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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  December 22, 2009 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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tonight on world focus. the obama administration wages war on al qaeda far beyond pakistan and afghanistan. is the anti-terror campaign succeeding? from afghanistan, a close-up look at how u.s. marines are taking on the taliban there. it is a battle being fought village by village. we'll return to mexico. that country's drug war may have fallen out of the headlines. but the army's mission endures. and from japan. a unique plan to save one of the world's most precious natural resources. the coral reef. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here's what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus."
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major support has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters -- good evening. daljit dhaliwal is off this evening. we begin tonight with the continuing struggle against islamic militants around the world. the fallout from a recent military operation. the target? an al qaeda training camp and a leader of the group. president obama is said to have approved fire power, intelligence, and other support. this was not in afghanistan or pakistan or iraq. it was in the often overlooked battleground of yemen where al qaeda has grown stronger in recent years. "time" magine says yemen in the southern persian gulf may be on the verge of becoming the
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world's next failed state and regional al qaeda base. and that is why we chose it as our lead focus tonight. yemen's government said last week's attacks in the south and near the capital killed dozens of al qaeda members. but apparently not the al qaeda leader who was the target. dozens. civilians were reportedly killed as well. over the week, the chairman of the u.s. joint chiefs, admiral mike mullen, applauded the military strike, saying he has been concerned for some time that yemen could become another safe haven for terrorism. yemen is just one country where the united states is pursuing al qaeda. to get a fuller sense of america's global war on terror, we're joined once again tonight by juan carlos, during the bush administration he served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism. he is now with the center for strategic and international
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studies in washington. and thank you so much for being with us. why is yemen so important to the united states in the war on terror? >> yemen sits at the base of the southern tip of the arabian peninsula bordering saudi arabia and other important arabian countries across the water from the horn of africa and somalia. an important sea route. but importantly, it is an area that has increasingly worried u.s. officials of the potential safe haven for al qaeda. we've heard reports over the last year and a half, two years of al qaeda fighters streaming toward yemen and have seen the effects of their attacks. we've seen an attack on the u.s. embassy last september. tourist sites, the taking of hostages, and we've seen some strikes, obviously, where the yemeni government, perhaps with the assistance of the u.s. government, have taken the offensive against the al qaeda members there in yemen. >> does admiral mike mullen have reason to be concerned that it is reaching a tipping point there?
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>> i'm not sure if we're yet at a tipping point. certainly chairman mullen has much to be concerned about. yemen is fairly unstable country with pockets of al qaeda fighters with training camps that have really attracted a number of individuals who are dangerous to yemeni society. and so yes, there is the real danger there. to the extent that we are displacing safe haven in other parts of the world, the united states is looking to other places where it tries to head off al qaeda bases in places like yemen where thecan not only launch attacks internally but then launch attacks in the region or toward the united states. >> in what other countries besides yemen and afghanistan and pakistan is this war being fought? >> well, certainly we've seen problems in east africa. in particular, in somalia with the movement that has direct
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ties to al qaeda. we saw in september of this year, an attack against a long time al qaeda member in east africa who was killed apparently by u.s. forces. we've also seen al qaeda remnants and relationships in north africa with a number of attacks and hostage takings happening there. and then there are pockets of cell of al qaeda membership in europe, and we've certainly seen some rise in the united states. so this truly is a global war. this is why i think you've seen the obama administration talk about the war in al qaeda and still make the claim that there is a global war underway. >> the last time you were with us, you said that president obama is in some ways pursuing the war on terror even more aggressively than president bush did. is that still the case? >> i think you've seen a fundamental continuity of counter terrorism policies from the prior administration to the current administration. and i think you're seeing some
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very aggressive actions. i mentioned the attack in september in somalia which involved u.s. military forces on the ground somalia. you hadn't seen that in the bush administration. now you're seeing more aggressive activity than yemen. you've seen reports of more aggressive lethal activities in pakistan and the other side of the border. obviously, with the influx of troops, you'll see more activity in the south and east of afghanistan. anyone who thought that the obama administration was going to be pollyannaish about the problems it is facing around the world has been rudely awakened by the realities of what has actually happened. >> all right. thank you very much for being with us this evening. >> my pleasure. thank you. while details of american involvement in yemen are vague at best, that is not the case in afghanistan. where the united states is about to send tens of thousands of additional troops to fight the war against militants there. tonight we have the chance to show close up how the americans are trying to win that war and the risks they face. clayton swisher of al jazeera
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english is in southern afghanistan. >> reporter: the dawn of another day in the afghan counter insurgency. loud speakers informed the villagers that their homes are about to be searched. we are here to help, says the message, as the marines of gulf company set out to hunt down a bomb maker. in the two months since they've been here, over 10% of the 180-man unit has been injured in roadside bomb attacks. the farmers here seem oblivious. >> we don't really understand why they're here. but now that they are here, they tell us they want to help build. we really don't have a say. >> within minutes, this bomb technician's metal detector goes off.
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a passerby is directed to help. but the discovery of this five kilo bag of liquid opium is a let-down. over 40% of the world's opium supply is grown on the farms of helmand. as the homeowner explains, it is as good as hard cash. >> his son wants to get married. he has no money. they collect this one to sell it to do his son's wedding party. >> reporter: as the marines move along to the next house, a different problem awaits. the village elder makes an appeal. scores of women are gathered inside for a wedding. outside, female marines stand
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ready to pat tm down. te of his eager troops, the lieutenant makes a different call. >> these people to not go ahead and search their come pound and leave them be. come back another day. >> reporter: at another home, the marines in afghan soldiers think they've finally found something. they enter this concealed room, but emerge with only a shotgun that has probably not been fired since the soviets have been last in town. outside the commander checks in with the people. >> we can do this entire operation without firing a shot. that is one of the metrics of success. the entire intent of this is to own a piece of road that the taliban thinks he owns. he is pretty decent at identifying dead space. the areas we can't see and then going back to those points that he's been successful at before. >> reporter: several kilometers of farmland will be cleared over the course of three days.
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>> the movement through the village isxtremely difficult for these marines. it has rained recently. with every step, including all the weight they're carrying, their bodies sink into the mud. if they go along throughout the areas that were plowed, those are the areas the taliban has most likely planted explosive devices. so they're forced to cut through the fields at the risk of angering the local population. >> reporter: the marines would rather not return to their compound each night. they plan to add another one to stay closer to the people without holding the land they clear, they know the war will continue in the taliban's favor. clayton swisher, al jazeera, helmand province, afghanistan. we heard once ain from the president of iran today on his country's nuclear program and other issues. in a speech to thousands of supporters, mahmoud ahmadinejad dismissed a year-end deadline by the obama administration to
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accept a deal on enriching iran's uranium outside the country. he said the international community can give iran, as he they want. we don't care. he said iran is not afraid of sanctions and claimed his government is ten times stronger than it was a year ago. white house press secretary robert gibbs responded. >> mr. ahmadinejad may not recognize for whatever reason, the deadline that looms. but that is a very real deadline for the international community. >> reporter: we turn to the global economy. and a new report showing that britain remains in recession. the economy contracted by 0.2% in the third quarter but that was les than some thought. some believe fourth quarter figures will show the british economy returning to growth after almost a year. britain's prince william got a firsthand look at the hard times being experienced by some of the country's young people. to bring attention to the plight
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of homeless teenagers, william spent a night with some of them last week. he is seen here in an alley in central london with a british charity that helps the homeless. today he said of the experience, i cannot after one night even begin to imagine what it must be like to sleep rough on london streets night after night. an anglican priest in britain, the reverend tim jones, has caused quite a stir by suggesting that it is permissible for people facing tough times to shoplift from large national stores. in a sermon on sunday, jones said, it is okay for those in desperate situations to take food so they won't starve. he said this was preferable to prostitution, burglary or violent crime. and that while not a good thing to do, sometimes people are left with no choice. the anglican church and police officials denounced the comments as irresponsible. we would like to know what you think of this. tonight's question, what do you
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think of that comment by the reverend tim jones on shoplifting being permissi when people face desperate situations? do you agree or disagree? you can give us your opinion by going to the how you see it website at beyond the headlines, we look at a huge and underreported story south of the border. mexico's bloody war against the drug cartels. since president felipe will calderon launched the campaign three years ago, more than 15,000 people have been killed by drug violence including more than 7,000 this year alone. tonight, we have an unusual opportunity to take you to the front lines of the drug war with the mexican army.
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our report is from global post. >> reporter: deep in the sierra madre mountains, this beautiful landscape hides one of the world's biggest drug producing areas. the so-called golden triangle. in a rare opportunity, we joined the 94th battalion in its work fighting drug cartels here. critics argue it should be police officers and not these soldiers combating drug crime. but the commander said it is the only force equipped for this job. as we fly low, soldiers watch the cartel snipers who have targeted army helicopters with machine guns and even rocket propelled grenades. the soldiers have located a marijuana field which sticks out because of the bright green leaves of the psychedelic plants. we touch down and head to the crop.
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the troops are constantly on guard for enemy fire. in the last 18 months, the cartel hit men have slain more than 1,000 officers. the general explains that there are about 25,000 square feet of plants here. or enough for 500 pounds of grass for american smokers. this is a small crop by mexican standards. the plants tear from the ground easily. within two hours, the soldiers have ripped up the entire field and burned a bonfire. we fly back to the army's command center in the nearby city. home to mexico's most powerful cartels. landing in the air base, we are met by a stunning sight. in this compound, more than 100 planes that have been seized from drug smugglers. they are kept here guided by the military and a regular compound guarded by the police, they go in and rob them back. >> reporter: the size indicates the immense wealth they make in this business and these are only the planes the army has
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captured. the mexican government has sent troops in to fight the drug war. we follow the soldiers in one of these urban operations. the unit sets up checkpoints which are moved every hour. in this mustang they find a stash of firearms in the front seat but it turns out the drivers are police detectives and they let him go. the army also sifts through residential neighborhoods searching for gangsters. troops say this device can detect firearms or drugs at 300 yards. but many residents don't like the military invading their lives. this business woman gets annoyed about being stopped in her own street and launch into a scathing attack on the soldiers. [ speaking spanish ]
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[ speaking spanish ] >> reporter: man explain they have not stopped the trafficking. this comes under human rights abuses. accusations it promises to investigate. but the governme insists if troops were sent back to the barracks, the situation would only get worse. and as the conflict intensifies, there is no sign of them leaving the front line any time soon. >> reporter: that was the report from global post from mexico. for more about the drug war in mexico, we are joined tonight by rodolfo de la garza. he is from the council on foreign relations and a professor of political science at columbia university. thank you so much fo us tonight. at the start of the year, we were hearing regularly about an
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extraordinary level of drug violence in mexico but not recently. has the violence dropped significantly? >> not obviously, no. it is gog on. it is widespread. it is in 18 states in mexico now, apparently. you've had some recent atrocious murders, horrible murders. you had a major battle which is one of the great vacation cities in mexico. with the navy going in to attack the traffickers. so the violence is still there. >> the army and now the navy. >> would you say the government is winning in its crackdown on drug dealers? >> it depends on how you define it. it has managed to kill or have arrested some of the major leaders, but these organizations take on many forms. they split off this competition for new leadership. as long as there is a market, which is fundamentally a u.s.
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market, there is a demand. as long as there is a demand, a lot of money. so on one level, it has made advances. is it winning? i don't think so. not yet. >> we saw that one woman in the report who was very annoyed and frustrated with the soldiers for having to go through so many checkpoints in a five-minute period. does this drug war enjoy popular support? >> no. i don't think so. it is exposing the public to a lot of military invasions, shootings, innocent people get killed as the narcos try to escape arrests. as we said, it spread all over the country now. and when the military had to stop you and check you, you're feeling it on a personal level. there have been reports of horrible crimes where the narco
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killers go into drug rehab centers and kill everybody in the center. the motivation for that is, puzzling. we're going to teach you not to get rid of a drug addiction? i don't know. it is not a popular war. >> the obama administration has pledged to help the mexican government with its war on drugs. has it delivered on those promises? if so, what effect is it having? >> it is beginning. to it has sent town 18 helicopters, i may be wrong on the number. it sent down a very substantial number of helicopters to aid in the attacks. interestingly, it is working on the border, and the mexican side is aking people coming into mexico. in a way they d not ever used check. so the two of them working together are trying. that's largely in response to obama. >> you mention this in passing
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can the war on drugs in mexico be won unless consumption in the u.s. falls? >> it is impossible. >> we are the market for their drugs. it is amazing. maine, the state of maine is on the drug mainline now. so if the drugs are going all the way across mexico, all the way up the u.s. to maine, you're getting a sense of how big an organization this is. if we're consuming, and selling the weapons to the narcos to fight, we have to do our share. and we really have not done our share. >> all right, professor. thank you for being with us tonight. my pleasure. finally tonight, the global environment and a look beneath the sea at a troubling symptom
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of climate change. the bleaching of coral. a whitening effect brought on by stress and often caused by changes in water temperature that can lead to the death of coral. tonight, we take a look at the problem and efforts to restore the coral off an island in southern japan. mark went there for the abc of australia. >> reporter: it's a quiet corner of paradise in the east china sea. the island is famous for its sapphire blue waters and for its manta rays and coral reefs. in recent years, the coral around the island has begun to die. in the last decade, there have been four separate outbreaks of coral bleaching. in some places, 90% of the coral has died.
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this is the result of global warming and it can't be stopped. this person is leading one of the largest coral restoration projects in the world. over the past few years, his team has used an ingenious technique to plant 13,000 pieces of coral here at the reef off the island. >> i developed a system of this protects the young coral, allows to it grow and we can use
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it for transplants. all this takes place underwater in the coral's natural environment. >> reporter: until n, the most common transplant technique has been to break off pieces of coral and fix them elsewhere on the reef. the japanese restoration project allows coral larvae to naturally attach itself to the ceramic disks ensuring diversity. the program is being bank rolled by taxpayers' money. it is expensive and labor intensive. today, professor is surveying an area. once teeming with life, it is broken, gray and dead. >> this place was beautiful until the coral bleaching in 1998. now there are no more fish swimming around the coral because everything is dead. >> reporter: if this is to be fully restored, it will take thousands of transplants. and even if achieved, that he concedes is beyond their capabilities. >> look, ts is a great technique at a small scale and yes, you would have to call it a cosmetic approach. it certainly doesn't contribute a solution on a global scale to the problem that coral rfs are facing from global climate change.
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>> reporter: while the japanese coral restoration project is seen as ground breaking, it is still a case of two steps forward, and one step back. survival rates are often low with bleaching and predators like the crown of thorns starfish accounting for a third of it. >> the survival rate differs according to location. in this reef, it has become rubble. when there are lots of wes, that kills and moves the transplanted coral. >> reporter: the professor said his restoration technique could be used to repair great barrier reef. but other marine scientists argue that would be a futile project. >> when you consider ecosystems on the scale of the great barrier reef, which is over 300,000 square kilometers of coral reef and related habitats, trying to repair something using these techniques is pretty much impossible. >> reporter: most marine scientists including this one
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believe only a global effort to tackle climate change will guarantee the survival of the world's coral reefs. that is "worldfocus" for this tuesday evening. a reminder. there's a lot more news and perspective on our website at thank you for joining us. good night. -- captions by vitac -- major support for "worldfocus" has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters --
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