This is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Jacki Lyden. And at 13 hours GMT on Monday, the 29th of March, these are our main stories. The vast container ship that's been blocking the Suez Canal for a week has been partially refloated, but it's not free yet. Thailand's prime minister has warned of a possible exodus of refugees from Myanmar with thousands having fled already. And three former air crew from Ivory Coast have gone on trial for bombing French troops during the civil war, causing a major rift between the two countries.
Also in this podcast, people are really itching to get out.
And this particular city does have a low infection rate at the moment.
Similar projects are being tried elsewhere in Germany, the German city of Weimar is defying Chancellor Merkel and conducting an experiment to open shops to people with negative covid tests.
We begin in Egypt, and for the best part of a week, the world has been watching efforts to free a huge container ship that's been blocking the Suez Canal. Hundreds of other vessels are stuck in a floating traffic jam in front and behind it in what is usually one of the world's busiest waterways. The good news is that as we record this podcast, the 400 meter long ship the ever given is perhaps in the final stages of being able to move freely.
President Sisi of Egypt tweeted, Egyptians have been successful in putting to an end the crisis of the stranded ship, despite the enormous complexity surrounding the process. Sally Nabeel is in Suez. And the big question, has the ship been freed? Not totally yet.
It's an 80 percent success so far, according to the head of the Suez Canal Authority.
There was another attempt to free the last bit of the ship that is still stuck, and it is the front part, the bow of the ship. But so far, we haven't been getting any news that this has been a successful attempt. So the ship is 80 percent back to its original path, but we still have the bow that is still stuck and needs to be dislodged. And according to experts, this is the most tricky part of the whole process.
So it might take a bit more of a time. We understand that 10 more than 10 tugboats are operating on side. Huge amounts of sand have been removed so far to give room for the ship to move.
And once it is freed, how long will it take to clear the backlog and to resume navigation?
That's up to the expert teams who are going to examine the ship. It has to run through safety checks to make sure that the body has not been damaged. And another problem is the huge congestion in the Suez Canal. At the moment. There is a backlog of ships here. More than 400 vessels are stranded waiting to continue their journey. Officials are quite hopeful that navigation in the canal can be resumed in the next few hours. But given that we haven't heard so far about what happened during the last attempt to fully refloat the ship, perhaps this might take a bit more and tell us a little bit about the impact all this has had on global markets.
A huge impact. Oil prices have risen due to the blockage of the Suez Canal. There has been a lot of concerns about potential delays, extensive delays in shipments of oil, liquefied gas and other goods. So the fact that at least the ship has been partially refloated is definitely good news for Egypt and for the world markets as well.
Sally Nabeel in Egypt. And there will be an update on this story in the next edition of the Global News podcast. I imagine since the military coup in Myanmar two months ago, the army has been cracking down with increasing violence on protesters in towns and cities. But tensions have also been mounting with rebels from Myanmar's various ethnic minorities. The military has carried out air strikes on ethnic Koreans in the East, and people are beginning to cross the border into Thailand to seek safety.
The Thai prime minister preached. UNHCR says his country is preparing for more.
We already don't know how many refugees are expected. We've prepared an area for them to say, first off, their cross over. We can talk about the numbers later. We're not going to talk about a permanent shelter yet. We're not there yet. This is a matter for the Department of National Security to deal with how you level.
Our correspondent Laura Becker is following events for us from neighboring Thailand.
There have been a number of protests in some cities across the country. They seem to be peaceful so far overnight. And we've heard from an advocacy group within Myanmar that 13 people were killed yesterday. Meanwhile, funerals are ongoing, including the loss of six children who were killed on Saturday. When we've seen images of an 11 year old girl, for instance, who is being buried alongside her Hello Kitty toys and a coloring book.
Now, you are in Thailand at the moment. We've heard that the Thai prime minister is warning that they're already seeing people from the Karen state crossing the border into Thailand and they are expecting a great many more. How worried is Thailand about this influx?
Now, this has been happening since the weekend. This is because there have been a number of clashes near the Thai border between the army and fighters from Myanmar's oldest ethnic minority forces is the Karen National Union. Now, for decades, these different ethnic minority groups right across the border have battled the central government in Myanmar. Many agreed to cease fires. The. Karen National Union, for instance, agreed to a cease fire in 2015 with the democratically elected government, but fighting has flared in recent days between the army and forces, not just the Syrian National Union, but other ethnic forces as well in the north.
And within the last 24 hours, one of the main protest groups within Myanmar has now called on these ethnic minority forces to help protect the people. But it's difficult to know exactly what's going on and how many people are fleeing. We've heard from the Free Burma Rangers that around 3000 people have left one of the villages near the border. And it's mostly children, the elderly. A number of women camped out in the jungle. It's difficult to know where they are at this moment, but they claim that three thousand people have left the border area and are making their way to Thailand right now.
We have a number of desperate ethnic groups. These are groups that do not have any shared interests. What I think you're seeing called for by one protest group within Myanmar is for them to join together to help protect the people, which could cause the military problems. But we're not there yet.
Laura Beker in Bangkok. So what exactly is the situation now in Myanmar itself? Rahul Tandon spoke to an activist in the country whom we aren't naming to protect his safety.
Some places in Yangon and in some major parts of the cities are still quiet, although some places are protesters are still ongoing to protest and the military and the security forces are still doing the crackdown. And so people are very scared and businesses are not fully functioning at the moment.
Give us some of the stories that you've heard now of what actually happened over the weekend.
So this weekend, we saw many bloodshed in the whole country, in major cities like Yangon, also Borgo and also Mandalay and different and other different parts of the country. And so some funerals were not able to do so in Borgo. One of the students activist, he was killed. And while he was doing his Muslim funeral service, the security forces enter into the cemetery so that his friends were not able to see the last goodbye for him. So everybody had to run into different parts of the cemetery.
So it was very scary. And the other scary moments also happened in many parts of the country.
Those scary moments that you're describing now, does that make you and other young people worried about continuing to protest to your parents now say don't go out onto the streets?
Yes, our parents also face this similar brutality by the military also. So we are witnessing and we are experiencing the same brutality that the military contact. The military junta has never changed the playbook of oppressing the own people. But we are determined to move forward together with our one united voice, which is to ask the military to refrain from their power and to work with the people for the sake of democracy and freedom for everyone for future generations.
An activist in Myanmar talking to Rahul Tandon. Further details are emerging of the scale of an attack by hundreds of Islamist militants who stormed the town of Palma in northern Mozambique on Wednesday, the Mozambican government said dozens of people have been killed. Hundreds, including foreign workers employed in the energy industry, have fled to safety. But many more people are feared missing. An Islamist group linked to ISIS has been fighting the government northeast of Mozambique for three years. Our Africa correspondent Catherine Byaruhanga reports.
Once again, a community terrorized by years of violence had to quickly flee on this street, motorbikes made a quick dash and the young men and women fled towards the ocean.
Live rounds and mortar shells have been let loose in PAMA as local Islamist insurgents attacked, the government says dozens were killed.
You're not safe as a person, but many, like Soniya, Omar's brother, are still missing after.
She's worried for his safety and describes this as a horrible and unfair situation, a fleet of civilian boats and ships was hastily put together to rescue survivors stranded on beaches. And there's a large natural gas plant run by the French company. Total online maritime traffic data showed a hive of activity near Parmeno.
Everybody who make them far and wide his impact on everybody's lives. When Adrian walked into a room, you were happy.
South African Meryl Knox's son, Adrian, now was killed in an ambush as he tried to escape from a hotel. Her husband and younger son made it out of the town alive. But she says they were left to their own defenses.
You can imagine no army to protect them, none of them having weapons. So it was a matter of run for your life or face these insurgents. This could have been avoided. My son could still be alive today.
They've reached the Mozambican army has been silence for days about the ongoing crisis, leading to even more criticism about its response. But on Sunday night, security spokesman Omar Sarangi said they were working towards restoring peace and supporting our armed forces.
Continue to work to stop the actions of these terrorists so they cannot achieve their objectives. And they never questioned the authority. The actions of our military resulted in an evacuation of hundreds of nationals and foreigners and avoided further damage to infrastructure in the area.
Mozambique's security forces and politicians have struggled to reign in the insurgency in the cover Delgado region. This latest attack, so close to natural gas projects with a massive international investments, will put us under even more pressure to get it under control. Catherine Byaruhanga.
The United Nations is appealing for more than 10 billion dollars to fund aid operations over the next year in Syria and the surrounding region. It made the request ahead of an international donor conference that's taking place in Brussels today. Imagine, folks, has more details.
During 10 years of conflict, half of all Syrians have fled their homes. Five and a half million are refugees in neighboring countries. Six million are displaced inside Syria. The UN estimates that across the region, a record 24 million people need support. Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian chief, says donor countries, some of whom have been involved in the conflict itself, must not abandon Syria.
Now, more than 30 countries at one point or other have had their armed forces actually involved in what's been happening in Syria. They've been fighters from more than 100 countries. So this has been a decade of despair and disaster which has drawn in the whole world.
But donor countries are busy trying to support their own pandemic battered economies.
Imagine, folks. Australian politics has been hit recently by a series of controversies over sexual assault, harassment and improprieties, some implicating top ministers. Now, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has reshuffled his government and demoted, although not sacked, two of the ministers involved. Mr Morrison said the new line up would provide the strongest ever representation for women.
Getting these results for Australian women will be achieved through collaboration. They'll be achieved through listening. They'll be achieved by acting together. They won't be achieved by dividing Australians and setting them apart and having further conflict. It'll be achieved by Australians coming together to deal with these very serious and significant issues.
Mr Morrison, who also said he had set up a new taskforce for women, has faced intense pressure in recent weeks. Our correspondent Shane Malil spoke to us from Sydney.
Interestingly, this is Scott Morrison's second reshuffle in just four months, and it comes off the back of a very, very bruising few weeks for him and his government.
It comes after weeks of really serious and controversial sexual assault allegations that have really shaken his government to the core, but also just brought to the surface the toxicity of politics in Australia for women and generally the toxicity, the misogyny that thousands and thousands of women have been experiencing in workplaces.
And that came through really clear. In the women's march is so women being the key word, if you will, of the day, the prime minister was very quick to make to try and make this the headline, that this is a government with a record number of women and that hopefully, or at least he hopes will address the issues and the grievances.
So how big a change are we talking about then?
Well, look, the two main names really that everybody was listening out for were Linda Reynolds and Christian Porter, because these are the two key ministers at the heart of these very controversial, separate rape allegations. Linda Reynolds has been put under scrutiny because her former staffer, Brittany Higgins, alleged that she was raped in her ministerial office in Parliament House and that when she told her she received no support from her or her staff, it was later revealed that Senator Reynolds had called her a lying cow, a comment that she had apologized for, but really has just deeply, deeply embarrassed her.
Separately, the attorney general, Christian Porter, vehemently denied allegations that he had raped a 16 year old more than 30 years ago. Now, both ministers are currently on leave. Both ministers have lost their high profile portfolios. Interestingly, though, both ministers remain in government.
What sort of response has there been to the reshuffle so far?
The key question, if you will, is whether this reshuffle addresses the core grievances and the core grievances that everybody's been hearing from women employees that have been coming out very consistently these past few weeks is the misogyny in Parliament House, the toxic culture in Parliament House, the boys club culture, if you will, that they have described and this doesn't change overnight.
If this doesn't change by more women in the cabinet, this changes by a political will, by accountability and with time and I think time hasn't been on the side of the of the Scott Morrison government because it has been a bruising and very embarrassing few weeks.
Shima Halil, the death last year in Minneapolis in the United States of George Floyd sent shockwaves around the world. Mr. Floyd, who was black, died under the knee of a white police officer, Derrick Shervin. It was all captured on video as horrified bystanders looked on. As we record this podcast, Mr. Chauvin's trial on murder charges gets underway. From Minneapolis, Barbara Platania reports.
Why do we want it now for a while now?
This is the moment towards which months of protests have been building the trial that's been described as one of the most important in American history.
Like you talking about the trial of the century, right. You'll be tired of the victories are like things that are like in the middle of a controversial but controversial. We all saw the video.
That's what turned the death of George Floyd into a global cause.
I had a brief video of the white police officer, Derek Shervin, with his knee on the black man's neck for more than nine minutes.
He's not responsive right now. No bystanders watched him expire in real time.
It will be an important part of the prosecution's case if he read right now how this guy spoke with such powerful evidence.
It seems to many that a conviction should be obvious. But the defense is expected to argue that Mr. Shervin was doing what he'd been trained to do.
When I was training or when I was a young officer, I used it. I found it to be valuable, but I never put any pressure on the knee at all.
Maryland Mason is a retired police officer and an expert in use of force tactics.
So what did you think when you saw the video and that tactic being used? I thought it was put on very, extremely long. Seems like it was on there for a long time. Longer than you thought necessary. Exactly. In fact, she says Trainor's long ago stop teaching cadets to restrain suspects with a knee on the neck because the risk of harm was too great.
What are the guidelines about how you're supposed to use it and how you're not supposed to use it? Someone is fighting against you. You don't need to keep fighting and fighting and fighting once they've stopped fighting you stuff.
My name is Mary Moriarty. I've been a public defender in Hennepin County for 31 years. The last six years I was chief public defender. We are standing outside the county government building where the courtroom is located on the 18th floor. So you've been in that courtroom many times. What should we expect when things get underway? If you walked in the front door, you would see on your right jurors about six feet apart. If you looked straight ahead of you, you would see the judge who's encased in Plexiglas.
It's a low key setting for a very high profile trial. Almost everybody has seen the video and saw and heard or read something about this case. But what the jurors are supposed to base their decision on is only what they hear in that courtroom. What they will hear from the defense is that Mr. Floyd died because of drugs in his system, not because Mr. Showband choked off his airflow. And in the end, they'll all have to agree for a verdict of guilty.
But it takes only one dissenting voice to prevent a conviction. I think any time a police officer is involved, it can be tough with juries because I think generally they give police officers kind of the extra benefit of a doubt. For activists like Selena McKnight, this is a test of whether anything's changed.
We pray for a guilty verdict. We fight for a guilty verdict. We boots on the ground for a guilty verdict. A small part of me wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't go that way.
Why do you say that? Because it's America and that's how it goes. We never get justice. That's the tension.
The court will decide the guilt or innocence of one man. But the death of George Floyd has put racial injustice in America on trial.
We found out. We're following up. Barbara Starr reporting.
Still to come, many plants and animals found of the Galapagos are unique to the islands which lie in the Pacific Ocean, about a thousand kilometers off the coast of Ecuador.
And now customs officials there say they found dozens of baby tortoises being smuggled inside a suitcase.
Three former pilots in the Ivorian Air Force have gone on trial in Paris over an air strike that killed nine French peacekeepers in Ivory Coast 17 years ago to Ivorians and a Russian who was arrested but released shortly after the attack are being tried in absentia. Our correspondent in Paris, Hugh Schofield, has more.
In November 2004, two Russian made jets from the Ivorian Air Force suddenly attacked the French military base at Blakeway, where troops were serving as peacekeepers between President Togo and the rebel north. Nine French soldiers and an American civilian were killed and around 40 wounded. The French retaliated by entirely destroying the small Ivorian air force. And in the days that followed, there were violent clashes as the French evacuated thousands of foreign nationals.
Hugh Schofield, staying in France and one of the country's biggest pharmaceutical companies service, has been fined almost three million euros. This was after a court found that the company was guilty of deception and manslaughter over hundreds of deaths from its controversial diabetes. Drug mediator, France's National Drug Security Agency has also been fined for failing to withdraw the medication quickly enough from Paris. Lucy Williamson reports.
Media Tour was a popular drug in France from the time it went on sale in the 1970s. It was prescribed to five million people, much of the time as an appetite suppressant. It was withdrawn from sale in 2009, but that was more than a decade after concerns had first surfaced about potential links to serious heart problems. Today, the court found that Servier Laboratories was guilty of aggravated deception, manslaughter and accidental injury, but was acquitted of fraud. The company was fined two point seven million euros, and its former vice president, John Philip Sousa, was given a four year suspended sentence.
Delivering the verdict, the presiding judge said that Sauvé had known about the risks for many years without acting and had weakened trust in the health system.
Lucy Williamson. Now let's take a look at some changes to coronavirus restrictions in England. Six people or two households can now meet outside, including in private gardens, again under the latest phase of easing the covid restrictions. People can also resume outdoor sports in Wales. The stay local rule was lifted on Saturday with six people allowed to meet outside and stay in self-contained holiday accommodation. The stay home order in Scotland will end on Friday and from Thursday. In Northern Ireland, up to six people or two households will be able to meet outdoors.
But the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, has warned that with rising cases of infections across Europe, people must remain cautious. Chris Mason reports.
covid-19 virus lethal to some, economically deadly, to many, an extinguisher of the liberties of all. Today in England, the latest baby steps towards normality, a relief to millions accompanied by a soundtrack of caution for ministers. Golf courses reopen team sports, return the hardy plunge into outdoor swimming pools. Up to six people or two households can meet outside, including in a private garden. A new advert from the government will emphasize the importance of staying outside when meeting others.
A familiar refrain acquires some extra words. Hands face space and fresh air, and, we must were told, resist the temptation to hug people we don't live with. The health secretary Mark Hancock says when we meet, others do so outdoors and keep a safe distance. England's next moments of unlocking, including that much anticipated haircuts, is a fortnight away at the earliest.
That was Chris Mason. The German city of Weimar is pressing ahead with an experiment to open shops to customers who've tested negative for the coronavirus in defiance of Chancellor Merkel for the next three days. Anyone who's passed a rapid antigen test on the day or a more accurate PCR test within the previous 48 hours can go shopping or visit a museum. But Chancellor Merkel says this initiative won't stop the current third wave of the pandemic. Rahul Tandon heard more from our correspondent in Berlin, Damien McGuinness.
People are really itching to get out, and this particular city does have a low infection rate at the moment. Similar projects are being tried elsewhere in Germany, including here in Berlin, the city of Tuebingen, Austock, the state of Saarland. So it's being tried all over Germany. And it's part of a broader strategy called test and open effectively in order to get the economy going to come out of lockdown in line with mass testing. But to be honest, Rahul, it is incredibly controversial because we're seeing a steep rise in infection rates right now and not everyone is happy about this idea.
Yet not everyone.
What about the central government? Are they happy at this regional experiment that's taking place because there's been conflicting messages over the last few weeks from Angela Merkel? Absolutely.
Well, I think actually, to be fair to Angela Merkel, she's been quite consistent. But you're quite right. Right? Well, there are completely conflicting messages, to put it mildly, from from government in general. That part of the problem is in Germany, as you know, we have quite a complicated federal system. That means that central governments can't just impose restrictions on the whole country has to be agreed with each individual region. Each region is led by a different party, different personalities, all with different agendas, particularly given we have a general election in six months time.
So everyone's sort of fighting their corner. Also a slightly different situation in every region. So, you know, some regions have high infection rates, others have low infection rates. What we're seeing right now is those regions with low infection rates say, well, we can open up with increased testing. But Angela Merkel, the chancellor, has been quite clear. And many leading virologists and scientists also say this is a dangerous strategy simply because the infection rates are too high.
Right now, we have an exponential rise in infection rates. And the problem is, even though those particular regions, regions right now have low infection rates, they are also rising.
That was Damien McGuinness. Customs officials in Ecuador say they found 185 baby tortoises packed inside a suitcase that was being sent from the Galapagos Islands to the mainland. Americas editor Leonardo Rosser reports.
The environment minister, Marcello Mathur, said a discovery was made during a routine inspection at the main airport on the island of Bartra. He described the incident as a crime against the country's wild fauna and its natural heritage. Many plants and animals found on the Galapagos are unique to the islands, which lie in the Pacific Ocean, about a thousand kilometres off the coast of Ecuador. The Centers for Smuggling Animals from the Galapagos is one to three years in prison.
Leonardo Rossia, Elizabeth Jackson. Organists at Salisbury Cathedral in south west England have released an album featuring music they've been playing. While people have received their covid vaccinations since January, more than 25000 people have got their jobs at the cathedral, with the performances providing a relaxing soundtrack. John Kerry sent this report. For nearly 300 hours of vaccinations, a soothing tone in Salisbury's medieval cathedral.
The whole effect was just glorious, made it all very calm and peaceful. So reassuring, in fact, that organist John Challenger was asked to release an album of 16 of the most popular works pieces by Bach by hand, or it's mainly traditional music that people would recognize and hopefully be comforted by.
The Solsbury meditation album performed on the cathedral's famous father, Willis organ will raise money for NHS charities.
Wasn't that calming? John Kaye in Salisbury, 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. Please send us an email. The address is Global podcast at BBK dot com dot UK. The studio manager was Pete Love. The producer was Leah McAffrey. The editor, of course, is Karen Martin. I'm Jackie Leonard.
And until next time, goodbye.