17/01/2014 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me, Zeinab Badawi.


The fallout from the Edward Snowden affair:


President Obama says he will change US spying operations. He defends the


intelligence community but accepts there is potential for abuse in the


way data is gathered. Heads of state and government, with whom we work


closely and on whose communication we depend, should feel confident


that we are treating them as partners and the change of the


ordered do just that. The wife of Shashi Taroor, a


high-profile Indian politician and former UN official, is found dead in


a hotel in Delhi after rumours of his infidelity. -- changes I have


ordered. Also coming up:


His first visit to the First Lady after those affair allegations,


France's President Hollande visits his partner in hospital.


And as Egyptians await the results of the referendum on a new


constitution, polls suggest strong backing for the army chief. We ask


why some prefer rule by a strongman to democracy.


Hello and welcome. The revelations by the former CIA contractor Edward


Snowden about US intelligence operations caused controversy at


home and abroad when it emerged that millions of phone calls and email


traffic were being monitored, of both private citizens and leaders of


allied nations. In the past few hours, President Obama has responded


to these concerns. He said surveillance had helped America


repel threats for decades but he accepted there needed to be checks


and balances to make sure the liberties of ordinary people were


not sacrificed. Rajini Vaidyanathan sent this report.


Protecting the public or prying into their private lives? The US


government has been collecting the details, phone calls and Internet


use of millions of people but have they got the balance right? After


months of consultation, and criticism, the president's promising


change. I have approved a new presidential directive for our


intelligence activities, both at home and abroad. This guidance will


strengthen executive branch oversight of our intelligence


activities. It will ensure that we take into account our security


requirements but also our alliances, our trade and investment


relationships, including the concerns of American companies, and


our commitment to privacy and basic liberties.


The way personal data is stored and accessed will change. The president


has ordered a 60 day review into the process. The issue was thrust into


the spotlight after this man, former intelligence contract Edward


Snowden, wheat details about the US government's surveillance schemes.


His disclosures also revealed that foreign nationals and leaders were


being monitored. There were claims that even German Chancellor Angela


Merkel's phone had been bugged. The US says it will no longer was to


conversations of friends and allies. Opinion polls suggest that while the


majority of Americans are comfortable with the mass collection


of data, they're not completely against it if it is needed to


protect the country against terrorist threats. -- are not


comfortable. I think it is fine if it is for national safety. Business


or national security. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to


worry about. Have to get used to it. It is a big, wide world and we have


always looked at other people to see what is going on generally. I think


it is wrong because it is privacy and we have that right as citizens


to have privacy. At the same time, it could be helping good terrorists.


I think it would rather have my own privacy. -- helping catch


terrorists. Protesters say that the president has not gone far enough to


protect the liberties but the White House said surveillance is still


misery to deal with the threads America faces a a post middle of the


world. Germany was just one country that


was unhappy about the phone tapping of the Chancellor Angela Merkel


about intelligence services. Let's get an idea of what kind of reaction


I've been in Germany. We can go to our correspondent in Berlin. The


Germans were very cross when those funds tapping revelations came


about. They going to be a bit happier? I don't think much


happier, entered. Expectations were low within the Government and


certainly from the opposition, the left and the Greens. One MP tonight


said, "my expectations were low and they have not been met. " All are


focused on this paragraph in the resident's speech. " The leaders of


close friends and allies must know that if they want -- I want to learn


about an issue I will pick up the phone and call them rather than


conducting surveillance. " A newspaper after that was made noted


a caveat, except in urgent issues of national security. This same


newspaper, a centre right newspaper, in other words, said that the


foreign minister is often but the foreign policy may still have our


friend listening in on the phone. That is the tone of the reaction and


not, if you like, from the usual suspects. People who are naturally


or often anti-American. From government circles. Expectations


were low, no sign that those low expectations have been exceeded.


Behind-the-scenes, Stephen, what kind of things do you think the


German Foreign Ministry, the German authorities, are going to be sent to


Washington, in the light of this? Well, they have already said, Angela


Merkel has, to President Obama and Washington that she was shocked by


the news that her phone was being bugged. She said it reminded her of


the Stasi. That has all been said. The tone since then has been, " --


has been, look, the transatlantic elation ship between Europe and the


United States is crucial, certainly to Europe, and we move forward, they


would say, to make sure that is not broken irreparably. In other words,


they do not like what has happened but they make the best of it.


Thank you very much, Stephen. Lets talk to Stephen Vladeck, a


national security law expert from the American University. He joins us


from Washington. It seems as though the devil is in the detail, when you


look at what Obama was saying? That is exactly right. The president had,


I think, a number of very nice rhetorical flourishes about the


importance of rejecting Agassi, the importance of staying on good terms


with our friends and partners overseas. -- of protecting privacy.


So much that he is leaving out is what happens next, how much is


Congress going to have to say, how much of this is going to happen by


executive order and how much is going to be something where six


months from now, we're still having the same conversation?


What do you think will happen in Congress? You think they will try


and steal back the activities of the NSA to try to introduce greater


checks? This is the big fight in Congress right now. This was about


that Congress has been having for most of the last six months, long


before President Obama ever gave his speech today. There are at least


some groups, some constituencies, that are very much inclined to scale


back the NEC's collection authorities to take a bite out of


how much data via collecting on Americans and foreigners. -- the


NSA. There is a bill that has been introduced that would go a long way


in that regard. There are also plenty in Congress who really are


inclined to tweak at the margins, to maybe impose a few more checks and


balances on these programmes, little more oversight, but to actually not


change the authorities. I would have expected the president to see a


little more about which of these positions he favours, in his speech


today. Instead, it seems that he is leaving it for Congress to see which


side have more votes. There were two aspects to the


allegations that Edward Snowden brought about. The revelations,


rather. The one was about how much of an infringement on the civil


liberties of American cities has been and how much -- American


citizens and how much they have upset allies and that is a different


matter. Can I ask you about that from? To what extent do you think he


has assuaged the concerns of foreign powers like Germany? As you say, the


devil will be in the detail. There was more in the President's speech


about foreign relations and assuaging Angela Merkel and other


partners overseas. For example, I think the president said quite a bit


about not engaging in foreign intelligence collection simply


because we can only engaging in foreign intelligence collection when


there is a specific nationals based need to do so. Now it is going to be


a question of how often that is going to be utilised. Or we going to


see the same degree of surveillance but with better justification? Does


this in fact represent a drawing down of not of the volume of


surveillance but the identity of those who are being surveilled. The


president seems to suggest that he is going to want better, tighter


controls on this programme. It remains to be seen whether that will


in fact happen. The fact that he has acknowledged


that there is potential for abuse in both the targets of who has their


phone tapped, Angela Merkel example. Do you think he has perhaps nodded


in the direction of the critics? There is no doubt that this is a nod


in the direction of the critics but the real question for us going


forward is whether it is anything more than a nod. The president


certainly suggest that he understands the objections, both at


home and overseas, that he realises the quite negative impact they are


having on American foreign policy and our partners in Europe. Again,


things the real question is going to be, and this has been the case time


and again with this president, how much is actually going to follow


from these beaches, from these very lofty, you know, progressive visions


he offers in his national security speeches. -- from these speeches.


And how much signifies nothing. Thank you very much for your


analysis. In Thailand, the political unrest is becoming increasingly


volatile. Many people have been injured in an anti-government


protest in Bangkok. An expose of device was thrown from a top of the


building and the target was the leader of the anti-government


protests. He was unhurt. He will not give up. And he still


pools enthusiastic crowds, though somewhat smaller now. He kept up his


microphone street march for a fifth successive day, trying to maintain


some momentum. -- marathon on street march. After months of this, without


movement on either side, violence has become an everyday occurrence.


Here, close to Thailand's most prestigious university, he narrowly


avoided injury when an explosive was thrown, apparently from the second


story of a nearby building. Newly 30 protesters and guards were injured.


There was gunfire at a protest site north of Bangkok also. But at the


military office, outside the city, the Prime Minister said there was


still no dialogue between the two sides. My door is open for


negotiation every time. I would like to ask for the protesters. I think


they can open the way. So I think someone can find a way to talk.


The cheery faces they show on their marches are deceptive. There is


intense hostility towards the Prime Minister's family, here, stirred up


by weeks of fiery speeches. I asked her whether she believed it would


help if her family retreated from politics. Nobody wants to stand but


I told you that this is the job that I have to respond. If I do not


respond just because somebody complain about me and I stepped


back, I do not think what will happen with the democracy of channel


and dumber -- of Taiwan. We have to keep democracy.


So Thailand lurches towards a general election disrupted by


endless protest and one now unlikely even to produce a new government. It


is a frighteningly uncertain outlook for a once stable and promising


country. Unrest in Thailand.


President Hollande of France has made his first visit to see his


official partner, Valerie Trierweiler, in hospital, seven days


after she was admitted there. His visit comes at the same time that


the French magazine, Closer, printed more claims about President


Hollande's private life, linking him romantically with the actress, Julie


Gayet. The magazine is facing legal action from Miss Gayet, who's


seeking damages for the invasion of her privacy.


The BBC'S Christian Fraser is in Paris and brought us up to date a


short time ago. We are told that it started as far


back as 2011, which would suggest it was ongoing during the presidential


campaign stop we are also told that they were using two apartments in


Paris to hide this secret affair and we are also told that during the


summer last year, President Hollande gave his excuses to avoid a summer


holiday with his official partner, Valerie Trierweiler, so that he


could head off to join up with Julie Gayet. Lots and therefore the press


to get their teeth into, which will come as a disappointment, of course,


to the palace, who are trained to contain the story. Interestingly,


they put out a statement today that he had been to the hospital where


Valerie Trierweiler is being treated for the first time since she was


admitted last Friday. Robert went to stop the rumours that he had


abandoned her but the timing is very significant, coming just hours


before the publication of Closer magazine. Also, in the official


statement, no denial of the latest revelations in Closer magazine.


Police in the Afghan capital Kabul, say a suicide bomber has blown


himself up near a restaurant popular with foreigners and government


officials - killing at least thirteen people. There are reports


that the explosion was followed by bursts of gunfire. The Taliban have


now claimed responsibility for the attack. Excavation work is under way


at a mass grave recently discovered by construction workers in northern


Sri Lanka. Four more human skulls have been


discovered there, bringing the number of skeletons or partial


skeletons that have been found to 31. It's the first such site to have


been unearthed and examined in the island's former war zone since the


war ended in 2009. After nearly three years of conflict


in Syria, President Assad's government has said for the first


time that it is prepared to agree a cease-fire with the rebels. It's


asking Russia to organise a suspension of hostilities in Syria's


largest city, Aleppo. The move comes after a meeting between Syria's


foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem and his Russian counterpart in


Moscow. Well, another Arab country in the midst of upheaval - though


fortunately not as violent - is Egypt.


Egyptians are waiting for the result of a referendum on a proposed new


constitution to replace the one introduced under the Islamist


government in 2012. The authorities say turnout was over fifty percent


and that the new constitution was approved with a clear majority. They


also say the result is a test of how people backed the removal of the


former President Morsi. Many think it will encourage the army chief and


Defence Minister Gen Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to run for President in the


forthcoming elections. The revolutions of the so-called Arab


Spring in countries like Egypt saw the fall of the strongmen like Hosni


Mubarak and Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, also other authoritarian


regimes like the Asaad one in Syria is obviously under strain. -- Assad.


To discuss this issue further, we're joined by one of the world's leading


experts on the Middle East, Professor Roger Owen who's recently


published a book "The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life". He


joins me now from Harvard University.


How come one strongman, Hosni Mubarak is removed through popular


will and now there is popular support for him to be replaced by


another military strongman, General Al-Sisi. Popular will is right. It


was a mass movement in the streets. The people, when they come to the


fore in now way then quite quickly they have to be shepherded towards


elections and it's not surprising if one thinks of the French model under


Napoleon that a military leader feels enough is enough and people


should be tidied away, a referendum should be established and you have a


controlled democracy after that. Are you suggesting that you need some


kind of transition period after you have had the fall of one of these


presidents for life, a long-standing authoritarian rule, you need a


transition period? No, it is difficult. You go via a constitution


with the people and their representatives involved in the


constitution and is a great deal of difficulty and confusion because you


go to basics and say what country are we and what role should religion


play and after a while that is deemed by the power and the state to


be too unruly and then you get an authoritarian intervention. Does


that suggest stability is more desirable than real democracy with


Democrats running in elections if the democracy is a bit messy and


chaotic and violent as we have seen in a Ratko? Well, that is true. And


particularly when you have so many people involved and old grievances


and all kinds of new alliances it becomes untidy and there is a desire


by a large number of people for stability rather than a continuation


of what they regard as a messy popular process. Now we have Syria


coming up and everyone is focusing on these forthcoming talks, the


Americans urging Syrian opposition to attend the talks and we have had


the possibility of a cease-fire discussed, how do you see Syria, how


do you analyse that in the framework, Bashar al-Assad, is he


good as a former stability to stop Syria deteriorating into sectarian


violence which many fear? Well, the Arab world is so divided at the


moment and most people who have studied it will say 2013 was as bad


as it could get. We are seeing some kind of move back from that, a sense


one cannot go one simply with this language of good and bad, for me or


against me, and we have to find some middle ground and even Assad's


advisers have decided it has gone too far and you cannot continue to


try and address people as though they are evil forces from outside.


Quickly, John Kerry has said there's no future for al-Assad in Syria,


that doesn't preclude his staying there in a transition period. That


remains to be seen. It is up to him. I think he will hang on but in his


own community they have decided that he should step aside or step up but


he would be replaced by something -- somebody like him and possibly from


his own family. Professor, thank you very much. Thank you for your


analysis. Reports from India say the wife of a well known cabinet


minister, Shashi Tharoor, has been found dead, following reports that


he was having an affair. Indian media say Sunanda Pushkar's


body was discovered at a hotel in Delhi. It comes just one day after


the couple were embroiled in controversy over a series of Twitter


messages that appeared to reveal his alleged infidelity. The couple


insisted they were happily married, blaming "unauthorised tweets" for


the alleged scandal. Our correspondent is in India and joins


us now. A sad situation. Not only known inside India but also to many


of Earth in international circles, give us the background to this


tragedy. Absolutely, he is a high-profile politician here in


India but also the candidate for the top post in 2007 when he fought


against Ban Ki Moon at the UN. The couple, high-profile, well-known,


she is very glamorous, outspoken and a strong lady giving media


interviews until early this morning when she was telling the media she


had more to say on this Twitter controversy which erupted this


week. The couple did come out and say they were happily married and


intended to remain like that but he also said she was ill earlier and


was hospitalised and requested the media to respect their privacy, that


was one of the controversies, the role of the media, social media


pressures on the couple because it was so high profile and surrounding


the controversy. Thank you very much indeed for filling us in on that


story in Delhi. The death of a Japanese soldier who refused to


accept the end of the Second World War has been announced.


Hiroo Onoda, who was ninety-one would not surrender after the War


ended and hid This is the moment in March 1974


when Lieutenant Onoda finally walked out of the Philippine jungle. 29


years after the end of World War II. For nearly three decades, he


resisted all attempts to persuade him the war was over. Leaflets were


dropped from the air, messages poured cast over megaphones, all to


no avail. Finally, his wartime commander flew to the Philippines,


walked into the jungle and ordered Lieutenant Onoda to surrender. Many


years later, he explained why he resisted so long.


Every Japanese soldier was prepared to death but as an intelligence


officer I was ordered to conduct gorilla warfare and not to die, I


had to follow my orders. In Tokyo Lieutenant Onoda was met by


cheering crowds. At the bottom of the steps, his father and mother.


The last time they saw their son he was 22 years old. Now, he was 52.


This surrender made headlines around the world anti-was welcomed home as


a hero. The Japan he returns to had completely changed. The emperor was


no longer the God he promised to die for and Tokyo had become a massive


metropolis, 20 million people. He did not like it at all. In year


later, he headed to Brazil where he bought a cattle ranch. He came back


to Japan often, at 90 he was still teaching schoolchildren his secrets


of survival. Lieutenant Onoda was the last relic


of another age. To some, a fanatic, to many more a hero.


A extraordinary tale. A quick look at some other stories.


Here in Britain the Queen's granddaughter Zara Philips has given


birth to a baby girl. Zara is the daughter of Princess Anne and also


an internationally renowned horse-rider. You can see her here,


at Prince George's christening. Her own new baby will be sixteenth in


line to the throne. And another of the Queen's


grandchildren Prince Harry - who's fourth in line to the throne - is to


take up a new role with the army. He's returning to London, where


he'll help organise major commemorative events. Prince Harry


has spent more than three years flying Apache helicopters.


A reminder of our main news. President Obama has announced a


series of reforms to American spying operations at home and abroad. In a


speech in Washington, he called for an end to government control of bulk


phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans. He also told the


leaders and citizens of US allies that his country would no longer


eavesdrop on their private communications.


That is it. Next is the weather. Enjoy your weekend. Goodbye.


Hello, more rain to come in a forecast with the worst of the


weather over the weekend perhaps likely to be on Saturday. A spell of


more wet weather in the south and west. Quieter by sender, sunshine


and showers. But for the time being, an area of rain in the south-west


will nudge towards us over the next few


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