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tv   Unspun World with John Simpson  BBC News  May 22, 2022 12:30am-1:01am BST

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this is bbc news, the headlines... anthony albanese has won the australian general election, beating scott morrison, to become the country's first labor prime minister in almost a decade. addressing supporters, he pledged to transform the country into a renewable energy superpower and to work towards lifting wages and profits. as russian attacks in eastern ukraine intensify, president volodymyr zelensky has said diplomacy is the only way the war on his country will end. the british foreign secretary liz truss has said that ukraine's neighbour, moldova, should be armed with nato military equipment, to help guard it against the threat of a russian invasion. switzerland and the netherlands have become the latest countries to report cases of monkeypox, with doctors warning the outbreak could badly affect access to sexual
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health services. cases of the virus are rare outside central and west africa now on bbc news— unspun world. hello and welcome to bbc headquarters, broadcasting house here in london, for unspun world, the programme where we get straight answers from the bbc�*s remarkable range of experts right around the globe. in this programme, more and more governments are starting to think that ukraine may actually be winning the war which russia launched against it. the war is really exhausting the country, exhausting the ukrainian economy.
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covid hits north korea big time. what does that mean for kim jong—un�*s future? in the past, north korea has been very sensitive about international aid. to accept that, it means to acknowledge that we can't cope by ourselves, which would be a huge embarrassment to the government. and should we learn to love the black holes which we are just starting to photograph in the depths of the universe? it raises questions about ourselves, our place in the universe, and i think people are fascinated by that sort of thing. in the early days of the russian invasion back in february, 6 million ukrainians fled from their homes in fear of what might happen. more than half that number, 3.25 million, went to poland. among them was marta shokalo
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of the bbc�*s ukrainian service, who went to warsaw with her young son. she'sjust got back from a visit to ukraine. i asked her about the mood of the people she'd come across. i even hear that even from my, like, some friends in russia, our colleagues, they are saying that they feel that ukraine is winning. but the problem is nobody knows how this win will look like and when it's going to happen. presumably it would be driving russia out of all ukrainian territory. i mean, is that a possibility? well, i think at least that's how the victory looks for most of ukrainians. for example, after eurovision, we won eurovision, and there were manyjokes on the internet, people saying, ok, so the next year,
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eurovision will be in crimea. and so people kind of expect that to happen at some point. but how realistic is that? that's another question. and it's a really hard question for many people because i think many ukrainians now entered the next phase of war and this phase is quite complicated. this uncertainty is quite hard for many people. now, any peace deal between ukraine and russia is going to be mostly about territory, isn't it? does russia have a chance of clinging on to any of ukraine's territory? i think there is a feeling in society that ukraine does not need to do any peace talks, peace deals with russia, we just need to win.
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if we come to the point at some point that we need to make some kind of peace deal, it can be a big problem for ukrainian authorities, just to persuade society, the whole society, that this is the only way to stop this war. but for now, it doesn't look very likely, but maybe in a couple of months it will be something, the only option that we will have. because the war is really exhausting the country, exhausting the ukrainian economy. i know you've just been back to ukraine and you talked to a lot of people there. what do you feel was the mood of people there? the moment you enter ukraine, you just can feel the war almost with your skin. you see the empty petrol station and you just realise how hard the life is there.
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i met some of my friends and i was absolutely amazed how sad they are because i knew them completely different before war. we were having laughs all the time and having fun. and now i saw, like, completely lost people who lost their businesses, who don't see their families because they are abroad, who don't see their children. and it's made me really sad. now ukraine is a bit like a big wounded animal. it is alive but it is bleeding and it's really hard. so you just feel all this pain in many families around ukraine. let's finally turn to you and your son. you're both living in warsaw. what's that like? poland and the polish people are just amazing. and i really lack words
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for expressing my gratitude to what they've done for us. sometimes when i walk around warsaw now, i have a feeling that i'm home and i'm in kyiv because there are so many ukrainians on the streets. like, every second person is from ukraine. finland and sweden have been staunchly neutralfor a long time. finland since the end of the second world war. sweden for 200 years. yet they've now given up their neutrality and applied tojoin nato because they are afraid that russia might do to them what it did to ukraine. in finland, a campaign started by a couple of computer geeks galvanised opinion in favour ofjoining nato. finland's border with russia is 1300 kilometres long.
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oksana antonenko, a correspondent for the bbc russian service, has been travelling the full length of the border talking to people. expansion of nato was always perceived as a threat in russia. but right after finland and sweden said that we are going tojoin nato, russia changed its line. finland and sweden joining nato is not a threat. a threat would be new military bases or missiles in finland or sweden. but the fact that these countries are joining nato is not a problem for the kremlin any more. now, you'vejust come back from a fascinating journey right down the border between finland and russia. i was there a few weeks ago. often, in many places, it was scarcely marked. do you think it's going to be more clearly defined from now on? it will not be just a border between nato and russia. it will also be a place for people to cross to buy
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food, to visit relatives. because finnish people and russian people, despite all the politics, they were always very friendly. and i know that many russians from the areas near the finnish border, they simply go to finland because they have families there, they get married, they have kids. they also go there as tourists, they buy flats, they buy summer houses. they also go there for simple shopping. how do you think the kremlin really feels about this? i mean, do they feel, do they see what finland has done as kind of a betrayal, do you think? i wouldn't say that the kremlin sees this as a betrayal because this is something that the kremlin probably expected. as it was mentioned by russian officials, these two countries, sweden and finland, they've been participating in nato exercises for years. so russia saw this country
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being very friendly with nato, very close with nato, so i don't think that they are kind of surprised. and what will be the future relationship? does everything depend on what happens in the ukraine war, or is it wider than that? i think that something that is on the human level will not disappear, unless russia uses its propaganda. because, as i mentioned, people are very friendly there and there are many connections between the finns and russians, and people will keep going abroad for groceries. but if russia starts using its propaganda and kind of tries to make finnish people look very anti—russian, then things can change. we know they have started something like this with sweden. there were huge banners placed on the bus stops in moscow quoting famous swedish people and making them sound nazi.
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so they haven't tried something like this with finland but there is an option. on the political level, yes, probably many things depend on ukraine, but i wouldn't say that russia at this moment would dare to start a new war, let's say with finland, because we know that it's not going as well as the kremlin would like it to in ukraine. so a new war would be totally insane, even for the kremlin. when britain voted to leave the european union six years ago, there were plenty of warnings about the knock—on effects on northern ireland. would it damage the good friday peace agreement which brought an end to the violence that had lasted since 1969? would it edge northern ireland out of the union with britain and into union with the republic of ireland? would there be obstacles
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to british goods crossing the irish sea to northern ireland? over my dead body, promised borisjohnson. but the northern ireland protocol, negotiated with the european union, certainly has introduced controls on all sorts of goods from britain to northern ireland. it is all immensely complicated. but i asked chris page to make it simplerfor us. politics in northern ireland is completely different to england, scotland and wales. you have unionist parties who define themselves by wanting to maintain northern ireland's place in the uk. irish nationalist parties, whose real aim is ultimately to merge northern ireland into the republic of ireland. the issue with the protocol, really, is that it goes to the very heart of that basic division — britishness or irishness. to unionists, again if you take things down to the core principles, the protocol feels
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like it is separating northern ireland economically from the rest of the uk and it's something that is damaging northern ireland's place in the uk. to irish nationalists, though politically they maybe wouldn't characterise it quite like this, well, it can feel that the protocol is something that is moving northern ireland a little bit out of the uk's orbit and slightly closer to the european union economically. that means in essence it is moving northern ireland just that little bit closer to dublin, into the all—ireland economy. would you think that in, say, 20 years' time, northern ireland will still be part of the united kingdom? do you think it will be separate, or do you think it will be united with the rest of ireland? there is a pathway set out in international law for northern ireland to leave the uk and join with
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the republic of ireland under some circumstances. the good friday agreement, signed in 1998, which largely ended the conflict here, signed by the british and irish governments and the major political parties in northern ireland, it has a section which says that if in the future it appears likely to the british government that a majority of people in northern ireland would vote in a referendum to leave the uk and join a united ireland, then the british government is in essence duty—bound to call that referendum. although sinn fein, the biggest irish nationalist party, is now the largest party in the assembly, and that is the first time a nationalist party has ever done that, it is still the case, if you look at the broader picture, there are more unionist politicians elected to the assembly than nationalist. so the british government has been pretty clear it doesn't think the grounds are there now to call a referendum on irish unity. indeed, the government in dublin says exactly the same. but i do think as demographic
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trends are shifting, as we have seen unionism lose more ground electorally to those centre ground parties, the nationalist parties, over the last few years, there is a different sort of conversation happening about how a united ireland could come about and what it would look like. i must say, every time i go to northern ireland, i am always amazed how far, far less aggressive towards each other and to each other�*s ideas than they were when i used to report and do yourjob, really, back in the 1970s. yes, it certainly is a place transformed. i mean, compared to the place that i grew up in, it is remarkably different. the city that i am speaking to you from now, londonderry, also known as derry, depending on maybe which side of the political divide you are on, it was a place that was engulfed by the conflict. and now you walk around it and you see new buildings
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springing up everywhere. you see a whole different atmosphere. you see sources of employment for people that never would have existed in the past. you also still see lots of social problems and some people would say that, well, the peace process has ended the violence, but it is still the areas that saw the most violence during the conflict that see the highest levels of poverty. so the fact the political debate has moved more onto those areas i think shows you how much things have moved on from the conflict. on the other hand, many people will also point to the basic divisions that still exist. there is always still that sense of division, that sense of national identity which defines still so much of politics here, and many people would always point to that and say as long as that exists, and there is no sign of it going away, well, there is always going to be the potential for tensions to rise here, and once that starts happening, well, events can get very unpredictable indeed. for two years, north korea, reclusive, battened down,
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utterly controlled, denied that it had suffered in any way from covid. it can't have been true but it was impossible to find out what effect the pandemic was actually having there. it was a secret as carefully kept as kim jong—un�*s nuclear intentions. and then north korea suddenly announced it was so badly in the grip of covid that hundreds of thousands of people were suffering from it. whatever is going on there? i turned to su—min hwang, the editor of the bbc�*s korean service, for enlightenment. the situation in north korea is expected to be very dire. they can no longer hold off, saying that we don't have any covid cases. so in a way, it could be a sign to the international community that we do need some aid, although that is to be seen. south korea and china have already offered some vaccines and humanitarian aid but north korea has not answered those
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calls for help yet. they don't have any vaccines of their own, then? the vaccine rate is expected to be zero. and added to that, their infrastructure, health care, is very, very poor to begin with. and many people of the population are very malnourished, and diseases like tuberculosis are very rampant. so all of these conditions are not really working right for north korea at the moment. as you say, kimjong—un has been notable for refusing help from outside for all sorts of other things, hasn't he? is he going to be forced this time to say, "ok, please help us?" we don't know that yet. in the past, north korea has been very sensitive about international aid. to accept that, it means to acknowledge that, "we can't cope by ourselves," which would be a huge embarrassment to the government. also, that means you are
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letting in the non—north koreans into the country. and we are speaking about a country that is tightly controlling the information flow and supply flows into the population. how serious is this for north korea, for kim jong—un�*s leadership? it will be very serious and quite detrimental, and you can actually link this to the continued missile tests that north korea has been doing. just last week, we have seen another three short—range missile launch tests, and you can read that as the kim jong—un government distracting people from the practical hardships that people are going through, and shifting the blame on the us and south korea for putting their own country on a defensive mode. on the one hand, kimjong—un is probably going to be desperate for outside help. at the same time, he is carrying out missile tests.
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he is doing everything that seems so hostile. actually, these missile launches and potential nuclear tests have been an ongoing strategy of north korea and in a way, the only way of survival. it is their very leverage in the international community, and it has been proven, in a way, successful. one of the arguments you sometimes hear in ukraine at the moment is that the country should never have given up its nuclear weapons, because russia would never have invaded a nuclear power. is that something... does that kind of have an effect in the arguments in north korea and south korea? north korea has always been quite staunch on the fact that the nuclear weapon is central to their survival strategy and it is expected that they will continue to do so. actually, a lot of analysts are thinking that they will
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resume their fifth nuclear test at their site, and that is quite significant. and i don't think the direction will change in any short—term moment. there seem to be black holes at the heart of every galaxy in space, terrifying things which drag everything, including light itself, into their jaws. for that reason, you can't photograph them. yet it turns out you can, after all. we got the first radio telescope pictures of a black hole in 2019, and now, we have got stunning pictures of the black hole within our own galaxy. i asked the bbc�*s science correspondent pallab ghosh to explain. a black hole is a dead star that has collapsed. the gravity gradually builds up so strongly that not even light can escape it. and it sucks everything in. so how on earth can you take
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a picture of something that is so black that it traps light? well, as it is dragging stuff in, it superheats dust and particles and gas around it. and as a result, there is a big halo of light, that is still quite faint but there is a halo of light. and no single telescope on earth is powerful enough to capture that image, so cleverly, the scientists connected eight of them from all across the world together and their combined power was effectively an observatory which is the size of the entire earth. and so they tune into the black hole, each telescope gets a little bit of it and they put it together, like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. it has taken them five years to make sure that what they are capturing really is what they see. but i think you have known about this for some time, haven't you? well, the scientist who came up with the idea was 25
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when he had the idea. he was doing his phd and he told his professors about it and he was just told he was talking nonsense and was discouraged by the astronomical community. but he was quite stubborn about it. i read about his idea about 20 years ago in a trade magazine. i thought initially that the reporter had probably got it wrong because it is impossible to take a picture of a black hole. and so i tracked the guy down, heino falcke, and he said, "oh, yes, no, it is perfectly true, i am going to take a picture of a black hole." this was his life's ambition. you know, he proved his professors wrong. when he was talking to me, he had realised what he had done. and all the kind of pent—up hope and emotion that he had been suppressing because he was not allowed to talk about it came out. tell me, where will we take this next?
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it was not until fairly recently that we knew that black holes really existed. it is the first proof that we have got that there really is a black hole at the centre of our galaxy. once you have got, you know, you have got the theory and once you have got the thing, you can compare the theory with the thing. and that is when science really takes off. so this idea that all galaxies have black holes at the centre can be tested, that essentially, giant black holes are the glue that holds the galaxies in our universe together, we can test that. also, we can find out whether einstein was right. his ideas of relativity, of gravity, can be tested because black holes are the most extreme scenario for gravity. but we are starting to see visual images, aren't we, now, of things that we never, never thought to see? i mean, quite early stages in the universe's existence. well, we have the james webb
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telescope, the successor to the hubble space telescope, and it is able to see much further back than the hubble space telescope. and of course, in this strange world of physics, the further you can see, the further back in time you go. and you know, the big question is, how did we come to be? what was it like at the moment of the big bang? but one of the things i am looking forward to seeing myself is, it is supposed to be able to see so far back that you can witness the creation of the very first stars. so this was a kind of "let there be light" moment. it sounds almost, as you say, rather a religious kind of experience. well, astronomy is, you know, a science and you speak to scientists and they talk about numbers and, you know, error bars and that kind of thing. but then you speak to them long enough, and you see just how much emotion they have got invested in it. it raises questions
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about ourselves, our place in the universe, and i think people are fascinated by that sort of thing. pallab ghosh with some thought—provoking ideas about the universe and our place in it. and meanwhile, down here on earth, we are still showing how primitive we basically are. it is three months since president putin invaded ukraine, and though tens of thousands of people have died and been injured, millions have become refugees, and just a few towns and villages have changed hands, we still have no real idea how this war is going to end. well, that's it from me and the unspun world team for another week. until we meet again, goodbye.
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hello there. there was a north— south divide with the weather for the start of the weekend. yes, weather fronts across scotland and northern ireland brought certainly more cloud, a bit more of a breeze, some showery outbreaks of rain as well. high pressure, though, hanging on in across england and wales, cloud did develop as we went through the afternoon, with some warm sunshine, london saw a high of 22 degrees, 72 fahrenheit, but where that cloud and the rain lingered, across the highlands, where we had around half an inch worth of rain through the day, it was a fairly grey affair at times. and that rain is still sitting there, chiefly to the north west of the great glen, but certainly more cloud along western fringes, quite a murky start for the day with a few isolated showers here and there as well. so, the best of the sunshine, the best of the warmth, if we draw a line really from cardiff, over towards norwich, anywhere south and east of that could potentially see highs of 23 degrees, with the wind direction light and coming from the southerly direction. a little more cloud,
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these spots of rain across the north of wales, england as well, a few more showers in northern ireland, once again to the north west of the great glen, so here it is a little bit fresher, 13—17 degrees the overall high. those weather fronts will ease away as we move through the latter stages of sunday, weakening all the time, but something worth bearing in mind is this weather front that is going to push up from the near continent. it mightjust bring some sharp showers across the far south—east corner as well and also worth bearing in mind, the wind direction changing to more of the north—westerly, so cooler and that will push the warm air that we have seen away from the south—east corner as well. a noticeable difference to the feel of the weather potentially on monday. we need to keep an eye on those showers, there is a level of uncertainty how far west those showers are likely to be, but there could be some sharp showers, maybe even a little bit of saharan dust mixed in there as well. a cloudy day on monday, with a few scattered showers elsewhere and noticeably cooler as well. top temperatures 12—18c. as we move out of monday
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and head into tuesday, that low pressure eases away and we see through the middle part of the week, after the sunshine and showers on tuesday, more wet weather moving in. things stay on the cooler side and a little more unsettled tuesday into wednesday, but high pressure then set to build once again and temperatures will start to recover for the start of the weekend.
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this is bbc news. i'm lucy grey, with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. anthony albanese wins the australian general election, becoming the country's first labor prime minister in almost a decade. tonight the australian people have voted for change. as russian attacks in eastern ukraine intensify, president zelensky says diplomacy is the only way the war on his country will end. we have to start asking the question, whoever ends up occupying these territories at the conclusion of this conflict, what is going to be left to occupy? switzerland and the netherlands are the latest countries to report cases of monkeypox. doctors warn the outbreak could badly affect access to sexual health services.


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