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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 21, 2016 1:00am-1:31am EDT

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obama becomes the first serving u.s. president to visit cuba in almost 90 years. you're watching al jazeera live from doha. coming up in the next half hour. >> hold your horses syria is accused of stalling the geneva talks. now the opposition is calling on russia to put pressure on the bashar al-assad government. the u.s. steps up air strikes against i.s.i.l. in iraq as the pentagon deploys more troops on
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the ground. greece says it needs more help before it can send refugees back to turkey under a new e.u. deal. after half a century of hostility between the u.s. and cuba, president obama is trying a different approach. he has become the first u.s. president to visit cuba in nearly 90 years. >> reporter: with this single step obama is hoping to change the course of history. the first sitting president in 88 years to step foot on cuban soil >> i'm glad you have brought your families here because i always like pictures with kids. that's the future that we hope for. young american children, young cuban children. by the time they're adults, our
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hope is that they think it's natural that a u.s. president should be visiting cuba. they think it's natural that the two peoples are working together. >> reporter: that wasn't the case here for more than five decades as his predecessor hopped to topple the castro government. president obama hoping engagement might work better, so he has made it possible for americans to do what he and his family did, become tourists. he has also changed the rules so that some american businesses can operate here, running flights, moving cargo, selling communications equipment, but he can't lift the embargo without congress, and his secretary tells al jazeera that won't happen unless cuba take some big steps fist >> first of all, if you can't here, you can't hire what you want. you have to go through state-run hiring organizations. there's a dual currency which is a challenge. there's a 10% charge if you want to use dollars.
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>> reporter: despite the focus of the international media, the cuban police arrested the ladies in white after their weekly protest, just hours before the president arrived. >> translation: this isn't the moment for the u.s. government to come to cuba. cuba hasn't changed. nothing has changed about human rights. >> reporter: the president is under pressure back home to show that he is going to pressure the government over its human rights record. during his visit he will meet with dissidents and he will speak directly to the cuban people. he is walking a fine line because he needs a government to speed up the reforms. he knows he needs momentum because if not the next president could simply pull the plug. >> reporter: that is something the cuban people seem well aware of >> nobody knows what will happen, but we think cuba and the u.s., you know, will be open. >> reporter: the president hoping this visit will help ensure that eventually for these children seeing a u.s. president will be an event but not a
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moment like this, when the history will remember cuba has been led by two brothers since the 1959 revolution. first fide l castro and now raoul. our correspondent compares the two leaders. >> reporter: raoul could be no different than his brother he replaced. they fought to overthrow the dictatorship, but it was fidel who set the future course. punctuated by anti american speeches. so long they broke the guinness book of records. >> he had a mission and he didn't want anything to offend that ambition. he placed a lot of importance in the reasoning.
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>> reporter: for nearly 50 years his older brother was the unchallenged supreme leader of the cuban revolution. fidel castro focused on the creation of the so-called new man and blamed the u.s. for cuba's shortcomings. when poor health forced him to step down, most assumed that his brother would follow in his footsteps. >> reporter: to almost everyone's surprise, if eight years he has introduced a series of long-awaited reforms, for allowing cubans to open up small businesses to loosen travel abroad >> translation: he has been more liberal. there has been more democracy. a lot of reforms. we have to open up >> reporter: he is above all a practising matist. - pragmatist >> he thinks that the rev
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pollution must be safe for the life of the people. >> reporter: he is, in fact, pragmatic enough to put ideology and years of mistrust aside in order to reconcile with the revolution's arch enemy, but raoul is committed to maintaining cuba as a one-party communist state >> translation: we have never suggested the u.s. changes political system, we demand respect for ours. >> reporter: he is due to step down in two years, and with the clock ticking on the castro era, he seems set to follow vietnam example, make peace with the u.s., open up the economy and maintain the grip on political power u.s. coalition air strikes against i.s.i.l. have killed at least 25 people in northern iraq.
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70 others were wounded when the strike hit mosul university and shops nearby. on sunday the u.s. military confirmed it had carried out 16 air strikes on i.s.i.l. targets over the weekend. the pentagon has also said that it will be deploying an attachment of marines on the ground in iraq to support coalition forces in the fight against i.s.i.l. more from washington dc. >> reporter: the 26th marine expeditionary unit is a combination ground-air combat unit that will be supporting operations in iraq in the international coalition's fight against i.s.i.l. we're followed by pentagon officials that this unit is the same unit that suffered losses on friday when i.s.i.l. forces hurled rockets into the base killing one marine and injuring others, a deployment was planned but pushed up in response to that attack, and we're told this is a group that will continue to
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provide security for officials at this space. officials you may recall are supporting iraqis in the ground offensives in the fight against i.s.i.l. and providing supervisory and support roles. of course, the u.s. taking part in an air campaign against i.s.i.l. again, this is partly, it seems, in reaction to the attack that happened on friday myanmar's first civilian president in more than 50 years has addressed parliament for the first time. htin kyaw outlined his proposal for the new government. he is a close ally of aung san suu kyi whose n.l.d. party swept to history in historic elections last year. live to wayne hay who is joining us in neighboring thailand. what can you tell us about the new president of myanmar? >> reporter: well, very little outside of yanggong.
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little was known about him when he was elected to become the president. he is a 69-year-old man, a long time member of n.l.d. he is not a member of parliament, but he is close to the party leader aung san suu kyi. they have known each other since they went to school together. he is believed to be very close in terms of loyalty, a trust p confidente after aung san suu kyi. that was very important criteria for aung san suu kyi to be able to pick someone to be the president that she could trust and clearly she needed that. she cannot be the president under the existing constitution, something she tried very hard to change, tried to negotiate with the military since november's election to set aside that section of the constitution. clearly those talks failed, so she had to go back to plan b, which was getting someone that she could trust to take up the position of president this is his first address to parliament. what did he have to say?
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>> it was really all centred around explaining the decision to the members of parliament to reduce the number of ministries, government ministries from 36 down to 21. so it's a very big reduction, a rationalization of some ministries. some have been combined into one, but it's a move that tin htin kyaw says will say the government millions over the next five years. so they will control all of those ministries. remember there are three key ministries, home affairs, border affairs and the ministry of defense. they will remain under the control of the millitary. so this government will have no power over those ministries whatever. it is proof that the military will remain very powerful going forward. it was a very brief speech by htin kyaw. mps voted on the proposal to reduce the number of ministries
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and they voted in favor of that decision. a positive start, i guess you could say, for the new president thank you for that. australia's prime minister has threatened to take the country to an early election. mall couple turnbull-- malcolm turnbull said in the labor moves are not moved, he will force ln election people in senegal have voted in a referendum on sweeping constitutional changes. turn out was low for the reforms which include cutting the presidential term from seven years to five. the president has campaigned for a yes vote. our correspondent has been following that referendum. >> reporter: where outside one of the voting stations. the counting is continuing and some of the results are come out. we won't have an fish tally
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until monday morning. this has been a fairly peaceful election, but with a low turn out. only 10 to 15% of the electorate came out to vote by sunday mid dae. the reason being, perhaps, is that people were confused. this wasn't just about the reduction of the presidential term from seven to five years. there were 15 other clauses, giving more power to the national assembly and the opposition, local government, et cetera, et cetera. people here were confused on what they were voting "yes" or "no" about. what's for sure, this is the first time that a head of state is actually calling for a referendum, telling people that he wants to reduce the term in office, and no matter what the outcome, this is a historic day still to come, a media blackout is just one of several controversies in congo's presidential election. announcer: animals are the
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latest black aid of the gaza strip. strip.
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welcome back. these are the top stories on al jazeera. obama has arrived in cuba. the first sitting u.s. president to visit in nearly 90 years. he is due to meet the cuban president on monday. the u.s. and its allies have sit several i.s.i.l. target in iraq. the pentagon has confirmed it will deploy an attachment of marines to the country to help coalition forces in the fight against i.s.i.l. myanmar's first civilian president in more than 50 years
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has addressed parliament for the first time. htin kyaw is a close ally of aung san suu kyi whose n.l.d. party swept to victory in last year's election. colombia's second largest rebel group has freed a soldier held hostage for more than six weeks. the release by eln meets a key government condition to start peace talks. the syrian opposition is calling on russia to put pressure on bashar al-assad's government to take the geneva talks seriously. the hc m says the government is not facing up. >> translation: we're talking for russian to approach these talks seriously. they're still refusing discussion on the fate of bashar al-assad's presidency. the regime asked to postpone the second round for two weeks but we insist on having them in due
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time. the regime is trying to avoid fulfilling all its duties more from our correspondent in geneva. >> reporter: in the spotlight and under pressure at the geneva talks, the chief negotiator for the syrian government. while the opposition is presented by political figures, the bashar al-assad regime interests is in the hand of the ambassador. he is known for his loyalty to his boss epz in damascus. he is prepared to defend his country's case even when countered by clear facts to the contrary. these images in madaya he said were fabricated >> the best way to torpedo the talks to take place is by raising a humanitarian issue,
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defaming the syrian government, dem dem demonising the government and bringing us again to the security council as a guilty government to defend ourselves. >> reporter: but many observers believe that both sides are in geneva, it is he who is doing his best to torpedo these talks. it is a role that he played before. last time in the negotiations the ambassador argued constantly about the order of the agenda items. the u.n. mediator then offered his own compromised agenda and made it very clear which side rejected it. >> unfortunately, the government have refused, which raises the suspicion of the opposition. >> reporter: as ever, back then the ambassador used his favorite tactic: stern defiance >> reporter: why do you not accept miss order for the
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discussions? >> hold your horses. we said that we we cannot move from item 1 to the next and the next without fully considering this item and concluding by a common vision >> reporter: two years on, observers believe he is trying to use exactly the same play book. one western diplomat told me he should be called ambassador filibuster. >> reporter: this time it looks like he could be thwarted. staffan de mistura has said he is not prepared to accept endless delay. with the start of the mugs military pull-out, ambassador must know he is no longer guaranteed unwavering support from moscow greece says it needs more time before it can start returning refugees to turkey. hundreds of security and legal experts are expected to arrive in greece to help implement
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deals struck between the e.u. and turkey. in the meantime refugees continue to arrive. >> reporter: this was supposed to have stopped, but the boats keep coming in. europe's refugee crisis is far from over. the latest rivals are refugees from syria-- arrivals are refugees from syria, most of them from aleppo. they're still making the dangerous journey across the seas. people who manage to reach europe shores are still hopeful they won't be turned back. >> translation: i don't think they will reject us because we're coming from a destroyed city. we are asking for asylum on humanitarianian grounds, not only as a warring country but the situation in turkey is bad for us. >> reporter: these people want to make their way to mainland europe, some in search of a better life. others to be reunited with their
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family members who made the journey before them >> translation: the situation is very bad in aleppo. we endured four years of war. i don't want to be sent back to turkey because my father and two sisters are in germany and i miss them. >> reporter: tighter restrictions imposed by some european countries and the closure of the balkan route means these people will be stuck here. greece is no longer a transit country and there are new rules in place. >> reporter: according to the new agreement between the european union and turkey, these new arrivals could be sent back to turkey. they will be given the chance to apply for asylum, but there are no guarantees it will be accepted. human rights groups have criticized the deal that could see 70,000 refugees from turkey be settled. they fear that those who do arrive from europe require protection >> it is 10r 11 kilometers from
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greece to turkey. this now, they told me we are six hours inside the water, we lost, and the smuggler go back to turkey. so i don't think they will be a need to back to turkey. >> reporter: six year old and her brother are not aware of the new rules and the restrictions. all they know is that they managed to escape war and are hopeful that their lives will become better. she tells us that she was scared while crossing the sea. but she also knows why her family to do it. the situation is bad in aleppo because of the bombardment, she says. the agreement to send back new arrivals on the islands entered force on sunday. the e.u. has promised greece to deal with all of the asylum cases. that may not be the hard part.
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these people say they won't accept any move to take a step back a football match between two of turkey's biggest teams has been cancelled over security concerns. the derby had been schedule for sunday evening, but it was called off after the offers of the governor said it had received intelligence about a potential threat mourners have paid their respects to victims in southern russia. people paid tribute to the 62 passengers and crew. the bowing 737800 missed the runway while trying top land during bad weather. the two flight recorders have been sent to moscow for further examination. flydubai chief executive said they're well on wait to finding out what happened. >> we now have our own specialist to train and care to
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be on the ground. you must not be drawn into speculations. we would ask that the investigating shorts are given the time, space, the need to report definitely on the case of what happened in the accident voting is underway for the second and final phase of elections for the tibetan government in exile. people are casting their votes in india where the government is based. more than 80,000 tibetans from across the world are expected to vote. the results are expected later on monday. the leader fled to india in 1959 following a failed rebellion against the chinese rule. the government in ex-ilwas set up subsequently to administer
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their activities. votes are being counted in the senegal voting. -- voting in congo. many >> reporter: sunday's election in congo began with a few problems. some of these people can't find their names on the voters' roll. the police tried to calm them down. eventually voting starts. it it seems to me people in the capital are determined to have their decide. there were other problems. this man says his name appears twice on the voters' roll with different dates of birth with a different address. >> translation: there are dead people on there and my name appears on the list twice. what is going on? >> reporter: the president held a referendum last year to change the constitution so he could stay in power. he has led the oil rich nation
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for 31st past 36 years. >> i think the process is going well. throughout the country there are no reports of problems. everyone is working through it. the process is democratic. it will move the country forward >> reporter: the government has ordered all mobile phones be blocked and to cut communications on sunday and monday. people can't access the internet, make phone calls or send snses. they are not allowed to drive and have to walk to polling stations. they're worried about electoral fraud >> it is very political here. they know very well the functioning of the politics in our country. i think we are not going to accept the result of which is not correct. >> reporter: the whole, voting was relatively peaceful. the african union said observers, but the european
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union refused saying it is not transparent. this is an opposition strong hold and people are lining up to vote. opposition leaders say they want the selection to go into a second round. they stay if that that happens, they could unite behind one candidate. the electoral commission says it will announce results in a few days. opposition leaders say if the president wins, they won't accept it meanwhile benine's p.m. has been elected. the president is stepping down after two five-year terms zoos in the gaza strip are struggling to keep their animals alive. around 20 animals have died since 2014 because of restrictions on food and water. >> reporter: this tiger is about
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to be fed for the first time in four days. any longer without food and he could die. he is one of the few animals still alive in the zoo. >> translation: in the beginning it was a successful one because many children and families visited our zoo and the income was good, but during the 2014 israel war, we couldn't reach the zoo to take care of it. most animals died from hunger and lack of medical care. 200 animals have died in the last two years. restrictions on power and water in gaza are getting worse. so people struggle to look after themselves, let alone animals. this displace is an attempt to prefb some of the dead animals, a kind of educational exhibit. there are other zoos in fa glaz a. one wants the tiger. >> translation: we contacted the zoo to buy the tie anger--
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tiger he will attract visitors. they can't look after him like us. we can provide more care and food to him. otherwise he will die. >> reporter: few people can afford to pay for tickets. there are occasionally school trips, but the zoo keepers family are the only visits at the moment. even if the animals are away, they wrote still be in zoos with severely limited resources. some animals groups visit gaza. >> we must have a good solution for these animals and make a place, a safety place for these animals in glaz astrip if we can, but if we are plot have this, these animals must live in gaza to another place out of gaza strip. >> reporter: the zoo keepers say they want what's best for the
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animals and are ready to cooperate cooperate international animal groups if care is provided. until then, animals like this great beasts will have to wait days until he gets another meal more news and analysis on our website at in 2015 alone more than 80 firefighters killed themselves. but the numbers could be higher because most fire departments to not track suicides. it is a subject that's rarely talked about in the fire service. >> the average person can't