This is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Jackie Leonard and at 13 hours GMT on Wednesday, the 31st of March, these are our main stories. An Italian naval officer is under arrest after being caught allegedly selling secret documents to a Russian diplomat. There's been heavy gunfire close to the presidential palace in Niger two days before the new leaders due to be sworn in. And the BBC's China correspondent is relocating from Beijing to Taiwan because of threats and pressure from the Chinese authorities.
Also in this broadcast, we'll hear from the Thai Myanmar border close to where there have been Burmese air strikes targeting Korean rebels and people always busy, you know, trying to move.
Everybody will stay away from you and the people will be worried. Where did you get this thing from?
Kenyas is in the grip of a third wave of covid-19, but some people are reluctant to seek diagnosis. It sounds like something from a spy drama, the captain of an Italian frigate has been caught allegedly handing over top secret NATO files to a military official from the Russian embassy in Rome. Italy has responded by expelling two Russian diplomats shortly before we came in to record this podcast. We have more from our correspondent in Rome, Mark Lowen.
Yeah, definitely one from the Cold War script file. Jackie, this all happened on Tuesday evening when an Italian naval captain was meeting a Russian officer from the military attache department of the Russian embassy here in Rome and allegedly handing over documents that were Italian military intelligence and top secret NATO documents as well. When police burst in, caught them red handed, the Italian man was said to have been receiving 5000 euros for handing over these documents to the Russian source. The Italian man was arrested.
He could face up to 15 years in prison for espionage. And the Italians then had to decide what to do with the Russians given their diplomatic status. The Italian foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador this morning, Wednesday morning, and informed the ambassador that Italy was expelling two Russian diplomats. The Kremlin says that it is saddened by the events and hopes that it will not affect the positive and constructive ties between the two countries.
There was another similar case quite recently, wasn't there? Well, there've been a few different cases, actually, of suspected illicit activity from Russia in Italy because Italy is one of the more Moscow friendly members of the European Union. So, for example, in 2019, a Russian and an Italian man were arrested here, are suspected of sharing trade secrets from an American aviation company. There was, for example, last year a French NATO officer who was stationed in Italy who was arrested and charged with allegedly giving documents to Russian military intelligence.
The prosecutors are currently investigating whether or not Russia tried to siphon off funds to the Italian far right party, the league.
So, yeah, there are general concerns growing that Russia is kind of using Italy as a back door for illicit activity within the European Union.
Mark Lowen, our correspondent in Rome. The United Nations says Yemen has received its first shipment of covid-19 vaccines a week after the government warned that the country was facing a public health disaster. Yosef Toha has the details.
UNICEF says 360000 AstraZeneca doses arrived by plane. And the southern city of Aden, a Saudi led coalition, has been fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran for six years to reinstate the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The World Health Organization said the vaccines would be a game changer in the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Youssef Taha. In two days, a new president, Mohamed Barsoum, is due to be sworn in in Niger for the first democratic handover of power since the country became independent in 1960. However, today there has been heavy gunfire close to the presidency in the capital, Niamey, and sporadic gunshots have been heard in other parts of the city to security. Sources said a group of soldiers have been prevented from reaching the palace. Africa regional editor David Bomford told us what happened.
The actual sustained gunfire was relatively short period of time. It was for about half an hour at 3:00 in the morning, and that was followed by sporadic fire around the rest of the city. And according to security officials, what happened was a group of soldiers is not quite clear how many tried to approach the presidential palace. They were stopped by the presidential guard and are said to have been arrested.
So who seems to be behind it? And given how little we know at the moment, how serious the threat might this be to the president elect?
Well, as you mentioned, it's just two days before Mohammed Jamjoom is due to take office on Friday. He's he hasn't been president before. He was interior minister till now. And the theory is that there is some rivalry, particularly from the candidate who lost the presidential election. That was Mahmoud Osman. He was the president in the 1990s. He's taking part in several elections since then and has lost all of them. But he does have supporters. So the thinking is that it may be his supporters who are behind this.
I don't think he's seen as a as a major threat. And Niger has done very well in recent years. The outgoing president, Mamadou Youssouf, who was praised for stepping down after serving his two five year terms, ten years in office, and this will be the first Democrat. Handover from one candidate to another. So if this apparent crisis is averted, Niger still faces a lot of challenges, doesn't it? It does.
It is the poorest country in the world as far as the United Nations is concerned. It's had four coups. The last one was in 2010, 10 years ago. And of course, there's the constant threat of jihadist attacks that spill over both from the Sahara with the Islamic State and other groups there and from Nigeria, where Boko Haram has been active and it's caught in the middle and it constantly the fighting is taking place on all sides of its borders.
That was David Bamford, our Africa regional editor in Kenya. President Kenyatta has imposed another lockdown, saying the country is in the grip of a third wave of covid-19. Kenya has avoided high numbers of deaths so far, but the situation has worsened rapidly, with the infection rate rising 10 times since January and hospital admissions up by 50 percent in just two weeks. But there are concerns that official statistics are failing to capture just how widely the virus is spreading. Africa correspondent Leila Nafo reports from one of the continent's largest slums, Kibera, on the edge of Nairobi.
We're just coming up, one of the main roads into Canberra. It's lined with small shacks. There are some people wearing masks. We've seen some painted signs about coronavirus precautions. Otherwise, life here looks like it's carrying on pretty much as normal.
After a spike in coronavirus cases, restrictions have tightened across the Kenyan capital. But here in Kibera, earning a living takes priority and few want to acknowledge the threat from covid-19.
When Jack Omondi and Dennis Jumma both developed symptoms, they were reluctant to admit they were unwell, even for me.
I was afraid of going for medical attention because I was afraid of finding out that that was good.
Making positive people are always busy, you know, it's hand to mouth. Everybody will stay away from you and people will be worried. Where did you get this thing from? So everybody will be like you, OK? The mentality is they lose afraid, like you've come to kill us and you just have to keep it as a secret to yourself.
Talk. We're in the waiting room now of one of Canberra's largest clinics. Inside, it's quite small. Only a few consultation rooms, some benches lined up, an old TV playing.
My name is Dr. Barry Lapointe, clinical officer here to Shrieker, to have gotten a lot of people who collapse at home.
The numbers have increased. So we have a lot of cases of someone who wasn't ill. She just got something a little bit chest congestion and then they died. So they'd rather keep it in until the last moment and then come out and say they have to not worry. So you have really no idea of the true spread of the disease here? Zero. Absolutely not.
The official numbers are unlikely to be capturing the full picture, but they are concerning enough to have triggered another lockdown with schools now closed again, restrictions on movement into and out of Nairobi and surrounding counties and an earlier curfew, President Kenyatta told Kenyans they were now in the grip of a third coronavirus wave.
Vaccines are the one thing that can improve outcomes here, but Kenya's rollout is only just beginning.
It's just after midday at McGuffey Hospital, one of Nairobi's main hospitals. And there's still a crowd of about 100 or so people queuing up outside the gates waiting for vaccines. There have been people here since first thing this morning, despite the pouring rain, but they're coming to the end of their slots for today and it's not clear how many more are actually going to get their jobs.
The current phase plan takes until 2023 to cover just a third of the population. Limited supply through the Global Kovács Initiative means vaccinations don't yet offer a way out of the pandemic for Kenyans.
So for now, restrictions and public health measures remain crucial to controlling covid here with the risk of the virus silently spreading without being properly tracked, people's behavior is more important than ever.
Lelaina, for two months on from their coup and Myanmar's military rulers are maintaining their grip. Myanmar's towns and cities have borne the brunt of the Army's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, with human rights groups say more than 500 people have been killed, but the military have also been turning their attention further afield. South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head has travelled to the remote border area between Myanmar and Thailand.
I'm down on the Salween River, one of the great rivers that cuts through South East Asia. This one demarcates at this point where I am now, the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Now, on the other side, there is a Burmese army post. We feel the insects buzzing around me as well. In the forest. It's rather isolated post. Most of the terrain I can see it's very hilly and forested is actually controlled by the insurgents. Karen National Union, the KNU.
It's one of many of Myanmar's border areas which has been pretty much under rebel control, almost as Myanmar's independence more than 70 years ago. We've had Burmese aircraft bombing villages on the other side. At this point where I'm at, the Thais have actually been taking in injured Corren from the other side of the border for treatment in hospital. But they have pushed back a lot of the other villagers who fled because of fears of the bombing. It's not clear exactly what the Burmese military are doing here.
They do seem to be targeting, Karen, National Union army posts, but also hitting a lot of villages as well, either to send a warning to the KNU, which is the Candie's come out to support the opposition to the coup or in retaliation. The KNU overran a Burmese military post and killed quite a few Burmese soldiers last Saturday, which was armed forces there. Big day for the Burmese military. Whatever is going on, it's quite a hot border at the moment.
And all those displaced people still hoping that they will be able to cross the border and get into Thailand. They're very scared. And as long as they're on the Thai side, they know they're safe and they've also seen their villages bombed. They won't want to go back there if they think the Burmese army is going to follow through. For all the horrors that we've seen in the cities of Myanmar, the astonishing brutality of the Burmese military here in this region, the ethnic Karen have known about this for decades.
Dreadful, dreadful atrocities, you know, systematic rape, murder, torture, the deliberate destruction of villages and crops. So they are very scared. The Thais don't want to encourage them. They're very nervous about a flood of refugees, particularly if things really deteriorate in the rest of Myanmar and the economy starts to collapse. All along this border, there are old refugee camps from previous conflicts in Karen State, where more than 100000 people are still stuck. So the Thais treat this, I'm afraid, more as a national security issue, although when pressed, they usually will show a humanitarian face as well.
It's not clear at this stage just how welcoming Thailand is going to be, Jonathan had speaking from the Thailand Myanmar border. Meanwhile, the United States has ordered the departure of all non-essential diplomatic staff from Myanmar and in a separate development, a lawyer for the deposed civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, says they've spoken by video link from a police station where she's being held and she appeared to be in good health.
Still to come in this edition of our podcast, In Education, in Health, and particularly in the employment space, ethnic minorities are doing better than the white majority in many cases.
A new report challenges widespread beliefs about race and inequality in Britain.
The BBC's China correspondent is relocating from Beijing to Taiwan following threats and pressure from the Chinese authorities. John Sudworth is well known to BBC listeners for exposing the treatment of wiggers and other minorities in Xinjiang province. He has also more recently reported extensively on the origins of the coronavirus. At a news conference in Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said the authorities had not been given prior notice of Mr Sudworth departure, nor the reasons behind it.
Well, no, sure she didn't say meaning only in recent days when we were faced with the task of renewing John Sabbath's press card.
Did we learn that he left without saying goodbye after he left the country? He didn't, by any means inform the relevant departments nor provide any reason for why he left.
John Sudworth told us more about his reasons for leaving the country over the last few years. The pressure and threats from the Chinese authorities as a result of my reporting here have been pretty constant. But in recent months they've intensified. The BBC has faced a full on propaganda attack, not just aimed at the organisation itself, but at me personally across multiple Communist Party controlled platforms. We face threats of legal action, as well as massive surveillance and obstruction and intimidation whenever and wherever we try to film, and in the end, we, as a family based in Beijing, along with the BBC, decided it was just too risky to carry on, which is, of course, sadly precisely the point of that kind of intimidation.
And we've relocated to Taiwan, a route that is reasonably well trodden now by a number of other foreign journalists, because Taiwan is, of course, a place with much greater press freedoms. We left in a hurry, followed by plainclothes police all the way to the airport and through the check in all the way through. Grim reality for reporters here being made clear all the way to the very end. This was not a choice we wanted to make. I remain, for now at least, the BBC's China correspondent.
And we will continue to try to tell the stories that matter, along with my reporting colleagues who are still in country. But, you know, as I say, this is a reality being faced now by a lot of foreign media organizations. There have been a number of expulsions in recent years, real pressure being applied as, of course, China finds itself caught up in an increasingly intense sort of geopolitical struggle over issues like Xinjiang and like its increased control of Hong Kong.
John Sudworth, our China correspondent, G. Gordon Liddy, a key figure in the Watergate affair, has died aged 90. The former FBI agent helped orchestrate the bungled 1972 break-In, which eventually led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon. Our North America correspondent Peter Bowes reports.
Gordon Liddy had a larger than life personality, a theatrical presence and the most colorful of careers. A one time actor with a role in the police drama, Miami vice radio talk show host, a former FBI agent and most notoriously a mastermind of the Watergate burglary. The break-In was an attempt to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee during the 1972 election campaign. It was connected through a series of mistakes by Liddy to members of a group supporting the re-election of Richard Nixon.
Two years later, the president admitted being aware of a massive cover up and that he'd tried to stop the FBI's inquiry. Gordon Liddy was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping. But he served less than five years thanks to President Jimmy Carter, who commuted the sentence because he felt the punishment was excessive.
Peter Bowes reporting white majority countries should look to the U.K. for a model of how to reduce racial inequality. That was one of the key findings of an independent report commissioned by the British government. So importantly, is the report's verdict shared by minority ethnic communities? Here's Jonathan Savage.
Report after report has condemned racial inequality in the U.K., but this one suggests that social class and family structure have a bigger impact on how lives turn out in education, in health, and particularly in the employment based ethnic minorities are doing better than the white majority.
In many cases, Tony Sewel, the chair of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, has come to a conclusion that is raising eyebrows.
He says although the UK is not a post-racial society, it should be regarded as a model for similar nations. So what is he pointing to?
We've heard recently of the education system totally declaring itself institutionally racist when if you look at the evidence, it's not the case. In fact, we have found the complete opposite. The vast majority of ethnic minorities say, for example, black Caribbean are actually doing better than the white majority.
The report also finds that pay gaps are getting narrower and professional diversity is increasing. The context of this commission is a movement seen around the world.
Black lives have always been important.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, asked Tony Sewell to explain social disparities in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter protests. And the findings don't deny that deep mistrust could be a barrier to success. In the 90s, an inquiry into how police investigated the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence found that London's police force was institutionally racist. Lawyer Matthew Rader represented the Lawrence family.
Racism is not a simplistic problem that's applied to all people in the same way. Just because one community's achieving something and another isn't it doesn't mean racism isn't the problem. It just means racism might be more nuanced. Why is it when white boys, for example, have less educational qualifications, they still have more opportunity of getting jobs?
The report says that overt racism is still a problem. But Tony Sewell believes things are much better than they were.
Lyndon Johnson, the poet, puts it beautifully. He talks about. The heroic period in the 50s, that group came along and they had the adversity of literally the door being shot, then he talks about my own period. That was the rebel period when we had to go against the police. The time has changed. Now, I call this internal report. We call this the age of participation. This is the age now where we really go for it and take those opportunities.
But in a country where people from ethnic minorities are more likely to die from covid-19 and where black people are many times more likely to face prison than white people. This debate is not going to go away.
Jonathan Savage reporting. In January, a pilot named Antonio Saina was flying a Cessna light aircraft transporting supplies to an illegal mine in one of the remotest parts of the Brazilian Amazon. But his plane crash landed in the rainforest. He survived. And for more than a month, he lived off food that he found in the surrounding jungle until he was finally rescued. James Copnall asked Antoniou what happened after he made his emergency landing.
I knew it was a very dangerous situation and grab anything I could that could help me to spend a few days in the jungle. At that time, I imagine I'll have to be there for five or eight days, which is usually the time for the search and rescue team.
And you actually ended up spending considerably more time than that. How did you survive?
I spent the first seven days at the crash site waiting for the rescue team. And after I realized that they haven't found me and I will need to find a way to leave that place and find my family again. And I decided to walk east and heading to the sun and walk it every morning around two and four hours. And after that, I had to plan for the night before my shelter and their fire. And I used to eat more fruits that are found in the jungle.
And I found Kokura four times and no eggs, which is a very common bird in the middle of the jungle with a blue egg, blue egg.
So cocoa and eggs, that doesn't sound like much. And lost in the middle of the jungle. I mean, how did you know what was safe to eat?
I performed a jungle survival training on my aviation background and also on board and lived in the Amazon. And every time I had an opportunity, I like to talk with people that live there, more isolated in, and you can learn a lot of things with them. And there was a fruit that I had never seen in my life, but observed that the monkeys used to eat it. So I thought if the monkeys could eat it, I can't eat as well.
Kukla, it's something I already knew and the eggs is protein. It's needed at that moment. So I ate it raw.
And the Amazon, the jungle is a pretty dangerous place. What were your biggest fears? Your biggest concerns?
The big predators in Amazon, which is the Jaguar, crocodiles and anacondas. But every time when I stop it and build my shelter, I used to do it in the top of the hills because those three animals have a big relation with water. So I never can paint that side of water source.
How did you finally get out after this long time walking and climbing in the Senate and hills passing through rivers? I found a group of Brazilian collectors and they were in an isolated area and I could hear them working the tower. I left that place.
Brazilian pilot Antonio Seina speaking to James Copnall. Britney Spears has said that she cried for two weeks after being embarrassed by a high profile documentary that explored her career framing. Britney Spears premiered in February and examined her meteoric rise to fame and her mental health struggles in an Instagram post. The singer wrote, I have been exposed my whole life performing in front of people. Our entertainment correspondent Collin Peterson has more.
There's so much interest in this post because this is the first time she has given her reaction to this documentary, framing Britney Spears that made headlines all around the world when it was broadcast last month. It looks at this decade long or 13 year long battle she's had with her father, Jamie, over the conservative Earthship. That means who is in control of her finances and her estate. Now, she admits that she didn't see the whole documentary, but says that the parts that she did see left her crying for two weeks.
That she still cries sometimes because of the documentary, and she was embarrassed by the light that she was put in. It's just interesting to hear her reacting in such an honest way, because people who at the time of the documentary saw the documentary sort of actually representative are quite a good light. It really allowed people to think about her in a different way. Lots of people came out and apologized for jokes they had made in the past, misogynistic chat show jokes.
So she actually got to get that point over. And the likes of Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian came out and said how much they felt for her after the documentary. So it is interesting to hear that from her point of view, she feels that it did not represent a fairly and that she was very upset and cried for up to two weeks.
That was Colin Patterson. And finally, fans who were disappointed that the Glastonbury Festival has been canceled again this year might still be able to get their fix of live music. After all, for the first time ever, Glastonbury is going virtual. One of the organisers, Emily Eavis, has announced that there will be a global live stream event in May. The BBC's Fiona London is in Glastonbury.
We've heard this morning that on the 22nd of May, for five hours, the festival will be online. They've got Coldplay idols George Smith. It's the first time it will be online and you'll see the pyramid failed. You'll see the stone circle. It'll be the first time they've actually got a performance inside the stone circle. Let's just come over and meet Leila, who is a huge fan. She's been in Glastonbury all well for many, many years. You've pretty much never missed a festival, is that right?
That's right, yes. If I can possibly make it. I've made it every year by one or two. So last year when it didn't happen and you were hugely disappointed. Yes. Yes, it was shame. And it's just part of, you know, part of who everyone is. Your family are involved. My children were there as well. And with, you know, the. Yeah, everyone's involved.
So what was your reaction this morning when you heard for the first time the festival is going online? Well, I think it's fantastic. I think anything just to get performances going and, you know, if it's online and you're streaming it, I haven't got a screen, but I'm sure I can double up with somebody else's and with the mask maybe two minutes apart, but. Well, it definitely will be watching it, really. Okay. Well, thank you very much for that.
So, yes, Emily is this morning is saying we are bringing you a bit of Glastonbury to your own homes for one night. Only people all over the world will be able to join us on this journey as we go through the farm. Well, it's been a year where everyone's gone online, and it seems that Glastonbury is no exception.
That was filmed in London, in Glastonbury, and it seems the live stream is the same day as Eurovision. I'm sorry, I can't tell you what to do.
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 edition or the topics we've covered in it, do please send us an email. We read them all. The address is Global Podcast at BBC Dot Dot UK. This podcast was mixed by Holly Palmer. The producer was Rajasthani and the editor is Karen Martin and Jackie Léonard. And until next time, goodbye.
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