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March 20, 2007
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Headline News of March 20, 2007
 
Former Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan
Former Iraq Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan has been executed, an Iraqi government official says.

 
Zimbabwe's opposition group says there has been a sharp rise in violence against its activists across the county.
A genetically-engineered mosquito resistant to malaria is better able to survive than disease-carrying insects.

 
BBC news transcript with photos
Transcript in the news of March 20, 2007

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>> Senior police commander in Iraq tells the bbc one third of his officers have links to militias.

>> Zimbabwe, a turning point, the opposition says police have stepped up the violence.

>> Moon walker buzz aldrin tablings a stroll over the grand canyon.

>> In London, also in the programme, hamasw -- raid on the mafia.

>> Fighting malaria,. .

>> It was four years ago today that coalition forces march into Iraq. Since then a key objective has to give Iraqis control of their security. One Iraqi police chief has told the bbc that one-third of the officers in his province are linked to illegal militias. Dhi Gar, in southern Iraq, was one of the first provinces to assume control of its own security just last year. 46008B05.JPG

>> Dhi Gar province, an Iraqi success story, as the coalition, but the capital Nazrea is still judged too unsafe. The Iraqi police run things here now. They are a bit nervous, another station has been attacked overnight by the militia. Some police are said to have colluded in this attack. I asked the commander how many of his own men he couldn't trust.

>> One third he says, one third is links to a militias. It is an astonishing admission.

>> Can I ask what measures you are taking taking to eradicate that third?

>> They have political protection, says the Iraqi official in overall charge, we have been forced to hire 400 officers who are completely illiterate, senior officers, colonels and we can't sack them. 46008B4E.JPG

>> One was allegedly caught smuggling weapons. He was -- he was reinstated. The security hand over means the British army cannot do anything about this.

>> There are issues that we have to grapple with, and what we have to do with the coalition forces is to give them as much as we can without taking about the responsibility of security, because it is very clearly theirs. They understand it.

>> Iraqi security in Iraqi hands, the coalition literally over the horizon.

>> Weapons smuggled in ambulances, illiterate officers in senior positions. If all of that sounds like a bit of a mess, British commanders believe it is an Iraqi mess, a problem for the Iraqis alone to solve. 46008B99.JPG

>> The bbc's Andrew north is spending the week with American troops in Ramadi, a strong hold of the suny insurgency. Recently officials say there have been improvements in the region.

>> It is a mixed picture. You could almost talk in terms of two cities here in Ramadi because during today, there has still been fighting going on in the city for much of the morning. There was gunfire in the main parts of the city, explosions, as U.S. Troops were still involved in operations against insurgents trying to clear areas of the city. But there are other parts of ra marchdy where things appear to have quieted down for the moment. The key question is will it last? What is happening Americans say some tribal leader vz turned against the insurgents, they have tartstarted to get their people on side and push out the insurgents. Earlier today I was in a quieter area of the city, they say they are in effect in control. They say only four or five months ago there was an area where all Qaeda was very much in control. The question here is will it last? What has happened before is that al-Qaeda and the insurgent groups have then intimidated these tribal leaders, killed them in many cases, and about is about bolstering their position. 46008BFE.JPG

>> In a Sunni area like that, what has the response been to the execution of former vice president Ramadan?

>> There hasn't been much reaction that we have picked up, and I think given that there was less reaction than was eks petted after the execution of Saddam Hussein, although there was certainly awill a lot of anger about how it as carried out, there was less concern about that this time. Certainly there is still a very strong mood of opposition towards the Americans, which is something that they have to overcome. They really have a long way to go to try and win people over here, and also there is still a lot of suspicion of the government in Baghdad. People regarded as a Shia government. This is an overwhelmingly Sunni province, and some refer to the government in Baghdad as a government of Iran, because Iran is also majority Shia. 46008C3C.JPG

>> Andrew north in Ramadi. The funeral of Ramadan has taken place north of Baghdad. Ramadan was the third of Saddam's top aides to be hanged since Saddam's own execution back in December. The Russian foreign minister has criticized the decision.

>> Our position towards this execution is similar to the one we had about the previous executions. It adds nothing positive to the efforts being made to resolve the situation in Iraq. This country needs national conciliation.

>> America's envoy to Zimbabwe believes the country is at a turning point. The ambassador said Zimbabwean's are no longer afraid of intimidation and violence. Even as he was speaking, Zimbabwe's main opposition has accused the police of stepping up their attacks. The bbc is banned from report in Zimbabwe. 46008C81.JPG

>> Tsangaris still recovering from the beating he took week at the hands of police, says the state is trying to crush all democratic resistance. Youths from the ruling party, agents from the central intelligence organization have been targeting known opposition activists taking them into custody and assaulting them. No one has been charged or brought to court, but more opposition members have been admitted to hospital in Harare, some with gunshot wounds, others with fractures, internal bleeding and severe bruising, and according to the bbc, similar report are coming in from centres all over Zimbabwe.

>> He has been beating opposition members since 2000, it is just that now he wants the whole world to know that he is beating them up, so he beats them up and then shows them to the cameras. 46008CB6.JPG

>> The wave of repression has alarmed the international community. An international mp was beat enat har ra airport last weekend. He may have been attacked by robbers. He no doubt this is another act of violence by the state. Zimbabwe's latest warning that foreign diplomats could be kicked out of the country if they interfere with politics has been met with a response.

>> Evidence of the severe economic and humanitarian crisis facing ordinary Zimbabweans now is entirely the fault of the misguided policies of president Mugabe and his government.

>> Likewise the United States says it will speak and act steadfastly in support of the people of Zimbabwe's right to democracy. 46008CEE.JPG

>> Despite every effort of the government to build that fear over the last eight years, what I think we have seen in the last week is that the people have turned a corner. They're not afraid anymore.

>> President Mugabe's immediate neighbors are concerned about the crisis and are urging dialogue. He remains defiant and increasingly isolated.

>> I will be back later on in the programme with more on Iraq. We're speaking to a democratic congressman about his parties position on the war.

>> Naples, mafia, possibly have heard linked before, but there are new twists in this tale. Italian police have arrested nearly 200 people in a dawn raid in the centre of Naples on Tuesday. It was one of the biggest anti-mafia operations in a city notorious for organized crime. They wanted to break up the drug business controlled by two clans, in particular, who make up the Naples mafia known as the camorra. 46008D2E.JPG

>> The business of thea often impregnable, but when the boss becomes a turn coat, this is the result. These arrests stemmed from the information of just one man, the boss who has turned state evidence. With his help police have brought down two families, who together control the lucrative drug market in the historic centre of Naples, so well organized were these families, they even have their own surveillance cameras. Few ever dare to defy the mob, on days like this the true feelings come to the surface. These are the ordinary people left impoverished by the extortion on their streets. A notice that some of those arrested were women. While females are still rare here, they believe the wives and girlfriends play a much more central role. 46008D66.JPG

>> What has emerged of many women. All were in charge of transporting the substances.

>> This has been a particularly violent period in Naples. There is no godfather figure. Families join forces and break ranks on a regular basis, and when turf wars start, as one did a few months ago, they're difficult to stop. The government has sent extra resourced to the south and this is an extraordinary success, but the mafia is nothing but resilient, and this is surely only a setback.

>> Journalists in Gaza have held a one-day strike for Allen John Stone missing for more than a week. The bbc has again called on everyone with influence in the Palestinian territories to intensify their efforts to ensure his relieve. 46008DA6.JPG

>> Russian authorities believe a failure to follow safety procedures is the most likely cause for an explosion in a Siberian coal mine that killed at least one hundred mean. Most of the mine's managers were among those who when methane gas caused sharp roofs to collapse 300 metres underground.

>> 62 people killed, 30 injured in a fire that swept through a nursing home in southern Russia. 97 people were in the brick building when the fire broke out. It is reported that a night watchman ignored two fire alarms before reporting the blaze and it then took firefighters from the nearest town almost an hour to reach the nursing home.

>> A woman in Poland denied an abortion despite warnings that given birth might destroy her eyesight has won damages of $33,000 at the European court of human rights. She had been told by specialists that childbirth could endanger her sight. She eventually had the child but suffered a hemorrhage of the retina which severely affected her eyes. 46008DED.JPG

>> Still with bbc world, frank words about the war in Iraq, we speak to the first democrat to call for an immediate withdrawal. Let's get all of the business news from New York.

>> Well, fiery words for BP in the latest report on the Texas refinery explosion. A strong day for the market. Numbers coming up.

>> U.S. authorities have slammed BP, the oil company, of putting cost cuts before worker safety. The chemical safety board published the findings. 15 people were killed in the fire, 100 were injured. The 300 page report claims that cost cutting was a failure at all levels of BP management contributed to the disaster. Also slammed the occupational health and safety measure for failing to enforce safety measures. 46008E2B.JPG

>> President Bush toured plants in the Kansas city Missouri area today. The former oilman from Texas --.

>> Consumer giant proctor and gamble has won nearly $20 million against Amway distributors. They also used a voice mail system to tell thousands of companies that if they bought Duracell batteries their money would go towards --.

>> The results from the world's biggest data based software make maker --.

>> Good news for the markets, and as a result, the DOW and the NASDAQ ending in positive territory. As for the European markets, they, too had a good trading session. . 46008E77.JPG

>> A quick reminder of the hdz here. A senior police commander in southern Iraq tells the bbc one-third of his officers have links to the militias. The Zimbabwe opposition has there has been an escalation of police violence against the activists.

>> Reports from Cuba suggest Fidel castor who has been recovering from intestinal surgery for eight months to be ready to return to lead the country again soon. The news agency quoted a top minister saying he is making progress and his outlook was very good and very favorable and I'm quoting there. Mr. Castro handed over power for the first time in more than four decades in July to his brother.

>> Here in Washington, the Iraq War has thrown the Democrats into confusion. The vast majority supported the invasion. Now the war is unpopular, the democrats have failed to come up with a unified position on Iraq. The party's most outspoken critic is John Murtha. We asked what he thought America has accomplished four years on.

>> The majority people of Iraq think we're occupiers, the majority of people in Iraq believe it is already to kill Americans, the majority of people in the periphery don't agree with what we're doing in Iraq. The polls show the United States credibility as dropped significantly in the last four years. In addition to that, we have reduced our ability to respond to a real national security threat by reducing the ability of our reserves, ground reserves to react. We're stretching our military very thinly. That is the actual results of what has happened.

>> You voted for the war. Of course that's a decision that you now regret. How does that make you feel? 46008EE6.JPG

>> I voted for the war because I thought that they were threatening our national security. Now I know better. Now I know that we were misled. It makes me work harder to get this thing resolved adequately. One of the things they talk about wanting to my crow manage the war. We will have spent a trillion dollars in one year. They have mismanaged this so badly that we need to do micro management. We need to find ways to reduce our presence in Iraq.

>> If America withdraws from Iraq by the spring of 2008, is it not possible that America will be perceived as a loser in this, perceived as weak, and doesn't that land you with many more problems than you have at the moment? 46008F1C.JPG

>> It is a different situation here. The United States has tried to avoid this kind of thing. It is the first time we have ever gone into an independent country without provocation. I think you will see a dramatic change in policy with a new presidential election. I think every president, republican, democrat, will be saying no more things like this are going to happen under my watch. No president will go to war without concrete evidence. One of the things had that this has done to the benefit of the future of this country, you go to war on intelligence. You have to be sure there is a threat to the national security.

>> Stay with bbc world still to come on the programme, walking on area, a bird's eye view of the grand canyon, and it is not for the faint-hearted. . 46008F52.JPG

>> Teachers in England are being told they can ban items of religious clothing, such as vails, if they believe they're a threat to security or get in the way of teaching or learning.

>> A third of the pupils at this community college in west London are Muslims and the school prides itself on how it treats them. There are two prayer rooms and a dress code that allows all of the girls to wear head scarves. Suggesting a full veil might prevent teachers telling whether pupils were taking part in lessons.

>> It is important when you're talking to children that you can see their facial expressions. The interaction between young people is also very important, and being able to see one's face is a means of gauging one's reaction to something we may be discussing. 46008F89.JPG

>> The government's guidance in no way represents the -- given how symbolic the veil has become, that is a significant step. It is one supported by pupils, including Muslim girls.

>> Other people, they don't feel that we're different to them, but inside we're all the same.

>> The French government prompted noisy protests three years ago with a ban on religious symbols in state schools. Even the head scarf was banned.

>> We're afraid what is going to result in is the student is going to be withdrawn from the school, being taught at home, or go to a Muslim school, they, themselves, actually want to be part and parcel of the rest of the community.

>> The government says school should be sensitive to the needs of different religions, but today it empowered them to decide how far that should go.

>> Scientists at John Hopkins University in Baltimore in the U.S. believe they have made a break through in the fight against malaria. They have a new mosquito that cannot pass on -- the possibility that mosquitoes can be prevented from passing it on to humans.

>> Malaria is spread by a parasite that can be passed to humans through mosquitoes. Each year it makes 300 million people ill and causes a million deaths. Now a genetically modified strain of the malaria resistant mosquito has been created by scientists at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. In the laboratory, equal numbers of genetically modified and order wild type mosquitoes were fed on infected mice. After nine generations, 70 percent belong to the malaria resistant strain.

>> When they put that resistant mosquito in a cage with normal mosquitoes, and if they constantly feed them on infected mice, they are constantly taking in the malaria, then the resistant one is at a slight advantage and over a few generations it increases in proportions.

>> The -- inserted green fluorescent protein in the mosquitoes making their eyes glow. Malaria kills more than a million people a year. In Africa, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. Today's news that the gm chltm mosquito can outcompete..

>> Now, if your head for heights isn't the best, you might want to look away at the next report. Here in America, you can walk out across the gand canyon to get a bird's eye view from 4,000 feet up. 46009056.JPG

>> Poking out over the edge of one of the great wonders of the world, a horse-shoe shaped observation platform known as the skywalk. Made to with stand 100 mile an hour winds, it has a floor made of glass, five layers nearly three inches thick. This is what you see when you look down. Your feet and beneath them the bottom of the canyon some 4,000 feet below. A former astronaut aldrin was the first to cross the skywalk. He described it as an unforgettable experience.

>> Fantastic few.

>> What can you see?

>> You can see beauty, beautiful America history.

>> It really is a breath-taking experience looking down on what's been called one of the most magnificent landmarks on the world, you almost feel as though you're walking on air. 46009094.JPG

>> The skywalk cost nearly 20 million pounds. The major challenge now attract sufficient tourists to pay for it.

>> It looks very precarious to me. I am not sure I could attempt that one.

>> Quick reminder of the main story. The police chief in one of the Iraqi provinces handed over to local security controlled by the British has told the bbc that one third of his officers owe their loyalties to illegal militias. This meant they couldn't be trusted but neither could they be sacked because they had political protection. The British have held up the province dhi Gar in southern Iraq as a success story. The officer responsible for it was concerned by the comments.



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