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tv   Focus on Europe  PBS  May 5, 2018 6:00pm-6:31pm PDT

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♪ michelle: hello, and welcome to "fokus on europe." i'm michelle henery. here on the continent, as spring enters into full bloom, it seems the french spirit for striking does as well. the french national rail service is the focus of president emmanuel macron's proposed next reform. he wants to cut their pay and reduce their benefits. but the rail unions are threatening to put the brakes on his plans. he did, after all, come storming into power last year on the back of promises to modernize france's flagging economy. but now with the railways facing months of industrial action, with trash collectors, civil servants and even students joining in, macron must prove that he can stand up to the
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powerful unions who run much of the country's public services. our reporter met with one of the train drivers on strike in paris at the gare de lyon, who says he has no intention of backing down. reporter: in fighting spirit, train driver fabien villedieu and his colleagues have assembled outside the station. on a normal work day, he transports thousands of passengers to and from paris and its suburbs. today, his train is parked at the garde de lyon. villedieu and his co-workers want to stop president macron's plans to reform the state-owned railway. with their strike, they're voicing their opposition loud and clear. fabien: who owns this station? reporter: the response is, "we own this station." the rail workers union is well organized. members appear ready to do whatever it takes to defend their employment rights, like storming the hallway of company
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management so the director can't say he didn't hear them. fabien: we rail workers are still willing to fight for our rights. we won't just sit around with our coffee cups and complain. i'm proud to be a member of this profession. reporter: for decades, french rail workers have enjoyed generous privileges, with job-for-life guarantees, automatic pay rises, early retirement, even free train travel for relatives. in an interview, macron said he would dismantle these privileges for new recruits to help overhaul the debt-ridden railway. villedieu studies his opponent carefully. the interview's backdrop is a school, macron staging himself as a man of the people. he's already pushed through labor market reforms that way, and has more up his sleeve. villedieu knows macron's fight
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against rail workers is a decisive battle. losing it would be a setback for his reform agenda. he needs to get the french public on his side. president macron: passengers suffer from the strike. they have short nights. the strikes can even pose an existential threat to businesses. we have to explain our intentions, and i want to be clear, we must carry it through, we must make this reform. reporter: villedieu feels betrayed by the president. fabien: if the president says the government won't close smaller regional lines, he's lying. small lines are slated to be financed by regional governments, but they don't have the money. reporter: opinion is divided among those who've now been waiting hours for their train. some are afraid of macron's reform plans, and others support it. >> great. i've just returned from shanghai and what do i find? chaos, yet again.
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macron needs to stand his ground. this country desperately needs reform. >> i'm on the rail workers' side. i work in a hospital. if they take away the few privileges we have, working in the public sector will soon no longer be worth our while. reporter: macron is trying to pit other sectors against the rail workers. villedieu thinks that's unfair. fabien: macron has managed to make people who earn 1400 euros think those who earn 1500 are rich. meanwhile he's scrapped the wealth tax, and the 40 billionaires living in france are laughing all the way to the bank. reporter: because macron has refused to budge, villedieu is seeking to join forces with students. they too are protesting the president's reform agenda, and dream of a general strike.
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>> rail workers are pugnacious. they have a revolutionary tradition. so we need to support them. like back in may 1968, when workers and students waged a joint struggle. it was only after the weeks-long general strike that the government backed down. reporter: but that was long ago, and today, calls for a general strike largely fall on deaf ears, says sociologist remi bourguignon. remi: if the strikers feel they're in the minority, they could take radical action. but that would quickly turn public opinion against them. they wouldn't be able to maintain their walkout, they'd have to give up. and then macron could pull off the feat of singlehandedly pushing through this reform without union involvement. reporter: villedieu is seeking to avoid that at all costs, and
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is urging his colleagues to stand their ground. fabien: we all have to keep up the pressure, otherwise it'll be too late to stop the reform. reporter: fabien villedieu intends to stay off work. for him, the strike is the only way to keep france's railway on track to a secure future. michelle: it takes place in may, but it's already being touted as the wedding of the year. prince harry is marrying his american girlfriend megan markle. and with all the pomp and circumstance that is certain to come, there is of course controversy. with tens of thousands of well wishers expected to descend upon windsor, where the wedding is being held, the leader of the local council has complained that the town's homeless will blight the big day. reporter: royal wedding fever has broken out in windsor as residents prepare to celebrate one of the most hotly
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anticipated events in britain's social calendar. clarence house announced the engagement of prince harry and meghan markle last november. and once it became known that the wedding would take place at windsor castle, the people of windsor were thrilled. >> we don't personally know of them, but what we do know of them, very lovely, very handsome couple. looking forward to seeing them. >> we have to put up with the tourists all year round, so that's going to be pretty chaotic i should think in mid-may. reporter: but you're looking forward to it? >> yes. yes, it'll be fun. >> we're locals, so we're having a street party. so, yeah, it should be good. reporter: the picturesque town of windsor wants to show its best face to the world. but some here think the homeless spoil that image. council leader simon dudley has complained that rough sleepers and beggars present a beautiful town in a sadly unfavorable
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light, and called on the police to remove them. he claimed some were homeless by choice, as they earn hundreds of pounds a week from aggressive begging. this homeless man named stewart doesn't know quite how to respond to these allegations. stewart: no, it's rubbish. rubbish. we don't make hundreds of pounds a day. you know, i mean, people's generosity. we get fed. we get food, which is great, and we get a bit of pocket change, but that's about it. reporter: do you have anywhere to go? stewart: no, i haven't. no, this is the only place i've got to go. i've been here for 4.5 months i've been here. i got evicted from the flat. reporter: the council leader's statements caused a huge outcry, both in the media and from charitable organizations. the number of homeless in england has risen by 75% among vulnerable groups, including families with dependent children, since the
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conservatives came to power in 2010. murphy: rent is getting more expensive, but the housing benefit isn't changing. it isn't going up with the rents. so hence the reason people can't afford to rent. and employment, jobs, wages aren't going up with the rents. like i say, there's a variety of different reasons. reporter: critics says that instead of looking for solutions to these problems, conservative politicians like simon dudley prefer to make headlines with populist remarks. but when we approached him at the town hall, dudley was very tight-lipped. his response -- maybe afterwards. but afterwards never came. reporter: are you still convinced that it's the best idea to move -- simon: i have to wander in here now, but lovely to see you. reporter: dudley was under pressure as his future was being decided at this council meeting. he was facing a no confidence vote and opponents were demanding his resignation. lynne: all these statements are un-evidenced.
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not only has this whole debacle been embarrassing to all members and officers in this council and to the royal family, it's damaged the reputation of windsor in the eyes of the world. reporter: so what did simon dudley do? he remained silent and let his fellow party members on the largely conservative council do the talking. phillip: councilor dudley is of good report. his intentions are clean and honest. this motion is nonsense. >> the results of the vote are 9 for, 43 against. reporter: in the end, dudley survived the no confidence vote by a large margin. he smiled, and said nothing. just a few kilometers away, stewart is preparing to spend his next night outdoors. he won't comment on the outcome of the vote. for him, what counts is that the police don't plan to remove the homeless. so, for now at least, he can stay here, at the foot of windsor castle.
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michelle: in parts of kosovo, in the heart of the balkans, time seems to have stood still. women here have practically little or no rights. domestic violence is rampant, and the justice system repeatedly turns a blind eye. many women, despite being victims themselves, end up paying the price. reporter: agime has been locked up in pristina's women's prison for nine years now for killing her husband. we can't reveal her real name. the marriage lasted just a year, but it was torturous. her husband drank and beat her repeatedly and even broke her arm. agime: i went to the police so often. once i even took the pistol my husband said he'd bought to kill me. i felt threatened, but the police did nothing. i don't remember their names, but i do remember their faces. one told me, if you were my wife you wouldn't have had the chance to come here, 'cause i'd have
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killed you with this pistol. if a policeman says that to you, you can't do anything else. you lose your will to live and don't believe in anything anymore. reporter: she left her husband, but he continued to threaten her. she was terrified and started carrying a kitchen knife. not long afterwards, she was in his car. she'd only agreed to get in as she was with her brother, who wanted to act as mediator. but her husband kept insulting and threatening her, so she stabbed him. she didn't even try to flee. agime was sentenced to 12 years for murder. the court gave little consideration to the circumstances which led to her actions, or the fact that the authorities had failed to help her for a year. agime: that's a harsh sentence. 12 years, even though i was a battered wife. seeking help from the police in vain and then acting in self-defense is not the same as
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purposely murdering someone out of jealousy. there's no justice in kosovo. absolutely not. reporter: agime comes from this village, around an hour's drive from pristina. here they hold on to their traditions, and gender roles. men have the say around here. many villagers still remember this sad story. for years, agime's brother feared he'd fall victim to a blood feud, as laid out in the kanun, a set of traditional albanian laws. even up to a few weeks ago, it would have been too risky for him to talk to us. but the families have finally reached an agreement. he remembers what it was like. agime's brother: we were devastated. we never expected anything like this to happen. no one could have imagined it. we didn't want something like this to occur.
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but in life, anything can happen. reporter: especially to women in kosovo. because in this very traditional society, women are all too often treated like second-class citizens and simply don't have the same rights as men. >> i'm favor of women having equal rights. but a woman should know that she belongs to me and no one else. that must be clear. reporter: kosovo's constitution guarantees to abide by international agreements, including the universal declaration of human rights. but, a decade after it declared independence, kosovo still isn't fully recognized internationally, so the european court of human rights in strasbourg has no jurisdiction to deal with such cases. hilmi: kosovo is basically a black hole in the balkans, because it's the only state to which citizens of which cannot apply to the european court for human rights when the state is found in violation of any human rights. reporter: agime says if the
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police had helped her, none of this would have happened. after nine years behind bars, she's now 30. when she's released, she wants to go abroad. she feels there's no future for her in kosovo. agime: i want to have a happy life when i get out of here. and i want a family, like every other woman. and to become a mother, a mother who loves her child. reporter: most of all, she dreams of leaving her terrible past behind her. michelle: because of kosovo's unresolved political status, which gives it no access to international laws, the situation continues to look bleak for human rights, especially for women. for anyone who likes to party and dance the night away, the first place in europe that often comes to mind is ibiza.
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known as the party island, the balearic off the east coast of spain attracts millions of tourists each year because of its stunning coastline, relaxed vibe, and wild night life. and now environmentalists are hoping that the local flamingo population on ibiza's salt flats could entice another type of tourist. but they fear that the exotic birds and clubbers just won't mix. our reporter met with a bird expert who is watching for a solution. reporter: carefully and quietly, joan carles palerm approaches the flamingo, watching from afar. he doesn't want to startle the bird. flamingos are his passion. joan: flamingos are odd-looking, highly unusual birds. so it's easy to get people interested in them, even those who don't care about
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environmental protection. reporter: palerm is happy to see the birds flock to ibiza's las salinas salt flats. he's counted hundreds of them already, and their numbers have been on the rise in recent years. that's good news for the spanish island, but mass tourism is posing a danger to the birds. joan: las salinas has become too busy for them to bring up their young. in april, when the breeding season begins, most adult birds fly away to reproduce. reporter: because in spring, flocks of tourists descend on ibiza, which has become known as the mediterranean's number one party destination. as visitor numbers soar, the environment pays the price. and most holiday-makers couldn't care less.
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a road leads straight through the ses salines national park to a highly popular beach, which is teeming with visitors even in low season. tourists stop to snap pictures of the exotic birds. some even stray into the nature reserve. >> well, that's the only way to get to really see these birds. unfortunately, that's how it is when you enter a nature reserve. you enter to see the birds in their actual habitat, not like in a zoo. reporter: palerm feels this kind of behavior has to stop. las salinas, where the phoenicians began producing salt 2000 years ago, has plenty of plankton and small crabs for flamingos to feed on. it's an ideal breeding ground for the birds, says palerm, were it not for the tourists. joan: most of them simply don't know how to act appropriately in nature. park rangers could help, but
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they don't exist here. reporter: there's just not enough money. even though the flamingos could help change the island's party image, as the balearic islands environmental ministry hopes. that way, ibiza could become an eco-tourism destination. joan mayol: flamingos have come to stand for a clean environment. and they're apparently pulling in visitors. the birds are giving the party island ibiza a totally new image. reporter: but protecting these species is costly and limits mass tourism. and palerm says the government is unwilling to risk that. he says this is inconsistent. this year, many dead flamingos have been discovered across the island. in january alone, 21 dead birds were found. joan: we don't know if the animals are examined to ascertain the cause of their death, and if all kinds
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diseases, not just conventional ones, are being looked into. we have no information on this. i almost think the government isn't taking this problem seriously. reporter: palerm thinks the problem is being swept under the rug. he believes all the talk of sustainability is just an empty marketing ploy. joan: i don't think there will be a change in course. maybe they're trying to attract other kinds of holiday-makers, but they're not taking action against mass tourism, and definitely doing nothing to stop the party tourism. reporter: it's all about the money tourists are bringing to the island, says joan carles palerm. the flamingos simply can't compete with that, so their numbers might soon begin dwindling.
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michelle: we often tell stories about sprawling urbanization, about people fleeing the countryside for life in the big city. but what about those people in rural, remote areas? to find out what their lives are like, we're taking you on a journey, one that's not for the faint of heart, on a small train affectionately called the matriza. it acts as a life-line to the people who live high up in the remote mountain villages of the caucasus. reporter: the three-hour journey begins at 7:00 in the morning. train driver artur never knows exactly when, or even if, he will arrive at the destination. but here in the caucasus mountains, time is of little essence. artur: sometimes, when there's too much snow or frost, we have to turn back. reporter: a few days ago, a landslide here brought everything to a standstill. a look out the window is
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anything but comforting. the lumber company that operates the train is in financial trouble. six of its nine track maintenance workers have quit over unpaid wages. this is the village of kushinka. artur had to branch from the main track to get here. visitors who have relatives, lumber workers, locals returning from the valley with building materials, only the matritza can bring them here. and what if someone has an accident? >> all we can do is call the matritza and arrange an emergency pick-up. reporter: there's no workshop here, nor is there a proper road into the valley. yesterday, lidia says her husband took the matritza to the doctor's. it's only 60 kilometers from the olympic venue of sochi, but
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kushinka is a place where people only survive if they can make do without state help and infrastructure. after kushinka, the train stops at other villages without road access. artur has worked on the matritza for two years and knows all of the residents on the line. the matritza brings fresh bread twice a week. there's no running to the local bakery for fresh supplies. one last switch, then artur steers his matritza in reverse to its destination. we are in otdalennyy, a name that translates as "remote." two letter carriers pick up the mail bag. most of otdalennyy's residents have moved away, but the russian
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postal service hasn't let down the 300 who've remained. the train stops in otdalennyy for two hours. artur uses the time to carry out repairs on his matritza. artur: it's old. here, the brake discs would need to be replaced. reporter: just like the village, the matriza is falling apart. and without track maintenance, journeys are growing more dangerous by the day. artur: it already jumps the tracks almost daily, and could certainly topple over. then it would be a matter of where that happened. reporter: the bread artur brought is on sale in the village shop. in winter, he comes in to warm up. rice, noodles, canned food, cheap staples -- the local pensioners can't afford more.
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and there are virtually no jobs in otdalennyy. a group of faithful on the journey into the valley. the matritza trundles past abandoned houses. how long it can continue to offer the people still here a lifeline to civilization is an open question. michelle: the people of those remote mountain villages need that little train, even though those narrow tracks make me very nervous. still, i hope it doesn't disappear. that's all for today. thank you for watching. goodbye from me and the whole team. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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steves: we're in rothenburg, germany's ultimate walled city. in the middle ages, when frankfurt and munich were just wide spots on the road, rothenburg was one of germany's largest cities, with a whopping population of 6,000.
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today, even with its crowds and overpriced souvenirs, i love this place. during rothenburg's heyday -- that was about 1200 to 1400 -- it was the intersection of two great trading routes -- prague to paris and hamburg to venice. but today, the great trade is tourism. rothenburg is a huge hit with shoppers. true, this is a great place to buy cuckoo clocks, steins, and dirndls, but see the town first. most of the buildings were built by 1400. like many medieval towns, the finest and biggest houses were built along herrengasse, named for the herren, or the wealthy class. the commoners built higgledy-piggledy farther from the center, near the walls. hanging shop signs advertise what they sold -- knives, armor, bread, whatever. rothenburg's wall,
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with its beefy fortifications and intimidating gates, is about a mile around and provides great views and a good orientation. rodertor is the only tower you can actually climb. it's worth the hike for the commanding city view and the fascinating display on the bombing of rothenburg in the last weeks of world war ii, when much of the city was destroyed. but rothenburg's most devastating days were 400 years ago, during the thirty years' war. in the 1600s, the catholic and protestant armies were fighting all across europe. the catholic army took the protestant town of rothenburg, and as was customary, they planned to execute the town leaders and pillage and plunder the place. but the catholic general had an idea. he said, "hey, if someone in this town can drink "a three-liter tankard filled with wine in one gulp, i'll spare the city." according to legend, rothenburg's retired mayor nusch said, "i can do that." mayor nusch drank the whole thing, the town was saved, and the mayor slept for three days.
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and today, tourists gather on the town square several times daily for a less-than-thrilling reenactment of that legendary chug. nice story, but in actuality, the town was occupied and ransacked several times during that 30 years of war, and when peace finally came, rothenburg was never again a major player. it slumbered peacefully until rediscovered in the 19th century by those same romantics who put the rhine on the grand tour map. they came here to paint and write about the best-preserved medieval town in germany. shops are filled with etchings and prints inspired by this 19th century romantic take on the town.
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