tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS November 8, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, november 8: the united states plans to escalate airstrikes against isis, in syria, and possibly send more ground troops. tens of millions of voters turn out for a historic free election in the southeast asian nation of myanmar. and in our signature segment, unaccompanied immigrant children from central america hoping to stay in the u.s. legally. >> ( translated ): if i were deported, i'd be terrified to go back. all of my dreams, my plans, would crumble. >> sreenivasan: next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: lewis b. and louise hirschfeld cullman. bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston.
the cheryl and philip milstein family. the citi foundation. supporting innovation and enabling urban progress. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thanks for joining us. we begin with the united states' escalating military role in syria's civil war. last week, president obama announced the deployment of 50 special forces to aid rebel groups fighting the militants who call themselves the islamic state of iraq and syria, known as isis. now, in an interview with abc news released today, defense secretary ash carter said the
u.s. could "do more" to help local ground forces in that fight, and "they may find themselves in combat." >> if a group indicates a willingness to fight, we'll give them some equipment and see how they do. if they prove capable, then we'll provide them with some more information, maybe some airstrikes. if they prove really capable and really dedicated, then we might send some people in to be with them and train and advise them directly. >> sreenivasan: for the past year, the u.s. has led a coalition that has carried out close to 3,000 airstrikes against positions held by isis inside syria. u.s. warplanes have carried out 95% of those attacks, and western and arab allies seem to be turning their attention elsewhere." new york times" reporter eric schmitt is covering this issue, and he joins me now from washington. what's happened to the coalition? i remember the generals talking about our arab partners flying with us, making these raids. >> they certainly did on the
first, in the first night of those raids a year ago. but what happened sibs then-- since then in particular, since march, saudi arabia and the united arab emirates have had to take on the fight against hu ti rebels in yemen, so a lot of their air power has been diverted to yemen to try and fight that fight. some of the other countries that are also participating, including jordan out of solidarity to the saudis have also shifted some of their combat missions to yemen as well. so these countries are still flying a few missions every now and then but they've had to shift their air forces to other priorities. >> sreenivasan: what about just even moving the air forces closer to the fight, not keeping them out on the persian gulf but perhaps staging them in turkey. that was a huge advantage for the united states. >> it certainly was, and something the pentagon had wanted to do all along was use the turkish air base which can cut down the flight times to syria to as little as 15 minutes to the border as opposed to a
fire hour flight from some of the persian gulf bases. but many of the european allies who are flying missions in iraq and a few in syria, countries like australia and france, they have long-standing relationships with these middle eastern countries and they don't necessarily want to uproot and move their forces to insu rik in turkey ansett up new arrangements with the turks there, if that would be disruptive to their praiks so even though it say longer fight, they're willing to stay where they are at, at least for now. >> sreenivasan: what about the coordination or confrontation with russia? i mean we know where their planes are. they know where our planes are. but sometimes seem to be going after different targets. >> they are. the russians have been primarily in the north western part of syria, attacking targets that are rib el-- rebels on the ground that are fighting, the government and president bashar al-assad. the u.s. tends to focus more in the east. and those are targets that are more isis targets.
just this week, however, there was a coordination exercise where the u.s. and russians actually exchanged a communication just so they can talk to each other and try and avoid crashing too each other in the skies over syria. >> sreenivasan: is there concern that this could be the beginning of kind of mission creep, putting special forces on the ground or putting special advisors on the ground, is one step trying to increase our air campaign, is another step? >> well, certainly that's what the critics in congress and elsewhere are saying of the obama administration's decision, to put those 50 or so special ops guys on the ground. those forces will be there to help coordinate intelligence, to basically give advice to the syrian rebels on the ground in the east. as they push toward roca, the self-proclaimed capital of isis in eastern syria. the air campaign as you said, increasing both the numbers of aircraft and shifting closer to the fight in turkey is aimed at
improving the efficiency of an air campaign that so far has come under criticism for not putting enough pressure on isis. >> sreenivasan: i was going to scrks how does the administration i should say how does the military measure its success in this air campaign? >> well, the goal is, and ash carter secretary of the defense came out with just the other day in trying to identity ramadi, roca and raid, ramadi in western iraq. racka, the capital of ice nis the eastern part of syria a commando raids to go after the leaders, that is what they want to do is put pressure on those two main cities through oftentimes through raids, isolate isis in its some of its key areas, and shrink the territory that they control in syria and iraq. that's one of the many objectives the pentagon has more. >> sreenivasan: eric schmitt of "the new york times" joining us from washington, thanks so much. >> you're welcome. >> sreenivasan: the southeast asian nation of myanmar, the country formerly known as burma, is holding its freest election ever. more than 30 million of the
country's 56 million people were registered to vote in today's election. as stake is control of the nation's parliament-- still dominated by the military, which repressively ran myanmar for most of the past 50 years. the military regime allowed limited elections in 2012 and implemented reforms leading the u.s. and its allies to lift economic sanctions. 70-year-old nobel peace prize winner aung san suu kyi leads the main opposition party, and she is seeking re-election to her own parliament seat. the election is being closely watched to see if the military will accept the results, which will start to be announced tomorrow and will take several days. joining me to discuss the importance of today's election in myanmar is suzanne dimaggio from "the new america foundation." >> sreenivasan: how free and fair are these elections. >> everything is relative, especially when it comes to myanmar. and it is a significant election. first and fore most, there are over 90 parties registered to give candidates. that is astounding when you think of this country as being dominated by the military for
half a century. secondly, this is really the first time in ta years that the-- in 25 years that the major opposition party headed by aung san suu kyi has been allowed to campaign freely throughout the country. so for many myanmar people, this is the first time in their lives that they have been able to participate in a competitive election. >> sreenivasan: it's not like the military is giving them complete control. they still have 25% of all the parliamentary seat, they'll still control that. >> yes. when the generals of the junta decided to begin a transition to democracy, they put together a constitution that insures that they have the upper edge. they maintain 25% of all seats automatically in the parliament which gives them a clear advantage. so what they did was fashioned themselves, golden parachutes out of the old system, changed their uniforms, they are now in civilian garb, but make no
mistake about it, the military still holds the abundance of power. >> sreenivasan: that means that a lot of these, you know, competitive races in all these small places, they're going to have to form coalitions in order to overcome the power that the military already has built in. >> absolutely. unless aung san suu kyi has won by a significant landslide. and that could happen. because what i'm hearing is 30 million people were eligible to vote. there are reports that as many as 80% of those 30 million came to the polls. that would translate probably into support for the nld. could be a landslide, but if it's not, you are exactly light. there are be a lot of alliance blrks coalition building, this will have to include many of the smaller ethnic minority parties. so the big question is whether the leader of myanmar has the skill set to be a unifier, that is really needed to bring this country to it's next step.
>> sreenivasan: there is this other specter looming which is ta years ago they had the election. the military didn't like what they saw, chose to stay in power. >> yes. >> sreenivasan: what happens tomorrow, next week, next month when all those totals are in and might not be something the military likes. >> well, that's the biggest concern. 25 years ago the military did not expect the nld to win by a landslide. they were caught by surprise. this time they cannot say that they will be caught by surprise. there have been preparations for this. also the current president and other military leaders are on record as saying if the nld win, if the opposition wins, they will respect that. also myanmar is a different country today. they are more connected to the rest of the world. the united states has normalized relations. if the military decides not to make good, if the nld wins, this would turn into a major international incident. >> sreenivasan: all right, suzanne dimaggio, thanks so much. >> my pleasure
>> sreenivasan: how is myanmar shifting toward greater democracy? watch our primer on sunday's historic vote online. visit pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: reuters is reporting that egyptian investigators are growing more certain that an explosion is responsible for the crash of a russian airliner in the sinai peninsula last weekend. reuters quotes one unnamed member of of the investigation team as saying that it is: "90% sure it was a bomb." the comment comes a day after the head of the team said publicly there is "a noise" in the last second of the cockpit voice recording. debris from the plane was scattered over an eight mile area, with the tail section three miles from the fuselage. all 224 people on board the chartered airbus-321 jet died flying from sharm el-sheikh egypt to saint petersburg, russia. the death toll from last week's fire in a crowded romanian music club has risen to 45 people. the drummer of the heavy metal band that was playing when the fire broke out october 30 died today, along with three other people. nine others died yesterday.
dozens more club-goers remain hospitalized for their burns. the blaze is blamed on a fireworks show inside the basement club, which had only one exit. a former mayor who granted the club a permit was arrested yesterday. that followed the arrest last week of three club owners. >> sreenivasan: after 68,000 unaccompanied immigrant children, many fleeing pervasive violence in central america, arrived in the united states last year, the obama administration created a program to allow these children to apply for refugee status before leaving their own countries. but so far, with 5,400 applications submitted-- mostly from el salvador-- not a single child has entered the u.s. through the program, according to an article last week in "the new york times." for unaccompanied minors, making the case to stay in the u.s. is not easy. they are not guaranteed a lawyer
to assist them. but a class action lawsuit that began with a young woman from el salvador as the lead plaintiff is challenging that policy. newshour's ivette feliciano has the story in tonight's signature segment. >> reporter: the girl we agreed to call jessica was only 14 when she said goodbye last year to her grandmother, the person who raised her, back in el salvador. her journey through mexico to texas took a month. for her safety, we agreed to conceal her identity. >> ( translated ): i felt nervous traveling, because i had no idea what could happen to us, and i felt scared at the same time. >> reporter: jessica, and her grandmother, had worried what would happen if she didn't leave. her uncle, a police officer in her home town of zacatecoluca, had refused to hand over guns and uniforms to members of a notorious drug gang. in retaliation jessica says, the gang began following her to school and home, and threatened to kidnap her and other family members who lived with her.
>> ( translated ): it was just panic. we didn't want to leave the house. in my town, in one week there were 29 homicides by gangs. >> reporter: jessica decided to flee-- to try to rejoin her parents who had left for the u.s. when she was just a toddler. they had found steady work in california and had been sending money back ever since. in january 2014, without proper documents, jessica and three relatives-- all young women -- left el salvador together. jessica says during their journey, they often had no food and no place to sleep. when they arrived in hidalgo, texas, border patrol agents immediately detained them. >> ( translated ): i felt scared and desperate. i just wanted to get out of the room to see the sun. i felt really nervous, because i had no idea what would happen to me. >> reporter: the next day, border agents transferred jessica and the two teenage relatives with her to the custody of the office of refugee resettlement, known as "o.r.r." that's a branch of the federal department of health and human
service's tasked with providing emergency supplies and services to immigrant minors unaccompanied by adults who arrive in the u.s. o.r.r. placed jessica in a youth shelter in texas for a month, where she learned deportation proceedings against her had already begun and that she'd soon have to appear in court, >> ( translated ): i didn't know what i would do. what if they ask me something? how would i respond? i felt so scared to go in front of a judge. >> reporter: o.r.r. gave jessica a list of lawyers who might donate their time, known as working "pro-bono," but for eight months, all the lawyers she contacted said they were too busy to help. unlike criminal court, in immigration court, the federal government is not required to provide lawyers to defendants who cannot afford them-- not even to unaccompanied minors like jessica. but whether or not they have a lawyer makes a big difference in immigration court. 73% of immigrants under 21 with lawyers are allowed to stay in the u.s.
that's five times higher than the 15% of children without lawyers who are allowed to stay. so far this year, there have been 19,000 immigrants under 21 who filed new requests to stay, and 62% of them don't have a lawyer. ahilan arulanantham, an attorney for the american civil liberties union, began representing jessica last year as a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit brought by the a.c.l.u. and other groups against "o.r.r.," "immigration and customs enforcement", and the departments of justice and homeland security. >> the notion that a ten-year-old boy from el salvador, who can barely speak any english, can advance the constitutional arguments that trained lawyers who have gone to law school would make, in federal court, is absurd. >> reporter: the plaintiffs say requiring minors to appear in court whether they have a lawyer or not violates the constitution's fifth amendment right to due process. >> we're talking about children who have so much at stake,
because so many of them are fleeing such severe violence and other forms of persecution, the government pays for a lawyer to prosecute the child. as a matter of fairness, we should ensure that the child has a lawyer as well. >> the lawsuit is frivolous. it's merely a political stunt. >> reporter: mark krikorian of washington's center for immigration studies, which advocates tighter border security, thinks the a.c.l.u. lawsuit is without merit. >> if you're an american in bankruptcy court, in foreclosure proceedings, in divorce court, you don't get a lawyer paid for by the taxpayer. why are illegal immigrants really better than americans? they're deserving of more rights and more taxpayer funds than americans? because that's what the a.c.l.u. is saying. >> reporter: the department of homeland security reports that most unaccompanied minors do come from some of the most dangerous countries in central america, including mexico, el salvador, guatemala, and honduras. this 19-year-old fled the violence in honduras last year. we agreed to call him jacob for
this report. he says he has no family to turn to, because his father was murdered by a drug gang, and his mother has been in a honduran prison his entire life. >> ( translated ): in my country people like me have one destiny, which is to end up in a gang. you're basically like a prisoner because they'll recruit you by force. it's a death sentence. you join the gang, you get killed. you don't join, they kill you. that is the life for young people. you're basically playing with your life when you decide to come. but we did it because we truly are fleeing much worse back home. >> reporter: but jacob didn't get past the texas border and soon found himself in deportation proceedings. without a lawyer. a spokesman for "o.r.r." says it invites legal experts to explain-- in spanish-- to all unaccompanied minors their rights and court procedures, allocating $9 million for the effort. >> your honor, it's incredibly easy. >> reporter: in a federal court hearing last year, deputy
assistant attorney general leon fresco argued: if unaccompanied minors feel their cases were handled unfairly due to a lack of representation, they can appeal the decision by filling out a simple, one-page form. fresco also said ordering the government to provide lawyers to unaccompanied minors without proper funding from congress would send the message that, "the border is completely open to children under 18." the justice department has requested $50 million to pay for lawyers for unaccompanied minors. but a u.s. senator blocked it. alabama republican richard shelby chairs the u.s. senate subcommittee which oversees the justice department's budget. >> there's a lot of ways to represent due process of the children as they go through the immigration courts and so forth. pro-bono and all kind of groups of lawyers that are tied into the immigration to do this every year.
to add $50 million more, hardworking taxpayers' money to that is something i would not do. >> reporter: instead, senator shelby wants to see a greater focus on tightening our borders. >> we all have sympathy and hope and want other people in the world to be well. starving children, starving adults, where they're oppressed and where they don't have opportunities we have. but we can't take everybody in the world. >> reporter: so in your opinion, who qualifies for asylum? >> that would be, it wouldn't be up to me. we've had millions and millions of legal immigrants and political refugees. but we've also had too many illegal immigrants. and if we don't protect our borders, and if people don't have a respect for our laws, whether they live here or they're coming here, we're going to have a nation of chaos. >> reporter: shelby does support allocating funds for more judges
to process unaccompanied minor cases faster. currently there is a backlog of 456,000 immigration cases involving minors and adults, each case takes, on average, 16 months to complete, according to syracuse university researchers, who also found in cases where immigrants prevailed, the cases took longer-- an average of 30 months. >> we need to undo the bottleneck. but we need to make sure that our laws are obeyed, that our borders are protected and that we do not waste taxpayers' money. i think it goes right back to these people, whether children or adults, have come here illegally. and the sooner we process them and send them back home, the better off we are. >> reporter: but without a lawyer, the a.c.l.u.'s ahilan arulanantham says unaccompanied minors who don't speak english can't make sense of the complex set of relief options available.
>> the federal courts have repeatedly compared the immigration code to the tax code in its complexity. it's been called like a labyrinth, like a maze. and that's not an understatement, having done immigration-related work for 15 years. even i don't understand many, many aspects of the immigration law. >> reporter: jessica is one of 27,000 unaccompanied minors who were released to u.s-based relatives last year, while their deportation cases were pending. she was able to reunite with the parents she had not seen since she was a toddler, in los angeles. while her mother remains undocumented, her father, a truck driver, has a visa to work in the u.s. he found a pro-bono lawyer to take jessica's case. >> ( translated ): if i were deported, i'd be terrified to go back. all of my dreams, my plans, would crumble. i don't know what the gangs would do to me. >> reporter: jessica's next hearing is later this month.
>> this is pbs newshour weekend, sunday. >> sreenivasan: a new study by italian researchers has found that smog is wearing down many of rome's most famous monuments. and in paris, the eiffel tower is now being used to monitor air quality. the newshour's christopher booker has more. >> reporter: the new study by italy is offering proof that ancient rome is feeling the effects of modern pollution. this statue of the emperor trajan is turning black, as are fountains, like bernini's famou" four rivers" in piazza navonna. these are just two of 3,600 monuments at risk, according to the researchers who've been tracking erosion, corrosion, and color change on the city's sites for 15 years. >> ( translated ): a monument whose material is fragile, because it's been weakened over the time, will be a lot more vulnerable than a monument that's much better preserved. >> reporter: rome's smog
presents preservationists with a difficult choice. the dust on statues and monuments, while corrosive, can serve as a protective layer against air pollution. 900 miles west across the continent, france's most famous landmark is helping track pollution in paris. this sensor mounted on the eiffel tower monitors the city's air quality. >> ( translated ): the monitoring stations we have on the eiffel tower allow us to better understand the air pollution dispersion from up here, but also to give us a day's levels from such a height which will be different to other stations on the ground around paris. >> reporter: much of paris' pollution comes from automobiles. while france has worked to limit emissions, the country's relatively high volume of diesel cars that emit nitrogen oxide make the problem harder to solve. on occasion the city has lowered speed limits to reduce car emissions and air pollution, and studied how this affects air quality. the height of the eiffel tower monitors help researchers understand how pollution is dispersed as it goes higher into the air.
>> sreenivasan: finally tonight, an acoustic guitar john lennon used to cowrite i want to hold your pland, please please, she loves you and other early beatles hits is sold for $2.4 million, a record for a rock 'n' roll instrument. the auction sold the 1962 gibson in california last night, a lack of lennon's hair with an-- lock of his hair with an enscriered card sold for $25,000. tomorrow on the newshour, the epidemic of diabetes in mexico, and one approach to improving access to much needed medical care that sawl for pbs newshour weekend. thanks for watching. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: lewis b. and louise hirschfeld cullman. bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the citi foundation. supporting innovation and enabling urban progress. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
narrator: "truly california" presented in association with... next on "truly california"... ...when a wild and remote mining town goes bust... monty: the miners live their own life. they didn't hurt nobody. they just hurt themselves more than anybody else. narrator: ...who comes? strom: being around people, it kind of pushed me over the edge. narrator: who stays? pimentel: wild horses couldn't drag me out of darwin. i got the best job, regardless of, you know, it's the only job. narrator: and with the freedom of isolation, what will emerge... and what will remain? next, "darwin." monty: i'm going to worry about the end of the world?