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tv   BBC World News America  PBS  January 20, 2022 2:30pm-3:00pm PST

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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. and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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announcer: and now, "bbc world news". >> i'm laura tn washington and this is "bbc world news america." new images of the russian military buildup as the u.s. secretary of state warns an incursion into ukraine will be met with a tough response. emergency teams in ghana are searching for survivors following a huge explosion that destroyed a town. we need pressure on boris johnson as a member of his own party accuses the government of trying to blackmail its lawmakers. and scientists in south africa feel confident the worst of omicron is behind them. and wonder why the west didn't listen more closely to their warnings. we have a special report from johannesburg. ♪
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laura: welcome to "bbc world news america." we begin with the growing tensions between russia and the west. u.s. secretary of state is in switzerland tonight ahead of a key meeting with russia's foreign minister ineneva on friday. antony blinken was in berlin today meeting with european foreign ministers amid concerns that russia could invade ukraine. he warned military buildup could drag the region back to the era of the cold war. our diplomatic correspondent now reports. james: is not just the russians conducting military exercises. these are pictures released by ukraine's defense ministry showing forces close to crimea, which was annexed by russia in 2014. the kind of incursion ukraine and its allies are trying to deter. pres. biden: i want to be
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absolutely clear, any assembled russian units crossing the ukraine order, that is an invasion that will be met with severe and coordinated economic response. james: in some of the most intensive diploma seniors, the u.s. secretary of state has been touring european capitals rallying support for ukraine and appealing directly to the people of russia. >> you deserve to live with security and dignity. what could be occurring -- james: behind the scenes, there are differences over what the penalty should be, but the public message is united. >> we are an absolutely close coordination and we have a joint assessment of the situation.
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also on reactions with regard to security of ukraine, it also applies to sanctions. james: fresh satellite images appear to show how russia has amassed not just troops on the border of ukraine but also military equipment. the diplomacy now moves to geneva where mr. lincoln arrived for talks with his russian counterparts on friday. but the discussions at this hotel tomorrow may be different because the gap between both sides is so large. the americans want to talk about avoiding ror in ukraine, but the russians want to talk about their demands for nato to step back and allow moscow to establish a new sphere of influence across eastern europe. in eastern ukraine, they know what that would mean. pro-russian separatists have been fighting government forces here since 2014.
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the scars are all to see. anthony is 72 years old and lives close to the line. we could have died many times, she says. she is pro-russian and fears of full-scale war. russia denies that is its intention, but it's forces are training hard close to ukraine. the question now is whether all these exercises will soon become the real thing. laura: james landau reporting there from geneva. in ghana, many people are feared dead after a huge explosion in a town. the blast happened when a truck carrying explosives was heading to a mind collided with a motorcycle in a town in the west of ghana. will ross has more. >> this was a huge explosion
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that has basically destroyed the entire community in western ghana. the video footage is quite astonishing, showing hundreds of buildings that have just been reduced to rubble, pieces of wood, broken brick, twisted metal. rescuers can be seen pulling bodies from the scene. the president of ghana has spoken of this tragedy. he described it as truly sad, unfortunate, and tragic. he has promised a lot of help. he has also spoken about rebuilding the community, which seems pretty optimistic at the moment when you look at the state of it. the police in ghana are saying what caused the explosion was when a lorry carrying explosives traveling to a mine in the area collided with another vehicle. there is a vast crater in the ground right next to the road, which shows just how powerful this explosion was. but it is still not clear to
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-- how many people died, but it is feared that many were buried under the rubble. laura: will ross reporting on that huge truck explosion in ghana. to the u.k. where britain's prime minister is still fighting for his political life. today a senior conservative lawmaker said it looked like checkmate for boris johnson. another conservative mp accused the government of trying to blackmail colleagues who want mr. johnson to quit. a political editor has more. >> how will it turn out? for weeks, the prime minister has been having to explain himself. and what happened at number 10 during the pandemic. it made some of the public and his own mp's mad. there are claims now that his team have been intimidating backbenchers who want to speak out. >> i've seen nothing to support any of those allegations.
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what i'm focused on is what we're doing to do with the number one priority which is coming through cov, and we made enormous progress thanks to the vaccine rollout. >> back in westminster, there's nothing unusual about mp's being subject to some pretty strong persuasion, in dark corners, around the corridors of power, party workers work to keep backbenchers in line. but in front of the cameras this morning, a critic of boris johnson said it is gone far too far. >> a number have faced pressures from government because of their declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence for the party condition of the prime minister. >> politics is not for the fainthearted. conversations behind closed doors can be brutal, but what today's argument shows is the intention inside the conservative already, fighting
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while everyone awaits the official verdict to what really happened at number 10 during lockdown. one confusion is perhaps already being gone -- drawn, a member of the capital and meeting the saga is damaging democracy. much may stand between boris johnson and any exit, yet with a bright light shone on his government's conduct and character, the omens do not look good. laura: here in the u.s., after a brutal month, citizens on the east coast are finally seeing infection falling as new cases of the omicron variant taper off. if seen that in the u.k. and in africa too. the bbc spoke to president biden's chief medical advisor, dr. anthony fauci, who had this to say about the state othe pandemic here in america. dr. fauci: we are averaging
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approximately 800,000 new infections per day on a weekly basis. we have 150 6000 people in the hospital and we have 2000 deaths per day. that is not a level of control that we should feel we can settle with. laura: anthony fauci talking to the bbc. south africa was the country which sounded the alarm on the omicron variant at the end of last year. now that country scientists are confident the worst is behind them. they accused the developed world of ignoring their advice that omicron's nest -- less harmful than initially feared. our correspondent reports now from johannesburg. reporter: back to school, and perhaps back to something like normality. masks are still compulsory in public, but the omicron variant first discovered in this region eight weeks ago is already fading fast. confidence is growing.
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>> it's time. i don't see any harm in this. >> we do not see an increase in deaths comparable to the other waves. reporter: omicron is highly contagious, but it's death toll as been tiny compared to past waves. >> omicron was less severe than the previous variants, yes. it was more infectious, but less severe, and that is exactly what a virus wants to do. >> south african scientists studying omicron have been quick to share their analysis with the rest of the world, but has the world listened? today, some of south africa's top scientists are speaking out in frustration, accusing
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wealthier western nations of being quick to believe bad news from this continent, but far too slow to trust or positive evidence emerging about omicron. >> i thought that there was too much skepticism, that the world was not willing to believe that this virus was somehow going to be less severe. everybody was expecting the worst, and when they weren't seeing it, they were questioning whether our observations were sufficiently scientifically accurate. >> they shut their orders to south africa but when we provide some good news, all of a sudden it's all skepticism. >> in a johannesburg bar, business as usual. south africa has managed omicron without any new restrictions, but with the push to increase vaccine rates.
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>> is going to be better if more people get vaccinated. there will be or jobs available and business will come back. >> south africa has been hit hard by covid-19, harder than most. it's experience of omicron is giving many hope. laura: former pope benedict the 16th has expects -- express shock and shame to sexually -- abuse of children by clerics. he was accused of failing to take action in four cases when was archbishop in munich of germany. >> back in the late 1970's and early 1980's, he was the archbishop and presided over the german diocese of munich.
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the reports say it was there that he ineffeively failed to act in four child sex abuse cases. they say he knowingly allowed three priests who had convictions of crimes against children to work in the diocese and in the case of another cleric who was a known pedophile was transferred to the diocese to carry on working as a priest. pope benedict denies all wrongdoing and said he knew nothing about the background of that particular man but reporters have unnerved minutes of a meeting in which the transfer of this man were discussed and the reports say he -- they looked at the minutes and it was clear from the minutes that he had indeed been there. the vatican has issued a statement today saying they will examine and analyze the report
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that runs for 1600 pages so there is a lot to look through. they also expressed their regret at the -- the report talks about hundreds of children that were abused at the hands of clerics in the catholic church. laura: jenny hill reporting therefrom germany. you're watching "bbc world news america." still to come on tonight's program, a discovery deep at sea. a giant coral reef in pristine condition off the coast of tahiti. that is just ahead. women's rights campaigners in afghanistan have told the bbc that two activists were abducted on wednesday night. taliban claims a video released by one of the women is fake. here is more on the missing women and their protest movement too. reporter the female activist
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for the bbc says it was a group of taliban members and that it was the taliban who took them into custody. there is no information at the moment on the whereabouts of these women. the protest that took place earlier this week, they were demanding women's rights to study, to work, all of which have been severely curtailed since the taliban came to power in august. you are seeing this women continue to come out into the streets of cities across the country, asking for their rights. very basic, fundamental human rights. ♪ laura: we returned to our top story tonight, those tensions over russia's military buildup on the border with ukraine.
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tomorrow the u.s. secretary of state will meet russia's foreign minister and switzerland. our diplomatic correspondent is in geneva ahead of that high-stakes meeting and he joins us now. james, do you think there is a diplomatic formula that could come out of the meeting and lower the tension, or are both sides talking about totally different things and defining the problem differently? james: i think there's no great expectation of a grand breakthrough tomorrow. i think the gap remains large. there are no new proposals on both sides and there seems to be little movement on fundamentals. but there are some positive notes out there. i think there is potential common ground on issues like deployment of missiles and be more transparent about military exercises and things like that. it's not the big stuff, but if they can start talking about that and have some progress on
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that, it's possible they might move to some of the more fundamental issues. there's also some pause to be taken simply from the fact that this meeting is taking place. last week everyone was saying the diplomatic route was over. not quite, there still prepared to talk. laura: meanwhile we have those new images showing russian troops on the border with ukraine. there are russian troops in belarus, and america's eastern european allies sending weapons to ukraine ando is britain. it looks like preparations for war if diplomacy fails, doesn't it? james: it is preparation for war on allides. either they actually intend or is another matter. the answer to the question is, nobody knows. when you asked that question of diplomats, they genuinely scratch their heads and say look, tomorrow is another chance
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to try and learn a little more about russian intentions. there are some who say this, we in the west are mesmerized by these russian troops and weaponry, and that is exactly what vladimir putin wants. he is creating this crisis so he can make strategic, geopolitical gains and try to get more influence within eastern europe. that is his intention, rather than some costly war in ukraine that he cannot afford. that is one analysis. it is not shared by everybody, but it points to the argument that the russians are looking for strategic gains rather than going into ukraine. the counterargument is, they built up so much expectation now that they probably have to do at least something. laura: briefly, james, can russia exploit nato's division as president biden alluded to yesterday?
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james: yes, they can try to. think nato and western allies have tried hard to clamp down on that. on one level, but president biden said was almost a statement of the obvious. depending on what russia does, there is a graded response there. you not going to go from -- on the other hand, what is been made clear today is that a small incursion is the same as in incursion, it is an invasion. in other words, any acquisition of territory of ukraine i russia counts as an invasion, whether it is small or large. laura: james, thank you. the first plane loads of aid have arrived at tongass airrt after saturday's eruption and tsunami cut them off from the outside world. more ships and supplies are on
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their way carrying drinking and medicine. rupert wingfield-hayes reports. >> for the first time since last saturdays huge eruption, we are finally getting to see what has happened to tonga's main island. along the coast, the damage from the tsunami looks extensive with many buildings destroyed. in tongass capital, there a lot of volcanic ash but the buildings are intact and the cleanup has begun. telephone services are also back. that means for tongan's living abroad, the agonizing wait for news is finally over. >> my dad told me there are no major damages to our homes and they are fine. >> i have heard they are doing ok. i have not heard from my father. i'm sure he is out there working hard, doing what he does.
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>> we've also learned of a remarkable survival story. this man said he was sweptff a small island by the tsunami and was in the water for more than 24 hours before making land. help is now arriving. this is an australian transport plane on final approach to tonga this afternoon. the crew quickly unloaded water and emergency supplies but because of covid, they were not allowed any contact with locals. the government has decided that until covid is over, the island will have to deal with the aftermath of the disaster by themselves. laura: in other news from around the world, the international committee of the red cross says it has been the victim of a massive cyberattack. hackers stole the details of more than a half million vulnerable people including confidential data on those separated from their families
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during conflicor disaster. those behind the attack i've yet to be identified. the stampede at a christian prayer gathering in liberia has killed at least 29 people. 11 children and a pregnant woman are among the dead. it happened after criminals attacked, some carrying knives. one person has been arrested. street gangs have become increasingly common in liberian cities in recent years. we've hea a lot about how climate change is damaging coral reefs. but a previously unknown giant coral reef has been found off the coast of tahiti in pristine condition. research mission made the discovery at a depth of 30 meters, which could mean there are more intact coral reefs out there. our science correspondent has this report. victoria: magical. that was the word of veteran
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special diver used to describe it. some of these corals are more than two meters wide. it stretches three kilometers along the seabed. it's depth and distance from the coast have to be a key reason for its pristine condition. it shows no sign of damage from pollution or warming ocean temperatures, something that poses a major threat to more shallow reefs. >> it might be to date one of the largest coral reefs in the world at that sort of depth, more than 30 meters. from that perspecti, it is opening new insight that could suggest there may be more large reefs in the oan at a depth beyond 30 meters that we simply do not know about. >> it's often said we know more about the surface of the moon
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than we do the ocean floor. coral reefs like this are the seafloor hotspots for marine life. the team is now planning more investigative dives to work out how the remarkable newly discovered habitat can be protected. laura: before we go tonight, we have the story of an intrepid teenager who set a new world record. sarah rutherford has become the youngest woman to fly solo around the globe. the 19-year-old finished her journey -- her journey today when she landed in belgium. she has flown 32,000 miles across 41 countries in the meantime, dodging lightning in mexico and getting stuck in alaska along the way. her parents are pilots and she is hoping to inspire other young women.
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i'm laura trevelyan, thanks so much 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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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the first year-- on this anniversary of president biden's inauguration, we look at what's gone well, and what hasn't over the past 365 days, and ask if anything needs to change as he begins year two. then, tensions rising-- disagreements between nato allies prompt widespread uncertainty as the threat of a renewed russian invasion looms over ukraine. and, on trial-- jury selection begins in the federal case against three former minneapolis police officers charged in the death of george floyd. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.

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