The world’s rich linguistic tapestry is unravelling. Around a third of the world’s languages now have fewer than a thousand speakers left. The UN says more needs to be done and, to raise awareness, it declared 2019 the year of indigenous languages. The numbers of languages heading for extinction number in the thousands and are spoken by small tribes and ethnic groups scattered around the world. In September this year in Russia, a retired professor set himself on fire in protest against the disappearance of his own native language, Udmurt. His tragic death prompted a discussion about the ways of preserving minority languages. But are all indigenous languages worth saving - and at what cost? Which ones should we prioritise and how is that decided? Why do speakers of minority languages feel so deeply about preserving their mother tongue and their culture? Join Julian Worricker and his panel of expert guests as they discuss how we keep the thousands of minority languages alive in an era when just 23 languages accounts for half the world’s population.
Who runs Iraq?
Iraq has been gripped by mass public protests for weeks. Thousands of people have been taking to the streets in cities like Baghdad, Basra and Karbala to demand an end to corruption and unemployment, and an improvement in public services. The government has responded with force. More than three hundred people have died during the protests. Iraq is the second biggest oil exporter in the Middle East and yet according to the World Bank, over twenty percent of its citizen lives in poverty; and according to a corruption watchdog, more than three hundred billion dollars have gone missing from the government coffers in the last fifteen years because of graft. Following the 2003 US led invasion that overthrew the regime of Saddam Hussein a series of Shia led governments have struggled to maintain order, and sectarian conflict has torn through the society. Analysts say the nature of post-war politics have paved the way for armed militia groups and religious leaders to exert undue influence in the way the country is run. So how exactly is Iraq governed? What is the balance of power among its ethnic and religious groups? Does the system prevent meritocracy and encourage sectarian patronage? And how disruptive is Iran's presence in Iraq? Pascale Harter and guest discuss who is in charge in Iraq.
Can algorithms be trusted?
Algorithms have become a ubiquitous part of modern lives. They suggest films on streaming services, vet loans for approval, shortlist job candidates, even help decide prison sentences and medical care. But there are questions over the way they are applied. The banking giant Goldman Sachs faced criticism after it was alleged that an algorithm used to determine people's credit score was sexist because it gave women a lower credit limit to men. An algorithm used to allocate health care in the United States was accused of bias against black patients. And this week a supreme court judge in Britain called for the creation of a commission to regulate algorithms. So how did the world become so dependent on algorithms and how are they changing people's lives? Paul Henley and a panel of expert guests discuss how algorithms are shaping the modern world.
The future of oil
The state owned Saudi oil company, Aramco, is considered to be the most profitable business in the world. In the coming weeks it plans to raise billions by selling shares publicly for the first time. Despite the proliferation of green technologies and a rise in environmentalist movements which are calling for an end to fossil fuel dependency, the International Energy Agency believes that global consumption of oil will continue to grow for another twenty years. Analysts say this is mainly due to the continuing growth of the Asian economies. It's not just Saudi Arabia looking to cash in on the continuing demand for oil. Iran says it too is hoping to earn billions of dollars if it can extract oil from a newly discovered field close to its border with Iraq. So why is the world still so reliant on oil? What is driving the current growth in oil production and how long will it last? Can the countries that rely on oil as their main source of income move onto other things when demand begins to fall? Paul Henley and a panel of expert guests discuss the future of oil.
India's pollution problem
At one point this week air pollution in Delhi was so high that monitors could not record the toxicity because it was off the scale. Schools were closed, vehicles restricted, and people were advised to stay indoors. But the situation in Delhi is not the full picture. Fifteen of the world's twenty most polluted cities are in India. And air pollution is just one of several severe environmental challenges in the country. Fast paced industrialisation, poor waste management and badly managed mining projects are all contributing to environmental degradation. So why have India’s pollution problems been so hard to tackle? What are the steps authorities should be taking to improve the situation? And can the country find a path that will enhance people's lives without damaging nature? Join Pascale Harter and a panel of expert guests as they discuss India's environmental future.