tv BBC World News America PBS September 21, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT
was that easy, it would have been done by now. >> iran releases a pair of american hikers that had been in prison for over two years. talk about a travel nightmare, one british couple got more than they bargained for in the amazon sparking an international rescue effort. welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe. we are coming to you live from the united nations where today president obama was among those who addressed the general assembly. in the 40 minute speech, only seven minutes is getting attention. that is when he forcefully rejected the palestinian bid for membership in the international body. >> diplomacy temporarily transfer -- temporarily
transferred to new york. it seems unable to meet the challenges of a conflict that is once again looking dangerous. >> it is time for us to say, not on our watch. >> israel is keeping pressure on the obama administration to veto any application for membership. pro palestinians pushing for a seat at the u.n. as a giant step towards independence. even with the prospect of an american veto, the palestinians are claiming some victories. they put back the issue not just on u.n. membership but of their independence back on the international agenda in a way it was not before. a year ago, president obama called for a palestinian statehood in 12 months. it looks further away now than it did then. the palestinian never shipped at
the u.n. will bring peace no closer. >> this will not come through statements are resolutions at the detonations. if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. -- peace will not come through statements or resolutions at the united nations. ultimately, it is the israelis and palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them on the border, security, refugees, jerusalem. >> president obama praised the way that libya and tunisia had seized their freedom. the libyan delegation watched the hotel. -- the palestinian delegation watched at the hotel. they believe that obama is blocking them. >> there is no human empathy whatsoever there. he talked about entity for the
israelis, our occupiers. -- he talked about empathy for the israelis, our occupiers. >> the west bank has been occupied by israel since 1967. there was a hint of what might happen if the diplomatic stalemate continues. the french president warned that a veto could cause another cycle of violence. in new york, a grateful prime minister went to see the president and said that the opposition was a badge of honor. the american president left for his next meeting. the old song about new york says that if you can make it here, and you can make it anywhere. that does not apply to middle east peace. there's nothing to say about today. >> our middle east editor. he will be with me in just a minute.
for more on the palestinian position, i spoke with the former legal adviser and spokesperson for the palestinian liberation foundation. we heard the prime minister netanyahu said that -- say that this is a badge of honor and the israelis seem quite happy with what they heard from the president. i imagine that you are not. >> absolutely not. this is the president who made his first phone call as president to mahmoud abbas. he condemned home demolitions and he condemned settlements. now, he has backtracked. last month alone, we saw more than 6000 housing units approved. his speech had nothing to do with palestine and everything to do with domestic u.s. consideration. >> president obama says that if a vote is taken, nothing actually changes in terms of
daily life for palestinians. >> he is absolutely right. the one thing that would change is that it would allow palestinians to avail themselves of the international criminal court and seek some legal address against israel for their continued violation of international law. >> the american said that it will only succeed because of direct and you -- because of direct negotiations. what do you get out of this? >> einstein said that the definition of insanity is to do things over and over again and expect a different result. these negotiations have gone on for 20 years. we have seen a doubling of the amount of settlers living in the territories. going back to negotiations will only be a definition of insanity. >> coming here could weaken mahmoud abbas.
if he is not accomplished what he came here to do, he comes back in not a strong position. >> i am concerned if there will be a new strategy put forward in order to challenge israel and their ongoing roll over the palestinians. it does not matter to me if the president comes back weekend, what matters is if there is a focus in place on challenging israel legally. >> some of this could spark violence because diplomacy has not worked. >> i don't think that this will spark violence. instead, people will challenge this leadership and it is time to try a different strategy. mahmoud abbas has banked on negotiations for his entire career.
he has been president for six years. if he walks away without getting that, it is time for a new leader to carve a new path. >> for more on all of the high stakes, i am joined by our middle east editor. thank you for coming in. the palestinians clearly disappointed by what they heard in president obama's speech. how much of a change to you hear from president obama today and a year ago? >> he said a palestinian state being a year away and he did everything to push for it. now, the current israeli government really -- now, he said what the current israeli government would like to hear. his republican opponents have said that he has been appeasing the palestinians. there is nothing in that speech which could be branded by his opponents as a peace movement.
>> hasn't this week intrench both sides, made at the peace process harder to get through? >> the positions were entrenched. i think what we might see here is a recognition of that and the fact that the curtain has been lifted and it is coming out in the (to the palace and is believed after 20 years of negotiations, they need to try something else. they say is not instead of negotiations, it is the strength when the next round finally starts and to get somewhere. the israelis say it is dangerous and it inflates the situation back home and it leads to violence. >> president sarkozy making his own news. is there an alternative? is that where we are headed next after the delegates leave?
>> he has said that maybe there is an alternative. this is the palestinian plan. if it all gets bogged down in the security council, then it goes to the general assembly. it goes to all members where there is no veto. president sarkozy said it would not be a bad thing because it would give them something in the interim while the bigger issues were worked on. the palestinians believe that for once they have actually seized the initiative. the americans have said that this would lead to a train wreck in terms of diplomatic action. >> we have heard deadlines countless times before the peace process. between these two leaders, there is not really any chance of getting anywhere. as for a year away, the end of
the bush administration. the palestinian state was a year away. last year, the palestinian state, a year away. >> thank you very much. now to diplomacy taking place halfway around the world from new york. a pair of american hikers denounced by iran as spies are enjoying their freedom. shane bauer and josh fattal describes this as the best day in their lives. they are enjoying a reunion in gnomon. -- in oman. >> the joy of freedom. the relieved u.s. hiker's raced into the arms of their waiting family. this is the day they have all been waiting for. they are finally free.
close your happy we are free -- >> we are happy that we are free. we thanked the king of all montfort obtaining our relief. -- we thanked the king of oman for obtaining our release. >> we sincerely hope for a freedom for those who are unjustly imprisoned in america and around the world. >> they were arrested along with a third american, sarah shourd, , in the region between iran and iraq. the iranians accused the trio of spying. the americans said they were simply hiking in northern iraq. sarah shourd was released last year on grounds of field house. -- of ill health.
>> it is clear that we had no intention to come to iran. we were no threat. "the families were allowed to meet shane bauer and josh fattal briefly last year turned to relatives are calling this the best day of their lives. -- >> the families were allowed to meet shane bauer and josh fattal last year. relatives are calling this the best day of their lives. >> president ahmadinejad made this comment at the u.n. >> we made this -- we did not make this decision under pressure. >> u.s. -- iran relations have been poor since the revolution. tehran wants better relations. >> they want to be a part of the world, they want respect for their civilization, their
culture, their way of life. they understand that they are a great power. >> the question now is whether the release of the u.s. hikers is an olive branch by iran or just a gesture designed to make president ahmadinejad looked good before he appears that the u.n. >> hundreds of migrants have clashed with italian police on the tiny island of lampedusa. the migrants fear that they will be forced back to tunisia. lampedusa has had an influx of migrants fleeing turmoil from africa. china has summoned the united states ambassador to protest against plans to upgrade fighter fleet of f-16 planes. china said that the $5 billion
deal would undermine bilateral ties and security operations between china and the u.s.. for the people of greece, the last few months have been full of austerity measures and it is about to get worse. more civil servants will be suspended than originally planned and pension cuts are in the works. in the u.s., the federal reserve was busy making moves of its own3 with the eurozone. it seems that the debate is shifting from whether priests will default to when greece will defaults, what is the global repercussions of that? >> well, the greeks would be to sit -- would be disappointed to hear you say that when they announced the steps that they will make. they will have to wait a few
weeks to find out if it is enough. you are right, everyone has said it might not be over this slice of money, but the next. something will go wrong probably in the near future and that would cause a disorderly defaults for greece. the repercussions of many people are worried which would be on the european side of the financial system and for confidence in the global economy. that is something highlighted by the international monetary fund. no one would like to see that kind of car wreck for greece because of the knock on effect for many countries. the european officials have not shown that they have a plan for avoiding it, that they can get over the political difficulties in a way of a determined commitment to the eurozone to keep it together. >> american officials are very worried about the knock on the fact here in the u.s.. the federal reserve announced
what they would spend to try to drive down interest rates. will that help us get out of a hole in america? >> it is worth remembering that the fed is to support of the u.s. recovery and the european situation is a big worry for america. the big worry is the fact that the u.s. economy itself is not delivering jobs or the kind of growth that the fed or president obama would like to see. we have seen this operation which was first named when they tried to do it in the early 60's. this is reshuffling the deck and the balance sheet of the federal bank, as you say, to try to push down on some interest rates further. i think that it is striking. you have heard such bad news about the economy recently, they have not actually put more money money into the economy.
we are turning to the central banks now, not just in the u.s., for support in response to the slowing recovery. even the central banks have less ammunition in their locker to respond to this. >> that is our economics editor. you are watching "bbc world news america." hitting a major travel glitch with the help of a very long distance call. one couple gets out of a sticky situation. now to a major lawsuit. the former south african gold miners are suing a subsidiary of a mining giant and london alleging that they suffer from lung problems because of exposures to dangerous levels of dust. our correspondent reports with all the details from johannesburg. >> all that glistens is gold.
for an industry that was once the mainstay of the south african economy. black miners are left with a grim legacy, a grim lung condition. the subsidiary that once employed them is being sued for allegedly flouting safety rules. >> this is a serious public health epidemic in south africa. >> with thousands working in the minds in the late 1990's this case could have wide-ranging implications. in a statement, the company said that they did not believe that they are in any way liable for the claims and are defending the actions. anglo american claims that the companies which employ the miners were responsible for the health of the employees and took reasonable steps to protect
them. as many as one in five of the miners have the disease according to a series of medical studies. the numbers are rising. the lawyer a sore argue that the risks have been known for decades. -- the lawyers will argue that the risks have been known for decades. the case could turn out to be one of the biggest of its kind. before any testimony is heard, we could well see technical arguments over the legal jurisdictions of the british court. >> in japan, natural disasters has already brought on forgettable devastation. a typhoon has brought heavy rain and floods which killed six people. it hit land in the central city which continued to the capital.
the coast line is already damaged by the tsunami and earthquake and home to the power plant. so far, there have been no problems reported. as he sees heralded the approach of the typhoon off the southeast coast, a massive storm threatening the country's biggest island ringing high wind and torrential downpours. workers are busy trying to strengthen flood defenses. some parts of japan were warned to expect a month's worth of rain in just 12 hours. >> we need to be vigilant against a potential disaster caused by heavy rains, strong wind, and rough seas. >> in the typhoon's path, the nuclear power station of fukushima still leaking radiation after the earthquake and tsunami.
elsewhere, the storm and soon cost flooding. some streets were need deep. the emergency services used boats to rescue people. at one point, with than a million people were urged to evacuate from their homes. >> many people were caught unaware during the great eastern disaster and i did not want that to happen again so i decided to get here as early as possible. >> of the water levels got to write under the bridge and i was taken aback when i saw it. i ran home. that is when i saw there was an evacuation advisory. >> this is the second typhoon to hit the country in months. the northeast coast has already been devastated by earthquakes, tsunami. for japan, this has been a year of disaster.
>> now for an amazing international rescue operation which was sparked by nothing short of a travel nightmare. a british couple on my 5 year adventure to south america got stuck in a ravine in the rain forest. -- a british couple on a 5 year adventure to south america got stuck. they made a call to their relatives and from there it became a global affairs. >> he is a photographer. she is a retired air hostess. lesley norris and bruce scott has been touring south america for five years in their huge camper van. two days ago, on this network is the difficult road in a remote part of the amazon, a bridge collapsed under the weight of their 7 ton truck leaving the couple and their fans in a deep ravine. -- and their van in a deep
ravine. they were 200 miles from the nearest city. they were carrying a satellite phone, they were able to call their relatives 5,000 miles away in sussex and give them their precise coordinates. those relatives then contacted the dover coastguard who in turn alerted the coast guard in cornwall. they contacted the brazilian navy and a helicopter rescue was launched. >> how are you? >> i am fine. we are both ok. >> after that rescue and a full medical, the couple told me about what they called their merkel state -- and their miracle escape. >> to be perfectly honest, i
thought, this is it. i was on the side that slid down. my window was open. i don't know how we managed to escape with so little injury. >> their main priority is trying to get their vehicle back and then continuing with their epic journey. what is your message to your family in eastbourne, the coast guard in cornwall, and the brazilian navy? >> i would like to say to all of them, thank you so much for pulling out all the stops. >> they said they wanted a trip to remember, they got one. >> a great story. there is one last thing we wanted to show you. nasa has released a time months video featuring a unique view
of the aura borealis. this was traded by hundreds of still shots taken by astronauts on board the international space station earlier this month. that brings us to the end of our special edition of "bbc world news america."' you can't keep up to date on the latest news on our website, bbc.com. thank you so much for watching. see you back here tomorrow. >> make sense of international news at bbc.com/news. >> funding was made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. and union bank.
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