Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fort Knox

Kentucky’s Fort Knox is home to the United States Army. It is also one of the world’s most heavily guarded buildings. We glimpse behind the fortified walls of the US Bullion Depository, constructing a detailed picture of what its classified contents might look like.
Although information regarding this top secret stronghold is kept confidential by the American Government, we use eyewitness interviews and rare photographs – along with the only film ever taken inside the vault – to explore the military and monetary mysteries hidden behind Fort Knox’s high security perimeter.

Hidden deep inside the vault is an estimated seventy three billion dollars in gold. We discover the secrets behind Fort Knox’s construction in 1936 and find out how the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 created Fort Knox in the first place.

We also view the only film ever taken inside the vault, and hear testimony of those journalists and congressmen who were among the select few invited inside in 1974. Doug Simmons, who was hired to help during the 1975 audit, reveals the secrets of what really lies inside the vault. He also describes what it feels like to handle billions of dollars in gold.

We find out why the royal jewels, narcotics and the United States Constitution were also once stored inside. With such wealth at stake, Fort Knox is one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the world. We'll explore the high-tech security measures that might be in place there, including the built-in security provided by the United States Army base right next door.

Finally, we discover the history and secrets behind the Army’s tank warfare and the classified military technologies it will use to fight the wars of the future.

With the 2008 Beijing Olympics

1) When the Olympic Games were re-established in Athens in 1896, due to lack of international advertising, many of the contestants were simply tourists who found themselves in the Athens area.

2) Women first participated as contestants during the 1900 Olympic Games held in Paris.

3) Following on from World War I, which saw the cancelling of the Berlin Olympics, the aggressors of the war (Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary) were not sent official invitations by the Organizing Committee for both the 1920 and 1924 Olympics.

4) Another result of World War I was that most people could not afford tickets to go to the Olympics held in Ambers in 1920, leading Belgium to lose over 600 million francs from hosting the games.

5) Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich were amongst some of the stars who attended the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Attendance otherwise was poor as a result of the Great Depression.

6) Italian Luigi Beccali, winner of the gold medal in the 1,500-metre race, made Olympic history during 1932 by giving the Fascist salute while mounted on the victory platform.

7) The Berlin 1936 Olympics are infamous as a result of their Nazi backdrop. Hitler used the games as a platform to broadcast Nazi ideology, with Leni Riefenstahl filming the Games and turning them into the propaganda movie Olympia.

8) Jesse Owens, a black athlete from the United States, was the star of 1936, winning four gold medals. Hitler did not shake his hand.

9) Japan pulled out of hosting the Olympics in 1940 due to Allied countries planning a boycott and Japan itself deciding the games were a distraction from their wartime goals. The 1944 Helsinki Olympics were cancelled as well.

10) A war-torn Britain was not wealthy enough to foot the entire bill for the London 1948 Olympics and so requested that all participants bring their own food.

11) London was the first Olympics to have a political defection – Marie Provaznikova won a gold medal for the Czechoslovakian gymnastics team and then refused to return home, citing “lack of freedom” due to the country’s recent inclusion in the Soviet bloc.

12) During the 1952 Olympic Games held in Helsinki, the Soviet Union set up their own separate Olympic Village for Eastern bloc countries.

13) Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon boycotted the 1956 Melbourne Games after Israel invaded Egypt in a coordinated attack orchestrated by Britain and France’s dispute over the Suez Canal.

14) Ten days before the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, the Mexican army surrounded a group of students who were protesting against the government and opened fire. An estimated 267 people were killed and over 1,000 were wounded.

15) When African-Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos won the gold and bronze medals for the 200-metre race in 1968, they both stood on the victory platform and raised a black-gloved hand to salute as a sign of black power.

16) Drug testing was introduced during the 1968 games.

17) One day before the 1972 Munich Olympics, eight Palestinian terrorists entered the Olympic Village and murdered nine Israeli participants.

18) Mark Spitz from the United States was the champion of 1972, winning seven gold medals for swimming.

19) In 1976, 26 African countries boycotted the Montreal Games as a result of New Zealand being granted attendance despite their rugby team playing in Apartheid South Africa.

20) The United States and 61 other countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics as a result of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. This makes it the largest boycott in Olympic history.

21) China participated in the 1984 Olympics for the first time since 1932.

22) As a result of Canada ending up massively in debt after hosting the Olympics in 1976, corporate sponsorship was introduced in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

23) In 1988 the rule that participants had to be amateur was overturned, with it now being up to individual sports groups to decide if professionals could partake.

24) Barcelona 1992 represented the first Olympic Games in three decades that was boycott free.

25) The centennial Olympic Games were held in Atlanta in 1996. As a result of no government support, this year marked the commercialization of the event.

26) Boxing champion Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch during the 1996 games, which included a tribute to civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

27) Afghanistan was unable to attend the 2000 Sydney Olympics due to the Taliban’s ban on sport.

28) Athens 2004 marked the first time that major broadcasters were allowed to show video footage of the event online.

Elizabeth - From The Prison To The Palace

Her mother had been executed and her new stepmother had produced a male heir to the throne. The young Elizabeth had been rapidly demoted! Edward VI never grew big enough to fill his father's shoes and Mary's inheritance of the crown saw Elizabeth banished to the tower where she faced the darkest moments of her life. Deliverance came with Mary's death and Elizabeth became Queen. As Starkey says: "Now came the difficult bit . . . "


Human cannibalism is steeped in controversy, a subject that both fascinates and repulses.

Many anthropologists argue that cannibalism is an instinctive part of human nature - that it was an institution in many, if not all, ancient cultures; that people will turn to cannibalism without reservation in a survival situation; and that our very bones are imprinted with evidence that we are creatures who eat our own.

Other experts vehemently disagree, denying that cannibalism played a major role throughout history. They question eyewitness accounts and take issue with what archaeologists claim is hard scientific evidence. 'Cannibals' gets to the heart of the debate by investigating both well-known and little-known scenarios in which humans may have resorted to eating other humans.

The taboo of cannibalism has been with us for centuries. We explore early accounts of cannibalism, and how the reputed act and its practitioners were perceived by the Western world, and to what extent we can rely on historic sources as truth.

Though European explorers were quick to slap the cannibal label on peoples they encountered exploring the globe, we’ll reveal the extent to which they practiced their own form of medicinal cannibalism back home.

We investigate some of the most common motivations for cannibalism beginning with survival: in 1765 the crew of the Peggy draws lots to decide who shall be sacrificed to feed the rest. A century later, Sir John Franklin's entire expedition perishes in the arctic, but not before some resort to consuming human flesh. In 1883, Alfred Packer makes headlines worldwide when he is convicted of murdering and cannibalizing five of his companions on a Colorado gold-rush expedition turned winter survival catastrophe. Finally, we meet two of the survivors of the 1972 Andes plane crash who, with over twenty other passengers, are forced to consume the dead bodies of their friends in order to survive for over 70 days in the Andes Mountains in Argentina.

Through these first-hand accounts, we try to better comprehend how, in certain situations; the unthinkable becomes the only choice. Survival expert Dr. Ken Kamler helps us understand the physiology of hunger and how it can push a person to transcend a taboo and choose human flesh over starvation.

Cannibalism is not always an act of necessity; it can also be a ritual, a ceremonial practice, as much an accepted choice as praying is in other cultures. We investigate the Fore people of Papua New Guinea, who consumed their dead as late as the 1950's. But the practice proved deadly, causing Kuru, a devastating and fatal disease passed through contaminated human flesh.

We’ll investigate the recent scientific findings that show Kuru is linked to other diseases, such as mad cow disease, and see how the disease pattern may shed light on a shared cannibalistic past worldwide. We’ll also take a look at funerary cannibalism as practiced by the Wari of Brazil, who are reported to have eaten the bodies of their loved ones to avoid burying them in the ground "to rot and be eaten by worms". But some experts are skeptical, claiming that no one has ever witnessed cannibalism in the act - which brings us to the heart of the controversy over this practice: what kind of "hard evidence" evidence is available as proof?

Today archaeologists around the globe are studying the remains of some of our earliest ancestors, and getting surprising results. From Europe to Africa to the Americas, it seems our early ancestors were at times motivated to butcher and consume each other in the same way they processed animals for meat.

We visit sites in the American Southwest inhabited by the Anasazi from the 12th and 13th centuries. Are the butchered bones left behind signs that they brutally killed, then ate one-another, or indications of witchcraft? Could cannibalism have been used as a means of political control, or part of an elaborate rite to destroy a condemned witch? Bimolecular analysis of petrified feces will shed surprising clues.

Meanwhile, in a cave site in France called Moula Guercy, archaeologist Alban Defleur will introduce us to the most convincing evidence to date that Neanderthal man routinely practiced cannibalism 100,000 years ago.

Using stone tools like those found in the cave, Defleur will demonstrate pre-historic butchering techniques that left behind telling cut marks on human bones. How does all the evidence stack up? Could it be that a cannibal instinct has been with us since the dawn of mankind?

The Universe 2: Cosmic Apocalypse

The universe as we know it is condemned to death. Space, matter and even time will one day cease to exist and there is nothing we can do about it.

Harsh realities are revealed about the future of our universe; it may collapse and burn or it might be gripped by a galactic ice age. Either of these scenarios might be a long way off.

However, our Universe could suddenly be destroyed by a random quantum fluctuation, a bubble of destruction that can obliterate the entire cosmos in the blink of an eye.

No matter how it ends, life in our Universe is doomed.

Hitler's Women: Eva Braun - The Mistress

From the beginning of his murderous megalomaniacal crusade, Adolf Hitler was assisted by a varied cast of women. This series assesses the contributions that Hitler’s female helpers made to the propaganda, politics and processes of the regime. Using private archival footage and exclusive interviews, we create five portraits of life behind the scenes of this regime of terror.

In this programme, we look at the most well known of all Hitler’s women – his mistress, Eva Braun. The future Fuhrer first met Eva in 1929, when she was just 17. Their clandestine affair lasted for 15 years; for most of this time, she was concealed by Hitler in a remote hideaway amid the Austrian Alps.

Eva was extremely close to Hitler, and she associated with many Nazi officials. Yet she was the dictionary definition of a ‘silent partner’. Eva was banished to her room by her overbearing partner if important political guests came to visit. Hitler’s unpleasant statement that: "A highly intelligent man should always choose a primitive and stupid woman", perfectly communicates his condescending attitude towards Braun.

Eva was deeply and blindly in love with Hitler, writing in 1944: "From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere - even unto death - I live only for your love." This unquestioning devotion would lead her to a violent and premature death. On April 30th 1945 , as Allied troops closed in on Berlin, Eva and Hitler took vials of cyanide in order to commit suicide. The gruesome episode was a final end to a tumultuous and deeply unequal love affair.