03/06/2014 World News Today


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This is BBC World News Today with me, Philippa Thomas.


"An historic day", or "theatre written with the blood of Syrians"?


Syria goes to the polls - and for the first time in decades,


there's more than one name in the running for president.


The US steps up its commitment to Europe's defence -


announcing a one billion dollar fund to increase military


Also coming up - Fears about the spread of Ebola in West Africa, as


a British firm becomes the first to fly its people out of the region.


And how one US art collector helped to keep alive an African art


Hello and welcome. After 3 years of civil war,


tens of thousands killed, and millions displaced, presidential


elections are being held in Syria. Voting has been extended


in what officials have called a There is little doubt


President Assad will win For the first time


in decades though, there are other But Maher Hajjar


and Hassan al-Nouri are hardly known and critics say they've been unable


to campaign on anything like And large parts of Syria did not


take part in these elections. No votes were cast


in opposition-held areas seen here Quite a contrast to the government


controlled parts of the country seen here in red, where officials set up


more than 9,000 polling stations. The BBC's Middle East Editor,


Jeremy Bowen, has this report. There's a serve decorated some of


the buses the water company used to bring workers to this polling


station in Damascus. -- posters. If anybody supported anyone else they


were keeping quiet. Everyone I spoke to said they would be voting for the


head of the family that has run Syria for more than 40 years. This


man scratched his bum so he could fold in blood. He was not the only


one doing it. For the first time in more than 50 years there was a


choice in the presidential election. Proof, according to officials, that


this was real democracy. She said how happy she was to be voting for


President Assad. But the election has been denounced as a sham by


opponents abroad. Britain called it a parody of democracy. For all the


savage criticism of this election it is important to remember that


President Assad does have genuine support. Some of them have started


chanting outside. He would not have got to where he has been without


that kind of support. As far as he is concerned, this is good politics.


President Assad is certain to win the vote. He cast his ballot with


his wife, who grew up in London. In the parts of Syria are controlled by


rebels the election has been ridiculed as much as condemned. This


artist painted rubbish skips to look like ballot boxes. There is no


voting in rebel held areas. Back in Damascus, this is a former minister,


one of the rival candidates. Before the vote he said his own family had


found the campaign was fear by Syrian standards but not, as he put


it, from all points of view. One single person who believes in me


would not have the guts to put a poster of me signing his name. Even


your relatives might be scared to put up posters? Not scared,


reluctant. They are reluctant because they never believed there


would be an election in Syria and suddenly they have three candidates


competing for the president of the Syrian republic. Look at this big


change. Thousands of his posters have been up in Damascus. Questions


about the future have always been parried with, it is up to the Syrian


people. Whatever his opponents say about this controversial election,


once his victory is announced he can tell them he has a new seven-year


mandate. Joining me now from Westminster is the Conservative MP


Brooks Newmark. Welcome. Let us assume that President Assad wins,


how should the UK and the US react? I think there should be no change at


all. Everybody recognises that this election is a complete farce, he has


found useful idiots who have been preapproved. There was a process in


Geneva which was about a transition. This throws that out. President


Assad is responsible for butchering and gassing and torturing a of his


own people. -- 150,000. This is one of the worst managerial crisis --


humanitarian crises in history. The election has no bearing on reality.


What should the West do given they don't want to inflict military


strikes on the regime and given Russia is in little mood to


cooperate? I think we need to put as much pressure on President Assad as


possible, and that means providing genuine support for the Free Syrian


Army and coalition, who represent the moderate majority of Syrians. At


the moment what we've got is a bunch of terrorists on one side in the


form of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, doing the fighting


effectively for President Assad, and then on the other extreme side we


have those fighting in the north-east, and copper in the middle


of it is the vast majority of Syrians. -- trapped in the middle.


Instead of supporting the moderate majority we are letting the


radicals, the terrorists, if you will, who did not exist in Syria two


years ago, gets stronger and stronger. We need to bolster the


moderate majority and that is what they must do. You think your


government is minded to do that? I mean, certainly, there is an


appetite. People are recognising that because we're not supporting


the moderate majority, there are about 15,000 terrorists. Where they


did not exist two years ago they are growing and growing because we are


not arming sufficiently the moderate majority. The only way to bring him


to the negotiating table is through force. Through force, he recognises


committee will then come to the negotiating table. On the absence


force he will do things like he is doing today. I am afraid he


recognises one thing, which is strength and might and the only way


to deal with them is through that. President Obama has announced


plans to increase the US military presence in eastern Europe.


The move is a response to the crisis in Ukraine, and what the


US president described as Russia's 'provocation' in the region.


He's earmarked one billion dollars to pay for greater US participation


in training and exercises, to rotate troops into the region


and to provide naval deployments in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea.


With me is Nicholas Burns - former US Ambassador to NATO, now


Thank you for coming in. Is this enough? It is the right move by the


President of the United States and by the NATO alliance, because


President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have been very clear, they


are not going to have a military confrontation risk war with God


you're putting over Ukraine. We have no security commitment with them. --


brisk walk with Vladimir Putin over Ukraine. But is story and Latvia are


former republics, Babe Ruth -- they both have significant ethnic Russian


population. The theory is if there is not a strong announcement,


Vladimir Putin will not respect the Alliance and might think he has more


running room in Eastern Europe than he thinks. It is prudent, it is


wise, we will not see a major build-up. The danger is it will be


seen as a provocation. Vladimir Putin is many things but he is not


irrational. He understands power, just like President Assad. He needs


to be shown that NATO will live up to Article five, which is that an


attack on one is an attack on all. This reinforces the chance to


maintain stability in Eastern Europe as a result of what happened in


Crimea. Do you see a future in which Ukraine becomes a member of the


European Union and NATO? Not any time soon. I think it should have


representation in Brussels, certainly in the form of a trade


agreement, it is a partner of NATO, it has been training with them, but


to bring them into the alliance any time soon, I don't think you would


have the unanimity that would require and that might be the kind


of provocation that would be very unwise. Friendship towards Ukraine,


economic and political support, maybe even helping them build a


military, that is as far as you will see the US and Europe go. How do you


assess the approach of Vladimir Putin towards the separatist in the


east of Ukraine? He is pulling back troops from the border. He says he


is. He is actually quite devious and it is a highly cynical policy. He


says he is not interfering and yet when some of these ethnic Russians


have been killed the remains have been shipped back to Russia. It


stands to reason as many governments have been saying that the Russian


government is actually directing some of these operations, and agents


of the Russian government are helping to form these bands of armed


brigands. That is what they are. They are trying to take over the


legal authorities that are the responsibilities of the Ukrainian


government. I don't think we should believe flooding are put in when he


says his intentions are benign. You think there will be a problem


getting this programme through Congress? I don't. I think they are


urging the president to show a little more strength on Ukraine. He


did that today. He is to be commended for that. He will have


congressional support for that. On another issue, we're hearing in


Egypt's that -- we're hearing the results of election. Can they do


business? They will have no choice because each are so important in the


effort to contain Iran, to maintain the support of the moderate states


of the Middle East. There will be a lot of misgivings because it is a


return to military dictatorship and Egypt's highly divisive politics


will be difficult to deal with. Very good to speak to you. As we were


saying, Egypt's former army chief has been confirmed as the next


president, winning by a landslide with more than 96% of the vote. The


right spread -- result was expected. We will get more now. This was


expected but tell us more about the figures, the voting figures and the


turnout figures. A landslide victory for the Field Marshall, more than


96% of the votes. His opponent got less than 4%. We have other figures


to consider. The turnout was around 47% only. Less than 50% of eligible


voters took apart. More than 50% chose to stay away. They do not


believe in this political process, so Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has some


steps to take to convince these people he will be a president for


all Egyptians, not only those who voted for him. He is now addressing


a nation with a severely divided political landscape, polarisation in


the political scene, so he has lots of challenges that lie ahead. His


inaugural ceremony will be next week, after that he has lots of


problems to take care of and he has to point out what his plan is to


address all these lingering problems. In fact, in a speech that


he gave a while ago, he thanked the Army, the judges, the media, and


there has been lots of concerns about media restrictions in the


period to come, given the fact that the man comes from a military


background. Some media groups and human rights groups are afraid there


will be lots of restrictions on freedom of speech. Perhaps he


intended to give some assurance that the period to come will not be a


period of restriction. He's one of Pakistan's most powerful


politicians but he is now in police custody in London, arrested


on suspicion of money laundering. Altaf Hussain,


leader of Pakistan's third largest party the MQM, has been living


in the UK in self-imposed exile In the party's powerbase,


Pakistan's largest city Karachi, police are on the streets


and thousands of supporters have Here in London, the BBC's Richard


Galpin has been to Altaf Hussain's Plainclothes police officers moved


in this morning, to arrest Altaf Hussain here at his home in a


wealthy area of north London. The result of an investigation lasting


at least a year. But this police operation was not just about


arresting him. It was also to try to find more evidence. The police had


been searching his house here for hours. And it's not the first raid


here. There have been many others in the past. There are also other


allegations against Mr Husain, not just the allegation of


money-laundering. He is also accused of inciting his millions of


supporters in Karachi to violence. He denies all the allegations.


Although based here in London for more than 20 years, Altaf Hussain


still controls the MQM in Pakistani. Delivering firebrand speeches over


the telephone to the party faithful in Karachi. Including what seems to


be clear threats against the MQM's opponents and critics.


So, no surprise then that news of his arrest has already led to


trouble in Karachi, the MQM's heartland. His supporters taking to


the streets in angry protests, sparking fears, not least for


British citizens living in the city. British citizens have already been


moved from Karachi to Islamabad, especially the dramatic stuff, and


they have also asked the British people who are working over there to


take extra care -- especially Telematics staff. There may be a


direct threat to them. -- diplomatic staff. The situation is extreme.


Already many people have fled to the safety of their homes, with shops


and other businesses locked up. Many fearing the worst.


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


Spanish politicians have been outlining what happens next with


the abdication of King Juan Carlos and the accession of his son


On Monday the king announced that he would step down after


Thailand's ruling military council says it will lift a curfew


in some tourist areas, including the popular beach resorts


The curfew from midnight to 4am was imposed after the military took


Nigeria's interior minister has said that several people have been found


guilty of providing weapons to Boca have run militants, welcoming the


move. What is gladdening if the military high command has been able


to use it intelligence operations to identify people. Having found them


as early as this is gladdening to everybody who is concerned about


ending this insurgency. Staff at a British firm in


Sierra Leone have left the country following an outbreak


of the deadly Ebola virus. London Mining is


the first company to speak publicly There are already


about 50 suspected cases in Sierra There have been more than 100 deaths


in neighbouring Guinea where the outbreak started,


with cases also reported in Liberia He's Professor of Infectious Disease


Epidemiology at the London School You have been studying it polar for


more than 40 years. And you know how quickly it can spread. -- you have


been studying the Ebola virus. How easy is it to spread? It transfers


through blood from one person to another, sometimes through vomiting


or coughing on another person, and it has to be close contact. Those at


greatest risk are the health professionals. Is it wise to get


workers out of a dangerous field? I do not understand what the


considerations were in moving this people out, it is just because of


simple issues such as insurance, possibly, which tells the complete


to remove the Patriots. I cannot answer the question. There is very


little risk that they would be effective if they are not in close


contact with a patient with the Ebola virus. I was introducing the


story, I gave the viewers some number, but there could be others


who do not know about. It is difficult to find cases because they


are hidden in many times, there is a stigma sometimes against the cases


and families do not want to identify it. It is systematically searching


from village to village that people are found, managed in a hospital and


released. So who does that, is it health workers putting themselves at


risk? Health workers are at greatest risk, most outbreaks occur because


patients into a hospital where practices are not being done which


will protect the health workers. The best procedures are wearing gloves,


wearing a mask and making sure there is no contact directly with body


secretions. So there needs to be a lot of training for the


professionals who are expected to go out there and monitor and contained


the Ebola virus? Absolutely, it is vital, it is important for this


virus and many other hospital infections as well. The training


should be done on a regular basis, not just when there is an outbreak.


One of the concerns that some of the families have is that their loved


ones are in hospitals. We have had reports that infected patients have


been taken out because families want them treated by traditional healers.


Is that something you have heard? I have heard the same thing, this


often happens. Those at greatest risk now will be the traditional


healers who will be working with these patients and the family


members who are in contact with them. This is common, people wants


to take their sick ones home and Ebola virus patients are very sick.


Thank you for speaking to us about this.


It's 50 years since the first museum dedicated to African art opened


It was founded by Warren Robbins, a career diplomat who had never


visited the continent when he started his collection.


But he strongly believed that appreciating the art of Africa could


foster greater understanding between white and African-Americans


His collection eventually became the National Museum of African Art


and moved to the heart of the nation's capital.


The traditional art of Liberia and Sierra Leone convey a culture


These ceremonial masks and carvings, dating from


the 15th century to modern times, are part of a major exhibition at


We have got the joy of helping people to rethink how


This is only one aspect of African art, often mistakenly described


But half a century after America's first dedicated African art museum


opened its doors in Washington, perceptions are changing.


What I really feel excited about is that we no longer, I hope, have to


go to Europe or to the United States to justify the beauty, the


We can understand it because of its own aesthetic standards.


The 50th anniversary of the National Museum of African Art is also


Warren Robbins was a cultural attache working


One day in the late 1950s, he walked into an antique store


and bought a wooden carving, the start of a world-class collection.


And here we are at Warren Robbins' home.


Back in Washington, he turned his house


into a museum and used his African art as a vehicle for civil rights.


He created a space that was extraordinarily rare at the time.


Which is someplace that appreciates where African-Americans came from,


remember, we're talking about the United States in 1964, the


peak of the civil rights movement, and before it had triumphed.


So in that sense, it was a major move forward.


And as the museum has developed, that has only strengthened.


Robbins was also very well connected.


Hollywood stars such as Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor flocked to


his exhibitions, raising the profile and understanding of African art.


I think Warren's legacy was to establish something that created


But what he always wanted was a museum that was living.


Today's museum, now part of the Smithsonian Institution, showcases


historical and contemporary works, helping visitors understand how


the art of Africa is as rich and diverse as the continent itself.


An expert scientific panel here in the UK has given its backing to a


fertility treatment that would allow genetic material from three people


to create a baby. The aim of the three parent IVF technique is to


prevent couples from passing on severe disabilities to their


children. The ground-breaking procedure, which involves replacing


40 part of the mitochondrial DNA, is still at research stay, but it could


be available for patients within two years if draft legislation is passed


into law. And we have shown you some -- and


here are some more unusual pictures of a black bear relaxing in the


Florida sunshine. This was in Daytona Beach, who said that there


looked like he was on vacation. He has been spotted around the


neighbourhood over the past few days, opening up bins and looking


for food. All good things must come to an end, the bins have been taken


away and the hammock removed on safety grounds.


As he had to the course of the night and area of low pressure will push


up from the south, and using a lot of rain to the country. That takes


over tomorrow, which will be relatively cool. Cooler than what we


have been used


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