14/07/2011 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me, Zeinab Badawi.


Europe's debt crisis hits the euro- zone's third biggest economy. The


Italian Senate votes for an austerity budget to stave off an


international financial bailout. And how credit-worthy is the United


States? It faces a possible downgrade over its public debt.


Facing the music. Rupert Murdoch and his son James agree to appear


before a parliamentary committee on the phone-hacking scandal. At you


cannot hide away from this level of public anguish and anger and


interest. We venture into Syria and speak to


the Syrian soldiers who refuse to open fire on unarmed civilians.


And why theatre-goers in Britain won't be left wriggling


uncomfortably in their seats anymore, as many theatres get a


Hello and welcome. The Italian Senate has approved an emergency


austerity budget worth almost 50 billion, in an effort to prevent


the European debt crisis from engulfing the country. The cuts are


being rushed through after financial markets began speculating


that Italy was facing difficulties servicing its large debts. The


lower House of Parliament is due to vote on the issue on Friday, and is


also expected to approve the measures to try to balance the


budget. Richard Galpin reports. Italian senators arrived at


Parliament knowing that their country could now be drawn into the


crisis affecting the euro-zone. Today, they came to debate the


government's plan to reduce the huge amount of public debt the


country has accumulated. In total, Italy owes 1.6 trillion Euros. This


makes it the most indebted country in Europe. It has more outstanding


bonds than Greece, Ireland and Portugal put together. And now, the


borrowing costs are going up sharply. As investors get


increasingly nervous about the stability of the economy. No


surprise then, that in the Senate today, desperate appeals from


ministers. No one writes about it like this without wanting the


common good, without balancing the books, the public debt, and the


fear that the past will devour our future. The country is watching us.


They are looking at the government, and the opposition he differ but


are not divided. These appeals work. With a clear majority of senators


voting in favour of the austerity measures. These measures aim to


save 47 billion euros over the next four years. By cutting Minister's


pay and expenses, extending recumbent -- current hiring freeze


in the public sector and Gatting -- cracking down on tax exemptions.


But almost all of these cuts will only be implemented in 2013 and


2014, by which time there will be a new government. Unfortunately it


seems to me that the political system is not prepared to face


these kinds of situations. And the tendency of politicians is usually


to look at the short term when it comes to benefits, or benefiting


their own gains. And unfortunately, there is a lack of vision.


despite this, the markets have responded positively to the Senate


vote, and to the news that today, the government managed to raise


another 5 billion euros by selling more bonds. On Friday, the people


of Italy will see if the lower house of parliament also bodes


through the austerity measures. Everyone here is aware that the


Italian economy, Europe's third- largest, could bring down the


entire -- entire euro-zone if it also needs a bail-out.


And in the US, the world's biggest economy is also saddled with a big


debt. And the politicians can't agree what to do about it.


President Obama has been urging a change in the country's debt


ceiling in meetings with congressional leaders. If there's


no agreement, the credit ratings agency Moody's has said there's a


small but increasing risk that the US government will default on its


debt. The gulf between the Republicans and Democrats over


The President continues to insist on raising taxes, and they are just


not serious enough about fundamental entitlement reform to


solve the problem for the near two intermediate future. I want to get


there, I want to do what I do think is in the best interest of the


country. But it takes two to tango, and they are not there yet.


need for the United States to take action so that it fulfils its


obligations and pays its debts, as it has in the entirety of its


existence, is not a democratic problem, it is not a Republican


problem. It is an American problem. Clearly if we went so far as to


default on the debt, it would be a major crisis. Because the Treasury


security is viewed as the safest security in the world. It is this


have -- basis of most of our financial system. And the notion


that it would become suddenly unreliable would throw shockwaves


through the global financial system. I think we all know that our


leadership has concocted a scheme where at the folk on the other side


of the Isle can allow the debt ceiling to increase, and continue


to appeal to their constituencies for the election. I look back at


the week's discussions about how to solve the debt crisis. To get an


overall picture of the debt crisis hitting countries like the US and


Italy, we're joined now by Douglas Elliot, a former investment banker


with JP Morgan and now with the Brookings Institution.


Is it fanciful to talk about the United States possibly defaulting


on its debt, or is this just politics, or is there a real risk?


Sadly it is not fanciful. There is a real risk. If we do, it will be


for a short period. But it is very important that does not happen at


all. As one of the previous speaker is said, the markets rely on this


being the bond that always pays. That always does what it had


promised to do. What is the likelihood then? Housing could be


Democrats and the Republicans actually come up with some sort of


action plan? I personally think that it will happen very close to


3rd August, the date that has been set as the last minute. Just


because that is the way things work in Workington. But I do think there


is a high probability the right thing will get done. You may be


familiar with the Winston Churchill quote to the effect that America


always does the right thing, after trying everything else? What is the


right thing? The Republicans says Ben less, the Democrats say they


have to look at taxes... The key here is that we do not default.


There is time for us to work through the budget differences. I


think it was a mistake in the first place to make this the a date which


we had to try to reach agreement by. We have time for a normal process.


Let us not make anyone worry we will not pay our bills. Turning To


Italy, they have approved the austerity measure. But the impact


is not until 2013 -- 2013. It is still a big step forward. The good


news is that it is a wealthy countries. The reason that people


are worried about it is a combination of the fact that it has


a lot of dead, and that its political system works badly. --


debt. But I think they will pull together. The opposition is


supporting the Budget, as we saw their. They will do what they have


to. Thank you for joining us. At first Rupert Murdoch declined


going before a parliamentary committee looking into the phone-


hacking allegations. But by the end of the day he changed his mind, and


said that he and his son James will now answer questions from Members


of Parliament. One of his senior executives, Rebekah Brooks, had


already agreed today to appear before the committee next week.


She's a former editor of the News of the World, the newspaper that


has been at the centre of the storm. James Landale has been following


the day's developments. Parliament has already cost them


the News of the World and BSkyB. Now it wants to hold Rebekah Brooks


and the Murdochs to account. To answer the questions that MPs and


the public want asked about just why so many people's bones were


hacked in the name of news. It was a summons they could not ignore a.


My message to Rebekah Brooks and G Rupert Murdoch is to do the decent


thing. You cannot hide away from this level of public anguish, and


anger, and indeed interest. first, Rupert Murdoch and James


Murdoch were reluctant. In a letter this morning, he told them he could


not attend. However, I am fully prepared to give evidence to the


forthcoming inquiry. His son James has said he could not make it


either. But I would be pleased to give evidence to your Committee on


the 10th or 11th August. Rebekah Brooks said she would be available


to appear before the committee, and welcome the opportunity to do so.


But she said she would not be able to discuss anything they related to


the ongoing police investigation. Here in Westminster, the talk was


of a formal summons. A fine, even imprisonment in the bowels of


Parliament. Within hours, it appeared that the threat had worked.


They changed their minds and said they would now, and answer the


questions. These are just some of As for Rebekah Brooks, she will be


asked about what she told MPs the last time. We have paid the MP --


the police for information in the past... I hope that the committee


will want to hear the trees. We want to get to the facts. This is


not about a lynch mob or an opportunity to throw abuse. This is


about hearing what exactly has been happening. The lawyer representing


the family of Milly Dowler had his doubts. They will be sceptical


about anything, that they will hear the three monkeys. They will say


that they have not heard of any of it, and that nobody was speaking


about it. One man who could not evade a summons was Neil Wallis,


Andy Coulson's former Deputy, he was arrested and bailed over


allegations of phone hacking. It emerged that he had been doing PR


work for Scotland Yard. Once again, MPs have got them on the backs that.


And the scene is set for an extraordinary confrontation between


the power of the media and the power of Parliament. For once, the


word historic is not a cliche. Now a look at some of the day's


other news. The Indian government has put its


cities on high alert after Wednesday's simultaneous triple


bomb blasts in the business capital Mumbai.


Mourners gathered at the city's burial grounds and crematoriums on


Thursday for the last rites of their loved ones, a day after the


bombings in India's financial capital killed at least 17 people.


It was the country's worst strike since the 2008 Siege of Mumbai,


which killed 166 people. The newly-independent state of


South Sudan has been welcomed into the United Nations at a session in


New York. The UN Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon, called it an important


milestone for the new state. South Sudan declared its independence on


Saturday after decades of civil war. BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov has


been released on bail after being held in detention in Tajikistan for


a month. He was detained on charges of having links with a banned


Islamic party. Mr Usmonov is at home with family, but he's required


to stay in the country while the legal process continues.


An unfinished early Jane Austen manuscript has been sold at auction


for more than $1.5 million. Sotheby's say the draft for The


Watsons is the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Austen.


It was probably written in 1804. In Afghanistan, a memorial service


for President Karzai's brother has been the target of a suicide attack.


Five people were killed in the blast at a mosque in the southern


city of Kandahar. It comes on the same day the UN released a report


on the dramatic rise in civilian deaths in Afghanistan. Nearly 1500


civilians lost their lives in the crossfire of the battle between


Taliban insurgents and Afghan, US and NATO forces. From Kabul, Sanjoy


Majumder reports. Another deadly attack, and -- at


the heart of Kandahar. Top officials were attending a prayer


service for the President's half brother. They were quickly whisked


away, elite police unit secured the area. Among the dead, an


influential cleric, a man opposed to the Taliban. The bomber may well


have been targeted at the elite gathering. But like so many other


attacks, the brunt of it was born by ordinary people. But more people


are also dying from NATO air strikes. Late on Wednesday, six


villagers died in this raid. During an operation to flush out


insurgents from near the Pakistan border. Among the victims, women


and children. It has led to a wave of anger among Afghans. Protests


have taken place pressing for the withdrawal of Western forces. That


is about to happen. But some are wondering at what cost? Starting


next week and over the next few months, thousands of NATO troops


will begin at withdrawal from Afghanistan. They will hand over


security to local forces. Already, questions are being raised about


whether they are ready to take on the role, especially after these


I have been talking to her -- to Staffan de Mistura, the Special


Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission


in Afghanistan, and I asked him how damaged the reputation of Karzai


and his family is as a result of the current situation.


It is damaging in the sense that Kandahar is a crucial place, an


iconic place, but also it is damaging to whoever did this attack.


They have been doing it in a mosque during a religious ceremony, in a


sacred place for Islam. From that point of view, from Mike -- in my


opinion, it damages the people who did the attack more. There are


reports that President Karzai has installed another brother to


oversee his interests in Kandahar. Is the international community


perhaps backing the wrong horse here? Shouldn't you be trying to


make more contact with Taliban members in Kandahar? There is no


question that Kandahar is a critical place for not only


contacts with the Taliban but certainly with the community of the


Pashtuns, who have been feeling disenfranchised to a large degree


and to a certain degree this has contributed to their support for


the Taliban. That is why Kandahar is so iconic, not only because that


is where the Taliban started but because it may be the place where


we start to have a discussion with the Taliban. Can you do that at the


same time as backing President Karzai's attempts to fill the power


back -- power vacuum by putting another brother in? We are in


Afghanistan. In Afghanistan you taught and you shoot at the same


time, these days. -- you talk. You need to have interlocutor ofs who


have sufficient power to talk. Into loquiturs. This is a terribly


delicate period when the two elements coincide. And we will see


more of this, I'm afraid. Spring and summer will be very rough.


spike in civilian deaths in Afghanistan compared to last year


would suggest that it is very hard for you to talk about progress


being made in the fight against the Taliban. 1462 civilians speak for


themselves. The Afghan civilians have been a highest victims of this


long conflict. We have been telling the Taliban just today, look, the


type of minds you are using, pressure mines, anybody can step on


them. Everybody except military is stepping on them. That is why we


have so many civilian casualties, so you, the Taliban, are


accountable to 80 % of the casualties. Can't you add least


stop that element as a sign to the population? That is the message we


give to them. There has been sufficient reason to be worried


about their own casualties during air attacks. The conclusion - there


is a need for just now to avoid civilian casualties. If we want to


get to what we hope is a proper dialogue.


That was the UN spectrum -- special representative in Afghanistan. To


Syria, and there are reports from the east of the country that two


people have been killed in continuing demonstrations against


the rule of President Assad. 1400 civilians and 15 hunt -- 1500


security personnel have been killed in the country. Foreign journalists


are unable to journey freely in the country but our correspondent has


crossed into Syria from the Turkish border town of Guvecci.


This is the only way to report freely in President Assad's Syria.


Taking the smugglers' route through the mountain. Everybody treads


carefully to avoid the Border Guard. The patrol passes and we are told


to run. Since this conflict began, the


Syrian regime has tried to control what the world sees and hears. We


have come to find out what it is like.


We are now travelling on the Syrian side of the border. As you can see,


we are keeping a pretty low profile, we are actually in the back of a


farm ats -- Farm a's truck. -- farmer's. The security forces have


tried to crush anti-government protests here, forcing more people


to leave their towns and villages. We are taken to a camp in the woods.


It is not much but it is home. Thousands of families have been


forced into hiding. And they treat strangers with caution. Some have


been here for months. They all have a story to tell and it is


remarkable how similar they are. Terrorised by government attacks,


living in fear of a light -- late night village from the regime's


thugs. What has life been like here for


his wife, his children? TRANSLATION: The Syrian army and


secret police move around in the trees and check upon the people.


They want to plant weapons on people and accuse them of being


criminals. They damaged our house is. This is why nobody will return


to their homes. The Syrian army keeps a watchful


eye through the hills. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, they have taken sides


with the regime. Now, read testimony of what that means. Some


beer is a soul -- soldier from Damascus who deserted after being


given an order he would not follow. -- Samir. He was told to shoot


unarmed protesters. Just look at this rare demonstration in Damascus.


The BBC has been given this footage, which shows what happens to those


who protest. We can't verify this but it appears that regime thugs


threatened and beat those who want change. This is now a youth but --


a fight for their future and in a country which is a fragile mix of


race and religion it is a battle for the shape -- the future of this


region. It will be a long, bloody struggle for their future.


Reporting their from inside Syria on the ongoing troubles in the


country. On a lighter note, theatregoers in


the UK will know that often seats can be pretty uncomfortable. In


fact, they have barely changed for a century in some cases. Now one of


Britain's biggest theatre groups is replacing all 40,000 of its seats


with ones that they say will stop people fidgeting from discomfort.


David Sillito went to try them out. They were built to be palaces of


pleasure but many of Britain's ageing theatres have never been


entirely comfortable, as a theatre critic Mark Shenton knows.


The width is very poor. I am a big guy but that should not be fit -- a


deterrent. The legroom is a shocking. And backache? I had a


major operation on my back just before Christmas. I would love to


say it was caused by these seats. I am sure it has not helped.


The endless search for a comfortable position is caused, it


is claimed, by the fact that most of the seats slump and do not allow


the spine to take the weight. There is a limit to how far you


will let your head drops so you will move and look for a bone to


take the weight. This is the new seat. It keeps you


bolt upright, which, it is claimed, will stop fidgeting and sleepiness.


Bass slumped spine goes up. -- A slumped spine.


I can already feel an improvement. Whether or not I will fill this in


10 minutes' time is another question but it is definitely an


improvement on what we we had upstairs.


But the wit is still only 17 inches. When certain train companies


recently adopted that narrower width, some commuters were not


pleased. His there based -- perfect seat for the modern bottom? -- is


there a perfect. Here at the Design Museum they take sitting very


seriously, with a collection of dozens of solutions for taking the


weight of your feet. When it comes to wit, there auditorium seats give


you 23 inches. -- and width. Any small and I might be


uncomfortable. A lot of designers considered the ultimate product if


they can design something really perfect.


The new shape may reduce fidgeting but, with profit demanding they fit


the same space, elbow room is still very Victorian.


I can vouch for the studio seats here. They are very comfortable. No


fidgeting from me. From me, as Those parts of East Anglia that saw


rain today will have a drier, warmer day today -- tomorrow, but


elsewhere there will be thicker cloud and outbreaks of rain. This


weather front will be a big player for the weekend, rain, showers and


strong winds. Friday is the transition day, we introduce


thicker cloud and mostly light rain into western parts of the UK.


Holding on to sunshine the most in the east of England. Norwich has 24


degrees, compared to 15 degrees today. Further west, there will be


a freshening south-westerly wind and temperatures will be lower


compared to today. 18 degrees in Plymouth, and there will be


outbreaks of mostly light rain working into England and Wales and


Northern Ireland for most of the day. It will tend to come and go


but it will be fairly grey and dismal. Brain edging further


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