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December 10 & 13: from South Waziristan, Pakistan - London - Copenhagen - Tokyo - Kingston, Jamaica

The view from a dangerous frontier. High stakes and airstrikes as Pakistan tries to crush the Taliban advance.

The words no crime reporter in Tokyo ever wants to hear from the Yakuza: write the story and you die. We'll find out what happened to him next.

Yaks and thugs and 160 flat tires: the cyclist who pedalled halfway round the world to take on his own fears.

And, summoning the dead to protect the living.

It's an old tradition that disturbs some of Jamaica's Christian community. So why is the country promoting it?

Listen to Part One

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Individual items from this week's show are not available. But you can listen to them in Part 1 and Part 2 of the programme (above).


Pakistan's battle ground

The Americans call it a surge. Pakistan may call it trouble.

President Obama is going to pour another 30,000 American troops into the war in Afghanistan in a few months' time.

But in Pakistan, that's heightening fears the Taliban will just slip over its border and sit out the surge in the remote tribal areas, where American troops can't legally go. The region known as South Waziristan is already a haven for insurgents.

Pakistan's army is attempting to crush them in a new offensive, and the Taliban is retaliating with suicide bombings in Pakistani cities.

Indian journalist Rohit Gandhi has just had a rare glimpse inside the lawless region, where the best way to travel is armed and by air.

Cycing home from Siberia

Rob Lilwall "riding" through the frozen mud of Siberia. (Photo/Alastair Humphreys)

On the surface, Rob Lilwall doesn't seem like a daredevil.

He's a pleasant English fellow from a good home in west London.

Hardly the guy you'd expect to fly to Siberia and spend the next four years bicycling back; a distance of nearly 50,000 km.

But he did.

Slogging through snowbanks. Sharing sleeping quarters with yaks.

Chased by thugs in Papua New Guinea. And he remains delightfully unaffected by the experience.

It's all in his new book, Cycling Home from Siberia, published by Hodder and Stoughton.

And like all journeys, it began in his head.

Rob Lilwall spoke to Rick from our London studio.

Sustainable rap

So. Copenhagen.

You've probably heard a lot from this controversial UN Climate Change Conference.

But chances are you haven't heard from John Romankiewicz. Bit of a polymath, is John.

He's an American carbon markets analyst in Beijing. But also a member of China's Green Beat, which makes videos to raise the profile of environmental issues in China.

In that guise, he's known as "Sustainable John."

And with partner MC ?uestration, he turns his attention to Copenhagen in a number they call Three-Five-Zero.

As in "350 parts-per-million."

The figure scientists reckon is a safe limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Sustainable John says "We don't need carbon. We need a car-BAN!"

Watch the video for Three-Five-Zero.

 Tokyo Vice

Here's a day in the life of an American reporter, covering Tokyo vice for a local newspaper....

Jake Adelstein is a Missouri boy who went to Japan to study, maybe become a Buddhist monk.

Instead he wound up a crime reporter on a national daily, consorting with mobsters from the notorious Yakuza, and tasting the tawdry delights of the Tokyo underworld. Reporting on human trafficking.

Until the day the job became more than his life was worth.

The events leading up to the Yakuza's polite promise to kill him are contained in his new book, "Tokyo Vice - An American Reporter On The Police Beat in Japan," published by Random House.

Jake Adelstein is safely back in the U.S. and spoke to Rick from from Seattle.

Honour killings: the role of women

The practice of so-called "honour killings" has reached record levels in Turkey. Two-hundred women killed in the past year for allegedly bringing their families into disrepute -- something like dressing the wrong way or resisting an arranged marriage.

It's estimated that worldwide, the number of women murdered by their own kin each year is about 5,000.

But that's an estimate. Most go unreported.

The issue was the subject of discussion recently at The Frontline Club, a journalists' forum in London, England.

And we want to play you a bit of it involving Ramita Navai, correspondent with the Channel 4 program Unreported World.

And journalist Rana Husseini of The Jordan Times, author of "Murder in the Name of Honour," who explains it's not only the men of the family who participate in the killings.

Summoning the dead to protect the living

In the hills of Jamaica you hear it. The sound of drumming. The worshippers of the dead, dancing, and talking to the spirits in scenes as old as Africa.

It's a concept that alarms some in the country's Christian community. But the state itself is all for it.

All for keeping the concept of Kumina alive, as we heard from British journalist Nick Davis among the drummers.

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall and Alison Masemann, Steve McNally, technical producers Victor Johnston and Greg Fleet and senior producer Alan Guettel.

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