Since the United States pulled its troops out of Afghanistan at the beginning of July, the Taliban have continued to retake vast swathes of the country. Reports have emerged that they are once again enforcing the same repressive practices of their past rule; including the closure of girls' schools, public beatings and a prohibition on women travelling unaccompanied outside their homes. Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are not making progress and there are real fears...
South Africa is facing its deepest political crisis of the post-apartheid era. Days of violence and looting saw more than 200 people killed and thousands arrested. Stephen Sackur speaks to Fikile Mbalula, the country's transport minister. Is the ANC government being confronted with its own failure?
Stephen Sackur speaks to former Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe. Pity the eleven million people of Haiti; it is hard to think of a nation more comprehensively shattered by many decades of misrule and the ravages of natural disaster. In the latest lurch toward chaos the president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated earlier this month. Who ordered the hit is not clear but a protracted struggle for power seems certain. Can anything be done to end Haiti’s suffering? (Photo: Laurent Lamothe...
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Michael Holding, the former West Indies cricket great who is now a prominent voice confronting racism. In England, there’s a fierce debate about how best to root out racism, following vile abuse aimed at black footballers. But it’s an issue confronting many sports. Is this a fight sport can win? Image: Michael Holding (Credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire)
Measured by the number of murders Mexico is the most dangerous country in the world to be a journalist. Eight were killed last year; and countless more suffered threats, intimidation and violence. Stephen Sackur speaks to Lydia Cacho - one of Mexico’s most prominent journalists who - after decades of assaults, death threats and at least one assassination attempt - is currently in exile for her own safety. Her particular focus is the violence done to women in Mexico and the failure of those...
Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the leading figures in the British Labour party, Jess Phillips MP. She’s a tireless campaigner against domestic violence and has won plaudits for her direct, from-the-heart style of politics. Across continents and cultures there is a common, and corrosive, political phenomenon – rising anger and alienation amongst voters who feel neglected and ignored by the system. Is there a way out of today's polarised politics?
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. Lovelock is now 101 years old and still having big thoughts about the future of life on Earth. Have we humans sown the seeds of our own destruction?
In our culture of 24/7 news and trending social media reactions, it sometimes takes a novelist’s eye to chart the deeper, current events swirling beneath society’s surface. Lionel Shriver is a British-based American writer whose fiction has addressed school shootings, obesity, economic crisis and in her latest book, voluntary euthanasia. She’s a contrarian, but is she also a combatant in the western world’s culture wars?
Zeinab Badawi speaks to Professor Christian Happi whose ground-breaking research is helping tackle diseases that kill thousands every year. He gave up a career at Harvard University in the US and moved back to Africa where is setting up a world-class laboratory in Nigeria which will have a pandemic early detection system. He believes Africa could become a global centre of knowledge about infectious diseases such as Covid-19. How realistic is his vision?
As the Chinese Communist Party marks its 100th anniversary, Stephen Sackur speaks to veteran party loyalist Victor Gao, vice president of the Centre for China and Globalization in Beijing. The party has engineered a remarkable transformation that’s made China a global superpower, but is the level of internal control and repression sustainable?
Africa is going through its first recession in more than a quarter of a century because of the global downturn caused by the Covid pandemic. The economic crisis is being keenly felt in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country. Its 200 million people are struggling with long-standing challenges, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic and deteriorating security. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Nigeria’s finance minister, Zainab Ahmed. What is her plan to avert financial meltdown as well as...
Somali-born fashion editor Rawdah Mohamed has taken up a senior role at the soon-to-be launched Vogue Scandinavia. After moving to Norway as a child, she became a model, and in April created a social media storm with a post called ‘Hands off my Hijab’. How far can she use fashion to overturn negative stereotypes of Muslim women?
Michael Stipe was the lead singer of one of the most influential bands of the last four decades, REM. He was the figurehead of indie rock, enigmatic, serious, political. Now he’s a visual artist, so how has his creative vision evolved?
No industry has been hit harder by the global pandemic than aviation. Cross-border travel is either banned or constrained by tests and quarantines across much of the world. And, in a time full of uncertainty and insecurity, who wants to travel for either business or pleasure? Stephen Sackur speaks to Johan Lundgren, CEO of EasyJet, Europe’s second biggest budget airline. Can his business model survive the double whammy of Covid and climate change? (Photo: Johan Lundgren in the Hardtalk...
President Biden says the US is determined to lead NATO's response to evolving geographical and technological threats. But there have been marked disagreements between alliance members on relations with Russia, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, defence spending and the so-called ‘systemic challenge’ posed by China. Just how united is the West’s military alliance?
Stephen Sackur speaks to former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, Ben Rhodes. He has written a new book, After the Fall, reflecting on his time in the White House, the legacy of President Trump and the foreign policy challenges facing President Biden. With the rise of authoritarian, nationalist trends around the world, is the US in any position to lead a much touted global alliance of democracies? (Photo: Ben Rhodes appears via video link on Hardtalk)
Last March, the author and educator Michael Rosen was placed into an induced coma after contracting Covid-19. He has now released a dark, sad and uplifting memoir about his experience, but how did he find the poetic in a pandemic?
How long will it take the hospitality business to recover from the pandemic, and is there a new recognition of the link between our food and our health? Stephen Sackur speaks to British chef Tom Kerridge. (Photo: Tom Kerridge sits in his restaurant with Stephen Sackur)
Africa appears to have been relatively spared in the pandemic so far, but plans to have at least 30% of the continent's populations vaccinated by the end of 2021 seem far away. Hardtalk speaks to John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stephen Sackur speaks to the new director of London’s world-renowned Natural History Museum, Doug Gurr. They still love their ancient fossils here, but the real focus now is on the fragile future of our planet. Has this become a museum on a mission?