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Palm Oil Producers Battle Environmentalists

Palm oil producers in Indonesia battle environmental campaigners; Saudi women's role in politics; Google invests in Cuba; ageism in Silicon Valley; and the waning relevance of CDs

The big Palm Oil company Olam has been accused of using suppliers that may use unsustainable practices in parts of Southeast Asia and West Africa. The claims against the agricultural commodities trader were made in a report by a US-based environmental lobby group called Mighty Earth. The Singaporean company that has a majority share in Olam, called Temasek, insists that it's always been in support of ethical land clearance practices - and Olam itself has vehemently rejected the allegations. Glenn Hurowitz of Mighty Earth spoke to us from Washington DC.

The Cuban government has signed a deal with Google's parent company - allowing the internet giant to provide faster access to its data by installing servers on the island that will store much of the company's most popular content. A little while earlier, another agreement was being signed between Cuba and the European Union - covering issues such as trade, human rights and migration. Will Grant is our Havana Correspondent - more from him on the Google deal.

The world's largest oil producers have made a big money bet - agreeing to cut production in the hopes of boosting the price of crude oil - and refilling their dwindling Treasury coffers. Almost immediately, the price of crude went gone up to its highest level in almost two years. This strategy is a complete reversal of what was Plan A - pumping like crazy, not least in the hopes of driving upstart US shale oil companies out of business. So why have Russia, Kazakhstan and Mexico decided to work with OPEC? To assess the significance of the deal, the BBC's Rob Young talks to Chris Weafer at Macro Advisory in Moscow.

One year ago, Saudi women were given the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections for the first time ever. Although municipal councils don't hold much power, many in the kingdom hoped it would bring about change. Hanan Razek has been looking at what's different one year on.

Ageism in the workplace affects even the most glamorous of livelihoods. In Hollywood it's routine - well for women anyway. In music too - the latest evidence from Madonna as she received the Billboard Woman of the Year Award. Capping a list of music industry bigotry, she said - "And finally - do not age. Because to age is a sin. You will be criticized and vilified - and definitely not played on the radio." Now you'd think that a place like Silicon Valley in California - home to the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple - would be progressive ... beyond all that. But Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times says what started out as a youthful vibe has indeed become outright ageism - an environment specifically designed to discriminate against the older worker.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy groups have made strong gains in elections for the territory's Election Committee - a panel of 1,200 people that will choose Hong Kong's next leader. Pro-democracy groups fielded an unprecedented number of candidates this year, and have secured 325 seats, giving them significant negotiating power in the elections for Hong Kong's next leader. But pro-democracy campaigners like the lawyer Alvin Yu are annoyed that anti-establishment legislators are being targeted by pro-Beijing authorities. The Chief Executive elections will take place in March 2017. Hong Kong's financial secretary, John Tsang, has resigned from his position - but he's so far coy about plans to run for the top job. We get an update from Helier Cheung in Hong Kong.

For a bit of musical levity to end the programme, it's worth considering that this year's Billboard CD sales may represent the final nail in the coffin of the music business as we know it. So who topped the list? Well it wasn't Drake.

We are joined on the show by Anu Partanen, a Finnish journalist and the author of a book called The Nordic Theory of Everything, talking with us from New York. And our other guest is Catherine Yeung, the Investment Director at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, based in Hong Kong.

(PHOTO CREDIT: Aerial view of an oil palm plantation, Borneo 04/02/2016 Science Photo Library)

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