tv BBC World News America PBS November 12, 2014 2:30pm-3:01pm PST
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we put our extended global wide rangework for a of companies, from small businesses to major corporations. what can we do for you? >> and now, "bbc world news america." ♪ >> this is "bbc world news america." reporting from washington, i am jane o'brien. in space, a team of european scientists celebrate. here is the view. after four years of civil war, much of syria has been reduced to rubble. it's a battle that rages in the country. >> early on in the war there were plenty of productions -- predictions that the syrian army would collapse. that has not happened.
the soldiers' morale seems pretty strong and they are still fighting. >> as the death toll from ebola tops 5000, u.s. lawmakers are briefed on the response. we speak to a key senator. welcome to our viewers on public television in america and around the globe. it's not everyday we get to start this broadcast with good news, but today there certainly was cause for celebration. right now i european space probe is sitting on the surface of a speeding comet 300 million miles from earth. it is being hailed as one of the greatest successes in the history of space exploration. bbc's science editor david shukman reports. the news raced across space
to waiting scientists who could not restrain themselves. professor monica grady has worked on this for 25 years. she was overwhelmed. in mission control, they could not quite believe it. radio signals telling them the lander had touched down on the comet. it was too much. emotion just came over you. >> i'm so happy. it's just wonderful! it's unbelievable. image shows the mothership. another remarkable shot captures the lander actually descending, it's three spindly legs ready for an unknown surface. and then a view from the lander itself, from two miles above the comments, closer than any craft had ever been before. the landing had been imagined in computer simulations. something like this has actually happened. >> after this extraordinary
moment, it has taken years of planning and clever engineering and quite a bit of luck. they achieved something that until now could only have been tripped up in science fiction -- dreamed of in science fiction. the rosetta spacecraft was launched on a journey that gave enough speed to catch up with the comet traveling 34,000 miles an hour. the first blurred pictures revealed a very strange world. as the spacecraft approached, the images became sharper. boulders emerged, an alien landscape never seen before. this animation shows how the lander is investigating the comet. already data from its instruments is flowing back, a real chance to find out more about our own origins. mets may have brought water to the early earth, vital for getting life started. this mission is searching for evidence. >> there's a possibility that
these comments were a mechanism to deliver water to earth. some say the earth was to try in the early solar system. something must have delivered water back to the earth than. >> thousands of cross europe have -- people across europe have stake in this mission. [indiscernible] it is emerged tonight that the landing was not perfect. harpoons meant to grip the surface did not fire. there is very little gravity to keep the lander down. a new image of a hostile landscape, the tiny machine is down there working, but isn't safe. even so, just getting there is one of the greatest achievements in space. >> david shukman there. for more up-to-date's
accomplishments, i spoke with dense and abel, the chair of the physical sciences at the american museum of natural history in new york. this is quite extraordinary and doesn't get old how -- old hearing how extraordinary it is. regardless of the status of the lander, it is a success. it's maybe not 100%, but 50%, i will take it. >> you can only imagine just how gripping this was for the people there. the emotion, 10 years in the waiting. >> i can hear it, and i know some of these people. they are ecstatic and i know how ecstatic they are because i have seen them happy before, but not this happy ever. it is great for science and great for humanity. >> what will it actually tell us? >> there are so many instruments on the land and on the spacecraft.
the spacecraft has been doing science and will be doing wonderful things going forward. on the lander, the combination of the two will tell us about the interior of this comet. it will tell us about the interior structure, how the mass is distributed using radar. that should be possible regardless of some of -- maybe if the lander is tipped a little bit. gram on mass of one this body, even though it's mass on earth would be 100 kilograms. that tells you a little bit about the war he -- worry of it not being well attached. >> despite the problems, do you think it will be able to answer those big questions like how water arrived on earth? >> i think its isotope analysis instruments, mass spectrometer's should be able to do much of the job. i'm in the dark as much as my colleagues in europe because we still need to know a lot more than we do. i think there may be information
that has not been crunched yet. it is still early days. >> does this have the ability to turn what we know about how the universe started, how our own planet evolves on its head? could change a lot about how we think of our solar system. the universe is a big place. how we even delivered water to the terrestrial planets, to the earth, to mars -- there was a paper in "science" magazine two weeks ago by using a mineral from the moon, from lunar rocks, to make the case that the earth was created with a lot of water. these controversies continue, and the evidence from this solidn could put a real piece of evidence on one side or the other. abel, terrific stuff. thank you for joining us. >> it has been a pleasure. and congratulations, europe. >> denton abel there.
now to syria, where after four years of civil war, much of the country has been torn apart with battle still raging between .ebel groups in days bbc featuring special coverage on syria's war. >> at times, shellfire used to shake damascus. the army has pushed the rebels further from the city center. its fourth year has changed everything, but damascus functions. president assad is stronger than any of his enemies expected. his forces are still stretched. front lines and foxholes across syria, enough soldiers
believe the president shares their reasons to fight and perhaps die for their homes, families, and country. i have got to keep my voice down because the rebel positions are only about 10 meters away and i don't want to provoke anything. early on in the war, there were plenty of predictions that the syrian army would collapse. that hasn't happened. the soldiers' morale seems pretty strong, and they are still fighting. splitsont line [indiscernible] and damascus in two. through the gun sights, you can see what is left. there,fore we arrived and attack hit the rebel side. army commanders said they knew nothing about it. killed whens were their playground was shelled.
parents had helped start the school, the only chance their children had for education. this boy was calling for his mother and father. in the summer, we managed to cross the lines into rebel-held [indiscernible] school.to the it seemed to be a small miracle. but nothing is immune from the cruelty of the war. this teacher witnessed the attack. she did not want to be identified in case of trouble from the regime. >> it is the president's responsibility to keep children out of this war. it is ok for him to fight the terrorists, but children don't
deserve this. they don't have weapons. he needs to stop shelling the schools. but both sides need to stop attacking the children. they have nothing to do with this war. adults started the fighting and they can carry on fighting, but they can't use our children to further their aims. the question of responsibility for the people suffering divides syrians. themmed, a supporter of president, believes syria's choice is simple. assad or the jihadists. he showed me the basement where he was held for 22 days with his family and 60 neighbors after al qaeda followers took his town a year ago. he says each day they were terrified of murder and rape. problems broke out as a consequence of the so-called
arab spring, that was used to fool people, including in our own country. during these 22 days, even though i'm 40 years old, i feel like i aged 400 years. here in damascus and elsewhere, the president's opponents say he has created a stark choice between the regime and the jihadists by targeting moderates and leaving the jihadists alone. end is nowhere in sight. jeremy bowen, bbc news, damascus. >> the war in syria has changed in aleppo, too. for a long time, the rebel stronghold. our chief international correspondent spent the last few days there. aleppo, one of the world's
oldest inhabited cities. one of its newest wars. large swathes of this city are now in government hands. the east is held by the rebels. ancient quarter, a world heritage site, is a battleground. the syrian army took us through its narrow alleys. snipers from warring sides lay in wait. the army is gaining ground against rebels now fighting is much amongst themselves as against the regime. thatare now predicting those areas still had by the rebels could soon fall to president assad's forces. his troops are now besieging those areas using the same tactic, surrender or starve, that has been used time and again in this war. 300,000 civilians are trapped inside trade that means even
more suffering. but that's the story of syria's war. every major battle is also a grave humanitarian crisis. hundreds of thousands have already fled into safer areas of aleppo. at the university, student halls are a neighborhood for the dispossessed. the woman does her best to live the children's spirits. she has been in here for the past two years, a young teacher trapped in the darkest of times and smallest of homes. [indiscernible] >> i miss my home. i want to walk in the street
like another day before. i can't now. everything is bad. >> so many have lost so much. now rebel fighters backed by the west are on the brink of losing aleppo. if it falls, so does an icon of their uprising and their hope of changing syria. bbc news, aleppo. fredr more, i spoke with hoff, who previously served in the u.s. state department as a special advisor on syria and is now at the atlantic security council center for the middle east. thank you for joining me. you were a special advisor to the administrator on transition in syria. >> yes. >> four years on with this awful conflict raging, do you see any possibility for transition today? >> i do not. i think the prospects of a political process and
negotiating transition are not very good. it is mainly because of a key interlocutor, the president of syria, is not really engaging in one. he thinks he's winning militarily. >> do you think the battle against islamic state has an effect -- in effect sidelined that push to oust president assad? >> i don't know how much of a push there was in the first ,lace to oust president assad if we are talking about the united states and its key allies, but it has certainly put the discussion of what to do about the syrian regime on the back burner. frankly, it's a missing elements of u.s. strategy to deal with isil. >> it would seem it's more than that at the moment. although president obama insists that fighting the islamic state ,sn't intended to help assad
there's a lot of speculation now that it is in fact doing just that. >> it may be helping him in the sense that from the beginning, bashar al-assad's strategy has been to present himself, his family and his regime as a bulwark against terrorism. now we have a situation where the united states has assembled a coalition which is obviously focusing on isil militarily. i'm sure that what assad is telling his people is, the strategy is working. at the end of the day, the west will come back to me. >> john kerry is saying that there is no military solution to without a peaceful political solution in sight, do you think he's still right in that assessment? >> john kerry also said soon after he became secretary of state that there -- that the key to there being a political process for syria is changing
the calculation of president assad. i think kerry was absolutely right and assad's calculation is based on his appraisal of the military situation on the ground . whether or not one believes there is a military solution to fact, it is nevertheless a that political and diplomatic reality follows very, very closely in the wake of military reality on the ground. i know of no instances where there has been a total disconnect between those two things. >> the military reality looking pretty grim. fred hoff, thank you very much. >> pleasure to be with you. >> you are watching "bbc world news america." still to come, is enough being done to contain the ebola outbreak in west africa? we asked a u.s. senator about the efforts underway. in india, one woman has died and 15 others are in hospital after being sterilized at the
government run medical camp in chhattisgarh. reports. >> it has been hard to get the four-year-old to stop crying. the person who comforted her is no more. she was one of the women who died after a surgery. husband tells me he is devastated and he doesn't know how he's going to care for his three young children now. a hospital not far away, a woman who is hoping she can go back home to her family soon. she is 26. she had a third child just two months ago and so she decided to have the operation. the surgery took five minutes. i took some tablets that were given to me and a few hours later i started to vomit.
>> rita and other women were operated on in this abandoned hospital, which is used only for government health camps. the caretaker of this building has told me they have laid out dozens of mattresses all over the floor along the corridor here and that is where the women were lying before and after their surgeries, which were all conducted in the operating theater over there. right after they were operated on, this is where the women were brought out. they weren't even in proper rooms. locals say a single doctor, along with his assistant, conducted all the surgeries here in just a few hours. mass sterilization camps are held frequently across india. most of these women have undergone the operation. those who haven't are now simply too scared. bbc news.
>> nato's top commander says russia has been sending more troops and military equipment over the border into eastern ukraine. speaking in the bulgarian capital, general philip breedlove said the movements have been observed over the last few days. moscow has dismissed the reports. today the world health organization reported that more than 5000 people have died in the ebola outbreak that is ravaging west africa. it comes as u.s. health officials testified before lawmakers about the response to the virus. among those in the hearing was chaircoons, who is also of the foreign relations africa subcommittee. he joined us from capitol hill. thank you very much for joining me. billions of dollars are being requested in emergency aid. from what you have heard today, it is not going to be enough to stop ebola at its source in west africa. >> the $6 billion emergency
funding request being considered today by the senate appropriations committee would provide critically needed resources, both for making sure the united states is secure from any potential outbreak of ebola here, but more importantly to make sure that we continue to sustain and fund the vital work on the ground in africa that is essential to making sure that this outbreak of ebola is contained and brought to an end. the resources being discussed, about three quarters of it would be immediately deployed into the work to fight evil and a quarter would be held back as a contingency fund in case there was some development. >> organizations on the ground say almost more important than money is time. are these funds going to reach them quickly enough? >> that's my hope. that was one of the topics discussed in the hearing, they are using expedited procurement procedures, using existing contracts that entities already
have with our department of defense or with usaid to try and speed up the delivery of personal protective equipment, construction of treatment units, delivery of training to aid workers. they will be trying to speed these funds to the ground as quickly as possible. >> you have also spoken to the leaders in some of these countries. what are they telling you that they need? >> they are saying that they need stronger public health systems investment to make sure they have got the resources not just to fight ebola right now, but to recover their public health system. i spoke to [indiscernible] recently you asked me to thank the world and the united states, insisting we not step back or slow down now, to make sure we continue to support health workers who are coming from around the world and make it clear that they won't face a travel ban that would prevent
them from returning home to their home countries. she also asked that we make sure we invest in the regional public health systems that will prevent a renewed outbreak in any of the countries around the three that are most immediately affected. done tocan actually be help these countries better cope with another outbreak? >> first, a stronger early warning system so that we have got the laboratories, the public health infrastructure and network, and those out in the field gathering information to make sure that we know about an outbreak when it begins. if we had managed to get on top of this outbreak in the early stages, we could have saved thousands of lives. >> thank you very much for joining me. >> thank you. >> in a reminder of our top story, a european spacecraft made history today by successfully landing on the surface of a speeding comet. it took a decade to get the probe in position.
there were cheers of excitement, and in the first pictures were sent back to earth. that brings today's show to a close. for all of us here at "bbc world news america," thank you for watching and please tune in tomorrow. ♪ >> make sense of international news. program hasor this been made possible by the freeman foundation, newman's own foundation, giving all profits to charity and pursuing the common good read -- good. and union bank. years, we believed a commercial bank owes its clients strength, stability, security.
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: in a surprise deal the world's largest economies take on climate change, as the u.s. and china pledge to cap carbon emissions. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this wednesday, a historic landing on the surface of a comet. after a four-billion mile chase across the solar system. >> ifill: the supreme court hears arguments about plans to redraw voting districts in alabama that challengers say are racially motivated. >> ifill: plus, we take americans' questions about the affordable care act. >> my question is what is the penalty, the financial penalty going to be