tv BBC World News America PBS June 24, 2011 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT
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>> this is "bbc world news america," reported from washington. protesters in syria rally against the government, more people are killed but nothing seems to stop this crackdown. out to topple gaddafi, rebel leaders say they are in touch with the opposition in tripoli. can this underground network to make a difference? coming down the track, 150 years ago, america's trans-atlantic road was built by chinese labor. now china is firmly in the driver's seat. >> who is designing paying for more high-tech reeling at the moment is a chinese. -- railing at the moment is the chinese.
>> welcome to our viewers on pbs in america. it is friday and in many places around the world, that means the time to rest at the end of a long week. in syria, it means more deadly crashes. 15 people have been killed in the demonstrations. the authorities blamed unidentified gunmen. protesters blamed security forces. europe has responded with more sanctions but it is not clear if they will have much impact. due to the difficulty of the reporting from damascus, we apologize for the audio quality. >> 100 days since the uprising started, protesters are continuing with their calls for change. despite violence and killing, they have brought out big numbers. protests have spread across the country, in the north, and the center.
these two cities have had clashes with the government and loyalists in the past days. >> this is also an deraa, the first place is the protests. forces are reported to have fired on protesters as they were leaving the mosque. . one protester was killed. his mother is mourning his loss. they are out in big numbers. they are calling for change. >> for those on the ground, the call for change does not include this regime but rather calls to overthrow it. >> joining me now to discuss the
ongoing crackdown is the former american ambassador to syria. thank you for coming in. you understand the family, what is motivating the president at the moment? >> they are fighting for their survival. this is a terrible regime, it has been in power for over 40 years and have a lot to account for. this is the most serious threat that they have faced since the uprising in 1982. if they show any weakness, if these demonstrators and their supporters get the upper hand, it might not just be political oblivion but worse. >> you understand bashar al- assad, is anything to convince him to make political reforms or step out of the way? >> he is facing a very difficult
situation, to say the least. he has no credibility with the bulk of his people, although he has some support. he has an economy that is collapsing around him because he cannot attract foreign investment. tourism is very important. obviously, nobody is coming. agriculture is very important to syria and they have had a terrible drought since 2006. he depends on patronage to keep the support of those around him. he allows corruption. >> if the economy is collapsing, how will he carry on pain those people, for example the security forces? >> they will be the last one to feel any pinch or pain. he asked to pay his elite forces. he must pay the people who keep him in power. at the same time, he can expect to lose the future of the business each week in damascus and the second city of aleppo
because part of their support is based on stability and an improving economy. >> is there anything that makes you think that this has the potential for a positive outcome and syria? can you see any way? perhaps this economic collapse which forces him out. >> unfortunately, i think that bashar al-assad and those around him and many of his community see this as an existential struggle. when you feel that your back is against the wall and if you allow your opponent to get the upper hand, you are going to not just be forced into exile that may be imprisoned, maybe even executed. he will fight. if he does not go down fighting, at least his brother and his brother-in-law will. >> thank you very much for coming. >> thank you for having me.
>> in libya, rebels in the eastern part of the country are in close contact with the underground of the rebels in tripoli. that is the claim of rebel leaders who have been speaking to the bbc. the news comes as u.s. officials say they have evidence that colonel gaddafi no longer feel safe in his capital. our diplomatic correspondent reports from benghazi. >> all ordinary life is on hold in the city, even for the children. the schools are closed, so instead they march and wait for the fall of gaddafi. the question is, how will he fall and with so much violence. in the streets and in the coffee shops, people are wondering what awaits them. the rebels have confirmed that they are in close touch with an underground network in tripoli.
this member of the muslim brotherhood is part of the rebel leadership. he is one of five? every night talks by skype and satellite phone to 100 people across the country to plan for if and when the gaddafi's regime collapses. >> we are 100% sure that an uprising will happen in tripoli. >> what would be the trigger? >> no one can know exactly the timing because this is a multi dimensional. all of the different groups have to hit them at one time. >> no sign of a military push here on the eastern front some 3 miles beyond this checkpoint. the fighters told us that they were impatient to get on with it. it is also the day after gaddafi falls that the rebels are worried about. benghazi paid with unwanted
distraction for its freedom. the barracks is now a twist of metal, a warning of what could happen in tripoli. the rebels planned to move ahead closer to the capital as soon as they can to appeal for calm and hope that the defacto president, a widely respected judge, can pull the country together. >> we are truly worried about security in tripoli. we hope that this will protect the city. >> there is a clandestine network spread its tentacles across tripoli. >> many people in the army and the security forces, they are with us. they are with gaddafi right now but at the moment, they will be with us. that is what we're hearing from many people in the army. >> it is not easy to check out a
secret underground network in tripoli. and the uprising in tripoli depends on the success of the military campaign. >> that campaign is coming under pressure here in washington where public opinion is swinging against the mission. in a largely symbolic vote, the house of representatives overwhelmingly rejected a measure giving president obama the authority to continue the u.s. operations against libya but they stopped short of cutting off funds. among those who voted against the measure was mike turner of ohio who joins us now from capitol hill. congressman, thank you for joining us. why did you vote to try to end the mission in libya? >> as you know, the president has not asked congress for approval. he is arguing that he has the
sole authority to commit u.s. forces to the operations in libya. congress would like their message stops their voices to be heard. he needs to come to congress and explain this operation. -- congress would like their message to be heard. also congress is not approve this operation. 2/3 rejected approval. >> to you voted to tell the president he could not continue the mission and to cut off funding. is this really a procedural matter and that was a problem that you had with the mission or did it reflect what you heard from your constituents which is a general wariness for war in the country? >> i believe that this president needs to come to congress for his authority. secondly, there is a great deal of concern as to what the mission is.
we are not certain who these rebels are. we don't know what their geopolitical opinion is to the u.s., to their neighbors. we don't know what their commitment is to domestic of first city lost to domestic diversity. the outcome has not even been discussed. -- we don't know what their commitment is to domestic diversity. >> i cannot imagine that you have much affection for colonel gaddafi. >> absolutely not. we know who we are opposed to. a u.s. admiral has stated once get off the falls, the ground troops will be necessary. what is the current planning for a post it off in libya? what is the u.s. and all that? what what our allies's involvement be? >> we have heard from the secretary of state that there does seem to be a growing opinion that gaddafi might actually be toppled from power.
if he's toppled from power, would you revise your opinion of the mission and that the mission was worth it? >> we can only judge that in terms of what happens upon his removal. we don't know at all what trajectory libya what -- would take or what resources would be needed to make its stable. is this rock, is this afghanistan? what would really be the long- term commitment from the u.s. and our nato allies? -- is this iraq, is this afghanistan? >> will you do more now to try to get the funding cut? >> there will be greater calls for limiting the military action in libya. this will be a continuing demand of this administration to come to congress, explain what he is doing, explain the mission, tell us what post it off the planning is going on and give us the information that we need. >> thank you very much for joining us.
a former rwanda government minister has become the first woman to be found guilty of genocide an international court. she was minister for the family when the crimes were committed. the international criminal tribunal told rwanda that she helped to plan the genocide and organize the rape of women and girls. her son was also convicted of genocide. there has been more misery in north dakota after a river set a new record of flooding there are rising so quickly that it could be seen lining up the side of homes in minutes. that is expected to go as much as six or 7 feet higher over the weekend. the american actor peter falk has died at the age of 83. he was best known for his role in "colombo," which he paid for more than 30 years. he lost his right eye to a tumor
at the age of three. his distinctive voice was known around the world. he was much loved. now to greece and the international markets. european union leaders warned athens that there is no alternatives, greece must cut spending and raise taxes. if they do not, they will not get any more money. what is the feeling in athens? >> the acropolis the ancient fortress and one of the country's most treasured assets. for millennia, a strategic vantage point to watch hostile forces approaching from abroad. today, athens finds itself under attack once again, teetering on the edge of financial catastrophe and the risk of taking much of the rest of the world with it. this is one of the busiest ports in europe. millions of tourists leave here for the greek islands. this port the government's stake
is now up for sale in one the biggest and most controversial privatization plans the country's ever seen. the sell-off, including other assets, the latest blow for national pride and for greece still reeling from recession, austerity package is. the sense of uncertainty and crisis runs through the whole greece. this is a married hotel worker who has not had a pay increase for three years. he relies on his wife's income as well. >> life is growing more expensive. we have to pay a lot more money for insurance. >> greeks often describe their country as a poor one full of rich people. paying income tax is a lifestyle choice rather than a legal obligation. >> there is a tremendous sense
of fairness for those who do pay taxes increase. that is because so many people don't pay taxes and get away with it. the government has to understand this. we're the home of democracy. >> how to increase end up in this mess. should it have gone to the eurozone in the first place? >> for a couple of years it would be better off. we hope the reforms will go on. >> one academic says that if the bill is passed, the omens are bad. >> it will make the debt crisis worsened. finally, the political illegitimacy of the class. the race between the people in the streets. this will render greece
ungovernable. >> none of the options seem powell pulled for greece and the eurozone to get a deal to try to defuse what could potentially be a looming financial hurricane. >> you are watching bbc world news america. still to come, capturing the conflict in libya. each photograph brings the battle into focus. england is busy celebrating the glastonbury music festival. this year, for the first time, you too will be performing. -- u2 will be performing. when this started, tickets would set you back a pound. now report on the changes and the criticisms that have followed. >> on the surface, it seems like
a classic glastonbury, tens of thousands of fans going through the mud and join a weekend full of music. -- in joining-- enjoying a weekend full of music. some have said the festival has become too big and corporate. organizers have scaled back their involvement with large companies. >> we never really liked it that much. the money is useful. we decided we did not even a more -- did not need it anymore. >> it began as a more modest festival with just a few acts and a smaller audience. most bands recognize that glastonbury now has to continue to bring in big headline acts to compete with other festivals. tonight's headliners, u2, , will
be playing over the planned protest over their tax arrangements. >> they are a global corporation. >> u2 denied they do anything outside of the law. they do not want the fields to lay fallow. >> it has been 150 years since america built the first transcontinental railway and now the country is setting its sights on the tracks once again. in the 1800's, it was chinese labor to cut the tunnels by hand for a pittance. this times, it is their mind and money that is leading the drive for high-speed rail.
we have a report on the changes under way. >> the railroad built america, across continental train's open up the west and spread wealth across the nation. these days, it is scenic but painfully slow and unreliable. few opt for the railway in a country where the car is the castle. president obama would like to change all that. the future is high-speed rail, he told the nation. this is what the first trans california line may look like. >> traveling at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour. >> the bids to build it are in. there is an ironic twist. a 150 years ago, it was high at here in the sierra nevada mountains where chinese laborers built the fabric of modern america. it was a grueling task.
thousands of men worked in all weather to carve out the country's tracks. in the trenton photographs, not a single time these days could be seen. -- in the triumphant photographs, not a single chinese face to be seen. >> they were not well liked. people did not want them around. they would run them out of towns. when they were working, the railroad really one of them. >> hidden by snow even in summer, this was their greatest achievement, the longest of the many tunnels hewn from solid rock. when it was dug out by hand, it was a chinese who were the only ones who would do it for the wages and the appalling conditions. who is designing, building, and paying more than anyone else at the moment? it is the chinese. san francisco has the biggest chinese community outside of
asia. china posturizing power and influence on things like new railway lines scare america. -- china's rising power and influence. >> what you had was american capital, american technology, and cheap labor. the way they're talking of building it now, it would be american labor lane the tracks but they're talking about making heavy investments in chinese technology. >> the fabric of america might seem to be fading but this country remains strong. china still has years of catching up to do. >> returning now to our top story in the continuing unrest across the arab world. most of muammar gaddafi's years in power, foreign journalists have been blocked from entering libya. now the story is being broadcast to the world. among those capturing those
images is photographers sebastian -- >> [singing] ♪ ♪ >> the point of a still image is that it is taken out of time. you have taken three dimensions and put it into two and a frozen moment in time. the power of the still image is those particular images that the audience can linger over and spend time over and really see in debt, what is going on. -- in depth, what is going on. you can see libya's 42 years of gaddafi. the press has never really been allowed in. then you realize, this is what
happens when your stories don't go out, they disappear off the map. people don't know what is going on there. the only conflict i had covered up to that point was embedded. i was with people who were trained and people he knew first date. this was totally different. these are people that have less military training and i did. i don't have any military training. they were doctors, lawyers, students, gas station attendants. they would run at gaddafi's forces with whatever they had. gaddafi would fire artillery back and there would be air strikes. you would be walking in the road and there would be bombs. i have this picture. this is unbelievable. this was a couple hundred yards away. >> [explosion] >> i went to misrata and the
most right now i've ever been in my life when i went out with the ambulance crew. -- the most frightened at ever been in my life was when i went out with the ambulance crew. >> gunfire] >> a bomb exploded next to us. it sat there. i really don't want to die. i really really don't want to die. everyone said someone else will do it if i don't. what does my vote count? it does count because everybody does it. if i did not do it, and i cannot count on everyone else stepping up. >> that brings us to the end of our program. from all of us here at world news america, thank you for watching.
>> 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. >> union bank has put its global financial strength to work for a wide range of companies. what can we do for you?