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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  March 18, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, march 18: in france, a suspected radical islamist tries to shoot travelers at a busy airport but is thwarted by soldiers; the united states and china talk about working together to rein in north korea; and in our signature segment, "newtown," the film that shows how a town struck by a tragic mass shooting has come to embody resilience. >> that hadn't really been done, to look at the ripple effects and the devastating trauma to an entire town. >> sreenivasan: next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting
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trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening, and thanks for joining us. a man who tried to grab a military assault rifle from a soldier on patrol at the orly international airport, outside paris, today intended to shoot and kill travelers. prosecutor francois molins told reporters tonight the would-be attacker held a handgun to the soldier's head and wrestled away her rifle before yelling that he wanted to die in the name of allah.
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the suspect allegedly said," whatever happens, there will be deaths." other soldiers shot and killed the suspect, a 39-year-old french citizen born in paris, before he could hurt anyone. prosecutor molins said the suspect was carrying a gasoline can he tossed to the ground and a koran, and that he had been flagged for radicalization during a prison term. the authorities evacuated 3,000 travelers to search the terminal for explosives-- none were found-- and diverted incoming flights. the orly airport reopened five hours later. earlier in the day, police in northern paris had stopped the suspect for speeding, but he fled after firing birdshot at them. he then stole another car and drove to the airport. since the terrorist attack on the satirical french magazine" charlie hebdo" in january 2015, france has deployed 7,500 counterterrorism soldiers to bolster police patrols. in bangladesh's capital of dhaka today, police averted an apparent terrorist attack when they shot and killed a bomb-
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carrying militant trying to break through a security checkpoint on a motorcycle. officials say the suspect had several bombs attached to his body, which technicians later detonated safely. yesterday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police base near dhaka's international airport. the islamic state group, or isis, claimed responsibility for that attack, as well as last july's attack on a dhaka cafe that killed 17 people. on his first trip to asia as secretary of state, rex tillerson says the united states will work more closely with china to counter north korea's nuclear weapons program. tillerson met with china's foreign minister, wang yi, today in beijing and discussed tensions over north korea, taiwan and the south china sea. the trip to china, north korea's chief ally and trading partner, came a day after tillerson warned that "all options," including military strikes, were on the table to stop north korea's regime from obtaining nuclear weapons. but today's tone was more restrained. >> we share a common view and a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right
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now and that things have reached a rather dangerous level. and we've committed ourselves to doing everything we can to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out. >> sreenivasan: tillerson said he and wang agreed to try to persuade north korea to make what he called a "course correction" away from nuclear weapon development. foreign minister wang said the situation has reached a" crossroads" and urged the u.s. to show patience. >> ( translated ): we hope that all parties, including our american friends, could be cool- headed and make wise choices. >> sreenivasan: british troops have deployed to estonia to bolster defenses and deter russia in eastern europe. the first 120 of 800 troops, with their tanks and armored vehicles, arrived last night at a base outside the capital of tallin. the rest are expected next month in the tiny baltic country, a former soviet republic and current nato ally that shares a border with russia. britain's defense secretary says the deployment is in response "" increased russian aggression"
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but is not "designed to provoke or escalate." today marks the third anniversary of russia's annexation of ukraine's crimean peninsula. thousands of american troops deployed to poland in january to shore up nato defenses there. initial designs for the trump administration's proposed border wall with mexico are due in 11 days. customs and border protection has posted its solicitation for either a solid concrete wall or one with "see-through componen"" online. it says the 2,000-mile wall must be: president trump's budget asks congress for $2.5 billion to start construction, projecting a total cost of $12 billion. but the department of homeland security has estimated it will cost $10 billion more than that. president trump and vice president mike pence are both spending the weekend in florida.
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visiting an envelope factory in jacksonville today, pence told a group of small business owners the republican plan to replace obamacare would deliver affordable, high quality care that is "accessible for every american." this week, however, the nonpartisan congressional budget office forecast the republican plan could result in 24 million americans losing their health insurance. pence goes onto fort lauderdale and palm beach, where the president is once again at his mar-a-lago club, with no public events scheduled. abortion rights advocates are applauding a federal court ruling that will keep mississippi's only abortion clinic open. yesterday's ruling permanently blocked a law that would have required all doctors working in the clinic to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. the supreme court ruled eight months ago that a similar law in texas was unconstitutional. the center for reproductive rights said:
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no comments from mississippi's governor, who signed the law in 2012, which never took effect. >> sreenivasan: homs, syria is where the uprising against president bashar al assad began in 2011. today, the first of thousands of opposition fighters and their families began evacuating the last rebel-held neighborhoods. they're leaving as part of a deal brokered by russia, which backs president assad. as the syrian civil war entered its seventh year this week, the american military presence is higher than ever before, with the trump administration sending 400 more troops to join 500 already deployed. for more perspective on what's happening on the ground and the role of the u.s. military, i am joined from washington by doug ollivant of the new america foundation. doug, half a million people dead, getting into seven years now, millions more displaced.
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any end in sight? >> unfortunately, no. it doesn't appear that we really do have an end in sight. we see talks of cease fires and talks of truces, and, you know, the occasional peace talk, but nothing seems to have come from this. the russians are very much vested in the survival of the assad regime, so that seems to be a simple fact on the ground. and yet the rebellion hasn't gone away, and neither have either al qaeda or isis. it's complicated >> sreenivasan: and he has time on his side. he doesn't seem to feel any pressure to try to resolve this any sooner than neededded? >> that's right. he's very secure in damascus, so the battle may wax and wain out in the field, but he's under no particular pressure where he is >> sreenivasan: let's talk about this idea that the u.s. has kind of a plan to tackle isis in iraq and other place, also in syria. what are all these additional troops going to do on the
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ground. >> the additional troops in syria are there to advise, as they've been doing on the iraqi side of the border. they're there to provide fire support. there are how theitzers at the space that can reach iraqa or at least the outskirts of raqqa. but unlike in iraq, these troops there, least in some part, to keep our allies from fighting each other. they're essentially positioned between the turkish-backed arab forces and the kurdish forces, both of which would probably much rather fight each other than fight isis >> sreenivasan: taking a city like raqqua is going to take quite some time, and what we're seeing in mosul play out, i imagine it would be just as hard, if not hardener raqqua. >> it would be harder. raqqua, is a smaller city than mosul, so in that sense it's easier. but in iraq we're blessed with an abundance of organized allies. we have the army and its
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associated forces. we have the kurdish persh calperg aand we can even work with will private military forces. we essentially have three organized forces in that country that we can use as a fighting force. in syria, we really don't have any of those things. we do have the w.p.g. syrian kurds, but that's a force we essentially organized. it didn't organize itself, so we have been essentially creating that from scratch over the last several years >> sreenivasan: how strong is al qaeda in syria today? >> well, al qaeda has continued to gain strength. all the extremist factions-- isis, al qaeda in syria, which has gone through various named. al qaeda in syria is still just fine. and for that matter, alal al sham, which doesn't intend to impose islam on us. they're not like al qaeda or isis in that sense, but they're essentially the syrian telebonn. they want a various regime in
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the country. all of the groups have essentially gobbled up the smaller groups. they have more resources and, therefore, the fighters have moved from the more moderate resistance groups to these more islamist groups >> sreenivasan: considering how many different fraction fighting inside syria and the different agendas all of them have, do the major players-- say, for example, the u.s. and russia-- can they possibly agree on actually fighting isis and al qaeda, versus supporting or not supporting assad? >> it's very, very difficult. ultimately, getting rid of isis is everyone's goal. it's the-- not just the americans and the russianes, but even, say, the saudis and the iranians, also major players in the region, and the turks, would all like isis to go away. but there are other equities, and exactly how you want the chess board to look once isis is gone, on that, there's no agreement between government major powers >> sreenivasan: and in the meantime, the humanitarian crisis continues. >> absolutely.
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as you said, half a million dead, tens of millions who have been disbursed, many of whom sov bound drownd in one of the oceans or have been picked up by human traffickers and subjected to various indignities or death. it's a true humanitarian tragedy >> sreenivasan: and continuing to add pressure on all the countries neighboring syria as well. >> that's right. in countries that don't have much stability to begin with, places like our ally jordan, like lebanon, turkey-- they've all received literally millions of refugees, as has europe, and none of this is helpful for anyone's political situation, and in the case of the neighbors, even regime survival >> sreenivasan: all right, doug ollivant of the new america foundation, thanks so much. >> pleasure, hari. >> sreenivasan: a documentary called "newtown," premiering on
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the pbs program "independent lens" on april 3, explores the aftermath of the mass shooting at sandy hook elementary in newtown, connecticut, in 2012. on that day, a disturbed 20- year-old man entered the school with a military-style semi- automatic rifle and, in less than eight minutes, he fired 154 shots, killing six adults and 20 children-- all first graders-- before killing himself with a handgun. as newshour weekend's saskia de melker reports, the documentary weaves together the experiences of the families and many other newtown residents affected by the tragedy. >> reporter: the documentary" newtown" shows how the tragedy has shaped not only the victims but the whole town. filmmaker kim snyder spent three years making the film. you speak with a number of people from the community in the film-- the next-door neighbor at sandy hook elementary, a priest in the community. why did you take this approach of looking at the entire community? >> we felt it was really
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important, that that hadn't really been done, to look at the ripple effects and the devastating trauma to an entire town, to an entire community; the effects on not just family members who lose so much, but on neighbors and on doctors and on priests and our law enforcement and our teachers. and from there evolved a sort of vision to show through multiple lenses what redefining victim as an entire community, which is something we don't always see. >> reporter: right after the incident, sandy hook elementary neighbor gene rosen encountered a group of evacuated school kids on his front lawn. >> they looked horrible. they were out of breath. i could tell they had been crying, but they were quiet. they were quiet in their abject fear and terror. >> newtown is 28,000 people, and
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this was a sampling of certain voices that we got to organically, where one person would introduce us to another in a very private way. but there wasn't anyone that i met who wasn't completely experiencing varying levels of trauma, even years out. >> reporter: mark barden talks about losing his son, daniel. >> you can only try to imagine how unbelievably difficult and challenging that is, to try to interpret what your seven-year- old experienced as he was being murdered. >> reporter: melissa malin is mark barden's next-door neighbor. her son, kyle, was in the classroom down the hall from daniel and escaped unharmed. >> this guy walked into the school, and he went left. why did he go left? kyle was on the right, the
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second door on the right. why did he go this way and not that way? i don't know. it's not fair. none of this is fair. >> reporter: you really capture neighbors who are trying to reconcile the random chaos of this event. >> the rebuilding of that community is sort of reconciling these relationships of people just feeling so terrible for their friends or neighbors who did lose children. but at the same token, there are people... there were 300-some children in the school that day, and many of them saw things and all of them heard things that i'm sure they will never forget. and so those families go through very difficult journeys right now with their surviving
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children. so there's also, i think, part of the film was to open up the need to have empathy for all kinds of different people in the town. >> reporter: has this tragedy defined this community? >> that's exactly what they would say they don't want to be defined by, the tragedy. but having said that, it's a town that will be forever changed. it's sort of in the d.n.a., i think, of the history of the town now for generations to come. >> i don't think that any of us that were in there feel that anybody needs to know specifically what we saw. emotionally, the world needs to know to understand. >> we want people to bear witness to this and to have the backs of not only e ople in newtown who went through this, but this sort of epidemic of all these people that i think we're becoming at large a traumatized
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society from all of these gun deaths, and to decide for themselves what do we want to do about this. >> reporter: the film shows the efforts of some newtown families, as part of the group called sandy hook promise, to push for stricter background checks for gun buyers and for banning semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines, like those used on their children. as a result, connecticut changed its gun laws, but, along with president obama, the families failed to persuade congress to act on an expanded background check bill. >> some of them were trying to make change in terms of social action. others were having all kinds of personal transformations. and really, i think the film is as much about resilience, human resilience and collective grief as it is about the issues that underlie gun violence. we've screened in very politically diverse parts of the country. we've had n.r.a. members come;
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just several days ago had a conversation with a few who have seen the film and said this is a really important film, and we all need to be able to talk about this in a more civil way. so that's been incredibly inspiring. >> reporter: on the film's web site, snyder points viewers to sandy hook promise and the pro- gun control brady campaign to prevent gun violence and everytown for gun safety. the pro-gun rights national rifle association declined to comment on the film or sandy hook promise, but the pro-gun industry national shooting sports foundation, which has long been headquartered in newtown, connecticut, told newshour weekend: while opposing a ban on semi- automatic rifle guns or high capacity magazines, "the national shooting sports foundation has long worked to help keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who should
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not have access to them." that's included pushing states to send complete criminal or mental health records for everyone banned from banning guns to the federal background check system. you don't ever say the shooter's name in the film. why? >> my sense of it was that those people who perpetrate these kinds of crimes are given a lot of notoriety. and so we really wanted to take the lead of a lot of victim communities not to give as much notoriety to the shooters, but to really focus more on the people whose lives were taken, on the loss and on the effect on the community. >> reporter: did you ever consider talking to anyone from the shooter's family as a member of the community? >> i did, to be honest. the shooter's father had given an interview that got out there in print, but he had moved away from newtown. he really wasn't currently a member of the community.
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>> reporter: in the film, nicole hockley talks about her six- year-old son, dylan, who died at sandy hook elementary. >> i have these memories. i have these pictures. i have hair and teeth. and yet, you go through these crazy motions of "am i just dreaming all of this?" i still keep expecting him to be there, but have i just gone insane? is this real? >> reporter: several of the parents express that they don't really want closure because that means that their child is really gone. how did you decide when to stop filming or how to end this film when there's not really an end for this community? >> it was really important for us to stay honest to the fact that there is no closure and you don't get over this. it does go on.
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we felt we had gotten a certain amount of perspectives over the three years, and that we had that story. and there was enough shifts, there were enough small baby step kinds of shifts in some of the people that we were involved with. so much was really about chronicling the beginnings of or the makings of resilience more than healing. >> there was a big upset at the "n" "c" "a" "a" today. villanova lost to wisconsin 65-62 in the second round of play in buffalo. and finally, spring is right around the corner, but, in northwest china, melting snow has frozen in place on a mountainside, creating a dazzling display of icicles.
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some of the icicles dangle almost a hundred feet long. but it takes an hour's ride on horseback from the nearest town to see them for yourself. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. by mutual of america--rovided designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for
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public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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explore new worlds and new ideas through programs like this, made available for everyone through contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ ♪ [applause] thank you! [applause]

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