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tv   BBC News  BBC News  August 12, 2021 4:00am-4:31am BST

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this is bbc news. i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories. afghanistan in crisis — us officials say the taliban could be in the capital, kabul within weeks, as thousands flee the advancing militants. our reporter interviews some of the militants as the bbc�*s granted rare access to newly taken taliban territory. we came through here a little earlier this year. back then, it was still under government control. now, it's one of around 200 district centres taken by the taliban. greece's wildfires force the evacuation of 20 more villages — we speak to british firefighters helping battle the blazes. and we catch up with the teens bringing skateboarding to the olympics and the streets of japan. even our reporter goes for a spin!
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welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe. events in afghanistan are unfolding at a rapid pace. as the taliban captured a ninth key city, the afghan president fired his army chief. the government is still in control of the most important urban centres, but their hold in many areas is fragile. us officials say the taliban could reach the capital, kabul, in weeks. from there, our correspondent yogita limaye reports. desperation on a scale not seen in decades. thousands have arrived in kabul in the past few days. people who had homes and jobs,
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who led dignified lives, forced to leave everything behind. angry that they have been left on their own — no government, no humanitarian agencies. this woman's sons are in the army. she says only the poor go to the battlefield, while politicians watch. we have seen this camp grow by the hour. people have been coming in from different parts of the country, as more and more provincial capitals, more and more cities are being taken over by the taliban. many of those we have met here have run once, twice, multiple times, and now they have come here to afg hanistan�*s capital, kabul. from here, they say,
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there's nowhere else to go. to get here, they've survived dangerous journeys, past taliban checkpoints and active front lines. this woman says they moved from one place to another for three days before they got to kabul. she has four children — the youngest is two. many have seen their loved ones being killed. they've had to leave their dead behind to save their own lives. this man's parents died in the violence.
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many here have fled from kunduz in north afghanistan, which fell to the taliban on sunday. today, in kabul, we bumped into these men, who we'd met four weeks ago in kunduz. then, the city was a refuge for tens of thousands of people who had fled fighting in villages. now, we learned that in recent days, mortar shells landed in these camps. we don't know what happened to the people we'd met there. most of the north of the country has been taken
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over by the taliban now. those who have escaped to kabul are staring at uncertainty. fears that the capital, too, could fall within weeks. yogita limaye, bbc news, kabul. now i want to bring you this extraordinary report filmed by our team in newly captured taliban territory. correspondent secunder kermani and camera operator fred scott were given rare access. a warning — you may find some of the images upsetting. new territory. new weapons. all captured in this unprecedented taliban advance. caught in the middle, afghan families right across the country. how can you justify all this fighting when it is causing the deaths of thousands of ordinary afghans, thousands of ordinary muslims?
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you are the ones who started the fighting here, though. shortly after the interview ends, the sound of helicopters. the taliban are still vulnerable to government air strikes. this is balkh, a town with ancient roots, thought to be the birthplace of one of islam's best known mystic poets, rumi. now, it is under taliban control. we came through here a little earlier this year. back then, it was still under government control. now it is one of around 200 district centres taken by the taliban. schools are open here,
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though in other taliban areas, girls are reportedly prevented from attending. the market is still busy. women have apparently been allowed to come here without male companions if they need to. but elsewhere, taliban commanders have reportedly banned them. this is a local taliban leader. despite what i have been told, he insists they have not made the burqa compulsory. you have said that women have to wear the burqa, the chadar. that is right, isn't it? what happens if someone doesn't want to wear it?
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i heard that members of the taliban here caught one man listening to music and to punish him, made him walk for two kilometres without any shoes until he fainted as punishment. the next day, a young woman was killed close by, allegedly for wearing immodest clothing. the taliban denied involvement. they seem to want to play down their more hardline views internationally, but at times are in tune with some conservative afghans. many here praise improved security. accompanied by taliban fighters at all times, it is hard to know what residents really think. having already captured many rural areas and some border crossings, the taliban are now pushing in on afghan cities. half an hour's drive away, in mazar—i—sharif, the government are still in control.
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there is a greater sense of personal freedom here but it's hard to imagine the taliban accepting. many fear the taliban want to resurrect their practice of brutal punishments. they insist they were not responsible for this flogging, supposedly filmed last year, but they did recently hang two child kidnappers in public. 0n the steps of the government's old court house in balkh, the taliban's legal system was in force. for many, the taliban's brutal form ofjustice is what scares them the most about the group, but for others, they at least offer a swifter resolution than the notoriously corrupt government courts. thejudge here says he has never ordered serious corporal punishment and that there is a system of appeal courts, but he defends stoning adulterers and cutting the hands of thieves. many people here in afghanistan and around the world would be horrified.
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the taliban are capturing new territory on an almost daily basis. they are still facing fierce resistance but they vow to install what they term an islamic government. if that does not come through the stalled peace process, they say, it will come through more violence. secunder kermani, bbc news, balkh. for nine days thousands of firefighters have been tackling wildfires across greece — as the blazes scorched hundreds of thousands of hectares, causing widespread destruction. the flames have been fanned by the country's most severe
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heatwave in decades. in the southern peloponnese region fires overnight forced many villages to evacuate. crews from britain, france and the czech republic, have joined the efforts to help. 0ur europe correspondent bethany bell reports. cutting away anything that can burn. these british firefighters have come to greece to help stop the catastrophic wildfires. as you can see behind us, trying to open this road and help with the fallen tree, just to get access to the community and the houses up here. olive groves have gone up in flames. what matters now is to stop new blazes from spreading, so the team is making fire breaks between the burnt areas and the trees which survived. the fire swept through here last night and some of the trees are still smouldering. the team is trying to draw a line in the sand between the green and the black,
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to prevent any more flare—ups. it's hard work and it's punishingly hot. we lend the team our drone to give them an idea of the lay of the land. the extent of the destruction is huge. 27 years in the fire service, i've never seen scale like this. i've seen flooding on this scale in europe but not... not wild land fires. so it's immense, the land is burned right across. another fire sparks in the undergrowth. the team's greek liaison officer rushes to put it out. a firefighting helicopter carrying water flies past the house where yorgos and stella live. their family has lost 700 olive trees. translation: others | have lost more than us. my main worry is about the environment. the trees that have been burned
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are more than 50 years old. the situation is volatile. when we drove down this road this morning, there was no smoke. now there's fire. with the wind rising, there are fears this will be a long and difficult night. bethany bell, bbc news, in the peloponnese. stay with us on bbc news, still to come... a british man working at the embassy in berlin is arrested on suspicion of spying for russia. the big crowds became bigger as the time of the funeral approached. as the lines of fans became longer, the police prepared for a huge job of crowd control. idi amin, uganda's brutal former dictator, has
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died at the age of 80. he's being buried in saudi arabia, where he lived in exile since being overthrown in 1979. two billion people around the world have seen the last total eclipse of the sun to take place in this millennium. it began itsjourney off the coast of canada, ending three hours later when the sun set over the bay of bengal. this is bbc world news, the latest headlines... the afghan army chief is sacked as taliban fighters take more and more territory. it's thought they've now taken over nine provincial capitals.
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greece's wildfires rage on with residents of 20 more villages forced to flee the flames. a british man has been arrested in germany, suspected of spying for russia. the man — said to have been paid by the russians — worked for the british embassy in berlin. the german foreign minister said it was absolutely unacceptable for an intelligence service to have chosen to recruit a person working for a close ally. the man is said to have forwarded documents to a russian intelligence agent on at least one occasion. earlier i spoke to tracy walder who is an ex—cia operative and fbi special agent specially trained in counter—intelligence. i asked if she could give us a sense of the type of person who's been accused of spying. from what i have been able to glean, he was a security guard, a check point guard. to some people i know that may seem, why don't we get the head of the embassy as a human
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asset, but sometimes it's really about access, not who is in charge. if you think about how we caught 0sama bin laden, it was through his career, not his deputy. it was through his courier, not his deputy. the things he could have provided to the russian intelligence services, it is really remarkable, he could have given them security codes to get into the embassy, he could have given them floor plans, security protocol. all of those things could help you penetrate any kind of facility. how do you think russia will be viewing this? 0n the one hand, it shows it is flexing its muscles, but on the other hand they have been caught potentially? i definitely get what you are saying. we have had a lot of this going on, with the russians getting caught. really the russian plan has
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been to deny, deny, deny. this would be a bit more difficult, because it is very clear that the british and the germans have been working together on this since november. so they have had information that this individual was actively recruited, which will be much more difficult for them to deny. interesting — what about the other way around? we have famous recent examples as you have highlighted, but are britain and the us up to the same thing? really i can't confirm or deny that, but it is in all of our best interests, quite frankly, to realise every country around the world is trying to get intelligence, and sometimes it's not necessarily for nefarious purposes, sometimes it is to protect themselves and their assets.
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yes, most likely other countries are up to something very similar. the polish parliament has approved a law that opponents say will strengthen the right—wing government's grip on the media, as it restricts non—european ownership. one of the tv channels most critical of ministers is owned by the american conglomerate, discovery. a spokesperson for the us state department said it was closely watching developments. ramzan karmali has this report. the applause from the government benches in the lower house of parliament. they're reacting to the vote which saw them narrowly pass a new media bill. the government say this new law will prevent firms from china and russia controlling polish media outlets, but opponents say it is an attempt to silence a tv channel critical of the government. translation: this is | an unconstitutional law, designed to gag free media, inconsistent with international treaties.
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today it concerns one of the tv stations — we all know which one it is about. but it affects the security of poland, because no normal investor will want to invest in a country where, in one evening, a law can be passed de facto, ejecting capital from an allied country. the tv station in question is tvn — the us company discovery owns it through a subsidiary based in the netherlands. it's one of the biggest american investments in poland. discovery condemned the new bill, calling it an attack on core democratic principles of freedom of speech. the eu has expressed concern over media freedom in poland. the fear now is that this new law could sour relations with the us, a close military ally. we know that a free independent media makes our democracy stronger. it makes transatlantic alliances more resilient, including to those who would seek to divide the
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alliance and divide us. 0utside parliament in the capital warsaw, crowds began to gather, and rallies were held across the country. the bill will now pass to the opposition—controlled senate, which may make amendments or reject the bill, however the lower house of parliament can overturn any changes and finally approve the bill. now, how much would you pay to shake the hand of your favourite celebrity? well, some fans of hollywood actor mel gibson will be paying around £1,000 — which is over $1,400 — when he visits the uk. gibson, who is believed to be worth around £300 million, will appear in an exclusive on—stage event where fans can hear untold stories from his career. the handshake is part of a meet and greet that includes a photo with the star. but some are shocked by the going rate. well, i've been speaking to social psychologist adam galinsky from columbia business school. he told me what compelled fans
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to spend so much money on these experiences. i think there is a number of different things that build into it. first we have evolved as social beings and we want to know about people in our community, and celebrities are essentially an extension of our community. second, there are two fundamental needs that humans have, the need to belong and connect to others, and the need for status. those two come together when we can connect with high status individuals. their status rubs off on us. it is like a elevator to us. i would have thought the other way of looking at it is you are automatically going in as lower status, paying for them, but you are saying some of the highest status of the celebrity rubs off on the attendees, on the fans.
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what about this idea that actually if that celebrity is high status, is there something morally questionable about charging this amount of money? i think it's complicated. these celebrity interactions, mel gibson's handshake, but also the cameos where people hire celebrities to record videos and special messages on both days. messages on birthdays. i would say they are parasitic, because they tap into the need for belonging and status, but the people receiving them are getting something of discernible value. i mentioned earlier, they are lower status relative to celebrities, but by touching the celebrity either physically or by receiving a video from them, they can share that with their friends, and now their status is elevated in the eyes of their friends by having come into contact with that celebrity. they are lower status in the interaction but they carry the status away with them and it elevates them
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in their social community. really interesting. and to be fair to mel gibson, you also get dinner and other things thrown in as well as the handshake that cost. very briefly, why actors, do you think? why do people get so attached to actors in particular? i think because we see them express real emotion on the screen. we can see them going through a social experience, it's like we know about their lives. actors we not only see on screen but we follow them off screen, so we feel we are embedded in their social community. finally, skateboarding has become very popular injapan after its teenage athletes achieved a sweeping victory at tokyo 2020. 0ur reporter mariko 0i caught up with one of the gold medallists. .. and tried the sport for herself for the first time.
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bye— bye! a reminder of our top story.... the head of the afghan army has been sacked following a rapid offensive by the taliban — who've taken over nine provincial capitals. tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes — and hundreds have died in recent weeks. you can reach me on twitter —
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i'm @lvaughanjones. this is bbc news. hello. we provisionally saw a new temperature record in europe on wednesday — 48.8 celsius recorded in sicily. the exceptional heat shown by the red colours here in this chart transfer a bit westwards across the med into the weekend, with record—breaking heat for spain and portugal. cast your eyes further north, though, across the uk, the blues appearing back on the charts. temperatures dropping below normal once again — so a cooler end to the week across the uk, and it will be blustery at times, mainly because of this area of low pressure — out to the west at the moment, but it will track across the north. through the night and into the morning, though, this weather front will bring some cloud and patchy rain into southern areas, keeping temperatures up in the mid—teens for some. but a much fresher start across many parts in the uk, but a sunny start for the vast majority. and for many, we'll see some good, sunny spells throughout the day, but cloud amounts will increase at times in the south, spreading
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into wales, the midlands, and through the day, northern ireland, western scotland seeing batches of showers pushing in, some of those becoming heavy and thundery. only the odd one reaching eastern scotland and northern parts of england, as well as the isle of man. temperatures here in the teens into maybe the low mid—20s again across the south and east. but it will be a windy end to the day across parts of scotland, northern ireland, winds close to gale force across these coastal districts. further heavy, thundery showers rattling in notjust through the evening, but overnight, as well. head further south, most places will be dry, some clear skies around, and a slightly fresher night across some southern areas compared to what we'll have to start thursday morning. so, into friday we go, temperatures widely still in double figures, so not desperately cold. but it's another story of sunshine and blustery showers across scotland and northern ireland. a bit windierfor england and wales on friday, too, and we will still see the chance of some lingering cloud, especially towards southern counties of england, bringing the odd spot of light rain. but temperatures dropping relative to what we've seen on thursday — even in the south, low 20s, but still pleasant enough where
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you've got the sunshine out. then, as we go into the weekend, our area of low pressure pushes eastwards, allowing the cold air in, and just a chance we could see some other weather systems working their way in from the west, bringing outbreaks of rain at times. this is how we see saturday at the moment — just be aware, though, it is liable to change, maybe a brighter day for scotland and northern ireland, less breezy but rather cool with sunny spells. but a bit more cloud across england and wales, and it's the north and west where we could see some rain at times brightening up again towards the south and the east. bye for now.
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this is bbc news, the headlines...
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the head of the afghan army has been sacked following a rapid offensive by the taliban who've taken over nine provincial capitals. tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes — and hundreds have died in recent weeks. in greece, residents have fled 20 more villages as wildfires continue amid a heatwave across the mediterranean. dozens have died in algeria and italy may have registered europe's hottest ever temperature — 48.8 degrees celsius. a british man working at the uk's embassy in berlin has appeared in court accused of spying for russia. prosecutors say the man, who's been identified only as david s, passed on documents to russian intelligence in exchange for cash. it followed a joint investigation by german and british authorities. now on bbc news, it's hardtalk
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with stephen sackur.


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