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This is BBC World News Today with me Zeinab Badawi. Syria's President
Bashar al-Assad makes a rare and defiant speech. He criticises the
Arab League and blames external forces for a violent conspiracy in
his country. We will not allow a bunch of people who sold their soul
to the devil to destroy what the Syrian people have built throughout
history. The race to win the Republican
presidential nomination moves to New Hampshire. Can Mitt Romney pick
up enough momentum here to finish off his rivals?
A last minute rush for South African University places turns
into a stampede with deadly consequences. Everybody was pushing.
There was a lot of screaming. It was terrible, it was terrible.
Also coming up in the programme, swapping sport for politics.
Manchester United idol Eric Cantona says he's going to try to run for
president in his native France. And smart television bringing TV
Hello and welcome. The Syrian government went on the offensive
today both against its internal opponents and foreign opponents and
critics. In a two-hour defiant speech, President Bashar Al Assad
blamed a foreign conspiracy for the wave of violence in his country and
pledged to regain security by hitting terrorists with an iron
fist. His regime's been criticised for its violent suppression of
anti-government protests. The United Nations believes more than
5,000 civilians have been killed since March last year. Paul Wood
Business-as-usual for Syria. President Assad's speech promised
more of the same, an iron fist, he called it. So, today, this latest
video apparently shows a suburb of the capital, Damascus, with tanks
on the streets. It's only the 4th speech by Syria's leader in at 10
months of this crisis. He said the country was facing terrorism and he
blamed a conspiracy on foreign powers. The dark ages of warmongers
outside are now clear. He went on to attack the foreign media. They
want to shake Syria's stability, he says, them or stoking fear to cause
us to collapse. At the start of this crisis, President Assad was
seen as above the fray, but street protesters they pinned their hopes
of an to bring in reforms but now they just want him to go, and the
opposition accuses him of pushing the country close to civil war.
regime has learned nothing from the past 10 months. It is more extreme
now than ever. Arab League monitors have failed to calm things down.
President Assad attacked them. The opposition want foreign military
intervention. But help is not on the way. Syria is at the heart of
the Middle East, and what happens in that Syria is unlikely to remain
in Syria. There are net any number of scenarios where there are
significant spillover effects towards Israel, Turkey and the Gulf.
So, on the ground, both sides seem to be expecting an escalation in
the violence. The Arab League has condemned an incident in which two
members of its observer mission in this area were injured in an attack
by demonstrators. The head of the Arab League said the Syrian
government was responsible for protecting members of its mission.
I'm joined from Washington by Theodore Kattouf, former US
ambassador to Syria and the United Arab Emirates. He is currently the
President of American Friends of the Middle East. This attack on the
Arab League, what lay behind this? It took place in Latakia, a city
which is fairly supportive of President Assad. Do you think it
was genuine or orchestrated? can never be certain but it's very
clear from statements emanating from leaders of the Gulf co-
operation Council, and the head of the Arab League, that they hold
Syria responsible for these attacks and, indeed, in his speech today,
President Assad was dismissive of, and insulting towards, the six
states of the council, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, set off. One member
at least, the Gulf council, Coltart, has broken in relation to the Arab
League, and said the observer mission is not able to do this on
its own and it would be better if it got help from the UN. Is that
something you agree with? It's a view I agree with. I think they
have been at the forefront of those Arab League states, saying that
Syria needs to be taken to task at the UN Security Council. And I
think it's quite true that the 150 monitors who are they right now,
are not capable of a restraining Syrian intelligence and a special
military units from assaulting their own people. And, in terms of
what the USA can do, that it isn't doing, what would you like to see
Washington doing? I mean, it's not what I think, but I think here in
the USA, we had just pulled our troops, and you have pulled your
troops out of Iraq. We want to put our troops out of Afghanistan in a
couple of years. Tensions are very, very high with Iran, and quite
honestly, I don't see many people eager to see the administration
directly intervening in a serious. But, if there was going to be an
intervention, it would be to follow some what of the Libyan example
where the Arab League condemns them, goes to the secluded Council, and
then that Russia and China would have to go on, and right now,
Russia particularly is not don't go along with any tough action. I
think we are stay need for the on the Bashar al-Assad's rare speech.
What do you make of that? Is he in control? Is your mouthpiece for the
regime? Frankly, whichever the case, it's probably a distinction without
a difference. The regime is far more than one man. His family, his
inner circle, the circle of his protectors, and they are not going
to give up power peacefully. They are not going to, even though he
talked of reforms, he would have done it by now, he wants to give
whatever he can he feels necessary to the opposition, but not until
they are totally off the streets, and repressed and humbled.
Ambassador, thank you very much for talking to us live or from
Washington. The candidates hoping to take on President Obama in
November's presidential election are fighting it out in New
Hampshire today in the second stage of the battle for the Republican
nomination. The former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney,
is tipped to win. He won in Iowa last week by just eight votes. Mitt
Romney is hoping the momentum he gains here will help secure him the
nomination. Over to Manchester, New Hampshire, and my colleague Katty
Kay. It's quite a feat, if he pulls this off? It absolutely is. What he
would like to do is win and win big. So he can have secured a party's
nomination, coast through the primaries and start a directing his
attention to Barack Obama and the general presidential election which
takes place in November. There's a few more hours until the polls
close in New Hampshire and during that time, the candidates are using
every last minute to persuade every voter they can. Paul Adams has the
news. Mitt Romney in confident mood in Manchester. He is the man to
beat, and moderate Republicans surrounded by more conservative
opponents. I hope the people turn out, the entire nation is watching.
The Republican voters will certainly to some up. The only
questions, how big will he win and how many of his rivals will fight
another day? The candidates have swarmed all over diners up and down
the state, but what have they left behind and do people believe any of
them can deliver change? None of these Republicans, I don't feel it.
I don't know. I'm up in the air. Winter has yet to come hard in New
England. But the ice fishermen are looking for a catch. Hoping to land
more than just tiddlers. Jason has not decided to devote four yet, but
thinks Mitt Romney will win. -- who to vote for yet. I think he will
win. A lot of people are looking for him. I need votes for that and
the underdog candidate. Huntsmann is enjoying a late surge.
He won't win but the bomber jacket and the baby's suggest he has not
given up for the after a lacklustre campaigner, there's plenty of
excitement around today. This is the media surrounding Newt Gingrich,
who was not even expected to finish in their top three. The President
has his supporters here, too. They don't want the Republicans making
all the noise. Primary season has months to run but Mitt Romney hopes
to have it wrapped up rather quicker than that. Republicans are
hoping for a big turnout in these primary elections here in New
Hampshire. Let's get a sense of the significance of this. I'm joined
here by Tim Stanley. Thanks so much for joining us. This is our first
presidential election you have been covering. What are you making of
the process? You really have to come here to see it and understand
what it's like to be surrounded by these politicians and media people,
how crazy it is and how it becomes a microcosm of a national campaign.
What I have been feeling is this is two elections at once. A referendum
on Mitt Romney, as a candidate, which I think you will win today
quite handsomely. Secondly, who will emerge as his conservative
rival, and that is split between several candidates. I have no
feeling who is preferred more, but I can see some momentum behind Jon
Huntsmann and Ron Paul. Hampshire has a history of
upsetting presidential races. If Mitt Romney doesn't do as well as
expected here, today, what does that mean for his campaign?
really has to get over their dibber cent of the boat, preferably over
the D5. -- 35% of the vote, preferably over 35. If he doesn't
get over that, I think other candidates, particularly Jon
Huntsmann, are well placed to say Mitt Romney moved her, spent so
much money, off went on TV, met nearly every single person and
couldn't get more than 35%. It suggests the Republicans don't
think he's as popular as national polls suggest he is, which is why
it's important for him to do well. You said there is a race for the
front-runner, Mitt Romney, and the rest of the Conservative pack. Also
who will be the best candidate to take on Barack Obama in November?
Has Mitt Romney persuaded voters in New Hampshire, do you think, he is
best suited to win the White House for the Republicans? Unfortunate,
for him, the day before there was a scandal in which he said during a
speech that he likes being able to fire people. His words were taken
out of context but already the Democratic National Committee is
spinning them against him all over the breakfast shows for the even if
Mitt Romney does not win today, I suspect this primary has set him up
for a fall in November and he could be hurt by his victory here today.
Nationally, he's only three points ahead of Mitt Romney. -- Barack
Obama. Ron Paul is only one point behind Barack Obama for the what
does that say? Thank you very much. Of course, we will know does result
later tonight and will bring you the result and looking ahead to
what they mean for the national elections, the critical election,
in November, when whoever is a Republican, Hasted Robert is Barack
Obama. Thank you very much. In South
Africa, one person was crushed to death and nearly 20 people were
injured as thousands of students tried to get through the gates of
the universe to Johannesburg to apply a fall last minute places.
There's a shortage of educational opportunities in the country, and
many families had camped outside all night, hoping to be successful.
In a moment we'll be speaking to the deputy Vice-Chancellor of the
University. But first this report Survivors still looking for lost
belongings. Thousands of applicants stood outside the camp for days,
but there were only 800 slot in the university. They desperation caused
a frenzy. Everybody was trying to get space. Everyone wants to get in.
I was trying to protect my son. It was not easy. There was a lot of
screaming, everybody was pushing. It was terrible. This is where the
stampede took place today. The parent who died was that the front
of the queue. She was head, trying to find a place for her child, when
the crowd from behind to poached the people in front. -- she was
here. -- behind pushed the people in front. University management
expressed sympathy with -- sympathy for the loss of life, but said the
crowd was uncontrollable. Given what has happened, the university
Vice-Chancellor has assured us that there will be an inquiry.
unemployment rate amongst the youth is as high as 15%. There is a more
hunger for Una -- education, but they are not enough places.
We're joined by Professor Adam Habib, the Deputy vice-Chancellor
of the University of Johannesburg, who happens to be visiting Oxford.
Are you going to be changing your procedures? I cannot take you.
sad about this news. Are you going to be changing your procedures?
we are not. We will have an inquiry. We will tighten up procedures to
manage accounts better. We have tried to do that. But we have got a
reason why we keep these entrants open. The poorest of the port do
not apply early on. They do not have the educational opportunities.
-- poorest of the poor. The schooling system does not prepare
them, so we give 11,000 places in advance, and keep about 1,000
places available for last-minute entrance. That creates hope.
Looking at the wider picture in South Africa, does everybody have a
right to further education? principle, everyone has a right.
But are they enough places? We have 23 universities in the country.
Most of us have places. We take about 24% of those who do the final
examinations, and qualify. There is not enough places available end be
higher education system. -- in the higher education. Everybody wants
to come to the universities. They see that as the only way of getting
out of poverty. Thank you very much indeed.
He's been a footballer, a film star, and some people have even described
him as a "philosopher". Now the former Manchester United idol, Eric
Cantona, has announced his political ambitions. He's trying to
secure the support that will allow him to stand against France's
President Sarkozy later in the year. The Gallic shrug, the talent, those
mesmerising feet. They were low points, of course - the Kung Fu
kicking of the Crystal Palace fan, followed by the philosophy. When
the sea gulls follow the sea, they think it is because some think will
be swung into the sea. The move to acting was obvious, and popular.
The Ken Loach film, Looking For Eric, was a huge success. Just the
kind of profile you would need to become the President of France. He
needs the backing of 500 elected officials. But, the letter he sent
is more an attempt to raise the issue of the poor quality of social
housing. In this advert, Ed in 2010, Eric Cantona takes the prospective
tenant of a run-down council flat. The kitchen needs a bit of work, he
says. So, he asks. You going to take it? Eric Cantona seems an
unlikely champion of the poor, but as a footballer, he knows about the
gulf between the highly paid players and the public. Eric
Cantona is a brilliant and unpredictable. It is what made him
a star in the first place. Now, many of you are watching me on
a conventional television, but some of you will be watching on a
computer via the internet. Well, whatever method you're using, one
thing appears more certain - there is a move towards further
integration of the two mediums. That integration is what IPTV is
all about. Our technology correspondent has been speaking to
some of the industry's leading players at the Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas. San Francisco, the gateway to
Silicon Valley. I have come to see how the software firms plan to
transform another industry. The internet revolution has been slow
to hit television. Silicon Valley believes it can change our
relationship with TB. One small software company has a big idea.
This is the problem - today's TV user has too much choice. Lots of
material, lots of the set-top boxes, and all these remote controls. What
if we took all of them away, and replaced them with one second
screen, enabling us to control access to all this television?
Dijit believes this second screen can make choosing what we watch and
sharing it with friends a lot easier. But it was when I headed to
Google's HQ that I found a phone with the biggest ambitions. Google
to -- Google TV brings the Web to your living room. So far, it has
struggled to attract an audience. People say that TV is a lean back
experience. Their internet is a lean forward experience. What do
you know about television? What we know is what Google is good that -
helping users find what they want. I left Silicon Valley and the
software firms and set off to Las Vegas to get another view on the
future of television. This week, every big TV manufacturer is in
town for the Consumer Electronics Show. And the battle is on between
Samsung and Sony to be the big players in Smart TV. They believe
Connecting your set to the Net will naturally. When you go out and buy
a TV, and bring it home, you should be connected to the internet.
screens get bigger and slimmer, the pictures sharper. Now, television
is getting smarter. And they hope viewers will come
Let's talk some more about this. We're joined by Zara Rabinovich,
from the website Chip Chick. Do you think they have cracked it this
time? Or I think they have a. -- I think they have. We heard there,
our reporter talking about the main players. Who do you think will be
right in it there? At the moment, the battle seems to be Samsung and
L G. A lot of people are familiar with a voice controls. Both of
these players have got integrated cameras - you have facial
integration, for example. You can say hi to change the channel. The
Samsung is building a big store. To bes are coming in with built-in
hard drives and flashed drives. Samsung are also allowing you to
upgrade your TV. You can put a new chip into the TV. So going that way,
are you thinking over a time frame? Months, years? If you have the
money, you can't get on to it straight away. But it will still be
outside most people's price range. I hope we will see a job in prices.
Within three years, I'd imagine a connected to the end everybody's
house. And it can also work with your mobile phone. It is getting to
be a really multi- connected world. It was another mild day. We have
had a lot of cloud, and we will stickler that overnight. Tomorrow,
we still have that weather front. That will bring outbreaks of rain.
It since southwards, and it could be a chilly start fall north-
eastern Scotland. Damp, it shares the lead conditions initially. With
the westerly wind continuing, these conditions will persist. -- damp,
drizzly conditions. Sunny spells through central and southern areas
of England - 12 degrees away top temperature. Those conditions
reluctant to improve. -- our top temperature. But to the east, the
chance of bright and as. For the Northern Ireland, glimmers of