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The Real Story

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Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story, with regular presenter Carrie Gracie.

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story, with regular presenter Carrie Gracie.
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Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story, with regular presenter Carrie Gracie.




Britain's Big Brexit Moment

There's only one question in Britain these days: what will happen with Brexit? On Tuesday, the future of the country is at stake when the British parliament takes a historic vote on the withdrawal deal that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has negotiated with the European Union. As it stands, the odds are on parliament voting the deal down. And with the clock to Britain's exit from the EU ticking down, the consequences of the Prime Minister losing the vote are far from certain. Could she go...


A New Vision for Mexico

On Saturday, Mexico gets a new president. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - or AMLO as he's known. He won a landslide victory and now controls both houses of Congress. Born in poverty, AMLO is promising to eliminate corruption, champion the poor, and stand up to big business. His vision is not just government as usual but Mexico's 'fourth transformation', a kind of national renewal. He has already cut his own salary and that of senior civil servants and he has spooked the financial markets by...


The Modern Face of Money Laundering

The largest money laundering scandal yet uncovered has been back in the spotlight. 200 billion Euros were allegedly laundered through a tiny Estonian branch of the Danish Danske Bank between 2007 and 2015. The whistleblower who first alerted Denmark's biggest bank to the problem testified in front of the Danish parliament this week. Once upon a time, money laundering meant setting up pizzerias as fronts and building blocks of flats to rent. But things have become more sophisticated. Today's...


Is 'Fake News' a Threat to Democracy?

In the two years since the election of Donald Trump the world has heard a lot about 'fake news'. It's a term the president often uses to go after the media and his opponents. But 'fake news' can mean a lot of things. It can refer to inaccurate stories pumped out to generate online ad revenue. It can also describe the sort of political disinformation that Russia used to try to influence the 2016 US election. While propaganda and disinformation have been deployed at home and abroad for...


Why Are Germans Going Green?

Germany, the biggest and richest country in the European Union, is going through a period of considerable political turbulence. After Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the CDU, performed badly in state elections, she said she would not seek re-election. Much has been said about the threat posed to her party from the right by the emergence of the Euro-sceptic anti-immigrant AfD. But there's another emerging force - the internationalist and environmentalist Greens. In the recent elections in...


Why is Infertility Rising?

As the world’s population continues to rise, the numbers of children born per woman is still falling. Worldwide there’s now around 2.49 live births per woman, not far above replacement rate. Many couples are choosing to have smaller families and contraception is helping. But meanwhile, infertility in both men and women, in rich and poorer countries, is increasing. Fifty million couples worldwide cannot have children without medical help. So, what is going on? Celia Hatton and a panel of...


Brazil's Lurch to the Right

This weekend, if the polls are right, Brazilians are expected to elect an obscure far-right politician as their next president. Jair Bolsonaro has spent over 20 years in Congress in a variety of fringe parties to very little effect. Now he is promising to root out the corruption that's endemic in Brazilian politics and crack down on crime. Brazil has some of the highest murder rates in the world and Bolsonaro wants to loosen gun laws and make it easier for the police to shoot to kill...


Is Identity Corroding Democracy?

In many democracies people are demanding attention based on their identity, on their race, sex, or sexual orientation. We see groups such as Black Lives Matter, or movements for white power or LGBT rights. Are these demands for redress legitimate — assuming their claims are credible — or do they undermine social cohesion by attacking a sense of shared belonging? Is the increase in identity politics a danger for democracy? Or is ‘identity politics’ a new name for an old fact, a name given by...


Climate Change: Tough Choices

On Monday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report. The IPCC looked at keeping to a 1.5C rise above pre-industrial temperatures. Scientists say that we can still do it. But there's a lot of work to be done. It will need "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". It will also mean a major reallocation of funds. It will cost about 2.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP), every year for twenty years. But how is that going to...


Norway: From Oil to Renewables

We know that to keep our climate safe we need to stop burning fossil fuels and move to renewables. But how? Leading scientists and government delegates have been asking that question this week at a gathering in South Korea. Perhaps inspiration can be found in Tromso, in the Norwegian Arctic. Norway sees itself as a leading opponent of climate change. It already generates most of its electricity from hydropower and it's looking to turn some of its mountains and rivers into a giant green...


Air Pollution: Invisible Killer

Air is all around us. It's invisible and most of the time we don't think much about it. But when the air is polluted, it's deadly. Even when it doesn't kill us, polluted air increases respiratory illnesses, strokes, and Alzheimers; it may even be making us dumb. Air pollution is behind the deaths of at least 4.5million people a year worldwide, the vast majority harmed by tiny particles of soot emitted by burning fossil fuels in cars and factories or by burning wood or coal for cooking. So...


Is Unity Coming to Ireland?

Twenty years after the signing of The Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland, Brexit has unleashed new uncertainty about the island's future. In 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union but Northern Ireland voted to remain. Irish nationalists in the north are unhappy about the possibility that controls on the land border with the Republic of Ireland could return. Supporters of a united Ireland have seized on this to argue that by joining the Republic, Northern...


How Lehman's Collapse Changed the World

Ten years ago the US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed. The event rocked global stock markets and led to the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression. The decade that followed has been extraordinary. We've seen anger and discontent as living standards have fallen in large parts of the developed world. There's been political upheaval with the election of Donald Trump and the UK's vote for Brexit, while populists and demagogues have gained power across Europe. Ritula Shah and...


Sweden: Liberalism in Trouble

For years Sweden has been praised for its generous welfare state and the welcoming hand it held out to refugees. But things are changing. Sweden is approaching the end of its most closely fought election in decades. Polls predict that the long dominant Social Democrats will get the largest share of the vote but not enough to govern alone. As in other European countries, significant numbers of the old working class are turning to an anti-EU anti-immigrant party. The Sweden Democrats are...


Who Should Own South African Land?

Nearly 25 years on from independence the vast majority of South Africa’s farmland is still owned by the country’s white minority. But now the governing ANC is coming under pressure to change that. In the past the government has tried to find “willing sellers” but that’s only led to the redistribution of 10% of farmland. Now the government is considering more controversial moves. President Cyril Ramaphosa his indicated he would introduce a change to the constitution to allow, if necessary,...


A New Perspective on Psychedelics

LSD, magic mushrooms, mescaline, peyote - just some of the most well known psychedelic drugs. Most of them are illegal around the world. Research into psychedelic medicine was virtually shut down in the West because psychedelics were considered mind-altering substances open to abuse. This perception is changing. There is a growing body of evidence that some psychedelic drugs can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. There have been clinical trials of psilocybin - the active...


Is the Nation State in Decline?

People around the world continue to want a nation to call their own. There have been recent independence referendums in Kurdistan, Catalonia and Scotland. This trend has being going on for a century, as empires have given way to nation states, and those states have further subdivided. For much of the 20th century this made sense. Politics, the economy, and communications were mostly organised at a national scale. National governments had actual powers to manage modern economies. But after...


Extreme Heat: The New Normal?

In many parts of the world this has been a season of extreme heat. Records have been broken from North America to Europe, from the Middle East to Japan and Korea. We know the climate is changing, and that many of the reasons are man-made. International commitments to limit the average rise in global temperature - to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels - demand concerted action around the world. Chris Morris and a panel of expert guests discuss the science behind extreme heat....


Syria: Has Assad Won?

It has been over seven years since the uprising in Syria turned first into a civil war and then into a proxy war that has drawn in countries near and far. During that time at least 350,000 people have been killed, over 5 million have fled the country, and over 6 million have lost their homes. The war has seen sieges, artillery barrages and airstrikes on civilian neighbourhoods, hospitals and schools. With the help of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad has...


A New Dawn for Zimbabwe?

On Monday Zimbabwe will hold elections - the first to take place since former President Robert Mugabe was forced to stand down by the military after nearly 40 years in office. Under his rule the southern African country went from being one of the brightest economies in the region to one of the weakest. Opposition parties were repeatedly frustrated at the polls with violence and intimidation. The country is currently being led by former minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, nicknamed "the crocodile",...