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tv   BBC World News America  PBS  August 31, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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♪ ♪ narrator: funding for this presentation of this program is provided by... woman: architect. bee keeper. mentor. a raymond james financial advisor tailors advice to help you live your life. life well planned. narrator: funding was also provided by, the freeman foundation. by judy and peter blum kovler foundation; pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs.
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and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. announcer: and now, "bbc world news". laura: i'm laun washington and this is bbc world news america. president biden forcefully defends the u.s. exit from afghanistan, saying he has ended america's forever war. >> we succeeded in what we set out to do in afghanistan, anwe stayed for another decade. it was time to end this war. laura: american uniforms and weapons but taliban fighters. the spoils of a war that was america's longest military mission. >> it has ended in the worst of ways and it will live long in memory in afghanistan, in
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america, and far beyond. laura: expelled from russia, how a moscow correspondent files her final report after being labeled a threat to national security. ♪ laura: welcome to world news america on pbs and around the globe. president biden has defended the u.s. exit from afghanistan, telling americans he was not going to extend the forever war. his speech at the white house came hours after taliban soldiers prorated for the cameras in american uniforms carrying american guns. we will have more on that in a moment. our chief international correspondent and cameraman report from kabul on the day after the american exit. >> american uniforms, american guns, but these are taliban
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special forces. this unit is in charge at kabul airport. >> our message to the americans is, they should not have any plans to attack muslims again. our message to afghans is, we will protect them. >> surreal to enter what was a u.s. hub. whiteboards from a moment in time days before kabul fell, when u.s. soldiers plotted an orderly pullout. this is what they left behind, hangers full of helicopters, even blackhawks. all disabled, destroyed so the taliban can't use them. the best of american military hardware, the best of its generals, were part of its longest war and now it has ended in the worst of ways. it will live long in memory here
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in afghanistan, america, and far beyond. today, an airfield flooded with fighrs. their first task, repairing the runways so commercial airlines can fly again. >> as you can see, these infidels destroyed the entire airport. they haven't left any machinery in good repair. we had a team ready to fix this mess ever since we came to kabul . now that the americans have left, we are ready to clean it up. >> all flights havstopped, but afghans still keep trying to get in to find a way out of this country. taliban guards turn them away. the last u.s. military flight lifted off last night after days of chaos and casualties. the skies exploded with taliban celebration when the last u.s.
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soldier was on his way home. today, when we drive through the streets of kabul, the city seems much the same. until we get to the banks. to the cues stretching down the street. most banks are shut. most don't have any money. some people have stood here for days, wondering if they can withstand this for long. >> i should build the future. i should study. if the situations are like that, you should stay for one week to take $100 for one week. it is not possible to live here. >> a country turned upside down and inside out. an old order ripped away, a new one suddenly started, in chaos and uncertainty. laura:ur correspondent is also
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in afghanistan and he has been talking about how the taliban can make the transition from insurgents to an actual government. >>y have experienced being in power before, but in the 1990's, only a handful of countries recognized the regime. many have terrible memories of the brutal interpretation of sharia law and sweeping restrictions preventing women from getting an education and working. they have implemented kind of shadow system of rule in rural areas they have taken control of , overseeing schoo and hospitals but keeping the staff that were employed and paid by the government. they are in control of the whole country and it will be their biggest challenge, particularly what to do in big cities like kabul with young, more educated and socially liberal populations. how can they persuade those afghans they can represent them while at the same time not alienating hardliners within
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their ranks? many think this is why the taliban have always been deliberately vague about their vision for the future, so as not to cause a fracturing within their own forces. now that the final international troops have been withdrawn, we are expecting to hear the taliban announcing a new government in the coming days. the elusive leader has been holding discussions in a southern city. afghans will be hoping at the very least to put an end to this period of deep uncertainty. laura: in the u.s., president biden forcefully defended his decision to go through with the exit from afghanistan that president p agreed on with the taliban. the cost of the war is hard to measure but figures put the measure in perspective. america is thought to have spent northern tooth trillion dollars -- more than $2 trilln in afghanistan. more than 2400 u.s. service
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members died in the line of duty. that is dwarfed b more than 116 thousand afghan civilians, police and troops killed in the conflict. washington correspondent has more on the significance of the u.s. withdrawal. >> these iconic images of a commanding up us or of the evacuation mission, caught in night vision, the last soldier out of afghanistan. >> my fellow americans, the war in afghanistan is now over. i am the fourth president who has faced the issue of when and whether to end the war. when i was running for president , i made a commitment to the american people but i would end this war. today, i have honored that commitment it was time to be honest with the american people again. we no longer had a clear purpose
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in afghanistan. after 20 years of war in afghanistan, i refused to nd another generation of america's sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago. >> he hailed the evacuation of over 123,000 people, and blamed the afghan government for abdicating responsibility and the trump administration for entering into a deal with the taliban. but it was this president that oversaw the chaotic withdrawal. in a country renowned for honoring its servicemen and women, in a city that at its heart pays tribute to american war dead, what looks to many inescapably like a deat has been a huge blow. military veterans have been vocal about their dismay. >> i think it was a waste of time over there. it wasn't run properly.
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i don't think. $2 trillion spent over there, and nothing has changed, seems like. the taliban is back in. they were waiting for us to leave. >> i love this country. it will be, it will come back, but it is not in a good place right now, that's for sure. >> through the debate about the impact on america's place in the world, president biden's decision does mean these were the last 13 u.s. soldiers to return home from the war in afghanistan. the u.s. public may want their troops home, but t sense he is, joe biden has done a bad job convincing them it couldn't have been done in a better way. laura: for more on what america's exit from afghanistan means for the world, we are joined by the president of the council on foreign relations. welcome back to the program. you heard president biden forcefully defend this messy
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u.s. exit from afghanistan. what was your assessment of his tone and argument? >> i thought his tone was forceful, that will be the positive word. strident would be less generous. i thought his framing was a bit unfair. he said we had two choices, either return to escalated combat or leave. i think there was a third choice, which was to maintain a small presence to backup the afghans and that seemed to have been working. he was rather ungenerous towards the afghan troops who have suffered serious losses over these 20 years, and essentially didn't draw a connection between the agreement signed by the trump administration and implemented by himself, and the loss of morale and cohesion on the part of the afghans. that said, i think most americans will agree directionally that it was good we left and we will be
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uncomfortable with the images, but what might matter is what happens over the coming days, weeks, months and years. who do the taliban turn out to be this time around? what does it mean for afghanistan and their efforts against terrorism? what does it mean for the americans and afghans who worked with us? laura: president biden says with the u.s. exit from afghanistan, he can now refocus on china and russia. you think that is true? >> the idea that 2500 american troops in afghanistan, out of a military of more than one million people, would preclude the united states from focusing on either china or russia is to me hard to understand. we have far more troops in europe already, more troops in asia and places like japan, south korea and the like. i don't think we had to do less here in order to do what we wanted to do in either theater. i don't buy that. laura: how about the fallout from this frenzied u.s. exit for
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relation with allies who are feeling bruised? >> they will feel bruised. the idea was we came in together, we go out together. that wasn't the case. this administration celebrates its commitment to multilateralism and alliances but this was unilateral. a lot of people in europe, you know this better than i do, won't be welcoming this departure from what preceded it. afghanistan has created a bad taste in people's mouth, but also, the concern that maybe trump wasn't the exception, that what we are seeing with biden looks a lot like trumpism so maybe the says more about where the united states is 20 years after 9/11, 30 years after the end of the cold war, and this might transcend whoever is president. that is not reassuring to those countries that depend on us. laura: the white house is claiming it has leverage with
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the taliban. we now that we have -- do we know that we have left? >> i think that will be interesting. can we persuade the taliban to meet its commitments about terrorism, treat the individuals left behind well? there is money that is frozen in accounts. there is the question of potential future aid. i think this relationship between the united states and the taliban will continue and we will find out if there is a taliban 2.0, whether they have evolved from what they were two decades ago. laura: thanks for being with us. let's look more closely at the biden administration's handling of the u.s. withdrawal. our washington correspondent is at the white house and joins us now. how does the president deal with these images of taliban soldiers parading around in american uniforms and distraught afghan
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allies left behind? is he betting the american public ultimately is with him on the decision, if not on the execution? >> i think that is what he has been banking on throughout this, reminding people of the sacrifice that so many families have made, losing loved ones, saying he didn't want to send any more young americans to their deaths on the battlefield in afghanistan. but i think in having spokeno a lot those families who lost loved ones over the last few weeks, i think the manner in which this has ended has made it more difficult to make sense of this and their sacrifice. in his speech today, a lot of it was what we expected, blaming a lot of others, blaming the afghan government and the trump administration. but he also talked about the fact that he didn't see any reason that the americans should have been in afghanistan for the last 10 years, which will be galling to a lot of afghans who
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have for years heard from e americans about human rights and women's rights and democracy, calling for those families we are talking about, who made those sacrifices over the last 10 years. laura: there are as many as 200 americans still stranded in afghistan. how mu pressure is that putting on the president come in who said he will get them out, there is no deadline for that? >> that is what the administration has been saying er the past 24 hours. in fact, joe biden went into great detail talking about the many opportunities these americans already had to leave. he said 90% of americans who wanted to leave could leave. but that leaves up to 200 americans and countless afghans, who were associated with the coalition for the past 20 years, who have been promised for years safe haven, who remain in
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afghanistan. how he feels he has the leverage to be ableo do that, the roots to be able to get people outcome of the coordination potentially with the taliban, we don't know. but those families are worried the threat looms right over the families left behind. we are already hearing reports of the taliban and reprisal attacks across the country. joe biden may say this is straightforward and there is no deadline to get these people out but actually, a lot of people don't see how it could be as simple as that. laura: thank you. you are watching bbc world news america. still to come, fleeing the fires of northern california. tens of thousands of evacuations as the blaze spreads and the forests burn. a new variant of covid-19 has
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been found in south africa. the strain spreads at the rate of the delta variant. scientists have warned about possible fourtwave driven by the new variant later in the year. >> there is a new covid-19 variant in south africa known as c12. scientists have found it spreads as fast as the current dominant variant, the delta, which they know causes more severe disease and is more transmissible. is there because for concern? according to the natiol institute for communicable diseases, not yet. they say there is enough reason for them to keep monitoring this variant and various mutations. scientists are continuing to urge people to keep following those nonpharmaceutical interventions, including wearing masks and social distancing.
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♪ laura: tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the shores of lake tahoe in northern california as a major wildfire spreads. the calder fire has been burned nearly 200,000 acres. authorities closed 18 national forests in california to protect the public. our correspondent has more. >> when fires get this hot, this intense, they are very hard to stop. this fire is headed straight for californian beauty spot. over the past few days, residents of south lake have looked on in horror as the calder farrior -- fire got closer to their homes. >> this is the worst i have seen it for 30ears. >> it is crazy. just trying to get out. >> everyone in this town was ordered to evacuat leaving
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their homes at the mercy of the flames. nearly 4000 firefighters are trying to stop it, or at least divert it. often fighting by hand. this is dangerous work. >> this fire is unpredictable. it is terrain-driven. it is whether driven. very rapid projection. >> it is not the biggest fire california has seen, but what makes it so dangerous is its proximity to residential areas. south lake tahoe is a beloved alpine town on the nevada-california border, high in the mountains. californians spend summer holidays here. you can ski in the winter. it has a special place in people's hearts, a place of fun and adventure. the ski slopes have been transformed into an inferno. the clear air, turned to smoke. much of what happens depends on wind direction and fire
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intensity. firefighters say they are embroiled in a fight that will likely take days to save the town. a state of emergency has been announced. if the area were to be engulfed, it would represent some of the most large-scale destruction from u.s. ford -- forest fires in modern times. laura: in other news, four people have died and more than a million remain without power after hurricane ida slammed into the u.s. gulf coast sunday. electricity may not be restored in some areas for weeks. the national weather service issued a heat advisory for southern louisiana and mississippi. the storm tore through the area with winds reaching 150 miles per hour, among the strongest to ever hit the mainland. the trial of the woman who was once the youngest self-made female billionaire is underway in the u.s.. elizabeth holmes faces up to 20
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years in prison. her firm theranos collapsed after falsely claiming its technology could discover cancer and diabetes by testing just a few drops of blood. the bbc's moscow correspondent left russia today, expelled by the government after being called a threat to national security. she first reported for the bbc over 20 years ago as vladimir putin came to power. she has been told she can never return to the country. the bbc has condemned the move, calling it a direct assault on media freedom. here is sarah's final report from moscow. >> this was the moment i discovered i was being expelled from russia. according to a specific l, i have been designated a threat to national security and i'm not allowed into the country. pulled aside at passport
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control, i was told the security service had banned me for life. i recorded the conversation. >> [speaking russia] >> i was returning from belarus, where i confronted alexander lukashenko on the repression and torture of peaceful protesters. his loyal supporters had a coordinated attack. they presented this as a working visit. i have reported from russia for two decades, the whole span of putin's pridency. i have charted the slow erosion of freedoms here, the crackdown on dissent. a year ago, the government put me on short-term visas. then, i became the news. a state television channel announced i had to leave.
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after tense negotiations, i had been allowed to enter russia. but only to pack. i was told by -- my visa wouldn't be renewed. supposedly, russian reporters in london -- that was two years ago. when i called to the foreign ministry, they said my expulsion was nothing personal. they talked about it as a reciprocal move but refused to engage with the fact that i had been labeled and national security threat. they said that was a technical moment. at a time when russia is increasingly seeing enemies all around, it feels like i have been added to the list. it happens as the pressure on russian journalists who don't toe the kremlin line is intensifying. this reporter got funds from abroad and has been added to the list. >> this means we are enemies of
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the state. pretending to be a democracy is over. it is very bad. it could become much worse. anytime. >> i am leaving a country i first came to as the soviet union fell apart. when free speech, all freedoms, were new and precious. it feels like today's russia is moving in reverse. laura: her final disc -- dispatch from russia. our top story tonight, president biden defended the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan, calling the mission and extraordinary success. speaking at the white house, biden accepted responsibility for the decision to withdraw, saying it wasn't an option to stay longer. taliban fighters spent their first full day in control showing off the military gear the u.s. left behind. the images, a stark reminder of
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the change of power in afghanistan. i'm laura trevelyan. thanks for watching bbc world news america. ♪ narrator: funding for this presentation of this program is provided by... narrator: financial services firm, raymond james. narrator: funding was also provided by, the freeman foundation. by judy and peter blum kovler foundation; pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ ♪ narrator: you're watching pbs. ♪ da-da-da-duh-da-da-da♪ ♪ da-da-da-da-da-da ♪♪
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♪ judy: good evening. i am judy woodruff. on "the newshour" -- >> thi is the right decision, a wise decision. judy: out of afghanistan. president biden defends the u.s. exit as the taliban celebrate their return to power. assessing the damage. recovery efforts begin in the wake of hurricane ida as more than one million remain without power. plus, disappearing act. how naturally dissolving pacemakers present a breakthrough in the treatment of heart surgery patients. >> all of the materials we are

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