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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Gareth Barlow. And in the early hours of the 20th of February 2021, these are our main stories. Political tensions escalate in Armenia as the president refuses to follow through on an order from the prime minister to sack the army chief. Hundreds of arrests in Myanmar as the military authorities harden their response.
Also in this podcast.
That's the sound of Kenyan farmers scaring locusts away to prevent crop devastation. But can locusts also be part of a solution to help feed livestock? And researchers dig out a near intact ceremonial chariot because that's how they rode in 79 80 or pay containers full of Pompeii continues to amaze us with its discoverers.
And it will be like this for many years to come. We start in Armenia, which is facing increasing political uncertainty. Three months after the end of the conflict with Azerbaijan and the stinging loss of territory around the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh, a power struggle has developed between the prime minister, Nikolai Prosimian, and the president, Armin Sarkisyan. They disagree over what should happen to the head of the armed forces with a president refusing to ratify Mr. Pushing Yards decree sacking the general.
I spoke to our correspondent, Rayhan Demitri, who's in Tbilisi in neighboring Georgia.
Well, Garreth, it appears now that there is a power struggle between the prime minister and the president are Sarkisyan, even though the president's role is largely ceremonial, his signature is still needed on every major appointment or dismissal in the government. So this proposal to dismiss only Kasparian, he's the chief of the armed forces of Armenia. This proposal was made by Prime Minister Nagapattinam on Thursday on February the 25th. It was in response to a statement signed by General Gus Bowden and over three dozen other senior military commanders in Armenia calling for prime minister nuchal position to resign.
In that statement, the military top brass, they said that news Oceanian brought country to the brink of collapse. And they also said that he was no longer able to make adequate decisions. So Prime Minister Bush announced the reaction was to dismiss the chief of staff. He amounted this statement to an attempted military coup. So he sent this proposal to dismiss the general to the president. The president had three days and in this three days, he met the opposition.
He met General Gaspari himself. And as we know now, he refused to sign it. But the latest development is that Prime Minister Nuchal Washington once again resend the same proposal to the president. And he said if president refuses to sign it, it will deepen the ongoing political crisis in the country.
In the hours after the statement made by the generals, Nicole Parseghian took to the streets of the capital. He was there with a megaphone, tens of thousands of supporters. It looked an impressive sight, but more widely. How much support does he have?
His power was always kind of the street power. The people, ever since he came to power in April 2018 as a result of a popular uprising. So he turned back to people on Thursday. But there is no doubt that his popularity is in decline because Armenia is a country in a political crisis. It's a nation in shock because of the humiliating defeat they suffered last year after the six week war with neighboring Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno Karabakh. Armenia lost huge amounts of territory around the enclave.
It held those territories for the past 30 years. On top of that, they lost over three and a half thousand soldiers. It's a massive loss for a small nation with less than three million population. And they also have an unresolved issue with the prisoners of war. So all of these issues contributed greatly to the decline in popularity of an occupation. But he keeps on clinging to his power and he says that, you know, he still enjoys popularity and support of the Armenian people.
Rayhan Demitri, there have been large scale arrests in Myanmar after the authorities launched their biggest crackdown yet on antico protesters. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, have been detained. And unconfirmed reports a woman thought to be a doctor has died after being shot. A reporter in Yangon witnessed some of the violence. She spoke to the BBC's Paul Henley. We're keeping her anonymous for her own safety.
Today was even more frightening, really, than the day before. We've seen crackdown in other parts of the country earlier, but for Yangon, it's been relatively calm until the last couple of days. And so I went up to lead an earlier, which is one of the real focal points of the protest movement. And we saw police running at protesters throwing these sort of sound bombs, which flash and bang several times incredibly loudly. It sounds like gunfire. Lots of people think it is gunfire, lots of people running and screaming and then some pretty violent arrests from the police who just seem to be targeting really anyone, including street vendors.
And when you say violent, what do you mean what's happening?
Very rough grabbing of people. I saw a few people being led away into police vans, almost dragging them along, and then sometimes they're kicking them into the van and then online. Of course, there's been lots of videos. It's one woman who has been grabbed by that side of her people in Manila was. Then slapped in the face by the police, the police kicking people on the ground, plain clothes, police also grabbing people and being particularly violent.
One woman is reported to have been killed, is that right? Yeah. So in mono, which is where we saw some of the most brutal videos coming out. One woman is said to have been shot today and killed in that part of the country. The crackdown has been going on for a lot longer. And we've had a live fire already being used in Naypyidaw and in Mandalay, just very close to new reports that this woman doctor has been shot.
There's also been some arrests of journalists there as well. And some pretty violent scenes coming out of Manila today.
Do the protesters have a leader? They have a figurehead in the form of Aung San Suu Kyi, but she's in prison, of course.
Well, I think like a lot of modern protests, it's relatively leaderless because you can spread the word reasonably easily just through social media. And that's obviously why the military have been trying so hard to block social media. Student unions have always historically been very involved in protests. And, of course, the older generation of activists, you know, Myanmar has a strong history of protest movements and of dissent over the years of military rule. And we're seeing some of those figureheads.
Again, some of them are lying low, but still sending out messages through video or written messages, calling people to join in. And they still have the power to rally the people.
A reporter in Yangon, our world affairs correspondent Paul Adams, gave me a further assessment of the situation.
There certainly seems as though the protests have been very widespread. You've heard from Yangon where there were reports of rubber bullets being fired, of protesters making makeshift barricades and wearing hard hats, gas masks and wielding homemade shields and also the detention of journalists. And this seems to be increasingly a feature and we are seeing an astonishingly large number of arrests. Now, local activists say that something in the region of 770 people had been arrested until today with perhaps even hundreds more arrested today.
It's worth noting that this coup is now about four weeks old now. And in that time, four or five people have been killed. There are some people who are saying that the response of the authorities has been relatively low level. But I think there are indications that it is ramping up and that we are also seeing, in some cases, the military and police operating alongside violent, plain clothed individuals wielding sticks and laying into the protesters. And that's also a fairly disturbing new development.
Let's walk away from the streets and cross now to the situation in the United Nations, because a remarkable situation there, whether the government sent the country's ambassador.
Yes, this was entirely inevitable. I have to say. He made an astonishing speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday. That is Moton, the ambassador. He urged the entire world to stop the coup. And he he said that the UN should use any means necessary to support the people of Myanmar. The coup, he said, must fail. And while he was speaking, he raised his three fingers, which is a gesture that the protesters have used.
And I think the fact that he was promptly sacked today comes as no surprise to anyone, according to a statement run on state run TV today. The ambassador did not follow orders and the direction of the state, and he betrayed his country.
The BBC's Paul Adams is more than a year since huge swarms of locusts invaded East Africa, devouring crops and grazing land as they move through Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya in response. Three planes were deployed with mixed success. But what if there was another way to deal with the swarms by treating them not as pests, but as a way to make money to good to be true? And so he went to find out. It's early afternoon and I'm walking around a farm just outside Seona Town in north central Kenya, and the farmers have come out to try and scare locusts away.
These are surprise and welcome visitors here. How did you feel when you saw them coming to your farm?
We felt so bad.
Majority of people from this area are not employed. We only to expect something from our lands.
Stopping the devastation that locusts can cause has become the personal mission of one man from central Kenya have seen a lot of destruction.
As always, we've seen locusts landing in maize crops, landing in pastureland, moving around, and people are so helpless, they're just beating and trying to chase them from their farms.
All but suddenly started trucking swarms when they first struck over a year ago. Soon, he had a team of truckers on bikes. He became known as the luckiest man. And now Albert is back with what he says could be a way to turn the pest into profit.
It's a new idea. How would they be able to catch them? Because, of course, they catch them. They had an income from it and the same low cost crash diet and process to produce animal feeds for poultry and fish. So it's time to see how do you turn the negative impact of locusts to an economic activity.
They are flying right above my head and it looks like this is where they'll spend the night. Eventually, the swarm does settle.
There are dozens of people now in the bushes picking the locusts, one by one from the bushes. And we're talking hundreds of millions of locusts in one swarm.
Albert and five other men are just spreading a shade net under a tree they've identified where many, many locusts have rusted. And the idea is that the locusts will drop onto the shade and they shake the tree and the young men with sacks go forward and start collecting their locusts. It's such a slow process, but they're hoping they're making a difference. Somehow over the following weeks, they managed to collect over two tons of locusts.
These are weed, crushed, dried. And moved before being turned into something that can help communities they previously called. Locusts have like 70 percent of protein, so it substitute the biggest product, the most expensive part of animal feed is a protein, so the communities around are collecting locust once they collect it and defecate.
Well, the scheme does seem to have some initial success. It only works in areas with lots of people. More importantly, the number of insects actually captures is just a tiny fraction of the swarms that are currently eating their way across East Africa and soy there.
Police in India are searching for the organisers of an illegal cockfight after a participant was killed by his own rooster.
Electra Naismith reports roosters aren't generally known for their lethal nature. But if you breed one, specially a seven centimetre blade to its leg, it can become extremely dangerous. That's what happened in the Indian state of Telangana. That's an illegally arranged cockfight. When the bird tried to escape, its owner was stabbed in the groin. He bled to death on the way to hospital. The man was one of 16 people involved in arranging the fight. The others are now the subject of a police manhunt facing charges of manslaughter and hosting a cockfight.
The practice has been outlawed for decades across India because of its cruelty. Events can last up to three days, typically ending in the death of one of the birds. But it's an ancient spectator sport in India and persists in several states, mainly in rural areas. As for the killer rooster, police say it's now evidence it's being held in protective custody at a farmhouse electronically.
Still to come in this podcast, sticking with the animals theme in Australia, an initiative to protect sheep from dingoes has ended up changing the landscape so much, you can see it from space. A group of Nigerian boys abducted from a boarding school in the north of the country have been freed after 10 days in captivity, 42 students, staff and relatives taken from the college in Niger state and in the care of the authorities. Abubakar Sonny Bono is the state's governor.
We were early this morning at about 4:00 a.m. in the morning. They are back here with us peacefully, have been medically checked and they believe the medical team will monitor them for a few more days.
The boy's release comes a day after more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped in a different state. The governor of that state so far has ordered the closure of all boarding schools while an operation continues to find the abducted girls. Speculation is mounting that a militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, is responsible for the latest kidnappings, as it has been for previous ones. Bulimba Paakantyi is an analyst, an expert on extremism in sub-Saharan Africa at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
He's currently in the U.K., partly because he's been repeatedly threatened by the leader of Boko Haram.
Governments continue to insist that this is the handiwork of bandits. But we have seen mounting evidence in the last 18 months that Boko Haram has successfully recruited some elements of the pundits. And we know for sure that they are Boko Haram cells operating in the northwest and the northeastern part of Nigeria where these incidents happened and the ferocity with which schools are attacked in the last string of attacks suggests to me that there could be some ideological elements to what is going on in the northwest and the north central.
So I wouldn't discount Boko Haram involvement. In addition to this, we know that Boko Haram has claimed at least one of them, the one that happened in December last year when three hundred and forty four boys were taken by Boko Haram, released an exclusive video of the children in the bush. And I mean, that's a clear evidence, a clear demonstration that Boko Haram has some involvement in these attacks.
And why would the government be reluctant to admit Boko Haram involvement?
Well, we know that President Buhari has declared since December of 2015 that Boko Haram has been defeated and now accepted that the group is expanding to the West, will contradict what they have been pushing for ages. And I think this is a very dangerous narrative, because if governments don't accept that there is some link between the bandits and Boko Haram, no serious efforts would be taken to disrupt that link. And that will give Boko Haram more opportunity to consolidate the relationship and make the bandits even more dangerous.
Part of Boko Haram motivation here is self-evident. Their name means no Western education. But are they also being paid fees to get the children back?
Yes, children as a very good propaganda tool. And they are also a way of pressuring government into making payments. And we have seen from investigative credible reports from media organizations, including the BBC and The Wall Street Journal, that governments have paid millions of dollars to Boko Haram to release the girls and other abductees. And they know that those are the softest target you can find in Nigeria because children cannot defend themselves. That is no security presence around any school in Nigeria.
So when the government in Nigeria says no negotiation with these people, it's just fantasy, is it? It is.
It is untested. And from the president's statement yesterday, he wants that government to pay benefits and give the vehicles, which is an admission by the president that there are state governors negotiating with the criminals and the terrorists. Some governors in the Northwest insist on giving amnesty to bandits and negotiating with them, while others say, you know, we are going to fight them. And the federal government hasn't intervened to say, okay, this is the right way to go.
And that's the goup the terrorists and criminals are exploiting to to unleash violence in the northwest and the north central Oklahoma.
Bekasi speaking to the BBC's Paul Henley. Let's go to the US state of Florida now, where the first big gathering of Republican Party supporters since last year's election is underway. The annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. He's giving an insight into how Republicans are viewing their future direction. Among the speakers was the former U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who was asked how important it was to the conservative cause that the former president's voice, Donald Trump's, was not silenced.
Look, he had a four year, extremely successful presidency. I have an enormous amount of. I respect not only respect, but personal affection for the president, I worked very hard with him. I've never seen a person work harder. The notion that you can cancel Donald Trump is absurd, right?
I mean, that's literally. Look, if they could have canceled Donald Trump, they would have done it in 2016.
Well, mingling among all the delegates is the BBC's Anthony Zeca. We've seen a few more prominent Republican officials, ones who may have presidential aspirations at some point. Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, laying claim to the foreign policy accomplishments during the Trump administration. Really all of Trump's accomplishments. You saw Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, who also has close ties to Donald Trump, invited him up to see fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. And she's having a fundraiser, Dannemora Lago.
After that, she got up there and talked about her handling of the coronavirus pandemic. And then there were the panels that always you see it at events like this, panels on abortion, on the threat from China, on trade, on gender identity and the college athletics. So it is a hodgepodge like any CPAC is. But the main the main theme, however, was, again, Donald Trump and the prominent speakers all try to tout their ties to him and he'll be talking tomorrow.
What can we expect him to say?
Well, we're hearing reports that he's going to go after Joe Biden, that he's going to sharply criticized Joe Biden's policies on immigration, on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that he hasn't been quick enough to reopen businesses and schools. Also, Donald Trump may go after members of his own party, people he view as being insufficiently supportive, like Liz Cheney, the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives from Wyoming who voted to impeach Donald Trump or Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who has been an outspoken critic of the former president.
So a settling of scores, an attack on Democrats and essentially laying claim to his role as a continued leader, as a continued center of gravity within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
You say a center of gravity. Just give us a sense of how strong his pull on the party is.
It is remarkable when I go through the hallways here at the convention center, talk to the rank and file activists and college college Republicans who have come down here from across the country. They are thoroughly supportive of Donald Trump. They don't think he lost in November. They don't really talk about the the riot on Capitol Hill at the beginning of January. They would support him if he runs for president. Again, a lot of them, they say they got into politics because of Donald Trump.
So it is still Donald Trump's party, at least here in the halls of CPAC, Anthony Zuiker.
Let's stay with the United States because President Biden's one point nine trillion dollar coronavirus relief package has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. Every Republican and two Democrats voted against it. They say it's too expensive and contains proposals that aren't related to the pandemic. The House Republican leader is Kevin McCarthy, the speaker.
Let me be clear, the swamp is back because, Mr. Speaker, Democrats are so embarrassed by all the non covid waste in this bill. They are jamming it through in the dead of night. For the American people, it is a loser.
The bill must now go on to the evenly divided Senate Labor to replace after passing in the House of Representatives.
President Biden's ambitious coronavirus relief bill will move to the Senate, where he says he hopes it will receive quick action. But it is unlikely to pass in the upper chamber of Congress without significant modifications that could see it sent back to the House to vote on once more. Democrats want to get the bill signed off by the president before mid-March, when key programs for unemployed people expire.
Labu DiCicco. They will be able to protect sheep from dingo attacks. But the 5600 kilometres of fences across Australia have caused so much environmental damage it can be seen from space. Now there are plans to find a balance between protecting sheep and protecting the environment.
Phil Mercer reports from Sydney. The dingo is descended from South Asian wolves, a study of the mighty dingo fence in the red sand dunes of the Strzelecki Desert in Central Australia has revealed what happens when a key predator is removed.
Using 32 years of satellite images, we saw that the dynamics of the vegetation cover was different on either side of the fence on the side where dingoes are rare.
We found many more kangaroos whose grazing lowered the grass cover across the landscape that over grazing damages soil quality, making the ground more vulnerable to erosion, according to Dr Adrian Fisher from the University of New South Wales. He says dingoes not only eat kangaroo populations in check, they can also limit the ecological damage caused by feral pests.
It's clear that dingoes keep kangaroo numbers low, and where there are dingoes, there are fewer foxes and cats. This means that outside the fence it's common to find small native mammals like the dusky hopping mouse together with the satellite images. This research clearly shows that the removal of the apex predator has had widespread effects on the landscape and its biodiversity to restore and conserve these ecosystems. The important role of the dingo needs to be acknowledged.
Tearing down parts of Australia's dingo fence would threaten the sheep industry. But the authors of the university's study hoped that a balance can be found that restores ecosystems and protects livestock. Phil Mercer reporting.
With just 87 members, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has a lot of clout. It covers the entertainment industry. And this week it's acknowledged the lack of diversity within its ranks. Its tiny electorate conducts the annual Golden Globes, which are taking place on Sunday night. Here's a look at some of the key nominations by our arts correspondent Vincent Doubt.
Brothers and Sisters Lasciviousness Leslie Odom Jr. is nominated for best song at this year's Golden Globes.
It's from One Night in Miami in which he plays singer Sam Cooke right off.
Oh. Regina King is nominated as best director, one of three female nominees this year, the most ever. Another is Emerald Fenlon.
What are you doing here? So I said, what are you doing?
Fennell's promising young woman is about an attempt to avenge a friend who's been raped. The film's in contention as best drama as is no man's land. My husband worked at the U.S. mine in Empire. I was a substitute teacher. It is a tough time right now. You may want to consider early retirement.
I need work. I like work. Lots of people expect Frances McDormand to take best actress for Nomad Land. These films were greenlit in the middle of the Trump years. Maybe that's why there's a lot of discussion of the kind of society America needs to be. Gender and race feature, as in the United States versus Billie Holiday.
She's made something of something. You can't take it because she's strong, beautiful and black. Strange fruit hanging from the trees, Lee Daniels film turns in part on the famous singer's decision to perform Strange Fruit, a song about lynching. Another film using recent history to look at America's culture conflicts is the trial of the Chicago Seven.
We're going to Chicago to protest the Vietnam War. People say, you know, Abbie, are you concerned about an overreaction from the cops?
Aaron Sorkin's cast features Sacha Baron Cohen, who's nominated at the Globes for a very different film. I.
But people may recognize my face, I would need disguises.
Borat, subsequent movie film has brought nominations for Amazon Prime covid-19 has meant it was the streaming services which dominated the last 12 months. Netflix has six Golden Globe nominations for the Crown alone and a total of 22 for all its TV offerings. Add to that 20 nominations for Netflix films.
It's hard to see the movie business ever going back to pre pandemic studio domination. Vincent Dout reporting and from the arts to a chariot. No, I didn't work. But anyway, the two day eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. destroyed the city of Pompeii forever. But it's given archaeologists centuries of insight into ancient life. And the latest discovery has just been revealed. An ornate Roman chariot. Here's Jonathan Savitch.
Ancient Romans like the celebration and much like royals in the modern Netherlands or United Kingdom augment grand events with processional carriages. Well-to-do citizens of 1st century Pompeii were no different. The discovery of such a vehicle for Weald with iron components and beautiful bronze and tin decorations is being described as extraordinary for the advancement of our knowledge of the ancient world. Researchers believe it's what some sources refer to as the polenta. Far from an everyday chariot but one used exclusively for festivals and parades, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini hopes the news will keep visitors to Italy's third most popular tourist site.
Coming back for more or better continues to be the place where Pompeii continues to amaze us with its discoveries. And it will be like this for many years to come with another 20 hectares to excavate. Moreover, it shows that one can enhance the site and attract tourists from all over the world and at the same time that one can do research.
The chariot was found as part of an excavation with a specific purpose tunneling to reach artifacts that might otherwise be looted and sold illegally on underground markets. Jonathan Savage.
And that's 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 one or any of the topics we've covered in it, do send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBC, dot com UK. The podcast was mixed by the studio manager because I don't know how to do it by Frank McQueeney. The person who brought it all together was Marian Straughn. Karen Martin is our commander in chief and the editor.
I was Gareth Barlow until next time.