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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service.
I'm Jackie Leonard. And at 14 hours GMT on Friday, the 5th of March, these are our main stories. A warm welcome for Pope Francis in Baghdad, where he has begun the first ever papal visit to Iraq. We'll hear from our correspondent traveling with him. China has revealed plans to change Hong Kong's electoral system and warns the international community to stay out of its business.
And this is the daily rhythm now of these protests, a constantly shifting battle for control of the streets between residents and activists and the military government they refused to recognize.
Protests have continued in Myanmar, where security forces are reported to have killed another demonstrator.
Also in this podcast, a speech 75 years ago at the start of the Cold War. And we meet the diver who's trying to help save marine life off the coast of Taiwan.
We begin in Iraq and its first ever papal visit. Musicians and dancers performed at Baghdad Airport as Pope Francis arrived, children offered him flowers, and he was greeted by the prime minister, Mustafa Okami, several other dignitaries and crowds of flag waving well-wishers. The pope's historic tour will cover cities in the north and the south, and he's pledged to show his support for the country's ancient Christian minority, which has dwindled in recent years. Most have fled abroad to escape persecution and violence by radical Islamists, including the self-styled Islamic State group.
It's estimated that there are now around 250000 Christians left in Iraq, and the papal visit is meant to reassure them and at the same time deepen ties with the Muslim world. Our Rome correspondent Mark Lowen is travelling with Pope Francis. He spoke to us from a rather windy Baghdad and summed up why this tour carries many risks.
You're right to say it is a risky trip, probably the riskiest of his of Pope Francis papacy. This is his third trip abroad. And he is coming into a country that not only is fraught with security concerns, there are ongoing rocket attacks, have been ongoing rocket attacks in recent days, for example. It is, of course, a country that has been torn by interreligious and sectarian conflict for many years, but also a country that is in the grip still of the covid pandemic with deadly infections reaching new heights of some 5000 a day.
And there were many who had advised Pope Francis against coming here to Iraq at this time, but he was determined to do so. It is a country that is central to Christianity, the birthplace, of course, of the Prophet Abraham, a country that his predecessors had wanted to come to but never managed to. And he therefore becomes the first pope to visit Iraq ever on the flight out from Rome. I asked him how he was feeling as he came on this trip, and he said very happy.
This was how he described it as a special trip.
You mentioned the pandemic. We couldn't help but notice that he took his mask off before shaking hands with people.
It was on and off, I have to say. I mean, he took his mask off when he spoke at the front of the plane and then he his mask was back on when he did a little tour of the journalists on the plane. I'm not sure whether he's had it on or off in his meeting so far, but I mean, he has been vaccinated and his traveling entourage have been vaccinated. But of course, the Iraqis have not. And that is the fear here, Jacki, that the kind of optics to some don't look very good of a plane load of vaccinated people coming from from the Vatican while Iraq is still in the grip of an upsurge of infections.
And I have to say, even though public gatherings have been limited, there is a mass on Sunday morning in Irbil in northern Iraq, in which up to 10000 people are expected to attend, raising fears that it could become a super spreader.
What else is is planned and how important is all of this to Iraq and indeed the Catholic Church?
He is coming here really with with with a few different messages. He is coming to try to foster interreligious dialogue to try to embolden Iraq's dwindling and persecuted Christian minority, that number one and a half million before the invasion of 2003 and is just about 250000 today and tomorrow, Saturday, he holds a hugely important meeting with Iraq's top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. That is a very symbolic meeting of the leader of a one point eight billion Catholics and the leader of Shia Muslims here in Iraq.
So very, very strong symbolism in this trip. And he hopes that that will embolden Christians to stay to remain in a land in which they have lived back to the first century, but where they are, where they are reduced in numbers hugely and where they have suffered huge persecution over the years.
Mark Levin, our Rome correspondent, it's the biggest political event in China, the annual meeting when 3000 delegates gather for a 10 day long Congress to rubber stamp policy decisions already agreed by the party leadership. Top of the agenda has been a proposal to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system and tighten Beijing's grip over the territory. It's yet another sign that the Communist Party will no longer tolerate dissent in the city. In his opening speech, the Chinese premier, Li Ka Ching, also warned the world against interfering in Hong Kong.
Well, may I kiss you? I meant to cheer Guangzhou. We will stay true to the spirit of the principle of one country, two systems under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong and the people of Macao administer Macao, both with a high degree of autonomy. We will improve the relevant systems and mechanisms of the two special administrative regions for enforcing the Constitution and the basic laws. We will resolutely guard against and deter external forces interferences in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macao.
Our China correspondent Robin Brunt gave us more details about what's being proposed.
One of the key proposals is for a committee of. Politicians, those who are loyal to Beijing, having the ability to screen candidates who want to stand in elections for Hong Kong's Legislative Council, that's this kind of mini parliament, they'll be able to directly elect some of those candidates as well. And what this is all about is control, obviously, and patriotism as well. Li Keqiang, China's premier, has talked about the need for patriots to be the people who are representing Hong Kong.
Seven million people going forward. That was also a hardy perennial from Mr. Li as he opened the National People's Congress in Beijing, a warning to external interference that's more potent this time around, though, in particular because of what we've seen in the last year in terms of that legal crackdown. I mean, he said that Beijing continues to guard against external factors, and that's very much aimed at Anthony Blinken, the US secretary of state, Dominic Raab, the UK's foreign secretary.
They believe the US and the UK are leading interference in what they regard strictly as an internal matter.
Now, the people's Congress isn't just talking about Hong Kong, is it? What other policies are being proposed?
Well, I mean, we're getting the annual release of targets in terms of China's economic growth for the year ahead. I mean, this continues to be a celebration as well of what the Communist Party sees as its success in dealing with covid-19 here in this country. Crucially, this year, we're getting its blueprint for the next five years, then the five year plans. And this time around, we're getting the 14th five year plan. And there is much talk in that about hastening the move towards a much more vibrant domestic consumer demand.
Here there's talk of dual circulation, no longer the reliance overwhelmingly on foreign markets, but trying to boost China's domestic consumption and also be getting very important pointers on how China wants to progress in terms of its consumption of energy and get towards that pledge that Xi Jinping has made in recent months for this country, the world's second largest economy to peak in terms of its CO2 emissions by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2060. But I mean, what's really interesting, amid the kind of the pomp, the pageantry, the vast choreographs scale, is how much more this is about Xi Jinping now in recent years, it's not just about the Communist Party.
It's not just about China. It is about Xi himself. And we're seeing further evidence of this growing cult of Xi Jinping. I mean, this should have been the year when his successor was to be anointed. But for the first time in a generation, we're not getting that. He is almost certainly going to continue and seeking some kind of third term in some kind of way. That means he can maintain his control.
Robin Brand in China. Protests against last month's military coup in Myanmar have continued despite the increasing violence of the military's response. As we came into the studio, police were reported to have shot dead at least one person in Mandalay and 38 people were killed across the country on Wednesday. Our South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head is monitoring events from Bangkok.
In Yangon, they took up positions behind, sometimes imposing barricades, chanting their defiance in some neighborhoods. They were pushed back by tear gas. In others, they simply retreated and let the soldiers walk through. This is the daily rhythm now of these protests, a constantly shifting battle for control of the streets between residents and activists and the military government they refused to recognize in Mandalay. The protests were much larger, people marching in impressively organized ranks with color coordinated clothes and posters.
The security forces are shooting much less than they did on Wednesday, although one man was killed by a gunshot. The United Nations Security Council is meeting again to discuss what, if anything, can be done to ease the crisis in Myanmar. China and Russia have both vetoed any direct intervention by the UN, despite constant appeals for help from inside the country, a more robust statement of condemnation might emerge. But the UN special envoy, who's still being refused entry by the ruling military council, says she's been told by them that they can neither about sanctions nor international isolation.
The generals, it seems, are willing to go it alone, as they did before for nearly five decades.
Jonathan Head, our South East Asia correspondent. Martin Hatt was one of the 22 victims of the Manchester Erina bombing in May 2017 when an Islamist extremist targeted and Ariana Grande concert and detonated a homemade device. Martin's brother Dan has worked on award winning computer games for children, and today he's launching one aimed at adults. It's called Closed Hands. It's influenced by his own experiences and deals with the impact of extremism on society. He has been speaking about the project to our entertainment correspondent, Collin Patterson.
Closed hands is a computer game which deals with the events surrounding a terrorist attack in a fictional English city, its origins are, however, very real. The creator of the game, Dan, had lost his brother Martin on the 22nd of May 2017.
Police say a number of people have been killed in a serious incident at the Manchester Arena, which was hosting a pop concert. Witnesses have reported hearing a loud bang at the venue. The American pop star army on the ground.
The game has been in my mind for probably the last three years or so as I was asking my own questions. And I suppose the game is an expression of me looking at some of those answers. What kind of questions were you asking both why these things occur and also what the effects are on the city and the communities that are affected by it?
Hugely ambitious. It's set over a 50 year period and it's taken a team of eight people to realize Dan's vision.
I would describe close stands as a large scale work of interactive fiction, more akin to an interactive story than a traditional video game.
There are moments in the game where the player is presented with a choice, which will take the story one of two ways. Marcus pulled this audio and headphones on the letter and his bag was bugging him when he pulled out again. It felt like a crossroads and he honestly wasn't sure what he wanted anymore. An easy life sounded tempting. No doubt he could tell the stupid thing and not be in this work is one hundred thirty five thousand words long.
That's exactly the same as Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities. Oh, my goodness. Shows just how in-depth it is.
Yeah. There are five main characters in the game, including a young guy called Marcus who is caught up in the incident and becomes the focus of quite a lot of press scrutiny.
And that's why he's the character in the game that Dan relates to the most. During research for the project, he decided to contact the very journalists who had bombarded him with interview requests in the days after his brother's death.
Now, in 2021, nearly four years later, it was quite interesting to be able to turn the tables a little bit and say, actually, I'm creating a work that investigates some of this stuff and commentates on some of this stuff. And I'd like to ask you some questions now.
What kind of things did they say to you being able to speak to journalists privately and quietly about what it feels like to be in those situations and having to ask these difficult questions of people who are traumatized and going through experiences? Right this second? It was an eye opener for me as much as it was for them. You know, and a couple of the people I've spoken to found the process, I think, quite useful, being able to say, look, this is difficult, but it is a job and a story does need to be told.
But there are right and wrong ways of doing it.
Did any apologize to you? A couple of journalists did apologize slightly.
Now, Closed Hands is finally available for all to play on the website of the Manchester Arts venue Home.
Colin Patterson, entertainment correspondent. Still to come on this edition of Global News, it's Z three three three on her take wisdom to you and me and mom to her 30 odd children. So who is this remarkable mother or will be revealed? The Afghan militia commander, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has been largely staying out of the public eye in recent years, but today hundreds of his supporters were out on the streets of Kabul, accusing the government of failing to implement its part of a deal which granted him immunity in return for him renouncing violence.
Our South Asia editor, Jill McGiver told us more.
He crept back into the news originally six years ago when he came back to the political process, he'd been involved as a militant leader affiliated to the Taliban, involved in violence, struggling against the government. And then he did a deal with the government that they would recognize him as a legitimate political party, that they would grant him and his followers immunity, and that he would join the political process and his militant group would be recognized as a political party. Now he is saying, well, we don't feel that the deal has been properly implemented.
We are calling on the government to do more for us. We want more of our followers, for example, released from prison. We want to have more of an active role in this current administration, perhaps some people appointed to the administration. It sounds as though he wants more political power and he wants to be involved at a very critical time, obviously, in Afghanistan of transition. And he's slightly also got the threat always in the background of comments that he made last year, that he was thinking of joining forces again with the Taliban against the government.
If he didn't see the sort of progress that he wanted in the peace process and with his demands.
And how much of a following does he actually have? He is significant, partly because he's so well known.
He's had a key part at various points in Afghan history. For decades, he became known as the Butcher of Kabul, a title that stuck to him with the withdrawal of the Soviets when that very difficult political time, when there was a lot of infighting as people were trying to grab power and he and his forces had a ruthless campaign of shelling the city of Kabul fairly indiscriminately in a lot of civilians were killed. So he's very well remembered by a lot of Afghans because of that.
He does have a support base, particularly in the east of the country, probably hundreds rather than thousands. It was seen as significant when he came over ground and joined the government five, six years ago. But it didn't so significantly weaken the Taliban's ability to fight.
Gilma, giving our South Asia editor on this day 75 years ago, Winston Churchill coined the phrase the Iron Curtain during a speech in the U.S. The Second World War had ended less than a year earlier, and in his speech, the wartime British prime minister laid bare the deepening tensions between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union.
From Stettin in the Baltic countries in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line, they hold the capital of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe, Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia.
That same year, the United States and Britain had agreed a secret intelligence sharing alliance. This is according to new documents that have been released by one of Britain's security agencies, HQ. Our security correspondent Gordon Corera has been looking through them.
The wires are coming, meaning the Yanks. That short entry from The Diary of Alistair Denniston in February 1941 marked the beginning of what was once the most secretive relationships. Denniston was the head of Bletchley Park. That diary page, as well as other documents released today, chart how cautious wartime meetings evolved into a formal alliance signed 75 years ago in Washington christened Yakuza. It involved London and Washington agreeing intimate cooperation in intercepting communications and breaking codes, agreeing not to spy on each other and also to share the fruits of their spying on others with the late entry of Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The alliance evolved into what is now called the five eyes, despite occasional strains it has endured, even if it is now far less secret than those who created it would have expected.
Gordon Corera, our security correspondent. Elizabeth, Gillnets are huge nylon walls of netting used to trawl for fish, but they can be fatal for other sea life. Taiwan has one of the biggest fishing industries in the world and officials there are trying to discourage the use of gillnets.
Cindy Sue reports from Keelung City, where she met a diver who's waging an underwater battle to seal diver in yoking is showing me a video of an unusual underwater rescue operation. So you're actually trying to rescue a lobster at a stuck. In these gillnets to have been dumped into the ocean, it's near some coral reefs and you're using a pair of scissors to cut the net, disentangling this lobster to the to the unit. Yes, we see a lot of lobsters, fish and crab.
If they are not rescued, they're just stuck on the net. The coral will also die because they're being covered by the nets.
And I look up with all these and these nets have been left there for years and years and years. While these dolphins I mean, just as long as, you know, they don't go away.
New nets, old nets, they are there forever.
In 2019, 60 tons of discarded fishing nets and gear were removed from the seas. According to government statistics. Most of the nets left in the ocean are gillnets like the one that caught the lobster. They're banned in many countries but are still legal here in Taiwan.
No one knows which. Your children, you from Taiwan's Fisheries Agency tells me fishermen should inform the authorities when their nets get caught in coral. So cleanup crews can retrieve them. The agency recently convinced parliament to pass a law requiring fishing boats using gillnets to mark them so that discarded nets can be traced back to the owner.
Nowadays, I don't think you that we've adopted three main strategies prevention, fines and removal. With this new system, the fisheries agency is letting fishermen take responsibility to jointly protect the marine ecosystem and the environment under the new law.
Fishermen who use unidentified gillnets or whose gillnets are found at sea without the authorities having been alerted will be fined. The real solution, though, says the Fisheries Agency, is to stop using them in the port city of Zello.
A switch from gillnets to other types of nets which do not snag on rocks and choros so easily has been subsidized. The number of boats using gillnets has dropped from 131 to 22 in the past three years. Syphoning instead head of Zilong City's Ocean Agriculture and Fisheries Development Division, Dodo's out all the way down.
So now they know how to fish in a way that doesn't harm the ecosystem. Of course, there will be a small number of fishermen who may not abide by the law, but the proportion will be a lot less than before.
I feel that he's back at his dive shop. I asked Mr. Lin why he makes so much effort to free creatures trapped in the nets that have on the hand.
You spent a lot of energy. It takes a long time. It's very dangerous. We can also be caught in the net. Many people ask me, why didn't you catch the lobster? I told them you shouldn't be stuck in the net. It is a conservation area. It's in a location with very few lobsters.
So it should be protected if the new law is enforced, says Mr. Linn. And if gillnets are phased out, then lobster populations, along with corals and other marine life, will have a chance to recover.
That was Cindy CEU reporting. Now it's time for that report about the 70 year old I was telling you about who has just had a baby for at least the 30th time. Okay, I admit it.
She's not human, but the world's oldest living wild bird is still worth squawking about. As Jonathan Savage with the details.
It's Z 333 on her tank. Wisdom to you and me and mom, to her 30 odd children or whatever mummies in Albatros tongue. And that's right. Wisdom is that somewhere between 30 and 36 chicks in her lifetime. The latest was hatched in the Midwest at all National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific. She'd be forgiven for losing count, as with her many human admirers, among them, Beth Flindt, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service here on their YouTube channel.
She explains the fascination with the wisdom, not only because she's part of an enormous long term study of animal populations, but because she's an individual that we can actually know and think about her personal history.
Speaking of which, wisdom was hatched in or around 1951, the year Libya gained independence from Italy, US presidents were limited to two terms. And the King and I opened on Broadway in 1956. She was tagged by the biologist Chandler Robbins, who, along with a number of her mating partners, wisdom has outlived Albatros can mate for life. But with most living no longer than 40 years and many birds significantly less than that wisdom is had to participate in ritual mating dances more than once.
The father of her newborn offspring named Akia Combet has been her significant other since 2010. Here's Beth Flint again.
She's older than I am and she knows so much as we've seen so much. And yet she is still doing what she loved to do and surviving and raising young. She's incredibly powerful as a symbol of why we do what we do.
In her impressive lifetime, wisdom is estimated to have flown around five million kilometres around the world, finding food for her many hungry children. So she may have a few miles on the clock, but let's be more polite than that. Wisdom comes with experience. Jonathan Savage reporting.
And before we go, it's time for news from elsewhere. Our weekly look at some of the less reported stories from around the world. Joining us now on the line is Beryl Ackmann from BBC Monitoring, which follows news media in dozens of languages.
And your story this week, Beryl, is about a tick tock user in Turkey who is tackling stereotypes and racism. Tell us about that. That's right, Jacki.
So a young man living in Turkey is fighting stereotypes about Africa. Tick-Tock is getting a lot of praise for it as well for doing it in Turkish. Alpha is an English teacher and says he came to Turkey about two years ago as a student with no knowledge of Turkish. Initially, he used to post about his daily life in Turkey on Tick Tock, but as he became more popular, he has right now about more than half a million followers. People became more interested in his background.
For example, he started getting some quite basic questions like is the Internet in Africa? Are there pretty houses in Africa or is there still in Africa? And sometimes he addresses these questions quite seriously. For example, he says Africa is not a country, but a continent. Other times he is clearly a bit more annoyed and can be sarcastic. Just as an example, when someone asked whether there are phones in Africa. He said, no, I have to go to sleep and dream to be able to talk to my mother quickly, adding, Of course, my mother used an iPhone 11.
He also calls for people not to discriminate against Africans. We don't know how many Africans have come to Turkey in recent years, but reports suggest it has been a major population wave. African migrants also say it's not uncommon for passengers on public transportation to refuse. Sitting next to black people and offer hope starts with this attitude. He can someone to change this.
Thanks for that. That was Beryl Ackmann from our monitoring team, bringing us this week's news from elsewhere.
And that's it from us for now. But there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. If you would like to comment on this edition or the topics we've covered in it, do you please send us an email? The address is Global Podcast at BBC dot com dot UK. Caulton Griffin in Oakwood, Georgia did just that. To suggest that perhaps the reason Zebrafish in yesterday's podcast seemed to like M.C. Hammer is that they think the lyrics are actually can't touch fish.
This broadcast was mixed by Craig Kingham. The producer was Rajasthani. The editor is Karen Martin and Jackie Leonard. Until next time. Goodbye.
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