18/12/2015 World News Today


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This is BBC World News today with me, Alice Baxter.


President Barak Obama delivers his end of the year presss


conference - it's expected to deal with a huge range of issues.


World powers discuss an ambitious plan aimed at ending


An advisor to President Assad tells the BBC the West must


I think there is a certain reality that has been created in the heads


of Western media and people that has no relation to our reality


whatsoever. Rwandans vote on changes


to the constitution, which could mean President Paul


Kagame remaining in power A warm welcome to you. We are


waiting and expecting President Obama to speak in just a few minutes


at his end of the year press conference. Now we can go live to


Washington, DC to speak to our correspondent who is waiting for


President Obama to take to the podium. What only expecting? There


is no doubt that he is going to try to trump and what he sees as his


achievements. I'm sure he will talk about the climate agreement from


Paris and the Iranians are killer deal and the importance of diplomacy


and the talks going on in New York right now over Syria. -- nuclear


deal. He doesn't want to send graduates to Syria or carpet bomb,


but he will have to refer to the fact that Americans are very anxious


following the attacks in Paris by Islamic State and an Islamic State


attack in San Bernardino in California, in fact the president


before he goes on the occasion will fly to Sam Bernadino to meet some of


the families of those 14 victims who were killed in that mass shooting a


couple of weeks ago. There is always a difficulty between the press and


the president. You can see that the room is packed and reporters are


eagerly awaiting the president. They will want to ask him about that


exciting race to be the next occupant of the White House,


especially the Republican race where the businessman Donald Trump is


leading the polls. Reporters will want to ask the president what he


thinks about Donald Trump and people want to tell them. It should be a


good show. I think it will be indeed, because journalists can ask


whatever want. You mention some of the topics that are going to make


the agenda, terrorism, gun control, climate change, immigration reform


is also something that has frustrated President Obama as he has


tried to push forward his plans and the Republican-controlled Congress.


On both gun control and immigration the president has found it very


difficult to get his plans through and on immigration reform and a path


to citizenship for people who are in the country illegally, the president


did want to take action on that by himself but it has become marred in


the courts. On gun control, in wake of the shooting three years ago when


all of those tiny children were gunned down with their teachers,


even in the wake of that, the president couldn't get gun control


through Congress. The White House has been talking about executive


action, asking if there is something the president can do independently


of Congress, is there anything he can do to get background checks on


people who are buying guns on the Internet or at gun shows, those are


two areas that are exempt. It will be an extremely interesting about


and there is always quite a lot of humour in this, and end of time


feeling, everyone is getting out of time, the president is going to the


beach in Hawaii and will be playing golf, he still gets security


briefings on vocation but he does get out of Washington, DC, which is


not his favourite place in the whole world. -- while on the occasion. The


White House does get to select who asks the questions, so that gives


them some control over the agenda. They have called women reporters, in


previous years, they have tried to play around with the order of what


is asked and who asks that. This is the President's panel pin it --


penultimate press statement. In this specimen he will want to tell the


American people what he thinks his achievements have been in the last


year and no doubt he will talk about the climate accord and diplomatic


relations with Cuba, and the importance of diplomacy in trying to


change the complex and difficult world that we live in. He will not


be able to escape from what he has called a new phase of terrorism.


This is the fact that there are apparently Islamic State implied


spill back inspired attacks, -- Islamic State inspired attacks and


the president will be trying to reassure people about this. Another


achievement that has eluded him recently and other has the talk of


him taking executive action on is the closing down of Guantanamo Bay,


I wonder if that is good to come up? That has come up at pretty much


every single press conference and that has been a fight with Congress,


there is so much detail that has bogged down the White House and


Congress about closing the facility, how did people that are still there


will be transported away from the islands to wherever they are going.


There have been rows about whether they can be transported in US


military aircraft. This is the level of detail. The president is still a


lot -- the president is still frustrated by that one. There is a


lot of concern in America by terrorism. He is now speaking. This


is not the most important event that is taking place in the White House


today, there is a screening of Sarwar is -- Star Wars coming up. I


will try to be this link. Let me say something about the year behind us


and the year ahead and questions. As I look back on this year, one thing


I see is that so much of our steady and persistent work is paying off


for the American people in big and tangible ways. Our early action to


rescue the economy set the stage for the longest streak of private sector


job growth in Blackwood, with new jobs being created in that time. The


unemployment rate has been cut in half, 25%, and most importantly


wages grew faster than any time since the recovery began, so over


this year a lot of the decisions that we made early on he paid off.


Years of steady implementation of the affordable care act helped to


drive the rate of the uninsured in America below 10% for the first time


since records were kept on that. Health care prices have grown at the


lowest level in five decades, 17 million more Americans have, and we


know that 6 million people have signed up through the website for


coverage beginning on the 1st of January. 600,000 on Tuesday alone.


New customers are up one third over the last year and more who sign up


-- and the more who sign up the stronger the system becomes.


Americans no longer need to worry about only being one accident away


from financial hardship. On climate, investment on clean energy ignited a


clean energy industry boom. Our actions to help reduce our carbon


emissions brought China to the table and last week in Paris nearly 200


nations forged a historic agreement that was only possible because of


American leadership. Around the world, we have been reaching a deal


to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon, establishing better


relationships with Cuba, to concluding a landmark trade


agreement ensures American businesses are operating on a level


playing field and that we rather than China by setting the rules for


global trade. We have shown what is possible when America needs. After


decades of dedicated advocacy, marriage equality became a reality


in all 50 states. I want to point out, I said at the beginning of this


year that interesting things happen in the fourth quarter and we are


only half way through. I want to help Congress for ending the year on


a high note. I got to sign an education bill that is going to fix


some of the challenges that we have but no Child left behind, promises


to invest more in high-quality early education, and we signed a


transportation bill, although it is not as robust as I think that we


need, it allows local governments to plan and get people back to work by


rebuilding roads and bridges. We have support for American exports


and they have passed a budget deal. I'm not wild about everything in it


but it is a budget that, as I insisted, invest in our military and


middle class without ideological provisions that would have weakened


Wall Street reform. It is part of an agreement that will extend tax


credits to 24 million working families. It includes strengthening


America's leadership at the IMF and because it eliminates the


possibility of a shotgun for the first time, or for the first nine


months of next year, we have a long time to get some important things


than of the American people. There is still a lot of work to do. There


is still more that Congress can do to promote job growth and increase


wages in this country. I want to work with Congress, Democrats and


Republicans, to reform our criminal justice system. Today I committed


the sentences of 95 men and women who observed a debt to society,


another step forward in upholding our fundamental ideas of justice and


fairness. Are most important job is to keep Americans safe. I have had a


lot to say about that this week but let me reiterate, the United States


continues to be the global coalition to destroy Islamic State. They have


already lost about 40% of the popular -- populated areas in Iraq


and it is losing territory in Syria. We will continue to hit them harder


than ever, taking out the leaders and forces. We are stepping up our


support for partners on the ground as they push back. Our men and women


in uniform are carrying out their mission with the trademark


professionalism, courage, and this holiday season we are united in our


gratitude to them for the their service and we are vital to their


families because they serve along with those two are deployed.


Squeezing Isil's heart will make it harder for them to spread the


propaganda to the rest of the world. As we know from San Bernardino, we


have to remain vigilant at home. Our counter terrorism intelligence are


working 24-7 to protect our homeland. We can do our part by


staying vigilant, by saying something if we see something that


is suspicious, by refusing to be terrorised and staying united as one


American family. For all the progress that America has made in


the last seven years, we have some unfinished business and I plan on


doing everything I can with every minute and David I have left as


president to deliver on behalf of the American people. -- every minute


and every day. I am optimistic, more so than I have been before. Let me


take some questions. Mr President, as you said earlier this week he


told the nation there is no credible threat of a similar attack, but how


is it possible to know? Are similar plots not going to be as hard as


detect beforehand? Some people are saying that the government should


review the social media of people coming to this country. What do you


think of that idea? You are right that it is very difficult for us to


detect plots involving a husband-and-wife because despite the


incredible vigilance and professionalism of our law


enforcement, it is not that different from us trying to detect


the next mass shooting. They are not always communicated publicly and if


you do not catch what they are saying publicly it is a challenge.


We are continuing to work at every level to make sure there is no slip


between information sharing among agencies. We are continuing to


strengthen our information sharing with foreign countries and because


of the tragedy in Paris you are seeing much greater cooperation from


our European partners on these issues. This is a different kind of


challenge than the sort that we had with an organisation like Al-Qaeda,


that involved highly trained activists who wrote working


ourselves or a network. Here you have Isil trying to encourage or


induce somebody who may be prayed to the sort of propaganda and it


becomes more difficult to see. It does mean that they are less likely


to carry out large-scale attacks, but as we saw in San Bernardino


utensil do enormous damage. The issue of reviewing social media for


those who are obtaining visas may have got a little bit garbled, it is


important to distinguish between posts that are public, social media


on a Facebook page, versus private medication is through various social


media or apps. Private revocation. Our law enforcement and intelligence


confessionals are constantly monitoring public posts and that is


part of the Visa process that people are investigating what individuals


have said publicly and questioned about any statements they may make.


If you have private and occasions between two individuals that is


harder to discern by definition. One of the things that we will be doing


is engaging with the high-tech community to find out how we can in


an appropriate way do a better job if we have a lead to be able to


track a suspected terrorist, but we're going to have to recognise


that no government is going to have the capacity to read every single


text and e-mail or social media. If it is not posted publicly then there


are going to be feasibility issues that are probably insurmountable at


some level and it raises questions about our values. Keep in mind that


it was only a couple of years ago when we were having a major debates


about whether the government was becoming like Big Brother and


overall I think we have struck the right balance in protecting Civil


Liberties and making sure that US citizens' privacy is preserved and


there is oversight of what our intelligence agencies do, but we are


going to have to continue to balance our needs for security with people's


legitimate concerns about privacy and because the Internet is global


application systems are global the values that we apply here are often


people who are trying to come into the country are benefiting from


because they're using the same technology. This is why we're


working very hard to bring law-enforcement intelligence and


high-tech companies together, because we need to review what we


can do both technically and consistent with our laws and values


in order to try and discern more rapidly some of the potential


threats that may be out there. Congress has made it clear it will


not let you transfer prisoners to the United States for trial. Do you


believe you have the authority and are you willing to exercise a? We


have been working systematically. Another example of persistence. We


have been reducing the population. We have our review process for those


eligible for transfer, we located in countries that have accepted some of


these detainees, they monitor them and it has been determined they can


be transferred. My expectation is that by early next year we should


average as their population below 100 and we will continue to steadily


chipped away at the numbers and Guantanamo Bay. It will come to a


point where we have an irreducible population, people who pose a


significant threat but for various reasons it is difficult for us to


try them in an article three court. Some of them are going through the


military commission process, but there is going to be a challenge


there. At that stage, I am presenting a plan to Congress about


how we can" animal Bay. I am not going to automatically assume that


Congress will soon know, I am not being coy, there is going to be


significant resistance from some quarters to that, but I think we can


make a strong argument that it makes sense for us to be spending an extra


100,000,000-$500,000,000 to have a secure setting for 50-70 people. We


will wait until Congress has definitively said no to a well


thought out plan with numbers attached to it before we say


anything definitive about my accepted authority. I think it is


preferable if I can get things done with Congress. I think you have seen


me on a bunch of issues like immigration, I'm not going to


forward leaning on what I can do without Congress before I have


tested what I can do with Congress will sometimes they will surprise


you and this may be one of those places because I think you can make


a strong argument. Guantanamo Bay continues to be one of the main


magnets for jihadi recruitment. The question earlier was about how do


they convince someone in the United States who may not have a criminal


record or history of terrorist activity to start shooting people.


This is part of what they feed, this notion of a gross injustice, that


America is not living up to its professed ideals. We see the


Internet traffic, we see how Guantanamo Bay has been used to


create this mythology that America is at war with Islam and for us to


close it is part of our counterterrorism strategy that is


supported by our military, diplomatic, and intelligence teams.


When you combine that with the fact that it is very expensive, that we


are detaining a handful of people and each person is costing several


million dollars to detain, when there are more efficient ways of


doing it. I think we can make a strong argument. I will take your


points that it will be an uphill battle. Every battle I have had with


Congress and the last five years has been uphill, but we keep surprising


everyone by getting things done. We try not to get ahead of ourselves. I


want to ask you about some of the broader challenges in the Middle


East. Some people argue that the Middle East and America would be


safer if you had had resumed changes. Considering the experiences


of the Arab Spring, I wonder what you think is the American role in


the Middle East in terms of pushing dictators out of power. Could you


advise future presidents and on Syria, is that your expectation that


President Assad's presidency will outlast yours? There has been a lot


of revisionist history, sometimes by the same people eating different


arguments depending on the situation. Maybe it is useful for us


to go back over some of these issues. We did not dispose them


barrack. Projections that because of their dissatisfaction with the


corruption and authoritarianism of the regime. We had a working


relationship with them. We did not trigger the Arab Spring. The notion


that the US was in a position to pull the strings on the largest


country in the Arab world is mistaken. For our viewers on BBC


Four we're taking you away from Washington DCE for President Obama


has been delivering his end of your press conference. For those who want


to hear what the president has to say, stay with us on BBC World Cup


magnets. The first part of the recount will be a continuation of


what many of us are seen in the past couple of days, it will be cloudy,


mild and be some rain. But the whole weekend will not be a


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