26/03/2012 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me Zeinab Badawi. Another severe


food crisis in West Africa looms yet again. We're in the worst


affected country Niger, to report on those doing what they can to


stave off disaster. 2012 will be particularly tough. Harvest have


failed, prices are shooting up, there is growing


But a leading development agency tells us such food shortages are


entirely avoidable - so why do they keep on happening?


North Korea's nuclear ambitions hijack talks between major world


powers on nuclear terrorism at a summit in Seoul.


Guess who's coming to dinner? The row over the political donors who


are given access to the Prime Minister David Cameron.


Also coming up in the programme: The director of the hit movie


Titanic, hits rock bottom. James Cameron returns from the


deepest place on earth at the Hello and welcome: 'It's hunger


season again' - that's how the BBC's Andrew Harding has described


the food shortage that's affecting the Sahel region of West Africa.


The spectre of a major food crisis is once again casting its shadow.


The UN and international aid agencies are warning of severe food


shortages that are threatening the lives of the most vulnerable.


The BBC's Andrew Harding has travelled to the Sahel region and


sent this report from one of the affected villages in Niger, a short


distance from the capital Niamey. We need an armed escort to venture


a. Islamist militants are a growing threat. Saw his hunger. In this


tiny village this 50-year-old woman threshes grain. In recent years she


has lost her husband and children to disease and poverty. This


pitiful crop will only feed what is left of the family for one week.


course we are hungry. The rain did not come. It has been getting worse


for years. There are almost no men left in the village. All have gone


abroad in search of work. There is a food crisis nearly every year in


this village and 2012 will be particularly tough. Prices are


shooting up, have also failed, and there is growing insecurity across


the region. The familiar warning signs. 10 are


severely malnourished children arrived in the clinic this week.


The UN fears 400,000 children could be in this condition within months.


One in 10 is likely to die. It is much worse already this year it


says this nurse. Yet in Niger is not without hope.


In his village there is a scheme to trap rainwater.


The democratic government is acknowledging the crisis and co-


operating with the outside world. As women get a small wage from the


UN. Because of this work we can feed our families, she says. Maybe


in the future these fields will recover.


That does not change the fact that the village well is drying up.


Along the road is needed each year. As a child she remembers life was


wonderful here. Not any more. A little earlier Deborah Doane from


the World Development Movement told us that she believed this food


crisis is entirely avoidable. Famines are entirely avoidable.


They are man-made. What is happening in the Sahel is based on


the poor planning, poor structures, and policies that have been going


on for many years. Who is to blame? It is not down to one particular


thing. In the 1990s there were a series of policies from the IMF and


the World Bank which forced that removal of price controls which led


to the loss of investment in agriculture over the past 15 years.


We can look at an over-reliance on an international system that takes


the levers of control out of countries in that region. Rising


food prices that we are seeing recently that were the result of


the 2005 crisis, the 2010 crisis, those are down to the fact that


there are too many people buying their local -- eyeing the global


markets and not looking locally. many people see an anomaly. There


is food available in these countries. The markets are well


stocked. But a large number of people are simply unable to afford


to buy food. That is precisely the problem that is happening in Niger


and elsewhere in that the Sahel. If you are having a crop failure in a


time of drought, exacerbated by climate change, you are buying and


more of your food. You are buying in these. That is traded on global


commodity market. We are seen a rise in maize prices since 2010 of


75 %. When you are in are the poorest countries in the world and


you cannot afford to buy food that is a fundamental problem. Is there


are grounds for optimism? A lot of people are saying that high


commodity prices as well as increasing democratisation in the


Continent should promise a better future. If they are relying on


exports of other commodities, primary commodities, you are still


relying on food. The fundamental problem will be if they do not


prioritise food security and how to produce the right crops for the


right people locally. There are some signs of optimism. There is


some research that looked at and the culture in the region.


Investment in the local crops has proved to be quite good, but a lot


more needs to be done to make sure that that is prioritise. If they


are simply looking at exporting more of a primary commodities and


bring in enough income to pay for the commodities, be will be in the


same position in a few years' time. A rare moment of co-operation


between China and the United States. Barack Obama at Hu Jintao met on


the sidelines of a nuclear summit. Barack Obama reiterated the


commitment of the United States and Russia to reduce their nuclear


weapons. They cannot have been many


surprises in the conversation between these two men today. Barack


Obama began the meeting by reminding his Chinese counterpart


they had already met 11 times before. The list of topics was


familiar. At the top of that was North Korea and its nuclear


programme. Non-Proliferation said Barack Obama was in their interests


of both leaders. He has already criticised China for


not being tough enough. Its approach to dealing with North


Korea he said was not working. At a Korean university today he


demonstrated the kind of message he wanted to be heard. This is a


decision you must make. Today we say, have the courage to pursue


peace and give a better light to the people of North Korea. America,


he said, had no hostile intent towards North Korea. He said it was


committed to reducing its own nuclear stockpile as well as


pressuring others. I say this as President of the only nation ever


to use nuclear weapons. I see it as a commander in chief finos that the


nuclear codes are never far from my side. Most of all I see it as a


father, who once might two young doctors to grow up in a world where


everything they know and love can be instantly wiped out. Barack


Obama's visit began on Sunday with his first glimpse inside the close,


his state. Korea has dominated discussions ever since. China has


reportedly urged fellow delegations not to be sidetracked by the sight


of -- by the North Korean question. North Korea is not coming to the


sum at. It is not even on the official agenda. This meeting is


about preventing nuclear material from falling into the hands of


terrorist groups, not about nuclear disarmament, but North Korea is


just one hour's drive away from here. Barack Obama's speech and his


schedule shows just how much part of the discussion this is.


Let us look at some of the other news.


Coffee and man has said the crisis in Syria cannot be allowed to drag


on indefinitely. More fighting and deaths have been reported in Syria


today. After a meeting in Moscow Mr Coffey


a man urged all parties to accept change. This cannot be allowed to


drag on indefinitely. I have told the parties on the ground they


cannot resist the transformation. They have to accept that reforms


have to come, change has to come. The prospect of political deadlock


in Senegal appears to have faded after the incumbent president said


he had accepted defeat in the election. He had contested the


ballot. He had already served two terms in office. The winner of the


election said his victory marked a new year for Senegal.


Savage teams have recovered five more bodies from the wreck of the


Costa Concordia. 32 people are thought to have died when he the


ship crashed into rocks. Pope Benedict is flying to Cuba


following his visit to Mexico. He will spend three days in Santiago.


Catholic leaders dared say they hoped his visit will help


revitalise faith on the island. Reports say that the authorities


have detained in dissidents prior to his arrival.


Two British soldiers have been shot dead in southern Afghanistan by a


man in Afghan army uniform. The attacker died when a Coalition


forces returned fire. In the last hour it has been confirmed that


another NATO service member has been shot in eastern Afghanistan by


someone who was apparently part of the local Afghan police.


A growing number of NATO troops are being killed by Afghans who are


supposed to be their comrades and allies.


This is a tough conflict at the best of times. For international


troops the risk of being shot by the very men they are training is


the hardest on the face. These two deaths bring to 15 the number of


British troops who have died in this way.


The news was announced in the Commons. Details of the incident


are still emerging but it appears that a member of the Afghan


National Army opened fire at entrance to their British


headquarters killing two British personnel. The assailant was killed


by return of fire. Afghan anger has followed stories of US soldiers


urinating on enemy corpses, burning copies of the Koran, and then 17


villagers were killed by one rogue US soldier. It is the background to


the attacks by Afghan soldiers. In military jargon NATO is always


blue, Afghan forces are always green. These attacks are known as


Green on blue. A total of 13 troops have died this year at a hands of


Afghan forces. Before the debt of the two British personnel, six


American personnel were killed. One Albanian was killed. Fought French


troops were killed by an Afghan soldier in February. We are taking


measures to ensure that these are cadences are kept to a minimum.


This is at terrible spate of attacks. Although all these attacks


a relatively small in number the effect they have is Severe. Their


aim is that Afghan forces will be ready to take on the fight against


the Taliban for themselves by 2014. There is international resolve to


stick to the plan, keep to the timetable of withdrawal by the end


of 2014. However strong that maybe it is hard to see how there can be


just on the ground between the soldiers of these such different


nations. After the spate of violent killings. Flags will be flying at


Here, the British Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed that


some of the leading Conservative party's biggest donors have been


invited to private dinners at Number 10. It follows the emergence


of secret filming in which the party's former treasurer said six-


figure donations would buy access to the Prime Minister and his


policy unit. Initially Downing Street refused to give the names of


the guests, but there has been mounting pressure to do so. Mr


Cameron has launched an internal party inquiry - but Labour says


that is not enough. Here is our political Editor Nick Robinson. Not


everyone can afford to have dinner in the flat over the shop, not


least when the shop in question is Number Ten Downing Street and your


host is the Prime Minister himself. To date came confirmation that


David Cameron had, as claimed, hosted Doran parties for the very


very rich. In the two years that I had been Prime Minister, there have


been three occasions when it significant donors have come to


dinner in my flat. They were not fund-raising dinners nor the paid


for by the taxpayer. This is not what those attending a conference


on dementia expected but David Cameron knew he had no choice but


to reveal who had attended the demurs. Our bigger donors have been


for dinner in Number Ten Downing Street, in the Prime Minister's


private apartments. The guests at the parties hosted in the flat


contributed nearly �10 million to the Conservative Party. Amongst the


6th donors where Henry angriest - a Swiss-born banker. Like father - I


hedge-fund trader. Ian Taylor, chief executor of an oil company.


And Michael Spencer a billionaire businessman. At the end of the


speech today, David Cameron left, refusing to take questions from


reporters. And the Prime Minister was not in the Commons to answer


questions in a statement on party funding. The Minister had come to


talk about reforming party funding and was met with derision. As set


out in the coalition government document, party funding in Britain


needs to be reformed. LAUGHTER. shows utter contempt for this house


that the Prime Minister can make a statement to the media just three


hours ago and refuses to come here to face us. Ed Miliband condemned


what he called the whitewash of an inquiry into the Conservative Party


by the Conservative Party for the Conservative Party. This scandal


speaks to the conduct and character of the prime minister and


government. Anything short of an independent inquiry will leave a


permanent stain on his government and this Prime Minister. -- this


government. 0 of the a few weeks ago the Prime Minister told


schoolchildren about his flat above the shop. I live in a very nice


flat above Number 11 Downing Street, but what I get up to there is


private. How he must wish what -- that that remained true. It is


private no longer. Joining us now is our political correspondent.


Downing Street moving fast to dispel this controversy? Absolutely,


the key is to move quickly and try and limit the damage. And of course


to blunt the story under amount of detail. Moving fast but the story


has been given fresh momentum now because a former Downing Street


aide who is now a lobbyist, has been caught in that Sting as well


by the Sunday Times. A in terms of the face time, that is more


difficult. It is not impossible. The Prime Minister is obviously


very busy. There are certain ways of meeting. This cannot be seen in


isolation, it leads into a wider and long lasting scandal about


donors who give cash to political parties in order to gain access to


political leaders? That is right. I do not think David Cameron or his


closest advisers would describe this as anything other than a


potentially dangerous political moment. That is why they have moved


so quickly. The problem with this episode is that it feeds into a


broader image and it reinforces that sense that we know the voters


in Britain have of the Conservatives, as being a party of


the rich and powerful, which is considered to be the party's


greatest weakness. Do you think this has the potential to create


awful damage to David Cameron and his party? I think it is too early


to say. Downing Street is hoping that by releasing this detail, that


will help to be the story but that will not stop journalists from


continuing to Dec. It will not stop the opposition party, despite their


troubles in power, at from continuing to think there is an


opportunity here and to keep asking for an inquiry. Thank you very much.


When the Hollywood film director, James Cameron was working on the


abyss more than 20 years ago, he cannot have known that the plot for


his film about a mission to the bottom of the ocean would become


part of his own story. Earlier today, he returned from a four-hour


expedition to the deepest place on Earth - 11 kilometres down to the


Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. In his one man submersible,


Mr Cameron has made history - becoming the first person to make


the journey alone. Rebecca Morelle reports from the island of Guam -


the nearest landmass to the dive site. Heading to the deep his place


on earth, bad wetter threatened to scupper the mission but finally


James Cameron was a way. -- bad weather. He was left alone and


cramped in a tiny metal sphere. The descent took 2 1/2 hours. The


pressure built to 1,000 at his fears. I did not see anything


bigger than an inch long. I was hoping to get to rock outcrop


things where I expected to see a different community there,


unfortunately I ran out of power before I got that far. We will have


to go back and do a different dived. This thing is beg. -- the Hague. It


is 50 times the size of the Grand Canyon. This is a vast frontier


down there. It will take us a while to understand. I after several


hours of exploring, Mr Cameron resurfaced to the delight of his


team. James Cameron is the first person to have journeyed to the


Mariana Trench for half a century. He says he hopes to inspire a new


era of deep-sea exploration. The ocean is the final frontier of the


Earth, we know less about it than the planets. But now with the


success of this mission, James Cameron hopes to inspire a new era


of deep-sea exploration. To talk some more about this, we


are joined by ate a marine biologist.


Unlike in abyss, there are no aliens at the bottom of the Pacific,


but what kind of things might James Cameron have encountered? He would


probably see a lot of small at sea cucumbers. Possibly a lot of the


things like shims. Probably nothing too conspicuous. Could he have


spotted new species? At those kind of debt, spotting new species would


be very difficult, you should really go more shallower than that.


Tell us what kind of experience he would have had going down like


that? 11 kilometres is a fantastic debt. It took him to add a have


first to get down there, it is a long distance. The temperature


would be colder than the more you got to the bottom. There is very


little light there. He would have kicked up a lot of sediment and I


would imagine it was an uncomfortable experience. By it


sounds like an understatement! think it would be horrible. Was it


quite danger is? He could have lost communication with the outside


world for instance. That is always the risk you take with a


submersible. If you employed, that is the worst thing that could


happen. -- implode. It was a life- threatening adventure then? Yes,


but he has put a lot of money and time and trainee into this. I am


sure it is pretty safe, but it just looks very dangerous. Are you


impressed or not? Absolutely. It is amazing, it raises the profile of


deep-sea biology, it is fantastic. Does it take us anywhere apart from


be exciting for Mr Cameron? I hope so. He commented that he was


planning to go back. I was concerned they would just go once


and that would be yet but it is nice to hear he plans to do some


more. Going to the marionette branch is not necessarily


representative of other take places. -- the Mariana Trench. The trenches


are very isolated habitats and why happens one trench does not mess


his family have been in other trenches, it is similar to


mountains. Going to Mount Everest does not tell you about Mount


Kilimanjaro. This is a good start and it has proved the technology.


Is there any point in a human going down like this? Can they do more


than machines? People would disagree. My feeling is that you


can get more bottom time with a remote systems. You do not have the


danger issue. There are a lot of arguments for and against. Let us


hope James Cameron was not wasting his time with that life threatening


exploration. Thank you very much. A reminder of our main news: A


drought, chronic underdevelopment and political instability have


created a landscape which has more than 60 million people in the Sahel


Region of West Africa at risk of food shortages. That's it for now.


Goodbye. Hello. On Monday afternoon we


Hello. On Monday afternoon we continued with the warmth across


many parts of the country, but tomorrow there is more of the same.


We have sunshine and high temperatures for the end of March.


Although we have the sunshine around, high pressure is keeping


things in try which is not good news for those regions which need


rain. No sign of significant rained throughout the week. Another dry


day tomorrow, it begins cold with Matt -- with mist and fog. The


sunshine will have temperatures by the afternoon. It is still cooler


on the coast of East Anglia but come further inland, there will be


temperatures of 18 Celsius. 21 tomorrow in London. 18 degrees in


the south-west and breezy in Cornwall, but as the breeze travels


up the north coast of Wales, we see the temperatures climbing up to 20


degrees. For Northern Ireland, it is cooler towards the coast of


Antrim but we will see temperatures up to 19 degrees on the north coast.


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