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This is BBC World News Today with me Tim Willcox.
Cornered in his apartment in Toulouse - French police surround
the man suspected of being behind the recent killings.
He referred to the fact he was planning other killings. If he is
telling the truth, the gunmen would have left his house this morning
and once again killed any soldier he came across.
Cutting the top rate of income tax - but how big a political gamble is
George Osborne's budget? This country borrowed its way into
trouble, now we're going to earn our way out. It's a millionaires'
budget which squeezes the middle - wrong choices, out of touch, same
old Tories. Free after more than six months -
the British woman held in Somalia is released after a ransom is
handed over. Also coming up in the programme:
The increasingly amazing aspirin. New evidence that a daily dose
might not only prevent the spread of cancer, but actually treat it.
In the name of imperial Caesar, hail Caesar.
And how easy is it to translate one of Russia's greatest literary
Hello and welcome. As we come on air, the man suspected of being
behind the recent killings in France remains cornered in an
apartment block in Toulouse. The man, identified as Mohammed Merah,
a 24-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin with links to
Pakistan and Afghanistan, is surrounded by police commandoes.
Shots have been fired and several policemen injured. It's also
emerged that French intelligence had been tracking him for years.
Christian Fraser has been following events.
They swooped in the early hours of the morning. Intelligence gathered
in the biggest manhunt France has known led them to an apartment in
this quiet residential street. Inside was the gunman responsible
for seven murders. His name is Mohammed Merah, aged 24-year-old
French citizen who was arrested in Afghanistan and was known to the
intelligence services. As they try to force their way end, there was
an exchange of fire in which two policemen were shot and injured.
The gunman's brother was arrested in a separate operation and his
mother was brought to the scene to try and talk him out. We have now
spoken to the man who yesterday afternoon handed the police their
key piece of information. 10 days ago, Mohammed Merah came to this
Yamaha franchise in Toulouse to discover how to disable the
tracking device on his scooter and how he would dismantle it to
respray it. This man has known the killer since he was a teenager.
seemed a normal kid. A bit more unruly than others and he did have
a criminal record, but there was nothing that may Keith -- make me
think he was capable of this. remembered their conversation and
phone the police. President Sarkozy has come to congratulate the based
on a job well done but serious questions will be asked. How did a
well-known fundamentalist managed to kill seven people and how did he
gather such an extraordinary arsenal of weapons which was found
in the boot of his car without raising the concerns of the
surveillance teams which were following him. For the families,
who were today attending the funeral of the victims in Israel
and France, they will be anger and frustration that maybe this could
have been prevented. Two weeks ago, Mohammed Merah appeared in court
charged with a minor driving offence. It was the last
opportunity to stop the man who would soon become the most
dangerous killer in France. We can now go live to the scene and
the BBC's Richard Galpin. One deadline to give himself up has
been and gone. What is the situation? The siege continues. The
police commandos still surrounded the apartment building. Mohammed
Merah is still inside his flat and we now know they have been many
hours of negotiations because the first initial police raid was at
3am in the morning. We are talking 17 hours ago. They have been
talking but so far it seems there has been no breakthrough. They have
not persuaded him to actually surrender and come out of the
building and the question now is, it is night-time here, what will
the police do? Will they continue talking to him throughout the
night? Or will they decide that they have got used force and try
and break into the apartment he, perhaps when he is feeling
particularly exhausted and tired? Fills this began at 3am in the
morning. At some point, it is likely he is going to fall asleep.
What sort of weapons has he got in there? According to reports we have,
he is quite well armed a. He handed over one Pistyll earlier round
today in exchange for getting a mobile phone. But we understand he
still has a Kalashnikov assault rifle, apparently he has a machine-
gun and there are reports also that he has a number of hand-grenades.
He remains well-armed and we know that he is prepared to use them
against the police because, in the initial raid this morning, he
opened fire, firing through the door, injuring three policemen. He
remains an extremely dangerous man and it is going to be a very
difficult decision for the police as to what they should do in the
coming hours. Thank you very much. Let's go to Paris now to speak to a
French journalist. What sort of questions are being asked there?
The strange thing is that he had not entirely served under the radar
because he was known as being increasingly radical eyes in is a
part of Toulouse where he lived and he was under an amount of
surveillance which also kept an eye on him. He applied to join the army
twice, we don't know why, but the police were aware of him. He was
rejected. These three different spate of murders have taken place
within 10 days so he was under the radar but not, they could not get
to him a fast and ever. This all comes ahead of the presidential
elections. President Sarkozy said this would not divide France but
has it? We don't know yet what the result is going to be. I think all
the politicians in France are terrified that they will say the
wrong thing and then they will destroy their electoral chances,
the way it did for the Spanish conservative premier who was not
cautious and described the Madrid bombings to the Basque separatist.
Mohammed Merah's grievances include the deaths of Palestinian children
and France's role in Afghanistan, the 4th largest contingent. Could
this change the withdrawal of forces? The Socialist candidate is
on record as saying he wants forces out sooner rather than later.
Several politicians are on record on that and I suspect the French
military are not happy with the way the Afghanistan campaign is going
but what is certain is that nobody is going to ask for a faster
withdraw mouth because that means if you perpetrate a terrorist act,
the country will yield a. It is an encouragement to go and kill people.
I would imagine that nobody in France will call for any kind of
early withdrawal out of Afghanistan. Thank you very much.
There have been weeks of pre-Budget speculation but, today, Chancellor
George Osborne took quite possibly the biggest gamble of his political
career. During an hour-long statement, he confirmed he's
cutting the top rate of income tax, taking it down from 50% to 45% next
year. The 50p rate, he said, had raised next to nothing. Labour has
dubbed it the millionaires' budget. But Mr Osborne said he'd also
helped millions of low and middle income earners by raising the
income tax personal allowance to more than �9,000.
Let's hear more from our Political Correspondent, Naomi Grimley. A
difficult decision politically for the Chancellor because he lays
himself wide open to attack from Labour. Although polls we have had
on the subject of the top rate of tax to suggest it is going to be a
tough sell. It was just part of a Budget which actually opens up some
new dividing lines between the two parties on the subject of tax.
Let's have a look at the main points. The government will cut the
top rate of tax for the nation's highest earners from 50 % down to
45 %. That is coming into effect next year. But ministers also
pledged to take more low earners out of tax altogether. That is by
increasing the personal tax allowance significantly. And to
help pay for those tax cuts, has George Osborne announced a new 7%
rate of stamp duty on properties over �2 million. But inside the
chamber, inevitably, the debate pivoted on that whole question of
cutting the top rate of tax. George Osborne pointed to a report that
the Treasury had done, showing that the tax only raised a third of what
it was supposed to do. He also suggested that wealth creators
could be scared away from the UK altogether. Mr Deputy Speaker, no
Chancellor can justify a tax rate that damages our economy and raises
that. And thanks to the other new taxes on the rich, which I have
announced today, we will be getting five times more money each and
every year from the wealthiest in our society. Ed Miliband was not
convinced that was going to be the case. He did this a budget for
millionaires. What has he chosen to make his priority? For Britain's
millionaires, a massive income tax cut each and every year. The
fairness test for this Budget was whether the Chancellor used every
penny he could to help middle- income families that are squeezed.
He has failed that test. One other constituency which will not be very
happy are pensioners. It was almost an off-the-cuff remark that the
Chancellor announced he was going to freeze some of the tax-free
allowances for pensioners. This is probably going to pick between 4
million and 5 million over 65 year- olds. It has already been dubbed on
Twitter as the granny tax. Knowing what we do about the power of the
green lobby in Britain, I think it could cause the government quite a
big headache. We have got a few will rise as well in a few months'
time and he was under pressure to postpone that, but that has not
happened. The fuel tax has been something that caused the
government a lot of pain as well because it points to squeeze to
household budgets. There has been a lot in the press talking about the
squeeze Middle, a phrase adopted from America, and although in the
past the Chancellor has offered help to motorists, this time he did
not. He says it is a fiscally neutral but the other question has
been that of child benefit. What sort of tweeds have been done
there? -- tweaks? That has proved very controversial in the past,
particularly hitting a group of middle earners who are going to see
their money, their benefits cut. He has actually raised the threshold
at which that it is going to taking so there will be some relief from
those households, well-off households, who are going to see
this benefit cut, but some people will say, if people at the bottom
end of the income scale were going to suffer benefit cuts, why
shouldn't those who are better off Now a look at some of the day's
other news. The UN Security Council has given its backing to a peace
plan for Syria put forward by its envoy, Kofi Annan. In a statement,
agreed after weeks of negotiations with Russia and China, the council
urged the Syrian government and its opponents to implement Mr Annan's
proposals immediately. It said further steps would be considered
if they failed to do so. A Libyan government delegation has
left Mauritania without the former Libyan Intelligence Chief, Abdullah
al-Senussi, who was detained there last week. Earlier, Libya's Deputy
Prime Minister had said he'd been promised Mr Senussi's extradition
from the Mauritanian president. Mr Senussi was considered to be
Colonel Gaddafi's right-hand man. Foreign private security companies
in Afghanistan have begun to hand over control to Afghan government
forces after a new law came into force. President Karzai has been
increasingly frustrated by the behaviour of some companies.
They'll be replaced by an Afghan special protection force. The
change also reigns in private Afghan security companies, raising
fears that foreign aid workers could be less well protected in
future. Thousands of mourners attended a
memorial service in Lommel, Belgium, for some of the victims of last
week's bus crash in Switzerland. 22 children and six adults died when
their coach crashed in a road tunnel while the group was
returning to Belgium from a skiing holiday.
The Beatles didn't manage it, nor did the Rolling Stones, but the boy
band One Direction have. They've become the first British group to
go straight to the top of US music charts with their debut album,
selling 176,000 copies of their album Up All Night. The group was
formed in 2010 by judges on the Judith Tebbut, the British woman
held hostage in Somalia for more than six months has been freed. Mrs
Tebbutt has been reunited with her son in Nairobi following her
release which came after a ransom was paid to her kidnappers. Her
husband, David, was killed when she was snatched from a beach resort in
northern Kenya last September. Will Ross has the details.
The dramatic rescue from Somalia, or as a security official whisks
Judith Tebbutt of to a plane and freedom. Emotions are mixed. She
held back the tears as she spoke of her husband's dying. A I did not
know he had died. I think it was about two weeks from Mike Catt
chair. I assumed he was alive -- two weeks from my capture. My son
told me he had died. The terrifying ordeal began last September, at
this isolated, tranquil resolve to on the Kenyan coast. An armed gang
burst into the room in love the night. Shots were fired. The gunman
bundled Judith into a boat. Her husband was left behind and died of
his injuries. Just before her flight out of Somalia, Judith
Tebbutt spoke to the man who helped raise the ransom. Her son, Oliver.
OK, Honey bun. Sorry, Oliver! Mother and son have been reunited
in Kenya. On arriving here in Nairobi, officials from the British
High Commission stepped in to take care of Judith Tebbutt. The British
government's involvement in her release had been minimal, because
it opposes the idea of paying a ransom to secure the release of a
hostage. Two people who know the horror of captivity in Somalia and
the joy of being set free appal and Rachel Chandler. The process of
release is about 20 or 30 hours of travelling towards freedom. You get
on an adrenalin high. It is fantastic to realise you are free.
As Judith Tebbutt puts it, now is the time to pick up the pieces and
move on. The extraordinary qualities of the
simple aspirin have been known for years, but today came evidence of
another one, with research published in the Lancet suggesting
aspirin can not only protect people against cancer but actually treat
it as well. But there can be side effects as well, which include
internal bleeding. Fergus Walsh has this report.
The possible benefits of aspirin against cancer appear to be
mounting. This research shows its protective effect are quicker than
previously thought. For the first time, it showed a reduction in the
spread of disease of patients with cancer. For some patients, such as
those with bowel cancer, the risk was reduced by 50 % six years after
diagnosis. That means cancer spreading two out of 10 patients
taking daily aspirin, compared with four out of 10 taking a placebo or
a dummy pill. The researchers believe the guidelines on who would
benefit from daily aspirin need revision, as they do not include
the cancer benefits. I think we need to do more research on which
particular people are at highest risk of cancer and vascular events,
and have the most to gain from taking aspirin. I think we are
urgently need to do some trials of a spring in the treatment of cancer.
A weather, long-term aspirin used as a major and well researched
drawback -- however. That is the risk of internal bleeding. That is
what prevents it from being used daily in healthy adults. Aspirin
has long been known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Now,
cancer prevention must be included, but the dangers of internal
bleeding mean that anyone considering taking a small daily
dose of aspirin should first talk to their doctor.
Jessica Harris is a health information manager at Cancer
Research UK and joins us now from central London. That is the
question. We will be, you were excited, but how many of us should
think about taking aspirin? These are encouraging findings. It is
great to say so much good quality research into the benefits and
drawbacks of taking aspirin daily. It is important that people talk to
their doctors. Some people will have conditions, quite common
conditions in some cases, which mean it is a bad idea to take
aspirin. For example, asthma, and other medications people might be
taking, such has anti-inflammatory drugs, they can react badly with
aspirin. It is a good birdie to be careful with whom should not take
it -- it is a good idea. But it is extraordinary, isn't it? Every
month, we seem to be hearing of some other feature of this. The
fact that it could actually prevent cancer, is it credible? There could
be a number of different ways. The way it is looking like it is
probably working is to do with its effect on our platelets. As far as
cancer developing goes, it has an effect on reducing inflammation
throughout the body. That could be how what is having that effect. It
is a very interesting drug, and one which has a range of effects across
the body, which is why it is so important to make sure we balance
appropriate in the benefits, which seemed to be stacking up highly,
with making sure we do not put people at risk. What age should we
stand? In these studies, the benefit was most his team of people
to locate in middle-age. For example, people in their fifties.
His is something that should perhaps be advocated for children?
-- is it something. We need to make sure people are recommended to take
it at an age at which the benefit is greatest, and the risk of harm
is lowest. The risk of side-effects goes up quite a lot in older people,
in elderly people, they are at more risk of the side-effects. You go
people will be at low risk of cancer so the benefit will not be
so great -- younger people. We need a review of the risks and
recommendations from the government at him -- about to his best to take
it and who should not definitely take it. Thank you.
It's considered one of the greatest novels of Russian literature. For
many of its admirers, Mikhail Bulgakov's Master And Margarita is
a rival to War And Peace, or Crime And Punishment. Now the British
director Simon McBurney has adapted it for the stage. The BBC's Russian
Service Arts Editor Alexander Kan has been talking to McBurney about
It is not the first time Simon McBurney has turned himself to
Mikhail Bulgakov. One year ago, he put on a production of Heart Of A
Dog, based on the book. This time, he took on a more challenging task.
I have lost count of the number of people who have said it is their
favourite novel. That is very disturbing to me, because when you
take anybody's favourite anything, you feel you have a responsibility,
and so you have to forget the idea that it is everybody's favourite
novel and just concentrate on the personal experience. The novel
evolves in two parallel universes. The story of Jesus Christ and
Pontius Pilate. If the biblical story is universal, Stalin's Moscow
is fading into history. The way Mikhail Bulgakov right means that
the story rises above local and particular -- the way he writes.
You do not say, this is a portrait of Stalin, he is writing eminently
not like Solzhenitsyn. It goes further, in my opinion. Master And
Margarita, with its mix of fantasy and realism, and leaps between
intersecting stories, asks for a unique approach in bringing it to
the stage. In my adaptation, what I have done is splintered the novel,
and I have inter-cut elements, so you are in one place and another,
them back in the first place them in a third place. Then you were
hearing something else, and seen something you were not sure about.
What happens is, gradually, you piece together the fragments and
they begin, slowly, to form something you in your mind. --
something new. Let me be quite clear, this is not Mikhail
Bulgakov's novel. This is filtered through Simon McBurney's lens, and
doll-like can do is hope to put my own passion in it. -- and all I can
do. A modern production with video and special effects, the music of
Shostakovich and the Rolling Stones, Simon McBurney's masterpiece.
A reminder of our main news. The prime suspect in the killing of
seven people in France is surrounded by elite police
commandos. The man, identified as Mohammed Merah, a 24-year-old
French citizen of Algerian origin with links to Pakistan and
Afghanistan, is surrounded by police commandos. Shots have been
fired at the house in Toulouse where negotiators have spent the
day trying to persuade the man to give himself up. That siege
continues. Commanders say they want to take him alive. We will bring
you on the latest developments. Hello. We had a lot of sunshine
across parts of the country. Tomorrow will be dry for many, with
more sunshine. There will be a few exceptions. Essentially, we have
high pressure in the Atlantic. There is a weather front moving up
through the Bay of Biscay which will complicate matters in the
south-west corner. It will throw in some more cloud for Devon and
Cornwall and some showers may be. Along the coast of eastern England,
it will be a bit misty and murky, and feel much colder. Inland, the
sunshine, and temperatures could reach as high as 18 degrees. South-
west England, we will see some showers on and off through the day,
and temperatures at 12 degrees. Further north, in South Wales, it
should be warm earth. Warm or through West Wales, with
temperatures around 16. Cool around the coast of Northern Ireland, but
in the north-west corner, we have some sunshine, and about 15 degrees.