tv BBC World News America PBS February 7, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm EST
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>> and now, "bbc world news america." >> this is "bbc world news america" reporting from washington. a hero's welcome in damascus, the russian foreign minister claims diplomatic progress but the assault on homs stretches for a fourth day. here we go again, a greek tanker over new austerity measures bills into the streets of athens. one man is taking adventure to new extremes by planning to make the highest jump in history. welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe.
president assad of syria has told the russian foreign minister that he is totally committed to stopping the violence in his country but the continuing assault on homs tells a different story. more than 200 people, mainly civilians, are reportedly killed in the government shelling of the city. amidst this violence and the isolation by other states, assia's bid to broker diplomatic solution looks complicated to say the least. >> as the russian minister was flying into the mask is looking for a solution, and no sign of a respite for the people of homs. the government pledges to keep up its assault until they have defeated what they call the terrorists. -- as the russian foreign
minister was flying into damascus looking for a solution. he was said to be carrying concrete solutions. the russians want president assad to speed up reform that he has been preparing but what the opposition says is too little, too late. both sides seemed willing to look keen and positive. >> he is in support of stopping the violence wherever it comes from. >> of the regime's definition of stopping the violence includes crushing any armed resistance. countries which supported the resolution on not waiting for the russians to pull a rabbit from the hat. france joined britain and other european countries and the u.s. and pulling their but ambassadors out of damascus. the gulf countries did the same and they spelled syrian ambassadors. and turkey, syria's powerful neighbor to the north, scathing
remarks about the russian leadership. >> syria is a test of insincerity for the world. they are turning a blind eye to what is going on. those who turn a blind eye must suffer the consequences. this is a fiasco for the civilized world. >> turkey supporting the american idea of throwing more support behind the syrian opposition. will that mean backing fighters like these from the free syrian army? the regime has call them terrorists and has vowed to wipe them out. they say that they are trying to protect civilians. >> we are the free syrian army. the armies are outside on checkpoints and outside of the hospital. we are here to respond. >> if the russians have reached
some agreement with president assad behind-the-scenes or if they have failed, the results will be felt first and foremast hinder in -- first and foremost here in homs. >> we are in sight of the city and we spoke earlier about why the assault might be happening right now. this place was pretty much cut off that it was not under the huge bombardment. i think the regime has to change tactics. but one is military necessity. the free army is growing in strength every day. i was speaking to a man who is a full colonel who defected and he said that morale is crumbling with the army.
he does not give the regime much time while in his opinion the rebel forces are growing in strength. the other reason people believe is that they are vulnerable to international pressure and they don't feel any restraints as far as what the community might do. >> russia has come under intense international criticism for vetoing a u.n. resolution, what is moscow's role in this crisis? i'm joined by a fellow at the carnegie endowment for international peace. how critical is the russian role in what is happening in syria at the moment? >> the irony is that russia was probably more important before they embarked in this current path. that is true throughout the arab world. this is the last nail in the coffin of what used to be a pretty substantial role for moscow during the cold war.
really, now, they have lost legitimacy altogether. russia is on the wrong side of this issue in the perspective of the arab street. the arab league is opposite russia on this issue. this puts moscow in the cold. >> they might be on the wrong side of the issue but what about its influence inside of damascus? how much leverage does sergei lavrov have there? >> as soon as he lands and starts to talk about compromise, you know that the russians are talking to the opposition. the arms deal signed was expected to be executed more than a year from now. this will make a sought wonder, are they cutting another deal. -- this will make assad wonder. then when it goes to the other side of the seesaw, they don't have any leverage. >> after the u.n. vote, this might not be the whole story.
there might be cracks in the russian position. >> there are multiple audiences for moscow's language. this was intended to remind russia, the russian state is a legitimate and powerful. remember, protesters are terrorists. they are a legitimate and they are seeking to bring down the legitimate government. that is what has been going on in russia in the past several months. >> what does russia want from syria? what is the endgame? >> at this point, it is much more what russia wants to prevent. i don't think anyone can know what the outcome looks like, russia does not want nato intervention. this is preventing the u.s. and western europe from running the table and the world waiting with bated breath for barack obama and hillary clinton to declare a regime to be
legitimate or illegitimate. >> thank you very much for coming in. while the fighting continues in syria, in libya, 8 months of conflict left tens of thousands of people injured. the new government made it a priority to send the wounded abroad if they could not get the treatment they needed at home. the system has been massively abuse with thousands of people who never saw battle receiving foreign medical care. the bill stands at $800 million. be over, butr may not the ordeal of its wounded. this man tells his story. his cow was sprayed with bullets -- his car was sprayed with bullets, shatterinshatteris leg.
day after day, they come here to the committee decides who gets sent overseas. today, only one doctor has shown up and he is besieged by angry patients. they protest that only well- connected people have been chosen. >> this is my job. >> where is everybody else? >> i don't know. >> they need to know if they can get treatment or not. >> thousands of libyans have been able to go abroad at the government's expense. the airport is a pretty busy place with more and more flights them which is giving the enormous demand for the beans wanting to travel overseas. they have been taking advantage of the medical treatment. as it turns out, only a small proportion of those were actually wounded in battle.
these passengers have come back from jordan. the hospitals have been filled to capacity with libyan patience. most of them are family who went to jordan with routine ailments. some are surprised to learn that they can get all of their costs covered. >> this will give us all of the requirements, money, hotels. this will help us. >> the new government has been forced to halt the scheme. this has been and in paris in an expensive blunder. do you know how much money has been spent on this? -- this has been in nursing -- embarassing and expensive. >> how much has this cost? >> $800 million. when you talk about the wounded, there are 10%-50% wounded.
>> after all of last year's card ships, libyans -- after all of last year's hardship, libyans of looking to rebuild their country. there has been a shaken confidence. >> the system of the fragile times in libya. a california appeals court has ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. the panel said proposition 8 was a violation of the civil-rights of gays and lesbians and now this will be referred to the u.s. supreme court. the match alton -- the metropolitan police have confessed that date failed in informing people that they might have had their phones hacked. thousands of people braved
driving rain to gather outside of parliament and protest against austerity measures which could get a lot worse. we learned that a draft agreement has been reached but talks have been pushed off until tomorrow. the markets remained tepid on the outcome. joining us to discuss the outcome is the senior editor at bloomberg business week. thank you for coming on. i cannot believe we are still having this conversation. >> i know. that is the shocking thing for people. here we are again staring into the abyss and i think the markets think that once again we will somehow get through this. >> to what extent are the market's watching what is happening on the streets of athens? >> you cannot help but be somewhat tattered because the
stakes are very high. if greece does not pass these measures and they don't get that package approved, then there could be a contagion and everyone knows that this recovery has been fragile. we have the federal reserve chairman reinforce that with his comments. we're not completely dependent on it but confidence is everything right now and it can be pretty tenuous. >> that is when we have seen this yo-yo effect when there might be a deal or not. to what extent are they watching the idea of economic growth in european countries? i know there has been a lot of discussion amongst policy makers about whether the focus should be on so much austerity or growth and unemployment issues. >> that is an excellent point. more and more people have said that the final issues have not been addressed. there is this north, south divide in terms of growth.
there is the common currency which keeps getting strange. there is the reality that the people of greece are entering their fifth year of recession and will only put up with some much. if you look at to the fundamentals, one package, one deal will not address that. >> the people who are proponents of the growth models, the spending cuts, markets seemed to side with only focusing on deficit reduction. >> ultimately, greece is such a small economy, at this point it is getting out and tax. we have seen a lot of the creditors give up their -- the stakes have raised for greece to exit the eurozone. it is the broader questions about europe. very rarely have you seen an economy cut its way to growth. that is part of the debate here
in the u.s.. the feeling that you have to spend to get this going. >> i have a sneaky feeling that you and i will be having this conversation for a while. thank you so much for joining me again on greece. now 2 northern nigeria where 400 children have been killed and many more at risk after what human-rights watch calls the world's worst lead poisoning epidemic. dangerous gold mining in the area is expanding while attempts to clean up villages have stalled. >> this is one of the poorest parts of nigeria that is mineral rich. many found out that they lived near gold. like many villages, they worked out how to mine and process it. this came with a heavy price, deadly dust was released as the
war was crushed. it was in held and ingested by the hundreds. -- steadily dust was released as it was crushed. >> i have six children, three have died. seven children so far have died in this compound. if you include mine, that would be 10. >> the lead was measured in the compound and it is 60 times greater than what is considered safe. 400 children have already died at. >> we have an entire generation of our youth. this is something that is clearly a very tragic, something that she not have happened.
>> the mortality rate among systematic children has dropped significantly. the government has helped to clean up seven villages. >> there has been some action from the government but the issue is that there are 2000 children who are in need of treatment right now. those children cannot be treated. their homes are cleaned up and they cannot be cleaned up until safer mining practices are implemented. gold exports are estimated to bring in half a billion dollars a year. it is easy to see why it is an irresistible draw to former subsistence farmers. human-rights groups are concerned the practices of money will be driven further underground. scientists have said that another seven villages are affected, all of that facing the same problem. in nigeria for crucial fighting
continues as many children face the possibility of brain damage or worse. >> you are watching "bbc world news america," still to come -- 50 years after u.s. slapped a trade embargo on cuba, we are in havana where the impact is everywhere you look. 200 years ago, one of the greatest novelists in the english language was born and today, the life and work of charles dickens was celebrated around the world. >> the words of his characters are instantly recognizable. his books have never gone out of print. charles dickens has become a literary superstar. his life began in a modest house
close to portsmouth's stockyard. today, the street was crowded with well-wishers in the first of a series of celebrations was traced his career. others follow the dickens trail and in area which cost and painful memories. on, it is possible to find pieces of the world that inspired charles dickens. he saw his father locked up here for debt and gained firsthand experience of what was to be disadvantaged. at another former home, now the dickens museum, a royal audience for one of those who brought dickens stories to a new generation. >> his description of characters and the state of being at that time in england was a part of our historical record.
>> charles dickens had 10 children. in westminster abbey, the largest ever gathering of his relations gathered. the public demanded that he be allowed to join other great literary figures in the abbey. the man who grew to enjoy the attention would have probably appreciated their efforts. >> it was 50 years ago today that the united states tightened its economic embargo on cuba to a near total blockade. they launched the longest trade barrier in history. the aid -- aim was to force the castro brothers from power.
50 years later, the situation is the same. >> owning a classic car in some people's dream. for this man, stopping his chevy a headache. the trade embargo has caused headaches for getting parts. this is a testament of the ingenuity. this is a reminder when american money flowed freely here. the trade blockade was meant to strangle the resolution -- the revolution, but it just made this place fopoorer. we don't have access to decent things, we have to pay high prices for them. the government says the embargo cost over $100 billion so far
and it is used to argue that the u.s. remains a threat and justifies all kinds of restrictions. bicycle taxis are common on the streets but they first began to appear here in the 1990's. it was the cheapest way of getting around. the soviet union has fallen apart and all the subsidies have disappeared. even then, cuba's struggle on seeking new markets and new allies. the loss of its most natural and nearest trade partner have hurt. the world's biggest economy will not buy the cigars. cuba sent 30 million cigars to a u.s. and those states. china and europe are now the destinations. >> some day, the american
government will realize that it is impossible to continue with this blockade against the cuban people. we will be ready to supply these to the american market. >> little has relaxed under president obama, but more american tourists are getting visas to visit. it is still difficult. >> i wish it was opened up like any other country, just free access back and forth. >> there is no sense that will happen soon. the people still live around the embargo between the two countries that has gone on for half a century. >> now to the adventures for those duffel not pay a fear of
heights. a man will jump from the edge of the earth's atmosphere. our science correspondent has all the details. >> this man will fall further than anyone has fallen before. later this year, felix baumgartner, who jumped 23 miles. he will fall so far that he might even break the sound barrier. he will be taken up to the edge of space by balloon inside the capsule. when he jumps, all that will protect him is a pressurized suits. this pressure chamber shows what happens at high altitude. air expands. that is why your ears can feel painful when you take off and land in an airplane. felix baumgartner will be
starting his space died at much higher altitudes than any pilot has dreamed to go, four times higher. let's see what happens at these extremely high altitudes. as these heights, water turns to paper. and the pressure suit fails, his lap -- his blood would begin to boil. the suit and the capsule need to be checked and check again. engineers have turned out their final test and say they're ready for the jump. even if the equipment all works, there will still be risks. >> ok. totally crazy. that brings the show to a close. you can get updates on our website. bank you so much for joining us. i will see you back here tomorrow.
-- thank you so much. >> 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. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to understand the industry you operate in, working to nurture new ventures and provide capital for key strategic decisions. we offer expertise and tailored solutions in a wide range of industries. what can we do for you?