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.
This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Jackie Leonard. And in the early hours of Tuesday, the 16th of February, these are our main stories. The coup leader in Myanmar, General Menang Klein, says he will handle mass protests softly as the army continues to tighten its grip. The first woman to head the World Trade Organization and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says it's unconscionable to see disparities in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries. And the former South African president Jacob Zuma has been accused of contempt of court for refusing to appear before a corruption commission.
Also in this podcast, how these tiny birds have adapted to life in extreme cold in the Himalayas.
We begin in Myanmar, where the leader of the recent coup, General Menachem Klein, says he will try to handle the mass protests against the overthrow, as he put it, softly. He did not clarify what that means and warned that he would take effective action against those he said were harming the country.
Jonathan had reports the site of armed and uniformed soldiers on the streets of Myanmar's cities has amplified concern that the military is preparing to crush the protest movement with force, as it has in the past, in places the army and police have fired shots and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. But the feared bloodbath has not happened, and comments by the coup leader, General Min.
Online, suggest he may be trying to avoid one outside the headquarters of the party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, her supporters kept up a noisy vigil, demanding that she and her colleagues be released. She was supposed to face charges in court today of possessing illegal walkie talkies, but her detention was extended for another two days. There is little likelihood of her being released earlier.
Gunshots were heard on the streets of the northern city of Mitchener, where protesters had gathered.
There were also reports of gunfire in the city of Mandalay, where soldiers reportedly opened fire on protesters with rubber bullets and air guns, guns that fire small metal pellets with compressed air. My colleague Julian Marshall spoke to a student activist in the city who's been taking part in the protests.
We're not using his name to protect his identity while the peaceful protester were protesting in front of the central bank. The police came in, trucks and soldiers came in trucks without any warning. They shot at the crowd without anyone, and they shot the crowd using slingshots and illegal weapons, such as airsoft guns with metal pellets. There were many injured people who were shot by the airsoft guns and also with the rubber bullets.
And you saw this yourself, did you? I was there at the afternoon, but I wasn't there when that happened. But I saw live videos on Facebook.
Are there many soldiers now on the streets of Mandalay? Yes, there are a lot of armed vehicles on the street and also a lot of soldiers. They are combat troops, not riot police. They drive tanks on the streets.
The military say the protesters have been holding stones at the police and they have warned that, and I quote, effective action will be taken against people who are harming the country and committing treason through violence. What's your response to that?
Well, it is actually a lie, because as I am a student who is participating in the protests, we do not start the violence. The people on the street are very well organized and they do not want any violence that I can assure that the police started to use forces. Some of the people from the crowds, they may throw some water bottles and rocks at the police car, but they did not start the violence.
That was a student protester in Myanmar. After more than six months without a head, the World Trade Organization finally has a new boss with the appointment of a Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as director general, a position that has never before been occupied by either an African or a woman. The decision is made through consensus among all 164 member states. So when the US under President Trump opposed Mrs Okonjo-Iweala bid, the process was stalled until the Biden administration came in and gave the Nigerian economist its backing.
Our correspondent in Abuja, Isha Khaleed has this profile.
They want everybody to give up. When you try to fight the corruption, they attack you viciously and then they get away with it.
The new director general of the World Trade Organization is an internationally recognised development economist and former managing director of the World Bank. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was born in southern Nigeria's Delta State in 1954. She studied at prestigious schools such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned her PhD in regional economics and development. Okonjo-Iweala has set records as the first woman to hold a number of positions in her career, including becoming Nigeria's first female finance minister and led the first female foreign minister she has held for her efforts in fighting corruption in Nigeria, securing a massive debt relief and consolation deal for the country from international creditors in 2005.
I listen. You cannot have a better choice than Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. Excellent choice.
Mr. Hamad, with a retired director of Nigeria's finance ministry, is a conduit.
Well, for my colleague, the wisher organize the ministry, she said. Square pegs in square holes where she met us. It was some square pegs in round holes.
So she made sure that you must be qualified because for you to be a friend to her, you must be hardworking. It's as simple as that. She was a hard worker. So the experience is that the intellect is there. The diplomatic experience is also there. And she's a bridge builder.
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala spent 25 years working at the World Bank, rising to become its managing director. She's credited with spearheading several initiatives by the bank to assist low income countries. Recently, she has been on the board of social media giant Twitter and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. In an interview with the BBC last year, she explained why she wanted to hit the World Trade Organization.
Because I have a passion for my professional development, the economics of which trade is a very important part of it. So throughout my career, I've worked on economic policy reforms, including trade policy reforms, both at the World Bank and even as finance minister. In my own country, the issue is what trade regime and what trade rules should govern access to supplies and vaccines. These are things we should be talking about at the ministerial. Many countries put export restrictions.
How do we lift those and make sure that we don't have a situation in future where countries find barriers in accessing lifesaving medicine or equipment?
Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed after her remaining challenger, South Korea's trade minister Myung. He withdrew from the race. She then received the blessing of the U.S. President Joe Biden, who assumed office in January in sharp contrast to the position of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who had blocked her nomination for months and instead backed the South Korean. The appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new director general of the WTO has been received as good news here in Nigeria, her home country.
She's widely seen as a role model and a strong leader internationally. Some see her as a rallying point, but there are a lot of challenges ahead in her new role, including subtle and delicate trade disputes between world powers, particularly the United States and China, as well as ensuring developing countries in Africa and elsewhere are better placed and have more influence in global trade and economic affairs.
That was is that Khaleed. Well, in a news conference and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said her first priority would be the coronavirus pandemic. She said it was unconscionable to see disparities in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries. And she also spoke of longer term goals.
I would also like to see a longer term framework set up for response to pandemics. So not just solving this immediate problem, but we are not going we are going to have more pandemics in future. And I think the WTO should get with other international organizations like the WTO, GAVI, SEPI, even the World Bank, IMF and all those multilateralists to try to set the rules so that next time we don't spend time trying to figure out how to respond, it will just trigger a set of actions.
The new head of the WTO is also focusing on the free flow of vaccines is our economics correspondent Andrew Walker explained.
She talked to a certain amount in her in the press conference she's been giving about the response to the pandemic and the role that trade can play in that. And yes, getting vaccines widely available, particularly in lower income countries, was clearly a very important priority for her. She was talking a bit about the potential for making use of flexibility in the WTO rules on intellectual property, that's patents and so forth, which in relation to medicines, has at times been really quite controversial.
She did also acknowledge that some of the pharmaceutical companies are themselves kind of ahead of the game in this in trying to get the vaccines out there. But clearly, it's something that's going to be right at the top of her in-tray when she actually takes the job formally on the 1st of March.
And her admirers have called her a brilliant reformer. The WTO is in need of a shake up itself, isn't it, to deal with with a number of issues, including growing protectionism?
Yes. And it's worth bearing in mind that the real decisions and the movement in the organization is down to the member countries that they you know, the WTO can't do anything without taking them along. But she will have a very important role in cajoling, encouraging, giving advice and so forth. And yes, there have been some real concerns about rising protectionism in recent years. She particularly mentioned actually problems about a loss of trust between some of the members. She particularly mentioned the United States and China, the United States and EU.
But she also talked about it being a more wide issue in relation to developed versus developing countries.
That was Andrew Walker. A South African inquiry into corruption under Jacob Zuma will ask the Constitutional Court to impose a jail term on the former president after he failed to appear before the commission on Monday. The chairman of the inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zonda, said the court had several punishments that could be chosen.
One of the things it can do is to impose a term of imprisonment on Mr Zuma. Another would be ordered to impose fines. The commission will approach the Constitutional Court and ask it to impose a term of imprisonment.
Mr Zuma, who denies wrongdoing, has accused the commission of bias. He was forced to resign over corruption scandals in 2018. We heard more about the inquiry from our correspondent in Johannesburg, Pimsleur Filani.
This is an inquiry that was set up as far back as 2018, and it's been tasked with investigating, amongst other things, claims that former President Jacob Zuma, during his term as president, oversaw a wide network of corruption where some of his allies used the. Influence and their close relationship to him to get access to lucrative government contracts, but also to have undue influence over state matters, so why did he not turn up?
So this is the question that the legal team has led. Also, they're saying if you're insisting that you're innocent, this is a forum and you haven't been charged and called as a witness to give evidence on what you know or what you don't know because 40 witnesses have given testimony against you. Why would you not come before the commission? His lawyers are arguing that the entire process is rigged against Mr. Zuma. They're claiming that the chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zonda, who is overseeing this commission, is biased, but they provided no evidence of what this bias is.
They're saying that Mr. Zuma is also a victim of a political plot, again, not providing any evidence on those grounds. They do not believe that he will get fair treatment at. The commission has decided that they will no longer participate in spite of the fact that there's a summons that's been issued against the former president.
So the chairman of the inquiry is asking the constitutional court to jail Mr. Zuma for his failure to turn up. Is there a real chance that he might end up being in prison?
We are now in uncharted territory. He did not mince his words, has described Mr Zuma as somebody who's done this repeatedly. He has had to issue summons on a number of occasions just to get him to come and testify before the commission. So he takes Mr Zuma. Defiance, he says, has been serious, which is why he is taking the matter to the Constitutional Court. They are, of course, the highest court in the land and they have two options that they could rule and one could be a fine.
But the commission has said they want him to be sentenced to that six month jail term, which is applicable for contempt of court.
How is Mr Zuma currently regarded within the ANC? That's an interesting question, because just at the weekend, the National Executive Committee of the ANC met and one of the issues they were discussing is the fact that he's refusing to cooperate with this commission. And they issued a statement saying that it's a legally constituted body and that he should present himself before the commission and give evidence. So there is a strong push, particularly by the faction that supports the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for him to submit to the commission and give testimony.
But he does still have some support within the governing African National Congress. And it's that group that is supporting him and behind him and saying fight this thing to the very end.
That was Pimsleur Fulani in South Africa. Testing and hotel quarantines are some of the measures that have been introduced around the world to allow some international travel during this pandemic. But also, dogs are being trained in many countries to detect the whiff of covid-19 infections. And some trainers say they can detect the virus with almost perfect accuracy. Scientists also point out that such dogs could help control the pandemic because they can screen hundreds of people in our embassy places. One of the country's pioneering sniffer dogs is Finland.
Tabari Kulp is a trainer who works with her dogs at Helsinki Airport. Ben James caught up with her just after she had finished her shift.
I have an eight year old Labrador male. His name is Kosti.
Then I have five year old Labrador male as well. His name is really Cosby and really.
Yes. And tell us about your day with them.
Then we take our passengers up to the scent detection station and they give SWIP samples and my dogs are sniffing and comparing the samples and then they indicate that they are negative or positive.
How many people did your dogs sniff today? They were all together, about 30 people today.
I guess it must be quite quiet at the moment, the airport, because people aren't travelling so much, right?
Yes, exactly. Before Christmas, we have like maybe eighty per two hours and now it's about thirty two hours. So it's a big decline of passengers or people here.
So talk us through what happens if I get off a plane. I'm disembarking. I've just landed in Helsinki.
I walk over the bridge, off the plane into the airport terminal.
At what point do I meet you And Casspi and Reli actually when you landed and you get your luggage, there is a point you can do this PC artists and then you enter to the hall and then we have our detection station. We call that that name and it's, it's not a duplicate tour.
I say it's voluntary. Yes. So you can cheat. You want to be sniffed or not. Yeah. Just in the airport or people please to come and see the dogs. I suppose often dogs in airports are trying to sniff out drugs and people might want to avoid the dogs if they have drugs in their bag. But this is probably a bit. Different. It's very different. They are very delighted that it's a faster and more pleasant way to get result because it takes only like one minute they swipe their skin and then they put it on the can and then it's ready for that dog to sniff and the result is ready to start.
The dog isn't sniffing my body directly. I swab my body. What do I do? My face or my hands?
Yes, neck, face, hands.
Yeah. Then that sample is put into a bucket is it. And then the dog sniffs it there, correct. Exactly. And what happens when the dog detects the smell of coronavirus? What does the dog do to tell you?
It's actually depend a little bit on individual. My dogs, they just sit down when they find coronavirus sample and then some dogs may lie down. And then there is some dogs which are thought to indicate what they call. But basically we prefer this kind of passive alert. We call them passive alert. So that means that they don't start to scratch or bark or anything like that.
What are the traits that you give them to reward them when they find a positive?
It varies a lot, actually, at the airport. I don't play with them in the training center I can play because we have time and have space. But here I use some good is some good traits.
Do they seem to enjoy their work? Yes.
When I start my packing at home so they know where we are going and they get quite excited about it, so they love their job.
I think the finished dog trainer, Tave, he cowpie. Still to come, if you look at Jaguar Land Rover, yes, they make a lot of diesels at the moment and that's an image problem. But it's also a problem going forward.
The luxury carmaker Jaguar, which is owned by India's Tata Motors, has promised to go all electric. Human rights workers in the city of Tyre say that more than 450 children have been killed or wounded by Houthi sniper fire in the past six years. The Houthis deny it. Yemen's war began in 2014 when the Houthis drove the internationally recognized government from the capital. A Saudi led coalition backed by Britain and the U.S. have been carrying out a bombing campaign to try to restore the government to power.
Our international correspondent Orla Guerin and producer Clare Reed sent this report from the city of snipers. And I should warn you that you might find some of their report distressing.
Well, it's early morning. We're in a neighborhood close to the frontline. The nearest Houthi positions are about three or 400 meters away. And we're watching one of the daily rituals here. Children have come with plastic containers and they're filling them up with water. Since the war, there has been no running water entires. And typically it's the children who do this job. But entires collecting water can be extremely dangerous.
It certainly was for 10 year old Amry Saleh and his sister, Rueda, who's eight, couldn't get his head.
But I was carrying the water container in the street on the way home. I went to play and the sniper shot her in the head.
I mean, but I went to her and I grabbed her. There was a guy with a motorbike who rushed to the hospital. You must have been very scared after I said I was very scared for my sister and I grabbed her from the street, a sniper shooting at me.
And Rueda listens in somberly and silently. She's very slight with arresting dark eyes. Her hair is short, revealing a large scar on her skull. That's from brain surgery last August after the attack, her father, Saleh bin Saleh, says she has other, less visible scars.
Jovanovski with the Raiders scared.
When I ask her to go to the shop, she says no. She's scared of the shooting. Whenever she hears a sound, she thinks she'll be shot again. She can't sleep because I had her. She's still sick.
I've just been hearing gunfire outside and we heard some shelling a few moments ago with the family quickly told us it's far away, don't worry, they've had to become experts on how near the danger is.
We're stuck now at a checkpoint. We're en route to the district of a Sephora. We can't go forward without permission. But there are so many children playing here on the street, running up and down, young lives on the front line.
We're just making our way now down a narrow staircase. Where are they?
The houses are there. This is the home of the Ahmar family where five young boys are being raised in the line of fire. 10 year old Yusef has a bandaged right hand and his arm is in a sling. He's had two brushes with the snipers lately in the village.
Yeah, when I left him again, I left. Well, my friend Shehab was shot by a sniper. I grabbed him three days later, I was shot by a sniper.
They rushed to hospital without telling my mom or dad. They found out that evening and they were shocked.
They visited me at the hospital usually.
Do you remember what it was like before the war that. No, I don't remember.
It's been a long time across Yemen. Children are at risk from all sides. Many have been killed in airstrikes by the Saudi led coalition, which is backed by the U.K. But human rights workers here say Houthi snipers are deliberately targeting the young Houthi military commander. Entires said the allegations are unfounded. That report was by all again, the producer was Claire Reid, the luxury car maker Jaguar, which is owned by India's Tata Motors, has promised to go all electric.
It will invest three and a half billion dollars so that from 2025, its vehicles are powered by electricity rather than petrol or diesel. Our international business correspondent Theo Leggett says that with the car industry facing bans on carbon emissions in Europe and China, Jaguar Land Rover doesn't have much choice.
If you look at Jaguar Land Rover, yes, they make a lot of diesels at the moment and that's an image problem. But it's also a problem going forward because petrol and diesel, pure combustion engines are going to be phased out in the UK and its home market from 2030 onwards anyway. New car sales of pure combustion engines will be banned from xenon, so it has to start working towards alternative solutions. Now, taking Jaguar a premium brand and turning that into an all electric brand, that makes a certain amount of sense.
It may be a bit harder to bring that turnaround with Land Rover and with Range Rover. But, you know, these are upmarket vehicles. And Jaguar Land Rover, as I say, has little choice. Policy is moving in the direction of cleaner vehicles. And at the moment, its model line up is far too heavily weighted towards diesel. Jaguar Land Rover is not, in global terms, a big car maker. It doesn't compare to the likes of Volkswagen or General Motors or Toyota or even to Mercedes Benz, which is part of the Daimler Empire and which is a direct competitor.
Now, electric cars at the moment is very hard to make them profitable. They cost a lot to make and they're expensive to sell. So car makers are hoping that as they make more of them, they'll get economies of scale and start increasing those all important profit margins. But JLR doesn't make that many cars. So where's it going to get these economies of scale from? We've noticed that today in line with this announcement. There's a restructuring of the group that's obviously going to be needed.
But I think in future, this is a company which will need partnerships with other businesses in order to reduce the costs of developing these electric systems so that it can create some kind of a profit.
That was the laggard. The soaring peaks of the Himalayas are known for their snow covered slopes. When humans climb the gnarled peaks, they're reliant on thick, insulated jackets to shield them from the weather.
And they're not the only ones.
Scientists from the United States have found that songbirds in the region, like this little gold craft that you can hear in the background, have evolved their feathers to provide more insulation and protect them from extreme cold while they live at the top of the world. Our science correspondent Victoria Gill told us more.
We don't see very much of feathers when we look at birds. We only see this kind of outer portion. But there's a downy, soft, fluffy part underneath that's heading away. This was all inspired by a researcher called Circus Barbie in Washington, D.C. He was doing fieldwork in the Himalayas and he saw this tiny little bird, the gold crest that you heard at the top there, darting around in the trees. It was minus 10 degrees. And he was sort of, you know, plunging his hands into his pockets and really, really cold.
And this tiny little six gram bird weighs about as much as a teaspoon full of sugar was darting around happily now that birds got to keep its heart at about 40 degrees C, and meanwhile, it's 50 degrees lower than that outside. So he just looked at this little bird and thought, wow. So back he went to the museum. And the Smithsonian has this huge collection of birds from all over the world. And he started looking at Himalayan songbirds and he saw this pattern that when he looked under the microscope at these feathers, the Dounia fluffier portion was bigger as you've climbed in elevation, as the temperatures got colder.
So the structure of the feather actually changes and it has more of a thicker, soft down layer to keep that bird warm.
And that's particularly important, especially for the really small birds, isn't it? Yeah, exactly. So there's another pattern as well. And the smallest birds actually had even longer feathers, so they sort of had more more distance in those feathers between their skin and the outside temperature. Is this really lovely kind of fundamental insight into how these tiny little animals have evolved and how incredible feathers are? I mean, we've been using feathers in down clothing for many, many years, you know, as well as appreciating how these animals have evolved specifically for their environment, maybe it will make us appreciate our duvets a little bit more.
And does it actually give us any information beyond these little birds?
The Himalayas is warming very, very quickly. The changing climate that's going to have some real impacts on animals that are evolved specifically for particular niches. And those swings in extreme temperatures are going to get more extreme or the likelihood and the frequency of those of those temperature extremes are going to increase. So this provides some insight into. Which species are going to be most affected by the changing climate? That was Victoria Gill. 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 covered in it, do please send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBK Dot Dot UK. This part was mixed by Barry Byrne. The producer was Liam McCaffrey. The editor is Karen Martin. I'm Jackie Leonard. And until next time, goodbye.