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I'm Jacki Lannert. And at 13 hours GMT on Tuesday, the 30th of March, these are our main stories. China has warned other countries not to criticise changes it's imposing to Hong Kong's electoral system, which halve the number of elected representatives and allow it to veto candidates. Gunmen in Afghanistan have killed three polio vaccination workers, and Italian prosecutors are investigating allegations that top health officials in Sicily rigged that coronavirus statistics to prevent a lockdown on the island. Also in this podcast, I've got a call that I'll never be able to do it again.
I've never once been wicked Nazi. It's been a crime where I don't want to get a few sick, sick, sick.
You think I'm just thankful that you've lost so much blood in the base of running shoes and a fight for the soul of America, our singer Lil Noisettes got that pastor hot under the collar. When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the agreement said it would be under the one country two systems principle, which would essentially give Hong Kong more freedoms than the mainland until 2047. But in recent years, Beijing has gradually increased its control and now it's passed sweeping changes to Hong Kong's electoral rules, which will essentially mean the end of any elected opposition to the Communist Party.
The aim is to ensure only patriotic figures can run for positions of power. Critics warn it will mean the end of democracy. These people on the streets of the city seemed to agree. You can have.
All right. You can see where Hong Kong has changed already.
There's no election. Are you joking? This isn't an election. It's merely a game that benefits certain people.
There's no meaning at all, because as I don't able to the thing I always think about is how it was promised that Hong Kong wouldn't change for 50 years, but it hasn't been 25 years. And I think it's already changed a lot. That's why I'm worried about my future and that of people around me.
However, Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Joie Chen Ying, defended the changes.
This is the one chance to change it. You know, she asking. She's changing. The improvement of the electoral system of the Hong Kong special administrative region is a step by step development that conforms to Hong Kong's restricted order and to the actual situation of Hong Kong. It's conducive to improving the effectiveness of community governance, safeguarding Hong Kong's fundamental interests and long term development. Hong Kong will usher in a brighter future.
Our correspondent in Beijing is Stephen McDonell.
The idea of changing Hong Kong's laws had been rubber stamped in general, I guess, by the National People's Congress. But then they had to go to the National People's Congress Standing Committee to be sort of refined today in the Chinese capital. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress unanimously approved these changes, which will essentially obliterate the opposition in that city's mini parliament, the legislative council. You know, it was already rigged, I should say, so that the pro Beijing camp could never lose control of that body.
But now it's hard to see how opposition figures somebody from the pro-democracy camp could get in at all. How do you make sure that only those deemed sufficiently patriotic can make it into the Legislative Council? Well, it's via a series of screens, a sort of four stage process. First, a would be candidate has to have their name go to the police of this committee and sort of National Security Committee. They will decide if that person has been involved in protests, for example.
Then you get over that hurdle. You have to go to the state security body in Hong Kong, the new one, which will decide if Beijing is sufficiently happy that you haven't been involved in political activity. You get through those two stages, then you go to this special screening committee, which will vet all candidates. Even after you've done that, there's one more stage. You go to the citywide election committee and two to four members of each subgroup on that committee also all have to approve your candidature.
On top of all of that, that will only determine the candidates for 20 out of 90 places in the Legislative Council. All the others will be directly elected by a pro Beijing committee.
So this is just the latest change to the way Hong Kong is run, imposed from Beijing. Where does this leave opposing voices?
What's a very good question? It certainly doesn't leave any of them in the Legislative Council. I mean, in formal politics, other than local council election, there will be no opposition voices at all. I'd imagine it's just one of the many changes that have been brought in in Hong Kong, whether it be locking up. People have shown a propensity to dissent, to call for greater autonomy for Hong Kong, whether it be pressure on the universities or the judiciary.
And even today, we've seen that they're now also moving. So that company records previously opened to the public are now going to be kept secret. And journalists are screaming about this in Hong Kong, saying they won't be able to do their work in terms of keeping corporations accountable. Well, it seems that doesn't matter. It's just yet another blow for the freedoms that were being enjoyed in that city. And increasingly, it's just hard to see what will be left at the end of this process that will differentiate Hong Kong from any other Chinese city on the mainland.
That was Stephen McDonell in Beijing. The World Health Organization went to the Chinese city of Wuhan to research the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. And today they've published their findings. Just before the publication, we heard from our China correspondent, Robin Brandt, who's in Wuhan.
The Associated Press and the BBC and some other organizations have seen a draft. They believe it is a final draft. Of this report, look, it's been a long time coming. They came here in February, a year after the outbreak. Those first cluster of cases were seen here in Wuhan. A team of a dozen or so investigators from various countries had a month here in this city. They spent half of that in isolation, in quarantine at the insistence of the Chinese.
They were under intense supervision. But nonetheless, a full report is out now. They don't draw any conclusions or reach any conclusions that completely rule some things out and completely rule some things in. But these are the most interesting points. They say it is very likely that they believe the origin of this type of coronavirus was from bats, probably here in the south of China. And they were passed into humans almost certainly via an intermediary animal. They say that the hypothesis, the suggestion that this may be a manmade type of coronavirus that was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which isn't far from where I'm standing at the moment, they say that is extremely unlikely.
And as to the hypothesis, in terms of how it spread that the Chinese government has been very keen to put forward, that is in the packaging in cold chain supply, they say that is possible, but unlikely. But this is the start of a process. This is not conclusive results that they are drawing. And like I said, nothing's been completely ruled in. Nothing's been completely ruled out.
Robyn Brandt in Wuhan, more than 20 countries and the World Health Organization have expressed their support for an international treaty to fight future pandemics. The director general of the H.O., Tedros Adhanom reappraisals, said such an agreement would build resilience to pandemics by ensuring timely and equitable access to vaccines and other countermeasures. Here's Naomi Grimly, the W8 cheese head, Dr. Tedros Adhanom.
Gabriel Jesus said this pandemic had brought out the worst and best in humanity. He said it had exposed geopolitical fault lines, boosted inequalities and shaken trust in institutions. He argued a new international treaty would help the world react faster when the next pandemic hits. And he said it could not wait as memories fade. China and the US have not yet given their support to this proposal, namely grimly and staying with covid.
Italian prosecutors are investigating top health officials in Sicily over suspicions that they doctored coronavirus statistics to keep the island out of lockdown. Three officials have been put under house arrest and the regional health assessor has been called in for questioning. Here's our Europe editor, Mike Sanders.
Prosecutors suspect that the figures sent to the health ministry were altered on around 40 occasions between November and March. An investigating magistrate called it a wicked political scheme. The alleged aim was to stop Sicily being declared a red zone with the tightest coronaviruses restrictions. It's currently an orange zone. Police set up wiretaps last year after a laboratory west of Palermo came under scrutiny. It was found to have signed off dozens of positive test results as negatives to civil servants and an IT contractor are under house arrest.
Mike Saunders. Gunmen in Afghanistan have shot dead three women who were going house to house vaccinating children against polio. The murders took place a day after a nationwide immunization program began. And Huq Yasini is the editor of our Kabul bureau and he told us what happened.
This was in the morning. These people were going to vaccinate children.
According to our own government, around nine point six million children under five are eligible to be working there today. And they just started the campaign yesterday. No party has accepted responsibility so far. We know that in this city previously, the beginning of this month, three female journalists or three female worker of local TV was targeted. So it seems that it is a coordinated, targeted attack. It could be attacks against women and it could also be an attack against the polio campaign.
We have a history of such attacks in different part of Afghanistan.
So why would anyone want to stop children being vaccinated against polio?
There are different theories. One is related to militants and some militants were claiming in the past that, according to them, against the Muslim. And secondly, there is some misconception about some people are accusing these volunteers of spying. You may remember that Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. And it is claimed that to get some sort of information, some teams were used which were pretending to be a team of nation group, unfortunately. Also, there is a lack of awareness among people and there is no proper awareness campaign to teach the people in the move, particularly this concern about it.
Mr. Alize, people, these were. I don't know who carried out this attack, but in the past, these attacks were blamed on militants, different groups, and we know that in this area of Afghanistan recently, it has become very violent dieses. Active Taliban are there and there might be some criminals as well.
And just just finally, how prevalent is polio in Afghanistan?
It is a big issue in Afghanistan. And if such campaigns are targeted, I worry that this problem will expand and it will not to be helpful for the country, for the future of the country. See, the already we have a lot of. But from what if these are added up to that big problem, a big challenge for generations to come.
Anatol Haq Yasini, the editor of our Kabul bureau. To Hungary now. And on Wednesday in Budapest, a small statue will be erected in a public square, a kneeling Statue of Liberty decorated with the rainbow colors of the LGBTQ movement. Its most fierce critics have promised to destroy it immediately. But it's not the only controversial statue in the city. Statues to the fallen of the two world wars and the heroes of the 1956 revolution have been put up, taken down or moved in a heated chess game between liberals and nationalists.
Nick Thorpe reports from Budapest.
Painted by Nick with an art gallery in the centre of Budapest, where I've come to meet sculptor Peter Salai and see his winning entry for a public art competition in the 9th District of the city.
New York is so much the water there that it's actually a depiction of the Statue of Liberty in New York. One metre high, one knee bent right fist raised like some American football players did to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
What's the statue made of a as it's actually made from environmentally degradable plastic.
It's constructed from 3D images in the rainbow colors of the LGBT movement, which is relevant as the Hungarian government opposes the rights of same sex couples to adopt children.
I'm standing in the middle of Ferenz Square in Budapest's 9th District, where the controversial Statue of Liberty will be placed with me as Soozie to me.
Since 2019, she's been one of the deputy mayors of the 9th District.
That's in which my aim with this competition was to restart the tradition of public art in Hungary and to get away from the sort of memory politics which has become the norm in public spaces.
Do you think it might be damaged by people that don't like it or what it represents most for you?
We don't plan to defend it at all. We'd rather protect the right of people to smash it up. That's exactly the role of public art to provoke debate. What we do plan is to document what happens to it over the two weeks it's on display.
I've now crossed the Danube to the 12th District, the hilly Buda side of the city, to another statue of a giant crouching broms bird clutching a sword in its claws. This is the tural, a mythical bird which guided one of the Hungarian tribes from the steps of Asia to the Carpathian Basin. With me is Alton Caselli, a conservative political commentator in Hungary. It's an old custom to set the A Bird as a monument for the fallen soldier. And after the transition in 1990, there was also a continuity in the war memorials.
But many Hungarians have a big problem with the symbolism of the TOURU as it was the chosen emblem of the Hungarian fascist party, the Arrow Cross, who committed many atrocities against the Jews of Budapest in the Second World War. For that reason, they've long demanded this statue be removed. The bird controversy increased with the broadcast of a new documentary film, the mayor of the district, Zoltan Pokorney of the governing Fidesz party, ordered the removal of his grandfather's name from the monument when it turned out he took part in anti Jewish pogroms.
But the mayor said the statue should stay, supplemented with a proper explanation.
Back on the side of the river, I've come to visit one last statue. A bespectacled figure stands on an arching iron bridge looking out over the Danube in Brendanawicz, who led the 1956 revolution against Soviet rule and was executed for it. This statue was erected in front of parliament in 1996, but moved a kilometer north by the current Fidesz government, Nöjd was a reformed communist disliked by historians close to the current government. Now the government is busy erecting statues to its own ideological heroes.
Nick Thorpey reporting from Hungary.
Still to come, the latest example I've seen is a hacker group. I won't name them. They infiltrated a U.S. financial services firm.
The rise of what cybersecurity companies are calling extortion. Where were hackers embarrass victims into paying a ransom? The Brazilian leader, Jabel Senario has attempted to ease a growing political crisis by changing six government ministers. It's the biggest cabinet reshuffle of his presidency, Mr. Bolton, whose popularity has fallen sharply, with many blaming him for Brazil's soaring coronavirus death rate. One of his key allies, the foreign minister and Nasta at OSU, who has been replaced, had been criticized for failing to secure vaccine supplies from the U.S. and China.
Gustavo Ribeiro is the founder and editor in chief of the Brazilian report. James Copnall asked him what he thinks is behind the decision to replace the foreign minister.
And that's what I always do, which is by all measures, the most radical foreign minister of Brazil has ever had has always been sort of a marginal figure in the business of cabinet, his entire globalist, his social phobic economic libertarians who are in the economy ministry, they don't like him. Big Agro doesn't like him as well because they think he may cost them money due to his antics. And for months, they wanted his head in the spike. During the weekend, he accused one senator of acting as a lobbyist for Huawei, the Chinese giant telecom company.
And that provoked a big reaction from senators with the Senate president say that the attack against one senator is an attack against the entire Senate. So pressure for both sides to fire him got to a point that he could no longer stay in the cabinet.
And I see that some of Mr BOŞTINARU supporters in Congress have said that Beijing delayed the supply of the coronavirus vaccine to Brazil because of some of the foreign minister's words. Is there an international dimension to all this?
Well, we don't actually know if China has delayed on purpose, but that's the feeling that we have in Brasilia. And things have gotten so bad between the former foreign minister and Chinese authorities that at one point one source told us that the Chinese ambassador to Brasilia said that he would no longer speak to the foreign minister and he would only speak to other government officials, which is when we talk about diplomacy. It's unheard of. An ambassador who refuses to talk to the country's foreign minister and do other resignations, other changes.
I'm thinking, for example, the defense minister follow on from that first one, then.
Yes, then that was the surprising thing, because it took off guards of almost every political observer in Brasilia that the defense minister not only resigned, but resigned the way he did with the very Talli resignation letter, saying that he, quote, always protected the armed forces from being used as anything other than the institutions of the state, which, according to some of our military sources, is as big of an indictment of the president as a military man would allow himself to make in public.
He also reshuffled the justice minister, the solicitor general, his chief of staff. He made a big reshuffling which and placed yes men to those positions, which had a lot of people fearing that the president may be sending signals that he could try a sort of rupture with our political and democratic order right now.
Gustavo Ribeiro, the editor in chief of the Brazilian report, Cyber security companies are warning about the rise of what they're calling extortion, where hackers embarrass victims into paying a ransom. Last year alone, ransomware is estimated to have cost firms as much as 170 billion dollars. But the trend towards what is in effect online blackmail poses a particular challenge. Our technology reporter Joe Tidey explained. The latest example that I've seen is a hacker group.
I won't name them. They infiltrated a U.S. financial services firm and as well as posting on their darknet blog that they had hacked this company and they'd got access gigabytes of data about the company and their customers they actually teed off on and they used as the primary reason for why this company should pay them evidence that they had found a porn collection on the company computer of the IT director. So they actually posted pictures of this library of files that are named after porn stars and porn websites.
And they said, thanks God, this is this is how they wrote it. Thanks. God for and they've named their city director. We downloaded several hundred gigabytes of private information about his company's customers. God bless his hairy palms. Amen. And that's the sort of language that they use to to pressurise these companies into paying. And the fact that they have called out someone individually and they have posted this very sensitive data is just the latest example of this trend that we've seen.
Another one recently was they a different hacker group managed to infiltrate the network of an agricultural firm in Canada. And again, they said how much data they'd stole, but it was a completely different thing, a sensitive information hole that they were bragging about. They alleged to have an email trail showing evidence of an insurance fraud. Of course, all these things add pressure on the companies. And in the case of the I.T. director, it looks like it did work in that case.
So is this a new trend in ransomware and how difficult is it to defend against? Yeah, it is a new trend.
It's I mean, extortion, where the term has been around for a while. But this is the first I've seen in the last kind of six months. We're seeing hackers not only infiltrate and encrypt and steal all the data of companies, they are spending the time, taking the time and resources to actually pick through what they've got to see if there's anything that they can leverage against the companies to get a bigger payout. And it's just the latest evolution of ransomware that we've seen.
But it's one that's particularly difficult to defend against because, of course, it's no longer about just keeping the operational data that you need to keep the business going safe because or backed up because in a traditional ransomware attack, they can take encrypt all the data. And it could be you know, it could cost you a lot of money to get that back, to keep the business going. So the way that you defend against that is just to keep your own backup of that.
But in this case, that won't work because, of course, if the hackers have got incriminating evidence, sensitive information that they can leverage against you, it doesn't matter if it's backed up, it's already out there and they've got all the control.
That was Joe Tidey. Analysis by an international anti-poverty charity suggests the British government's stated priorities for foreign aid spending are facing a cut of more than 60 percent in funding. Here's our diplomatic correspondent James Landale.
When the British government announced cuts of more than five and a half billion dollars to its foreign aid budget, it promised to use the remaining budget to protect its priorities. These included the covid Pandemic, Girls Education and humanitarian assistance. But analysis by the one campaign suggests even these areas face spending cuts. That's because it says much of the aid budget will be consumed by long term commitments the government's already made. These include spending on climate change and multilateral aid budgets run by the European Union and World Bank.
James Landale. Science in Africa is one area that could feel the financial squeeze among those losing out as Rwandan born scientist Anita Atalay, a leading researcher on clean water supplies who's working in South Africa. She told Claire McDonnell more about her work.
My research is basically design and prepare and construct filters that can be used to clean water at a small scale. So if you can imagine any big city, there's always people that come in that don't have that live in areas that don't have access to clean water or municipal services. And with Johannesburg's history of mining, we have people that are drinking water that's contaminated with high concentrations of things like mercury, arsenic in uranium. So my work has basically been looking at how to create filters that people can use in their homes, in the informal settlements and still be able to get clean water so that in the end they're not exposed to diseases that come with this consuming this kind of metals.
Wow. And that is life saving treatment. Yeah. So you develop these nano materials. Can you explain to people listening what that what does it look like? Is it an actual physical filter or is it something that goes in the water? What is it?
So basically we use nano materials and nano materials, simply any material that you can reduce to the nanoscale and why we want to reduce them to this scale is because as you go down inside the surface, area increases. And so then you have to only use a small piece of material to achieve the same efficiency. So my work was trying to develop nano materials from cellulose, from basically things that are very easily available in South Africa, like sugar cane waste or hemp waste, and to make membranes that we can then put in a point of useful to just a filter jug in the house.
Then people can pour the dirty water that they pick from the river, from the river, at this point in the bottom, collect clean water. And the point was that this would be able to be cheap or affordable enough for these communities.
Now, you've used the past tense there. You said my research was, does that mean without this money, now it's over. Have you had to stop?
Hopefully, yes, it will have to stop because we cannot I mean, research cannot go on with without money. We might be able to find the students, we are not able to run the equipment, all these things require money and more than that, I have no salary. And if the funding stops, I don't I don't have a salary. And of course, then I lose my position at the university. So everything about goodness.
Yes. So how far down the line were you to just coming up with these membranes?
We were working at a very fast pace before covid came in and we had restrictions about going into the lab. But we have already published work that has developed these materials that we functionalized that were really performing very well. And we were hoping that in the next three years we would only need to increase the performance and increase the reusability and just a few more tests and commercialise these things. I mean, this program was going to come to fruition in five years if the additional funding was it was offered, but now it has to stop.
Scientist Anita Atalay pop stars have been causing controversy ever since Elvis first swivel his hips, but a music video featuring a male singer sliding down a pole to hell before lap dancing for Satan and a lawsuit by Nike over running shoes that it's suggested now incorporate human blood. As Jonathan Savage reports, it's all in a week's work for Lil Knapsacks.
It started with a song I got hit by Just a day to go to Your Place. Montoro, Call Me By.
Your name is a love song about a gay man falling for a star who won't come out of the closet.
Maybe you live in Alaska. Maybe you will share.
Some of the lyrics are very explicit and for some that's already taboo. But throw in the promotion and you've got a recipe for uproar, a music video that sexualized this religious imagery and the release of limited edition running shoes that reference the devil plus have 60 cubic centimeters of red fluid in the soul said to contain a drop of human blood. How many pairs of shoes? 666.
Of course I like that. I got a cool date. I'll never be able to do it again. A bunch of devil worshipping wicked nonsense pentagram wearing on your Nike tells you that you've lost your mind.
Evangelical preacher Greg Lokke won't be wearing them lol. Nasacort tweeted that video himself. I'm sampling this. He promised. Conservative Christianity is a powerful demographic in the United States. We are in a fight for the soul of our nation, tweeted Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, sharing an advert for the shoes. We need to fight hard and clearly.
Connealy coming in morning.
The running shoes were customized by an art collective called Mischief. Without Nike's permission costing over a thousand dollars a pair, they sold out in a minute. Nike's lawyers are suing mischief, claiming trademark infringement. That public confusion has led to calls for a boycott of its products. Loansharks knew the moral backlash was coming. He published a note to his 14 year old self. This is very scary for me. People will be angry. But he tweeted in defiance, too.
There's a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop me sliding down a CGI. Paul isn't what's destroying society.
Jonathan Savage, who is very wholesome indeed, and that's it from us for now, but there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later, if you would like to comment on this one or the topics we've covered in it to please send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBK Dot Dot UK. This part was mixed by Ben Andrews. The producer was Liam McCaffrey. Our editor is Karen Martin. I'm Jackie Leonard. And until next time, goodbye.