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tv   RT News  PBS  October 22, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm PDT

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>> coming up, the collateral damage of u.s. rome strikes in pakistan and yemen. a new report shine some light on the human cost of this u.s. killing machine. details on reports ahead. and smoke them if you got them. the cigarettes are gaining in a billerica, but who is buying the new smokes, and are they better for you then regular cigarettes -- the cigarettes are gaining in popularity.
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it's tuesday, october 22. i'm megan lopez and you are watching rt. tomorrow, president barack obama will meet with the prime minister of pakistan in an attempt to smooth over relations between the two countries. turbulent is an understatement. topping the list of issues to be addressed, drone strikes. some 376 drone strikes have been carried out in pakistan since 2004. resulting in somewhere between 2500 and 3600 deaths. as if this statistic were not a big enough hurdle to overcome in these talks, to human rights groups today released reports accusing the u.s. of war crimes, as well as a gross violation of international law. our political commentator looks into the numbers. >> we have presented evidence today of potentially unlawful killings, and in light of this
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evidence, we are calling on president obama to immediately commit to insuring investigations of these cases and of all other potentially unlawful killings. >> today, to human rights organizations presented reports documenting multiple him a unlawful u.s. drone strikes in pakistan and yemen. amnesty international conducted research between january 2012 and august 2013. what they found was very little legal justification for these killings. one researcher describes one of them. >> on july 6, 2012, 18 male laborers, including at least one young boy, a 14-year-old, were killed by u.s. drone. in the first strike, eight men were instantly killed while they were having their dinner after a long, difficult day in the field. as people came to assist them,
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to see if there were any survivors, they were also attacked. witnesses described to us a macabre scene of body parts and blood, panning him and terror, as u.s. drones continue to hover overhead. next is report comes just as the prime minister pakistan arrives in washington dc to meet with president obama. the timing of the release of these reports was not a coincidence. >> what we sit here in washington dc with the prime minister pakistan meeting with the president of the united states, staying very close to this building, let's not forget the people on the ground who were affected by drones and the situation more broadly. >> the second report focuses on drone strikes in yemen, investigating six pacific strikes that the u.s. government refuses to admit even took place. according to their research, some of the strikes were clear violations of international law.
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>> two of the six cases we examine in my report show that the u.s. indiscriminately killed civilians. this is a clear violation of international law. even if it was not the intent, if it indiscriminately killed, it should be held responsible every >> yemen saw a flurry of drone strikes in august, which seem to run counter to new drone guidelines announced by president obama in may. it is unknown if they correspond with guidelines that still shrouded in secrecy. >> we don't actually know what the policy is. during the heightened security threat in august when u.s. embassies were closed around the world, one anonymous u.s. official did say the policy was essentially being disregarded at that time. >> it is only recently that the white house has begun to publicly knowledge the existence of its drone program. there were clear to state the reports were not aimed at condemning the drone program
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itself, but condemning unlawful killings and the lack of transparency coming from the white house. the call for full disclosure for the legal justification for them. it call for congress to reassert its oversight role and for the families of those indiscriminately killed by drones to be compensated. it call for independent investigations and fair trials against those responsible for unlawful drone killings, which could include the president himself. >> the pakistani prime minister spoke in washington dc today before he meets the president. this is what he had to say about drone strikes in his country. >> the use of drones is not only a continued violation of our territorial integrity, but also detrimental to our efforts at illumina in terrorism from our country. >> joining me to discuss the findings of the report and the implications of these drone strikes in pakistan is an
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advocacy advisor at amnesty international usa. thank you so much for coming in. obviously we just saw a little bit of you in that piece before. i want to start out i talking about the white house response. earlier today, press secretary jay carney came out and said that the obama administration strongly disagrees with assertions that the u.s. violated international law with these drone strikes. what you have to say to that? >> the main problem is that it has provided assurances of legality without providing any proof. we are asking the obama administration to investigate these cases and explain why they occurred. why a 68-year-old grandmother was killed. why a 14-year-old boy was killed. >> your report focuses on two cases that you say were a violation of international law. can you quickly walk us through them and what specifically makes them that violation? >> a 68-year-old grandmother
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went out to gather vegetables in her family feel that was largely vacant. she was killed by a drone strike right before the eyes of some of her -- of her grandchildren. we could not find evidence ever any militants nearby. we did find -- the ultimate -- ultimately the u.s. government has a responsibility to provide those answers to the international community. >> in some cases you have gone through and look that, can you go into more detail about the war crimes and what makes something a war crime in this case? >> a war crime would be a deliberate killing of a civilian . in some of the cases we are looking at, the u.s. conducts a strike and then rescuers rush in, trying to recover the winded, the dead bodies. they are trying to render medical aid. when the u.s. government
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targeted a second time, 10 minutes after the initial strike, it can result in the killing of civilians. if the u.s. government did that deliberately, knowing that those who were rushing in were civilians and were not participating in hostilities, then they would be conducting war crimes, or if we are outside of a war zone, it would be extrajudicial execution. >> let's talk about the timing of the report. it happened in complement with the human rights watch report that came out about yemen and before the prime minister came into town. why did you decide to release this report on this specific day? >> this is the time when it is necessary to press the obama administration. we have seen a lot of other important stories come out over the summer, including the nsa surveillance scandal. with the u.n. pressing this, we thought it was high time for us to bring forth new evidence that we have a potentially unlawful
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deaths. >> do you think there is any kind of potential repercussions we are seeing in this potential warm-up between pakistan and the u.s., in light of these two reports? >> the pakistani government itself has obligations for some of the human rights violations that are occurring. we documented the cruel nature of abuses occurring by militant groups operating in the region and by pakistani military forces that are conducting attacks, sometimes indiscriminately. we are talking about a population that is not only facing u.s. drone strikes but the threat of violence elsewhere , and the u.s. and pakistani governments both have two account for what is happening to these people. >> go into more detail about how your organization went about collecting these reports and
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some of the troubles you had along the way. >> this is a highly politicized issue. there's a lot of speculation and propaganda out there about it. we tried to document specific cases where are researchers could get access. we were able to send in separate teams and corroborated the eyewitness accounts we had seen with satellite imagery and video. we got as much documentation as we could. this is one of the most deeply documented reports on drone strikes out there. we don't have all the answers and one of the reasons is because of the u.s. government policy of secrecy. >> we have heard a number of accusations of four crimes by u.s. presidents before, but the u.s. is very unlikely to actually go forward and prosecute people for such war crimes in recent history. what is your group hoping will come from these reports?
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we hope that president obama will go further. we did not see any followthrough. what we're asking him to do is commit to investigating the cases that we have documented in our report. >> thank you for joining me and shedding more light on this. it is a lot to go through and we will keep following up with your organization in the days to come , in case anything else comes up. meanwhile, we are fast approaching the two-year anniversary of the withdrawal of u.s. troops from iraq. the u.s. was said to have left a more stable and secure iraq, with the government that represents the people and a military force capable of handling security threats. however, the country still plagued by violence on a near daily basis, with suicide and car bombings. the video you are looking at right now is the aftermath of one such attack that happened in
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baghdad on thursday. at least 61 people were killed while celebrating the religious holiday of eid, or the feast of sacrifice. it is hardly an isolated incident. take a look at this. these are just headlines in the past few weeks of attacks that have happened in the country. children and women have been killed, and these attacks have made many public spaces potentially deadly. the body count monitoring group says that over 7000 people have been killed by militant attacks in iraq this year alone. however, these are stories that you are not likely to read about in the day-to-day news coverage right here in the u.s. why is that? is it perhaps because american troops are out of harms way and we are ready to wash our hands of the iraq quagmire? to discuss the onslaught of violence plaguing that country, i'm joined by our correspondent
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and political analyst. i asked him if the reports of violence are representative of what is happening in iraq. >> i get calls from my former colleagues all the time. i was the spokesman in iraq for five years. the situation in iraq today is as bad as it was at the height of the civil war in 2006 and 2007. it is very bad and there are a number of reasons why it is bad. in terms of inability of the americans to maintain an effective iraqi force. the fact that it was hastily founded on a sectarian basis with loyalties to the tribe or sect and so on, and lately of course, in the last couple of years, it is representative of the violence in syria. there is a connection between syria and iraq, especially with the is lemming state of iraq.
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>> is serious the main cause of the uptick in violence we are seeing in the country right now? >> you have to remember that during the search of 2007-2009, when the u.s. went in, they were able to bring some sort of calm into the country. with the aftermath of the departure of u.s. forces and the absence -- iraq has no combat helicopter with the ability to strike and so on. they are able to be funded now. there is a great deal of financing going on, and basically the same tribes that go across these elastic borders with syria and iraq and saudi arabia, it forms a great deal of
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the base for these terrorists. we have seen the uptick of violence in syria and the flow of money and arms and so on that aided the situation. >> what about the iraqi army? are they equipped to handle this type of situation? >> the iraqi army was basically destroyed or dissolved back in 2003. ever since then they have been trying to reconstitute their army, but so far, the sectarian aspect of loyalty and the structure of the army has taken its toll on having a professional army, so it is not that effective. ex while we are seeing the civilian casualties happening on a near daily basis, most media outlets are not reporting about this.
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instead, they are reporting about the sparks middle school shooting, or the las vegas casino shooting where three people were killed. just to be clear, i'm not belittling those tragedies, which are horrible. but why are we not even seeing 30 seconds of coverage of these daily blast, these daily occurrences? >> because the american public our war fatigue. they are tired of four. they don't want to be involved in this war. they want to leave the iraq war behind. it was a measurable experiment, as far as they were concerned. they feel they are out of that quagmire and they don't want to get back into it again. >> i cannot let you go without asking you, is there a way to move the country forward again,
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barring another war and barring more troops going back in? >> the reconciliation effort, there is that in 10, but you need to push for it. -- there is that in 10th. >> thank u so much for your opinions. >> have you ever seen a ranting and raving common on the internet? i'm sure i have, and i'm sure you have as well. did you ever think that the ran ter might be getting paid? a new book alleges that fox news had its public relations staffers write comments on the internet that defended it against any blog that had something negative to say. according to the book's author, former fox staffers would use
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anywhere from 20 to 100 bank accounts to defend its honor. the fox pr did arm it already knew that -- pr department already knew that. should we expect news organizations to hire digital armies, or is this one step too far? to talk about this and other cable news stories of the day, i am joined by christopher chambers, georgetown journalism professor. let's start off by talking about fox news. is this idea of -- is this idea unethical, or just good pr? >> it is unethical, and it is good pr. it is just their business model. this is something they did a while back. it's kind of old school because
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we are not talking about comments on blogs as much as in 2011. the concept of doing this is something that has extended now into popular practice, maybe not through the news organizations, but through related organizations. you might have fox doing it seven or eight years ago. now you have think tanks or other blogs in conjunction with people who might be sympathetic to the fox message relaying these kind of things. the tea party patriots, for example, with the anti-obama care toolkits. the heritage foundation creating these things as well. and the liberal counterparts to that, some of the big unions have created similar toolkits and through their pr organizations have populated the comments sections. we are talking about social media rather than blogs. the seed for this kind of
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behavior, the genesis, was rupert murdoch, or more accurately, roger ailes' crew doing this at one time. it was groundbreaking and sneaky back in. now it is sneaky, but garden- variety. >> people don't go on specifically to read the comments. is it really all that bad? just to play devils advocate here. >> it is important, because a lot of the action goes on in the comments. you can gauge popularity, and comments also pull in more hits, more eyeballs on the site. you leak -- deep forward five or six years to social media, where you are talking about tweets, favorites, and likes on facebook, and advertising content on facebook.
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just trying to get likes and eyeballs on the certain items. so it is very important in tracking how many are trying to look at the message you are putting out. and for countering the pushback. it is a double good whammy for them. >> perhaps fox news and others might be better served focusing on the news rather than commenting on it. >> that is not the business model and that is not what brings the eyeballs to the convergence of the site and the tv network at the same time. you need an extra edge. >> it is a business that, after all, so any edge you can get. i want to play it clip of chris matthews who is speaking to larry king about some of the fox news host. >> i'm watching fox. was megan kelly able to stay in
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the middle, or does she have to move over? there is a lot of group pressure in those places. i feel it, i think it is there. i think you know your audience that you're talking to. >> why do you think it is that networks, as chris matthews alleges, are pushing their host be more partisan rather than unbiased? >> this is pretty old school. it is demographics 101, basically. >> their average viewer is going to be more partisan on the left, especially with regard to controversies like the government shutdown, to be able to bring in that core audience and to bring in people in the french audiences who might just be using social media and other platforms to get their news, to pull them in. the average fox viewer is a
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white male in his early 60's. you can do all that stereotype games you want with that, but there is a reality there, that she will have to move over in some of the evening lineup to meet the ideological, raw meet demands of that audience. and it is a different lay ground in the daytime, which is the real news that sets up for the evening entertainment, basically. that is what we are talking about, evening entertainment with the political soap opera. >> not only a shift in some of those commentators but in some of the people that we expect and want to be unbiased in their reporting. i want to switch topics one more time. all three major mainstream networks have experienced major shutdowns. fox news experienced a primetime
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viewership increased by nine percent, and cnn went up by about 11% in his primetime viewership. does this signal that the u.s. population loves drama, or is it perhaps a good thing that americans are interested in what is going on with real politics him a versus real housewives? >> it is good that people are coming to -- tv news, forget the hype of a certain age group. these core audiences, people say over 35, but they want to bring in. they are doing it. the problem is, what are people getting when they come? it is partisan flavor content. it is political soap opera. it is real housewives except with house republicans or jay carney. this is not real analysis,
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especially if you're talking about the evening comment of msnbc, and on fox. >> chris chambers, georgetown journalism professor, thank you so much for joining us. you may have heard of electronic cigarettes. they are designed to look like cigarettes and use paper to blow over nicotine, and sometimes use flavors to entice the users. >> they say they can help a person kick the habit, but there are no long-term studies to back up those claims. we look beyond the smoke and mirrors with this report. >> it is the latest trend to take the tobacco world by storm, the electronic cigarette. when it came on the scene in 2007, it was virtually unheard of. in just six years, it has turned into a billion-dollar industry. even though it is still -- still
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called a cigarette and can look like one, any users say it is the furthest thing from smoking. >> no tobacco at all. if that is jonathan elias, owner of one of the only full-service shops in virginia. he says it is the nontobacco aspect that is appealing to customers. the cigarettes use a battery and nicotine that is served in thy stored in cartridges. as substance is converted into vapor. it allows users to adjust the nicotine level, which helps adults slowly wean themselves off conventional smoking. the fda has yet to conduct a study proving that the cigarettes help to quit smoking. one of the product off key demographics never smoke cigarettes regularly to begin with.
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children are picking it up as a popular pastime. the percentage of middle and high school students who use electronic cigarettes more than doubled between 2011-2012. xp cigarettes can be sold to minors in many places throughout the country. what is most concerning for anti-tobacco advocates is that these devices can easily be purchased by anyone, at any time, right on the internet. all you have to do is click a button that says you are 18 or over and immediately you have access to flavors like cherry cola and bubblegum. he is concerned that minors will get hooked on the flavors, and then on the nicotine. >> cigarettes deliver nicotine better than anything. we are very concerned that this could be an entry into conventional cigarette smoking among kids. >> anti-tobacco advocates are not just worried about flavors. cigarette companies have been able to do something they have been restricted from doing in
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over 40 years, advertise on tv. >> the first electronic cigarette with the look, feel, and flavor of the real thing. >> now that i've switched to blue, i feel better about myself, and i feel free to have one almost anywhere to read when i'm driving, at home watching tv. >> the point is, you can smoke lou virtually anywhere. -- you can smoke blue virtually anywhere. >> according to a new york times report, the industry is booming. the american lung association warns that this kind of marketing is dangerous. >> they are trying some of the same old tactics that tobacco did that resulted of millions of americans dying from tobacco use. they are working hard at
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exploiting the loopholes that they have to be able to glamorize their existing products. >> representatives reject the accusation that they are luring kids. they released a statement about the issue, saying we do not market our to children, and take affirmative steps to ensure that our products are not sold to minors, by recurring -- requiring retailers to verify why the product is placed. those words may not be enough to quell the criticism of those who argue that electronic cigarettes need to be subject to proper oversight. the fda plans to review the topic by the end of october, but how it will be regulated is still very much in question. >> that does it for now, but for more on the stories we covered, go to youtube.com/rtamerica, and
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follow me on twitter. see you back here at 8:00. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- hello and welcome to nhk "newsline." it's wednesday october 23. i'm catherine in tokyo. delegates from western countries have blamed the chinese for arresting activists, blocking internet sites and restricting the freedoms of ethnic minorities. they made

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