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tv   DW News  LINKTV  July 19, 2021 3:00pm-3:31pm PDT

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>> this is "dw news" live from berlin. tonight the devastating floods in germany and belgium could lives have been saved? officials under fire for failing to act being a little the danger days in advance. also coming up, an investigation revealing how governments could be using smartphones to spy on journalists, activists, and lawyers. up to 50,000 phone numbers may have been targeted with spyware made in israel.
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plus they are calling it freedom day, public life reopening in england, as the government drops most coronavirus restrictions. but some say it is too much freedom too soon. ♪ brent: i'm brent goff. to our viewers on pbs and the united states and to all of you around the world, welcome. more than 160 people are dead, thousands have lost everything, after last week's catastrophic floods. germany continues to reel from disaster. now questions are starting to emerge over whether residents received adequat warning ahead of the flooding. experts say authorities knew what was coming, but failed to prepare the public for the magnitude of the disaster. reporter:. reporter: among the many questions these floods have left in their wake is one about the warnings. did people understand that lives were in danger from heavy
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rainfall? those who were there say information was chaotic. >> a fire service vehicle came through but he couldn't understand what they were saying. i asked a neighbor, said we should turn off the electricity because water was coming, but nobody realized it w would be a flood more than two meters high. >> there were advance warnings about heavy rain and so on, but some of the warnings were wrong. they told us there was another flood coming, so we went up the hill, but there was nothing. reporter: that the head of the national disaster response agency visiting the region on monday said the system had worked well. >> our warning system worked in each and every case. the german weather service, the flood centers, and the local authorities made intense
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use of it. 160 warnings were centre system. reporter: some of those mornings were sent out using phone app, but a nationwide test of the system in 2020 showed that doesn't always work. some mornings came through half an hour late. germany also has a more old-fashioned network of sirens from the cold war days. many of these have been dismantled in recent years, but around 15,000 are still in operation. yet even such a simple technology is not fool-proof. >> they sound the>> siren once every month but not when something big this happens. i don't understand. reporter: in view of so many deaths, it is not surprising some people are demanding changes. but for now, the main task is to clean up, and to begin to learn the lessons. brent: let's go to our correspondent benjamin alvarez gruber he is joining us from one of the towns worst hit by the
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floods. benjamin, it's been five days since the floodwaters hit. how are things looking there on the ground? benjamin: the situation is still dramatic five days after the flood, still no electricity or gas. local authorities believe this could take weeks if not months to get restored. emergency services and volunteers and a lot of people who have joined the effort are still working around-the-clock to try to find dozens of people that are still missing after the deadly floods. in this district, the number has increased to 117, but there are fears that the number will increase as search-and-rescue efforts continue. brent: we know that this disaster struck in the middle of the night last week. we heard reports today from residence that they were not warned. -- from residents that they were
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not warned. what have people been telling you about the warning systems, the sirens, for example? benjamin: we talked to several people here on the ground and while some of them told us they heard an alarm by firefighters a lot of them told us they didn't get any alarm not from local authorities, not by firefighters, not the police. they were saved by a miracle, they told us, getting calls from family members who told him to leave the house and see if they could escape. so there are a lot of people demanding an investigation to find out what, and why many people here in this disaster zone did not get this call to try to evacuate their homes. there are still a lot of politicians also saying that there should be something improving the system, that it is a really sophisticated system. but people prepared for a one meter wave, and it was eight meters high. they told us they have had floods in recent years, but never the amount we are seeing
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now. brent: we heard about volunteers coming to help. what about the official cleanup operation? who is involved? and do people feel like they are getting enough help right now? benjamin: what they are demanding is to have quick solutions, not, just financial help to try to open the doors again. they had a very difficult year with covid-19. there are volunteers coming here, and of course, they are also demanding for local authorities to come here and help, and not just give empty promises. it's important to remember that we have federal elections coming up at the end of september. we have chancellor merkel, and the interior minister and other high-ranking politicians in this area. but they want to see quick help and not just empty promises. a lot of them are saying that local authorities should do more. let's remember that here in the district, the local authorities asked the authorities of the state of rhineland, where we are right now, for help, because it
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was too much for them. so there are a lot of things that need to be improved, several people have told us, to be better prepared for this emergency and for this extreme weather that could be increased also due to climate change. brent: dw news benjamin out there is gruber thank you. earlier i spoke with miriam she is head of the crisis management unit at the federal office for civil protection and disaster assistance. her organization is among those responsible for bringing the alarm that a disaster could be imminent. i asked her what went wrong. nguyen: we as the federal office of disaster are not responsible for flood warnings, for the whole of germany. we have a clear separation in germany, we are in federal state , between the federal level and the state level. the distinction is that we are
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responsible for civil protections originally in wartime, and the federation states are responsible for disaster prevention and disaster management. what we do with our modular warning system is we provide a multichannel perspective that is satellite-based, through which the different stakeholders can provide alert messages to the population. but we are not originally responsible for setting up such alerts, in fact, the constitution prohibits us from doing so. brent: what does that mean, then? who informs local residents when a national disaster such as flooding is imminent? miriam: let me start by saying that we have a meteorological agency who send out an alert message predicting large precipitation and give out a
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warning already on the 13th of july and reiterated that warning on the 14th of july, using our channel. so we can not say that there was a break in the chain of warning. also, the measurements from the european flood awareness systems were sent over to the local levels. so as such, the technique of warning has worked. we have issued over 150 alerts. brent: when you say warnings, what kind of warnings? are you talking about push notifications on smartphones or sirens sounding? miriam: we just provide the information channel. and through the information channel, the modular warning system, there are different systems attached. so that can be sirens at the
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local level, that can be on smartphone applications, we provide a warning app called nina, and there are others in the system, we can address pages and websites and, we directly address depending on the height of the warning level, we directly address the media systems and radio stations, so we can prove that they have received an alert. now, the person who authorizes that alert is nobody from by agency or my department, it is on the local level. they take decisions to warn in case of disaster prevention. and it is the mythological service who issued warnings already two days before. brent: so as you see it enough warnings were issued that would have allowed people to prepare for an imminent disaster? because most people were in bed asleep when the waters hit.
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miriam: that is correct, but there were warnings about flooding approaching already before. the problem is -- -- i think you have mentioned before that we had flooding is an extreme precipitation, particularly in those areas, before, but never to the extent that we have now. i honestly believe that nobody, not the decision-makers and not the people on the ground, expected this amount of water could cause that incredible amount of damage. and it is for people who work in the warning system, a very thin line -- do you warned enough or do you not warned enough? if you warn people -- do you warn enough or do you not w arn enough? sometimes people get angry if you warn too much. next time you warn people, they will not listen to you, or they have lived through some
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disasters and thought, well, it will be comparable. nobody expected this to happen to that extent. brent: miriam hiaritz from the federal office of civil protection and disaster assistance, we appreciate your time tonight. thank you. miriam: thank you for hosting me. brent: some other stories making headlines around the world -- the united states and nato have accused china of harboring the people behind a massive data hack. in march, criminals used a breach of microsoft exchange servers to hack into 30,000 businesses and government agencies. president biden says beijing accommodated the hackers responsible. iraqi security forces say they have arrested a senior commander of the so-called islamic state. they have taken into custody a man known as the governor of baghdad, planned attacks in the iraqi capital. analysts say the group's activities are at their highest level since 2018.
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haiti's minister is said to five point ariel henry as the new minister. he was picked by president jovenel moise, but he has been locked in a power battle with a rival since's the president assassination at the start of the month. the european border agency front ex says it will send guards to lithuania after an increase in violence near belarus. lithuania accuses belarus of facilitating migration due to political tension. minsk says it is responding to sanctions slapped on it by the european union. several governments around the world have been targeting the phones of journalists, critics, and activists using spyware known as pegasus. that's according to an investigation by over a dozen news outlets. the report accuses 10 countries
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of using pegasus, including e.u. member country hungary. the intrusion goes far beyond wiretapping. pegasus spyware allows intelligence agencies to secretly activate the microphones and cameras of their target's smartphones. >> the report clearly puts the regime in azerbaijan under pressure. investigative journalists looked into allegations of election fraud there. herself and was compromised for months using pegasus. >> it was awful to learn about this. i never imagined that they used this technology to follow us. reporter: she was not the only target, according to an investigation by an international team of journalists. more than 190 reporte and hundreds of rights activists may have been on the list, including in you member, hungary -- including in hungary. >> free press is one of the core
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values of the eupean union. it is completely unacceptable if this would be the case. reporter: pegasus' developer and israeli firm says it sells the program to governments. so they can combat crime. but rights activists say nso does not check up on how its software is used. >> we need a global sanctions regime to prevent the export of technology like this to authoritarian regimes, because in the worst case scenario, this spyware puts press freedom in danger and lives at risk. reporter: this generalist says she will continue her reporting. azerbaijan's government is not commenting on the reports. brent: for more, i am joined by my guest a member of the european parliament with hungary's momentum movement. she joins me tonight from budapest.
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good to have you in the program we just heard ursula von der leyen say that if all this is true, it would be completely unacceptable for the european union. let's assume that today's reports are true. . what do you expect the e.u. to do? >> what the european union has to do is first of all seriously consider rulations concerning spyware software. i expect the european parliament to launch a full inquiry. this is a dark day in hungary, in hungary and democracy. the government uses spyware to spy on opposition politicians and journalists. truly a disgrace, and we need an investigation how and why did it happen. brent: i want to share with the reviewers something that you posted on social media. you wrote, to all remaining four
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apologists and enablers in the european union, this is what you are supporting, a regime's partisans and a totalitarian criminal. katalina: i stand by this. brent: you are referring to viktor orban. katalina: of course. he is the person behindhe decline of democracy in hungary in the past 10 years. this is really just the tip of the iceberg. it that's an externally dangerous precedent, and i really do expect hungarian voters to take od notes of it when they go to the polls next april. brent: do you really think the voters are going to keep this in mind? if we look at the political landscape in hungary at the
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moment, mr. orban and his party enjoy a nice majority in parliament, they are not worried about losing it in the polls. katalina: that recent polls show that the other party are toto. the polls are very tight at the moment and this is why the government launched a very horrible attack on the hungary in a gayommunity, for example. this is why the provocation and the attacks on journalists, on opposition politicians, on everybody who might think fferentlor who might pose a danger to the orban government have been so frequent. mr. orban is great at trying to rally his people against fellow hungarians through hate and
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state-sponsored government propaganda and this is why i believe that the european union should launch an inquiry into this, and ao for the hungarian voters to consider whether they want an authoritarian politicia in leading the country, or if they want to vote for change. i truly believe this is the last moment when we can save hungary and democracy. brent: let's assume the e.u. starts an investigation these things did not take place quickly. will it matter once the results come out? will it not be too late then? if this is true, what is in these reports, won't the damage already been done? katalina: the european union needs to consider this not only as a hungarian or polish problem but of the entire community. if no consequences happen after
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such actions are taken, after journalists are targeted by spyware, after opposition politicians are being spied upon, then it can show precedent to other european leaders who may want to follow mr. orban's path. brent: member of the hungarian eupean parliament, catalina cseh . katalina: thank you very much for having me. brent: let's take a look at other stories making headlines around the world. a cartoonist has died at the age of 86. he was known for his controversial caricatures of islam's prophet muhammad in 2005. the cartoonist sparked protests around the world some of which turned deadly. he narrowly survived an assassination attempt, and lived with bodyguards for the last 15 years of his life. 60,000 pilgrims flocked to mount arafat, on the second day of the
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scaled-back hajj pilgrimage. it is a requirement to be performed once-in-a-lifetime. prior to the pandemic, as many as 2.5 million pilgrims took part. 12 million people in australia's two largest cities are testate under covid-19 restrictions for the next five days. melbourne extended its lockdown despite only five new cases. 98 cases are recorded in sydney, which has entered its fourth week of lockdown. england has lifted most pandemic restrictions, despite surging infections and criticism from medical experts. the mandate for wearing masks and social distancing rules has been scrapped. the british government on monday says it expects hospitalizations and deaths to increase, but at a lower rate compared to january's peak thanks to high vaccination rates.
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officials also urged people in their 20's and 30's to get vaccinated. for more on this, i am joined now by dr. john campbell, a u.k. based health analyst and educator. according to the polls, more than half of the brits say they are worried about removing restrictions. is it a good idea for the government to lift the restrictions now? dr. campbell: that is a remarkably good question. the government and the scieific advisors say this is the best time. they say if this is delayed further, it will just delay hospitalizations. it is best to do this now when we have the summer on our side, when we have the vitamin d from the sunshine, the ultraviolet. best to do it now rather than delay it into wintertime. but as well as that, we had a letter to the lancet recently with 1200 scientists and doctors, writing that they are concerned about it. and there is a big debate in the
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u.k. about this now. a lot of people on one side, a lot of people on the other side. basically this is a u.k. experiment, i think we can only collect that. the world needs to watch this with interest and see what the outcome will be, because there is a lot of unknowns. brent: let me ask you about prime minister boris johnson. he has gone into isolation having possibly been exposed to the virus just as the country lifts restrictions. what signal do you think that sesend? dr. campbell: infections are going up. the doubling time is probably about 11 days. so the infection rates are gng to go on increasing there will be 100,000 a day pretty soon that is inevitable. the prime minister had hoped to have a grand triumphant opening, that was before the delta variant took over. so the prime minister, and two
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of the senior cabinet ministers the mister for health and the chancellor of the exchequer, are actually in selfsolation for 10 days, as are many others. well over half a million people in the country. the app actually informs you. a payin -- the nhs app pings and informs you to self-isolate for 10 days. it is a problem for workers and for transport. the prime minister made it clear today that it has to carry on for the time being. brent: you say that the world will be watching england, that this is a case test, if you will. what will they be looking for exactly? >> i am thinking about the fact that we are hearing that most hospitalizations for covid-19 are in people who have not been vaccinated. is this going to show us how far we can go in a society where you have people who still remain unvaccinated? dr. campbell: they will be looking at thnumber of cases, at the number of people tting
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sick, at the number of people hospitalized, and of course, the number of people dying. we are getting a lot of people hospitalized who have had two doses of the vaccine. but this is not surprising, because the higher risk people, the older people and those with comorbidities have been vaccinated already, and we know they are most likely to be vaccinated. the vacces are about 90% efficient inerms of protecting against hospitalization. thathey are more protective against people dying. so the world will be watching these parameters. that mean variable is we don't how people are going to behave. if people are going to carry on basically behaving as they were last month, than the rise in cases will be more moderate and more important than the risk of hospitalizations. if hospitalizations get to 2000 today, that is putting a strain on the health service. beyond that, then restrictive
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measures will be needed. of course, we also need to look out for the new variants, and vaccine-immune as cape. quita few things to watch out for the next few weeks. it will be interesting. living in the u.k. it is a little bit frightening as well. brent: it makes you wonder, a good dose of common sense probably would help in the equation as well. dr. campbell: absolutely. brent: dr. campbell, thank you. dr. campbell: thank you>> ♪ brent: in ice hockey, this is the nashville predators with the nashville predators and has become the first contracted nhl player to announce he is gay. the 19-year-old canadian says living a "authentic life would help him improve his chances of fulfilling his dreams in north america national ice hockey league." the national -- nashville predators say they are proud of him, and say they will support him unequivocally. japanese carmaker toyota, one of
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the main sponsors of the tokyo olympics, announced it will pull all of its tv ads during the games. the company provided all official vehicles for tokyo 2020, and also announced it will not be taking part in friday's opening ceremony. the decision by the country's top carmaker underlines how polarizing the games have become, as covid-19 infection numbers continue to rise in japan. you are watching dw news. after a short break, i will be back to take you through "the day." stick around. ♪
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♪ >> military grade spyware is being used by governments to listen in to journalists and campaigners. two media have been targeted in france. the health pass plan approved but more will be discussed. the government spokesman announces we're in the fourth wave. cases are up 125% over the past week. riding the wave into the history books. the surfers compete for the first time ever at the olympics.


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