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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm James Copnall. And in the early hours of Saturday, the 22nd of August, these are our main stories. Doctors treating the Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who is allegedly poisoned, now say he can go abroad for treatment in Libya. After nearly a decade of turmoil, rival authorities announced a ceasefire.
This is the first time that a cease fire is brought about by the sheer force of the international power brokers, which are Turkey and Russia.
And the World Health Organization warns that a new outbreak of Ebola in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo is spreading quickly.
Also in this podcast. A judge sentenced the Golden State killer whose crimes terrorized Californians in the 1970s and 80s to life in prison.
The fundamental principle of law that justice delayed is justice denied is no truer than in this case.
And we'll take you to an ancient fossilised crime scene where a four metre long reptile ended up the loser.
As we're recording this podcast, a medically equipped plane is waiting in the Siberian city of Omsk to take the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to Germany for treatment. Mr. Navalny remains in a coma following a suspected poisoning. Russian doctors initially said he was too ill to be moved, but they relented after appeals by his family and aides who said Mr. Navalny life was in danger in Russia. His Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition politician and vice president of the Free Russia Foundation.
This is very good news. This is what Alexei Navalny, his wife Ulyanov, finally wanted in situations like this. It is the family, the closest people who must take those decisions, of course, and consultations with doctors. And the main thing now is for Alexei Navalny to stay alive and to get back to good health. And then it will be time to address the consequences.
I asked our Moscow correspondent, Sarah Rainsford, why the doctors had changed their minds. They were under huge pressure.
It's almost two days now since Alexei Navalny landed on their doorstep, essentially at that hospital in Omsk after the emergency landing of his plane. He was unconscious. He's still unconscious. And his family had been pushing really, really hard to get him transported, transferred to Berlin, where they thought they could get better treatment and also more transparent treatment. They wanted toxicology tests run. They insist that he's been poisoned. So they wanted some doctors that they said they could trust.
There's been, as I said, a lot of pressure. Ulyanov Onlar has been writing open letters of appeal to President Putin. The Kremlin's been asked about it. And finally, at this juncture, pretty much the doctors came out and they said it's risky, but we'll agree because the family wants it.
So how quickly could a departure happen, do you think?
Well, we understand it could be some hours. I mean, Mr Navalny is still in a coma. He's still in a critical condition. And his team are saying that they understand six or seven hours before he can board the plane, that standing at the airport is just about ten minutes drive away. I've been speaking to the organization that sent the plane. They did say that the three German medics who'd been to see Mr Navalny to check on his condition and had concluded that he was fit enough, stable enough to be transported.
And he pointed out to me that they wouldn't take the risk themselves unless they were sure that they could do this safely.
Sarah Rainsford, let's stay in the region. As Belarus is preparing for another major opposition rally this weekend, many are afraid that authorities may brutally disperse the crowds again. The use of force to crackdown on protesters following the disputed presidential elections earlier this month only fueled anger and led to mass rallies across the country. Day by day, harrowing stories of abuse and torture have emerged as people are released from detention centres. The BBC's Abduljalil Abd Rasoulof visited a hospital in Minsk to speak to some of the patients there.
This is one of the scenes of brutal crackdown on protesters that shocked many in Belarus and across the world.
The mobile video shows riot police grabbing people at random. They wrestled them down and started kicking them viciously before throwing them into a police van.
This is one of the hospitals in Minsk. Some of the protesters who got beaten up after detention are being treated here. This is tell me the government in Belarus does not want the public to see these patients, so I visited the hospital undercover forum in Moscow.
Woman was lying on the bed with some tubes attached to his chest.
He had serious lung injuries, although he says he was detained because he was wearing a white bracelet, the symbol of opposition. There were three rounds of detainees lying on top of each other inside a police van. He describes his experience. Officers relentlessly kicked them and beat with batons.
I walked into another ward and met a 22 year old Andre with a short haircut. He looked like a teenager. If he was lying on the bed, a nurse was putting plaster on the bruises that entirely covered both his legs. He was detained at the bus stop.
She's only a little kid is astronaut stuff.
They tied my hands and beat me with a baton and kicked my legs and backside and they hit me on the head and threw it in the morning.
Andrea was not able to stand and they sent him to hospital. Authorities say that the violence was provoked by protesters who attacked police first, even al Qaeda.
Such claims infuriate 74 year old pensioner Pyotr Cerna by his faith is covered with teachers who but in the trash.
When I was standing in my courtyard when riot police stormed in and started beating me, Mr. Chernov's says, showing me his missing teeth and broken nose.
People continue to gather on the main square of Minsk to protest against the violence and brutality authorities have used against protesters and major rallies scheduled this Sunday. But as intimidation and clampdown on protesters continue, the question is now, will that drown the opposition? A few new mass protests. Abdu Jalil Abdul Rasoulof in Minsk, Libya, has been extremely unstable since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed back in 2011. Now, though, the two rival authorities, which dispute control of the country, have announced a ceasefire.
Both the internationally recognized government in Tripoli and the rebel leader, General Khalifa Haftar, say they will stop fighting. Sami Hamed's a political analyst and editor in chief of the International Interest, a risk consultancy based in London.
What we see today is the result of months of resetting between Turkey and Russia, the two powers that back either side. And it appears that today they've come to some sort of agreement. It's important to stress here that this cease fire is an international decision by the international powerbrokers rather than a Libyan decision. This is the first time that a cease fire is brought about by the sheer force of the international power brokers, which are Turkey and Russia. And that's why I think the cease fire is more likely to last than the previous ceasefires.
And North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad has covered Libya for many years. I asked her if this announcement comes as a surprise.
Well, it depends on how you look at it. Libya's conflict has been and what could be described as a stalemate for quite some time now, even though Heifer's forces don't have their forces, which attacked Tripoli over a year ago and led that more than a year long conflict until they withdrew in June. Technically, the conflict ended then, but they ended up in some sort of a stalemate, not knowing what to do to move forward. So on some level, I suppose, with all the pressure that was coming in from the Western community, them having to to look at what their options are, it seemed like a Plan B was the only one I've heard.
Lots of Libyans complain about foreign interference, making the conflict worse. Is it also perhaps true that on this occasion, foreign influence has helped bring about a ceasefire?
Well, yes, one could see it that way. We're not entirely sure how some key players like Russia and the UAE feel about it at this time. We do know that the Egyptians on board, they've welcomed the cease fire and also the Turkish authorities as well. Turkey has been backing the internationally recognized government in Tripoli over the past year or so. So for the government to declare a cease fire, they would have had to agree or get Turkey's agreement for it.
Give us a bit of context, a bit of history here. Is a ceasefire like this historically likely to last?
It's difficult to say at this time. It certainly raises some hope for Libyans. They've borne much of the brunt of this conflict and the chaos that's created over the years. I think if we look back looking at the various peace processes that were in place, the times when they've had elections to supposedly resolve the political issue and also unilateral cease fires that were declared time and again that were never really enforced doesn't necessarily bode well moving forward with this new process.
Rana Jawad, there are now around 30 covid-19 vaccines going through clinical trials around the world. But scientists have repeatedly warned it could be months before we know which, if any of them works. There are growing calls to conduct what's known as challenge trials, where volunteers are given the vaccine and then deliberately infected with the coronavirus to see if they are protected. That idea is controversial, as our medical editor Fergus Walsh reports.
Sean McPartlan is 22 and keeps fit by swimming in the Thames at Oxford. Being young and healthy puts him at very low risk from covid-19. One reason why the graduate student wants to volunteer for a challenge trial where he'd be infected with coronavirus after receiving a vaccine.
So my mother has a hereditary lung disorder and every day we go without a vaccine is a day that she faces the risk. So I want to do everything I can to help get that vaccine to her and everyone else like her as quickly as possible.
To challenge trials have been used to test vaccines for flu, cholera and typhoid. But in each case, there was a rescue, therapy and effective treatment which could minimize the dangers to volunteers. That's not the case with covid-19. The risks are hard to quantify, but for healthy volunteers in their 20s, they're probably lower than the chances of dying from donating a kidney or having your appendix removed. US health officials say the technical and ethical aspects of challenge trials are being investigated.
But Dr Katrina Pollock, who's leading the trial of Imperial College, London's coronavirus vaccine, is not yet convinced.
I'm not sure that it's going to necessarily accelerate development of vaccine in the way that some people might hope. And there are certainly significant at this point, ethical and safety considerations for doing it.
Challenge studies will not replace large scale clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers, but they could help scientists pick the most promising coronavirus vaccines and perhaps speed up their development.
For decades, the identity of California's Golden State killer remained a mystery. But now Joseph James D'Angelo has been sentenced to life in prison for numerous rapes and murders. D'Angelo, who's 74 and a former police officer, confessed to the crimes as part of a plea deal. The sentencing followed three days of harrowing testimony from some of the victims and their families. Judge Michael Bowman addressed him directly before announcing the sentence.
The fundamental principle of law that justice delayed is justice denied is no truer than in this case. But for the dogged persistence and perseverance of law enforcement, the survivors, their families and citizen detectives, this case may have remained unsolved.
From Los Angeles, our reporter Reagan Morris told me more.
During the 1970s and 1980s, he terrorized people in California. You know, people lock their doors who never did before. People were so afraid because he would come in to women's homes at night. And it didn't matter if your husband was home, your kids, your your spouse, your mother, he would tie up other members of the family and place plates on their backs so that if and then he'd tell them if there's raddle, if I hear those fall, I'm going to kill all of you.
So it was incredibly terrifying for people. And, you know, his youngest victim was a 13 year old girl at the time. He did not discriminate on age. He he tied up other little children much younger than that while he attacked their mothers. It seems like it was quite understandably, an emotional scene in what was a makeshift courtroom today.
Yeah, he was he was sentenced in a three day hearing inside a university ballroom because a an ordinary courtroom wasn't big enough to hold all the survivors and family members of victims who wanted to come and speak at his hearing. He listened for three days to their witness impact statements, people. I wasn't in the room, but people apparently told harrowing stories and he listened. And at the end, he took off his mask and said, you know, I'm truly, truly sorry.
But as we heard there earlier, the judge said, you know, you deserve no mercy.
And the way in which he was caught was relatively unusual so many years after the crimes.
It was incredibly unusual and it's it's somewhat controversial he some detectives working on the cold case took some DNA they had from one crime scene and they uploaded it onto an amateur genealogy website and they found a few hits of his relatives and they didn't think those relatives were them, but they started investigating the family and it eventually led them to identify him. So, you know, people doing all these, you know, you swab your cheek and put your DNA out there, it might not get you in trouble.
But if somebody in your family committed a crime, it could come back to you.
Reagan Morris, you're listening to the Global News podcast.
Still to come, I was overwhelmed. I was happy, of course. Very happy. I was thankful. Grateful. I want to hug Taylor Swift, I guess one of the world's biggest pop stars makes an 18 year old would be students.
Dreams become a reality.
But first, while the world's attention has been on, the covid-19 pandemic has been a new outbreak of Ebola in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people suffering from the deadly disease, which causes internal bleeding and organ failure, has reached three figures. James Coomaraswamy got more details from the BBC's Africa editor, Mary Harper.
Yes, this is the 11th recorded outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is actually where the first ever case was also recorded. And the WHL, the World Health Organization, has just said that the latest outbreak, which is in the north west of the country, there's now been 100 cases. And what's particularly alarming is that the number of cases has doubled in the past five weeks or so. So it looks like it's increasing rather than being anywhere being brought under control.
And what's particularly frustrating for the Democratic Republic of Congo is that this latest outbreak occurred just before it declared the end to a much more serious outbreak that had lasted for two years in the east of the country that killed more than 2000 people.
And they think this is a completely separate outbreak then, or is this something that may have been brought from the east?
It's apparently a different strain of Ebola, so probably not related to the one that caused so much devastation in the east. And what the WTO is saying about this outbreak is that even though unlike the East, this part of Congo is not so badly affected by conflict, it is a densely forested area. The communities affected are spread very far distances from each other. And in fact, the Ebola health workers, many of whom are actually on strike because they say they're not being paid properly and not being equipped properly to reach these affected communities.
They sometimes have to travel by boat for days and days through the forest. So it's an incredibly difficult situation to bring under control.
Do we know about the death rate, if it can be very high, can't it, in some Ebola strains?
Yes, with this one out of the 100 confirmed cases, 43 people have died. So that's pretty much half of those infected have died from the disease. And this is despite the fact that now they have vaccinations which help protect people against the disease and several other measures. For example, the WTO said that the DRC had the best, highly trained, most expert Ebola prevention teams on Earth because they're so experienced in this. But even with with those factors, the disease is still managing to kill so many people amongst those who are infected.
Mary Harper, next to the US, where the man who would be president, the Democratic Party hopeful Joe Biden, has vowed to lead the nation into the light. Though opinion polls in the US give Biden a reasonable lead over Donald Trump, it could be another close run contest for the White House. Postal votes will be even more vital this time around, thanks to covid. With the US Postal Service itself now a battleground ahead of the vote. On Friday, the postmaster general, Lewis Dejoy, told a Senate committee that ballots in November's presidential election would be delivered securely and on time.
He was responding to concern among Democrats that as a major donor to the Republican Party, he might have made a deliberate effort to sabotage the vote. The BBC's Ben Wright was listening in.
We live in uncertain times, however, there is one thing you can be certain of the men and women of the United States Postal Service, a trusted delivery van trundled through the desert and smiling postal workers sought parcels at a depot.
But this folksy ad for the U.S. Postal Service belies the political storm engulfing the cash strapped federal agency.
I want to make the post office great again, OK? The way it's been run, it's been run horribly. November's presidential election could well hinge on whether the mail is delivered on time. That's because due to the pandemic, millions more Americans than usual will be casting a postal ballot, while Democrats say the service desperately needs more money. President Trump has been saying for years that he doesn't want Americans voting en masse by mail because he claims without evidence the process is ripe for fraud, that it will be a catastrophe that would make America a laughingstock.
Here's the president on Fox News last week.
They want 25 billion dollars. They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail in voting because they're not equipped to have it.
At the centre of the row is postmaster general and Republican mega donor Lewis Dejoy. When he took over the agency in May, he announced Cost-Cutting changes that outraged critics, removing mailboxes, scrapping overtime, canceling delivery runs and closing down sorting centers. But then on Tuesday came this breaking news on MSNBC.
Well, we've just learned the postmaster general, Mr. Joy, just days before he's going to be grilled on Capitol Hill, is now backing off of these controversial changes to the agency's operation until after the election.
In a statement a couple of hours ago, Mr. Dejoy was quizzed by a Senate committee. Will you be bringing back any mail sorting machines that have been removed? There's no intention to do that. They're not needed, sir. So I will tell you, my first election mail meeting, I instructed the organization, the whole team around us and out in the field, whatever efforts we will have, double that. We are very committed, the postal workers committed to having a successful election.
And the the insinuation is, quite frankly, outrageous.
But words and actions are not the same thing. Just before Mr. De Joy's day in front of senators, I talked to Jocelyn Benson, the Democrat secretary of state who's in charge of running elections in the crucial swing state of Michigan.
Mail sorting machines continued to be removed from Grand Rapids, from Traverse City and other places throughout the state of Michigan. He's made no commitment as of yet to reverse those past decisions that he's made that have already dampened the process.
What we've never seen before is a president say I'm going to try to actively kneecapped the Postal Service to encourage voting.
And I will be explicit about the reason I'm doing it.
Yeah. Speaking on the podcast Campaign HQ, Barack Obama echoes the view of many Democrats that Donald Trump is trying to sabotage the election while the president tries to discredit the whole idea of postal voting.
This emergency has devastated the post office, whose finances tell Congress to save the post office.
This weekend, Democrats in Congress will push for a 25 billion dollar injection of cash to shore it up before polling day. And while President Trump continues to rail against postal voting, some of his own supporters are worried that this tactic will backfire. Amy Koch is the former Republican leader of the Minnesota Senate and a party strategist in that battleground state.
We're so right ourselves in the United States on clean and fair elections and a peaceful transition of power, if that's what's going to happen.
So the underpinnings of that and people's confidence in the election is just far too important to play games with it.
Amy Koch, ending that report by Ben writes, It's been described as an ancient crime scene around 240 million years ago, a marine reptile as big as a great white shark gobbled up another animal that was only slightly smaller than itself. Now, paleontologists say it's the earliest evidence of what's known as mega predation, where one large creature preys on another. Richard Hamilton reports.
Scientists removing layers of rock from the fossil of the giant Gwangju ichthyosaurs named after China's southwestern province of Gojo, where it was first discovered back in 2010 at five meters in length. It was the largest marine predator of its time and looked a bit like an ancient dolphin until now. It was thought that such animals fed on much smaller creatures like squid. But a new study of the fossil reveals something extraordinary. Nestled inside its stomach is the torso of another reptile, a four metre long shin pusser's.
If you look at this prey fossil, actually it hasn't been digested. There's no further disintegration. That means the Predator probably did not survive too long after ingesting this animal. Probably some dyna pretty soon after.
Ryosuke Mahtani of the University of California, Davis is the co-author of the study. He says In eating such a large reptile, the way Joe ichthyosaurs may literally have bitten off more than it could chew.
There was a fight between the two and that must have been pretty fierce. It's possible that maybe the neck was damaged to some extent, the predator at this point. This is not a snake, so it's not as good at swallowing. So we have to use the inertia or maybe use the gravity to push it down. That's what the crocodiles and the whales do today. Well, of course, when you do that, you don't have a total control and it could easily expand the damage of the neck.
This fine now ranks amongst the most dramatic fossils on records, joining others such as that of two dinosaurs, a velociraptor and a proto serotypes discovered in Mongolia's Gobi Desert in the 1970s, locked in seemingly eternal combat.
Richard Hamilton reporting. The cost of a university education is something prospective students in countries around the world have to struggle with. 18 year old Victoria Marijo, who lives in London, was no different. She moved to the UK from Portugal four years ago. She wasn't eligible for any grants or loans, and her family couldn't afford to meet the cost of her maths degree. So Victoria set up a Go Fund Me page online to try to raise some money. And now she's reached her target thanks to one of the most famous singers in the world.
Taylor Swift had a hit with that song Wildest Dreams, and now she's made this teenager's dream come true by donating 30000 dollars to her university fund. Victoria has been speaking to the BBC's David Sillitoe.
Oh, I was I couldn't believe it. I feel like even now I'm still processing it because I just can't believe it.
Eighteen year old Victoria Murray was in church and her friend wanted to let her know that there'd been a donation to her university Go Fund Me page from Taylor Swift 24 hours on and still rather difficult to process.
Was I was overwhelmed. I was happy, of course. Very happy. I was thankful. Grateful. I wanted to hug Taylor Swift.
I guess I would say thank you to many things. At the same time, I didn't know how to feel, even how to handle my feelings. Yes. Taylor Swift had also left a message saying she had been inspired by Victoria's story. Victoria had arrived from Portugal on her own, aged 14.
Four years on, she has two stars and a name, but couldn't see a way of affording university.
So you're not eligible for any maintenance grants because you you arrived here in Britain on your own, aged 14. Yes, that's correct. Speaking no English, no English at all.
Yeah, I learned mostly through Netflix. Not today. You learnt English watching them, watching films with subtitles so I can learn how to say it and learn how to write them.
Of course, this isn't the first pop charitable donation. Ariana Grande, Rihanna and Storm Zee, with his scholarship program for black students, have all made large donations for those who are struggling.
Taylor Swift, who does have a new album out, has a track record of surprise gifts. But why Victoria's story touched her in particular is a mystery.
Were you with Taylor Swift fan? Cause you're a fan? Oh, of course I know she is. Of course. I want to say I'm a super fan. I do not want to keep contacting the like everything that makes it so disturbing to know. But I still know. I have and I still don't. And I don't know.
A very happy Victoria Mario, who'll be on her way to university in a few weeks time, and that's all from us for now, but there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later if you want to comment on this podcast.
Well, the topics covered in it, you can send us an email address is global podcast at BBC, Dot C0 U.K.. I'm James Copnall. Until next time. Goodbye.