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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service.
Hello, I'm Oliver Conaway and this edition is published in the early hours of Sunday, the 21st of August. Our main stories, NATO dismisses the Belarussian president's claims of a troop build up on the border as baseless. The EU says children over 12 should wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. And there's violence in Ivory Coast as the governing party formally nominates President Alassane Ouattara to run for a third term in office.
Also in the podcast, he basically lived to drink for many years. He smoked until a few days ago. He was known to be the life and soul of the party, the secrets of a long life in South Africa.
A week ago, it seemed as if the strongman leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, may be on his way out. Such was the anger over suspected vote rigging in the presidential election and the subsequent violence against protesters. The mass demonstrations of last weekend were followed by the president being booed by normally loyal factory workers. But after 26 years in power, Mr. Lukashenko is in no mood to give up easily. And he's been fighting back, claiming that NATO troops are on scheduled maneuvers near the western border, are working to divide Belarus and install a new president.
Well, you know, there have been plenty of statements by Western states on financing and support. Military support is evident. NATO forces are moving to the borders of our country. All this is done to put here allegedly an alternative president. Then he will call Western states, NATO in particular, to protect the people. They will deploy troops. And that's all you can put an end to Belarus.
NATO says President Lukashenko claims are baseless and has urged him to respect fundamental rights. But ahead of another mass rally on Sunday, the opposition in Belarus is coming under pressure from the security services.
A Steve Rosenberg reports from the capital Minsk, outside the investigations committee in Minsk. A crowd is shouting, good for you and all for one and one for all.
They've come to support two men who've been called in for questioning members of the New Coordination Council. The opposition's set it up to try to negotiate a peaceful transfer of power in Belarus. President Lukashenko calls it an attempted coup. Maxime's Nuk is one of the council members who's been summoned.
There is no intention to seize the power. There is intention only to find out how to solve the political crisis by the country.
It's only three days old, but already the council is under fierce attack by the state.
Of course, I'm afraid the pressure is very huge. Pavel The Tushka is a former culture minister of Belarus. He's joined the Coordination Council and has been receiving threats last two or three days.
I receive a lot of information from the special services that I will be a member of the Coordination Council. I can be arrested using force against me. Also, they said that you should go abroad and they proposed a charter, for example, charter flight to Moscow, the diplomatic corps. They asked, where is my daughter is difficult.
But the protests against a rigged presidential election and the brutality of the police go on. In Minsk, car horns sound in support of protesters who formed a giant human chain through the city. There are daily anti-government rallies and strikes across Belarus. But at the Minsk automobile factory, the strike leader has been arrested. Another worker was detained. The country's giant potash plant.
But he jumped out of the window in the police station toilet and escaped to Ukraine through what President Alexander Lukashenko. He's been busy dismissing his opponents as Western puppets. He's even referred to members of the Coordination Council as Nazis. Mr. Lukashenko supporters have been gathering to go along to meet them, their loved ones.
The pro Lukashenko rallies have been much smaller and stranger than the anti-government ones last year.
But obviously, when I ask people why they've come in, no comment, says one man. I'm saying nothing, says another.
Then yeah, the nicer president that I'm for Lukashenko, for the motherland, for peace.
I mean peace. I say there hasn't been much of that. Anti Lukashenko protesters were brutalized by the Belarusian riot police.
Well, Sassella then they should have stayed at home and the police across the city, women in national costumes are performing a Belarusian folk song at another anti-government protest after 26 years of Alexander Lukashenko s authoritarian rule.
The call for change has struck a chord with many in Belarus. For now, though, he's still in charge, apparently determined to remain in power.
But Steve Rosenberg reporting from Minsk. The US House of Representatives has voted to pass an emergency bill to inject 25 billion dollars into America's cash strapped postal service and prohibit any changes ahead of November's presidential election. Democrats are concerned that the Trump administration may try to disenfranchise millions of Americans who choose to vote by mail. Our correspondent in the US, Peter Bowes, has the details.
This was expected to pass this bill. 26 Republicans also voted in favor of the bill, although we have to say that the Republican controlled Senate is very unlikely to take up this bill. And the White House has already indicated that the president would veto the bill.
I think there's been a lot of concern and there was concern amongst people, I think, because of what the post office was indicating maybe a couple of weeks ago, that perhaps it didn't have the resources necessary to be able to guarantee that the mail in ballots or postal ballots were delivered on time. Now, the post office has rather changed its tune in the last few days. Peter Bowes.
In many countries, masks are obligatory for adults on public transport, in shops and in other crowded areas. Now, the World Health Organization says children aged 12 or over should follow the same rules of Geneva correspondent.
Immagine FOX has more details, although not much is yet known about how susceptible children are to covid-19. There is some evidence to suggest older children can infect others in the same way adults do. Children aged between six and 12 should wear masks only in specific settings, the WTO says, such as when in contact with the elderly and only under adult supervision. Children under six should not wear them. The advice comes just as many schools are about to reopen. After months of closure, social distancing will be a challenge, so masks in the classroom are likely to become the norm.
Like many European nations, Germany is seeing a surge in coronavirus infections, with more than 2000 recorded in the 24 hours to Saturday, the highest since the end of April. Despite that, the German state has funded a series of pop concerts this weekend in the eastern city of Leipzig.
The performances by singer songwriter Tim Benzino attracted thousands of music fans as part of a scientific experiment to see how coronavirus spreads at mass events. Yoza Mania Schlegel, a reporter for the newspaper Leipzig Volke Zeitung, was at one of the concerts. He spoke to my colleague Julian Marshall.
It went down in a very controlled manner. There were no alcoholic drinks and it was all conducted by a virologist, not a master, my warm up or something. And everyone was paying a lot of attention. Everyone was wearing their masks.
So say everybody was wearing masks and keeping two metres apart.
Were they there were socially distancing in one scenario where they had one or two seats empty between each spectator, between each participant. But you also had scenarios where you had everyone sit really close to each other. And this was possible because everyone was tested negative for covid-19 beforehand. So it was actually possible to to try out many, many scenarios how a life concert into a concert could go down. And they tried out as many as they could think of.
So what are the scientists hoping to prove by this?
Maybe I have to explain that every participant was given some sort of tracking device and this tracking device recorded their behavior and their distancing and how they walked around at what speed and well, how they managed to go to the bar to get a drink or how they managed to get a bratwurst. Yeah, how fast they find their car even afterwards. So with this data, they hope to create some sort of scientifically based safety concept which would allow politicians to make indoor concepts safe and possible again.
Reporter and concertgoer Yoza Manea Legal. Although he's not listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, Freddi Blom from South Africa was thought to be the oldest person in the world. He has died at the age of 116. Our reporter Richard Hamilton looks back at a remarkable life.
His identity documents reveal that Freddy Blom was born in 1984 in the rural town of Adelaide, near the great winter Bourke Mountain range in the Eastern Cape when he was a teenager. His parents and his only sister died in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. He also survived two world wars and apartheid. He met his wife Janette, and helped her raise three of her children. Thirty years ago, the couple moved to the township of Delfs, near Cape Town. He attributed his longevity to decades of construction work, along with walking and cycling.
He was also a gardener and would get up early to ride his bicycle to work. His family said that two weeks ago he was still chopping wood.
He also told us that he lived a walk of life in his youth, that he basically lived to drink for many years. He smoked until a few days ago. He was known to be the life and soul of the party. He was a driver of note.
Doreen Morris is a television producer who became a friend of Freddy's after making a programme about him.
He was a man of peace with the world and with himself. He knew from the outset that he was enough, yet nothing to prove, and he lived only to honour his creator. He was kind. He was gentle, he was generous, but he was honest and upright. Truly, the salt of the earth was being put somebody who has no surviving children of his own. He touched the hearts and the lives of so many. So he's left a legacy.
When interviewed for his 100th 16th birthday, he complained about a nationwide ban on cigarette sales, which was part of South Africa's strict lockdown measures. Freddie's family confirmed that he died of natural causes and passed away peacefully at Tiger Bourke Hospital in Cape Town. Richard Hamilton.
And still to come on the podcast, they're working in very extreme conditions because of the record heat and the growth in vegetation of the areas that have been burnt in over 30, 40 years. It's very intense fire.
Firefighters in California struggle to contain huge wildfires, burning forests and homes.
The Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is reported to be in a stable condition in hospital in Germany after being airlifted from Russia.
He remains. Unconscious and doctors are carrying out tests, his wife and supporters believe he was poisoned. Like many other critics of President Putin, Russian doctors say they found no suspicious substances. They initially refused to allow him to leave hospital in Siberia, but changed their mind after mounting pressure. Yaka Barzelay is the founder of the German organization Cinema for Peace, which arranged to fly Mr. Navalny to the charity hospital in Berlin, is still unconscious.
He's been on ventilation and obviously everybody is very, very concerned about the fact that we got him to Berlin and it's all worked out, made everybody happy. But this is only a small step. The big step really is now in a fantastic hospital, which the charity is in Berlin. So we really hope that he can get healthy again. But of course, it's a big effort because the data which was recorded in Russia showed that he's in a critical condition.
I got more details about his treatment from our correspondent in Berlin, Jenny Hill.
Doctors are saying it's going to be some time before they can really assess and examine Mr. Navalny properly. But we have heard a little from his friends and supporters who've actually said it's going to now be a couple of days before we really know any results or any kind of prognosis for him.
Are they testing to see whether he'd been poisoned? And would the delay in getting him to Germany make any difference?
Well, that is the concern. And I imagine, of course, they're running those kind of tests. The case does bear some similarities with something that happened a couple of years ago, another opponent of Vladimir Putin who came to Berlin for treatment for suspected poisoning. Now, the doctors gave him a good looking over. They treated him here. They discharged him. All they could say was that they were pretty sure he'd been poisoned, but they couldn't really find the actual substance itself.
So the concern is that the delay in getting him to Berlin may mean that had he been poisoned, it's possible there may now be no trace of any kind of substance. But we're going to have to wait and see what the doctors eventually find.
Now, of course, he is possibly Vladimir Putin's biggest critic. Will the fact that he's being treated in Germany have any ramifications for German relations with Russia?
Yes, the relationship between Germany and Russia is somewhat strained at the moment, not least because relatively recently, the German authorities investigating the shooting death of a Chechen dissident in a Berlin park in broad daylight last summer, and they concluded that this was a state ordered assassination. That's done nothing, of course, to smooth relations with Russia. But you have to look at Angela Merkel's relationship with Vladimir Putin. They go back a long way. They've both been leaders for a very long time.
He spent some time in Germany before the Berlin Wall came down, speaks a bit of German. She speaks some Russian. Having grown up behind the Iron Curtain, he said to have a grudging respect for her. And she there's a real duality in her approach towards Mr. Putin. On the one hand, she'll condemn him, for example, over his activities and say Crimea. On the other hand, she wants to keep the channel of communications open so she can try and thrash out a solution.
And for example, Ukraine, she supports this Nord Stream two gas pipeline, which will bring Russian gas into Europe via Germany. It's controversial. And so this is a complicated situation, but this latest case will certainly do nothing to warm those relations.
Jenny Hill in Berlin. Alassane Ouattara won much praise when he said he would step down as president of Ivory Coast at the end of his second term in office. But on Saturday, he was nominated by his party to run for a third term. His U-turn follows the sudden death in July of his anointed successor, the then prime minister, Amadou Gonne Coulibaly.
Speaking at a rally in Abidjan, Alassane Ouattara said changes to the Constitution, allowing him to run again well for the benefit of the country, but that this constitution was created in the interest of Ivory Coast.
I did it in the interest of Ivorians. I did it so that we do not return to blood situations, situations that bring about a coup d'etat, situations that tried to eliminate candidates by asking them who their father is, who their mother is, who their grandfathers and grandmothers are.
I asked my Africa editor, Mary Harper, how Ivorians had reacted to his nomination.
The opposition are absolutely furious about this. They have, in fact, been protesting for several weeks, ever since the announcement was made that President Ouattara, despite his pledges not to, is now going to stand for a third term in office, even though he's 78 years old. And today there's been protests in various parts of the country, mainly strongholds of opponents of Mr. Ouattara. There's been clashes between supporters of his party and opposition supporters. In a town not too far from Abidjan, the commercial capital tires have been set on fire.
Barricades have been set up in various other towns as well. So there is quite a lot of. Fury on the streets of several towns in the Ivory Coast after this formal nomination today.
Yeah, I guess his party was obviously surprised by the death of his anointed successor. But was there no one else who could then step in and take the nomination?
This is what surprised many because Mr. Ouattara had been so firm in his decision, at least publicly, that he was absolutely not going to stand again, unlike so many other heads of state across Africa and there certainly other members of his party who could have been chosen following the unexpected death of the prime minister. But somehow, Mr. Ouattara, he said when he made this decision, he went on and on about such a difficult decision, how it went against his personal wishes.
But as he said, for the good of Ivory Coast, he was going to stand again. But it's not as if there are no other choices that would have been available.
And presumably his opponents will make much of this U-turn during the campaign.
Absolutely they will. And, you know, Ivory Coast is a place that even though since Ouattara came to power 10 years ago, he has helped revive the economy, which was destroyed by two very serious civil conflicts. But people have said he hasn't been brilliant at healing the wounds of especially the post-election violence that erupted in 2010, 2011, in which 3000 people died. And so there are fears that those fractures in the country could reemerge, could become deeper, and possibly this violence could become something more widespread and serious.
Africa editor Mary Harper. Wildfires are an annual hazard in the US state of California, but each year they seem to get worse. Now the state is battling some of the biggest blazes on record. So far, six deaths have been recorded and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. Tim Edwards is president of the state's largest firefighters union. He told Gillian Marshall that many of the blazes were started by lightning strikes.
We had a lot of lightning go through at one time. And with the dry conditions being the way they were and the severity and accompanied by no rain, it caused a lot of small fires that eventually grew together, become major fires.
And these fires, have they encroached on population centers? They have the city of Acurio and a few others in Sonoma, Lake, Napa, and then down in the Santa Cruz Santa Clara area. We've already lost over 100 homes between the two of them.
So these are pretty ferocious conditions in which firefighters are currently working.
They're working in very extreme conditions because of the record heat going on, the terrain that these fires are burning in and the growth in vegetation of the areas that have been burnt in over 30, 40 years. It's very intense fire.
Tim Edwards talking to Julian Marshall, one of those evacuated with John Carlotti, who left his home in the town of Ben Lomond in California. He's now staying at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.
The Civic is presently at max capacity and they're being very prudent around that to optimize people being socially distant from each other so that that doesn't become an issue. As well as sheltering people from the fire. Every person here, every single person has got a tent to themselves, a pup tent with a sleeping bag. Families have got larger size tents and they're all laid out on the floor in the auditorium. This is the first time in 15 years that I've had to evacuate.
We live in a forested area with lots of redwood forest, so there's a lot of tinder and stuff. In the 15 years that I've lived here, there were two other fires. We had smoke. We were probably three to four miles away from the fires, but we were never warned to evacuate or anything like that.
John Carlotti from the town of Ben Lomond in California. Wynton Marsalis was the first ever jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.
His new album, The Ever Funky Lowdown, takes a look at the state of race, class and rhetoric in modern America. Wendell Pierce, who starred in the TV show The Wire, takes on the role of a narrator Mr. Game, trying to manipulate anyone who will listen to him. Our entertainment correspondent Collin Peterson has been speaking to both of them.
Wynton Marsalis. The only musician ever to win jazz and classical Grammys in the same year, we are the greatest nation in the world. Wendell Pierce bunk in the wire, regarded by many as one of the greatest TV shows of all time and the first Matus schoolkids in New Orleans, 1978.
I remember coming to Ben Franklin High School, so I heard there was this guy who was genius personified. I heard him play and it was true to come.
But yeah, it is true that we have a deep, long friendship and love for each other's artistry and level of seriousness. And it's been a joy for me.
No more than 40 years later, they have collaborated on an album, The Ever Funky Lowdown, miss the game here at your Everlasting Service. It's a complex and lengthy work with 52 tracks just short of two hours long. Wynton Marsalis started working on it five years ago.
It's a satirical piece with spoken word and very rousing happy music. And the main character of Mr. Game spouts colorful rhetoric to gain the confidence of his group called All Glorious People with a Dream vision of their greatness while he's robbing them the entire time.
Let me teach the children. We beat other people. Therefore, we are better than them. Group thinking, baby Wendell.
Why are you by the role of Mr. Game? I mean, it was just evident that went and had written something that captured the zeitgeist of our time when I was coming up. My parents always told me that there are those who do not have your best interests at heart, and the game is a real personification of those who do not have our best interests at heart and the lengths they will go to profit from the pain that they inflict on others. The yellow down is actually directed more to white people in the middle of our country who have been exploited by their intellectual and financial elite, using black folks as a lever to make you afraid of some enemy is nowhere near in the numbers.
You need to see him to be that frightened. And while I have you frightened and scared, I got you fighting wars over stuff that I'm going to make all the money off of. Have you constantly distracted? Earlier this week, Wendell appeared virtually at the Democratic National Convention, introducing the event for military veterans. How are you both feeling about the election? It's not that far away now. I hope that people can understand that we have more in common than we have different.
It's going to be more of a condemnation of us and our values. If we reelect Donald Trump, that will say something about America.
I actually love what the people in Belarus are doing. Let's fight over this stuff. Let's deal with it now. Fight does not mean violence killing people, because if you don't fight over that verbally, then you end up with violence. We're reaching across every boundary and we're saying we are human beings. Let's fight for our right, our collective creativity and collective consciousness. One person is not going to solve this problem. That report by Colin Patterson.
And that's all from us for now.
They'll be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. I'm all of Con-Way until next time. Goodbye.