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The Inquiry

The Inquiry

The Inquiry gets beyond the headlines to explore the trends, forces and ideas shaping the world.

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Can you reduce Central American migration?

Families from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador now make up the majority of migrants arriving at the US southern border. Many from urban areas are fleeing endemic gang violence, while those from rural regions are affected by droughts and food security issues. The Mexican government is increasing security along their borders, while the Trump administration has been changing asylum law. Could these measures help to lower the number of people choosing to make the dangerous journey? Or is there another way to make sure migrants don't feel like they need to leave their homes? (Photo: A Guatamalan mother with her three daughters crossed Mexico to reach the US border city of Juarez-El paso, Texas. Credit: David Peinado/Getty Images)
2019-08-01
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Will China crack down on Hong Kong?

Last month Hong Kong witnessed its largest ever protests, the most violent in decades. A proposed law to allow extradition of criminals to mainland China caused uproar. This bill exposed the cracks in relations between Hong Kong and the Beijing government. The current ?one country, two systems? arrangement gives the region some autonomy from Beijing. Pro-democracy protesters worry that this is being eroded as the Communist party is trying to bring it further under its influence. Complicating matters is Hong Kong?s significant but shrinking economic importance to China. With this year being the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen square massacre the international community is nervously watching to see how modern China will respond to the civil disobedience on such a large scale. (Protesters storm the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019. Photo Credit: Anthony Wallace/Getty images.)
2019-07-25
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What kind of Prime Minister would Boris Johnson make?

With his unruly blond hair and shambolic appearance, Boris Johnson is Britain?s best-known politician. He?s also favourite to become the UK?s next Prime Minister. To his supporters, the former Mayor of London is charismatic, entertaining and a man of the people. His critics say he?s unprincipled, ruthless and flexible with the truth. If he wins the Conservative party leadership race, he?ll have to deliver Brexit. But what kind of leader might he be and how will he unite the country? Becky Milligan talks to some of those who?ve worked closely with him to find out what makes him tick. Presenter: Becky Milligan Producer: Sally Abrahams Picture: Boris Johnson poses during a visit to the Port of Dover Ltd., as part of his Conservative Party leadership campaign tour on July 11, 2019 in Dover, UK Credit:Chris Ratcliffe - Pool/Getty Images
2019-07-18
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How can Chennai?s water crisis be solved?

South India?s biggest city, Chennai, is currently in the grip of drought. With the four main reservoirs which supply the city dry, residents have to queue for hours to collect pots of water from government tankers. Critics argue that the shortage isn?t just the result of a single failed monsoon season, but also the responsibility of the government who failed to plan for this scenario. Experts say 21 Indian cities could run out of groundwater next year, and that demand for drinkable water could outstrip supply by double in just a decade. So this week we ask, what can be done to solve this crisis? Image: Indian residents get water from a community well in Chennai Credit: Arun Sankar//AFP/Getty Images
2019-07-11
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Is the deep ocean the answer to some of our biggest problems?

Our species is facing a whole lot of problems. Antibiotic resistance is on the rise, land based minerals are depleting and there are serious concerns about how warm everything?s becoming. As the population grows these problems are only going to get worse, but what if we could find some of the solutions to our most pressing problems beneath the waves? Scientists have discovered that deep sea sponges could help fight MRSA, your smart phone could be powered by minerals located thousands of metres beneath the sea, and there are even enzymes that could help your washing machine run on a colder cycle, saving both energy and your new cashmere sweater. Is the deep sea the answer to some of our biggest problems? There?s a lot of promise, but what are the risks? Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Lizzy McNeill (Photo: Sunset over the sea. Credit: da-kuk/Getty Images)
2019-07-04
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Can a government make you happy?

New Zealand is the first western country to state it should be judged not by its economic prosperity but by its citizens? wellbeing. Might these wellbeing policies be masking an inability by governments to effect any real change in citizen?s lives or do they actually end up making economic sense after all? (Photo: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Credit: Getty Images)
2019-06-27
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Can vaccines stop Ebola in the DRC?

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the midst of an Ebola epidemic, with over 2,000 cases now confirmed. In June the virus spread to neighbouring Uganda. Amidst this bleak picture, there is some hope; past epidemics have helped progress medical responses. This week, we ask: can vaccines contain Ebola in the DRC? Image: A health worker wearing Ebola protection gear, Beni, DRC Credit: Reuters.
2019-06-20
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Why is it always Alabama?

Alabama has long been the butt of jokes in America. The stereotype is that it is backward, racist and right wing. This month the state passed one of the most restrictive laws on reproductive rights in the USA, banning abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. But it is not alone - many other states have similarly restrictive abortion laws but they do not get the attention that Alabama does. So why is it Alabama that always gets picked on? (Photo: Selma to Montgomery, USA historic street road sign in capital Alabama city. Credit: Getty Images)
2019-06-13
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Is time travel possible?

Ever wanted to meet your historical heroes or explore the inventions of the future? Travelling in time has long been a dream of writers and filmmakers, but what does science tell us about how possible this would be to achieve in real life? We explore how physics shows us that time runs at different rates depending on where we are and how we?re moving - time goes more slowly for astronauts on the international space station for example. We hear about the very dangerous ways we could possibly exploit this to skip forwards through time and into Earth?s future, and we do the maths on wormholes, to see if they offer a possible portal to our past.
2019-06-06
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Is the US heading for war with Iran?

On 8 May 2018, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and other countries. Since then, tensions between Iran and the US have escalated to the point where some believe a conflict is imminent. Kavita Puri and experts try to work out how the two countries got to this point, asking: is the US heading for War with Iran? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou and Lizzy McNeill (image: the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has been deployed to the Red Sea. Credit: Michael Singley, U.S. Navy/Getty Images)
2019-05-30
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How do you move a capital city?

Indonesia has announced it is thinking of building a new capital city, moving the government away from Jakarta which is overcrowded and suffering from subsidence. Other countries, including Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia and Tanzania have previously moved their capital cities, so just how difficult is the process, and can Indonesia learn from their mistakes? (Photo: Jakarta's expanding skyline. Credit: Gerhard Joren/Getty Images)
2019-05-23
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How did K-Pop conquer the world?

It's a multi-billion dollar industry, with bands selling out stadiums across the world. K-Pop, or Korean Pop has created some of the biggest global music stars. How did bands, singing in Korean come to such prominence? The Korean government has capitalised on the soft power that its music industry has offered. But with the latest scandals involving the rape and abuse of women is there a darker side to it all? And could it tarnish brand Korea? Photo: BTS performs 'DNA' onstage Credit: Getty Images/Michael Tran/FilmMagic
2019-05-16
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What?s next for Sudan?

After months of protests, the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir was removed from office on 11th April by a military coup. Initially there were celebrations, but weeks later, with no clear plan for the military to hand over power to a civilian government many in the country are starting to worry whether their victory has been lost. So is the country heading towards democracy or another autocratic regime? Photo: Sudanese protesters wave national flags near the military headquarters, Khartoum, April 2019. Credit: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images
2019-05-09
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Can you make gangs good?

In 2007, Ecuador decided to recognise some of its street gangs as cultural and social organisations. Since then its murder rate has fallen sharply. Can inclusion policies turn gang membership into a force for good? Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Jordan Dunbar and Bethan Head (Photo: Members of the Latin Kings gang pose for photographs and throw up their gang sign, New York. Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images)
2019-05-02
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How can we feed 11 billion people?

The world?s population is set to grow from 7.7 to 11 billion by the end of this century. The challenge is to produce enough food to feed this number of people. In the 1960s the Green Revolution provided answers to similar problems ? but the projected population growth of the future is on a much greater scale than before, and so new measures are required. In east Africa they?re working to reduce the amount of food that?s lost before it even gets to market ? globally this stands at around 30 per cent. In the United States scientists are working to improve the natural process of photosynthesis ? to make plants themselves function more efficiently. And in India they?re working to preserve genetic diversity ? conserving rice varieties that can flourish in salt water or in conditions of drought.
2019-04-25
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How scared should we be?

Who benefits from our fear and is there more than just global reporting behind it? Has the world become more dangerous or has our perception of the world just changed? Rolling news and social media makes us aware of every threat no matter where in the world. From Ebola to flying we investigate the deeper reasons behind our modern fears. Speaking with experts in public health, risk and fear to find out why we are all so afraid. This week The Inquiry asks ?How Scared Should We Be?? Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Jordan Dunbar Picture: American Wildfire Credit: Getty Images
2019-04-18
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Why has the Kashmir crisis lasted so long?

In February a bomb blast killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police officers in Kashmir; the worst attack by Pakistani militants in years. Indian military jets were deployed and one was shot down. As concerns over the pilot?s fate grew, fears mounted that India and Pakistan might go to war over Kashmir ? again. The countries have been at war four times since partition in 1947. And Kashmir, which both countries claim in entirety but each one controls only in part, has been a key factor in the conflicts. But even when there is no war, there is no stable peace in Kashmir. Violent protests and street fighting are commonplace and daily life is made hard in numerous other ways. Unemployment is high, communication blackouts frequent and security fears constant. The Inquiry explores why the crisis has been so difficult to solve and what it might take for a resolution to emerge. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Rosamund Jones Picture: Displaced Kashmiris take shelter in a government school Credit: Getty Images
2019-04-11
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How long can we live?

Life expectancy is going up as we develop new cures for the diseases that kill us off. But can we beat the most fatal condition of all - old age? We talk to scientists on the frontier of fighting the ageing process itself, when our bodies just start to wear out. In India, Tuhin Bhowmick is working towards 3D printing new organs so people don?t die waiting for transplants. In the US, Meng Wang is developing ways to use the tiny creatures that live in our guts to extend our lives. And in the UK, Lorna Harries and her team have made an amazing discovery that could let us roll back the ageing process in our own cells. But is there an upper limit to the human life span? With all these advances racing ahead we ask ? how long can humans live? Contributors include: Kaare Christensen - Head of the Danish Ageing Research Centre Tuhin Bhowmick - Director of Pandorum Technologies Meng Wang - Huffington Center on Aging at the Baylor College of Medicine Lorna Harries - Professor of Molecular Genetics, University of Exeter Presenter: Helena Merriman Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton (An old woman with prayer wheels laughing at the Kyichu Buddhist Temple in Bhutan. Photo Credt: Tim Graham/Getty Images)
2019-04-04
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How is space changing Earth?

Many nations have now entered the space race. China first sent a man into space in 2003 and in the last few months made a successful, unmanned, landing on the far side of the moon. This was a world first. India has its own record. A few years ago it launched more satellites into space, in one go, than any other nation. Nigeria is talking about sending an astronaut into space. And Kyrgyzstan is developing its first satellite, built entirely by female engineers. The Inquiry explores what lies behind all this activity. Is the power of national prestige giving way to different goals; education, economic progress and human rights? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Rosamund Jones Image Credit: Getty Creative
2019-03-28
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What is the Wagner Group?

In recent years, in trouble spots and war zones around the world ? places such as Syria, Eastern Ukraine and Central African Republic ? The Wagner Group has been active. They are fighters for hire. But very little else, for certain, is known about them. Are they mercenaries working for the Russian intelligence service? Or are they muscle men securing the financial interests of powerful oligarchs? The Inquiry traces the history of the group; why they emerged and how they operate now. It is a story that twists and turns and leads to surprising ? and dangerous - places. Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Jordan Dunbar Picture Credit: Valentin SprinchakTASS via Getty Images
2019-03-21
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Will populism destroy the European Union?

The European Union was formed in the years after the Second World War to secure peace and promote economic progress. It aimed to achieve that by ensuring that countries worked together. But that optimistic vision has now been shaken. There is mounting anxiety about whether the EU can hold together. Some are even saying that the EU is facing an existential crisis. That?s because the elections in May are likely to bring in another wave of populist politicians promoting nationalist agendas. The Inquiry will detail the fissures that have been exposed in recent years. One cause has been migration from countries outside the EU and the pressures caused by free movement within its borders. The severe economic downturn has threatened unity too. Kavita Puri explores whether there are moments in the European Union?s history when, had different decisions been made, the EU might have hung together better. Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Rosamund Jones Image: A shredded European Union flag flutters in the wind. Credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
2019-03-14
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Are smart cities dumb?

Driverless cars powered by renewable energy whisking their healthy and happy citizens between gleaming skyscrapers, criss-crossing efficient roads. That?s the dream of many so called smart cities. The trend for ?smart cities? has grown immensely over the last decade and their definition has evolved too. Hundreds are planned or are already being built around the world, in both rich and poor countries. From Google?s Sidewalk city to Eko Atlantic in Nigeria, tech companies are seeking to tame our ever more urban world. But critics worry that instead of being clever solutions they simply reinforce the existing poverty and inequality. How can a tech giant solve the problems of the developing world when people need water not wifi? We ask, are smart cities dumb? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Jordan Dunbar Image: Sunrise in New York City Credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
2019-03-07
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Can radicalised kids recover?

Tens of thousands of children have been forced to join militia or terror groups in recent years. The Inquiry looks at conflicts around the world to find out what it takes to rehabilitate a child who has witnessed or taken part in violent extremism. We hear from experts who say it is as important to mend the community as much as the child. And we consider the position of stateless children, including those who have never been registered anywhere and those whose nationality is in dispute. If they end up belonging nowhere, can they ever recover? Presenter: Feranak Amidi Producer: Rosamund Jones Image: Children holding guns Credit: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images
2019-02-28
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How do we stop young people killing themselves?

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally. But innovative and unexpected ways to tackle this public health issue are emerging. From Nigeria to Finland, ordinary people and experts are putting their own experiences and expertise to use in coming up with ways that help prevent deaths in their communities. School timetables, video games and social media are among some of the new ways being trialled to cut deaths and break the taboo surrounding youth suicide. We ask what can be done to stop young people taking their own lives? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Lucy Proctor (A young man watches the sunrise. Photo credit: Chalabala/ Getty Images)
2019-02-21
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Why don't we care about Yemen?

Three million people in Yemen have been forced from their homes, and the dead are estimated to number many tens of thousands. But, compared to similar conflicts, global attention has been slight. The Inquiry asks why. It explores how the media has told the Yemeni story, and the impact valuable arms sales have had on international pressure ? or the lack of it ? to bring the conflict to an end. There are other factors too. The conflict in Yemen has created countless refugees, but they have not fled beyond the country?s borders. And Yemen?s divisive history has created a diaspora community that struggles to speak with one voice. What will it take to shine a brighter light on Yemen? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Rosamund Jones (A woman holds her baby who is suffering from severe malnutrition, in Marib, Yemen, December 2018. Photo Credit: Said Ibicioglu/Getty Images)
2019-02-14
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What?s so scary about Huawei?

The tech giant has had a meteoric rise over the last ten years. It has overtaken Apple in the global smartphone market, and its equipment is in telecommunications systems in 170 countries worldwide. But Huawei now finds itself at the centre of a global scandal. Its chief financial officer - the daughter of the company?s founder - is under house arrest in Canada, accused of selling telecom equipment to Iran in contravention of US sanctions. A week later, a US court charged the whole company with bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology from rival T-Mobile. The company has been banned in New Zealand and Australia, and there are moves in the US to stop government employees from buying their products. Critics say if it wins the contracts for the new 5G network being created globally, it could give the Chinese government control over everything from smart phones, to cars, to pacemakers in other countries. So why has the success story soured? This week, we ask: what?s so scary about Huawei? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Jordan Dunbar
2019-02-07
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Why Can?t So Many Children Read?

More children than ever before attend school ? so why have reading rates been so slow to improve? In some countries teachers are absent from class one day every week, in others early years education barely exists. And many children are taught to read in languages they do not speak. The Inquiry explores what reading skills get measured, and whether they are the right ones. And it asks how the quality of literacy education could best be improved. Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Rosamund Jones (image: Young school boy writing on a blackboard in Kenya. Photo Credit:Anthony Asael/Getty images)
2019-01-31
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Should We Fear ?Designer Babies??

In November 2018, a Chinese scientist stunned the world by announcing that he had successfully edited the genes of two embryos. These twins had their DNA changed to try and make them resistant to HIV, it was only successful in one. Shock and outrage followed as the media proclaimed that the age of the designer baby had arrived and we had opened a door that could never be closed. The Chinese government ordered an inquiry and the scientist rumoured to be put under house arrest. For many in the genetics community it had only been a matter of time until this happened. The game changer came in the form of a new technology known as CRISPR, a relatively simple and cheap way of changing genes. One that could be used in fertility clinics worldwide. Does this now mean an age of elite super humans could be born to the ultra-rich? Children created with superior traits, tall, beautiful and hyper intelligent. The truth is not so simple. This week we ask: should we fear ?designer babies?? Producer: Jordan Dunbar Presenter: Michael Blastland (picture: foetus in utero /Getty images)
2019-01-24
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What Would It Take to Impeach Trump?

Ever since Donald Trump took office in 2016 his critics have been focussed on getting rid of him. As the Mueller probe into Russian collusion in the presidential election heads into its last six months, several members of President Trump?s inner circle have been convicted of serious crimes. For some, it?s only a matter of time before Trump himself is implicated. For others, the evidence so far is simply not substantial enough. With Democrats now in control of Congress, the votes are there to impeach Trump and send him for trial in the Senate. But what would it take to get the two thirds majority needed to remove him from office? Producer: Lucy Proctor Presenter: Victoria Uwonkunda (Photo: Protesters outside of the Fox News Channel headquarters demand the resignation of President Donald Trump. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
2019-01-17
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Can We Stop a Mass Extinction?

Human activity is sending animals and plants extinct. But there is a fightback going on. Scientists all over the world are coming up with radical solutions to save them - from transplanting polar bears, to ?de-extincting? a very strange frog. And experts say each one of us can make a difference. So is it too late to save the planet, or can we stop a mass extinction? Contributors include: Dr Simon Clulow ? Macquarie University, Australia Dr Karen Poiani ? CEO, Island Conservation Professor Jane Hill ? University of York, UK Professor Thomas Elmqvist ? Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University Presenter: Feranak Amidi Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton (image: Romeo, the Sehuencas water frog / Courtesy of Global Wildlife Conservation, Austin Tx USA)
2019-01-10
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Are We Heading for Another Mass Extinction?

This week we?re looking at nothing less than the state of life on earth. The planet has seen mass extinctions before, periods of widespread and dramatic species loss. Some now fear human activity is driving another one: land cleared for farms, homes and roads; waters filled with pollution and emptied of fish; skies choked with gasses causing climate change. But does it add up to a mass extinction? In the first of a two-part series, we examine the evidence of species loss and compare it with the geological record. Presenter: Neal Razzell Producers: Josephine Casserly and Siobhan O?Connell (Image: Dinosaur skeleton, Credit: Getty images)
2019-01-03
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How Did We Get Hooked on Vitamins?

Millions of us take a vitamin tablet every day - how did they become so popular? We follow the rise and rise of vitamins from their discovery just a century ago, to the multi-billion dollar market of today. The story of how the vitamin supplement entered our daily lives takes us from the targeted guilt-tripping of concerned mothers, to the use of vitamins as a weapon against the Nazis, via a plan for vitamin doughnuts. Experts question whether most of us need to take them at all ? so how did we get hooked on vitamins? Contributors include: Dr Lisa Rogers ? World Health Organization Catherine Price ? Author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food Dr Salim Al-Gailani - Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge Matthew Oster ? Head of Consumer Health, Euromonitor International Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton (Photo: a woman shopping at 'Mr Vitamins', a chain of supplement outlets in Sydney, Australia. Credit: Saeed Khan/Getty Images)
2018-12-27
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What did #MeToo Really Achieve?

#MeToo became viral following allegations of sexual harassment and violence at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. Now women and men in their millions around the world have been mobilised by the hashtag to share their stories of abuse. But its founder Tarana Burke fears the movement has moved away from its original remit to give a voice to victims of sexual violence. She worries it is being talked about as a vindictive plot against men. So what is the reality on the ground around the globe? We hear about the impact of the #MeToo in India and Iran. What did it really achieve? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Jim Frank (South Korean demonstrators at a rally for the country's #MeToo movement in Seoul, 2018. Photo credit: Jung Yeon-Je/Getty Images)
2018-12-20
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Is this the Most Dangerous Time to be a Journalist?

Journalists have been subject to more killings, and increasing levels of violence and intimidation in 2018, according to monitoring groups. This year alone more than 30 have been murdered, including Mexican veteran journalist Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez who was stabbed to death in January, 5 journalists shot dead at their office in Annapolis in the US in June, and the story that has dominated the news, the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his consulate in Istanbul in October. The suspects range from organised criminals to state-sponsored assassins. And it?s not just about murder ? imprisonments and intimidation are also on the rise. Why should the public care? What?s behind the surge? And how can the press and the public fight back? We talk to those journalists and activists from across the world to find out: is this the most dangerous time to be a journalist? Contributors include: Pavla Holcova - Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism Sothearin Yeang ? former journalist, Radio Free Asia Omar Faruk Osman - Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists Jan-Albert Hootsen ? Mexico representative, Committee to Protect Journalists Presenter: Victoria Uwonkunda Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton UPDATE: Since we recorded this programme in November three more journalists have been murdered, including a radio presenter and reporter shot dead in Syria. (Image: Protesters hold placards during a rally against corruption and to pay tribute to murdered journalist Jan Kuciak in Bratislava, Slovakia. Photo Credit:Joe Klamar/Getty Images)
2018-12-13
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Why Is Brexit So Hard?

The UK voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. More than two years on, it?s still not clear how that will happen, or what will come after. Consensus within Westminster seems impossible, and if the deal currently on offer from Brussels is voted down on December 11, the UK could crash out of the EU with no deal at all. What makes it so hard to come up with a solution? The BBC has followed all of the twists and turns of the Brexit negotiations in minute detail. In this special programme, four correspondents from across the organisation give their take on what makes Brexit such a fraught process. Katya Adler, Europe Editor Chris Morris, Reality Check Correspondent Alex Forsyth, Political Correspondent John Campbell, Northern Ireland Business and Economics Correspondent Presenter: Edward Stourton Producer: Lucy Proctor (Brexit Map - Getty Creative)
2018-12-06
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Is the West at War with Russia?

There?s talk of a new Cold War between Russia and the West. What responsibility does the West carry for the dismal state of relations? Russian leaders say Nato has expanded far beyond the borders that were agreed when the Soviet Union collapsed and a new European order was thrashed out. They see troops and hardware stationed close to their towns and cities as highly provocative. America and the EU are seen as meddling in the internal affairs of Russia and the states surrounding it by funding pro-democracy movements and helping to topple regimes. And a new arms race is underway. Russian military leaders perceive an active threat from the West ? are they right? The previous edition was: Is Russia At War With The West? Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Lucy Proctor
2018-11-29
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Is Russia at War with the West?

There are currently a number of serious allegations made in the West against Russia. They include the attempted murder of the former spy Sergei Skripal on British soil; interference in the 2016 US election; the hacking of the American electricity grid. To some, it feels like the West is under attack. But do any of these actions amount to war? Olga Khovostunova, a Russian media analyst, describes the effect of the collapse of the Soviet Union on the psyche of President Putin and his close knit circle of security chiefs. For them, the threat from the West is real. Norwegian foreign correspondent Oystein Borgen says Russia is engaged in a hybrid war with the West, in which Norway has become a little-known front line. Lawyer Michael Schmitt, from the US Naval College, sets out how Russian security chiefs, almost certainly surrounded by a team of international law experts, operate in the grey zone of international law. Political scientist Kimberley Marten explains how private military contractors operating in Ukraine, Libya, the Central African Republic and Syria give the Russian state plausible deniability in conflict zones. Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Lucy Proctor (Photo: Cyber warfare. Credit: Getty images)
2018-11-22
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What Makes A Pariah State?

There are different routes to pariah status. North Korea, with its gross human rights abuses and illicit nuclear weapons programme tops the list and represents the classic pariah - completely ostracized from the international system. Another sure-fire way to become a pariah is to sponsor international terrorism, like Muammar Gaddafi?s Libya in the 20th century. But as his example shows, international rehabilitation can happen almost overnight. Then there are less clear cut pariahs like Zimbabwe, condemned by the West but very much part of the regional African system. Four expert witnesses examine these cases and explore whether the notion of a pariah state is meaningful in the 21st century multi-polar world. Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Lucy Proctor (Photo: Ostracized /Getty Images)
2018-11-15
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How Did We Mess up Antibiotics?

Warnings about the approaching post-antibiotics apocalypse have been sounding for years. There are now strains of deadly bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics. This means that doctors are faced with patients who have completely untreatable infections. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are dying due to antibiotic resistance - and this number is set to rise rapidly. If we carry on like this, scientists predict we will return to a pre-antibiotic era, where organ transplants, chemotherapy and C-sections are impossible. We have come a long way since 1928, when the famous chance discovery of penicillin led to a golden age in which antibiotics were seen as wonder drugs, heralding in an age of huge medical advances and increased human life spans. But by the 1990s we were running out of new antibiotics and infections were again a killer. How did this happen? Our expert witnesses are medic and historian, Dr Eric Sidebottom, Dr Scott Podolsky of Harvard Medical School, journalist Maryn McKenna and infectious disease specialist Brad Spellberg. (Photo: A depiction EHEC bacteria. Credit: HZI/Getty Images) This edition of The Inquiry was first broadcast in October 2016.
2018-11-08
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Is the China-Africa Love Affair Over?

The burgeoning relationship between China and Africa has been one of the great economic stories of the 21st century. Billions of dollars of investment and loans from China have created radical change in many African countries. But not everyone is happy, with some even claiming this is a new form of colonialism. As signs of discontent grow in countries like Zambia, and investment numbers start to slip down, we ask: is the China-Africa love affair over? Contributors include: Dr Lauren Johnston ? Research Fellow, University of Melbourne Professor Lina Benabdallah ? Assistant Professor of Politics & International Affairs, Wake Forest University Laura Miti ? Executive Director, Alliance for Community Action Professor Stephen Chan ? Professor of World Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) Presenter: Linda Yueh Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton (A Chinese railway worker drills holes on the newly put railway tracks in Dondo, outside Luanda, Angola. Photo credit: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images )
2018-11-01
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What Went Wrong in Indonesia?

Thousands died when an earthquake and tsunami struck Palu, Indonesia ? but could more lives have been saved? Accusations have been made of a host of failings: alert systems that were out of action, sirens that didn?t sound, a government slow to give emergency help - even people who were too busy filming the disaster to run away. How much truth is there to this? Was everything done to warn people beforehand, and rescue people in the aftermath? We speak to experts on the ground and around the world to find out. Contributors include: Lian Gogali ? Founder, Institute Mosintuwu Harald Spahn ? Consultant geologist 2006-2013, German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System project Harkunti Pertiwi Rahayu ? Chair, Indonesian Association of Disaster Experts & Assistant Professor, Bandung Institute of Technology Mark Astarita ? Former Director of Fundraising, British Red Cross Presenter: Kavita Puri Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton (A man looks for his belongings amid the debris of his destroyed house in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Sept 29 2018. Photo credit: Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images)
2018-10-18
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Can Delhi Clean Up Its Air?

Delhi is one of the worst polluted cities in the world. Radical ideas like skyscraper-sized air purifiers are being proposed to clean the smog ? can they work? There are lessons to be learned from other cities around the world about how to manage emissions. But will any city?s air ever be really clean? (Image: A heavily polluted street in Delhi. Photo Credit: Arvind Yadav/Getty Images)
2018-10-11
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Should We Rethink the Ban on Child Labour?

Most countries in the world have signed up to the idea that no child should work at all under a certain age ? but is this the best approach? This week Nicolle, a 17 year old from Peru, has been part of a delegation of child labourers visiting the UN to ask them to rethink their ban on child labour. She?s been working since she was 8 years old, and says not only did her family need the money she earned, but working brought her status and respect. Some charities and experts working with child labourers agree that there are safe forms of child work. They say non-hazardous work can allow children to help their families, gain life skills, and even pay for the school uniforms and equipment they need to stay in education. But the UN and other former child labourers disagree, saying an outright ban is the only way to protect children from exploitation. We ask whether it?s time to rethink the ban on child labour. Contributors include: Benjamin Smith ? Senior Officer for Child Labour, International Labour Organization Jo Boyden ? Professor of International Development, Oxford University Zulema Lopez ? former child labourer Kavita Ratna - Director of Advocacy and Fundraising, Concerned for Working Children Presenter: Helena Merriman Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton Image: Girls collecting firewood in Eritrea, 2004 Credit: Scott Wallace/Getty Images
2018-10-04
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Is Genetic Testing Overrated?

DNA testing is big business. Millions of people worldwide are finding out about their ancestry and genetic health traits by sending off a spit sample to one of the big consumer genetic testing companies. But what do your genes really tell you? And could genetic testing have harmful consequences for our health and for society? Four experts chart the rise of consumer genetic testing and examine the claims made and our expectations about the results. Presenter: Helena Merriman Producer: Lucy Proctor (image: Tube collecting saliva for dna testing of genetic markers. Photo By BSIP/UIG/Getty Images)
2018-09-27
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The Inquiry Junior - Why are North and South Korea divided?

The story of how a line on a map becomes a hard state border that no one can cross. Korea was ruled as one Kingdom for a thousand years. They valued poetry and scholars helped rule the country. But their Kingdom was invaded by Japan. When Japan left, Russia and America raced to take their place. Amid frantic organising, a line dividing Korea in two was suggested. Who knew that line would become the front line in a war, eventually creating a hard border between two new countries? This is a special edition that 10-14 year olds can also enjoy, but if you are not in that age bracket we hope that there?s something in it for you too. It?s a trial and we?d love to know what you think. Email theinquiry@bbc.com or tweet @bbctheinquiry ? thanks to Niko, Christina and Sophie for your feedback. The Inquiry will be back to normal next week. (image 2018: A North Korean student attends a class at Kang Pan Sok revolutionary school outside of Pyongyang. Credit: Ed Jones/Getty Images)
2018-09-20
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The Inquiry Junior - What?s Killing Africa?s Elephants?

This is a special edition that younger listeners aged 10 to 14 can also enjoy. If you?re no longer in that bracket, don?t worry, The Inquiry as you know and love it will be back to normal after the next two episodes. It?s an experiment and we?d love to know what you think of it. Please email us Theinquiry@bbc.com or tweet @bbctheinquiry. What?s Killing Africa?s Elephants? Poachers, jewellery makers and angry farmers: the story behind the drop in elephant numbers across Africa. Presenters: Priscilla Ngethe and Kate Lamble. Image: African elephants (Credit: BBC)
2018-09-13
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Is Women?s Sport In Trouble?

Ever since it began, women?s sport has been beset by a fundamental question: who gets to compete as a woman? It?s a debate which is more heated now than ever. That?s because in a few months, athletics? governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, will introduce controversial new rules, regulating the participation of athletes with disorders of sexual development, commonly known as intersex conditions. It?s a debate that goes far beyond sport - throwing up difficult questions about what separates men from women. In this edition of The Inquiry we plunge into this debate, which is troubling women?s sport. Presenter: Helena Merriman Producer: Josephine Casserly (image: Women's Athletics 200m at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo Credit: Yang Huafeng/China News/Getty Images)
2018-09-06
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How Do You Run A Hacking Operation?

Thousands of cyberattacks occur every single day. Some hackers steal credit card details or pilfer money from online bank accounts. Others cripple businesses, or even governments. As tensions mount in cyberspace, what are countries doing to strengthen their cyber power and build a hacking army? In this Inquiry, we delve into some of the world?s most intriguing cyber operations ? including Iran, Russia and North Korea. (Black Hat DEF CON cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas, Nevada USA. Photo Credit: Ann Hermes/Getty images),
2018-08-30
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Who?s in the Driving Seat of the US ? Saudi Relationship?

It?s graduation day at the end of a religious summer school in Yemen?s Saada province. A class of young boys are off on a trip to a shrine. In a land of war, they are happy - jostling and full of energy on their school bus. Moments later, most of the boys are dead. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike has hit their bus. The bomb that was dropped by the Saudis was made in the United States, and Saudi Arabia is the America?s single biggest customer when it comes to buying arms. Critics argue that Donald Trump is quietly escalating America?s role in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, and many, including US Congress, have begun to question the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Will the US support Saudi Arabia no matter what? So on this week?s Inquiry we?re asking, who?s in the driving seat when it comes to the US ? Saudi alliance? Presenter: Krupa Padhy Producer: Marie Keyworth Researcher: Dearbhail Starr (Photo: U.S. President Trump meets Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Al Saud, (c) Getty Images)
2018-08-23
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Could We See Another Aids Pandemic?

The year 2030 was set by the UN as the world's deadline for halting the spread of HIV, stopping Aids deaths, and having the first generation since 1980 born and raised completely free from infection. But at last month?s 22nd International Aids conference the mood was less optimistic. Deaths from the disease, having stabilised, are now beginning to increase, with some people fearing the disease is now poised to add massively to its global death toll. As global funding for Aids decreases, and drug resistant strains of HIV rise, this week?s Inquiry asks, could we see another Aids pandemic? (image: HIV and Aids activists in Amsterdam, Netherlands take part in the protest march Towards Zero Together. Credit: Shutterstock)
2018-08-16
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