25/11/2011 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me Zeinab Badawi. The Arab League's


ultimatum for Syria to accept an observer mission expires and still


no response from Damascus. This as evidence grows of more soldiers


defecting to the opposition. The BBC goes inside Homs with the free


Syrian army. After months of protest has been shot down in the


streets that myth of armed insurgency has become reality.


100,000 stuck out in Cairo's Tahrir Square not satisfied by the


concessions by the military. They want the Army out of politics now.


Thousands of candidates in elections in the Democratic


Republic of Congo, what hope for a peaceful outcome in one of the


world's most war-torn countries. Also coming up: An incredible story


of injury and recovery. How this Dutch Paralympic champion paralysed


for years is now training to make her mark in the future at the


Olympics. And the search for life in space.


NASA is launching its biggest ever mission to Mars in a Rover called


Curiosity. Hello and welcome. The silence from


the Government in Syria has been deafening. It has failed to respond


to an Arab League ultimatum to allow an observer mission into the


country or face sanctions. Now the Arab League says it will meet on


Saturday to decide what Next Steps it should take. Inside Syria itself


activists say more people have been killed by security forces as the


protests have continued. The BBC's security correspondent Frank


Gardner has this analysis. I undeterred by tanks, torture and


over 3000 deaths Syrian protesters are still taking to the streets,


risking their lives to call for an end to the rule of President Bush


are are as said. Often surrounded by acolytes he is facing the most


serious challenge to his role. Much of the population fears the chaos


that could follow his departure. There will be many Syrians who want


to join the opposition. There have been attacks on military


installations prompting fears of a civil war, a nightmare for the Arab


League. Its members have already suspended Syria, its chair stands


emptied. They have been meeting to discuss whether to introduce harsh


new sanctions unless Syria pulls its troops out of cities and allows


in monitors. Syria's neighbour Turkey says time is running out for


the Bashar al-Assad regime. Meanwhile, the protests continue.


The sniping, the arrests, the intimidation, torture and bloodshed


show no signs of stopping. We are staying with Syria. The BBC


has obtained first-hand evidence that the struggle for democracy in


the country is becoming an armed insurgency. The opposition for us,


the free Syrian army, is made up of soldiers who have defected. Our


correspondent and a cameraman are the first journalists who have


spent time with the free Syrian army in and around Homs, the scene


of the worst violence in the current uprising in Syria.


Syria's border with Lebanon. These men are taking in guns are to


support a growing insurgency. De area is the mind and fall of Syrian


patrols. Hours earlier, as smuggler was captured here. Each man carries


two or three Kalashnikovs for the fighters inside. Our guides are not


paid smugglers, but supporters of the revolution. The regime has had


as under siege for 40 years, he says, we have been starving for 40


years. Into Homs. The Syrian army is all around. They will probably


shoot if they spot us. This is a suburb. The people are hemmed in by


the security forces. The fear is suffocating. But the firepower is


no longer all on one side. These are the men of the free Syria army.


They do not exactly hold this area, but just hope to slow up the


security forces. Almost from the beginning it was Syrian Government


propaganda that armed groups, or armed gangs, were supporting the


opposition. Now, after months of protest has been shot down in the


streets, that myth of an armed insurgency has become a reality. --


protesters. More join every day. A gun battle signals another


defection. Soldiers are running into the suburb, fired on by their


former comrades. Five made it out, his 6th did not. We heard him


screaming, he says, we could not go back. There were too many troops


chasing us. Another explains that they fled after being ordered to


shoot unarmed protesters. We are all one people, one blood. You


cannot just kill them. The rebels believe they can win if there is


help from outside. They want a no- fly zone over Syria. That special


report is by Paul Wood with the freak Syrian army inside the city


of Homs. Now to the unrest in Egypt and in Cairo 100,000 people are


still believed to be out in Tahrir Square. The man chosen to be


Egypt's new Prime Minister has said on state TV he wants to be given a


chance to serve the people. 78 year-old Kamal al-Gazouri says he


plans to form an all inclusive Cabinet, but his words have done


little to sway the protesters. They are demanding the head of the


ruling military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, must step


aside before the elections on Monday. Lyse Doucet is in Tahrir


Square and joins us live. It looks like it is all happening behind you.


Give us an update. You can see Tahrir Square tonight is both a big


party as well as a political rally. This sounds you here tonight are


not of the tear gas canisters, but off firecrackers going off in the


air. There has been a whole display here tonight. You may not see them,


but you can hear the sound of the firecrackers going off. There is a


huge mass of people down there in that corner with a flag waving.


Earlier this week that was a place of great tension weather were


running battles between the police and protesters. But the truce is


holding. We do not hear the wailing of the ambulance sirens, but we


still hear all of the chanting and new banners are still going up.


This one says, we will never leave the rights of the martyrs. They are


calling on Egyptians to come back to the square and send a very loud


message. Look at all the discussions going on. People


assemble in groups, it is a bit of a carnival atmosphere. Every kind


of popular Egyptian street food is on sale. There is food in those


metal pots, next to the popcorn that is being sold. You can get


grilled corn on the cob. These are the enterprising vendors who know


they can turn a profit share. They even started selling gas masks in


the square when there was tear gas throughout the week. Tonight they


are mostly selling candy and toffee apples as they try to send a


message to the military leader that they are here to stay. Lyse Doucet,


a party atmosphere in Cairo's Tahrir Square. We have talked about


Syria and Egypt, and now to Yemen where tensions are high and tens of


thousands of people have been protesting also on the streets


after Friday prayers. They are angry about the power transfer


deals signed earlier this week by President Ali Abdullah Saleh,


because the deal would give him and his family immunity from


prosecution. Hundreds of the Mini's have been killed since the protests


started in January. The impact of the Arab Spring in Morocco may not


be as dramatic and violent as it has been elsewhere in the Arab


world, but the elections in Morocco have been brought forward as a


result of the upheaval. The elections are the first under a new


constitution which gives greater powers to the prime minister and


parliament. But some reformers say the changes do not go far enough.


Voters casting their ballots in what should be an historic election


for Morocco. This time they are voting for a Government expected to


have power to bring about real change. This is the man who could


play a key role in the new Government, the leader of the


Islamist party. He said he hoped the turnout would be more than 50%.


There are concerns it could be very low. But in any case, he said,


democracy would be the winner. These first stirrings of trouble in


February in Morocco prompted the political reform. Thousands poured


onto the streets demanding equality, justice and an end to the monopoly


of power held by the ruling elite. In March, King Mohammed VI address


the nation. He promised comprehensive changes to the


constitution. It included losing his power to appoint the Prime


Minister, insuring the independence of the judiciary is reinforced, and


granting increased rights for women. Those who wrote these changes into


the new constitution say the King does want a parliamentary democracy.


He is aware of the effect that traditional legitimacy knees to be


strengthened and that is why he has been anticipating the demands of


the people and has satisfied them in advance. But not everyone is


convinced the king is sincere about handing over so much power. Instead


they fear he will retain much of his control over the country.


So clearly it has been a significant week across the Arab


world and to help as tight up the threads here with me in the studio


is the Middle East analyst at Chatham House, Nadim Shehadi.


Clearly, the ripples of the Arab Spring have gone all over the place.


We have just seen the situation in Morocco. But the big fear is the


instability we see in key countries like Syria. They have got this Arab


League ultimatum and the silence has been deafening from Damascus.


What do you think Damascus are considering? They are probably


confused what trick to play with the Arab League because the leaders


of the Arab League are probably leaders of the same type as Bashar


al-Assad, so they know the same tricks as he does. It could be very


difficult for him to gain more time. He has been buying a lot of time.


Yes, but it has not been working with the Arab League so far. What


do you think the Arab League will do? They said they will be meeting


in Cairo on Saturday and they have talked about sanctions. Financial


sanctions, what kind of things could they do? The most important


thing they would do is deprived the President of his legitimacy.


Ultimately he can always cling to power when the West attacks him


because he says this is imperialism and I am resisting. But when his


fellow Arab leaders also take away his legitimacy... It is humiliating.


But can the Arab League do anything in terms of sanctions without


support on the international community? The international


community have been waiting for the Arab League. When the Arab League


makes decisive steps a lot more will follow. A lot of his power


also comes from the indecision from the international community. This


will help make it clearer position. You had a report on the free Syrian


army and people were talking about an armed insurgency, I want to ask


you about Egypt. It is very clear the position in Syria calls itself


non-violent and peaceful. Any talk of violence in Syria plays into the


hands of the regime that is saying if it falls, there will be civil


war. This is what frightening many in the West. Overall I think one


has to put faith in the opposition Looking at Egypt and Yemen.


Concessions in Egypt, from the military, also he is standing down,


till still 9 protests go on? the regimes will try to re-gain


their power and cling to as much power as they can. This is


happening in Egypt. It's not flying with the protesters. That is why


they are continuing the protests. In the case of Egypt, I think the


majority of the population are not on the same wavelength as those in


Tahrir Square. That make it is more difficult. Nadim Shehadi thank you


very much for joining us. Now the day's or other news. Italy has had


to pay record high rates to investors to borrow money in the


latest auction of government bonds. Bonds due to be repaid in two


years' time hit more than 7.8% compared with 4.6% in the last sale


a month ago. The UN enjoy for North Korea has appealled for more


humanitarian aid to be delivered to the country. South Korea has been


sending medical supplies to the North over the past few weeks, but


it has not sent food, saying it risks being diverted to feed the


Army. The Australian government plans to establish the world's


largest marine reserve in the Coral Sea. The protected area north-east


of the Great Barrier Reef will cover an area of nearly one million


square kilometres. The Democratic Republic of Congo holds elections


on Monday in what could be a turning point for the people there


who have suffered decades of war and suffering that has seen


millions dead. 19,000 candidates are in the running. Elections in


the DRC have in the past been marred by violence. Andrew Harding


has been Togo ma gsh has been to Goma, which is still living with


the legacy of Congo's long wars. It's election time in one of


Africa's most chaotic countries. No-one here is expecting a smooth


ride. On the throne here, one of 11 presidential hopefuls. Loyalties


are dangerously ferocious. So is the desire for change. They are the


ones with the power, they don't care about the population. We don't


have road. No road. N-your country I think you have road. There is no


jobs, no water, no electricity. much peace either. This is Goma, a


poor town, the bicycles are wooden. The peacekeepers can't be


everywhere. Rival armed groups battle for power and Congo's


mineral wealth. Joseph Kabila has the usual advantages and may sneak


another victory. It could be close and tense. The elections could be a


step forward for a country that squandered its potential for


decades. There is a real danger they could trigger more instability


in a region that is still plagued by violence and impunity. My fear


is that all this might lead to serious violence. Maybe to breaking


up this country. Who knows. Out of sight the clearest proof of Congo's


enduring lawlessnesss. New victims of sexual violence that plights the


countryside. 15-year-old Mary says she was raped this week by two


unknown men. "then they beat me", she says. She does not expect


justice. The hope for progress remains strong here. He's one of


19,000 candidates, running for a seat in Parliament at these


elections. I think this is a step forward. Let's not think of


miracles, but I think this is a step forward to what's strong


institutions and peaceful country. Miracles are not on the cards.


Congo's economy is growing, its fate matters to Africa. It is the


wounded giant at the centre of the continent. Elections there in the


DRC. For an extraordinary story of injury and then recovery. A


paralympic silver medallist, in handcycling, is hoping to compete


in the Olympics, after regaining the use of her legs. Van der Vorst


Vorst had been paralysed from the waist down for 13 years. Then she


was out training and she was hit by another cyclist, soon after the


feeling gradually began to return to her legs. Meet Van der Vorst


Vorst as she once was. Paralympian, paralysed in both her legs. Now,


meet her today. From the age of 13, her left leg was paralysed after


surgery ri on her foot went wrong. Three years ago she also lost the


use of her right leg in a car crash. Last year she had another terrible


training accident that put her back in hospital for a long time. During


the months of physiotherapy and training, she began to get feeting


in her legs and then the use of both them. Doctors can't explain.


It I just did it. I just walk. I did it over and over again until I


fall down on the ground. I could not believe it. I think many people


can't believe it. Yeah. Can you explain it? No. I've no idea how it


happened. I really don't know. couldn't use your legs for three


years of your life, both legs, 13 years of your life for one leg?


Yeah. Now you are cycling again? Yeah. I don't know why but I do.


Her living room is full of the trophies and medalsals from a long


career as a disabled athlete. Three World Championships and eight


nationalists and a silver medallists at the Beijing


paralympics. I'm happy to do it all again, now with my legs. Also,


besides the sport, life is easier walking. It feels like a big


challenge. I really want to push hard and train train and see where


I can get. So, she has lived one Olympic dream. She hopes to power


her way to another. Rio2016. I wouldn't bet against it. Amazing


story. Wonderful. It's been called the most ambitious mission to Mars


ever. On Saturday the American Space Agency, NASA, will launch a


vehicle, the size of a car, on a nine-month voyage to the Red Planet.


When it arrives, the vehicle called, the Curiosity rover cure, will


begin the most extensive search yet for signs of whether life has ever


been possible on the Red Planet. To talk about NASA's latest mission to


Mars, I'm joined from our studio in Cambridge by Paul Murdin from the


Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University. Are you excited by


this? Yes. It's the laboratory on wheels. It will make the most


comprehensive survey of Martian rocks ever. It's a nuclear powered


Rover. What is the significance of that? Rovers up until now have been


powered by solar PV Panathinaikosels. They get dusty


and less efficient. This will last for a very long time. Well over two


years and possibly as long as ten. And, what do you suppose it hopes


to discover? How will it actually operate? Well there will be lots of


investigations of different sorts of the rocks that the controllers


in California find for the Rover to look at. The idea is that the


compositions of these rocks will be discovered and the processes that


formed them. It's not only looking for minerals, but how they are made,


for example, at the bottom of lakes or even bye-bye logical activity,


bacteria or early sea creature which might have existed on Mars


several billion years ago. It costs a fantastic amount of money this


Rover, didn't it? Do you think, in some way, it's going to redeem NASA,


which of course had suffered a few shocks of its reputation in the


recent past? A lot of money. $2 billion, give or take a bob or two.


I hope that a lot of effort has gone into it to make it work.


Having said that, Mars is a long way away. The journey is a


difficult one. One has to grit ones teeth and get on with it and hope


it goes. What would constitution a success and what would constitute a


failure? The worse failure is they drop it and that it doesn't make it


to the surface of Mars. The success will be discovering what the


surface of Mars is made of and the outstanding success will be finding


that there has been biological activity on Mars in the past and


maybe even somewhere in some place under the ground there is still


biological activity. There is life on Mars. You hope this will bring


us the answer to whether there is life on Mars? Yes. I hope in the


end we will retrieve some sort of Martian life and learn about life


from that life. So that we can get better understand our own kind of


biology. Paul Murdin from the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge


University thank you for. That Arab League deadline for Syria to accept


an observer mission or face sanctions Floyd Hasselbaink passed


with no response from Damascus. That is all from World News Today


with me Zeinab Badawi. From me, and the team, enjoy your weekend and


We had windy weather around today. We stick with this windy theme


throughout the course of the weekend. Tomorrow, strong wind


across northern areas with heavy rain. This weather front will push


in towards northern areas as we head through Saturday, further


south with high winds, high pressure leads to a chilly start.


Further north the strongest winds will develop, sometimes into Gus


force. There is an amber warning from the weather centre. Guss of 70


to 80mph. Further south a sunnier afternoon. The gusty winds from the


south-westerly direction, Gusing up to 30mph-40mph taking the edge off.


Wales it will turn increasingly cloudy. North-western areas will


see patchy rain arriving. Guss of 50mph-60mph. Wet and windy for


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