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Hello, this is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service with reports and analysis from across the world. The latest news, seven days a week. BBC World Service podcasts are supported by advertising.


This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service.


Hello, I'm Oliver Conway. This edition is published in the early hours of Friday, the 5th of February, as a warning for Russia as President Biden sets out his vision for America's role in the world. Brazil's mining giant valley is to pay seven billion dollars over the dam collapse that killed 270 people. And Denmark approves a plan for what it's calling the world's first offshore energy island.


Also in the podcast, six months after the explosion in Beirut, how are people rebuilding their lives?


And 50 years after astronaut Alan Shepard said he hit a golf ball miles and miles and miles on the moon, new analysis reveals exactly how far it went in the first two weeks of his presidency.


Joe Biden inevitably focused on domestic matters, in particular dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. But on Thursday, he turned his attention to America's place in the world. The president traveled to the U.S. State Department, home of the nation's diplomatic corps, to say this America is back.


Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy. We will repair our alliances, engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's.


His wide ranging speech was aimed at repairing relations with traditional allies and sending a warning to America's rivals and speaking about his first phone call with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. He signaled a clear break with Donald Trump.


I made it clear to President Putin in a manner very different from my predecessor that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions, interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens are over. We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people.


I asked our Washington correspondent Barbara Platt, ushe what she made of the new tone set out by President Biden.


Yeah, he made it quite forcefully and he made it at the State Department in order to not only send a message to diplomats that he had their back, as he kept saying, but also to the world that America was taking diplomacy seriously. But otherwise, it is something that he has been saying for a while, that he will get tougher with competitors and adversaries, but he will also try to work with them on mutual interest. On Russia in particular, I would say he was making a real contrast with his predecessor, Mr.


Trump. And you heard the clip there about him saying we are not going to roll over any more towards aggression. And he made a strong statement about Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader, and calling for his release. And I have to say that the contrast he's making with Russia in particular is is at the top. It's with President Trump who had who always seemed to be ready to forgive the Russians for for any kind of behavior that that seemed unpopular here at home here in the United States.


But the administration, Mr. Trump's administration itself did actually sanction the Russians quite a bit. So Mr. Biden is drawing a strong contrast with Mr. Trump.


And might we see some some concrete action against Russia, for example, over the detention of Alexei Navalny?


Well, we've been asking here with that whether that will be the case. And what they keep saying is that they are reviewing their policy toward Russia on all of those issues that are contentious. And the treatment of dissidents or opposition figures and and protesters is one of them. And we have not been told that. We've been told that it's they're looking urgently at the situation with Mr. Navalny. So perhaps they may come through with some kind of concrete response before they do their whole Russia review.


But they haven't been clear about that. Mr. Biden spoke broadly about making, you know, there being a cost to to some of these moves.


Now, he touched on many other issues as well. But one where we might see some significant changes is Yemen. What's the Biden administration policy on that country?


What he said was that the United States would no longer support the Saudi military offensives in Yemen. And that is something that has been lobbied for by bipartisan members of Congress for quite a long time. So what does that mean in practice? Well, the support for the Saudi campaign had already been pulled back somewhat. What we were told was that a freeze on Saudi weapons sales was probably going to remain. So that is that would be quite a concrete step.


These were precision guided. Missiles that were destined for Saudi Arabia and I think the other thing on Yemen is that he, Mr. Biden, has appointed a Yemen envoy, somebody to really pick up the diplomacy and the efforts towards a peace deal and work closely with the U.N. on it and make that a priority. So that was a real signal of where they want to go with this. But the the concern about what's happening in Yemen and civilian deaths and what the U.S. role is in the military side of it has been something that has been rocking Congress for quite some time.


Barbara Plats, usher in Washington. Almost two years ago, in late January 2019, Brazil suffered its worst ever industrial accident, a dam containing waste from an iron ore mine collapsed, burying 270 people under a layer of toxic mud.


Senior staff at the company Involved Valley are already facing murder charges over the disaster.


Now the firm has agreed to pay swindler's billion in damages, the highest compensation ever agreed in Brazil. South America correspondent Katie Watson told us more about it.


Well, so this is socio economic and socio environmental settlement. So it means that there'll be money that goes towards the community. There'll also be money put towards improving the environment. So, for example, that parallel Pibor River that was severely damaged as a result of the toxic sludge and has hit a lot of the communities who've relied on that river for clean water, for for eating from that is something that's going to be cleaned up. But it is a massive amount of money and there were very many projects.


So, I mean, this is just the start of the settlement, if you like. This is it's taken two years. It'll be a very wide ranging project. But this is the beginning, if you if you like. Certainly a lot of people feel that this is not enough and that the victims still need to be compensated in very, you know, much broader ways. And of course, the federal investigation is ongoing. And as you mentioned, the senior senior executives, that case for murder, that is also still ongoing.


Yeah, I mean, where are we with that? No doubt the families will be wanting justice.


Yeah, I mean, two years on and there's nobody that's there have been charges made, but that's as far as it goes. The investigation still very much ongoing. I mean, the the community is a huge one. Of course, there were 270 people who were killed. In fact, there are still firefighters out there looking for the remaining 11 people. Their bodies have not been found. So this is a you know, it was the worst the most deadly mining disaster in Brazil.


This is according to the government of Minas Gerais state. This is also the biggest settlement of its kind in Brazil. But it is still very much a story that shocked people two years ago. It still angers people two years on and it's still very much in, you know, in the minds of Brazilians here.


Katie Watson in Brazil. Police in Delhi say they're investigating whether there is an international campaign to damage India's reputation after a number of celebrities tweeted in support of ongoing farmers protests. Their officers are looking into a Web link created to register online objections to India's controversial agricultural reforms.


The Swedish climate activist Chris Attenberg has shared the link. Tweets by Mr. Danberg and the singer Rihanna supporting the farmers have been widely shared in India. Rajini writing often reports from Delhi.


For more than two months, tens of thousands of farmers have camped on a road leading to the capital, Delhi, protesting against government agriculture laws they fear will drive them out of business. This week, their cause went global as celebrities tweeted in support. The singer Rihanna asked why more attention hadn't been paid to the ongoing demonstrations. She was joined by other well-known figures, including climate activist Grétar Sumburgh and Meena Harris, the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris.


But their interventions prompted an unprecedented backlash at the highest level in India. The country's foreign ministry released a statement criticizing celebrities and others for what it described as comments which were neither accurate nor responsible. It's a sign of how much pressure the Indian government continues to face over its farm laws. The government says the reforms, which liberalize the agriculture sector, will benefit farmers by allowing them to sell directly to big business. The farmers fear wants big companies enter the market.


They'll lose their price guarantees on certain crops. Today, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government had taken several steps to make agriculture more profitable. But with farmers refusing to back down unless the laws are repealed, this remains the biggest crisis he's had to face.


Rajini Vaidyanathan in Delhi, a team of German doctors and nurses, is currently in Portugal to try to help treat coronavirus patients there. Portugal is struggling to get on top of its latest surge in infections with a population of around 10 million people. It has reported just over 13000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but nearly half of them have come in the first few weeks of this year. Mainland Portugal entered a new lockdown on the 15th of January to try to slow the spread of the virus.


Southern Europe correspondent Mark Lowen reports.


They shuffle slowly into Lisbon's Santamaría hospital, Mario Shavitt guiding his wife week, exhausted by just a few steps, overwhelmed by the third wave. There were no ambulances to bring her in. So resting on his arm, Mario walks her into a hospital at breaking point in a country that currently has the world's highest rate of infections and deaths.


The main problem is the the fact that I came here and put a lot of another person's a lot of persons in danger because the situation that I can pass my sickness or my wife's sickness to the other people.


The BBC was taken inside Santamaría Hospital to the frontier of Portugal's battle. The intensive care ward has just seven of its 70 beds. Still free. covid British variant is spreading like wildfire now accounting for over half of Portugal's cases. One of the EU's most fragile health systems is close to collapse. Some staff here working 18 hour shifts.


Nurse Patricia Fonseca noonish says only covid patients are coming. All other surgery has stopped. The emotional burden is immense.


Well, I can tell you that I remember all my patients who died. I remember their faces. I remember their names. I remember their families. I remember that 22 year old. I woke up to me and asked me what happened to my legs. So am I going to be able to play my soccer again and get so frustrated and so sad when people tell me this is not happening? Sometimes I just want to take them by the hand and say, come along, come with me, come and see how it feels like to be losing people.


German planes landed in Lisbon as the country flew in doctors, ventilators and dozens of beds to help European partners keen to show that pulling together after being criticized for throwing up walls in the first wave.


The trams trundling through Lisbon's cobbled streets are virtually empty as Portugal tightens its lockdown, it briefly lifted it over Christmas, a move thought to have hastened the new surge. But for now, many are just too shocked to level blame.


I think the responsibility is more in people in our cells and less in the government. They are trying to address this. There are many people being poor. This is something not normal in all.


Honestly, very scary views of some people in Lisbon ending that report by Mark Lowen, a Chinese state funded television news channel has had its UK license revoked. The British media regulator Ofcom concluded that CGT wasn't sufficiently independent from the Chinese Communist Party and therefore was in violation of UK rules. Shortly afterwards, China's foreign ministry accused the BBC of rehashing theories that Beijing had covered up the start of the coronavirus pandemic.


Has our media editor, Amol Rajan.


Political bodies are not allowed to broadcast in the UK. Ofcom gave China Global Television Network, better known as Keaton, the chance to prove that it was editorially independent of the Chinese Communist Party, just as the channel formerly known as Russia Today has had to do in relation to the Kremlin and failed. The owner of its licence, star China Media Ltd, did not meet legal requirements. Within minutes, China's foreign ministry repeated its demand for a public apology from the BBC for its coverage of the covid-19 pandemic in China.


They accuse the BBC of linking the pandemic to politics and have separately also complained about the BBC's coverage of the mass detention of Wiggo Muslims. In a statement, the BBC said, We stand by our accurate and fair reporting of events in China and totally reject these unfounded accusations of fake news or ideological bias. In recent years, state broadcasters have become central to the international media ecosystem, seen as tools of soft power and propaganda. China's complaints about BBC coverage come amid a broader tech Cold War with the West and particularly the US, over how open the Internet should be.


Once upon a time, global conflicts were about land or natural resources. Today, increasingly, they are about information and media editor Amol Rajan.


And still to come on the podcast.


How the sound of the world's oceans has been changed by human activity. It is now six months since the Lebanese capital, Beirut, was hit by an enormous explosion when thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in the port that blew up more than 200 people were killed and thousands more injured in a country already dealing with an economic crisis made worse by the impact of coronavirus. The blast destroyed families and changed many lives forever. The BBC's Lina Sinja has been finding out what life is like there now.


Beirut's roads are empty. Not only because there is a 24 hour curfew to slow down the spread of coronavirus, but also because a lot of buildings in certain areas are uninhabitable. Many of the families that lived in neighborhoods which sat directly in the path of the blast have moved out.


So has either from the Lebanese food bank tells me that some Middle-Class Lebanese are now reaching out for support. How are you? Hey, thanks for meeting us today. We used to receive a lot of phone calls on our hotline, a lot of WhatsApp messages from people that need our help nowadays. We started receiving emails from educated people that need food, food boxes, any type of help that we can offer because the situation is getting harder and harder.


I meet Anwar Daniel. He's one of the people who has charity, has helped rebuild his home in an upmarket area called. It was an area hit badly by the blast.


I have a housing collapse in the market and had a mini market and the work was great. We were happy. But the revolution started, the economy collapsed and things started to get bad. Then the economic crisis and then the dollar crisis. It became difficult to buy products to replace the ones I sold. Then the explosion, top it all off, is become impossible to make ends meet. We can't afford to live or pay our children's school fees.


We are no. There is no guarantee. There is an industrial bubble right next to the port. It houses some of the poorest Lebanese families and their homes to direct hit from the blast. I speak to anyone. She used to work as a cleaner and is bringing up three children and looks after her disabled ex-husband. Non-active solved.


The situation is extremely difficult. It was already hard and now it has become unbearable. Everything is closed and I have no work. My daughters have to study at home online using just the one phone between the three of them. The flat was damaged during the explosion. We have leaks now pots in the corners of the rooms to collect the rainwater.


I've just arrived in the nearby neighborhoods. It's an area with a mix of Lebanese migrant and refugee families. Off the main street in a tiny alleyway, there is the office of Osman Zaitouneh, a charity that started out supporting Syrian refugees. And as I approached the door, I can see people of all nationalities queuing up to pick up eight parcels being handed out. I'm standing outside now and I speak to a man in the queue, fear.


And if this man comes from Raqqa, he escaped the war in Syria with his family in seconds here. Since 2014, his brother lost his two children in the blast and he's here seeking help for food and money to pay the rent and do something in the home.


Mohammad Assaf is the charity coordinator. He explains what they offer in aid. The big box is food basket like lentils, rice, sugar, tea, the essential materials to eat every day for any family. And we have the hygiene kits since Korona and since it's expensive and since because of the rate of change, it's becoming impossible for any family to buy anything to do the daily hygiene.


Nor will I ask if the government have helped. What is the government doing is not enough at all. It's like if very little help or support. So we were the first to response. We intervene in what happened after the blast.


Mohammad also highlights the risk of homelessness amongst those who are affected by the blast.


Many people are approaching us speaking about eviction, you know, because they are not being able to pay the rent. They lost everything almost. And but they are giving them at least a shelter sometimes at least. I don't know if they meant for the rent for four months, whatever it is.


Mohammad al-Assad ending that report from Beirut by Lina CEGEP. Denmark is to create what it's calling the world's first energy island, with the aim of producing enough electricity to supply three million households sited 80 kilometers off the coast, it will use wind turbines to generate power, but it comes with a hefty price tag, more than 30 billion dollars. I heard more from Adrian Murray, a journalist in Copenhagen.


Well, this artificial island is going to be constructed as a central hub. And in the initial phase, it's going to be surrounded by as many as 200 giant wind turbines. Some of them, the ministry say, is as high as 260 meters above sea level. Now they're expected to generate around three gigawatts of power, as you mentioned, to supply households. But also, this hub will not only feed into power grids that are serving Denmark, but also other countries around the North Sea.


They won't have the potential as well for a large scale battery system to store some of that power and also what's called a power to plant. So this is a kind of plant that will use wind energy to produce new cleaner fuels such as green hydrogen and ammonia that could be used by industry and in heavy transport. But that's just the initial phase. The plans are even more ambitious in the coming years. They want to scale it up further so that Ireland could be even bigger.


There's also plans for a second energy hub, which would be based around the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. And ultimately, they're hoping that these two energy islands could produce as much as 10 gigawatts of power to supply as many as 10 million European households.


So it's pretty ambitious and will cost a lot of money. Will it happen?


Well, the climate Mr. Duncanson has described as the largest construction project in Danish history and as you say, it is a substantial sum. The government is planning to be the majority owner in this project, but it's also seeking private investors. And it's going to be working in partnership, together with private companies, to operate those wind farms. And, of course, a really key part of this plan, even working, is that it wants to sell a really good proportion of that power to other European countries.


And particularly as efforts are growing to decarbonise and there's more demand for cleaner sources of energy across the EU, it's hoped that really countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland will be ready to buy some of that power.


And how green is Denmark and the Danish people overall?


Well, I think it's fair to say that Denmark has very ambitious plans in terms of cutting its carbon emissions. Already, the country last summer made into law targets to to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent from the 1990 levels by 2030. Already, around half of Denmark's electricity comes from wind power, but it still has a long way to go to meet those targets. And the current government did actually run on a pro environment platform. And it has actually faced a little bit of criticism for not doing enough to meet those ambitious targets.


But I'd say there's been a quite a step change in the last few months. There's been an announcement to adopt more electric cars. Late last year, there was also a government decision to end drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea. So I think it really is trying to be a leader when it comes through these ambitious goals regarding its climate strategy.


Adrian Murray, journalist in Copenhagen, there is a warning that noise from shipping, construction sonar and seismic surveys is drowning out the normal sound of the ocean. The findings, published in the journal Science, reveal the impact of human made noise on marine life. Victoria Gill has been looking at the study.


A healthy ocean isn't a quiet place, it's a chorus of marine animals and grinding rocks and ice. But over the last century, humans have added to that mix with shipping sonar and offshore construction. This international team of researchers says the harm that this den of human made noise is causing to the ocean environment can no longer be ignored in the ocean.


You can see from tens of meters away, you might be able to smell 100 meters away, but you can hear from hundreds of miles away.


Professor Karla Stewart is a marine ecologist based at King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia.


He led the research while we introduced noise in the ocean. We have silenced the soundtrack of the healthy ocean and the sound that is now being produced by the noise that we create.


But the scientists also say that the global lockdown revealed how quickly and easily this problem could be solved. Last year, when more than half the global population was in lockdown, ocean noise reduced in volume by about 20 percent. And that was linked to a wave of observations of whales returning to coastal waterways. They hadn't been seen in four generations, turning down the volume scientists say will allow the ocean soundscape to recover almost instantly. Victoria Gehl reporting.


Fifty years ago, U.S. astronaut Alan Shepard famously hit two golf balls on the moon, the first was a mishit and it dribbled into a crater the second he claimed to have smashed for miles and miles and miles. But now an imaging specialist has enhanced high resolution scans of the original footage to work out exactly how far it went. This report from Richard Hamilton.


I have been on the record. It was one small shot for a golfer, but a giant hits for mankind. This grainy footage shows Alan Shepard hitting two golf balls into the gray lunar distance.


He used a makeshift club fashioned from a collapsible tool for scooping rock samples and the head of a six iron which had sneaked aboard the spacecraft in a sock.


Like most golfers, the astronaut couldn't resist a bit of boasting miles and miles and miles, he declared as he watched his second shot fly off on its long arc on the moon with no air resistance and about a sixth of the Earth's gravity. It is technically possible to hit a golf ball for miles, but Sheppard was restricted to swinging with just one hand because of his stiff, bulky 1970s space suit. So how far did the ball actually go? A British imaging specialist, Andy Saunders, has studied high resolution scans of the original film.


Combine them with movie footage shot by the crew and managed to locate the second ball park. He says it traveled just 40 yards or 36 meters. That's about a tenth of the distance that the current U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, can hit. But he has to contend with gravity. But never mind whether Sheppard was exaggerating. Saunders says the fact that he even made contact with the ball and got it airborne is extremely impressive.


Richard Hamilton, just before we go, one of our listeners, Matthew Walker, contacted us about an item on the podcast yesterday in our story about the use of fake covid travel documents. A contributor described a border official as an old white guy. Neither his age nor the color of his skin were relevant to the story and shouldn't have been mentioned. So please accept our apologies and thank you to Matthew for getting in touch.


And that is all from us for now. There'll be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. This edition was produced by Stephanie Tillotson and mixed by Mike Adley. The editor is Karen Martin. I'm Oliver Conaway. Until next time. Goodbye.