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This is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Jackie Leonard and at Fourteeners GMT on Thursday, the 4th of March, these are our main stories. Opponents of the coup in Myanmar have defied the military and continue to demonstrate despite the increasing use of lethal force. The U.N. Human Rights Commissioner has called for immediate access to northern Ethiopia to investigate fresh reports of war crimes. And Hong Kong has been excluded from an annual league table of the world's most free economies and index it previously led for 25 years.
Also in this podcast, Batard Faith in Human Nature. Can you picture the stories?
I can't tell from the front lines of how we hear how poetry is helping one doctor cope with the pandemic.
We begin in Myanmar, where protesters have been out on the streets again, even though on Wednesday the security forces killed at least 38 people protesting at the military coup, which took place a month ago. Many of the protesters have been laying flowers in the streets, shrines to the dead, but from the military. More of the same.
United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet used unusually undiplomatic language as she called on Myanmar's security forces to stop murdering and jailing protesters. She also said that more than 1700 people have been arbitrarily detained since the coup and at least 54 people killed by police and military. So what about the protesters strategy? Our South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head is monitoring events from Bangkok.
Well, it has evolved over the past month. They've been going from, you know, people marching in and often in groups related to their neighborhoods or their or their workplaces to big central locations for mass rallies. And they they're now fortifying their neighborhoods, in a sense, to deny the military government any authority on the ground. And those barricades have gone from sort of fairly improvised affairs with a few sticks and and plastic barrels to much bigger or more impressive fortifications today that the police and military are having to bring in bulldozers and so of heavy moving equipment to try and get them out of the way.
And it's a show of defiance. The protesters come in the morning. They set up, they gather there knowing full well. Now, of course, after what we saw in the last 24 hours, there's every likelihood they're going to be shot at and some of them will be killed. We haven't seen so much of that yet today, but we have seen the same kinds of confrontations, less intense. But with the police and military then marching in lines through neighborhoods to sweep people out, they do arrest anyone they can get their hands on.
And is there still a protest movement without leaders? Well, there are leaders, but they're not leaders that we know they're at a local level, so it doesn't have a centralized leadership. I mean, there are there is a sort of committee at the top. They call themselves the civil disobedience movement. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of leaders, because at the local level, when you see it, it's clearly very well organized. There are people taking a leadership role there, but there is no overall leadership.
It's a very fragmented movement and it needs to be really because of the intense attention of the authorities and the number of people they've arrested already.
Now, there's been growing international condemnation of the violence. The UN has urged strong measures against the generals. And you and I have talked about this before, the difficulty of doing anything that would have an impact on the generals.
That dilemma is still there on the ground. There's increasing frustration that all these splendid declarations of outrage and of course, people are outraged. There needs to be a strategy about how to deal with this or else the world has to decide they're going to leave the military and the protesters to fight it out. And the options are very grim indeed. What the international community has to decide is, is it worth exploring a path, a path of compromise, a way out of this that would be less bloody and cost fewer lives?
And can they get enough people, enough countries on board? Critically, China China is still being very elusive and what it views as the right approach to Myanmar, but it has to be concerned about the possibility of other countries simply breaking up and melting down.
Jonathan, had the UN Human Rights Commissioner has also called on Ethiopia to allow UN experts in to investigate widespread reports of killings and sexual violence in the TIKRAI region. Michelle Bachelet said there were accounts of very grave crimes committed by all sides, including the Ethiopians, Eritreans to Grind's and the Amhara regional forces.
Immagine, folks, reports Michelle Bachelet said she had received deeply distressing reports of killings, rape and destruction of property by all sides. While some information is difficult to corroborate, the UN has been able to confirm major violations took place last November, including mass killings and indiscriminate shelling of towns in degree. These could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Violence across the region is ongoing. Michelle Bachelet wants immediate access for UN monitors.
Immagine, folks. 10 years ago, Syrians rebelled against the rule of Bashar al Assad. Government forces responded with brutal force. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, among them, tens of thousands of children here. We'll bring you the story of one man, Saïd, whose experience of personal loss, of hunger and of displacement mirrors that of millions of Syrians. And a warning some listeners might find parts of this report distressing. The BBC's Caroline Whorley has been talking to Syeed.
Shall I compare the to a summer's day, though?
Art more lovely and more temperate, Shakespeare brings back happy memories for said of me and Summer's lease and all too sure the day he studied English literature at Damascus University and then got his dream job in a dubbing studio in 2010, everything was.
Really great. And then in 2011, the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began. At first, people took the streets just calling for freedom and nothing else they said didn't join the protests.
I was afraid that this country might be destroyed and we can lose everything, but people were just dreaming about freedom. And even my father, Saeed's father, was arrested for supporting the revolution. Like many thousands of other Syrian prisoners, he, along with one of Saeed's cousins, was killed in jail by protesters on the streets, were being gunned down, too.
And as the death toll mounted, so did the rebellion.
The regime resorted to ever more brutal tactics.
So it was the horror of a chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus that forced said, finally, he says, to take sides.
I was with my wife the night when they used the chemical weapons. She started to vomit at midnight and said, I smell something so horrendous. And in the morning, we heard the news that hundreds of people were killed and the attack was on.
The nearby rebel controlled district of Eastern Ghouta is terrified. People attempted to flee said was actually trying to get in, negotiating his way through military checkpoints. The rebels put him to work teaching English.
I lived with them under the starvation, the bad conditions there. You can imagine that we don't have, for example, bread. Also, rats invaded the fields and ate all the crops we had to share with them. Each piece of corn half eaten by the rat.
And the bombs kept falling. In September 2014, as he was out in the market, Saeed was hit by a mortar shell. He had three operations on his leg without anesthetic and was bedridden for seven months.
Then imagine that I am in the operations room just feeling the surgeon while he was piercing through the bones.
Plenty plenty of people were missing a leg, an arm, maybe an eye, something mutilated to all mankind.
They were addressed.
Those cries for help are still ringing in our ears, said Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot seemed to summarize life in Eastern Ghouta.
This feeling of the absurd that there is no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel and you might die at any moment. That was the situation.
Eventually, in the spring of 2018, the regime's siege had defeated the rebels of Eastern Ghouta, along with fighters and their families. Saeed was evacuated by bus to Idlib in the northwest of Syria. He's one of more than 10 million Syrians displaced by the country's conflict. More than five million of them, including his mother and siblings, are now refugees. But Saeed is proud to still be on Syrian soil for the life of us.
But he now works for the demining charity, the Halo Trust, warning of the dangers of unexploded ordnance in camps for displaced Syrians. Families often scavenge for scrap metal and pick up cluster munitions by mistake, leading to deaths and injuries, even where the fighting has stopped.
Still, we are in a state of chaos here. Nothing is organized. So you keep working. You keep trying to live your life. Maybe millions of the Syrian people have lived through that.
I have been through that was, said a former teacher, ending that report by Caroline Whorley. For a quarter of a century, Hong Kong was deemed to be the world's most free economy, but today it's not even on the list. The conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, which runs the Index of Economic Freedom, says it'll now list Hong Kong as part of China. This all comes as preparations continue for the National People's Congress, which begins in China on Friday, and more Hong Kong reforms, this time to the electoral system, are due to be announced.
So what of Hong Kong's place as a financial hub? A question for our business reporter in Hong Kong.
Andrew Wood is lost his place in the index because the people who compile it reckon that Hong Kong has, in fact, become part of the mainland of China. Remember, Hong Kong was guaranteed a lot of freedoms that mainlanders don't have when it was handed back from the UK to Beijing in 1997. Since then, we've had loads and loads of protests, pro-democracy protests, and Beijing imposed a national security law, quite a stringent national security law on Hong Kong last year.
And the people who compiled the index, the National Heritage Foundation, they say that because of the way that Beijing is now interfering in the way that Hong Kong is run, it can't be considered separate anymore. And it's now lumped in with China. China is, I think, number 107 on the list of free countries in the world in the index. I think that's between Uganda and Uzbekistan.
China, of course, is a huge economy in its own right. So does it matter? It matters for Hong Kong because Hong Kong has been selling itself and still selling itself as an international financial hub. It is a big blow to the reputation of Hong Kong because it's always prided itself on having this freedom, especially having a legal system based on English common law that was independent from from the government.
And anecdotes are part. Do you think that now investment banks will be looking in the medium and longer term to relocating your Hong Kong's court a bit here?
Because, you know, previously it was a small, self-contained bubble that people could do investment in China and the mainland China from Hong Kong. And, you know, they realized that China has many, many problems or, you know, it's not a free place. It's difficult to do business. But, you know, you talk to the investment bankers, they're expanding their operations in Singapore gently. You've seen people perhaps moving or thinking of moving some of their back office operations out of Hong Kong, perhaps even to the Philippines or Japan.
And so, yeah, I think this is part of a long term, a long term decline for Hong Kong. It's only going to get worse if China keeps up its pressure on Hong Kong and keeps up its pressure on the freedoms of Hong Kong.
Andrew Wood, Megan, the Duchess of Sussex, has suggested that the British royal family might be spreading falsehoods about her and her husband. The suggestions made in another clip released from the Oprah Winfrey interview with Megan and Prince Harry due to be broadcast over the weekend. Oprah asks the duchess, how do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?
Her reply, I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.
And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's a lot that's been lost already.
My colleague Justin Webb asks our royal correspondent Jonny Dymond what he made of it.
Two thoughts come out. I mean, one is the most obvious. We can clearly expect fireworks. If people thought that this was simply going to be an attack on the British media, which the couple have made it very clear they dislike intensely, it is not there is going to be direct criticism of the royal family. It looks pretty clear from what we hear there. But also we get a glimpse into what her state of mind and presumably their state of mind.
They clearly believe that the palace has been and presumably is actively spreading poison about them. And they are or she is fully prepared to respond to what they think has been going on. It's quite difficult at the moment to see what that poison has been. I've been following them since they got married and certainly haven't been in receipt of any of that poison myself. But they clearly feel aggrieved and they're going to speak out.
And the palace is not exactly deescalating, is it? I mean, when they look at, well, the Times yesterday and the Mail and several other papers today.
Yeah. I mean, so you've got this series of allegations in the Times that were published yesterday about how the duke and duchess, in particular the duchess, but both of them, in fact, treated their staff. And then the response from the palace, which was to launch what is, to all intents and purposes, an inquiry into that. And this, no doubt will be seen as by by those who take the duke and duchess. Aside as proof that the Palestinians working against the carpet, it should be said, the interview was recorded before this inquiry was launched and before these allegations were made, those who are close to the Dutch say, look, we don't think that these allegations are a product of the sort of core infrastructure of the palace.
I don't think it comes from the heart of the royal family, but they do believe that there is a group of people in the palace who have actively worked to undermine the duke and duchess at this time and have brought forward these allegations because of the interview and to try and undercut the image of the duke and duchess as this interview goes out. That was Johnny Diamond.
And one other royal story today. Buckingham Palace says that the Duke of Edinburgh has undergone a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition. The procedure took place on Wednesday at St Bartholomew's Hospital in central London. He will stay in hospital for a number of days.
Still to come on this podcast, we are. Buckets of fish are being unloaded, the slippery piles are the fruits of hours spent scouring the lake.
We'll hear from Kenya's fishermen trying to find a new way of getting around.
There's been a new warning that coronavirus in Europe is getting worse. It's come from the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe, Hunsberger.
Last week, new cases of covid-19 in Europe rose nine percent to just above one million. This brought a promising six week decline in new cases to an end, with more than half of all the region seeing increasing numbers of new infections. We are seeing a resurgence in central and Eastern Europe. New cases are also on the rise in several Western European countries where rates were already high.
EU officials have come under heavy criticism for ruling out vaccines too slowly, but they are trying to make up for lost time. Europe's medicines regulator says it started reviewing the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine developed by Russia for possible approval in the region. And Austria and Denmark are having talks with Israel about vaccine production. Our correspondent Naomi Grimley told us about the significance of the EU's announcement on the Russian vaccine.
Europe's medicines regulator says it's going to do a rolling review on Sputnik V and this is significant because already some countries in the EU we're talking here, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, have looked to Russia to solve the shortfall they've got in vaccine supply. Now, in the past, the worry has been that there hasn't been enough data published on the Russian vaccine. Earlier this year. We did see, however, peer reviewed late stal trial results being published in the Lancet Medical Journal, which suggested that Sputnik V was almost 92 percent effective in fighting covid-19.
So maybe that's gone some way to allaying fears about the previous lack of data.
Meanwhile, Austria and Denmark, what are they trying to achieve in these talks with Israel?
Yeah, this is really interesting, particularly because two European leaders are actually physically travelling to Israel to talk about this. It's not entirely clear how they wish to proceed with this. It may be that they're talking about building factories and and essentially forming a sort of bubble to supply vaccines for the long term to each other. But it may also be that they're in discussions with Israel about buying some of Israel's surplus, because, as we know, Israel was very much on the front foot ahead of most nations in securing supplies of not just Fizer, but also Moderna.
And they also have some of Oxford, AstraZeneca. And certainly the Danish prime minister has suggested that it's not entirely unrealistic that they might start building plants in Denmark, but then help provide for the other two countries.
Now, that obviously was quite a lot of criticism about the pace of Europe's vaccination program at the beginning. How is it doing now?
Well, certainly things are beginning to pick up. But if you look at the long term goal, the EU is only planning to have 70 percent of its adults vaccinated by September. That's way behind the UK, for example, the UK says it will have offered a first dose to all adults by the end of July. So you can see that there is still some way to go. And certainly when you look at other developments, for example, today it looks like Germany is going to approve Oxford, AstraZeneca for the age of 65.
There seems to be this belated realisation that it really does need to move up a gear. Otherwise, a lot of these countries are going to fall behind similar wealthy countries in the western world.
That was Naomi Grumbly. It's almost a year since the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of covid-19 a pandemic. So what has the past year been like for health care workers and how have they coped? Laura Zarela is a critical care doctor at Toronto Western Hospital in Canada.
Our teams have become very tightly knit. I mean, we were told before, I think we're even tighter now, each of us, as we've developed perhaps other creative outlets that we didn't have before.
So things like, for example, I have now this career where I write, I use poetry to sort of try to capture moments that we live in the ICU. It's been an unexpected outlet.
I go to music, I play violin.
You know, there's there's other angles of life, I think, that try to really re-establish the three dimensions of who you are so that you're more than just the health care provider in the mask.
This poem is called Behind the Mask, and it goes like this:
Snaking around, cheeks and necks, weeping wounds crossed over, ripped open when the night is over, apparently a hero, thankfully never a saint and 95 warrior paint. Trying to ignore people's selfish taint, yet ire as they light their perverted bonfires.
Politicians, kings of the realm, supposedly at the helm, vacationing on the sly. For them, you see, rules never apply. And in the face of science, they fly. As my face falls apart, see the scars across my heart, that will always leave a mark.
Better faith in human nature. Can you picture the stories I can't tell, from the front lines of hell, as I fall to my knees? Ask me, is there anything in which I still believe, cut down without a sound? What's it like - you ask, for all the heroes - behind the mask? Do you see our pain through the escalating rain when memories of love are all that remain? Do you see me cry?Can you look me in the eye?
Do you still see the cracks, as you watch our hearts turned to stone? Cut down no longer without a sound. That was Laura Zorrilla, critical care doctor at Toronto Western Hospital in Canada, fishermen on Lake Victoria in Kenya have begun using some of Africa's first electric fishing boats. A Kenya based startup is offering battery powered engines to some of the tens of thousands of boats that go out onto the water each night as a cheaper and greener alternative to petrol ones. Africa correspondent Leila Natha reports from the town of Embitter.
It's about six thirty in the morning, the sun's not yet risen and fishermen are starting to land back on shore with their catch after their night out on the lake.
There's a steady stream of them now coming in. You can see their fluorescent lifejackets. They're lights. They're ropes.
Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, buckets of fish are being unloaded, the slippery piles are the fruits of hours spent scouring the lake. Some fishermen, though, like Sevan's are the IMBO have been trying out a new way of getting around using electric motors.
Pogorelich when there is a difference, because with this model, there are fewer fumes while driving and the petrol engine vibrates a lot and the fumes get into your lungs. This is good and works well.
A SuBo, a new business based in Kenya, is winning support here by leasing electric engines designed to be cleaner and more affordable than petrol ones.
But pollution from petrol engines threatens the water they depend on. There's the risk of oil spills and their emissions are harmful to. And that's why Lawrence Friso, who runs a subo, wants his electric engines to take off.
We need as humanity to change our ways of using energy and get away from fossil fuels. So battery technology storage is becoming more affordable by today. Appliances like an engine, a motor like this, are becoming better by the day, more reliable, higher performing. So we think all these these paths, they come together now. And this is a really good spot to start.
And there's plenty of room to expand on Africa's largest lake. And that was our Africa correspondent Legler Matthew.
And staying with fish because there's nothing we like, like a theme. An Australian scientist has been looking at how zebrafish react to music, as Terry Egan reports, they seem to particularly like and who doesn't? M.C. Hammer's 1990 hip hop track. You can't touch this. And the results of her sound experiments have been published in the journal Current Biology.
Justice. You can't touch this. You can't touch this. Rebecca Paulsen is an Australian dance music producer and deejay with lots of tracks and gigs to her credit, so she knows something about music. Now, though, she's been trying to find out whether fish due to baby zebrafish in particular. Miss Paulsen has been studying neuroscience at Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane. Part of that involves putting the baby fish inside a chamber, a nightclub for fish, you might say, and playing them sounds at the same time doing what you don't normally do in the nightclub.
Scanning their brains with a laser and looking at what happens through a microscope. Miss Paulson looked at how fish larva react first to simple sounds, then to white noise and frequency sweeps, something she describes as like the sound when Wiley Coyote falls off a cliff in the Roadrunner cartoons, all good. But then using a one centimetre speaker, she got to the music. Her own pieces already got a reaction out of the fish, but it was something punchier that really got them going.
M.C. Hammer can't touch this. Oh, you've got to get a high point.
Is that she said is when you could see specific neurons lighting up and how the fish pulsed to the beat. It tells us, she said, that their hearing range is much broader than had been thought. When you look at the neurons that light up each sound, they're unique, she says. The fish can tell the difference between complex and different sounds, which is more perhaps than some of us can do.
After a night dancing on the casket, Terri Egan reporting.
And don't worry, I won't tell anyone you were dancing.
And that's it from us for now. But there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. If you'd like to comment on this podcast or the topics we covered in it, do please send us an email. The address is global podcast at BBC dot com dot UK. This pond was mixed by Holly Palmer. The producer was Tracy Gordon. The editor is Karen Martin. I'm Jackie Leonard. And until next time, goodbye.
Hello. I'm out of the TV. And I'm Jeff Solomon. And we are the hosts of Comedians versus the News on the BBC World Service, the show that invites international comedians to take on the headlines, kill them up like an onion to make you cry with laughter or quietly say That's funny to you and to comedians versus the news from the BBC World Service.
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