WikiLeaks has never been far from controversy since the release of its first cache of documents in 2006. Its supporters have welcomed the organisation as a bearer of truth and transparency. Its method of publishing troves of sensitive documents from governments and other organisations is seen as a way to fight against secrecy and censorship. Its detractors see it as an irresponsible leaker that has put lives in danger. Some point out that while WikiLeaks have been successful in embarrassing many politicians and businesses, it failed to usher any real change in transparency. This week Swedish prosecutors said they would look again at rape allegations against its founder, Julian Assange. He faces possible extradition to Sweden but also to the United States, where he would face charges for his work. So, away from Mr Assange’s legal challenges, does the organisation he founded still matter? Is the Wikileaks model of data release still relevant for today's journalism? What happens when non-state actors or vested interests initiate leaks with ulterior motives? Join Chris Morris and his guests as they discuss WikiLeaks and accountability.
(Photo: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven out of Southwark Crown Court, London, 1 May 2019. Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)
Can nature be saved?
Biodiversity – that’s the subject of a major report from the UN this week – and it comes with an alarming warning: the variety and fabric of life on earth is in rapid decline all over the planet. Because of human behaviour, nearly a million species are facing extinction and many ecosystems are being irreversibly degraded. Using knowledge from both scientists and indigenous groups, the report highlights threats to clean water and air, and warns that soil damage could make it impossible to curb climate change. The solution? Sweeping and radical change, says the UN. We’ll look at the severity of this crisis that faces us all. And we’ll ask: how can people, businesses and governments be made to value nature? This week, Celia Hatton is joined by a group of experts to discuss what can be done to save life on earth.
China's Arctic ambitions
China is located nearly 3,000 kilometres from the Arctic Circle but that hasn't stopped it taking a keen interest in the region. Last year China described itself as a 'near Arctic State' and said that it plans to play a crucial role in the Arctic's future. The melting of the polar ice has made it possible to exploit the Arctic’s riches, from natural gas and oil to rare minerals, which are crucial for China’s growth. As leaders from the eight-nation Arctic Council travel to the northern Finnish city of Rovaniemi for talks next week, some people are asking whether Beijing is on a resource grab mission and it is not concerned about the environmental price of exploiting the Arctic. Others say that Chinese investments can be a lifeline for many Arctic communities who have been suffering from years of under investment. Celia Hatton and a panel of expert guests discuss China's race towards the Arctic and what it means for the rest of the world.
(Photo: A model of China's Xue Long (Snow Dragon) icebreaker displayed at the 18th Party Congress in Beijing in 2017. Credit: Simon Song/South China Morning Post/Getty Images)
Is social media killing elections?
Free and fair elections are needed for democracy, and their manipulation has always been an issue. But with the advent of social media, has this problem now become unmanageable? Some argue that social media has levelled the playing field and opened up political space for people who previously had no voice. At the same time, there is plentiful evidence of foreign interference and the use of social media to spread disinformation in elections in the United States, Brazil, Kenya and India - to name just a few. So is it time for social media to be further regulated for the sake of democracy? Can technology companies be trusted to come up with their own solutions, or should governments intervene and make new laws? And if the state does step in, how can repression, surveillance and censorship be avoided? Celia Hatton and her guests delve into the murky world of social media during election campaigns.
(Photo: A close-up image showing the Facebook app on an iPhone. Credit: Sascha Steinbach/EPA)
The return of the eco-warriors
As evidence of climate change and mass extinctions becomes ever harder to ignore, a new tide of eco-activism is making waves. Schoolchildren across the world have been coming out on strike, with Swedish student climate activist Greta Thunberg meeting Pope Francis this week. Meanwhile, a movement calling itself Extinction Rebellion continues to occupy key locations in central London and elsewhere, stopping traffic, gluing themselves to things, even smashing the occasional oil company window. Their message is clear – they want action on climate change and they want it now. But the answers are not simple, and the approach can be divisive. So what are the best tactics and strategies for such an epic fight? Is the latest wave just a western phenomenon, or are the developing countries most at risk from climate change also on board? How important are arguments about social justice, and human rights? Are governments actually paying attention? And what lessons have been learnt from the eco-warriors of the past?
Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of activists and experts to discuss the new green activism.
Photo: An environmental campaigner is carried by police officers at Oxford Circus during the protests by Extinction Rebellion in April 2019 in London. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)