♪ continuing to fight in the disputed nagorno-kaderbak region. >> hello. i am barbara sarah watching al jazeera live from london. on the program: last minute preparations a day before greece is due to start sending refugees back to turkey. syrian government troops advance against isil in central homs prove i knew. the first flight back at takeoff as brucel's airport reopens to
passengers the first time since it was attacked. >> armenia is accusing azerbaijan of attacking in nagorno-karabakh. the ethnic armenian enclave seen here in brown lies inside azerbaijan's borders but it is controlled by separate wifts ties to armenia, set up as a de facto independent state after a six-year war. despite a truce in 1994, tension lingers on. fighting began again in the region on saturday. azerbaijan says 12 soldiers were killed while armenia reported at least 18 dead. both sides say they have been civilian casualties. the conflict threatens to pull iningly major powers. russia has several basis.
turkey backs azerbaijan whose people are ethnic turks. more on that in just a moment. first, a report on the day's developments despite claims after cease-fire by azerbaijan, there is a record that there have been more attacks by azerbaijan's military. both sides are accusing each other of firing the first shots on saturday. they blame each other for violating a 1994 cease-fire that ended a six-year war. >> it was a violation of the cease-fire regime. about a can had in the. some called it the frozen conflict. it began with a decision leader soviet leader joseph stalin made in 1922. stalin placed the mountnus ethnic xli enclave inside the
newly created azerbaijan soviet socialist alist republic. >> people in the area were forced to flee. after years of fighting and more than 30,000 deaths, the karab a. kh region, armenia and azerbaijan reached a truce in 1994. if we are fighting on our territory. if they don't want to die get off of the territory. the republic is not recognized by the u.n.
analysts belief the renewed skishingishes could lead to a greater regional war. >> the question mark people worry about is: it probably wouldn't stay confined to those two current trees. there is a good pos ibility of turkish intervention and a popsibility of russian intervention if it becomes an all-out war? >> the group chaired by am bats dors from the u.s., russia and france has been trying to negotiate a peace deal for years now. the group will meet again on tuesday in vienna. al jazeera. we heard a little bit there with tensions rising between two former soviet republics. the question being asked is: what influence will the reejtnal powerhouse, russia, have on the conflict. mohammed jamjoom has been looking in to it. azerbaijan may have declared a cease-fire in the disputed region but many wonder what will happen if tensions do not
subside. and whether russia, which has called for calm, could be drawn into another conflict. armenia, after all, is a strategic ally. azerbaijan is supported by turkey. it's a complex issue in an already complicated region. russia's relationship with turkey has been deteriorating for some time now because of the war in syria. no conflict, turkey-backed sirrians groups. things got worst for the two countries last year after turkey shut down a russia fighter jet it said had entered its airspace. russia's intervention in syria is the latest example of how president vladimir putin continues to increase the role of his military when and where he sees fit. >> until 2014, after the annexation of crimea and support for pro-russian rebels in eastern crain, moscow faced
isolation and deepening sanctions. putin wasn't deterred. aside from the conflicts, the country is militarily involved in, there are also numerous long standing political and ethnic tensions that continue. chechnia is one example. now many wonder if another foreign war may be looming for moscow and what president putin, whose actions have repeatedly surprised the work will do next. mohammed jam joom, al jazeera. same with russia al fire has broken out in moscow. several hundred fire fighters and several cranes are battling the plays near the kremlin. the frames spread and destroyed part of the room which was m allowed to collapse to contain the flame. 7 power were rescued and 40
others evacuated. hours before a deal to send rejected asylum seekers back to turkey takes force. boatloads have been ref ukd. many children were among those making the journey. isn't the deal was agreed on march 20thth, more than 5,600 people have been registered on greece eastern island. greek state media says more than 700 will be sent back to turkey from monday morning live for us on the greek island of le sp on s. one of the main points where a lot of refugees have been arriving. they are still arriving do we have any clarity as to what exactly is going to happen on monday? how clear have the greek authorities been? well, preparations are clearly in place. if you drive by the ports, you see the ships that will be carrying these migrants and
refugees back to turkey. you see dozens of officers from the eu border agency deployed in le sp os. the greek news agency making it very clear that the deportations will begin on monday at 10:00 a.m. local time they will continue for three days and 750 migrants will be sent back. so this is what the information they have beening the media.
i asked them whether or not they actually applied for asylum and they said, yes, we did. we were given choices to apply for asylum in grease" not to apply at all or to voluntarily return totie, but these people do not want go back. they want to reach northern europe. they want a better life. some have families who already made their way to northern europe. they want to be reunited with them. there is a lot of anxiety. they still do not know what happened to them. but clearly, the eu wants this deal to be implemented to stop the flow of illegal immigration. in fact, over the past 24 hours a day t according to agree authorities, more than 500 people landed on greece's shores. maybe, you know, by sending people back, deport assess will send a very clear message that the eu is curious. borders are shut. the only way forward is through legal channels. >> the eu is hoping as
deportrations due to take place. thank you to the other side of the sea. harry fawcett in dikili where refugees are expected to be sent back to. he sent us this update. >> here in the seaside town, they have been creating a reception center here at the doc made of tents. we understand this is where the first batch of several hundred refugees coming and my graibts coming back from the greek island of le sp os will be processed initially. there have been protests here in the town, though, by those who say they don't want refugees setting up a permanent camp here they say they are worried about crime. they are worried about the effect on the john market. they are worried about the effect on tourism. >> said, the government says it has no plans to set up a permanent camp here, that these people will be process did here and then sent on to camps further inland. we don't know exactly where that will be. the turkish interior minister has been talking earlier on
sunday. he said this deal is already having, to some extent, its entired effect in reducing the numbers of people trying to get in to grease from the coast line here in western turkey. he says the numbers are down blow 300 a day and the coast guard has been picking up people and preventing them from crossing. certainly what we are hearing from smugglers along here is that it's becoming more difficult for security has been tightened but there still remain questions about the fairness of all of this, the afghan's, iraqis and pakistanis, we are told will be dmrooel deported their hoen home country and folk into one academic who said by punning anyone who returns to the end the line in a very long line for any legal return to europe, it could act as a spur to encourage them to try once again to get in illegally across the sea. >> let's go to syria where an armed group says it has certain control of two areas around aleppo. the al nutsra front said it killed 50 government soldiers during the offensive. the fighting is the most serious
in the area since a u.n.-backed truths came into effect a month ago however, al-nusra fronts is not part of that agreement. a report. >> on the offensei, al nusrat front fighters advance on the town south of aleppo, a fight to gain control of the town from pro-syrian government forces who had capture the it four months ago with the help of the russian air force the tanks begin to shell their enemies positions from a distance. the battle has started. it only takes a few hours for fighters to declare victory after they managed to take control of the highest points which over looks the town. the sir i can't believe army and malitias fighting alongside it including the lebanese armed group suffers heavy losses. we managed to seize control of the area and its hill to 40s fighters to pull. we killed a number of fightners lebanon and iran.
>> unexploded shells and happennal dropped by the army litter the streets. sectarian slowingans are everywhere. they indicate fight issues from an iraqi shia group were here. exchange of tear ory tory and the government have been a defendant signature of this war as the army doesn't have enough troops to maintain and the rebels lack the air cover needed to protect their ad vansz. so five years after this connell conflict began, the fighting continues. jamal alsha, al jazeera. >> syrian stayed neat were says government troops have captured a home from isil fighters hild by its ill fighters last august and was considered to be its main stronghold in the province.
the town is 10 kilometers west of palmiera. the u.k. based organization, the syrian observatory for human rights, says more than 40 russian and syrian airstrikes targeted the area on sunday. no are to come here on al jazeera, including why the economic crisis could mean an end to grease's funeral tradition. and the modern version of mozart's figaro sung in english and spanglish to make it more accessible.
welcome back. here is a reminder the top stories on al jazeera: armenia is disputing reports of a cease-fire by azerbaijani forces in the contested region. civil yajz died on saturday in some of the west fighting that the region has seen in over 20 years. turkey is rushing to build facilities for refer ujees the day before an eu deal on the resettlement of asylum seekers is said to come into force. greek stayed media say more than 700 people will be sent back to turkey from greets on monday. the al-qaeda-linked nutsra front said it killed 50 syrian government troops near allepo as it battles to take control of the region from president assad's forces. now t airstrikes by the saudi-led coalition are and to hit a camp.
several fighters from al-qaeda were killed by four airstrikes near the port city of mukala. saudi coalition forces have not yet commented. south africa's parliament moved to impeached zuma on tuesday. this follows the constitutional court's recent ruling he failed to uphold the constitution. he had ignored areas. some of the $60 million of state funds used to renovate his home. it is unlikely that the motion will be passed. members of the flight crew of egypt air 181 have spoken about the hijacking of their plane last tuesday t turned out the explosives were fake and actions were motivated by a feud with his ex-wife. at the time, the crew was spooning to a credible threat to blow up their plane.
he said good at the pushes the button it will explode. the crew that was with me felt something was going on when i went to talk to the pilot to give him the demands. to be honest, the crew gave me strength, as well as the passengers. >> you have to think of every possibility when you are flying. i didn't want to make myself into a hero, but our training which was given to us by egypt air through the international aviation authority is what we were able to a apply to a great extents during the situation. >> the families of the victims of last sunday's bombing in lahar say a climate of fear looms over the city despite government efforts to beef up security. some say they will never go back to the upon lar public park where the blast hit timran khan has visited some of the victim's families. >> they gather at the graves of
those they loved. this family lost two t most of those killed were children. their mother tells us how their family was looking forward to a holiday weekend at a popular park. >> the weekend is a holiday for the children, and the next day, they had school. so their father says the house is small. so let's go to the park and they can be a little free. we got to the park, and they played. i watched as they ran. then there was this loud noise and smoke. i couldn't hear anything. people were on fire, and others were lying dead. i found my children underneath the bodies of others. my husband lost a leg and is in hospital. i will never go back to that park again. i am too scared. >> that home, through their grief, they talk about the short lives of their children. 5 and 7 years old and 12 years old. like many in the park, last subld, they came from the poorest parts of the province. it was a rare chance for hard working families to relax and
enjoy a picnic and an its cream. the pack stanleytable claimed responsibility for the park, targeting christians celebrating easter. for this takfamily and others l them, they say no justification is enough for them. >> most of the people who died in this attack have been buried in an cestral villages like this that dot the region. for these people, the reasons why this attack took place do not matter. only that their lives changed in an instance. their children died violently. >> lahore is still coming to terms with what happened. the government is increasing execute in the city but there is still a sense of fear and nefrntsness. imran khan, rural punjab. >> brussel's airport is partly operating again following the attack there 12 days ago. the first flight to the portuguese city departed a little earlier. airport staff observed a
minute's silence ahead of the departure. passengers arriving for flights now face new security measures in a temporary terminal. the main departure hull was damaged by the suicide attack. a metro station was attacked on the same day and 32 people were killed. >> it's a very emotional moment for all of us, from me, personally, of course. it's all workday and night. literally day and night to make this moment potsinal. so, i think it's very important. the only three flights today are symbol symbolic. tomorrow, we will have more flights. in the next few days, we will go up to 20 pitts of our normal and then the maximum in a temporary structure that has been built. >> 11 journalists have been detained by police in the maldives. arizona were made during protests gersches an alleged government crackdown on press freedom. police fired teargrass gas at demonstrators while they rallied
near the president's. proposing fines and jail terms for defamation. the economics crisis in greece is affecting everyone, even the dead. yes, many funeral parlors have closed. those left open re in intense competition with their rival did. 23% government sales tax on funeral services is driving many businesses towards bankruptcy. john tsaropilis reports. >> reporter: nicolo is sculpting a character for a city square f if he thought he would make his living from portrait did of the recently deceitsed as his father did. but greeks in grief are spending let's on remembering their dearly departed. >> a life-sized statute may cost 50 to sent ,000 your o did. a bust may be about 10. these prices are about 30 to 40%
lower than they were before the crisis. >> a stone's throw from his workshop is the first cemetery of athens. family too manies like these begin at $32,000 for the land, alone and tens of thousands more for construction. even simple marble tombstones and grave linings are often now avoided. >> a square meter of white marble used to cost 150 euros, now 250 because of the increased sales tax, the marble and the sales tax. >> sales tax rose from 13 to 23% last year. it has hit the funeral business hard. funerals in this cemetery used to cost up to $5,000. now, they go for about 1300 and that includes the higher sales tax. so, the municipality, funeral parlor, embalmer, hearse and church cost less. >> many have to spend more financing their business because
social security payments for funerals take longer to arrive from the government. many are going broke. >> the money has dropped at least by half over a denying aid. the social foundation offers f what was given on the day of the funeral. now, it takes eight months to pay out 1,000. the farmer if you wanted knees two years. many funds cover nothing at all. >> many bereaved can't pay because they are not ensured. they abandoned their dead relatives in hospital morgues for weeks until the hospital paid for the burial. the marble monuments to remember the dead are supposed reflect their way of life. in current trends in greece are an education, life here is becoming cheaper. john psaroupilis, athens. >> the head of the penal parliament has criticized turkey for protesting against a satirical song mocking the
president's treatment of journalists. ♪ >> well p his response to the two-minute song, which aired on german t.v. has morphed into a diplomatic incidents with turkey summoning the german ambassador. it is particularly talk word for the chance lor who led the deal between the eu and turkey finalized. >> immigration something a hot topic not just in europe and middle east but in the united states as well. now, a remake over classic opera called figero 90210 is taking center stage. a performance in new york. >> meet figaro. ♪ >> the star of mozart's classic opera, the marriage of figaro reimagined as an undocumented mexican immigrant where the original character was a serve ants to a count. this figaro lives on the estate
of a california real estate tycoon. in both stories, his boss has eyes on his fiance. >> it has all of mozart's museie in english a& panglish some it makes it more accessible. >> it's a chance to play characters modern audiences can relate to including an aspiring act tress and a teenager obsessed with hip-hop. star jose adon es is mexican. >> it's a very interesting cast. what we have here. it's a micro kosmos of the american society. >> figero was first performed 230 years ago. at heart is a story that pits haves against have-not did. in this case, an undocumented immigrant. the themes are as relevant as ever in american society. >> at the manhattan school of music, experts say productions like this are helping to draw new audiences to opera. >> you have a name in the title
that the audience is going to recognize. they know you have a contemporary kind of iconic reference that people are also going to identify with. and it sounds like a mash-up of some kind. right? that you will want to see because it's new. >> writer vig karerio wanltsdz to create a work as revolutionary as mozarts was? >> there are human rights that are fundamental. you know, in today's day and age, whether we are talking about undocumented immigrant workers in the or syria refugees in europe, there is a -- there is a very similar dielog. ♪ >> an important conversation that can be sung as well as spoken. kristin saloomey, al jazeera, new york. nasa and the european space agency have released a new series of high definition images of the center of our milky way
galaxy. astronmembers use the capability did of the hubble space telescope to pier through the dust which normally obscures this part of space. the images reveal more than half a million stars and amazing stuff. more on the website. ricochet your attention back on to life. >> albom's latest novel is "the magic strings of frankie presto", a tale about the greatest guitarist to ever live and the lives he changes. the writer's first dream was to be a musician. >> i didn't write anything until i was already well into my twenties, cause everything i wanted to do was based around music. >> his books have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.
albom's best known for the memoir he wrote about his dying professor. >> he was an enormous influence on my life. everything that i write basically is a stem from a tuesdays with morrie tree. >> trying to live by morrie's motto of "giving is living". albom dedicates much of his time to his charities, including one that helps impoverished children and orphans in haiti. >> i wasn't, blessed to have children of my own. and so, i kind of look at this as, as sort of my, this is what i was fated to sort of be when it comes to whatever father instincts i must have. >> albom's career as a writer took off covering sports, a trade for which he won countless awards. >> i was fairly good at being a sports writer. and, i just felt that sometimes, you know, you could find the best story in sports by talking to the person who lost, or by talkin' to the, person who finished second. >> i spoke to mitch albom in new
york as his latest book was being released. let's start with, with your new book because it's about music. it's called "the magic strings of frankie presto". and, this is a novel. it, it, what's so interesting to me about it is it is written, through the voice of music. it's narrated by music. what kind of voice or personality does music have? >> well, in my imagination, music is very proud to begin with. it's proud of itself. it sees itself as the greatest of all talents. and in this book, it begins, you're right, by, at a funeral, where music has come to collect the talent that was inside the soul of frankie presto, who is my mythical hero, who was the greatest guitar player to ever walk the earth. and in, in this story, music tells you, he sa, he s, music so loves this child, it's, it's prodigy, that it comes to the funeral personally to get the talent out and then to distribute it over other newborn souls. and while music is at the funeral, it decides it's gonna
stay and listen to all the hosannas being thrown at its prodigy because it's so proud of its, the, this young ma, this man's life. and so, as the book goes on, you start to hear about his life, you start to hear some of the mourners at the funeral. but you keep hearing it in the voice of music. and right in the very first page, music says, "well, you may think that i'm being fickle, but i, i, i can be, but i'm also sweet and i'm also difficult and i'm also dissonant and i'm also angry and i'm all the things that, if you think of what music is, there is angry music, there is sweet music, there is loving music, there is disturbing music. and, music is all those things. >> and music is sort of personified in this way, through this book. talk about frankie presto. so he's this virtuoso. and he works with all of the musical greats, duke ellington, elvis presley. you know, what story did you wanna tell through this character? so my theme that i wanted to do, having been a musician myself, i
know that there's a certain, certain relationships within a band, when you're in a band, even though you're not speaking, you're speaking musically. and everybody has a certain role to play in a band. you know, the drummer has to maybe keep the time steady. someone else gets to be the soloist and go off wild. someone else has to be the rhythm player and keep it real. and i realized that that's very much what life is like in all the other bands that you join. family, a workplace, school, army. everybody sorta has a role, you know. so i wanted to do a theme about, well, a musical book but, but show that how we all influence each other, whether you're in a band, of musicians or you're just in a band in life, you influence people that you come in contact with with your talents. and so frankie became sort of this great symbol of that because he is, as you pointed out, he's the greatest guitar player to ever walk the earth. >> he loses his mother the day that he's born and becomes an orphan. >> and he's sent to america when he's nine or ten years old with, a single guitar and six magic strings. and those strings, empowered by
his playing, can actually change people's lives. and when they change a life, they turn blue. and he gets six sort of opportunities to, with these blue strings over the course of his life to change six lives. >> and the last element was, as you pointed out, he's sort of forrest gump. he's fictional but everything else in the book is real. so he's with duke ellington's band and he travels over with django reinhardt, the jazz guitar player. he ends up influencing little richard and singing "tutti fruity" and he backs up elvis and then elvis doesn't show up one night and he takes over for him. and he's, he's at woodstock and he's, meets tony bennett later in his life. there's all these real people who were nice enough, many of them, to let me actually write in their voices in the book. but he's fictional. >> in some ways, did he have your dream life, to be able to meet all of these people? >> yeah, i guess he did. haven't thought of it that way, but yeah, i suppose a lot of my own musical fantasies were sort of played out. he personifies what i would like my musical playing to do, except
he's, frankipresto is a much better musician than i was or ever will be. >> but you wanted to be a musician from, from a young age, you wanted to be a musician. >> it's all i wanted to be. i didn't write anything until i was already well into my twenties, cause everything i wanted to do was based around music. and so, i put myself through college playing music. and i really didn't write much in college, not more than the average kid does. and then when i got out, i tried to make it as a musician in new york. and, you know. >> what happened? >> i failed. like many people. and i, maybe if i had stayed with it longer, something else might've happened. but i found that it was breaking my heart. i was so in love with music and music, had been everything i dreamed about my whole life. and so, i hadn't really thought of anything else other than being a musician. i went to college because, you know, i had a set of parents that said, "that's fine, you'll be a musician. first, you'll go to college". literally, the day after i was done, i went overseas and i started being a musician. i lived over in europe for a while as that, then i came back to new york. and i went the whole
starving musician route. >> i knocked on record company doors and i wa, you know, i would play them my tapes and songs that i had written. and i'd pour my whole soul into these songs. so by the time you actually went into a record company, you know, you had poured out a lot into this. and they'd put it on and listen to ten seconds of it and say, "nah, i don't hear it," you know, and out the door you'd go. >> that must've been frustrating. >> it was heartbreaking. it wasn't, frustrating wasn't as much of just, you know, i, i think the combination of being young, and i was very young when i got outta school, and, and having the lights turn red for me for the first time in my life. you know, music started to become, like, a source of, of anger and, and, and difficulty. and, during this time, while i was still working as a musician at nights and paying my bills such as they were, i had time during the day and i ended up volunteering for a local newspaper, that had a little ad saying, "if, if you can write little stories for us," and i thought, "well, it's something to do anyhow". >> and, i found that i had an aptitude for writing. >> and, that's where your talent
was? >> well, i think that there's actually more connection between music and writing than a lot of people think i, i do think that writing is very much rhythm, cadence, pacing, theme. and those are the same things you do when you write a song. those are the same things you do when you compose. so there's a lotta techniques in writing, even the rhythm of a sentence. where do you put a comma? where ha, do you use an "and" or a "the" or do you just make it two sentences? does your writing go ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba or does it go ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba? >> so that's something. >> you know? >> you're thinking about as... >> constantly. >> you are composing? >> constantly. >> a piece? >> constantly. as i compose a paragraph. >> with this new book, "the magic strings of frankie presto", there's also something special about it because there's a soundtrack that goes with it in which you are actually able to also do your music. >> yeah, finally. thirty-five years after tryin' to make it in the music business, i have a record. it grew out organically. you know, frankie presto has this real career and he, he comes to america and he's this
virtuoso guitar player as you say, even by the time he's a teenager. but then he falls into the whole rock and roll thing and he becomes, he's very handsome and they turn him into, like, the next elvis. and for a period of time, they tell him, "don't worry about the guitar. just go out there and dance". and he does. and so, of course, it's a metaphor for sort of losing what really is where your heart is. and he puts the guitar away, this magic guitar, and he becomes very popular but he loses his soul along the way and he loses the girl of his dreams and all the rest of it. and then eventually, when he kind of realizes what's happened and fame disappears on him, as it frequently does, he works his way back to the actual guitar. and so along the way, i wrote about these songs, like his first hit song was called "i want to love you". i just made it up and i gave it some lyrics 'cause that's the kinda songs that they were singing in 1960. and then he had a ballad song called "our secret". and i made up the lyrics. and after i was finished with the book, i said, "you know, it would be really cool if these songs were real songs," because in my head, they were real songs. and so, i ended up calling a bunch of different people and
meeting some of 'em for the first time and saying, "would you like to write the real song of the fictional song that was supposed to ha been written in 1960?". and they loved it. i mean, to, to a person, all the musicians i contacted, they loved, like, an assignment. consequently, we ended up with a soundtrack album that has six original, original songs of fake songs that were created by me in the book. so i wrote the lyrics in the book. they took them and then they added music to them and they recorded them and they're terrific. and then we added a bunch of real songs, you know, like, tony bennett songs and, and "tutti fruity" by little richard. andtoday i met the boy i'm gonna marryby darlene love. and, and lyle lovett's "god willand" a bunch of other songs that are in the book. >> let's go back to 1997 and "tuesdays with morrie" comes out, because that is one of, the bestselling memoirs of all time, i believe. but it is also a book that i think a lotta people still associate with mitch albom. it was a story, of course, about, a professor of yours who was dying of als.
and sort of the lessons that he left you with. do you still to think morrie schwartz? >> sure. probably every day. if i didn't, i wouldn't be able to help it anyhow because some point every day, if i'm out in the public, someone will come up to me and say, you know, something about "tuesdays with morrie". sometimes it's just, "i like that book, "tuesdays with morrie". other times, it's very personal. you know, my, frequently i hear, "my father died from als, my mother died from al--" anyone who dies from als, i'm, i'm sort of a lightning rod for that story. he was an enormous influence on my life. everything that i write basically is a stem from a "tuesdays with morrie" tree. and, even the themes of "frankie presto" and how we affect one another, i don't think i would've thought of those things if i hadn't been exposed to how a professor who's no longer here, okay, he's been dead for almost, 20 years this month, is still affecting people in schools and, and, and, and even in our conversation right here,
long after he's gone. so that ripple effect of how you affect people is, is actually one of the themes of the "frankie presto" book. >> and, as you say, a lotta the subsequent books that you wrote also deal with how sort of the acknowledgement of death changes life and one's life. at what point did you realize you were sort of onto something, that you were hitting a nerve with people, with that theme? >> probably the moment i finished the oprah winfrey program, and, i had gone on to, at that point, the book was tiny. i mean, it wasn't, people rewrite history and they somehow think that "tuesdays with morrie" was, like... >> started out big. >> yeah, started out some kinda big thing and one of the biggest books. it wasn't. it was a tiny, little book. i only wrote it to pay his medical bills. many publishers turned me down when i tried to make a proposal for it. they said, "y, it'll be boring, it'll be depressing and you're a sports writer so what do you know about this anyhow"? they printed 20,000 copies and
that was it. >> so i thought i'd have them in the trunk of my car for the rest of my life. you know, one of those guys who r, rides around and opens up, "you want a book? anybody want a book"? >> mostly known for his novels, mitch albom is also an award winning sports columnist. up next, albom says how he is able to make the switch from one writing style to the other. >> we're here to fully get into the nuances of everything that's going on, not just in this country, but around the world. getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> ali velshi on target.
known to be sentimental. we're known to be cynical. and yet, you've come out with all these feel good, oprah-ish books. ha, has that in any way affected your credibility as a journalist (laugh) or as a sports journalist? >> i think... >> can you be cynical? >> yeah, i'm sure i can be cynical about sports. i never wanted to lose my soul just because i was gonna be a sports writer. and i like to think, before "tuesdays with morrie" came out, that i, i wrote with some compassion and some humanity long before people attached those traits to me from an outside book. and i don't think that they hurt me. i was fairly good at being a sports writer. and, i just felt that sometimes, you know, you could find the best story in sports by talking to the person who lost, or by talkin' to the, person who finished second. and, i always approached it that way. so you don't have to be, a curmudgeon to be a journalist. i think what happens is you see
so much, so many awful things when you're a journalist. and you see so much cynical behavior, particularly if you're covering pol, covering politics or business or, in many ways, sports, that you start to say, "well, why should i be open and, and, and, and, and sensitive when everybody around me that i'm covering is all just tryin' to spin everything their own way"? but i always felt that, if you sink to the level of the lowest part of what it is that you're writing about, how are you gonna write any better than what's going on? >> one of the lines, from "morrie" is, "giving makes me feel like living." and it is actually a creed that you, mitch, seem to be living up to with the amount of charity work that you seem to devote. talk about what the focus of a lotta these charities is. >> they're twofold. i have a charity called "s.a.y. detroit", which is, basically just helps, needy detroiters from birth all the way till senior citizen years.
it started when, i was on line at a homeless shelter, doing a story and, and, during the 2006 super bowl. and, and it's a whole long thing about they were scooping all the homeless people off the streets in detroit and tryin' to hide them from the general public, which i thought was awful. and so, i went down to spend a night at the shelter to write about what this was all about. and while i was on line, the guy in front of me, you know, we're waiting for the meal and he turns around, he looks me up and down, he says, "aren't you mitch albom"? and i said, "yeah." and then he looks me up and down again, he says, "so what happened to you," you know? and, he just presumed that i had fallen from grace and was. >> and that you were a homeless person? >> yeah, i was on line. and, you know, after i kinda chuckled, then i realized, you know, that's a perfectly acceptable question. i'm pretty sure he never figured to be on that line himself. and, it really was one of those moments, you know, everybody has them, where you just can't stop thinking about it. and i wrote that column i think infused with the spirit of that
moment. and it must've been fairly effective 'cause i was tryin' to raise $60,000 to keep all these homeless people in the shelters for another couple months. and i ended up raising in a week $360,000, in a week, just from a bunch of $10 and $20 donations. so then it was, "well, what am i gonna do with this"? and i formed "s.a.y. detroit", which stands for super all year detroit. and it's now grown into a multimillion dollar operation that, supports nine different charities all over the city of detroit. and, every dollar we bring in, we spend right back out. we have no salaries, we have no offices, we have no, we (laugh), our offices are our cars. detroit and michigan in general is an incredible place for charitable, giving, considering how hard pressed it is and considering, you know, detroit, one of the most bankrupt cities in america a few years ago. and, still struggles greatly, but the charitable attitude is really incredible. so most of my work is there. and then i have an orphanage in
haiti that i've been going to for the last six years, or i've been operating for the last six years. i go every month, for three or four days. >> what's it like interacting with the kids? >> oh, it's the best. i mean, this is, this is childhood the way it was meant to be. there are no cell phones, there's no internet, there's no television, there's no anything. and so our kids, which range from three years old to 18 years old when, when they leave, they've not been taught anything that's cool or not cool. so an 11 year old boy will take his arm and, and, and put his own arm around you and lean into you, you know, 'cause nobody told him that 11 year old boys aren't supposed to do that. i love these children. you know, i wasn't, blessed to have children of my own. and so, i kind of look at this as, as sort of my, this is what i was fated to sort of be when it comes to whatever father instincts i must have. and, i know everything there is to know about these kids. i know where they came from, i know their backgrounds. you know, i was the one who, who
said, "okay, you, you and not ten other or 15 other kids," 'cause for every one we accept, i have to turn away at least that many. and i know that we're helping them. i mean, i know in many ways, we're saving their lives because a lotta these kids, one, one of our children was literally left under a tree to die. and i don't know his name. we never, we don't know who his parents are. we don't know anything. we took him. he was left there when he was about two months old. and, if someone hadn't heard him crying, he would've died under the tree. and, he eventually was brought to us and now we're raising him with, a name that we gave him. and, you know, it's just a remarkable thing, to think that you can have that kind of an impact on a young life. and these kids are the happiest, most joyous, most songful, you know, musical kids that you will ever meet. so it probably sounds like i'm goin' on and on and i am. i, i, ah.. >> well, it sounds like you're passionate. >> i am. >> about this. >> and, i believe in what we do down there. and i don't ever think you can save haiti. i never tell anybody that you can.
that, that's a country with a lotta problems. but you can save this much of it. and if everybody saves this much of it, you know, you can make a dent. and that's my, that's my this much, those 40 kids. so that's the other part of the charity that i do. >> mitch albom writes about death but he says that dying is not the focus of his books. he explains, up next.
>> i'm stephanie sy and you're watching "talk to al jazeera". i'm speaking this week with mitch albom, author of "tuesdays with morrie" one of the best selling memoirs of all time. >> so much of what i'm hearing you say, seems to go back to these lessons from morrie. but, you know, reading your writing is almost like a spiritual, almost quasi-religious experience i think. i, i'm just curious whether that is a part of your life in any way, whether you're driven. >> faith? >> whether you had a rabbi or you have a faith. >> yeah. i was raised with faith. faith is a big part of my life. probably more in a spiritual and, and knowledgeable way than, like, rapid attendance at any particular place, mostly because i'm not in a particular place. when i'm in haiti, it's a christian mission and, there's
church and so i'm sitting in the church services. when i'm at home, or go back to where i grew up on the east coast, i'll go to the synagogue that i was raised in. my wife is christian. so i move between a lot of faiths. i pray every morning and i thank god for what i have. i also don't believe that you're, you know, you're supposed to start telling everybody else what they're supposed to do with their faith. i think i got more than my own hands full just tryin' to figure out my relationship with a higher power than for me to tell you or anybody else what they're supposed to do with theirs. i'm always, pleased and a little surprised when my books are embraced by different religions, many of whom don't believe the same thing, but they, they'll embrace the book. it's, like, wow, okay, so you can write a novel and people of one faith can say, "yes, this is, we can see our lessons in this," and then people who are in another faith can say, "yes, we can see our lessons in this". and what does that teach us? you know, that be, because it didn't have a label on it, everybody embraced it. i think a lot of what faith is
about, people react to because, "oh no, that's a jewish idea. that's a christian idea, that's a hindu idea, that's a muslim idea." but if you didn't know where it came from and you just heard the idea, you might say, "that's a great idea". and, you know. >> if the idea is, as, as simple as just giving makes you happy and makes you want to live. >> what difference does it make where it came from, you know? and i think you, i think, morrie said to me at the end of his life, he said, "i've become a religious mutt, like a dog, mutt, you know? i, i, i, i take a little from here and a little, i got a little of this in me and a little of that in me" and, you know, that's not a terrible way to be. it means that you're open to hearing ideas from, backgrounds other than your own. >> with all of these writings, has it really sort of given rise to your own thoughts of mortality and, and how you view, i mean, do you believe in heaven, for example. >> yeah. well, number one, i don't know, sometimes people will ask me, "you know, well, why do you always write about death"? and i, i say, "i don't really think i do."
i, in my books, there's usually one death. it usually happens at the beginning. and then the rest of the book is sort of an explanation. i use it as a springboard for, to examine the life. i think they might be getting a little confused with the fact that we really don't often think about our lives and the value of our lives or how we should be leading our lives, until we're faced with our mortality. you know, you always hear about, "boy, i had a near scare," or, you know, "i had a heart attack and i survived it. now i'm quittin' my job. i'm not doing all these things. i'm, i'm gonna go h, enjoy my life". well, why didn't you do that before the heart attack? 'cause you didn't think that your life was actually going to end. we all think we've got endless sand in our hourglass, right, until something happens that shakes the hourglass up. that's essentially what i write about. i use death to, ricochet your attention back onto life and say, "okay then, if you now recognize that the days are limited, what, what are you gonna do differently". >> how old were you?
>> when you wrote "tuesdays with morrie"? >> thirty-seven. >> so to have, realized that at 37 must (unintel). >> it was a blessing. it was a great, great gift. it's, i'm sure i would not have stumbled upon that on my own accord until i was probably at least as old as i am now, 20 years later, or, or maybe even older, you know? and, i had my eyes opened to this very early on. i watched a guy die in front of me and i watched the way that he lived. and then i sat down and wrote about it so it was, like, while it was fresh in my mind. i am mortally afraid of dying. not because of the pain or the, i don't want life to end. i enjoy being here. i really do. i, i like, i'm blessed to be one of those people, i wake up in the morning, i, i'm busy as all can be. but i never, i never open my eyes with regret. >> mitch albom, thank you so much. >> sure. thank you. >> that's great. >> all right? >> thank you so much. >> my pleasure.
>> images matter. >> innovative filmmaker, spike lee - on his controversial new movie. >> the southwest side of chicago is a war zone. >> taking on the critics. >> and another thing... a lot of the people have not seen the film. >> and spurring change through his art. >> we want this film to save lives. >> i lived that character. >> we will be able to see change. >> al jazeera america - proud to tell important stories of native lives. >> oak flat to the apaches is an ancestral place. what'll happen to this after the mine...this will sink away and be destroyed. >> were the apache consulted on this before it was put into the defense bill? >> no we were not consulted at all. >> it takes a military bill to again attack the apache. >> the mining operation will generate $61 billion of economic benefit >> look at all the things they took from us. seventy percent unemployment. that already tells you where its
going. it's not going to benefit anybody here. >> we are being left behind. >> we don't have economic development that we should have here. >> we need to be out there telling them what we need and what's required to take care of our people. >> any time they see a social worker it's like seeing a police officer. the immediate response is they are here to take my kids. >> the continuing legacy of anti-indian sentiment, while it may not be as vicious and overt as it once was, the fact is american indians remain at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator. >> louie is an example of what makes this 95 percent native american school work. a former student who cared enough to come back home and help. >> they're really pushing for education, really pushing for people to go off and go to college, but then to come back and apply it here where it counts. >> we said why not video games. >> that's really cool. it's an evil spirit. >> we're a living culture. we're a strong culture. >> this game is to celebrate. >> al jazeera america - proud to tell your stories.
announcer: this is al jazeera. hello, this is the newshour live from london. thank you for joining us. coming up in the next 60 minutes, armenia adduces -- accuses azerbaijan of continuing to fight despite a ceasefire 50 syrian soldiers killed and two areas around aleppo taken turkey rushes to build facilities for