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My grandfather worked on the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, and it troubles me. It also troubled some of the scientists who developed it. Find out more in the Bomb, a brand new podcast from the BBC World Service. Available now. This is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Jackie Leonard, and in the early hours of Wednesday, the 19th of August, these are our main stories. A coup attempt is taking place in Mali with soldiers arresting both the president and the prime minister.
The president of Belarus has accused the political opposition of trying to depose him and has threatened action against those he described as hotheads. And the embattled U.S. postmaster general has suspended policy changes, which Democrats said would have disrupted postal voting and helped President Trump in November's election.
Also in this podcast, a Berlin official forestry official has on local media said that Elsah could be aggressive and she should be removed with the words he used the campaign to save Elsah, the most famous wild boar in Germany.
We begin in Mali. Anti-government protesters have been celebrating what appears to be an attempted coup, mutinous soldiers have arrested the president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and a number of other senior figures.
They're being held at a military base near the capital, Bamako, where there's been recent anger at the government over army pay and the continuing conflict with jihadists earlier in the day. Senior military personnel were seized at the base and an operation reportedly led by its deputy commander, Colonel Malik Dure. James Coomaraswamy heard more about the latest situation from Mohamed Goffer, a freelance journalist in Bamako.
The head of the mutinous soldiers have just announced that the president of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim al Qaeda, and its prime minister are now under arrest and they are taking them to the active military camp for questioning.
Can you just tell us what happened then that led to this today?
They say yesterday the prime minister dismissed one of his advisers and they dismissed officials. Supporters were unhappy and they went on the rampage, shooting on a set of other soldiers who are sent in to quell the situation. And that is what triggered the whole issue.
So the prime minister and the president are under arrest effectively. What about the rest of the government?
Details are very sketchy, but what the military officer said is that some of the ministers were arrested, but he gave no further details.
Is it clear who is in charge of the country at the moment? The situation is very confusing. They have not yet issued a statement as to who is in control.
And what about the broader situation? How are people reacting to this? Some people are very happy, especially the RFP movement, the protesters that initially started the whole issue on June five. They are at the Independence Square in the center of town, jubilant about the downfall of the president. Most people are indoors. It's really very quiet now.
And what sort of military presence is there in the streets? For example, a column of soldiers who are moving in jubilant mood.
So you've told us what immediately led to this. But this has been building for some time, hasn't it?
Parliamentary elections that was held on the twenty ninth of March. The result of these elections were overthrown by the constitutional court in favor of the government. And that sparked off the anger which the M5, an RFP movement, took advantage of and started mounting protest upon protest upon protest, calling for the resignation of the president and beyond the election results.
There's also the question of how the president has handled the jihadist threat.
Yes, they say the president is incapable. He is not in control. People are not happy about that because his soldiers are dying in large numbers and that they are under equipped.
As you've explained, Mohammed, the situation is pretty fluid at the moment. But how would you characterize the general atmosphere in the country as we speak?
People are in a panic mode, even though some are happy, but others are very afraid of what I'm afraid of what will happen next. The jihadis are in the north and the government is here and protest is in Bamako and in the center of the country. And there is ethnic confusion there. So people are generally people are free.
So is there any indication beyond these arrests of what those who have mutinied intend to do?
They have not issued an indictment. Everybody is waiting for a statement from them. And the national broadcaster is not saying anything regarding the issue.
What are they showing? What is on television at the moment?
Well, now they are only, you know, playing music and, you know, showing film. As I'm talking to you now, the national broadcaster has gone off of air, gone off air. There's no image on it. Right.
So we don't know whether it's because it is because it wants to rain or what. There's no documentary, no national broadcaster.
That was Mohamed Golfer, a freelance journalist in Bamako. In New York. The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has condemned the military action in Mali and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the president and prime minister. The Security Council has been summoned for emergency talks on Wednesday. The mutiny was also condemned by the West African Regional Group across the African Union and the former Colonial Power France, which has troops based in Mali. The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has accused the country's opposition of planning a coup to oust him.
He was speaking as its leading members formed a coordinating council which aims to facilitate the transfer of power. There have been strikes and protests in recent days following the recent disputed elections. Our correspondent Abdel Jalil. Well, Abderrazak Soloff is in the capital Minsk, and I put it to him that the president's tone and rhetoric seem to have hardened over the last 24 hours.
Yes, that's right. After days of mass protests, the opposition tried to set up this council, the coordination council, to discuss what to do next. And Mr. Lukashenko has already called it as an attempt to seize power and threaten to take adequate measures, as he called it, against those who join the council. However, the council members, they have just held a press conference when they announced that they will not act against any laws in the country and all the actions will be within the Constitution.
There are no mass gatherings on the streets of Minsk now at the moment, or most opposition movement is taking the shape of strikes of factories and plants that are taking place across the country.
Now, meanwhile, various world leaders are calling for calm. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke a little earlier.
I spoke to Russian President Putin today and stressed that the freedom to protest must be guaranteed in the country. Prisoners must be freed and there must be a national dialogue with solve things peacefully in Belarus. We will discuss this further tomorrow.
Among voters making an ABDULJALIL, what sort of difference do you think outside influence might have been?
Well, the European Union imposed sanctions on Belarus in the past, and then these sanctions were against certain individuals and companies in Belarus. And then they suspended the sanctions in 2015, even though there were no serious political changes and reforms carried out by the leadership. So for President Lukashenko, the external pressure is probably less important than the internal challenges that he's facing. And I'm talking about the mass protests and strikes, however, external pressure from outside that could provide confidence to protesters who are in Belarus and they need support from outside because it can boost their morale.
After all, these people do realize that they are challenging the authoritarian regime, which can brutal crackdown on protesters. And they need some signals from outside that they are not alone to face this.
President, Abdel Jalil Abdul Rasoulof. In Belarus, the United States Postal Service has been under the political spotlight after Democrats accused the new postmaster general, who was a supporter of President Trump, of trying to interfere in November's election. The changes introduced by Lewis Joy include reducing opening hours and removing some sorting machines and postboxes. Critics said they could affect mail in voting. The former president, Barack Obama, said Mr. Trump was trying to actively kneecap the service. Mr.
Dejoy has now announced the suspension of all the changes after the announcement, the Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Okasha Cortez, said the recent reforms should be reversed.
It is a core service of any civilized society and an attack on our postal service and an attempt to dismantle our our postal service out of a selfish desire to sabotage our democracy and and maintain a grip on power is an attack on all of us.
And our North America correspondent Aleem Maqbool told us more about the Maylin system.
For a lot of states, you have to have a reason to vote in by mail. But a lot of states have said, well, this year to say the coronavirus and you don't want to go to a polling station is in a reason. Now, Democrats are saying because of that, there needs to be more resources invested in the US Postal Service. Donald Trump has said he's not going to increase the resources for the Postal Service. Furthermore, we've heard the postmaster general, Lewis Dejoy, say an already start initiatives to cut aspects of the postal service and it caused a huge outcry.
And Lewis to Joy in himself is a controversial character. Previous postmaster generals have come from within the US Postal Service. He's a big Republican donor. And in fact, he also has tens of millions of dollars of interest in rivals to the US Postal Service. So there are accusations that he has conflicts of interest. But after this huge outcry, he has now said any further cuts will be suspended until after the election.
So the changes are being suspended, not necessarily rolled back, but suspended. What sort of reaction has there been to this announcement?
Well, there's likely to be a positive reaction from Democrats who've been calling for these measures to be reversed, but they still intend to investigate further about why these decisions were made in the first place. But it's curious that Donald Trump has been talking a lot during this election. Season about the fact that he feels that mail in voting is much more open to fraud and that will favor Democrats as actually, though no consensus as to whether mailing voting is more susceptible to fraud or in fact, that mail in voting benefits Democrats.
But the more Donald Trump talks about this being the reason that he could lose in the election, it is having an impact. You know, the Postal Service is historically the most trusted government department, but now we are starting to see in surveys Republicans saying they are more concerned about voting by post that was illimitable in the United States.
To Brazil next. It's the worst hit country from covid-19 outside the U.S. Brazil has almost three point five million cases and more than 100000 people have died. The government's been accused of not doing enough to curb the number of deaths. But Brazil's vice president has defended its handling of the pandemic as well as its management of this year's fires in the Amazon, which have now started to burn. Our South America correspondent Katy Watson spoke to Brazil's vice president, Hamilton Mauro, and began by asking him about the pandemic.
Of course, we we regret the deaths of more than 100000 Brazilians, but federal government and the states government, they did everything that we could. We were successful in adapting the curve of the pandemic to the capacity of our public hospitals, because in the beginning, everybody was afraid of this, that we would have people die in the halls of our hospitals. And this did not happen. And also we had a lot of measures to mitigate the economic and social problems.
I think we are doing a good job.
Joe Bosna has made it clear how he felt about social distancing his push back on the wearing of face masks. He himself has had it. So has the first lady. A lot of people feel that perhaps the leadership just doesn't care.
You have to understand the nature of the Brazilian people. Brazilian people are not very disciplined. One, it's impossible to come back down and say, OK, you have to do this, you have to do that. Even governments, local governments and the mayors of the main cities, they have a lot of difficulty to keep people in their homes. We have a lot of shantytowns in our main towns. So it's not easy to keep a social distance in this.
So this inequality's, they made very difficult to fight in their way, for instance, that people in Europe did against the pandemic fires burning in the Amazon last week.
Both now branded them a lie. How can a government deny that they're happening?
Well, we don't deny what's happened in any moment. One thing has to be very sure and very clear. The forest is not burning. There is one part of the illegal Amazon that it's so red humanised and people are established that Dobos now called it a lie.
You know, he did say that. And there is a ban on fires at the moment and there are fires happening. That land that is, as you talk about being humanised, used to be forest. I mean, this government does not have a good record of protecting the Amazon.
We've been monitoring this very, very close. And Gusmão survived. That's when the fires really start to grow more. We will be fully in the field to try to stop these fires to go higher than last year.
Brazil's vice president, Hamilton Merill, speaking to the BBC's Katy Watson. Scientists who have used a vast sieve to search the Atlantic say there may be 21 million tonnes of tiny plastic particles suspended in the top 200 metres of the ocean. Many are smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The research, led by the UK's National Oceanography Center, shows that the amount of so-called micro plastic in the ocean is much higher than studies have previously estimated. Our science correspondent Victoria Gill has been finding out more.
Twenty years ago, it was about 60 percent plastics, but I would say now it's 80 percent plastics and we're just seeing more and more plastics on beaches.
Susanna Bleakley is from the charity Morecambe Bay Partnership. She coordinates beach cleanups along the Cumbrian coast. They're really pervasive. They're really long lived, and they absolutely never go away. I remember picking up a bottle that was a squeegee bottle and it was in really good neck. So, I mean, that was a 1972 or a pre 1972 sweetie bottle. In the decades that are discarded, plastic waste has been finding its way into the environment, much of it is broken down into tiny pieces, too small for us to see.
So Dr. Katzir Versova from the National Oceanography Center in Southampton led an expedition to find all that missing micro plastic particles smaller than the diameter of a human hair floating in the Atlantic.
Our research was actually the first one that looked at the concentrations of very small micro plastic particles hidden beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
On that expedition, from the U.K. to the Falklands, Katsuya used what's essentially a large Ocean-Going sieve with a very fine mesh to drag through the top 200 metres of the sea at different locations. That revealed that up to 21 million tonnes of micro plastic is floating in those upper layers of the ocean.
By measuring the mass of very small micro plastic particles in the top 300 metres of the Atlantic Ocean, we arrived to a new estimate of the load of plastic in the entire Atlantic, which is much larger than the previous estimate that we thought we have put in in the past 65 years.
The team only analyzed their samples for the three most commonly used packaging plastics. So they say their estimate is actually likely to be conservative. But what these tonnes of microscopic fragments show is that decades of plastic pollution has been washed from rivers or even blown on the wind into the ocean.
That was our science correspondent, Victoria Gill.
Still to come in this podcast, when you are on a kind of virtual reality kind of nightclub, experience is more akin at the minute with the technology that's been developed, essentially being in a video game as nightclubs around the world remain closed.
We'll look at the rise of virtual reality club nights. Fifteen years ago, a massive car bomb exploded in central Beirut, killing 21 people, including the former and potentially future prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri. Now, judges at a special tribunal in The Hague have convicted a member of the militant group Hezbollah of having had a central role in the assassination. At the time, Mr. Hariri, a Sunni Muslim and billionaire businessman, backed calls for Syria to withdraw its troops, which had been in Lebanon for nearly 30 years.
But the tribunal concluded there was no evidence that the Syrian government or its allies, the leaders of Hezbollah, were directly implicated. Here's our Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen.
The tribunal's verdicts, a single conviction and three acquittals of men who've never been arrested will disappoint supporters of Rafik Hariri, as well as the families of the 21 others who were killed and the 226 who were wounded, many grievously.
The man convicted in his absence, Sallie Ashe, was a well-connected mid-level operative in Hezbollah, the most powerful military and political group in Lebanon. It's classified by Britain, the US and others as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, denies it was involved and has refused to allow the arrest of Ayash or the other men who've since been cleared. One of his top military commanders, Mustafa Badruddin, was also indicted until he was killed in Damascus in 2016.
Outside the court in The Hague, Rafik son and political leader Saad Hariri said he would not rest until Hezbollah made sacrifices and Ayyash received his punishment.
Everybody's expectation was much higher than what came out, but I believe that that tribunal came out with a result that is satisfying. We accepted.
The verdict has given Saad Hariri, a former prime minister who might get the job again, a lever to use against Hezbollah.
The Hariri camp and others believe Ayyash was acting under orders from Nasrallah and most likely from Hezbollah's backers, Syria and Iran. Rafik Hariri was seen as a threat to their power in Lebanon. But one of the judges, David Ray, said the court had found motive but not evidence. Even so, the conviction will feed into the fevered political atmosphere in Lebanon.
That was Jeremy Bowen, the captain of a Japanese owned cargo ship that spilled hundreds of tons of oil off the coast of Mauritius has been arrested. He's been charged with endangering safe navigation. Simon Ponsford has the details.
The ship ran aground more than three weeks ago in an area known for its pristine waters and rich biodiversity. The vessel later began spewing out oil, putting endangered corals, fish and marine life at risk. Crew members have told police there was a birthday party on board the day the ship hit the reef. There have also been reports it had gone close to shore to seek a Wi-Fi signal. A team of experts from Japan is in Mauritius to help the clean up, which also threatens the country's vital tourist industry.
Simon Ponsford. France is planning to make face coverings compulsory in shared office spaces after a rise in the number of coronavirus infections there. The measure is due to come into force by the end of the month. Face coverings are already required on public transport and in shops in some towns and cities. They must be worn in busy outdoor areas as well. Our Paris correspondent Lucy Williamson reports.
Just as France began rebuilding its economy, it was hit with another wave of infections. Health authorities say that almost a quarter of new clusters here have come from workplaces outside the medical profession. And as people begin to trickle back from their summer holidays, the work ministry today admitted it needed to update the rules. The work minister, Elizabeth Bourne, confirmed that the systematic wearing of masks would be necessary in all enclosed work spaces that were shared by staff, including corridors, open plan offices and meeting rooms.
The government has been encouraging people back to work to repair the vast hole in the French finances. But with new cases spiralling above 3000 a day last week, it's being squeezed between rising infections and a sinking economy. Economic recovery means keeping people in work and avoiding a second lockdown while also preventing a second wave.
That was Lucy Williamson in France. In many countries, despite covid-19, many pubs and bars have reopened. But nightclubs have not in a clubbing hot spot like the Spanish island of Ibiza. It's unlikely there'll be any nightclubs open until next year. So for those missing, a late night deejay and a dance technology has come up with an answer. Sort of virtual reality club nights, all you need is a VR headset and you're in the club hears the sound of a recent virtual club night.
The song Butterfly Effect from the band Koven, who have been playing in a digitally created nightclub, so will it catch on? Rob Young spoke to Anna Conrad, the digital editor at GQ magazine, who went to her first VR club night three years ago in twenty seventeen.
They launched the first virtual reality nightclub. So that was essentially a nightclub in London that had been rigged with all these cameras that was filming kind of what was going on in the nightclub, and then essentially a person from home which would put on a virtual reality headset and they would see everything that was going on in the club. And that would be from like a live perspective as well. So it was made to feel as though everything was happening in real time and you could still be there.
How does a night out in such a club compare to putting your best shirt and shoes on and going to an actual nightclub when you go to a club?
Physically, you're going to get all these sensory experiences. It's going to be really hot and sweaty. It's going to there's going to be people talking really loudly. There's going to be things that you can't predict and control. Now, when you're on a kind of virtual reality kind of nightclub experience, it's more akin at the minute with the technology that's been developed, essentially being in a video game. So you kind of put on a headset. It's quite hard to kind of explain without seeing it.
But essentially, if you imagine that you're kind of seeing a moving video game image where the deejay might be kind of doing some actions that would just be on loop. So you can't interact with anyone. You couldn't go up to someone you couldn't dance and then have a reaction. It's a very kind of static experience.
Is it possible for the organizers of these VR clubs to actually make any money in the way that a real nightclub would make money?
I think they can make money, but only if they get the scale right. So, I mean, technically, if you were to do a virtual reality nightclub, it is limitless the amount of people you could have in that technical virtual reality club, MySpace. And there is a capacity that could compete for that in real life. So a club or a festival or a live music event, you're going to have a cap on the health and safety reasons.
The downside is obviously that you can't have drinks or extras, which are a big revenue earner, and also headsets are really expensive. So they're obviously kind of free apps and free headsets. But if you can up the quality and you're going to kind of live up to people's expectations, if they are paying for a virtual ticket, you know, could people actually pay £100 to five hundred pounds for something that isn't accessible and people haven't had the experience not to commit to currently?
Anna Conrod, the digital editor at GQ magazine. Now, it was a photograph that captured attention around the world, a naked man running through a crowd of bemused picnickers in Berlin, chasing after a mother, Boort and her babies, the mother carrying a plastic bag in her mouth, which contained the man's laptop. I'm sure you've seen it. It brought much innocent joy to the Internet. And the book was named Elsa. But the story then took a darker turn.
As Damien McGuinness explained.
A Berlin official, a forestry official has on local media said that Elsa could be aggressive and she should be removed with the words used. It wouldn't be enough just to enclose her off. So this official has said that wild boars can be dangerous, can be aggressive, can spread disease, and that this is something that needs to be controlled. Now, people who are fans of Elsa and other wild boars in the city have have come up in arms. Start this petition.
There are now more than 10000 people who have signed this petition. More people every couple of seconds are signing it at the moment. So the petition is really taken off. We've even seen a small protest in the area around there in support of Elsa. So I think what we can safely say is that, you know, this boy, Elsa, has Berlin public on her side.
She's a mother with piglets. She's surely not in danger. They wouldn't call a mother with piglets, would they?
Well, that's also what another official said, that you wouldn't kill a mother with piglets.
Either way, though, this is something we see a lot in Berlin. So there are often pictures spread of wild boars chasing cross streets or Nipe into people's gardens. It's something people really love to see.
Well, you did. That's a good question, though, isn't it? I mean, if there are a lot of them around, are they problematic?
Yeah. I mean, no one knows how many there are in Berlin. And there are thought to be some 3000, possibly more in Berlin. So far, no one has been injured. There's been no explicit danger of them. But the number is growing. And one worry is that officials say because it's because people love seeing them and because these photos become so popular on social media. One worry, according to one official, is that people are feeding them.
And that, of course, changed the dynamic entirely. These animals are incredibly popular and it's something that local people love, the fact that you can interact with wild animals while being in the big city at the same time, just for the time being, as far as we're aware as Alison.
Be safe. I think she is I think she's got people on her side, so, you know, she's not going to give up without a fight. I don't think anyone's going to let anything happen to Elsa.
That was Damian McGinnis in Germany, 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 podcast, all the topics we've covered in it. Please send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBC Dot Dot UK. I'm Jackie Leonard and until next time, goodbye. I also love how are you, how the piglet's, of course, you can stay here at.