tv BBC World News WHUT January 6, 2012 7:00am-7:30am EST
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>> and now, "bbc world news." >> another twist in syria's spiral of violence. a bomb attack wreaks havoc in damascus. officials blame a terrorist suicide bomber as the country braces for another day of anti- government protests. >> welcome to gmc -- "gmt." i'm stephen sackur. and america's defense priorities shift from west to east. and news we really did not want to hear and may not want to remember -- our brains start failing us by the time we are
45. it is midday in london, 7:00 a.m. in new york city and 2:00 p.m. in damascus where authorities condemn what they describe as a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber on an eastern suburb of the syrian capital. it seems like the target may have been a bus transporting military personnel. multiple fatalities. casualty figures have not yet been released. two weeks ago damascus was rocked by a double suicide bombing coincided with the arrival of monitors. today, democracy activists called for mass protests to signal what they see as the ineffectiveness of those monitors. mike wooldridge has the latest. >> another scene of devastation at the center of damascus. the wreckage of a bus. other vehicles with shattered windows, civilians also said to
be among the casualties. the work of a suicide bomber, according to syrian state television. they say he detonated explosives at a busy junction ahead of friday prayers when many people would be out shopping. anger at the scene and the aftermath. television called it a terrorist explosion. it is not clear whether the bus was a specific target or it was one of the nearby buildings. what the authorities say was an attack by two suicide bombers on security forces. that attack killed 44qo0r4óy3z'ç government blamed al-qaeda. the opposition suggested the regime itself could be behind it. undisputed lead it shows the escalation of violence in syria and it's changing nature. whether there will be similar claims and counterclaims over today's explosion is not yet clear, but it coincides with increasing controversy over the
effectiveness of the arab league observer mission which is in syria. mike wooldridge, bbc news. >> i am joined by our correspondent who is monitoring developments in syria from the route. i suppose the first question is, has there been -- been any more word from authorities who they believe is this possible for this? dam only what we have heard on the syrian state television, saying it was the work of terrorists. we heard in their report, in their opinion, a suicide bomber. we are getting reports that the free syrian army, the opposition militant group, has denied that it was involved in carrying out the attacks, despite the fact that they said earlier this week that they will escalate attacks against the a serious -- the syrian government, and the free syrian army saying this blast today was staged by the syrian authorities. similar claims to what they made two weeks ago. >> totally difficult to gather
information from across syria because international journalists are barred. but what are you hearing about efforts to stage a protest specifically aimed at sending a signal to the outside world that these arab league monitors are failing to do their job, as seen by many of the anti-government protesters. >> we are expecting more large scale the ministrations today. throughout the year, really. after friday prayers, across the middle east, it has been the moment where demonstrators have taken to the streets. during the entirety of the arab league mission we have seen large-scale demonstrations. i think the syrian opposition, protesters wanted to get out on the streets and put their message across. as we were hearing in mike wooldridge's report, there is growing concern about just how effective this message, the arab league observer mission, is. the fact is that the violence
has not let up at all. it has gotten worse as the mission had been taking place. this weekend in cairo, arab foreign ministers will be meeting to look at the success or that lack of it of their observer mission and what more they can do. more error the league observers arrived in the country the last few days but the violence continues -- more arab league observers arrived in the country. >> the idea of 40 more monitors sent into a country in meltdown will not make much difference, will it? >> i don't think it is. we understand there are about 100 monitors. but the violence continues unabated, really. and there are people within the arab league who think the fact is people are dying every day undermines that as an organization. we heard from opposition leaders this week basically calling for the observer mission to be pulled out and asking for
matters to be handed over to the united nations. i do not think there is really agreement within the united nations -- when we have the prospect of sanctions imposed on syria a few months ago, both russia and china vetoed that. and the syrian opposition demanding for a no-fly zone to be imposed over parts of syria, i am not sure there is international appetite for that. >> thank you so much for joining us on "gmt." let's take a look at some of the other stories making headlines. the government of burma is suggesting a stern message from william hague, the first british foreign secretary to visit that country in half a century. after meeting with aung san suu kyi, he said the burmese government will have to do much more to move toward freedom and democracy before the european union would consider lifting sanctions. our correspondent rachel harvey has been following his visit in rangoon. >> the atmosphere, the mood on
the streets has changed dramatically in the past year. when i have come here before, people have always been polite, very friendly, but there has also been a fearful lest that speaking to a foreigner might land and in trouble. but now, people are beginning to believe that the changes that have begun in the country might actually be will judy reel. william hague says he believes there is a genuine momentum to the reforms and his government is sincere about its desire to change. the question of where it is all going to leave, how far these reforms might go, because there are sanctions still in place. and although william hague talked about the potential burma has if the trend continues, unless there is investment, unless the economy picks up, and ordinary people will not feel the benefits. but sanctions will not be lifted until there is more concrete steps toward reform.
that has been the clear message from william hague and from other visiting diplomats. the whole idea is to try to continue the pressure on the new government, to try to encourage and cajole them to continue on the path they appear to be going down. and at the same time, reassuring aung san suu kyi -- that ultimately there can be more investments and opportunity for burma. >> rachel harvey on the busy streets of rangoon. a turkish court ordered the former head of the armed forces to be remanded in custody pending trial for an alleged plot to overthrow the government. general ilker basbug is at the center of an investigation over allegations he ran 8 internet campaign to destabilize the government. turkey's -- turkish state-run media says it is the first time a former army chief has been referred to the court as a suspect. the husband of jailed with
ukrainian politicians yulia tymoshenko has requested political asylum in the czech republic. alexander tymoshenko made the request at the end of last year. in october, his wife, the former prime minister, was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office. six firefighters died battling a blaze in southern chile. over the past week, multiple forest fires have ravaged large areas of central and southern chile. the president says some appear to have been started deliberately. after a decade when american politics has been defined by the country's involvement in texas wars -- in afghanistan and iraq -- president obama signaled a major shift in strategy for the world's main superpower, with cuts of about half a trillion dollars over the next decade. details are to come, but it
looks like a 10% to 15% reduction in the size of the army and marines. operations will focus on the asia-pacific region rather than europe, to counter the growing threat of china. the u.s. will only be able to fight when war at a time in the future, rather than two simultaneously as now, but even after the cuts, the u.s. will still be the world's largest military power. where does all of this leave america's allies? we have the chief executive for the european defense agency. ms. anu, if i can put it this way, europe has failed repeatedly to listen to warnings of the united states that this move would happen and europe should start boosting defense expenditures. will they listen now? >> i think it does not come as a surprise. the message came from mr. gates a few months ago, for mr.
panetta, and now confirmation from mr. obama. europeans took that into account. they took action, acting in libya, which is a good example. and they also decided to take the measures to do more with the fiscally -- fiscal constraints they have. >> there is a problem here, though, isn't there? around europe, governments are slashing spending and trying to figure out where they can cut more and more. at the very same time, the americans are saying if a bank nato will be credible you have to spend more. how do european governments square the circle? >> i think we have to do the most we can with the resources we have. in a way we face, on the difference gayle, the same constraints the united states
face -- on a different scale. to have armies got -- that are able to face -- >> if i may, i understand the point you are making, that the same challenges apply, but the fact is the united states spends roughly 5% of gdp on defense and many european governments spent much less than 2% of gdp on defense. that has to fundamentally change if nato is to be critical -- credible. >> the more we are able to prove that the way we spend money on defense is efficient, the more political support we will have on defense and security. what the government want to demonstrate is we can have more on value for the money we spend on defense, and that can trigger the virtuous circle of having more support for defense spending. both because there is a direct
link to security, and also because it is about technological capability, and jobs and wealth as well as security. >> if european governments to not respond the way suggested, would you suggest to the future of nato is on the line because of what the americans are doing? the way they are shifting? >> i think that president obama was clear about the intention of the united states to continuously work together with allies, something very striking in his speech, working with allies but also allies who are able to do their jobs, do it independently -- a rather new message. also being able to act by ourselves as a european spirit if we are able to demonstrate we can do both, i think it would be good for the atlantic relationship and the alliance. >> all right, thank you very
much for joining us on "gmt." still to come on the program -- winning the smartphone battle. samsung says it is on track for record quarterly profits as the galaxy outsells the iphone. hungary's center-right government is continuing to defend the new constitution which critics say the road to democracy. alarms have also been expressed internationally. the european union is examining whether the changes brought in this very week break eu law, but there are signs the government in budapest may be prepared to negotiate some or all of the changes. >> we found a little cheer on the number 49 tram across the danube. no wonder. hungary's economy is in a slump and some accuse the government of turning back democracy.
>> there you go. >> ministers, though, are not shy of showing off their new constitution. as for the idea is anti- democratic -- >> it is an absence charge -- even the question is bizarre. in the hearts of europe, finally we are able to get back on track to the democracy tradition, that was disrupted by communism. >> that is not how they see it. tens of thousands turned out to protest the new laws this week, claiming the independence of the judiciary and the central bank are threatened. at budapest that a food banks there is concern over what it might mean for hungary's poor. international criticism of the new competition has put loan negotiations on hold, at a time
poverty is increasing. back over the danube, and this one's a fluent empire is heading into the unknown. ministers say they will do all they must to satisfy international investors, but will they have to give up their cherished constitutional changes? matthew price, bbc news. budapest. >> this is "gmt" from bbc world news. the headlines -- the syrian authorities have condemned what they describe as a terrorist attack by suicide bombers on an eastern suburb of the syrian capital. after meeting >> 's democracy activists -- activist aung san suu kyi, british foreign secretary william hague says more reforms are needed before the use sanctions can be lifted. aaron is here, i believe with news on the smartphone business.
>> samsung -- i think it is fair to say, it is firing on all cylinders. let me explain. the south korean tech giant samsung said it made record profits in the last three months of 2011. it is all, as stephen said, largely thanks to booming sales of its smartphones. samsung overtook apple, the top maker, as the samsung galaxy outsold the iphone for the very first time. >> there is no doubting the popularity of samsung's mobile phones. they are now the firm's biggest money maker and why they will soon report record quarterly earnings of $4.5 billion. sales of the galaxy mobile phone help samsung to be the top maker of smartphones in october. analysts say the south korean tech giant will cement its lead over apple, selling as many as
170 million smartphones, nearly double sold in 2011. >> their flagship came out in february and it was perfect timing because it was better than the other andrew g.t. android devices -- the other android devices. apple took a bit longer to release a follow-up. so, samsung had a big window of opportunity. >> samsung has been locked in a global battle with apple over allegations of patent infringement. the firm this week failed to win a ban against apple iphone sales in italy, just weeks after it lost a similar case in france. slow demand and falling prices raised concerns about the long term possibility of its tv and flat screen business -- mixed fortunes which is not likely to take the shine off bank of the record earnings expected later this month.
>> let's move on and talk about the former boss -- boss of japanese camera giant olympus, digging up his effort to retake control of the company but he does plan to sue for unfair dismissal. he was fired as chief executive in october after he blew a whistle on a $1.7 billion accounting scam. >> japan is the same as every other capitalist market, and i respected his contribution, but you would never, ever get a situation where there is massive fraud -- share price down 80%, and a bunch of inadequates to allow it to happen but certainly did not react when they had the opportunity to continue. >> let us talk about jobs on both sides of the atlantic. unemployment in the eurozone at a record high, as the debt crisis continues. the jobless rate in the 17 nations that used the single
currency which 10.3% in november 16 0.3 million people out of work. at the same time, the european commission said an index of consumer confidence fell to a two-year low. the u.s. labor department releases its monthly figures for december later today. with fewer americans claiming unemployment benefits last week, hopes are riding high this trend will continue. it is expected 150,000 jobs were created in december, which would mean the sixth consecutive month of the employment gains of more than 100%. there is a question about the 150,000 jobs -- were they seasonal, meaning many will be laid off and the new year. asian markets are off on the back of financial even though their banks are not as exposed as european banks. european markets are up at the moment. >> thank you very much.
now, a story which, for some of us, a little too close to home. the key functions of the brain including memory and reasoning may start to decline when people reach their mid 40's, much earlier than previously thought. what can you do? new research suggests a good diet and exercise is the key to protecting the mind's core functions. sophie hutcheson has been looking into it. >> more than 800,000 people and you can live with dementia in the u.k. -- 80,000 people. over 10 years of research has tested several thousand british -- british civil servants and found the deterioration in memory, reasoning, comprehension skills across all ages. for men aged 65-70, a decline of 9.6%.
what is surprising is that for those aged 45-49, there was also a decline of 3.6% in the mental capacity. >> it shows that there is a small but significant change, deterioration of function from midlife on board. it now actually gives us the opportunity to answer some critical questions about whether this could be the earliest stages of the process which could turn into alzheimer's disease. >> leading a healthy lifestyle is thought to be one of the keys to preventing alzheimer's and other types of dementia. experts say this research should provide an added incentive for young people to stay fit. they point to medical evidence that suggests what is good for your heart is also good for your head. it is thought the study could have profound implications for public health. there are now calls for more research into the changes in the brains of young people in order to find new ways to come then
judy, that dimension. -- combat dementia. >> somewhat depressing subject. but joining us from oxford is a neuropsychologist. we just saw all of these people working out in a gym, the idea that we -- if you worked out, it would help. but wouldn't it be better to do crosswords or sodoku. >> a combination of both. there is evidence remaining healthy has a good impact on keeping your brain working well. but there is also good research out there suggesting that using your brain for the whole of your life span can be protected in terms of not getting dementia when you are older. things like learning an instrument, learning a second language, as well as the wing crosswords and those kinds of things. probably a combination of both.
>> i know this was a big survey of 7000 civil servants tested over a decade. but i can't help being skeptical. why should we believe that 45 is the key and not maybe even 30 or 35? i read that brain cells start disappearing early in life. >> absolutely. the brain changes over the whole course of our lives. i think this study is outlying that changes are occurring across our life span, that the mention it is not a process that just starts as we get older but probably takes many decades -- dementia is not a process that just starts as we get older. they call it declined -- but changes, both positive and negative, occurred across our lifetime. we know the state in which a brain can thing starts to slow
down and early on in the early adult years. >> i certainly know that and i suspect millions of people will say, goodness, i and struggling these days to remember names. does it mean -- if they are noticing that, do they have a significantly higher chance of serious dementia later in life? >> no evidence at the moment that deterioration that is normal age-related decline will definitely lead to dementia. there is a chance that what is called mild cognitive impairment, which occurs beyond normal age-related decline, can progress to dementia. while there is not treatment, there are prevented of options and it is good to be able to plan out strategies. that is all very important. >> sorry for interrupting but i have to stop you. fascinating subject.
and for me, all the "gmt" team, that is it for now. thanks for watching. >> make sense of international news. bbc.com/news. >> funding for this presentation is made possible by -- the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu newman's own foundation and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to know your business, offering specialized solutions and capital to help you meet your growth objectives. we offer expertise and tailor