Hello, this is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service with reports and analysis from across the world. The latest news, seven days a week. BBC World Service podcasts are supported by advertising.
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In his first official news conference, President Biden has pledged to deliver 200 million covid jobs to Americans in his first 100 days in office, double his original goal. European Union leaders have said companies should not be exporting vaccines until they've delivered on their contracts to the EU. AstraZeneca has published revised results for the U.S. trial of its covid vaccine after its earlier report was criticized for using outdated information. Also in this podcast, the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has accused the prison authorities of torturing him through sleep deprivation and.
The acclaimed French film director Bertrand Tavernier has died at the age of 79. At his first news conference since becoming U.S. president, Joe Biden has pledged to double his original goal to vaccinate Americans against covid-19 on December 8th.
I indicated that I hope to get 100 million shots in people's arms in my first 100 days. We met that goal last week by day 58, 42 days ahead of schedule. Not a damn setting. His second goal, and that is we will buy my 100 day in office, have administered 200 million shots, people's arms. No other country in the world has even come close to.
Mr Biden had held off holding a news conference until he could use it to celebrate pushing a giant economic rescue plan through Congress. But reporters pressed him about other challenges gun control in the aftermath of two mass shootings in a week and migration following a surge of unaccompanied children trying to cross the southern border. Mr Biden dismissed the suggestion that his comments on immigration had encouraged them to make the dangerous journey.
Does anybody suggest that there was a 31 percent increase under Trump because he was a nice guy and he was doing good things at the border? That's not the reason they're coming. The reason they're coming is that it's the time they can travel with the least likelihood of dying on the way because of the heat in the desert. No. One. Number two, they're coming because of the circumstances in country, in country.
Our Washington correspondent Barbara Ushe watched the news conference. I began by asking her about President Biden's seemingly ambitious pledge to vaccinate 200 million people in his first 100 days in office.
It's double his original goal, which was 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. But it is true that the original promise of 100 million turned out to be quite doable. And so he's now probably raised the goal because it's become more realistic. It has been said that he works by under promising and then over delivering. And in this case, that might be true. Now, the Trump administration officials have said the reason he's able to do this is because of what they did in their operation, warp speed, to facilitate the fast tracking of a vaccination.
But he is getting praise for his own vaccine rollout, and it has really picked up pace in the last couple of weeks.
But there are also other issues that he had to address, such as gun control, migration, the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. What stood out for you and what do we learn from him?
Well, actually, all those three things you mentioned stood up for me. So he was hammered on immigration. That was the main topic of the press conference. And he very much said it's not his fault. As you played in that clip, it happens every year that we get the surge. He also said it was the former guy, but that he meant President Trump who had contributed to this crisis because he said he had dismantled the capacity at the border to deal with people coming in.
And what he said was that they were working as fast as they could to rebuild that capacity to deal with especially unaccompanied children. And he said there was no way he was going to turn them back, although he made the point that most of them are 16 and 17 year old males. It's not like they're a lot of babies coming across. And he also said they were working to facilitate connecting those teenagers with relatives as quickly as possible. And then he made comments about the broader policy, about dealing with the conditions in the countries from which people were coming.
I thought on Afghanistan it was probably the strongest statement yet. I've heard that the American troops will not be pulling out by May 1st, which is the deadline in the truck peace plan. I know that this is preoccupying the Pentagon and the State Department. Lots of consultations, but Mr. Biden seemed to suggest pretty strongly that they wouldn't be meeting that deadline and that in terms of gun control, what was interesting about it was what he didn't really say about it.
He was kind of realistic. He was asked a number of times about it. He said it was important. But, you know, he kind of knows I think he's not going to be able to get much done at the federal level anyway. So he tended to pivot on that to issues that really are things he's made his priorities, such as infrastructure in the economy. Barbara Platt, Asia.
Well, the covid situation in the US is a sharp contrast to that. In the EU with a vaccine rollout has been far slower, even as cases rise in the continent. Now, European Union leaders at the end of a virtual summit have said vaccine manufacturers should not be exporting jobs until they've delivered on their contracts to the bloc. The European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, speaking at the end of the talks, repeated her insistence on fair access to vaccine supplies across the EU.
Companies have to honor their contract to the European Union before they export to other regions in the world. And this is, of course, the case with AstraZeneca. I think it is clear for the company that, first of all, the company has to catch up, has to honor.
The contract it has with the European member states before it can engage again in exporting vaccines, Mrs. von der Leyen said the European bloc had exported 15 million more doses of vaccine than had been administered so far to EU citizens. But she added, the EU was still on track to achieve its goal of having 70 percent of its population vaccinated by this summer.
I asked our Europe editor, Katya Adler, if EU leaders have accepted Mrs Wunderkinds proposals for increased export controls.
Yes, they have accepted them in theory. But in practice, what we're hearing from a lot of member states tonight is they want to make those controls very difficult to use because they don't want to disrupt global supply chains or to threaten international relations. And that is particularly good news for the UK. It felt that these expanded controls was aimed very much at them in the UK because it affects countries that produce their own vaccines but aren't exporting back into the EU and also countries that have an advanced vaccine rollout program ahead of the EU as well.
The UK relies on the Pfizer vaccine, which it doesn't manufacture in the UK. And the concentration, as we just heard that from Owsla Frontline at this summit, was definitely on AstraZeneca, which the EU says still owes us a lot of supplies. There was also talk tonight of a possible agreement between the EU and UK.
Relations have been tense over vaccines of a possible deal of how they can cooperate better going forward as soon as this weekend, because she did make the point that the EU has exported 15 million more doses of vaccine that than have been administered so far to EU citizens. Does that point to mismanagement on her part?
Well, what she said was that she's proud that the EU is a global supply when it when it comes to vaccines. But, yes, this is a big point that she was trying to persuade member states who are reluctant about these new controls by number crunching. Since December, 77 million vaccines have been exported out of the EU. That's just to medium income and richer countries. So that doesn't include the poorer countries, 20 million of those 77 million directly to the UK.
So she was making the case there for wanting to have these widen powers and possibly a blocking vaccine exports. But as for mismanagement on her behalf or individual EU countries, when it comes to vaccine rollouts and the fingers have been pointing at them all over the place, they admit some mistakes have been made.
But they also point the blame elsewhere to catch capture Adla AstraZeneca has published revised results for the US trial of its covid vaccine. The new data shows it's only slightly less effective than an earlier report, which was criticised for using outdated figures. It's down three per cent to 76 percent. However, among adults aged 65 and over, the vaccine's effectiveness rose from 80 to 85 per cent when the results were first released on Monday. An independent team of scientists monitoring the trials issued a statement saying the company may have given outdated information.
This assessment from our medical correspondent Fergus Walshe.
AstraZeneca says the updated results are consistent with those released earlier this week. Another 49 cases of covid have been included in the analysis, bringing the total to 190 volunteers who were infected and developed symptoms, although the overall effectiveness of the vaccine slipped a little. It rose among older volunteers. The vaccine was 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalisation, with all eight cases of severe disease coming from the placebo group who received saline injections. Given the numbers have barely moved, it raises the question why an independent committee of scientists should have issued such a public rebuke to AstraZeneca after they published their interim data, as it could have been seen as implying the company had provided misleading data that risked further damage to public confidence in a vaccine which already has an image problem in continental Europe.
AstraZeneca said it felt duty bound to publish data as quickly as possible as the results showed no safety issues with blood clots. That has not reassured Denmark, which is to extend its ban on using the vaccine for three weeks, even though the EU medicines watchdog and other regulators have deemed it safe. Real world data from millions of doses administered confirm the jab is highly effective. Unlike Pfizer and Moderna, which are set to make billions, AstraZeneca has pledged to make no profit from its vaccine during the pandemic.
The controversy and criticism surrounding. The jab has made senior figures in the company question whether come the next pandemic, they would do the same again.
Fergus Walsh. Meanwhile, Pfizer has begun trials of an oral pill that the company says covid-19 patients could take as soon as they start developing symptoms. If successful, this could be the first early intervention for covid of its kind. So what is it and how does it work? Peter Chinh Hoang is Professor of Medicine at the University of California.
It's a protease inhibitor drug that they're in the process of studying. So it's like similar drugs used for HIV and hepatitis C, and it's huge because it's more democratic right now for treatment of covid. If you already have it and you're ill, you go to the hospital, you get an intravenous drug program that severe, of course, you can get steroids to. But it's not easy to give. You need an IV, you need a hospital. You need people to administer it.
You need to follow side effects that you might have in the kidneys and liver. But with this pill, it changes the world completely. So if you think about the analog of influenza, we have an oral pill for influenza called Oseltamivir or Tamiflu. If there's an outbreak in the nursing home, you can just go in there and give a few pills out. You don't need to admit them to the hospital to get an IV drug.
Peter Qinghong, professor of medicine at the University of California. The latest attempts to move a grounded container in the Suez Canal have failed, leaving international trade through Egypt at a virtual standstill. The ever given was blown off course on Tuesday, blocking the narrow channel. One of the world's busiest sea routes has now been closed for more than 48 hours. Sardina Bill reports from the scene.
Several tugboats have been sent to the area. They are trying to pull the huge container ship free while dredges are digging out sand to create a path for it. Nothing has worked so far. Experts say the rescue efforts might have more success when the tides grow stronger next week. If these attempts to refloat the ever given fail, one of the options would be to unload some of the containers that make up its cargo. But that would take a long time to.
The authorities are not providing much detail about the operation as the situation is very tense. The strategic waterway is a huge asset for Egypt. Not only is it a source of national pride, but it also provides much needed foreign cash for the Egyptian economy, which is already struggling Zalina.
Bill, still to come up to of painting, not seen in public for more than a century, has been sold in Paris for more than 15 million dollars. The jailed Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has accused the prison authorities of using sleep deprivation to torture him. In a statement, Mr. Navalny said he was woken eight times a night by a guard who came into his cell to film him.
His lawyer has described his health as extremely unfavorable, saying he's suffering from back and leg pain. James Menendez spoke to Christo Gruzdev, a lead Russia investigator from the investigative website betting cat who worked on several exposes with Alexei Navalny, most recently tricking a Russian intelligence agent into revealing the plot to kill Mr Navalny last year by poisoning him with a nerve agent.
Everybody's worried. And what has transpired is that actually his health turned sour a couple of weeks ago and he did not want anybody to know about this, including his closest associates. So for about three to four weeks, we find out now from his lawyer that he has been in terrible back pain, which has progressed to pain in his right leg. And apparently he can't even use his right leg because it's pending the moment he tries to stand on it. But we find out also is that the attempts by him to get qualified medical treatment have been met with denial.
A doctor, a specialist in neurological disorders, had to travel to try to treat him, and the correctional institution did not allow access to that doctor. He was taken to a local hospital for a checkup. They did Amachi on him on Tuesday. And yet so far he hasn't even found out what the diagnosis is. Now, this is extremely worrying because Russia does not even recognize the fact that he has been poisoned with Novacek. And without that being an official diagnosis, there's no way to actually provide qualified treatment.
So they're in denial that he was poisoned from something that affects the whole urological system of the body. How can they find the proper treatment for it?
Yeah, the prison service says his health is stable and satisfactory, are their words. But does he believe his current condition is linked to what happened to him?
That's the problem. Nobody knows and nobody can know. There's only a couple of people around the world who survived more vitriolic attacks. We do know that it's something that affects the neurological system in a way that is unpredictable, that it will take years for it to get out of the system. And considering that what he experienced is now a clear neurological symptoms, it's almost unlikely that it can be connected.
What are his conditions? I mean, what is jail conditions? Is he in solitary confinement? No, he's not in solitary confinement. He's in a cell with three other people. The reputation of the jail where he is, is one of the worst in Russia. Until last year, it was known for its severe beatings of all the sort of newcomers. And then they had to go through this disciplining procedure where they got beaten and humiliated by the old guard there.
Now, apparently, this has improved this year, but the psychological regimen is such that it is meant to humiliate the person. Nobody is allowed to do anything of their own. To read the book, to read the newspaper. They have to always be present with something. They're given as meaningless tasks as just cleaning the street and then making it dirty again. From what we hear, everything is meant to just humiliate the person.
Does his legal team, his supporters have any leverage in order to facilitate it? I mean, it sounds like what he needs is a visit from a doctor. I mean, can that happen or does it have to be outside pressure, do you think? Well, it has to happen under Russian law.
It has to happen. What we're seeing now is a denial of access to Russian law, to some international law. And I think this is going to get reflected in people in the streets if he doesn't get that.
Christer Grozier from Berlin speaking to James Menendez. The repatriation of cultural artifacts plundered in war or as a result of colonial rule is a subject that provokes strong views on all sides. And it's come up again now. As a University of Aberdeen in Scotland has announced, it will return a controversial Banin bronze sculpture to Nigeria after a review found that the item had been acquired through what it describes as an extremely immoral manner. The Nigerian government has welcomed the university's decision.
Razia Iqbal spoke to Neil Curtis, who's head of museums and special collections at the University of Aberdeen.
We have one so-called benign bronze. It's a bronze casting of a head of an over king of Benin. It's about 28 centimetres high and depicts the Oba wearing a coral crown.
It looks pretty impressive in the photographs, actually. I think I'm going to tweet a picture of it later on.
So this was taken when and how all of them were basically taken in 1897. There was a British attack on Benin City, which resulted in the city being destroyed and many people killed and the royal palace burnt down and looted of its treasures. And this was one of those treasures. So many of them as that since ended up in museums and private collections all over the world. But they all come back to that one episode of looting.
OK, and the review inside the university has resulted in the university acknowledging, in the words of the professor, the principal and vice chancellor, Professor George Boin, that Aberdeen University values as an international inclusive university and that keeping the past would have been wrong because it was acquired in such reprehensible. Winston says this is quite unusual. I think it's very clear I mean, this is they were tying this decision to the values of the university that it's certainly something we would not contemplate acquiring.
Today. We have a collecting policy that governs what we collect and we just wouldn't do this. I think it's about looking for the truth. The way in which they were required is was horrific. And so the conclusion we reached was that this is something that was essentially stolen property and therefore was not really ours to have.
OK, so the Nigerian government obviously welcoming this. The British Museum has the largest collection of Benin bronzes in the world. And it does acknowledge, as you have, the devastation and plunder by the British in Benin City, but they don't think that they should return them. Do you think they're wrong?
I think we've been very fortunate that we've been able to have a discussion that's actually not been carried out in public and has been, you know, quite consensual, has been discussed. We've gone into the details really carefully. And I think I'd rather than telling other people what they should do, I'm if I'm doing anything, I encourage them to approach it in a similar way, which has been very careful and a lot of consideration by a number of experts.
So that our advisory panel included representatives of the university courts, the governing body of academics who understand the history of West Africa, and also a representative from another museum in Scotland and museum. And we invited a representative from Nigeria to be a member of the panel as well. So we had a really rich, thoughtful discussion that really got into all the details and, you know, really scoped out what the truth was behind this and came to a very clear conclusion.
So I think it's the process that we've taken the time I kynaston promoting.
Neil Curtis from the University of Aberdeen, speaking to Razia Iqbal, a painting by Vincent Van Gogh that's been kept in a private family home for more than 100 years, has been sold at auction for more than 15 million dollars. The street scene depicting Montmartre in Paris was painted in 1887 while the Dutch painter was living with his brother Theo in the French capital. Our Paris correspondent Lucy Williamson reports.
And I'm selling travel so exceptional. After more than a century hidden from public view, this painting was sold twice and used it up on the anniversary.
The first bid won by an online buyer whose offer came in just as the hammer fell. But there was a problem with the sale, and the auction had to be really run by those saccotelli.
The painting finally went to a buyer in London for just over 13 million euros, several million lower than the first time around, but still one of the highest prices ever paid for work from Van Gogh's Paris period.
The artist only lived here for a couple of years, during which time he painted many scenes from around Monmouth's, then in transition from a sleepy rural area outside the city to a vibrant, bohemian suburb. The painting, hidden away in a private collection for 100 years, shows a couple walking along a rural lane in front of a windmill. Nearby, the top of a fairground carousel peeks through the trees. But this picture also tells the story of Van Gogh's own artistic transition, his colours becoming brighter and his telltale brush strokes beginning to appear.
Lucy Williamson. A BBC investigation has found that Azerbaijan has destroyed an Armenian church it captured in last year's war over the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh. Social media footage shows a church was intact when the Azeris advanced, but a BBC team visited the site in the town of Jebril and discovered that it has since been destroyed. The Azeri authorities say they will investigate from Azerbaijan. Here's our correspondent Joanna Fischer.
Nailer received the 29 year old son, Ali, a sitting three across in the back of our car. It's a big day for this Azeri family.
How are you feeling now as we get close to your village? I feel only happiness. I can hear my heart beating. I just want to get there as soon as possible.
Back in 1993, during the first carryback war, the Marimo family fled Armenia's invasion now after the second war last year. Azerbaijan has most of the land back. We've arranged the permits and transport so the family can go back to their village for the first time. The first stop is the cemetery to look for seams father's grave.
The whole place has been vandalized, so they scramble around looking for pieces of the headstone and then put them together like a jigsaw that Ali has managed to find just enough pieces to read out his grandfather's name, Moharram Rajib Gerben coupledom wisdom.
Herbits They couldn't take revenge on our soldiers, Ali says, so they decided to take revenge on our graves.
We leave the Azeri family and drive with a police escort through the town of Jebril, when the Armenians took this territory in the 1990s, they pillaged it, stripping everything that could be sold, leaving only the wolves. But we've not come just to look at what the occupying Armenians did. We've come here because we've seen a video on social media posted after Azerbaijan captured the town.
It shows a man, probably a soldier, on the top of Gabriel's Armenian church shouting Allahu Akbar, God is great. Yeah, we were told we were told there was a bigot.
You don't tell a police escort about the video, but we asked to see the church. They tell us they don't know where it is. So we navigate using our phone.
Yeah, a little bit further. Okay, look, just a little bit further on there, Mr..
What does the map say? Well, a map says it should be on the top of here seems rather unlikely. We clamber up a hill and at the top of it. OK, so it looks to me like it could have been where that church was, where the Armenian church once stood is just complete rubble.
Now, you can sort of see the outline of it, but nothing more. And the reason we can be so sure that this is the spot where the Armenian church was, is because in the in the background of the Azeri soldier video, there are two very distinctive trees with distinctive shape. So there was definitely an Armenian church. It was definitely still here when the Azeris took took over this part of land. This piece of land. And it's gone now.
Can I show you something from from when we went there that this was the church when they they opened it.
We go to speak to Hegeman Hagee, an adviser to Azerbaijan's president.
Azerbaijan has promised to protect Armenian religious sites since he it's been totally destroyed. Because it's a proper location, I don't know, it needs to be checked once again, double check on the economic policies of occupation was committed by Armenia against Azerbaijani people. And you have seen the level of destruction in Jabri of his the more than eight cities across the region have been destroyed. It's like a Hiroshima or nuclear bomb, but it has been used.
We're going to hear that every family, nailer, every seaman daily, have found the rubble of their old house. And on what's left of the steps, they're having a little Tea Party.
So this is the first time in 28 years that we will have a ceremony at our house as they chant together about how soon they can move back, what they might do with the garden.
Ba ba ba ba ba. And even as they prepare to leave, Ali makes a phone call. He's talking to his four year old daughter. But that's OK with me. What do you want to come here?
He says there are horses and lambs and goats here, but then it's heaven.
That report by Jonah Fisher in Azerbaijan. The award winning French director, Bertrand Tavernier, has died at the age of 79. He was an iconic figure in France and won international acclaim for films that tackled injustice, racism and the impact of unemployment. He took home a BAFTA for Life and Nothing But in 1990. Other well-known works include the watchmaker of some Paul and Around Midnight, starring Dexter Gordon as a washed up jazz musician seeking redemption.
Well, ladies with Are We Ready for tonight? Our Paris correspondent Hugh Scofield told me more about the man and his work. There are many of us who bought the soundtrack to that around midnight album. I remember it well back in the mid 80s. Of course, it's typical of him that it was untypical of him, if you like. He made films of so many different genres and types that it was no surprise that he turned up with a film about jazz.
Previously, he'd made psychological murder films that he went on to make costume dramas, a comedy about the decade or the the the French Foreign Ministry.
He really dabbled in all sorts of different types of film, very much in a way, the antidote to the anti sort of nouvelle vague, because they were all very accessible. They weren't the sort of pointy headed at all, and both of them were very enjoyable. They didn't travel particularly well around. Midnight is the most famous foreign film. There are a few others that did well in it, sort of got awards, but nothing that really swept the Oscars or anything like that.
But here in France, he was a figure that was, as you said, at the beginning of the universally recognized as one of the kind of stalwarts who just kept going after an artist with a social conscience.
I mean, you don't really go very far in France if you don't have a social conscience. You know, he's engaged. You have to be engaged in France to become famous. And he was on Gadge. That means basically having left wing ideas and being on the left. And he was and he he made that very clear in many, many of his films and documentaries. He made documentaries about Algeria, about this issue of Le Pen, which is something he got very interested in, which was the way people who are illegal immigrants in France could go to prison and then be deported.
So it's a double punishment. And that ended up being quite a cause for him to the point where he actually voted for the the right wing candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, in presidential elections because Sarkozy had had actually tackle this issue when the left hadn't been talking about the award winning French director, Bertrand Tavernier, who's died at the age of 79.
That was Hugh Schofield.
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 or the topics covid, you can send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBC Dot Dot UK. This podcast was mixed by Emma Halligan and produced by Jason Leigh. The editor is Karen Martin and Janet Jaleo. Until next time. Goodbye. Everyone like shopping online, but searching for coupon codes is kind of a bummer.
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