14/01/2014 World News Today


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This is BBC world news today, with me Philippa Thomas. Egyptians are


being urged to vote yes to a new constitution endorsed by the


military. We are watching the turnout and the turbulence, we will


have the latest from Cairo on day one of the vote.


When all the votes have been cast it looks certain to be approved by a


comfortable majority. But the key issue is the turnout.


President Hollande tells packed news conference this is not the place nor


the time to discuss his alleged affair, private means private says


the French President. Also coming up, how the booming


property market in London is directly affected by economic and


political crises from Spain to south Asia. We will talk to the man


charting the impact of global affairs on property prices in the UK


capital. Poor fellow shot dead lying in all directions. The horrors of


World War I, in the words of the soldiers themselves, now their


diaries are being published on-line. Hello and welcome, Egyptians are


voting on a new constitution which could pave the way for the head of


the army to run for President. This is the first vote Since the elected


President Mohammed Morsi was he overthrown in July. The Muslim


Brotherhood has been named a terrorist organisation since then


and its supporters are boycotting the referendum. Since voting nine


protestors have been killed. In central Cairo an eager queue before


the polls opened. This is the third constitutional referendum in as many


years. And many hope it will bring an end to turmoil and unrest.


This woman, a housewife, who was one of the first in line. She told us


she would have queued all night, because the constitution will help


Egypt overcome a crisis. I want to for all the people in Egypt to come


now and say yes and this is the best for our country. It is the first


time Egyptians have gone to the polls since their elected President,


Mohammed Morsi, was ousted last July. He was removed by the army in


a popular low-backed coup. The military wants this vote to endorse


his removal. There is steady team of people coming to cast their ballot


and more queueing to get in. The referendum is a key test for the


authorities. They say the constitution represents the new


democratic Egypt. Now when all the votes have been cast it looks


certain to be approved by a comfortable majority. But the key


issue is the turnout. Especially for the army chief, General Abdel Fattah


el-Sisi, barely visible in the throng as he inspected a polling


station. A convincing result in the referendum could kick-start a


presidential bid. He's already shaking hands like a politician. The


constitution bolsters the economic and political power of the military.


It allows military trials for civilians. But it also promises


improved human rights. People were arrested because of these posters.


Opponents say they have been silenced and harassed. Putting up


these posters calling for a "no" vote, has meant arrest and terrorism


charges for seven political activists. Moderate Islamists say


the authorities are giving voters no option. As long as they are pushing


to one direction, which is one choice only, only "yes", it is not a


referendum or not a democratic process at all. You won't vote? We


will not vote. And supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are not voting


either, they have been protesting in several locations. The organisation,


now declared a terrorist group, has called for a boycott cott of the


vote, saying the constitution is stained with blood. If it is passed


as expected, it may harden the divisions here, not heel them. We


have a Middle East expert with the Brooksings Institution and the Royal


United Services Institute and he joins us via webcam from Cairo.


Thank you for being with us on world news today. We heard Orla there


talking about the turnout being key, what is your reading of the way the


turnout is looking and how high it would have to be for the general to


run for President? It is a little bit early to say what turnout


actually looks like, keeping in mind that most of the coverage we have


seen thus far is really on Cairo. It is not around the country. Polling


has stopped for today, it is 9.00, tomorrow is still another day, it


will be a full day and I suspect we won't really be able to tell what


turnout is like until tomorrow. Some people are comparing turnout at


certain polling stations and parts of Cairo today, with what it was in


2012, but there are different numbers of polling stations this


year as well. So I think it is early for us to start talking about


turnout. In terms of what is required I don't really know if


that's the correct question. Regardless of turnout over the next


couple of days, I think that General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has made his


calculation and will follow through with it regardless of the turnout.


It has been hard to put it mildly, to campaign for a "no" vote, there


has been repression of that campaign? Absolutely. This is


something that people need to be very aware of, that while there


isn't any evidence of ballot box stuffing and things like that a fair


vote, this definitely is not. The last few days has seen people get


arrested for campaigning for a "no" vote, and being released eventually,


but still being arrested for campaigning in that fashion. The


apparatus, state TV and private TV has been very, very clear about its


only presenting one side of the argument, which is to vote for a


"yes" vote as opposed to a "no", a "fair" referendum it can't be


called. Do you have a view on whether this constitution is better


for the people of Egypt than the last one they were presented with?


There is some marginal differences there are some points about rights


that are in this new constitutional draft that weren't there in 2012,


the military has at least the same amount of protection and autonomous


position that it had in 2012 as well. That is not particularly


different. There are a couple of adjustments there, I don't think


much in the way of that either. You still have military trials for


civilian, you still have basic autonomy for the military, from the


executive and so on. And the articles are not really the issue


here. For me the process is far more important, and incidentally people


are not voting on this constitution, yes, no or boycott, on the basis of


the articles. That accounts I think for a small proportion of the


Egyptian population. People who are boycotting and generally boycotting


because either they don't recognise the legitimacy of the process that


brought the vote forward in the first place, that accounts for the


brotherhood and their allies, or they are voting "yes" as a sign that


they support the military and they oppose the Muslim Brotherhood and


looking for a more stable situation in Egypt. There hasn't been a


referendum in Egypt over the past three years it has come near a "no"


vote. "Yes "presented as the next stage of doability. Over the last


few years a huge number of voters want exactly that. Thank you very


much for joining us. Thank you. The French President, Francois Hollande,


has faced hundreds of journalists at his first news conference since a


magazine accused him of having a secret affair with an actress. But


that is not quite the situation it seems. This was his annual


conference in which he spoke in great detail about the French


economy and the Press Pack chose to pose just a single question, on


whether his official partner remains the French First Lady. The glamour


of the big screen, Julie Gayet, the French actress who has stolen the


heart of the President. Cast in this drama as the femme F atale. Today it


was Mr Hollande's turn in the spotlight with the annual meeting


with the press. The official subject was the economy, cuts of 50 billion


years in public spending -- euros in public spending. But the big


question, what will become of the First Lady, Valerie Trierweiler.


TRANSLATION: Everyone in their private life goes through difficult


periods. It is true, these are difficult moments, but I have one


principle, private matters should be dealt with privately, that's the


same for everyone concerned. So this is not the place nor the time to


discuss it. But so long as the confusion surrounds the First Lady's


position it is likely these questions will continue. Valerie


Trierweiler is still in hospital, still "resting". We don't know how


many of these secret nights there were, but photographers who tailed


Mr Hollande, on his moped, say no-one ever tried to stop them.


TRANSLATION: We were there every night, the President was in an


apartment without any security. Even outside. I even saw the President


walk around the block. The public and the private, boundaries blurred


by the unnecessary risks Mr Hollande is said to have taken. Right now it


is the President's judgment that is being debated, not his choice in


women. Now also in Paris for us, the French cultural commentator. Thank


you for joining us, when President Hollande gave his non-answer,


answer, at the news conference, was that appropriate to French ears? It


was certainly not surprising. We didn't expect him to suddenly open


his heart to the French people. We did expect, perhaps a statement,


before the press conference, just to clear the way, a way to clarify his


position. But because his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, is still in


hospital, that was deemed not the right moment to actually issue that


statement. It did, however, and that's probably the most interesting


point on that topic, during his two-and-a-half hours of press


conference, that he would clarify his personal situation before going


on an official visit to Washington. That is in three weeks time. We


should know very soon if indeed Valerie Trierweiler remains France's


First Lady. Will the public mind or care whether he goes alone to


Washington? No, of course not. And perhaps, you know, perhaps he


regrets having introduced his partner to the nation at large. She


could, probably should have remained in the shadows. It would be easier


for him, also don't forget that the concept of First Lady is viewed as


an American concept in France, and doesn't have any clear status and is


a very ill-defined position. It depends on the President in exercise


whether to give the first partner any staff or any public function.


And yes, let's get to the issue that may well matter more to the French


people themselves, much of this lengthy news conference was about


the economic programme for the country and we're talking about cuts


in public spending, cuts in taxes, is this what was expected or does


that come as something of a shock? I'm very glad you mentioned the most


important part of his press conference. Because he had prepared


a lot for the third press conference of his presidency. And yes, he did


announce some interesting policies. You know, there has been talk that


for a long time that he's not a socialist really, but a social


democrat. I think that was the first policies, Social Democratic policies


that he was announcing for the first time since being elected to power.


Indeed he has announced 15 billion euros of cuts in public spending.


But also a big chunk of social charges that are quite hefty in


France and paid by employers that would be simply scrapped. So a lot


of things. He also talked about Europe, he talked about


unemployment, about anti-semitism in France and also about military


operations in Mali and Central African Republic. Let's give you a


brief look at some of the day's other news. Reports from south Sudan


say at least 200 people have died in a ferry accident. They boarded the


overcrowded boat while trying to escape fighting in the city. Rebels


loyal to the former deputy President claim they have since captured


Malakal from Government forces. A new survey of lions has found they


could face extinction in west Africa, fewer than 400 are left in


the region. The research was carried out in 17 countries, from Senegal to


Nigeria, taking more than six years. With fewer than 250 lions of


breeding age left, there are concerns the entire population could


disappear. A doctor in northern China has been given a suspended


death sentence for stealing new born babies and selling them to child


traffickers. The obstetrician convinced the parents that their


babies had serious health problems and should be cared for by the


state. Paraded in front of a courtroom, Dr Zhang Shuxia was


convicted of selling seven infants to a child trafficking ring. She


received a suspended death prison, usually changed to life in prison


after two years of good behaviour. It was at this hospital where the


respected obstetrician had lied to new parents, telling them their new


borns were seriously ill. If they handed their children over to the


state, families were told, the babies would receive the expensive


medical care they needed. When police broke up the ring, seven


healthy new borns had already been sold, leading to multiple arrests.


And several triumphant home Cummings, as police returned the


abducted children to their rightful parents. All except one child, sold


for just $165, abandoned by the traffickers. Some outraged Chinese


citizens argued that the doctor should die for her crimes. In this


country where child trafficking is relatively common, a suspended death


sentence is too lenient, they said. The Nigerian authorities say 30


people have been killed by a bomb explosion in the north eastern city


of Maiduguri. The blast ripped through a packed market in t early


afternoon, causing panic as people tried to flee the scene on foot and


by car. Some reports suggest the bomb was planted in a motor Rick


saw, or a sack abandoned by a stall. The Islamist group, Boko Haram said


it carried out the attack. The British Government has ordered an


urgent investigation into whether the UK was involved in deadly raid


on a Sikh temple in the Indian city of Amritza in 1984. Recently


unclassified documents suggest that an SAS officer advised Indian


authorities prior to the storming of the Golden Temple where hundreds


died. The storming of the Golden Temple in the area angered Sikhs


around the world, who blamed Indian troops for violating their holyist


shrine. Now documents released under the 30-year rule, apparently show


the British were involved. One Foreign Office letter says "with the


Prime Minister's agreement, an SAD officer has visited India and drawn


up a plan, which has been approved by Mrs Gandhi". There appears to be


a typing error that should read SAS. The letter warns it could increase


violence in India and warns it might also therefore increase tension in


the Indian community here. Particularly if knowledge of the SAS


involvement were to become public. Some MPs believe all the evidence of


British involvement must now be released. I think there are further


documentation, what we want is a full, candid, disclosure of all


explanations so we can get to the bottom exactly what happened here.


Even after 30 years Sikhs here in Britain want to know the truth about


what happened at Amritza, we are told neither David Cameron or the


Foreign Secretary, William Hague, were aware of the documents


suggesting Britain's involvement until they were published. But that


they do understand the very legitimate concerns that will be


raised by the revelations. At the largest Sikh temple outside India,


in Southall west London a community leader welcomed the Prime Minister's


decision to ask the cabinet secretary to investigate. This is a


holy place. For any religion, it is a heart-breaking thing. These things


do not go out from your mind. It is not a small thing. That is why if


the truth has come out, at least people know. Last year David Cameron


became the first serving British Prime Minister to visit the Golden


Temple. He is keen to focus on the historic and cultural ties with


Sikh, but now he's under pressure to uncover more about Britain's role in


an event which is seared into their history. London is a property hot


spot, viewed by many around the world as a safe bet when it comes to


real estate, now a new study has found that conflicts, turmoil and


general instability outside the UK have a direct impact on the price


paid for bricks and mortar here in the British capital. The study was


put together by the Business Cool of the University of Oxford, they found


that property here recorded the largest increases. The same patterns


can be seen with troubles in Egypt and Greece, another part of their


research looks at London's wealthiest areas, places like


Knightsbridge, the study concluding that China had the biggest impact on


the city's highend real estate prices. Instability in Russia and


Libya also pushed prices up in London's premier property market.


With me is a representative from the Business School of the University of


Oxford. You co-authored the report, we know about the idea as property


as a safe haven and safe investment, you go beyond that don't you? That's


right, our launching off point is London is not a big non-know lithic


eptity but composed of many little region, because we all live in parts


of London, we don't live in the whole place. You can link and map


particular parts of London to particular foreign countries, either


by using things like the language, the principal language spoken in the


regions or the share of residents that originate from those countries.


That is our launching off point for this particular thing. Some of the


research that you have come up with, for example, looks at southern


Europe, Italy, Spain, Greece and normally people talk about maybe the


Chinese or Arab money, but southern Europe and the euro crisis features


highly? One of the ways to think about this is when political


uncertainty went up in Spain, the prices came up in London across the


board, but specifically regions linked to Spain, such as high-income


areas, such as St John's Wood, would have appreciated. But areas like


King's Cross would have appreciated at the same time, they have also a


high share of Spanish residents. So it is an uncertainty, as you say, in


southern Europe, because it is a large factor in the real estate


prices. It is not just the real estate priority, looking at the


Shard in London, it is owned by Qatar, but you have also looked at


lower income areas, and they are still influenced by nationalities


who tend to cluster. Absolutely, that's right. You do see the usual


effects that you would have expected to see in Mayfair or Knightsbridge


or the popular areas and wealthy areas, but you also see effects in


areas which are also inhabited by clusters of regional communities.


One of the reassuring things of the research is we show the effects are


not permanent. One of the things people tend to think about safe


haven effects, that they push prices up and prices stay up forever. That


is not the case. When political uncertainty rises prices go up, when


the uncertainty dissipates prices go back down over one or two years.


That suggests a pattern of people moving their capital in and out of


London and not taking up residence in London. Which means you get back


to what Londoners say that a lot of homes are not actually homes? That I


suppose is a very true statement that you are making there. Another


way to sort of portray that, perhaps, is the fact that while


these effects are temporary on the prices of houses. It reaches the


local community which is the internationalisation of London,


which perhaps is a very nice thing about this. It is fascinating,


London is one of those global cities, thank you very much for


coming to talk it all through with me.


Now it was called the war to end all war, those who fought it lived


through brutality that was almost impossible for families back home to


imagine. But now, for the first time, many of the diaries written by


soldiers written on the frontline are being published by the National


Archives here. 300,000 pages of personal testimony released so far.


A picture of the war itself. "Here I sit outside our headquarters' trench


in the sun. All should be nice and peaceful and pretty what it actually


is, is beyond description. Trenches, ammunition tool, caps et cetera, et


cetera, everywhere, poor fells shot dead are lying in all directions."


Thousands of war diaries, 1. 5 million separate documents. Once the


fodder for authors and researchers, now they are available for the first


time at the click of a mouse. "The order to retire was at last given...


" These are the last days of the men in a giant army, the attacks, the


food, the horrific casualties, neatly typed on to official military


forms and stored away for decades. The names carved on to our local war


memorials are the most obvious reminders of the war, all of us will


have a direct connection with somebody who served in this


conflict. The hope is that these diaries released into the public


domain will give more and more people the opportunity to follow a


personal trail. This is Operation War Diary, under way at a school in


Southampton. Students reading the unseen documents are tagging names


and events, adding to their own knowledge and improving the


archive's search engine. They talk about their supplies from the battle


for their cooking. From the sounds of it they are getting quite annoyed


because their supplies aren't reaching all the way through. It


just shows you what happens behind the scenes and how these men


actually lived and what the quality of their lives were at that time.


You read it and you take it in but when you then have to specifically


point out things, it again just immerses you even more. Holes where


shells had struck, branches torn off trees by the explosion. Everywhere


the same hard, grim, pitiless sign of battle and war. I have had a


belly full of it. Ghastly, absolutely ghastly.


The eyewitnesses have left us, but they survive through the curling


pages of their final observations. Just time to remind you of our main


news, Egyptians are voting on a new constitution that could pave the way


for the head of the army to run for President. It is the first vote


since General El-Sisi overthrew Egypt's elected President, Mohammed


Morsi in July. Muslim Brotherhood supporters are boycotting the


referendum. And we have been reminded on the programme that it


has been very difficult for those opposed to the new constitution to


air their views in public. Thank you for joining me on World News Today.


Much more cloud across the country, outbreaks of rain for


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