>> the war in syria rages on with a double bombing in homs. hello there, i'm julie mcdonald. the politicians hope to confiscate asylum seekers assets and keep families apart. faces covered and schools closed as the swine flu outbreak kills 83 people in ukraine. the disappearance of bolivia's biggest lakes.
>> well, the u.n. has september out invitations for geneva talks to end the war in syria. they will decide on wednesday whether or not groups although attend. the syrian army is claiming a key victory ahead of the talks. they have called the conflict in syria the most devastating crisis in the 21st century. unicef said 257,000 people have died in the fighting with children taking the brunt of the war. >> the flag of the syrian regime
flying again. showing government forces on the road between damascus and the place where the revolution started almost five years ago. the timing when they're due to convene peace talks is no coincidence. the government in damascus helped in recent months by russian airstrikes clearly wants to make as many gains as possible before the talks start. as invitations were being sent out, officials would brief the press and show why negotiations were so badly needed. >> syria is probably the most dangerous place on earth now to be a child even the very simple
act of play something no longer safe. >> but they as mitt there had was unease about negotiations for humanitarian access becoming part of the talks because the u.n. security council's resolutions have repeatedly demanded all parties lift sieges with no pre-conditions. >> i have a lot of unease about that as do all of us. this is what we do every day to try to make a dent, try to go to these places, reach the people and even make a small difference as we've been able to do in recent weeks. i'm sure you follow that. >> the head of one aid agency deeply involved in the syrian crisis used to be the humanitarian cleave of the u.n. was even more forthright. >> no, we should not negotiate with political parties or access to civilians. it is our right under international law. it is our obligation under
international law. but i'm living in the real world, and after five years now of access problems and people starving to death in besiegement, i want to--i want us to use this momentum to get the international sponsors of the parties to tell in no uncertain terms to the parties give access to everybody now. >> it's clear that the u.n. envoy has extended. invitations on the opposition side well beyond the list drawn up by saudi arabia in recent weeks. that's controversial. also controversial is the fact that he's decided not to invite the leader of one of the key kurdish groups they say they have not had an invitation. turkey was objecting to him being invited saying he represents the terrorist group. the biggest decision for the coming hours will be for those on the saudi list.
will they attend the talks due to start on friday. james bays, al jazeera, the united nations in geneva. >> despite the upcoming talks the violence shows no signs of abating in syria. 24 people have died in a double bombing in homs. 100 were injured in the assault. the governor said that a security checkpoint was targeted by a car bomb and a fighter with a suicide vest. 180 turkish soldiers have arrived at camps of the iraqi city of mosul. it's part of the build up of a possible offensive to retake the city from isil. it comes just months after baghdad demand that turkish forces withdraw from the area. iraqi police say they found a mass grave in ramadi containing remains of 18 people after it seized the city last may. security forces are still trying
to clear ramadi but pockets of isil still remain. >> iraq's police force say they've opened up some of the areas in ramadi. this is a significant development because these police stations will be the first line of defense against isil fighters if they come back or if they tried and come back to the city. these police stations are key in order to try to secure the city of ramadi itself. they're going to open more in the next few days. at the ceremony at the opening of one of these police stations the police were given weapons by the americans. these are american-made machine guns. a very public display of support. they have announced a halt of operations to try to claim the last remaining neighborhoods of isil fighters. they say this is a tactical decision that they are still going to go in to the
neighborhood and once they've taken that, that will be the whole of the ramadi city free of isil fighters. the reason they haven't is it's been ongoing for a week now. there are civilians trapped within the area itself. now there has been heavy shelling and also u.s.-led airstrikes with iraqi airstrikes as well into that neighborhood. but those airstrikes are only so effective when civilians are trapped in there. you have to go into large number into those neighborhoods. there has to be a halt in operations and the opening of these police stations is also seen as crucial. if says that the iraqi security forces are now beginning to get back in charge of ramadi. >> refugees seeking asylum in denmark will have their
valuables seized by the police to pay for their stay. the new law is amongst a number of measures passed by dane michigan parliament. asylum seekers will have to hand over any valuables to cover the cost of housing while they're being processed. it has been criticized by human rights groups and the u.n. >> the decision to give danish police the authority to search and confiscate valuables from asylum seekers sends damning messages and fuels fear and discrimination rather than forming solidarity with people in need of protection. >> sweden's prime minister has visited the town where an asylum worker was stabbed to death. she was allegedly killed by a 15-year-old boy in a home of unaccompanied minors. they say that the attack has
raised concerns about authorities where they're overwhelmed by the number of asylum seekers in the country. >> i believe quite a few people here in sweden feel a great worry that there would be similar cases as sweden accepts unaccompanied minors. many coming have had traumatic experiences and there are no plans of how it should be dealt with. but there are important principles that would apply. >> ukraine's health ministry said that there have been a confirmed 83 deaths from the swine flu. health officials have closed schools and are advising people to avoid crowded places. >> whenever the w.h.o. gets reports like this we immediately investigate the virus to see if the virus has changed. as far as we know at the moment the virus has not changed to any
significant extent, and the current seasonal influenza vaccine is expected to provide protection. so we have no indications that this is a new virus or a mutated virus. this is the same virus in a has come back several times during the normal winter season since the 2009 pandemic. >> the iranian president has met pope francis at the vatican. the pair appeared for 40 minutes in which the president rouhani asked the pope to pray for him. italy has taken steps to insure that president rouhani's visit was without distraction, sculptures in the me sue yes, ma'am including a venus from 2nd century b.c. was covered up to prevent any offense. the italian president was criticized for the move when it
was learned that the orders came from his office. now chinese shares have fall ton their lowest in 14 months. that's further undermining investor confidence leaving stock markets in shanghai and shenzhen under 6%. >> malaysia's prime minister has been cleared of wrongdoing in a long running corruption scandal. $160million was transferred to the president's private account in 2013. but he said it was a personal donation from the saudi royal family and most of it was later returned. $60million we mains unaccounted for--remains unaccounted for. we have more now from kuala lumpur. >> various media outlets here in malaysia have been speculating as to what the conclusion of the attorney general's report would
be into his investigation over allegations of corruption made against the prime minister. well, those allegations have been put to one side by his statement at a press conference on tuesday saying that the prime minister had done no wrong and that there were no--no reasons for anyone to think that the prime minister had done anything corrupt, and that the donation of over $600 million were--was made by sources within the saudi royal family. but the actual scenario now leads to as many questions as it does solutions. the questions within his own party as to what has happened to the money, should it go to party coffers, should he stay on as prime minister with this cloud still hanging over him? the opposition certainly is not going to let this issue lie, and they will completely continue to hammer the ruling party as this
country heads towards general election within the next two years. do they want to allow him to step aside and allow a new step to take the helm of the party and lead it into the next general election. all those questions perhaps will be answered in the next few weeks. >> now you're watching al jazeera. still to come why free messaging services are pushing all the wrong buttons for south africa's telecom providers. plus finding out what happens when that's inmates decide to break out of prison.
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>> welcome back. a reminder of our top stories here on al jazeera. humanitarian agencies are calling for all sides to end the suffering of civilians, especially children. denmark's parliament has agreed to seize valuables from refugees to help fund their stay. and 83 confirmed deaths from the hsns swine flew. the government has publicly destroyed the biggest ever hall of illegal ivory, more than 250 tusks were displayed in the capital colombo being fed into a 100-ton crusher an sent to an
industrial furnace. we have more now from the capital of colombo. this had been concealed among sacks of waste that was moving through the port of colombo. >> so we had no way--unless there is information to unload it, that is a difficulty. >> essentially on the international market ivory fetches as much as $300,000 a kilo and one can only imagine 1.5 tons of ivory, what that would hold. the ceremony to destroy the ivory, the clergy here as is tradition in this country, invoking blessings on the dead elephants very much different from a couple of years ago when they asked for responsibility and custody of these tusks be
transferred to the secretary. the present government making it clear they're not going to encourage trade of contrabands. the crusher behind me will see all these 359 tusks going through it over the course of the day. the resulting fragments that will come out of the crusher will be bagged up and will be taken to an industria an incinerator, where it will be burned. there is no value for contraband, and that poaching and the international trade will not be encouraged. >> mexico is opened a formal debate on whether to legalize medical marijuana. it follows the survey that shows a fifth of middle and high school students reported using drugs with marijuana the most widely used. well, let's get more on this, john holman joins us live now from mexico city. hi there, john.
why is this significant? >> well, this is a big moment from mexico, and this is a moment where mexico's president has sent a couple of his biggest hitters in the debates. there are five in total, and they won't come out with anything that is legally binding on legalization of marijuana and the issues surrounding it, but they said they will shape policy. so this marks a moment in which mexico has been thought to be very conservative in the handling of drugs and drug policies. maybe just shifting it to engage a little bit more. >> john, what would legalizing marijuana mean for mexico? >> well, people in support of legalizing marijuana say what it would mean is that the mexican cartels, that marketplace to sell marijuana would be taken
away from them, and they would be battling and that would mean less violence on mexico's streets. people who are against the leg legalization of marijuana obviously say that the cartels have other businesses of kidnapping and other drugs apart from just marijuana, so that doesn't have to be necessarily true. the other thing that is interesting, which is not full scaled legalization but mexico at the moment allows its citizens only to carry about five grams of marijuana. that's enough for two joints. that does seem to be on the table. that thousands of people in mexico' very overcrowded prisons could theoretically be let go because it would come under the new heading of the amount of marijuana that could be possessed here. >> john holman live from mexico city. thank you. >> new footage shows an explosion that destroyed a wall
in a prison. 37 of the inmates were recaptured by officers while two others were killed in police firing. the police are still on the hunt for one escapee. new report has named venezuela's capital caracas the most violent city in the world. according to the citizens council for public safety and criminal justice there were 120 murders per 100,000 people in caracas last year. the capital of ho honduras was dropped to second place after it saw significant decline of homicide in 2015. now the secondest largest lake in bo bolivia was part of a fragile ecosystem, and el niño is to blame for its decline.
>> the lake covered more than 2100 square kilometers. it used to provide most of bolivia's fish and was a temporary home to thousands of migrating birds. now it's all gone. bolivia's second largest lake turned into a cemetery for dozens of species when it finally decide up. only bogs are left. >> fishermen showed me where the pierre use use--pier used to be. just a couple of weeks ago he was still fishing here. >> since 2014 there was a strong wind blowing. the water, dirt, and algae began to disappear. we were helpless. now the lake is completely dry.
the only thing left are our tools, our boats and our memories. >> nearly 150 families relied on the fishing industry are moving out or have already left. the government of the region have declared it a natural disaster zone. it's governor said he's willing to find ways to bring the water back but at the same time he's hoping that rain will come. >> in the meantime we will implement breeding farms but in the middle east we must find alternative water sources although i believe rain will come again. >> the lake has dried up in the past. now environmentalists say it is different. they're blaming the el niño phenomenon. el niño used to happen every 10 to 15 years. now global warming has made it more recurring not allowing the lake a chance to renew its water
cycle. >> it's also partly because peru has diverted water supplies from a basin it shares with bolivia and chile. >> no matter what the government says, the lake is a dead case. >> fishermen agrees. >> now we have to migrate to the city of aruro. now my wife has to beg in the streets. that's how we're surviving. >> but they're not ready to give up a life on the lake just yet. 's guarding his nets and boat and hoping that some how one day the water returns. al jazeera, bolivia. >> it's now ten months since an earthquake devastated large areas of nepal. more than 8,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands more are homeless. reconstruction has been slow.
>> they have come from the united kingdom to repair the house i in the foothills of the himalayas. a soldier from the british army brigade and has been living in britain for almost two decades. >> this house was built by my father. >> like most people, he does not want to do too much right now. >> the government is planning to plant proper buildings, the houses, everything here. i'm waiting for that. i'm not going to do anything. >> waiting for the government to act is not something that villagers usually like to do. for generations they have joined the british and army. locals hearsay they don't need the government or ngos to come
and rebuild their homes. what they do want from them is designs for earthquake resistant homes so they can go ahead and rebuild their lives. >> back in october the national planning competition said it had drawn up designs for earthquake resistant houses. but they're still waiting for the details. making the best of a bad situation locals here have decided to go ahead with some basic improvements to their village. roads have been widened. plans for water and sanitation have been laid out. people hearsay they now need skilled help not over forms of charity. >> right after the quake we needed rice blankets and everything. we're very grateful for it. but if people give chair to us all the time, if people want to help, they can give us building materials.
we don't have enough human resources, carpenters. >> instead of charity, we want training. men and women are ready for training. >> villagers have already been to the local authority to push for action. even though they have been given assurances they say not much has happened since. without official guidance they're moving ahead to rebuild their homes as best as they can for now. al jazeera, northwest nepal. >> parliamentary hear something due to start in south africa following complaints from a phone company who says they're losing customers who use the internet to make calls, and they want tighter rules for companies like skype. >> he needs to know if his friend--
>> i use it to make calls. i call my wife, even my son the most family members i connect with other people. >> the services like sign and google hangouts could soon be regulated in south africa. they're popular because they allow people to send messages and phone calls at a lower cost that phone companies and sms messages. often they're not paying taxes in south africa and they're not subject to the same regulations. ott companies are thought to have millions of users. >> as we determine the price to communicate is, their infrastructure costs that go into it. the regulatory and compliance
issues which we as mobile operators and internet service providers need to comply with. we're basically saying that otts in their operation, particularly in the african market must also comply with some of legislative provisions. >> others in the industry disagree. >> there is a time of change that has happened across the world. the services that is provided is what consumers want. we want to give our own customers what they want. and that to regulate these people and restrict them in any way is the wrong approach. >> some consumers say it's all about revenue. >> for the mobile networks that has caused disruption and inconvenience and they're looking for ways to claw that revenue back. should we be paying for it? we as consumers should be clear
about our rights. >> consumers say they want to pay as little as possible to keep in touch. al jazeera. johannesburg. >> you can find out much more on our website. take a look at www.aljazeera.com. >> this week on talk to al jazeera--lawyer and executive director of the equal justice initiative, bryan stevenson. >> we have to stop telling the lies that we tell about who we are. we celebrate our history of slavery. we celebrate our era of terrorism. >> stevenson has spent his career fighting racism in the criminal justice system--the legacy of slavery and times of "racial terror" continue to impact the lives of african americans today. >> what we did to african americans between the end of reconstruction and world war ii rivals anything we read about in