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tv   BBC World News America  PBS  December 15, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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>> this is "bbc world news america." funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, and kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. >> planning a vacation escape that is relaxing, inviting, and exciting is a lot easier than you think. you can find it here in aruba. families, couples, and friends can all find their escape on the island with warm, sunny days, cooling trade winds, and the
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crystal blue caribbean sea. nonstop flights are available from most major airports. more information for your vacation planning is available at aruba.com. >> and now, "bbc world news." laura: this is "bbc world news america." reporting from washington, i am laura trevelyan. republicans unveil the final version of their tax overhaul as they draw closer to president trump's first big legislative win. at the united nations, the u.s. urges north korea to stop weapons testing and earn the right to negotiate. and plans for deep-sea mining are condemned by the world's leading conservationist. humanity should just plow on with no regard for the consequences, because they don't know what they are.
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laura: welcome to our viewers on public television in america and around the globe. republicans have unveiled the final text of their ambitious tax overhaul, which would reduce the corporate tax rate to 21%. after last-minute changes seemed to win over wavering senators, a vote is expected next week. the top administration is close to its first major legislative win. for more come i was joined a short time ago by political editor for "the hill." does it look to you that the republicans have the votes to pass this next week? alexis: as we hit here this evening the question mark in this event has been resolved, that enough deals and sweeteners
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were added to this provision that went to the conference committee to secure the votes on the senate side, and the republicans in the house are expected to support the changes made to acquiesce to the senators. laura: assuming this goes through, then, how significant would this be for president trump getting something through congress? alexis: i don't think there is any way to exaggerate how excited the president will be to have this completed this year, because he knows that they want to see washington functioning in a way that delivers for his base and the electorate, and this is something he has been working on after the failure of health care. a significant achievement for the republicans. but as we know, they are also nervous, too, that they are in a hard, difficult place. if they hadn't done it, it would be very politically difficult. doing it, they have a major sell job going forward because polls show americans believe this is
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not going to benefit them and be much more beneficial to corporations. laura: let's talk a little bit about that, because it is a very hefty tax cut for the corporations, and it doesn't seem to be nearly as much in it for the forgotten people that president trump talked about in his inaugural address. what is the political risk there? alexis: the political risk is that if republicans cannot persuade average voters to believe they will get some tax benefit, we know that the polls suggest that right now they are taking a very dim view of this. but pollsters have shown that if you describe specific provisions most taxpayers, they come around and a majority says they like it more. the communications is a big part of this. laura: that is interesting, isn't it, because the republicans are down, they lost the alabama senate seat, it has been a rocky, turbulent next
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year, -- this year but is it , possible the whole narrative could change next year going into the midterms? alexis: it is very possible, and we have seen the president talk about this as a christmas gift to the electorate, to the voters. i heard one republican say that he expects to see the president in his florida estate on christmas signing it right then and there as a christmas gift to the american people. the pressure on the president to go out this and describe this as a big win is intense. laura: the president is very concerned about the mueller investigation. he was talking about that today. alexis: he never stopped talking about it privately, and when he gets the opportunity to be pressured by events or the news media to talk about it, you can see him chafe again and again. there is no collusion, this is a witchhunt -- this is a line he will continue to persist in, and the president's supporters are trying to encourage voters to see this as a biased investigation. laura: thanks so much for joining us. alexis: thanks, laura. laura: amid tension over north koreas nuclear program,
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representatives from pyongyang and the u.s. addressed the un's security council today. the secretary of state said the north must stop threatening behavior for a sustained period before talks can take place. pyongyang's envoy claims his country was no threat. themore on this, i spoke to bbc's u.n. reporter at u.n. headquarters a short time ago. it is pretty rare, isn't it, to hear north korea's representatives speak in front of the un security council? what was his message? reporter: absolutely. the ambassador usually doesn't engage the security council, and he was really trying to paint the u.s. is the main problem in the region. he said his country was a responsible nuclear power, a peaceloving state. he said the program was set up as a self-defensive measure against the united states' nuclear program. he promised members of the security council that is country posed no threat unless their own rights were infringed upon. now, the u.s. secretary of state
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sayinglerson hit back, it was north korea alone was responsible for the crisis in the region. laura: speaking of the u.s. secretary of state, there is confusion about whether he is or isn't speaking to the administration on the possibility of talks with north korea. can you tell us with the latest is? reporter: absolutely. everyone here at the united nations was eager to hear what rex tillerson what to. -- would say. on tuesday at a think-tank event, he said the united states was open to talks with north korea without preconditions, saying they could discuss the weather. the white house quickly contradicted that, saying there had been no change in u.s. policy. today on the security council, the secretary of state did take a much tougher response to north korea. he said it was up to pyongyang to really prove that they were ready to go into negotiations, they had to abandon the nuclear program before the united states would ease pressure on pyongyang. while it did seem for a while
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that there would be a diplomatic opening there with the united states, rex tillerson taking more of the white house line that they will keep pressure on north korea. laura: what was rex tillerson's message to china and russia and how much pressure they could put? nada: rex tillerson actually questioned their commitment to solving the crisis. he said that while, obviously, they are following through with the security council operations, they could be taking more unilateral actions. in particular with russia, he called out the guest worker program. he said they were hiring north korean laborers and having them work in slave like conditions with pay going to the north korea nuclear program. he said they could easily cut that off. with china, he said he could cut off the oil flows to north korea because that would have a devastating blow to the north korean economy. laura: thank you.
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wildfires in southern california oftinuing to burn out control, scorching in the area larger than new york city and arisis combined -- and p combined. one firefighter has been killed battling the blaze. attention is turning to the underlying conditions driving the fire. it is not rained in eight months. the bbc's james cook reports. james: 11 days, and still it burns. more than 8000 men and women are now battling this blaze, saving homes one by one. not far from here, the fire claimed the life of a 32-year-old firefighter, father, and a husband. >> he is survived by his wife , ashley, and his two-year-old daughter. corey and ashley are expecting a second daughter this spring. james: it is not clear exactly
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what went wrong, and the terrain is steep and dangerous, and was he was reportedly overrun by flames after a sudden shift in the wind. the gusts destroyed homes, too, more than 700 of them. 2 apartment blocks and two hotels burned down, and another 18,000 buildings remain at risk. of five homes in this tiny neighborhood, which was destroyed when the flames swept through so fast that firefighters had to abandon the area. which ones survived and which were destroyed was a matter of pure luck. aaron lawson and his family were among the lucky ones. their home was scorched, but it survived thanks in part to neighbors who lost everything but stayed to fight the fire. >> the most rewarding thing, seeing them, guys who lost their houses, working side by side to keep our houses safe the first few days. james: all week, the skies here have been alive with activity as
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pilots battle the blaze from the air. the wildfire has ravaged an area the size of new york city and washington, d.c., combined, and with more gusty winds forecast, firefighters say they expect the battle to intensify this weekend. james cook, bbc news, fillmore in california. laura: so much heartache after those fires there in california. it's been three years since the u.s. announced a policy of engagement with its former cold war enemy cuba. this seems to harold and era of new ties with tourism one of the most visible changes. president trump has rolled back obama's cuba policy, and the administration has reduced staffing in havana. will grant reports. will: jose marti, poet, rebel, and cuba's most beloved son, and
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today, a peace offering. the bronx museum of the arts in new york is to be presented -- recently presented the statue of the independence hero to havana as a symbol of friendship between the countries. of course, it is a famous son of new york, donald trump, who is accused of trying to undo that friendship. president obama: the united states is changing its relationship with the people of cuba. will: 3 years after president obama began engagement with the communist-run island, president trump has rolled back on that. the man credited with obama's cuba policy, former advisor ben rhodes, sees domestic politics at play in the collapse of the relationship with cuba. >> what i think is that there was a narrow constituency that supported trump in the presidential campaign and he rewarded the constituency by outsourcing most of his cuba policy to marco rubio. the state department, the treasury, were essentially sidelined in the effort, and donald trump allowed that to happen. will: the trump administration
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stepped further back from cuba after a series of so-called health attacks against its diplomats in havana. the cuban government has angrily denied any involvement, and accuses washington of manufacturing the entire episode. ben rhodes believes that if the attacks were meant to harm the bilateral relationship, it is working. >> the forces, whether they be foreign forces like russia or retrograde forces in cuba, that want to drive a wedge between the united states and cuba, want exactly this type of overreaction. if we are drawing down our embassy presence, we are less able to advocate for things like human rights. if we are drawing back on commerce, we are opening up the door for russia and china to be the principal sources of investment and travel to cuba. will: has president obama voiced any thoughts on what has happened to the relationship? >> yeah, and he is disappointed. i think what he would -- he
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takes a pretty long view of history, and in his view, we broke a certain psychological barrier between america and cubans, so he still sees the value of what happened on december 17, 2014, that we crossed a certain threshold that we can never really go back to. will: barely a year since fidel castro died, weeks to go before his brother raul steps down as president, this is a time of great change in cuba. critics among the previous administration think washington is missing a huge opportunity to influence the direction of the island at a critical moment in its history. will grant, bbc news, havana. laura: a chill now in relations between washington and havana. you are watching "bbc world news america. still to come on tonight's program, anticipation in johannesburg as the anc prepares
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a new leader to replace jacob zuma. nasa has discovered an eighth distantircling around a star, making it the first solar system to host as many planets as our own. nasa says the star, known as harder than the sun. the newly found planetary system is arranged like ours with the smallest planets nearest the stars and the biggest furthest away. the discovery was made with the help of an artificial intelligence techniques. >> astronomers have discovered more than 3000 planets circling other stars come but very few of these distant planetary systems resemble our own. now achieved using the kepler space telescope has confirmed the existence of 8 planets around a single star. seven of these were already known, but experts trained a software program to recognize known planets. the program searched through raw
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data and identified a previously unknown world. >> the new planet we found, kepler-90i, is the smallest of the bunch, and orbits outside the inner to planets. it is probably rocky and doesn't have a thick atmosphere. the service is likely scorching hot. it probably has an average temperature of 800 degrees fahrenheit. reporter: they are using computers to find things that people didn't have time to spot, providing good candidates for worlds hidden within the kepler data. machines can then pick up the slack and going discover these worlds. the distant planetary system is ordered like our own, with a small worlds nearest the star and bigger planets further away. but all the planets are pushed much further in to the parents star, which is known as kepler 90. it means they are probably far too hot for life as we know it. machine learning could be used to find the signatures of earth-sized worlds elsewhere in the cosmos. that could lead to
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groundbreaking discoveries in the search for life in the universe. laura: south africa's governing national african congress took a new party leader to replace jacob zuma, also the country's president. the anc still the dominant political force, but has lost public trust. husband zuma -- president zuma is facing corruption allegations, which he denies. fergal keane has traveled through the stronghold of the eastern cape. gal: many dreams of freedom were born here, died here, and report. from its earliest days, the eastern cape wasn't anc stronghold. was where the parties military wing was founded, and the first
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african township -- south african township i visited in the years after apartheid. when i first came to this township 30's ago, the anc was banned, jacob zuma was in exile. people who live here now, that is ancient history. what they care about is what the anc hasn't done. anger over the failure to deliver enough houses and services saw the force closure of this museum to the heroes of the freedom struggle. supporter lednc the community protest. he is astonished at the routing of state resources after jacob zuma. >> i am disgusted. poor.orest of the they can'tt --
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benefit from services and all those things. but go north into impoverished rural areas and you are reminded of an essential fact -- corruption moral and financial was present long before zuma. tens of millions were squandered by the way regime to create so-called independent homeland, where black people were to be far from the cities. it is partly that memory that keeps older voters like this 77-year-old loyal to the anc and zuma. zuma because he is part of the anc. he took us to freedom. even if they remove him, he took us to freedom. fergal: the culture of protest is thriving in south africa, driven by a free press and independent judiciary fighting to rein in jacob zuma. i came here to a university, alma mater of nelson mandela and
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other african presidents, and how students eager for change. >> my perception about politicians is there are people who do not have the best interests of the people of this country, especially the poor people who vote for them to be a power. continues with the culture of robbing poor south africans. a leader that is progressive that wants to improve the lives of south africans. fergal: south africa's strength has been the determination of the majority to confront injustice, whether racism or corruption. it is that spirit which will demand accountability from whoever ends up leading the anc. fergal keane, bbc news. laura: the view from the anc heartland. deep-sea minerst
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will open in the waters off papua new guinea next year. the rocks are rich in copper and gold and could be worth millions. the meeting -- the mining is to search for metals that sustain everyday life. but scientists warn that mining the rocks will devastate were in -- marine life. david shukman has been given exclusive access to the project. david: in the deep waters of papua new guinea, a controversial project is taking shape that could have a huge impact on the ocean. a vast, lumbering machine is going through final testing. it looks like a cross between something military and an invention from science fiction. its drilling steel teeth are -- it's whirling steel teeth are designed to break up the rocks of the seabed. this will be part of the world's first deep-sea mine. this is the first time that anything like this has ever been tried, sending these massive
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machines a mile down to the ocean floor. they are, well, tearing it up to send valuable metals up to the surface. because this is all so new, no one really knows exactly what the impact is going to be. the company behind the mine portrays it as an efficient way to get rich deposits of gold and copper. and it claims there will be less disruption than there is in mines on land. >> the offshore alternative is, from an environmental perspective, a far better way to provide the world with the minerals it requires. offshore, clearing the rain -- there will be no clearing of rain forest, there will be no relocation of communities, no large waste dumps. david: not everyone believes all that. fishing supports thousands of jobs in papua new guinea. some here worried that important
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tuna stocks will be at risk. the u.n. development program once the mining project stopped. 1/6 of the tuna in the whole world comes from this country. huge numbers of people's lives depend on fisheries. this project potentially will jeopardize all of that. david: so there is a difficult balance for papua new guinea. millions here live below the poverty line. this is one of the poorest countries on earth. but mining projects on land have often failed to improve conditions. as a developing country, papua new guinea is looking for new sources of income, and deep-sea mining may provide that. if it works, and it is a gamble, there are dozens of other mining projects around the world that are likely to follow. what happens here could usher in a whole new era of what we do to the ocean. the first project will target
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deep hot springs known as hydrothermal vents. they are packed with minerals needed for electronics and renewable energy. some scientists say that we have to mine them. others warned that team in -- teaming communities of rare forms of life could be wiped out. >> it is heartbreaking. david: we showed david attenborough our video of the ocean mining machine. he is horrified by the idea of the destruction of the hydrothermal vents. >> that is where life began. that we should be destroying these things is so deeply tragic, that humanity should just plow on with no regard for the consequences, because they don't know what they are. david: back in papua new guinea, testing continues. one major concern among critics is that the government here is a shareholder in the mine, raising doubts about its ability to step
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in if things go wrong. but staff here say they will try to minimize the impact. >> we are not in an environment that we can just do whatever we want. people are watching. there are regulations we need to abide by and modify so that the environment is the winner in the end. david: one of the giant machines is tested underwater. in the next two years it will be lowered to the seabed and put to work. the start of a new gold rush in the deep ocean. david shukman, bbc news, papua new guinea. before we go tonight, britain's prince harry and his american fiancé, actress meghan markle, have set a date for their wedding. the service in st. george's chapel take place on saturday, may 19. the date breaks with tradition for the royal family, whose weddings usually take lace on a weekday. prince harry and meghan markle
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announced their engagements last month. that will be the date on the social calendar. moreber, you can find much on all the day's news on our website. plus, to see what we are working on at any time, check out our facebook page. i am laura trevelyan. thanks for watching "world news america." have a great weekend. >> with the bbc news app, our vertical videos are designed to work around your lifestyle, so you can swipe your way through the news of the day and stay up to date with the latest headlines you can trust. download now from selected app stores. >> funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, and kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. >> planning a vacation escape that is relaxing, inviting, and exciting is a lot easier than you think. you can find it here in aruba. families, couples, and friends
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can all find their escape on the island with warm, sunny days, cooling trade winds, and the crystal blue caribbean sea. nonstop flights are available from most major airports. more information for your vacation planning is available at aruba.com. >> "bbc world news" was presented by kcet, los angeles.
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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: republicans on the verge of a tax cut agreement, making final deals in the g.o.p.'s aggressive push to get it done before the holidays. then, secretary of state rex tillerson urges unity in the global response to north korea's nuclear threats, while the white house itself appears divided. and, it's friday. mark shields and david brooks are here to talk about the coming tax overhaul and this week's stunning election result in alabama. plus, get your popcorn ready. we take a look at the year in movies. what lit up the silver screen,

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