27/03/2012 World News Today


27/03/2012

The latest national and international news, exploring the day's events from a global perspective.


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This is BBC World News Today with me, Tim Willcox. Is Syria's

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leadership really ready to talk? As President Assad tours areas in Homs,

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until recently the heart of the rebellion, his government says it

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accepts the Kofi Annan peace plan. The Syrian government has now

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written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan accepting his six point

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plan. Mr Annan has written to President Assad urging the Syrian

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government to put its commitments into immediate effect.

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The disputed oil rich border between South Sudan and its

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northern neighbour sees fierce clashes once again.

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Biology's new frontier - making DNA from scratch to change the world.

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We look at the revolutionary steps taking place in science.

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Also coming up in the programme: Following in his predecessor's

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footsteps - Pope and president set to meet in Havana, but many

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Catholic Cubans question what role the church should be playing in the

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:01:11.:01:25.

And recognising a rock god and pop history in a quiet London side

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:01:35.:01:43.

Hello and welcome. After a year of bloodshed in Syria that the UN

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thinks has now claimed as many as 9,000 lives, Kofi Annan's

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announcement that Damascus has accepted his peace plan may be

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treated with scepticism by many. His comments coincided with

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President Assad making a rare foray into Homs, the former heartland of

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the rebellion, and a meeting of the The Syrian President a-share our

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asset apparently visiting the Baba Amr and area of Homs. This, for the

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first time since military forces besieged the area, killing hundreds

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and forcing rebel fighters to withdraw. But elsewhere in Homs,

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the battle appears far from over. This video, which has not been

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independently verified, allegedly showing a neighbourhood still been

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shelled by government forces. Here and across many parts of Syria,

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people continue to die every day. But now at least beat efforts of

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veteran diplomats Kofi Annan seemed to be working. He secured the

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support of the Chinese as well as the Russians for his peace plan.

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And today he also announced that the Syrian government itself had

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agreed to his initiative. I have received a response from the Syrian

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government and will be making it public today. This is positive.

:03:26.:03:36.
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end the bloodshed of the past year, At a meeting in Turkey today,

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Syrian opposition activists were sceptical about the government

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fulfilling their side. We are very cautious when we see that the

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regime is accepting anything. We want to see that implemented on the

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ground and compliance by the regime is something that we need to see

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happen. This, the reason many are so cautious about the deal. Yet

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another badly injured child been brought to a field hospital in Homs.

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According to the latest figures from the UN, more than 9,000 people

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have been killed so far, most of them civilians. Syrian opposition

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groups have held two days of talks. Let us join our correspondent there.

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There was a walkout from a well known Syrian dissident. How United

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are they? It is as desperate as Syria is. When the council was

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established six months ago, it was supposed to be an umbrella group.

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It has never been as coherent as the transitional government in

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Libya. They are disagreeing about everything. There has been a

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walkout as well by a Kurdish group. They are a significant part of the

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population and one their efforts to be recognised. There are a lot of

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people here there. There are delegates from every possible

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ideological background. They are talking and at least a green on

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their goals. They also agree that they do not believe for one moment

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that President Assad can meet the Kofi Annan plan. I asked them if

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they were willing to speak to President Assad and they said we

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probably won't get there. They do not believe he will take his strips

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off the street. For all that, the fact that President Assad has

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accepted the plan does cause some difficulties. They are talking

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about getting more international support and now they have to shift

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diplomacy which will be hard for some of them. Where do we stand now

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regarding a potential buffer zone within Syria along the border with

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Turkey? It is not going to happen yet. It has been talked about by

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Turkish politicians, immensely frustrated by the bloodshed in

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Syria. There is nothing they can do. The buffer zone is there as an

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option only if there is a massive influx of Syrians. It is not going

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to happen yet and the fact is that Kofi Annan's plan shifts the focus.

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The Russians and Chinese support it and the international community

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cannot agree on any other action. I think people need to give diplomacy

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a chance and for the opposition that mean sitting back and

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accepting the bloodshed they have gone through. The bitter pill is

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joining the diplomatic process that does not guarantee President Assad

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it will leave power at the end of Rafik Abdessalem is Tunisia's

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Foreign Minister. I asked him how optimistic the world should be

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about the pledge from Damascus. Personally, I am pessimistic, but

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let us hope things going the right direction. It all depends on the

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He needs to listen to the demands

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of his people. If he does listen to the demands for more democracy,

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freedom, things might go up in the right direction. To ask for a

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system to be changed that has been in place for many years will be

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difficult. The Syrian opposition is not united. How much of a factor

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will that be? Will they be greeted even sit down to direct talks?

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this is one of the difficulties of the Syrian crisis. There is a

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political polarisation. If we have a common voice that comes from the

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Syrian opposition, the balance of power what will be in favour of the

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political change. Let us hope that the Syrian opposition overcome this

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internal division. You have been in post for three months. The

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international community is welcoming you, but if he were asked

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about the situation in Syria, what would your advice be to the

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international community about what to do with that situation? I think

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to support the legitimate demands of the Syrian people, to have peace

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for political change, not to move towards any militarisation of the

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conflict. There was a militarisation of the conflict in

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Libya and that was the deciding factor. Do you still said that is

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the wrong direction to go as far as there is concern? Yes. The main

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problem in Syria is the Bashar al- Assad regime. The situation in

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Libya was different. In Syria we have a religious and sectarian

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division. The Assads had been power for 40 years. Come the end of their

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regime, what problems will be encountered? It depends on the

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movement of the political parties in Syria. If they can control the

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situation, help the country come back to normality of, -- normality,

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it would be a good thing. It in the immediate short-term, you are not

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optimistic of a quick solution? Unfortunately, I am not.

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Now a look at some of the day's other news.

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President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged TV networks not to broadcast

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violent videos filmed by the Mohamed Merah during his fatal

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attacks in Toulouse. A USB stick containing the footage was sent to

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Al Jazeera. They have decided not to broadcast the images. The

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families of the victims have also called for the footage not to be

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shown. World leaders have vowed to take

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strong action against nuclear terrorism at the end of a summit in

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South Korea. The 53 leaders said the threat was one of the most

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challenging facing the world today. The summit comes at a time of

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growing international concern over the nuclear programmes of both Iran

:11:31.:11:41.
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and North Korea. The operators of an oil platform

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off the coast of Scotland say it could take at least six months for

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them to stop a gas leak there. The oil company Total says its looking

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at several options to try to stem the leak at the Elgin platform,

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including drilling a relief well. There's now a three kilometre

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exclusion zone around the rig, with over 300 workers evacuated.

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Fighting on the disputed oil-rich border region between South Sudan

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and Sudan has continued for a second day. The South says clashes

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have taken place on the ground while its northern neighbour has

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bombed its positions. The clashes appear to be centred on disputed

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towns close to the border. Authorities in Khartoum say a visit

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to the South by Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has been cancelled,

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but could be re-scheduled if lower One official from an well company

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said a bomb landed within the oilfields near one of his team

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sites. That claim has been denied. Secondly, salsa band's military

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spokesman says there is fighting going on on the ground there are a

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major oil field. I have not been able to confirm that, but it is

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clear the situation between these two countries are deteriorating.

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Both except there were clashes along the disputed border on Monday.

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Sudanese officials Arnaud saying that the President will travel, but

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if political and military progress is made the summit could be pushed

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back to a later date. At the moment, things are looking pretty bleak.

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Gill Lusk is editor of Africa confidential. It looks like the

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most serious confrontation since independence. What do mecca the

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timing? It does look serious. The timing, this war has been building

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up for some time. The fighting did not just been -- begin yesterday

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morning, although that is when the Sudan army bombed into the oil

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fields in southern Sudan. Do you think there is some power play

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going on in Khartoum itself and that the Shia is under pressure?

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The it is about power, but more broadly it is about the sudden

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government. They are saying they are not going to be pushed around.

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This is the feeling you get in southern Sudan and in the north, it

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is about the Government trying to hold on to power work because they

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are a deeply unpopular government and as well as the war with the

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south, there is a war against Northern armed opposition. That is

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what most of the fighting has been about recently. Obviously, this is

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an area that is oil-rich. But countries depend on each other in

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terms of pipe mines, or production and the economy. Is it all about

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whale, or are there many other factors? Many other factors. It is

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about power. Khartoum is trying to divert attention from its own

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problems in the north and it is doing this by having a war with the

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South. It has always used to war as a political weapon since it took

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power. In the south it is about asserting their sovereignty. Both

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countries accuse each other of supporting armed militia. What

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evidence is there to support that? There is plenty of evidence that

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Khartoum was supporting it militia. They have used proxy forces for

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many years. The sudden government is supporting the northern rebels,

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yes, but that tends a hide the fact that it is really an internal more

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:15:53.:15:56.

than problem here going on. The Some say it could be the spark that

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ignites the next industrial revolution. Others say it is

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meddling with nature. Either way, it is one of Britain's research

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priorities. It involves producing artificial DNA to make things such

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as medicines, fuels and materials. Imagine the power to design new

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forms of life, to dream up new versions of the genes inside every

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living thing on earth and create organisms that have never before

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existed. That is what is happening here in this lab in Imperial

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College in London. The researchers are not just studying life, the are

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reshaping it. This is synthetic biology's. It is an emerging

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science which could transform the industry and medicine and science.

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It is clear that these techniques can be applied across a wide range

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of different fields, from health care through due energy and

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agriculture. What is synthetic biology? The starting point is

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something that has been around for years, genetic modification. There

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is the bundle of genes inside the cell. The modified them by splicing

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in DNA from another organism. What they're doing now goes much further.

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It relies on the fact that DNA is a coat for life, made up of just four

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basic building-blocks represented here by these four letters. As with

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any Engineering progress, these components have to be re- Eddie --

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rearranged to design new genes. The scientists take these for building

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clock's -- these for building blocks to create their own version

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of synthetic, man-made DNA. The final stages the most extraordinary.

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They take a cell with all of its own original DNA stripped out and

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insert the synthetic DNA, getting the organism to do whatever they

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want, taking control of nature. What can this do? The fight against

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malaria, carried by mosquitoes, will see a vaccine made with

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synthetic biology later this year. Algae with synthetic genes could

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make fuel. We could be driving with the stuff in years ahead. New crops

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may cope with drought and disease to feed a world of 7 billion. It is

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one of countless ideas. We are here today to announce the first

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synthetic cell. Two years ago, an American scientist announced the

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first living thing with synthetic DNA. Are we ready for such a

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fundamental step? These advances are exciting but terrifying. The

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offer the possibility of creating new life forms that will deal with

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many of the world's greatest problems, but it will create life

:18:58.:19:04.

forms in the human immune system and the world - or -- in that the

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human immune system and the world which we have not experienced.

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There are more worried about this new research. Scientists say they

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are doing everything safely. It we are working within the design phase

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about how we can develop kill switches, little method and --

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little mechanisms whereby the organism would kill itself. These

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would ensure that the organism will not interfere with the natural

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world. We do not one that to happen. A it was only 60 years ago that

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scientists discovered how genes work as the court for life. Now,

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they're taking charge. We're on the brink of a new Europe and the

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public debate about it has only just begun. -- and U E Rush.

:19:54.:19:58.

Pope Benedict has arrived in the Cuban capital of Havana. He is due

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to meet the President later. Earlier, he prayed for detained

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Cubans during a visit to them country's most important Catholic

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shrine, Our Lady of Charity in the east of Cuba. He urged students to

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build anew and open society during a mass in the eastern city of

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Santiago de Cuba. Cuba was officially atheist until 1992.

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Since then, the Catholic Church has been slowly reviving the state.

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Some accuse it of focusing so much and that that it is failing to

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speak out on Schumann right. -- on human rights. For four decades, a

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vast statue of Christ towered over atheist Cuba. It was not removed

:20:48.:20:52.

during the revolution, but this is a secular country now. The Catholic

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Church is busy reasserting itself. This is a Breakfast Club for

:20:57.:21:02.

schoolchildren and a poor neighbourhood of Havana. But is one

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of dozens of church project in a country where so much is controlled

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by the state. We are not trying to compete with the government, Oscar

:21:11.:21:17.

tells me. We're just here to help. There are other signs of a church

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revival. I went to visit a smart new seminary just outside Havana as

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the first church building permitted in Cuba since the revolution, when

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religious schools were taken over and many priests fled. Now, 52

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young men are preparing for the priesthood here. They're trying to

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cut Cubas dependence on clergy from abroad. When the seminary was

:21:42.:21:47.

inaugurated in 2010, President Castro was invited to the ceremony.

:21:47.:21:51.

It was a powerful symbol of the new relationship between the Catholic

:21:51.:21:55.

Church and his communist state. There are some who wonder whether

:21:55.:22:00.

the churches using that relationship as it should. Every

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Sunday, after Mass, the ladies in white march in a silent protest for

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human rights. It began when their husbands were imprisoned for their

:22:09.:22:13.

political views. The men were released in 2010, after Cuba's

:22:13.:22:18.

Cardinal intervened. The women are still marching. Last week, dozens

:22:18.:22:23.

were detained by police. Tudor says they are paid by America to

:22:23.:22:27.

undermine the revolution. The women say detention and harassment of

:22:27.:22:35.

dissidence is a rising. -- is rising. The government told us,

:22:36.:22:42.

you're not allowed to go to Mass with the Pope. The Catholic Church

:22:42.:22:47.

has at social doctrine to which protects the marginalised and the

:22:47.:22:53.

suffering, but the cardinal a silent about the atrocities the --

:22:53.:22:55.

the adduces the picture the Government is committed against the

:22:55.:23:02.

people. Quiet diplomacy has brought result in the past and allowed

:23:02.:23:10.

social work like this to continue. The Church will not be our flag of

:23:10.:23:18.

justice. No. Our role is a different one. We're not here for

:23:18.:23:22.

defending human rights, we are here to preach the gospel of Jesus

:23:22.:23:28.

Christ, that will be clear. right to worship is free, at least.

:23:28.:23:33.

He can be Catholic and Communist in Cuba. The result is a stronger

:23:34.:23:38.

church, growing slowly, but after so many years of being barely

:23:38.:23:46.

tolerated, it is still cautious that it is not entirely secure.

:23:46.:23:49.

If you know London, you will be familiar with the blue plaques that

:23:49.:23:54.

tell you about special historical significance of things around you.

:23:54.:23:58.

A different kind of plaque has been unveiled today, marking the site

:23:58.:24:06.

for one of Rock's iconic images was taken. 40 years ago, David Bowie

:24:06.:24:12.

appeared on television looking like this. For some, it really did board

:24:12.:24:15.

their minds. They are bomb was The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and

:24:15.:24:18.

the Spiders From Mars, and for one young fan, this image was a turning

:24:18.:24:23.

point. Today, Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet is back in the place where

:24:23.:24:32.

that photograph was taken. Where exactly is this? A it is right here.

:24:32.:24:38.

The sign was up there? I think what made Ziggy Stardust will protest --

:24:38.:24:43.

supported at the time was that it was coming out of a London much

:24:43.:24:48.

darker and more impoverished than the recession we are suffering now.

:24:48.:24:53.

As a working-class child, Ziggy Stardust offered an escape from

:24:53.:24:57.

their every day which was quite grand an exciting and certainly out

:24:57.:25:02.

reached my parents. 40 years on, it looks different around here. Very

:25:02.:25:07.

shrubbery in the way, the rubbish is gone, and that lamp is very

:25:07.:25:12.

different made a place was a the Stardust -- very definitely the

:25:13.:25:18.

place was at the Stardust first appeared. Watching on were two

:25:18.:25:25.

members of the original band. In 1972, Woody, the drummer, looked a

:25:25.:25:33.

bit different. It took a bit of coaxing to get them into the outfit.

:25:33.:25:39.

He said, someone has to wear pink. He said, you have to be a man to

:25:39.:25:48.

wear pink! I went, OK, then. Even the man on the stage is entering

:25:48.:25:54.

into the spirits. By what may not look like the grim backstreet on

:25:54.:25:59.

the cover, it is part of rock history. The police were David

:25:59.:26:03.

Bowie stepped out one wintry January evening, and it -- and

:26:03.:26:10.

Ziggy Stardust came to earth. You have got to be a man to wear pink!

:26:11.:26:19.

David Bowie has such power, doesn't he? A spokesman for Kofi Annan says

:26:19.:26:21.

Syria has accepted his six-point plan for ending violence in the

:26:22.:26:27.

country. It calls for a un monitored end to the fighting and

:26:27.:26:33.

improved humanitarian access. The US State Department says it would

:26:33.:26:38.

be an important step if backed up with action. Here is President

:26:38.:26:45.

Assad and visiting the former rebel stronghold in in the city. He said

:26:45.:26:49.

a better city would rise from the destruction. Next, the weather.

:26:49.:26:59.
:26:59.:27:04.

It has been another day of record- breaking temperatures across

:27:04.:27:08.

Scotland, but after all of that warmth, it turns quite chilly

:27:08.:27:14.

tomorrow morning. Things will warm- up as we see the return of the

:27:14.:27:19.

sunshine, doing it all over it again tomorrow. It is keeping

:27:19.:27:25.

things dry. We have high levels of pollen. It will cloud over across

:27:25.:27:30.

northern Scotland with some hazy sunshine. Elsewhere, no is lit up

:27:30.:27:40.
:27:40.:27:41.

with sunny skies. It will be higher temperatures in the south-east

:27:41.:27:51.
:27:51.:27:51.

corner. It will be cooler on the coast. We have lost at risk wind.

:27:51.:27:58.

We could see temperatures rising. In Wales, it will be fine and dry

:27:58.:28:05.

with more sunshine in the afternoon. It may be cooler in the north coast

:28:05.:28:11.

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