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tv   BBC World News America  PBS  February 23, 2017 2:30pm-3:01pm PST

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>> this is "bbc world news america." funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, newman's own foundation, giving all profits from newman's own to charity and pursuing the common good, kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs, and aruba tourism authority. >> planning a vacation escape that is relaxing, inviting, and exciting is a lot easier than you think. you can find it here in aruba. families, couples, and friends can all find their escape on the island with warm, sunny days, cooling trade winds, and the crystal blue caribbean sea.
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nonstop flights are available from most major airports. more information for your vacation planning is available at >> and now, "bbc world news." laura: this is "bbc world news america." reporting from washington, i am laura trevelyan. a breakthrough in the battle for mosul. we are there with iraqi troops as they retake the airport from islamic state fighters. quentin: i.s. might transform itself into something else, but here in iraq, we are witnessing the final days of the caliphate. >> national debt. laura: u.s. lawmakers get in your full from the voters. we are in iowa as a townhall becomes a forum for discontent. and where truth and fiction
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collide, a real-like kgb agent finds a story just like his in the plot of a popular tv show. welcome to our viewers on public television in america and also around the globe. it is being hailed as a major win in the battle against islamic state. after days of intense fighting iraqi forces have retaken the , airport outside the city of mosul. the massive military operation, iraq's largest in years, involving tens of thousands of troops, including british and american special forces. our correspondent quentin sommerville was there as iraqi troops fought their way in. quentin: before the attack came the airstrikes, rockets, and artillery. it is day five of the offensive to retake western mosul.
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slowly, the forces make their way past the suspected i.s. car bomb torched en route. these columns are now moving forward to mosul airport. the attack for the airport is underway. all night long, we have heard coalition aircraft and iraqi artillery slam this area just to the north of us. the onslaught cleared this village of i.s. fighters, and civilians. quentin: it is eerils the men proceed on foot. a local man tells the special forces they were up to 100 i.s. here yesterday, hidden bombs all over. so the men took to higher ground. and we followed at a safe distance.
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as the day went on, there was no letup. it is from this factory that i.s. defended the airport. their flag flew here yesterday, but no longer. in less than four hours, iraqi forces had breached the airport perimeter, but i.s. fought back. first, a huge roadside bomb, which killed an iraqi officer. despite the airstrikes, i.s. fighters were still putting up resistance. from the cover of an armored vehicle, we were able to see the battle ahead.
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gunbattle going on at the moment. quentin: it was a short battle, but there were more casualties from the front. the more they advance, the more civilians they meet. and they are in a wretched state. these people had hung on during years of islamic state rule. but in the midst of this final battle, they were overwhelmed. this man says, "they are dead in the south, all dead. my brother has already gone to the camp. he is heartbroken. six of his family were killed in
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an airstrike." this is the last open ground before west mosul. the desert and farmland made for swift progress. iraqi forces are now less than a mile away from the city. they are also in range of mortars from i.s. but it is the islamic state that is under threat. mosul airport may be in ruins, but more importantly, it is back in government hands. over there it is the iraqi flag flying over the air field again. this is a landmark moment. iraqi forces now have the islamic state group on the run. i.s. might transform into something else, but here in iraq we are witnessing the final days of the caliphate. quentin sommerville, bbc news, mosul airport.
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laura: a major milestone in the battle against islamic state. there have been angry scenes at town halls across the u.s. this week. lawmakers use their recess to meet with constituents, voters have been voicing frustrations over health care and immigration changes. rajini vaidyanathan has been to iowa, and has this report. rajini: a warm welcome on home turf for republican senator chuck grassley. senator grassley: give me one word or two words of something -- rajini: but there was frustration. most have come to voice their anger over the policies of president trump. >> gun control. >> national debt. >> immigration. >> i'm a person from a muslim country and i'm a muslim. who is going to save me here? rajini: things soon got heated. >> i asked him, not you, so shut your hole.
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the most contentious issue is health care. >> don't you dare give me a washington answer with memorized talking points. >> if it wasn't for obamacare, we would not be able to afford insurance. rajini: chris petersen uses a novel way to attract a senator's attention, heartburn medicine. >> i have a president for you -- present for you if you want it. it is called tums. you are going to need it the next few years. rajini: we met chris at his rural farm in iowa. it is not just trump supporters dissatisfied with the political class. chris voted for hillary clinton and hopes the town halls will give people like him a voice. >> people are waking up. that is the one thing i can say positively about trump. he is waking people up. we are tired of getting screwed. senator grassley: i heard someone say impeachment so i will write that down. rajini: at a later event, the pressure was still on. >> it is time to put country over party. [applause] rajini: and that is a demand being heard at town halls across america.
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es likeike this -- scen this are reminiscent of the tea party in the early days of the obama administration, where conservatives packed townhall to put pressure on your congressmen and women and senators when it came to mr. obama's policies. there were a lot of grievances in the town hall. how will you take it back to president trump? senator grassley: i won't take it back to trump. i take it back to my colleagues. i don't think you should see it as challenging trump. i think you should see it as congress doing its job and the president doing his job. rajini: for republican politicians like grassley, the job is challenging, balancing the agenda of president trump with the voters who keep him in office. laura: a brief time ago rajini joined to meet to discuss her trip and i asked her to sum up the mood of the voters. what i saw in the town halls is there really is a large number of people frustrated by the policies he is bringing in
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and some of the promises. and the sense certainly was that these were people who were disgruntled voters. yes, some of them were perhaps activists who were there for partly political reasons, but a lot of it was personal, people who had testimony about how much they relied on obamacare and how fearful they were of the potential replacement that the president has yet to announce. i think overall the sense was this is something we could see more of. people are informed on this and in many ways they are frustrated and fearful. laura: fascinating. now, president trump's reclusive chief strategist steve bannon appeared in public at the conservative political action conference, where he confirmed he has no love for the media. mr. bannon: the executive orders, the supreme court, and the way he has gone through the supreme court, and by the way, the other 102 judges we are eventually going to pick, it is methodical -- that is what the mainstream media won't report , just like they were dead wrong on the chaos of the campaign and
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dead wrong on the chaos of the transition, they are absolutely dead wrong about what is going on today because we have a team grinding it through on what president donald trump promised to the american people, and the mainstream media better understand something -- all those promises are going to be implemented. laura: steve bannon speaking earlier. he is rarely seen but his words really count, don't they? just how radical was the agenda that steve bannon laid out there? rajini: well, steve bannon said it out in three verticals, and it was fairly radical. the first bucket was national security and sovereignty. the second, economic nationalism, the need to rethink trade agreements that the u.s. is in. lastly -- these are his words -- the deconstruction of the administrative state. i think what he meant there was getting rid of regulations. we have already seen that president trump has done away with a lot of regulations, and certainly voters have been frustrated about the numbers of regulations that they sometimes have to deal with.
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so they were the three broad things. a lot of this we have heard from president trump and it is clear the influence steve bannon has on mr. trump. someone described this as a nationalist call to arms come and all about regaining sovereignty and nationalism. laura: absolutely fascinating. rajini vaidyanathan, thank you so much. you are watching "bbc world news america." still to come, how those meant to keep the peace may have done anything but. stories of suc sexual abuse and the central african republic. 83 years old, ruth bader ginsburg is the oldest supreme court justice, but when it comes to retiring, she says she is taking things year by year. she spoke to the bbc at the final dress rehearsal of "dead man walking" at the kennedy center. justice ginsburg: i'm optimistic
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long run. as a great man once said, the true symbol of the united states is not the bald eagle. it is the pendulum. and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back. some terrible things have happened in the united states. but one can only hope that we have learned from those bad things. i would say that we are not experiencing the best of times. but there is hope in seeing how the public is reacting to it. the women's march, i have never seen such a demonstration. both the numbers and the rapport of the people in the crowd. there was no violence. it was orderly.
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so, yes, we are not experiencing the best of times, but there is reason to hope that we will see a better day. what is important is that we have a free press, which many countries don't have. think of what the press has done in the united states. i live in the famous watergate. that story might never have come out if we didn't have the free press that we do. laura: a task force set up to tackle child sex abuse by u.s. peacekeepers is due to report to member states next week. after a two-year investigation, the new head of the u.n. has called for game changing solutions after a series of
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scandals. our special report contains harrowing testimony. reporter: this is the story of how international peacekeepers are accused of betraying the trust of some of the world's most vulnerable people. at night it was very cold him and him and offered my son a pill,claiming -- claiming it would warm him. it took my son five minutes to fall asleep. the soldier violated him. reporter: it is the story of children being abused, and a culture of impunity. >> in july 2014, i informed the french government about allegations of french soldiers abusing children in central african republic. nine months after that, i was asked by the u.n. leadership to resign. when i refused to resign, i was forced out.
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reporter: the scandal began in late 2013 at this refugee camp, and airport runway where french peacekeepers predicted thousands of people and their children from violence between rival militias. they and the u.n. helped to prevent genocide. but some are accused of becoming sexual predators. rape, he was crying and afraid, but the soldier reassured him and said not to mention the rape to anyone. reporter: their son was 13. they alleged the soldier then threatened to stab him if he reported the rape. >> at first our child tried to avoid us, hardly spending any time at home. when i asked why, he explained what had happened. his friends were mocking him because of the rape. now he takes drugs and will go to school or socialize with his
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brothers or sisters -- will not go to school or socialize with his brothers or sisters. reporter: the peacekeeping operation was launched by the french, but it would soon expand into a full u.n. mission. this peacekeepers from other nations were deployed, the allegations of abuse multiply. senior officials were made aware, but are accused of failing to act, apart from one brave individual. he was a senior u.n. human rights official who in mid july 2014 was shown an internal report alleging sexual abuse by peacekeepers. >> i remember i went home and i couldn't sleep during that night, because i was struggling with what is it that i can do. reporter: at the u.n. offices in geneva, he approached the country whose soldiers were the first to be accused of abuse. he leaked the report to the french, prompting them to start an official investigation.
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the u.n. was furious, claiming his actions potentially endangered children. >> i was asked to resign for having given this report, and the accusation was i've used my authority -- i have used my authority. reporter: the alleged abuse continued, years after he learned the authority -- alerted the authorities. this 14-year-old was approached by a soldier from the democratic republic of congo. the mother was ill and couldn't feed her children. >> drove my daughter to see this soldier. she was invited to eat. took hers, he virginity. rations,er money, food and took her to watch videos. reporter: the views had a life altering consequences. the girl became pregnant and was
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infected with hiv by the soldier. the abandoned her when he went home. >> there is no hope. no possibility for my children to go to school or my daughter to go to hospital. i suffer constantly thinking about my children's future. month,r: it took another in the case of this girl, then aged 12, to push the u.n. leadership into action. troops had rated the family home to arrest a close relative. >> they started to bang at the door, to shout "united nations police, get out of here!" reporter: the mother told me that the girl had become separated from the family during the raid. >> she told me there was a man who took her. she showed us the place where it happened. but we found only blood.
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reporter: what this incident and the killing of civilians prompted alarm at you and headquarters in new york after being reported by amnesty international. ban: enough isal enough. i cannot put into words how anguished and angered and ashamed i am. reporter: the head of mission was sacked. there was a clampdown on abuse. the u.n. report harshly criticized senior figures, including behead of human rights on the mission -- the head of human rights on the mission. it said he was one of the top figures whose failure to intervene exposed children to assault and that he perpetuated a culture of impunity. but what happened to him? more than a year after being condemned in the u.n.'s own report, has been promoted and is seen still working in the central african republic. the u.n. says he wouldn't comment as headquarters was
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handling the matter. it is understood he rejects the allegations. we did speak with his boss, respected u.n. veteran sent in after the scandal. why is he still in a job here? >> as an organization, the u.n. established rules and procedures, and in the case of the individual just mentioned, the process is undergoing -- ongoing, whereby it is being allowed to revert the allegations against him, and the process hasn't been completed, as far as i am aware. reporter: do you understand -- you are with the u.n. a long time -- how it looks to the people are critical of this organization when you have that situation? >> well, of course. reporter: do you? everything people say? the lack of accountability? >> absolutely i do understand. we have processes, and those processes are being applied, and it is my strong belief that at
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the end of the day, truth will prevail. reporter: peacekeepers can only be prosecuted by their own countries. well the whole contingent has since been sent home over allegations, there have only been a handful of charges. after two years of investigation, france hasn't charged any of its soldiers. >> it is terrible for the credibility and the trust of the united nations. --st of all, these are the vis-a-vis the people and the children affected, but also the people inside the united nations. this is a terrible message. reporter: u.n. u.n. says new peacekeepers face strict controls. >> even if there was only one single case left them it would be one case too many. so our goal is zero. reporter: it is a familiar u.n. promise. the hopes of the victims depend
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on it being kept. laura: the ultimate betrayal of for children allegedly abused by their protectors. full good spy thriller is of deception, plot twists, and the possibility of being uncovered. living with the fear of discovery is something one man knows well. sent to the spy states years ago, but he liked it here and state. his real life resembles fictional characters in a popular tv series. i went to meet him and the show's producers. andas born in east germany spent two decades fighting -- spying for russian intelligence in the u.s. he was one of a number of undercover agents leading complicated double lives. his mission was clear. >> i was sent to the united states to establish, first of all, establish myself as a citizen. and then make contact at the highest possible levels of
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decision-makers, particularly political decision-makers. i was absolutely an enthusiast communist. however, what eventually softened my attitude towards the west was the people. the defense was that the enemy was not really evil. laura: comfortable in america, jack resigned from the kgb. he lived quietly with his family until the fbi caught up with him in 1997. >> i'm a pretty quick thinker and i know the gig was up. my face went white as snow. that was one of the more scary moments, and the period thereafter was pretty scary because i was worried not so much about me. i was worried about the children. laura: before his real-life kgb story became public, it was -- there was already a tv drama called "the americans," about a suburban married couple living undercover as russian spies. once the writers heard about
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jack, who was allowed to stay in the u.s., they knew they had to meet him. >> here we are writing our fictional version as true as we can, and suddenly we see someone who lived it who is here. it was more than a vindication. there was just a connection there. >> did you see any surveillance? laura: four joel fields' himself, joe weisberg, a former cia agent, there was a closer connection to the spine. >> i have a history of lying to everyone i knew about what i did, and a lot of years like jack, coming out from that and going through those experiences, and that is a very strange thing. most people don't experience that. laura: as to what could be happening in present-day america, might there be russian spies living undercover amongst us, unbeknownst to the fbi? the former kgb agent thinks it is possible, and he should know.
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truth really can be stranger than fiction. that brings today's broadcast to a close, but you can find all the day's news at our website. from all of us here, thanks for watching. see you tomorrow. >> make sense of international news at >> funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, newman's own foundation, giving all profits from newman's own to charity and pursuing the common good, kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs, and aruba tourism authority. >> planning a vacation escape that is relaxing, inviting, and exciting is a lot easier than you think. you can find it here in aruba. families, couples, and friends can all find their escape on the
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island with warm, sunny days, cooling trade winds, and the crystal blue caribbean sea. nonstop flights are available from most major airports. more information for your vacation planning is available at >> "bbc world news" was presented by kcet, los angeles.
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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> sreenivasan: and i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: on the newshour tonight, conservatives gather for an annual conference as they shape a trump-era agenda with a republican-controlled congress. >> sreenivasan: also ahead this thursday, as top u.s. officials meet with their mexican counterparts, we talk with an influential congressional leader to discuss new immigration plan. >> woodruff: and, jeffrey brown sits down with the makers of the oscar-nominated documentary, "white helmets," about the heroes of the syrian conflict. >> this group of everyday syrian civilians who had decided not to pick up a gun, had decided not to leave syria, and instead had decided to stay. >> sreenivasan: all that and


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