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Sputnik Orbiting the World


Sputnik Orbiting the World, looking behind the stories which made the news, as well as unearthing the ones that didn’t. Expect debate and discussion between James Giles and authoritative, influential, but most importantly, informed, guests. Topics may differ from politics to social concerns, but Sputnik will remain true to its aim – bringing a new perspective, a different view.

May 1, 2021 10:36

Post Office victims and Ecuador lawsuits (E382)

Post offices are the lifeblood of many communities up and down the land. Offering so much more than just posting letters and parcels, it is no wonder there are over 10,000 franchisees who choose to run post offices in their area. But due to an accounting software technical glitch, hundreds of postmasters were wrongfully charged with false accounting, leading them to have criminal records, with some even being sent to prison. After a decade-long battle, 39 convictions have now been overturned. So, to discuss one of the greatest miscarriages of justice ever in Britain we invited Communication Workers Union representative Mole Meade onto the show.

Almost 30 years ago, Ecuadorian residents of the Lago Agrio region started a class action lawsuit against oil giant Texaco, now Chevron. An Ecuadorian court ruled that $9.5 billion in damages should be paid by Chevron for the pollution and contamination of natural lands. But Chevron to date has never paid a cent. Instead, environmental activist and lawyer Steven Donziger has been under house arrest for over 600 days and faces US court contempt charges. We invited him onto the show to tell us about this high-profile court case against Chevron.

Apr 24, 2021 10:39

China insight and Julian Assange (E381)

China appears to be on everyone’s mind at the moment. It’s the world’s second-biggest economy, source of the coronavirus and first to recover from it, and apparently politically stable despite the hopes of regime-change enthusiasts in the West. China is the very definition of ‘he who cannot be ignored’, so at the very least China needs to be understood accurately. So, we invited an American in Beijing, journalist, commentator and editor Tom McGregor, to help us.

Julian Assange is the most famous journalist behind bars in the world, but you won’t hear or see much news coverage in the British press of his incarceration in Britain’s most notorious maximum-security prison. Belmarsh is a Category A prison in South-East London and is best known for holding terror-related prisoners and some of the country’s worst murderers. So, just what can we make of a journalist and publisher rubbing shoulders with Britain’s foulest criminals? To help us make sense of it all we invited academic and leading trade unionist Deepa Govindarajan Driver onto the show.

Apr 17, 2021 10:52

Politics in Latin America and remembering Francisco de Goya (E380)

Covid cases and death rates are on the rise in Latin America, but it hasn’t put a hold on elections there: Ecuador has just elected right-winger Guillermo Lasso, while Peru’s left-winger Pedro Castillo led in its first round of voting. And, while the pandemic rips through his country, is the formerly imprisoned Lula Da Silva on the way to making a comeback in Brazil? We invited Mint Press journalist Alan Macleod on to Sputnik to give us an overview of what is going on in South America.

Almost two centuries ago, the artist Francisco de Goya died. From court artist to Spain's Charles IV, through the Peninsular War and his “black Paintings,” he left a prolific and influential catalogue of work. So we invited Julia Blackburn, author of 'Old Man Goya' on the show to tell us more.

Apr 10, 2021 10:58

Community spirit and Titanic tragedy (E379)

Coronavirus has had a major impact on our day-to-day lives, with Britain’s restrictions among the harshest in the world. But behind the tragedy, there are some remarkable stories.

Whilst the UK has lost so much over the last year, one thing that is certainly having a resurgence is community spirit. Throughout lockdown, many community groups have sprung up to support people. Apps like Neighbourly help groups distribute surplus food from supermarkets to communities and support those who have hit hard times. So, we invited the founder of one of these many groups, Paul Cockle, onto Sputnik to tell us more.

The Titanic tragedy is by far the most famous sinking of a cruise liner, and indeed one of the deadliest. The ship, built in Belfast in 1908, was on its maiden voyage to New York when after just four days it struck an iceberg and went down to the seabed.

Now, 109 years on, Sputnik is joined by Titanic expert and author of ‘The Olympic-Class Ships’, Mark Chirnside, who came on to tell us more about this famous ship and its lesser-known sister.

Apr 3, 2021 10:14

Libya now and Covid-19 a year on (E378)

Ten years ago, civil war broke out in Libya which resulted in the overthrow and collapse of the government – and indeed the killing – of it’s then-leader Muammar Gaddafi. However, 20,000 foreign troops still remain in Libya, so what is the situation now?

Joining us to discuss the state of Libya a decade on is an investigative journalist whose bylines include the Times and the Wall Street Journal. He’s the editor of Consortium News, Joe Lauria.

And just over one year ago, Boris Johnson plunged the country into lockdown to cope with the coronavirus. Over the course of the year the virus has claimed over 125,000 lives, but now with the R-rate going down and the lockdown about to be lifted, we take time to reflect on the past 12 months. NHS doctor and producer of the ‘Great NHS Heist’, Bob Gill, joined the show to discuss the virus and its impact.

Mar 27, 2021 12:00

The Big Apple and the Red Planet (E377)

The cultural significance of the Big Apple should not be understated, featuring heavily in music, television, and film. From Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ to Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind’, it’s the concrete jungle where dreams are made. But how has the city fared during the coronavirus pandemic? Last year, Pulitzer fellow and New Yorker Kayla Popuchet joined Sputnik to give us a first-hand account of the situation ‘across the pond.’ Since then, homelessness has risen still further, there has been a spike in attacks on Asian Americans, and Governor Cuomo is facing a string of sexual assault allegations. So, we invited Kayla back onto the show to give us a whistle-stop overview of affairs from the Big Apple.

For years, humanity has dreamed of exploring the solar system. As the years have gone on and technology has evolved, we’ve sent humans to the Moon and robots to Mars, so what next? Well, there are plans for five cities to be built on the Red Planet, according to the Mars Society. But is it all just some wild fantasy for the rich and famous? Will humans ever really be able to live anywhere other than Earth, or could it actually be viable to create livable conditions on Mars within our lifetime? We invited author, cosmologist, and futurist Keith Mansfield to join us on Sputnik to answer those very questions.