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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service.
I'm Valerie Sampson. And at 13 hours GMT on Monday, the 24th of August, these are our main stories. The authorities in Belarus have detained two prominent opposition figures and two strike leaders a day after massive protests against President Lukashenko. A German government spokesman says it's fairly likely that Russia's most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, was poisoned. He's being treated in a Berlin clinic. Two bomb blasts in the southern Philippines have left at least 11 people dead. Also in this podcast, yeah, I'm going to die.
Not nobody's taking care of me. It's corruption and carelessness. We hear about the appalling hospital conditions facing some coronavirus patients in South Africa.
Two members of the opposition council set up to arrange a peaceful transfer of power in Belarus have been detained. There were picked up by riot police outside a military transport factory in Minsk that's been at the forefront of strikes protesting that President Lukashenko has re-election, which demonstrators dispute. The opposition says strike leaders at two major state owned factories have also been detained. I heard more from the BBC's Jonah Fisher, who's in Minsk.
There's this organization here called the Coordination Council, which was set up by the woman who most people think one Belarus's votes two weeks ago, Svetlana took enough skya these two members, Olga Volkova, who's who's a politician with links to Mr. Gadhafi Skya and Sergey Kletzky, who's probably the most prominent leader of the strikes that have been taking place here in Minsk in the last week or so. They were both picked up by the riot police this morning outside a tractor factory where some strikers were demonstrating.
We understand that they are being charged with illegally organizing the huge demonstration that took place on the streets of Minsk yesterday, a separate ad that several other striking or strike leaders have also been picked up this morning. I think a sign that President Lukashenko is is trying to send out a very clear message to the opposition after the big demonstration yesterday that he's not going to allow air strikes to spread this week.
And what's happening out on the streets, either more protests are the security forces out in the streets.
The way things normally have been happening here is the strikes normally build in the evening.
So today we've been driving around because we went to a press conference. There's not a huge sign of activity at the moment. One would imagine tonight there will also be crowds gathering in Independence Square in the center of Minsk, where there more people will be inspired to come by. These detentions will have to be seen. The way it has been working with the riot police at the moment is that they are very much present. There were lots of riot police around Independence Square yesterday, but for now, they appear to simply be watching on.
I think there was perhaps a hope from President Lukashenko yesterday that simply the presence of so much riot police and the threats that were being made over loudspeakers would deter people from coming out. That clearly wasn't the case. A massive turnout again yesterday. But we'll just going to have to have to see. I think there's no reason to believe that there won't be more demonstrations tonight, tomorrow night and going on. The people we were speaking to yesterday seem pretty determined that if this was going to be a very long process, they would keep coming back day after day.
An official in Minsk, a German government spokesman, says it's fairly likely that the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was poisoned. But the statement stops well short of a categorical accusation about what happened to the Kremlin's fiercest critic on a domestic Russian flight last week. Jenny Hill reports from Berlin. Alexei Navalny is under police guard in a Berlin hospital where his condition remains unknown. The German doctors looking after him said on Saturday that it would take some time to establish exactly what happened to the opposition figure who collapsed after drinking, what his supporters believe was a poisoned cup of tea.
It's a suspicion which the German government is taking seriously today. Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters that because there is a certain probability of a poison attack, protection is necessary.
Jenny Hill in Berlin. In the Philippines, there have been two bomb attacks on the island of Hollow. At least 11 people were killed and many more injured. Asia Pacific editor Michael Bristow has been following the story.
And tell me more, two attacks on the island. Hello. First one happened outside a supermarket. It appears to have been attached to a motorbike, and it happened just as security forces, the army, were carrying out an operation in that particular area. The second blast happened on the same street about 100 meters away from the first explosion. Around an hour later, he thought this was carried out by a female suicide bomber. Number of people died there among the dead.
There are soldiers, civilians. It's all police officers, too. And there were quite a number of people, several dozen people who have been injured. Eyewitnesses describe a real scene of chaos on this particular street.
As anyone said, they carried out the attack. Not yet, but the army are pointing the finger at a group, an Islamist militant group called Abu Sayyaf, which operates in this particular area. They've been around for a good few years. They have linked to setting up their own Islamic state in the area. They've also carried out a lot of kidnappings for ransom in the past. And just last month, one of their major. Reed is charged with carrying out a number of murders, was was arrested on a nearby island.
So the army have been preparing and expecting some kind of reprisal attack for some weeks. That's why they're pointing the finger at this particular group.
Michael Bristow, what you're about to hear now is extremely disturbing. It's the sound of a black man being shot repeatedly and in the back by police officers in the city of Kenosha in Wisconsin, in the USA. It was filmed by Shaun White and broadcast by Tmax News. You can quite clearly hear seven distinct shots.
The shooting on Sunday sparked violent protests with police firing tear gas at hundreds of protesters who'd marched on the city's police headquarters.
Now that the city of Kenosha is just 600 kilometres from Minneapolis, where George Floyds death in May sparked nationwide protests against racist police brutality, the man who was shot has been named as Jacob Blache. He's reported to be in a serious condition in hospital. Laura Podesta from CBS News told us more.
We know that a man, a black man named Jacob Blak was shot multiple times in broad daylight on Sunday by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a bordering state to Minnesota, where George Floyd died at the hands of police back in May. In new video that has emerged, you see Jacob Blake walking to his car away from police when he was grabbed by police and shot multiple times. And you can see a young person, perhaps his child, who is immediately running up to those police, clearly distraught, asking them to stop.
We can't hear exactly what they're saying, but it's a very emotional, chaotic scene.
So we don't know about the circumstances that led up to this.
We know there was a domestic incident which police were called to, but we don't know as far as what was said or done immediately preceding the shooting, no matter what reaction has there been to this?
There have been mass protests throughout Kenosha. Video shows one officer appearing to be knocked unconscious after being struck in the head with a brick by one of those protesters. There was a curfew implemented last night for the area from 10-15 until 7:00 this morning. Again, this follows the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and it also follows the death of Brianna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police back in March. So we know that black deaths at the hands of law enforcement have created an absolute stir in the social conscience.
And people are incredibly angry. And now there is really there's no time to ponder or wonder what happened. Now there's video evidence. So people are immediately taking to the streets and we're seeing that happen right here with this new situation involving Jacob Blake. The difference here is that Jacob Blake is still alive. So the hope is that when he does hopefully recover from his condition, that he will be able to offer the evidence, being a first hand witness of what exactly happened and perhaps have that firsthand account that we haven't heard from so many who have died.
Laura Podesta, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the wider use of blood plasma from people who've recovered from covid-19 to treat other patients. 70000 have already received it by transfusion. President Trump says the treatment could reduce death rates by 35 percent. More than 100 76000 people have died with covid-19 in the U.S.. The White House is also reportedly considering securing rapid access to a vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Here's our North America editor, John Sopel.
The Republican convention starts today, but in the White House briefing room last night, it felt like it got underway 24 hours early. The announcement by the president of the fast tracking of the use of convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment for covid-19 had strong political overtones. It came after he clashed publicly with the federal Food and Drug Administration, saying there were elements of the deep state within the organization seeking to thwart him, an incendiary accusation Mr. Trump held last night's move as a major breakthrough.
This is a powerful therapy that transfuse is very, very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling a current infection at an incredible rate of success. Today's action will dramatically expand access to this treatment.
Something else the president is reportedly keen to fast track is a vaccine being developed by Oxford University in partnership with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, according to the Financial Times. Donald Trump would be keen to get it to Americans in October, a month before the presidential election. There was no comment from the White House last night on hypothetical questions like this. In the past, the president has insisted that major decisions will be driven by the science, but equally, it would be naive to ignore the tick tock of the electoral timetable.
John Sopel in Washington. The World Health Organization has reacted cautiously to the U.S. FDA. Announcement WTA officials warn that what's known as convalescent blood plasma treatment is still experimental and the side effects could range from mild to severe. A doctor in South Africa has told the BBC that coronavirus patients have been dying from hypothermia after being forced to sit for hours in a freezing hospital tent. South Africa has begun to win the battle against the virus, but there's growing outrage about high level corruption and mismanagement linked to that campaign.
Our Africa correspondent Andrew Harding has this exclusive report.
With more on what we've come to Subaccount Hospital in a poor township an hour's drive south of Johannesburg. It's winter here, and at night the temperature can fall well below zero. A whistleblower at the hospital has told us that suspected covid-19 patients have been dying of hypothermia after being forced to wait sometimes for days in a freezing tent in this car park. Our source is a doctor inside the hospital here, I'm going to call her now she's speaking out because she's so furious about what she's seen.
We've disguised her voice as soon as night falls.
It's horrible. You can see the patients declining. It's freezing cold in the tent down to minus four. I felt stressed. Hopeless hypothermia is one of the major causes of death here, especially in that tent.
And this wasn't just on one occasion.
No, there have been multiple cold fronts. It's terrible how many patients need to die unnecessarily. We've tried to ask management where the money is being allocated to improve the tent to get more staff.
We don't get answers at four o'clock afternoon, Mark Martin as three calls.
And then one patient who spent some 12 hours in the tent last month was 30 year old Martin Mlambo. It's not clear what killed him, but his mother, Janette, said conditions in the tent with them to their tent again, starving, getting cold.
He was shivering. I'm shivering. I slept the whole night here. We fought. Yes, we fought any blanket and then my tent again. Who was asking the sisters, can you please transfer me? Because here I'm going to die. Nobody's taking care of me. It's corruption and carelessness.
This is not an isolated situations of corruption involving tenders of personal, irregular, tender processes linked to the covid relief fund.
Ninety companies under investigation, particularly although South Africa has successfully moved past the peak of the pandemic, there is widespread anger here about mismanagement and alleged corruption and what concerns all South Africans are those instances where funds are stolen, where they are misused?
President Cyril Ramaphosa has spoken of hyenas profiting from disaster of grossly inflated prices and contracts handed out to political cronies and the creation of fake non-profit organizations to access relief funding.
As for the problems at Sabah King Hospital, I'm just looking at a string of WhatsApp messages leaked to me by a source in the provincial health department there from doctors specifically warning management against using tents.
Making our people sleep in cold tents is inhuman, is this one? And here's another tense, a very cold, a no go area.
For me, the formal response from the health department to our investigation has come in the form of a statement which says there is no statistical evidence of people dying from hypothermia at speaking. It also says there is plenty of PPE there.
It is true that in the last few weeks, as the infection rate has declined, the situation at the hospital here has improved. Whistle blowing Doctor now says she hopes South Africa has learnt lessons from the pandemic to help it fight all the other diseases that still affect so many here.
That report by Andrew Hiding in South Africa. Still to come, we're in the storm of tweets and texts, which are actually really the most informal and instant mode of communication that we've got in our society. And so it shouldn't really matter how well they're punctuated. Do you add full stops to your texts or tweets or both will punctuate this later.
In Mozambique, the offices of a newspaper that was critical of the government have been set on fire in an attack which is widely being seen as a further setback for press freedom. Well, Ross has the details.
It's not known who the attackers were, but their aim was clearly to destroy the offices of the independent newspaper Kanada Mozambique. Its newsroom was doused in fuel and there are reports that explosives were also used in the attack. On the weekly paper, which also has an affiliated website, is bound to raise more fears over the state of press freedom in the country, especially as the paper has exposed numerous corruption scandals. It's also reported on the jihadist conflict in the North, despite the government's efforts to censor news from their rights groups have criticized the Mozambican security forces for harassing, intimidating and detaining journalists.
Covering the conflict will wrath.
The sentencing hearing of the man accused of murdering 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand has revealed he planned to target a third mosque. Brenton and Tarrant, a white supremacist from Australia, carried out the attacks in Christchurch in March last year. On Monday, the first of four days of the sentencing process, the court heard from victims and relatives. One victim described to the courtroom how he played dead to survive at the. Near a mosque, the gunman and I look into each other's eyes, I saw the moment when I was the target of his gun, I was shot nine times by the gunman.
I will have permanent disabilities and pain as a result of this injuries. However, I'm a strong, stubborn, stubborn Turkish man who has been brought up to battle long, Maysoon Salamah lost her son, Atta Mohammad Atta.
Leon, you gave yourself the authority to take the souls of fifty one innocent people. Their only crime in your eyes is being Muslims, you 49 and shatter the dreams of so many innocent people. You terrorize the whole New Zealand and said in the whole world you killed your own humanity. And I don't think the world will forgive you for your horrible crime against humanity.
Our correspondent Shimaa Khaleel listened to the victim's testimony. A very emotional day in court. Some of the survivors and the victim's families were in the same room with the killer, the man responsible for the Christchurch mass shootings. They told the court. But they also told Brenton turned himself with some of them directing their remarks at him about how his actions, his crime, have devastated their lives. Many chose to start their statements with verses from the Koran, mainly talking about peace and justice and martyrdom.
We heard from one survivor, for example, who described how he had locked eyes with the gunman, saw the moment that he was the target of his gun. When he was then shot nine times, he said I had to play dead to avoid being killed. But he also said that this trauma will live with me forever and that I don't foresee a future without pain.
What has become apparent is how planned these attacks were and really distressing details about how, for example, a three year old was shot dead.
That's right. The court heard from the prosecution how the killer had planned this attack for more than a year, 15 months, researching, trying to find out what he can about mosques in New Zealand, especially in the South Island, looking at floor plans, trying to find out what the most significant days were in the Muslim calendar so that the mosques would be the busiest. He flew a drone over Ellner mosque, for example, trying to study the area, trying to find out all the exits that the worshippers might use, trying to inflict as much damage as he could.
That's what the court heard. They also heard about the day of the attack that he'd gone into the main prayer room and how he had started firing at people who were huddled in different corners of the room trying to escape, and also how he methodically shot people who lay on the floor. Among them, three year old Murcutt Ibrahim, who was clinging on to his father's leg. This is the first of four days of the hearing, isn't it? What can we expect going forward?
We have a few more days of hearing impact statements from survivors and from victims. So that's going to happen over the next coming days. And of course, we were expecting that Brenton Tarrant, the killer, to represent himself in front of the court. He had a few weeks ago fired his defence team and said that he wanted to speak for himself in court. That has become a very controversial notion, many, many questions about whether he's going to use that platform for a right wing agenda.
But I think also all of these reporting restrictions that we've been under is the court and the authorities trying to control the platform, trying to control what comes out of the court for that day when he speaks for himself.
Chala Khaleel, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeya, has begun a Middle East trip in Jerusalem, saying he hopes to see other Arab countries follow the United Arab Emirates and normalize ties with Israel. From Jerusalem, here's our correspondent Arendelle.
Wearing the Stars and Stripes face mask, Mr Pompeya greeted the Israeli prime minister, warmly, bumping him twice on the elbow. In brief remarks, he praised the historic peace deal that the US helped to broker between its two allies. Earlier this month, he said that he was very hopeful that other Arab nations would join in. The secretary of state will also visit Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE on this trip, following reports for planned U.S. sale of F-35 fighter planes to the UAE.
Mr Pompeo told journalists that Washington had a legal commitment to make sure that Israel, which already has the aircraft, kept its military edge in the Middle East.
Yolande Nel, the BBC has learned that officials at the UK Foreign Office expected the British Iranian woman Nazanin Zagari Rateliff to be freed from jail in Iran almost two and a half years ago. A deal to secure her freedom in 2017 appears to have been linked to the repayment of a multi-million dollar debt to Iran. But the money was never paid, Mrs Zagari Ratcliffe, who served four years in prison. The revelation comes in a BBC television panorama investigation into the fate of dual British Iranian citizens detained in Iran and accused of spying.
Darren McIntyre reports.
Nazanin Zangari Rateliff was returning to the UK with her daughter after a holiday in Iran when she was arrested in Tehran and April 2016. She was convicted on spying charges that have. Been widely denounced as baseless and sentenced to five years in jail. Successive British governments and officials have raised her case with Iran without result. Her husband, Richard Radcliffe, who was reunited with their daughter last year, believes his wife is being held hostage.
I would absolutely believe that hostage taking is a tool of preventive diplomacy. It has become normalised as an acceptable thing to do.
The U.S. government agrees. It says Nazanin Rateliff and a number of Western citizens are being held by Iran as diplomatic leverage. I asked outgoing U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, whether he considered those being held in Iran as hostages.
Yes, it's a tool of statecraft. It's part of Iran's foreign policy to take people hostage who are innocent and then trade them later for some objective that they think advances their their own objectives.
Iran denies hostage taking, but the U.K. does have something. Iran wants 400 million pounds of debt owed for some 1500 chieftain tanks paid for by the shah of Iran before he was toppled in 1979. Britain didn't deliver the tanks to the new Islamic Republic, but it kept the money. Courts in Britain and abroad agree that the UK owes Iran the money, but it is yet to be paid. Richard Live told me he believes payment holds the key to his wife's freedom.
She was told by the judiciary, by the deputy prosecutor, she was told by the judge in charge of parole that we're not going to release you until the British government pays the money, that Iran has been told that explicitly by three different parts of the judicial system.
Officially, both the UK and Iran say the debt and Nazanin Ratliff's situation are not related. The UK government told the BBC it is unhelpful to suggest otherwise, but events seem to contradict that in November 2017. The Iranian ambassador to London published a message saying the debt is scheduled to be paid to Iran by Britain in the coming days.
Weeks later. Boris Johnson, then foreign secretary, went to Tehran himself.
The BBC understands a deal was almost reached. British officials told Nazanin Ratliff's family that they were preparing for her to return to the UK. There was even a date.
The British embassy said, you know, we think she might be coming on the 20th of December. So we had the embassy were giving us a date to be ready for, but a deal never materialized.
We don't know why, but well-placed sources have told us that some and the Ministry of Defence have objected to the payment of Britons that a nuclear shourie, another British Iranian, has already spent three years in jail. His wife, Cherie, made this plea to the prime minister.
It is money they owe. They're not doing Iran a favour that they're paying a debt. If that will restore families, I will go on my knees. I will take him to do it.
At least eight British citizens have been detained in Iran in recent years, though some have got home. Iran says its justice system is lawful and humane. The UK government says it is committed to securing the freedom of all British citizens regarded as arbitrarily detained and that it continues to explore options to resolve the debt. Nazanin Rateliff has been placed temporarily under house arrest at her parents home in Iran. The fate of other British Iranians held in Iran remains unclear Daryn.
Macintyre now there's a big debate taking place on Twitter about punctuation. It seems if you're a smattering your tweets or text messages with full stops, you could be offending the recipients if they're in their teens or 20s at least. Some language experts say those who've grown up using short messages to communicate can see the punctuation mark as cut and even downright rude. Lawrence Poulard spoke to the linguist Juliet Platt and asked her how the full stop is being perceived.
How far we've come since the day of the telegram. Stop. When? When? When full stops actually lent brevity and clarity to a communication and stage. Now we're in that. We're in the storm of tweets and texts, which are actually really the most informal and instant mode of communication that we've got in our society. And so it shouldn't really matter how well they're punctuated except to ensure that the people communicate and understand each other. I wouldn't I would.
I would expect so.
You kind of think it's alright that people who are, you know, communicating mainly. Let's just imagine there are such people just on text messages and social media and so on.
It's fine just not to use a full stop. Do you think it do you think it does come over as intimidating?
Well, I think that, you know, to be honest, if we start attributing acts of aggression, offence and intimidation to punctuation, then we've completely lost control of our social and intellectual discourse between people who are communicating on text. As long as they're mutually comfortable with the level or lack of regulation, then I don't really think it matters. I think the problem that we're facing is that Twitter and texting has become the main medium for so much debate and engagement.
And and it's a completely inadequate platform to to convey any kind of intellectual rigor.
Partly, I suppose, because it's often only just one sentence long. And if you're only sending one sentence, why bother putting a full stop? Because there's nothing to separate it from.
Well, exactly. I mean, I actually think the lack of a full stop at the end of a sentence like that is kind of comparable to the flouncing out of the room in triumphant last words. So am I. Okay, that's interesting.
So it's kind of like dropping the mic and it's kind of I'm not even going to bother giving you the gift of a full stop.
Now, potentially, I'm quite enjoying this because if we have if we have different ways of communicating and it's not the same texting as it is writing a letter, just as it wasn't the same writing a telegram as it was writing a letter, is it fair enough? Do you think that there are different ways of punctuating for what are, after all, very different ways of communicating?
Yeah, I think I think it is fair because I'm not I'm not some kind of grammar police, but I do think that there's a place for for everything. And I think, you know, we have we have punctuation conventions for a reason. And it's mainly to clarify basic meaning and what we're trying to communicate. You know, it's it's a way of splitting up an argument or, you know, it's a way of marshalling the flow of some kind of coherent piece of communication.
Linguist Juliette Platt talking to Lawrence Pollard. And it's a full stop from us for now. But there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. If you want to comment on this podcast, all the topics covered in it, you can send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBC Dot Dot UK. I'm Valerie Anderson. And until next time, Vivi.