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Last week's top audio news included reviews of "Three Million," "Who Trolled Amber?," "Who We Are Now," and "A Muslim & a Jew Go There."
Culture TV and Radio

Last week’s top audio news included reviews of “Three Million,” “Who Trolled Amber?,” “Who We Are Now,” and “A Muslim & a Jew Go There.”

Three Million (BBC Radio 4) | BBC Sounds

Who was the source of the trolling directed at Amber? | Tortoise Media
Who We Are Now | Global Player

Two individuals, one Muslim and one Jew, attend the location (produced by Instinct Productions) | Available on Apple Podcasts

Radio 4’s Three Million delves into the tragic history of the death of three million individuals. These lives were lost in 1943, not as part of the Second World War’s combat, but due to famine in Bengal. Prior to listening to this program, I had no knowledge of this event. The presenter, Kavita Puri, diligently highlights the lack of conversation surrounding the Bengal famine. She emphasizes that there is no commemoration or recognition for the three million people who perished.

The memory of the famine has been neglected and any reports of its occurrence were concealed. Puri and her production team have conducted thorough investigations and uncovered previously unheard accounts from individuals who experienced it firsthand. While some recordings are from the past, there are also living individuals (over 80 years old!) who have never been interviewed before about this horrific event. Both English and Indian individuals share their vivid recollections of the emaciated people and corpses lying in the streets.

Kavita Puri.

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During this time, Bengal, which is now divided into Bangladesh and West Bengal, was under British rule and in a state of war. To prevent the Japanese from accessing Bengal’s resources, all the rice in districts near Burma was either removed or destroyed and vehicles were requisitioned to keep rice from being delivered. However, this plan was further complicated by severe weather conditions. The British and Indian authorities also refused to acknowledge the severity of the famine, censoring soldiers’ letters and suppressing media coverage. The Statesman, an English newspaper, eventually circumvented the censorship by publishing impactful photographs that revealed the truth of the situation.

But the most disgraceful aspect is that the British refused to provide assistance. In fact, Winston Churchill and other members of the war cabinet deliberately chose not to send grain to aid the starving Bengali population. Why? According to Churchill enthusiast Max Hastings, it is undeniable that Churchill held racist beliefs. He viewed Indians as inferior and certainly not equal to white men.

Three Million is great radio, not just because of the story, which is awful and enraging and needs to be heard, but because of Puri’s presentation – measured, dedicated, beautifully voiced. She’s almost old-school BBC, but there are moments when her emotion breaks through. At one point she tracks down some extremely visceral drawings of the famine victims. One shows a dead man being eaten by animals. The artist gives the man a name – the first name of a victim that Puri has seen, after all her research, and her voice cracks.

introducing who-trolled-amber-podcast artwork

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The website Tortoise Media contains in-depth research on recent events, with a focus on the trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in 2022. Host Alexi Mostrous, known for Sweet Bobby and Hoaxed, returns with another intriguing investigative podcast called Who Trolled Amber? Despite the highly sensationalized nature of the topic, Mostrous claims in the first episode that he is not drawn to celebrity and barely paid attention to the trial.

Mostrous was intrigued by the idea of examining the lives of well-known individuals, influenced by his intellectual friend who shares the same interest in investigations. This came about after the friend woke up to a deluge of hatred towards Amber on his social media feed. It was perplexing as his friend identifies as a liberal and should have been receiving content that supports women. Despite his friend’s attempt to clear his feed, he was unable to do so due to the algorithm.

Amber Heard in court in Fairfax, Virginia in 2022.View image in fullscreen

Assisted by a friend and other skilled data analysts, Mostrous discovers that a majority of the numerous negative posts about Heard on Twitter – now also on TikTok and Instagram – were actually generated by bots. This potentially had an impact on the jury’s decision, as they were not isolated during the trial and were exposed to the same incessant anti-Amber bot messages on their timelines. Mostrous investigates other similar cases and reveals that it is surprisingly inexpensive (only $100) to hire these bots and flood the internet with either pro- or anti- posts. There are numerous podcasts that discuss how the internet is transforming the world, blurring the lines between truth and lies. This situation has the potential to be one of the most unsettling examples.

Just time to mention a couple of new pods on the block. The first, Who We Are Now, which features Richard Hammond and his daughter Izzy wondering about who he is and how he should go about his life, is… OK. They’re both great presenters but this is thin fare. Hammond worries that wearing white trainers is too much of a statement for a middle-aged man (really? I don’t know any man who would give this a second thought!), and they extrapolate from such banalities.


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A noteworthy show worth mentioning is A Muslim & a Jew Go There, created by David Baddiel and Sayeeda Warsi. In its initial episode, they tackle the recent issue of political Islamophobia in the Conservative party and antisemitism in the Labour party. Both speakers are highly articulate and well-informed, providing insights on the intricacies of the byelection in Rochdale, and delving into the deeper meanings and motivations involved. Their conversational tone makes the conversation easy to follow. Baddiel mentions, “This boils down to the language and recurring ideas.” Lady Warsi later adds, “Do not use antisemitism or Islamophobia as tools to attack the left or right political groups. Stop manipulating us for your own political gain.” This promotes a civilized and enlightening discussion.

Source: theguardian.com