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in Get started. Our Man In Stockholm. By Philip O Connor. On media, journalism and the world around us. Listen on. Where to listen. Apple Podcasts. Google Podcasts. Pocket Casts.

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Brendan Walsh has gone from sending letters to zoos begging for information to being a zookeeper himself, educating people about animals through everything from daily talks to podcasts and TV shows. I had him as a regular guest on a radio show 25 years ago back when he was a teenager, and his passion for the animal kingdom and the natural world burns as brightly now as it did then.

We talked about the pandemic, bat detectors, and what to do with that puppy you got now that the pandemic is over. Conspiracy theories have always been with us, but as the Covid pandemic swept around the world in March they exploded in popularity as misinformation flooded to fill the vacuum of uncertainty. They quickly expanded to include everything from Covid conspiracies and paedophile rings to anti-vaxx sentiments, presenting governments and scientists with a tough nut to crack as they sought to convince ordinary people that they had their best interests at heart.

Aoife Gallagher is an expert in how such theories spread and flourish online and she ed me to talk about how such movements work and grow - and what might be done to stop them. Before transitioning, Kirsti Miller was a world champion and a multi-sport sensation in her Australian hometown of Wagga Wagga, as well as being the toughest prison governor in the correctional system. After transitioning, hormone treatments saw her go from over kilos to under 60 as the supposed advantages of having once inhabited a male body quickly ebbed away.

She ed me to talk about the realities facing trans people - especially women - in sport, and how education rather than fear is key to understanding what we need to do next. Finland captain Tim Sparv is one of the most outspoken footballers when it comes to the Qatar World Cup and the conversation around human rights, and there are not too many more like him.

His article for the Players Tribune prompted a re-awakening of the discussion around what is being done, but that debate is all too often centred on pussyfooting around the subject. He ed me to talk about his learning journey about Qatar and the situation there, and also to talk about the night Finland made their bow at the finals of a major tournament against Denmark back in June, only for Christian Eriksen to suffer a heart attack.

No matter what we are talking about, whether it is sport, politics or anything else, we need to think before we speak - and we also need to ask ourselves where our opinions on these things come from. Zack Elbouzedi's path in football has taken many twists and turns, the latest of which has led him to Stockholm and AIK.

In front of 12, fans on Sunday, Zack's two corners laid the foundations for a win that keeps his new team in the title race, and behind his success is a story of hard work, perseverance, and that little bit of luck that brings us to the right place at the right time. Essential listening for anyone involved in football, especially aspiring young pros.

The Paralympics is taking place in Tokyo, and even though the coverage is way, way better than it used to be, there's always room for improvement. Actor, activist, athlete, podcaster and heartthrob Graham Merrigan ed me to talk about representation on TV, relationships and being a wheelchair user in modern Ireland. His podcast with Danny Murray is called "What's the Story" and is well worth your time.

Over 30 years ago Dublin was a vibrant city struggling to shake off generations of poverty and the shackles of the cult of Catholicism. As a teenage songwriter with his band Power Of Dreams, Craig Walker captured that time before upping sticks and heading to London to seek fame and fortune, and now as an adult he finds himself in Berlin, still writing songs that resonate. The band's new album Auslander - the German word for foreigner - is an outstanding return to form after a gap of 26 years, and he still has as much to say as he ever did about creativity, writing and what it means to be Irish and a stranger in a strange land.

Once In A Lifetime, Da. From the moment my Da told me about Muhammad Ali as a six-year-old me, not himI was smitten. On Sunday I got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Irish sporting history made at the Olympics, and I wish he could have been there with me.

Konichiwa - A Postcard From Tokyo. Reflections from the first ten days in Japan at the Tokyo Olympics featuring dubious surfers, imaginary busses, and what happens when everything gets lost in translation Remembering Utoeya, Ten Years On. This time ten years ago, none of us knew the name of Anders Behring Breivik. If only it had stayed that way.

On July 22 he detonated a bomb in Oslo that killed eight people before going on a shooting ram on an island. By the time the shooting ended, the bomb and his guns had claimed 77 victims, with hundreds more wounded. Vegard was on Utoeya and witnessed several of the murders before barricading himself in a building with dozens of others. He also speaks about the intervening decade in Norwegian politics and beyond, how Breivik's views have become mainstream and what needs to be done to reverse this course.

Molly McCann was always a little bit different, but she didn't always want to be.

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A fantastic athlete, she excelled at football and now competes in mixed martial arts in the UFC'a flyweight division, but she struggled to come to terms with her sexuality. The result is a new book, "Be True To You", which tells the story of her path to coming out in a way that young people can understand and relate to, especially if they feel the same way. Petesy Carroll is the best MMA journalist in Europe, but even he was on the ropes due to the pandemic.

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He's back with a new deal that has seen him park his pen and fire up his mic as things return to normal in a sport that has never described itself in that way. Behind the scenes in Copenhagen on the day of Denmark's must-win game against Russia at Euro On Saturday night we watched live as a man died and was brought back to life on a football field in Copenhagen.

A few days later I tried to relive that night to find out what, if anything, we learned. For the third and final pre-Euro podcast, I spoke to my favourite Swedish-Spanish reporter Alexandra Jonson about her native country and our expectation that we have seen the future of Swedish football, and its name is Alexander Isak.

The first of three podcasts focusing on the upcoming Euro tournament from a Nordic perspective. Journalist, documentary-maker and self-described football dreamer Ronan Browne s me from Tampere to talk about football in Finland, making the finals of a major tournament for the first time, and what the world can expect from them. Zionism, Israel and Palestine - Jacob Woolf. The recent violence in Gaza and the resulting hot takes landing like Scud missiles all over the discourse prompted me to contact Jacob Woolf, an Irish-Jewish man who is someone I always feel I can learn from.

We talked about Zionism, antisemitism, the moderate view, competing rights and what a fair solution in Palestine might look like. With the World Cup in Qatar coming up, there's a lot of discussion around sport, human rights and life in the Middle East. David O'Leary lived in Qatar for four years, working on infrastructure projects, some of which are related to the World Cup. I asked him about his life there and the life of those on the building sites, and how the country is opening up in a way that is perhaps not recognisable to western eyes. In a week that has been a podcast producer's nightmare, two stories stuck in my mind - that of Eoghan Harris and his sock puppetand how a Swedish healthcare whistleblower who should have been treated like a hero was called "illoyal" by her employer.

That led to this rant, and it only occurred to me at the very end that, though they are very different, they are actually about the same fundamental things. From the Super League to Jake Paul's boxing career, sport has been letting me down lately. Finally, soccer's Super League has announced itself, and the only surprise is that people are surprised.

The somersaulting hypocrisy is not just limited to ex-pros and broadcasters either - we all bear some share of the blame Is the recent violence in Northern Ireland a return to the dark days, or a once-off in a relatively stable piece? Writer Emma De Souza s me to put it all in context. In I interviewed biathlete Sebastian Samuelsson, and hours after it was published he started to get death threats. The young Swede spoke out about doping in his sport and not everyone was OK with that - especially not Russian fans, whose athletes weren't allowed to compete under their own flag at the Olympics due to the situation there.

He ed me to talk about speaking out, winning gold in Pyeongchang and the young Swedish team of sharpshooters that is electrifying the sport. There is increasing support for a boycott of the Qatar World Cup among Scandinavian soccer fans, and one leading journalist has already decided that she won't be taking part - Johanna Franden s me to talk sportswashing and the return to the Swedish national team of a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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Turn on your radio in Ireland and you'll hear some of the best music anywhere in the world - but it will most likely be by a man. She spoke to me about anonymous veiled threats, the truth of the data and what needs to change for inequality to become a thing of the past. Healthcare for transgender people is coming up short in many European countries, Ireland among them.

For the most part, non-trans people know very little about the current situation and the effect that it is having on the lives and health of thousands of people. As a community aid officer at Transgender Equality Network Ireland Noah Halpin is an advocate and activist trying to help other trans people to get the care they need, and a willing vocal presence in the discussion. I got him to teach me a few lessons on the subject, and I came away far more enlightened than when I started.

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No Country for Covid Critics? Keith Begg and others critical of Sweden's Covid mitigation strategy had a private Facebook group where they aired their opinions and discussed what to do about it. A media report about the group shot the Irishman, who is also a Swedish citizen, into the public eye, and not in a good way; described as everything from a traitor to a threat to national security, he received a threat at his home and has now left Sweden.

A throwaway tweet of mine went viral this week, prompting hundreds of replies and millions of views, but at the same time drowning out any possibility of real engagement.

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What have I learned from it? You can find out here Manufacturing Dissent? A frankly bizarre story attacking critics of Sweden's Covid strategy appeared yesterday, in which the members of a closed Facebook group were all but accused of treason.

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The publishing of the story and the response to it says more about Sweden's national state of mind than it might wish to admit, and I was ed by epidemiologist and public health expert David Steon to talk about the current state of play. Professional boxing has always had its share of dodgy characters but the sport has never faced anything like Daniel Kinahan.

A man named in Irish courts as being one of the biggest gangland figures in Europe is effectively an agent and advisor for some of the biggest names in the game - and there is a lot of silence around his burgeoning influence. A recent BBC Panorama documentary brought his name to the fore - but will it change anything in boxing? My first journey abroad in ten months took me to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East to cover a sporting event, where I discovered the real winners and losers can be measured in terms of how free they are to express themselves.

It's that time of the year when articles and social media posts are trying to shame us off the sofa and into the gym, using the extra weight gained over lockdown or Christmas as a stick to beat us with. Many of us try different things to lose weight and get fit every year, but all too often we fail, which ends up feeling even worse.

I spoke to professional fighter and all-round good guy Paul Redmond about foot and training, the difference between cutting weight and losing it, and how we need to educate ourselves about nutrition if we want to succeed. An attempted coup in the seat of America's democracy finally brought the media's focus onto the far right and what it is capable of, and the final days of Trump's presidency will be a damage limitation exercise as the world scrambles to orient itself to a new normal.

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