tv BBC World News America PBS June 2, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PDT
>> this is bbc world news america reporting from washington. battling e. coli, russia bans european vegetables. as 18 are killed by a new strain of a deadly bacteria. standoff in sanaa, yemen security forces struggle to keep control of the capital. as thousands of tribesmen pour in from the mountains. and off and running. mitt romney makes it official. he's in the presidential race. so why is sarah palin stealing the spotlight? welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe a new highly toxic strain of e. coli is to blame for the food
poisoning that's killed 18 in europe and sickened over a thousand more. global health officials are racing to contain the illness which is centered on germany but they still don't know where the outbreak actually comes from. the bbc's david shukman has the story. >> this is the frontline against the battle with the back tier -- bacteria. this e. coli emerged from a source that's unknown. these are nervous times. >> there is a fear among the staff says this intensive care nurse. there are patients the same age as our children and nobody knows where this is coming from or where it will lead. identifying the bacteria is the first task. it's one that's never caused an outbreak before. and analysis revealed its virulence, understanding it should help trace its source and the quicker that's done, the faster it can be brought under control. >> this is an unprecedented
outbreak in its size. it's not quite the biggest ever. in terms of number of cases but it is certainly the biggest in terms of the health impact, the number of cases of people with complications and i'm afraid it will probably be the biggest in terms of the number of deaths as well. >> something about this outbreak means women are most vulnerable. no one knows why. confirmed today is the bacteria is a hybrid. that means two other types of e. coli combine to produce it that may make it more dangerous. it can certainly stick to the wall of the gut. and there produce the toxins that trigger a range of effects. the first of these is diarrhea. the more serious conditions can follow. including kidney failure and damage to the nervous system. so how can it be tackled? well, antibiotics might not work. this strain is resistant. strict hygiene keeps being stressed. and the incubation period is eight days so if people in germany stopped eating raw vegetables last friday, when
the first warnings were issued, the number of new cases should fall pretty soon. so what are the risks of it spreading? this lab in london is on standby. seven people in britain are infected. at least 10 countries now have cases. but they all got it in germany. >> fortunately so far all cases we have seen and indeed other member states within europe, they have all been associated with travel to germany. >> tracking the bacteria involved detective work. finding out what the victims a&t, where they got -- ate, where they got it. it will be a long process. >> russia today extended its ban on vegetables to include the entire european union. it's a move which countries within the e.u. quickly condemned as disproportionate. and the economic impact threatens to be widespread. our europe editor gavin hewitt has that part of the story. >> in spain, vegetable growers have seen their sales collapse.
today, they dumped vegetables outside a german consulate. german officials had wrongly identified spanish cucumbers as the source of the outbreak. they were wrong. and a furious spanish government is seeking compensation. sales are costing 200 million pounds a week and could lead to thousands of layoffs. the problems for europe's vegetable growers deepened today when russia banned all imports of fresh vegetables from the european union. it's absolutely the right decision, says this shopper. the traders, 500 million pounds a year, and the e.u. called on russia to withdraw the ban. >> the european commission finds this measure disproportionate and scientifically unjustified. >> in germany, the warehouses are full of vegetables that can't be sold. officials have warned people not to eat lettuce, tomato owes and cue couplebergs.
even though the outbreak is affecting people primarily in the northern part of germany, there has been a dramatic decline in the sales of fresh vegetables across europe. on a weekly basis, it's about one billion euro and haft week it has come to a stand -- and last week it has come to a stand still for the category of vegetables. >> almost no vegetables were sold last week, is that what you're saying? >> little sales of cucumber, of tomato, -- >> this is celery growing here and certainly the prices of celery are holding up better than those for cucumbers and tomatos. here's the problem for vegetable growers. once these are picked there can't be any delay in sending them to the market. but at the moment, at the markets, the shoppers have lost confidence. >> it's been going on for a week now. and if it continues for several weeks, then growers will go out of business. because they can't carry on. >> in germany, cucumbers are not being picked.
there's no point. the crates stand empty. this farmer's biggest contract has been canceled. what growers want most is for the cause of the new strain of bacteria to be pinpointed. what they fear most is continued uncertainty. gavin hewitt, bbc news, belgium. >> and everyone of course looking at that new strain. and for more on how big of threat this outbreak poses i'm joined by the director of national institute of allergy and infectious diseases. thanks very much for joining us, dr. fachi. how does a new strain develop? is it all the strains get resistant to bacteria -- antibiotics that we have out there or how does this come about? because it seems to happen very suddenly. >> yes, it has. it's really unclear at this point. bacteria and other my crobes have uncanny -- and microbes have uncanny ways of exchanging genes and mutating so they react differently. we've not seen this strain in the united states and it's been rare that it causes outbreaks really anywhere. the extent of the outbreak and
the seriousness of it with regard to the complications such as renal failure among some of the individuals, namely kidney failure, for a variety of reasons, is something that is distinctly unusual that has not been seen before. but bacteria have enormous genetic ways of changing and mutating and forming a different type of a manifestation than you usually see them do. >> if you are a health official sitting in europe, how worried would you be about the casualties mounting from this? >> well, the first thing i would want to do and they're doing it, certainly, is to try and find out the source. and by molecular analysis and sampling, they should be able to get a good handle on the source soon. and once you do, you can then start taking the appropriate measures to make sure you cut that off. right now, that's what i would be doing from a public health standpoint. from a standpoint of the
individuals who are ill, it's very unfortunate the numbers of those individuals is really rather large compared to other types of outbreaks. >> and would you be advising people in europe not to eat fresh vegetable? would you be taking the russian approach in saying right, all european vegetables off the table until we know where this is come from? >> i really can't comment on that from the vantage point of the information we have. i certainly think that in those areas where there have been outbreaks that people should really use great caution when it comes to particularly uncooked vegetables. no doubt about that. >> so there are measures that individuals can take, then? >> well, yes. regular hygenic measures. i mean, particularly making sure you wash what you eat, if it's a vegetable. at this time in germany, i think most people with the publicity this has gotten are staying away from eating vegetables at this point. but there's obvious -- enormous amount of economic impact there. so i think that there's that balance of officials who are looking out for the health
versus the economic. and i'll have to leave it to the official there since i'm not there to examine what's going on. >> thank you so much for joining us, dr. fauchi. >> good to be here. >> for a third straight day the streets of yemen's capital have been the scene of deadly clashes between the forces of president salee and armed tribesmen from the mountains. thousands of residents have been forced to flee the violence and tonight witnesses report that security forces have fired live bullets at protesters in the capital. from sanaa, this rorlt. -- this report. [gunfire] rebels in the streets of sanaa, their positions are well defended. they are advancing, and their aim is to push president saleh
out of power. the cost in lives is high. many of the rooms in this building hold the bodies of fighters. the pictures are too graphic to show. tonight, just four miles away in the center of the city, you can feel the fear. soldiers are on the street. hoping to hold the rebels back. the army and security are out in force in sanaa. there are checkpoints everywhere. the president and many people here are nervous about what will happen next. saleh has ruled yemen for 32 years. he is with the west in fighting al qaeda but the country he leads is unstable and a breakdown in yemen could mean trouble for powerful neighbors. in the square, calling for president saleh to go for months. they want real democracy.
now the violence in the city is drowning out their voices. and instead of the peaceful change they want, yemen could be facing a different war. bbc news, sanaa. >> meanwhile, in syria, there are fresh reports of government troops pounding a town with artillery and gunfire. according to activists at least 15 people died in today's clashes. it comes as u.s. secretary of state hillary clinton said the world is not united enough on how to deal with the crackdown but she warns that the syrian president's legitimacy has nearly run out. now to pakistan where one of the country's most senior military commanders says there's no likelihood of an imminent full-scale offensive in north wazirastan, despite pressure from washington to take down the military strongholds there. at the epicenter of global terrorism, insurgents use the region as a staging area to
carry out attacks on u.s. and nato troops across the border in afghanistan. our correspondent has been to the tribal region of momand and sent us this report. >> pounding a hidden enemy. in a distant valley, taliban fighters are holding out. this is momand, one of several battlegrounds in pakistan's tribal belt. the army says it has freed most of this area from the militants' grip. we were taken to see the successes here. school children lined up to show their patriotism. their schools reclaimed from the taliban who used it as a base. this is some of their firepower. proudly displayed now by the military. these weapons have been recovered in the last few weeks.
as well as the rifles, there are submachine guns, large amounts of ammunition, and anti-air crast guns. now, the army is still fighting to get complete control here and in other areas. but washington insists it's time to tackle north waziristan, a battle pakistan has been reluctant to fight. so far, army operations have focused on militants who attack pakistani targets. not those who strike across the border in afghanistan. like the mikani group who wage war from north waziristan. for u.s. forces they are a major threat. for pakistan, potential allies in any new afghan setup. the commander leading the fight in the tribal areas told us he's not gearing up for an imminent assault. >> if somebody is talking of sweeping operations pour something, that is to be -- operations or something, that is to be decided by us depending on the tactical requirements and the nature of the threat that exists.
but i don't see something in weeks or days, you know, some -- you know, juggernaut or sweeping operation of that taking place. blitzkrieg. i don't see that happening. >> americans should not hold their breath? >> you should ask the americans. >> the army says it's already overstretched in this harsh terrain. it's picking its battles carefully. any future action in north waziristan is likely to be limited and selective. bbc news, momand. >> and in other news from around the world the lawyer representing the former bosnian serb commander rad co-mladic says he's in a prison hospital at the war crimes tribunal in the haig. he said he was treated for cancer two years ago while he was on the run. he was treated for lymphoma in 2009 in a belgrade hospital. an american couple who kidnapped a schoolgirl and held her can'tive for nearly two
decades -- captive for nearly two decades has been sentenced to life in prison. jaycee dugard was abducted in 1990 by philip garrido and his wife, nancy. china denied any responsibility for cyber attacks on the personal email accounts of senior american officials. the u.s. government says it's investigating the allegations which relate to g-mail accounts hosted by google. the attacks were reported by the company yesterday and along with claims that they originated in eastern china. power security correspondent has the report. -- our security correspondent has the report. >> the battle over cyber space is intensifying. countries wanting not just to defend but also attack. the latest target, top officials using google's email system. messages claiming to contain a draft u.s.-china statement were sent to senior american officials. who then had their personal although not government email compromised. this happened after they were
directed to a fake google email log-in page. when they provided their details, hackers could gain access to praoist accounts. -- praoist accounts. >> google informed the state department of this situation yesterday in advance of its public announcement. these allegations are very serious. we take them seriously. we're looking into them. >> google says it traced the attacks to china. but proving who is behind the campaign which also targeted chinese political activeists isn't easy. -- activists isn't easy. >> the allegations that the chinese government supports hacking attacks is completely fabricated. with ulterior motives. >> the attack comes as america prepared its new cyber strategy with the pentagon exploring a number of options. for the most serious cyber attacks, the u.s. military could launch a rocket or mitchell attack against the perpetrators. >> cyber security is part of the fabric of our lives. >> britain played host to a
summit of cyber security experts. from around the world. >> officials including those from china and america are meeting in london to discuss how to secure the internet. high on the agenda is whether new rules are needed to prevent cyber warfare getting out of hand. a former u.s. general told me the best defense may be a strong offense. >> the best thing is to have a resilient network that's able to thwart the type of attacks. the attacks are getting so sophisticated now that protective measures alone aren't enough. and so people are building not only defenses but they're also building offensive capabilities. >> and britain may have carried out its own cyber attacks. the electronic intelligence agency gchq, is declining to comment on reports it launched an assault on an al qaeda magazine. when people originally tried to read this glossy online publication, promising bomb
making instructions, this is what they found. page after page of total jibberish. believed to have been put there by british intelligence. cyber war is still some way from leading to real war. but the signs are that battles in cyber space are escalating. gordon carrera, bbc nution. >> you're watching bbc world news america. still to come on tonight's program, jumping in the race. mitt romney tries again to top the republican ticket. but voters see far from excited about in field. -- about this field. it's been nearly 12 weeks since disaster struck in japan. and today, it was the country's prime minister who is feeling the political fallout. now, survive the vote of no confidence in the japanese parliament but only affer he -- but ponal after he said he
would resign and what the future might hold. >> bowed to the diet after the results of the vote came through. to the opposition, that tried with the no confidence motion and the rebels on his own side who threaten to back them. but changed their minds at the last minute. it's the prime minister's response to the earthquake and tsunami that nearly cost him his job. tens of thousands of people remain in evacuation centers amid a shortage of temporary housing. radiation is still leaking from the fukushima nuclear plant and mr. khan has been accused of weak leadership. on wednesday, the u.n.'s nuclear watchdog said the government's handling of the crisis have been exemplary. and at a meeting with his own party members, just before the vote, the prime minister did much to win himself a reprieve. he told them he would step down. but only once he's got the country back on track. >> i wish to handle issues
related to the matter of the earthquake and once that's been dealt with and i've completed my duties, i wish to hand over some responsibilities to the younger generation. >> dozens have been expected to rebel. in the end, most voted with the prime minister. so khan has is your vichede as prime minister -- survived as prime minister but left a weakened political figure and the debate on when he will go. and in a will make the huge job -- and that will make the huge job of rebuilding after the tsunami more difficult. roland burke, bbc news, tokyo. >> there is a year and a half to go until the u.s. presidential election. but the candidates are already limbering up for the fight. today, republican mitt romney officially threw his hat in the ring for the new hampshire announcement that took a direct punch at president obama. but the only republican anyone really wants to know about is
the one who's keeping america guessing. >> i believe in america. and i'm running for president of the united states. [cheers and applause] >> the man with immaculate hair and immense wealth is running again for the presidency of the united states. on the upside, he's been a governor, run a successful business and he has the right credentials in tough economic times. >> when barack obama came to office we wished him well and hoped for the best. now in the third year of his four-year term, we have more than slogans and promises to judge minimum by. -- judge him by. barack obama has failed america. >> mitt romney sure looks the part. so why doesn't he sound it? well, he is a little dull. but as romney said, these are serious times. more damaging is his history on one of the biggest issues of this election. health care. the plan mitt romney introduced
in massachusetts is almost identical to the one barack obama introduced to america. a plan much hated by republicans. romney has tried to run from his past policy but that habit of changing positions led to searing charges of flip-flopping in the 2008 campaign. mitt romney left this new hampshire stage the republican frontrunner. but a few hours later, this woman was due in the same state. dull she certainly isn't. and if sarah palin also runs for the presidency, well, all bets are off. >> so what should we make of the presidential field that's taking shape? the question he put with michael duffy, the washington bureau chief of time magazine. supposed to be mitt romney's day and somehow sarah palin even then managed to steal his thunder. >> in fact, she told people she wasn't going to get to new hampshire until the weekend, and suddenly she turns up there on thursday. it's not an accident. she did this durk the 2008
campaign a little bit and get to states just as barack obama was getting there. a bill bit of her style and no one missed the point of that. >> to some extent the fact that we're talking about sarah palin, she's certainly not dull. and so there is a lot to talk about. but isn't it also an indication. paucity of the republican field? >> there's a carnival-like aspect to this whole republican sort of setup. everyone is in the race has some rather large handicap. flaw. and i think it's no mystery especially in the case of romney and you put your finger on it in the lead-in there, he has an naun 'tisity problem. -- an authenticity problem. and the other problem, a little too hot for sarah palin, too dull for mitt romney and newt gingrich, might be john huntsman. -- jon huntsman. a weak field facing a tough incumbent. >> a tough incumbent but problems with the economy, unemployment at 9%. a good candidate could make a
very credible run against barack obama. we are in a country of 350 million americans. why is it the republicans can't find somebody who can give barack obama a run for his money? >> jeb bush, caris & company at this, mitch -- chris christie, mitch romney. that americans like two-term presidents and the republican issues aren't great and even though the economy is bad and mitt romney said he's failed the american public, they not only spare some of the blame for this as well. and so it's not a great year to be a republican, either. this isn't setting up as a great g.o.p. year. >> barack obama will raise $1 billion. we're going to spend what on this election? going to cost america like $2 billion? >> probably close to that. >> why not call it off and put that money somewhere else? >> this is what the british do. they do this in six weeks. isn't that your style? >> $85 million. >> if it can be done big, americans will do it big.
and elections are really no different. i think the other thing is that all of our elections in recent years haven't been an experience in getting smaller or more modest. they're getting larger and more expensive. more than that money will be spent because there's a lot of money that will go into this whole operation that we aren't going to be able to count. >> and barack obama has a very strong chance of getting re-elected that money will be spent? >> that's right. >> wow. maybe we should be scaling back our political -- >> i can't believe you said that. >> michael duffy of time magazine. thank you very much for coming in. well, presidential race may be getting started but i'm afraid that brings us to the end of today's broadcast. you can find up to the minute coverage on our web site and for all of us here at bbc world news america, thanks so much for watching. i'm katty kay. stay tuned nor tomorrow.
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