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tv   News  Al Jazeera  February 23, 2016 11:00am-11:31am EST

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obama presents his long-awaited plan to close the detention camp at guantanamo bay. ♪ hello there, i'm julie mcdonald. this is al jazeera, live from london. also coming up. desperation on the greek border with macedonia, as record numbers of refugees continue to cross the mediterranean. returning to their destroyed houses, we're have fijian islanders coming home three days after a devastating cyclone. ♪
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and schools in zimbabwe are reviving traditional instruments like this. ♪ u.s. president, barack obama, has set out his plan for the final closure of the guantanamo bay. the plan calls for the transfer of the remaining detainees to the u.s. >> and so in one of my first acts as president, i took action to begin closing it. and because we had bipartisan support, i wanted to make sure that we did it right. i indicated that we would need to take our time to do it in a systematic way, and that we had examined all of the options.
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and unfortunately, during that period, where we were putting the pieces in place to close it, what had previously been bipartisan support, suddenly became a partisan issue. suddenly, many who previously had said it should be closed backed off, because they were worried about the politics. >> rosiland jordan joins us live now from washington, d.c. hi, ros. now obama in his speech said that guantanamo was a stain on the u.s.'s record, but what else did he have to say in this long-awaited report and speech? >> reporter: well, he also said that this is a very expensive prison for the u.s. taxpayers. they spent about $455 million a year just to run this prison, including the operation of the military commissions, the special trial process for those accused of carrying out attacks against the u.s. or u.s.
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interests. and the president said that there needs to be a -- that the american taxpayer should not be supporting this, but he really did try to hammer home the idea that this is hurting the u.s.'s credibility on the global stage. the president said several times that allies that would work with the united states on issues, such as trying to fight isil or daesh, and trying to deal with other problems of extremism around the world, have a real problem in their own countries because of the existence and ongoing detention of these men at guantanamo bay; that it -- basically, how can the u.s. be trusted to help improve their standing when it itself is holding people -- many people who have not been charged with any crimes, only ten of the current detainees actually in the legal process right now. so the president really tried to make the argument, that one, the
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u.s. needs to get rid of guantanamo as a military prison, and that, two, that he is looking forward to having a robust discussion, a very pointed message, with members of congress about the future of guantanamo. he has heard -- as we just heard in that bit of sound from the president, he basically is accusing some members of congress of being cowards on an issue that they themselves at one time felt needed to be resolved. >> rosiland did he say in his speech where the remaining inmates should be put? because that has always been one of the big criticisms, hasn't it? >> reporter: that is one of the big criticisms, and leading republicans have already criticized the plan as being dead on arrival, because it does not say where the administration thinks that these detainees should be transferred if they are allowed to come to u.s.
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soil. there are about 13 potential facilities that have been identified, but they are not even named in the plan that has just been made public. so there is a lot of criticism already from congressional republicans that what the president is doing is nothing more than political grandstanding, that he is not actually serious about doing this. they are also concerned that he may try to remove the remaining 91 detainees to u.s. soil without their permission, without their legal consent. they have passed legislation that basically already prohibits the transfer of any of the remaining detainees to u.s. soil, but there are some legal experts who say that that president has some legal work around and he could act unilaterally. so this is going to be a very contentious issue, even though the president said we should not let the fact this is an election
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year in the united states, let us avoid dealing with a difficult issue, one that hurts the u.s.'s moral and political credibility on the global stage. >> ros thank you. ♪ the international organization for migration says more than a hundred thousand refugees and migrants have arrived on european shores this year alone. on the greek macedonia border, thousands of afghan refugees are stranded for a second day. macedonia authorities have blocked them from entering their territory. it is only letting in syrians and iraqis and no other nationalities. those who were refujed entry have been staging a sit in on the border. hoda abdel hamid sent us this update. >> reporter: only iraqi and
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syrian nationals are allowed to continue their journey at the moment they are prevented because the afghans have been holding a sit in, saying if we can't go in, they can't go in. the buses behind me, they are waiting to be loaded with afghan nationals and taken back to athens. we understand there are about 5,000 refugees in athens. they are not allowed to come towards the border, because authorities want to solve the situation before allowing them in. this is causing a lot of anxiety, not only among the afghans who say we came all the way here, going through all of the risks, spending all of money, and what is going to happen to us now? but it is also causing a lot of uncertainty for the iraqis and the syrians. they are in a hurry, because they are worried that the border
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may soon also close for them and they want to continue their journey. so it is creating frictions between these two different groups of refugees. a french court has delayed judgment on the legality of closing part of a refugees and migrant camp in calais. now several charities and migrants made the appeal, because they said it would violate the human rights of thousands of refugees who lived there. the government ordered the people living in the south part of the camp leave been the evening. the syrian observatory for human rights says that more than 270,000 people have known to have died since syria's war began nearly five years ago. a cessation of hostilities is due to come into force on saturday, following a deal reached by the u.s. and russia.
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there are all rights of continued fighting between islamic state of iraq and the levant and syrian forces in southern aleppo province. isil says it has killed a number of soldiers and captured dozens more. the syrian military says it has blown up a suicide car bomb before it reached its target, which was a military check point. saudi arabia is urging its nationals to leave lebanon immediately, and to avoid traveling there in the near future. the announcement comes despite attempts by the prime minister to reinstate his support for any cringe.com. saudi arabia cancelled a $4 billion aid payment to the lebanese army, accusing them of failing to back it with its ongoing dispute with iran. three days after cyclone winston hit large parts of fee give, the number killed in the storm has risen to 29.
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andrew thomas knows the area well, and is part of the first tv crew to reach one island since the cyclone made landfall on saturday. it's taken nearly three days, but help is coming to some of the islands hit worst by saturday's cyclone. on board the spirit of harmony, soldiers joined people returning to what is left of their homes on this island. this boat is the second in two days with phone come communication cut, one did an exploratory shuttle run across on monday. >> when we couldn't get in touch with them, we said we better make a run and check. and what we saw, we were the first point of contact from the outside world, and what we saw was really devastating. >> reporter: a day later this is the first trip with passengers, carrying people back who happened to be away for the storm. these are their first glimpses of their homes since. >> total destruction.
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>> reporter: is it better or worse than you expected? >> it's worse than i expected. >> reporter: this island used to be lush and green, and the coastal villages used to be intact. the ship docked 45 minutes before dusk. with no power here, passengers have 45 minutes of daylight to see up close what the wind and pounding waves have done. not far from the dock was this man sitting in the ruins of his home. >> very sorry to see the building to be very devastating like this. very sorry. >> reporter: his house is not the exception here, it's now the norm. people say three people died on this island of 6,000, given the damage, that number seems remarkably low. i came here in 2014 to do a piece on what people thought about fiji's upcoming election.
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i chose to come to this island, because it was known as one of fiji's prettiest. i stayed in this village. but look at it now. complete devastation. dusk, and then dark hit the damage. but not its consequences. many have nowhere to sleep, but outdoors. andrew thomas, al jazeera. still to come on the program, india's student standoff. we'll have the very latest on how it could be coming to an end. plus, can an attack on plastic bags help refuse waste piled up on indonesian streets? we'll have more on that when we come back.
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♪ welcome back. a quick reminder of our top stories here on al jazeera. the u.s. president has given congress haze plan to close the controversial military prison, guantanamo bay, saying the facility is contrary to his country's values on law. the international organization for migration says more than a hundred thousand refugees have rived in europe in the first six months of 2016. and the number of dead in fiji has risen to 29. the history of guantanamo bay is built on legal and moral controversy. detainees were often held without trial and off of u.s. soil. rosiland jordan takes a look at the issues that have dominated
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the prison's existence. >> reporter: camp x ray, the place where the u.s. military held the first men captured during the so-called global war on terror. these men called enemy combatants would be moved from the cages to air conditioned trailers, and finally to camps five and six, all accused of working for al-qaeda, very few of them ever getting their day in court. >> the scandal is that it is holding men indefinitely and without charge. it has been 14 years now. >> reporter: bush administration lawyers chose guantanamo as a place to hold nearly 800 detainees away from the battlefield in afghanistan. but as the prison camp's first commander told al jazeera, it was also to restrict their access to the u.s. legal system. >> because we were in cuba, the rules -- the international agreements and the constitution did not necessarily apply.
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i didn't share that fielding. >> the bush administration set up a new whole system for the detainees called military commissions. right now, the commissions are the only place where the alleged plotters of the 9/11, and usa cole attacks are facing a judge. >> all three branches of our government have determined that al-qaeda and associated forces are in an armed conflict against the united states, and that authorizes the use of these commissions. >> reporter: the u.s. military has also been sued for force feeding detainees on hunger strike, despite the medical community's belief that hunger strikes are a legitimate form of protest. the u.s. congress has tried for years to make guantanamo a permanent facility. it has passed laws banning the detainees from being transferred to u.s. soil.
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>> it's well within the core of his responsibility as commander and chief to be able to say i want to move for reasons related to our war expanses, and because it is terribly expensive, i want to move this detainee from this military facility to another military facility. >> reporter: but it's legal and moral problems still require attention. hundreds of palestinian teachers are protesting outside of the headquarters of the palestinian in the occupied west bank city of ramallah. they are refusing to go back to work. but that puts nearly 1 million palestinian children out of school for a second week. imtiaz ty reports from ramallah. >> reporter: they chant dignity, dignity, give us dignity.
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these school teachers are protesting against low wages and poor benefits. they say the palestinian authority, which pays their salaries, has failed to make good on past promises, including pay increases. this woman has been a high school biology teacher for more than 20 years, and only earns around $500 a month. >> translator: i want my dignity to be treated like public employees at other ministries. we'll only stop when we get our rights. i miss my students, but i want results. >> reporter: the strike has affected about one million school children. at its core this strike is about the palestinian authority's failure to implement an agreement that was put in place nearly three years ago. that agreement included guidelines around salaries, pay increases, and promotions, but as the strike continues, it is
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becoming increasingly politicized. fatah, which is the party of the president, has blamed political rival hamas for the teacher's refusal to end their strike. they say hamas is encouraging the strike to further weaken the palestinian authority which is already struggling with a budget crisis. but striking teachers here say thissing isn't a political issue for them, it's one of fairness, because although they make up the second-largest sector of public workers, they are also the lease paid. this man is in charge of communications for the prime minister's office, he says the government is doing its best to address the teacher's demands. >> all prior agreements will be met by the end of the month, as well as the teachers will -- will see an increase of 5% in their salaries, but that doesn't mean that this is the end of the discussion. >> reporter: on sunday the head
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of the palestinian teacher's union resigned after he was accused of siding with the government. teachers here say protests like this will not only continue but also get larger. al jazeera, ramallah. the u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon has held talks with the president of burundi to end months of political unrest there. he was on a mission to encourage dialogue between the president and his opponent, more than 400 people have been killed in violent protests since he sought a third term in office in april. >> i was very much encouraged that the political leaders whether they are sitting in government ruling party or opposition, say to me that they will engage in dialogue. this is what the president also confirmed, that he was engaging in inclusive dialogue. nigerian sailors have
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rescued a hijacked oil tanker, in a dramatic nighttime rescue, that left one pirate dead. 18 of the 20-strong crew are safe, but the search continues for two remaining members that were taken hostage by hijackers who managed to escape in a pirate vessel. thousands of people are marching in india's capitol, furious about the suicide of a student who was allegedly the victim of cast discrimination. and there is also anger over sedition charges against six students which they believe is a crackdown on freedom of speech. faiz jamil reports from new delhi. >> reporter: they came in the thousands, protesting the suicide of a pro-grand wait student from a southern city who claimed to be a victim of cast-based discrimination.
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he was was in a cast which used to be known as the untouchables. it resinated across indieia. >> translator: we have come for justice. he was murdered. reraised our voice there, but no one heard us, so we thought we need to come to delhi to be heard. >> reporter: as the march went on, more students and activists joined. the protest focus is on the death of the student, and the discrimination faced by other students on campuses across the country, but with recent events here in the capitol, issues of freedom of speech, clearly evoke strong feelings among this crowd. they are also protesting sedition charges brought against several students at the university after a video appeared to show several people making so-called anti-national remarks earlier this month. the students deny involvement.
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south of mumbai last year, students at the film and television institute protested the appointment of a new chairman who say they was an unqualified political crony. some students claim that freedom of speech and peaceful descent are under attack in india, at a time when students and others want to challenge social inequali inequalities. >> [ inaudible ] sedition charges for [ inaudible ] this government wants to [ inaudible ] they cannot take any criticism from any party or from any individual. >> reporter: several kilometers from the march, the opening of the latest parliamentary session began, the prime minister, appeared to throw an olive branch to the opposition, ef identifily not wanting the protests to stall parliamentary work. >> translator: i hope the parliamentary session will be used for intention debate, criticism of the government, and to highlight the government's
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shortcomings. this is the only way to strengthen democracy and fulfill the aspirations of the common people. >> reporter: several opposition lawmakers came out to join the marchers and hear their concerns. everyone says they want action to stop discrimination and crack down on freedom of speech, but no one here truly believes these issues will be resolved by a single protest. indonesia is currently the world's second largest plastics polluter after china, but things are about to change with the introduction of a new tax on plastic bags, but critics are questioning whether it will make any difference at all. step vaessen takes a closer look. >> reporter: researchers have found that nearly 10 million plastic bags are being handed out to indonesian shoppers every
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day. and they are clogging up waterways, pal looting any streets, the parks, the forests. it is the second-biggest polluter in the world after china. plastic waste has become a trap to marine life, tourism, and people's health. so reduce the plastic waste the government has started a pilot project in nine cities where people now have to pay for their plastic bag. it's 1/10th of a cent, but there is a lot of resistance here in this shop. >> translator: i don't agree to this policy. i think they should give me a plastic bag every time i go shopping. >> reporter: that's why some stores are still reluctant to implement the new policy, and activists complain it is far too
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cheap, so it won't stimulate people to buy their shopping bag. while retailers are still resisting a higher price for the bag, it is clear that a lot more needs to be done to clean up this mess. some local governments have made some progress, but environmentalists say a large awareness campaign is needed to change people's minds about how to treat their own waste. there is a new subject in zimbabwe. the government hopes it will encourage children to embrace parts of the nation's culture. haru mutasa reports. >> reporter: this 9-year-old recently started playing a traditional african musical instrument, a piano with a wooden board, with keys attached to it. each key is a different note.
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♪ >> reporter: zimbabwe's government is making these lessons part of the curriculum. >> i believe they are not excited about it, because they like the other english instruments like guitars and the other things. this is nice because it's from [ inaudible ] and it has a very beautiful sound. ♪ >> reporter: some are fitted with a resinator to amplify the sound. it has been part of zimbabwe's culture for centuries. there are more than 10,000 state-run schools in zimbabwe. the problem is not many teachers know how to play the instrument. that's partly because of colonization, during white minority rule, some african traditions were banned, and in other cases, eventually
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forgotten. this artist and manufacturer, hopes with time more people will fall in love with the soothing sound. >> they marginally identify with it as our instrument. but if you actually ask them, realistically if they have ever touched one or can remember one song maybe in their mom's house, they might remember. but actually i think it's in this strange situation where everybody knows about it, but actually factually, they are not exposed to it. >> reporter: but that could be a challenge, some parents don't want their children playing the instrument. >> [ inaudible ] religious african traditions. so think they when the child plays the instrument, it gets possessed. >> reporter: that could change as more historians and musicians
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expose children at an early age to the famous instrument and its unique sound. well, you can find out plenty more on our website, all of the stories we're following are right there. the address is www.aljazeera.com. ♪ ♪ >> i don't want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is. >> president obama making one last pitch to fulfill a campaign promise to close guantanamo. donald trump looking for another win in nevada. in flibt, michigan, the city and state agree to fix the city's pipes, but residents say neither side is actually doing anything. ♪

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