14/02/2014 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me Zeinab Badawi. Deadlock at the


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


warring sides blame each other for the impasse.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


volcano eruption. Three people were killed.


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


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


believe this kind of technology can transform lives.


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


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


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


issue of a transitional government. Meanwhile, on the humanitarian


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


their coping mechanisms and are looking to members of the Security


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


help escape the conflict in this war.


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


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


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


the possibility of creating a transitional governing body. And


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


process. I appeal to the international community, those


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


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


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


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


freedom and dignity. Syria's deputy foreign minister,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The South African Paralympic sprint champion, Oscar Pistorius, has


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


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


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


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


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


Prosecutors say he killed her after a row.


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


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


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


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


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


an accident. Oscar Pistorius told police he killed his girlfriend


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


premeditated murder that Oscar Pistorius took time to put on his


artificial legs and follow his girlfriend from the bedroom before


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


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


statement on his website, describing the shooting as a devastating


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


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


them to ensure that the Justice system happens where everyone can


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


following developments in Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon. He joins us


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


those civilians and trapped civilians in the besieged areas, not


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Enrico Letta. Mr Letta formally submitted his resignation a day


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


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


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


expected to ask Mr Renzi to form a new administration.


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


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


slippery roads caused several traffic accidents on a highway.


Thousands of flights have been cancelled and more than half a


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


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


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


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


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


services. Pope Francis invited more than


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Professor of Oncology at Imperial College London. He has helped


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


practice. Just explain to us, why is it men


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


runs programmes on statistics and talks about the difficulties of


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


difficult because you might find cancer statistics for a little bit


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


evacuated from their homes on the heavily populated island of Java


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


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


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


collapsed under the weight of volcanic debris. Alice Budisatrio


reports. Mount Kelud eruptions sent ash and gravel seven interlopers


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


blocking visibility and threatening to damage aircraft engines. A brief


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


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


villages across Central and East Java, authorities are calling for


volunteers to help clear streets of the debris. Indonesians are


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


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


roost. The authority said the volcanic activity had decreased and


that more major eruptions were unlikely. Residents closest to the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


fourth run. Everyone watching in Britain was desperate for not


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


about 15 lens, pointing in different directions, constantly taking


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


capturing the culture of the country. What about the concerns


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


more people. As people increasingly experience


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


as being a relatively recent invention. The first virtual reality


headset that allow people to experience reality outside of what


they were presently experiencing was invented in 1968 by and MIT


researcher called Ivan Sutherland. Computing power has enabled the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


showing the therapeutic benefits of virtual reality for veterans or


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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