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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Nick Miles, and it's 14 hours GMT on Tuesday, the 6th of April. These are our main stories. Concerns are growing among Olympics officials about problems facing this year's games in Tokyo continue to mount. Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked to try to form a new Israeli government, but the president has expressed doubts that anyone can secure a majority to do so.
Also in this broadcast, US and Iranian delegates are trying to revive the nuclear deal. Our Middle East editor tells us why it matters so much.
There was an inexorable slide towards some kind of a war going on over Iran's nuclear plans. And the deal, I think, stopped that and stuck at sea alone on a container ship for four years.
I if it's like a grave, you can see anything. You can't hear anything. All I want is to go back home to my family.
But he's legally in charge, so he can't leave.
Though the Olympics have become about much more than just sport, especially for North and South Korea.
Three years ago at the Winter Games, the two nations, which are still officially at war, fielded a joint team walking side by side at the opening ceremony, matching together.
It was a unifying moment that opened the door for negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington in the years to come, and there were hopes that something similar could happen this year at the Tokyo Games in July.
But North Korea has just announced that it will not compete this year because of concerns about covid-19. The details from our correspondent in Tokyo, Rupert Wingfield Hayes.
The reasons for North Korea's withdrawal are fairly unique to North Korea, and that is because of its own internal politics and its own internal fear of the covid-19 pandemic. And what we've seen is that North Korea has sealed the country. The government has sealed the country very, very tightly for most of the last year. It did so early on and it has continued to do so to really extraordinary extent. To the extent, for example, that the outgoing ambassador from North Korea to China, who finished his term recently, is unable to go home.
He has been told to stay in Beijing until the pandemic is over. The reasoning for that is we think because North Korea is deeply, deeply afraid of covid really getting loose in the country, the medical system in North Korea is very weak. It does not have the capacity to deal with a pandemic. And so this is the way they're dealing with it at huge cost to the North Korean economy, which is very dependent on things coming in from China.
And so I suppose in that context, it is not surprising that the North Koreans have decided, well, we're not going to allow our Olympic team out of the country during covid either.
And countries will be watching the fact that there are increasing numbers of cases in Japan of some pretty nasty variants going around.
Yes, the Japan came out of its third wave of infections in the beginning of March. And since then, we've seen infection rates, particularly in western Japan, in the Kansai region and Osaka, pick up quite rapidly. So there's a fear of a fourth wave. And given that, you know, Japan is preparing to partially open itself to 60000 or more people from every country in the world virtually in the next four months, there is obviously a concern that, you know, another wave of of much more infectious covid is going to be very, very dangerous for the population of Japan and for for the people coming here to be, quite frankly, because they could carry it back to their countries.
And there is another huge concern here, which is that Japan has been very slow amongst the G7 countries. It is the slowest by quite a long way in getting vaccinates. Vaccinations started over 65 is only started getting vaccinated in the last few days. And the rate of vaccinations is still extremely slow. And we don't expect that to pick up at least until the middle of May. And that means that, you know, it's not going to be possible for Japan to vaccinate its elderly population before the Olympics opens.
Rupert Wingfield Hayes, Israel's president, has asked Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government following those recent elections that failed to produce a clear winner.
Mr. Netanyahu, Israel's caretaker prime minister, at the moment emerged from the vote in the strongest position.
And this invitation comes despite him being on trial on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. All allegations that he strongly denies or Yulan now told me what comes next.
Certainly, it's going to be a really tough task for Benjamin Netanyahu to build a new coalition government. Only 52 out of the 120 members of the parliament recommended him and President Rivlin when he made his televised announcement endorsing Mr. Netanyahu. He acknowledged himself that no candidate had enough to form a majority. He voiced doubt that anybody would be able to to build a coalition, that they had a realistic chance. But he said according to law, he was obliged to choose one candidate.
And the main challenges for Mr. Netanyahu, a man called Yair Lapid, who is the former finance minister, a TV former TV anchor as well. He only got 45 out of the 120 seats from people who recommended him. And then there were only seven seats nominated for Naftali Bennett, who's the former defense minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a higher chance than others. But can he really do it? That remains to be seen.
You land four elections in two years, weak government struggling to pass things even as fundamental as budgets. People must be fed up. What's the impact on the economy, on people's lives?
At the moment, things are sort of somewhat muddied by the effects of the pandemic. But yes, the big thing is that the country not having a budget because for the last two years the country's only had really a caretaker government. While it's been going into general elections, Mr. Netanyahu has continued in office. There was, after the third election, an attempt to have a national unity government. Mr. Netanyahu teaming up with. The man who was formerly his main rival, Benny Gantz, he used to be the head of the military here in Israel, but that just fell apart quite quickly.
And, yes, Israelis are extremely frustrated. And that's why you find the country just so very much evenly split. We saw this in the last elections and talking to people, there are those who are just fed up with Mr. Netanyahu and say that really he should resign, that he's not continue in office while he's also on trial. And then there are those who are his supporters who say no, that actually prior to the pandemic, Israel had a strong economy, that Mr.
Netanyahu has achieved a lot for Israel on the world stage. And, of course, they praise his management of the covid vaccine rollout in Israel. And there are people who see what's happening to Mr. Netanyahu as a political witch hunt. He himself has called it that.
Yolan now, is the Iran nuclear deal about to get a new lease of life? Both the US and Iran sent delegations to take part in talks in Vienna today.
President Biden has said that he's ready to take the US back into the agreement that President Trump pulled out of back in 2018, setting conditions for that. Iran says lifting sanctions must be the first step.
I asked our Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, how likely it is that both sides can reach agreement.
It's a delicate process diplomatically. I think where they do, the two sides, the Americans and the Iranians connect is that both say they want to go back into the deal on the terms that they were on previously. And the way that the Iranians have put it is that they will not do anything until what they call the cruel sanctions of the United States are lifted. Those are the extra ones Trump put in. And the Americans say that it's important to get back into the deal and they accept that there are sanctions which are inconsistent with the nuclear deal and therefore they accept that they will have to be lifted.
But it's a question of finding a way to do it. So neither of them end up looking like slaps on this one.
I suppose the real question about this is, if this deal gets nowhere again, what is the danger of some kind of flare up?
Obviously, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others are watching what's been happening in Iran for the last four years. And they're really worried, aren't they?
I covered the negotiations over quite a few years and knowing the region well, it's really very important to try and revive this deal. It is far from being a perfect deal. And to be fair to the people who originally signed it, no one claimed it was. But it's a lot better than the alternative. And it seemed at the time, back when it was signed in 2015, that there was an inexorable slide towards some kind of a war going on slow, but pretty certain over Iran's nuclear plans.
And the deal, I think, stopped that it became dangerous again when Trump pulled out of it. Another very sensibly, the Americans want back in, though. Of course, the problem is, is that, you know, the world has turned, things have changed. The context is a little bit different. So it's not certain that they can go back to the, you know, the status quo ante. However, I think is the best option they've got at the moment is to try.
So at the moment, they're not even going to be meeting face to face. What would progress look like to you over over the coming months and years?
Well, it's going to have to happen pretty quickly, actually, if they're going to get back into this, because the deal itself doesn't last forever. Iran is continuing to enrich uranium at a higher level. You know, they can't hang around on this. There are elections coming up in Iran as well. So I think what they need to try and work out in their meeting in Vienna is the sequencing of all of this. If they are going to go back into the deal and the Iranians admit they're no longer compliant with it, then they're going to have to work out the way it happens.
How do they do it? Perhaps there will be some kind of a period, a month or more where they will do it. So in other words, it's not like we do it the same day, but in that it'll get done anyway. We'll see. But no, they're not going to talk to each other. The Iranians won't have it.
Jeremy Bowen, the people of Greenland have been voting to elect a new government.
The vote may help to decide whether Greenland becomes a major global source of rare earth metals, as the BBC's Mike Saunders reports.
Donald Trump could see the potential. Two years ago, he made an off the cuff offer to buy Greenland from Denmark, which subsidizes the autonomous territory to the tune of 600 million dollars a year. The offer was declined, but Greenland's 40000 voters must now decide if they want to reduce their dependence on Denmark by producing the metals essential to the world's high tech products. Assimilate or forward party wants an Australian mining firm and its Chinese backers to start work. But the opposition Green leaning party community of the people opposes the project.
It worries about the radioactive byproducts. Mike Saunders.
Next, drama at a beauty pageant in Sri Lanka. As for the missing school ink, there's a rule that you all have to be married and divorced.
So I think that was the message Sri Lanka contest, which was screened live on national TV, always going well until the 2019 when I decided she wasn't happy with the result. Charlotte Gallagher takes out the story.
If you want a few minutes of absolutely toe curling television, I suggest that you search this video out on the Internet. So push Peaker DeSilva had just been crowned Miss Sri Lanka 2021. The 2019 winner, Caroline Juried then grabs the microphone. And you heard a bit of her speech. Then she says she's divorced. She can't be Mrs. Sri Lanka. She then proceeds to walk over to Mrs. 2021, grabs the crown, tries to sort of wrestle it off her head, but it's stuck in her hair.
So there's a few minutes of her trying to yank off and the winner looking really, really upset and finally walking off stage. She says she's actually got head injuries from this and had to go to hospital. Then the 2019 winner says the runner up is now the winner crowns her. The runner up makes this really emotional speech. And then apparently so we've had a statement from the right for way to speak itself. She says, I'm not divorced. I'm separated from my husband.
We are still married. They're giving back, giving her back her crown. The organized organisers say they're totally embarrassed. So a bit of a happy ending. But beauty pageants are meant to be about grace and elegance.
And this was not absolute, I suppose, when there's a lot of money and prestige at stake, the sort of nice, calm exterior, the claws come out.
That was Charlotte Gallagher.
Still to come, speaking to the BBC, President Biden's son, Hunter, opens up about his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.
Alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug that I was ever addicted to. And it brought me to in my knees in a way that I didn't know what I would be able to get out of it.
And new research reveals how fireflies defend themselves from attack.
Australia and New Zealand have both been praised for their response to the pandemic. Life is returning to something like normal there. But the closure of international borders has separated families and crippled the tourism and aviation industries. Now both nations have agreed to allow quarantined free travel across the Tasman Sea. The decision was welcomed on the streets of Sydney. Absolutely out of this world.
And I'll be over there in the next three or four weeks seeing and cuddling my kids, which I've missed out on so many months.
It's a bit of a rainbow at the end of this long, long process.
It's been Australia and New Zealand seem to have done quite well. This incremental approach seems to make sense.
To our correspondent in Sydney, Cima Khaleel explains how the travel bubble will work.
For the first time in more than a year, people will be able to travel between Australia and New Zealand quarantine free. Now, back in October, we've had New Zealanders able to come here to Australia, but they had to quarantine when they returned back home. This is no longer the case. The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, described this as an exciting time that put both countries in a unique position. But she was quick to warn people that things are not going to look the same as they were before covid and that passengers should expect disruption to travel.
In the case of an outbreak, which we did see in Queensland earlier when Brisbane went into a three day lockdown just before Easter. The airports as well, when they arrive, the people from coming from Australia will not mix with passengers coming from elsewhere in the world. So the idea really is to keep that bubble as contained and as safe as possible.
Sharma Khaleel. Throughout the US presidential election campaign, Joe Biden was repeatedly forced to defend his son, Hunter, a recovering drug and alcohol addict whose personal life is the subject of numerous tabloid articles.
Hunter says he is now directly addressing the controversies that surround him. He's been speaking exclusively to the BBC.
But first, let's hear from Michelle Hussein, who's been looking at his life.
Hunter got thrown out of the military. He was thrown out, dishonorably discharged. That's not true. Can use. And he didn't have a job until you became vice president. What do you know about president? He made a fortune in Ukraine and China in mass, several areas of the EU 2020.
And Hunter Biden's name resounded on the campaign trail as the youngest son of Joe Biden. He was part of the Democratic candidates family man persona and inner circle for the Trump campaign. His name. Being work and drug and alcohol addictions were a way to attack the man who is now president. Hunter Biden's early life was marred by tragedy. His father was sworn into the Senate at his hospital bedside following a car accident that killed his mother and baby sister in 1972.
Then the other survivor of that crash, his brother Beau, who he described as his soul mate, died of a brain tumor in 2015. Soon after his life spiraled downwards, his two decades long marriage came to an end and a crippling addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine saw him buying drugs on the streets of Washington, D.C., having guns pointed in his face and at one point his dealer moved into his apartment. He credits his new wife, Melissa, with making it possible for him to get clean and his father, with never wavering in his support.
And he didn't have a son. Like a lot of people, like a lot of people we know at home, had a drug problem. He's overtaken it.
His he's he's fixed it. He's worked on it. And I'm proud of him.
But it was his role on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Verismo that was used repeatedly by the Trump campaign against Joe Biden, highlighting what Hunter was being paid and what it was for.
And now that his father holds the highest office in the country, what comes next for this man who, by his own admission, is still heavily in debt?
Well, Hunter Biden says that he failed to see how working for a Ukrainian gas company would be perceived given that his father was U.S. vice president and fronting U.S. policy on Ukraine at the time, or the company put him on its board for a reported 50000 dollars a month.
I think he didn't deny when Michelle Hussein spoke to him, I started at the beginning, which is that I had an entire career. And one of the things that is most frustrating is this idea that I have never had a job in my life. As the former guy says, you know, I've never worked for my dad. I built a business. I served on over 14 different boards before I took the job with Breezewood.
And so when someone comes to me with work, it's my job to do the due diligence, which I did. And what I missed, though, was the perception that I would create what I missed in that period of time. And I and I know that it is hard to believe with 20/20 hindsight how I could possibly have missed that.
You say you've had a whole career before your father became vice president. That's true, of course. But it's also fair to say that a big part of that career was based around lobbying the firm that you had. And that was why when your father became vice president, Obama administration officials made it clear that that had to stop at the point you were working for tourism. It was a lot of money to be paid for relatively few meetings a year. And at a point where, by your own admission, you I mean, you were you were an alcoholic through a lot of that period.
How much work were you actually doing for them?
Yeah, well, I did I did the work that was required of every board member. And I would also like to remember is that what I was paid is the equivalent what people are paid to serve on corporate boards. And I was paid exactly what other board members on that board were, which included the former president of Poland and some very established industry people in different fields that brought different expertise. But I get it, Michelle. I really do. I mean, I understand the thing.
But here's at the bottom line. Not one investigative body, not one legitimate journalist or newspaper have come to the conclusion other than this, my dad did nothing wrong and that I did nothing illegal or wrong in doing so. But you're right, I created a perception and a perception that was wielded against us in incredibly wild and conspiratorial way that ultimately, at the end of the day was one of the things that led to an impeachment of the president. And ultimately, at the end of the day, I think that people understood the truth and 81 million people decided that my dad should be president of the United States.
Hunter Biden talking to Michelle Hussein. Several Indigenous Australians or First Nations citizens have recently died in custody. The fifth death since the start of March happened over the weekend, and it led to a senator challenging the government over the issue.
My colleague Lawrence Poulard got more from Hannah Ryan, who's covering the story for the Australian Associated Press.
The trend really became clear in early March when it was revealed that in one of our states, New South Wales, two people had died in one week alone. And this broke through also because those deaths were only revealed in questioning in a parliamentary committee and it snowballed into these other incidents as well.
What actually pulls them together? Are these deaths in custody? Police contact, we know that.
One in New South Wales was an apparent suicide. Others were in hospital and there's obviously been some sort of medical episode. One died during a police pursuit, but the details are really scant. But what what's kind of snowballed this into a significant issue is not only that there have been five in five weeks, but also that we're rapidly approaching next week, the 30th anniversary of a royal commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which has been a landmark document, 339 recommendations on protecting people.
And, you know, 30 years ago, what's been done? And is this still seen as a kind of like a touchstone of good practice, or are people now saying it's got to be revisited?
I think it's still seen as a touchstone of good practice, but the concern is that not all the recommendations have been implemented yet. So this was a years long report. It took it took years to investigate. And as you said, it had 339 recommendations. When Deloitte looked into this in 2018, they found that only two thirds of those recommendations had been fully implemented. So there's a sense that the governments in Australia have really been dragging their feet on this issue and three decades have passed and we're still seeing a similar level of deaths in custody.
One of the deaths that we had recently in New South Wales in early March was a woman who died in custody by apparent suicide. And there were hanging points in the prison in which she was being held. And one of the recommendations in the royal commission was to remove hanging points. We'd also recently had an inquest that looked at a death in that same prison where someone had used the hanging point.
Hannah Ryan, fireflies are one of the most noticeable types of insects on warm summer nights that glowing bodies bobbing in the air to light children and adults alike.
So being so visible, how do they escape being eaten? Arian Cochi reports with lights that give them their name. Fireflies bring a sense of magic and wonder. But that famous glow serves two purposes as a mating signal and a warning to predators that their bodies could contain poison. Now, scientists at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel have discovered that fireflies have a previously unknown defense system that flutter their wings to produce sounds that act as a musical armor to protect themselves from predators such as bats.
The sounds cannot be detected by humans or the fireflies themselves, but are audible to bats, which, due to their poor eyesight, might miss the visual warning signs.
And Cochi life is slowly returning to normal in the Suez Canal after that recent blockage caused by the vast containership the ever given.
But as ships pass through the canal once more, once ship and one man are still not moving.
A Syrian seafarer, Mohammed Ayisha, has been stuck on a cargo ship just off the coast south of Suez for the past four years.
He spent much of that time alone. Mohammed's ship has been abandoned by its owner and thanks to an Egyptian court order, he's been forced to stay on board. The BBC's Paul Adams spoke to him.
Hi, my name is Ahmadinejad and I was the chief officer of this ship.
It's the voice of a castaway on board, but for the most part forgotten with nothing but crows for company and the wind. I've been alone on board the ship for most of the time since August of 2013 and completely alone since October of 2012.
And that's just the past two years. Mohammed has been stuck off the Egyptian coast since the summer of 2017. I haven't seen my family now for almost four years. All they want is to go back home and to meet my family again.
Getting hold of Mohammed isn't easy. He has a phone, but with no power on board. He has to swim ashore every couple of days to charge it. And the signal is patchy.
What is life like on your ship if you're stuck in a district prison? So I just three metal prison now going on for a year. That's like a.. It's like a dream. You can see anything. You can't hear anything. It's like you're in a coffin.
That's like the ship was detained in 2017. There were issues with safety equipment and certificates, nothing that couldn't be fixed. But the ship's Bahraini owners were in financial difficulty. Bills weren't being paid with the captain ashore. An Egyptian court declared Mohammed, the ship's legal guardian. He signed the paper but says he didn't realize until months later what that meant, that he couldn't leave.
I've lost my mother. Two years ago, though, she died, unable to see me for two years, and she's never going to see me again because of this and this ship and hers is not the only cursed ship.
According to the International Labour Organization, there are more than 250 active cases of seafarer abandonment around the world. Cruise simply left to fend for themselves.
The first time I came across one of these cases, I was in total shock. Andy Baumann is the Middle East and South Asia director for the Mission to Seafarers from his base in Dubai. He's seen this happen time and time again.
We are currently working with a case here where the company has a huge mortgage on the vessel, but their debts are way beyond that. And so sometimes it is just easier to tell the crew to drop anchor and almost literally walk away.
The Bahraini owners of Mohammed Ship didn't want to be interviewed for this program, but told me they've been trying their best. Mohammed, they said, should never have signed that document. Their hands, they say, are tied. Not good enough, says Mohammed Atta Chadi of the International Transport Workers Federation.
What is sure is that this situation of Mohammed is in just because the owner, he has abandoned the ship. This is his decision. The court of Egypt has appointed Mohammed as a legal guardian of the ship. Mohammed is allowed on board of the ship with no water, no electricity, no food. So what's to assume the responsibility?
The court is now considering whether to put someone else on board and the ship is up for auction. Mohamed could soon be free. That report was by Paul Adams.
And that is all from us for now. But there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later on. If you want to comment on this podcast or the topics we've covered in it, you can send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBC DOT Code Watch UK today. Studio manager with Nick Jones, the producer Allison Davis.
And the editor is Karen Martin. I'm Nick Miles. And until next time, goodbye. The breakthroughs that have shaped the way in which we live today and much of the art that has revolutionized industry, New York had this incredible explosion of posters, the people who have made a difference. My song was inspiring other people in other places and the moments that have made history. It's going to advance knowledge for humanity, witness history, just such for witness history wherever you get your podcasts.