Deaths on American roads are at a 20 year high. More than 46,000 people lost their lives in vehicle collisions last year alone. That’s up a tenth on the year before and the numbers are on a par with those killed by gun violence. Or, the equivalent of a plane crash every day. It’s a tragedy for everyone involved and there’s an untold cost for families, but there’s also a financial cost. It’s estimated that the cost to the economy runs into billions of dollars. Why are America’s roads so dangerous? This episode was presented by Tanya Becket, produced by Louise Clarke-Rowbotham, researched by John Cossee and mixed by Kelly Young. The production co-ordinator is Brenda Brown and the editor is Tara McDermott.
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Can Ron DeSantis win the White House?
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24:21Ron DeSantis, the governor of the US State of Florida has now declared his republican nomination for the 2024 Presidential Election. He’s the latest in a line of republican contenders keen to take on President Joe Biden for the White House. Since his appointment as Florida’s governor in 2018, Ron DeSantis has been busy stamping his own brand of cultural conservatism on the ‘Sunshine State’, including limits on abortions and restricting sex and gender identity education in schools. The latter, known officially as the Parental Rights In Education Act’, denounced by critics as ‘Don’t Say Gay’, has led to an ongoing legal battle with Disney over their criticism of the Act. Ron DeSantis claims that his ‘Florida Blueprint’ can act as a guide for Federal Policies. But before that, he’s got an uphill battle to unseat his former political mentor Donald Trump. The former President is currently leading the Republican field in the polls and he’s not wasted any time in attacking Ron DeSantis on a number of fronts, from insults and nicknames, to criticising some of his policies. This week on the Inquiry we’re asking ‘Can Ron DeSantis win the White House?’ Contributors: Aubrey Jewett, Professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida, Orlando. Matt Terrill, Public Affairs, Firehouse Strategies, former Chief of Staff to the Marco Rubio for President Campaign. Ron Christie, Former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and North American Political Analyst for the BBC. Dr. Julie Norman, Co-Director of the Centre on US Politics at University College London. Presenter: Tanya Beckett Producer: Jill Collins Researcher: Anoushka Mutanda-Dougherty Editor: Tara McDermott Technical Producer: Kelly Young Production Co-ordinator: Brenda Brown (Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the Air Force One Pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library March 5 2023 Simi Valley, California. Credit: Mario Tarna/Getty Images)
Why are there millions of empty houses in Japan?
24:00Official figures report that there are more than eight million houses standing empty across Japan, the reality could be even higher. One of the highest concentrations of empty houses or ‘Akiya’ as they are known, is in the Prefecture of Akita, in Northern Japan, where in the past five years, houses have been abandoned at a rate of 13.6 percent. The problem is being put down to a number of factors. The lack of employment or education opportunities in rural economies means more migration into the cities. An ageing population combined with a low birth rate is upending traditional living arrangements. The land on which property sits benefits from tax relief, and if a property disappears so does the preferential measure. Building codes are strict. Religious reasons are cited as another factor - it’s believed that the spirits of ancestors still dwell in the home. The Government has invested heavily in the housing sector, from financial incentives to occupy older empty houses, to focusing on building preferred new and expensive homes in Japan’s cities in order to boost the economy. But as the population demographics continue to shift and shrink, unless the balance of supply and demand is addressed soon, then the suggestion is that empty Akiya will be an ongoing issue for Japan. This week on the Inquiry we’re asking: Why are there millions of empty houses in Japan? Contributors: Ayumi Sugimoto, Associate Professor, Rural Studies, Akita International University, Japan Misa Izuhara, Professor of Social Policy, University of Bristol, UK Kazuki Morimoto, Associate Professor in Japanese, University of Leeds, UK Jiro Yoshida, Associate Professor of Business, Pennsylvania State University, USA; Guest Professor of Economics, University of Tokyo, Japan Presented: Charmaine Cozier Produced: Jill Collins Researcher: Bisi Adebayo Editor: Tara McDermott Technical producer: Richard Hannaford Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown (Photo: Abandoned wooden house in Tambasasayama, Japan,5 April, 2023 Credit: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
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Is Africa’s Great Green Wall failing?
24:16The Great Green Wall is one of the most ambitious environmental projects ever conceived, creating a vast belt of vegetation spanning Africa by 2030; from Senegal on the Atlantic to Djibouti on the Red Sea. It was heralded as Africa’s contribution to the fight against climate change, reversing damage caused by drought, overgrazing and poor farming techniques. The regreening of 11 Sahel countries on the edge of the Sahara Desert would create millions of jobs, boost food security, and reduce conflict and migration. The plan was launched by the African Union in 2007, and despite political consensus, only 4% of the Great Green Wall had been completed by 2021. So what has gone wrong? What lessons have been learned, and will a change of strategy ensure its success by the end of the decade? Presenter: Audrey Brown Producer: Ravi Naik Editor: Tara McDermott Researcher: Anoushka Mutanda-Dougherty Broadcast Co-ordinators: Brenda Brown (Photo: The Niger river in Mali. Credit: Getty images)
What does this presidential election mean for Turkey’s future?
24:24For the first time in his 20 years in power Erdogan is facing serious pressure - and the choice voters make in this month’s presidential election could define Turkey’s destiny for decades. The impact of February’s devastating earthquake in Turkey is one of the key factors determining how voters will decide on their next president. The Turkish economy is also under pressure with inflation running at 55%. Against that background, a coalition of opposition parties, The Table of Six, are supporting a single candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, against President Erdogan. As polls predict a tight result in the first round of the election, The Inquiry asks: What does this presidential election mean for Turkey’s future? Presenter: Qasa Alom Producer: Phil Reevell Researcher: Anoushka Mutanda -Dougherty Editor: Tara McDermott Technical producer: Nicky Edwards (Turkish citizen living abroad casts her vote in advance of the presidential election in London UK April 29 2023. Credit: Rasid Necati Aslim/Getty Images)
Why is Israel in turmoil?
24:21Last November Israel elected its most far right government in its 75 year history. Months of protests followed over its plans for reform of the judicial system. Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government is proposing an agenda that goes beyond domestic reforms – and not everyone is happy. As well as domestic protests, some of Israel’s allies are nervous as, with the government’s attention taken up by internal challenges, new alliances are forming in the middle east. This episode of The Inquiry explores the reasons behind the tension and protests in the country and asks, why is Israel in turmoil? Guests: Tamar Hermann, senior researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute and Professor of Political Science at the Open University Anshel Pfeffer, journalist and biographer of Benjamin Netanyahu Professor Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow at Chatham House Hugh Lovatt, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations Presented by Gary O’Donoghue. Producer: Louise Clarke Researcher: Anoushka Mutanda-Dougherty Editor: Tara McDermott. The programme was mixed by Richard Hannaford (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 20 Apr 2023. Credit: Menahem Kahana/ Shutterstock)
Will AI decide America’s next president?
24:24Next year Americans will go to the polls to choose their next president. For many, the race has already begun. Digital electioneering in US elections has been steadily developing over the last 15 years, but this time around, advancements in artificial intelligence could be a game changer. There have been huge strides in generative AI in the past year. One of the most accessible AI tools now available to the general public is the software known as ChatGPT, which can scour the internet for information, producing text for speeches and essays. Generative AI is widely used to produce social content around image and text, but what will happen when full on AI video becomes more readily available to any user? AI systems will be able to reach voters with messages targeted specifically to them, but will they be able to trust them? There are concerns that voters will have an increasingly tough task working out which campaign messages are genuine and which are not. To date, there is currently little regulation of a system which has already been used to create deep-fake manipulations of people and what they say, provoking questions over authenticity. So do we all have to be more aware of how much we allow AI to shape our democracies? This week on the Inquiry, we’re asking: Will AI decide America’s next president? Contributors Betsy Hoover, Higher Ground Labs Prof Hany Farid, University of California Berkeley Martin Kurucz, CEO, Sterling Data Company Nina Schick, author of ‘Deepfakes’ Presented by Tanya Beckett Produced by Jill Collins Researcher: Anoushka Mutanda-Dougherty Editor: Tara McDermott Technical producer: Richard Hannaford Broadcast coordinator: Brenda Brown Image: Unused privacy booths are seen at a voting site in Tripp Commons inside the Memorial Union building on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, November 3, 2020 (Credit: Bing Guan/Reuters)
Will Europe’s young workers have to pay more for the old?
23:42Recent protests in France oppose plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The demonstrations stem from a government plan so people would work -and pay into the pension system - for longer. There’s also concern about what that change might mean for those who are many decades away from pension age. France isn’t the only country facing economic efficiency challenges as populations age and leave the labour market. As more people leave Europe’s labour market, will young workers have to pay for the old? The Inquiry hears also about the productivity challenges facing Spain and Germany. Anne Elizabeth Moutet is a French columnist for the Daily Telegraph newspaper Bart Van Ark , Professor of productivity studies at the University of Manchester Prof Marcel Jansen, an economist from the Autonomous University of Madrid Stefano Scarpetta is Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD Presenter Charmaine Cozier (Protesters at the rally against Macron's pension reform, Paris, France. Credit: Telmo Pinto/Getty Images)
Will we ever run out of cloud storage?
24:20Recent cloud storage outages have exposed just how the modern world is reliant on remote servers to hold data that runs everything from websites, to digital operating systems and businesses. When cloud storage emerged, it meant that information could be streamed, rather than held in a device’s memory. Vast data centres were built where land was cheap and their owners soon realised that they could sell excess memory space on their servers. They became so-called “hyperscalers” providing cloud services. They include Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft, and the business is worth $500 billion a year. But there are concerns that too much information is already in the cloud. Critical data – such as aircraft control and military systems is being uploaded to publicly accessible servers. If there’s a glitch, the consequences could be catastrophic. Remote cloud systems therefore need to run 24 hours a day without fail, but the power the industry uses causes around 2 to 3% of all global carbon emissions. It’s set to get even bigger, but at what cost to the environment? This week on the Inquiry, we’re asking: will we ever run out of cloud storage? Contributors: Ola Chowning, Partner with ISG Information Services Group Laurel Ruma. Global Editorial Director for the MIT Technology Review Professor Bill Buchanan, Edinburgh Napier University. Dr Emma Fitzgerald, Lund University Presenter: Tanya Beckett Producer: Phil Revell Editor: Tara McDermott Researcher: John Cossee Studio Engineer: Richard Hannaford Broadcast Coordinator: Brenda Brown (Woman at home with an ipad looking at the large cloud above her head. Credit: Anthony Harvie/Getty Images)
What is Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for Saudi Arabia?
24:11Saudi Arabia has entered into a new era of relations with its long time rival, Iran. It’s a deal that has the potential to be very significant for the Middle East region. It’s part of a vision of a new Saudi Arabia spearheaded by its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. It’s a vision of futuristic cities, a new society, and a move away from an economy reliant on oil, not to mention new deals with ancient rivals in the region. How much of this new vision of Saudi Arabia is achievable and is the man at the centre convincing enough to make it work? This week on The Inquiry we’re asking, what is Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for Saudi Arabia? Contributors: Stephen Kalin, Middle East correspondent, The Wall Street Journal Bill Farron Price, energy markets analyst Sanam Vakil, deputy head of Chatham House, Middle East and North Africa programme Dina Esfandiari, senior advisor for the Middle East and Africa programme at the International Crisis Group Presented by Tanya Beckett Produced by Louise Clarke Edited by Tara McDermott Production co-ordinator is Brenda Brown Mixed by Nicky Edwards Image: Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman (Credit: Saudi Royal Court via Reuters)
Why are Warhol’s Prince works before the US Supreme Court?
24:25In 1981, the rock photographer Lynn Goldsmith did a photoshoot with an up-and-coming singer songwriter called Prince. A few years later, he became a superstar, and she licenced one of her photos to Vanity Fair to be used as a reference picture for an illustration. That portrait, known as “Purple Prince” was painted by Andy Warhol. But what Lynn Goldsmith didn’t know, and nor did anyone else, was that Warhol made multiple portraits from her photograph. After Prince died in 2016, Vanity Fair licenced a different one of these portraits from the Andy Warhol Foundation for a tribute in the magazine. That picture was called the “Orange Prince”. When Lynn Goldsmith saw this new portrait, she asserted her copyright – and so did the Andy Warhol Foundation. The US Supreme Court, is now trying to decide whether the photo was “transformed” when Warhol painted it, and what constitutes “fair use”. It’s a case with vast implications for artists, photographers, galleries and the art business. So this week on the Inquiry, we’re asking: why are Warhol’s Prince works before the US Supreme Court? Presenter: Charmaine Cozier Producer: Ravi Naik Editor: Tara McDermott Researcher: Anoushka Mutanda-Dougherty Broadcast co-ordinators : Sophie Hill and Siobhan Reed (Photo: Prince Rogers Nelson Credit: ©️ 1981 Lynn Goldsmith)