Donate

PBS NewsHour

San Antonio Missions among new UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Spanish Missions, which includes the Alamo, have been awarded world heritage status UNESCO. Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty
         Images.

The Spanish Missions, which includes the Alamo, have been awarded world heritage status UNESCO. Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images.

Five new sites around the world, including the San Antonio Missions in Texas, were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status on Sunday, officials of the United Nation’s cultural and educational body announced during their annual meeting.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee approved the listing of the five Spanish Roman Catholic structures, which includes the Alamo, that were built in the 18th century in and around what is now San Antonio.

The UNESCO description calls the missions “an example of the interweaving of Spanish and Coahuiltecan cultures, illustrated by a variety of features, including the decorative elements of churches, which combine Catholic symbols with indigenous designs inspired by nature.”

The missions were the only site in the U.S. considered for world heritage status during the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany.

Adding to the 1031 cultural and natural sites already on its list, sites in Norway, Germany, Israel and Scotland were also approved for inscription.

Inscribed today as @UNESCO #WorldHeritage: Located in a dramatic landscape of mountains, waterfalls and river valleys, the site comprises hydroelectric power plants, transmission lines, factories, transport systems and towns. The complex was established by the Norsk-Hydro Company to manufacture artificial fertilizer from nitrogen in the air. It was built to meet the Western world’s growing demand for agricultural production in the early 20th century. The company towns of Rjukan and Notodden show workers’ accommodation and social institutions linked by rail and ferry to ports where the fertilizer was loaded. The Rjukan-Notodden site manifests an exceptional combination of industrial assets and themes associated to the natural landscape. It stands out as an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century. Http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1486/

A photo posted by UNESCO (@unesco) on

Inscribed today as @UNESCO #WorldHeritage: Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus (Germany) — Speicherstadt and the adjacent Kontorhaus district are two densely built urban areas in the centre of the port city of Hamburg. Speicherstadt, originally developed on a group of narrow islands in the Elbe River between 1885 and 1927, was partly rebuilt from 1949 to 1967. It is one of the largest coherent historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world (300,000 m2). It includes 15 very large warehouse blocks as well as six ancillary buildings and a connecting network of short canals. Adjacent to the modernist Chilehaus office building, the Kontorhaus district is an area of over five hectares featuring six very large office complexes built from the 1920s to the 1940s to house port-related businesses. The complex exemplifies the effects of the rapid growth in international trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1467/ © Department for Heritage Preservation Hamburg picture library

A photo posted by UNESCO (@unesco) on

Sites must meet 10 criteria to be nominated for world heritage status. The official designation of a site is meant to raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation and conservation. Countries may also received financial assistance for preservation.

More sites are set to be granted world heritage status during the remainder of UNESCO’s annual meeting, which runs until July 8.

The post San Antonio Missions among new UNESCO World Heritage Sites appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

‘No’ vote likely in Greek referendum

Anti-austerity 'No' voters celebrate in front of the Greek parliament in Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece July 5, 2015.
         Greeks voted overwhelmingly "No" on Sunday in a historic bailout referendum, partial results showed, defying warnings
         from across Europe that rejecting new austerity terms for fresh financial aid would set their country on a path out of the
         euro.   REUTERS/Marko Djurica  - RTX1J4CI

Anti-austerity ‘No’ voters celebrate in front of the Greek parliament in Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece July 5, 2015. Photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters

The Greek interior ministry says that early results show the “No” camp carrying about 60 percent of vote, according to the BBC. More than 20 percent of votes have been counted so far.

Greeks turned out to vote Sunday in a referendum that could decide Greece’s future in Europe’s common currency.

The question to be decided was whether the beleaguered Mediterranean nation should accept the terms of a bailout offered by creditors.

At the heart of the crisis is a struggle between Greece and its creditors over the country’s massive debts. Greece’s cash-strapped government needs support from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

But as a condition of a bailout agreement, creditors demand that Greece institute deep budget cuts and structural reforms to put its economy on a tenable long-term course. Such measures are unpopular with Greeks, who have endured years of austerity and are desperate for an end to high unemployment and deep entitlement cuts.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras licks his ballot envelope before voting at a polling station in Athens, Greece, on
         July 5, 2015. Greece voted on Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes
         referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras licks his ballot envelope before voting at a polling station in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

A “Yes” vote — an acceptance of bailouts terms — might bring down the government of anti-austerity Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, while a vote to reject bailout terms could lead to Greece’s ejection from Europe’s single currency, an unprecedented move that could endanger Greece’s political and economic stability.

Since Tsipras rejected the bailout offer eight days ago and put the matter to a referendum, Greece has seen bank shutdowns and runs on ATMs, among other symptoms of financial peril.

Referendum campaign posters that read "No" in Greek are seen as people line up at an ATM outside a National
         Bank branch during a referendum vote in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity
         in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven
         years of economic pain.   Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters  - RTX1J2LU

Referendum campaign posters that read “No” in Greek are seen as people line up at an ATM outside a National Bank branch during a referendum vote in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters

A Greek Orthodox priest exits a voting booth holding a ballot at a polling station in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015.
         Greece voted on Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum
         likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

A Greek Orthodox priest exits a voting booth holding a ballot at a polling station in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

NO stickers are placed on a billboard depicting Greek singer and YES supporter Sakis Rouvas in Athens, Greece, on July
         5, 2015. Greece voted on Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum
         likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

NO stickers are placed on a billboard depicting Greek singer and YES supporter Sakis Rouvas in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

A voting official prepares documents before opening a polling station during a referendum in Athens, Greece, on July
         5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum
         likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain.    Photo by Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

A voting official prepares documents before opening a polling station during a referendum in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is surrounded by media as he leaves a polling station during a referendum in
         Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid,
         in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain.   Photo
         by Dimitris Michalakis/Reuters

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is surrounded by media as he leaves a polling station during a referendum in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Dimitris Michalakis/Reuters

A man raises his arms as he leaves a polling booth during a referendum vote in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece
         voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to
         determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain.    Photo by Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

A man raises his arms as he leaves a polling booth during a referendum vote in Athens, Greece, on July 5, 2015. Greece voted Sunday on whether to accept more austerity in exchange for international aid, in a high-stakes referendum likely to determine whether it leaves the eurozone after seven years of economic pain. Photo by Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

The post ‘No’ vote likely in Greek referendum appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Negotiators race to meet deadline on Iran’s nuclear program

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
         Javad Zarif (not pictured) at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, July 3, 2015. A year and half of nuclear talks between Iran and
         major powers are meant to culminate in a deal expected Tuesday, though Kerry said Saturday that a successful deal is not necessarily
         a sure thing.  Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: In Vienna, negotiators are racing to meet a July 7th deadline for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Late last night, Iran’s foreign minister announced that Tehran was ready to strike a deal and that negotiators had, quote, “never been closer to a lasting outcome.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agrees they’re making progress but says there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Diplomats from the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany want Iran to scale back its nuclear program to make sure it cannot build a nuclear weapon. But Iran wants leaders to lift crippling economic sanctions before it makes any changes to its nuclear program, allowing access to U.N. weapons inspectors has also become a major sticking point.

Bloomberg News reporter Indira Lakshmanan has been covering the story, and she joins me now from Vienna.

Indira, they say close is only good enough in horseshoes and hand grenades. So, how close are we to reaching a deal here?

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, BLOOMBERG NEWS REPORTER: Well, yes, that’s exactly right. I mean, you can be close but no cigar, as the old say can goes. And the American delegation has been clear in telling us that while they are closer than they ever have been before, that this still could go up in flames if some very important political decisions are not taken. Of course, what they mean by that is that the Iranians have to make some decisions about giving access and specifically access for the IAEA, which means the U.N. monitors to inspect and meet with people and scientist look at sites where there are suspicions of past military nuclear work on Iran’s part. So, that’s going to be probably the key thing that needs to be worked out for this deal to come together in the coming days.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, there was some progress on that earlier this week. The IAEA announced that by the end of the year, they would actually have a report on this. I mean, that seemed like a step in the right direction, that Iran could understand that, the U.N. could like it, the U.S. could, too.

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Yes. That actually just happened today, Hari. It was really huge news, and that’s IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano who just came back from Tehran two days ago, and he came before reporters today and said that if Tehran cooperates, that they feel that the U.N. could put together its report, address all of the concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work in the past by the end of the year.

But the key part that have sentence is, “if Tehran cooperates”. So, what our sources tell us is that that right now, the two sides are working on a list. They’re working on putting together a list based on U.S. intelligence and other western intelligence, Israeli intelligence, figuring out who are the important people and what are the important sites, and trying to make sure that Iran agrees that those sites can be investigated, those people can be interviewed.

So, with these sort of what is known as the additional protocol-plus, plus more access. So, that’s really what they have to get to the bottom. And we haven’t even mentioned this, but sanctions is the other critical piece. For Iran to give all of this access, they want to get sanctions relief on the other end, and that’s the other sticking point particularly in terms of time schedule, how that’s going to work, that they still need to work out and we’re going to be waiting for foreign ministers to come together tomorrow in the building right behind me, the Coburg Palace, where these negotiations are taking place, to make those final decisions.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, speaking of timing, and this is what makes negotiations sticky, both sides want the other side to do their part first.

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Right. Well, we do understand that in the last few days, there has been this critical agreement that they are — there is going to be simultaneity, that while the United States and E.U. preparing the legal steps, the regulatory steps that they need to take to give sanctions relief — on oil sanctions, banking sanctions, unfreezing assets and the rest — that for its part, Iran will be taking all of the steps that it needs to curb its nuclear program.

So, the working idea is that on the day that the United Nations verifies yes, Iran has taken those steps, that on the very same day, the sanctions would be lifted.

So, you know, it’s going to be a complicated thing. I think it’s something we could see perhaps by the end of the year. But Americans have told me they think it’s more likely early next year. This really depends out quickly Iran is willing to take those steps that it needs to do to curb its nuclear activity.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And, finally, what are the U.S. sources that you’ve spoken to saying about chances of this getting through Congress?

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Yes, I mean, if it was hard to seal this deal here in Vienna, I think it’s going to be really hard to seal this deal on Capitol Hill, to sell it to all of the congressmen who are predisposed against it. I mean, the fact is, it’s not representative of where the American people are. When you look at the polling, most of the polling is very much in favor of the nuclear deal. But on Capitol Hill, there is lot of suspension about this. Also amongst think tanks and public intellectuals, there are a lot of people who are concerned and think that Iran cannot be trusted in any nuclear deal. And part of that is because Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, has raised a lot of his concerns.

So, I think we’re going to — if this deal happen, they’re going to have a 30-day period during which Congress can review it and can either say yea or nay, and I think those are going to be 30 incredibly, you know, tendentious days to be watching.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Indira Lakshmanan joining us from Vienna of Bloomberg News — thanks so much.

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN: Thanks.

The post Negotiators race to meet deadline on Iran’s nuclear program appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

How is Greece likely to vote in austerity referendum?

Supporters of Greece and of the 'NO' campaign applaud a speaker at the 'Greek solidarity
         festival' in Trafalgar Square, London, Britain, July 4, 2015.  The event was held in support of the people of Greece
         and the cancellation of debt, ahead of their referendum on Sunday. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls - RTX1J052

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: PBS NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has been covering the latest developments and joins me now from Athens.

You’ve been reporting on this for the past several weeks for us and other places. You’ve been talking to people on the street. The polls say that this vote is incredibly close. What’s the feeling that you get on the street?

MALCOLM BRABANT, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It’s impossible to tell which way this vote is going to go because it’s a hugely difficult and complex vote for people to make. The question on the ballot paper is, is something that would probably baffle economic students.

So, for ordinary people leaving out of the country, miles from Athens, it’s a very difficult choice.

But basically, it distills down to whether or not you want to vote for more of the same, which is increased austerity, which may be more severe that has been going on for the past five years, or something that is a step into the unknown, because nobody really knows what is going to happen if the country votes no.

The government here is basically saying that they’re going to have a better — better terms possibly with the creditors. But that’s something that really s undecided.

And so, this is the most difficult question in Greece’s modern history.

HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s been a week since the banks have been closed, since money has been rationed, what are the impacts that you see? Are there shortages of goods in stores now due to import restrictions?

MALCOLM BRABANT: No. We’re not seeing shortages yet, but that’s certainly something that people are talking about in the future. There are concerns that people just won’t get the goods that they want to.

The problem is that everybody now wants cash and — because cash is in short supply. And so, suppliers aren’t giving materials to shops without getting cash. Customers are reluctant to part with their cash.

And so, the actual liquidity of the whole country is shrinking, and that makes the difficult for the society to survive.

The ironic thing is what the creditors really wanted to have is a sort of a modern society, financial society with credit and with money sort of going backwards and forwards electronically. But we’re going backwards in that respect. It’s going back to the 1980s.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what are the possibilities on Monday in either way that the vote turns out? Do the central bankers, when they meet, could they approve bail-out funding if the yes side wins, or could they say, you’re out of the Eurozone if the no side wins?

MALCOLM BRABANT: I don’t think so it’s going to happen as quickly as that. I mean, this has been a much slower slide than people had imagined.

People would have thought that after the default that there would have been sort of Armageddon and that simply hasn’t happened. The slide downwards has been sort of fairly gentle.

But the problem is, that the money is running out of the banks here. And the big question is, if there is a no vote, will the banks actually dry out because the European Central Bank may feel compelled not to give the banks here anymore — more money at all.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And what about the social tension regardless of which way the vote goes?

MALCOLM BRABANT: It is really sort of quite intense because the country is completely divided. People are talking about this being the levels of hatred that might exist after this, is being something as deep as those that happened during the civil war which started 70 years ago.

This is a country which always had this tendency to turn on itself and to fight to itself. It’s got kind of a self destructed past in a way.

People here have always fought against each other. And after the civil war ended in 1950, it took about 30 years for the country to be almost unified.

And so, those are the kind of tensions that we’re talking about. They’re really immense. Although if you were to look around the city tonight, you would you say that it was relaxed. But there’s an awful lot of tension under the surface.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Malcolm Brabant joining us from Athens, Greece, tonight — thanks so much.

The post How is Greece likely to vote in austerity referendum? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

BBC News

Greek voters 'reject bailout offer'

Greeks appear to have overwhelmingly rejected the terms offered for an international bailout, partial results from the referendum suggest.

Air strikes on Syria IS stronghold

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State group carries out an air assault on its Raqqa stronghold in Syria.

Blatter blames politics for Qatar vote

French and German presidents applied pressure prior to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes, says Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

Boko Haram attack caps bloody week

Boko Haram militants are blamed for a suicide bomb attack in a Nigerian church at the end of a week in which more than 200 people were killed.