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George Monbiot: Surrounded by fear

Humans face a series of interlinked existential challenges. How do we feed a global population heading towards ten billion? Can it be done without degrading ecosystems and exacerbating climate change to a calamitous extent? Stephen Sackur interviews writer and environmental activist George Monbiot, who has spent decades addressing these questions and framing radical answers. Why are so many politicians and voters seemingly unwilling to listen?
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Shon Faye: The transgender issue

According to research in the US and the UK, roughly one in 100 may be transgender. But the fact that the debate about transgender rights has become a political battleground isn?t driven so much by the numbers but more by conflicting ideologies. Stephen Sackur asks author and journalist Shon Faye if all the attention on issues of sex, gender and identity is making it easier to be trans or not.
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Amrullah Saleh: Is resistance in Afghanistan viable?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the former First Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh, now a leader of the resistance dedicated to overthrowing the Taliban. A year after the Islamists returned to power, Afghanistan is in the grip of repression and starvation. Is resistance a viable option?
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Albert Woodfox: Freedom after a life inside

There are some human experiences which most of us find it very hard to get our heads around. In 2019, Stephen Sackur spoke to Albert Woodfox, who experienced the unimaginable torment of more than four decades in solitary confinement, in a tiny cell in one of America?s most notorious prisons. He was the victim of ingrained racism and brutality inside America?s system of criminal justice. He was released from prison in 2016 and reflected on the meaning of freedom after everything he?d been through. This is another chance to listen to the interview with Albert Woodfox after his recent death. (Photo: Albert Woodfox, a former member of the Black Panthers, who was put in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Credit: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images)
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Gregory Doran: Why does Shakespeare still captivate us?

Stephen Sackur is in Stratford-upon-Avon, interviewing Gregory Doran, artistic director emeritus of the Royal Shakespeare Company. More than 400 years after his death, Shakespeare?s words and stories live on, transcending languages and borders. Why do we continue to make much ado about Shakespeare?
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The Singh Twins: Mixing art and politics

Zeinab Badawi is at the Firstsite gallery in Colchester to speak to acclaimed contemporary British artists the Singh Twins. Their work combines Eastern and Western traditions with sharp political comment. What inspires their artistic vision?
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James Lovelock: The future of life on Earth

In an interview recorded in 2021, Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the past century's most influential environmentalists, James Lovelock. He introduced us to the Gaia hypothesis ? the idea that our planet and all the life on it are part of one dynamic, self-regulating system. At the age of 101, Lovelock still had big thoughts about the future of life on Earth. Have we humans sown the seeds of our own destruction? Audio for this episode updated on Monday 1st August 2022.
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Julius Malema: Is South Africa on the brink of chaos?

Stephen Sackur speaks to South Africa?s controversial populist politician Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters. Allegations of political corruption, power cuts and mass unemployment are pushing South Africa to the brink of chaos. Could one of Africa?s richest nations be consumed by insurrectionist violence?
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Fatih Birol: Could short-term panic derail the clean energy transition?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, and an influential advocate of the global transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Has that green transition been hampered or hastened by the Ukraine war and Europe?s deepening energy crisis?
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Sharan Burrow: Do workers have faith in collective action?

Stephen Sackur interviews the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow. There are signs of deepening worker discontent around the world; inflation is outstripping wages, and global corporations stand accused of putting profits before people, while many governments see organised labour as a threat. Have workers lost their faith in collective action?
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Omah Lay: Is there a universal message in his music?

Sarah Montague speaks to Afrobeats musician Omah Lay. With its roots in the social activist Afrobeat music pioneered by Fela Kuti, is there a universal message in the music of this young Nigerian singer-songwriter? (Photo: Omah Lay talks to Sarah Montague)
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Meaza Ashenafi: What are the prospects for peace in Ethiopia?

The conflict in Ethiopia between the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front and government forces is one of many challenges to the country?s stability. Now, there is a glimmer of hope, with both sides saying they are willing to start efforts to end the war. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Meaza Ashenafi, the Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia. What are the prospects for peace and justice in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands?
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Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda: Does Christianity in Iraq have a future?

Twenty-five years ago, almost one and a half million Christians lived in Iraq. Now there are around a quarter of a million, and after years of war and communal violence many of them have been displaced from their ancestral homes. Can anything be done to reverse this trend toward extinction? Stephen Sackur speaks to Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil, home to the largest remaining Christian community. In a country and a region where Christianity has deep roots, does it have a future?
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Nury Turkel: Will the world stand up for China's Uyghurs?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Nury Turkel, a prominent Uyghur activist in exile and chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is a key leader in the effort to pressure China to end the repression of the Uyghurs. But is his campaign doomed to fail? (Photo: Nury Turkel in the Hardtalk studio)
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Ibram X. Kendi: America's unhealed racial wounds

The fractures in American society are widening, over guns, abortion, education and more. But the deepest, most traumatic fracture is surely over race. The US is post-slavery, post-segregation, but definitely not post-racism. Stephen Sackur speaks to Ibram X. Kendi, an influential writer and academic, who argues the only way to not be racist is to be actively anti-racist - a message he says children must hear. But does his approach risk intensifying America?s internal conflict?
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Steve Thompson: Rugby's traumatic legacy

Steve Thompson is a World Cup-winning England rugby player whose brain has been irreparably damaged by years of collisions. His wife Steph helps him deal with a life blighted by early-onset dementia. What happens when the game just isn?t worth it?
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Lord Patten: Were promises to Hong Kong broken?

When the UK handed Hong Kong back to China 25 years ago, the last words of the departing British Governor to the people of the territory were: ?Now Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong. That is the promise. And that is the unshakeable destiny.? Sarah Montague speaks to Lord Patten, the man who made that pledge, to ask if that promise has been broken - and if the UK could have done more to honour it.
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K. Shanmugam: Will Singapore have to choose between the US and China?

Stephen Sackur speaks to K. Shanmugam, Singapore?s minister of home affairs. Economically open, socially conservative and highly politically controlled, Singapore has thrived in the era of globalisation, but could rising US/China tensions force it to take sides?
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Henry Huiyao Wang: Is China exposing its vulnerabilities?

Stephen Sackur speaks to China thinktank founder and sometime government adviser Henry Huiyao Wang. From its strategic partnership with Putin?s Russia, to its draconian and economically damaging Covid policy, is Beijing making calls which expose its vulnerabilities?
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João Vale de Almeida: Have UK-EU relations become toxic?

Stephen Sackur speaks to João Vale de Almeida, the EU?s Ambassador to the UK, who is at the sharp end of the bitter fight between Boris Johnson?s government and Brussels over Northern Ireland. If Britain backs out of the Brexit deal and the EU retaliates, how toxic could things get?
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Semyon Bychkov: Artists speaking out against Putin

Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the world?s great conductors, Semyon Bychkov. Born in the Soviet Union, exiled from Russia, and a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin?s war in Ukraine, does he fear the fall out for artists when nationalism and politics take centre stage?
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Olha Stefanishyna: Will Kyiv get the support it needs?

Stephen Sackur speaks to one of Ukraine?s Deputy Prime Ministers, Olha Stefanishyna. The country faces a moment of truth: Russian firepower on the frontline is beginning to tell, as the EU contemplates whether to accept Ukraine as a candidate for membership. Will Kyiv get the support it needs?
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Nicu Popescu: How can Moldova protect itself?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Nicu Popescu, Moldova?s foreign minister and deputy Prime Minister. Poor, beset with corruption and strategically vulnerable, Moldova has reasons to fear that Russia?s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine could end on its soil. How does Moldova best protect itself?
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Josef Aschbacher: Is Europe losing the space race?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the head of the European Space Agency, Josef Aschbacher. Russia?s invasion of Ukraine put an end to space cooperation with Moscow, leaving key projects in disarray. Has it also left Europe looking like an also-ran in the space race?
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Vassily Nebenzia: Is Putin's plan failing?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia. More than 100 days into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is locked in attrition, costly fighting in the Donbas, enduring economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Is Putin?s plan failing?
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Fawzia Koofi: Do Afghans still have hope?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Fawzia Koofi, one of Afghanistan?s most prominent women politicians, who has been in exile since the Taliban returned to power last year. Faced with economic collapse and political repression, can Afghans see any glimmer of light in the darkness? (Photo: Fawzia Koofi in the Hardtalk studio)
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Dr Njoki Ngumi ? Artist and film-maker

Zeinab Badawi is in Nairobi to talk to one of Kenya?s most ground-breaking cultural figures Dr Njoki Ngumi. She abandoned a promising career in medicine to help set up an arts collective and believes that creative endeavours can help transform societies. One of the collective?s films exploring homosexuality was banned in Kenya where gay sex is a crime. So how far is Njoki Ngumi shifting opinions? (Photo: Dr Njoki Ngumi)
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Iván Fischer, Conductor and Composer

Stephen Sackur speaks to the world-renowned Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer. He?s one of the most innovative, idiosyncratic maestros in the world of classical music. In the current climate, how easy is it to find the magic in music-making?
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Serhii Plokhy: How Putin weaponises history

Stephen Sackur speaks to internationally renowned Harvard historian Serhii Plokhy, who specialises in the complex histories of Ukraine, Russia and the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin has tried to weaponise history to undermine Ukrainian identity and nationhood - how does this historian fight back?
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Danica Roem: America's culture wars

Stephen Sackur is in Washington DC to speak to America?s first transgender state lawmaker, Danica Roem. She overcame long odds to win a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Now she?s a powerful voice in the US culture wars. From trans rights to abortion, are progressives or conservatives in the ascendant?
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Luis Lacalle Pou: Why is Uruguay moving to the right?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Uruguay?s President Luis Lacalle Pou. He?s a conservative advocate of free market economics and tougher crackdowns on crime. Why is Uruguay going right when so much of Latin America is currently trending to the left?
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Jens Stoltenberg: Is Nato being undermined by internal divisions?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He claims the West?s military alliance has been steadfast in support of Ukraine since Russian President Putin?s invasion. But in Kyiv, there is increasing frustration. Is Nato being undermined by internal divisions?
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Iván Duque: Has Colombia's president failed?

Stephen Sackur speaks to the President of Colombia, Iván Duque. His term is coming to an end with the country?s biggest problems unresolved: mass poverty, inequality and alarming levels of violence. Does the Duque Presidency signal the conclusive failure of Colombia?s ruling elite?
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Franklin Graham: An era of moral decline?

Stephen Sackur speaks to evangelist Franklin Graham, who has followed in his father Billy?s footsteps and become one of the biggest Christian preachers in America. In the intensifying culture war over abortion and LGBTQ rights in the US, have the evangelists and the Republicans joined forces?
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Stella Moris: Will Julian Assange be extradited to the US?

Stephen Sackur speaks to lawyer Stella Moris, wife of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and mother of two of his children. The British government is about to decide whether to extradite him to the United States to face espionage charges. With his fate on the line, why is Assange such a polarising figure?
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Inger Ashing: Is the war in Ukraine overshadowing other crises?

Zeinab Badawi speaks to Inger Ashing, CEO of the charity Save the Children International. What is her organisation doing in Ukraine, and is the war with Russia taking the focus off other global hotspots, leaving millions of children in peril?
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Victoria Spartz: Does her party share her commitment to defeating Putin?

Stephen Sackur is in Washington to speak to the Ukrainian born Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz. She is an ardent advocate of US support for Kyiv in the war with Russia. Does her party and in particular Donald Trump, share her commitment to defeating Putin? (Photo: Victoria Spartz, Republican Congresswoman)
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Senator Mark Warner: Are we facing a new Cold War?

Stephen Sackur is in Washington DC to speak to the Chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, senior Democrat Senator Mark Warner. America is sending weapons and money to Ukraine to confront Vladimir Putin. But with economic troubles and political polarisation at home, is the US well equipped for a new era of conflict? (Photo: Democrat Senator Mark Warner)
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Jim Green: Has Nasa lost its way?

Stephen Sackur speaks to Jim Green who has just retired as chief scientist of Nasa. He was involved with extraordinary missions to Mars, Jupiter and Mercury but he also saw Nasa funding slashed and ever more reliance on co-operation with billionaire privateers. Has Nasa lost its way? (Photo: Jim Green appears on Hardtalk via videolink)
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Zoltán Kovács: Whose side is Hungary really on?

Hungary is at odds with fellow Nato and EU members thanks to its close ties to Russia and suspicion of Ukraine?s president Zelensky. Stephen Sackur speaks to Zoltán Kovács, Hungary?s Secretary of State for International Communication. Whose side is Hungary?s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán really on? (Photo: Zoltán Kovács, Hungary Secretary of State for International Communication)
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Bill Browder: Sanctioning Russia

Stephen Sackur speaks to Bill Browder, the American investor who made a fortune in post-Soviet Russia before falling foul of Vladimir Putin. Browder has long campaigned for Russia?s economic isolation - his lobbying has been instrumental in the US passing the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which imposed targeted sanctions on Russian individuals directly connected to rights abuses. Thanks to the invasion of Ukraine, Russia is now facing further Western sanctions. But Putin?s war machine hasn't yet ground to a halt and he shows no sign of reversing course. Has Russia?s economic resilience been underestimated? (Photo: Bill Browder in the Hardtalk studio)
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Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia

Stephen Sackur is in Bratislava for an exclusive interview with Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger. Slovakia is hosting tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees and is shipping arms to Ukraine yet it still relies on Russian gas. The country faces tough choices. What will they do?
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Frances O'Grady: How can workers defend their interests?

As rising inflation eats into wages, and machine learning and the gig economy transform the world of work, how do workers defend their interests? Stephen Sackur speaks to Frances O?Grady, General Secretary of the UK?s Trades Union Congress.
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Slava Vakarchuk: A rock star on the frontline

Stephen Sackur speaks to Slava Vakarchuk, a Ukrainian rock star who has exchanged stadium gigs for a military uniform and morale-boosting visits to the frontline. As Ukraine fights for its survival in the face of Russia?s aggression, what role can this cultural icon play?
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Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Making an enemy of Putin

Stephen Sackur speaks to the the former Russian oligarch turned Putin foe, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He was once the boss of energy company Yukos and Russia?s richest oligarch. After falling out with President Putin, he spent 10 years in prison. Now he wants tougher western sanctions on Moscow and more arms for Ukraine in the war with Russia. If Putin faces defeat in Ukraine, how will he respond?
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Kylie Moore-Gilbert: 804 days in an Iranian jail

Iran?s rocky relations with the West have cost a host of individuals their freedom. The Islamic republic has imprisoned citizens from the US, Britain and a number of other countries for spying. The charges may be trumped up, but Tehran?s determination to use western prisoners for political purposes is very real. Stephen Sackur speaks to Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was released from an Iranian jail in 2020 after 804 days behind bars.
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Omid Djalili: Can jokes be funny without being mean?

Comedy challenges taste and convention, and it can arouse strong reactions, as we saw at this year?s Oscars when a joke earned Chris Rock a slap in the face from Will Smith. Stephen Sackur speaks to Omid Djalili, who has spent more than 25 years finding laughs in sometimes unlikely places. He was born in London to Iranian parents, and has thrived as a cross-cultural comedic chameleon. Is it possible to be funny without being mean?
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Dr Njoki Ngumi: Can art change Kenya?

Zeinab Badawi is in Nairobi to talk to one of Kenya?s most ground-breaking cultural figures, Dr Njoki Ngumi. She abandoned a promising career in medicine to help set up an arts collective, and believes that creative endeavours can help transform societies. One of the collective?s films exploring homosexuality was banned in Kenya, where gay sex is a crime. So how far is Njoki Ngumi shifting opinions?
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Sergei Guriev: Is Moscow outmanoeuvring the West's sanctions?

What will it take to end the war Vladimir Putin has initiated in Ukraine? In military terms, Russia now seems intent on a grim campaign of attrition in the east and south - a strategy which is already taking a terrible human toll. Could economic isolation inflict enough pain to force the Kremlin to reconsider? Stephen Sackur speaks to the exiled Russian economist Sergei Guriev. Is Moscow outmanoeuvring the west when it comes to sanctions?
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Tsai Ming-yen: Could Putin?s strategy be a template for China to follow?

While the West says Russia?s invasion of Ukraine must fail, China holds back. Stephen Sackur speaks to a top diplomat from Taiwan, Taipei?s representative to the EU, Tsai Ming-yen. Could Putin?s strategy be a template for Beijing to follow in territory it still claims as its own, namely Taiwan?
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