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tv   News  Al Jazeera  September 5, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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good evening, everyone. welcome to al jazeera and the special coverage of the syrian crisis. tonight world leaders are focused on syria. >> the use of chemical weapons in syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed. >> we are following all the latest developments on syria tonight, including divided loyalty. this syrian conflict takes center stage at the g-20 summit in russia.
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in the suburbs of damascus rebels keep up the fight. >> reporter: this is a meeting about the world economy but it turned into something quite different. the opposition grows more vocal and more dug out. >> after days, they were face to face. both putin greeting president obama outside st. petersburg's constantine palace. the two men disagree over syria, an issue that consumed the summit.
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>> i also look forward to having an extent conversation about the situation in syria and i think our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed. >> reporter: u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon here with his secretary envoy to syria is lobbying leaders for more time. >> there is no military solution. there is only political solutions, which can bring people and end this right now. >> on putin's side in the dispute leaders of emerges economies and china joining russia in blocking action at the u.n. while not quite going it alone. president obama faces opposition as he searches for support
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making a hard sell even harder in russia. president obama has been calling members of congress and we learned that he canceled a planned trip to california next week. instead, he'll stay in washington and stay on the phone continue to lobby members, both the house and the senate, into the crucial debate. >> british prime minister david cameron says british scientists discovered new evidence that confirms last month's chemical attack in syria. a spokesman for cameron's office said clothing samples and soil samples were taken from the area of the attack and tested positive for the sarin gas. he declined to comment on how the evidence ended in britt can. william hague offered his support to rebel groups in syria. the head of the coalition met with hague in london, and they talked about ways for britain to
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provide assistance. hagued the u.k. would lead international efforts to help the 2 million people to fled the conflict in syria. in washington, d.c. the obama administration spent another day trying to persuade reluctant members of congress to vote for an attack on syria. randall pinkston joins us live from washington, d.c. with that story. randall. >> reporter: just minutes ago the white house released a picture of vice president biden chairing a meeting in the white house situation room. in that meeting three members of the house of representatives and four senators, all of them democrats, as the effort continues to get support for the strike on syria, an effort that appears to be increasingly difficult. there were more top-secret briefings from members of congress as the obama administration continues to make the case for military strikes on syria. even some of the president's closest allies are not rushing to support his decision. >> i am busy doing my due diligence to decide how i will
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vote and how i will vote that will be in the best interests of the united states, deter further use of repugnant and grim and ghoulish weapons in syria and the rest of the world. >> reporter: in iraq when no weapons were found hangs over this decision. >> i am trying to see if those same problems are evident this time, and they are not. i think the intelligence is different. it is much better. it is conclusive on the fact that these weapons were used. >> reporter: for that reason california senator dianne feinstein says she will support a resolution authorizing use of force, but some senators say there are other options. >> this is not a choice between doing nothing and doing a military strike. there are other ways to put
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pressure internationally on the assad regime to isolate him that might be more effective and would not involve the use of military action. >> reporter: in a new strategy, the white house launched a website to try to counteract polls showing public opposition to a strike on syria. one of the oddest developments is revealed that syria sent a letter to house speaker john boehner. it reads in part from syria, we write to you as human beings asking if you bomb us, shall we not bleed? the innocent people will be harmed. we urge you to communicate with us through civilized dialogue rather than the language of fire and blood. that letter from the syrian government to house speaker john boehner. so far no comment from speaker boehner. >> of course, speaker boehner refused to talk to diplomats from russia yesterday who wanted to talk to him about the same thing. can you talk a little bit,
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randall, about vote counting. i assume both sides are involved in that, and we're still days away from a vote. are you hearing anything? >> reporter: well, today there was a blow to president obama. a leading democrat, democrat joe manchin of west virginia said definitively that he will not support a resolution for use of force. other senators, democrats and republicans but significantly democrats are on the fence saying they have not made up their minds, and you heard one of the few moderate voices of the republican side in the senate, senator collins, talking about possible other means of dealing with syria. so this is by no means a foregone conclusion that the president will get the congressional support that he has said that he would like to have before launching a military action against syria. >> congress has a lot of other business to attend to, but talk about how this has captured the attention of lawmakers now.
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>> reporter: absolutely has captured the attention of lawmakers. the first hearing by the senate foreign relations committee significantly did not have one single empty seat. everybody was there and came in early from vacation, and we also noticed that senators who were not part of the committee took time to be in the room while the presentation was presented by secretary kerry and secretary hagel and joint chiefs chair general dempsey. meanwhile, we understand that members of the house are also coming back into town. arrangements are made for them to resume meeting -- preparations for going back into formal session on september 9th. this issue is a serious issue, and probably many would say it should command the attention of our elected officials. >> randall pinkston in washington tonight. thank you very much. joining us from burlington, vermont is independent senator bernie sanders.
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senator, good to see you. thank you for talking with us tonight. >> my pleasure. >> can you give me your reaction to what you've seen in washington over the last few days? >> i can give you a better reaction about what i see here in the state of vermont, and that is my phones are bouncing off the hook. almost unanimously people are saying, do not get involved in a bloody and chaotic civil war in syria. i think people are also concerned that the president and other members are prepared to go forward without the support of the united nations or nato and do it in a unilateral way, which sets a very, very bad precedent. >> have you made up your mind based on those calls? >> well, what people in my state tell me is certainly -- it certainly influences me greatly, but i have not made a final decision because i don't know what the final resolution is
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going to be that we'll vote on. i certainly want to hear the debate and want more information from the administration. i will tell you this. i have very, very serious concerns about this cause of action. you know, in our country today, if you ask the average american or the average vermonters what's going on, they will tell you that unemployment is much too high, wages are much too low. we have to deal with issues like global warming. we're concerned deeply about the quality of education in america. we're not dealing with those issues today. if we get involved and into a quagmire in syria, many of the most important concerns that ordinary americans have, jobs for their kids, education, will be pushed aside. i think a lot of people are concerned about that. >> so you don't believe we can have a limited strike? >> i think it is possible, but i think if you pay closely -- pay close attention to what the foreign relations committee did
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yesterday, they very much broadened the definition of what that resolution is about. really, what it comes down to now is not just the so-called surgical strike to punish assad, who is clearly a terrible dictator, using chemical weapons against his people, atrocious. what that resolution is about is saying we're not going to punish assad. we really want regime change. we want to change the momentum on the ground. so you have a couple of factors. what happens if the war does not go well for the opposition? how much money -- how much effort do we spend on that? do we start training troops there? what do you do with the fact that maybe 20% to 25% of the opposition are islamic fundamentalists, some affiliated with al qaeda? how do you deal with? >> we went into afghanistan and we thought it was a slam dunk. we went into iraq. no problems.
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4600 deaths later, $2.5 trillion we're still concerned about that war. the middle east is a quagmire, and i think we have to be concerned. i hope we can find alternative methods of dealing with this terrible dictator other than getting involved militarilmilit. >> what if syria uses chemical weapons again? >> there are a lot of problems in this world, and it's atrocious. right now we have 14% of our people unemployed, 20% unemployed. what about those kids? what about the 40% of young black kids without a job? >> is it an either/or situation? why can't we do both? >> well, that's a good question. right now the congress can't even do the simplest things. right now the congress doesn't even discuss massive unemployment, the growing gap between the rich and the poor. what do you think happens if you're involved in a war in syria?
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do you really think that congress will address the important issues facing the american people? furthermore, i have to say that i find it interesting that right now, today as a result of republicans refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy or corporations, we're throwing children off of head start. we're denying basic nutrition, meals on wheels programs to vulnerable senior sit sfwlcitiz. who is going to pay for this war? the wealthiest people? what do you think a limited strike would cost the united states? >> i think a limited strike would not be terribly expensive. it's a one-day war. i don't know what it is. 50 million or 100 million. if it is as some people in the senate want, regime change, that will be expensive. if we get dragged into this thing, in months or years to come, it could be very expensive. the people who will end up paying for this war, trust me, are not the top 1%. there will be children thrown off head start and old people
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that don't get nutrition. those are the people that pay for the war. >> have you talked to krur colleagues in washington, and do you have some sense about how this vote might go now? >> i really don't. i think it's going to be a strange vote. i think you're going to find some republicans voting against it, some republicans voting for it. with the democrats it will be the same. >> you're the independent here. can you tell us where you are leaning? >> well, i think i just told some of my concerns, but i do want to -- you know, i don't know what the final resolution will look like. i don't know what amendments, if any, will pass to change the resolution. so i can't give you a definitive opinion right now as to how i'd vote, because i don't know what the resolution will look like. i can tell you that i have serious concerns. >> senator bernie sanders is up in burlington, vermont tonight. senator, we appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. thanks very much. >> thank you very much. >> next up on al jazeera,
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secretary of state john confker says he believes the majority of syrian rebels are not al qaeda. who are they? we'll look at who is actually fighting against the syrian government. plus, how might the syrian leader respond to an attack? i'll talk with one of bashar al assad's former college friends. al jazeera america - a new voice in american journalism - >>introduces america tonight. >>in egypt, police fired teargas at supporters of the ... >>a fresh take on the stories that connect to you. [[voiceover]] they risk never returning to the united states. >>grounded. >>real. >>unconventional. [[voiceover]] we spent time with some members of the gangster disciples. >>an escape from the expected. >>i'm a cancer survivor. not only cancer, but brain cancer.
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any strike on syrian forces will help opposition fighters as they take on assad's soldiers, but some of the rebels are linked to al qaeda, and that's worrying western leaders. rob mathenson reports. >> reporter: rebels led to al qaeda pushing through the
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territory. these are fighters from the front. they say they're in control here, but it's not clear what power they have elsewhere in the city. the u.s. says it doesn't intend to support extremists, but any military action that destabilizes the assad government is likely to favor the rebels, and they are at least in part propped up by al qaeda. u.s. threats of an impending strike shows them going to the opposition. >> it shows the credible threat of use of force is actually having somewhat of an effect that would add to the defections we're starting to hear. >> reporter: syria is not split between pro-assad forces and the rebels. the opposition is fractured. groups are breaking away, forming new alliances, and that's another challenge for the u.s. as it attempts to gather support from military action. the fragments leaves gaps where
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al qaeda influence can grow, which could mean if the u.s. strikes president assad, it could support fighters whom it, along with other powers, have branded terrorists. rob mathison, al jazeera. here to talk about the importance is dr. samar abud, a history and national studies professor in arcadia university in philadelphia tonight. doctor, welcome. good to see you. >> thank you, john. thank you for having me. >> this seems to be the $64,000. how many members of al qaeda are actually in syria? >> yeah, that is the $64,000 question. that's impossible to tell. it's impossible to distinguish between those who are loyal to al qaeda, those who are taking, for example, orders or commands from al qaeda leadership in syria, outside of syria, those who are sympathetic to al qaeda. i believe earlier in the program the number of 20%, 25% was given
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by your guest. that seems reasonably accurate, but i think it's almost impossible to tell at this point. >> you know, isn't it a little more complex than either they're 25% members of al qaeda there. what does that say? a full-fledged member of al qaeda or someone who is an al qaeda sympathizer? >> i think what it says and the kind of complicated nature of the answer tells you how complicated the armed opposition is to the regime. so when we're talking about people on the ground who are organized with guns fighting the regime, we're talking about quite a wide range of different actors. those who, for example, pledge loyalty to the islamic state of iraq, and these are different groups with different leaderships and also have
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different immediate goals within syria. for example, in the >> interpreter: of -- province of rutka you have a heavy presentation of the isis and the other groups. on the front lines and other areas more to the northwest, especially to the south and northeast, they're not really on the front lines, and you have the free syrian army more on the front lines there. the geography of the opposition, the geography of the jihadists is very complicated in the syrian case, and that's what makes it so difficult to pinpoint who are the al qaeda loyalists and sympathizers on the ground, because they take different shapes and forms. >> yet, you hear the argument in the senate and house of the united states that congressmen and senators are wary of getting involved in a syrian conflict where they think they might be supporting al qaeda. what would you say to them?
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>> that's certainly a legitimate concern, but we have to ask ours what fear is worse at this point the fear of the present which consists of over 100,000 dead, millions displaced, the continued threat of chemical attack. there's nothing to suggest this isn't going to happen. does the fear of the present trump the fear of the potential that al qaeda could gain or al qaeda sympathizers could gain some traction? we have to keep something very serious in mind here. it's that throughout the region where al qaeda has been stronger, where we have seen al qaeda in iraq, in afghanistan, they have not shown an ability to govern. they govern on the local level. they have influence and power on local levels within syria, iraq, afghanistan.
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they don't have a national presence. there's certainly not a national momentum. >> if the united states launches an attack, what impact will that have on al qaeda in syria sf. >> to the degree it weakens the regime, then it strengthens them. of course, from that perspective. but if the question is are they able to fill some sort of power vacuum left after the regime is weakened after attacks, i just don't think that's the case. they don't have a broad base of legitimacy within the country. they don't have the kind of momentum to rule in cities. their power is highly concentrated in local rural areas. certainly they have a presence in aleppo and places like this. when the regime is weakened here, the actors on the ground that have the ability to come in and take over, whether it's from a governance perspective or
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military perspective, certainly the jihadists would not lead in that. >> i think the one thing that you point out is the complicated nature of this, and the problem is that it's very difficult to convey that to the american people, right? >> absolutely. i think that cynically, i believe, they're exaggerating the jihadist threat within syria. i believe that this exaggeration is very purposeful to avoid any action within the country, not just to suggest that, of course, an intervention should happen or a more full-scale intervention. if we think back to the very beginning of the conflict, this is an administration and the political leaders within washington that have been kicking the can down the road and hoping this problem would simply go away. one of the justifications from that time up until this point has been that, well, you know, we don't know who is going to take over.
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well, with any even minor knowledge of what's happening on the ground, we know that the al qaeda types don't quite have the ability to take over. they don't have legitimacy. they don't have the ability on the ground to fulfill the basic government functions, and they're certainly not fulfilling the original goals of the revolution started by the people. >> well, unfortunately, it appears that we have a live picture from philadelphia, but we want to thank the doctor for him putting this into context for us. tonight we're getting a sense of the anxiety inside syria as people await a possible attack. al jazeera is in the southwestern city of darah and he says syrians are afraid a strike could do more harm than good. >> reporter: some people are frightened that this attack also will attack, for example, the airport and they will lose the airport and some important
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places for them. they are not that much confident from that the u.s. army will stand with them forever. i mean, they need president bashar al assad to fall down. otherwise, no need for this attack. >> the house and senate are scheduled to return to capitol hill next week to vote on a resolution authorizing military action against syria. in new york the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. criticized the u.n. for not taking action to help syrian civilians. >> for the past two and a half years, the system devised in 1945 precisely to deal with threats of this nature did not work as it was supposed to. it has not peace and security for the hundreds of syrian children gassed to death on august 21. it is not protecting the stability of the region. it is not standing behind now an
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internationally accepted ban on the use of chemical bans. >> so coming up on al jazeera, a look at bashar al assad. i talk to a college friend of the syrian president. plus, more workers demanding more money. this time walmart employees are walking off the job.
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welcome back to al jazeera. here are the top stories. president obama is urging leaders at the g-20 summit to support a u.s.-led strike on syria, but right now he's facing opposition from many leaders including russia, china, and the european union. the possibility of the military strike is looming large over the economic summit. president obama canceled his trip to california next week. he will stay in washington, d.c. to lobby congress. obama is hoping for congressional approval to carry out limited strikes in syria, but so far it seems he may not have the votes. al jazeera's patty kolhane has more. >> reporter: the majority of the american people are telling pollsters and their politicians they don't want the u.s. to intervene in syria, even if
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chemical weapons are used. >> what we're going to do again is create another problem, so we need to stop. >> reporter: the message sent in town hall meetings and in calls to their washington offices. >> let the senator know you're opposed to intervening in syria. >> reporter: it seems to sway some elected leaders, especially in the house of representatives where an informal poll shows 49 representatives leaning towards a yes vote, 199 no. what are the repercussions for the president if he can't get congress to approve a strike? he's been very careful with his words, not saying either way what he'll do. >> i did not take this to congress just because it's an empty exercise. i think it's important to have congress' support on it. >> reporter: the war powers act is pretty specific. it says the president can only use military force if there is a declaration of war, statutory authorization from congress or in the case of an emergency if the u.s. is attacked. that law is often ignored by
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presidents, who usually ask for permission after they attack. in kosovo bill clinton had senate approval before launching planes and missiles. later authorization didn't pass the house. >> my purpose is to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. >> reporter: the difference? clinton had the backing of the u.n. obama does not. still, the president could act, even if congress says no. >> it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he went ahead, even without congressional approval. obviously, there would be an avalanche of criticism, and the public, which is already strongly opposed, would become more strongly opposed. i also support it would take 10 points off your pom later. if you're not up for election again, why does it matter? >> reporter: it matters because with local popularity his entire second term agenda likely stalls. he could face impeachment proceedings in the house, even if it's unlikely the senate would agree. bottom line, without congress he would pay a price for acting.
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his aides are working hard behind the scenes to make sure he won't have to make that decision. patty colhane, al jazeera, washington. let's take a closer look at bashar al assad. he's 43 years old and has a degree in ophthalmology in damascus university. assad became an army colonel in 1999. his father died in 2000. a month later bashar was elected president. he received 97% of the vote at that time. in the beginning he promised new freedoms for syrians, but that was before the uprising started in early 2011. joining now is iman abdul nure from los angeles. he's the editor and chief of all for syria, and he's a former friend of the syrian president. welcome. good to see you. >> hello, john. hi. >> can you tell me a little
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about your friend and what you think about him now. >> he was a friend when he wasn't supposed to be a president since '84. since i knew him, he passed through three stages in his life until the 21st of january, 1994 when his older brother was killed in an accident. then the stage was prepared for him to be president. it has led him to be a totally different personality. then after the death of his father in 2000, when he became president, also his personality totally changed. so he's not the same person we knew him as in 1984. that's the issue. >> when his personality totally changed, what happened? >> what happened? he became more prepared and started to take lessons especially after 1994 to be a leader and to know more about syria and all the secret accords done by his father with a lot of
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international powers and about everything that happened in syria. before that he doesn't care about anything in syria. he wasn't in politics. he was in medicine, so his personality started to be more aggressive. his eyes started to look at you and he asked a lot of questions not like before. he was shy and put his hand on his mouth. he took training courses for his body and mind. so this is totally changed him in person and even in his body. >> he's being called a thug, a murderer, a monster. is that the guy you knew? >> no, he wasn't like this in '84. this was starting to emerge after taking that military class for one year and a half from 1994 to 1996 when he graduated as a cornell in the army. and then he started to be more
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in the end of -- this is when he started to believe that he's chosen by god to save syria. no one is -- no one from the syrian history was competing with him in his cleverness and in his level of wisdom. so this is the problem that we start with in the end of 2002. >> some are also saying he's being controlled by others in the syrian government. that the person that you know? >> no. everybody agrees that he's not that one. he's totally changed. >> you believe he's making the decisions? >> for sure. he's the only one that took the final decisions about all the decisions and about all that was going on in syria, but he did the implementation for his small inner circle. he's the one that ratifies all their recommendations and suggestions. >> can you give me your reaction to what you've seen in syria? >> i'm really so much -- no one
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can describe it. there's no words that you can use when you see a lot of your families. my house was bombed and destroyed. all the buildings were bombed. i lost a lot of my friends. i wanted to die for someone, and i always find one of them is died. it's like i don't know what -- my mobile is full of names that are either in jail or killed. so how do you want me to subscri describe the situation? >> when you see the pictures of children that were gassed, obviously this is affects people in the united states but also some in syria as well. tell me about that. >> it's really leads you to cry and be mad. you don't know what to do. you have to go and fight, but this is not -- it's a fight that
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is -- he's using chemical weapons against his own people, against people that he knows. the problem is he doesn't feel he's guilty. this adds to the problem, another one, that he doesn't feel. he does not stop until there's a strike and put those chemical weapons and all his arsenal away. otherwise, he will continue to bomb the people, and he will consider the international community if they do nothing to him, he's considering it a license to kill. he will continue to do that and continue to do our people, our friends, our family and relatives, to see them not in a good way but to see their bodies and to see them killed in the screens and international media. this is really horrifying, and we hope this will finish soon. >> if the united states launches an attack, based on your knowledge of bashar al assad, any sense of how he might react? >> i think he'll start to show
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his inner circle and especially the big generals in the army and in the intelligence that he's protected and inhumane. in the past 40 years whatever we did in london and when they closed the syrian embassy in the '80s, there were a lot of demands to deliver many syrian intelligence to the international courts. no one has delivered. he's saying to them, we are protected, and this is our role, to protect israel and deliver some of the jihadists to you for the european intelligence. don't believe what the u.s. is saying. so he's playing the edge. if the people and the top general feels that the strike is serious and u.s. and international communities are serious in the strike and that he's not now protected the regime the bashar is not
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protected, they will be the first i assure you. i know this. they will be the first to either defect or topple him from inside. until now they think that they still have a troel role to play in the middle east when they discover he has no more role. his paper is finished, and they will be the first to turn against him. >> iman out in los angeles for us tonight. thanks for sharing your story. we appreciate it. >> thank you, john. thank you. an egyptian minister has survived an assassination attempt. now he's warning of a new wave of terrorism in that country. our correspondent we're not naming for security reasons reports from cairo. >> reporter: the explosion happened as the minister's convoy passed by damaging his vehicle and destroying four others carrying his security staff. he reportedly received death threats earlier this week, and he was given an armored car for increased protection. state security sources say a device was placed in a car or
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motorbike. it was remotely detonated. people living nearby described a loud bang that shook the buildings. one man saw a car driving away just beforehand. >> translator: i saw three people walking by and one more from this street behind me. this was 15 minutes before the interior minister passed through here. >> reporter: the attack took place as the minister, in charge of the police, was leaving home in nassar city where the muslim brotherhood has strong support. thousands staged a sit-in in this district for six weeks until they broke up the camp killing hundreds of people. a senior muslim brotherhood leader have condemned the attack. many of the minister's guards and passers-by were injured. some of them were taken to this hospital. >> translator: some of the most
quote
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serious injuries, such as one person sent to the intensive care unit, has a head injury and is in ray coma in a critical condition. a woman's left leg was almost amputated but we saved it. now her condition is stable. >> reporter: the minister himself was unharmed and spoke as he arrived at his office two hours after the attack. >> translator: all i can do is thank god. it was a vile attempt. the forensics lab informed me that it was a large bomb which was set off from afar, and they targeted the exact timing of my convoy passing through the streets because all the explosion debris is directed at my car. >> reporter: when asked if thursday's attack marks the start of a new wave of terrorism in egypt, he replied, this is not the end but the beginning. so far nobody has claimed responsibility. al jazeera, cairo.
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now, back in this country, walmart workers are protesting today in more than a dozen u.s. cities. workers say they want a minimum wage of $25,000 per year. they also want walmart to reinstate 20 employees. the workers claim they were illegally fired for participating in strikes back in june. walmart says the company has done nothing wrong. joining us now from los angeles is our jennifer london. jennif jennifer, i hear there have been a number of protests today and arrests as well. >> reporter: indeed there were, john. all in all 21 people were arrested today. we're told nine of them are current walmart employees. the arrest came at the end of a protest and march here in l.a. that was part of the nationwide day of protests against the retail giant, walmart. the protesters began here in los angeles earlier this afternoon with a rally and a martha started in downtown los angeles. they marched for a little less than a mile and a half, and then
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they ended up at the gates of the chinatown neighborhood here in l.a. the protesters were arrested peacefully. they were taken into custody for unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. all told, there were about 450 people involved in the march and protest. among them, carlton smith. he worked for walmart for 17 years working up to a department manager, and he says quite simply, enough is enough. >> hoping to get walmart to do what we're asking for, which is raise the wages, give us affordable health care, reinstate the 60 or more associates that wrongfully terminated or disciplined for standing up and speaking out. >> reporter: smith says he's among those wrongfully terminated. he says that he was fired because he was speaking out against what they called the poverty wages. also, john, in addition to the
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poverty wages as they call them, protesters are protesting this walmart neighborhood market that's slated to open at the end of the month. people here say it would force the closure of the smaller retail stores. walmart says it's not true and it will help the local economy. they plan to add about 65 jobs when it opens later this month. >> jennifer, the strikers are saying one thing and walmart is saying anything. do you have any sense how long this is going to go on? >> reporter: when i was talking to the protesters today, they say they do not plan on backing down and they will get arrested. the arrests today were not -- that was not a surprise to anybody. they planned the sit-in and planned on getting arrested. we were told they were willing to risk arrest, but they new very well what would happen had they sat down on the street and refused to leave. the people i spoke to hear said, john, we will not back down and continue to fight until walmart answers some of their demands. >> so more protests in the comes
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days and weeks? >> they didn't tell me specifically if they have any planned in the immediate future, but as i mentioned this maul walmart market is mired in controversy. walmart beat out a lot of legal challenges to stop it from being built, and we would expect, based on the conversations i had with protesters today, that when this walmart does plan to open, it's not unlikely they will protest. >> jennifer london in los angeles tonight. thank you. we now know what caused the massive fire burning in yosemite national park. the u.s. forest service says a hunter let an illegal fight get of hand, and no arrests have been made yet. it destroyed 370 square miles of forest and 111 structures. it's time to go to washington,
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d.c. "america tonight" is coming up next. ahead here, they refused prison food for nearly two months. today, at least tonight, california inmates are making a slow transition back to solid foods again. state lawmakers add prison reform, in the meantime to the docket. the hunger strike at one point had 30,000 inmates on board. many were locked up for years in what is often called solitary. we'll learn more about the conditions in a report tonight. also, ahead we speak with a california lawmaker about finally addressing this prisoner's complaints. that store and much more at the top of the hour on "america tonight." all right, joey. we'll be watching. more than 100 cars were involved in a pileup today on a bridge in kent, england. hundreds of people remember injured, eight seriously. a number of people had to be rescued from their cars. thick fog -- look at that fog you see there. that's likely to blame for this
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accident. coming up in sports, the story of one baltimore raven who is ready to fill the void left by ray lewis' retirement.
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we're here with sports, and finally some football. finally. >> you got to love it. the nfl season kicking off tonight. hopefully mother nature will cooperate, because your defending super bowl champions are waiting to take on the denver broncos because the came currently being delayed by a thunderstorm. now, the ravens, though, have a tough challenge ahead of them because the last team to win
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back-to-back titles was the patriots in 2004. baltimore lost ray lewis, ed reese to the texans and bolden to san francisco. we have the story of one raven ready to fill those shoes. >> it's been said that leaders are born, not made. for more than a decade two of the most influential football leaders called baltimore home. ray lewis and ed reed fueled the victory last season with the play and passion, but now with lewis enjoying retirement and reed suiting up for the houston texans, the defending super bowl champions are at a loss. >> you miss from a personal standpoint being friends with them. in terms of leadership, i can sit here. you know, we have a bunch of leaders here who people forget they have some great experience. baltimore will never be the same without ray or ed reed, you know, running around on the field. that doesn't mean baltimore
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won't be a good football team. >> third year receiver torrey smith may be the ideal candidate to fill the void. as the oldest of seven children, smith ran his family's household while his mother worked multiple jobs. >> i feel like i've been a leader from day one. my own family, and i'm doing the same thing to lead by example and do the right thing. i don't have to be superman or be someone i'm not, a rah-rah guy. when i speak i'm respected because i handle myself the right way both on and off the field. that means more to me than anything else. >> there's no better example of his resolve and determination than last year's game against the patriots when he hauled in six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns hours after his 19-year-old brother died in a motorcycle accident. >> the biggest thing is his life, you know. i'm not the only person in the world that lost a family member in a tragic or sudden way.
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you know, for me personally what i took from it, obviously aside from appreciating life and stuff more, i love my folks more and how much they mean to me. i wasn't able to tell my brother that. >> 2013 could be a breakout year for smith as is typically the case for with most star receivers in the nfl. there should be more opportunities for smith. >> i think people tend to look at the 1,000-yard mark as a mark for receivers, but i feel like i should have been there the past two years. had i done it in my rookie year, would we say the 30 year thing? it would be an expectation others placed upon me. i've had that for myself from day one. i just go out there and play. they throw the ball a million times. my job appreciation doesn't change. i have to catch it a million times. they hand the ball off, i got to
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block. when i get the ball i make things happen. obviously the better i'm playing helps the team. >> as michael eaves reports, the high in denver today was 97 degrees. hopefully it will cool off there. the philadelphia eagles might want to focus the aggression on the redskins instead of each other. there's a fight at practice. williams went berserk and had to be restrained by michael vick. cooper made headlines this summer when he used a racial slur at a concert, and williams is one of several players that had a major issue with that. williams did not want to speak to the media, but cooper did. >> anytime it's something extra on the field, kind of a fight on the field from another teammate or opponent, that's the first thing to come up, especially if the guy is black. >> everything has been great. everything is completely, 100% normal. >> we're both playing nfl
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football and going for the ball one on one and got tangled up. he's a great player. >> a fight ain't going to win us the game. that's the biggest thing. regardless of what's going on, we have to play a game monday night. we're practicing and doing things together as far as camaraderie which is what we need. >> boys will be boys. over at the u.s. open another one bites the dust. first it was federer, and today andy murray got bounced in straight sets. ever heard of stan growina. he's a 28-year-old swiss that beat murray back in 2010, and today it was deja v ru. stan the man had murray on the run all day long, and he was simply smashing. he goes on to win it in straight sets to advance to his first grand slam semifinal. as for the defending champion, did murray lose his focus because he had that historic victory at wimbledon? >> it's not so much about focus.
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i mean, when you work hard for something for a lot of years, you know, it's going to take a bit of time to really fire yourself up and get yourself training 110%. you know, that's something that, you know, i think is kind of natural after what happened at wimbledon. >> can't win they will all, john, but hopefully no more upsets. >> so it does have an impact? >> it did have an impact. >> a letdown. >> thanks, ross. "america tonight" starts at the top of the hour. but after a quick break, your forecast with rebecca stevenson.
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i'm meteorologist rebecca stevenson. we have rainfall amounts coming down as quickly as one inch an hour and quarter-sized hail and wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour. severe thunderstorms are moving through the pacific northwest, and this is a place that doesn't normally get severe weather. already today we had a tornado
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by doppler radar spotted in northeast oregon that only averaging one tornado a year. now, we're watching this line of thunderstorms, and it is a significant line stretches across northern oregon and into southern washington. severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued for a number of reasons. the heavy rain has brought flash flooding to all three states of washington, oregon, and idaho. boise, you've been getting wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. so these intense storms are tracking their way not only from the south, but they're moving out of the cascades towards the west. so it's an unusual direction for storms to take, especially when they're this powerful. be aware if you're in the pacific northwest, these rain rates are high and the winds are gusty. we have a 51-mile-per-hour wind gust reported at boise where all the burn area from local wildfires in idaho state and oregon, we're very concerned about landslides and mudslides not only through the night tonight from the very heavy rainfall but through the first part of the day tomorrow.
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the rain rates will continue to come down, and winds will continue to be very strong. so be aware of that as the center of low pressure tracks on shore. this is a cold area of low pressure, and it's powerful, too. it's going to slowly move east. we're expecting it to hang around even through the weekend bringing rainshowers in the northwest. these gusty winds definitely continuing through tomorrow morning. now, to the northeast talking about cold weather. we're dropping down into the 30s in a lot of spots. vermont, new hampshire, maine, new york, pennsylvania, a lot of frost advisories have been issued tonight in addition to freeze warnings around the adirondacks. be aware, it's a cool start to the day, and the high temperatures will end up cool as well. in addition to the cool weather and the storms, drought has expanded back into the midwest especially iowa and minnesota where temperatures well above average.
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>> welcome to al jazeera, here are the top stories. president obama and russian president vladimir putin greeted each other at the g20 summit in st petersburg with a handshake. this was their only planned meeting. president obama cancelled a previously scheduled one or nsa leaker edward snowden. there's a possibility they could talk again - syria is expected to be on the agenda. joe biden is dmm

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