♪ ♪ >> hello and welcome to "focus on europe," the personal stories behind the headlines. thanks for joining us. on today's program -- in portugal, thorough bred horses. is a tradition about to die? in ukraine, men fighting for russia. and in britain, young people getting in touch. but first to portugal, home to one of the world's most beautiful breeds of horse -- the lusitano.
in the middle ages they were bred from wild horses, to be used in war or bull-fighting. today the breed is highly sought after - and expensive. but in portugal, after yearsrs f economic crisis, that high cost is proving a problem for the horses themselves. >> manuel jorge martins de oliveira is one of portugal's most famous horsemen. a legendary former bullfighter, he now teaches dressage clinics, and he's a very successful breeder of the country's own breed, the lusitano. his stud stallion sabio is worth 60 thousand euros. >> we portuguese are very proud of our lusitano horses. they're the calling cards of a culture that goes back thousands of years. they're very important culturally as well as economically. >> but portuguese breeders are changing the lusitano's type. it was traditionally bred for
bullfighting, driving, and classical dressage, but to compete in modern dressage sports, breeders have altered the size and gait of the horses. oliveira is not pleased with this development. >> i think it's a shame. the traditional lusitano is a very nimble, graceful horse. but the dressage competitions demand a bigger horse. that's to the detriment of this breed, in my opinion. >> the ribatejo region in the hinterlands of lisbon is largely agricultural. ground for the lusitano, which is an important traditional element of the area. once a year, the otherwise sleepy village of golega is transformed as horse breeders from across the country gather here.
this national horse fair also attracts interested onlookers. traditions are proudly displayed here, although most of the lusitanos on show represent the more modern breeding standards. golega briefly becomes the center of the portuguese horse world. >> people from all around the world come to see the lusitano horse, and that's why we are here every year. >> but what many visitors don't see is that people here are breeding too many horses. those that aren't sold are often left to fend for themselves. this foal was abandonded, so sharon clarke took it in. the british horse-lover looks after neglected horses and tries to find new homes for them in portugal as well as britain, germany, or france. she cares or 150 horses, with the help of donations. >> there's many abandonded horses. the economy in portugal right now isn't so good.
a horse is a luxury item. it costs you money. so many people now just can't afford to keep them. they can't afford the food, or the hay, or the vets, so many are just left abandonded to die. >> and some end up at the slaughterhouse. sharon knows the spot where horses get left before they go to slaughter -- this field here. this mare, around seven years old, is very friendly, so sharon believes she must once have been well cared for. >> it's very difficult. she's a beautiful horse. it's a waste, it's a big waste. it shouldn't be allowed to happen, but it does. and there's thousands like this that i'd like to save, but i can't. i'm one person. >> within one year, nearly 3000 lusitanos went to slaughter, the breeding industry's surplus.
belarmino figueiredo makes his living selling on these unwanted animals. he can earn up to 100 euros per horse. >> people are breeding horses that they can no longer care for. so they call me, to sell them, to get rid of them. i go there, we discuss a price, and the papers. that's very important. the horses need to be microchipped or the slaughterhouse won't take them. >> traders are now asking astronomical prices for the dressage horses sold at the market in golega. breeder manuel jorge martins de oliveira takes a critical view. >> it used to be about passion. you went to the golega horse fair to teach the people how well-schooled your horse was. today, the focus is just on money. it's more about selling.
the mentality has changed. >> but oliveira is sticking with his breeding program focusing on the original lusitano type. he still believes in the old portuguese traditions -- and he knows what an important role the horse has played in the country's long history. >> it's now a year since the beginning of the crisis in ukraine - but, despite an official ceasefire, the situation is going from bad to worse. more than 4,300 people have now been killed in fighting between pro-european ukrainian forces and pro-russian rebels. but the question is, who exactly is doing the fighting? many in the west accuse the kremlin of sending russian troops into ukraine to support the separatists - something which vladimir putin denies. he says any russian soldiers
there have gone under their own steam. what is clear though, is that russian civilians are heading to ukraine to fight. to find out why, our reporters braved the front line to meet some of them. >> this is the coach from moscow that runs south to rostov-on-don. valentin is heading to the front. his wife elina is accompanying him. they are ethnic russians and lived in latvia, where they say they suffered discrimination. that is why they want to help the russians in eastern ukraine. >> it is a dream come true. at last i am doing the right thing. >> the ukrainians just started bombing peaceful cities -- donetsk, lugansk. i chose which side to be on.
>> the two call that side "russki mir," the "russian world" -- and say it is locked in a war with ukraine and the united states. they cross into ukraine at a border crossing controlled by separatists. from the taxi they're taking to their destination, they can see the debris of war all around. elina is to stay in luhansk and help organise humanitarian aid. russian volunteer fighters have gathered in abandoned apartments here. their residents, presumably ukrainians opposed to the pro-russian separatists, have long since fled. the men set off for the front, which is just half an hour away. the volunteer batallion "dawn" comprises about 500 fighters. one unit of about fifty men has set up camp in a derelict factory compound. all the tanks but one are out of commission.
yura arrived yesterday, with valentin. it is his first time on the frontline. he is shown how to use a kalashnikov assault rifle. as a youngster he had military training, but that was many years ago. yura says he does not know how long he will stay here. yura is not a good shot. but professionalism is secondary to commitment here. >> i came because i could not bear stand by and watch what is going on. i came as fast as i could. >> where did you watch it? >> on tv. there are people living here, and they are just killing them, for no good reason.
>> that night yura gets ready to go out on a mission. valentin has hurt his hand and stays behind at base. their forward posts have come under attack from ukrainian units. now the entire unit is set to join the fight to repel the attack. almost all these men are about to be killed. their one tank heads out of base. valentin stays behind on guard duty. the next morning, a small group sets off to deliver ammunition and mines to the front. the last two kilometers are in the range of ukrainian artillery. the driver floors the gas pedal. all last night ukrainian forces shelled this abandoned village on the frontline. the men are nervous. perhaps the heavy shelling means an all-out attack is imminent.
andrey is 21. he has been here for six weeks. he plans to go home for new year's, and see his girlfriend. they have only occasional contact via the internet. the russian fighters are all convinced they are doing the right thing. >> i watched reports on tv. they need our help. >> do your parents know you're here? >> no, i only told one friend i was coming. >> the shells are landing closer now. >> without us volunteers, the ukrainians would have taken the donets basin long ago.
>> a couple of the russian fighters are sheltering behind a house. they want to find a safer position when the shelling finally dies down. the unit's commander, sergey from kazan, wants to get us to safety. he calls on his own people to stop firing. he now thinks they are shelling the village, by mistake. and then the car's engine dies. >> this is how we have to fight, damn it. they are always saying russia helps us. if it did, we would have taken kyiv long ago. >> their one tank is heading back from the front. the surviving fighters say they came under attack from two ukrainian tanks. they are bandaged up at the next checkpoint.
meanwhile, yura has made it back to base. he has shrapnel in his left arm. the young russian volunteers appear not to stand much of a chance against the professional ukrainian forces. how did you get away? >> what do you mean, get away? our men are all dead. >> all of them? >> yes, all but five. >> yura is taken to hospital. he won't be fighting again soon. he spent all of one day on the front line. thousands more volunteers are likely to show up -- they have been watching russian television, too. >> when it comes to ukraine, here in germany opinion is increasingly divided between those who say the west should get tougher with mr. putin, and those who say the west is partly to blame for the ukraine crisis in the first place.
let me know what you think by getting in touch on twitter. but now to another tragic conflict, the fight against the self-declared islamic state, a militant jihadist group which is accused of grave human rights abuses. the extremists now control large swathes of northern iraq and syria. the question is, where are they getting the supplies to carry on fighting? our reporters have been to the turkish-syrian border, and uncovered evidence that supplies are being smuggled in from turkey, and that the turkish authorities appear to be turning a blind eye. >> when one of his trucks drives off, mustafa tohumcu feels a bit hopeful again. the trucking company owner used to do good business in neighboring syria. but it's been quite some time since he's been able to send goods over the border into the war-torn country. he says conditions are nightmarish. >> our trucks wait an average 12
days at the border. then they're allowed to proceed to a transshipment point, where the freight is loaded on to a syrian truck. we don't know where it goes then. we get paid in cash at the border, and that's it. >> turkish authorities don't seem to care who ends up getting the freight. officially, ankara denies that here at oncupinar, one of the few turkish-syrian border crossings that are still open, shipments intended for the islamic state militants are pssing through. syrian traders transfer bales of cloth from one truck to another in front of the gates of the border crossing. they don't want to be filmed or answer questions. they say that might upset their employers. but nearby, the recipient of the goods is written in big letters on the sacks -- a certain ahmad in raqqa, the center of the i.s.-controlled area.
and a syrian truck driver tells us that most of the freight here does go to the regions under i.s. control. he says he took cement to raqqa. it was ordered and picked up by middlemen. he never saw the client. the turkish government doesn't consider itself responsible. officially, the shipments of food, steel, and cement are considered humanitarian aid for reconstruction. and the western-supported syrian opposition allows the shipments to pass, presumably in exchange for bribes. according to the turkish government, goods worth some one billion euros were shipped to syria in the first nine months of this year. the cities close to the border make little profit from that. the cement, steel, and textiles are brought from western turkey.
local entrepreneurs say that regional products are not in demand. >> we lived from tourism and a bit of border trading with syria. but that's stopped completely. then there are the 130,000 syrian refugees in our little town alone. that's as many as the entire european union has taken in. >> 150 kilometers to the east lies the syrian kurdish border city of kobane. it's been under siege by i.s. militias for weeks. the kurds say not only is turkey turning a blind eye when goods reach the terrorists, they're also able to get additional weapons and fighters. a kurdish-affiliated television station managed to shoot footage of a group of armed men crossing the border without being
stopped. shortly afterwards, they were shot and killed, presumably by kurdish units. to prevent more fighters from illegally crossing the border, kurdish volunteers have secured the area near kobane. for weeks, hundreds of self-appointed guards have been holed up in border villages. they go out on patrols each night, according to these kurds from istanbul. >> when we catch someone crossing the border, we hand them over to the authorities. but the police here are not to be trusted. >> they try everything to drive us out. but i.s. is able to organize resupplies of weapons and additional fighters without a problem. and they go the other way. if they get cornered, they flee over here. >> on this night there's not much activity. the border guards say their patrols are a deterrent. but even they can't stop extremists from crossing the
border. nor can they prevent hundreds of trucks from crossing over each day. it seems islamic state doesn't have to worry about its supply lines. >> finally to london, one of the most crowded cities in europe. but also, it seems, one of the loneliest -- and online social networking appears to be making things worse, often meaning we spend more time with our screens than with our friends. but now some young people in london have decided to do less online chatting, and more offline talking -- with possibly even a bit of cuddling thrown in on the side. >> the british capital draws people from around the globe. yet a third of the city's residents say they feel isolated and alone. so did david blackwell when he moved here four years ago. >> when i arrived in london, i felt isolated.
i came with a couple of friends from uni, but they lived on the other side of town. i found it very hard to meet people and actually develop a friendship, because people did live so far away, and working seven day weeks, nobody has any time. you are tired in the evenings. it's not an easy thing to do to build a social sphere here. >> so, together with others, blackwell has started a campaign called "talk to me." the idea is to get londoners to socialize more -- not just live side by side in silence. people are supposed to strike up a conversation with total strangers -- who'll possibly become friends. >> mind if i join you, man? >> blackwell has made around 20 friends this way. what he talks about depends on his conversation partner and the situation. here, for instance, they're discussing the importance of authenticity in art. blackwell also distributes the buttons that show the wearer is
willing to meet new people and engage in conversation. but not everyone's sold on the concept. >> i think it might be on a short-term basis rather than long-term, unless you have to do it all your life going on badges you know. but i mean, do people really need a badge to be able to talk to people? >> blackwell certainly doesn't need any more incentives to strike up a conversation with strangers. for him, the results have been highly rewarding. >> as soon as you start having sincere conversations and memories and stories to tell from conversations and interactions that did not need to happen, chance encounters, it feels good. your day feels full. you feel like you are living. >> but what if you are more the strong and silent type? you might want to check out cuddlr. the social media app hooks you
up with a stranger for a platonic snuggle. it was designed to produce a sense of closeness, something hard to come by in london. >> in a big city like this, you are very close to people a lot. you are on the tube right next to people, but it is not voluntary and you do not communicate about it. you do not have a chance to say, here is how i would like to be close to you. you are jammed in there, and i think because of that, people push other people away as much as possible. everybody wants to get their own space, and it is hard to let people in. >> charlie williams is meeting with a german living in london for a cuddle. the app shows their current locations and the quickest way for them to get together. and then, they cuddle. >> that is nice. >> it is nice.
>> it was exciting because it was the first time i had done it. somehow, it was nice and relaxing and pleasant. it is something different, another way of getting to know people. >> can't hugging combat loneliness? cuddlr has 26,000 registered users, even though the app has only been available since september. the average cuddle last nine minutes and 54 seconds. >> there is a lot of scientific and medical research that shows having physical touch helps you live longer. it helps to heal actual physical wounds faster. it helps heal psychological wounds. and so all of these things are reasons why we should make sure that we get a lot of this touch. >> but for now, david blackwell is content with a bit of stimulating conversation. you get londoners wearing the "talk to me" buttons, he is giving them away for free in cafés, that without much success.
the boxer mains untouched. the direct approach works better. -- the box remains untouched. once again, blackwell is deep in conversation, talking to an italian who has lived in london for three years. we do not need to tell people it is a good idea, because they feel it is a good idea. people want to connect. the tendency is they are. nobody wants an isolated city. right on cue, the italian begins talking to a stranger at a neighboring table. >> you never know who is around you. that is the thing. you might be sitting around, and you might have beside you the best filmmaker of the world, or a great businessman, or maybe just your next girlfriend. >> for now, he is just conversing with a student from germany, and he is pleased -- and so is david blackwell. the people of london are getting to know one another, and soon maybe a few of them won't feel quite so lonely.
>> well that is all for today. do feel free to get in touch with me on twitter. you cannot promise a cuddle, but we do read and take note of all your comments. lisa keeps them coming. many viewers, including a2burns got in touch to say they were particularly moved by last week's item about the holocaust survivor saved by a polish farmer. you can also contact us by e-mail, using the address email@example.com. for now, it is goodbye from me and all of us here. do join us again next week, same time, same place. [captioned by the national captioning institute which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> garrison keillor: martín espada was born in brooklyn, new york. he moved to massachusetts; worked as a tenement lawyer in boston, teaches at the university of massachusetts, amherst-- creative writing, latino poetry, and the work of pablo neruda. he's published 16 books, and his collection of poems, the republic of poetry, was a finalist for the pulitzer prize. >> at 16, i worked after high school hours at a printing plant that manufactured legal pads-- yellow paper stacked seven feet high and leaning as i slipped cardboard between the pages, then brushed red glue up and down the stack. no gloves-- fingertips required
for the perfection of paper, smoothing the exact rectangle. sluggish by 9:00 p.m., the hands would slide along suddenly sharp paper, and gather slits thinner than the crevices of the skin; hidden. then the glue would sting, hands oozing till both palms burned at the punch clock. ten years later, in law school, i knew that every legal pad was glued with the sting of hidden cuts; that every open law book was a pair of hands upturned and burning. ( applause )
>> november 9, 1989, the night the berlin well fell. welcome to our "euromaxx highlights," the biggest highlight being a very special anniversary for germany. it's been 25 years since the event that shook the world back in 1989, and for the occasion we decided to bring this program to the scene of the action. we're going to leave our studio behind and hit the streets of berlin to remember this historic event. here's what's coming up -- memorable moments. we look back at some of the most iconic images from the fall of 1989. border of lights. what 8,000 balloons have to do with the berlin wall. and turning point. how the end of east germany rocked people's worlds.