World Tour: Trudeau in trouble and a second man cured of HIV

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with senior editor Mindy Belz.

MINDY BELZ, SENIOR EDITOR: ISIS makes last stand—We start today in Syria, where Syrian Democratic Forces are closing in on ISIS positions in Baghuz.

AUDIO: [ISIS Syria shooting]

Free Burma Rangers is a U.S. aid group assisting war victims at the front lines. Director Dave Eubank told me the group’s medics treated 10 wounded SDF soldiers Monday as forward positions took hits from ISIS mortar and gunfire.

Hundreds of people left the area Tuesday. Officers from the U.S.-led coalition screened male evacuees to determine whether they were ISIS fighters or innocent civilians. An SDF spokesman said a large number of those who fled Baghuz on Monday were fighters who surrendered.

Baghuz is the last remaining territory held by ISIS. A victory there will be a milestone in the fight against the terror group that once controlled large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

Attacks against Christians in Turkey—Next we go to neighboring Turkey where attacks against Protestant Christians are on the rise.

Church leaders say last year’s criminal case against American pastor Andrew Brunson fueled “insidious propaganda” in state-run media. That triggered an increase in hate speech and vandalism targeting the country’s 150 Protestant congregations.

Church leaders say authorities have refused to investigate. They say if the rhetoric continues unchecked it could eventually insight physical violence.

Attack in Mogadishu—Next we go to Somalia, where the terror group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on a hotel popular with government officials.

AUDIO: [Mogadishu gunfire and people yelling]

The attack lasted nearly 24 hours and claimed at least 24 lives. More than 50 other people suffered injuries.

AUDIO: [Somali lawmaker speaking in Somali]

A former Somali lawmaker who was at the hotel said the victims he saw included children.

Al-Shabaab continues to launch deadly attacks despite efforts by the U.S. and others to end its insurgency. A few days before last week’s attack, the U.S. conducted an airstrike against the group in the southern part of the country, killing 26 fighters.

Since January, the U.S. has carried out a total of 24 strikes against al-Shabaab. The African Union has begun pulling some of its forces out of the country, but U.S. officials warn Somalia is not yet ready to tackle extremism on its own.

Trudeau in trouble—Next we go to Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces an unexpected political crisis.

TRUDEAU: While I am disappointed, I understand her decision to step down and I want to thank her for her service. I want to thank her [interruption] … ok [more heckling]

Hecklers interrupted Trudeau during a press conference broadcast on CTV.

Treasury Board president Jane Philpott stepped down Monday in solidarity with another cabinet member who accused Trudeau of trying to influence a corruption investigation. Former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould testified last week that Trudeau pressured her not to prosecute a major Canadian company over its dealings in Libya.

Trudeau admits talking to Wilson-Raybould about the case but insists that it was not inappropriate. The scandal has rocked Trudeau’s government in an election year. The leader of the opposition Conservative Party has called on the prime minister to resign.

Second patient cured of HIV—We end today in London, where doctors say they may have cured a man with HIV. The unidentified patient needed a stem cell transplant in 2016 to treat lymphoma.

Because doctors knew he also had HIV, they looked for a stem cell donor who had a natural resistance to the deadly virus. Lead researcher Ravindra Gupta said after the transplant, the patient stopped taking the antiviral drugs keeping his HIV in check.

GUPTA: And so we’re now 18 months in and we’re confident that this will be a long-term remission but it’s too early to say as to whether this will be a cure or not.

The London man is the second HIV patient able to stop taking antiviral drugs after a stem cell transplant. A U.S. man had the same treatment 12 years ago and remains virus free. While doctors are now convinced the transplant process works, they say it isn’t a practical treatment for the millions of people infected with HIV.

That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Mindy Belz.

(AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh) Somali soldiers walk past a destroyed building in Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, March 1, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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