tv News Al Jazeera September 14, 2013 5:00am-5:31am EDT
signs of progress over syria's chemical weapons. the white house signals it may back a u.n. resolution without the threat of force. >> we are expecting to hear anytime now from the top u.s. and russian diplomats holding talks in switzerland. hello. also ahead, a cease-fire between rebels and the philippines military collapsed only hours after it came into force. we're in south sudan where u.n. piecekeepers are tries to
stop members of a tribe from being killed. shark soup is taken off the menu at official events. five days after russia proposed a plan to bring syria's chemical weapons under international control there are signs of diplomatic progress. the white house has said it's open to a u.n. resolution that isn't backed by force. the threat of military action was one of russia's main objections. russia is syria's main ally at the u.n., but the u.s. could still take action without u.n. approval. the report by chemical weapons inspectors into the attack in august could be submitted on monday. the u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon said it would overwhelmingly show that chemical weapons were used. talks between russia and u.s.
entered a third day in switzerland. u.s. officials are quoted as saying both sides are coming to an agreement. this was the scene in geneva where we expect to hear from the russian foreign minister and u.s. secretary of state john kerr, and we will, of course, go to that news conference as soon as that begins. for weeks now the white house has been saying it knows the syrian government is responsible for poison gas attacks, but as we report, some politicians are questioning that intelligence. >> reporter: matthew is a former foreign service officer and captain in the u.s. marine corps. he was the first united states official to resign in protest over the afghan war, but his government contacts are still fresh. he says they're pleading with him to expose the u.s. intelligence being presented in the case for strikes on syria. >> the intelligence that's being
presented, what little actual evidence is being presented, is cherry-picked. it is misleading. it is not completely thorough. there are other evidence that contradicts what we're being told. >> reporter: what the american people are being told is that -- >> we know the assad regime was responsible. in the days leading up to august 21st, we know that assad's chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. >> reporter: but the white house admits it doesn't have hard evidence president assad ordered the chemical weapons attack. it's a concern for u.s. lawmakers like darrell issa who has been in security briefings with top level officials including the director of intelligence james clapper. >> whether asking questions about specific evidence available, director clapper did not have those -- the answers to that, if you will, the evidence, but told me that they are still
in the process of developing it. >> reporter: clapper's credibility has been questioned before. he's admitted he once gave false sworn testimony to congress about whether the national security agency was eavesdropping on americans. congressional briefings on the number of people killed in the august gas attacks may also be incorrect. when asked about the accuracy of the numbers, congressional sources report that administration officials told them they couldn't be sure. republican senator john mccain, who has been pushing for u.s. intervention in syria for years, has also be been part of the briefings. he told al jazeera there's much more evidence against assad that has not been made public, but what has been released, a map, activists' internet video and a four-page government assessment is lacking in substance according to this middle east answer list. >> it doesn't something through our information indicates that. it says our assessment is that.
that tells me that there's at least more than one interpretation within the intelligence community on many of the crucial facts. >> reporter: the obama administration is acting as if it has no doubts. it's telling the american people it has the evidence. it just doesn't have to release it. al jazeera, capitol hill. >> as we just mentioned, we're waiting for a news conference from the u.s. secretary of state and the russian foreign minister. while we wait on that, let's go to our correspondent jonah hall in geneva for us. jonah, this is going to be the third day of these talks. has there been any progress so far? >> reporter: well, i can tell you that until literal a few minutes ago behind me at the intercontinental hotel over there, john kerry and sergei lavrov was having a lengthy one-on-one breakfast meeting it
looked like. we took pictures of them through the trees. they were having energized discussions going through paperwork together. the working teams we understand have worked through the night on details of a possible agreement to be put into place, and they were probably going over all of that. we understand that there will be a press conference in a short time. mr. kerry has gone back inside. mr. lavrov is now on the phone outside perhaps reporting back to his superior on all of this. we wait to see, of course. what we hear coming out of these talks, nothing public, but via u.s. administration sources speaking on condition of anonymity as they often do, is there's progress. there's progress on various mechanisms to verify, for instance, the inventory of chemical weapons when it's received from the assad government in damascus. and key and much more important, there is the suggestion that the united states might be willing to give up the threat of the use of force as a sort of compliance
enforcement mechanism as part of any deal. that's mainly because russia and syria say the threat of force must go. the united states held onto it. they want a deal viable and enforceable in a u.n. security council resolution. unless that threat of force is put to one side, russia will never go for the u.n. security council resolution. if that has been to one side, it would effectively remove perhaps the biggest obstacle here to reaching a deal. >> these talks, of course, jonah, focusing on chemical weapons. has there been any talk at all of what happened, if they can find a resolution on chemical weapons, what happens to the ongoing conflict taking place in syria? has there been any progress there at all? >> reporter: well, on friday it emerged in talks between mr. kerry and mr. lavrov with the u.n. arab league envoy at
the u.n. -- remember, these chemical weapons talks are taking place outside of the u.n. they went over to the u.n. and friday and they came out, the three of them, that they were going to re-energize efforts to bring big political peace talks to geneva talks that began last june in this city and continue next june. it appears until the beginning of this week and the extraordinary events of this week to have gone away altogether. they say they'll bring that back or attempt to, mr. kerry and mr. lavrov to meet later in september in new york perhaps to set a date for a geneva 2 peace conference. it all rides on success here on the chemical weapons front and on a buildup of trust and compromise to give impetus to a wider peace process. on that, we await details. the press conference perhaps coming up in a short while. >> thank you very much, jonah.
that's jonah hall in geneva. we're waiting for this news conference from the u.s. secretaries of state and the russian foreign minister, and we will be going straight to that as soon as it begins. let's go to other news now in the southern philippines. a cease-fire between the army and separatist fighters was broken hours after it was agreed on. it was an attempt to end a five-day siege by rebels holding dozens of civilians hostage. gunfire has been heard again on saturday. 22 people have died in clashes between rebels and government since the fighters raided on monday. our correspondent reporting from zamboanga city. >> reporter: day six since the crisis began between the philippines government and the rebel fighters. the situation here shows little signs it will improve. last night there was an announcement made by the vice president.
he said a cease-fire agreement has been made between the philippine government and the national liberation front chairman and founder. however, on the ground here, that has not been reflected. the defense secretary denying that a cease-fire agreement has been put in place, and the assault from both sides are still underway. there seems to be a disconnect between the central government's statement. they can't seem to unite exactly what sort of approach to use on this issue. while they can't seem to find a peaceful solution on this crisis, at least 80 civilians are hostage and over 50 people are killed. the humanitarian issue here are becoming big. human rights observers are worried that this is increasingly difficult and fatal for all those hostages still stuck until now. the commander has said what he's demanding. he wants to be able to ensure that the peace agreement they
signed for the philippine government will be implemented. it's unsure exactly what position the philippine government intends to do. the situation is not improving and it's not known how this will pan out in the end. >> police in mexico have used tear gas and water cannons to end a protest by striking teachers. they were camped out for three weeks in the main public square. they're protesting against the president's proposed changes to the education system. adam raney has more. >> reporter: the beginning of the end of a month-long protest. thousands of riot police cleared mexico historic central plaza on friday. their move was steady, quick, and efficient. in the lead-up to the confrontation many said they would stand their ground. >> translator: we will not let them take the plaza away from us. it's ours.
it belongs to the people. >> reporter: the teachers were given an ultimatum. lease peacefully or be removed by force. we spoke to a leader of the movement before the police stepped in. >> translator: we're in civil disobedience because they're unjust laws. they did not take into account the opinion of teachers and parents. >> reporter: the clock was running out for the teachers. mexico kicks off independence celebration day on sunday, and the government promised celebrations would take place. the teachers mainly from four southern states descended on the capital to block the president's education reforms. teachers in mexico often hold strikes and sit-ins to win pay raises and benefits. when the law was enacted they promised to have it repealed. they were opposed to teacher evaluations, a first step to school privatization. the president said they need to do a better job educating mexican children.
the push didn't end here. after being pushed out of the main plaza, hundreds of teachers spread across the city center and thousands of riot police deployed across the capital to try and get them out. despite the weeks of protests, police were hesitant to use force to dislodge the teachers. mexico has a history of massacres at protests from the 1960s and '70s. the operation could be a win-win for the teachers and government. the teachers can say they didn't back down, and the police can say they showed restraint. once the teachers regroup, they have to decide whether to return to the classes or keep up the fight against government. adam raney, al jazeera, mexico city. just ahead on the program. >> i'm nick spicer on a tour of germany ahead of the federal election. we're looking at voters tempted by the far left and far right. a shortage of sand could spell trouble for florida's tourism industry.
these are the top stories on al jazeera. talks between the u.s. and russia on syria's chemical weapons are into a third day in geneva. the russian foreign minister, sergei lavrov and u.s. secretary of state kerry have been seen in discussions outside the hotel. the u.s. president is open to a u.n. resolution not backed by force. the three-week sit-ins by teachers in mexico have been broken up by riot police. the teachers are demonstrating
against reforming the national education system. a cease-fire has been broken in the southern philippines just hours after it was agreed on between the army and separatist fighters. this was an attempt to end a five-day siege by rebels who are holding civilians hostage in the city of zamboanga. the report by human rights watch accused the army of killing civilians from the mula drive. they leave in the east of south sudan where there's an armed conflict going on since the beginning of this year. anna reports from john life state. >> reporter: this u.n. patrol makes its slow progress through some of the south sudan's difficult terrain. this was a rare, dry day, but in this region there are few roads you can't move on you in the rainy season. u.n. peacekeepers are trying to gain access to the town. according to human rights watch
the tribe here has been the victim of killings and abuse by the south sudanese army. until recently they were too afraid of government soldiers to make the journey into town. >> translator: when we used to come to the village, there used to beat one, and one morning soldiers hid in a church and had we passed they started to shoot at us. they wanted to kill us. >> reporter: despite the u.n. presence there's numerous attacks on civilians and people. most recently on july 31st, soldiers killed two women as they attempted to collect rations from the world food program. the u.n. intensified patrols and opened up roads into the town, but for the past four months it's been xt of civilians. in that time humanitarian assets, shops and homes were looted by soldiers. the u.n. was unable to act before because of the fighting. >> right now we have a positive break in the fighting between the elements and the government
forces. we've taken this opportunity, window to come in with military patrols and follow-up with civilian patrols, which are being very effective at the moment. >> reporter: the south sudanese government acknowledges some of the abuses by its soldiers and the commanders of the troops were recently removed. there are still reports of civilians being attacked, but the people are beginning to feel safer. in may absolutely left the town, and soldiers turned it into a garrison. now civilians are starting to come back and rebuild their homes. a new leader of central african republic has dissolved the rebel alliance that swept into power. the coalition invaded the capital in march and deposed the president. human rights groups say the rebels have continued to loot and kill people. turkish police have broken up protests in the capital of
ancara. they're on the streets for a fifth night running. they're protesting against the construction of a cultural center with a sunni mosque and a prayer house. anti-government sentiment had already been inflamed by the death of 22-year-old protester on monday. at least eight people have been killed, 12 others injured in a bomb blast in northeast india. police in the city say the explosion went off inside a makeshift shed put up by migrant workers. local reports say the laborers were from asam. there's just over one week before elections in europe's economic powerhouse, germany. chancellor angela merkel's party is expected to win the biggest share of the vote, but a number of voters are drawn to smaller parties, some of them with extreme views. nick spicer reporting. >> reporter: on this stage of
our tour of germany ahead of the vote we're in the capital of mecklenburg west pomeranian. it's a place where many voters are tempted by political extremes. they call themselves the left, and more than two decades after german reunification and the anti-capitalist and anti-nato party is reaching out to the next generation of voters. it's at home here while it now accepts democracy, it grew out of the communist party that ran the east german dictatorship. this voter is out of a job, like around 13% of the population in the region, and out of unemployment benefits. she blames the big parties in berlin that she says don't care about the little people. >> translator: the world state no longer exists, and it hasn't for a long time.
it doesn't feel like we live in a democracy, that we have any way of changing things or that the people are being listened to. >> reporter: around 1 in 5 voters cast a ballot for the left party in the last regional elections here, but there's another option for people who aren't satisfied with the political system. that's the national democratic party or npd. even though only around 1 in 20 voters cast a ballot for them last time around, they're a source of concern and even shame because of this country's nazi past. this npd member of the regional parliament says his party just wants to help people in need, especially the poor, as long as they are german. >> translator: we want a germany for germans. we're not against foreigners, per se, but we just have to look after our own people first.
>> translator: -- >> reporter: to make that point they hold rallies to shelter asylum seekers to say they're unwelcome, sparking counterdemonstrations saying yes, they are. the ndp is not expected to get the 5% of the votes needed to win seats in the national parliament, but they could drain votes from, say, chancellor angela merkel's party. the left party is expected to win seats, maybe around 10%, but it's considered so beyond the pale that no parties will form a coalition with it. a long shot unless the coalition arithmetic will leave the other parties with no other choice. on the next stage the tour, we go to bavaria to meet with supporters of chancellor angela merkel's governing coalition. now we're going to take you to the latest pictures from egypt where the former egyptian president hosni mubarak has
appeared in court for his retrial, which is taking place here. mubarak is facing charges related to corruption and deaths of protesters during the 2011 egyptian revolution. he was released from prison last month and put under house arrest. we're going to go now to our correspondent in cairo who we're not naming for security reasons. tell us about this committee that's investigating the accusations against mubarak, and what are they tasked with doing here? >> there's three separate committees, and the experts on those committees are sworn in today. they have 30 days to then report back to the court. there's one committee that will look at what sort of weapons were used during the revolution, looking at that issue of the deaths of protesters during that period. there's another committee. it will have an expert on issues like natural gas and finance,
and it will be looking at the issue of whether natural gas was exported to israel for prices below the international market rate. so corruption charges essentially. then there will be a third committee of architects and, again, finance experts, and they'll be looking into mubarak's village in sharm elshake. and that's related to corruption charges. >> where has mubarak himself been staying since his release from prison? >> reporter: well, in august he finished his period of detention, so to speak, pending investigation. he'd been held for well over a year. he wasn't convicted during that period of time or at least he was, and a retrial was announced. he was especially released, but then under the state of emergency law, which egypt is under at the moment, he was again placed under house arrest. mubarak is now in madre military hospital for health reasons.
>> that's the latest from our correspondent in cairo on the retrial of former hosni mubarak that has gotten underway there. now, russia has launched an inquiry into a fire at a psychiatric hospital that killed 37 people. the blaze started early on friday in the building in the northwestern region. emergency teams are searching the ruins for more bodies and looking in a nearby forest for patients that may have fled. in ecuador thousands of people from towns in the amazon have marched to want capital supporting a government plan to drum for oil in the national park that's located in the western amazon region. it holds close to 1 billion barrels of crude oil. the u.n. agency unesco has declared the protected reserve. heavy flooding is crippling parts of the u.s. state of colorado. the national guard worked to
rescue an entire town of 1600 people cut off by floodwaters on friday. the search has killed at least four people, washed out dams, turned roads into rivers across the state. the leader of al qaeda is urging his followers to launch small-scale attacks inside the united states. in an oaudio message released h said further attack will weaken the u.s. economy. he also urged muslims to boycott american goods and to stop using the u.s. dollar. now, for centuries sharks and soup have enjoyed the status of a delicacy in chinese cuisine, but the harvesting of the fin is often described as cruel. now following years of pressure the government of hong kong has announced its plans to ban the dish at official events. jared tan reports. >> reporter: on a rooftop
business is booming. hundreds of shark fins are laid out to dry. typically served as a soup, the fins are a chinese delicacy. environmentalists have long demanded the dish be struck off menus. up to 100 million sharks are killed each year, mostly to fill bowls like these. they're caught, stripped of their fin, then dumped overboard to bleed to tet. conservationists say the practice and cruel and dangerous. >> we could see extinction of smt species very soon. we're not talking 50 years. we're talking the next 5, 10 years. >> reporter: so the celebration of the latest decision of hong kong's government, no more shark fin at official functions. it's a significant step. hong kong accounts for half of the global trade in shark fins. also banned at state ban kets is blue-fin tuna. the numbers are down by almost
90% since the 1970s. black mosque too is on the list. harvesting is blamed for erosion. the decision in hong kong reflects a growing movement around the ethics of food. last year the u.s. state of california made far grois. they force-feed ducks and geez until their livers expand. similarly activists are trying to raise awareness, but indonesia is the most expensive in the world. the wild civet cat is caged and fed berries and it's passed on in the feces to be roasted as coffee beans. enjoyed by people at a cost to the animal's health. now hong kong is sending a message that designer foods, starting with shark fins, are becoming harder to stomach.
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