From Our Own Correspondent PodcastAuthor: BBC Radio 4
11 Jul 2020

From Our Own Correspondent Podcast

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Insight, wit and analysis as BBC correspondents, journalists and writers take a closer look at the stories behind the headlines. Presented by Kate Adie and Pascale Harter.

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    Difficult choices in Hong Kong

    It was a seminal moment when the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab first raised the prospect just over a month ago that 2.9 million Hong Kongers could be eligible for UK citizenship. The move was in response to proposed legislation which made it a criminal act in the territory to undermine Beijing’s authority; legislation which has now been passed. China reacted swiftly to undermine the UK’s offer and to challenge its credibility, even threatening countermeasures. But for many who were Hong Kong residents before the handover in 1997, it has offered them a way out in the face of an encroachment on their democratic freedoms. Grace Tsoi reports from Hong Kong where, she amongst others, may face a difficult choice. Borders have been reopening across Europe in recent weeks, and from tomorrow, Britain is offering quarantine free travel to 59 different countries – a move not reciprocated by all. But visitors to European cities will find it a somewhat changed experience. In Germany, tourist attractions may have re-opened but there are still restrictions. But as Grace Banks in Berlin found, those who rely on tourists for their living are desperate for them to return. Across the Middle East all eyes turned to the sky last month for the partial solar eclipse. But next week the citizens of the United Arab Emirates will turn their attention to another celestial body; the Red Planet, as the country launches its most challenging space project to date. It’ll be the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission and is due to reach the orbit of Mars in February next year. And as Georgia Tolley reports from Dubai, space has caught the imagination of the country. Tipping is an important American custom – but foreigners often find it awkward and confusing. Is it simply something you have to do or is it a case of rewarding good service when you think it was worth it? Helier Cheung tells us about her difficulties navigating tipping culture as a Briton in America – and how the pandemic helped her change her opinion of the practice. While Jordan appears to have weathered the coronavirus pandemic so far with a tiny number of reported deaths, it had a very strict lockdown which hit the economy and livelihoods hard. That was eased five weeks ago but Jordan had already suffered years of sluggish growth and high unemployment, even before the pandemic. And life is now harder than ever. But as Charlie Faulkner reports from Amman, the past few months have given more time to those who indulge in one of the country’s popular hobbies, owning and flying pigeons. Presenter Kate Adie Producer Caroline Bayley and Serena Tarling

  • Posted on 09 Jul 2020

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    From Our Home Correspondent 07/07/2020

    In the latest programme, Mishal Husain introduces pieces from writers around the United Kingdom which reflect life as it is being led during Covid-19. Paul Moss, who reports for Radio 4's "The World Tonight" and the BBC World Service, spills the beans on how daily reporting has changed during lockdown. His story includes weirdly unprofessional backdrops, some decidedly awkward manoeuvring of equipment, bedding - and the neighbours. BBC News presenter, Tanya Beckett, has found that lockdown has meant that time has stood still in her Oxfordshire village, leaving her to reflect on a dreadful crime. It took place not far from where she now lives and, as she has learnt more about the case, it has turned out to be even closer to home than she had at first realised. Businesses across the UK are deciding how to operate as lockdown restrictions are eased. They include tarot card readers who perhaps saw what was coming. Writer and broadcaster Travis Elborough has been speaking to two Brighton tarot readers who are getting ready to meet clients again. So how is the future looking? And how's your bubble? In June, it was announced that single person and single parent households could form a "support bubble" with another household. After months alone, Jane Labous, in lockdown with her young daughter, has taken the plunge. She's been speaking to others weighing up the pros and cons of "bubbling up". Lockdown has curtailed plans to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth later this month of the household naturalist, the Reverend Gilbert White. Yet his writings, based on observations in the Hampshire village of Selborne, remain astonishingly accessible and informative today - as Andrew Green, with a special Selborne connection himself, has found. Producer: Simon Coates

  • Posted on 07 Jul 2020

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    Afghanistan: peace or more pain?

    In Afghanistan, there’s growing concern over a wave of attacks against human rights activists, moderate clerics, aid workers and others. For a young educated generation of Afghans, one death in particular has sparked anguish and anxiety over where their country is heading, despite imminent peace talks, as Lyse Doucet reports. In Russia, a controversial national vote on constitutional reform this week has given President Putin the right to run for two more terms when the current one runs out. He's been in power for twenty years already, and could now rule till 2036. What do voters make of this? Sarah Rainsford has been following the election. In Spain, much of life is returning to normal after the coronavirus lockdown, but not yet in the world of bullfighting. Matadors languish at home, bulls chew the cud, and the future of bullfighting hangs in the balance, not just because of social distancing, but politics too. as Guy Hedgecoe reports from Madrid. In the US July 4th is Independence Day, marking the moment when the country broke free from Britain in 1776. But for African Americans, final liberation from slavery only came on the 19th June 1865, in Texas, two and a half years after slavery was abolished in the rest of the country. And now Juneteenth is a celebration rivalling that of the Fourth of July, for African Americans like Emma Sapong. The Democratic Republic of Congo marked the 60th anniversary of its independence from Belgium this week. And the Belgian king Philippe took the opportunity to offer his “deepest regrets” for his country’s colonial abuses, when millions of Africans died. The most brutal period was under King Leopold the Second, Kevin Connolly has been taking a closer look at this history. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius

  • Posted on 04 Jul 2020

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    Did Japan get lucky?

    Japan has some very densely populated cities and the world’s highest proportion of elderly citizens. A disaster waiting to happen in the coronavirus pandemic? But the country has had a low death rate, despite only imposing a mild lockdown. What's the secret, or was it just luck, asks Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo. The George Floyd anti-racism protests have been supported in Asia too, but the conversation around race and colour is very loaded for South Asians themselves – where the criticism has been that the deep divides within South Asian society itself aren't scrutinised enough. There can even be discrimination in the same family, if siblings have different skin tones, as Karishma Vaswani has found. In Italy, lockdown was imposed in February, and Italian children haven’t been to school since, nor are there plans for them to return before September. And the lockdown was so strict, that most children couldn't see their friends even in a socially-distanced way. But then a mayor had an idea, as Dany Mitzman reports. Fancy a walk in the fresh mountain air? How about Northern Iraq? Iraqi Kurdistan may be better known for armed conflict, but has now become a location for outdoor pursuits with a long-distance hiking trail. There's still the risk of mines or drone strikes, but the reward of beautiful scenery and greater social freedoms than in the cities, as Leon McCarran found. A plant that grows across much of Africa - Artemisia Afra, a species of wormwood – was recently touted as a cure for Covid-19 by the President of Madagascar. But in the family of Nomsa Maseko in South Africa, the herb has always been used as a remedy for colds and chest complaints. Until the shrubs were stolen from the front garden... Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius

  • Posted on 02 Jul 2020

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    Return to Lombardy

    Italy's northern region of Lombardy became the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in February. Death rates soared. In Bergamo, six thousand people died in March. Mark Lowen returns to Lombardy to meet some of the bereaved and finds that politicians are passing the buck as to why cities locked down too late. Colombia had a thriving economy before the pandemic, and has been host to almost two million Venezuelans who fled their country due to its economic and political crisis. Now, their dreams of a better life have turned to despair. Lockdown stops them earning a living, landlords evict them, and they're reduced to begging for food to survive, as Mat Charles has been finding. Travel restrictions are gradually being lifted across the world, allowing more people to take airplanes again. But what is it actually like to fly now? Jean Mackenzie reports for the BBC from Brussels, and has been on numerous flights to cover the pandemic. She found the usual bustle of check-in queues, airport cafes, and departure lounges has given way to something more dystopian. The United States has been going through tempestuous times, and New York City in particular. The city suffered around 22,000 Covid-19 deaths. And the fall-out of the killing of George Floyd led to street protests against police racism. Amidst the deaths, there was also new life. Nick Bryant’s daughter Honor was born. Becoming a father again at such a turbulent time prompted him to him to re-evaluate his relationship with this adopted homeland, and to write a letter to Honor. Presenter: Kate Adie Producer: Arlene Gregorius

  • Posted on 27 Jun 2020

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