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tv   Al Jazeera English Newshour  LINKTV  January 15, 2021 5:00pm-6:01pm PST

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>> the world has reached a heart-wrenching milestone. >> 2 million people dead worldwide from covid-19 as infections continue to rise and countries rushed to rollout vaccines. i'm rob beth is in. this is al jazeera live from delhi. also coming up, u.s. president-elect joe biden
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unveils his vaccine plan to speed up inoculations and promises to improve what he calls donald trump's dismal failure. the uganda military surrounds the house of the challenger in the presidential race. thousands of famies have been awfully accused of defrauding the state. well, the world has reached another tragic milestone in the fight against coronavirus. 2 million people are now known to have died after contracting covid-19 just over a year after the pandemic again. the united nations secretary-general is calling for a joined up approach to save lives. >> our world has reached a heartbreaking milestone. the covid-19 pandemic has now
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claimed to million lives. behind the staggering number are names and faces. the smiles we remember, the seat that are empty at the table, the room that will echo from the silence of a loved one. in the memory of those 2 million souls, the world must react with far greater solidarity. rob: two new variations of the virus spread rapidly in parts of brazil. parts -- hospitals are near collapse. in the u.s., president-elect joe biden has just outlined his vaccination plan. he will invoke a cold war era law to help boost production of vaccines. we have three reporters on the story. monica is in rio de janeiro and
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will have more on brazil. rob reynolds is in los angeles at will have more on the epidemic in the u.s. we will be speaking to them in a moment, but first, we speak to natasha, who is in joe biden's hometown of wilmington, delaware. there is a lot of detail in this plan, isn't there? natasha: definitely. you probably were looking at the granular details. biden will be staking his presidency on combating the vaccine and reviving the economy. he says the two are intertwined. you cannot revive the economy without combating the pandemic. he's going to be announcing a national vaccination program. it would mean community sites across the united states, mobile vaccination clinics, the ability for americans to go to the pharmacy and get the vaccine. it would be free and next in
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line would be anyone 65 years in -- 65 years and older. he wants to make sure people living in marginalized and rural communities are not left behind. he also wants to use the defense production act to help deal with the vaccination issue that is plaguing the country right now. he will use that to increase the manufacture of not only vaccines but vaccine supplies, and he wants to create a public health workforce that would be 100,000 people strong. >> this is one of the most challenging operational efforts ever undertaken by our country. you have my word -- we will manage the hell out of this operation. but as i said last night, we need funding from congress to make this happen, and i'm optimistic. >> biden will take office as the nation struggles to get its
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hands on enough vaccine and to get them distributed effectively. in new york city, the mayor says if new york city does not get a significant supply of vaccine, it will run out in a week, and the cdc warns that a new, more contagious variant of the virus has been detected in 10 states and could create an additional spike in infections and deaths. the cdc is saying that in order to combat this new variant, and if exit -- an effective vaccination program will be essential. rob: thank you for talking to us in wilmington in delaware. the u.s. watchdog says it expect nearly 100,000 more deaths in the next few weeks. in los angeles county alone, officials say the virus is killing one person every eight minutes. patients are waiting hours for bids to become available in intensive care units.
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hospitals have delayed surgeries which are non-life-threatening. rob reynolds joins us live from los angeles. it sounds as though this plan really cannot come soon enough for the people of los angeles. rob r.: you are absolutely right. for weeks now, people here have been living in the shadow of tremendous fear and distress, knowing that the virus is virtually everywhere. the los angeles health department estimates that one in three people in this vast metropolitan area have been infected by covid-19, and the death toll is also terrible. at this point in california, there have been 31,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
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more than 30,000 deaths here where i am in the county of los angeles. that means tremendous loss, sadness, and grief. hospitals, as you can imagine, are really at the breaking point. they have been for weeks. ambulances have to wait sometimes for hours at a time to offload patients, get them onto gurneys, get them into the hospital emergency room because there's no room in the hospital or no staff to take care of these people. in the emergency dispatch centers, people worked as supervisors, dispatching ambulances around the county, saying the calls just keep coming. some of the time, it's nine or 10 calls waiting online, meaning nine or 10 people in serious distress. bottled oxygen or oxygen tanks, and other important items are in
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short supply here. health care workers are simply doing whatever they can. there are a couple of hopeful signs. today in dodger stadium, a big baseball stadium, the largest vaccination center in the united states was opened. they expect to vaccinate 4000 people friday and ramp up quickly to 12,000 people a day. that will help. there is also a big vaccination center that has opened in a parking lot next to disneyland south of here. the rollout of the vaccine had been slow and halting. a lot of frustration, and a lot of criticism, and that seems to be picking up. other potential good news -- at least modest good news -- comes from data about hospitalization rates and case numbers, both of which are down slightly. the case numbers may have
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plateaued, and that may mean doctors and epidemiologists and public health officials say that the tremendous surge that had been predicted coming out of the winter holidays may not be as bad as they had feared. rob: thanks very much indeed. rob reynolds talking to us from los angeles. meanwhile, things, as i mentioned, in brazil are getting worse. numbers coming out of brazil are very, very disturbing. we mentioned the average daily cases are up by 44% in the last two weeks. there are two new variations of the virus spreading. talk us through what the situation is like. monica: i'm right now in rio de janeiro and rio de janeiro and sao paulo have very high cases. i'm talking now private hospitals. what made the headlines, what
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caught the attention of the world was this city that is much poorer than rio de janeiro and sao paulo, and it's not only a lack of laces in the hospital or places to bury the dead. the problem is the lack of oxygen. patients are dying because they are not breathing. we are talking covid-19 patients, but we are also talking 61 babies that were premature babies. they are in incubators. it's a very, very dramatic situation. president bolsonaro today talked about what he did. he says he did everything he can . >> we are always doing what we have to do. the problem this terrible, but
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we have done our part by providing resources and means. the health minister was there monday and provided oxygen. monica: but the truth is the federal government did not do everything it could. it is true that the government was to blame in the sense that it did try to shut down commerce before, but public opposition was so great that they backed down. it is also true that the president of brazil has set a bad example from the start. he has always downplayed the virus. he has said he himself will not
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take the vaccine. it's not very clear, the message he is sending to brazilians. we have to remember that vaccinations have not yet started, and it's not very organized either. rob: thank you still ahead, the capitol hill riders arrested, and new details are planned. a powerful earthquake toppled buildings in indonesia, injuring dozens. there's a big winter storm revolving over the midwest and the u.s., and the back edge of it got strong wind and caused damage early in montana.
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there's a big circulating storm moving generally that direction. there's an example for you. minus seven i think by sunday night. as it rolls eastward, across the great lakes, gives most of its covering on the canadian side of the border, leaving cold behind. cold remains the story. there's some change the big unwinding load will eventually bring rain in washington or indeed in oregon. in southern california, fires are still in the mind. i think we will see an increase
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in likelihood of showers in guatemala at least on saturday.
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rob: you are watching al jazeera. 2 million have died globally from covid-19. the world health organization chief says people are failing to bring change to coronavirus transmission at government and community levels. joe biden has outlined his plan to inoculate 100 million people within his first 100 days in office. it will involve a cold war-era law to produce more vaccines. two newly identified variance of the virus are contributing to the sharp rise of infections. u.s. house speaker nancy pelosi is calling for prosecution of any members of congress who helped prompt supporters who stormed the capital last week. >> if, in fact, it is found that
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members of congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted, then there have to be actions taken beyond congress in terms of prosecution. rob: meanwhile, the mayor of washington, d.c., says the city will have to adjust to a new normal. security there will stay tight after joe biden's and occupation. the fbi has identified 270 suspects linked to the attack on the capital resulting in the death of five people. more than 80 people have already been charged. in the past when we have covered inaugurations, there's usually by this point some sort of atmosphere of cheer and some degree of optimism that change is in the air, but the words coming from nancy pelosi and
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washington, d.c., very, very serious. mike: yes indeed. the threats of violence in the days leading up to the inauguration and maybe even beyond, certainly very real according to security officials here in washington, d.c. you have heard nancy pelosi saying there will be an investigation into if some numbers of congress assisted those who stormed capitol building last wednesday. more than 30 lawmakers have sent a letter to the sergeant of arms of the senate and the house, asking for them to investigate how many people were brought into the capital the day before the siege by republican lawmakers. they want to investigate the visitors log to see how many supporters were given guided tours of the capital by lawmakers in congress. they had observed a large number of groups being given tours
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around the capital on january 5. at the moment, all tours are banned because of covid regulations, so this is of great concern. nancy pelosi has appointed a retired lieutenant general to investigate the events around january 5 but has not ruled out the possibility of an outside commission such as investigated 9/11. certainly there is great concern not only about what has happened now but also exactly how those events last week came about and if, very importantly, some members of congress were complicit in terms of assisting those who laid siege to the capital on january 6. rob: thank you for talking with us. u.s. troop levels in iraq and afghanistan have been cut to their lowest level in nearly two decades. there are now only 2500 in each
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country, down from more than 4500 in afghanistan and 3000 in iraq. at the height of the war with iraq, more than 125,000 u.s. troops were stationed there. we learned how the government could break the law against a pullback. >> i think there is a bit of confusion. first of all, this is highly unusual that an outgoing president would make such a sweeping decision when it comes to foreign policy, but president trump said he wanted to make this reduction. he bragged about it in a statement yesterday. the problem is congress said no. in the build a past that funded the military, they said the military was not allowed to use any money to reduce the level below 4000. there were two exceptions to that. the president could give it a waiver, or they could give this
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-- these reports to congress and do a drawdown. apparently, the pentagon went ahead and did the drawdown. people tell me the bill just passed in the beginning of january, so it was already in the works. they did not get the presidential waiver. they did drawdown, then they got the waiver last night, so there will be questions in the coming days. rob: a ugandan politician says his life is in danger after military surrounded his home. catherine sawyer reports from kampala. catherine: he shows journalists soldiers deployed around his home. he says they raided the house friday. this was after he made allegations in the presidential
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election. the electoral commission has asked him to back up his claims with evidence. >> our lives are in danger. having survived assassination attempts on the campaign trail and now being confined at home, still we are being attacked at home. >> military officials say the soldiers around white homes -- around his homework following unknown men. they arrested one and allowed two others to escape. >> security team would not allow someone to jump over the fence of a presidential candidate. a presidential candidate is not an ordinary man. >> presidential results are coming out gradually.
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he has to get the lead over 10 other presidential candidates. the lead up to the election was marred by violence with security forces accused of using excessive force. police and military officials have in turn accused some of defining covid-19 rules and carrying out violence. >> foot patrols by the police and military in areas particularly perceived to be opposition strongholds. all this ahead of the final declaration of the presidential results. >> these are turbulent times in uganda. the electoral commission maintains that everything has been free and fair.
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rob: earlier, our african-american affairs -- the african affairs commentator spoke to us on the phone. >> i'm a little embarrassed to call myself a ugandan citizen, but i am. i can tell you that except for this line that i have, i have no other access to anybody. it is extraordinary. it is very difficult because there is no reason why people cannot begin to wonder what an outcome will be.
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rob: dates have been announced for the first palestinian elections in 15 years. they have been delayed because of negotiations. the palestinian factions are aiming to build a united front against israel. the dutch government has resigned over a child benefits scandal that drew thousands of families to financial ruin. the prime minister and his cabinet will stay on in a caretaker capacity. a parliamentary report blamed them for mismanaging a child care subsidies scheme. it saw around 10,000 families engaged in fraud. many were forced to pay back tens of thousands of euros.
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>> we are of one mind that if the whole system has failed, we must alternate risk -- we must all take responsibility, and that has led to the resolution that i have just taken the resignation of the entire cabinet. to the parents, i would like to say this -- we will continue to work for prompt compensation for the improvements necessary in the future. we want to do justice to those who have unprecedentedly wrong. rob: families were driven to bankruptcy or divorce. >> every year, i had to provide data to prove i was entitled to the money, and i did that every time, but authorities indicated i had never provided it. the amount of money was almost 40,000 euros, which i had to pay back, and that turned out to be unjustified. it was terrible because at a certain point, you cannot pay any bills. you can no longer afford
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anything. you get a wage seizure. my bank account was seized. i could not go shopping or pay regular life costs. rob: the prime minister says he will still run for reelection. >> this walk of shame, so to speak, is seen as merely symbolic here by many, including the parents who have been the victims of this huge scandal in which the prime minister of the government did not protect citizens. many mistakes have been made in many mistakes have gone horribly wrong. he is taking responsibility, the cabinet has taken responsibility, but they will all stay on, except for one minister of economic affairs who has actually resigned, but the government will stay on to take care of this serious corona pandemic. in the next nine weeks, there will be an election, and the
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prime minister will run again. there were many questions about this during the protests. many were asking why he was not taking individual responsibility when he was prime minister for the last 10 years and many of the scandals happened over the last 10 years when the government was hunting down thousands of families wrongfully accused of fraud, discriminating against them because of where they come from. the question is being asked why the prime minister does not feel personally responsible, and he said he did not have the individual responsibility as a minister, and he wants voters to decide in march. rob: a powerful earthquake in indonesia has left thousands displaced.
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authorities are warning of potential aftershocks. our indonesia correspondent reports. >> on this indonesian island, a massive search-and-rescue effort is under way. a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in the early hours of friday morning struck at a depth of just 10 kilometers. two cities have been hardest hit with many buildings being severely damaged. search teams found this young girl trapped under the debris of a house. she says her name is angel and she is not sure how many people are still under the rubble. she's told she will be ok. the earthquake and aftershocks blocked roads and made it difficult for more rescue teams to gain access to the affected cities. the president says every effort will be made to get to those in need. >> i in the name of the
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indonesian government and all the people of indonesia express our condolences to the victims who passed away. i urge the people to stay calm and follow instructions given by officials on the ground. >> these are small communities. this is home to just 150,000 people and at least 15,000 of them have now been displaced. authorities worn there may be more destruction. >> the buildings were hit by two >>, and because the epicenter is near the beach, there's a possibility of underwater landslides. >> this hospital collapsed in the disaster and local media report at least four people were trapped need the debris. the air traffic control tower at the nearby airport was also damaged. communications are being restored and military personnel and additional search-and-rescue workers are attempting to reach the area.
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rob: the messaging platform whatsapp has postponed plant changes to its terms because of the backlash from users -- postponed planned changes. they have given a deadline of april for users to accept changes to what it shares with its owner, facebook. it has now scrapped the deadline , but the changes have led to a surge in subscribers to its rival. you can learn more on our website. this is al jazeera, these are the top stories. 2 million people have not died from covid-19 globally. the world health organization chief says people are failing to break chains of transmission at government and community levels. u.s. president-elect joe biden has outlined a plan to inoculate
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100,000 people within his first 100 days of office and invoke a cold war-era law to help boost production in vaccines. he promised to improve upon what he called donald trump's dismal failure. >> things will get worse before they get better. i've told you, i will always level with you. the policy changes we are going to be making are going to take time to show up in the covid statistics. they are not just statistics. it's people's lives. people getting infected today don't show up in case counts for weeks. those who perish from this disease die weeks after exposure, so it will take time, and i know there are things we can do, and we can do them now. rob: it is believed one in three people in l.a. county has had covid-19, and officials say the virus is killing one person
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every eight minutes. patients are waiting for beds to become available in intensive care units and hospitals are delaying non-life-threatening surgeries. the brazilian army has transported desperately needed oxygen tanks after patients have started running out. >> we always do what we have to do. the problem is terrible, but we have done our part by providing resources and means. the armed forces have launched a field hospital. the health minister was there on monday and provided oxygen. rob: u.s. house speaker nancy pelosi has suggested any lawmakers found to be accomplices in the capitol hill riots be prosecuted. many democrats have voiced concern they believe some republicans may have helped rioters logistically in the days leading up to the event. afi will be back in about half n
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hour. goodbye. >> the american people have finally spoken. >> when america is off balance, the world pays attention. >> with the election behind us, will the republican party dump trump? >> the weekly take on american politics and society. ♪
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>> a tiny village deep in madagascar's last primeval jungle. the people here live off the land hunting, fishing, and farming. as there are few paying jobs, money is scarce. >> [speaking foreign language] >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> robert, now over 40, is one of the few villagers who has ever had a proper -- proper job. he used to be a forest ranger. he protected the forest from those seeking to plunder its precious woods. but a few years ago, he was fired. now he smuggles rosebud, a rare and valuable tree. >> [speaking foreign language] >> but poaching is not without risk. the tree is in such high demand that it is close to extinction. for the past three years, authorities have banned logging. ahead is a journey where robert
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and the other smugglers will seek out, fell, and carry a rosewood tree, avoiding police and navigating madagascar's unpredictable rivers and forests. >> but it's not only the police they have to avoid. marauding thieves have also been attracted to the area. >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> [speaking foreign language] >> carrying packs weighing as much as 50 kilos, the group also has to negotiate a demanding jungle. >> [speaking foreign language] >> after a harrowing two-day trek, robert is worried he may be carrying the last of the trees from the area.
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>> [speaking foreign language] >> six days deep into the forest, robert and his men have found their treasure. if they can get this rosewood tree to market, they would make enough for the next six months. a tree of this size can fetch around $10,000. >> [speaking foreign language] >> rosewood trees grow extremely slowly. they take at least 100 years to
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fully develop. >> [speaking foreign language] >> but after a backbreaking hour of chopping down this giant, there's a problem. >> [speaking foreign language] >> the only way to bring it down is to chop down the trees around it. it's estimated that for every precious tree chopped down, 500,000 trees are sacrificed to
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bring down and transport the valuable cargo. >> [speaking foreign language] >> the task is in norm's, and robert changes tactics. >> [speaking foreign language] >> chopping the tree at that height is proving increasingly difficult. the men will have to sweat to earn their money. for hours, the men pass the acts
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around -- the axe around. the heat is overbearing. >> [speaking foreign language] >> after 4 hours, the first part of the trunk is raised, but the branches are still trapping part of the tree. they try to pull it down by force.
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but after another six hours, robert decides to give up. without the rest of the tree trunk, it won't bring in much money. any hope of bringing this tree down is disappearing. so is the money it would fetch. they have to start searching again, but the rosewood tree has become so rare it's like finding a needle in a haystack. tree poaching is not the only extreme way to make a better living on the island. some are willing to take even more risks. while madagascar is blessed with natural resources such as spices, graphite, and coal, one particular resource has lured thousands to this mining town -- sapphires.
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this town sprang up in just a few months, attracted by the promise of easy money, more than 10,000 people have crammed together in extreme poverty. most of the stones they dig up or worth just a few dollars, but a large, very pure sapphire can fetch as much as $5,000 or $6,000, more than 100 times madagascar's minimum wage. thousands dig away all with the sa dream. these two brothers used to be farmers. they left their job in hopes of striking it rich and building a better future for themselves, but their entire fortune for now is this small cabin, just five square meters shared by the two families, with their wives and children -- seven people altogether.
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>> [speaking foreign language] >> the brothers work for a minor who owns his own mind -- the brothers work for it miner. if they do find a stone, they get to present it for sale. >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> but finding sapphire is not easy. they work in tunnels 30 meters below the ground. >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> conditions down here are excruciating. it is a constant 40 degrees celsius. >> [speaking foreign language] >> it is also dangerous. many have lost their lives in search of the precious stone.
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>> [speaking foreign language] >> 30 meters below ground, oxygen is scarce. none of the mine owners can afford proper ventilation systems. fresh air is provided by the men's ingenuity. it is basic, but it works most of the time, and importantly, it costs very little.
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the problem is the tube is barely five meters long and does not reach where they are working. >> [speaking foreign language] >> the last bag could have cost them their lives. >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> a life fraught with danger, and all for less than two dollars a day. after more than a week in the jungle, robert and his men still have not found a rosewood tree that is big enough. running out of supplies, they will soon need to head home, but they are determined not to return empty-handed. a few months earlier, the army had chased them from the forest, and they had to abandon a rosewood tree trunk. they are now looking for that tree.
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while their hole is smaer than they had hoped, this one trunk -- while their hall\\ -- while theiry haul is smaller than they had hoped, this will get them by four one or two months. the trunk weighs about 400 kilos. transporting would principally depends on the length of the rope. >> [speaking foreign language] >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> [speaking foreign language] >> the trunk needs to be taken to the river 30 kilometers away. getting it down the hill is a very risky part of the journey. the danger is that their legs get snared in the rope. >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> [speaking foreign language] >> no one knows for sure how many are killed in the process of smuggling precious wood. robert estimates there are at least three fatalities a year. >> [speaking foreign language]
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[men singing] >> finally, they reach the waterfall. the men have defeated the mountainous terrain and covered 1/3 of the journey.
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exhausted, they will spend the night here in their wet clothes. all of them are aching after the day's excursions. -- after the day's exertions. >> [speaking foreign language] >> despite the soggy night, robert and his companions have lost none of their determination. >> [men singing] >> it has taken nearly 30 hours to reach the river, but the trip is far from over. ahead still lie the rapids. this is the last leg of the journey for robert and his men
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and the most dangerous. shooting the rapids with the trunk attached. two men are in charge of the makeshift raft. if they fall overboard, 400 kilos of rosewood will fall on top of them. >> [speaking foreign language] >> after the first rapids, the pilot dismisses his copilot, who apparently is not being much
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help. >> [speaking foreign language] >> the raft is virtually uncontrollable. a rock has shattered his paddle, and he uses his hands to slow down the raft. the waters abate and he can look
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for another paddle. >> [speaking foreign language] >> it has taken five hours to travel downriver. the others will now take the wood as far as the coast. once the trunk is in the canoe, it just needs to be hidden. >> [speaking foreign language]
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>> smuggling is endangering the forests of madagascar are, but for these men, the search for the rosewood is the best way t■ñ on "america reframed"...
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