the aurora bore re-alice in the northern hemisphere. it happens when particles are electrically charged by solar storms. other parts of australia and new zealand expected to witness the light show over the coming days. fantastic. ♪ retiring the confederate flag in the south, politicians unite across party lines. down to the line with a debt deal for greece. and chemicals in paradise hawaiians say their land is being poisoned. ♪
this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm stephanie sy. the south carolina general assembly returns to work in just a few hours with new pressure to remove the confederate flag from the grounds of the state capitol. less than a week after a gun killed nine congregates, the governor and other leaders say it's time for the divisive symbol to go. >> it's time to move the flag from the capitol grounds. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: surrounded by a bipartisan group of state and federal officials, south carolina governor nikki haley, joined the growing chorus of calls to remove the confederate flag. >> for good or for bad whether it's a on the state house ground or in a museum the flag will always be a part of the soil of south carolina but this is a
moment when we can say that that flag while an integral part of our past does not event the future of our great state. >> reporter: the governor's comments came hours after religious and political leaders in charleston called for action. >> the time has come to remove this symbol of hate and division from our state capitol. the time has come for the general assembly to do what it ought to have done a long time ago. >> i respectfully ask the general assembly reasonably tired and weary of their long session, to take the extra step and to tend to this unfinished business, and move this flag to an appropriate historical context. >> reporter: the use of the flag became an issue once again after pictures emerged showing accused
church gunmen dylann roof waving and posing with confederate banners. >> take it down! take it down! >> reporter: on sunday dozens gathered in the state capitol to call for the flag to be taken down. and some spray painted the words black lives matter on a confederate monument in charleston. in 2000, charleston mayor lead a march to columbia calling for the flag to be removed from the top of the capitol dome. the protest lead to a compromise that moved the flag from the dome to its current location. but the deal requires a two-thirds majority in both houses to make any changes. political leaders say there are a growing number of lawmakers in favor of removing the flag but the sons of confederate veterans say it will fight to keep it. the group issued a statement saying in part:
but some political leaders say removing the flag is only the start, and that there is more work to be done. >> reporter: it will not solve the racial divide in south carolina. we need a positive discourse on the problems that continue to playing our state. >> reporter: del walters, al jazeera, charleston south carolina. the debate over the confederate flag is also brewing in mississippi. the republican speaker of the state legislature says it is time to consider making the emblem off of the state flag. it is the first time a republican-elected official in the state has publicly called for its removal. but the governor says the flag should stay because mississippi voters approved it four years ago. the nation's largest retailer, also taking a standing on this issue. wal-mart tells al jazeera it is removing all confederate
flag-related merchandise from its stores and website. in a statement the company said we never want to offend anyone with the products we offer. at times items make their way into our assortment improperly and this is one of those instances. sears has also announced it will stop selling products bearing the confederate flag. some greek lawmakers are reacting angerly to the proposal on their debt payment. >> reporter: if greece ends up accepting that creditors proposals as they now stand, it will have to extract another $3 billion from an already heavily taxed economy this year and roughly $5.5 billion next year. that's over and above budget predictions, and that's because rather than growing as predicted, this year the economy is again shrinking.
which means that tax revenues are smaller than they would have been because total economic turnover is smaller than it would have been and that presents particular difficulties to the government because they were elected in january promising no more austerity measures but they have been presented request -- with increased taxation and possible pension cuts. this means that the government will come back to at thens with a difficult plan one it may not be able to sell to all of the party members, particularly the hard left which has drawn a red line and says we will not vote for anything that involves more tax extraction or more austerity in any form. this may mean they now have to apply to the opposition, the conservatives and socialists who were in power up until january to get this plan passed. but if that happens, if they are
split down the middle in parliament, can they remain in power? it will be a very politically tense time once the negotiation is over in brussels because there will be another battle here in greece. the pentagon says a key suspect in the 2012 benghazi attack has been killed. a u.s. drone strike targeted the man in iraq last week. the isil operative is believed to have been in benghazi libya, three years ago when a u.s. embassy was attacked. a setback for isil in syria. kurdish forces say they have driven isil fighters from a military case here raw ka. as our correspondent reports the kurds were backed by u.s. air strikes. >> reporter: this kurd irk fighter says they have discovered a tunnel used by the
islamic state of iraq and the levant on the syrian turkish border. the people's protection units which go by ypg, have been making gains on the border and taking back territory from isil. now that the fighting is over here, hundreds of families have returned. turkish authorities reopened the border for the residents, but despite kurdish forces pushing back isil there are concerns over their advances. syria's main opposition group and fighters have accused the kurds of abusing and driving out sunni tribesmen. a rights group was sent to assess the situation. >> translator: we were asked to communicate with the ypg forces but they refused to allow members of the fact-finding committee to enter, claiming the snc has a political position
towards the ypg units, and the committee is biased >> reporter: they deny the abuse. >> translator: we share the administration of the town with all. as this country is for all. ypg is for arabs before it is for the kurds. >> reporter: turkey has accused kurdish forces of ethnic cleansing inside syria. they consider the establishment of a kurdish held area on the border a red line. >> if they make major gains, you will probably find europe and the americas investing more resources, in particular, president erdogan is saying the americans and western powers are helping the kurds. this has become a major security concern inside turkey. >> reporter: kurdish fighters have advanced to the outskirts of aleppo province. the ypg have taken vil ages from
isil control. while opposition fighters are consolidating their gains in the nearby idlib province. as people current where isil used to carry out public executions there are lingering concerns of ethnic biases but they go back home hoping the worst is over. a federal appeals court is letting a lawsuit on behalf of immigrants swept up in post 9/11 investigations go ahead, and the judges say high-level government officials can be held to account. the lawsuit details alleged abuses carried out against hundreds of muslims. lawyers say they want to show how frightening it was for the men who say they were detained and abused. 762 people were detained nationwide after september 11th, 2001, including 491 in the new york area. many were held for three to eight months.
among the government officials named former attorney general john ashcroft and former fbi director robert mueller. earlier i spoke with the co-director of the liberty and national security program at nyu's brennan center for justice. >> this is one of the first lawsuits that is actually moving forward, it hasn't been blocked at an early stage so that allows the full story to emerge. it's a civil case. they are trying to get damages, and it's a way to hold federal officials responsible when they are the ones who have actually committed the abuses or corrected that the abuses be committed. >> lawyers want to prove the abuses were the result of policies enacted by top government officials after 9/11
this is a civil case. tony abbott is introducing a law that would strip duel nationals charged with terrorism of their australian citizenship. it would happen automatically even if the person is only accused. peter greste is among those critics fighting the bill. he was falsely convicted of terrorism in egypt and would likely have his citizenship evoked under this law. the obama administration and china sit down for talks, and beijing rolls out its new charm offensive. and people in hawaii say major corporations are poisoning their land. ♪
the obama administration and chinese leaders have begun two days of talks on strategic and economic issues. the conversations will touch on a range of subjects. >> we the united states we welcome fair and healthy competition. quite frankly, you have aquakened us we got a little slow. we were a little -- i know my colleagues don't like my saying this -- but the truth is we -- we got a little -- how can i say it -- too comfortable in the last part of the 20th century. both nations have been jockeying for influence in the region but as patricia sabga reports, beijing has an increasingly powerful weapon in
its arsenal persuasion. >> reporter: state run tv on american airwaves, programs spreading chinese language and culture abroad. a new bank soft power plays, beijing hopes will win over those who are wary of china's growing influence. >> u.s. being overparanoid about, oh everything about china. and china is being examined under the microscope and so that's why you heard all of those nasty [ inaudible ] over the years. >> reporter: and beijing is spending billions to change the conversation chinese news outlets, cctv global times, and china daily. >> the international media has become bombarded by western news
organization and china's voice cannot be heard clearly or loudly. >> the government funded institute teaches mandarin and chinese culture to 300,000 students in the u.s. alone, but the program has been clouded by controversy. >> many host universities where they are established in the united states, for example, have learned to be wary of the fact they are rather politicized, at least in certain times and places. >> reporter: china has arguably had more soft power success, tapping foreign exchange reserves to fund development banks, pouring $40 million into the bank with bric partners, and $41 billion into the new silk road fund and $50 billion into the asia infrastructure investment bank which u.s. allies rushed to join in spite
of discouraging signals from washington. >> it's attracted a very great, positive response from most of the countries of the world. >> the launch of the asian infrastructure investment bank was undoubtedly a pr coup for beijing, but china's soft power investment is still tempered by old repression at home and new concerns over muscle flexing in the south china sea. a severe weather system is moving east today after causing serious destruction in illinois. a shelter has been set up there for people's who's homed have been destroyed or damaged. >> reporter: are you all right? >> yeah i lost a house, but, you know. >> reporter: how long did you live here in
>> 40-some years. it was brand new when we moved out here. and it's pretty much destroyed. >> reporter: a tornado, strong winds and rain left thousands without power. the obama administration has removed a major road black to the scientific study of marijuana. and the move is being hailed by both those in favor of pot and those against it. john why is this such a big deal? >> a public health review requirement was instituted by the clinton administration, and researchers have had to jump through impossible hoops ever since just to find out the effects of marijuana. 20 million americans are regular pot users. aaron is one of them. he was 18 years old when he went to fight in iraq. >> a couple of people in my company got killed.
>> reporter: after turning to drugs and alcohol to cope he found pot and was allowed peace. >> it's lous me to enjoy my life. >> reporter: but for decades scientists could not conclusively prove or disprove pot's effectiveness. now the health review has been lifted. the move has been hailed by both supporters and opponents of marijuana legalization. marijuana had been the only so-called schedule one drug prohibited by the drug enforcement association from being produced by private laboratories for research. as jacob ward found out that was a great source of frustration. >> for studying aspirin, prozac or lsd, all we have to do is get the drug and start the study.
for marijuana we go into a whole other series of reviews. >> reporter: the following statement was released: for aaron hind he is not worried if new research highlights any of marijuana's harmful effects. >> if i didn't have pot as a coping mechanism, if you took it away, i would have turned to alcohol. i might have turned to something harder. >> reporter: the new policy will apply to only private studies. any federally funded study will still have to go through a more stringent process. >> john henry smith, thank you. a new warning for people with pacemakers to stay away from smartphones. german researchers say the device can make pacemakers stop
working. the fda recommends keeping smartphones several inches away from pacemakers. the aloha state imports much of its crops because biotech companies are doing work on their ground. jacob ward reports. >> reporter: this is gone as the garden island of hawaii but it has also been a center of big agricultural business. this island is in many ways a factory for big chemical companies for creating seed crops. the seeds they grow here are almost exclusively for corn and soybeans. they export those to the mainland and all over the world. that is the number one agricultural commodity of hawaii. now it's pretty clear why you
would want to grow seeds here. hawaii is beautifully weather here on the 21st parallel means you can grow year-round if you develop seeds on the mainland you need as much as 15 years to grow the many many generations you need to develop a new seed product. but here you can do it in about three years. but the residents say the soil is being contaminated. a lot of these crops are grown right up next to the schools and churches and homes and hospitals where people spend their days. in fact they tried to pass a count think ordinance and succeeded that would have mandated a buffer zone a mandatory distance between these craps and homes and schools and a full accounting of what is being sprayed, and that is when lawyers began flying in to fight the ordinance. later, we'll show you our
>> we have an exclusive story tonight, and we go live... ♪ times are changing in cuba. the country once criminalized people for being gay, but attitudes towards gays and lesbians and their rights are shifting, and a member of the castro family is partly responsible. >> reporter: hundreds of cubans dance to a conga beat wave therrian bow flag and declare their same-sex love at an annual parade in havana. >> translator: loui we have been together for 14 years. i give you my heart, my love and think life. >> reporter: leading the way is
raul castro's daughter. she has become a strong advocate speaking out for lbgt individuals. >> translator: independently of the fact that not everybody is in an agreement with a law for the rights of the lbgt community, this will not create a split, it will create an idealogical enrichment of the cuban society. >> reporter: for decades, homosexuality in cuba was criminalized. some openly gay cubans were forced into work camps, but beginning in the late 1990s, the state began softening its stance. cuba altered its criminal code. >> translator: i would be proud to see an improvement in the gay community behavior in every way. >> reporter: at his job, this artist acknowledges that times are changing in his home country for gays lesbians and
transsexuals. >> translator: thanks to movies and documentaries that people have seen things have developed in the world, and people are seeing us in a different view of life. the determination and sexuality of a gay person. >> reporter: this gay cuban says he has chosen art as a way to shine a light on the lbgt struggle. >> translator: i have been very surprised lately as how organized everything is. >> reporter: his provocative retelling of a classic cuban play explored the internal strife of the family of a gay man who finally reveals his sexuality. >> translator: because i am gay, i have friends that are gay, and i felt a lot of pain. and i have seen a lot of situations that have been seen as repulsive, and this is not acceptable, so it's better to put it in a move -- movie.
>> reporter: there is no protection in other sectors of society such as housing and education, and same-sex marriage as well as civil unions remain illegal. >> translator: there will have to be a lot of knowledge, cultural, social and visual to be able to accept something. we are still very behind in that aspect. ♪ >> reporter: as relations thaw between the u.s. and cuba, jean carlos and others are optimistic that diplomatic changes could lead to tolerance and acceptance. earnest hemingway'sest indicate has received nearly $1 million from a foundation. it will help preserve his books, letters, and photos. hemingway lived on the island for more than two decades. thanks for watching. i'm stephanie sy.
the news continues next live from doha. ♪ >> announcer: this is al jazeera. ♪ hello, welcome to another news hour from al jazeera in doha. i'm adrian finighan. coming up in the next 60 minutes. kurdish fighters continue to make gains in nourtern syria as they capture a key town close to isil's main strong hold. the death toll in pakistan's heat wave continues to rise more than 600 people have now died in the southern sindh province but -- >> reporter: