only on al jazeera america barrel bombs are dropped on a syrian town as key diplomats arrive in vienna for talk-level talks aimed attending the syrian war. ♪ i'm lauren taylor, this is al jazeera, live from london. also coming up, china decides to abolish its controversial one-child policy. u.s. house of venntives elect a new speaker, but what does that mean to president obama. and we speak to the afghan
refugees who made their desperate trip to europe only to be forcibly sent home. u.s. secretary of state john kerry is in vienna, as is the foreign minister from iran. it is hoped that opening a political dialogue with president assad's allies, russia and iran may provide a way of finding a solution to the conflict in the country. mohammed jamjoom joins us live from vienna. the big change is saudi arabia and iran are both there. how much difference will that make? >> reporter: it should make a substantial difference. that's what we're hearing from the participants so far. but we should update our viewers on one thing.
in fact secretary kerry is meeting with iranian foreign minister. in fact just a few minutes ago he emerged and walked over along with other members of the u.s. delegation to the host hostel -- hotel where the foreign minister is now. we're told there should be a photo opportunity a little bit later. this is a very interesting shift, because earlier in the day, we along with so many other members of the press corps had expected that secretary of state kerry was going to meet first with his saudi counterpart, along with the russians and the turks, but the saudis have not yet arrived. the russians are not yet here. we believe some members of the turkish delegation are here. secretary kerry was asked if he
was opt misic about these meetings that were taking place. he sounded a note of cautious optimism, basically saying over and over, that they will be able to see tomorrow. tomorrow is the big day for these meetings. and as you mentioned the iranians are here for the first time. this is a very significant change when it comes to these talks that they have had over and over again. this is the first time that the iranians have been present in any capacity. there have been times that they have been invited by other members of the international community. now the u.s. seems happy that the iranians are here. so you have the prime backers of the syrian opposition being the u.s., saudi arabia, and you have turkey and then on the other side of that divide, you have the prime main backersover syrian president bashar al-assad, those being the russians and the iranians, and the fact that the iranians are here is expected to make a difference, but oftentimes in
the past when there have been these types of meetings it has never made an significant impact on the ground in syria. and even as you mentioned, at a time when these talks have .hahhed when there is a big impetus on the international community you have bombings going on in syria. the u.n. has said at least another 120,000 newly displaced people in syria because of the increase in fighting. so it will be interesting to see if they can come to an agreement, but it seems like today the stage is being set and tomorrow the important talks really begin here in vienna. >> thank you very much indeed. al jazeera's correspondent reports on the difficulties all parties face on agreeing to a unified approach to ending the
conflict. >> reporter: this town was hit by an air strike. many streets and thousands of syrian civilians face this every day. this tack between opposition rebels, government forces dropping barrel bombs and u.s. and russian drones and fighter plains in the skies above them. u.s. turkey, and other gulf states support opposition rebels. they have been fighting the syrian government backed by iran, russia, and lebanon's hezbollah. the russian government makes little distinction between opposition fighters and isil. the u.s. has been demanding president assad step down. saudi arabia insists bashar al-assad must go or be removed by force. it assists syrian rebels and has been calling for safe zones along the turkish border, a
position that turkey supports. and the most important ground support comes from iran, the country is providing military and financial assistance. iranian special forces and the shia armed group hezbollah are fighting with the syrian military. large parts of syria and its economy have been destroyed. hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions wounded and sdis placed in a conflict that is in its fifth year. any cautious optimism about the direct talks in vie that which includes iran for the first time, has all sides agreeing that continuing to fight is not the solution in syria. >> the view of our partners in this was that we should test the intentions of the iranians and russians about their seriousness at arriving at a political solution in syria. >> translator: iran's stance on syria has not changed. from day one of this unwanted conflict imposed on syrian
people. we have always said that the solution of the conflict lies in political solution found through negotiations. >> reporter: this syrian child tells its crying mother, don't worry, it's just a little blood. millions of other syrians can only hope there is an end to all of the bloodshed. inside syria at least three people have been killed after a dozen barrel bombs were dropped on a residential town. the u.k.-based syrian observatory for human rights says the air strikes happened on wednesday. this video was posted on the same day by the media center which alleged shows an air strike by government helicopter. it claims a woman and her son were among those killed in the raids. ♪ a chinese communist party has announced the end of its
controversial one-child policy. with all couples now allowed to have two children. the policy is one of the largest ever social engineering experiencements. it is estimated to have presented about 400 million births. many families were able to have more than one child provided they paid a fine. some estimates say the government made more than $314 billion in such fees since 1980s. those who couldn't pay were forced to abortions. rob mcbride reports from beijing. >> reporter: the announce came at the end of the communist party's four-day gathering of its leadership. mapping out the next five-year plan. the strategy sets brood economic goals for china's development, but it's the change in the
country's one-chimed policy that has been the most eagerly anticipated by many families here. it had been partially re, laked allowing families where at least one parent is from a one-child family themselves to have two children. now that is being extended to all couples. >> the importance is not so much demographic in terms of encouraging vast new numbers of children to be born, but it is the lifting of a highly restrictive policy. >> reporter: the policy was brought in to control china's population. it's cancellation will be popular. but a number of couples like this couple, haven't decided to have another child. for them careers and living costs in beijing are the priority. >> my wife and i don't have any specific plan to -- for the second child. >> their seven-year-old son henry is in no doubt.
he wants a sibling. >> i want a sister. >> reporter: as well as the social and relationship problems associated with a generation of one-child families is the longer term demographic imbalance. there is a growing number of elderly people who need to be supported by an ever-sha inking, working population. a policy put in place more than 30 years ago to avoid one population crisis has to be abandoned to avoid another in the future. republican paul ryan has been elected to one of the biggest jobs in u.s. politics. a short time ago he became the new speaker of the house of r representati representatives. ryan says it is an opportunity for a fresh start. >> let's be frank, the house is broken. we're not solving problems, we're adding to them. and i am not interested in
laying blame. we are not settling scores. we are wiping the slate clean. >> kimberly halkett is live for us in washington, d.c. what is the significance of this appointment? >> reporter: well, it is not actually an appointment, this is a nomination. he was elected by members of the republican party predominantly. this is a very powerful position in terms of presidential succession, third in line to the white house right after the vice president. so this comes as a big responsibility, and the fact that we have this election that took place is because the former speaker was forced out by members of his own party. the so-called freedom caucus. it will be now the new speakers job to try to not only work with democrats and reach across the aisle, but also members of his own party.
it's an enormous task at hand simply because it wasn't achievable in recent years. there was legislative gridlock if you will. paul ryan is a big ideas guy. he says he has the vision to try to restore what he sees a legislative dysfunction and a failure to serve the american people. >> given all of that, what does it mean for president obama? >> it's significant for president obama, because this is a new page as you heard paul ryan speaking there. we have to acknowledge that in recent years, the real challenge has been that these legislative and executive bodies were not speaking to each other, so as a result, in order just to help you understand, how the process works in the united states, in order for something to become law it has to pass in the house of venntives, the senate, and then it has to be signed by the u.s. president. there was not enough agreement in all of those bodies to allow
that to happen. so you would see things passed in congress but then vetoed by the president. so paul ryan is hoping to turn the page and get those conversations started. and he has had some favorable reception by democrats who believe this is an opportunity to restore much of the paralysis if you will. >> thank you very much. the e.u. awards its top human rights prize to a blogger from saudi arabia. i'm malcolm web in kenya where these corn watts are being concerned into electricity which is going into the national power grid. ♪
♪ hello again a reminder of the top stories here on al jazeera. the u.s. secretary of state john kerry and iranian foreign minister are in vienna for high-level meetings ahead of talks aimed at resolving the war in syria. china is abandoning its controversial one-child policy after more than three decades. and paul ryan is elected the new speaker of the u.s. house of representatives. syria's war may be one of the causes of the current refugee crisis. but many refugees heading to europe are from afghanistan. from the austria slovenian border, robyn for esther d
forester walker reports. >> reporter: this man is only 16 years old, aged by a conflict which returned to his hometown this week. >> awful situation. all of the time [ inaudible ] i don't have a school. i don't have anything. i lost my family in -- in on the way of iran and afghanistan. >> reporter: getting asylum may not be straight forward for him, because the e.u. considers many like himself economic migrants. >> this is a war going on in afghanistan. yet there's intention to facilitate their return. that doesn't make sense. >> there is the recognition rate of 40% among the afghans, so of course this will be an individual questioning to see in
which situations they live, whether they can go back or not go back. so we'll see what is happening in the world situation would be improving. >> reporter: most refugees are from syria, but an estimated 25% of those entering austria are from afghanistan. now in many instances i have seen people of different nationalities coming together, but i have also noticed some resentment over who is most deserving over asylum. this is a dentist from damascus and asked me why i was interviewing afghans. the e.u. wants to send back afghans. >> yeah, because we are [ inaudible ] here. not afghanistan. they have to go back to their country. actually. okay? there is no war. >> reporter: for he and his friends the idea of reaching safety only to be sent home,
evokes hollow laughter. they have given up everything to make this journey, and they say there will be no going back. the greek coast guard is still searching for 38 people that went missing from a boat that sank. 242 refugees were rescued overnight. three have been confirmed dead, and as john psaropoulos reports, there's little hope more survivors will be found. a life in europe may become reality, but it comes at a high cost. dozens of their fellow passengers may never be found. three coast guard vessels and two helicopters were still looking for survivors, and fishermen joined the search on thursday, but anger runs high on the island at the disregard for human life. >> those people who barricaded
those 2.5 thousand people that came yesterday in the island. they are criminals. they just get money to put those people on boats to get -- to -- to be dead. >> reporter: survivors say the boat capsized when its overcrowded upper deck collapsed on to the people below. their smugglerings had already been taken off of the boat by another vessel. and they were left to steer by themselves. the people donated clothes and some put refugees up overnight in their homes. the grim post script is likely to be more bodies, not more survivors. john psaropoulos, al jazeera. israeli forces have shot dead two palestinians after september rate attacks in hebron in the occupied west bank.
one serviceman suffered minor head injuries. 66 palestinians and 9 israelis have died since the violence broke out in the beginning of october. >> reporter: once again there are conflicting narratives over the shooting dead of a palestinian in the occupied west bank. on thursday a man in his 20s was shot dead in hebron. it came between the jew rich settlement and the mosque in the center of town. now the israeli army is saying that he had stabbed a solder before he was shot dead, whereas palestinian witnesses in the city are saying that he had crossed a check point and had actually walked some distance before he was shot at close distance. this is not the first time that we have heard these conflicting narratives, and in many cases, palestinians, locally, claim that the israeli army, or the
israeli police have prompted weapons in many cases knifes to suggest falsely that there had been a threat to an israeli before the palestinian had been shot dead. on thursday there were already clashes in hebron between protesters and the israeli army. hebron is a very tense place at the best of times with a few hundred israeli settlers living among many, many thousands of palestinian drengzs who have their movement severely restricted. hebron is also somewhere where many families are angry because the bodies of their loved ones who have died have not been returned by the israeli authorities, and that remains something that is causing a lot of anger on the streets. a saudi blogger has been awarded the european union's prize for freedom of thought. he is currently serving a
ten-year prison sentence. charlie an -- angela reports. >> translator: the prize will go to raif badawi. i call on the king of saudi arabia to free him, so he can accept the prize. >> reporter: a standing ovation at the european parliament for the 31 year old who's online writings on free speech with met with a jail sentence and public flogging. he was convicted in 2012 for insulting islam. following death threats his wife and three children fled saudi arabia. now living in canada, they campaign for his release. his wife says she will tell him of his award in their weekly call. >> translator: i'm sure rife
will be happy, because such prizes have an effect on his psychological well-being. raif is in a very bad psychological and physical situation. he has been jailed for three years away from his kids and family. he has been flogged in a public place. >> the first of 50 of his lashes were carried out in january. the remaining 950 have been postponed as his wounds were slow to heal. his wife says the lashings could resume immediately, but he suffers from hypertension and may not survive. >> stop the flogging! >> free raif! >> reporter: there have been protested outside saudi embassies and demonstrations but little criticism from western governments. they say this prize will shine the light of saudi arabia's human rights record. >> there are people within the
saudi regime who recognize this is a very bad move while they are do to raif and other political prisoners. and hopefully that may encourage them to push for change. >> reporter: the prize is awarded by the europe parliament for individuals or organizations for their contribution for the fight for human rights and democracy, but despite pleases it's unlikely he will be present to receive it in person in december. japanese police have dragged away protesters who are trying to stop work on a u.s. air base. they were staging a sit-in protest to try to block roads leading to the site. the air base is being expanded to ak come days u.s. marines. south korea's highest court has jailed the operator of a
ferry for seven years when 300 people died most of them teenagers when the ferry sank. africa's first grid-connected biogas plant has come on line. the $6.5 million digester will consume organic waste sourced from a neighboring farm. malcolm webb reports. >> reporter: peter and his family never had electricity before. but the connection cost correctly came down, so he has finally paised to get power, and everyone is excited. >> translator: i am very happy. i have waited for so long. there has been power in this neighborhood since 1985, but before i just couldn't afford it. >> reporter: it's among a steadily growing number of households connecting to electricity. the growing demand for energy is
being met by various sources. just across town there is a new one. these corn husks and broccoli leaves from a nearby farm are feeding a biogas power plant. the farm waste is mixed with water inside this tank and also with bacteria which come from the insides of cows' stomachs, makes quite a smell. next it spends a day inside this tank before being pumped into the digester. this dome contains the gas that is selected there, and then pumped to a power station just over here. meanwhile the liquid and solid waste goes into this tank, where it is turned into compost and taken back to the farms and used as fertilizer. and the farms use about half of the electricity generated here too. a neighboring farmer shares in the power station. the owners say his financial involvement guarantees the fuel supply, and they hope that means
in six years they can make back the plant cost. the economics are fragile because of the low tariffs for electricity. but because half is for our own consumption, and we seerling energy from heat recovery, this helps the economics. >> reporter: it puts enough power into the national grid for about 8,000 homes. it's a tiny part of the electricity that kenya uses. it there's a long way to go, but this is now among the families that can afford it. and they are delighted. [ laughter ]. one of the world's driest places has burst into bloom. a chilean desert has been transformed after air august rain. >> reporter: a carpet of color spread over an arid land.
chile's desert has sprung to life. >> translator: we have not had such a large flowering in the past 18 years. in 2010 we had a large flowering. but already this year has passed all of the previous ones. >> reporter: this life comes from tragedy. torrential storms devastated chile's northern region in august. it caused mud slides and rivers burst their banks. 28 people died. but the rains have watered the seeds of more than 200 exotic plants. they in turn have attracted birds, insects, lizards and row identifies. >> translator: for us it was a miracle, because i had never seen what the grass looks like until now. >> reporter: and it's fascinating tourists. >> it's so unusual.
it's surreal. we have come -- i'm having breakfast with the flowers. >> reporter: we flowers will eventually die as the intense heat soaks up the moisture. until then it is bursting with life. plenty more for you on our website any time. aljazeera.com. only a fully functioning house can truly rep sent the people. and if there were ever a time for us to step up, this would be that time. passing the torch, paul ryan taking over as speaker of the house, and he already has a lot to take care of. g.o.p. presidential candidates squaring off in a heated debate. their positions now under the microscope. chaos and confusion off