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Entries in BBC (30)


EA Audio Analysis: Why Hollywood is Blowing Up the White House --- Scott Lucas with the BBC

I joined BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, with Catherine Bray of, to discuss Hollywood's spate of films portraying the White House under terrorist attack.

Listen to the discussion from the 2:19.54 mark.

What's going on? "There's this perpetual 'culture of fear' --- even when America thinks it has won, from the end of the Cold War to the killing of Osama bin Laden."

And, for what's it worth, Team America did this almost a decade ago and did it far better.


Syria Video Feature: The Boys Who Sparked a Revolution (BBC)

The BBC's Fergal Keane speaks to some of the boys whose spraying of graffiti in Daraa Province, celebrating the Arab Spring, sparked the uprising of March 2011 against the Assad regime.

Keane notes that 15 boys from the school were arrested and tortured, leading to mass demonstrations, with other boys killed or forced into exile.


Syria 1st-Hand: Attempting to Live a Normal Life in Insurgent-Held Yabroud

A wall in Yabroud: "Take off your shoes as Yabroud's sand is our blood"

The city is currently run by two councils. One is military and is mainly concerned with holding back the regime's forces. The other is a civilian one and is responsible for securing health care and food supplies for residents.

If it were not for the air strikes, I would have said we live like people in any other normal city. There's no shortage of food here, for instance.

But prices have increased dramatically, especially fuel. A litre that used to cost 25 US cents two years ago now costs $1.20 (£0.75).

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Middle East Feature: Gulf Regimes Crack Down on Dissent in Social Media (Law)

A recent decision by the United Arab Emirates to tighten restrictions on internet use has highlighted attempts by the authorities in Gulf states to staunch the flood of comment and criticism appearing on social media websites.

The amendments to the UAE's existing law on internet crime were announced last month in a decree by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nuhayyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi.

It says citizens who create or run a website or use the internet to deride or damage the state or its institutions face up to three years in prison. Foreign nationals will be deported.

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Syria Feature: A Movement Trying to Bridge the Sectarian Divide (Mohajer/Bramley)

While the Syrian conflict has been characterised by fighting between the Sunni majority and ruling Alawite minority, it has also given birth to some movements which aim to bridge the sectarian divide.

Nabeel, a 24-year-old Alawite doctor from Homs, describes how he and other Syrian activists first decided to start campaigning against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the summer of 2011.

"A bunch of us were having coffee in Homs," he said. "We wanted to have some influence on our revolution, so we tried to do something to express ourselves, to express our opinions."

The result was the creation of the Nabd (or Pulse) Gathering for Syrian Civil Youth --- one of the many cross-sectarian movements that have emerged from Syria's 18-month-long revolt.

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Syria Feature: Finding a Hip-Hop Voice Amid the Conflict (Mohajer/Rajput)

LaTlatehLaTlateh is a Damascus-based three-piece hip-hop outfit comprising Al Sayyed Darwish, Watar and Abu Koulthoum. They perform alongside producer Dab Snakkr, whose music documents the day-to-day struggle of the Syrian uprising.

"The situation in Syria is what motivates us to write. How can we sit by and watch all the pain and suffering that is going on around us and not speak out?"

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Bahrain Feature: UK Government and BBC Boost Regime's "Terrorist Explosives" Campaign

Bahraini police video of raids on houses last week

The regime is hoping for a big PR success from its claim, launched last week, of a major find of explosives in raids on houses.

At the same time, the Bahraini Minister of Interior was in London for meetings with British officials, including Foreign Officer Minister of State Lord Howell. Whether or not the trip is connected to the campaign, Britain's security services and the BBC's Frank Gardner give a big boost to the regime today....

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Bahrain Video Special: "Riots", "Reform", & "Brutal Interrogation" --- The Kingdom from 1956 to 1996

Fast forward to 1996 where, filming covertly, the BBC finds the antecedents of today's images: imprisonment of people simply talking to foreign journalists, "brutal interrogations", and the "daily routine" of youths burning tyres: "To the outsider, it looks more like Israel's intifada [of the occupied Palestinians] than the Gulf States once renowned as desert oases of stability and reliable friends of the West"....

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Bahrain Feature: A Very British System of Repression (Curtis)

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes Bahrain's King Hamad in London, 12 December 2011

Bahrain, along with Syria, has become a symbol of the failure of the Arab Spring to deliver real democracy and freedom across the Arab world. The media in Britain portray a rigid, oppressive almost feudal elite who are stubbornly holding out against the inevitable wave of modern freedoms and political justice.

But what is hardly ever mentioned in the press and TV reports is that this very system of oppression, the rock against which the dreams of democracy are being dashed, was largely created by the British. That, throughout most of the twentieth century, British advisers to the Bahraini royal family, backed up by British military might, were central figures in the creation of a ruthless system that imprisoned and sometimes tortured any Bahraini citizen who even dared to suggest the idea of democracy.

The same British advisers also worked with the rulers of Bahrain to exercise a cynical technique of divide and rule --- setting Shia against Sunni in a very successful attempt to keep Bahrain locked in an old, decaying and corrupt system of tribal and religious rivalries. The deliberate aim was to stop democracy ever emerging.

The Bahrainis know this, practically everyone else in the Arab world knows this --- the only people who seem to have forgotten are the British themselves.

So I thought I would tell the story of Britain's involvement in the government and the security of Bahrain over the past 90 years. Especially as the present King of Bahrain is coming to have lunch with the Queen on May 18th.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "A Divided and Dangerous City"

State TV footage of scene of this morning's double explosion in Syrian capital Damascus (see 0655 GMT)

2130 GMT: Palestine. An official with Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer has said that Israel's prison service has offered to ease restrictions on Palestinian prisoners in a bid to end a mass hunger strike.

About 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are fasting to protest administrative detention, under which Israel can hold people indefinitely without charge. They are also challenging solitary confinement, detention without charge and restrictions on family visits, education, and other privileges.

Two of those protesting, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, are on th 72nd day of hunger strikes.

The Addameer official said, after a meeting on Wednesday night in Nafha Prison between the Prison Service and leaders of the hunger strike, "There might be a positive response in the next few days." She said the Prison Service "agreed to allow visits for families from Gaza" and to revoke a range of restrictions on prisoners, including a ban on education and other privileges. She added that an agreement on moving prisoners out of solitary confinement was also on the table.

Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman confirmed the Nafha meeting, saying it was part of an ongoing process of consultations between detainees and a committee examining prison conditions.

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