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As it Happened. -

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(generated from captions) JOEL: Trends are
going to change again,

because now America is moving
away from that high-fat diet.

So, we're going to see
all these trends change again.

New voices are growing louder,
reviving old ideas.

WILL: Something had to be done,

and, like, I heard
that silent cry for help.

You know, I felt that we have some
space out here, I can contribute.

For most of the time that
humans have walked the earth,

the biggest threat
to human life was hunger.

In 21st-century America,

our food machine gives us more food
than most of us will ever need.

But it's not just about
producing more calories.

The question we now face is

how can we feed ourselves in
a way that's healthy for us

and sustainable for the environment?

GREG: I think the future's
very bright for agriculture.

These crops we grow today

will not look anything
like they do now in five years.

And that's part of the fun,
to be part of that.

One thing's for sure -
as this revolution continues,

our food industry
will have to reinvent itself,

as it has done so many times before.

To keep food on the table,
we're counting on it.

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Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2012

Hello. I'm Ricardo Goncalves. Fighting is escalating in Syria as its President, Bashar al-Assad, rejects an offer of safe passage, claiming he won't leave the country. I'm Syrian. I made in Syria and die in Syria. Barack Obama is tonight preparing to make his first public address from the White House since his re- election. It comes as share marks globally continue to fall amid fears of a looming showdown over averting America's so-called fiscal cliff. Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to s reaffirmed its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, announcing its intent to sign up for a second round, enforceable from 2020. And Prince Charles haka Mila have toured some of Sydney's best sights, despite a brief storm, including the Opera House and Bondi. And I'll have

WINSTON CHURCHILL:
Wars are not won by evacuations.

The $60-million luxury liner...

All the injured...

Good morning. John Brown
on Canadian 920. We're just...

During the Second World War

thousands of sailors found themselves
under enemy fire.

Whether they were soldiers
of the Allies

or fighting for the Axis powers,

there are innumerable
military cemeteries

dedicated to them
along the French coast.

Reading their names on the graves

and remembering the fate of the
warships on which they had embarked,

questions still need to be answered.

Strangely enough, it is often
the most interesting incidents

which are overlooked.

In order to understand
these distant tales of shipwrecks

it is sometimes necessary
to leave aside the history books.

We have to search though documents,
listen to accounts

and follow the adventures
of certain brave enthusiasts

determined to see that one day
the truth is finally revealed.

One of the bloodiest shipwrecks
of all time happened in France

only a few miles
off the coast of Brittany.

On 17 June 1940, just before 4 p.m.,

KG 30 Squadron Luftwaffe planes

bombed a huge liner.

(DRAMATIC MUSIC)

If you ask people
in the street today

"What was the worst
British maritime disaster?"

they'd almost certainly say
'Titanic'.

That's not just because
of Kate Winslet.

They would say 'Titanic'.

'Lancastria', no.

The 'Lancastria' sank
in less than 25 minutes.

The moment that ship was sunk
like that,

it shoulda been in the history books
as a complete loss,

not in doubt
as to why it happened.

That I can't understand.
Why did it happen?

The number of victims
of this disaster

is estimated
at between 5000 and 7000,

at least three times as many
as the 'Titanic'.

Most of them were British soldiers.

Despite the enormity of the tragedy

London decided to keep it
from the public.

The tragedy of the 'Lancastria'
became a state secret.

You realise that these things
aren't just transient, they're...

You know, they echo down through
generations, for a long time.

(BAGPIPES PLAY)

Mark Hirst knows only too well
what he's talking about.

As a descendant of one of
the survivors of the shipwreck

the 'Lancastria' has always been
a part of his life,

rather like a family secret.

As spokesman
for the Scottish parliament

he approached the Royal Navy
and, in his official role,

requested the file
on the 'Lancastria'.

The equally official response
was negative.

The documents are classified
for 100 years.

It was a surprise to me to discover

that 70 years on there was still
effective censorship in place.

One of the exemptions
that surprised me the most

was an exemption which says
that disclosure of the information

would prejudice "the effective
conduct of public affairs".

It strikes me as very odd
70 years after the 'Lancastria' sunk

that the British government
are still withholding information.

And the bottom line is
for families and relatives

that there is a real sense
of anger and outrage

that they're still doing this.

So why is there this wall of silence?

What truth is the British government
concealing after all these years?

For Reg Brown,

one of the last remaining survivors
of the 'Lancastria',

the idea of not having an answer to
these questions during his lifetime

is intolerable.

Why 100 years? There must be
something wrong somewhere!

If they can't tell us why,
then there's something wrong.

Why did that disaster happen?

We won't know the truth
until 100 years hence.

We'll all be dead.
No one can complain.

70 years have passed
since the ship sank.

One by one,
witnesses are going to their graves,

like Walter, Mark's grandfather,

taking his doubts with him.

But today,
on both sides of the Channel,

the need to unveil the truth
is gaining the upper hand.

For the marine archaeologist
Michel l'Hour

the wreck of the 'Lancastria'
is like a beacon,

a marker to prevent us forgetting.

In the harbour of Saint-Nazaire,
in the centre of the channel,

is a buoy which marks the position
of the wreck.

The 'Lancastria' lies 20 metres down.

The wreck is masked in opaque liquid,

a metaphor for the mystery
still surrounding the tragedy.

In the spring of 1940

Mark Hirst's grandfather was about
60 kilometres from Saint-Nazaire.

He had been appointed
to the building of the airport

along with
the British Expeditionary Forces.

It's...
It's in a very bad state now.

But in some ways

this is the tangible experience
for me, coming to this site,

because this might be the wood
that my grandfather crafted.

And so it obviously has
a very strong emotion for me

because it brings home the reality

of what the war meant for my
grandfather before the evacuation.

This is the building

where all the British soldiers were
listening to the BBC on 4 June 1940.

Over the airwaves,
Winston Churchill solemnly announced

the evacuation of British troops
from French soil.

WINSTON CHURCHILL:
Sir, we must be very careful

not to assign to this deliverance
the attributes of a victory.

Wars are not won by evacuations.
But there was a victory inside...

It was a shock for the men
because they'd spent their time here

preparing for the war,
preparing to take on the Germans,

and without even seeing any action

they were told
they were on their way back

to the United Kingdom in retreat.

The retreat was desperate.

More than 250,000 soldiers still had
to get back to the UK

as quickly as possible.

The men who were at (inaudible)
when they hear this radio broadcast

understand that for their families
at home

they will think
that they will be safe and well

and on their way home for a reunion.

But the reality is,
these men are now facing

the biggest danger of their lives.

From London, military headquarters
organised the evacuation

in the greatest secrecy.

France was falling to pieces

and the German ogre
was devouring everything in its path.

To get a better understanding
of this crucial moment in history

we went to London to meet with Eric
Grove, an expert on the period.

He is known
for his uncompromising approach.

The Germans had moved
so surprisingly quickly

in the French campaign
that they seemed to be supermen.

They could be everywhere
and anywhere.

German tanks
might suddenly come into sight

down the road.

The German air force was everywhere,
bombing everything that moved.

So there was this
extraordinary pressure on people.

"We've gotta get to the ports.
We've got to get out."

The Germans knew there was
a big concentration of shipping

off Saint-Nazaire

and that probably an evacuation
would be taking place.

And clearly the Germans wanted
to prevent, as much as they could,

British forces getting out of France
and getting back to Britain.

Every cigarette is doing you damage. Chemicals from tobacco smoke
get into your bloodstream and can damage the delicate
blood vessels inside your eye.

We now know that smoking is a major
cause of irreversible blindness.

Every cigarette is doing you damage.

So it was "every man for himself".

The British soldiers hurried
to the ports of Brittany,

including Saint-Nazaire.

The Royal Navy requisitioned
a number of civil buildings,

the largest of which
was a luxury liner

the majestic 'Lancastria'.

(BELL RINGS)

About two o'clock
we got on the last boat

to go out to the 'Lancastria'.

When we got to 'Lancastria'
they stopped counting at 6000.

Apparently there was 9000 on board.

9000 men were crammed
onto this cruise liner

built for 2500 people.

But it was only a journey
of a few hours

and everyone on board
thought they'd be in England

before nightfall, safe and sound.

In the morning of the 17th

two Royal Naval officers
had boarded the 'Lancastria'

and instructed Captain Sharp
to load as many men as possible

and without regard to the limits
set down on an international law.

And Harry Grattidge,
who was second-in-command,

asked them if this was capitulation.

And they responded "Don't even
mention the word. Just load them".

(CRACKLY VOICE OVER RADIO)

The British High Command
did not realise

that it had just taken a decision

which put thousands of lives
in danger.

The German reconnaissance services
followed the suspect manoeuvres

in the port of Saint-Nazaire.

At the air base
at Chievres in Belgium

the elite Luftwaffe bombardiers
set off.

For decades all evidence
of the German air strikes

remained buried
at the bottom of the archives,

until a young German historian,
Sonke Neitzel, brought it to light.

The flight to Saint-Nazaire was long

and the pilots thought they wouldn't
get there before the boats left.

Unfortunately, the captain
of the 'Lancastria' decided to wait

until the other boats were also full,
so they could leave in convoy.

This turned out
to be a tragic decision.

When they arrived
at their destination

the German pilots
found a dream target

the 'Lancastria' was still at anchor
in the mouth of the River Loire.

(PLANE ENGINE SCREAMS)

A salvo of bombs
ripped through the 'Lancastria'.

The clandestine evacuation
turned to tragedy.

Thousands of men
were to lose their lives.

The ceiling came in

and the same time
the ship went like that.

And I thought
"Well, it's hit now."

So... I'm off.

The Junkers 88 was one of
the best aircraft the Germans had.

It dived at the ship, it didn't
drop them from a great height.

And the bombs all hit the ship
and caused huge damage.

Each bomb was big and it killed
hundreds of people at once.

Number Two Hold
received a direct hit

and in that hold
were 800 RAF ground personnel

and virtually all of them
were wiped out in that instant.

I don't blame the RAF

but they were the first on board
and they chose the cabins.

And there were so many people
on board, moving around, 9000,

that they couldn't open the doors
to get out.

Ways through the ship are narrow.
They get crowded.

People walk on top of each other.
There's panic.

It's a terribly confused situation

and it's very, very difficult
for people to find a way up.

It is still impossible
to state today

precisely how many victims
there were.

(BROODING MUSIC)

Once in the water
the horror really began

because there was thick oil.

'Lancastria' was carrying
1400 tons of fuel oil

and that had ruptured in the attack.

And this began to spread out
over the site of the sinking ship

and men began...
It went in their nostrils.

Men were swallowing it,
instantly vomiting.

It was stinging the eyes.
It was getting into the ears.

And it caused more horror for them.

I had to virtually move bodies
out the way to get through.

It was frightening.

Imagine me, only just 20 years old.
That's frightening.

There were hundreds of bodies
in the water,

people with a Mae West,

a Mae West life jacket it's called.

But when you use a Mae West

you have to
tuck your fingers in there

and elbows in like that and jump.

Not like that.

(Makes cracking sound)
Break your neck.

There was one survivor told me
how he ended up in the water

and they were holding
onto a large plank of wood

with one survivor at one end
and the other at the other.

And the Germans came in
and strafed the men.

A shot went right through his head
in front of him.

And he remembers shouting
up to the skies, to the Germans,

shouting "You bastards!"

The large luxury liner keeled over
15 minutes after it was attacked.

Thousands of soldiers
were trapped in the hull.

I got hold of the table...

and sat on it and it sank!

I couldn't use that.

So, all of a sudden I felt
the current taking me out to sea.

You can't swim.
There's nowhere to go.

You go with the current.

And I thought "Well, this is it.

"I'm prepared to go now."

The tide was actually taking men
out to sea.

And eventually the rescue boats
managed to coordinate themself

into a large arc
like a fishing net.

And then I saw a ship.
It came right alongside.

And they threw a rope down.

So I managed to hold that
and they pulled me in.

In London, Winston Churchill decided

that the disaster had to be
kept quiet at all costs.

England was the last
of Germany's enemies in Europe.

Bad news of this kind
could have affected British morale.

The British myth of 1940
is still very important

to our national identity -

Britain standing alone
against the dreadful German threat.

Dunkirk, the army is saved
and then it's Britain on its own.

When you come to the detail
of this

you find that
it's not quite like that.

Airmen and merchant seamen

who lost their lives
or received injuries...

On 17 June 1940, the history books
mention only France's surrender.

..and their souls be with You
in Paradise.

However, on the same day,
the world experienced

one of the greatest
marine catastrophes of all time.

The sinking of the 'Lancastria'

claimed eight times as many victims
as that of the 'Titanic'.

You all may find security...

For the 2500 survivors
of the 'Lancastria'

time brought no answers.

Now it is their descendants
who shoulder the heavy legacy.

When he told the story
of the 'Lancastria'

he had one or two pints in him.

He wasn't a big drinker
but he got drunk very easily.

But the rest of the time
he was a very quiet man.

I think he thought a lot
about what happened on that day

and I think much of it haunted him.

I think there was a certain element
of... embarrassment on one hand.

There was an aspect
when he was in the water

where he had to kill
another survivor,

a man who was crazed,

who was out of his mind and trying
to grab the life jacket on him.

And he had to fight him off,
he had to...

for his own life,
it was him or the other man.

And I think that haunted him
for the rest of his days.

And that had an impact on my father,
who similarly...

echoed what his own father was like
and didn't show much affection.

For us there was almost (inaudible).

He's a changed man now

but I think you realise

that these things
aren't just transient, they're...

They echo down through generations
for a long time.

In 2040

when the file on the 'Lancastria'
is officially declassified,

Mark Hirst will be 70.

Will he finally be freed
from this terrible secret?

Today Saint-Nazaire
is a martyred town,

permanently scarred
by the horrendous summer of 1940.

The only vestige of the war is
the huge indestructible marine base.

The bunker harboured
some of the German submarines.

The Allies bombed it night and day
at the end of the war, in vain.

soldiers on the 'Lancastria'

is only a beginning.

At the moment when the German planes
released their bombs on the liner

the French learned that Marshall
Petain had just come to power

and announced victory for the Nazis.

From that moment on, in Brest,
as in all other major ports,

the French navy was caught
in a terrible spiral.

A story in which the darkest episodes
have long been silenced.

(DRAMATIC MUSIC)

Today, with the passage of time,
a few accounts are coming to light,

revealing their secrets
and their mysteries.

Our next inquiry follows
in the wake of the 'Meknes',

a liner which was torpedoed.

The English coastline of the Channel
still appears shrouded in terror,

haunted by tales of wrecks
carpeting the depths since 1940.

At the time, Nazi officers were
competing for a terrible record

the highest number
of enemy victims killed at sea.

A morbid game in which the 'Meknes',
a commercial French liner,

found itself trapped.

On 24 July 1940, the 'Meknes'
was torpedoed by the Germans

and sank in less than 10 minutes.

More than 400 French sailors
were killed for no apparent reason.

(DRAMATIC PERCUSSION MUSIC)

When the war with Germany
was officially over

the torpedoing of a French boat
by the Nazis

etched itself in collective memory.

When Emmanuel Feige,
a history teacher and keen diver,

found a short article
in his local paper

announcing the anniversary
of the shipwreck,

he straight away realised
that it looked like a closed case.

Roland Delaval never knew his father.

He was only nine months old

when the German torpedo ripped
through the hull of the 'Meknes'.

Roland's father Louis Delaval
worked as a mechanic on the ship

and when he embarked in Southampton
on 24 July

Louis couldn't wait to get home
to meet his baby son

whose birth he had missed.

In the search for some clues,
another avenue is pursued, in London.

According to the eminent historian
Eric Grove,

this is where the destiny
of the 'Meknes' began to be woven

when the armistice was signed
on 22 July 1940.

Many, but not all, British people

were shocked
at the collapse of France,

not least Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill had a love affair
with France and the French army.

He'd said in the inter-war period
"Thank God for the French army".

So nobody was more shocked

when the French army
seemed to collapse very quickly.

And you get the impression

that as the French move
towards an armistice,

as they refuse the offer
of union with Britain,

then Churchill begins to act
like a jilted lover.

What horrors,

what crimes,

has Hitler
and all that Hitler stands for

brought upon Europe...

The main problem for the British
was the French fleet.

And there was this spectre

in the minds of Churchill
and others in Britain

that the French fleet
might fall into German hands.

They might be able to use it

and this would provide cover
for an invasion.

In fact, the only chance
the Germans had of invading Britain

was by using powerful warships

to contest command of the Channel
and the North Sea.

But the Germans couldn't do that.
They had to have the French fleet.

And so this spectre arises
in the minds of the British

that the French fleet is in danger
of falling into German hands

and so desperate measures
are called for.

After bombing the French fleet
at Mers El-Kebir

the British decide to take possession
of all boats

flying the tricolour flag.

They offered French sailors
the choice

of either joining
the Free French Forces,

under the leadership
of one General de Gaulle,

or of returning to France
demobilised.

Most of them chose
to return to their families

and the 'Meknes' was chosen
for their repatriation.

In England, Roland Delaval
joins Emmanuel Feige,

the historian-cum-diver,
who is also researching the story.

Together they're going to take part
in an extraordinary expedition

to find the wreck of the 'Meknes'.

For Roland, the thought of seeing the
wreck and where the tragedy happened

means, in a way,
he can already begin to grieve.

Finding the wreck of the 'Meknes'
shouldn't be too difficult.

The site of the ship is no mystery.

A team from the British navy

and the Department
of Marine Archaeological Research

have come to give a helping hand.

According to rumour, the wreck
was used as a shelter for submarines,

It's the sort of amount you'd expect
from crumbling away to the sea.

The divers get ready

and Roland anxiously awaits
concrete evidence

which might explain
his father's death.

What really happened
on that tragic night of 24 July 1940?

At 4.30 in the afternoon

the 'Meknes' left Southampton
for Marseilles

with 1300 Frenchmen on board.

The armistice,
which had been signed a month before,

was a godsend for the sailors,

who wanted more than anything
to be with their families again.

This is certainly what comes across

in an account written
in one survivor's diary.

On board, all the men were relieved.
For us, the war was over.

After dinner some of us went
out on deck to enjoy the night air.

The Channel is a very dangerous sea
to navigate.

But since the signing
of the armistice,

for a French passenger liner

there was nothing to fear
from the German warships.

Moreover, the 'Meknes' had taken care
to indicate its neutrality.

It sailed with all its lights on.

At about 10.30, machine-gun fire
rattled the hull

and portholes flew out.

The 'Meknes' was the target
of a fast torpedo boat.

The men couldn't believe their eyes.

Mechanically,
they put on their life jackets.

A few minutes later

the German torpedo hit the port side
of the liner.

The 'Meknes' was mortally hit.

The explosion shattered
everything in my cabin.

The wardrobe, the basin, the bunk,
everything, turned upside down.

The door was hanging
from its hinges.

I pulled it off
and managed to get out.

The smoke from the explosion
from the torpedo was choking me

and with a heavy heart
I had to abandon the 'Meknes'

to try to save my own life.

(MACHINE-GUN FIRE)

A motor torpedo boat is a highly
offensive weapons platform.

It's rather vulnerable.
It's very small and lightly built.

It's basically a hit-and-run weapon.

Therefore you have to shoot first
and ask questions afterwards.

Although he did appear to have used
his machine gun to start with,

but clearly he thought
"Hostile target, I gotta get away.

"Then fire
and ask questions afterwards".

This patrol operation
still has repercussions

for hundreds of families 70 years on.

The ship sank
in barely eight minutes.

The 900 survivors were picked up
by British destroyers

alerted by an SOS from the 'Meknes'.

Amongst the 400 victims,
Louis Delaval, Roland's father,

whose body was never recovered.

From the pictures taken
during the dive,

Roland finally sees the shell of the
boat where his father lost his life.

Natural disintegration and sediment

make observation of the vessel
very tricky.

The Channel is already
a huge cemetery.

But for Roland Delaval

time hasn't erased anything
and questions still remain.

If it's true that the German torpedo
boat knowingly opened fire

on a French passenger boat, it is
quite simply a war crime.

Was the 'Meknes' a designated target?

Or was it simply in the wrong place
at the wrong time?

To shed light on the tragedy,

we are meeting Hans Franck,
a specialist in Nazi marine history.

He has a copy
of a torpedo boat's log.

According to historian
Emmanuel Feige,

this version can't be true.

After the armistice the two countries
were no longer at war

and on board the French ships

the captains knew how powerful
the German navy was.

The official documents
prove beyond doubt

that the 'Meknes'
was easily identifiable.

The colours were visible 400 metres
away, even at night,

as we can see in this simulation.

We need to find out
if the crew of the 'Meknes'

did everything possible
to show its good faith

after it was fired on.

This is what historian
Francois Delpla wants to check

in a document held
in the Ministry of Defence archives

the Meknes' logbook.

The final statement in their defence
offered by the Germans

is that the 'Meknes'
did not officially advise Germany

of its departure from Southampton -

an argument
which is hard to disprove.

In this circular,
it indicates clearly

that the 'Meknes' was running a risk
by sailing on that day.

After 24 July 1940, all commercial
vessels flying the French flag

would be considered enemies.

However, the document sent out
on 22nd July 1940

by the Armistice Commission

was only signed
by the French Admiralty on the 24th,

the day the 'Meknes' departed.

This circular was, quite simply,
not sent out in time.

Today the families of the victims
and of the survivors

are not prepared to accept
that the file should be closed

on the tragedy of the 'Meknes'.

They've even taken their case
to the court in Rennes.

Justice has finally been done.

For the first time,
a French court has recognised

that the torpedoing of the 'Meknes'
is quite simply a war crime.

The victims of the 'Meknes'

are officially victims
of an act of barbarity.

Exactly 70 years after the sinking
of the 'Meknes'

Roland Delaval has finally been able
to pay homage

to the victims of that tragic night
in July 1940.

The 'Meknes' incident is a wonderful
example of the "fog of war".

It's not a conspiracy, it's,
as we say in English, a cock-up.

And it's because the messages
hadn't got through

about the dangers to French ships.

There was a breakdown
in communication

between the various parties.

And in these circumstances

a rather over-aggressive motor
torpedo boat commander scores a kill

that has rather larger repercussions
than he might have expected.

So it's the kind of thing
that happens in war.

War is a deeply uncertain business.

The story of the 'Meknes'
has been rescued from oblivion.

Each in their own way
can now pay tribute

to the memory of the 420
who died for their country.

We all know that on board
were not soldiers going home

but civilians
sons, brothers, uncles, fathers.

Amongst them Louis Delaval,
the sailor mechanic

who had only one thought

to get home and finally meet
his baby son.

This program is captioned live. Death over departure - Syria's President rejects offers on a safe exit. Facing the figures - Barack Obama heads into his first political and financial battle of his second term. I remain optimistic that we're going to be able to find common ground. And performing for the prince - an evening of entertainment as the royal tour reaches Sydney Opera House. ANNOUNCER: From SBS, this is World News Australia. Good evening. I'm Ricardo Goncalves. Syria's refugee crisis is worsening tonight with reports from Turkey that another 8,000 Syrians have fled across the border. But the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, has vowed to never leave the nation, saying he would rather die than go into exile. He warned any foreign intervention in his country's escalating conflict would have worldwide consequences. These pictures are set to show the latest clashes in Damascus and gun battles between rebels and regime forces in the city of Aleppo. Just a few days ago, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, suggested safe passage out of Syria for its President could be arranged as a way to end the conflict. But in an interview with Russian TV, Bashar al-Assad said he's not going anywhere. I wasn't made to go to the West of any other country. I'm Syrian. I'm made in Syria and happy to live and die in Syria. Syrianings -- Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey scoffed at Assad's vow.

President al-Assad denied there's a civil war in Syria again insisting he and his forces are fighting foreign-backed terrorists. He also denied accusations of war crimes, saying he has no regrets while accusing his opponents of committing atrocities. As this video emerged apparently showing Syrian rebels firing at an unarmed man. He's shot dead. Pictures too graphic to show. The United Nations says there have been abuses on both sides, including the execution of prisoners. President al-Assad warned against nt al-Assad warned against any foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict. It will have domino effect, -- affect, affect the world from the Atlantic to from the Atlantic to the Pacific.The conflict is ific.The conflict is already having an impack in the region as neighbouring countries struggle to cope with the refugee crisis S the violence is -- violence is going across Syria's borders. There are reports of further deadly clashes near the Turkish border and the Israel army says three mortar shells fired from Syria have landed in go lan lights days after an Israeli military vehicle was hit by cross border gunfire. Barack Obama is tonight preparing to make his first public address from the White House since his re-election. He's made clear his first priority as he assumes his second term as US President is the economy. Ladies and gentlemen, the re-