the defendant's favor. despite this team 29 hopes it is making people aware of their rights, and shining a light on how russia's justice system is sometimes manipulated. more at aljazeera.com. congress takes up the flint water crisis, despite the fact that michigan officials are refusing to participate. a california gas company facing criminal charges. a case of sexually transmitted zika surfacing now in dallas. the issue at the mosque is we didn't know who was dehind it, who was in it, where it came from. >> reporter: and backlash over a new mosque, as president obama
prepares to address the nation on the rise of islamaphobia. ♪ this is al jazeera america live in new york city. i'm del walters. there were firey words today at a congressional hearing on the flint water crisis in washington, d.c. a house committee is grilling officials at this hour trying to determine who was to blame for the contaminated water in flint. but the man at the center of the crisis not going to be there. the emergency manager not going to testify even though he has been subpoenaed to do so. he is the man that changed the water supply at the order of the state. all officials under fire throughout the morning. what has been said. >> reporter: that hearing is
ongoing. there are residents from flint, as they are cheering as they are trying to figure out who is to blame. most importantly, the managesy manager is absent. and we are hearing criticism from members of congress over the fact that darnell earley did not show up. >> it's disappointing that former emergency manager earley had his attorney tell us when he received the subpoena for his attendance here that the orders were nonsensical to come here. >> reporter: he received a subpoena, but the chairman says that the next step is that
federal marshals should find him and bring him before congress. the republican chairman of this committee also wants the former epa manager in charge of this region to be subpoenaed as well, del. democrats and republicans have very different perspectives on who is to blame. and democrats feel there is another voice missing, the governor of michigan. they don't have control, though, over deciding who testifies. we did hear concerns from jerry connelly, a democrat of virginia, over just what lead to this water crisis to begin with. democrats say that a republican move in michigan to oversee a point -- to appoint a emergency manager to make decisions has been at the heart of this crisis. they say that is inherently political. listen to what congressman connelly had to say. >> this is the consequence of
putting ideology ahead of human beings, and their needs and their welfare. the difference in political philosophy matters, political choices have consequences, and flint is the most dramatic in our generation. >> republicans in michigan instituted this emergency manager law, so the emergency manager can make unilateral decisions. that was against the will of voters, and that's what democrats say lead to this crisis. >> libby casey live washington. thank you very much. andy roesgen has been covering the crisis in flint, and tell uses there are positive developments for residents. >> reporter: there is possible good news for flint residents who have been paying their bill for months and getting dirty water. the governor is offering in the state legislature next week, $30 million for debt relief to
help homeowners who have not been paying their bills because of the dirty water, but to reimburse those who have paid their water bills for months, and yet have been getting dirty water. so that's possible good news for them. and the fbi is investigating possible federal violations in this water crisis. the epa point person has arrived here in flint to oversee the ground operations. she squarely laid the blame of the former emergency manager here in flint who signed off on the water switch, and she said their big goal right now is just tackling those homes that live in the highest-risk areas for lead contamination. mainly in the northern neighborhoods of flint. back to you. andy thank you very much. the first criminal charges today against a company behind
that mayor gas leek in southern california has been going on for months. it has lead to health problems, evacuations, and concerns about the environment. john henry smith has more. >> reporter: these are among the 13,000 people who have had to leave their homes in porter ranch to escape a methane gas leak. it has spewed 80,000 tons of methane into the air since october. >> our 13-year-old daughter has been sick as well, and missed school, and has a horrible cough. >> reporter: now the district attorney has filed four misdemeanor criminal charges against the gas company. she accuses the company of releasing the gases and failing to report the leak for three days. this move came on the same day that this woman filed a lawsuit against so-cal gas.
she said: the gas has been leaking from a decade's old pipe with no safety valve to turn it off. >> the people who put that well down were not intending that that casing would be used to infect natural gas or to withdraw it. they were trying to extract oil in the 1950s. >> reporter: the company's spokesperson has -- repeatedly insisted that they complied with regulations ] >> we are in total compliance. >> reporter: they have promised a relief well will stop the leak by the end of february. there are growing concerns about the zika virus here in the united states. most of the infections coming as
the result of mosquito bites. but health officials in texas say a person may have gotten the virus there sexual contact. >> if a person is traveling to one of those 26 countries that have been declared by the pan american and world health organization to be transmitting the disease, mostly in the caribbean and south america, they should use condoms for their sexual contacts. >> reporter: in florida nine cases of zika have been confirmed, including six new cases this last week. florida has not been denfied as an area of high risk. all of the cases in florida were contracted outside of the united states it's a. rand paul has suspended his
campaign for president. paul placed fourth in iowa on the caucuses on monday. he got 4.5% of the vote. syria's army launching an offensive to cut off supply lines to aleppo. it comes as the u.n. struggles to get both sides to the negotiating table in geneva. mohammed jamjoom is there. and how is this battle shaping up, and will it have a negative impact on the talks themselves? >> reporter: del, the syrian regime certainly has gained the upper hand militarily in the past few days with a lot of help from the russians. this bombardment that is going on in the north of the country and aleppo especially, has been massive. it has many opposition fighters telling al jazeera unprecedenteded in scale. because of that the regime is taking back more and more
rebel-held territory, and that is having quite frankly a devastating impact on these talks. the talks have come to a complete stand still since yesterday. and it is just sheer pessimism surrounding what should have been more diplomatic talks today. in the last few hours things become so critical that the head of the hnc came here to geneva, flew here. we went to the president wilson hotel where the rest of his delegation is staying. shortly after he arrived the u.n. special envoy for syria went to the hotel for unofficial talks to meet with the opposition's negotiation delegation and try to figure out how to get these talks back on track. there has been a lot of speculation that perhaps one side or the other may walk away from the negotiating table. the opposition is in a very difficult position right now as far as appearances.
if they stay, it may look to their supporters as though they are condoning what is going on. if they leave, they look as though, they have left before anything substantial could have happened, so it's very, very difficult going here today. it's very messy. it's very complicated. and nobody really knows how things will proceed. >> mohamed you are pointing out that the talks yesterday not going that well at all. the opposition refusing to show up all together. do you get a sense that we're looking at an eminent collapse of these talks? >> reporter: that is the worry here today. so much so that you had diplomats meeting with both sides, both negotiating teams. you had staffan de mistura's aids trying to convince them to
stay here. and then you also had envoys for the u.k. and the u.s. going and meeting with the hnc, the opposition's negotiating body here, trying to convince them to stay. and then you had the head of the hnc arriving here in geneva. and what is interesting about that is instead of the opposition coming to the u.n. and meeting with staffan de mistura meeting at his office, you had him going to their hotel. so it's real shaky ground right now. >> mohammed jamjoom for us in geneva. mohamed as always, thank you very much. when he come back, bill cosby back in court today. the latest attempt to have those sexual assault charges against him dismissed.
house republicans are vowing to press on even after their latest effort to end obamacare failed. they couldn't muster the votes to override the president's veto. the house needed a two-thirds majority to do so. it failed on a final vote of 241-186. a bill undermining the iranian deal has now cleared the senate that measure restricts the president's ability to lift sanctions against iran. even if it passes the senate, the president says he will veto it. in just about an hour the
president will make his first visit to a mosque in the united states. the white house says the president will focus on the need to speak out against bigotry and promote religious freedom. the number of hate crimes against american muslims spiking in recent months after those attacks in paris and san bernardino, california. mike viqueira is live outside of the mosque. mike, what is the significance of this visit? >> reporter: well, this is president obama's first trip to a mosque on u.s. soil. this is something that muslim leaders had urged president obama to do, many meeting at the white house with president obama and this is the result of those talks. obviously as you put it, del, the spike in islamaphobia, the an advertise muslim rhetoric that has happened in the wake of the paris and san bernardino
attacks has been a great deal of concern. and we have heard president obama talk about this several times in the last several weeks, lashing out at those particularly on the campaign trail. donald trump saying he wanted to ban all muslims from coming to the united states until we can figure out what is going on. jeb bush said only christians should be allowed in among the refugees that have flooded europe and many that will be coming to these shores. and many others like ted cruz have hit president obama for refusing to use the phrase radical islamic terrorism. the president has lashed out at those, he says not only is it un-american to use that kind of language, and against american values of openness and inclusiveness, the melting pot that is american society, but it also served as a recruiting tool
for isil and other groups when they can point at political leaders at the united states and say, look, this is what the united states is all about. right now president obama is leading with islamic leaders from around the baltimore area, and around the country as well. later he'll deliver a speech of about 45 minutes in length to a group of about 200 invited guests here in baltimore. >> mike, while we're on the subject of invitations, the president has been invited to visit mosques before, but has not accepted, why? >> reporter: well, for the reasons we already outlined this anti-muslim rhetoric that the president has reacted so forcefully too. but to put it in crass political terms, del, you can speculate about it, but you don't have to go to great lengths to say that the president probably wouldn't have done this in his first term. recent poll by cnn, it was done
in september, said that 29% of americans still believe despite the president's attendance of christian services, that he is a muslim. we are outside of the perimeter of the mosque, as you can see, and when we went to interview many people who would be attending, they were told that the white house and their communications detail were in control of that. so a tightly controlled event. >> which also portrays the fact that there is something wrong with being a muslim. mike thank you very much. al jazeera will carry the president's marks live at around 1:00 pm eastern time. one mosque in wyoming proving to be controversial. the neighbors say they want to know why it is being built. >> reporter: we had a new mosque
open in town. there had never been one in gillette. >> reporter: this almost all white predominantly christian town had its first mosque open, he started a facebook page. >> the issue with the mosque is we didn't know who was behind it. who was in it. where it came from. >> reporter: this family founded the mosque in a converted house. they make up almost all of the muslims in gillett, 30 in all, in a town of about 30,000. >> we wanted the kids to be taught islamic scripture and things like that. >> reporter: they own a small
hotel empire. they run 15 in gillett and 30 more around the region. the family's roots is in pakistan, but they have been in gillette since 1906. none of that seemed to matter when protesters demonstrated outside of the mosque. >> they thought that this mosque was going to lead to 2,000 syrian refugees moving into gillette. and that the culture was going to change. and we were going to force sharia law on gillette. >> reporter: he shared screen shots of the anti-islam website with federal authorities. one user wrote: >> well, that's the nature of
the internet, isn't it? a lot of people like to be keyboard warriors and talk crap on the internet that they would never back up in real life. >> i think it's just fear. the san bernardino had just happened, and i -- i think people were just scared that it could happen here. >> reporter: the major issued a statement, neither threats for declarations of hate would be tolerated in gillett do you think there is a political risk to you for showing this kind of support? >> if there is, i don't care. >> reporter: the kohn family says their mosque will remain open and are not afraid of threats. a new report revealing another nfl star suffering from the brain disease cte when he died. and bill cosby could find out if the case against him will
players. he wanted to help understand why his mind slipped so quickly in recent years. bill cosby is back in this court today, his lawyers say they want the case against him thrown out. john terrett is live outside of the courthouse in pennsylvania, and john the former prosecutor, making his case for why he thinks cosby should not go on trial. >> reporter: this is dragging on a bit, isn't it? there was a surprise witness today, a man called john patrick schmidt. he is bill cosby's corporate legal counsel. when you are bill costby, you are not just bill cosby, you are effectively a corporation, and this is the corporate legal counsel, so he was on the stand
today, and the prosecution went after him big time, and said you didn't get anything in writing, did you? regarding this agreement you had between the district attorney and bill cosby not to prosecute him. and he said no. then how do you know that this agreement stands? ah, because the district attorney issued a press release, we got him to sign the press release, and so we have an agreement. and they said i submit you put more corporate work into organizing an interview with the "national enquirer." and they went on to say that further down in that press release, it says the district attorney cautions all parties that he will review the decision in necessary. and john schmidt said they took that to mean he would review the decision not to talk about the
case publicly. so this is rumbling on and on, del. >> did cosby acknowledge his fans who have gathered there on his way to court this morning? >> reporter: yes, he did, and i know we spoke to him yesterday. i really felt he looked every one of his 78 years. i really didn't think he looked at all happy yesterday. today a lot brighter. took a long time to get out of the limousine. he was still propped up, and they made him do a long walk along the side of the courthouse, but the fans were shouting out, hey, mr. bill, mr. bill, and he stopped on several occasions to acknowledge his fans. so that's a big change from yesterday. in the last ten seconds, we are expecting a decision on whether this case goes ahead today.
the judge can go ahead with the case or not. but we are expecting a decision today. >> john thank you very much. finally at this hour, home depot hiring more than 80,000 workers nationwide for the busy spring season ahead. there are part-time and full-time jobs. all of the hiring coming amid a solid housing market as people look to renovate their homes. and the clock is ticking for a lucky lottery winner in southern california. a winning ticket from august still not claimed. it is worth $62 million. it was brought at a 7-eleven in chatsworth. they have until 5:00 pm to show up, or all of the money goes bye-bye. as we do. check us out 24 hours a day at
our website, aljazeera.com. ♪ syrian opposition fighters prepare to defend aleppo as government forces make a break through north of the city. ♪ good to have your company. i'm david foster. you are watching al jazeera live from london. also in this program, three palestinians were shot dead as a policewoman is killed in a gun attack in jerusalem. suspicious cargo, why japan is putting its military on alert over a north korean satellite launch. hours before a powerful gradal