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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 16, 2014 4:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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statisticsi >> this is al jazeera america, live from new york. i'm jonathan betz, with today's top stories. the results in crimea are in, and they are no surprise. ahead - comprehensive coverage of decision day in ukraine. >> also the investigation into the missing malaysian airliner searching for answers in the vastness of the indian ocean. >> intense fighting in syria leads to a big government gain against the rebels. >> they are smarter than your average bear - some bears
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showing campers what not to do on your trip to the great outdoors. >> today is decision day in ukraine, and the votes are in. election officials say most people in crimea voted to breakaway from ukraine and join the russian federation. it's the highest voter turp out they have seen. in u.s., they have denied the referendum. nick schifrin joins us from the crimean capital simferepol. what have you seen today? >> the results are coming in literally as we speak. the election commissioners are speaking to the press. they announced over 80% of
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crimea voted. we believe according to initial reports about the exit polls, over 90% of the peninsula voted to join russia. i must say we were out in four or five different polling sayings and we didn't see an until peace of evidence that exit pollsters were there working. we should take the numbers with a grain of salt. bottom line is they have decided to join russia. >> how concerned are people across ukraine that these polls are not legitimate and do not reflect what the people want? >> i think people do believe they reflect what the crimeans want. so many believe they are righting an historical wrong, and so many call it independence day. in the "50, they came part of
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ukraine. ukraine became independent. a lot of people never wanted to be part of ukraine. they feel this is the first time they've been able to say no, separate us from ukraine. the west calls the mechanics of the vote legitimate, too quick, lots of irregularities. the majority of people, regardless of the number does seem to think that their future is a brighter with russia. >> you have seen a lot of pressure with pro-russia supporters and campaigns and literature. talk about that? >> well look, this is a massive intimidation campaign. you have to call a spade a spade. this is against anybody who is pr western or pro-ukrainian, including what these people thing as pro-western journalists. a lot of people have been silenced. protesters who came out with
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signs and flags pointing to the west, rather than russia, journalists who expose the troops with no flags on their shoulders as russian troops, and the pro activists, and the pro-russian militias, some of whom invaded a hotel of journalists. there has been a systematic attempt to silence the opposition, and that has led to the overwhelming result of this peninsula joining rush a. these people don't care what the west says or that the u.s. calls it a fraud. all they care about is how mosc mosc moscow sponed, in their words welcoming them home >> let's turn to jennifer glasse, in sevastopol, in the southern tip of crimea. how are people reacting there to this election? >> they didn't have to wait for results.
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this is a very pro-russian city. they were celebrating all afternoon. there's a stage in the main square. they brought in recording artists and singers and musicians, and people came out and they were waving the russian flag. they were in no doubt, and i don't think they cared how big the numbers are. they feel like a mistake was made in 1957. this should be part of russia. this is a naval port. it will always be home to the russian black sea fleet. you have a native russian population, russian, russian, not ethnic russian. this city has leaned towards moscow, taking a lot of direction because it gets so much military money. but really a lot of happiness sevastopol. we started the day about 60 miles north-east of here. there there is a small ukrainian search on the outskirts of the military base.
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they are worried about what happens next. they say they'll stay because there's nowhere else to go. this is their country. they felt on the ballot there was no choice for crimea to stay in ukraine. they felt the two choice was independence, de facto independence. >> on the ground, for the people that live in crimea, how will this vote change your their daily lives? >> that is the big question now. i ask some people what about the ruble. if they head towards russia, as the vote indicates, and they become part of russia, you have to change your your currency. what will happen to banks. everything has been frozen because notary pub licks were important to get things done. they don't a property lists, they've been frozen by kiev. you can't buy or sell an apartment. it needs to be worked out but
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kiev is not speaking to moscow, moscow is not speaking to kiev. internationally they are not recognising the votes. much has to be sorted out, not least what happens to the ukrainian fleet on crimean territory, and the bases. will they switch sides. one man indicated - the fleet will have to switch sides now. some sailors said they don't plan to switch sides, what will happen there? an interesting historic week ahead as they try to administrate the vote. the international community, except russia, don't recognise it. >> do you get the impression from the soldiers, that they were waiting for today and the decision before deciding what to do next? >> i think a lot of them have been waiting for guidance. and that is the big concern.
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they are not sure what to do. some said of course they would stay, they swore allegiance to the ukrainian fly, that's what the ships and bases are flying. they have to be looking at the referendum at the public vote and worry about what they are supposed to do. the sailors and soldiers that i have been talking to really have been waiting for guidance from kiev, what to do next. they say there hasn't been any by and large. it's difficult to know. if you talk to people on the streets, they say "we have friends whether or not are sailors, and they are going to change your sides." i think it's really all to play for at this point. of course, you have a dangerous game, this is an up close and personal naval blockade. you have russian ships next to the ukrainian ships. the bay behind me is blockaded not only with ships, but buoys.
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there are torpedo nets down, ships have been moved around. it will be who makes the next move and what the russian milt will do n. >> now to kiev, where phil ittner is standing by live. ukrainian government is not happy about the election what do you think will be the next move now? >> well, john, all along they've been saying ta the render um is -- referendum is illegal. they intend to take this to the international court. aside from what the government is saying, there's grave concern about not only the referendum, but the chaos in the east of the country and the uncertainty that the whole situation is causing. it being sunday, we went to a church, and attended an arth dox -- orthodox service where people prayed for peace, for the
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young soldiers, who they say, because of the uncertainty in the east, there could be open conflict. also, they were praying for the future of their country. >> translation: we hope the russian people will look at the ukrainian people and become free. from the reasonabling, and putin -- regime and putin, we hope tore help from the minister. we love the democracy you have, we want to live in a free country. >> the orthodox workers hope their shared religion that they have in common with the russians will overrule any kind of crisis or conflict between the nations, but oddly enough there was another thing that rose above this crisis, and something they share in common - sport. believe it or not, there was a soccer match between kiev and the crimean capital simferepol's
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team in kiev, and that's another thing that many people here say chumps politics and crisis >> translation: football is out of politics. we came to support our team, diane ammo kiev >> now, just in the last 20 minutes or so, we have the result of that football match. at least when it comes to that pairing, it seems that kiev won 2-1 over the crimans. >> read into that what you like. phil ittner live in kiev. a lot has changed in ukraine in the past few months leading up to this historic change your. three weeks ago the president viktor yanukovych fled the country after protesters took over parliament. a few days later russia seized key locations on the crimean peninsula. they demonstrated that ukraine
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halt steps. 10 days later they declared the region wants to join russia and they'd let them decide. and that is what they have decided. >> mike viqueira joins us from washington. what is the rehabilitation from the white house today -- reaction from the white house today about the election? >> a statement from jay carney, the press secretary at the white house, saying, "what happened in crimea, the referendum is not legal, the white house will not exercise it" they denounced exercises within russia and just over the border. "it is destabilising and dangerous", he concludes the statement by saying:
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>> everyone in washingtoning waiting to see what is next. will they follow through with the results as crimeans voted to breakaway. there's a hope that this will be a symbolic access. >> let's talk about the next steps for the united states and the white house. a lot of talk about sanctions promised. where do we go from here with that. >> they've been talking about sanctions, rattling that samer for a few weeks. president obama announced two things. first of all, a ban on travel visa bands to the oligarchs and others with a hand in what happened. that went into place. what they put on hold and held above the heads of some of these same people are financial sanctions, asset freezes and the like. they didn't name names and haven't imposed the sanctions, but made clear that that is what is going to happen if, in fact,
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the referendum from to go forward and obviously it has gone forward. dan pheiffer sits next to the president in a figurative sense in the west wing. he's been with the president for years. he was on the talk shows today and here is what he had to say. >> the united states is not going to recognise the results of that referendum. we are working with our partners, the europeans, in particular, to marshal forces against the russians to put pressure on them in the form of sanctions. the president signed an executive order giving him the authority to do this, and you can expect sanctions in the following days. >> we have those sanctions. really, they'll be margin am, they are not going to change your the behaviour, it's not likely, of vladimir putin and the people around him. the e.u. is essential. the russian economy integrated with the e.u., the e.u. dependent on the natural gas and
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oil coming through the pipeline. bob on the isn't at committee spoke to that issue today. >> we have to show long-term commitment to this, not some short-term prick, but long-term commitment and it will affect europe and the united states. without that, without that, vladimir putin will continue to do this. he did it in georgia a few years ago. he's moved into crimea, and he will move into other places unless we show that long-material we solve. >> how much resolve and unity remains to be seen? the president obviously working the phones, speaking with vladimir putin no fewer than three times. he meets with european leaders previously scheduled in brussels next week >> europe holds a lot of the cards here. >> joining me now on set is an executive member at the ukrainian congress committee of america. is it official, has ukraine lost
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crimea? >> no, ukrainians as a people are united that crimea is part of ukraine >> but the facts suggest something else. >> well if you refer to the election, it's about as accurate as the back of a school bus, who is the most popular kid in school. i've been an election monitor, the ukrainian committee has been monitoring elections, we know the amount of time to send up an election, we are in the process of setting up elections on my 25th. these referendum was called a couple of weeks ago. there's no official voter roles, the date changed. i don't see what happened today as a valid election. no one except russia. >> the reality is russian soldiers are on the ground, it's russian flags waving over
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crimea, what can ukraine do to reclaim the area? >> the ukrainian foreign ministers has not spoken with the russian counterpart. he's been attempting to meet sergei lavrov, but that has not happened. the russians refuse to speak to ukrainians power. >> crimea receives water, 70% of food. there's issues of connecting to russia with crimea. >> and logistical issues. what about the three large prisons in crimea, whose prisoners are thee, ukraine, russia, crimea. you raised on excellent thought about the electricity and water coming from ukraine. we saw russia seize a natural gas plant. do you think it would be wise for ukraine to start to tighten the grip a little bit and cut off power and the water to the
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reason, and say "okay, russia, it's your people." >> they are ukrainian stit sfeps into but they voted to go with russia. >> the ukrainian tar tas did not vote, nor did others. if they didn't vote. people say about the native russians, people don't mention the fact the that crimeans were cleansed, the indigenous people of crimeans, to say the russians have a natural stake to the land in an area that's been ethnically cleansed >> the idea of cutting power and water, do you think it's a smart approach? >> i don't think it's something that ukraine showed in the past that they are willing to do. they are still ukrainian citizens. as it is now, the area of crimea does not get enough water. sevastopol, a large city, and the military base, they do not
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get water 24 hours of the day. there are times of the day where the largest military base does not get water. >> that's a point there, that they are suffering as it is. >> do you think we see an exodus of people, who could feel fearful? >> we have seen people in crimea reach out to relatives. people in western ukraine have been taking in people. a lot of people are worried. people are saying is it he next, should i make plans. we have seen from vladimir putin time and again. he has taken action, and no response has stopped them >> hard to predict what he'll do next. >> thank you for your time today. >> we will continue to watch developments in ukraine and bring you updates throughout the hour. next - the mystery that is gripping the globe. where is malaysia airlines
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flight 370? >> also, what is at stake in serbia, which also held elections today. that is next. views views
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dip done >> the search is growing for the missing malaysia airlines jet. 29 countries are looking for the plane. investigators confirmed flight 370 was deliberately seer --
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steered off course. because of that the search area is daunting. >> inside the gated community is the home of pilot mohammad javad zarif. police searched it, interviewed his family, and are now examining the flight simulator the pilot kept in his house. captain mohammad javad zarif's friends were quick to defend him. this is a trish upt posted on you -- tribute posted on youtube. most comments saying they don't believe he could have been involved in the plane's disappearance. >> i know him as a person that cares for people and was responsible. if everything happened to the plane, he would make sure everyone else, crew and passengers, would be taken care of. >> in a near suburb is the copilot's home, which the police served for earlier. they say the captain and copilot
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did not ask to fly together. >> the copilot was said to invite females into the cockpit. >> i don't know much about his family, i hope the news doesn't want to disclose how bad. this is not because of the pilot. >> this was a passenger on board the missing flight. he's an aircraft engineer on his way to beijing for work. his father said he hasn't been questioned by investigators, and pleaded an end. >> translation: give time to the government to investigate and brain all the passengers back
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safe and sound. >> malaysian police are looking for background checks. they are looking at the crew and passenge passengers, but engineers that may have had contact with the aircraft before it took off. this means the list of potential suspects has grown, and there's no indication of what might have commandeered the plane, and why. >> a lot of people around the world talking about the mystery. let's chat about it with peter goelz, the former managing director of the national transport safety board. good to see you again. first, your thoughts on the investigation by the malaysian government. is it normal to take this long to search the pilot's homes, gather the information from military radar, is that how it works? >> that has been a challenging time for the government of
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malaysia, they may have been overwhelmed during the first couple of days, it appears now as though the investigation is being run at optimum speed. you may wish that you would get into the pilot's personal background and effects sooner, but i don't think any, you know, tracks could have been covered. this is fine. but they are going to have to do a very serious check on computers, cell phones, bank records, health records. i mean, they have to do a full background on all of the flight crew. >> a lot of attention has been paid to the pilot and his aviation simulator inside his home. is it normal for pilots to have the simulators inside his home. have you heard of something like this before? >> aviation is an indicative profession in the world. pilots love to fly. it's not - i don't consider that
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at all to be. a. -- to be, you know, an alarming point. >> we know the transponder was turned off, but not by whom. other forms of communication were turned off. i'm curious to know, as we look at the investigation, do pilots have the ability to turn off the voice data recorder or the flight data recorder. >> yes, they do. they can be turned off relatively easy by pulling a circuit breaker on a panel, adjacent to behind where they are sitting. those, too, could have been turned off. that's a reality that we have to consider going forward, that this investigation is going to go on for months, perhaps years, and that if we are looking for a silver bullet anywhere, including the data and voice recorders, that may not be
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realistic. >> that is sobering. a lot of the people have been focussing on those two things to answer a lot of questions, which raises the point about the fact that the voice data recorders pull information for close to two hours. >> that's right. >> is that a good approach. does that need to be rethought when you consider what we are seeing here. >> this is debated for a decade. they started out recording 30 minutes, then was extended to two hours. and even that, i don't believe, is enough. there's no reason why the voice regarders can't ex -- recorders can't extend to 24 hours. if we find the recorders have not proven to be valuable in this investigation, there are a number of other options that need to be ex-mored, include -- explored, including real-time streaming the data via the satellites to storage facilities, this investigation
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will change a lot. >> do you think it will change how the airline industry operates and how american carriers are regulated. >> i believe it will. aviation cannot stand a vacuum or a cloud over a product, particularly one as ubiquitous as the 777. we'll have to figure out what happened or take steps to say whatever happened, it's not going to happen again. >> a lot of people having a hard time wrapping their hands around the fact that we have a 777 missing for more than a week and no idea where it is. >> peter goelz, former director of the national safety transport board, thank you for your insight. >> still ahead - the view from the ground in ukraine, and who may be targeted with sanctions. a new victory by syrian government over rebels in
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damascus.
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>> welcome back to al jazeera america. here are the top stories. international teams are expanding their search for the malaysian airliner, and investigating crew and passengers. it flew for seven hours after its last radio contact. it could have reached central asia or the southern indian ocean. >> votes are in, as expected the people of crimea decided to breakaway interest ukraine and join the russians federation. the u.s. could impose sanctions against russia. officials say this is the highest voter turp out ever. >> joining the slide from kiev is an expert on ukraine elections and an observer at past elections. i want to get your thought on
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crimea and rehabilitations in kiev. the new government, do you have thought on if they have a man to reclaim the area. >> as a former observer, they seem to have broken the rules in the book, about how the vote was counted, who was counting it and the word on the ball at didn't give a joys. a forecon conclusion that things would have gone this way, controlled by russian hands. in terms of the government, they are waking up to the reality that they are more or less on their own at the moment. the financial assistance has been pledged - $1 billion from america, pledges of guarantees from the e.u. in terms of getting something other than ready to eat meals, they feel the time to act is now, diplomatics is over.
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helps, you know, large columns much ukrainian military removed to the east of the border. that really woke up a lot of ordinary ukrainians, that they are seeing their military on the move. >> what do you think this means? is the government in kiev seriously considering possibly an armed conflict with russia? >> they are considering this. everything from ads on television to support financially the military to an emergency budget allocation of around 700 million usd. this is a lot of money for a government that is basically broke. the - what the television sayings are again showing, these images of military movements, and, of course, there's another of asking for 20,000 people to sign up for the special reserve army, if you will. they would like to get about half that number mobilized within the next 10 days.
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things are moving at a rapid pace. it's very odd for ukrainians to imagine that they might be facing off against russians, given the close ties. >> can that be something the government is considering. is it a smoke approach, even if they are not considering it, to act like they are considering it. when you think about the fact that russia outguns, outnumbers ukraine by a vast margin, and there has been almost no indication that anybody will come to ukraine's defense, if this breaks out into an armed conflict. >> i think this is an interim government that is close to public opinion. you see behind me the maydan. there was the head of the right sector, which is basically the voice of the maydan saying, "time to pick up guns and time to fight." so it's a government that is listening close to the
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sentiment on the street. also i can say talking to colleagues and friends, most of them professionals, they said if we are asked to defend eastern ukraine, we will fight further land, not for a political party. >> let talk about another approach. the concern about whether this is a legal election, in that ukraine may take russia to court to fight the results and the moves. how much credibility does that have? >> well, i think that the government, again, because it's been - i would say forced into a corn, it was waiting some time to see signs that the west would go beyond giving financial support and sanction, that perhaps n.a.t.o. could be drown in. the ukrainian - you have to understand, ukrainians understand the russian mind very well. you have intermarriages, close
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political and social ties. i think they expect someone like vladimir putin not to back down. and that it appears more and more to people here that he's not too worried about the country becoming an international pariah. >> that is obvious at this point. >> thank you. thank you for your time. a former observer of ukraine elections. >> like the united states, the european union is outlining plans for sanctions on russia. they met to hash out details of who would be targeted. according to an e.u. official. sergei lavrov will not be on the list. >> for more rehabilitation let's go live to dana louis in london. a lot of attention on europe and what it might do next with the sanctions. >> i really think that that is
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the next chatpter to under foiled. this was a day of theatre, the vote, the so-called will of the people. while dll be applause at the end of the show. there's a chorus of boos in the west. >> the u.k. does not recognise the vote, and should not be used by russia as an excuse. it is illegal, illegitimate and the outcome mr not be recognised. the u.s. will not recognise the photo. russian foreign minister sergei lavrov indicated that the will of the people of crimea will be respected. no doubt vladimir putin will accept the crimea to be part of russia. where does that leave us. sanctions, monday. 130 russians, close to vladimir putin. they are politicians, rich and powerful oligarchs. and army generals were told the
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plan to freeze and strip assets, and the squeeze on russia's economy begins. billions of dollars have left the banks. others hidden elsewhere. and russia promises, don't forget, to retaliate with similar rehabilitations against westerners and western countries. the downward spiral will similarity. no one knows where the crisis will take us. >> it could hit europe hard. you spoke with the former prime minister of russia, what does he say about the sanctions, does he expect them to work against russia. >> speaking to the former prime minister of russia under yet sip and poout -- yeltsin and putin. he is been in the upper sanction. he says putin doesn't like compromise and seas compromise
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as weakness and the west is week. as long as sanctions are strong and tart the -- target the right people. some of the people will say, "look, we have to rethink this thing", the one chilling thing was if they are not strong and they are not on the right people, he said vladimir putin will be encouraged, emboldened and may, indeed, go further in ukraine and go into eastern ukraine. >> that is something everyone is trying to avoid at this point. >> dana louis live from london. >> serbians are voting in parliamentary elections. the leading progressive power is expected to owe party. it owes much of its success to its leader, the deputy premier, al jazeera's correspondent has the latest. >> front runner in another serbian parliamentary election casting his ballot on sunday
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morning. deputy prime minister in counter government voouk voouk -- voouk -- vucic is expected to be the favourite. >> i expect job creation and fight againcorruption to be the issues. >> his opponent it his boss in serbian government, prime minister and leader of social of the parliament ivica davic, basing his campaign on integration request the european union. >> translation: i think the e.u. solution is best for serbia. i would be sad if my and your children could say albania is the west. >> pressuring bread and butter issues is forcing leaders of a brighter e.u. future as the main selling point of the campaigns. for many reasons, it's a
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question of whether people will buy that. >> serbian politicians are struggling to deliver to the voters promises made in previous campaigns. many are questioning the ability to tackle corruption, low wages and huge unemployment, and massive foreign debt. it seems people's appearance with the politicians is getting thinner and thinner. >> voters are not hiding their dissatisfaction with current situation in their country. >> in 14 years, nothing has changed. we don't expect any change your. >> our children can't find work, and we are living on two people's pensions. that is unacceptable. tranchts price --. >> translation: price skyrocketed. what i earn is not enough to cover my needs. i don't think anything will change your. >> whoever wins the elections will face serious challenges
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ahead. >> the lebanese army says syria conducted air streaks in the south-east of lebanon. asaad forces have been fighting offer the town of yabroud. it's near the lebanese border. al jazeera's correspondent reports that government forces are gaining ground there. >> rebel defenses are crumbling in yabroud. short of ammunition and reinforcement, major armed groups left the city north of damascus, leaving behind the bodies of dozens of fighters killed in the fighting that has been going on for weeks. now it's the syrian army backed by hezbollah fighters who are in control. they are seen here clearing areas and moving to the center of the city. most of the rebels are believed to have retreated to neighbouring towns.
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>> most of the city has been destroyed. all kinds of rockets and barrel bombs have been used. the town has been turned into a pile of rubble. few are trying to resist. the world has left us alone, and the situation is catastrophic. >> yabroud was a rebel strong hold. it was also a crucial weapons transit route. war in syria is shifting in president bashar al-assad's favour. his army backed by air force, hezbollah fighters, militias from iran and iraq are launching a major offensive. asaad controls the west and border areas. the army is consolidating the grip on homs province, and a battle is underway, a major supply route for the army in idlib. a wave of shelling in aleppo is a sign that the army is determined to one the war in the
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north. >> the opposition says without advanced weapons from their western and regional backers, fighting will continue for many years and more people will die. >> i know the calendar says spring is a couple of days away, but it does not feel that way. tonight we were going to be in the 20s. we are in a transitional staining. luckily, spring starts on thursday. it will get a little bit colder. take a look at the map behind me. look at these temperatures. today we climbed to 36. yesterday the high temperature was 57. as we make our way back to work on monday, we may see a few flurries, we got good weather this weekend and have a lot to look forward to. have a front pushing across the country, across the
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south-east that brought heavy rain across portions of alabama and the north. ice and snow from st. louis to washington d.c. i want to focus on the rain. look at how dark the green is, that's how you know it is heavy rainfall, falling along i-10, across the florida pan handle. we had to deal with damaging wind gusts through the afternoon, as the front pushes towards the east, it will bring damaging winds to portions of the florida pan handle. south and western portions of georgia, the rain is going to be heavy, and be heavy as we track into tonight. the area of low pressure continuing to sweep up the coast. we'll see a bit of rain along i-95 late tonight into tomorrow. in addition to rain, damaging winds and major problems, this is a picture this came out of motorbike il alabama.
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damaging -- mob il alabama. these storms can be dangerous. we'll continue to push to the north, where the cold air dives to the south. the frontal boundary draped across the midwest is making its way into colder air. the rain switching to snow along the i-95 corridor. we'll see up to six - potentially eight inches of snow in the nation's capital. >> i know they are not looking forward to that. >> the next video is supposed to scare you into maintaining a safe campsite. grizzly bears, bruno and aussie, did a quick demonstration of their power. they demolished a mock campsite. watch as the tent, the slooping -- sleeping bag and the cooler is destroyed. the point was to show destruction can be prevented if
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a campsite is set up safely. >> what i would suggest doing to keep yourself safe is, you know, having your campsite spread out a little bit. store your foot 100 yards from where you are coombing and -- cooking and sleeping. >> the bears performed beautifully. food should be hung 10 feet in a tree, and not left where a bear can find it. that's what you might face. >> still ahead in al jazeera america, march madness, and a little teen. >> and how workers' lives are changing in the north-west.
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>> we are back with ross with sport. is it official, march madness begins. the countdown is on. put on your camping shoes. in an hour, we'll find out who is in and out of the n.c.a.a. tournament. some teams are looking to punch their ticket into the dance. florida is leading kentucky in the fcc time.
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mountain and the cavaliers is putting on a show in the a.c.c. title cage. they wrap up the game 23 points. let the celebration begin. the last time virginia won the title, jonathan was not born. apple was founded and jack nicholson won on oscar for the movie "one flew over the cubing u's nest", 19 # 6. not born, yours truly either. if you look for the cinderella story, the bears secured a spot after winning the atlantic sun conference tournament. i know what you're thinking, where the heck is mercy university. we sent jessica taff back to school. >> 85 miles south of atlanta is a sleepy town of makin georgia, known for cherry blows oms, sprawling mansions and charm.
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in the distance is the lesser known mercer university, where this march basketball is emerging as an attraction. >> it's the first time since 1985 that mercer will send a team to the n.c.a.a. tournament. >> over the last three years with a group of seniors. each year they have achieved greater things, and people got on the bandwagon, creating excitement on campus and in the community. then again, we didn't make history. it's trying to start a new tradition. makin is the city that is all about starting new traditions. this is where southern rock was born. music is embraced from the ormond brothers, and little richard to odis redding. make im is where they make the mark. >> for less than $2 you can hear the ormond brothers, leonard
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skinner and tucker on the stage that stands here today. it's a place where people came to get discovered. tom petty played here. the list goes on and on. mercer university is an integral part of the lives of natives. >> something that stands out more than little richard's shoes is the cherry blossoms. they'll bloom and bring thousands to see ya make im is the cherry blossom capital of the world, a fact that escaped a mercer player. >> i didn't know they were known for having cherry blows oms, that might have been nice to know. the recruiting, i met the coaches and players i was going to be coming in with. it all clicked and i had a good opportunity to play right away. >> the cherry blossom is a fantastic thing. in the next few days they'll go
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nut. it's really pretty. we have as many cherry blows oms as you have. we'd like more to stay and come to the gym to watch the games. >> mercer will find out where they are playing. we'll be there when the brackets will beunveiled. you'll meet the players that are taking mercy university dancing for the first time. cherry blossom capital, more than d.c. and tokyo. tlem. >> do you think they'll go all the way? >> they are the underdog >> that's a no. >> a roim in portland -- program in portland oregon is bringing out art. >> it's about cooperation, concentration and creativity. this class of 7 and 8-year-olds
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in portland have been handed expensive cameras and told to have fun. all helped by julie keef with creator laureate. many wr poet laureate. the idea is for people to think creatively about where they live. the portland experiment is being watched across the country. this is one of the initiatives pushed by keef. she has a 2-year mission to promote and develop. for that she receives $500 th,0. creatist which springs from everywhere. >> i hope the role of creative laureate is to talk about why creativity is important. why art matters. >> portland is a thriving creative center.
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the north-west city passing a 35 goal tax funding and promoting art and schools. at the time of budget cuts that's one of the first things to go. the idea for a creative laureate came from the mayor, coming to the pd of a four year -- end of a four i don't remember term in office, he wanted to leave a legacy, something to outlast him. >> i hope every city, the states, the united states, steels the idea and appoints and names their own creative laureate. i think all boats rise when every community has an advocate for the creative pursuits, for artistic pursuits. into for the children at the -- >> for the children at the school they may not be aware of the political efforts or the funding. they are enjoying themselves. >> i take pictures of dog poo, that's my favourite.
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>> it's fun. you get to see things that are interesting to you. >> they can see the results, develop the skills, something they'll never lose. the creative laureate creating a legacy. >> and if your grandma has more instagram followers than you, don't feel bad, she deserves it, grandma betty as 73,000. >> grandmother, what is your most important lesson. >> be good to all the people and love them. >> her great grandson set up an instagram account to document her last days. she's won big. she has not loft her zooel, her dancing got the attention of fans and thousands of followers, that's our show, we'll be back in an hour with more news.
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>> you are watching al jazeera america, i'm jonathan betz with the top stories. authorities are investigating the backgrounds of pilots and passengers of the missing malaysian jetliner.
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international teams are expanding their search. satellite data suggests that the plane flew for 7 hours, meaning it could reach asia and the southern indian ocean. the votes are in, the people of crimea decided to breakaway from ukraine and join the russian federation. the white house says it rejects the referendum and the u.s. could pose sanctions. exit polls report 95% of all voters supported joining russia in the disputed referendum. 3.5% voted in favour of autonomy. >> tensions are growing in eastern ukraine where pro-russian demonstrators stormed a ukrainian building and replaced the flag with russia's. >> voting is taking place in serbia. the ruling party is widely expected to maintain power thanks to the anti-corruption campaign and an effort to join the european union. lebanon says syria conducted air strikes in the south-east of
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lebanon, where the syrian government is reportedly going after armed rebels, they have been battling over yabroud, the last major rebel-held town. >> i'm jonathan betz, those are the headlines. "america tonight" weekend starts now on al jazeera america. snoop thanks for joining us nor "america tonight", the weekend edition. i'm chen . >>-- i'm joie chen. heroin has b

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