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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 Monday, the 17th of August, these are our main stories. Central Men's Kassin, one of the biggest demonstrations in the history of Belarus, with protesters calling on the long term president Alexander Lukashenko, to go.
A siege at an upmarket hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu has been brought to an end by security forces. And a law protecting the identity of women who report cases of sexual harassment or assault has been passed by Egypt's parliament. Also in this podcast, the soap production workshop was discovered in what would have been a wealthy home dating back to the early Islamic era, an ancient soap making workshop that was operational 1200 years ago.
Alexander Lukashenko has been the first and only president of Belarus for more than a quarter of a century, but for the past week he has faced the strongest challenge yet to his authority. Many thousands of opposition protesters again gathered on Sunday in the center of the capital, Minsk, demanding his resignation.
That chant translates to go away.
There's been growing anger over alleged poll rigging in last Sunday's elections and police violence and subsequent protests. Earlier on Sunday, Mr Lukashenko addressed a rally of his supporters, urging them to defend their country and independence and called opposition protesters rats. He said the country was facing a grave external threat, adding that NATO had deployed military units on the Belarus border.
NATO troops are rattling that tank tracks at our gates. There is a buildup of military power along the western borders of our country Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and unfortunately, our dear Ukraine and its leadership are ordering us to hold new elections if we follow their lead.
We will go into a tailspin and we will never stabilize our airship. We will perish as a state, as a people, as a nation.
NATO rejected allegations of a military build up in the region. Our correspondent Joanna Fisher has been following events in Minsk and told us more about the scale of the opposition protest.
It's very hard to put an exact number on it, but, you know, I've seen a few of these things. I would say easily 100000, possibly several hundred thousand people taking over almost the entire central area of Minsk, a very diverse young crowd and people who were really emboldened in the signs they were carrying and the things they were saying. They chanted, leave, leave the air. There were even some pretty raucous calls of Lukashenko, lock him up.
Pretty extraordinary by Belarusian standards. You have to understand that just a week or so ago, just holding a demonstration of any sort here was a pretty dangerous activity. You are likely to be bundled into a van and taken away very swiftly. So I think there was a certain sense of celebration amongst the people who took part here, the security of numbers and the feeling that while they may not have achieved their goal of getting rid of President Lukashenko so far in just a week, things have changed pretty dramatically.
And this diverse crowd, is it pro-Western or simply anti Lukashenko?
That's a good question. I think primarily it is anti Lukashenko. That seems to be the one thing that is pulling everyone together. I think it should be said that people we speak to have a generally positive feeling to what we might call European values in terms of greater respect for human rights, having a functioning democracy. But what this is not at the moment is Belarus is taking a firm stance between, let's say, Russia and Europe at the moment. It's very much focused locally on the question of trying to get President Lukashenko out of office.
He has also said he's been given assurances of Russian support. What sort of help might Russia be offering him?
We know that discussions have been taking place between President Lukashenko and President Putin over the last couple of days. President Bush says he has received the offer of security assistance that is very much in the back of people's minds, the Russian military intervention possibly to prop up President Lukashenko. What happened in Ukraine six years ago is in and in Crimea is very much in the back of people's minds. So, yes, people are concerned. I think the equation which Russia is going to have to engage with and they are almost certainly thinking about it in Moscow at the moment, is whether President Lukashenko is worth saving.
He's clearly hugely popular. Now, we've seen that today here in Minsk. It just may not be in Russia's interests to try and prop him up. They may think that it's time to move on from President Lukashenko and be starting to think about someone else who might be acceptable to them.
That was Joanna Fischer in Minsk. Well, despite the week of spreading mass protests, the people around Alexander Lukashenko have largely remained loyal to the self-styled father of the nation. But one senior diplomat, the country's ambassador to Slovakia, Igor Lasagna, has broken ranks in a video statement posted on Saturday. He expressed his solidarity with the protesters. James Coomaraswamy asked Ambassador Lasagna why he'd gone public in this way.
First, it was a really mass event. It was really a mass movement. And in my message in my statement, I mentioned that here in Bratislava, I represent Belarus and the Belarusian people, which is accordance with the Constitution, is the only source of power in our country. So I should stress that this movement does not have any geopolitical basis, not against the rest of the neighbors or against the eastern neighbors. And there are two demands. First, that people want to be heard their voices, that their votes should be taken into account.
And of course, as a second message, it was that was the strongest message. It was a message against the violence while looking through Web sites identified as a photo of the classmates of my daughter as the photos of the mesh of Bruce Crucis and I, we know this fellow. He never leaves the trouble. So both both objective and the personal impressions.
One of the main demands now of people marching through the streets, not just of Minsk, but of many towns and cities in Belarus, is for President Lukashenko to go. Do you agree with that? It's one of the expression of this demand is the most openly as they demand new elections, and I'm fully free with this because it's evident that we need new elections. We need you elect.
There are official election results, though, are there not, which give a big majority to President Lukashenko. You merely disagree with that. But you are as well as serving the Belarussian people, you are the representative of the Belarussian government.
Who do I mean, are you do you do you not believe that President Lukashenko at the moment that we speak is the legitimate leader of your country following those mass protests?
I am sure that the results are unfair. It does not mean that the incumbent president does not care for more or less solid basis. But looking at these peoples in the street, walking the streets, it's evidence that the level of support, at least less than 50 percent, is very unique event. This is a unique situation, is that we are dealing really with a mass by by its nature protest movement. There is no definite leader. And even Mrs.
Sukarno's was only this symbol of protest.
President Lukashenko has been out on the streets himself today. He's told supporters that this is all a threat from outside the country, that NATO is at the door of Belarus and warned that if he hadn't done what he did, and that includes sending out the police against the protesters, that the country would have been dead. There's no no sense at the moment that he's willing to to give up power and to allow elections to take place again.
Is there unfortunately, I have gloomy prophecies. It's not evidence as far as the government is ready to use a person. But in any case, I do not believe in any interference from abroad.
You have known Alexander Lukashenko for many years. What do you think he's going what?
You've worked as a senior diplomat under him for many years. What do you think he's going to do?
It's a difficult situation. It's a difficult question. I think he really and sincerely believes that he's the only person who is able to leave the country. Eagle Azania, Belarus ambassador to Slovakia, speaking to James Coomaraswamy from Bratislava, the government in Somalia says that a five hour siege at an upmarket hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, has been brought to an end by security forces. Reports say more than 20 people were killed. David Bamford has more details.
The sound of an exploding car bomb in mid-afternoon was the first indication that the attack on the beachside elite hotel was underway. Islamist militants belonging to the al-Shabab group stormed the building, trapping over 200 people, including cabinet ministers and members of parliament. Information Ministry and defense ministry personnel are reported to be among the dead. Troops surrounded the area and forced a gun battle, but it took five hours for them to regain control. al-Shabab said it carried out the attack, the latest in a series of deadly assaults.
That was David Bamford. For years, campaigners in Egypt have complained that the law provides limited recourse to justice on cases of sexual assault and harassment. But on Sunday, the country's parliament approved a law that will protect the identity of women who come forward to report such experiences. So just how widespread are sexual harassment and violence in Egypt? A question for our correspondent in Cairo, Sally Nabeel.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault has been a phenomena in Egypt that has been going on for years and years, for more than a decade or so. And many reports have been issued about that from local and international bodies. I mean, if we apply this term of verbal abuse as a form of sexual harassment, maybe not a single woman in Egypt hasn't been harassed in the streets for at least one time. So it's a very widespread phenomenon. Despite all the efforts of NGOs of the government for years and years, but women are still suffering.
So tell us a little bit about this new law and how it came about.
It has been put forward by the Ministry of Justice.
This law is supposed to conceal the identity of any victim of sexual assault, any form of sexual assault when she decides to report this crime to the authorities. This was not the case before and it was initially approved by the government. And finally, it has been ratified by the parliament. So it should go into effect. And those defending women's rights have hailed this new law as a major step forward. It would encourage a lot of girls and women to come forward and report to the authorities, because we have to bear in mind that the sexual stigma associated with crimes of sexual assault here society still blames it on the victim.
It still blames that on women's clothes, on women's behavior, although religious authorities have issued a number of statements saying that harassment is an unjustified crime, it cannot be blamed on behavior.
It cannot be blamed on attitude or clothes. It is just the crime that has to be punished by the law.
And what about police attitudes? It's one thing to change the law, to change the statute.
But how will police be dealing with women who make these complaints?
That's the point, because I was working on a story about sexual harassment a few weeks ago. And first of all, it was incredibly difficult to get women to talk to us because of the social stigma I just talked about. But we managed finally to reach a few women and they all told us exactly one thing. When we go to report to the police station, some of those in charge of applying the law, police officers, they try to discourage women from going ahead, saying this is a scandalous for fear of your reputation and your family's reputation.
You shouldn't go ahead with that.
That was Sally Nabeel in Cairo. Sources in the Afghan government say the release of some of the most controversial Taliban prisoners is being delayed because of objections from foreign governments and from within Kabul. Last weekend, a grand council or Loya Jirga, approved the release of 400 remaining detainees. Telma, differing reports.
The Taliban says this final group must be released before peace talks can start. The government views them as serious criminals. A week ago, there was a breakthrough when a grand council approved their release in the interest of peace. But now it seems the problems aren't yet over. France and Australia are objecting to the release of some who've been convicted of killing their nationals. Correspondent suggest the Afghan government also has misgivings but faces US pressure to comply with the Taliban's demands.
That was Jill McGilvray.
Demand for holiday homes has soared in many parts of Europe this summer as domestic tourists opt for accommodation that allows them to socially distance and avoid covid-19. Travel restrictions in Sweden, securing a rural bolthole is less of a challenge for many. More than half the population has access to a summer cottage or cabin through family or friends. But covid-19 is driving up property prices and reshaping the long Swedish tradition of staycation, as Marty Savidge reports from Auslander in central Sweden.
At this Lakeside Beach restaurant, the center of the surrounding pine forest mixes with freshly made pizza smells wafting from the kitchen. Two of the customers here are 22 year old Sieger Norman and her boyfriend, Alexander Sandvik, who usually live in Stockholm.
Well, we were supposed to go to Sicily this summer, so that didn't happen. So we went here instead. But I'm still here quite much in the summers. We used to go out to our country houses. Yeah, babe, I'm going boats.
And it's so I think here it's fewer people. It's much quieter. And it gives you a soothing feeling that you can't get in the cities.
While a second home is an elite accessory in most countries, it's less so. In Sweden, around one in five people own a summer property, and more than half the population has access to one, three family and friends. Whether that's a waterfront villa or a rustic cabin without running water, there are plenty of opportunities to use them, too, since many employers allow staff to take four weeks holiday in a row. But they don't all have good Wi-Fi connections.
Hi, can you hear me all right? Yes, but now it starts disconnecting.
I eventually got through to, you know, Anderson, a demography professor at Stockholm University who was at his aunt's holiday home in southern Sweden.
I asked him why so many Swedes own rural retreats, while only a few generations ago most people lived out in the forest, in the countryside, and we lived on farms much more scattered than other parts of Europe, where people lived in villages and small towns instead.
That means many Swedes still have family properties passed through generations, and it's deeply ingrained in the national culture to spend time in the outdoors.
I usually say that people are more socialized on trees than on other human beings in this country.
And with covid-19 restricting international travel, Sweden's obsession with staycation has been given an extra boost recently. Yeah, they get in.
Oh, hi, my name is Kabani and I work as a real estate agent in the archipelago outside Stockholm. And if we look at prices this year, we've seen an increase with nine percent in comparison to last year. It's a lot of bidding wars for summer houses.
He says the majority of customers live in city apartments and they're looking for properties with strong Wi-Fi where they can also work remotely in the city where it's pretty crowded.
If you live in an apartment, you have your children inside playing. It's a tough environment today, and that's probably the biggest trend of having a summer house. You can work from home, you can be out in nature. It's calming, relaxing. Your children can play outside, take a swim in the nearest lake and so on.
Here in the center of the Swedish capital, many of the cafes, bars and beaches are busy. For some, it's an active choice to stay in Stockholm and embrace these amenities. But for a sizable minority, it's because owning or renting a summer home remains a luxury. That report by Marty Savidge in Sweden.
Still to come, she stars and they have won easily.
And consider the dogs in Chile doing their part to restore the once lush native forests that have been ravaged by wildfires.
Calling for political change in Thailand is one thing, calling for a reform of the monarchy is something else. Again, anyone convicted of insulting the royal family can face up to 15 years in prison, but that hasn't deterred people from demonstrating. On Sunday, this organizer said the government wasn't listening.
What I have done, they have been harassing the people who came out to call for their rights. They failed to bolster the economy. They couldn't even manage the relief packages for the people during the covid-19 crisis. I believe many people, including 10 million others at home, he couldn't make it here today, think like us. If the government doesn't want the protests to level up even more than this, the government and the parliament has to act on our demands.
Our correspondent in Bangkok, Jonathan Head, spoke to us from among the demonstrators.
This has been the biggest of the protests we've seen here in central Bangkok. They've been going on now for many weeks, led by students who are pushing for a complete change in the political system. But they've got many other grievances we're hearing people talking about. Number one, obviously, is the economic plight of so many because of covid-19 and the collapse of tourism. They're upset about the lack of representation, the banning of popular political parties. There's anger, too, about the harassment and indeed sometimes abduction and disappearance of political activists, a whole range of issues that have come down in a perfect storm onto the Thai government that has otherwise done quite well in handling covid-19 itself.
It's put the government on the defensive. But the one issue underlying everything that everyone is now talking about is the one that's been brought up just in the last two weeks. And that is the issue of the monarchy. This is something that has never been discussed openly in Thailand before. Yet the students and all the people now supporting them in these protests are saying that the monarchy must be part of a discussion about how Thailand changes, that it must be accountable, that it must spend less in public funds, that it must not be involved in politics.
These are things people have only ever whispered about before in Thailand. And so the impact of these demands from these protesters has been absolutely stunning in this country. Conservative royalists are furious. They saying the leader should be arrested. The government is also talking about prosecuting some of those involved. But at the moment, this country is now split between a youth led movement saying every aspect of Thailand must be up for discussion and there must be reforms now. And a conservative establishment that still insists that the most powerful and prestigious organization of all the monarchy, which has always been held to be sacred and untouchable, cannot be discussed there like two immovable forces.
This protest has been peaceful, but there are police everywhere, including plainclothes police, keeping an eye on people. Three activists have been arrested. We just don't know what the next step will be.
That was Jonathan had in Bangkok. New Zealand's prime minister has announced that the country's general election has been postponed because of a fresh covid-19 outbreak. Voting due to take place on the 19th of September has been pushed back to October the 17th. Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at a news conference.
I have decided on balance to move the election by four weeks to the 17th of October. At the end of last week, I was advised that the state is achievable and presents no greater risk.
Then, had we retained the status quo, the Green Party said calls for a delay had been 100 percent electioneering. Archaeologists in Israel have discovered an ancient soap making workshop that would have been in operation about 1200 years ago and items found at the same site have given a clue as to how those who produced the soap might have spent some of their leisure time. Alan Johnston reports.
This find was made in the southern city of Rajotte, where most people are of Arab Bedouin heritage. The soap production workshop was discovered in what would have been a wealthy home dating back to the early Islamic era. Soap making has a long tradition in the region, but this is the oldest facility of its kind found so far. Samples taken from the site will enable the experts to recreate the soup production process. They say olive oil was the base ingredient. It was mixed with water and ashes from certain plants.
All this was cooked and then cooled before eventually being cut into bars of soap. The whole process took more than two months. Also found at the site were two boardgames that were perhaps used by the workshops owner, one of them known as Hounds and Jackal's was first played in ancient Egypt before spreading to other parts of the Mediterranean basin.
Alan Johnston reporting. Wildfires in Chile have been destroying some of the country's lush native forests. Normally, it takes generations for forests to recover, but a pair of sisters are trying to speed up the process with the help of their pet dogs, as Paige Sutherland reports from Talca. Francisca and Constance Heteros have three border collies. What are their names? She's deaf and there is only one customer that is the most intelligent dog.
She's incredible. Simon is the sweetest creature and very playful. She's always trying to give you a little affection, but getting a treat.
Today, these companions are working. We're not talking about three hours away from the metropolis of Santiago.
So I'm walking around the forest here in Tulka and there really isn't much of a forest anymore. There aren't any trees. It's covered in ash. Everything's burned down and still burning. You can see smoke coming out from the soil. Francisca and Constanza had the idea of letting their colleagues help recede.
But the main thing is the process is pretty simple.
They strap a double-sided backpack on the dogs and fill the bags of native seeds they gather locally in March is the time that we start to collect them, because when they are like full grown up final of March and the beginning of April, we start to do this.
And then, as Constancia says, they just let the dogs run around the corner like this.
So they're like spraying them, but they're not all in one place. Yeah, they're so fast. Yeah, I know. That's why we need them.
Because the center came down to this site.
It hit the devastating forest fires in Chile in 2017, sent people fleeing from their homes. The government says prolonged drought and increased logging played a part in it, increased its forestry budget. It also launched a TV campaign to spread public awareness.
Jose Manuel Rubedo Casares is the director of Chile's National Forest Corporation in Chile.
In nineteen ninety nine point seven percent of all fires are caused by people being negligent, either by accident or intentionally. So we're trying to change the culture in our society. We have to work on a public and private level.
A lot more needs to be done now says it was back among the tree stumps.
I met Dr. Jose San Martien, an expert in native forest restoration at Toca University.
It doesn't impact the misalignment of the look at the Fozzy admires the intentions of Francheska and Constanta, but says that when a whole ecosystem is destroyed, you need to do more than just plant the seeds for the nozzle.
SEHNALOVÁ, the dogs don't pick the best place to put the seeds. They don't maintain it and help it grow. It's necessary to do a lot of other work to be effective, but that takes a lot more resources and money.
Francisca and Constanza don't expect their colleagues to help regrow entire forests.
They just want to play a small part the first time Whitsell like a little lucerna. We almost cry because when you say this, no animals, like no insects, there's no life. So the first time we saw something, we were like I mean, it was really beautiful.
Oh, Constanza and her good dogs ending that report from Paige Sutherland in Chile. Now, the world of gardening is often seen as slow and leisurely. They spend clipping the hedge or pruning the gladioli. Now, one gardener here in England who previously built the world's fastest motorized shed has smashed that idyllic concept to bits. Terry Egan reports.
Kevin Nix is a 55 year old gardener from the town of Chipping Norton in southeast England during the coronavirus lockdown.
He built what he calls the barrow of speed, a souped up wheelbarrow with standing space that can, it seems, zip through the countryside. Mr. Nick said he did it to inspire others to be creative and distract them from the pandemic.
I built this amazing machine. It's actually turned out far better than I thought. It is such fun. Somebody donated their moped, which wasn't run in. I got that run and everything else was just scraps and bits and pieces I had around.
Now, though, it's taking him far from his allotments and into the world of record breaking. Using the three wheeled vehicle, he says he's just set a speed record of 72 kilometres per hour. It doesn't come without problems, though. The handles move in all directions and it's a bizarre thing to ride. But the adrenaline rush, he says, was unbelievable. You're just trying not to crash. Well, experts in North Yorkshire have confirmed the speed Mr Nicks record is yet to be verified by Guinness World Records.
He'll drive the barrow of speed for them in six weeks time where he believes it can go faster still if it doesn't kill him.
That report by Terry Egan, 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. Well, tell us what you built during the pandemic. Please send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBK, Dot Kadota, UK. I'm Jackie Leonard and until next time, goodbye.