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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  October 29, 2009 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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tonight on "worldfocus" -- >> iran formally responds to a united nations plan that would ensure its nuclear program is used for peaceful purposes. is a deal in the works? we will take you to southern russia, to dagestan, where young muslim men are being radicalized and the security forces accused of atrocities. blood feud in england. is it safe for gay men to donate blood? and health news from africa. in ethiopia, a drug designed to save sight ends up saving lives. >> from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here's what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus." major support has been provided by rosalind p. walter
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and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicateto promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters -- hello and good evening. i'm daljç'1nfpliwal. we begin tonight with nuclear politics. iran's response to a united nations proposal that it would ship most of its uranium overseas so that it can be processed for peaceful purposes. president mahmoud ahmadinejad himself appeared to give his support to the plan, suggesting that iran's resolve on this issue had paved the way for nuclear cooperation. but the united nations' nuclear watchdog agency called it an initial response, suggesting the need for further negotiations. in tonight's lead focus, we're going to try to read between the
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lines on all of this. and we begin with thelatest comments from ahmadinejad and others on iran's nuclear program. as iran was delivering its response to the international atomic energy agency, president mahmoud ahmadinejad spoke at a rally broadcast on iranian television. he hailed the proposed plan suggesting that the west now recognizes iran's claim that its nuclear program is peaceful. >> they have expressed their desire to cooperate with us in developing nuclear technology and building nuclear reactors. they have moved from confrontation to cooperation. >> brozou daragahi is the middle east correspondent for "the los angeles times." he's monitoring today's developments from beirut, lebanon. >> he spun the deal as a great victory for iran. he also said that the west had shifted its posture toward iran. and this was rather groundbreaking.
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we rarely heard that kind of rhetoric from a ranking iranian official, especially from the hardline camp from which ahmadinejad hails. >> under the iaea's proposed plan, iran would ship nearly 2,500 pounds of low-enriched uranium to russia for further processing. from there, it would go to france to be made into fuel rods. it would then go back to iran suitable for civilian, not military, use. however, one diplomat familiar with iran's response said that iran is proposing to process the uranium at home under u.n. supervision instead of sending it abroad. the other issue of concern to u.n. inspectors is the recent discovery of a previously secret uranium enrichment facility in iran near the holy city of qom. today those inspectors returned to vienna after being allowed into the site but refused to talk with reporters.
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today ahmadinejad is raising the question "why" after months of hostile talk he is striking a more conciliatory note. >> ahmadinejad may be trying to salvage his legacy. in poll after poll, iranians said they want better relations with the west, they want better relations with the u.s. specifically, and this is something that many, many iranians strive for. >> we want to analyze what has come out of iran and the international atomic energy agency. for that, we are joined by flynt leverett. he's director of the iran project at the new america foundation and a professor of international affairs at penn state. thank you very much for ining us. >> thanks for having me. >> do you think that iran is sending mixed signals to the west? >> no. i don't buy the argument that iran is sending mixed signals. it's important to keep in mind that the original iranian proposal on this issue was for
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iran simply to purchase new fuel for this reactor in tehran from which they produce medical isotopes. the united states came back with this counterproposal where low-enriched uranium would be removed from iran, taken to russia for further enrichment and then to france for fabrication into fuel rods. there's a very strong consensus in the iranian leadership circles for the original iranian proposal. when this counterproposal came back, there were clearly some concerns on the iranian side, concerns about france's involvement, whether they'll actually get all of the fuel back, whether it's smart to send all of the low-enriched uranium out of iran all at once, as opposed to doing it in installments to see how the other participants are performing. i think what you're seeing going on now is rather normal negotiation, or diplomacy. it's not mixed signals. it's not a divided leadership.
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>> what would you say, though, to skeptics who believe that this is part of the strategy of delay on iran's part, just keep talking and at the same time they're going to continue to grow their nuclear program? >> i think it's mixing apples and oranges. the iranians have said from the beginning that any discussion of refueling the tehran research reactois a separate and technical issue that's distinct from broader issues about its nuclear program. with regard to its broader program, iran has made abundantly clear, i think, that it intends to keep developing its fuel cycle infrastructure. if people in the united states and the west don't like that, that is a separate issue from what's going on now with this research reactor issue. >> let's talk a little bit about this point of enriching e low-level uranium. if it's going to be motored by the u.n., why wouldn't the west
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allow iran to process that uranium at home instead of saying, you have to send it abroad? >> well, from a western standpoint, the gain would be if you can take enough of iran's low-enriched uranium out of the country, iran then doesn't have what you could call a breakout capability, a capability to put that low-enriched uranium back through centrifuges and enrich it to weapons grade level. that would be the concern on the western side. that's why there's this western focus on getting as much of iran's low-enriched uranium out of the country as possible. i think what your question implies is that the real solutiono this issue is going to entail more intrusive monitoring of iran's enrichment activities. iran is not going to surrender its enrichment activities.
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and if the united states and its you'european partners insist on that, this negotiating process will go nowhere. >> flynt leverett, thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> we also want to know what you think of these latest developments involving iran. tonight's question, given today's news, how confident are you that iran still won't secretly try to develop nuclear weapons? tell us what you think by going our website.ou see it" section that's at iraqi authorities today announced the arrest of dozens of army officers and security officials in connection with the attacks last weekend that killed more than 155 people. the bombings at two government buildings in baghdad raised new questions among iraqis about the governnt its people as e country
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prepares for elections in january and the pullout of american troops. the bombings come amid reports of growing corruption involving guards at security checkpoints. nine days before the runoff vote in afghanistan's presidential election, the country's election commission said today that it will open even more voting stations than there were in the first round. that puts the commission at odds with international observers who want to cut the number of sites to prevent a repeat of the cheating that marred the earlier vote. but the commission did agree to a demand by president hamid karzai's opponent dr. abdullah abdullah that thousands of election monitors from his side be accredited to observe the runoff. in pakistan today, secretary of state hillary clinton said that the united states is standing on the front lines with pakistan in its battle against extremists. she spoke a y after a marketplace bombing in peshawar
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killed some 105 people. beyond the growing use of unmanned american drone aircraft, "the new york times" reports that the united states has quietly rushed hundreds of millions of dollars in arms, equipment and infrared sensors to pakistani forces recent months. now, as the united states and its allies battle against muslim insurgents in afghanist and in pakistan, here is something that has gone largely unreported here. russia is engaged in a similar fight against muslim extremists right in its country. more than 10% of rusans are muslim, far more than in the united states. and some of them, as you are about to see, have become radicazed for many of the same reasons that we have heard about in other parts of the muslim world. neave barker of al jazeera english has gone to the russian republic of dagestan for a firsthand look at the war
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against extremism there. >> since the '90s, russia's been fighting armed islamist organizations throughout the north caucasus. the groups are united in their desire to create an independent islamic state across the entire region. and in dagestan, one of the most violent and laess parts of russia, extremists have found a footing, especially among the young. >> we have high unemployment here. and when a young person gets a gun in his hand and some money, it's not very difficult to find a person to carry out orders. all of a sudden, young people who never had any interest in r become fanatics and are even ready to become martyrs. >> we're on the road into the mountains to a village that's been the site of increasing tensions. many here follow a conservative form of islam that predates soviet times.
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their beliefs, they say, make them the target for violence and intimidation. this mobile phone footage is believed to show the bodies of suspected rebel fighters on public display. locals say the authorities regularly parade their work in a number of mountain villages. magomed believes his son was kidnapped and murdered by law enforcement agencies. the video filmed in the morgue makes grim viewing. >> if you want to talk about human rights, look at this body. where in law does it exist that it's okay to kidnap someone and stab them all over their body? where do they get the right? >> magomed's son is buried in the local cemetery. his death is one of a catalog of killings across the republic that threatens to inflame more violence. locals say that the methods the authorities are using only act
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to radicalize some people into joining the rebel fighters, hiding out in the surrounding mountains and forests. we put the claims to the president of the republic, mukhu aliyev. >> i'm not trying to defend the law enforcement agencies. and i'm not saying that there aren't mistakes. but all this needs to be proven. without investigating, it's not right to draw conclusions and spread panic. the police wd are also people and they're hardly ever mentioned. but these people are talked about a lot in an attempt to discredit the law enforcement zv there's no panic in the republic. it's all imagined. >> but for many in dagestan, measures meant to safeguard the republic from violence and instability have left people living in a state of fear. neave barker, al jazeera, dagestan.
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we're going to turn now to a story about global health that caught our attention today from britain where the government will consider ending a long ban on gay men donating blood. the issue is the transmission of the aids virus and a similar ban has been in place in this country since 1985. helen cacace of itn stepped into the front lines of this controversial question in britain. ♪ >> it's a longstanding gripe in the gay community -- these activists are angry about the blanket ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood. the discord estimates how much more blood the blood service
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would gain if the ban was lifted. but these protestors believe it could make a difference and that they're being discriminated against. >> it's not based on scientific facts anymore. it based on sexual practices and opinions of someone's sexual orientation rather than their activity. >> it's really sad. i've got a lot of relatives and i think they might be in a position where they will need blood. and i feel like that i can't make a donation that might save other people's families as well. >> behind this demonstration, the committee is debating the last sect of rules which bans gay and bisexual men from donating blood. why are gay men excluded from donating? there's no doubt the incidence of hiv is more prevalent within this group, also known as ms m, men who sleep with men. latest stats show that 43% of new diagnoses of hiv were from gay men.
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nhs blood screenings are rigorous. only two people have been infected with hiv since 1985. but there remains a window of time between being infected with a sexually transmitted disease and it being detected through medical tests. and it's this that has worried doctors. >> in that window period, your test will say you are negative but you will transmit the infection. we have to be aware of that in any rules that we make. >> that's the same for heterosexual people. >> yes. but the community who have -- who are msm, they have a slhtly higher prevalence of some of the diseases, some of the viruses than the heterosexual cmunity. >> but some human rights activists ink a large proportion of gay men could still give blood, as they do in australia, new zealand, japan, spain and italy. >> the policy could be modified to say that the only people excluded would be gay
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bisexual men who have had unprotected sex in the last six months. or other gay and bisexual men should be able to donate blood, providing they test hiv negative. >> with the blood and transplants agency calling for a 50% increase in donations, a review of policy could help. the government's advisory committee will report back next÷ year. what they decide still hangs in the balance. >> that report from helen cacace of britain's itn. in case you are wondering, in response to the aids crisis of the 1980s, the food and drug administration banned gay men in this country from giving blood as well. that ban is still in place. what we want to do now is to go beyond the headlines to look at another story that gets very little attention, the growing problem of hiv and aids in russia. authorities say that the number of hiv infections there has doubled in the past eight years and says more than 1 million
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russians have hiv. to discuss this worrying trend, wee joined by rowena johnston, she's the vice president and director of research at amfar, the foundation for aids research based right here in w york. thank you very much for joining us on the program. >> thank you for having me. >> why is russia experiencing such a steep increase in the rate of hiv infection? >> a lot of the hiv infection that we're seeing in russia is concentrated in injection drug users. and as you can imagine, injecting drugs and sharing needles with others is probably one of the most efficient ways that you can spread hiv between people. >> there are other countries, like iran, for example, which also has a problem with intravenous drug users. it has addressed the whole idea of giving clean needles to people who are drug users and substituting heroin programs for methadone, for example. russia seems very reluctant to do this. why is that? >> certainly there's the frustration that governments all
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around the world are not using science-based prevention but rather ideology-based. we see a resurgence of religious belief in russia. and i think that guides a lot of what the policies are that the lawmakers want to put into place. they don't believe that needle exchange programs reduce the amount of hiv, despite the fact that we have so much scientific evidence that says syringe exchange really does work. >> tre's also growing evidence that the number of sex workers in russia have become infected with hiv. does that make it much more of a possibility that it's going to now spread to the general population? >> certainly sex workers can be a conduit from injection drug users to the general population. we're not seeing that to a great extent in russia just yet. but russia has reached a tipping point in their epidemic where about 1% of the population is hiv positive. they really need to address that
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epidemic is largely in injection drug user, of whom many are also sex workers. if they don't address it now, there's a very real danger that that will explode and become a large problem in russia. >> russia, at the same time, is spending a lot of money in treating the problem of hiv and aids in russia, but not so much in prevention. give us a couple of examples of where it is doing well. >> well, russia is spending a lot of its budget for aids on treating people and certainly in preventing mother-to-child transmission, which does involve administering anti-viral therapy. they're doing very well on that. everybody commends them for doing that. i think it's unfortunate that they're not spreading their budget further and implementing prevention programs that work for the rest of the population. >> thank you very much for coming on the program and shedding some light on this very important and of course often neglected subject. >> thank you for having me.
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finally tonight, our signature story, a medical surprise from africa and an example of the law of unintended consequences. a new study shows that an antibiotic treatment given to save children's sight is actually saving their lives. fr ethiopia's amhara region, gary strieker has this report produced in association with global health frontline news. ♪ >> in ethiopia, child's mortality is among the highest in the world. out of every 1,000 live births, at least 120 children will die before they're 5 years old. but a new medical study shows that an oral antibiotic treatment for a nonlethal disease can actually save children's lives.
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preventing deaths from other diseases. the study, led by researchers at the university of california san francisco, was conducted in the mountainous amhara region in ethiopia where 60% of childr suffer from trachoma, a bacterial eye infection that is the world's leading preventable cause of blindness. >> children get infected with ocular chlamydia which causes trachoma at a very young age in this environment, probably months old, and they contract it from their elder brothers and sisters in the house. >> trachoma is also transmitted by flies. >> i would be much happier if we didn't see these flies coming to the faces. but the flies can only transmit trachoma when there are infected children around. >> to break the cycle of transmission here, the atlanta-based carter center has worked for almost ten years with the ethiopian government and
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other partners on a trachoma control program that promotes facial cleanliness, sanitary measures like building latrines, corrective surgery and treatment with an antibiotic, azithromycin. >> this is a very strong antibiotic. it's given once a year. and for those above the age of 5 years, the number of tablets could vary between two to four. >> azithromycin is donated by the drugmaker pfizer through the international trachoma initiative. every year, millions of dozes of azithromycin are distributed in this region and there's been some concern about that. >> the common wisdom is that nonspecific antibiotic use is a bad thing, that society would be better off if antibiotics were restricted. but in this area of ethiopia, antibiotics are not readily available at all. and here we found that even nonspecific antibiotic use had a large benefit.
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>> some benefits had already been noticed by health extension workers who distributed the antibiotic. >> they enjoy giving people the azithromycin because in addition to the effect on trachoma, it is a very useful drug and clears skin infections, respiratory tract infections, has a very positive effect on diarrheal disease and even helps to prevent malaria. >> but the new study, a randomized clinical trial involving more than 18,000 children in 48 villages, shows the health benefits go far beyond that. >> in communities that received mass oral azithromycin distributions for trachoma, the childhood mortality rate was lower than in communities that did not. >> specifically the study shows in the communities that received the antibiotic, the death rate for children dropped by almost half. but researchers still don't know exactly why.
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>> the largest causes of childhood mortality in this area of ethiopia are diarrhea, respiratory disease and malaria. and azithromycin can have an effect on each of these. but it will take further studies to see if any of these in particular were decreased or whether it was due to some other reason. >> the study shows azithromycin has already saved children's lives in this part of ethiopia. and researchers say if these results can be repeated in other studies, the exciting next stage will be combining azithromycin with other drugs to find a perfect pill to distribute in regions like this, a two-in-one or even a six-in-one dose that could play a major role in reducing child mortality. in amhara, ethiopia, gary strieker for "worldfocus." and that is "worldfocus" for this thursday. don't forget, you can find more news and perspective on our website at i'm daljit dhaliwal in new york.
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thank you for joining us. we'll see you back here at the same time tomorrow. we'll see you back here at the same time tomorrow. until then, good-bye. -- captions by vitac -- major support for "worldfocus" has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters --
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