tv DW News PBS April 17, 2018 6:00pm-6:31pm PDT
♪ brent: this is "dw news," live from berlin. tonight, seeking a way forward in syria. >> if we want to have a peaceful solution in syria, we need to talk to russia. brent: germany's chancellor angela merkel announces plans to meet with russian president vladimir putin. can she bridge the growing divide between moscow and the west? meanwhile in syria, state media says that international weapons inspectors having given access to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack. but the u.s. state department it does not believe a word of it.
and the future of the european union through the eyes of emmanuel macron. in an emotionally charged address to the european parliament, the french president urges europeans to reject populism and to defend their democracy. plus, he is known as astro alex. the german chancellor refers to him as the country's ambassador to space. now, astronaut alexander gerst is preparing his next big step as commander of the international space station. ♪ brent: i'm brent goff. it's good to have you with us. tonight, german chancellor angela merkel is reaching out to moscow. merkel might just be the only western leader who can bridge and ever hide -- ever widening gap between moscow and the rest of the western world.
today she spoke by phone with russian president vladimir putin. afterwards she announced the two had agreed to meet in the foreseeable future. the media buzz that was generated over that overshadow the rest of the day's events here in berlin. reporter: free trade was expected to top the agenda during the prime minister of new zealand's visit to berlin, but the talks have been sidelined by recent incidents in syria. at the weekend, france, great britain and the u.s. attacked syrian military targets, raising questions about the effectiveness of germany's policy in the region. on tuesday, chancellor angela merkel beached out to president vladimir putin in a bid to mediate. >> if we want to have a peaceful solution in syria, we need to talk to russia. pressure is going to be a factor
if we want to bring peace to this situation. reporter: the german government sees itself as playing the role as intermediary between the western allies and russia. the foreign minister used harsh tones against russia at first. now he is calling for a diplomatic offensive. >> our goal is to make sure germany's becoming a perceptible part of the peace process in syria, but we would also like to discuss the same questions as we did today and other conflicts such as in ukraine. reporter: germany wants to make sure that the tensions between the united states and russia do not escalate further. using this -- diplomacy to diffuse the conflict over syria. but experts aren't sure. >> the turkish, iranian and
russian prisons have met several times and have made clear americans and europeans no longer has any say on what is going on over syria. i cannot see how u.s. or european diploma could be in any way successful. reporter: germany would like to see a fresh start in syria, and chancellor merkel wants to convince the russians this can only be done without syrian dictator assad. but there is no date set for the meeting that was announced with the russian president. brent: denied the u.s. state department is rejecting reports that international chemical weapons inspectors have entered the town of duma, where the suspected poison attack took place. syrian state media says the team has been allowed access to the site. western powers believe the syrian government struck them with poison gas earlier this month, killing dozens. that triggered punitive airstrikes by the u.s., britain
and france. those countries now accuse syria and rush of attempting to cover up evidence of the alleged attack. earlier i spoke to journalist, a four correspondent for tv for sweden. he just returned from a trip to duma and i asked him what kind of situation the weapons inspectors would find. guest: it is 11 days since the attack happened, which means that a lot of the evidence could be destroyed or may be removed. the longer you wait to hear witnesses, you don't have the quality you would have if you do it shortly after. so, iot's really troublesome and they lost an opportunity to do a good job if they had been there earlier. brent: that was a journalist with tv4, sweden. what should the european union
look like in the future? today french president emmanuel macron pitched his vision in a speech to parliament. he compared the divisions in europe to a civil war, with democracy on one side and nationalism on the other. his speech was impassioned and, at times, even angry. and so was the debate that followed. reporter: three hours of note taking, discussion, hashing out details. it might have been a grueling session for another politician, but not emmanuel macron. he appealed to members of the european parliament to help make his vision a reality. he entered the debate with athletic enthusiasm. >> thank you, ladies and gentlemen. with you, i can still carry out a real parliamentary debate. that was my favorite exercise as a minister. reporter: but it will not be a mere exercise for long. macron wants to speed up the stalled eu reform process. a return to ideals is no
solution. instead, europe can be sovereign while soldiering its own responsibility. >> i do not want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers. i want to be part of a generation that stands firm in its decision to defend democracy. reporter: macron's backers are eager to engage with other europeans and to hear their hopes and fears. the en marche party wants to reach out to people across the continent in the run-up to european parliamentary elections next year. >> we need to be together to speak about europe directly to people. >> we want to meet citizens in the european union and everywhere to rebuild europe. reporter: but macron's impetus has run into resistance. conservatives in berlin and strasbourg disapprove of his main objective -- a reform ed eurozone with a separate
budget and monetary fund, much to the regret of social democrats. >> madam in berlin has already indicated how difficult it will be to reform the eurozone. and her colleagues will certainly not make mr. macron's work any easier. reporter: the french president also wants an eu-wide asylum law, which european parliamentary members support, but the green party finds macron's efforts at home less than credible. >> your ingredients for your immigration and asylum laws of deportation and containment instead of welcoming people who are seeking refuge. reporter: but it was the european liberals who underscored how far off the goal of a new, strong europe is, especially in terms of defense. the recent military action in
syria highlights that shortcoming, they said, because it was a french and british intervention, not a european one. emmanuel macron's ideas are both inspiring and polarizing, and bound to provoke debate. but it remains questionable whether there is time enough for concrete steps in order to convince voters that the reform agenda before the european elections next year. brent: that was catherine martins, reporting. here are some other the stories now making headlines around the world. the european union says it wants to launch formal membership talks with macedonia and albania. it is part of a push to revive enthusiasm for the eu, which is facing the departure of britain next year. concerns over russian influence in eastern europe have added renewed urgency to expansion efforts. japanese prime minister shinzo abe is visiting u.s. president donald trump at trump's
mar-a-lago retreat in florida. the leaders are set to discuss trade and north korea among growing strain over trump's plan a meeting with north korean leader kim jong-un and the push for new trade tariffs. mourners in pakistan has held a funeral for a six-year-old girl whose alleged rape and murder has shocked the country. the girl went missing two days ago. her body was recovered monday, sparking violent protests. police have been accused of negligence in the case. one passenger has been killed and several others injured after a southwest airlines jet engine exploded midflight. the boeing 737 blew is left engine shortly after he took off from new york, sending shrapnel which smashed a window. the plane made an emergency landing in philadelphia. 149 people were on board.
now to a discovery that could help tackle one of the biggest problems facing our planet. plastic pollution. scientists in britain and in the united states say they have engineered a plastic eating enzyme. it is able to digest what is known as polyethylene -- or p.e.t. a form of plastic pen did in the 1940's and now used in millions of tons of plastic bottles. they actually made the discovery by accident. serendipity at its very best. reporter: the world is choking on a mountain of plastic waste. one of the most popular plastics is p.e.t., used to make drink bottles and synthetic fibers. it takes hundreds of years to degrade naturally.
but now, scientists have stumbled onto a mutant enzyme that is hungry for p.e.t. it is produced by bacteria. >> discovery of the enzyme is amazing. something that can eat plastic that normally takes 400 years to degrade. bacteria are starting to eat this in a matter of days. now we can actually digest p.e.t. within days. much quicker than in the environment. reporter: researchers first found in enzyme that naturally evolved to digest plastic in a japanese dump two years ago. scientist called it p-taste. the professor and his team set out to investigate the crystal structure of it. when they tweaked it, they realized they had accidentally created a far more powerful new version. >> we can actually see what it
is capable of doing in terms of the breaking down of the plastic itself. it's amazing. reporter: this is a microscopic view of the enzyme eating away at a piece of plastic. researchers hope it can one day be used at an industrial scale. the discovery is already a major step forward in dealing with the plastic bottles littering the world's land and ocean. brent: you're watching "dw news." still to come, a team of ashen knots including german alexander gerst are preparing a new mission to the international space station. we will hear about some of the experiments they are planning to carry out while in outer space. and the scandal that is straight -- shaking germany's music industry. while german -- we will tell you why german stars are handing back awards in protest of this year's controversial hip-hop rise. -- prize.
daniel is not going to give anything back, he is going to talk about a mixed outlook for the global economy. daniel: that's right. the economy is getting back. brent: from hip-hop to economics. [laughter] daniel: the international monetary fund is predicting a slowdown in growth over the next few years due to lackluster productivity as well as the threat of calls coming from protectionist trade policies. but in the short term things that pretty rosy. the lending agency suggests that worldwide growth of 3.9% will be achieved for 2018 in 2019. that would be the fastest pace since 2011. the u.s. economy is likely to benefit from president trump's tax cuts, likely to boost the economy through 2020. growth is expected to be 2.9%, up from 2017. however, the tax-cut increased with increased spending could be damaging in a few years, the imf warns.
bu -- the euro is expected to benefit from continued low interest rates. the imf forecasting a growth, which might however slow down in 2019. the short-term predictions are good. long-term, not so much. earlier i spoke to washington correspondent carsten von nahmen asking him why the imf is pessimistic about the future. carsten: the international monetary fund is concerned about what it calls geopolitical strains, which could lead to trade wars, or real wars. obviously, both bad for trade and the worldwide economy. apart from that, of course, the imf also mentions a general skepticism about economic international integration worldwide, and towards new technologies. that might trigger a new wave of protectionism around the world.
these kind of trade wars, of course, which are being discussed right now, particularly between the u.s. and china, another big concern. and there is also a big danger the imf warned today that politicians might waste the opportunity that the current boom presents. instead of bringing their houses in order financially, investing in technology, increasing productivity, they might just increase spending, continue spending, and that might mean when the tide turns, a downturn might accelerate much stronger than it had to be. daniel: i guess to avoid that they have to do the opposite. let's focus on where you are in the u.s. the imf resizing the mix of tax cuts and planned increase in spending. what is the fallout expected to be? carsten: well, the fallout will be increasing budget deficits and ballooning that, which is of
course something that politicians often do not care about a lot because it will only be felt years after they leave office. in the case of the states, the effects might be felt much earlier. in only a few years the united states is projected to spend as much on interest rates, or interest on debt, than for its military, about $600 billion. in 10 years the outstanding debt for the federal government might reach the same amount as its gdp. they might approach 100% of gdp, and that is something that concerns the imf because it might trigger inflation and caused further downturn. daniel: the u.s. is digging itself deeper. thank you very much for that. starbucks is closing down 8000 stores in the u.s. for one afternoon later this month so it's and employees can attend
training for racial discrimination. the company is scrambling to prevent a book -- a boycott triggered when two black men were arrested in philadelphia at a starbucks for trespassing. >> shut it down! >> if we can't get it? >> shut it down! reporter: protesters crowded into the starbucks in downtown philadelphia on monday, appalled by the treatment of two black men at the hands of starbucks, a company which has practically built social justice and inclusion into its marketing program. the two men had not purchased coffee last week when an employee threw them out. images of the arrest spread on social media, causing the
starbucks ceo chewing an apology. >> what happened was nothing but reprehensible. and i'm sorry. i want to apologize to the community in philadelphia into all of my starbucks partners. this is not who we are, and it is not who we are going to be. reporter: starbucks'overwhelming presence and aggressive growth in high traffic urban areas is part of the reason it has become the world's largest coffee company. though the company will now specially trained employees to be more sensitive, at the store in philadelphia, people are reminding the company that the streets belong to them. >> ♪ we shall not be moved ♪ daniel: 2 million public-sector workers in germany are seating
set for a pay rise. following widespread strikes in recent days. these airports, robust collection -- the deal will see staggered pay rises around 7% over the next two years. they have yet to officially approved the proposal. now back to brent and a major scandal over germany's most prestigious music fest. brent: musicians in germany have joined a chorus of protesters over an award given to two controversial rappers. the duo compared themselves to auschwitz prisoners in a song. last week they were awarded the hip hop prize of germany's echo awards, which coincided with holocaust memorial day. reporter: more and more artists are returning their echo awards
after these rappers won the prize despite their anti-semitic lyrics. this german rockster gave all of his back, saying new levels of brutalization have been reached. others also do not want their echoes anymore. this singer is furious. he said the echo ceremony this year was a slap in the face to the democratic values of our country. the two rappers are popular with millions of young people and has since apologized. but experts say using lyrics referring to the holocaust went too far. >> the holocaust is a very delicate tropic -- topic in germany. this cross the line. -- crossed a line. i think we will find outung gena sensitivity to realize this or not. reporter: they have acknowledged its error, saying we reject all
forms of xenophobia, homophobia, and the glorification of violence. where the echo still has a future is up for debate. brent: the international space station is about to get a new commander. his name is alexander gerst. and he is arguably the most famous european space agency astronaut from germany. gerst held his final news conference today before his june blastoff. he will be the first german to command the iss and says he aims to be a nice boss to his fellow astronauts, cosmonauts, and a rather intelligent robot. reporter: this was the view of earth from space that greeted alexander gerst on his last mission four years ago. now he's looking forward to his second trip to the international space station, or iss.
>> it is not just a one-person project, but a huge team project. and seeing that gives me a feeling of completion, of, ok, this is going towards this point at the launch and the mission and everyone is ready. seeing that is fascinating. reporter: on his new mission, called horizons, gerst will be the first german commander of the iss. chancellor angela merkel calls him the german ambassador to space. gerst uses the nickname astro alex. on his last mission, he conducted over 100 scientific experiments and a spacewalk, which is one of the greatest challenges for an astronaut. >> going out the door is something that is of course a little bit more dangerous, but once in a while we have to do it to install new experiments on the outside to keep the space station running. and if that happens, of course the astronauts do not say no, because it is an amazing
experience. reporter: one of the experiments gerst and his colleagues will conduct involves a so-called flying brain, a robot with artificial intelligence, and a measure of humor. >> i am rd-2d. just kidding. my name is simon, and i will support you. reporter: on this parabolic flight, the robot is being tested in zero gravity. as the first fully automatic robot with artificial intelligence, simon is unique. the robot will support alexander gerst on his space mission by fulfilling routine tasks such as documenting experiments. the first subject of those experiments will be the robot itself. >> life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. reporter: that turns out to be a useful motto for gerst as he completes his intensive training.
he will be spending six months in space and gazing out the window whenever he is not carrying out assignments. >> you start to miss this planet, and when you gaze at earth, at first it doesn't really matter where you look. you get the feeling, that is where we live. you feel the humanity. that is our home. you have this stark realization that we could not exist anywhere else. earth is all we have got, so you feel this really strong connection. reporter: alexander gerst will have just turned 42 when he takes off, so he will have a chance to celebrate this connection in space. brent: earlier we spoke to the british astronaut kim peek and asked him what kind of challenges alexander gerst and his crew could expect during the six-month mission. >> of course the main challenge
is like gravity, which is the reason we are up there. but astronauts are well trained in how to deal with that. it is also difficult to get items into space. it is expensive and we need to maximize the opportunities we have for doing scientific research. but the space station has been up there for 20 years now. we have a very active scientific program, so the amount of science we are doing on a daily basis is more than ever before. brent: nasa has just released this stunning virtual tour of the moon in eye-popping 4k resolution based on data provided by the lunar reconnaissance orbiter spacecraft. the news continues right after a short break. i will be back to take you through the day. stick around for that. ♪
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