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tv   BBC World News America  PBS  June 20, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT

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america. >> this is bbc world news america reporting from washington. i am cathy kay. defines from damascus after months of protests. the president, bashar al-assad promises political reform while accusing saboteurs of stoking the unrest. lights-out in athens. with the greek economy on the ropes, now the lack of power is prompting protests. after years of practice, golfer rory mcilroy becomes one of the youngest to take home the trophy, causing quite a celebration back home. >> welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe. after months of silence in the face of rising protests, syria's president bashar
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al-assad addressed his nation today. but his defiant message only sparked further demonstrations. al-assad accused saboteurs of masterminding the protests and urged the thousands of syrians who have fled the country to return. international journalists are banned from syria. matthew price has sent us this report from the border with turkey. >> president al-assad's audience chanted that they would sacrifice their blood for him. his family's rule is being challenged like never before. protestors calling for reform blame him for the violence in syria. he has a different view. >> we should bring to account the saboteurs who are terrorizing people and destroying property. how can you deal politically with those who keep on killing people? >> he said 64,000 people are on
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the authorities' wanted list. a third of them have been arrested. he promised reforms. the audience applauded. the protestors took to the streets in several cities, including the capital. if president al-assad hope his speech could stop this, he is seriously out of touch with many of his people. and in the refugee camps, this was one reaction. >> i don't believe al-assad, and the syrian nation doesn't believe him. he is a traitor. my brother was arrested, beaten and given electric shocks. because of things like this, we can't believe the government. >> today became clear how great the gulf is between what the syrian opposition wants and what the regime is prepared to deliver. that is dangerous. it is a country with big
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sectarian differences, and the longer this goes on for, the greater the chance of a deepening civil conflict. in syria, thousands still live out in the open, where tales of army brutality are fueling the resistance. one man said soldiers shot at this bus. we can't verify that, but his anger is clear. >> all people don't love you, bashar. go out. >> in turkey this evening, they were clearing land for another refugee camp. they must believe president al-assad did nothing today to end the violence, nothing to stop his people fleing in fear of their lives. matthew price, "bbc news," on the turkish-syrian border. >> for more on the situation in syria and the international reaction, i spoke with the former u.s. ambassador to
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morocco. let's start with what al-assad in the speech. he promised a national dialogue, and he said this could lead to amendments to the constitution. do you take him at his work? >> it is hard to take him at his word because this is the third time he has spoken to the syrian people in the wake of the protests, and the fact of the matter is there has been very little action to back up words other than repression, other than a great deal of harm inflicted on the syrian people by his military troops. unless he demonstrates something that is tangible that the syrian people can grab hold of, the syrian protests will continue, and he will continue to lose credibility. >> so far we haven't seen the kind of huge crowds turning out in syria. it is hard to know exactly what is going on because foreign journalists can't get into the country. if people leave the country, if we don't see the millions showing up, al-assad could
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carry on? >> indeed. the balance is such in the two major cities, the equivalent of london or birmingham, or washington, d.c. and new york, where you need that mass of demonstrations to turn the military forces. we are not just talking about al-assad. it is the family that is running the country. it is that tribal leadership that is running the country. is his very similar to the situation in libya. it is not because these people aren't prepared to take to the streets, the amount of security in those cities is so significant. >> and so far the security forces don't seem to have turned against the al-assad family. that begs the question of what can the international community can do. you are paritying the state department said today, actions, not words. >> exactly. the state department can continue to say that, but there is very little leverage left to
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the united states. on this day that president al-assad was giving his speech, the european union was considering further sanctions. it doesn't make any difference what the international community does. it is to take a decision by the people in damascus and in the people in the other cities to consistently and courageously defy the syrian authorities until the tide turns. will that happen? i don't know. he is importing mercenaries to shoot at syrian citizens. he has been able to withstand the demonstrations around the country because they haven't really toppled the regime in the major urban areas that the regime needs to control. >> al-assad mentioned it during his speech today, recognizing the hit on the economy that the demonstrations are taking. could that be something that could force the regime to change? >> indeed.
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the economy is largely the size of pittsburgh. it is a very small economy. it is largely didn't on iranian assistance. there is very little trade going on, imports or exports, because of sanctions. as long as the economic life line is there, they will be able to scrabble through and be able to continue on. but there is a point where everything comes to a halt because there is no capability of the regime to continue operating in a country where most of the people are not working because of these demonstrations. >> thank you for coming in. we will carry on watching syria over the next few weeks. >> thank you. >> the libyan government says a nato air strike on a gaddafi stronghold has killed 15 people, including three people. a nato spokesperson has confirmed to the bbc that its forces were conducting
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operations in the area earlier today, but wouldn't comment on reports that a residential compound had been hit. our middle east editor has been to the site, and he filed this report. >> the dead filled a ward of a local hospital. 15 bodies including four children. there was a survivor next door, a boy muhammad, who is 6. nato argues the casualties came from a raid on a command center. it was a country estate about an hour west of tripoli, pulverized by an attack at dawn. everyone i spoke to there said it was a family home. they pulled the remains of a small boy out of the rubble. >> he is handsome and very clever. >> the boy's sister and pregnant mother also died. the owner of the house is the children's grandfather. he survived.
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he is one of colonel gaddafi's closest advisors. his extended family lived here. it is impossible to say whether the house was also used as a command center. there's not much of it left. >> this is a very twisted logic. you kill children. you call mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, and then you try to explain it by twisted, political, military logic. >> this is a strong message from nato that its campaign continues, that it is aimed at the heart of the libyan elite, and that no one is safe. there will be critics about whether it is acting in the mandate to protect civilians because in this raid, civilians died. the libyans didn't try to stop journalists visiting any part of the site. nato says this was a legitimate target. but the human cost was high. "bbc news," libya.
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>> and in other news from around the world, a tunisian court has sentenced former president benjamin netanyaho and his wife to 35 years in jail each. they were found guilty of theft and unlawful possession of cash and jewelry. the court ruled they would have to pay fines totaling more than $65 million. they remain in saudi arabia where they fled in january after he was forced from office. >> egypt's president mubarak has stomach cancer. he is held in custody at a hospital since being forced from power in february. he is due to stand trial in august. >> he has served a 17-year sentence in the united states and is serving another seven years in france. now the former panamanian ruler, noriega is wanted back in panama. he has been convicted in panama
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for crimes committed during his rule in the 1980's. >> keep cutting. that wallace the message to greece today from eurozone governments as they named the price of more bailout funds. in response, the depreek prime minister said his government was determined to implement the needed reforms, but his people aren't so sure. on the streets of athens, the demonstrations continue. around the world, the markets watch for signs of contagion. from athens our europe editor reports. >> the greek crisis escalated today. power workers went on strike. this plant was blockaded in a protest against austerity measures, which include selling off utilities and other state assets to raise money. by early afternoon the temperature had reached 34 degrees, and then the power cuts hit. >> we are very unhappy. we can't work. we don't have customers.
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>> in the stifling heat, the fishmonger removed fish from his counters. >> it's a catastrophe, he said. we will have to throw all the fish away. it's a catastrophe for the store. >> even with businesses hurting, there was sympathy for the strikers. >> they are selling everything off. what is going to happen? and the house. >> later, the hour cuts hit central athens and tourist hotels. however unpopular privatizations are with the protestors, they form a keep part of the austerity plan that greece has to agree to in order to receive further bailout funds from europe. but the greeks don't like the idea of selling off their national assets. m.p.'s arriving at parliament are preparing for a crucial confidence vote in the government tomorrow. but away from the tension in athens, europe's finance ministers meeting in lex borg
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were hardening their attitude towards greece. one described the crisis as the worst for europe since the second world war. >> the reform is visible in the streets of athens, madrid and elsewhere. we support it in some of our member states. >> the ministers told the greek government it has to stand firm. >> parliament has to know that this has to be done. if not -- >> if greece doesn't get outside funding by july, it defaults. but european leaders are making it clear that they want the greek parliament to adopt a new austerity plan first before they release any new funds. tomorrow night here at the greek parliament there will be a crucial vote of confidence in the government. time and again ministers have argued that without further
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austerity measures in exchange for a new bailout, greece is heading for bankruptcy. but many greeks, it seems, would prefer that option to further austerity. bbc news, athens. >> for more on the economic turmoil in greece and the ripples it is sending around the world. i am joined by the senior edit of bloomberg business week. i was really interested to hear what we have heard from european officials over the course of the weekend describing this as the worst crisis in europe since world war ii. are they exaggerating? >> i don't think they are in so far as this is basically a crisis about the euro. there are a lot of analogies to russian in that they have a currency valued too high. right now it is a game of chicken between the finance ministers and the greek government. the reality is the people of greece are not going to put up with more austerity merchandise. they have demonstrated that.
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it is a volatile situation. >> do you see a situation in which the greek public effectively forces its government to give up these austerity measures? we have seen huge demonstrations in spain, in france and in greece. so far people power hasn't won. do you think it might now? >> i think that it is becoming obvious to people that this is in any case going to be a very slow and painful recovery. ones you have the pensions cut and the assets sold off, the reality is greece has very little leverage to improve its economy, and people are becoming aware of that. if you lose your job and your currency is still so high that you can't get tourists or exports, then you say why bother, and bankruptcy starts to look not so bad. i think at this point, people power not going to win out, but it is getting close because things are not looking good for greece.
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at this point people were planning for them to start to go back to the market, but that is not happening at this point. >> greece may not have much leverage, but european countries don't either. really, the only option they have is more bailout money, isn't it? >> that is the reality. even when you talk about germany, the german and french banks are highly exposed to greece, and nobody wants them to be vulnerable, because they don't have the cushion they need. one option is that sympathetic countries take on some of the debt. the i.m.f. precious to roll over some of this debt. but there is going to have to be more shared pain. the people are looking and seeing that they are feeling the pain, and they don't feel the banks or the big players are. >> they are still nervous in new york. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. are your are watching world
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news america. on tonight's program, as the asian economy booms, can the cities keep pace. we are going to calcutta, where things are getting too close for comfort. >> in china the government says severe flooding caused by days of heavy rain has left more than 170 people dead or missing. while the human toll continues to rise, so does the economic cost, with damages now estimated over $1 billion. the government has warned that more than 10 rivers are on the verge of bursting their banks, and more downpours are forecast. the worst affected areas in the center, the south and the east of the country. food prices are also rising because crops have been zroipped. from shanghai, cris has the latest. >> after days of heavy rain here, vast areas of the country are under water. flash floods have cut off
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roads, submerged entire villages. thousands of homes have been destroyed, millions of acres of crops ruined, and the worst isn't over yet. this official says all he can do is warn people of the risks they face. >> i told everyone the water will soon rise. they must be vigilant. the reservoir will spill its banks as it passes the alert level. >> many thousands of families who depend on the land now face a struggle to make a living. >> some people have lost $16,000 in income. we will have to forget the grape growing this year. as for replanting, we will have to wait another three years before getting any income. >> heavy summer downpours aren't unusual here, but many of the worst affected areas had already been coping with a drought before they were flooded. vegetable production falling, pushing prices hire and hire.
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now millions of people have been told to leave their homes because of the risk more rivers will burst their banks, and the summer's typhoon season hasn't enstarted yet. shanghai. >> cities have been the center of human activity for centuries. but over the next 15 years, they are expected to grow at a speed and a scale never seen before. around the globe the story of changing societies is playing out on a massive level, nowhere more so than in asia. can cities like calcutta in india keep up with population demand. as part of our ongoing power of asia series, we have this story. >> a mega city like no other. once the colonial capital of british india, built along the banks of the hoogil river.
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it was a major port trading with the world. but now it is falling apart, bursting at the seams, synonymous with open decay. but it still draws people looking for opportunity. morning rush hour at the city's main station can be chaotic as commute respect from the countryside pour in. every day five million people come to calcutta to work, heading into the city's factories and offices. the bulk of them will head home in the evening, but some will stay on, looking for the space they can find and adding to the city's expanding population. >> as india's economy flourished, cal cut stalled. it is still a regional hub, offering the hope of a better
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future. a few dollars. >> like many others, he came from his village hundreds of kilometers away. the mark is a work place. the pavement, their home. calcutta's biggest challenge has been posed by its biggest population. in 1946 it stood at just over three million. today the city has 15 million million. roads make up less than 6% of the city and more than a third of its population lives in slums. the sprawling shanty towns, home to the city's poorest, bathing, washing and cooking in the open. there is no proper sanitation, and they are vulnerable to the elements. pace is at a premium here. entire families squeeze into a single room. >> we live like animals, they tell us.
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>> in the foreseeable future, it is a somewhat disorderly decide, but it hold out prospects of shelter and hope to vast numbers of people. that has to be borne in mind in any plan. >> calcutta's hope lies in india's growing economy, and asia's promise. already more money is flowing in. jobs have been created. infrastructure is being put back together. the city is rediscovering itself again. "bbc news," calcutta. >> amazing speed of change in asia. now to northern ireland, where they are still celebrating rory mcilroy's victory in the "open exchange." the 22-year-old golfer not only won his first major championship, he became the youngest player to clinch the tournament for almost a century. if that were not impressive
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enough, he recorded the best score for the event. from his home town, victory never tasted so sweet. [cheers and applause] >> glory for rory. he's the youngest player to win the "open exchange" for almost a century. he is only 22, but he's a man in a hurry. >> it feels like i have waited a long time for it. to finally be able to call myself a major champion, it's a dream come true. >> back in northern ireland at his home club in hollywood, they started celebrating long before the finish. and then they watched as mcilroy sank the final putt. [cheers and applause]
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>> this is the start of a global phenomenon. he is just so good. you have only seen the tip of the iceberg, i believe. >> he didn't just win the "open exchange," he won it by eight shots. he dedicated his victory to his dad, geri. >> it is really hard to put into words, but what he has done has been fantastic. after the masters, and he worked hard over last couple of months. >> he started playing as soon as he could walk. even in the early days he was a crowd pleaser, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his golfing gift. >> to turn pro and to win all the majors. >> and would you like to win them all in one year? >> yes. >> he was a small boy from a small town with big ambitions. this is where he lived. neighbors used to watch him practicing his putting on the
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front line night after night. now he is a multi-millionaire and a global sports star. [cheers and applause] >> he is being tipped as the next tiger woods, a young man who could now dominate the sport. not just because he won, but the way he did it. >> it was a wonderful procession, shot, after shot, after shot, hitting the green, close to the flag. it was a gleeryuss achievement, and he did it such sixth style. >> at hollywood golf club, they spent a long night celebrating rory mcilroy's victory. and judging by the pictures on his twitter account, the man himself did, too. >> congratulations, rory. that brings us to the end of today's broadcast. for all of us here at world news america, sigh you back here tomorrow. thank you for watching.
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>> world news america was presented by kcet, los angeles.
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