this is bbc news. i'm nkem ifejika. our top stories: international inspectors finally gain access to the syrian town of douma, two weeks after a suspected chemical weapons attack. political crisis in armenia, after spearheading days of mass anti—government protests, the country's opposition leader agrees to talk. goodbye to a matriarch, as the former first lady of america, barbara bush, is laid to rest in texas. star—studded evening. queen elizabeth celebrates her 92nd birthday with a concert featuring music from each decade of her reign. hello and welcome to bbc news. two weeks after the suspected
chemical attack in syria, international experts have finally carried out an inspection in the former rebel—held town of douma. the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons said its inspectors had gathered samples, which would be examined in specially—designated laboratories. andrew plant reports. it is now two weeks since these scenes played out on screens around the world. released by the syrian opposition, a video appearing to show the aftermath of a chemical attack. the allegation that chlorine had been used was met with international condemnation. a team of expert from the opcw arrived in damascus earlier this week. their attempts to reach the site in douma were thwarted when their security team came under fire, leading to a three—day delay. experts say that if chlorine was used, that timescale could now make it hard to detect. if that was a chlorine bomb attack,
it is much harder to have any evidence at this point in time, two weeks after. chlorine evaporates very quickly, it does not remain in bodies, it does not remain in soil so it would be very difficult to find conclusive proof that it was a chlorine attack. america's defence secretary has accused the syrian government of orchestrating the delays while it cleaned up the area. it is now one week since the us, uk and france launched air strikes in syria against, they said, chemical weapon depots and production facilities. syria and its ally russia have denied that any chemical weapons attack took place. a team of experts will now send their samples for analysis to see what, if anything, can still be detected on the ground. talks about the political crisis in armenia are due to take place shortly in the capital, yerevan. the opposition leader, nikol pashinyan, who's spearheaded
days of anti—government protests, has said he will only be prepared to discuss the resignation of the prime minister, serzh sargsyan. unrest has gripped the republic in the caucasus mountains after the former president stepped down to become prime minister. russell trott reports. anger on the streets of the armenian capital as police arrest protesters who brought the centre of yerevan to a standstill for the ninth consecutive day. then an appearance that few expected. flanked by bodyguards, the country's new president arrived to meet protest leaders and to call for dialogue to prevent what many here fear could become violent confrontation. shaking hands with nikol pashinyan, the man who has led the opposition demonstrations, the president reiterated his warning that there would be no winners or losers for a country that some say has struggled to modernise and is overly dependent on russia. real political power lies with this
man, serzh sargsyan, who has led the country for ten years. he stepped down as president recently at the same time as the constitution was changed to vest supreme power in his new prime ministerial role. opposition supporters have criticised him over poverty, corruption and the influence of powerful oligarchs. his supporters say he has provided much—needed national security amid continuing tensions with turkey and azerbaijan. some here are calling for a peaceful velvet revolution, similar to what took place in other states after the collapse of the soviet union. but with over 300 arrested over the last two days alone, the concern is that things could still get out of control. tens of thousands of hungarians have protested in budapest against government control of the media. it's the second consecutive saturday of mass demonstrations against the government of the recently re—elected prime minister viktor orban.
he has dismissed the protests as irrelevant. bill hayton reports. the protests filled the streets of central budapest and the message was clear. these people want an end to the prime minister's policies. he was re—elected only two weeks ago and with a two—thirds majority in parliament. the opposition is divided and weak, something these protesters want to change. translation: we would like the opposition parties to launch one candidate against the one candidate of the fidesz party.. they should not fight against each other but provide and alternative. the demonstrators accuse the government of using the media to whip up eight against migrants in order to win the election. they want a non—partisan public media outside government control. translation: we have to learn from the failure of viktor orban. hungary cannot be divided.
our mission is to reunify hungary. the protest was dismissed as irrelevant by mr orban. he is promising new laws to penalise human rights and opposition groups. they will be discussed after the new parliament meets for the first time in two weeks and on that day, there will be another protest in the streets outside. bill hayton, bbc news. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news. the indian government has approved the introduction of the death penalty for anyone convicted of raping a child under the age of 12. it was cleared at a special cabinet meeting chaired by the prime minister, narendra modi. the decision follows a series of high profile child rape cases. there have been widespread protests with much of the anger directed at the governing party, the bjp. three people have died and at least 50 others have been injured in an explosion at a hospital in central chile. the city's mayor told local media there had been a gas leak
at the facility before the explosion — and a gas company had ordered an evacuation. the blast happened as doctors and patients were returning to the building. the president of nicaragua, daniel ortega, has said his government is willing to review the pension reforms, which have led to street violence since they were approved on wednesday. at least ten people have died and dozens of others have been injured in clashes between protesters and police. mr ortega appealed for peace and invited the opposition and the private sector for talks. the funeral of barbara bush was held on saturday. around 1,500 mourners gathered in texas to say goodbye to the former first lady. chris buckler reports. in the houston church she attended for most of her life, four living presidents gathered with others to pay tribute to barbara bush. among those former heads of state were both her widower and her son.
she was described as the rock of undoubtedly what is a political dynasty, but, at its heart, was and is a deeply loving family. my dad is a phenomenal letter writer, and he would write mum on their wedding anniversaries, which totalled an amazing 73 years. this was written onjanuary 6, 1994. "will you marry me? ooops, i forgot we did that 49 years ago. i was very happy on that day in 1945, but i am even happier today. you have given mejoy that few men know. you have made our boys into men by bawling them out, and then, right away, by loving them. you have helped our daughter be the best daughter in the whole wide world. i have climbed, perhaps, the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being barbara's husband." during their many decades together, they were seen to support each other, but barbara bush was never
afraid of making her own political opinions known. as first lady, she campaigned for literacy and pushed her own liberal views, sometimes bringing her into conflict with others in the republican party. but she believed that she and her family could make a difference and was back on the campaign trailjust two years ago, when her sonjeb ran to be the republican nominee for president. she was smart, strong, fun, and feisty. at times her considerable wit could be biting, but warmth, along with humour, was central in the many stories told about her in this funeral service. she corresponded for several years with a young girl who named her heifer after barbara. the child sent frequent updates on the bovine barbara bush, which competed in the houston rodeo and livestock show one year
and finished in eighth place. "i was sorry for my little friend," barbara said later, "but i was slightly relieved because i wasn't sure i could have stood the headlines, ‘barbara bush wins the fat stock show‘." the current first lady, melania trump, was among those in attendance. although her husband, the current president, was absent. he said he wasn't attending to avoid extra security being needed at the church. although the bush family have had a difficult relationship with donald trump, as the often feisty barbara bush may have been the first to acknowledge. her sonjeb said he had imagined his mother telling him to keep the service short and not to get weepy. but that proved impossible for many of the family she was so devoted to. chris buckler, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news,
still to come: reaction from hollywood, where the actor verne troyer has died at the age of 49. the stars and stripes at half—mast outside columbine high, the school sealed off and the bodies of the dead still inside. i never thought that they would actually go through with it. some places and have already had nearly as much rain as they'd normally expect in an entire year. for millions of americans, the death of richard nixon in a new york hospital has meant conflicting emotions. a national day of mourning next wednesday sitting somehow uneasily with the abiding memories of the shame of watergate.
and lift—off of the space shuttle discovery with the hubble space telescope, our window on the universe. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: international inspectors have finally been able to collect samples from douma in syria where it's alleged chemical weapons were used two weeks ago. let's stay with that story now. a little earlier i spoke with british—born syrian journalist, danny makki, who hasjust returned from spending two months in damascus. they have been there for up to one week and there have been reports since the initiation of this entire chemical weapons incident that the syrian government would allow them in and there had been statements by the syrian representative to the un,
stating that they would be given full access immediately within syria. there have been there for one week before they have had access to the site. they tried to go yesterday and apparently they were fired upon in what was a pre—rehearsal to today. they finally managed to get to the site today. the hindrance of this access has raised many questions as to the political games that are being played by the syrians and most of all, the russians, who have a larger presence within the city than the syrians. there are russian military police checkpoints around douma and russian military police inside douma in force. as per agreement, there is no syrian army in there. there is a written agreement preventing the syrian army from the area officially, which is why the presence of the russians is so strong. they have access to these sites. why would they be doing this? you can't really hide the use of chemical weapons, can you?
to an extent... the chemical weapons attack, the suspected attack was either sarin gas or chlorine gas. sarin is a liquid and chlorine is a gas. if sarin was used, the effects would stay for a number of months. however, chlorine, as a gas, it would be possible to tamper with the scene somewhat. it would erode throughout the days and some remains will stay. more importantly is the actual civilian casualties who were buried, those killed in the attack. you can get a sample from them, right? they are a crucial piece of evidence and they are buried in a site unknown to the syrian government and the russians but it is now known to the opcw inspectors after the precise location they were told by activists and people who were there. the evidence in that site is of crucial importance. as you saw in the statement from the opcw today,
stating that they wanted to return. i think that's in reference to perhaps visiting the site. the issues that arise are twofold. firstly the access they will be given by russians if they go back and, secondly, the revelation of such a location, is there a moral aspect to tell the russians and the syrians of the presence of such a graveyard. is this something that the activists do? do they know that this kind of site could be crucial and so they hide it from the syrian government and from the russians? perhaps that may be a ploy which they have used. it is something that they have definitely done in the past in different areas, hiding evidence. what we now have is a problem because if they want to return to the site, they can only do so with russian and syrian presence. if they reveal the site then, immediately, it may raise questions about why they go back and may create another further crisis to add to this long wait.
restrictions have been placed on this team and they have managed to get some sort of samples but whether they will return will be clearer in the forthcoming days. the american actor verne troyer, who was best known for playing mini—me in the austin powers films, has died at the age of 49. the star was born with a genetic disorder, which restricted his height. his family said he struggled with alcoholism and depression for many years. earlier, i spoke to the entertainmentjournalist, jeannie wolf in los angeles. i asked her if his death had come as a shock to hollywood. for people who were not very close to him it was a surprise. now we discover he has been in hospital for quite sometime, almost on life support. it does seem that there is a feeling that perhaps he tried to take his own life. he suffered from alcoholism, he suffered from depression if you did not know him you would never know that.
he liked to make people laugh, he made fun of himself. spoke about the fact that he said that he was such a star when he goes out in public he wears a hat and sunglasses but it did not help him. "they recognise me anyway." a sense of humour. for some people, a certain generation of people, for whom he is character mini—me is iconic. that's right. and iconic character. and you need to give mike myers credit for coming up with an idea for a mini—me and having dr evil mirror himself with this tiny guy. a risky proposition. and verne told me that at the beginning he thought his role would be a lot smaller. but it was working and mike kept on adding things. it was cool for him to be in such a popular movie. you have people of a certain height such as gary coleman, they are few and far between... peter dinklage.
i would say that verne was... the person who lay the path for people like peter dinklage. he was very proud of that. he said he did not want to always play an elf or the tiny thing that little people always had. so when he got the part of mini—me in such a big movie he said he could show people that it was possible for someone like him, someone like verne who never thought he could do anything. who like to make people laugh, he liked to be an inspiration and in 2009 terry gilliam cast him in the imaginarium of doctor parnassus, a movie that was supposed to star heath ledger. and he was proud that in that film he was cast in a dramatic part instead of the funny part.
as often happens in hollywood, these very talented people still struggle with daemons. you can imagine. when you are bored you can imagine as a kid you must have been called a freak or treated badly. he had two normal siblings and his parents tried to treat him as normally as possible. had you still know your possibilities are limited. it was hard on him and people close to him saw that he knew his deep depression. he tried to be public with his struggles with alcohol but, you know, his addiction finally did he mean. used to drive around town in a specially fitted car and he would stop at the gas station, talk to people and he liked to mock complain. about how he was always asked to sign autographs and... but he was proud and he knew how symbolic his rise was. an estimated 40,000 runners will be
taking part in the london marathon in a few hours' time. many will be trying to break world records, running in quirky costumes or raising money for charity. but one runner will be achieving a rather different goal. kathrine switzer was the first woman to challenge a ban on female runners in the boston marathon in 1967. now, at the age of 71, she'll be running the london marathon for the first time. the simple act of putting one foot in front of another is absolutely transformational. a woman who runs suddenly has a sense of self—esteem and confidence and belief in herself that she may never have had before.
what's happening in women's running is nothing less than a social revolution. when i stood on the starting line at the boston marathon 50 yea rs starting line at the boston marathon 50 years ago i was the only woman wearing a year. last year, 50 years later, when i stood on that starting line there were 12,000 women with a bid. here at the virgin money london marathon, 181,001st—time is registered for the race, and of those, more were women and men. —— 180,000 first—times. it is going to be so exciting running through the same streets where those suffragette walked in protest at and got the vote for us. because running is about equality. it is not about men versus women who is the fastest, really. it is about us sharing the road together. to me, getting the women's marathon,
for instance, included indian pecans in 1984, was as important as giving women the right to vote. —— included in the loopy games. because the vote was about social except as but the marathon was about physical acceptance. —— social acceptance. 1967, it was widely believed that if a woman did anything arduous or extremely difficult or sweated in public she was suspect. you know? she was going to grow hair on her chest and get big legs and her uterus was going to fall out. but running was so beautiful and wonderfulfunny i running was so beautiful and wonderful funny i thought that was nonsense, which of course was and is. -- it nonsense, which of course was and is. —— it was. the race on sunday is going to be one of the best days of your whole life. you go through a lifetime when you run a mass on. you life. you go through a lifetime when you run a mass on. you take this forward and you realise, in every
aspect of your life you can be transferred just as surely as running has for view on the day. —— transformed. what a lovely story. from one icon to another. queen elizabeth celebrated her 92nd birthday on saturday, culminating in a concert at the royal albert hall in london. organised by the royal commonwealth society, there was a broad range of music from across the decades and across the world. andy moore reports. # it's not unusual to go out at any time. sir tom jones kicked off the show, backed by the sound of traditional indian drummers. # it's not unusual, it happens every day. zoe ball presented a night she described as the biggest party of the year. like any one of us on our birthday, the queen has booked the local hall. it is, of course, the stunning and historic royal albert hall. the performers came
from across the commonwealth. kylie minogue from australia, shawn mendes from canada and from jamaica, shaggy. there has been a really broad range of music at tonight's concert. not everything may have been to her majesty's taste but there have also been some her favourites. the queen is said to know the lyrics of all the george formby songs. a ukelele orchestra supported by some celebrity players paid tribute to him. prince harry was there with meghan markle. the wedding is over a month away. he spoke briefly. your majesty, if you don't mind me saying, you are not someone who it's easy to buy gifts for.
many members of the royal family were at the event, along with the british prime minister and commonwealth heads of government. surrounded by performers, the queen came on stage at the end to a short rousing tribute from prince charles. would you all give her majesty three unbelievably rousing cheers on her birthday? hip, hip, hip... hooray! the queen is spending the day after her 92nd birthday at windsor castle, where she will officially start the london marathon 26 miles away in east london via satellite link. andy moore, bbc news. there is that way if we have all grown to love. —— country mac. —— that wave. good morning.
well, after the heat of saturday, some spectacular storms through the night across parts of england and wales. they ease out the way though to start sunday. and sunday, still a few showers through the day, particularly in the west, that fresher weather is behind this weather front, tracking from west to east throughout the day. introducing atlantic air, sweeping away the warmth we've had and dropping temperatures as that fresher air pushes its way in. we will start the day with some warmer air across parts of eastern england for the start of the day. once the overnight showers clear, temperatures rising quickly. in the west we already have that weather front to begin the day across parts of western scotland and northern ireland, bringing outbreaks of rain, the odd spot or rain,
the odd rumble thunder offjust off the east coast of scotland. thicker cloud bringing some showers just to the western fringes of england and wales. but the sun is out towards south—east, east anglia and across estern england, so once the early showers have cleared, it is looking fine for the london marathon, for spectators at least. but probably a bit too warm for the runners, 21, 22 celsius possible. maybe a refreshing shower later. that's all tied in with our weather front, working its way eastwards. it brightens up in scotland and northern ireland eventually. some sunshine. brightening more quickly across parts of england and wales. but we could see the warmth across the south—east spark off some heavy showers later on, there could be a rumble of thunder across east anglia too. so 23 or 24 in london and norwich, 13 in belfast. we finish the day here with sunshine and showers. showers continue through the night in the northern half of the country. clearer skies developing further south. a much fresher night than we've had over the past few days, all parts of the uk temperatures dropping back down into single figures to start your monday morning. that's a sign for next week, it's back to normal.
we're back to factory set for the weather, because it's spring and it will feel like it once again. a cool start to your monday. not a good deeal of sunshine around in central and eastern areas. it will be fine day for many, the cloud will increase. in the west, the cloud will be thicker. spreads into western scotland. then it turns damp, grey and drizzly towards the hills and coasts of the south—west. temperatures where they should be for this time of year. 17 possible in the south—east corner. the south holds onto cloud and patchy rain and drizzle at times on tuesday. some brighter skies, particularly during the middle part of the day. further north, a lot more sunshine around. but more of a breeze and here, a scattering of showers. this is bbc news. the headlines: two weeks after the suspected chemical attack in syria, international experts have finally carried out an inspection in the former rebel—held town of douma. the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons said its inspectors had gathered samples, which would now be carefully examined. the organiser of anti—government protests in armenia has said he'll hold talks on sunday morning with the country's long—standing leader, prime minister
serzh sargsyan. nikol pashinyan has been leading calls for his resignation, saying that is the only matter he is prepared to discuss. the funeral of the former us first lady, barbara bush, has taken place in texas. she died on tuesday at the age of 92. barbara bush was the wife of george h w bush and the mother of george w bush. former presidents bill clinton and barack obama attended the service. donald trump did not. now on bbc news — politics europe.