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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  April 25, 2021 11:30am-12:01pm BST

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a fire sweeps through a hospital treating coronavirus patients in baghdad, killing at least 82 people according to iraqi officials. labour calls for the government to face mps over the refurbishment of the prime minister's downing street flat. but the government denies claims that borisjohnson broke the rules. the government has to answer to why they had given out billions of pounds of money to their cronies and their friends, and they won't even declare it through the current rules. the costs are being covered by the prime minister and everything is being fully declared, in line with the rules. england's biggest football teams and the sport's governing bodies will stage a four—day boycott of social media from next friday to campaign for social media companies to crack down on online abuse.
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i will be back at midday. now it's time for dateline london. hello again, i am shaun ley. welcome to the programme which brings together bbc specialists and the foreign correspondents who live and work in the uk, filing and blogging their stories for audiences back home, to dateline london. this week, biden�*s first 100 days in the white house, and why indianjudges are threatening to hang anyone obstructing oxygen supplies. joining us to discuss that, eunice goes, a portuguesejournalist and academic and the us correspondent and lawyer jef mcallister. and with me in the studio, bbc presenter and foreigh correspondent clive myrie. good to have all of you with us. welcome back to the programme. now, by the timejoe biden reaches his 100th day
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as president next week, he will have delivered his first state of the union address to a joint session of congress and met some key targets on covid vaccination, for example, which he set himself. it was a us presidential historian looking back at franklin roosevelt's dynamic entry into the white house in 1933, who coined the phrase "first 100 days". instead of a considered assessment years later, modern presidents have to put up with the instant verdict of the commentariat. so, jeff, i'm putting you on the spot — instant verdict — is there anything useful we can say about the biden presidency at this stage? well, i remind viewers that this is the one—year anniversary of donald trump suggesting that cholorox and ultraviolet light were going to be the solutions to covid. just by way of trying to recalibrate, now a more normal person in the white house who does not tweet all the time and seems to be very serious.
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it is almost hard for us to readjust our brains to this. in fact, he is a serious guy who has priorities that are interlinked and he is trying to make fast progress on them. he thinks the country has underinvested in itself for a long time, it has serious racial and income disparities and that the solution to both of these problems is to invest. and that will solve climate change, it will solve inequality and racial disparity and put the country on a better footing. so, because of covid he has an opportunity. people are now thinking about government differently. he has a $2 trillion covid relief bill through. he has got a $2 trillion covid relief bill through. he has another $2.5 infrastructure relief building bill which he has put forward and which is going to be carved down. but so far, republican voters like it. republican politicians do not. but i think there is progress to be made there. he has a 54% approval rating, trump never broke 50.
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i mean his gamble is, if he makes some progress, if he gets things done in the old—fashioned way, some of the venom will be sucked out of politics, moderate voters will begin to think, "oh, the government is actually good for something," and notjust something to throw bricks at. and then he will be able to get through this very quick window of the midterm elections coming up now. again, we have american elections, which he will feel if the democrats lose the house or senate, he will be back to being hog tied like 0bama. so he is trying to come out of the box fast and i think so far, so good. eunice goes, if is the most powerful word as ever in these things. and the big if thatjef was alluding to is congressional cooperation. he has onlyjust got a comfortable majority in the senate which means he doesn't have the kind of majority to ultimately force things through.
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he has got a comfortable majority in the house. butjoe biden is a man who likes consensus, he has spent most of his career on congress, cutting deals. and he is dealing on the other side with a party that does not believe in cutting deals, precisely because its own grass roots won't let it cut deals. then he has a left in the democrat party that is saying, "come on, 0bama tried that, the republicans will not play ball, you are wasting time. it needs to be more radical and more confrontational." how is he going to balance those two demands, those two pressures? i think it is going to be very difficult and i think he is trying to make the most of the time and the momentum that he has and he enjoys at the moment, and he wil enjoy forthe next two years. as you said, he is, joe biden is the famous washington fixer, he knows washington inside out. but at the same time, he can also be quite impatient with the lack of bipartisanship that has dominated american politics,
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not only in the last four years, but for several decades. let's not forget the massive deadlock that 0bama faced an even before that. and even before that. so it was really impossible. i think what he is counting on, asjef alluded in his intervention, he is counting on the popularity of the measures that he is announcing. putting money into peoples' bank accounts is a very clever move. addressing those long—standing issues that have divided america, that have contributed to very weak economic and transport infrastructure. measures that will increase the potential of america to be a very strong trading partner, so the potential to claim a different kind of, not america first, but a patriotic economic policy. he is trying to get public opinion on his side and like that, convince those republicans in the senate and the house of representatives, to vote or support some of his measures.
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he has shown some moderation, he has changed some of his proposals, namely on the minimum wage, and i think he is ready to compromise on the issues which he thinks that there is room. but i think also, very adamant and i think it is a good image to say, well, these are things that we need to do and so watering down thess proposals will harm america. and so he knows as well that this is a window of opportunity, a very rare window of opportunity, to do substantial change that america needs, and i think he will make the most of it, surprising all the sceptics about his ability to change america, including myself. clive myrie, let's kind of look towards more distant horizons, biden on the international stage. we learned on friday that he is coming to the uk, it was confirmed he will turn up to the g7 summit in cornwall. he will be hoping for a good summer. and he is also then going on to a nato summit immediately after, in brussels,
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this is all injune this year. what kind of message is he trying to project, because after all, we only had that announcement on afghanistan. according to the british army, we did not want that, but effectively, the implication was that we were presented with with a fait accompli. we are going, whether you like it or not. yeah, i know. it's interesting, because president biden is making it clear, _ america is back on the world stage. we have seen that in l a number of key areas. there is no question about that. this week, the climate| change virtual summit, where he said america is notjust i going to be a bystander in this, i it will be a leader. and we are already hearing the likes of vladimir putin saying _ he is willing to work with the west on this issue _ and president xi now referring to climate change as a crisis, i which apparently, according to our chief environment correspondent, | is the first time he's said that. |and i think part of the reasoning that the president has been able to bring around these figures, - has been the steel in his back that eunice hasjust been talking about.
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he is willing to say that. vladimir putin is a killer. he agreed with that - assertion in an interview on abc a few days ago. he has made it clear- that the build—up of troops along the border with ukraine and russia is completely outi of order and crosses a red line. vladimir putin has pulled back those troops to their barracks _ because of the possibility - of a summit with president biden. i so this sort of steel that he is . putting forward is enough to make those figures in the international community, who perhaps- believe that america was, | in their eyes, a soft touch, and a spent force and those lines were flexible, - that they could basically cross i those lines when they felt like it, those red lines are being marked out very, very clearly now. _ and i think that is- a very important point. but going back to what jef— was saying and eunice has mentioned this, 54% popularity.
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if you have got the public with you, that will help . you in your governance, i whether it is foreign policy or domestic policy. and asjef made clear, - donald trump never had that for the whole of the four years of his time in office. _ you mentioned him calling out vladimir putin as a killer — he called out derek chauvin as a killer even before the trial. and there were those people who said actually, that was a misstep. it is an incredibly sensitive issue. as kamala harris showed during the presidential nomination, the nomination debates, she really went forjoe biden over this. she said, "your record on race is not purer than pure. you were compromised with white supremist politicians back in the early part of the �*70s, in delaware. the whole issue of segregation of schools. is this an area where he is going to have to tread carefully or is thatjury verdict in minneapolis made a significant difference? many people want it to be a turning point but many are sceptical, that one case, however high profile about the killing of george floyd, the murder of george floyd,
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as we have had a jury confirm it was, whether that will be enough to change attitudes. or the day—to—day experience of black americans. it is going to be difficult. first of all, _ president biden is white. | he is not hamstrung by being a black| man in the way that president 0bama was in dealing with issues of race. | so he can talk to those sectionsj of society that feel that perhaps if there is the wholesale - destruction of police departments and the reorganisation of police departments in certain areas, l that this is not going. to be something that is detrimental to them. and that it in fact i benefits the rest of society if a large section of the population is lifted up in the eyes of the law. - we are seeing the justice department | go into the minneapolis police forcel and do a full audit of what has been going on there _ president biden has talked tough on guns, which is a big _ issue within certain - communities in america. there is a sense that
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he can be trusted. . perhaps the judge in _ the derek chauvin trial felt he did go to the top when he came to the comments he made i before the jury came back with their guilty verdicts, i but there is a sense - that he is on the right side of the argument, and i think that is the key point here. . and i think, along with a 54% . approval rating that he has got, as long as economy is improving, i people will be listening to him i and giving him their doubt on issues such as race. jef, i want to go back on this point, on the justice department and on relationships with the courts. in the end this will be important. you have trained as a lawyer, you were an academic as well. and you clerked as well, you have done... only a district courtjudge. that is my fault, you have never claimed it. you understand the american legal system all too well. you know how it interacts with the political system. we have a supreme court
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that is majority appointed by republican presidents, is perceived to be republican leading because of their writings before they became supreme courtjudges — how much of a handicap is that going to be forjoe biden? i think it is going to be possibly a significant one. the courts do not like to think of themselves as a political branch, but the way that the supreme court justices have been nominated in recent years, especially by republicans, has put them on the activist side of their party. they have an agenda and that has meant a lot of rolling back of restrictions, on regulation, letting companies do more things, stopping environmental regulations, permitting religious groups to have more freedoms, more government money. it is not the kind of thing where they read the papers every day and try to push the votes for the republicans, they did indeed vote against trump's ridiculous attempts
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to over turn the election. but i think we will see more flashpoints in cultural issues, which biden will probably try to avoid as much as he can. the place where it might go after his agenda, if he tries to have a carbon tax or some kind of complex regulation of carbon emissions which is part of the green economy that is trying to go to. the 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2035. i can see the supreme court finding lots of ways that these regulations are not permitted under the congress clause. if he had a majority in the senate that can actually legislate these things, where there is a clear directive in favour of them, then i think the supreme court would have more difficulty. but now he will have to do a lot by executive action and that's a possibility that allows the supreme court more leeway.
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eunice, last thought on biden�*s america. i think he has surprised the world with his activism. i think he's already on course to be with transformational presidents like roosevelt and johnson. i think he is in a hurry. i think he is very well aware that his window of opportunity is very short and so he is trying to do as much as he can, and i think he is doing it very well, in that he senses that public opinion is on his side and that there is a wind of change in terms of how we approach government, the way the people see how government can do well, that state action can do well. how we want to address racial inequalities, and even on this question that jef mentioned, trying to address the problems in the american constitution that has created a politicised and very politicised judicial system. but also the deadlock in american political system in the lack of dialogue
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between the presidency and congress. i was very struck, eunice, by a quote from john boehner, his new autobiography, his memoirs, a hardline republican in many ways, worked with newt gringrich back in the 1990s, one of the people viewed to have pushed the conservatives to a more ...the republicans to a more conservative picture. he described trying to leave republicans in the house when 0bama was president. he said the white house did not understand "what kind of clown car i was trying to drive on the republican side of the house." it will be interesting to see what kind of cooperation there may or may not be in the next few days, weeks and months. thank you all for that. now — sos, less than an hour's oxygen supplies. over 700 patients admitted need immediate assistance. that social media post on friday from one of the private hospital chains in india's capital delhi is the starkest illustration of the covid crisis in the world's second most populous country. makeshift funeral pyres
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are being used to supplement crematoria which can't cope with the number of bodies. twojudges in delhi's high court threatened anyone obstructing the supply of oxygen with being hanged. eunice, it illustrates powerfully how emotional this has got and understandably so. it is a matter of life and death, patients died overnight friday into saturday in the hospital because oxygen had run out. some might have died, but not all of them. what has gone wrong? i think what has gone wrong is the hubris of prime minister modi. he declared in march that "we reach the end of the covid crisis." now we have a complete catastrophe, with not enough oxygen in hospitals to provide to patients. we do not even know exact numbers, how many covid cases there are in india because most likely a lot of people, especially in rural areas, are not testing.
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he has... he is campaigning, there will be elections in india in five states and campaigns go on. he campaigns without wearing a facemask. religious festivals, gatherings of millions of people have continued to go ahead. cricket matches and so on, so no measures whatsoever to prevent the spreading of the, of this pandemic. and these are super spreading events, any epidemiologist would say super spreading events and no safety measures. i think criminal responsibility from the part of the indian government. it is the indian people who are paying the price because most likely the situation is going to be draconian lockdowns are going to be violently monitored by the police, as it happened last year. and perhaps not enough done in terms of providing economic support to people, that will allow them to stay at home if they are ill and of course the vaccine programme.
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because modi, india produces a lot of vaccines but less than 1% of the population has been vaccinated for covid—19. clive, eunice, we were talking on the first part of the programme about political conflict. it is poisonous in indian politics. as eunice was saying, these big rallies, i think one minister was campaigning 12 out of the first 18 days in april. you had a row with ministers in delhi. he was saying, "prime minister you have to help." it was supposed to be a private conversation, and they are saying you put on the telly because you want to embarrass us. it is not a great way to go forward. it is not.
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eunice mentioned - the word hubris there. populist leaders like - modi and donald trump, bolsonaro is that the, _ there is a level of overconfidence, ignorance of science. and a lack of attention to detail and rigour, . that means stuff gets missed. a number of countries who have been through exactly— the same journey as india, they lockdown too late - but they lock down. we saw the numbers and infections go down, then all of a sudden _ there is a sense it is ok. open up again, america did the same and we did the same in the summer. in the uk and we did thatl without a vaccine in place. we are opening up now in the uk at the vaccine roll—out _ has been really quite - phenomenal, globally brilliant. and as a result, opening up slowly but steadily is making sense. - india opened up with no . essential vaccine roll—out. as if nothing had happened. and as eunice pointed out, - the india, the india—england test series, it was phenomenal but it was dumb when - it comes to a public. health analysis of what you should be doing.
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weddings, we all love indian- weddings and a bollywood movie. but we are seeing mass weddings in india and as a result— we are seeing over the next twoj weeks, potentially half a million people infected every single day. but the background to all this is an election. - and mr modi, he is way ahead in the polls and it is likely hisl party will do very well again, . but the idea that he is focusing on the economy and trying, to keep that doing 0k, - l in the teeth of this coronavirus i pandemic, he feels that is enough to get over the finishing line. he is probably right. he is probably right but the tragedy is we are seeing pictures of mass . cremations, multiple people dying - every day and mass graves being dug.
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in terms of the implications, internationally. india was a big exporter of vaccine. the private company that produced them, we spoke about them before, is producing the astrazeneca for many countries. it was due to supply some to the european union, to the uk, to africa, to covax, the scheme for poorer countries, and it had to default on those commitments because the government has clamped down on exports. the implication is not only if there are fewer vaccine doses available, but if this disease is rampant again and ready to come back, we have had cases in the uk which is why travel has been banned from india, the implications internationally for a country as populous as india going into this level of infection are really quite worrying, aren't they? yes. for india, itself, this idea
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that there is a difference between the economy and public health, in the long run it's not true. if you don't have the public health crisis solved, the economy does suffer, even if it may be enough to get him over the line for this particular election, india has stored up a gigantic problem for itself. the indivisibility of the virus, it does travel around the world. the variants get produced where there are pockets of infection, or large pockets of infection, and then ricochet around the world. in the long run, this problem only gets solved if it gets solved everywhere and it's going to be sloppy and messy and unfair because the rich countries are going to go first. but in the long run, they have got to figure out a way to get the vaccine, roll it out to all the places that need it and that is everywhere. the damning quote is this one from january, "we not only solved our problems," this
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is prime minister modi, "but helped in the world fight the pandemic." well, both things will now turn out to be not entirely true. do you think he will pay any electoral price for that, though? i don't think this time, particularly. maybe it stores up for the next time. eunice, your thoughts on the long—term implications of this. portugal in a sense went through something of what india is going to, because of its links with brazil. it was cut off from the rest of europe. did it work? well, it did, though the government very recently announced the lifting of the travel ban, so no emergency travelling or only vital travelling is allowed. so, not sure that portugal has learned the lessons, we might not be able to go over to portugal this summer if the brazilian variant is rampant. but i think the lesson for all of this is we are not safe until everyone is safe. so perhaps, perhaps it would be a very goodwill gesture
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from the british prime minister to send quite a does... because britain bought far more than it needs, to india and other countries, because they are going to need it. britain receives thousands of indian students every year, university students, if we want to keep the united kingdom safe and the rest of europe safe, i think europe and the rich world has responsibility to ensure that the rest of the world is vaccinated. clive? the longer the virus is out there, the more chance it can mutate. i and as a result, the vaccines - that we do have that are proving brilliant with the mutations that we have so far, - they could fail. that is the problem, that is why places like india and brazil, - they have to get their act together. eunice goes, jef mcallister, clive myrie, thank you all very much. thank you too for watching. just before we go, a bit of information if you are with us
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in the uk, we are going to be starting our dateline weekend a little earlier in future. from the end of this week, you will be to see dateline london in the uk on friday evenings at 7:30pm. don't worry, though, it will be shown again in all the existing slots on saturday and sunday, and of course any time that suits you better, day or night. you can find us on the iplayer. wherever in the world you're watching from now, i hope you willjoin me again next weekend. from all of us, goodbye. hello. for the vast majority it is turning into yet another dry and mostly sunny day. but with cool easterly winds developing, especially across england and wales, it is feeling cooler, compared with yesterday.
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high pressure in charge of the scene giving dry and settled weather. winds around high pressure flow in a clockwise direction which is pulling some rather cool air in across some parts of england and wales. the easterly wind is also pulling in some cloud, rolling in across eastern parts of england, some of it getting across into the midlands and east wales, tending to break up as it goes. there will still be sunny spells. the odd shower popping up across high ground in highland scotland. any showers which do develop, quite slow—moving. the winds will be light, stronger winds further south. quite gusty in the south—west of england and the channel islands. the lowest temperatures will be on the east coast, the highest temperatures will be in shelter further west. 16 for cardiff, 17 for liverpool and glasgow, maybe 17 in the western counties of northern ireland as well. this evening and overnight it will stay dry for the majority. but we will bring more of this
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cloud in across england, getting into wales. at the other end of the uk more cloud into north—west scotland. in this clear slot, here, southern scotland, the far north of england, northern ireland, that is where we are most likely to see a touch of frost. if you are waiting for rain, this weather feature is going to bring some over the next few days, bringing some rain on monday across scotland. quite heavy bursts of rain, actually. could see the odd shower breaking out in northern ireland and maybe the north of england. further south, another predominantly sunny day. still quite windy through the channel islands, but the wind using a touch for southern england, the south of wales. highest temperatures for parts of england and wales at 16 degrees. turning a bit chillier to the north—west. if you are waiting for rain down in the south, on tuesday, some of the wet weather will migrate southwards. it will break up into showers. quite hit and miss. some places will fall through the gaps and stay completely dry. warmer in the south—east, turning chillier to the north. the cooler air will spread southwards through the middle of the week. one or two showers but still quite a lot of dry weather around.
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a similar story in the north. any showers on the high ground in scotland could start to turn wintry.
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this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. india's prime minister, narendra modi, says the surge in coronavirus cases has shaken the nation — his comments come as the country hits a record number of new cases for the fourth day in a row. in the uk, a campaign's being launched to encourage younger people to get the covid vaccine when their turn comes. figures show more than half the population has now received a first dose of the jab. a fire sweeps through a hospital treating coronavirus patients in baghdad, killing at least 82 people according to iraqi officials. england's biggest football teams — and the sport's governing bodies — will stage a four—day boycott of social media from next friday — to campaign for social media companies to crack down on online abuse.


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