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[00:00:00]

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. I'm Nick Miles. And in the early hours of Friday, the 28th of August, these are our main stories. President Trump has likened the NBA to a political organization following its decision to postpone basketball matches in protest at the police shooting of a black man.

[00:00:34]

Officials in the U.S. state of Louisiana assess the scale of the damage caused by one of the most powerful storms the country has ever seen. And NATO has warned Russia not to meddle in the crisis in Belarus after President Putin said he'd set up a reserve police force to send in if extremists tried to take control.

[00:00:56]

Also in this broadcast, the Manchester United captain Harry McGuire speaks for the first time after being found guilty of assaulting police in Greece.

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My initial forecast for his getting kidnapped, we got down on his hands in the air there was hitting my leg saying my career is over. No more football, you won't play again.

[00:01:14]

And after a world record 79 years of marriage, we ask, what's the secret? President Trump has accused America's professional basketball league, the NBA, of becoming a political organization after it postponed a second night of playoff games to mark the player's outrage, the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by police on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take to the court for their game against the Orlando Magic in protest. Baseball and football matches have also been called off.

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Mr. Trump's son in law and senior aide Jared Kushner had already criticized the move, saying that unlike millionaire sports stars, most Americans don't have the financial luxury of taking a night off from work. Now the president himself has entered the fray.

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People are a little tired of the NBA, frankly, but I don't know too much about the protests. But I know their ratings have been very bad and that's unfortunate. They've become like a political organization and that's not a good thing. And I think that's a good thing for sports or for the country.

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But not everyone agrees. John Amaechi used to play professional basketball with the NBA. He's also a psychologist. At a New York Times best selling author, Sarah Montague asked him for his view of the boycott.

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It is the most civil disobedience. I think it's what we should expect of our athletes. It's amazing to me when people complain about this level of activism from athletes over matters of conscience, that we don't mind the fact that they sell us, you know, sugar water. We don't mind that they sell shoes that are too expensive, but we expect them to be role models. And then this is the kind of pivotal moment where people should really step up and be role models.

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This is exactly the type of moment where you should use your voice and your power to demand that justice is done.

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Okay, but what are they actually calling for? Can they say, look, we'll play when? When what?

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I don't know if there's a when. I haven't been talking to the players who have boycotted. But what I do know is that you're talking about it now and perhaps you wouldn't have been before. This is important. We have to keep discussing the fact that there are absolute travesties of justice going on around us and we can pretend that they're not. We can make excuses about the nature of the people who are being shot in the back seven times. But fundamentally, black lives are not mattering as much as others.

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The difficult thing, though, is that there has always, and some people might suggest will always be injustice in different areas. And at what point then kind of sports Staab actually play the game that is their game?

[00:03:55]

I'm not sure that that's the point. Everybody goes to the slippery slope. It's such a specious argument. The idea that if we do this, then what's next? Will dogs and cats start eating each other? This is not a logical argument right now. There is an issue with racial intolerance. There's an issue with racial bias and discrimination.

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What we want is to not have black people die unnecessarily at the hands of those who are charged to protect and serve.

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Do you think the bar to action is perhaps lower now because the stadiums aren't full and therefore they're not depriving part of their fan base?

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I think all you have to do is listen to some of the the players who have spoken, some of the former players, Steve Nash and the like, some of the current players, LeBron James and the like, who have spoken. If fans were in the stadium, the same decision would have been made.

[00:04:43]

What next?

[00:04:44]

How big do you think this thing could get if unarmed black people keep on getting shot in the back? I think you can expect this to escalate. I think you can expect it to move out of sports into other areas where black people are prominent.

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That's what we'd expect. Sometimes you talk to white colleagues and friends and they don't understand that there's something traumatizing about watching someone be murdered for looking like you every day.

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It informs you whether you are in Ghana or the United Kingdom or North America. It informs you that you aren't quite enough, that your skin color alone is a reason why others would think you're not a citizen not belonging.

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The thing that white colleagues and friends and listeners need to remember is that if you were only aware in the last six or seven weeks that there is incredible violence against black people sanctioned by authority, if you're only aware in the last six or seven weeks that black people are disproportionately disadvantaged in lots of areas, then I welcome you as allies.

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But just know that I needed you six months ago, that I needed you six years ago. I needed you when I was 13 and being beaten up by white kids when I got off the bus.

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I'm glad you're here now, but know that it doesn't take away any of those scars.

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That was the former NBA player, John Amaechi.

[00:06:05]

People in Louisiana are assessing the scale of the damage wreaked by Hurricane Laura, which has been rampaging through the US state, now downgraded to a tropical storm as it continues north to Arkansas. Laura has left up to four people dead. Including a 14 year old girl whose home was hit by a falling tree. Meanwhile, more than a half a million people are without power across Louisiana and neighboring Texas in the town of Lake Charles.

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A fire at a chemical plant that manufactures pool cleaning products cause a chlorine gas leak. John O'Donnell lives nearby.

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It's a very large fire. I can see it from anywhere that I have been in. It's an extremely large fire with a big black plume of smoke. And we have just received an emergency alert on our phone that has that shelter in place turn off the air conditioning, which isn't a big deal here because all the power's out and try your best not to breathe outside air.

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But the scale of the overall devastation appears to be far less than initially predicted. Here's the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. We dodged a bullet.

[00:07:11]

It could have been far worse. We were anticipating and it was prognosticated that there would be a storm surge that could very easily exceed 10 feet. I was told earlier that the storm surge was about three feet. Now, that, of course, doesn't help those whose homes have been hit, those whose businesses have been hit.

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So why did the forecasters get it wrong? Jay Grimes is chief meteorologist for the WAFB TV station in Baton Rouge.

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While the storm surge won't reach that seven metre mark that we had initially forecast, it got to keep in mind, the first of all, that's a computer driven model that is giving us that guide.

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So there's always going to be a little fuzziness there in terms of what really occurs. The other thing is, right towards the end, the storm did make a little shift to the east and by changing its path, it also changed the way it dynamically interacted with the coastline. And it did so in a favorable way, bringing down the peak surges, maybe one or two meters.

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Let's head to Belarus now, where for almost three weeks there have been widespread street protests. They've come in the wake of the disputed presidential election, which saw Alexander Lukashenko declared the winner and awarded a sixth term in office.

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Now, the struggle for power in Belarus has taken on an international perspective.

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The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says he's drawn up a reserve police force to intervene if what he called extremists took control.

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But assuming a sort of military president, Alexander Lukashenko asked me to form a certain reserve of employees of the law enforcement bodies, and I have done so. But we also agreed that it won't be used until the situation runs out of control and we control it.

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President Putin had previously said he'd only intervene if there was an external threat to Belarus.

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I asked our Moscow correspondent, Sarah Rainsford, why he changed tack.

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Well, I think Vladimir Putin's making pretty clear that it sees Belarus is very much a special case for Russia. It's a country that he stressed Russia's special relationship with its deep links. And he has said that Alexander Lukashenko has asked for his assistance and therefore he has a reserve force of law enforcement officers, security force standing by, ready to intervene if necessary. Now, I think Mr. Putin made it quite clear that as far as he's concerned, that's not necessary at the moment.

[00:09:45]

But he said if the protesters situation in Belarus went over a certain line and that line he defined as extreme forces beginning to loot and seize official buildings, then he said Russian security forces would intervene. Now, this is according to a collective security treaty that some countries have, which require them both to help one another if there's a threat to the stability of the country. That's what Mr. Putin underlined. So I think this is a warning. It's a warning to the opposition forces not to go too far.

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And I think it's a warning to the West, too, that Russia is watching very closely and it does retain the right to intervene in some way if it thinks that that's required.

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Now, perhaps not surprisingly, the Polish prime minister has been saying that this would be a hostile act in breach of international law.

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They're obviously nervous about this. I can't imagine President Putin will be dissuaded from acting because of that.

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But what about the fact that so far the protests haven't been anti Russian? Would a Russian intervention change that? Well, I think it depends what a Russian intervention is or could be.

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I mean, if we're talking about riot police going in to assist the Russian riot police, I think that's one thing. This certainly is not talking about the military intervention. There's no reference to the defense ministry or defense ministry troops. This is talking very much about the interior ministry. So police troops potentially at the very most. So I think that's the distinction. I don't think Russia wants to be seen as the invading force in Belarus by any means. But don't forget Syria, for example, the way Russia described its intervention in Syria is it's there by the invitation of the elected president, Bashar.

[00:11:20]

Now, that's the same as Russia would theoretically do and President Putin is hinting at in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has asked for help. So Vladimir Putin has put a reserve force on standby if and when that's needed. But I do think at the moment this is about upping the ante. It's sending the messages. It's telling Alexander Lukashenko that Russia has got his back.

[00:11:39]

Sarah Rainsford in Moscow.

[00:11:42]

The Manchester United and England footballer Harry Maguire has spoken for the first time about the brawl last week on the Greek island of McInnes, which saw him convicted of assault and attempted bribery in an exclusive interview with the BBC.

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He says he didn't believe the men involved were police, feared for his life and thought he was being kidnapped. He denies offering money to get himself out of jail.

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The Manchester United captain has been speaking to our sports editor, Dan Rohan, since he left a Greek courthouse on Saturday. Harry Maguire has not been seen or heard two days ago. In his absence, he was found guilty of assaulting police and handed a suspended sentence. After a night out on McInnes went wrong. But finally, the United and England star has broken his silence, telling me what it was like to spend two nights in custody.

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It was horrible. It's not something I ever want to do again. I don't wish it on anybody. And it's the first time I've ever been inside a prison. Who do you an apology to? I don't feel like I owe an apology to anybody. An apology, something when you've done something wrong. I regret being in this situation. Obviously, the situation has made it difficult for one of the biggest clubs in the world. So I regret putting the funds and the club through this.

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Do you accept that you were in a way asking for trouble being in that place that night?

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No, I think it could have happened anywhere. I love Greece. I think as footballers get a bit of stick for trying to stay away from everything and the public, it's now I want to live my life.

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McGuire says trouble began when he suspected his sister Daisy had been attacked by two strangers.

[00:13:24]

These two men approached my little sister. They asked her where she was from. She responded, and then my fiancee, fiancee, my little sister's eyes like going to the back of her head. And she ran over and she was fine and she was in and out of consciousness. And I'm sorry, Maguire says he and his friends tried to get to hospital, but were instead taken to a police station where they claim outside they were attacked by plain clothed officers.

[00:14:01]

My initial thought, I was getting kidnapped. We got down on his hands in the air and then they just started hitting us and there was hitting my leg saying, my career is over. No more football. You won't play again. And at this point, I thought there's there's no chance there's a place or there's I don't know who they are. So I try to run away. I wasn't that much of a panic and fear scared for my life.

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You actually feared for your life, did you? Yeah, for sure. Of all the way through it, you said, do you know who I am? I pay for Man United. I'm very rich. I can pay you. Let's go play with the quotes attributed to you. Did you try and bribe the police? Know for sure as soon as I've seen that statement. It's just ridiculous. Despite everything you've said, the facts remain, sadly, that you were found guilty.

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How can you remain captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world?

[00:14:57]

It's not a privilege to play for the club, never mind to be a captain. And obviously that's not my decision to make. I have great faith in Greek law and the retrial will will give us more time to prepare the evidence to allow witnesses into into the court. And I'm really confident that the truth will be told and come out.

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The England and Manchester United footballer Harry Maguire. Now, what would you buy if you had half a million dollars or so to spare?

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Well, as James Copnall has been finding out, you can find almost anything your heart desires at auctions here in the U.K. we have more than 300 going, going, gone, as they say in the films.

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But what an exquisite work of art, a large house in the country or perhaps a small apartment in a less than salubrious part of London. No, none of the above. Instead, the lucky buyers got their hands on. Well, let's hear from the subject of their bid himself at an early stage of the auction block.

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I mean, that's why a sheep and not just any sheep as the 350000 guineas or 485 thousand dollar price tag a UK record suggests Sportsman's Double Diamond is just six months old and was bought by a consortium of three buyers. The RAM is a Texel, a breed which size around 30 per cent of all lambs born in the UK. Experts say sportsman's double diamond might sire up to a thousand lambs next year. His price, you won't be surprised to hear, smashes the existing British record.

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But it pales in comparison beside the rare dogs, fish and bulls that have each cost more than a million dollars. And they will miles away from the beast, believed to be the most expensive ever. The racehorse, Fusaichi Pegasus. It's estimated the Kentucky Derby winner cost between 60 and 70 million dollars when he was sold to go out to stud 20 years ago.

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That report by James Copnall. Still to come, where are you? We got some work to do now.

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We pay tribute to the creator of those pesky crime busting kids and their hungry hound. His died.

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Three weeks after the devastating blast in Beirut, which killed more than 180 people, Lebanon is now facing a new crisis, a dangerous increase in cases of covid-19 in the chaos. Since the explosion, coronavirus cases have increased exponentially to around 600 per day in a population of six million.

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On Tuesday, 12 covid deaths were recorded in the country. That's the worst daily death toll since the virus reached Lebanon in February. Our international correspondent Orla Guerin sent this report from the Lebanese capital.

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I'm standing in what looks like a bomb site. I'm in the gym Mizzy neighborhood in Beirut. It's very close to the port. It took the full force of the blast on the 4th of August in front of me. Those are the remains of a building that was maybe four or five stories high. It's almost been sliced in half. The streets here are lined with rubble, twisted metal, broken doors, broken glass. But the repair effort is already underway.

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Plenty of construction workers in hard hats, but people in Beirut have another struggle to face in the midst of all of this, not just rebuilding, not just dealing with a broken economy, not just dealing with a failed political system and a caretaker government. They also have to tackle the rapid spread of covid-19 since the blast.

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We are standing outside a heavily damaged but very beautiful old building site. Can you tell me your name? My name is Walid. And tell me about what used to take place inside this building.

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It's a house for me and my brother. And this is a 100 year old building. How worried are you, Walid, about the spread of the virus? Because it's a lot worse since the blast. And I'm very worried. Continue like this is it's going to be the second. You know, Milana, I thought alertly because nobody cares. Everybody wants to work and go back to normal life. But it's not normal. There's no words they can start.

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We're feeling now.

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What the country is still reeling from the massive blast at Beirut port, which created a perfect storm for the virus.

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I'm Dr. Assad. I'm an infectious disease specialist and I'm the same time chief of staff at St George Hospital. Actually, the second the blast happened, the small hospital became fully dysfunctional.

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You cannot work anything inside as the crow flies. St. George's is just 800 metres from the blast site. It's 50 bed covid unit was reduced to a shell.

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Well, the fire alarm system is still going off, and you can see here the force of the blast, it ripped the door clean from its hinges. Every possible precaution was being taken here to contain covid-19. But the explosion put a stop to all that.

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Dr. Isar says cases were already increasing before the blast. In the two weeks afterwards, they doubled.

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That is a community spreading of the virus. We lost some of the testing capability and we lost at least two hospitals that were put on our patients. Most patients are being treated at Lebanon's largest public hospital, Rafik Hariri, which escaped serious damage.

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I am coming now to the car and at.

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Dr. Simon Tabuni is an infectious disease specialist on the front line. She recorded for us inside the hospital and says the next few days will be critical.

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It's a big problem. So hopefully we can go to the European scenario where patients don't have any place because the ICU is full also. So we are struggling with patients very sick and hoping that they will not go to the ICU because they're the number of blacks are limited to. Something else is very limited on the streets of Beirut, faith in the Lebanese state, such as it is to get the virus or anything else under control.

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All in reporting here in Britain, new research has found similarities between the public's psychological response to the current pandemic and the blitz during the Second World War. The study by King's College London and published in the Lancet Medical Journal, reveals that people in both situations often acted independently of government advice.

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Jonathan Beale has been looking at the findings during the covid pandemic.

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Ministers have invoked a sense of national effort similar to the one that helped Britain survive the blitz by examining documents from government departments then and comparing it to the scientific advice. Now, this study suggests that in both the pre-war and the pre covid lockdown periods, people were initially slow to respond to the threat. During the Blitz, the then government did not predict that most people would prefer to shelter in their own homes. They note a similar reluctance to leave home in the current easing of the lockdown.

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They also found parallels between the blackout in the war and the current need to maintain social distancing with the need for everyone to take part in order for such measures to be effective. The research concludes that people need to have a sense of we're all in this together for government advice and measures to be successful. China's efforts to suppress minority cultures within its borders have been well documented, not least on the BBC, Muslim Wiggo, people and Tibetans have discovered how difficult it is to maintain a separate identity.

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Now, with a new clampdown on the use of the Mongolian language in any form of state education, dissenters are gearing up for a battle in the northernmost reaches of China. Leaked documents suggest the central government plans to enter a final phase of what critics see as a decades long campaign of cultural genocide.

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And that torture is a human rights activist and Chinese Mongolian exile in New York.

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He's in regular touch with friends and family in what he calls southern Mongolia, the Chinese border.

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He told Paul-Henri what was happening there.

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Almost the entire Saddam Enngonia population is standing up against the Chinese central government. Renewed attack on Mongolian culture from kindergartener's to intellectuals, from middle schoolers to college students, from ordinary herders to rural villagers and from company workers to even some government officials. All lots of southern Angolan societies are rejecting the new round of language policy, which many see as a cultural genocide.

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Obviously, people take very seriously an attack on language as an attack on their culture, correct.

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According to the most recent information, videos and pictures we received this morning, almost all Mongolian schools and classrooms are empty despite the government push for early registration and police intimidation and the official propaganda, Mongolian parents are organizing themselves and launching a total school boycott. Many are proposing home schooling, and then others are proposing to carry out a synchronized region wide demonstration in major cities across the rangoli. On September 1st, which is the official starting day of the new academic year.

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This is quite a brave stand to take, isn't it? All these people must know how badly Beijing reacts to disobedience.

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All Mongolians are aware of the risk because they consider the Mongolian language is their last stronghold of our national identity. So they are risking their lives, risking everything to protesting against this new round of cultural genocide. Mozarteum Angolans have already lost their national independence. They already lost their political autonomy. They already lost their traditional way of life. Their environment is destroyed. So the language is the last last stronghold of national identity.

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The Chinese Mongolian exile and CBOT torch. OK. A bit of a change of tone now because the lovable, ever famished hound Scooby Doo, who somehow helped his four human sidekicks solve those dastardly crimes, is one of the best loved cartoon characters of all time.

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Today, tributes have been paid to the American animator who created him, Joe Ruby, who's died at the age of 87. This report from our arts correspondent Vincent Dout.

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Scooby Doo Doo, where are you? We got word now. Scooby Doo, where are you?

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Started life on CBS TV in 1969. Joe Ruby and Ken Spears at Santa Barbara Productions. New CBS needed animations for children after other titles had been dropped. Accused of being too scary, their creation soon revealed its taste for corny jokes.

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What's an empty old suit of armor doing in the driver's seat? Maybe he went out for the night. Get it? Most weeks with human friends Daphne, Fred, Valmar and Shaggy, the Great Dane Scooby Doo had a mystery to solve. But what delighted viewers weren't the plots but Scooby's clumsy amiability semi human speech and his taste for Scooby Snacks.

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Ma'am, this is Spook's. Bill will help build Scooby School for many years, the provider of the voice was Don Mesic.

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There have been in total 14 Scooby seasons, hundreds of episodes and live action films.

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You know, we've gotten year. The original series had a freshness. Daphne, Fred, Velma and Shaggy had a slight edge of hippiedom about them. And Scooby Doo, created by Joe Ruby and Ken Sphere's to dig a network out of a programming crisis, is regularly acclaimed as one of the great TV cartoons. And I know that Vincent Dowd's reporting there.

[00:28:25]

Finally, what's the secret to a happy and long lasting relationship?

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Magazine articles have been devoted to that question and entire books have been written about it. But now the world's oldest married couple are sharing the secrets of their success.

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As Charlotte Gallagher reports, it's official where the combined age of more than two hundred and fourteen years. Julius Caesar, Mora Tapia and Walter Amena Macklovitch Kantaras Reyes are the world's oldest married couple. The pair, from Ecuador who've been married for 79 years, were given the title by the Guinness Book of Records this week. 110 year old Julius Caesar was born in 1910, two years before the Titanic sunk, while while Jamina, who's 104, was born in 1915.

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And like all good love stories, their romance has faced challenges. Their marriage was held in secret, with only a few people present as neither of their families approved. The pair went on to have five children and now have 11 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and nine great great grandchildren. When asked what the secret to their relationship was, the pair said three things love, maturity and respect. They said those values even helped them unite the family members who'd been so opposed to their relationship.

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Simple advice, but with a relationship lasting that long, it's worth listening to that report from Charlotte Gallagher, ending this edition of the Global News podcast. An updated version will be available later on. If you want to comment on this podcast or the topics covered in it, you can send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBC, Dot Code or UK. I'm Nick Miles. And until next time, goodbye.