03/09/2016 Reporters - Short Edition


03/09/2016

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Welcome to Reporters, I'm Philippa Thomas.

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From here in the world's newsroom we send out correspondemts to bring

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you the best stories from across the globe.

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In this week's programme...

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The Philippines' deadly war on drugs.

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Jonathan Head joins a police prison raid and finds drug addicts

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and dealers filling the cells to escape the death squads.

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The focus at the moment, as with so much of this campaign,

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is people at the very bottom of the trade,

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not the people running it.

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On the front line in Libya's war against the so-called Islamic State.

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Feras Kilani joins pro-government forces besieging the strategic city

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of Sirte, seized by IS a year ago.

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The anti-government forces have mobilised all their ability, really.

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To retake the last two districts still under Isis control.

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Closer to extinction.

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And the secret life of birds.

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Victoria Gill gets exclusive access to the scientists shedding new light

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on the mysteries of flight.

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There has been an unprecedented rise in the murder rate in

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the Philippines after the country's new president won power promising

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tough action in the war on drugs.

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But Rodrigo Duterte's critics say his hard-line tactics

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include turning a blind eye to extrajudicial killings.

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One campaign promise included a pledge to kill 100,000 criminals

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in his first six months in office, while nearly 2000 people have

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died in the seven weeks since the crackdown began.

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Police say hundreds of thousands of dealers and drug users have

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turned themselves in.

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The war on drugs is reaching all corners of the Philippines.

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Even here, in the jails.

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Many of these men are already serving long sentences for drug use

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in cells so packed with bodies it is hard to breathe.

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It says something about the extent of the drug problem here

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in the Philippines that the police have had to come here and raid one

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of the biggest prisons around Manila.

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There are clearly concerns about real drug problems

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here but the focus at the moment, as with so much of this campaign,

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is people at the very bottom of the trade,

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not the people running it.

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At least here they can stay alive.

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But not here.

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The bodies of dealers and addicts are discovered every night

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in the slums of Manila, killed either by the police

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or by shadowy hit squads.

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It started when this man, Rodrigo Duterte, an outspoken

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crime-fighting Mayor, was elected president in May.

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When he said he would kill drug dealers, he meant it.

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Does the lives of ten criminals really matter to me?

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If I am the one facing the grief, would 100 lives mean anything to me?

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The president is still wildly popular for this kind of talk.

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Drug addiction has blighted neighbourhoods already

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burdened by poverty.

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But his campaign has forced Roger - not his real name - into hiding.

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He has been a minor drug dealer for years.

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Now he is on the run.

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TRANSLATION: I have done some awful things, I know.

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I have wronged a lot of people because they have

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become addicted to drugs.

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Because I am one of the many who sells the drugs.

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Not everyone who uses drugs commits crimes.

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Me?

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I am an addict but I don't kill.

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This chilling security camera video shows why those targeted

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by the anti-drug campaign have so much to fear.

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A motorbike slows down for a moment.

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The passenger firing at point-blank range.

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It might easily have been Maria, a young mother and a hired assassin.

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She says she has killed five people since President Duterte

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won the election.

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Like Roger, she says it was poverty that drove her into the job.

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TRANSLATION: I tell my husband that we cannot keep

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doing this forever.

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We have children.

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We don't want our children to know what we do.

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I do not want them to come back at us and say that they got to live

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because we killed for money.

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Nearly 700,000 terrified drug addicts have already surrendered

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to the Philippines police to save their lives.

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They must somehow now be accommodated in these

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teeming, overcrowded cells.

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It is a strategic Libyan city on the Mediterranean coast.

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Seen as a gateway from North Africa to Europe.

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Sirte was seized by so-called Islamic State forces last year

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and there were fears that IS would use the port as a base

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to attack European targets.

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But this week, pro-government forces said they had retaken most

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of the city and were flushing out the last of the fighters.

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Militia groups aligned to the so-called Libyan Government

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of National Accord have been supported by US air strikes.

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Feras Kilani and cameraman Jamie Bowles are among the few

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international teams to have reached the front line and they

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sent us this report.

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The tanks begin to advance.

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The militants of so-called Islamic State are cornered.

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Forces loyal to the unity government are now pounding their positions.

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And close to regaining control of Sirte.

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The anti-government forces have mobilised all of their ability

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to retake the last two districts still under Isis control.

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Islamic State hoped their headquarters in Sirte would provide

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a base to launch attacks into Europe.

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But now the extremists are about to be pushed out.

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The commander here tells me that IS no longer have the manpower

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to hold the city.

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TRANSLATION: All the area in front of us is under IS control.

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You can see them from here.

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It is districts number one and three.

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Within a few days we will take over all this area, by the help of God.

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But the fight isn't over yet.

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IS militants quickly reply with sniper fire and suicide bombs.

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Stopping the advance.

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The military spokesman told us that they had

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expected these attacks.

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But the gains here have come at a price.

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On the day we visited this hospital, over 30 fighters were killed.

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And we watch as medical staff battle to treat almost 200 men.

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Even if IS are forced out of Sirte, their threat continues.

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There is a strong feeling that IS will regroup and return,

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causing more devastation in a struggling country with two

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governments and hundreds of militias competing for power.

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Have you ever wondered how even the tiniest birds manage to fly

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in strong, gusty winds?

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Well, scientists at Stanford University in California have now

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designed a bird wind tunnel to try to find out.

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Victoria Gill has had exclusive access to the flight lab

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revealing new details about the secret life of birds.

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The wonder of flight.

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Only in very slow motion can we see the minuscule adjustments this

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lovebird constantly makes to its flapping wings.

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Its tiny body has evolved perfectly to fly.

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Human engineers haven't come close to recreating that.

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Here it is.

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It is pretty big.

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It's huge!

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That is something that researchers in this lab hope to change.

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They have dedicated an entire room at Stanford University in California

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to building this wind tunnel.

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The only one of its kind in the world.

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OK, so this is where you fly the birds?

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Yes.

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Basically, you can go in here...

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It is starting to help them discover some of the birds' crucial secrets.

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Wind tunnels have been used for a long time to study bird flight

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but the new thing about this one is that with this device they can

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manipulate the airflow to recreate any environment on Earth,

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from a gusty city to the top of a mountain.

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When you see a bird fly by in a city you see all of these

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small motions in the wing and that is all that it is doing

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to adjust to the turbulence.

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And so it is really these tiny motions where they adapt quickly

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that make the difference.

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And we have no idea how they make these in response to

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which wind flow patterns.

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In the moving air the bird remains in one place so exactly how it

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shifts as the airflow changes can be seen in unprecedented detail.

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But the team, with their specially clicker-trained birds,

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have also measured invisible characteristics of short hopping

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flights like this one.

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This setup is unique because it allows us to capture all the forces

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that a bird generates from the moment it takes off

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to when it lands during one of these fights.

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So what can be done with all of this flight insight?

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The next generation of small-scale flying robots, or drones,

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will need to cope in unstable environments if they are to be

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useful in military or search and rescue applications.

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Currently they simply cannot manage as smoothly as birds.

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So these scientists will aim to create robotic copies

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of what nature has perfected over millions of years.

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Fascinating stuff.

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And that's all from Reporters for this week.

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From me, Philippa Thomas, goodbye for now.

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A weekly programme of stories filed by BBC reporters from all over the world, ranging from analyses of major global issues to personal reflections and anecdotes.


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