14/02/2014 World News Today


14/02/2014

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 Zeinab Badawi. Deadlock at the

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Geneva peace talks that are trying to end the conflict in Syria - the

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warring sides blame each other for the impasse.

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We have a special report from our correspondent, who's just been

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inside the besieged city of Homs and seen the evacuations first-hand.

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The grim reality of cancer for some of the families are worried

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that when the United Nations leave, there will be issues. We are not

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leaving. He grim reality of cancer for men - new statistics show that,

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globally, men are twice as likely to die of cancer than women, except in

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East Africa. ??NELWINE Also coming up... In Indonesia, tens of

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thousands are evacuated from their homes on the island of Java after a

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volcano eruption. Three people were killed.

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Fancy a visit to the Taj Mahal in India without leaving your own

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living room? The boom in virtual reality experiences and why some

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believe this kind of technology can transform lives.

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Hello and welcome. The irony is that the casualties in the Syrian

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conflict have risen ever since the talks in Geneva began a month ago.

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Now it seems that those talks end the week in deadlock over the key

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issue of a transitional government. Meanwhile, on the humanitarian

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front, our Chief International Correspondent, Lyse Doucet, has been

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in the besieged city of Homs and witnessed the evacuations that have

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taken place during the temporary cease-fire this week. She's just

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gone back to the capital, Damascus, and filed this report. The injured,

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the ill and the elderly. 1400 people in all escaped a punishing siege

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this week. The mission has been hailed as a ray of light in a

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devastating war. But millions of Syrians are living in poverty across

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the country. World powers are failing to agree a resolution to

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help them. People who are now week, traumatised, have run out of all of

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their coping mechanisms and are looking to members of the Security

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Council and are looking to us as a world community to do something to

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stop the horror, to stop the violence. Jarring this temporary

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truce in a rebel held area of Homs, hundreds of young men also came out.

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We filmed Syrian soldiers taking pictures of them as they arrived at

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the reception centre. The governor of Homs intervened. He called in all

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troops in uniform with weapons to leave this area. There is growing

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concern about possible reprise oars. All men between the age of 15 and 55

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are being questioned. This man told us he feared for his future. Some

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had been released, some are being held. UN officials say they are

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keeping an eye on the situation. We need to ensure this situation is

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seen as not an interrogation and nothing beyond that. This will send

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a good message and it will build confidence will stop some of the

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family say they are worried that once a United Nations lead, the

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conditions could be different. The United Nations are not leaving, we

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are here. Many are concerned about the fate of the young men. The

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longer the operation here in Homs goes on, the more sensitive it

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becomes. Even this you man Terry and mission to help civilians can not

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help escape the conflict in this war.

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At the talks in Geneva, the Syrian opposition spokesman has said

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there's no point in continuing to negotiate with the current

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government delegates. Louay al-Safi says they've proven inflexible over

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the possibility of creating a transitional governing body. And

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he's urged the international community to push forward the peace

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process. I appeal to the international community, those

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countries and nations who can make a difference can push this process

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forward. The friends of Syria, these countries can play a very positive

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role. We hope that they will do that because Syrians have suffered so

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much, too much. We have to stop it and we have to find peace with the

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freedom and dignity. Syria's deputy foreign minister,

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Faisal Mekdad, reponded by saying the opposition is backing what he

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described as "terrorists". But he claimed the Government is still

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committed to working towards peace for Syria. Those who carry arms

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against their own people and against their government are terrorists. We

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are now in a process that will re-establish peace and furnish the

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way for restoring normality into Syria and in this crisis by peaceful

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means. This is what we are here for. A video has been posted online

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showing Abdul Waheed Majeed, the first British suicide bomber to blow

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himself up in Syria. The 43-minute video clearly shows Mr Majeed

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dressed in white. Other footage showed the large armoured truck bomb

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which was driven into the walls of Aleppo prison on February the 6th.

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His family said they believed he was in Syria for humanitarian purposes.

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We hope to bring you more on that Syria story later in the programme.

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The South African Paralympic sprint champion, Oscar Pistorius, has

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issued a statement expressing "sorrow" over the shooting of his

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girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on the first anniversary of her death. In

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the statement, he calls it a "devastating accident." Oscar

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Pistorius goes on trial in Pretoria next month for her murder. He says

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he shot her at his home because he mistook her for a burglar.

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Prosecutors say he killed her after a row.

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One year on and the death of Reeva Steenkamp still stirs up passion in

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South Africa. The ANC women's league joined many in marking the

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anniversary of her brutal death. She died here in Oscar Pistorius' home

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in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year. Despite having

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fatally shot her, the athlete has always maintained that her death was

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an accident. Oscar Pistorius told police he killed his girlfriend

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after mistaking her for an intruder. State prosecutors argued that was a

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premeditated murder that Oscar Pistorius took time to put on his

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artificial legs and follow his girlfriend from the bedroom before

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firing multiple shots through the door, killing her. Today, Oscar

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Pistorius spoke out publicly on his girlfriend's death. He released a

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statement on his website, describing the shooting as a devastating

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accident. Reeva Steenkamp's family placed newspaper adverts and held a

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private memorial in her hometown. There are calls for justice. We want

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them to ensure that the Justice system happens where everyone can

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see it. Once again, the spotlight will be back on Mr Pistorius when he

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goes on trial in March will stop if found guilty, he could face a life

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sentence in prison. Now back to our top story. We had that report from

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Lyse Doucet about the evacuation is taking place this week from the

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besieged city of Homs. We also have reported on how both warring sides

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at the peace talks are blaming each other for the stalemate, which is

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over the issue of a governing body. The BBC's Paul Wood has been

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following developments in Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon. He joins us

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live. Those talks, it does not inspire much hope that there will be

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progress. Talking to one senior diplomat on the inside of the talks,

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he says he is trying to move them from a psychology of war to a

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psychology of Contra mice. There is a huge gulf between the two sides

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over who will be the ruler of Syria, whether there will be regime change

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or not. There is an unbridgeable gulf. The idea was that there would

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be a series of localised cease-fires within Syria. There are cease-fires

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in some places. In others, the fighting continues more intensely

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than ever. That certainly has not been the effect, the hoped-for

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effect at Geneva. The process is very close to collapse, I think. So

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no word on whether they are going to go on talking in Geneva? That is the

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hope of Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy. He has said all

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along, " we are facing a disaster." He always manages to bring it back

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from the brink. The question is do the two parties want to compromise

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or they pursuing their own aims? The latest battlefront is between Syria

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and Lebanon, 40,000 people trapped there by all accounts in the middle

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of an intense artillery bombardment and air. On the humanitarian front,

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the UN are saying it is too little on the too slow and other help for

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those civilians and trapped civilians in the besieged areas, not

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only in Homs. The UN's problem is it took 14 months to get aid into

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Homs. They welcome it but it is an obligation on all sides to allow

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Unitarian aid. It has taken a long time to achieve this. By some

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estimates, half of the Syrian population needs aid of one form or

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another and most of them possibly not getting it. Thank you very much.

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Now a look at some of the day's other news... The Italian president,

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Giorgio Napolitano, has accepted the resignation of the Prime Minister,

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Enrico Letta. Mr Letta formally submitted his resignation a day

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after his own Democratic Party voted to withdraw its backing for his

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coalition administration. The party's recently-elected leader,

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Matteo Renzi, is now likely to take his place. President Napolitano is

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expected to ask Mr Renzi to form a new administration.

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At least 18 people have lost their lives in a heavy snow storm that has

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swept across the east of the United States. Outside Philadelphia,

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slippery roads caused several traffic accidents on a highway.

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Thousands of flights have been cancelled and more than half a

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million homes and businesses are without power. Here in the UK, there

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are severe flood warnings across the country as winds of 80 miles an hour

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batter the south coast. 2,000 members of the armed forces are

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helping with flood defences - 3,000 more are standing by. More than

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1,000 homes have been evacuated and high winds are disrupting train

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services. Pope Francis invited more than

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10,000 couples from around the world to Rome to celebrate Saint

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Valentine's Day. The Pope answered questions sent in by Roman

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Catholics. He said that there was no such thing as a perfect husband and

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perfect wife, let alone - he added jokingly - a perfect mother-in-law.

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But he stressed couples should not be afraid to make lasting choices.

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There is quite a gender gap when it comes to cancer. According to new

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global statistics, men are 50% more likely to die from cancer than

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women. Data published by Cancer Research UK shows that more than 4.5

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million men die from the disease every year across the world. This

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compares to around 3.5 million women who die from the disease globally.

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However, there is one exception - in East Africa women, are more likely

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to die of cancer than men are. With me is Jonathan Waxman,

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Professor of Oncology at Imperial College London. He has helped

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develop new treatments for cancer, which are now part of standard

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practice. Just explain to us, why is it men

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are more likely to die of cancer than women? It is an old story, and

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the old stories are always the good ones. It has been known since the

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1960s that men are more likely to die than women. There is nothing new

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in the statistics? It is an old story and a good one. It focuses on

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particular problems. It is to do with the fact that men do things

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that are more likely to give them cancer, they work in awful places,

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down in mind, they smoke more, they drink more and they are, as a

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result, more likely to get cancer. Is stress also a factor in this? Not

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even new newsreaders! There has been about one or two studies that have

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shown a link between psychological state and cancer, breast cancer. The

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indications are very slim. Are there types of cancer that are responsible

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for the high death rate in men? There are certain types of cancer

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that affect men more than women, lung cancer and liver cancer,

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stomach cancer and bowel cancer as well. The long conscience smoking,

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the liver from drinking and infections. It is a lifestyle thing.

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What about East African? It seems extraordinary that there is an

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exception there. You have to be careful about statistics. The BBC

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runs programmes on statistics and talks about the difficulties of

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interpreting them. Particularly when it comes to cancer, it is very

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difficult because you might find cancer statistics for a little bit

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of Ethiopian or a bit of Somalia applied to the whole country. We

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have fabulous statistics from the ONS. You'll BSE and it happened in

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France. We are good at collecting data and people in under

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industrialised parts of the world have got better things to do then

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collect information. So it is inadequate information? Can you give

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us a blast through those treatments you have developed? I developed a

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treatment for prostate cancer which is now generally applied. Is it

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actually making a difference? It used to be that men were castrated

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for prostate cancer, because it is a Elise that is dependent on the male

:16:14.:16:14.

hormones, -- it is a Elise. Professor Jonathan Waxman, thank you

:16:15.:16:36.

very much. In Indonesia, tens of thousands of people have been

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evacuated from their homes on the heavily populated island of Java

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after the volcano, Mount Kelud, erupted. Volcanic ash coated towns

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and villages as far as 500km away, and three main airports were closed

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because of a lack of visibility. Three people died when their homes

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collapsed under the weight of volcanic debris. Alice Budisatrio

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reports. Mount Kelud eruptions sent ash and gravel seven interlopers

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into the atmosphere when most people were sleeping. They work up to see

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homes and streets blanketed with thick layers of ash and the air

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filled with dust. The authorities raised the alert at the highest

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level, just one hour before the eruptions, giving people very little

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time to move to safety. We are leaving because the status is on

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high alert, so we have been told to evacuate from our village. This is

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the Jakarta airport, $300 metres away. Authorities were closed --

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forced to close the airport as volcanic ash covered the runway,

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blocking visibility and threatening to damage aircraft engines. A brief

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downpour washed away some of the ash, but with the tarmac muddy and

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slippery. Three other major airports were shut down. In cities and

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villages across Central and East Java, authorities are calling for

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volunteers to help clear streets of the debris. Indonesians are

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resilient in the face of natural disasters, which happen all too

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often. Many people are out cleaning the streets and sweeping their

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roost. The authority said the volcanic activity had decreased and

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that more major eruptions were unlikely. Residents closest to the

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volcano are still kept away as a precaution. It is unclear how long

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they will be kept in shelters, and when they are allowed to go, many

:18:26.:18:31.

may find their home is not the same way that they left it. It has been

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quite a week at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with highs and lows for

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competitors and their countries. Today was another action-packed day.

:18:43.:18:45.

Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes from the BBC Sports Desk in Salford near

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Manchester has been following events and joins us now to bring us news of

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a British gold. Still plenty of medal chances to come, but for the

:18:57.:18:59.

second successive Winter Olympics, great written has won the women's

:19:00.:19:04.

skeleton gold medal. Four years ago, any billions did it in Vancouver and

:19:05.:19:08.

inspired by that, Lizzy Yarnold is the Olympic skeleton champion. Noel

:19:09.:19:16.

Papas pace was second for the US. Russia took the bronze, but Lizzy

:19:17.:19:21.

Yarnold broke were records during their cracker mac ones they had, and

:19:22.:19:26.

has been hailed as one of the best ever skeleton sliders. She has a

:19:27.:19:30.

great physique for this sport. She held her nerve for a breathtaking

:19:31.:19:35.

fourth run. Everyone watching in Britain was desperate for not

:19:36.:19:41.

limited up, but she won in total time almost one second faster than

:19:42.:19:44.

her nearest rival. Away from the Winter Olympics, the full manager,

:19:45.:19:57.

Rene Meulensteen has been sacked and that Felix Magath of Bayern Munich

:19:58.:20:06.

will be taking over. The Taj Mahal is one of the world's most iconic

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buildings and probably India's most famous and most visited landmark.

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Well now if you can't afford the air fare, you can pay a visit to it

:20:19.:20:22.

online. India's Ministry of Culture is teaming up with Google to bring

:20:23.:20:25.

the Taj Mahal to Street View. But the technique will remain banned

:20:26.:20:28.

everywhere else in India. Shilpa Kannan reports. Dawn. At one of the

:20:29.:20:37.

rope was my greatest monuments, the Taj Mahal. Set on the banks of a

:20:38.:20:43.

river, the white marble complex is one of the world's most recognisable

:20:44.:20:50.

symbols of love. Now, the 360-year-old Taj Mahal is catching

:20:51.:20:55.

up with 21st-century technology, with the help of this, the Google

:20:56.:21:02.

tracker, an ambitious project to collect footage which will then be

:21:03.:21:06.

available online. This is how it works. It is a camera mounted on a

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back pack, so you put it on, it weighs about 40 lbs, and there are

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about 15 lens, pointing in different directions, constantly taking

:21:22.:21:24.

photographs, and then these are fed into a computer, where the images

:21:25.:21:30.

are stored so that the viewer can have a 360 degrees view of this

:21:31.:21:40.

monument. This is not Google's first attempt to bring this technology to

:21:41.:21:43.

India. Three years ago, it sent out its Google Street View cars to map

:21:44.:21:48.

the streets of Bangalore, but that project was called off after the

:21:49.:21:52.

police raised security concerns. This time, Google has tied up with

:21:53.:21:58.

the Indian government to fill only heritage sites. It is a visitor

:21:59.:22:04.

record of this monument and those records will live for ever. Not only

:22:05.:22:09.

for this generation but for many generations to come. A good way of

:22:10.:22:12.

capturing the culture of the country. What about the concerns

:22:13.:22:16.

about Google Street View, which is banned in India? This is the same

:22:17.:22:22.

technology. We're working with the Indian authorities to understand

:22:23.:22:25.

their concerns and address them. I am confident that we will be able to

:22:26.:22:30.

resolve them in due course. Not all the areas of the Taj Mahal are open

:22:31.:22:36.

to the public, but that tracker will be able to go where tourists cannot.

:22:37.:22:43.

Most visitors have left today, but plenty have memories. Now, with the

:22:44.:22:49.

help of technology, this iconic building will be available to many

:22:50.:22:50.

more people. As people increasingly experience

:22:51.:23:02.

the world in a virtual manner, we are going to discuss now whether

:23:03.:23:05.

this is a good thing with Patrick Tucker, who joins me from

:23:06.:23:08.

Washington. He's Editor at The Futurist magazine and author of "The

:23:09.:23:14.

Naked Future". Is it a good thing that people can go and visit the Taj

:23:15.:23:21.

Mahal online? I think it is absolutely a fantastic thing, that

:23:22.:23:26.

virtual reality, this sort of project, allows so many more people

:23:27.:23:31.

to experience the Taj Mahal for themselves. It is something that is

:23:32.:23:35.

going to be happening more in future. Virtual reality, we think of

:23:36.:23:41.

as being a relatively recent invention. The first virtual reality

:23:42.:23:47.

headset that allow people to experience reality outside of what

:23:48.:23:50.

they were presently experiencing was invented in 1968 by and MIT

:23:51.:23:57.

researcher called Ivan Sutherland. Computing power has enabled the

:23:58.:24:01.

project you have described, the collection of lots of visual data,

:24:02.:24:05.

and the experience of that data, through different headsets, or

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through laptops and desktop interfaces. We think of it in turns

:24:09.:24:15.

of leisure, if you cannot afford the airfare to India, you can still see

:24:16.:24:20.

the Taj Mahal, but there is a therapeutic use for this kind of

:24:21.:24:22.

thing. For people suffering from trauma, or who have fear of going

:24:23.:24:31.

out or that kind of thing. There are lots of therapeutic uses that we are

:24:32.:24:33.

beginning to discover. In California, Henry Jenkins is one of

:24:34.:24:40.

the co-founders of a project called robots for humanity. He is

:24:41.:24:45.

paraplegic. He steers a drone around his house sometimes and uses this

:24:46.:24:51.

virtual reality headset called the Oculus, to see what the drone seize

:24:52.:24:57.

and experience flying from his bed. There has been lots of research

:24:58.:25:00.

showing the therapeutic benefits of virtual reality for veterans or

:25:01.:25:06.

people suffering from Post a big stress disorder. There is a great

:25:07.:25:17.

book by a man called Robert McLay, called At War With PTSD. In this

:25:18.:25:24.

case, virtual reality headsets allow subjects to re-experience the

:25:25.:25:29.

somatic event in a safe environment in a different way and edit it, so

:25:30.:25:33.

that the brain learns how to recope with the memory. It is cutting edge

:25:34.:25:38.

stuff, and it is only possible now because virtual reality has reached

:25:39.:25:44.

the point where this is available to what's more people. -- lots more. In

:25:45.:25:55.

turns of tourism and leisure, you cannot say that the online

:25:56.:25:58.

experience will be similar to real contact with the building, with the

:25:59.:26:01.

human contact of the people around there, the smells and that kind of

:26:02.:26:06.

thing. It is no real substitute, is it? It is not a substitute, I would

:26:07.:26:13.

say, but it allows for a wider experience of a place that you are

:26:14.:26:18.

going to visit. Imagine being in a place like that, live, and

:26:19.:26:22.

interacting with it? You have now got an opportunity to share that

:26:23.:26:26.

with so many more people and such more credible level, and actually,

:26:27.:26:31.

part of the fun is not just experiencing this kind of thing

:26:32.:26:36.

remotely in arrests -- less realistic way, but being part of

:26:37.:26:40.

that budget that you can bring that experience to so many more people.

:26:41.:26:49.

That is part of the appeal. That's all from me and the team. Goodbye.

:26:50.:26:51.

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