left behind. Katerina Kitidi, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Professor Gabriel John Scally, a former regional director of public health for the south west of England, outline what they think should be done.
Friday 10 September
Football in Debt with Dan Plumley
English midfielder, Jack Grealish (yes, the one with the flowing locks and hairband) broke the record books earlier this summer with a one-hundred-million-pound transfer deal to Manchester City. Non-football fans (including this writer) might not give a hoot about transfer deals and who’s up and who’s down in which league, but they should care about the money involved, says Dan Plumley. Football is in serious financial crisis with clubs big and small on the verge of bankruptcy – and that affects fans and communities around the world. Dan Plumley is a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.
Thursday 16 September
Who Cares about War! with Peter Kellner
Afghanistan stands to damage the reputations of politicians around the world from Joe Biden to Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab (the UK’s Foreign Secretary is blamed for failing to do enough to get former interpreters out of the country). But Peter Kellner says history shows that electorates don’t care too much about failure on the battlefield. Contrary to expectations political leaders have ridden relatively high in the polls, from Suez to Iraq whatever their success or lack of it.
Tuesday 21 September
Debacle III – The Fall of Afghanistan with David Loyn
What next for Afghanistan? How do Taliban leaders plan to govern the country? And is there risk of renewed civil war? David Loyn is a former BBC foreign correspondent who’s book the Long War looks at US involvement over the past two decades. With the majority of Afghans under the age of 25 he says most will have had no knowledge of Afghan rule and their militant interpretation of sharia law. David looks at the separate factions within the Taliban as well as former government figures and potential opponents as he assesses Afghanistan’s future. David Loyn is a visiting senior fellow in the War Studies Department at King’s College, London.
Tuesday 28 September
Debacle IV – The Fall of Afghanistan with Lima Halima-Ahmad & Jennifer Murtazashvilli
The World has Betrayed My Country Lima Halima-Ahmad left Afghanistan not long after the Taliban assassinated her sister, an attack she says was meant for her. A former journalist and one time advisor to the Afghan president on women’s affairs, she is now spending her time trying to get family and friends out of the country. The world she says has betrayed her country. She is joined by Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, the Founding Director of the Center for Governance and Markets and Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
Tuesday 3 August
Zuma Jailed with Helen Zille & Peter Sullivan
Former South African president Jacob Zuma was jailed in July for contempt of court. But that is the least of his worries. He faces more than 15 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and tax evasion. Erstwhile opponent and former head of the Democratic Alliance party, Helen Zille, says it’s a watershed moment for the country as it tries to cut out graft and turn away from tribe based politics. She also has some sympathy for Zuma, penning a recent article in his favour. She is joined by Peter Sullivan, former Editor-in-Chief of South Africa’s largest independent newspaper group, from Johannesburg.
Thursday 5 August
Cuban Unrest with Dr. Michael Bustamante
Violent street protests are not the norm in Cuba to say the least. Covid restrictions, a dearth of tourists have led to shortages in an already impoverished island. But there’s hope around the corner. Havana has created a vaccine that appears to rival Pfizer and Moderna’s. Our Cuba expert, Michael Bustamante explains all.
Tuesday 10 August
Beef, Bible and Bullets – Brazil and Bolsonaro with Richard Lapper
Former South America editor for the Financial Times, Richard Lapper, has written a brilliant book on Bolsonaro’s rise to power. He’s a climate change denier, covid-sceptic who once urged Brazilians to raise their right hand when singing the national anthem. It’s a chaotic mix but one that goes down well the farmers and evangelical Christians that support him. For them he can do no wrong.
Tuesday 17 August
Inflation: Back to the Bogeyman with David Smith, Sunday Times Economics Editor
Just over a year ago we asked whether inflation come back to haunt us all. Our guest speaker, Sunday Times Economics Editor David Smith, was skeptical that 1970s style price hikes would rip through our economies. But with the Biden administration unleashing huge spending plans in the US and the pandemic squeezing both production and labour perhaps the genie is out of the bottle. How worried should we be? David sums up the arguments of the hawks and doves.
Tuesday 24 August
Tigray Province in Ethiopia with Andres Schipani
The Ethiopian province of Tigray has just fought and surprisingly won a conflict with forces from Adis Adiba, stopping at least for now a war that had plunged the region into turmoil. Eritrea too entered the conflict pursuing a scorched earth policy against Tigrayan forces and forcing some areas into famine. Andres Schipani, East Africa correspondent for the FT, explains how Ethiopia was forced to seek a ceasefire and what happens next.
Wednesday 25 August
Debacle: The fall of Afghanistan with Professor Lawrence Wilkerson
Lawrence Wilkerson’s last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. Professor Wilkerson joins us for an additional Insight discussion.
Thursday 26 August
Troubling Jordan with Mai Eleimat
Jordan is in a bind. Already overwhelmed by refugees and a moribund economy the kingdom has been hard hit by covid. In April reports suggest there was a coup attempt against King Abdullah. The King’s half-brother Hamzah is now under house arrest and 20 court and government officials jailed. Mai Eleimat is one of Jordan’s best-known economic commentators and a social scientist. She outlines the numerous problems that lie ahead in a shaky political environment.
Wednesday 7 July
Israel Beyond Bibi with Anshel Pfeffer
Benjamin Netanyahu is out of office after 12 years in power. Economist and Haaretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer reviews how a motley coalition of parties ousted the wiliest of politicians from power. The new PM, Naftali Bennet is equally outspoken and controversial. Personalities aside this could represent a major shift in Israeli politics.
Tuesday 13 July
Venezuela & The Dollar with Renata Segura & Yesman Utrera
Nicolas Madura’s grip on power has caused the largest refugee crisis ever seen in the Americas. But there are signs things may be getting better. Most Venezuelans are now trading in dollars bringing new stability to the economy (Lebanon is possibly in the earlier stages of a similar crisis – see next talk). And the government too is showing some signs of compromise. ICG’s deputy director for Latin America, Renata Segura and Venezuelan reporter Yesman Utrera update us.
Friday 16 July
Out of Cash – Lebanon Update with Leena Saidi & Nicholas Blanford.
Lebanon is undergoing what the World Bank has described as one of the worst economic crises seen globally since the 1850s. The lira has collapsed (down 95%) and the country is fast running out of dollars to pay for crucial imports such as oil, medicine and food. The impact for those who don’t have dollars is devastating. Nicholas Blanford says the causes are well known; a corrupt political class that can’t agree on basic laws while filling its own pockets. But the broader consequences of a collapsing state are worrying many. Leena Saidi also joins us from Beirut.
Tuesday 20 July
Out of Everything with Professors Mohan Sodhi & William Lazonick
The world’s finely tuned shipping and supply chains have been routed by the pandemic pushing up prices and causing global shortages of all kinds of stocks. But don’t just blame the virus. Professor Mohan Sodhi from the Cass Business School in London and Professor William Lazonick from UMass explain why.
Tuesday 27 July
Scots Referendum Conundrum with Brian Taylor
Brexit has provided the momentum for another referendum on Scottish independence. Scots voted overwhelming to remain in the EU and now say they have been dragged out against their will. But at the same time Brexit could make a Scots break with the UK more difficult amid fears of a hard border with England. With renewed support in Scotland’s May elections Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she wants another vote within this Scottish parliament. Boris Johnson has said he’ll block it. In reality both sides are fearful they may not have enough to secure victory. Brian Taylor discusses the ins and outs of another poll and reveals new observations gleaned from our recent tour of Scotland. Can Westminster keep saying no to #IndyRef2?
Thursday 29 July
Coping with Covid with John McCarthy & Dr. Judith Mohring
The psychological effect of repeated lockdowns have taken a toll on us all. A year on from our last discussion with them BBC broadcaster and former hostage John McCarthy and consultant psychiatrist Judith Mohring review the impact of isolation and quarantine and what we can do to tackle it.
Thursday 3 June
Portugal: From Salazar to Success with Paul Ames
Portugal normally conjures up images of beaches and cultural breaks in the sun. It wasn’t always thus. Once the poor man of Europe the country provided cheap labour for the rest of the continent as its economy struggled in the wake of Antonio Salazar’s dictatorship and a crumbling empire. Politico editor and Frommer’s guide author Paul Ames recounts how the country has turned itself around and explains some of the complications of its legacy. He also brings us up to date with Portugal’s battle against Covid-19. Until very recently it was one of the pandemic’s worst affected regions in the EU.
Wednesday 9 June
The Queen with Matthew Dennison
Queen Elizabeth II is undeniably the most popular member of Britain’s Royal Family and most probably its most popular monarch in over a century. Yet the institution she heads is repeatedly plagued by scandal and argument. The core of the latest accusations (lobbed by Meghan and Harry from across the pond) have the echoes of the 1990s when Princess Diana left: that the very qualities for which the Queen is respected – old fashioned emotional reserve and an unwavering sense of duty – appear to be leading to the crown’s demise. Can the monarchy survive beyond her? And does Britain want it? Matthew Dennison, the author of a new best-selling biography of the Queen, gives a very British defense.
Monday 14 June
Beyond Trump? with Bob Paduchik
Now that the dust has settled since the US election, Republican campaign strategist and former co-chair of the Republican National Committee, Bob Paduchik, gives his analysis of the current state of US politics. Why did the Republican’s lose election? Was it just the pandemic? What are the repercussions from the election and the tumultuous events on Capitol Hill. Continued accusations of voter fraud and new voter legislation seems to be one immediate effect. Where do traditional Conservatives, like the likes of Liz Cheney, go now? Bob will be answering these questions and more.
*Please note: this discussion is held under the Chatham House Rule & is a live discussion for Insight Members only. No recording will be available.
Thursday 17 June
Afghan Withdrawal? with Lynne O’Donnell
An operation that was meant to last a few weeks is two decades old; the United States has spent far more time in Afghanistan than in Vietnam. Now as US troops head home and the Taliban are ever present many Afghans are worried what will happen to their country next. Former Kabul AP bureau chief, Lynne O’Donnell speaks about what is at stake as American forces and their allies leave.
Tuesday 22 June
Modi’s Gamble with Rahul Tandon
Until just a few months ago Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could do no wrong. With 80% approval rates his brand of Hindu nationalism made him appear unbeatable. But the pandemic could prove his undoing. At least a quarter of a million are dead (which is widely seen as a gross under-estimate), oxygen is lacking and an under-sourced health system is close to collapse. Despite this the PM and his cabinet have disappeared from public view for weeks at a time. BBC correspondent Rahul Tandon looks at the possible fallout.
Tuesday 29 June
Kagame’s Rwanda with Michela Wrong
President Paul Kagame’s Rwanda is a darling of the west; in power since 2000, he’s brought stability and growth after the horrors of the 1994 genocide. But woe betide anyone who gets in his way. FT correspondent Michela Wrong’s latest book “Do not disturb” traces the killing of opposition figures back to the government in Kigali. She asks why western governments continue to support an administration with such an egregious human rights record.
Tuesday 4 May
Northern Ireland at 100 with Billy Graham & other guests
The UK is one hundred years old this summer, at least in its present form. In June 1921 Britain struck a truce with the Republic, effectively creating Northern Ireland. Billy Graham questions how long the province will continue to exist. Brexit has in part prompted new unrest that has spilled out onto the streets of Belfast. Billy will also look ahead to our upcoming tour from 20-26 June. Other guests will be announced shortly.
Thursday 6 May
Brexit; So far, so good? with Maddy Thimont Jack & Peter Glanville
Amid all the focus on the pandemic Brexit’s impact on the UK seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. While Boris and co may have “taken back control” some of the costs of Brexit are beginning to emerge – from additional customs checks and other red tape to banks moving their business overseas. Maddy Thimont Jack, who leads the Institute for Government’s Brexit team, provides an overview of Brexit’s impact so far. PT regular Peter Glanville runs an import business in the UK and gives us a brief overview of a small business trading with the EU.
Tuesday 11 May
Scottish Elections with Brian Taylor
The SNP’s is expected to strike a resounding victory on May 6th parliamentary elections in Scotland adding momentum to calls for another Scottish referendum on independence. Brian Taylor, formerly the BBC’s political editor in Scotland and the leader of our upcoming political tour (June 27- July 3) reviews the outcome of the vote and assesses where the nationalists are likely to go from here. Can Westminster keep saying no to #IndyRef2?
Thursday 13 May
The Ratline with Philippe Sands
Phillipe Sands is a barrister and an expert on international human rights law. But it is his books on the holocaust, East West Street and most recently The Ratline that have brought him even greater renown. East West Street won the 2016 Bailie-Gifford Prize for non-fiction. His latest book looks at the life of the Nazi fugitive, Otto Wachter on the run in Italy and aided in part by Vatican connections. Both are gripping reads. Phillipe speaks with us about his latest book and bringing war criminals to justice.
Tuesday 18 May
We need to talk about Putin with Prof. Mark Galeotti
Earlier this month Russia amassed over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border. Merely sabre rattling or preparation for an invasion of the breakaway Donbass region? Mark Galeotti, one of the world’s best known Russia watchers says President Putin is trying to find his footing with a new White House administration. Does this mean we headed for a more stable period of US-Russia relations?
Wednesday 19 May
Israel update with Gershon Baskin
By the time this talk takes place Benjamin Netanyahu may be Israel’s Prime Minister once again – and on trial for corruption charges at the same time. He’s clinging on to power with a shaky coalition of right-wing parties and a Palestinian Islamist group; it would be the first government to be created with Arab-Israeli support. If that breaks down Israel faces another election, the fifth in two years. Veteran left-winger and peacenik Gershon Baskin gives his take on Bibi’s future and Israeli politics in general.
Thursday 27 May
Moneyland: Illicit Finance – Part 2 with Oliver Bullough
Banks, law firms, professional services and our governments are facilitating a system that robs the poorest then recycles it in the centres of global finance. Oliver Bullough’s book Moneyland looks at London in particular and its role in washing the funds of kleptocrats and criminals threatening our democracies in the process. Expect a frank discussion. This session follows on from our previous briefing with Tom Keatinge from the Royal United Services Institute.
Tuesday 6 April
‘British colonialism, antisemitism, and Palestinian rights’ with Prof. Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim talks about Israel’s history, his own upbringing, Britain’s role in the Middle East and Palestinian rights. Professor Shlaim’s research has challenged perceived notions about Israel. He argues it has become “an ethnocracy, a political system in which one ethnic group dominates the other.” At the same time, he says, critical discussion of Israeli policy is being closed down in both the UK and US.
Monday 12 April
Carbon Capture with Kim Bye Bruun & Dr. Gabrielle Walker
If the world is to have any success in cutting global carbon emissions it needs to master carbon capture. An experiment is underway on Norway’s North Sea coast that could offer a way out for energy hungry industries; machines that simply filter CO2 from the air. Some environmentalists say it lets industry off the hook. Broadcaster and environmental author, Dr Gabrielle Walker, and Kim Bye Bruun from Norlights, one of the companies behind the Norwegian program, explain the theory behind carbon capture and the controversy surrounding it.
Thursday 15 April
The End of Populism? In discussion with Peter Kellner
From Trump to Brexit there’s no doubt we have been living through unprecedented times where populism and identity politics have reigned. But is this drawing to a close? Peter Kellner, the renown political commentator and founder of the global polling group YouGov says the pandemic is forcing a change. He outlines the choices faced by leaders confined by budget deficits and increased taxation. Voters too may want more stable government. The focus is on Boris Johnson’s Britain but the parallels are there for governments around the world.
Thursday 22 April
Asma al-Assad: Banker, First-Lady, and War Criminal? with Nicolas Pelham
Asma Akhras was once a demure banker from suburban London destined for a stellar career in high-finance. All that changed when she fell in love with a tall ophthalmologist from Damascus. Mrs al-Assad, AKA the First Lady of Syria, became a beacon of reform promising economic change and even human rights. But then the Arab Spring erupted and Syria fell into civil war. A decade later Asma is now accused of war crimes. How did it all come to this? Nicolas Pelham, The Economist’s Middle East Correspondent charts her rise and fall.
Tuesday 27 April
Illicit Finance with Tom Keatinge
Over the past two decades London has become a global center for organized crime groups, oligarchs and kleptocrats bent on undermining democracy. It has become all to easy for them to wash their money here according to Tom Keatinge, Director, Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He says it is time for change and what’s more Washington knows it. Tom outlines the growth of illicit finance and the measures needed to tackle it.
Thursday 29 April
Colombia’s Coca with Joe Parkin Daniels & Tom Laffay
Cocaine is back. After years of success wiping out the growth of cocaine production (it moved to Peru) it is back in Colombia with a vengeance. Spraying coca crops with carcinogenic chemicals is out, and the measures aimed at providing farmers with an alternative have failed. At the same time Colombia’s peace-process that ended the decades long civil war with leftist guerillas appears in tatters. Joe Parkin Daniels, the New York Times and Guardian’s reporter in Colombia, and documentary maker Tom Laffay highlight the dilemmas faced by the government in Bogota as well as ordinary farmers trying to make a living.
Tuesday 2 March
Anti-semitism vs Anti-zionism with Professor Avi Shlaim
Can you be critical of Israel and not be an anti-semite? An argument is raging in British universities and elsewhere as they are being urged to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-semitism. Critics of the definition say it has been designed to curb criticism of Israel. But its defenders say without it anti-semitism will rage on campuses and elsewhere. A discussion with the Oxford based Israeli academic and self-professed anti-zionist Professor Avi Shlaim and other guests (additional speakers tbc).
Tuesday 9 March
Killing Iraq with Ramita Navai
Iraq’s Shiite militias were credited with routing Isis but now the country is paying a heavy price. Human rights activists, politicians, Sunnis and fellow Shia alike are being picked off in a wave of killings attributed to Iranian backed groups. Can anyone stop them? Film-maker Ramita Navai and Iraqi producer, Mais Al-Baaya, speak about this new reign of terror and the politics behind it. Their latest film Iraq Uncovered airs on BBC and PBS.
Thursday 11 March
Putin Forever with Prof. Vladislav Inozemtsev
Vladimir Putin’s grip on power in Russia seems unshakeable. Why then has he taken such drastic measures against Alexei Navalny and allied opposition groups (let alone attempt to kill him)? Russian academic Vladimir Inozemtsev, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, outlines why Putin views this latest round of protests differently. We get an update on Russian’s multiple foreign excursions and Russia’s handling of Covid-19. President Putin isn’t going away anytime soon.
Wednesday 3 February
Covid Frontline 2nd wave with Dr. Victoria Whitford
Victoria Whitford returns to Insight to give us an update on her work on the covid ward of a London hospital. Last July she was skeptical that both the government and the NHS would learn the lessons from the first wave of the pandemic. Before training to be a doctor Victoria was a British diplomat and was posted to Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as the UK’s Embassy in Washington. Expect a frank discussion.
Thursday 4 February
What works? with Richard Howard & Nicola Gillen
The office is dead, long live working from home… or not. Ten months into the pandemic many of us are fed up with zoom calls and teams, and countless families and employees are itching for offices to open up again. Others are quite happy to be working at home. Whatever everyone’s feelings there’s no doubt the way we work has changed; Richard Howard and Nicola Gillen from one of the world’s largest commercial property agents, Cushman and Wakefield, discuss the future.
Tuesday 9 February
What next for the G.O.P? with Colonel Larry Wilkerson & Malcolm Brown
Just before the mob stormed the Capitol, Don Trump Junior declared “this isn’t their Republican party anymore, this is Donald Trump’s Republican party.” Out of office Trump remains the most popular and at the same time the most divisive figure in the party and is likely to shape its politics for some time to come. Former Republicans want to create a new party. Trump himself threatens his own breakaway movement. Where next for the G.O.P? With Trump critic Col. Lawrence Wilkerson from the Lincoln Project and a former member of the 2020 Trump campaign (details to follow) as well as Political Tour’s Washington expert, Malcolm Brown.
Thursday 18 February
China’s US foreign policy with Professor Steve Tsang
Will President Biden provide a more stable platform for US relations with China? It’s still not yet clear what the new administration’s approach to China will be. But we can probably say more about how China sees the US. Professor Steve Tsang from the School of Oriental and African Studies outlines the views of the Chinese Communist Party under the increasingly firm grip of Xi Jingping.
Tuesday 23 February
Warfare with Tim Ripley
It’s a cliché that generals prepare to fight the last war. Events over the last decade and even the last year show that modern warfare has undergone a drastic revolution; drones, UAV’s, little green men and the clever use of social media may have rendered conventional weaponry redundant. Author and longtime editor with Jane’s Defence, Tim Ripley, takes us through a myriad of frightening changes. Fittingly his next book is called “Little Green Men”.
Thursday 25 February
The Third Reich is Listening with Christian Jennings
Books and films about the Second-World War are dominated by the tales of derring-do by the Brits and their allies. Far less attention is devoted to the other side of the story. Historian and reporter Christian Jennings’s account of German military intelligence tells a rather different story to that of Bletchley Park, Enigma and the brilliant Alan Turing. German intelligence ran circles around most other services throughout Europe well into the war. A diversion from our usual diet of politics.
Tuesday 5 January
7 Lessons from Pandemics with Iain King
Iain King, is a British diplomat and defence strategist, who has served in the British Embassy in Washington, Libya, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Northern Ireland. He now works at the Royal College of Defense Studies. In May last year while at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington he made 7 predictions based on historic precedent. Militarism declines, beliefs are challenged and governments slammed. That much seems obvious but there are some surprises here also. Eight months later, this Tuesday at 8.00 pm GMT we’ll be asking him how much holds true.
Thursday 7 January
“Mummy est morte” with Christopher de Bellaigue
Christopher de Bellaigue was only 13 and at Eton when he was told his mother was dead. Nobody dared to mention the word suicide; stiff upper lips were still de rigueur in 1980s England. Many will know Christopher from our tours to Iran or may have read his books on Persia, Turkey and Islam. But over the past year he has turned his mind and his pen back to the events that defined his childhood. We speak to him about that dreaded day and how it has shaped his life and writing ever since.
It is worth reading Christopher’s recent diary in the London Review of Books below and listening to a podcast interview with his aunt, on the BBC ahead of our talk. Please contact us for links to these. Tough stuff but worth tuning in for.
Tuesday 12 January
Throwing it all away with Vivienne Walt
Vivienne Walt is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has written for TIME and Fortune Magazine since 2003. Vivienne and photographer Sebastian Meyer were commended by the Pulitzer Prize committee for their work on recycling. Their article in Fortune shows how the vast majority of US trash is no longer being recycled in the US anymore but shipped 8000 miles to countries such as Malaysia where the majority is thrown away. Even in environmentally conscious Europe just 30 per cent of plastics are being fully recycled. At the same time the plastics industry is pumping more and more into the system. Viv will be speaking about the story.
Tuesday 19 January
Brexit with Prof. Jeremy Jennings
Brexit’s done and dusted and we can all move on. Think again. It’s far from clear what role Britain seeks for itself having left the EU and there is a looming constitutional crisis as Scotland pushes for independence. Northern Ireland too may follow. Professor Jennings, head of Political Theory, Social Science and Public Policy at King’s London is joined by fellow speakers for a discussion on where the UK goes next.
Tuesday 26 January
Nagorno-Karabakh with Daniella Peled, Richard Giragosian & Emin Milli
Armenia and Azerbaijan have tussled over Nagorno-Karabakh since the breakup of the Soviet Union. It was dubbed a frozen conflict but in September Azeri forces seized ground lost decades earlier to the Armenian backed enclave. After many lives lost, mostly Armenian, both sides have agreed to a Russian peace-keeping force. What next and what does the conflict say about the balance of power in the region?
Thursday 28 January
Nation Building – Somalia with Simon Haselock & Yasmin Kemal
For decades Somalia has contended with conflict and political instability. Al Shabab Militants still dominate part of the country and African Union troops support a shaky government. In one of his last acts in office, President Trump recently ordered the withdrawal of US troops from the region despite government pleas for them to remain. Simon Haselock, who leads a team of advisors working with the Somali government, speaks about nation-building in one of the trickiest areas in Africa. For several decades Somalia has been gripped by gripped by conflict, competing militias and more recently an islamist insurgency. Simon and colleague Yasmin Kamel outline their work.
Thursday 3 December
Jihadi Brides with Åsne Seierstad
Åsne Seierstad is an award-winning Norwegian journalist and writer known for her work as a war correspondent. She is the author of The Bookseller of Kabul, One Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, and Angel of Grozny: Inside Chechnya. Her books One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway and Two Sisters: A Father, His Daughters, and Their Journey Into the Syrian Jihad focus her attention on her native land. We discuss the story of two Norwegian teenagers flight to join Isis in Syria and other work.
Thursday 10 December
A Retrospective: Ethiopia with Éric Lafforgue
Éric Lafforgue is a professional photographer who travels for well-known magazines, documenting people in situations that most of the world doesn’t get to see or want to witness. He’s taken photos in areas that many would consider off-limits to travel, such as Somalia and North Korea, where he documents his subjects with a friendly intimacy that challenges our preconceptions about their culture and their lives. His photos from around the world capture unscripted moments. We look at his work in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.
Tuesday 15 December
US Foreign Policy & Palestine with Tareq Baconi, International Crisis Group
Donald Trump’s White House did more than any previous US administration to back Israeli expansion in the West Bank – to the extent that many observers say the two-state solution is now dead. Will a Biden administration make any difference?
Thursday 17 December
Who runs Iran? with Kelly Golnoush Niknejad, The Tehran Bureau
Media coverage of Iran tends to leap from one crisis to the next obscuring what is a highly complex and diverse society. The Tehran Bureau, an independent research group based in Paris provides complex and in-depth news stories on the country. In this interview we ask who runs Iran beyond the mullahs. Kelly Niknejad and her team outline the key groups and families and officials that dominate Iran’s economy.
Monday 28 December
Brexit – The Final Gambit with Alex Pigman, Agence France Presse, Brussels & David Gavaghan, Northern Ireland
On January 1st the UK will finally leave the EU’s single market – and if no deal is in place some very long queues are likely to build up to Britain’s ports. Alex Pigman has been following UK-EU negotiations from the outset and takes a broader look at relations between the two sides and where they are likely to go from here. David Gavaghan, one of Northern Ireland’s best known businessman, gives us an Irish perspective from Belfast.
Wednesday 4 November
US Election Results with Professor John Green, University of Akron Ohio
Less than 24 hours after the polls close we take a look results. The ballot count won’t have finished but a winner may already be clear. Renown political expert John Green (who spoke to PT in Ohio in 2012 & 2016) will be on hand to interpret the results. Professor Thomas Baldino joins later in the program from Pennsylvania, 2020’s key swing state.
Tuesday 10 November
Middle East Democracy with Sarah Leah Whitson
Before his death at the hands of the Saudi Embassy in Turkey Jamal Kashoggi established an NGO with the aim of bringing democracy to the Middle East. We speak with Sarah Leah Whitson executive director of the Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) about Kashoggi’s legacy and the NGOs novel attempts to hold regimes like Saudia Arabia to account.
Wednesday 11 November
Taiwan & China with Professor Steve Tsang & Oriana Skylar Mastro
Under Donald Trump relations between the US and China reached new lows. But could they get worse? We look at the expansion of Chinese military power and possibility of a conflict over Taiwan.
Tuesday 17 November
Tibet – Eat the Buddha with Barbara Demick
Former LA Times Beijing bureau chief’s latest book tells the story of Tibet and its demise. It’s been widely praised by newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic and follows her previous best seller Nothing to Envy, an account of the lives in a North Korean town. She’ll be speaking about the book and China today.
Tuesday 24 November
Peace In Bosnia? With FT Correspondent Valerie Hopkins & Louie Sell
It’s 25 years to the month since the Dayton Peace agreement was signed ending the war in Bosnia. Despite all that time the country remain bitterly divided. Worse still Serbian nationalism the force that tore the country apart is on the rise. Louie Sell and Valerie Hopkins are joined by speakers from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
Friday 27 November
Trump’s 73 Million with Professor Thomas Baldino & Doug Preisse
Doug Preisse, a Republican strategist closely associated with former Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Professor Thomas Baldino, former head of politics at Wilkes University Pennsylvania join us for an extra briefing. Despite four chaotic years in power and a pandemic Trump was able to get swathes of new voters out to back him. Our guests will be looking at the future of the Republican Party and populist politics in America.
Monday 30 November
Ukraine – Murder, Corruption & The Courts with Leonid Ragozin & Guests
In 2016 the independent journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in a car bomb in Kiev. Three men accused of his murder are now on trial but critics say it’s a sham. At the same time Ukraine’s reformist president is controversially seeking to dismiss the supreme court for throwing out anti-corruption measures. A mighty battle is underway and it’s not in Donbass.
Thursday 1 October
Turkish Conundrum with Ayla Jean Yackley – FT Istanbul
Ever since the 2016 coup against leader Recep Tayep Erdoan, Turkey has taken an ever more assertive stance intervening in Syria, Libya, and most recently Armenia over Ngorno Karabakh. At home he has sidelined the opposition, imprisoned 1000s and clamped down even further on the press. Is it just Erdogan flexing his muscles? There’s more to it than that says Ayla Jean Yackley, an Istanbul based correspondent for the FT and others.
Monday 12 October
Election 2020 Preview with Dante Chinni, Dave Swenson & Malcolm Brown.
Biden leads the polls by an average of 8-10 points nationally but it’s the state polls that matter most. NBC and the Wall Street Journal’s Dante Chinni plus our reporter Malcolm Brown on the ground and academic Dave Swenson gives us a preview of our US election series and highlight the key groups and states to watch in the run up to polling day.
Tuesday 13 October
Confined Design with Freya Simms
Lockdown has undoubtedly changed the way we live – and many of us are now devoting more time to our own immediate surroundings. In a break from our diet of politics and global affairs we’ve asked Freya Simms the director of LAPADA, the UK’s elite association of antique dealers, and a leading designer to take a look at how people are changing their homes. What’s in, what’s out and what you can do if you are “rejigging” your home. This should be a lively a fun diversion from our normal discussions.
Wednesday 14 October
Wisconsin – The Swing State with a leading Republican Strategist
Wisconsin had been reliably Democratic until 2016 when Donald Trump upset predictions and took it. Trump seems to be doing well still among the state’s predominantly white voters- but the margins here are wafer thin. It’s also been consumed by the black lives matter debate after the killing of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, in the South East of the state. We are joined by a leading Republican strategist and other guests.
Monday 19 October
Florida – The Swing State with Ryan Tyson & David Rancourt
There are a few scenarios in which either candidate can lose Florida and then win the White House. Former Florida Secretary of State and political strategist, David Rancourt, and renown pollster, Ryan Tyson, take us through the different voting blocs in the state and how they could vote. It’s neck and neck.
Tuesday 20 October
Why the Germans do it Better – with John Kampfner
From dealing with its own past, to tackling the coronavirus let alone it’s industrial prowess, Germany just does it better, argues John Kampfner, former New Statesman editor in his recently released book. The question is why? He also goes onto say Britain could learn a lesson or two. Expect a lively debate.
6am PDT (San Francisco), 9am EDT (New York), 2pm BST (London), 12pm AEDT (Sydney), 2am NZDT (Wellington +1)
Tuesday 27 October
Hungary Update – The Soros Conspiracy with Gerald Knaus
We also catch up with Gerald Knaus again whom we talked to in April, to look at Hungary’s media campaign against him. We’ll talk about immigration and anti-Soros conspiracy theories. Viktor Orban has made criticism of Mr Soros and the EU the core of his political message. Gerald has been compared with Soros recently in Hungarian press.
1pm PDT (San Francisco), 4pm EDT (New York), 8pm GMT (London), 9pm CET (Berlin), 7am AEDT (Sydney +1), 9am NZDT (Wellington +1)
Tuesday 1 September
Lukashenko’s Fix – with Leonid Ragozin & Igor Kuley
Alexander Lukashenko has managed to remain in power for 26 years almost unchallenged. Now it looks as though he’s in trouble. Will Putin come to his rescue? Former BBC Russia correspondent Leonid Ragozin with guests from Minsk.
Thursday 3 September
Pakistan Power Struggle – with Owen Bennett-Jones
The Bhutto family have been at the center of power in Pakistani politics for over a century. Former BBC correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones is releasing a book later this month on the family’s trials and tribulations, culminating in the tragic death of Benazir in 2007. It’s a story of murder, intrigue, and bitter family rivalries. Interview with Owen Bennett-Jones.
Monday 7 September
US Election 2020 – The Conspiracy – with Michael Isikoff
Michael Isikoff, one of America’s best known investigative reporters joins us to talk about how conspiracy theories are being used to affect the election. Michael’s last book Russian Roulette, looked at Russian interference in the 2016 election. He looks at the use of such stories in social media including Qanon followers who believe a group of satanic worshiping celebrities and businessmen are conspiring to get President Trump out of the White House. What impact are these groups having on the election this time around.
Friday 18 September
Peace in the Balkans? Kosovo & Serbia – with Jeta Xharra & Sonja Biserko
It’s almost twenty years since the end of the last Balkan war (Macedonia 2001) but the prospect of long-term peace in the region is on hold. Serbia is flirting with Russia, and EU membership for the region, the glue that is meant to prevent another conflict is a long way off. Where’s it all going? Interview with two leading commentators in Kosovo and Serbia give their views.
Tuesday 22 September
Covid & The Rules of Contagion – with Adam Kucharski
Adam Kucharski spoke to our group at our Experts Weekend in London in March. He’s widely regarded as one of the best epidemiologists of his generation and his book, The Rules of Contagion, has become a global best-seller. He speaks about what we’ve learned about the virus so far and what is still to come.
Thursday 24 September
Across the Jordan – with former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher
Already inundated with over a million Syrian refugees, Jordan is having a terrible year with covid19 and the fallout from Israel’s moves to seize parts of the West Bank. What are its options? We hear from Marwan Muasher formerly the Jordanian foreign minister and deputy prime minister.
Tuesday 4 August
The Hidden Holocaust with Efraim Zuroff
Famed Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff’s latest book is on the holocaust in the Baltics. The book, entitled Our People was co-written with Lithuanian author Rūta Vanagaitė who discovered that her relatives had played a role in the murder of Jews. Efraim’s maternal grandparents were born in Lithuania and the great-uncle he was named after were killed in Vilnius. Together the pair uncover the terrible history of the Lithuania’s holocaust and try to convince local authorities to tell the truth amid considerable opposition.
Thursday 6 August
Election 2020 – How Trump Lost the Mid-West with Prof. David Dulio & Prof. Dave Swenson
In 2016 Trump came from behind to surprise the Democrats in states like Michigan. The so called Reagan Democrats, white working class voters turned out in droves to support him, but now it looks like he is loosing their support fast. Political experts David Dulio (Professor of Economics and Politics at Rochester University Michigan) and David Swenson (Professor of Political Economy at Iowa State University) look at what’s happening and argue that the President is fighting a losing battle in an area that once seemed his for the taking.
Tuesday 11 August
‘Ndrangheta – Italy’s Mafia with Tobias Jones & Zora Hauser
While Sicily’s Cosa Nostra continue to be highly influential, the country’s biggest organised crime group is actually based elsewhere; Calabria. Known as the ‘Ndrangheta they have surpassed the Mafia as one the most powerful criminal groups in the world. Zora Hauser is an Oxford based researcher specialising in Italian organised crime. Tobias Jones is a British writer based in Parma and author of the best seller The Dark Heart of Italy as well as Ultra: The Underworld of Italian Football (winner of The Daily Telegraph Football book of the year). Both will be leading our Southern Italy tour, 3-11 October 2020.
Thursday 20 August
Can Boris Bounce Back? with Stephen Castle
Boris Johnson was once the Teflon Don of UK politics on whom no mud could stick. But he has had a torrid time during the pandemic not least ending up critically ill with the disease himself. Britain’s Covid19 death toll is among the worst in the world and the Prime Minister has been widely criticised for his handling of the crisis. Can he put it all behind him and keep his ambitious plans intact? Two leading UK journalists Stephen Castle from the New York Times and TBC assess his performance.
Tuesday 25 August
US Election 2020 – The Southern Problem with Jeff Smith & Simon Romero
The Lone Star State, long a bastion of conservative Republicans, could vote for Biden in 2020. With 38 electoral college votes at stake Trump would have little chance of staying in the White House if he loses it. How has it come to this? Jeff Smith from the Center for Public Integrity in Washington and other experts discuss.
Thursday 27 August
Human Rights Frontline with Peter Bouckaert
How do you improve human rights in the middle of a conflict zone? Peter Bouckaert was director of the Human Rights Watch’s emergency’s team for over a decade working in areas as diverse as the Sri Lanka and Syria. He talks about his experiences.
Tuesday 30 June
We hear from Iceland’s most controversial entrepreneur and genetics expert Kari Stefansson and award winning journalist and bestseller author Thordur Julliusson on how Iceland beat Covid19. Are there lessons for the rest of the world?
Friday 3 July
Iran and Exile
Kasra Naji is editor of the BBC’s Persian service and is regarded as one of the foremost commentators on Iran. Naji was forced into exile for his reporting and is the author of a biography of Mahmoud Ahmedinajad. He speaks about Iran today and his own personal story.
Thursday 9 July
Venezuela – Sanctioned Pandemic with Joe Parkin Daniels & Patricia Torres
Venezuela has superseded Cuba as the pariah state of the Americas. The White House has ramped up sanctions but there’s little sign of the Maduro government going soon. Will Covid-19 change that? The New York Times and The Guardian correspondents discuss.
Tuesday 14 July
Japanese Demographics with Tom Feiling
Japanese lifestyles – single living and small households – may be helping to slow the growth of Covid-19, but in the long-term Japan’s population is collapsing. Villages in some parts of Japan are literally dying out. Award winning author Tom Feiling looks at the long-term impact on the world’s 3rd largest economy.
Friday 17 July
Covid Frontline with Dr. Victoria Whitford
Victoria Whitford was one of the UK’s most promising diplomats serving in conflict zones such as Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as the US Embassy in Washington. She then gave up her career to become a doctor. For the last three month she’s faced a new battle on the wards of a London hospital; Covid-19. This is her account of fighting the virus.
Tuesday 21 July
Egyptian Clampdown with Timothy Kaldas
The Eygpt’s government has taken a firm stance against the media when it comes to reporting on the pandemic with some reporters jailed and others expelled from the country. We can an update on the country with Timothy Kaldas, non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.
Thursday 23 July
Disunited Kingdom? with Magnus Llewellin, Editor of The Times in Scotland
The UK’s four home nations have all had differing approaches to the pandemic. Boris Johnson pushed for a more liberal approach, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been more cautious. Magnus Llewellin, the editor of Scottish edition of The Times, argues that the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the differences between the four nations, and is a taste of things to come. There is, however, a different case to be made, one in which devolved power goes hand-in-hand with co-operation in a united and C21st kingdom.
Tuesday 28 July
Thomas Dworzak: A Retrospective
As President of MAGNUM, Thomas Dworzak is one of the world’s leading photographers. He started taking photos aged just 16 in Northern Ireland and has covered some of the world’s major conflicts. He now lives in Paris. He gives us a retrospective of his work.
Thursday 25 June
Russia, Covid19 & The Autocrat’s Dilemma
The pandemic has been a gift to most autocrats seeking more power but things don’t seem to have gone that well for Vladimir Putin. He’s tried to keep his distance from the handling of the crisis but it may well have damaged his image among ordinary Russians. Former BBC Russian service editor, Konstantin Von Eggert, and Political Tours expert Leonid Ragozin discuss.
Tuesday 23 June
For decades Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth and conservative ruling family have ensured a stable ally for the west in the Arabian Peninsula. But a ruthless heir apparent and tumbling oil prices compounded by a looming fiscal crisis and regional instability raise huge questions about the Kingdom’s future. We are joined by the Britain’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir William Patey and Neil Quilliam an associate fellow of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa program.
Thursday 18 June
Living in Isolation
With many countries gradually moving out of quarantine BBC broadcaster and former Lebanese hostage John McCarthy is joined by consultant psychiatrist Judith Mohring to look at what impact isolation and quarantine have had on us all and how we should cope.
Tuesday 16 June
Black Lives Matter
What can we learn from George Floyd’s death and the wave of protests that followed it? Professor Thomas Holt is one of the most respected historians of race relations in the United States. While the civil rights movement has seen African-Americans make some significant advances since the 1960s it has not been matched by economic progress. Professor Holt gives an overview of how race relations have evolved in the US over the past 40 years.
Thursday 11 June
North Korea’s Economy
In our third in a series of discussions on the DPRK Professor Ruediger Frank separates truth from fiction in North Korea’s economy. How do ordinary North Koreans get by? How is the economy affected by sanctions? And where does this leave Kim Jung-Un’s ambitions for the country.
Tuesday 9 June
ANC leader Nelson Mandela is credited with bringing about a peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa but what of his legacy? South Africa is scarred by enormous social and racial differences and many critics suggest the ANC has squandered the two decades to bring about economic change. Former editor of The Star newspaper, Peter Sullivan and Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill assess.
Thursday 4 June
Reporting Covid19 in the UK
Reporting on the coronavirus has been a difficult task according Andrew Testa, a renown freelance photographer with The New York Times. He talks about the challenges of telling the story that has taken at least 40,000 lives and possibly over 60,000.
28 May 2020
A New Cuban Crisis – The US Embargo & Covid19
Already before the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Cuba’s economy was struggling. After a decade of halting economic reform, GDP growth remained sclerotic, and the re-intensification of U.S. sanctions under Donald Trump was intensifying existing difficulties. Now Covid-19 has forced Cuba to shut its borders to international tourism, and hard currency reserves needed for importing foodstuffs are depleted. Beyond the public health crisis—which Cuba has responded to with considerable success compared to regional peers—what is in store for Cuba’s future? Is the island on the doorstep of an economic crisis that rivals the severe depression experienced after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s?
Michael J. Bustamante, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Florida International University in Miami. He is co-editor of The Revolution from Within: Cuba, 1959-1980, published by Duke University Press in 2019. His commentary on contemporary Cuban affairs has appeared in Foreign Affairs and The Washington Post among other publications.
26 May 2020
You’ve Been Trumped
Documentary maker Anthony Baxter came to fame with his film on Donald Trump’s Scottish golf-course. Trump then tried to sue the BBC and prevent the film being broadcast helping the film become a major success. His most recent film is called FLINT. Made over 5 years it examiens the water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan. In conversation with Nicholas Wood.
Annexing Palestine – Netanyahu’s Push to Seize the West Bank
Israel has a new government all the while its Prime Minister is simultaneously trying to avoid jail and annex part of the West Bank. It seems the famed-two state solution is well and truly dead. Discussion with Dahlia Scheindlin and Sam Bahour.
Fleeing North Korea: A conversation with a defector
Eunhee Park escaped North Korea at only 18. She’s part of a new generation of defectors who have fled the north surviving on their wits and surprisingly a spirit of enterprise. In conversation with Nicholas Wood and Eunkoo Lee and Casey Lafargue from Teach North Korean Refugees.
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The Inflation Bogeyman
David Smith, The Sunday Times Economics Editor and Luka Gakic, an investment director with Ruffer discuss the risks of the Covid19 bailouts. Central banks and governments are spending money in a way never seen before but what will the long term impact of this be. There are some who fear it will unleash massive inflation. Others are turning that economic theory on its head.
Catch 22 – Lockdown in South Africa
How do you tackle Covid19 in places where social distancing and good hygiene are near impossible? We’re joined by Thulani Madondo who runs Soweto based charity the Kliptown Youth Program, John Matisonn, author of a new biography on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Dr. Paul Davis, who has just retired as Chairman of Aurum, South Africa’s foremost independent health charity. South Africa was quick to impose restrictions and has kept the virus in check so far but at what cost?
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April 30, 2020 1.00 PM BST
Just How Bad Can It Get? The Global Economic Meltdown & Covid19
How much damage is being done to the global economy and what are the possible political and economic outcomes?
Prof. Jeremy Jennings from King’s College London and Tom Elliott, former market strategist with JP Morgan Asset Management assess the damage being done to the global economy. Both suggest that this is likely to be the most significant political and economic crisis of our lifetimes. They’ll also ask how quickly we will recover. There’s an alphabet soup of answers. Will it be a U, W or even worse a “long slow reverse J”?
Tom Elliott helps clients understand the economic and political influences that drive capital markets, which in turn drive investor returns. Tom, formerly an Executive Director at JP Morgan Asset Management, has 25 years experience in the financial sector. He is currently a visiting lecturer in the department of political economy at King’s College, London.
Professors Jeremy Jennings is Head of the School of Politics & Economics at Kings College London. Previously he served as Head of Department in Birmingham and at Queen Mary, was Vincent Wright Professor at the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris in 2006 and was also a visiting fellow at the University of Columbia Research Centre in Paris. Jeremy holds a visiting professorship with the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.
April 28, 2020 12.00 PM BST
Art vs Propaganda; Culture in North Korea with Nick Bonner
Few outsiders know North Korea as well as Nick Bonner. As the founder of North Korean travel specialists Koryo Tours he has an unparalleled range of contacts in the hermit-like state. He also owns one of the best North Korean art collections outside of the DPRK and has worked with artists and cinematographers there for many years. It’s enabled him to build up a rich and nuanced understanding of the most authoritarian state on earth.
April 24, 2020, 11.00 a.m. BST
Power Grab; Freedom in Hungary & Covid19
Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. In Hungary Prime Minister Victor Orban now has the power to rule by decree and anyone who spreads “false rumours” can face jail time of up to 5 years. The new law has caused an outcry from civil liberties advocates who say it may have a lasting impact. Elsewhere governments around the world are introducing steps that would in normal times provoke a public outcry.
Nick Thorpe, BBC Central Europe Correspondent, based in Budapest. He outlines Victor Orban’s latest steps and describes how Hungary’s nationalist Fidesz party is hoping reshape the EU its own image.
Gerald Knaus, Founder of the European Stability Initiative, one of the most influential think tanks in the EU at the moment. The ESI says the EU needs to find a way to stop countries like Hungary undermining democracy. Its latest paper argues European financial aid for the economy after the pandemic should have strings attached.
Boris Kalnoky, Budapest based correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt who has covered central and south eastern Europe since the 1980s. He believes the criticisms made of Hungary and other states are overblown. It’s time for the preaching from Brussels and elsewhere to stop.
April 16, 2020, 8:00 PM BST
Lebanon: Debt, Revolution & Covid19
Lebanon based reporters Leena Saidi and Nicholas Blanford discussed the impact of Covid19 on a state already struggling to cope with significant problems. Before the onset of the pandemic the government in Beirut had just defaulted on part of its colosal national debt. Nationwide street protests brought the previous government to its knees. And on top of that it is home to at least 1.5 million Syrian refugees. How do measures like quarantine work in these conditions? Is there an alternative approach?
April 9, 2020, 9:00 PM BST
Tobias Jones on Italy: Life under lockdown, Life after Covid19
Author and Parma based reporter, Tobias Jones, discusses the impact of Covid19 on Italian society and looks at the implications for the country beyond the pandemic. Like much of Europe, Italy looks set to go into a deep recession. There is much anger at the EU for what many Italians see as the block’s failure to help them in their hour of need.
(Sound only for first minute)
April 2, 2020 3:00PM BST
From 1918 to 2020; the US response to the Flu Pandemic.
It now seems clear that the United States is set to become one of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus despite the advanced warning it has had from China and Europe. Similarly 102 years ago the US was hit by a similar crisis. While the world has obviously changed enormously, not least in terms of medicine and technology we are interested to know what parallels there are here, and our focus here is how government at the state and federal levels have reacted.
Nancy Bristow is Professor of History at Puget Sound University and Author of American Pandemic: The lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epedemic.
David Swenson, Professor of Economics at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. We look at the emerging economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the US.
R Jeffrey Smith, Pullitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, formerly with The Washington Post and now National Security Editor at the Center for Public Integrity, Washington DC. Jeffrey will look at the divisions between state and federal government.
Discussion followed by q&a.