24/01/2012 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me, Tim Willcox. The end of the


Arab League mission in Syria? Where Saudi Arabia led other gulf states


follow. Damascus brands it a mounting


foreign conspiracy claiming the pull out will have no effect on the


security crackdown. They are free to go to New York or


the moon. As long as Syria doesn't pay for their ticket.


Choppy times ahead - the IMF slashes its growth forecast for the


world's economies most of the blame it says lies with the eurozone.


Nigerian security forces carry out raids in the northern city of Kano,


hunting suspected supporters of the Islamist group Boko Haram.


Also coming up in the programme - the race for the White House moves


up a gear. President Obama prepares to deliver his State of the Union


address telling voters why he deserves a second term as the


Republican candidates slug it out And Hugo leads the field for the


Oscars, with eleven nominations. We look at the contenders for


Hello and welcome. The Arab League peace mission to Syria looks on the


verge of collapse today as more countries decided to pull out. The


five remaining members of the Gulf Co-operation Council followed the


lead of Saudi Arabia, which withdrew on Sunday, saying Syria


wasn't respecting any agreements. The Syrian response was defiant -


the country's foreign minister claiming there was a conspiracy


against his country. From Beirut, Jim Muir reports.


Isolated and under pressure but still defiant. For the Syrian


foreign minister, what is happening at the Arab League are part of a


plan. He said it was not surprised some of the Arab states ignored the


report of the Arab observers because they did not like what it


said. I criticise the report in advance that we would not accept


because it is a blatant resolution that harms Syria's sovereignty and


it's an interference in internal affairs. The Arab observers have


been on the ground in different parts of Syria since late December.


Their report to the Arab League has not been published but the League


voted to extend it for another month and give it more money. The


commander of the observer mission so the violence was reduced after


the monitors arrived and blamed armed rebels for opening fire on


checkpoints prompting them to shoot back. Actor this dispute that a


version of events saying in many places security forces are still


shooting at demonstrations at funerals and hundreds have died.


With the other Gulf states following the Saudi Arabia lead and


pulling out of the mission, the trend seems to be towards the UN.


The Arab League has asked for a meeting with the Secretary-General


but like the Arab League the Security Council is currently


divided with Russia and China opposed to veto any moves against


Syria. It all adds up to mounting pressure on Damascus but the


foreign minister appeared confident it can ride out the storm. Syria,


he said, does not tremble in the wind. Joining me now from


Washington is Ali Al-ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf


Affairs. Does this mean this peace mission is doomed?


I think the peace mission will continue but without the most


important factor in the Arab League which is the Gulf block that has


been the driving force behind initiating action against Syria.


The Gulf countries see this as part of a war and I underline the word


which has been used by a Saudi mouthpiece, the Gulf countries


including Saudi Arabia, war with the Iranian regime, so is a front


in the war. They would like to wrestle away the -- Syria away from


the Iranian alliance or access in the region which has been very good


for the Iranians in terms of them are projecting their influence in


Arab countries like Lebanon and the Palestinian issues. So such a


raider would like to make this International, that will not be


accepted by Damascus -- Saudi Arabia. There is an irony, the GCC


are leading a counter revolution in Bahrain and in Yemen while


simultaneously supporting revolution in Syria. It's not about


democracy, it's about realigning the political ground in the Middle


East in favour of the GCC Alliance and its other Arab allies by


weakening and toppling the regime in Syria which has been a strong


ally of Iran. Syria is a battle front with Iran. It is not the


target but Iran is the target. Where do you see things developing


now? I think there will be a great amount of pressure on the Russians


to stop all not to veto any UN Security Council action against


Syria. China apparently has received some type of a bright last


week, the Chinese president was in Riyadh and he was given assurances


of supply of oil to China and I think there is also today we had an


announcement of a 9 billion dollar refinery which will be built in


China, funded by Kuwait. There are incentives for China from the GCC,


Russia has yet to receive such incentives and the price is not yet


right for Russia to stop supporting the Syrian government. On the


question of arms, Russian arms are pouring into Syria, what other Gulf


states doing behind the scenes with the Syrian Free Army? From the


beginning Saudi Arabia has supported the Syrian opposition,


dedicated a leading television channels to support the revolution


in Syria, they are armed groups in Syria which have been supported


directly with weapons and communications, tools and equipment,


from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. This is a war, really.


It is a proxy war between Iran and the GCC. This is basically... It


should be called a war because people are dying, both sides have


weapons. We must leave it there. Thank you


for joining us. Now a look at some of the day's other news. Egypt's


military ruler has announced a partial lifting of the country's


decades-old state of emergency from Wednesday. Field Marshal Tantawi


said it would still apply in dealing with crimes committed by


"thugs", the label the military has often given to the organisers of


anti-government protests. The move came on the first anniversary of


the popular uprising which ousted President Hosni Mubarak.


Turkey has condemned as discriminatory and racist a bill


passed by the French Senate which makes denial of the Armenian


genocide a crime. It has vowed to punish Paris with retaliatory


measures if French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose right-wing


UMP party initiated the bill, signs it into law.


Russia has announced that its peacekeeping troops and helicopters


are to be withdrawn from South Sudan by April 1st. It's a severe


blow to the United Nations' operation in the area, since it


relies on the helicopters to move personnel and supplies around the


country. The IMF has slashed its growth


forecast for most major countries downgrading world growth by 0.8%.


The main reason is because of the crisis in the year resign but the


IMF is predicting a recession in Italy and Spain. The IMF urged


governments to encourage growth and are just what it described as the


rhythm of austerity. More bad news for the eurozone from


the IMF. Global economic recovery is under threat because of strains


in the euro area. The eurozone economy is forecast to shrink by


0.5% in 2012. Food for thought for ministers and officials meeting in


Brussels. They cannot argue with the figures. The economic slowdown


continues and several factors point towards a moderate recession in the


first half of this year. Which makes it all the more important to


get some kind of good news out of Greece. Another Herculean task.


Talks between the Greek government and banks which agreed to write off


50% of the Greek debt they hold are stuck on the issue of how much


interest Greece will pay on the debt which remains. The European


ministers say there's no point in a deal unless agreed payments come


down to a sustainable level in the long term. That also means Greece


itself needs to push through a more austerity. It's quite clear the


implementation increase has failed. When it comes to structural reforms,


fiscal reform, they have not delivered. The ministers have been


discussing the new fiscal treaty for the eurozone which Britain


refused to be part of. The text is due to be finalised at the European


summit next Monday. When the EU leaders meet they want to talk


about growth and employment across the Union. Today's figures show


just how important that is. With a much greater economic growth, the


eurozone cannot escape from the crisis.


Nigerian security forces claimed to have arrested 160 members of an


Islamist sect during dawn raids incarnate. According to residents,


a man and his wife were killed in a gun battle after forces surrounded


a suspected hideout. The group has claimed responsibility for last


week's attacks that killed at least Nigeria is in trouble. Soldiers on


the streets and communities torn apart by violence. These are


Christians who have fled their homes in the Muslim-dominated north


of the country. A militant Islamist group Boko Haram gave them three


days to leave or else. Two days after the deadline they started


killing and shooting and bombing and that is what the left. You're


scared? Yes. We are scared and that's what the left. Who do you


blame? The government. They cannot protect us. Boko Haram is not just


targeting Christians. The ruins of a police station in the northern


city. At the weekend militants killed almost 200 people here. It


amounts to a declaration of war against Nigeria's secular


government. This was an extremely well planned, well orchestrated


assault with devastating results. The evidence suggests Boko Haram is


fast evolving from what was a fairly local menace into a full-


scale insurgency. So far, the Government's response has been a to


flounder and plain Al-Qaeda. These attacks are quite new. It is an


ugly face. The violence has horrified most Muslims. But in the


impoverished North people do feel let down by leaders and


marginalised. Boko Haram is exploiting it. Most of the


unemployed on the streets, no jobs, it is a sad situation. Boko Haram


is a symptom of the neglect? Yes. A vast increasingly polarised country


braces itself for more violence. President Obama is giving his


annual State of the Union address in Washington as the pitches for a


second term in office. In this crucial election year the heat is


on for President Obama and Republican candidates hoping to


stand against him. In a row over a transparency, mitt Romney has


revealed his tax records, will the details of his vast wealth help or


hinder his chances for the The years is a healthy salary. But


with the economic equality playing such a big part, how bad will that


affect him? Generally, in America, people don't mind other people


making large sums of money, and that is certainly particularly true


of the Republican Party. There have been lots of wealthy Republican


candidates. What Mitt Romney has got in trouble for is not so much


the amount of money has, but how his campaign has handled the issue


of his wealth, particularly on his tax returns. It has been a tricky


day for Mitt Romney in his race to challenge President Obama. That is


after those tax records were released. They show he received $45


million in income over the last two years. He paid $6.2 million in tax,


an effective tax rate of 13.9 % in 2010. His tax rate is below most


Americans, who pay up to 35 % of their income in tax because much of


his income comes from capital gains on investments. His records also


show that over the past three years he gave $7 million to charity,


about half of that to the Mormon Church. Republicans have been quick


to defend Mitt Romney on his tax issues and say he did nothing


illegal with his tax returns and they are above board. And that


American support the idea that investment income should be at a


low tax rate because then it is reinvested in the economy and


stimulate growth. On the other hand, Democrats have leapt upon this to


say it is another sign of unfairness and you cannot have


people this wealthy paying less tax than the average American.


President Dibaba's state of the Union address tonight. -- President


Obama. How ambitious can he be? will reiterate this, on the idea of


fairness, that there is a need for greater fairness in the American


economy and for wealth to be more evenly distributed. He is going to


mention the idea that some people have large sums of money, the top


1%, and the idea of inequality and the Occupied movement we have heard


of. There will be a populist appeal to the American voters to say I am


on your side and that he will stand up for the middle class of America,


implicitly drawing comparison with the Republicans, who the Democrats


say stand up for the wealthy in America. In conversations I've had


in the last couple of days with senior White House officials, the


one thing they have said is that the President does not want to make


any explicit reference to the Republican race. As one official


said, they do not want to put Barack Obama as on the same planet


as the Republicans who are running for the nomination because they do


not want him to be wading into that fight. And we will be covering the


state of the Union address later. The Spanish Judge who indicted the


former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, has gone on trial. Judge


Baltasar Garzon is accused of breaking an amnesty law by


attempting to investigate alleged human rights abuses committed


during Spain's civil war and during the dictatorship of Franco that


followed. From Madrid, Tom Burridge reports.


Today, hundreds gathered outside the Spanish Supreme Court. Many


held pictures of loved ones who had gone missing. And Spain's dictator


-- when it Spain's dictator Franco was in charge. They were here to


support the judge she was now on trial. One woman says her parents


were killed by fascists after the Spanish Civil War. She told me the


judges her only hope -- is her only hope. His trial is a disgrace as


Spain has not resolve its problems from the past. He is being tried


for investigating alleged human rights abuses carried out under the


regime of General Franco. The case will focus on the Spanish amnesty


law set up after Franco died so that Spain could move on. And the


outcome will determine whether crimes of the past could be


investigated in the future. But there are many others like this man


who was strongly opposed to investigating crimes from Spain's


pass. His organisation launched a prosecution against the judge.


Undoubtedly he has opened old wounds which people of all


political colours in Spain had overcome and moved on from in the


Franco regime. You have to take into account that the judge is from


the left. The case is putting the international spotlight on Spain.


Human rights lawyers came here to attend a trial, which they say is a


blow to democracy and human rights. Courts around the world has said


you cannot use amnesty laws to prevent the investigation of the


crimes of previous dictatorships. And yet, when he says in Spain that


he is not going to apply amnesty to the crimes, he is being prosecuted.


Some in Spain will never agree to forget. In many ways, the country


has moved on. But there is still an underlying political tension here.


That is over what has happened in the past. And this trial of the


country's best-known judge has The story of a 12-year-old orphan


in Paris has topped the nominations for this year's Oscars. Hugo, the


3D adventure film by Martin Scorsese, is up for 11 awards


including Best Picture and Director. Hot on its heels is the French


silent film the Artist, with ten This morning we will share the news


we have all been waiting for. seems nothing more matters in


Hollywood than this. The Oscars have always been the most formal


awards ceremony as well as the most prestigious. And in the melee of


names, if you stood out. Hugo. The Descendants. The Artist. In all,


The Artist picked up 10 nominations including best picture, director


and actor. Descendants took five and is a favourite for best picture,


as is Hugo, nominated in 11 categories, most of them technical.


For best actor, George Clooney goes up against Brad Pitt. And the best


British hope lies with Gary Oldman for his role in Tinker, tailor,


soldier, Spy. Meryl Streep's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher is a


favourite for Best actress. She is up against Michelle Williams and


viola Davies in The Help. The entertainment reporters managed to


rev up their excitement. Rye now it is all about Hugo. Despite the


announcement being made before dawn in LA. That was so it would hit the


American breakfast shows. If The Artist wins Best Film it will only


be the second time a silent movie has won the top prize since Wings


won the first ever best picture award in 1929. It is the No. 1


contender right now because everybody has a crush on it. They


are delighted with it. But there are big reservations about whether


it is really an Oscar-winner for best picture. George Clooney has


never won an Oscar for best leading actor. His Golden Globe has tipped


the odds in his favour for The Descendants. And it would be Brad


Pitt's first asked if he won as well. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


was ignored by the Golden Globes. But the film gives Gary Oldman and


his first ticket to the awards which will be held on the last


Sunday in February. Joining me now is film critic Jason Solomons. Hugo


and The Artist, there is a big theme of nostalgia. In the age of 3


D, and all that technology, but you go to the cinema and these are


about the beginnings of cinema, silent cinema and what she could do


in the old days without technology. Strange that the academy who kind


of push forward the arts and motion picture science is are going back


to other eras when blockbusters are what is dominating the cinemas.


blackout is intentional, there is not a problem with the club. This


is you go, and it is up for a lot of technical awards. It is


nominated his -- in almost every technical category. It is


extraordinary, and that is where it will find its victories. The


cinematographer he is also superb. Interestingly it is about lo-fi


technology and the beginning of the silent era. But it is pushing


forward 3D and is probably the best one ever made. The is has gone in


as the leading contender, but just be kind it with 10 nominations is


The Artist, which I saw at the weekend, and it is charmingly


brilliant. I think it is clever, charming, funny. Ultimately it is


very moving. It is a love story and I think it reminds us why we fell


in love with films in the first place. It is beautifully shot and


has a great knowing wink. He knows what it is doing but it is not


gimmicky or a sketch of a pastiche of those built. It tips a wink, but


it knows it is doing it now. These are French and nones are worth --


have crept into Hollywood -- French unknowns. He was in a children's TV


series. Unknown in France, but like the comedian here. In France they


find it a bit strange. We have been kinder to the film because it stars


him. They are now embracing it. I think that is the one that will


come out the winner. I think it will be the first silent winner


since 1927 and the first French winner of Best Picture ever. That


was nearly 100 years ago. It is a difficult trick to pull off, but it


does it beautifully. Not a great deal of time, but The Descendants,


how many is that up for? BT's five, and I think it will win for George


Clooney is performance. He has been nominated three or four times and I


think this is the one that will win it. A lovely performance that


balances laughter and tears. But Dad coming to terms with his wife


being in a coma and he finds that she has been unfaithful. P rains


the performance in. It is quite subdued for a comic performance and


he does it very well. Wall -- warhorse, huge promotion, dating


back to the First World War. Yes, a period piece and an old-fashioned


movie harking back in National Velvet and those John Ford westerns.


Lyrical passages. I think it is very well done. I don't think he


has magic in it which is what people take from the stage show,


but the war scenes are excellent. Spielberg is clearly a fantastic


film maker and he deserves six nominations. We need a popular film


at the top should -- Oscars. Jason, we are out of time. We will see


what happens in Fairbridge. That is it from us. From me and the team.


It was a cold day across the country with plenty of cloud and


rain through the night and we keep the cloud and it is another cloudy


story for tomorrow. But it will be quite mild and also fairly breezy.


We are beginning to see a weather front moving in off the Atlantic


bringing with it another band of rain to the north and the West.


Ahead of that we have damp and drizzly conditions and mist and fog


first thing in the morning. By the time we get to the afternoon we


might see glimmers of brightness across the North-East. But it will


be fairly overcast and at least temperatures into double figures


through the afternoon. The top temperature in London of 11 degrees


and for many it should be dry and another cloudy affair. Across


south-west England week should see patchy and light rain with a top


temperature of 10 degrees. A bit of a breeze in the south-west,


especially around the coast and for Wales we have like rain on and off


through the afternoon. Some heavy rain moving into Northern Ireland


accompanied by strong and gusty winds. It is also wet and we speak


-- windy for western Scotland. We might see some brakes and a cloud


in the morning giving some brighter spells. Through the evening the


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