14/01/2017 Reporters - Short Edition


14/01/2017

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Welcome to Reporters.

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I'm James Menendez.

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From here in the World Newsroom, we send out correspondants to bring

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you the best stories from across the globe.

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In this week's programme...

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The culture clash in the Amazon.

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We report on Brazil's plans to build huge hydroelectric dams,

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which could change the world's biggest rainforest for ever.

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The impact of so many of these structures on the world's

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greatest river system, its environment and its

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people will be immense.

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A visit to China's most polluted city.

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We find the worst winter smog in recent years

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is poisoning its people.

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It's like living under a cloud.

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The smog is harming my childrens' health.

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And the sounds of Stonehenge.

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David Sillitoe investigates how new technology is revealing more

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of the ancient stones' secrets.

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What this new VR technology is offering is a chance to return

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back and see what this place used to look like in the past.

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To Brazil's Amazon rainforest now, where a battle is under way

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between its indigenous people and big business.

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The Brazilian government is defending plans to build dozens

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of huge hydroelectric dams, which they say are vital to meet

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the country's energy needs.

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But environmentalists say the plans are a disaster for the Amazon

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and will result in more deforestation and global warming.

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Wyre Davies has been to Belo Monte, the site of the first

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of the new so-called mega-dams to assess their impact.

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VOICEOVER: From the heart of the planet's greatest rainforest,

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emerges one of the world's biggest civil engineering projects.

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A monolithic monument to progress.

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The Belo Monte dam is Brazil's answer to its growing energy needs.

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Mired in controversy and allegations of corruption,

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the $18 billion dam partially blocks the Xingu, a major Amazon tributary

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and has flooded thousands of acres of rainforest.

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There's a human cost too.

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The local fishing has been decimated and thousands of riverside

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dwellers or riberenos, have lost their land

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and their livelihoods, forced into a completely

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alien, urban environment.

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We get angry, says this man, showing us his now

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worthless fishing licence.

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We see these corporations making millions from what used to be ours,

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he says, and we can't even use the river any more.

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Building the dam brought hundreds of jobs to the riverside town

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of Altamira, but it also led to increasing deforestation

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and the permanent loss of many low-lying islands.

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Supporters of hydropower admit mistakes were made.

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But they say the rivers and their energy are there to be

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harnessed for the greater good of Brazil.

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I would definitely defend the presence of Hydro S1

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key technology in our portfolio of technologies.

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In the developed part of the world,

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almost 70% of the hydro potential has already been explored.

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In Brazil, almost 70% of our hydro potential has not been explored yet.

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Brazil says it wants to build at least 50 hydroelectric

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dams across the Amazon.

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The government is saying it is clean, sustainable energy.

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But the impact of so many of these structures on the world's

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greatest river system, its environment and its

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people, will be immense.

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Next in line for development, the Tapajos.

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Described as the most beautiful river in the Amazon region and home

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to the Munduruku indigenous people.

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The plan to build several dams along its length

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would transform this wide, shallow river into a

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navigable water highway.

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But it would flood forests and islands used

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by the Munduruku for centuries.

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Tribal chiefs say they will resist any attempts to build

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dams on the river.

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Clean energy and the promise of jobs versus the rights

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of indigenous tribes.

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And whether to exploit or to protect this fragile ecosystem.

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Wyre Davies, BBC News, in the Amazon.

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China is in the midst of its worst winter smog in recent years.

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More than half of all of its cities are experiencing high

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levels of air pollution.

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Visibility in Beijing was reduced to less than 200 metres this week,

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increasing use of coal and current weather conditions have left a cloud

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of pollution over 3000 kilometres long across northern

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and central regions.

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John Sudworth has travelled to the worst polluted city in China

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and sent us this report.

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VOICEOVER: Somewhere, underneath this murky gloom is a city

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of 10 million people.

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And, for the unfortunate residents of this city, this is normal.

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For the past 30 days, the average air quality in this city

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has measured as hazardous on the official scale.

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You can smell, even taste the coal dust in the air, the grim,

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tangible reality of this country's model of economic growth.

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And people have no choice but to live, eat and sleep in this

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toxic smog, 24 hours a day.

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It's like living under a cloud, this noodle seller tells me.

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The smog is harming my children's health.

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Of course I want to leave, this man says, but I can't

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afford to, and anyway, the whole country is polluted.

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It's not much of an exaggeration.

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200 miles away, the pollution literally rolled into

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Beijing earlier this week.

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And stayed.

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A toxic mix of coal dust from power stations and car exhaust,

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the smog now regularly blankets a huge swathe of northern China.

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And it's believed to cause more than a million

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premature deaths a year.

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TRANSLATION: As a lung cancer doctor, I have seen an increase

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in patients in recent years, especially from heavily

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polluted areas.

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And when the smog gets worse, we see more kids with asthma.

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Public concern has forced the Chinese government

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to begin investing heavily in renewable energy.

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Those working in the sector believe China can clean up its air,

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just as wealthier, more developed economies once had to.

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I am pretty positive for China's future.

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Actually, they don't need that much time for the science research.

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They don't need that much time to develop relevant technologies.

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So I think a lot of things are more ripe for us

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to make faster solutions.

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Those solutions can't come fast enough for this city.

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Fossil fuels may have lifted China's economy to ever greater heights,

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but they are poisoning its people.

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John Sudworth, BBC News, China.

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STUDIO: Finally, there are many questions surrounding

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the ancient stones

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circle of Stonehenge.

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But might sound help in the search for answers?

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New technology is helping to recreate some of the strange

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acoustics of the mystical English site from thousands of years ago.

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Much of the stone circle has been lost over the years,

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but as David Sillitoe reports, the technology can even help us

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experience what the original prehistoric site might

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have looked like.

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EERIE SOUNDS.

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People have been coming here for at least 4000, 5000 years.

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So we are walking in the feet of history.

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When the wind blows, some people say they hear a strange hum.

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Thomas Hardy wrote about it in Tess of the d'Urbevilles.

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And Dr Rupert Till is convinced the sound of Stonehenge

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is part of its magic.

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WIND BLOWS EERILY.

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You here between each beat a little echo as the sound leaves you,

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hits the stone and comes back to you here.

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-- You hear between each beat a little echo

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as the sound leaves you,

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hits the stone and comes back to you here.

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Bang. BANGING.

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The problem, this is just a fragment of the sound people would have

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heard 4000 years ago.

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What this new VR technology is offering is a possibility,

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a chance to return back and see and also hear what this place used

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to look like in the past.

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We've kind of reconstructed it by rebuilding Stonehenge digitally

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and then using architectural software to reconstruct

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the acoustics of the space, as it would have been

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when all the stones were here.

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So how different is the old sound to the sound we have today?

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If I tap this drum now, you hear a little bit of an echo.

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When all the stones are put in place, a much more

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powerful sense of enclosure, a slight reverberation,

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more echo and it changes more as you walk around.

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BANGING.

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And the reason he is convinced ancient people were interested

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in sound is because of his work in caves in Spain.

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Hundreds of metres underground, they found ancient instruments

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and human marks on certain stalactites...

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Stalactites that are musical.

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19, 20, 21,

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22, 23, 24, 25.

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So today, it's just ruin beside a busy road.

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This, a chance to say goodbye to the 21st-century and experience

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the lost sound of Stonehenge.

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David Sillitoe, BBC News.

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STUDIO: Intriguing stuff.

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That's all from Reporters for this week.

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From me, James Menendez, goodbye for now.

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A weekly programme of stories filed by BBC reporters from all over the world, ranging from analyses of major global issues to personal reflections and anecdotes.


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