>> welcome to aljazeera, and i'm del walters, these are the stories we're following for you. >> we have to do more to restore the opportunities for every american. >> president obama with big business for the long-terms unemployed. one of the few christians left. refusing to leave those devastated by syria's civil war. and plus a russian tradition that could be killing off it's men.
president obama today dealing with the issue of income inequality. and this time taking steps to help the long-term unemployed, unveiling a series of initiatives of putting more americans back to work. mike mccarren is at the white house, and it seems to be common step sense that the president is taking. >> the longer an individual is unemployed, the harder it is for that person to get back to the workforce, and there's data and anecdotes to suggest that there's an inherent bias among employers, looking at those with a gap in their resume, in other words, they have been unemployed for a long time, and they can't account for why that is, but it's a big job market. and the president giving 300 of
america's largest companies to sign up. everybody from visa, to mastercard to wal-mart, with this initiative to reform their hiring practice and is screening practices within each human resources division to give those people out of work a long time a better chance. here's how the president described it earlier. >> folks who have been unemployed the longest often have the toughest time getting back to work. it's a cruel catch 22. the longer you're unemployed, the more unemployable you may seem. this is an illusion, but it's one that we know statistically is happening out there. >> it's an incremental step, dell, to be sure. and the president in the last several days in the state of the union speech, wants to push
congress again to extend the unemployment benefits that expired last year. >> and on that note, what's happening with those benefits on capitol hill? >> going nowhere fast, the senate trying to do something in the last few weeks, and because the house and the senate failed to extend the benefits. in other words, the state covers you if you're unemployed, pays your benefits for six months, and then they expire, and as in the case of the last five years, the federal government will step in and provide longer unemployment benefits. house and the senate chose not to act. out to 1.6 million individuals, since the beginning of the year, have a scene their unemployment benefits expire. and from this point, the house has been unable to move. and the prospects are dim.
>> we have been following breaking news out of new jersey. the fbi has responded with haz-mat teams to several hotels near the met life stadium, the site of the super bowl. they have received envelopes with suspicious white powder. no injuries have been reported, and we'll bring you more of the story as it warrants. >> . >> the white house tapping a 30-year navy veteran to head the security condition. michael rogers would replace general keith alexander, serving in the post now for more than eight years. the geneva peace talks between the rebels and the syrian government ended today. and both sides agreed to meet again, perhaps. nick schiffrin has been following it, and what was the conclusion of the talks?
>> the conclusion is that these two sides cannot conclude on anything, del. if they will meet on february 10th. the opposition said yes, we'll be here, but the government says we have to meet with the president in damascus. cease-fire and nothing access, nothing concrete on the ground. we heard from the mediator and said this is going to take time, and he pleaded with everyone to have patience. >> there are a lot, first of all, syrians, and i'm sure that the overwhelming majority of the syrians want a rapid end to this horrible situation. i'm also certain that a lot of people in the world also want that to happen. and as far as i'm concerned, as far as the united nations is
concerned, we will spare no effort to make it happen. but you know, the syrian parties, those who have guns, have got also to think of their people. >> and it's the people on the ground that he just mentioned that are really the goal of the conference to try to alleviate their suffering and try to actually help these people after three years of war. and there are so many people inside of syria, both syrians and people who have moved there who need help, including a priest, who i spoke with a few days ago, for whom syria will always be home. for centuries, the orthodox church has been a sanctuary. and for 50 years, farther francis has been its conscience. he came from the netherlands to lead a christian community built on tolerance and compassion.
>> reporter: we sent soup to those stuck and home alone or injured people who can of leave their homes. >> reporter: in this area, there's a church site as old as christ. a mosque that's 1,000 years old. but when the bell tolls faintly for the christians who live here, there's no one to hear it. this is the old homes, there used to be 70,000 christians here, and today only 66 are left. more than 60 churches have been destroyed. in fact, nearly all of holmes' old city has been destroyed. an anti-government activist filmed this documentary and posted it on youtube. government war planes targeted the streets because they were controlled by rebels. the two sides fought brutal. and the opposition said the government cordoned the city
off, choking its residents. this woman says she has had no medicine, no flour and no electricity since 2012. francis had the chance to leave, and he refused. this week he released a plea via youtube. >> interpreter: it's impossible for us to continue like this, we need a lot of help. >> reporter: after it posted, we spoke to francis by skype. what are the conditions for the people still living in the old city? on a cellphone, his assistant filmed his horrific answer. [ speaking foreign language ] >> interpreter: people are running down the streets screaming, i am hungry. >> reporter: francis is the only westerner who is left in holmes. he is showing us what he has to eat.
olives, an empty jar once filled with wheat. he's a proud man, clinging to what little dignity he has left. >> interpreter: i wish these people whose lives are at risk don't die. i wish to build a bridge to transport everything that we need. >> reporter: in geneva, they have spoken about the bridge, but so far nothing has been built. right. now, there are trucks sitting with food and medicine just a few hundred feet from where francis lives. the u.s. and the opposition say that the government is blocking that, and it's not clear if francifrance ever see the aid. >> and yesterday we heard that syria has refused to destroy it's chemical weapons piles, and tell us about that. >> reporter: u.s. officials are grumbling about this, about
drying the chemical weapons, but they have gone public for the first time. and the big fear is june 30th, the deadline by which all of the chemical weapons are destroyed. and the worry is with the white house, if you get to june 30th, there will be more on president obama to destroy that. we have seen secretary john kerry trying to get ahead of that june 30th deadline, and today we heard kerry deliver a diplomatic threat. >> the work that we are doing together on syria could not be more important right now. this is destabilizing the entire region. world is witnessing human catastrophe unfolding in front of our eyes every single day, and i would remind al-assad that
the agreement that we reach with the security council makes it clear that if there are issues of non-compliance, they will be referred to the security council >> reporter: and u.s. officials are putting pressure on al-assad regarding the chemical weapons and there's no sign that the regime is giving in on any of that pressure. >> nick schiffrin from geneva. and thank you very much. in the ukraine, yanokovych signing papers. and the opposition has no intention of leaving. jennifer glass, in kiev, and yanokovych is telling the rest of the world to butt out and getting involved. >> reporter: yes, tax the case, but i think given what has
happened in the last days and weeks, people can't help but make comments. we have just heard from the white house spokesman, jay carney, that the white house is appalled by the signs of torture. he's talking about dmitry bulatov, found last night after missing for eight days. he had been badly beaten and tortured and he said he was crucified by his captors, and they issued an arrest warrant for him. 25 policemen went to the hospital where he's treated and had surgery, trying to arrest him. and he's being protected by the members of parliament who support the opposition, and the standoff has been going on for a few showers. the opposition and the government, and the police feel they can arrest this protester who is very badly injured. he was covered in blood when he
was discovered last night, dumped in the woods in sub 0 temperatures. this is the kind of brutetality that we have experienced here. 30 people are still missing, 230 have been arrested and 140 are in jail. and there have been tackets on opposition reported cars. so it's a grim situation, and an uncertain one. president calling in sick, and some of the opposition have gone to the country where they will meet with sec carry kerry. >> jennifer glass, reporting from kiev. united nations condemning the clamp down on journalists in egypt. five from aljazeera are behind bars without formal charges.
after being in egypt for two weeks, he is behind bars. three are accused of spreading to the muslim brotherhood, which egypt has classified as a terrorist organization. the government in cairo said that it's before the prosecutor general. but the detained journalists have not been notified of any formal charges. the human rights activists say that freedom in egypt is at risk. >> the systematic targeting of alaljazeera's staff, five of whm are in custody at the moment. five since july. and the national and international, clearly detrimental to freedom of expression and opinion. >> reporter: two more
journalists from the aljazeera network have been detained for more than six months ago. an arrest warrant has been issued for 12 people who currently work for aljazeera or have done so in the past. however, aljazeera not receive has not received official notice from authorize. on the official radio, she said that she will continue to push their case. >> he did give us an assurance that as far as he was concerned, the case would be dealt with expeditiously and fairly. and a number of issues in our concern in a number of areas. >> which areas? >> in terms of his detention, whether he could receive conditional release, the details of the charges, and also matters regarding his welfare. >> egypt said meanwhile that it welcomes foreign media, and it says restrictions on the freedom
of press and publication is strictly prohibited by law and not consistent with democracy. and it went on to say that egypt law does not criminalize someone who has known a criminal suspect or in prison pending a criminal case, and this is not a punishable offense. but contact constitutes a formal participation with the same crime. aljazeera rejects all allegations all journalists and eagerly awaits their release. >> coming up on aljazeera america. vodka, synonymous with russia, and there's a report out on drinking and its sobering.
the super bowl. and the mayor of east rutherford, new jersey, says one of the letters contains corn stop, and no injuries reported. in texas, employment agencies accused of providing hundreds of undocumented workers to hundreds of chinese restaurants. many of them are working 12 hours a day, six days a week. all of them are from latin america, and they are from china. vodka is being blamed for killing one quarter of russian men before the age of 55. they looked at adult males, and the death rate is totally out of line with the rest of europe. >> reporter: vodka has been part of the social fabric of russian life for 600 years, but for a growing section here, the party has gone on too long.
at a wedding, the couple toast their wedding with vodka. a drink that will follow them through their lives. divorce rates are soaring. and alcohol is the cause of extraordinarily high of early death of russian men. 25% of russian men dying before 55 due to heavy drinking, and to put that in perspective, the rate in britain is only 7%. >> there are so many alcoholics here. so many. first of all, vodka is so cheap. it only costs a dollar a bottle. >> russian people drink a lot because they want to forget about their everyday problems with politics. the problems with jobs, and problems with family. and it seems to me that when we drink, they forget about all of their problems. >> reporter: it's not just the
vodka on its own, but it's the whole lifestyle of persistently heavy drinkers that bring up all of the other drink-related factors that claim so many lives. violence, suicide, alcohol poisoning, accidents, especially traffic accidents, and russia's affair with alcohol comes at such a cost. they asked 50,000 people how much they drank and followed them for a decade. >> drinking a lot of vodka or other hard liquor is typical, called binge drinking, and it's precisely this type of consumption which is the main cause of death. >> reporter: the president
showed that he was no role model for youth of russia, and anti-drinking campaigns on state television, consumption of spirits has fallen by one-third. but however, in a country where average life expectancy for men is only 64, vodka takes the lives of one quarter of all men before they even reach 55, and that could just prove sobering. aljazeera, moscow. >> wall street is going to be glad to say good-bye to the month of january. closing out negatively about 75 points. blue chips are lost more than 4% from the end of last year, and one drag on stocks today. mattel. the shares are down 7% in the fourth quarter as consumers bought less of its fisher price products for the holidays. they still missed analyst's estimates. ali velshi is going to be looking at the middle class in
>> welcome back to aljazeera america. i'm del walters. president obama helping job seekers find work, many say they can't because of how long they have been without a job. and he told all federal agencies to not discriminate against the long-term unemployed. the first round of peace talks in syria are over but without compromises. the government say they have to ask damascus before they can return. john kerry criticizing the
ukraine's president, yanokovych, saying that he hasn't done enough to end the turmoil there. he signed the law that said they will release protesters if they agree to leave government buildings. two days before the super bowl. >> the nfl commissioner, talked about how his league is handling concussions. >> we made changes to the rules and to our equipment. and there have been changes in the way we deal with concussions when they do occur. we try to do everything we can to prevent them. but when they occur we manage them effectively, so all of the changes that you outlined there i think are having an impact. and more broadly, i think it's a reflection of the culture.
there's greater awareness, and a more conservative approach over a long period of time. and we have added other elements that will identify this injury. and i think there was a period of time where the concussion rate went up because there was that awareness and the acknowledgment that the injuries are coming forward. and we have worked harder to get them to come forward but also have systems in place even if they don't come forward. >> goodell has many items on his agenda for 2014, and you can be that that will be at the top of the list. >> and the nfl is crossing their fingers that they will have nice weather in the super bowl. and julie, you've turned into one of the most popular people in town because it's not as cold as last week. >> we have had a change in the pattern. in the 30s across new york
city. and earlier, we were in the teens. and that has pulled off to the north central plains, and that's the story as we head to the weekend. we have several systems racing across the midwest. and that's bringing us our snow here across portions of iowa, back to chicago, and back toward portions of indiana and also across the central plains. luckily this pattern is going to continue for the next several days, upstate new york, and i think it's going to stay dry in new jersey and definitely in portions of the i-95 corridor here. for the most part, super bowl looking very very comfortable as we track to saturday and sunday. we're not going to have clear skies. we're going to have quite a bit of cloud cover, but again, it's not necessarily a bad thing, given the fact that the cloud cover keeps the warmth during the course of the day locked in
there. it's like a blanket. 43° in new york city. and east rutherford, new jersey, where the super bowl is being held, we might reach a high of 54°. a chance of rain, but no snow there. i-80, if you're traveling, be careful on the roads. and also in the new york state through way, we could see snow tonight. so be careful on the roads. >> thank you very much. it only happens two or three times a year, a partial solar eclipse. but there's the catch. you can't see this one from earth. only with special equipment from nasa. and they had their video cameras rolling. the latest one at 8:30 eastern time. nasa recording all 2 and a half hours of the event. it's the longest recorded partial solar eclipse on record. we want to thank you for watching aljazeera america.
aim del walters in new york, and a reminder, ali velshi is going to be looking at the middle class in our special report, "real money" with ali velshi, rebuilding the middle class, only here on aljazeera. >> ...i come around that corner... >> you don't want this? >> no, i think we should do it how we would normally... no exceptions >> should i also be in the picture? >> yeah [laughs] are you alright with that? >> no, i'm alright with that... >> ok, we're just gonna have to do it right? >> yeah