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Belarus Protests, Aleksei Navalny, BBC: Your Thursday Briefing

2020-09-03 05:20:47
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Good morning.

We’re covering the first days of the Charlie Hebdo massacre trial, the results of Aleksei Navalny’s toxicology tests and a small but symbolic change for Afghan national identification cards.

More than a year later, the feud simmers on. The latest clash? The BBC’s abortive plan to strip particularly jingoistic lyrics from two popular patriotic songs in its telecast of the Proms, an annual concert, over concerns of evoking an imperialist past out of step with the present political moment. After a backlash fueled by the government and pro-government newspapers, the BBC made an about-face, saying in a contrite statement, “We hope everyone will welcome this solution.”

Mr. Johnson described the BBC’s plan as “cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions and about our culture,” which he attributed to “self-recrimination and wetness.” In Parliament on Wednesday, he hinted at his intention, seemingly delayed by the pandemic, to overhaul the BBC and address the compulsory license fee.

Quote of note: “The BBC is uniquely vulnerable at this moment,” said the former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. “There is a convergence of interests between the government and media owners in damaging the BBC. For them, this story is almost too good to be true.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • New data from clinical trials confirm that cheap, widely available steroid drugs can help seriously ill patients survive Covid-19.

  • Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy has tested positive for the virus.

  • The C.D.C. has told health officials to prepare to distribute a vaccine within the United States by November, raising concerns over politicized timing.

  • The Brazilian soccer player Neymar is among three members of the Paris St.-Germain team that played in last week’s Champions League final to test positive for the virus.

  • At the Vatican, Pope Francis welcomed his first general public audience since the pandemic struck more than six months ago.


Cook: This black pepper beef and cabbage stir-fry features coarsely crushed black peppercorns for a quick weeknight dish.

Watch: The documentary “Robin’s Wish” pays tribute to Robin Williams and sheds light on Lewy body dementia, which was diagnosed in him after his death.

Do: If you want to walk easily and well as you age, you may need to do more than just stroll. An eye-opening new study of older walkers and cyclists found that people who cycle for exercise can walk more efficiently than people whose primary exercise is placid walking.

Who is Lukashenko in this moment as people in Belarus struggle to figure out what a post-Soviet Belarus even looks like?

He’s someone who comes from a very modest background and who rises quickly through the ranks to become a collective farm manager and then engages in politics. And he seems to be very driven and very charismatic. And people listen to him. He attempts to talk to them directly by telling them that I can take your lives back to where they were when you enjoyed them so much, when the Soviet Union was kind of at the height of its power.

How do the people of Belarus respond to this kind of backward-looking, nostalgic Soviet message?

He wins the election. He increases people’s salaries. And he cancels many of the market economy reforms. People are very happy because they feel the change immediately, and their standards of living improve.

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