>> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm david schuster with a look at today's top stories. >> these are tough problems that i'm glad to have the privilege to tack. >> well, president obama in his final news conferenceful year, he and his administration are optimistic about 2014. no. south sudan the situation is getting worse and moving closer to all out civil war. the nation is expressing grave alarm. a high profile businessman is allowed out of prison after a
decade behind bars. >> the defense department is creating the metal surrogate that could save your life in the future. >> in the wake of sagging approval ratings and approval over thinks healthcare law, president obama held his final scheduled press conference of the year, and he did make some news. in a session that lasted 61 minutes that involved questions from 11 different reporters the president for the first time publicly addressed the task force report that urged the president to scale back efforts by th the national security age. >> i have confidence that the nsa is not engaging in domestic
surveillance or snooping around, but as people start changing algorithms and programs and map out all the information that we're downloading on a database on our telephones and our computers we have to refine this further to give people more confidence. >> on the affordable care act known as obamacare the president said this afternoon nearly 2 million americans have applied for coverage on the health exchanges. still he used a rather blunt phrase in taking responsibility for some of the early problems in the fact that it wasn't very smooth. >> it didn't happen in the first month, in the first six weeks in a way that was at all acceptable. >> president offered the most confident remarks noting that the economy is the strongest it
has been in a long time. still the president has taken a toll on his approval ratings. earlier this month, a poll showed 43% of americans approve of the job mr. obama is doing as president while 54% disapproved. al jazeera's mike viqueira covered the press conference at the white house. and he joins us now. what is the biggest take away from this afternoon? >> i think what you saw was a president frankly trying to get one more oar in the water before he goes to hawai'i on his annual vacation. no fights with congress is going to keep him here in washington, so the president looking ahead and trying to be very positive about some of the items on his agenda, and you're absolutely right. at the white house they're very concerned about the president's standing not necessarily with the public because obviously president obama is never going to be on the ballot again.
but if he is going to advance his agenda and at the top is comprehensive immigration reform, he's going to leave democrats behind him and democrats are wary and if they're skit everybody about the president's sinking ratings they may abandon him. the president trying to put his best foot forward. there was news about national security agency, the meta-data bulk collection program, not only did a judge say he saw no reason for it, and possibly violates the fourth amendment am but the president and his panel and advisory committee both saying that they saw no evidence that attacks had been thwarted. they both recommend that the bulk collection program be suspended, a third party or perhaps the communication companies themselves should be the one who is look at that. the president said there is more than one way to skin a cat, and frankly david i have never heard the white house say that they were open to that possibility and certainly the president left that possibility open. who was at the center of all
this? who brought this to light, edward snowden and the talk of amnesty speakin, the president t against it. here's what the president had to say on that score. >> obama: i think as important and necessary as this debate has been, it is also important to keep in mind that this has done unnecessary damage to u.s. intelligence capabilities and u.s. diplomacy. but i will leave it up to the courts and the attorney general to weigh in on the specifics in this case. >> reporter: you mentioned the all-time low ratings for president obama, a large measure of that attributed to the
botched healthcare.gov . that 2 million enrollee is applications. the problem is that it's much, much lower than $2 million. they saturday a 3 million enro enrollee goal. they fell short and they'll waive the mandate of the idea of healthcare reform for those who lost their health insurance on account of obamacare, something that the president apologized for last week. the president trying to foster the perception that the healthcare system, healthcare.gov and the affordable care act has turned the corner, still a lot of questions remain. >> al jazeera america's mike viqueira, great work as always, thank you. let's bring in a professor of political science at iona college. how much of the president's fortunes really depend on the economy but on healthcare and getting to the numbers that the white house had always promised?
>> reporter: i think so much of his fortunes depend on that. he really does recognize that. unfortunately, as just mentioned. while they're saying the enrollment numbers are high, they're not as high as they need: they needed 3 million by the end of this year. 6 million by spring. it's incredible to me to imagine that they'll get anywhere close to that. this is his signature program. this is a plan that shows that government can work, can do this. if he doesn't get there it's going to be a blow. he's down in the 40s. he's down where george bush was in his fifth year. getting back from that it's like raising your gpa in college. once it's down it's difficult to raise your grade. >> the president said a lot of our legislative initiatives in congress have not moved forward as rapidly as i would like. that's a bit of an understatement. >> it's almost comical to hear. the 80th congress called the
do-nothing congress passed 800 bills. this year they passed 50, 60 bills. to say very little move is quite an understatement. and to imagine i know everyone is optimistic because of the budget and defense bill but to imagine they're going to take real action i think is something you got to wonder about. he's talking about comprehensive immigration reform. to imagine that republicans in the house are going to agree to the senate bill as they go and face elections in very tough primaries i think is really a stretch. >> one thing that congress did this past week that will help this administration, they agreed on a two-year budget which means congress will not get in the way, and there will not be any more government shutdowns. the market is start to go heat up and a lot of people think that 2014 could be a terrific economic year. at what point does the president start to see that benefits him if it happens. >> the one bright shot, you mentioned there is not going to
be a government shutdown. i think that's likely but it still a possibility. the debt ceiling fight begins in february and march. they want to negotiate and the president saying at the press conference that he will not negotiate. well, what's going to happen in that case? i think they will negotiate. but you know its hard to imagine. >> finally a press conference provides lines where the president talking about healthcare and the problems early on said we screwed it up. is that blunt language something that people can relate to? >> he has to take responsibility. the biggest lie of this year was that you can keep your healthcare. that it was mentioned at the conference. people understand that, and the president needed to take responsibility. he tried to do that today, but the real question is are the numbers. how many people enrolled. now we have the waiver of the individual mandate which was
mentioned. it's a bit head scratching to think that they're going to get where they need to be if they keep up with this pace. >> the change for individual mandate, thank you so much for coming up, professor, we appreciate you being with us. one of russia's foremost critics is spending the day in germany. president putin pardoned him from jail. he went to germany to visit his sycamore. many in the west believe that kodakovski was in prison because of trumped up charges. >> he has been in jail on corruption charges. now today he is a free man just arrived in berlin. he applied to president putin for release, and for most
people's surprise was granted it. in a written statement he said, i would like to thank everyone who has been following the case all these years for the support you provided to me, my family, and all those who were unjustly convicted and continue to be persecuted. but president putin did not stop with him. in a surprise announcement he pardoned 20,000 prisoners, including two members of the pussy riot punk rock band and detained greenpeace activists. pussy riot members were sentenced to two years in prison in 2012 amid an outcry at a church. the members of green peace were taken into custody after protesting on a russian oil rig in the arctic ocean. so what is behind president putin's decision to let all these prisoners go? mark hollingsworth is keeping an
eye on the olympics. >> he sees the olympics as a real showcase of his presidency. >> reporter: he said putin didn't concede very much, but they were slated for release in just a couple of months. kordokovski still has plenty of money and power. >> he could potentially use that money to run political campaigns from abroad, but i don't think he'll be as naive as he was in 2003 when he took on putin and he thought because he was so wealthy he could take on the kremlin and the russian state. >> reporter: whatever the reason for putin's change of heart it's garnered him positive headlines around the world. just weeks from the start of the olympics when the eyes of the world will be focused on sochi. john terrett. al jazeera. >> now to the central african republic where there has been more violence between christian fighters and muslims who hold
the country. christians attacked muslims in bangui. thousands fled to the city's airport. there is a joint mission to provide security and humanitarian aid. >> this district is known as a stronghold for the christian anti-baleka. the army are deployed in large numbers. there have been a number of arrests already, and it's been a period of absolute tension on friday. and that followed attacks on thursday. you can see one of the a placards, one of the many parts of the demonstration that has been quite concerted in the capital. over there you get how political this has become. demands for the president to resign. all over the city there is tension. all over the city there is a
change in the die mention of this in that the anti-beleka movement are concerted in their attempts to take on the peace keepers. remember, this is a new peacekeeping force. it was a tac attack in only wita few hours after the than over to the new mission. >> in london authorities are trying to reassure people that all of the city's famous theaters are safe. each of the theaters were inspected after chunks of plaster fell from the apollo theater yesterday. dozens of people were hurt, some seriously. coming up on al jazeera america, major victory for prostitution in canada. the country's highest court ruled in favor of the prostitutes and the impact will be huge. and a chance to win defense department money, we're live
with that after the break. and a michigan community comes together to help a girl in need. wait until you see what they did. was 17. flat out my whole life. >> reporter: motorcycle riding free spirits like this guy need health insurance too. that's is the message coming from insurers with commercials aimed at people who may not have been covered in the past. they offer protection and maybe a little piece of mind. >> to go forward sometimes you have to go back to a time when knew. >> reporter: with 30 million potential new customers, insurance companies are expected to shell out half a billion
dollars next year on tv advertising alone. >> insurance companies see opportunity in the potentially millions of new customers, and if you are an insurance company in this country, this is your growth opportunity. >> reporter: insurers, state exchanges, and the feds collectively purchased $194 million wort of ads just >> al jazeera america is a straight-forward news channel. >> its the most exciting thing to happen to american journalism in decades. >> we believe in digging deep. >> its unbiased, fact-based, in-depth journalism. >> you give them the facts, dispense with the fluff and get straight to the point. >> i'm on the ground every day finding stories that matter to you. >> in new orleans... >> seattle bureau... >> washington... >> detroit... >> chicago... >> nashville... >> los angeles... >> san francisco... >> al jazeera america, take a new look at news.
>> now to africa where the u.n. security council said it's gravely alarmed by the detearating situation in south sudan. urging the president's an vice president to denounce violence and urge reconciliation. the u.n. said 34,000 people are still seeking refugee a refuge . we are joined with the u.n. inee
disaster recovery, nasa is looking for this technology forward for human space flight exploration. we feel there is a partnership between humans and robots. >> that makes a lot of season. i mean, these things are intimidated when i stand next to them. you're is 6'2", 300 pounds. it's a big thing. how do you keep people from going into shock when this thing comes looming through the smoke? >> that's a good question. we pride ourselves on the esthetic of the robot. we feel if this robot is coming to help you there has to be clear indications that the robot is coming toward you with soft stones and white in color like an ambulance.
>> what ithe true idea of robotd humans working together. >> so interesting to hear that this is for space exploration and also helping with disasters, but does the defense department see anything with this as well. >> there is a military application usually at the beginning of it. in 2007 there was a different contest, the urban challenge that challenged designers to create self-driving military vehicles that you can resupply troops without human drivers being in peril. there will be a military application that they're throwing so much government money at, but in the long run thithas mastered the art of
trickling down the far reaching technology down to the rest of us. >> what is the most impressive thing you've seen? >> the one amazing team, speaksn japan of humanoid robotics. they've been building these things for 20 years and this company acquired by google now has all >> thank you so much and thank you for contributing. we appreciate it. >> target said it has seen very few reports of fraud from the credit and data breach it
disclosed this week. but stolen government information is now showing up on black market website. the breach could cost $700 million. we're getting some positive news about jobs. the labor department said that it fell in 45 states and district of columbia. the gains are in texas and indiana. another record-setting day on wall street, the third straight session that the blue chips closed at an all-time high and the s&p 500 also set a record. stocks are rising on the news that the economy grew in the fastest pace in the last two eqs strategist, we heard the president today be extremely
computed into the gdp reading, which is why we're seeing these strong numbers. i think the consumers still have a little bit of fear, and it's shown in some of the numbers. yes, if we can get back on the trajectory, if things stay stable i think the gdp number could look good, but i'm not looking for more than 3% in growth this year. >> even though the economy shows signs of breaking out, wages are not moving, they're stagnant. as a canary in the coalart to mine. if companies were making that much more money in revenue, if they were selling that much more stuff, they would be bringing up the wages. but what they're having to do is keep wages steady or cut them because they're having to keep
their margins high and deliver good earnings to their investors. if revenuesing i revenues contid economy. >> jared, thanks for joining us. >> we have breaking news into al jazeera. a federal judge has now weighed in on utah's ban on same-sex marriage. the judge has struck down the law calling the ban unconstitutional. 17 states in the district of columbia now allow same-sex marriage and you can now add utah to the list where they struck down the law that stride ttriedto block same-sex marriag. we'll have reports from south
>> welcome back too al jazeera a america. here are a look at your top stories. the united nations has sent 4,000 soldiers to the south is a dan. 34,000 people are taking shelter at three u.n. compounds throughout the country. one of russia's foremost political critics is spenting hi day in germany. he flew to germany just days after president vladimir putin pardoned him after spending ten years in jail. many believe that khodorkovsky was in prison on trumped up charges.
the president said he screwed up the roll out of the healthcare process. >> this is a messy process. some would say, a, yes, it is real messy, and b, isn't it the fact that it's so messy an indication there are more fundamental problems with the law. what i say to that is when you try to do something this big, effecting this many people it's going to be hard. >> the good news is that states running their own obamacare exchanges are reporting a surge in sign up. the range has been 30% to 40% in the last few weeks. in california they're averaging 15,000 enrollments a day. in other words, as many people has signed up in california the
last five days has signed up for the entire month of november. the bad news is that the obama administration has made another rule change, and that will add to consumer confusion and hurt insurance companies that the system is relying on. if you are one of the millions of people facing the cancellation of health insurance because the policy didn't meet certainly new requirements you'll be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage, and you'll be exempt from penalties next year. the president said that this change will ensure smoother insurance conscience transition. >> this is an additional net in
case folks slip through the cracks. >> the latest move will help the fallout. the republicans are ripping the decision and bolsters their argument that the program is broken. south sudan's president and former vice president agreed to hold talks to end violence that has killed as many as 500 people this week. many people ran to receive u.n. protection. >> this woman is angry because the food she has been given isn't enough. there are too many people who need help. >> they told us that there would be food. but that is not true. i'm angry, frustrated and frustrated. >> ththere are 5,000 people livg here. families who are too scared and
traumatized to go back home. they say juba is safe. he replace machar in august. >> it is now back to normal. >> the al jazeera america paints a slightly different picture. it says 35,000 people are hiding out in places in six of the country's ten states. machar denies trying to take over the country. juba is quiet now but some of those injured during days of fighting are still recovering in hospital. they battle to cope at first but now things under control. >> it delivered from shots at
night. if they were shot in the back it meant that they were running. in the morning they were all in the morning, legs, thighs, chests, head, those were those with the fatal injuries were those to the chest. >> reporter: if the crisis escalates they have nowhere to run to. al jazeera, juba. >> as mediators work together for peace talks, peace us peacet artist and former child soldiers. coming, women
will be raped and so many things will happen. that's the biggest that will happen. for five days i haven't slept. my sister running around, my uncles missing. good friends i said were shot, s happening now. >> what was it like for you whee for my family. i didn't know the reason why there was a war. >> how did you get out? found td
to be a democratic state. all those who are there are trying to advise him, look, we have to make this country democratic and we have to be accountable and put a system in place where we select who is going to be the chairman. that's what caused the problem. it made the president not happy. he tried to put a system in place to remove a our
has been a challenge. >> reporter: a rush of the delegation came to meet in geneva. >> does it look like you're still on track for the 22nd january? >> reporter: no answer but after spending hours in intense negotiations led by special representative ib rahimi. they said yes talks will continue. but 26 countries will attend the presence of one other nation was a sticking point. >> on iran we haven't agreed yet. it's no secret that we welcome the participation of iran, but our partners in the united states are still not convinced.
>> reporter: they were displayed that violence in syria was intensifying, and the option has given them a list of the apartments for the peace conference and many oppose the whole idea of negotiations. >> as it stands the opposition delegation, whoever is in it, is not going to represent the vast majority of the people fighting on the ground against the assad regime. >> there is no way that people who come to geneva will be fully representative. we know that. but this is a process. i hope it will be as representative as possible. >> reporter: it is clear the unresolved issues were not
sorted at this meeting. will iran allowed to go to the talks. there is still a lot of work to do before january 22nd. >> there was a major legal victory today for sex workers in canada. canada supreme court unanimously voted to strike down the country's three anti-prostitution laws but the ruling will not take affect immediately. prostitution is not illegal in canada but many activities associated with prostitution are classified as criminal offenses. one of the world's most ic iconic buildings may under go a conversion of sorts from a museum back to mosque. >> reporter: it's one of the wondering of antiquities. opened in 517, it's renown for
its beautifully. it was known as the east orthodox church for 5,000 years. it was turned into a mosque. so it remains for almost 500 years until the new republic of turkey in 1934 turned it into a museum and banned all overt worship. both christian and muslim. >> this was enough, not belonging to either one of those faiths but to the entire world, the cities of istanbul and to the visitors. >> reporter: free from the dictates of religion, there are growing calls o that the visions no longer right for turkey.
this has staged many protests calling for it to be reopened as a place of worship, but only as a mosque. >> more than 90% of tusks are muslim. this state has been in muslim hands since 1453. it's out of christian to use it as a church. it should not be politicized because it's not just significant for church. it's important to muslims around the world. >> reporter: and they have political support. the deputy prime minister in recent weeks said he's hopeful about the change in designation. turkey is still exploring the relationship between mosque, church, and state. decades of secular rule tusks discovered did not depend human rights enough, but more human rights also means the freedom to be much more religious. there is no doubt about the symbolic significance of what is being proposed here. if it became a mosque once more that would make it one of the top five mosques in the world along with mecca and jerusale
jerusalem's. but others argue a message of peaceful coexistence is more important. doesn't a museum achieve that? that's the debate in turkey. >> there is much more news including the dramatic shooting of a mayor in the philippines. >> reporter: lawmakers in uganda have passed an anti-gay bill that is the worst, it is punishable by life in prison. victims from a shooting in the manila airport were rushed to the hospital. a gunman open fired killing the mayor and other person. police believe the mayor was the target of the attack.
the highest court in pennsylvania sided with local opportunities in a gas drilling fight. judges have truck down portions of a law to determine where the industry can operate. the pennsylvania supreme court said the laws violated the state constitution. and jk rowling has taken harry potter to the state. the show is slated to begin within the next two years. david, and if it's as good as the films i'm sure it will be really popular. >> are you a fan of harry potter? >> i have watched some of the films, yes. >> would you go to a show on broadway if they made a show about it? >> yes, of course, wouldn't you. >> i think so. i don't know, that would ruin the book, i don't know, maybe if a whole group of colleagues went i would go with everybody. thank you. appreciate it. local shame ends in peru practicing south out by tourists
looking for a natural cure. >> in the heart of the amazon jungle shaman guide through the session. a revered plant turned into a potent hallucinogen drink. for thousands of years it was sacred. when the night is over he'll become a better person. >> to me it's medicine, it cleans the negative energy that we have in our body. >> the dumping made out of the bark of this jungle vine would purge the body and the spirit. the shaman guides the patient
through the experience. >> people who are ill are coming to get cured. my husband and i cure them. they go back well. >> reporter: for thousands of years indigenous used this and other plans to clear illnesses. >> it's a practice here especially among poor people who don't have the means to go to a doctor. so the plants are offered to cure everything from arthritis to the flu. >> he said he can't afford a doctor but he doesn't need one. >> i've learned this from my parents and grandparents. we all use plants to cure us from our illnesse illnesses. >> medicinal plants can cure of addictions and other illnesses. many come to take this plants
but many of the medicinal plants could be deadly if not taken properly. >> the problem with traditional medicine comes when people take it out of its natural context. >> many tourists take it through the internet without the use of a shaman to guide them through the risks. they say the ritual requires an experienced shaman. this time he says he feels clean, bright, and peaceful. al jazeera, peru. >> still ahead on al jazeera america. [♪ singing ] >> a real life learning lab for students wanting to know the
inner workings of the music industry. that's ahead. education... gun control... the gap between rich and poor... job creation... climate change... tax policy... the economy... iran... healthcare... ad guests on all sides of the debate. >> this is a right we should all have... >> it's just the way it is... >> there's something seriously wrong... >> there's been acrimony... >> the conservative ideal... >> it's an urgent need... and a host willing to ask the tough questions >> how do you explain it to yourself? and you'll get... the inside story ray suarez hosts inside story next only on al jazeera america
>> nashville, tennessee, best known gift to the world is its music. the record business is one of its city's biggest employers. jonathan martin reports. >> reporter: in high school music education is often limited to band and chorus. [♪ singing ] but in nashville known as music city students are getting hands-on experience in the music industry by running their own record label. >> 15 years old, 16 years old, 17 years old. to have a business like people
at warner brothers. >> reporter: with big donations, equipped with a $1.2 million state of the art recording studio. the country's only music business magnate program is designed to give students practical real world experience in this competitive and ever changing field. in nashville alone some 56,000 jobs are tied to music. >> we sign artists to a credit. we create the image and we create the music. >> reporter: it focuses on songwriting, audio production and the business side of the industry. students in the record label class are also responsible for finding and promoting artists and making sure they get vocal training. recording sessions are also available for any students in nashville public schools. >> it's not easy. even from the singing to the
promoting to the creative side and your look has to match your--what you're doing. >> reporter: so what's been the biggest thing you've learned about the music business? >> probably how the whole record is put together from the recording to publishing to the sound. >> reporter: five-time grammy winning brothers oversee the program. most of the children they teach are financially disadvantaged. >> i find that the kids are more talented, kids are more creative because they don't have some of the luxuries that some people have so they're more creative. they write, they write better songs. they experiment. they're not scared. >> to see students come in believing and just being different in taking those skill sets in society and making a difference this is a right place for it to be. >> reporter: with their first full project a christmas album
complete some students say they look at music production and a future at a brand new way. jonathan martin. >> a group of high school students studying robotics came up with something that changed a little girl's life in michigan. >> reporter: harmony was born with a condition where she doesn't have any fingers on her right hand. that changed when she received a special gift. >> reporter: santa came early for four-year-old harmony staler. the little girl with no fingers on her right hand can now reach out with it. a robotics team made a special hand for her using a 3d printer. her mom had a $5,000 prosthetic hand, but it pinched her and it was impractical. >> it coun couldn't come at a br time. for her to be able to wave.
>> reporter: this one was use me using 3d technology. it took the team 12 hours and several feeting fittings comple. but one of the biggest challenges was making the device small enough for her tiny hand. >> normally we make robots to play game but to use it to help people brings a really good feeling. >> now she can paint her new nails her favorite color, pink. >> she'll be able to pick up a bag, throw a ball. she'll wear her hand for two weeks, then they make any necessary adjusts. they're hope to go make hands for other people in the future. >> great story. thank you. when we come back, we're tracking a potential tornado outbreak across the united
>> meteorologist: well, we do have a chance for a tornado outbreak across portions of the south central plains as we head through the afternoon and into the evening. we have a ton of moisture in the area that is tracking out of southern california. it's going to continue to make its way through the east and running into very chilly air, mild air pushing off new mexico. with that instability in the atmosphere that's where we'll see the volatile storms. eastern texas, arkansas, louisiana and mississippi and alabama as well tomorrow afternoon as well into the evening. the damaging winds, hail and chance for isolated tornadoes. but to the north, oklahoma and nebraska we're going to see ice across the region. we're going to se see that headg through the evening hours. stay tune with al jazeera for all of the latest.
>> this is al jazeera america. live from new york city. i'm david shuster with a look at today's top stories. president obama held his end of the year news conference addressing challenges such as the forwardable healthcare act, the immigration scandal and health care reform. he said he does not gauge his success with polls. more documents leaked by he had card snowden said that there was spying by the nsa. and a federal judge has just struck down utah's ban on