month. with it lies the hopes of those whose voices have until now been silenced. david mercer, al jazeera, guatemala city. a reminder that there's plenty more news on our website, aljazeera.com. >> tying to get answers on the flint water crisis on capitol hill. city leaders and environmentalists testify before congress. zika virus warning, a new case reported in the u.s. transmitted through sex. the issue at the mosque is we didn't know who was behind it, who was in it, where it came from. >> distrust in a wyoming town, backlash over a new mosque as president obama prepares to address the rise of islamaphobia in the u.s. today.
this is aljazeera america live from new york city. i'm stephanie sy. a congressional hearing underway into the water crisis in flint michigan, a house committee is grilling city leaders and hearing from residents. these are live pictures from capitol hill. the man at the center of the problem is not there, darnell early, the state appointed emergency manager was subpoenaed to appear but says he can't comply. e.p.a. officials who are busy working in flint. lawmakers say they have emails that show government officials knew about the problems. >> part of this email said recent results indicate the presence of high lead results in the drinking water. that without objection will be
intercepted into the record. >> andy, good morning. what are lawmakers looking to find out and why will darnell early not be there? >> well, he said originally he didn't wanting to when he was just asked to appear in front of this committee. last night, the detroit free press record that he was subpoenaed and his attorney said he simply couldn't make it there on time, of course being subpoenaed, you have to show up then. he long claimed that he did not have responsibility over the switch to the flint river water supply that created this mess in 2014. he said he was signing off on an agreement already approved by the city council. as far as other testimony, we expect to hear from michigan's current interim michigan department of environmental quality director, who will say yes, blame goes to everyone here, but he lays a lot at the e.p.a., saying they dragged their feet in all of this in
giving them orders about what to do, but the e.p.a. long claimed that the michigan department of environmental quality did institute the corrosion control procedures it requested. in fact, both the director of the michigan department of environmental quality and the head of the regional e.p.a. bolt lost their jobs over this, so a lot of blame being thrown about. >> it may come down to who new what when. meanwhile, protestors are in d.c. p.m. what will they tell the congressional panel? >> one of the things there'll say is that we need help with our water bills. bulls loads of people will show up. they've demanded relief for their water bills because the utilities are not allowing them owe open right now, the you at this time are not shutting off water, but people refusing to pay their bills and the michigan govern, at least has addressed that today. he's going to announce $30 million in a budget proposal
that he'll announce formally next week to offer debt relief for these folks, to offer relief for people who aren't paying their water bills so their water won't get shut off and to reimburse those paying their water bills on time since 2014, even though they've gotten dirty water. people use the water to wash things but can't drink it. >> a lot of people think it is outrageous to pay for water there. governor snyder is not testifying today. whales he doing? >> well, he actually was asked by the democratic members to show up at this hearing, but the republican members of the hearing said no, you don't have to show up and they hold sway over that. again, he is now entering this new budget proposal that includes this $30 million for debt relief for these folks. right now, the e.p.a. director who's overseeing the operations on the ground is talking about
replacing the pipes for the highest risk communities here for lead corrosion. >> thanks a lot, andy. we are seeing the first criminal charges against the company behind a huge gas leak in southern california. the leak has gone going on for months and has led to health problems and evacuations in porter ranch. john henry smith has more details. >> the mod uls are among the people leaving because of a gas leak. it has spewed 80,000 metric tons of methane into the air since late october. >> our 13-year-old daughter, she's been sick, as well and missed school.
she has a horrible, horrible cough. >> l.a. county district attorney jacki lacy fired four misdemeanor control charges against souther california gas company, accusing them of releasing the greenhouse gases and failing to report the leak for three days. this move came on the same day california attorney general filed a lawsuit against so cal gas. she said the impact of this unprecedented gas leak is devastating to families in our state, our environment, and our efforts to combat global warming. the gas has been leaking from a decades-old people with no safety valve to turn it off. >> the people who put that well down were not intending that that casing would be used to inject natural gas or to withdraw it. they were trying to extract oil in the 1950's. >> so cal gas spokesman has repeatedly insisted that his company complied with state and federal regulations in the time leading up to the leak. >> we operate with safety, and we see to all of the regulations and we are in total compliance.
>> so cal gas has promised that a relief well it's digging to seal the damaged well will plug the leak by the end of february. water regulators in california are extending emergency conservation measures until the fall because of the severe drought. the latest numbers show the state cut water use 18% last month, but governor jerry brown was hoping the drought stricken state could cut 25% water use. it is the third straight monthly the state missed that target. an international conference is underway in uruguay to deal with the zika virus as worries grow here in the u.s. someone in texas contracted the virus not through a mosquito bite but after having sex with an infected person. al jazeera has the latest. >> the vast majority of zika virus infections have happened through mosquito bites and health officials confirmed a case that was likely sexually
transmitted. the case in dallas county, the texas county case, was acquired from someone who went to venezuela. the newly infected person had not traveled there, so the c.d.c. and doctors say the best precaution is to use protection. >> if a person is traveling to one of those 26 countries that have been declared by the pan american and world health organization to be transmitting the disease, mostly in the caribbean and south america, they should use condoms for their sexual contacts. >> zika virus infections usually mild and deaths rare. scientists are looking at birth fee effects in brazil. the virus could affect 4 million people in the americas. >> to have a tenfold increase in numbers and the potential for spread not just across latin america but into africa and asia which have the highest birth rates in the world, we believe is a matter of public health
concern and constitutes an international emergency. >> a french drug maker announced a project to develop a zika virus vaccine. control of the spread of mosquitoes is being developed. >> we are talking about years not months for a vaccine. we have to be cautious about a vaccine. >> testing for the zika virus will soon be possible in the accident. health officials need the right equipment, chemicals and training. >> we have to send samples to atlanta, whoch slows the process down. >> dozens of residents have been diagnosed with zika, mostly people who have traveled abroad and been bitten by mosquitos. >> brazil will deploy soldiers to help control the virus. they were checking houses for stagnant water. health officials say there have
been nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly, babies born with small heads, since october. u.s.-u.n. talks in syria for peace are in jeopardy. >> with the bombardment in lope poe only intensifying, peace talks have come to a standstill today. nobody knows what is going to happen in the hours to come and there is a lot of diplomacy, the u.n. trying to pressure both sides of the syrian negotiating teams to make sure that they stay in geneva. we were told today the russians aren't just bombing aleppo, they are bombing these geneva peace talks. that'sette level of frustration from the opposition. they are in a very difficult
position because the bombardment in aleppo continued, they feel their negotiating position is substantially weakened. they feel if they stay, it will just stay of bad. they feel they can't enter negotiations there also there is some good faith effort put forth forth, when it comes to the syrian regime here. they continues to they don't trust the opposition, saying that very specific procedural matters have not been accomplished and because of that, they can't enter negotiations as of yet in earnest. the talks have really come to a complete stand still and nobody really knows what's going to happen in the day ahead. >> world powers from europe and the middle east are asking for $9 billion to help syrians affected by the war, but pledgion are not the problem, getting the money is. last year's appeal only brought
in half of the $7 billion promised. that's forced cuts to refugee food aid and put more pressure on host countries. this aid conference may not accomplish much on the ground. >> i've actually been speaking to people under siege for the past few days and asking how they feel about the london donors conference. there is very little optimism, because the money goes to funding the u.n. aid effort, but many towns and cities haven't seen u.n. aid in years, so the real question is if we raise all this money, is it going to go to people under siege and the answer is no. the only way to get it to people under siege is if the u.n. decides to stop waiting for assad regime permission and start delivering the aid to the towns and city that is need it most. if the trucks can't go through, the u.n. and world governments must drop aid from their planes to starving towns and cities. >> thursday's conference is cohosted by britain, germany,
weeks after ted cruz. he placed five in the republican iowa caucuses, he got 4.5% of the vote. >> there are five days to go before the primary in new hampshire, bernie sanders plans to air more than a million dollars worth of t.v. ads this week. sanders and hillary clinton will take part in a televised town hall meeting later tonight. on the republican side, ted cruz is trying to built on his win in iowa and hold off donald trump. trump has been leading in the polls in new hampshire. president obama will visit a mosque in baltimore, the first trip of his presidency to a mosque here in the u.s. the white house says the goal is to promote religious acceptance at a time hate crimes against muslims are ricing. we are live outside the mosque in baltimore. what is the significance of this visit? >> it's the president's first
trip to a mosque on u.s. soil. he traveled to those in malaysia and the middle east, but the president is here because there is an ongoing campaign to fight unfair islamphobic resurrect on the campaign trail and elsewhere that is on the rise after the attacks in paris and son better than. continuing ramping up of rhetoric is resulting in his
visit to the mosque. last month, he again forcefully repudiated those who would unkilling in anti muslim rhetoric. he said it's unamerican and inspires and gives hope and impetus, momentum, helps the cause of isil recruiters when they can trumpet this kind of rhetoric spoken by political leaders pointing to that, saying that this is a reason why you should come and. >> isil. the president making an historic appearance, really, at this islamic society outside baltimore. >> why not earlier? president obama has visited mosques during his official trips to the middle east, so southeast asia. he has never accepted prefers invitations here in the u.s. why is he doing it now? >> well, first of all for the reasons we've talked about, the rise of anti muslim rhetoric,
the peak really of islamaphobia we've seen in recent months during high profile attacks. i fringe lay don't think you would have seen the president do this in his first term. obviously the president has been under attack from those on the right, miss guided voice that is say he is muslim. according to a poll, 29% of americans polled believe, still believe that the president isthmus limb. obviously that is not true, the president is a christian, yet he is here today to defend muslims, to encourage muslims, talk to muslim leaders. he has a round table here from muslim leaders. he will deliver about a 40 minute address to 200 attendees at this facility behind me. >> ok, mike viqueiraing baltimore, thanks, mike, al jazeera will bring you president obama's remarks at that mosque live around 1:00 p.m. eastern.
>> one mosque in wyoming i guess causing controversy with neighbors. a handful of muslims opened the center last year and face intimidation and lack of acceptance. we have the story. >> we had a new mosque open in town, there had never been one in the history of gillette and people contact me through the militia group i belong to. >> when the all white predominantly christian hometown in wyoming had its first mosque open in late 2015, he started a facebook page called stop islam in gillette. it soon attracted 400 members who shared his views that the mosque would foster islamic radicalism and incite terrorism. >> the issue with the mosque is we didn't know who was behind it, who was in it, where it came from. >> the family founded the mosque
in a converted house. they make up almost all the muslims in gillette, 30 in all in a town of 31,000. >> we wanted a place to gather and pray and for kids to get taught islamic scripture. >> the families roots are in pakistan, but the khan name in wyoming since 1906. none of that seemed to matter when protestors let by brett colvin demonstrated outside the mosque. >> they thought that this mosque was going to lead to 2,000 syrian refugees moving into gillette and the culture was going to change, people wearing burqas everywhere and we were law on gillette. gillette. screen shots of the facebook pages were shown top federal authorities. the comments suggest vandalism
and hint at violence. one user wrote: another said: >> that's the nature of the internet. a lot of people like to be keyboard warriors and talk crap on the internet that they'll never back up in real life in any fashion or form. >> i think it's just fear. san bernardino had just happened and i think people were just scared that it could happen here. >> marilu weis carter king issued a statement, neither threats for declarations of hate would be tolerated in gillette. >> do you think there's political risk to you for showing this support? >> if there is, i don't care. it's the right thing to do. >> the khan family said their mosque will remain open and are not afraid of threats. al jazeera, gillette, wyoming. be we can find later today
if bill cosby will face charges on sexual assault charges. a prosecutor said he gave cosby immunity more than a decade ago, explaining he thought cosby add inappropriately touched the victim but said he thought there was not enough credible and admissible evidence to prosecute. he viewed his decision not to prosecute as binding on his suctionors. the 78-year-old cosby is trying to get the sexual assault case dismissed. renters' rights, having little recourse when landlords refuse to provide the basics.
>> in arkansas, housing advocates say allows offer little protection for renters. landlords make you pay rent in full, even if the property is unfit to live in. many tenants are left stranded. we have the story. >> what's your biggest fear? >> why do you stay? >> i don't have no money and i don't have nowhere to go. >> on december 21, 4 days before christmas, the residents of the alexander apartment complex in little rock, arkansas received a notice that was hardly in the holiday spirit. >> i got some boxes, but what you need to see is over here.
>> 65 year old caroline ford was among the families told they had one week to vacate their homes because the complex was condemned. >> did you ever think you would be in a position like this? >> no. >> what are you going to do? >> i don't know, i really don't. >> in condemning alexander, the fire chief found conditions so bad, he called them life threatening. among the problems were widespread mold, exposed wiring and faulty plumbing. >> when you moved in here, had you heard stories about this place? >> yeah. >> but you still moved in. >> they take me. because i didn't have no money. >> her plight is not uncommon. tenant advocates have long considered arkansas as one of the worst places in the country to be a renter. if you're a low income
renter, your options are especially bleak. >> the roof fell in. >> the roof fell in! >> yes. >> was there anybody living there? >> yeah, they was actually asleep at the time. >> fernando is a resident at the apartments. >> this is unsanitary, this is my back yard. >> thises is a dead animal! >> yeah. >> the state of arkansas does not require what's called habitability for renters. that means landlords aren't required to provide the basics. working plumbing, heating, hot water, unless it's written into the lease. alexander apartments is one of at least three complexes to be condemned by the city in the last year and a half. for tenants, the negative impact laws have been well documented. >> we are not taking any media at the property. >> we tried speaking with jason bolden, a real estate attorney and the landlord who owns the
alexander apartments along with more than 60 other apartments. >> i have no comment. >> the residents in bolden have sued the city to keep the complex open. for now, the court granted them a restraining order and for some residents, it's their only hope. >> what are you going to do if apartments? >> i don't have no place else to go. >> go into a shelter? >> yeah, i don't have but the $700 they give me a month. >> al jazeera, little rock, arkansas. you can more of the reporting on america tonight at 9:30 eastern, 6:30 pacific. the clock is ticking for one locky lottery winner in california, a super plus ticket from august has not been claimed. it is worth $62 million. it was bought at a 711 in chatsworth. have a great day. ay.
>> announcer: this is al jazeera. ♪ hello, welcome to the news hour. i'm live in our headquarters in doha. coming up, three palestinians are shot and killed by israeli police after an alleged attack in occupied east jerusalem. and the survivor of a growing offensive in syria. also this hour, japan puts its armed forces on alert, and warns north korea against a