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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service.
Hello, I'm Oliver Conaway and we're recording this at 13 hours GMT on Thursday, the 1st of October. Our main story is the EU begins legal action over a British law that aims to override parts of the Brexit divorce deal. Facebook is to ban adverts that undermine the outcome of the U.S. election and lock down.
We had many problems for the kids because they stay alone.
No friends, nothing from the epicenter of the pandemic to a relative success story. How Italy has tackled the coronavirus.
Also in the podcast, why the Tokyo Stock Exchange had to suspend trading for the day.
And it was rather obvious for us to check if it might have something to do with the undertows.
And we almost fell off our chairs when we saw the inherited gene, which could make covid-19 worse.
The internal market bell may not sound like the most exciting piece of legislation, but when it was introduced by the British government, it prompted warnings it could threaten peace in Northern Ireland, while a cabinet minister even admitted it would break international law. The bill, which has now passed the House of Commons, gives U.K. ministers the power to rewrite elements of the divorce deal that the government agreed with the EU.
Now the European Union has begun legal action over it. Here's the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
We had invited our British friends to remove the problematic parts of their draft internal market bill by the end of September. The problematic provisions have not been removed. Therefore, this morning, the commission has decided to send a letter formal notice to the UK government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure.
So why is this British law so controversial? McPeake is our Brussels correspondent.
This is something that the British sort of lobbed into proceedings last month. And the reason it caused such alarm within the EU is it threatened to override parts of the Brexit divorce deal, which, of course, was agreed by both parties last year, as you say, specifically over Northern Ireland. It gave powers to ministers in London rather than, you know, it being a decision making process between both sides, between London and the European Union. So the UK has been pressing on, saying it's willing to change things because it wants to protect the integrity of the market in Northern Ireland and ensure free trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, the mainland.
But also, it says it's important for the future of the Northern Ireland peace process. The EU doesn't buy it. And they say as it stands, it would take legal action because the UK's breaking this divorce deal.
Yeah, and what does that legal action entail? Is it just a rap over the knuckles or something more serious?
Well, it's interesting because I think in a way, we kind of expected this because after issuing an ultimatum to the UK last month, telling the British to perform a U-turn, the EU now, I think had to take this logical step. Any legal action would be long. It would be drawn out. There wouldn't be a conclusion before the end of the year, which is when this transition period ends, which we're in at the moment. So the UK has left the EU, but it's still abiding by its rules.
I mean, ultimately, it could get to the European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court. I think both sides are keen to avoid that. But certainly the EU today has triggered the starting gun on this process. But I mean, I should say both sides hope that their differences can be resolved in the trade talks, which are going on at the moment. Of course, there is an implication for those they've been soured by all this legal business.
But the hope is if you talk to people privately, they can resolve their differences behind the scenes and they won't have to be with this legal stuff.
Yeah, if there is a trade deal, all this goes away. So what are the chances of an agreement even today?
In the last hour or so, we're hearing very different things from London. There are some words of optimism saying, you know, a deal could be within reach. I think if you talk to EU diplomats here, they say we're still a long way away from getting a deal specifically on government subsidies in the future. And also the issue of fishing. We know that's something which is really dividing the two sides. What is true is that this legal process that we're embarking on now, it hasn't torpedoed the talks by any means, although it has, you know, soured the mood slightly.
I think this week is crucial because if things do go well, it seems that both sides will intensify the talks. They'll go into this so-called tunnel where they hope there's light at the end of it, and they'll try really hard over the next two weeks to try and get a deal on paper. So they're in the middle of this month when the likes of Macron and Merkel, the European leaders, get together, they will have something to look at and potentially approve.
Nick Bik in Brussels. Six weeks after he collapsed while on a flight in Siberia, the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has told a German magazine that he blames President Putin for his poisoning. The Kremlin says the allegation is groundless and unacceptable. Mr. Navalny, who is recuperating in Germany, was giving his first interview since he was attacked with the nerve agent Novacek.
My colleague Lucie Hocking's asked the Der Spiegel journalist Christian Eshe how Mr Navalny looked when they spoke.
He was in surprisingly good shape. I must say, I have known him for a while. I have interviewed him last time, three years ago in 2017 is in good shape. He has struck me as having a clear mind. He is definitely unbroken as a personality. Yes, plans for the future. At the same time, you can see the traces of blood poisoning. So when we were talking, he was pouring himself a glass of water and you had to support the water bottle with two hands because he was trembling so much.
And I asked him whether I could help him and he said, no, no. I talked to my physical therapist. And he said, I should do these things myself to learn them again, so you can see that this man has been through a really difficult time. He's also lost weight. But altogether, my main impression was that the man I know, what does he remember, Christian, about that moment where he thinks he was poisoned?
He gave me a very detailed minute by minute account of how he was sitting in the plane from Tomsk to Moscow, which was then had to land. And he told me about the strange feeling that without having any pain, he sensed that something was completely wrong with his body. He told me how he went to the toilet and how he tried to wash himself with cold water to get back to his senses and how he dropped down in front of a stewardess saying, I have been poisoned, I'm dying, that there's something to go through, obviously.
And we've had all along the Kremlin denying they were responsible. I mean, President Putin has even suggested, Christian, that Alexei Navalny poisoned himself. What does he say about those kind of accusations?
Of course, he says that is absurd and impossible in his own view, is that Putin has to be behind this because all that he has no other explanations of what might happen. It's a very simple reasoning that because Novacek military nerve agent was used basically in Novotny's eyes, only three people in all of Russia can give the order to use many of the heads of the three main Secret Service agencies and all these people that report directly to Putin and could not order that without Putin telling them their Spiegel journalist, Christian Eshe on his interview with Alexei Navalny.
The moment during the first US presidential debate that got most coverage was when Donald Trump failed to condemn white supremacist groups, in particular, one called the Proud Boys. He instead called out left wing demonstrators who've taken to the streets in cities like Portland, Oregon, where the unrest has become a big election issue. Our North America correspondent Illimitable sent this report from Portland, where he met both leftist groups and the proud boys. Confrontation between protesters and the police is the soundtrack to the nights in Portland these days.
Most American cities have seen some demonstrations this year, but here they haven't stopped the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the end of May. Some feel over aggression by security forces has exacerbated tensions, but the White House says this is demonstrating about racial justice, just rioting by anarchists or antifa.
How is taking to the streets not democratic? One of the leftist leaders here, Luis Enrique Marquez, has no problem being called an anarchist or a riot.
A riot is the voice of the unheard. So we don't want riots. Maybe you should listen. It's not an kiffer in the streets. It's the people in the streets, the people that are being pushed around. Is there another way? Nope.
But it has led to loss of life. In late August, a large convoy of Trump supporters drove past the protesters in Portland, some from paintballs at them later that day when Trump supporter from the far right group was shot dead. It's partly why the neofascist group, The Proud Boys, earlier this week decided to hold a rally in Portland. They'd predicted thousands would attend. In the end, it was a few hundred, but the Trump 20-20 flags were flying high from boys.
Marches have led to confrontation in the past, and some who traveled far to be there told me they were looking for confrontation.
Again, this is an American city. This is I'm still an American. And I see my brothers and sisters living here in Portland dealing with this on a daily basis. And I want to help them. And that's why we're here. We're here to shut down this violence and bring awareness, national attention. Hopefully, Donald Trump sees this as calling for changes that will end racism in the police. They said if some of those things happened, then they would leave the streets.
No, they won't leave the streets. It's been proven every new moon. There's a new issue that they're bringing up all of a sudden, this is racist. Now, this is racist and this is racist.
Everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right.
Now, what are you what are you in the debate when asked to condemn the actions of white supremacists, the president could only manage this. What do you want to call him?
Give me a name. Give me a white supremacist like music in different voices and. Right. Stand back and stand by.
But I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what. Somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left.
The proud boys have reveled in his response. Oh, big enough to go home back in Portland at the same time as the Proud Boys Rally.
An illustration of a totally different world on display in the U.S. these days are Black Lives Matter gathering. A hip hop artist and long time activist, MC Crenshaw was speaking and performing there, trying to say that we're trying to destroy American democracy, but they know that's garbage.
They're just falling behind the rhetoric that dehumanizes us so that they can lower the value of our lives to justify committing acts of violence against our.
It's those at this rally who've been taking to the streets night after night, many Americans support their efforts to bring about change. But for many others, the scenes of confrontation in Portland and making them all the more determined to vote for Donald Trump and the bull in Oregon.
In the presidential debates, Donald Trump repeated his claim that postal voting in next month's election would lead to fraud. Mr. Trump has been criticizing mail in ballots for months, despite the fact that the Federal Election Commission has said there is no basis for such a conspiracy theory. Now, Facebook has said it will ban adverts that seek to undermine the outcome of the election. Our cyber reporter Joe Tidey explained the new measures on Facebook and Instagram, the three things they've announced.
Other ads cannot prematurely declare victory. They cannot present any method of voting as fraudulent or corrupt or make accusations of voter fraud. And the reason why this is so significant is because there is this growing concern that the the early hours after the election, after Election Day, when the votes are being counted, there could be some sort of confusion sown or some sort of conflict arising of the fact that some of the votes come in in different times. For example, the mail in ballots might come in later.
And there is a concern, of course, as you said, that Donald Trump has already expressed his criticism against mail in ballots, citing a small number of unrelated incidents that argue that fraud has happened and is already happening at scale. And that's why Facebook seems to have taken these measures.
Now, we've already seen the Trump campaign running adverts on Facebook about an unfounded conspiracy theory, saying Joe Biden wore an earpiece during the first US presidential debate, something that is untrue. How important are platforms like Facebook in disseminating political information?
They're hugely important. This is how some people, in fact, depressingly, a lot of people consume their news. They don't go to regular sites or websites or listen to the radio or TV. This is how a lot of voters in America will be consuming their news of the election. And it may even be the only news they read about the debates as well. And we know that both campaigns, like everywhere in the world, spending tens of millions of dollars on adverts because, of course, the adverts are what breaks through the social media bubbles.
I can reach somebody in Florida who's a mum of three, who isn't part of my usual voting network. And I can I can give that person a very specific message. As you say, this one was about Joe Biden potentially wearing an earpiece during the first presidential debate, effectively saying he cheated. This is completely unfounded and wrong. But there are adverts that are out there that are doing the rounds and they are being seen by millions of people and they're being paid for by groups that are linked to Donald Trump's campaign.
And what's curious about this decision is that Facebook has as of now left these adverts running, even though they are proven to be wrong, whereas they have taken action on other adverts.
Joe Tidey, it's the world's third largest stock exchange. But on Thursday, all trading in Tokyo was suspended due to a computer glitch. Exchanges in other Japanese cities were also affected. So what exactly has been going on? I got the details from our Asia business reporter, Katie Silva.
A lot of the markets here across Asia were closed today, but the Japanese market was the one that really investors were watching. But just before it was supposed to open a technical glitch seems to have scuppered it. And it's been down all day. It's the first time this has happened since 1999 when the market itself became fully digital.
And do they know what exactly went wrong? It's still unclear. But what we understand is that some part of the hardware broke the part that seems to be displaying shares and stocks on the boards. And what would normally happen is it would switch to a back up, but that didn't happen. So what that had to do today is replace the hardware and actually restart. It almost sounds like a complete computer sort of restart in order to get it back online for tomorrow.
And they say they will be able to do that. But the fundamental reason why that happened is still unknown. And the provider of the software, Fujitsu, they're going to have to launch a big investigation.
Yeah, it does seem extraordinary that a fairly minor glitch like that could bring down a six trillion dollar market.
Yeah, it's unbelievable and quite unprecedented. The market went under this software back in 2010. It hasn't happened in the same way since then. It's the third largest stock exchange in the world behind New York and Shanghai, and about 2500 companies trade on it. So for Asian markets, it's really rocked what was going to be for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, a very big day. I mean, we saw the Nikkei closed down about two percent the day before down on the US presidential debate.
And investors here were really looking forward to hoping to recoup some of those losses. We also got new data out that suggested business confidence might be up. So it looked like it was going to be a very strong day.
But as I said, a full day last year, our Asia business reporter, Katie Silva in Singapore.
Still to come on the podcast, How to Survive the Korona Coaster, celebrating online connectivity with Britain's poet laureate thought swiping from subject to subject planet to planet, globe trotting the universe.
And you're riding a bike. You're a walk, a hike, a mountain, a lake.
We'll hear more from Simon Armitage later.
More than 500 million people are expected to be on the move across China during Golden Week, the mid autumn festival, which typically sees families travel to get togethers after almost a year of quarantines, lockdowns and restrictions. People in China are seeing the eight day holiday as a chance for tourism to bounce back. Our Beijing correspondent Stephen McDonell told us more.
This is a time of year that people really love in Beijing. I'm inside this four story restaurant. There are families in here. They're all gathering. The interesting thing this year, of course, is in the time of coronavirus, people are spending this holiday in China. People could just as well be jumping on a plane to Thailand or Spain, for that matter.
Part of the problem is that the flights, even if you could get one, are too expensive and then you've somehow got to find your way back into the country. And if you did, you'd have to do quarantine. But in China, the coronavirus is kind of under control at the moment. People were used to SARS as well. And so they didn't think it was that strange when these measures were brought in. You didn't get this resistance in China to wearing masks, for example, or anything like that.
The handling of this has been pretty good in terms of controlling it. And so we haven't had the extended lockdowns that have happened in other countries.
Stephen McDonell in Beijing. In March, Italy found itself at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, the first country in the West to be overwhelmed by covid-19 and the first in the world to impose a national lockdown. Now its infection rate is considerably lower than other countries in Europe, including Britain, which still has the highest number of covid deaths in the continent. So how has Italy managed to keep on top of the virus? Our Rome correspondent Mark Lowen reports.
What I'm gonna do, I'm probably going to Italy. Once the epicenter of covid isn't letting down its guard. Police here in central Rome are checking buses to ensure they're not overcrowded and that passengers are wearing masks, breaking the rules risks fines of up to 3000 euros. But in reality, it's a stick that's rarely used here as the first country in the West to be overwhelmed by coronavirus has emerged with one of Europe's lowest infection rates. Giovanni Cipriani is one of the police officers involved, although we haven't had to issue any fines today.
All the passengers had masks and usually people stick to the rules. They appreciate the fact that we're here.
While restaurants in Britain have only just made mask wearing inside compulsory here in Italy, it's been the case since the outbreak began. And that's just one of the measures that restaurants are adopting at this one in the Roman district of prosperity. Anybody coming to take a table has the name and number written down for contact tracing. Plexiglass screens separate the tables outside, and the paper menus are disposable. It's these kinds of measures and the widespread compliance which is now paying off.
I would say I'm impressed by the initiatives in Italy and how they're dealing with it, including what they're doing. Everybody's wearing masks. Everybody's keeping a certain distance and doing the best they can. We were the first and we had a very long quarantine and we really felt it. And it was a very strong period for everyone. So we really felt that there were many, many people dying, people dying alone. Well, it has been very strong.
The widespread availability of testing has helped Italy get on top of this pandemic, including innovative initiatives like this one, a drive through testing unit just for children between the age of newborn and six. And the response comes through in just half an hour, a negative one, allowing them to go back to school. There's a long line of cars in front of me and those carrying out the test in full protective gear are trained to work with children. Dr Elisabetta Courtice is one of the founders of the project.
We suffer a lot locked down. We had many problems for the kids because they stay alone. No friends, no support, no school, nothing. So if we permit that the people and the children could have a normal life, I am happy.
A note of caution is that schools resumed later in Italy than elsewhere in Europe, and it could now be behind the curve. So they've started mass testing at schools beginning here in Rome.
Italy's testing rate is currently around a third of that in the UK, but the swamps are readily available and have been rolled out at airports, train stations and now schools with none of the problems of access seen in Britain. Deputy Health Minister Pierre-Paul Oscillatory says Italy's lower infection rate is down to several factors.
We had a very long lockdown compared to the other nations in Europe and our rules were very strict for the use of mask, social distancing and so forth. So I think now we are seeing what we we did over the last few months. I'm really proud of the Italians because they did follow the rules. But, you know, the war is not over yet. So we still to wait and see what's going to happen in October and November and during the winter.
But right now, I think things are going very well and we shouldn't be going back on patrol.
The police check that shops have their covid measures in place so as to remain open. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why Italy is outperforming many in Europe in controlling the pandemic. A combination of reasons, no doubt, but hit hardest before others. It was frightened into obedience and now a simple formula. Tests rules compliance have made Italians hopeful that they can halt a second wave and ease the legacy of pain.
From the first, our Rome correspondent Mark Lowen. People who have inherited a certain gene from Neanderthals are more likely to suffer severe symptoms from covid-19 with a far greater likelihood of hospitalization or being put on a ventilator. That's the finding of scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Richard Hamilton reports.
Many of us have a bit of the caveman in us. Around 50000 years ago, our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals and a group of genes has survived down the ages. If you're from outside Africa, about two percent of your DNA comes from Neanderthals. One in six Europeans carry this genome and this increases to one in two in South Asia. The scientists say it's the second biggest risk factor after age in terms of getting severely ill from coronavirus and is the equivalent of being 20 years older.
Svante Parbo, who's a geneticist from the Max Planck Institute and the co-author of the study, explained how they found this connection.
Our laboratory has sequenced the Neanderthal genome and worked on it over many, many years, and we are also part of a large international consortium that study the genetic. Impact on susceptibility to the new coronavirus. So when this big signal came up on chromosome three that said this is the biggest genetic risk factor there is, it was rather obvious for us to check if it might have something to do with Neanderthals. And we almost fell off our chairs when we saw it.
So is it worth checking to see if you're descended from a Neanderthal? Svante Parbo says there are companies that offer such services, but whether you have it or not won't make much difference. The best thing, he says, is to try to avoid infection in the first place by following the guidelines about hygiene and social distancing.
Richard Hamilton finally to mark National Poetry Day here in Britain, the BBC has spoken to the country's poet laureate, Simon Armitage. And my colleague Michele Hassane asked him how the coronavirus lockdown had affected his writing. He explained how he came up with his latest work. Something clicked after he was commissioned by the telecommunications company.
But I think like pretty much everybody I've been on, you know, what's become known as the the coroner coaster. You know, I've had some ups and and some downs. I've written several poems about lockdown as a response to the situation and felt to a certain extent, you know, obliged to do that in my in my position. And, you know, by definition, I think some of those poems have been a little bit melancholic. And then BTE got in touch about commission in a poem that talked about some of the positives.
And, you know, this was an opportunity to write something that, you know, celebrated ideas of, you know, online communities and communication and connectivity and just say something exuberant and positive and to revel in that language that we've become very familiar with over the last five or six months. Well, let's hear it then.
It is called Something Clicked. Simon Armitage. Then something clicked and the day quivered and rang like a question mark, why grit your teeth in the gridlock? Now the commutes are super fast. Hop and a skip from toothbrush to keyboard, from bad hair to scream call. Why wrestle with glitches and gremlins or tussle with goblins and gizmos or idol and churn in the swirling pit of the buffering wheel. Now you're fine tuning the sensors and rolling for real life, getting to grips with arts and crafts that were only a keystroke away all along.
You're a rhythm guitar, a poem, a garden, a song you've learned to cook your is somebody's roast, a multigrain loaf, a recipe book. Why be garbled and scrambled again? Now you're mindful, resourceful, neighborly, human. And why twiddle your thumbs? Though sometimes it's good to kick back to noodle and doodle, letting dreams swim into sharp focus, meander through luminous moments. Why stall? Why settle for knowledge arriving granule by granule. No more fishing for news with a butterfly net doing the human aerial.
You're bright of late ideas hitchin and switchin from one domain to the next thought swiping from subject to subject planet to planet globe-trotting the universe. And you're riding a bike. You're a walk. A hike. A mountain. A lake. It's a new world. You're at school. In the kitchen. At work. In the attic. In Ancient Rome. In the lounge on Mars. In the basement. Why tear out your hair while the president dithers and loads.
You deserve to lean on the airwaves and not fall over to feel the hub of your heart, heart pulsating and purring with life's signal. So you're right here, this minute being your best being. And now you've hooked up with the all thinking, all feeling, all doing version of you. Why sit in the future's waiting room drumming your fingers? Why lose the connection when you could be your own greatest invention?
Something clicked read by the British poet laureate Simon Armitage. And if you'd like to send us any poems you've written during lockdown or if you have any comments on the podcast, send an email to global podcast at BBC, Dot Seo Dot UK and that is all from us for now.
There'll be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. I'm Oliver Conway. This edition was produced by Alice Adderly. It was mixed by Nick Jones. And our editor is Karen Martin. Until next time. Goodbye.