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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  September 8, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT

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tonight on "worldfocus" -- >> defying the obama administration, israel announces an expansion of settlements in the west bank, but is an accommodation in the works? as congress and the president try to fashion a grand compromise on health care, we will bring you part two of our series looking at other health care systems around the world. tonight, british health care under the microscope. we begin a "worldfocus" "signature series" on women in the muslim world. tonight, the very complicated situation inside iran, a unique look. and what are these little penguins in australia telling us
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about climate change? good evening. i'm daljit dhaliwal. we're going to begin tonight with a deeper look at a story that you will be hearing a lot about in the coming weeks but is under the radar for most american television news. the middle east peace process and what many see as a pivotal issue. it is the building of jewish settlements in the west bank on lands that the palestinians claim as theirs.
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it's also about a potential freeze on such building, something that the obama administration is demanding, something defense minister ehud barak said today is "a national necessity." but expansion of existing settlements is continuing, something that got little attention when it was announced yesterday. the story was covered by our partner, abc of australia, and ben knight's report from the "late line" program is our lead focus tonight. >> reporter: on a hill outside jerusalem, the first saudi's turn in a new neighborhood, one that the u.s. does not want to go ahead. even george w. bush pressured israel not to allow this project to happen. if it does, it would join the outlying settlement with jerusalem on land palestinians want for their own state. according to the international community, this land is not pa of israel, but that doesn't mean much here. >> this is definitely a part of israel.
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is new york part of america? they took that from the indians. >> reporter: but this is also a message to israel's government to stand up to foreign pressure to stop building here in the west bank, happening on the same day israel's defense minister approved hundreds of new apartments in west bank settlements. >> even if there is disagreement with the united states, i'm convinced it can be overcome in order to push for a significant political process leading to two states for two nations. >> reporter: the u.s. says the settlements are not legitimate but has held back from making any further comments, perhaps to avoid enflaming the situation. barack obama's middle east envoy, george mitchell, is due here again on saturday. before the ceremony, protestors from the peace now movement tried to reach the site but were removed by police. >> this is not a time to make provocation. this is a time to make gestures for peace. >> reporter: they made their point, but the reality is that in israel, there are very few protestors like these.
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people who are here to support this are settlers, who reject everything the united states and the rest of the world tells them about where they can live, but they're not at the fringe of israeli public opinion. israel's government has not approved yet building on this site but is under growing pressures from within. ben knight. >> we want to get more deeply into the issue of settlements. we're joined by daniel levy, director of the middle east task force at the new america foundation. good to see you again, daniel. >> my pleasure. >> we just saw in that spot that israel is continuing to expand settlements, but at the same time, we're hearing that netanyahu's government is going to at some point announce perhaps a six-month freeze on building settlements. can you give us some details, explain these apparently contradictory positions for us? >> there is something of a sense of deja vu all over again, a ritualistic attempt to appease from the israeli government perspective both the settler
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community, a community of 500,000 israelis now living beyond the green line and to please the international community but ends up pleasing no one. it's not an absolute freeze, it's not a confidence-building measure. it's not going to make the obama administration's life any easier, but this is progress of a kind. you have perhaps the most right-winged government in israel's history going some measure towards limiting construction over the green line in the settlement. >> so, how much of this is spin and who's doing the spinning? >> everyone is. it's a great deal of spin. the u.s. administration will want to present this as something almost unprecedented, something that really takes the ball forward, a big commitment from the israeli side. that's how they'll want to present it in the arab world. the israeli government will say, well, buildings that are already begun will continue. we've just approved a whole set of new homes to be constructed
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in the west bank. east jerusalem isn't included, so this is us making a gesture to the americans, but we're not strangling the settlement. >> how much, though, does it complicate president obama's efforts at mideast peace, if you have this build-and-freeze situation? >> well, the image is, certainly in the arab world, that will be shown will be bulldozers, construction, homes going up, east jerusalem continuing as is. so, it will certainly affect america's standing, credibility, image in the arab world. the obama administration wants the arab states to take some early normalization steps. it will make that very difficult. one should definitely make one's expectations modest on this. but it might allow the administration to restart peace negotiations, and i think that's the challenge. >> so, whatever we end up with on the settlement issue, how significant will it be in terms of propelling the idea of the roadmap, what we already have, forward, in terms of the overall
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peace process? >> in terms of what will be going on on the ground, not very. it will, if anything, entrench more settlements and be unhelpful to a two-state solution. in terms of getting a peace process going, it could just get us to the starting line. the obama administration i think will want to move beyond this settlement argument. they won't want to see this as prime minister netanyahu poking them in the eye. they'll want to get negotiations going, put this behind them, and that's going to be their challenge. can you now address the bigger-picture issues and not be bogged down in the settlement question? >> all right, daniel levy, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> we also want to know what you think of the settlement issue. here's our question -- is the obama administration right to demand that israel stop expanding settlements on the west bank? tell us what you think by going to the "how you see it" section of our website, and you can find that at to afghanistan, where there were mixed signals about last
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month's presidential election. with results in from almost 92% of polling stations, election officials say that president hamid karzai now has just over 54% of the vote, surpassing the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. however, the u.n.-backed electoral complaints commission wants a recount at some polling stations where it found evidence of fraud. it received more than 700 fraud charges. also from afghanistan today, the u.s. military said that four more u.s. soldiers have been killed in what was described as a complex attack in kunar province, which borders pakistan. so far this month, 11 americans have been killed in afghanistan. this is also a deadly day for americans in iraq, where four u.s. soldiers were killed by roadside bombs. one of them struck a patrol in southern baghdad, killing one soldier, while another one hit a patrol in northern iraq, killing
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three more americans. we're paying special attention all this week to one of our key issues -- global health care. as president obama prepares for a hard sell tomorrow night in a speech to congress on health care reform, he will make a new argument for a public insurance plan. well, this week, our partner, al jazeera english, is looking at how countries rich and poor, small and large, manage their health care. tonight, harry smith looks at britain's publicly financed national health service. >> july 5th, the new national health service starts. >> reporter: it was launched on a wave of political optimism in the wake of the second world war, promising medical care from the cradle to the grave. >> ask your doctor now if he'll look after you under the new scheme. if he can't accept you, ask at post office -- >> reporter: more than 60 years later, it's the world's largest publicly funded health care system.
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its great boast is that it's free to all, but if the politicians thought it would be free from controversy, they're wrong. there's hardly a day when britain's national health service isn't put under the microscope and its efficiency questioned. professor keifer mcbell is one of the country's leading specialists in breast cancer, working in the public service as well as the private sector, but he says the private sector works better. >> just an example, when i work, we have probably about four or five layers of management before i get to the chief executive. whereas here,ky basically have a short cut directly to the person who can make decisions, and it's made and obviously, that can translate into saving money and help the patient. >> reporter: but martha jean baker, an american who's lived in london for 12 years and twice had to rely on the nhs for treatment, said it's the best in the world. >> i think the brits don't appreciate what they have. i absolutely think that there
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are a lot of people who just don't under -- it's existed for what, 60 years? and i think they take it for granted. they don't know what it's like not to have insurance. >> reporter: no one denies that the national health service has some of the best hospitals in the world, and this is one of them, st. thomas's, but it's perhaps no coincidence that it sits across the river thames from the british parliament. critics, however, say that one of the problems is quality is not evenly distributed across the country. very often, the standard of care you get can depend on the lottery of where you live. it's up to local health bodies to decide how they spend their money. national priorities are set by an organization known as the national institute for clinical excellence. that's n.i.c.e. for short, but that's not how they're usually portrayed. >> i'm a doctor and i've worked in the nhs for 30 years. many senior people at n.i.c.e. are the same. medicine and health care is a very challenging profession.
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you have to make hard decisions, but we always do the best for patients. and in the context of n.i.c.e., the patient is the whole of the nhs. we have responsibility for 50 million, 60 million patients. >> reporter: and it is simply because it affects so many people that britain's national health service will survive largely unchanged. it's too big to fail and too big for politicians to take the risk of drastic reform. time is on its side. harry smith, al jazeera london. and now to our "signature story," the first of an original e muslim on women in we begin by offering you a rare peek inside iran. no doubt, you heard a lot about
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how deeply involved women were in this summer's protests there, but that doesn't even begin to capture the complexities of life for iranian women. a "worldfocus" team traveled to tehran earlier this year and met woman caught up in what is being called the persian paradox -- moving forward in their own way in a society dominated by men. our report comes from bigan saliani, an american who grew up in iran and has reported extensively from there. >> reporter: the outside world views iranian women as being silently oppressed. oppressed they may be, silent they are not. how women look and act is an unavoidable national issue, and many women here find themself in conflict with the authorities every day. >> said be careful. we'll have a coffee. >> reporter: to see how that works, look at the scene we found surreptitiously in tehran recently.
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two young women being told they couldn't enter a park because their clothes were too form-fitting, not modest enough. >> translator: how is what i'm wearing different from you? >> translator: you know the rules. you can't come in here dressed that way. >> reporter: such scenes happen every day. the law says every female over the age of 8 must conceal her shape and cover everything but her face and hands when she is in public. many find the restrictions irritating, and in hot weather, downright uncomfortable. and so, on the streets of every iranian city, women push the limits of the law. to an outsider, the rules seem haphazard. the women must sit to the back of the buses. there are separate subway cars for women, but on the subway, they can ride with men if they want to. women can go to class with men.
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they can drive and go to the movies. but they can't go to the soccer game. and no physical contact is permitted at all, not even shaking hands. a lot of women we met felt that in iranian society, the dress code, at least, was a protection. >> if i go to the streets with a colorful uniform, they look at me in a very bad way, and i just feel bothered, and it's not really good, you know? they look at my body and i hate it. i feel like i'm exploding. >> reporter: other women, like these law students, don't mind the social segregation. >> translator: they won't allow us to sit in the front. >> reporter: nor even waiting for the next bus when the women's section is full. >> translator: i don't mind. there's another one. >> reporter: but the laws requiring the job and social segregation are also indicators of the very different legal and social status for women in iran.
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to the critics who control iran's law, god made the rules and strictly defined the rights and obligation of men and women with one thing in mind -- >> islam says that because there are some differences between man and woman, there should be some differences between the rights. it doesn't mean that it is always against women. it's just sometimes against men, because they have some more responsibilities more than the women. >> reporter: with that responsibility comes authority, marriage, child custody, inheritance, travel. in every instance, women are legally supervised by their husbands or male relatives. so, beneath iranian women's scarves, a movement for change has been gaining strength and the government has learned it is much easier to control what people wear than what they think. those in power say that advocates of change are overlooking the very real
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progress women have made in the 30 years since the revolution. >> translator: before the revolution, only a third of iranian girls could even read or write. now 65% of our university students are women, and in the medical and pharmacy schools, 70% or 80% are women. >> reporter: this is the vice president of iran's census bureau. >> translator: in the past, women were only given opportunities if they were attractive, not because they were smart are had skills. today, iranian women are in every arena, from the olympics to industry to science and engineering. they're making a huge impact on the world. >> reporter: the nation's theological leaders say such progress demonstrate that iran's laws are designed not to restrict women's rights, but to protect muslim families. >> if you take care of the family, you have taken care of the society. and now we have a very powerful
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family system in iran. marriage and family, it is very important. the number of the people that are living lonely in iran, it is so much less than the number that they are living, for example, in the united states. >> reporter: compared to places nearby like afghanistan and saudi arabia, the ayatollah's interpretation of sharia law looks positively open-minded. the idea that women could race cars would be shocking in any of the persian gulf states. >> translator: i love driving and speed, and my husband was in this business, so it was nural for me to become one. >> translator: i have been racing for five years and the last three years with this team. >> reporter: but in iran, women and the wheel are okay. the main reason -- there is nothing revealing about a racing suit. >> translator: the male drivers
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are supportive of us and we race next to them all the time. >> reporter: any sport that could involve physical contact with men or even being seen with other hijab by unrelated males is forbidden. so, women can burn up the track, but iran's olympic teams have no female runners, swimmers or gymnasts. for outsiders to focus on that stuff isn't really fair, say people like former vice president masoumeh ebtekar. >> status of woman has improved immensely after the revolution. >> reporter: 30 years ago, ebtekar was the spokeswoman for the students who took american diplomats hostage. at that time, just being literate made her a minority. >> those who have had access to education after the islamic revolution, they are practically 100% literate. >> reporter: the problem for iran's conservative political and religious leaders is that places like tehran university
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have now produced a generation of educated women who are focused on how things are now, not how bad they used to be. those women are a demographic time bomb. they are educated enough to be aware of the rights women have elsewhere. they can read the koran for themselves and find in it a vision of an islamic society that truly treats them as equals. this is bigan saliani for "worldfocus" in tehran. >> for more on the status of women in the muslim world, we are joined by haleh esfandiari from the woodrow wilson international center for scholars in washington, d.c. thank you very much for being with us. let me start by asking you, there is a perception, it was widely held that women in most muslim countries have second-class status. would you say that is a sad characterization or is it a lot more nuanced than that?
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>> i would say it's much more nuanced than that, and it varies from country to country. for example, women have access to education in all muslim countries, but necessarily, they don't have the same personal rights. >> and can you give us some other examples, perhaps of areas where they do enjoy freedoms that might not come to an american's mind typically? >> look, they have made a lot of progress when it comes to access to education. they have made a lot of progress when it comes to political participation. across the board, women have the right to vote and to be elected in muslim countries. well, of course, saudi arabia doesn't have a parliament, so therefore, there are no women in saudi parliament. kuwaiti women just recently got the right to vote, and three
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women were elected to parliament. in iran, you have eight women parliamentarians. so, these are a sign of progress, that is economic participation by women both in the private and public sector. >> and conversely, what would you say are the areas where they are still at a disadvantage? is it mostly in the area of family law as it portends to women's rights when it comes to divorce and child custody and also inheritance? >> sure. i mean, it varies, again, from country to country. indonesia and morocco, women and men have equal status when it comes to the personal status law. in iran, women don't have the right to divorce. the child custody goes to men. the age of marriage was just recently raised from 9 to 13. so, it does vary, again, from
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country to country, but this is basically the stumbling block in front of women. >> right. and talk a little bit more about political rights. i mean, is this one of the areas that women in the middle east, activists and feminists, are trying to effect more change or is it more in terms of the personal family law is where they're trying to make their challenges? >> i think they would like to make changes both in the personal status law and also in larger political participation and have women in leadership positions. the more women are in leadership position, the more they can push for women's rights. >> all right, haleh esfandiari, thank you very much for your insights. >> thank you.
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finally tonight, our continuing focus on the global environment takes us to australia, where there is a warning sign about climate change. changes in the feeding habits of a popular bird are giving scientists some troubling insights. it's taking place in southealia on phillip island, not far from melbourne. erin casar of abc in australia shows us what's happening there. >> reporter: known as little penguins, these birds are playing a big role when it comes to researching climate change. a population of 60,000 inhabit phillip island, and it's here scientists are monitoring their feeding habits. >> so, this chick was 300 grams last week, so double the weight in a week. >> reporter: little penguins are a long-established tourist attraction. >> rugged, wild, very natural, very, very nice sight, yes. >> reporter: but their numbers
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are at risk. a new study shows worrying changes to their feeding grounds. it found little penguins forage in between layers of sea water of different temperatures. >> there's a lot of nutrients because there's a concentration in the nutrients in this particular area. >> reporter: but the research carried out over two years reveals increased storm activity is breaking up these feeding hotspots. that's disrupting breeding patterns and causing chicks to be born around 100 grams underweight. >> they produce lighter chicks and less chicks survived at the stage of going out at sea. the penguins are giving the early warnings that changes are happening in the straits. >> reporter: feeding cycles are tracked through the swimming speed of penguins. >> it's like you carrying a backpack. >> reporter: they move fastest when they're chasing prey. this doctor says penguins are resilient, but worries about how
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they'll adapt to changing conditions. abc news, phillip island. >> and that is "worldfocus" for this tuesday evening. and just a reminder that you can find out much more about women in iran and throughout the muslim world by visiting our website at i'm daljit dhaliwal in new york. thank you very much for joining us. we hope to see you back tomorrow night. good-bye. -- captions by vitac --
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