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I'm John Angelil and in the early hours of Thursday, the 25th of March, these are our main stories. Facebook says it's blocked a group of hackers in China who tried to spy on wigger activists living abroad by infecting their devices with malicious software. India has suspended all major exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine following a surge in coronavirus infections.
The US vice president, Kamala Harris, is to spearhead efforts to work with Mexico and Central American countries to try to stem the flow of migrants into the United States. Also in this podcast, why is a rapper who represent Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest receiving hate mail, the saliva test that detects concussion on the spot?
And the thing which is changing for customers is the actual relationship they have with the restaurant. Their relationship is with the app and the restaurant becomes less and less important. That experience why some food delivery apps could be putting restaurants out of business altogether. China has been condemned and sanctioned by Western countries over its treatment of its mostly Muslim weak minority is estimated.
More than a million are detained in camps in China's north west.
Now, it seems Westerners living abroad are also being targeted by computer hackers based in China. The social media company Facebook says the hackers have been using its platform to do this, although their activities have now been blocked. Our security correspondent Gordon Corera has been following the story.
Facebook have said that they've taken action against this group of hackers. They say that the activity they've seen had the hallmarks, in their words, of a well resourced and persistent operation. This was a group of hackers, they believe, to have been based in China who were targeting members of the weaker minority outside of China, primarily in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the US, Syria, Australia, Canada, as well as other countries, and using a variety of techniques, quite sophisticated ones, to gain access to their online lives and to carry out surveillance.
So this includes setting up fake websites which look like popular figure in Turkish news sites, which, when you click on them, would install malicious software, also creating fake Facebook accounts to pose as journalists, students, human rights advocates or members of the weaker community to build trust with people, to interact with them again, to get them to click on those malicious links and then install this so-called surveillance or spyware, which would allow their machines to be tracked in their activity online to be tracked.
So very worrying for the wider community abroad. What do we know about the hackers themselves?
It does look from what other groups who monitor their activities say that this group has been doing this particular operation for quite some time, at least 2019, and has been involved in that. Facebook itself are simply saying that their China based, they're linking it to a codenames, if you like, that are used by the cyber security community for these groups. Another group, Mandiant Threat Intelligence, have said they believe it's linked to it's at least in support of the government of China.
And it's one of the groups acting on their behalf. Of course, China in the past has denied this kind of activity, and it's often quite hard to prove definitively. But certainly the signs from these cyber security companies and Facebook point towards China or the Chinese government or someone acting on their behalf as having been behind this relatively sophisticated campaign of surveillance.
And China is, of course, accused by the US of carrying out a genocide against the weaker minority. It's often accused of cyber espionage. How does this uncovering of these accounts fit in within the wider picture when it comes to Chinese spying activities?
Well, I think it is interesting because it comes at a time when there's a lot of focus on this issue of surveillance within China of the weaker minority in Xinjiang and looking at how far different techniques have been used by the state, whether it's facial recognition, artificial intelligence or other techniques domestically to carry out forms of surveillance. And this clearly indicates that those are potentially being used abroad against that community as well, which is perhaps something that wouldn't come as a huge surprise, but also comes at the midst of accusations.
Yes. From different sides about spying and cyber espionage. And we heard that in the high level summit meeting between China and the US in the last few days where the US accused China of being behind certain cyber attacks. And then China responded by saying the US was, if you like, the most nefarious cyber act. So clearly, this is a kind of a battleground of activity against individuals, against groups, but also on a geopolitical level. And I think we should see this as part of that wider context in groups, in people trying to expose it, confront it, talk about it in different ways.
Our security correspondent Gordon Corera, next to news of a big disruption to the global vaccine supply. India has announced that it suspended all major exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine following a surge in the number of coronavirus infections there.
Ashok Malik is policy advisor for India's Ministry of External Affairs. He says the suspension is only temporary, but insists his country now needs to put its own citizens first.
India has already sent out 16 million doses and it's only used 50 million at all. So we do need to push vaccinating our own people as well. As you can imagine, quite frankly, there are fewer vaccines to go around in the world right now than there are people who need jobs. This is a global problem.
The announcement coincided with the revelation that a new double mutant variant of the virus has been detected in India. Officials believe it's not linked to the rise in cases, but there are concerns that. People have become too complacent. I got more details from our health reporter SM Assad about the situation in India at the moment is precarious. Cases are on the rise. Hospitals are overwhelmed and there are new variants on the horizon. So from the Indian government's point of view, it would make sense to make sure that there are more vaccines given out more quickly to the population there.
Now, the Serum Institute in India is the world's largest vaccine supplier and maker, and it's been making a huge impact not just in India, but across the world. It's been having huge demands on it. So there is the national supply. It's hard to meet, but also it's been given doses to Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and it's also part of the Kovács scheme. That's the World Health Organization scheme to help get vaccines to people who need the most as quickly as possible.
We've already heard from Indian papers that some of the vaccines to Brazil to Saudi Arabia have been delayed. And in the UK, only half the number of cases they were expecting from the Serum Institute have so far arrived. So there have already been some delays and it's very likely this will have a fairly big impact across the world. Yeah, difficult balancing act for India.
At the same time, this comes as a new double mutant variant of the virus has been discovered. How worried should we actually be?
It sounds really scary. It sounds like something out of science fiction. But let me try and put it in more scientific terms. It basically means that it's been two changes to the virus in two different locations. Now, this actually isn't unusual. The UK variant actually has multiple changes to it. And viruses change all the time because as they spread, they make copies of themselves and as they make copies, they make errors. Now, the questions that scientists will be asking is how significant are these changes?
Some changes really aren't significant at all. But will these changes make the virus more easy to spread? Will it make the virus more fatal for people when they catch it? And key is, will the vaccine still work against it? Now, Indian scientists will be doing all the detective work on this to try and answer these questions. But there are some clues from the rest of the world where there are some variants that share these mutations and there are suggestions, early evidence that says that actually these mutations could make this variant more transmissible.
But the relatively good news, I guess, is that so far all the variants of concern have been seen around the world. The vaccines that we have at that moment do work against them. Now, some of them don't work quite as well as they work against the original virus they were designed against. But scientists are confident that they can tweak the current vaccines if they need to in the future if a variant comes along that needs that kind of change.
Meanwhile, the European Union is proposing to give itself greater scope to block coronavirus vaccine exports to countries outside the bloc, including the U.K. It's been stung into action by the relatively slow pace of EU members vaccination programs, as well as a feeling that the European Union is being treated unfairly by manufacturers in particular AstraZeneca reporting from Brussels. Here's Nick Beke, both publicly and privately.
European Commission officials are adamant these latest proposals have not been drawn up to target the UK, but they have been forged in the shadow of the bitter AstraZeneca row that rumbles on. Every vaccine shipment leaving the EU will now be assessed not just by the manufacturers track record on delivery, but by the wider picture in the country. Due to receive the batch covid infection rates and vaccination rates will be considered. So to the extent to which the destination country is helping or hindering the global exchange of jobs and their component parts Britain.
The European Commissioner for Internal Market told the BBC the UK wasn't being singled out, but said there was no question the EU was being treated unfairly.
We ordered 120 million doses. We got only 30 million in Q1. If AstraZeneca deliver exactly the number of those US, which was plan like they did in the UK, we will be to do exactly at the same rate of vaccination in the UK. So we have been heavily penalised.
Brussels says its plans are designed to ensure there is transparency in the vaccine process. But critics argue this new decision making system appears opaque. Officials were unwilling to reveal how much weight would be put on each metric. The biggest impact on the UK would be if doses of the Belgian made Pfizer jab were to be blocked. When asked if that were possible, the commission said only that exports would be considered on a case by case basis. Several EU countries, including Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany.
I've said overzealous restrictions would be damaging while France and Italy have appeared more supportive of the commission's plans.
Nick Beke reporting. With restaurants still closed in many countries, there's been a boom in food deliveries. Apps that allow you to have a takeaway delivered to your door have become incredibly popular. But if lockdowns have changed our eating habits, what does that mean for restaurants? And has the industry been changed for good? Manuella. There are. Gotha has been investigating.
It's apparently really, really difficult to find good Italian pizza in Washington, D.C. It is a pizza wasteland.
Motus is a senior fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project. She knows about the lack of good pizza in Washington, D.C., because it's where she lives with her husband, who's a chef. When the pandemic and Lockdown's hit, Moe and her husband figured they could keep his restaurant going by making deliveries and there were enough food delivery apps to do the job for them. Door Dash, GrubHub, blueberries. But Moe says these weren't just restaurant friendly as they first appeared.
He came home one day and said, you'll never believe this. They take 30 percent of your sales. And I was just astounded.
Now, to be sure, delivery apps have been a lifeline for many restaurants in the pandemic, that people like Moe are worried that their rapid growth in recent years supercharged in the pandemic is doing the restaurant industry more harm than good.
What we've found from even, you know, restaurant chains that have pretty decent marketing budgets is that they regularly get outbid for the search terms related to their own restaurants by the delivery apps. So what happens is when you Google the restaurant, you'll find a GrubHub link, a GrubHub link, a GrubHub link, Newbury Slinked, Newbridge, Lincoln, Jordache Link. And the average consumer will not see the restaurant's actual website.
So effectively, what you've been doing by using these delivery apps as you've been feeding a competitor really or or a rival in some way.
Absolutely. That's how a lot of restaurants feel about it, is that they're no longer working for themselves. They're working for the delivery apps.
They are cut off from information about their customers are cut off from the ability to incentivize those customers.
So if you go on to Dawidoff, for instance, you know, you order from my husband's hotel or an address across the way from my husband's hotel and you try to get pizza or you try to get Italian food, you will get, you know, some ghost kitchens.
What's a ghost kitchen?
It's a commissary kitchen that produces food solely for the delivery apps.
So what they're doing is basically looking at what people are ordering in an area and then setting up a ghost kitchen because they know that people order that kind of food in that area and basically taking business away from you. Exactly.
They're trying to make this a more vertically integrated business and use all of the data that they've generated from fulfilling orders from restaurants to kind of bring all of this in-house.
We asked the major delivery companies for comment, all of them, including Uber. It's stressed that they were committed to supporting restaurants and the thousands of people who rely on them for work. Still, after a year of lockdown, will customers even want to be weaned off the food delivery apps that have been so useful and convenient in lockdown? Jonathan Dunn is a food writer based in London.
If you're setting up a restaurant in the traditional manner, you would have to have a dining room. You would have to probably have it on a high street somewhere that's easily locatable, but would also have high rent. You would have to have a lot of staff and with delivery or you have to do is have a unit somewhere on an industrial estate. It can just be you and a chef. And all you need is something to put the food in and you can get going.
So it does lower the barrier to entry quite a bit. The thing which is changing for customers, though, is the actual relationship they have with the physical restaurant. Their relationship is with the app, not their actual restaurant itself. And the restaurant becomes less and less important to that experience.
Is this a permanent shift, do you think, in the way we as consumers think about restaurants and think about what they serve?
Delivery was being used by generally quite young, quite affluent people, and now it's being used by everyone, including an older demographic. And I think that's not going to go away. I think the question is, does delivery replace cooking or does it replace eating out at restaurants? I think delivery has to become a permanent part of the business model.
For restaurant food writer Jonathan None ending that report by Manuella Saragossa. There was no Eurovision Song Contest last year due to covid this year. The organisers say it will go ahead in May in Rotterdam, but there's already controversy.
The Belarussian song has been banned for being political. Meanwhile, Russia's entrant, who was born in Central Asia, has come in for a barrage of abuse from nationalist politicians and commentators. Manager Sangin has been telling our Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg about the hatred directed at her. They met for an interview and a jamming session that will transport you.
Hold onto your hats. Russian rap is coming to Eurovision by.
In a bright red foiler suit, manager Sanjit bounces around the stage, performing what will be Russia's entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest to no off against the wall.
It's called Russian Woman.
Manizha tells me it's all about empowerment, breaking down female stereotypes.
We're always hearing these advices from our childhood like you need to be like this, your skirts and be longer or shorter. Well, my God, you 30 raise your children. These stereotypes makes our life so bad. And I'm tired of that.
A progressive message, but it struck the wrong note with some Russians.
The government is not the greatest. What kind of a song is that? Said an MP in Parliament. Russian nationalists have attacked Malaysia for her liberal views for supporting the LGBT community and over her ethnicity, some with special needs in some unusual situation.
In other words, using this TV presenter says, I can't bring myself to call Manizha, a Russian woman, because she was born in Tajikistan in Central Asia.
Joseph Tadjikistan. You can don't like my voice. You can don't like the song. But if you don't like me because I was born in Tajikistan, that was hard. One woman who has two children wrote me a message like, I will pray to God that your aircraft will crush, you know, when you will go to the hotel. And we're having some threats, like if you're going to sing like this about Russian women, you're not going to leave anymore here like something like this.
Have there been any moments in the last few days when you've thought, I don't need this kind of abuse? That's it. I'm pulling out. I'm a human.
You know, I have feelings. And of course, I had these thoughts, but now I have a lot of support from people who thinks the same like me. You know, this thing makes me stronger.
And I'm like, I was going to say, know I'm going to do my job. Yeah.
Oh, that's. S Sepulchral Gubarev, so that never lets her interview over its rehearsal time, and I'm helping out on the piano by meddling from me now what we need to know. He was wrong and I'm going to break the world. Russian woman accompanied by a British man, Eurovision bringing people together.
It's what this contest is all about.
And despite Russia's reaction to the song, Manizha is hoping that come May, a musical message will strike a chord with audiences across Europe.
Oh, yeah, Russia's Eurovision contender manager Sankin, accompanied by our Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg.
Still to come on the Global News podcast.
The very best performing the Rainbow Coalition of a breast cancer survivor, Carla Cinemagoers in Iceland, enjoy the latest movie releases.
When will other countries be able to do the same? The US president, Joe Biden, has announced that his vice president, Kamala Harris, will lead the effort to stem illegal immigration across the country's southern border. Large numbers of people, including more than 5000 unaccompanied children, have been crossing into the United States threatening to overwhelm processing centers. Here's our Washington correspondent Gary O'Donahue.
Putting the vice president in charge of the situation is a sign of just how seriously Joe Biden regards the growing problem at the southern border. The president has already rolled back several Trump era regulations, which has been followed by a surge of people coming from Mexico and the so-called Northern Triangle of countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Many have been fleeing rampant crime and corruption, as well as significant natural disasters in recent months. Speaking at the White House, Kamala Harris said she would be focusing on stopping people crossing the border illegally, but also addressing the root problems in the region.
Well, the problem of illegal migration is a global one. Each year, thousands of migrants land here on British shores carried across the rough waters of the English Channel in small boats. Now the UK government has announced a drastic overhaul of the system for accepting asylum seekers. The new rules will make it much harder for people claiming asylum to stay in Britain if they arrived without having gone through the proper procedures. The home secretary, pretty Patel, has defended the changes as undeniably fair, but there's been widespread criticism that people in need will now be turned away.
Hassan Akkad is a filmmaker who fled persecution in Syria and claimed asylum in Britain after arriving on a fake passport.
No human is illegal. Let's start with that. According to the Geneva Convention, people are within their rights. It's perfectly legal, according to international law, to travel through safe countries, quote unquote, safe countries, and then arrive to the UK and claim asylum. The government is deterring people from coming here and they are chasing after headlines because Britain is not facing a refugee crisis.
So what more do we know about the new rules? Rob Watson is our political correspondent.
The first thing to say, this is just a consultation. So the government still needs to give us the detail of how this will work. But clearly, this is undoubtedly represents a major toughening of Britain's immigration rules, particularly when it comes to people are seeking asylum rather than refugees or people who are escaping poverty. And essentially what it is saying and what is so controversial is that how you got to the UK will impact whether you get asylum. And of course, you would not be surprised that there's been quite a reaction to that.
I group it in three types. The first is from the U.N. to suggest they're not entirely sure that this would be fully legal. They'd want to see the details, whether you really can tell someone that they have to seek right of abode in the first country they get to after a conflict. So the reason why that matters, of course, is that many people come from conflict zones to the UK via other EU countries.
The second line of criticism from the opposition Labour Party is this is just populist gibberish and that the reason why there's a problem with asylum seekers in this country is that the system has broken down and processing of them is too slow. And then the third one briefly, is just this idea that it's not practical, that the UK hasn't agreed with third countries. Where on earth would you send asylum seekers who hadn't come here legally?
Rob Watson. Pope Francis has approved pay cuts for cardinals and priests as the Vatican struggles with reduced income because of the pandemic. The head of the Catholic Church says he doesn't want people to lose their jobs in such difficult economic times. Here's a letter, Naismith from people.
The first cardinals working at the Vatican will see their estimated 6000 dollars a month salary cut by 10 percent. Priests and other clergy, lay officials and management staff will all see their paychecks go down to. The pope says the measures are necessary for a sustainable financial future. The Vatican has been hit hard by the pandemic. Income from charitable donations, property and investments are all down its largest single source of income. The Vatican museums would typically see more than six million visitors a year.
That's a loss alone of around 43 million dollars electorate Naismith.
If you've ever watched a game of rugby, you'll know it's a sport that involves violent physical collisions, including accidental head impacts. And that, of course, carries with it the risk of concussion. But how do you know that players are concussed? They don't always show obvious symptoms, such as the loss of consciousness.
But now the use of pitch side saliva tests to diagnose concussion is a step closer after what's been described as a game changing trial among male elite rugby union players. The trial was carried out by the University of Birmingham here in the UK in collaboration with the Rugby Football Union. Antonio Belo oversaw the trial. He spoke to Julian Marshall. Currently, there is a structured way of assessing concussion, obviously in the premiership that's helped by video replays and people in the TV room checking for certain signs of concussion, for example, looking a bit disoriented or stumbling or losing muscle tone, which could be very brief.
Even with the best technology and a lot of training and a lot of skill, it's not impossible to miss a concussion even at that professional level.
But your saliva test is more than 90 percent accurate in diagnosing concussion.
What is it that the saliva test is picking up so the celebrities picks up genetic messages that cell transmit to each other. And this is effectively his MRSA. But it's a specialized type of MRSA that the cells used to communicate with each other. They just send bits of this genetic material to switch genes on or off in response to disease or in this case, an injury. These are unique to head trauma because we also looks at people during the study that had musculoskeletal injuries, for example, and the MRSA that they release is actually different.
So this is specific to this type of injury.
And obviously the earlier the diagnosis, the more effective the treatment and the possibility of recovery.
Exactly. I think what is the discovery of this study is actually that those signals are present immediately after the injury. As soon as the player is first taken to the medical room for assessment, those molecules are already there undetectable, which really makes it possible for the treatment to start immediately after the injury.
And the saliva test is pretty simple to use and inexpensive, expensive.
It's exactly like Lycabettus is based on the same principle. All you need to do is run a swab on the floor of the mouth with 10 seconds and then the lab will tell you what a concussion has occurred or not.
Antonio Bello, professor of trauma neurosurgery at Birmingham University. It used to be a common, everyday pleasure. But now, with much of the world still in the grip of coronavirus, lockdown's going to the cinema is an out of reach luxury for many of us.
Not in Iceland, though movie theaters there are open and functioning more or less normally. I asked correspondent Vincent Daoud has been finding out what's popular there and when cinemas elsewhere will be able to follow suit.
It's I think. Critics love the Danish film or another round about men and alcohol. It has Oscar nominations, though hardly anyone has seen it in a cinema because of covid-19 Icelanders have. Iceland is now largely covid free modern technology means distributing the film in just one country can work financially, says Overthought Christensen of the video parody Cinema in Reykjavik.
Because it's digital, you don't really lose anything by putting it out into theaters that are operational. All the cinemas here are open and restaurants, etc are open. The only people who maybe are nervous are those who are at risk, but otherwise people are just going about their lives pretty normally and we have as many people that we probably would have otherwise.
The best performer, the Rainbow Coalition of Oppressed Brothers and Sisters of Africa and is playing nearby is Judas and the Black Messiah, another hot Oscar tip.
Yet in France, Germany, Italy and the UK, all or nearly all cinemas are closed. They hope to unlock by May. The one big European market with a lot of cinemas already open is Spain. You can catch the movie Songbird if you're in the mood.
Curfew is now in effect. All unauthorized citizens must stay indoors. Tensions rise as we head to the two Songbird is fiction, but it plays on our anxiety about the pandemic fever. Europe's film exhibitors hope to escape the real pandemic this summer, but they need big new Hollywood releases on screen. But now Disney has totally revised its release schedule for films such as Cruella starring Emma Stone.
I am Woman Hear Me Roar.
Cruella had been destined for theatrical release only now it'll be on streaming service at Disney Plus as well. I'm sure Hollywood still can't depend on cinemas alone to make the big money it desperately needs. Vincent Dowd reporting.
And that's all 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. The topics covered in it, you can send us an email address is Global Podcast at BBC, Doko Dot UK. This podcast was mixed by Jeremy Morgan and produced by Niki Vereker. Our editor is Carole Martin and Natalie, until next time, goodbye.