tv PBS News Hour PBS April 15, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: president obama said the war in libya is at a military stalemate, and nato allies continue to pressure colonel qaddafi to surrender power. good evening. i'm jim lehrer. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, we have the latest on the conflict, and on unrest elsewhere in the middle east. plus, we examine how the u.s. is dealing with uprisings around the region. >> lehrer: then, mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. >> woodruff: tom bearden returns to the u.s. gulf coast to see the environmental costs of the
oil spill one year later. >> hundreds of fisherman are getting ready for the upcoming shrimping season, hoping against hope that the catch will be good fluff to allow them to stay if business next year. >> lehrer: robert macneil previews his upcoming series of newshour reports on autism. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work on a big scale. and i think it's got to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now.oah7 ♪ ♪
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>> lehrer: the air campaign over libya marked the end of its first month today, with moammar qaddafi still in power and his forces still fighting. in an interview with the associated press, president obama agreed it's a standoff. but he said there's no need for the u.s. to resume a primary role. >> you now have a stalemate on the ground mill tar lee, but-- mill tar lee but qaddafi is still getting squeezed in all kinds of other ways. he is running out of money. he is running out of supplies. the noose is tightening and he is becoming more and more isolated. and my expectation is that if we continue to apply that pressure and continue to protect civilians, which nato is doing veing cappably, then i think over the long-term qaddafi will go. >> lehrer: in a newspaper opinion article, the president and other leaders said the campaign would continue "so long
as qaddafi is in power". but in tripoli, the libyan leader's supporters shouted their defiance. we have a report from jonathan miller of independent television news. >> reporter: by midnight, the supporters of qaddafi united had worked themselves into a frenzy of adoration. this is the shabaab, the green- blooded libyan youth, high on qaddafi. the article penned by the leaders of britain, france and america demanding that colonel qaddafi must go and go for good is meaningless rhetoric to the hardcore who love him. "that's an insult to the people of libya," shouted the colonel's only surviving daughter, aishiya. "my father lives in the hearts of all libyans." her sister was killed in this very building by an american bomb 25 years ago. "a quarter of a century later, the same missiles and bombs are
raining down on my children and yours," said aishiya qaddafi. "leave our skies," she yelled. "take your weapons and missiles away." but nato's now promising more warplanes in libya's skies; more bombs, more missiles. >> tempo will be maintained, as set out in the nato statement. we are talking to other countries about providing more strike assets, as we've discussed earlier in the week. >> nato is absolutely determined to continue for as long as there is a threat against civilians. and it's impossible to imagine that threat disappear with qaddafi in power. >> reporter: france is now pressing for nato approval to extend air strikes to strategic logistical targets. until now, targets have been confined to libyan military assets. the french want to weaken qaddafi by hitting hard where it hurts, they say. russia warned against the use of
excessive military force today, so as to avoid civilian casualties. but civilians continue to die in misuratah, a city described by cameron, sarkozy and obama today as being under medieval siege, where people continue to suffer terrible horrors at the hands of qaddafi. >> woodruff: there were new confrontations across other parts of the arab world today. jeffrey brown has that story. >> brown: witnesses in syria claimed up to 100,000 people marched on damascus today in the boldest move of the month-old protests. cell phone video on web sites showed chanting, banner-waving crowds demanding an end to the regime of bashar al-assad. the huge turnout came just outside the syrian capital. protesters said police fired tear gas and used riot batons, but did not repeat last week's shootings that killed 37 people. to the south, at least 20,000
marched in deraa, a center of the upheaval. earlier this week, they'd attacked a statue of the late president hafez al-assad, father of the current president. meanwhile, in yemen, on the southern edge of the arabian peninsula, the 32-year regime of ali abdullah saleh was still teetering after months of violent protest in the arab world's poorest nation. the embattled president addressed a large, pro- government rally today and appealed to the opposition. >> ( translated ): we ask the joint meeting party to follow their conscience and proceed with dialogue so that we can agree on a conclusion, for the sake of the security and the stability of yemen. >> brown: saleh has been an american ally in the war on al- qaeda, and the u.s. has extensive covert operations there. but yemen's security forces have killed hundreds during the protests, and the obama administration has shifted to trying to ease saleh from power.
elsewhere on the peninsula, the tiny island nation of bahrain also remains in turmoil, and a key concern, as host to the u.s. fifth fleet and a bulwark against iranian ambitions in the persian gulf. the ruling sunni minority cracked down weeks ago, tearing up and carting away the iconic pearl monument where the protests, led by majority shiites, were centered. the government also requested thousands of troops from neighboring saudi arabia and other persian gulf nations to help put down dissent. the bahraini government's crackdown included an announcement yesterday that it was disbanding two leading opposition parties. a u.s. state department spokesman offered this response. we've been candid in voicing our concerns about some of these recent actions. but we believe that there is a peaceful way forward, and we believe that that can be achieved. >> brown: bahrain later said it would delay the action against the two parties. the u.s. has walked a fine line in bahrain.
during a visit last month, defense secretary gates urged the kingdom to go beyond "baby steps" toward reform. in washington today, hundreds of bahrainis gathered outside the saudi embassy to protest the saudi involvement in their country. >> saudi arabia is actually helping them. they sent troops, weapons. they're helping them, and we want to stop this. we don't want anybody helping them, because this is wrong. >> brown: others said the u.s. needed to live up to its own ideals on a consistent basis. >> we cannot pick and choose which peaceful revolution to support. we need to support the values that we stand on, which is human rights, justice, democracy, and that's exactly what the people of bahrain are asking for. >> brown: the marchers then headed to the white house to deliver that message in person. >> lehrer: coming up: more on the middle east and u.s. policy in the region; plus, shields and brooks;
the environmental costs of the gulf oil spill; and a look ahead to robert macneil's series on autism. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: president obama promised today the initial drawdown of u.s. troops from afghanistan will be more than symbolic. the pullout is slated to begin this summer. the president talked about it in his interview with the associated press. >> i'm confident that the withdrawal will be significant, people will say this is it-- they will say this is a real process of transition. this is not just a token g >> sreenivasan: the president said he will wait to hear from general david petraeus, who is overseeing the mission, before discussing actual numbers. the u.s. house today approved the republican budget plan for next year. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman reports. >> holman: the republican outline was approved almost entirely along party lines, 235 to 193, and starkly highlighted the partisan divide over spending, taxes and deficits
likely to dominate the political debate until the 2012 election. >> this is the most predictable economic crisis we've ever had in the history of this country, and yet we have a president that is unwilling to lead. >> we don't think it's fair to raise taxes on middle income americans to pay for additional tax breaks for folks at the very top. yet those are the choices that are made in the republican budget. where is the shared sacrifice? >> holman: the republican plan calls for $5.8 trillion in spending cuts from current levels, spread over the next ten years. the sharpest debate was on the proposal that medicare help seniors buy private insurance instead of paying doctors directly. >> i want to say to my republican colleagues-- do you realize that your leadership is asking you to cast a vote today
to abolish medicare as we know it? because that is the vote that we have. >> the congressional budget office acknowledges that if we don't take action, these important safety net programs will go broke. we cannot afford to ignore this oncoming fiscal train wreck any longer. >> holman: the house was disrupted briefly by protesters, and a dozen people were arrested. president obama again today cited his own deep disagreement with republican plans on spending, but in his associated press interview, said he wants "a smart compromise that's serious". >> sreenivasan: consumer prices rose last month, due mostly to food and gas. but otherwise, the labor department said today, inflation was up just a tenth of 1%. the news helped wall street chalk up slight gains. the dow jones industrial average added 56 points to close above 12,341. the nasdaq rose four points to close at 2,764. for the week, both the dow and
the nasdaq lost a fraction of 1%. severe storms and tornadoes struck across oklahoma and arkansas overnight. at least nine people were killed, including two children. one of the hardest hit towns was tushka in southeastern oklahoma, where two sisters in their 70s died. a tornado strike there late thursday caused widespread damage, including the destruction of the town's school. witnesses reported seeing two twisters that merged to form a single storm. the operator of that crippled nuclear power plant in japan will soon compensate those forced to flee the area. tokyo electric power company announced today it plans to pay an initial $12,000 to each affected family. some 48,000 households will be eligible. the company also said it may resort to pay cuts and layoffs to help cover its costs. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: we return to the middle east, and the american response to the uprisings there. the administration has supported pro-democracy movements from libya and egypt to syria.
but it has been more muted in other countries, especially bahrain. we get two views on u.s. policy from brian katulis, a senior fellow at the center for american progress. he was on the national security council staff during the clinton administration. and maria mcfarland, deputy washington director for human rights watch. she focuses on the middle east and south asia. so thank you to you both for being here. brian katulis to you first, we heard these bahrai saying they think the u.s. is treatinging what is going on in the middle east differently that it is promoting deming october see, pushing for democracy in libya, in egypt. but it's been much less agressive in bahrain, are they right about that? >> of course they're right. and of course i think the white house is correct in how it's operating here. they have a difficult balancing actment and i think president obama has been quite clear on his speech in libya, that there wasn't going to be a cookie cutter, one size fits all
approach. dennis mcdonough said that our actions in libya should not be viewed as setting expectations or precedence about how we approach these. because this is the traditional clash between values and interest. and in bahrain, you know, if there was a priority of our policy in the middle east before these uprisings, it was containing iranian influence. and there was a perception that one of these pillars of containment of iran was starting to crumble. so we're going to approach it differently than we would say egypt or libya because we have different interests. and i think the challenge is to try to promote our values as best as possible in that context. >> woodruff: i want to explore some of that in just a moment. but maria mcfarland, is it a double standard? >> i think that it is a double standard, not so much with libya, but for example, when you compare public statements on bahrain with public statements on syria, where the president recently called the detention and abuse of demonstrators abhorrent. in bahrain, there has been no strong condemnation of hundreds of detentions of
the disappearance of protestors, of torture and of deaths in custody in the last month or two. and similarly, there has about no statement by the administration that clearly asks bahrain to adopt reforms, to call for meaningful change in that country. >> woodruff: is it a lack of information that the united states has, brian katulis? i mean what, how-- i mean on the face of it how does the administration explain this? >> well, look, i think they've been pretty clear. they're not hypocritical. they say that essentially they don't use this language but they say there are two different standards being applied here. in mid-march secretary of defense, robert gates, went to bahrain and actually called for political openingses and political reform. less than 24 hours later saudi troops and emirati police entered to crush this peaceful democratic protest. and the saudi role in all of this, not only in bahrain, but in places even like
syria and especially yemen, i think it's telling to me that tom done olin the national security advisor through to riyadh.
>> woodruff: just a few days ago. >> to talk with him because ever since hosni mubarak stepped down in egypt and the saudies were quite vocal in their displeasure with how the united states handled it, i disagree with the saudi criticism, but i think this is a difficult balancing act that links us to oil, counterterrorism and a range of interests in the region. >> woodruff: maria mcfarland, remind us why the saudis care some of about what is happening in bahrain? >> they don't want a neighboring country to present an example to their citizens of change, of greater democracy. it would be very problematic for the saudis if suddenly their population saw that a neighboring country they had a constitutional monarchy. similarly, it's a problem because the protestors in bahrain are part of the majority shi'a population,
for the most part. and the sunni government, like the bahraini government, is sunni. the saudi government does not want their shi'a to start rising
up in the same way. >> woodruff: and so when the obama administration, when the united states says to saudi and says to the bahrain regime, democratize a little, make some change, the answer is what? >> well, i think we've seen the answers from the actions. they've crushed the ops significance. and i think today theres was a little bit of an opening when they responded o to this ruling on the opposition party. and that's what it going to be, i think, it is going to be very tiny baby steps. because why, we don't have as much leverage in a place like saudi arabia or in bahrain because of the oil. i came here and there was $4 a gallon of gas. and a lot of americans are feeling this. and i think the saudis know how much power and control they have. in a place like egypt, we have a little bit more leverage but we shouldn't overstate it. we should not overstate how
much even our military assistance matters in shaping the political road map in that country. >> woodruff: does that pretty much mean that the saudis can do what they want. we know they sent troops, they sent weapons into bahrain. can they pretty much determine what they want to do and follow through? >> let me just address one other point which is that i don't think that the current strategy of staying silent on the repression is a very smart thing strategically to do. because to the extent that the u.s. remains silent on abuses against shi'a populations, it's actually likely to feed into this perception that the u.s. is citing with sunni governments in the region. and it's likely to strengthen those who oppose and criticize the u.s. among the shi'a. exactly the outcome that the u.s. doesn't want of maybe strengthening iran's hand is likely if it continues. >> woodruff: so you're
really talking about iran here, principally. >> that's part of it, yeah. >> woodruff: you brought up iran. >> it's a big part of it. but if we want to talk about double standards or hypocrisy let's listen to the iranian government praising democratic opposition groups in bahrain when they've just crushed violently their own democratic opposition. so i think you know, i really am concerned about iran but to a certain extent i think there's a way for us to balance these in a pragmatic way. i think this is what the obama administration is doing. silent on many of these instances. they actually have a template. they stress nonviolence and the universal decollaration of human rights. >> the u.s. administration. >> yeah, every single statement. in syria they make this. the question though is what are the tools, what's the leverage that they have with each of these countries. and i think they're trying to balance strategic interests with raising and elevating these values and principleses. and it's not going to be easy in these tough questions like saudi arabia. >> woodruff: but is it
accurate, maria mcfarland to say that iran is behind the shi'a uprising. >> i don't think so, actually. we've been on the ground since it started. human rights watch has been on the brown since it started. and we've been monitoring bahrain for years. what we saw were peaceful protests by people who were calling for constitutional monarchy, the sorts of reforms that they wanted were democratic reforms to allow for an election to parliament, for an election to prime, for freedom of the press. i don't think they're looking for an islamic theoccaycy, they want a democracy. >> so is that an inconsistency that's a problem for the u.s. administration, u.s. policy? >> well, look, there's going to be a lot of inconvenient inconsistencies as this region of the world goes through this process of political transformation. and i think it's going to take not months, perhaps more than years, and perhaps the rest of this decade. but i think the saudi
government, other governments in the region are fooling themselves if they can actually feel like they can hunker down and oppose this tide. because the region is facing crushing demographic, political and economic concerns. they've got a generation that's coming of age. and simply hunkering down might work for a couple of months or maybe even a couple of years in these places but i think pragmatically getting them to open up their political systemses is going to be one of our strategic interests. >> woodruff: we will leave it there, brian katulis, maria mcfarland, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> thanks. >> lehrer: and to the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. >> lehrer: david, what do you think about the u.s. policy toward libya and the rest of the middle east and is it in fact workable, is it working? >> yeah, it's flexible. i wouldn't want to draw a line and say there is a standard but if you are going to intervene, you have to have two things. one there has to be a moral interest in doing so. two, there has to be a national interest.
and three, like i said, there are going to be three things, there has-- it has to be practical. and so, you're to the going to meet all three standards in every country. in some countries it is just not going to be practical to do something in a big way, in libya we found it practical to do something. i think we have prevented some massacres there, qaddafi has banned weapons against his own people. i think is right to be there to try to prevent that and keep pressure on the regime. but in bahrain it doesn't cross the threshold it might be morally right to do it doesn't mean we have to intervene everywhere it is morally right. >> lehrer: what do you think, mark, the term used inconvenient inconsistencies. is that u.s. policy? >> i think david has put his finger on it. there is no single policy. i mean, understand this, jim, for the past 30 plus years, 33 years, the policy of the middle east and the united states have been established by peace talks between-- involving jimmy carter, begun and anwar
sadat and that gave a structure to that relationship. and that's gone out the window. and what we have is not an anti-american movement, it's an educated, unemployed, freedom-seeking movement. in most of those countries. and that's what is, i think has to be nurtured and encouraged. and obviously there are limits to what you can do. i don't think the united states is about to send troopses to another country at this point. >> lehrer: all right, back to this country, david. so it's now obama versus ryan on how to cut the deficit. who's ahead? >> well, it depends if you mean politically or substantively. >> lehrer: both ways. >> politically, clearly if you take a look at the republican idea, republicans believe that med-- that medicare is unsustainable. there are-- i happen to think they are right about that, how you do the change is up to-- but i hi they
have the scope of the problem right. nonetheless it is certainly true the american people don't want to accept that or don't believe that. and so politically obama is absolutely right to jump all over the republicans and have his own plan. and his own plan i thought was politically astute, again just sticking with the politics. because he came out in favor of some cuts, some deficit reductions but he didn't actually name any of them. he said i'm going to get a commission and the commission will come up with cups-- cuts and another commission will come up with some tax increase. and then i will ask the pentagon to come up with some weapons programs we're going to shut down. i'm not going to give you any specifics, i'm just going to have some commissions. i thought politically he did a very effective job of demonizing the republicans, raiding the parts of their programs there that are very unpopular and make on a path to some fiscal responsibility but not specificly how. >> lehrer: do you agree. >> i think the president did a remarkable job. i mean understand this, jim. since the election, theres has been an erosion of democratic enthusiasm for
the president. the president since then has had the bipartisan deal with republicans, in december. and the session of congress. then had gotten cozy with the chamber of commerce which had spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to beat out democrats brainses there 2010, many cases successfully. he got best buddies with jeffrey immelt of general lech particular which turned out hadn't paid any taxes. i mean so democratses are saying wait a minute, who is this guy. and all of a sudden, he revealed himself to be a democrat. to be president of the united states and a democrat and to make a compelling, strong case against the ryan plan which republicans, not a single democrat, voted for it today in the house, as it passed. and i think he drew the lines very dramatically. i mean it's not a question of taxes. the question is who pays the taxes. and he certainly stands in
the line from harry truman forward, lyndon johnson or somebody who believes in medicare. republicans don't forget, it's been an article-- they are opposition to national health insurance, except when it involves republican members of congress. >> lehrer: other than that. >> he did rally the left. i mean, the speech was strong in rallying the left as mark said. he called republicans unamerican. that tendses to rally people, i guess when you call their opponents unamerican. but you know, substantively it still still does matter. and here i have a question mark. maybe he does sincerely want to follow through on the cuts that he sort of gestured toward. he gave us headings under which future cuts would fall. but i do think if you look at the program, it's essentially excuses seniors and the middle class from any shared sacrifice. and i just don't think we can solve a problem this size excusing seniors and the middle class. >> lehrer: but the president and secretary quite geithner on the program that same
night said if there is going to be deficit reduction you're to the going to do it without raising taxes. and there he drew a line. >> and he's absolutely right about that. >> lehrer: he is right, you think. >> he is absolutely right. but there are simply not, even if you did it by raising taxes, and this is a very tax heavy plan, there are simply not enough rich people to pay for the tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded deficit these programs are racking up. and so i think you have to talk about the middle class. you have to talk about seniors. and his program is very careful to not touch those third rail. >> it's not a tax-heavy plan. you want to talk about a tax heavy plan, the plan that was authored, written by alice rivlin, a democrat and pete dominici. theres was $2 of cuts, $2 of revenue. obama is like the simpson boils, $2 of cuts, i agree with you, lacks of specific, only $1 of tax increases. and so i think that the case he has to make is i believe
in these programs. the program is in trouble. and if you want it saved, i am the guy that's going to save it. i believe in it. and i agree with david, that the sacrifice is going to have to be universal. it cannot be simply-- it can't be done by the wealthy. but i would point out that the wealthy, as the president pointed out very well in the speech, the top 1% have seen on the average their income go up $250 million in this past decade. while the 90% of lower earners, 90% have seen their average income go down. and that's where the republicans just don't get it in my judgement. they say fairness doesn't really come into it. you've got to believe in the market. >> lehrer: david, the republicans said in response to what mark just repeated that the president said, that's class warfare. that's unfair. >> yeah. and here i think they're wrong. i do think we have to raise taxes on the top 1%. i think we have to have a big tax reform that raises
revenue. and-- . >> lehrer: that's raising taxes too. >> yeah, but you got to raise revenue across more than just the rich. we have to raise it on the rich to some degree, but there's just, as i said, there's just not enough. so you have-- what you have to do is do what boils simpso simpson-- boyles simpson which is lower the base and loopholes i think it had the right plan. the president suggested maybe there is room for boyles simpson but we have to raise the rateses so he went against it. he is sort of two minds about that. >> lehrer: i was just going to change the subject. >> please. >> lehrer: speak of republicans, that is a segue line to you, mark, mitt romney looks like he is seriously going to run for president. and all the publicity is going to a guy name donald trump. what do you make of that? >> mitt romney is certainly in the republican tradition, like candidates that run before. ronald reagan ran in 68y and 76y before he was a nominee
'80s, bob dole had run three times before the nominee. george herbert walker. so mitt romney ran in 2008, that gives him a certain credibility and stature. he's a businessman, admittedly a downsizer on occasion but nevertheless, fits that mould. and the biggest name, the sleeper item that is going for him is that americans are far more tolerant today of a mormon than they were four years ago. >> lehrer: . >> it really hurt him four years ago. >> it really did. they didn't want to confront it. but americanses have, just like we're more tolerant of a jewish president or gay president or latino president, a woman, they've 5
>> lehrer: so your theory is that it's a romney problem and the only way are you going to fix the romney problem is to have hailey barber or somebody new or -- >> a lot of us have gone in thinking romney was the front-runner. he has been there before and i think a lot of us have to think, if he is the front-runner at all, he is certainly not a strong one. >> he's not in bad shape. "the wall street journal" nbc poll, he's 40% among the people who are really running, first and second choice. which is a pretty strong position. there's just not a lot of
intensity and passioning for him, i agree. >> lehrer: but you think don't worry about trump. >> he will not be the republican nominee, i will bet my bottom dollar. >> lehrer: come on, don't say that. well,. >> he just did. >> lehrer: thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now, the american gulf coast a year later. when the "deepwater horizon" oil rig exploded, the blast killed 11 workers. and after the rig sank, tens of thousands of barrels of oil spilled into the gulf. that region is still trying to recover from the damage done to the environment. newshour correspondent tom bearden returned to the gulf to try to find some answers about the consequences. >> reporter: the great marshlands of louisiana are some of the most productive natural habitats in the world, teeming with wildlife.
when the macondo oil well blew out last year, many were afraid large parts of this ecosystem would be destroyed by the estimated 200 million gallons of oil that gushed out of the well. there are a lot of different opinions among scientists and local residents about what the effects have been. >> this oil here, it looks like... like somebody poured paint. you have got that all the way around through here. >> reporter: last may, when dave cvitanovich showed us around barataria bay, he was worried the area wouldn't recover quickly. he's even more worried now. >> this is dying. this is a disease. this is one of the... a flesh eating virus or something. that's what's happening here. >> reporter: the bay is precious to cvitanovich. he raises oysters in beds he leases from the state. >> it hurts.ué]iv i mean, it just... i have no formal education, a high school education, but, you know, to look at these oyster beds that i have, i'm proud of the product that i sell.
but i have leases that are worthless now. >> reporter: cvitanovich showed us deposits of oil in the marsh grass that have the consistency of candle wax. >> see how its greasy? >> reporter: it's all stuck together. >> reporter: yes, sir. look at my hand now. it's like a petroleum. >> reporter: it's clearly like... it's not like the mud that comes apart. >> the mud had more a sand, a grit, whereas this here is like a... like a baby oil. >> reporter: he says it's killing the grass and dissolving the marsh. and that's a disaster in the making, because the marsh grasses are the breeding grounds for the oyster, shrimp, fish, and bird populations that are the foundation of the economy. cvitanovich doesn't think the ongoing remediation efforts are working. he pointed out large tracts of grass that have died. >> right now today, not choppy. but when bad weather comes, it eats this bank up more and more. it just erodes back. >> reporter: cvitanvich has a
gps device that is supposed to display the thousands of islands that dot bay jimmy. the database isn't that old, but we spent a lot of time cruising right through open water where the gps showed land. >> there's a couple islands, i can show you what's left of them-- just some plastic pipes. the islands were there when the oil spill occurred, 11 and a half months ago. >> reporter: so, in your lifetime alone, you've seen a lot of erosion. >> oh, too much. way too much. you see where those pylons are? that was an island. that was a big island. they had a couple oyster camps there. people had grape trellises. trees, animals growing out there and everything else. now, its pylons. >> reporter: mike ustler, b.p.'s chief operating officer for the gulf restoration organization, insists the remediation being done is effective. >> we've worked many differing angles of efforts to identify the best way to accomplish a
multitude of both cleaning and removing the residual oils, ensuring that migratory birds are not impacted by the potentials for flying in and trying to nest in those areas, and remove that residual hydrocarbon in a way that preserves and protects those marshes to allow them to regenerate. this has been the most effective and best method, as agreed to by a wide range of environmental scientists. >> reporter: coastal erosion is nothing new in louisiana. it's arguably the most serious environmental threat to the entire region. what worries people here so deeply is whether or not oil in the marsh will cause it to happen that much more quickly. maura wood is the senior outreach coordinator for the national wildlife federation's coastal louisiana campaign. the organization has been studying the region for many years. >> we can't afford to lose any more land, and any of those marshes that received oil that are not growing back don't have those plants helping to bind that soil together are very much
at risk of being washed away by wind and tide and waves. >> reporter: ralph portier is an environmental science professor at louisiana state university. he says it will be a few years before a final assessment can be made on marshland impacts. but he says other effects will take even longer to surface. >> it's going to be the deep ocean stuff, what's really happening in these deep coral reefs offshore near the mississippi canyon area-- how were they affected? that story might take a decade to get an answer to. >> reporter: a year later, there's still scientific debate about what's going on in the ocean itself. some studies show the oil was mostly consumed by bacteria. others suggest bottom-dwelling species have been suffocated by dead bacteria.
and then, there's the issue of the almost two million gallons of the dispersant corexit that were used. the e.p.a. says the chemical has since degraded to nontoxic levels, but some scientists wonder about the long term effects of low concentrations of corexit. >> is there dispersant sitting in the bottom of the gulf of mexico, and some of this oil? is that going to be an avenue for a dispersant to start moving into the food chain or not? we don't know yet. >> reporter: for it's part, b.p. continues to try to clean up the remaining onshore oil. >> we estimate that we've accomplished about 95% of the affected residual cleaning and removal of hydrocarbons across the areas from the florida panhandle to the louisiana coastlines. we will be there as long as it takes to complete that last 5%. >> reporter: the coast guard acknowledged today there's still oil coming ashore. coast guard rear admiral paul zukunft. >> there are still tar balls
that are offshore that are in the sand bars, and they break loose from time to time. they come ashore, and there are teams out there even today recovering those. >> reporter: the area has been studied nonstop since the spill. most results have not yet been made public, partly because of ongoing lawsuits. but maura wood says there are some disturbing results that are known. in february, 36 premature or stillborn dolphins washed ashore, many times higher than normal. >> you see baby dolphins washing up dead. you see numbers of sea turtles, beyond the norm-- of endangered sea turtles, like the kemp sea turtle. you see coastal marshes that are not growing back that are black and dead and still covered with oil. >> all you got to do is stir the bottom of it. comes up like it did last year. show them, just go stir it up and it pops up. >> reporter: acy cooper says he knows there's still a lot of oil out there, despite government claims after the well was capped that most of it had dispersed and degraded.
>> it's there. how they going to clean it up, we don't know, because a lot of them, they don't know where its at, and they wont go out there and actually find it. when you tell them where it's at, you don't hear nothing back. so we just don't know. we don't know. its the uncertainty of it all. >> reporter: cooper is the vice president of the louisiana shrimp association. he and his two sons make their living on the water. the men are getting their boats ready for the start of the shrimping season, and cooper thinks they will probably have a pretty good catch this year. but he's concerned about how the oil might affect entire species of wildlife over the longer term, as it did after the "exxon valdez". >> our concern is, next year, the offspring from this crop. will they come out fertile? will they come out deformed? you know, that's what happened in alaska with the herring and the shrimp. we don't know what's going to happen in the future. so it took two to three years before they really knew the effects of what it's going to be, and that's what we concerned about. >> reporter: portier hopes the scientific studies will help planning in the future. >> there will be some rethinking of how oil companies respond to spills.
i think we'll have some things in place that will allow us to be a little more proactive than lets figure out where the oil is going and lets let it go to shore, and then lets make decisions after the fact. >> reporter: but he does fear one of the legacies of the b.p. spill will be a much smaller fishing industry if fishermen don't have a good season this year. >> woodruff: in his coming reports from the gulf, tom will report on the battle over compensation, and the anger that remains toward b.p. and the government. >> lehrer: finally tonight, some advance words on the special series of reports on autism that will start monday here on the newshour. the correspondent is a familiarf one-- robert macneil, reporting for us for the first time in over a decade. his six stories, called "autism now," are a comprehensive look at its impact and prevalence, as well as the latest on research.
i spoke with robin from new york earlier today. welcome. >> thank you. good to do this. >> lehrer: look, your interest in autism began as a personal interest, did it not? >> that's right. four years ago my grandson nick, allison's son, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. he's now six. and when i learned since that when any family has a member with autism, the whole family tends to revolve around that condition can. it's so permeates every aspect of their lives that in many conversations with allison over the years, i felt more and more inclined that i just had to do something about this, what i could learn about it. and to help draw more attention to the condition. the committee of the national institute for mental health recently called this a national health emergency. >> lehrer: wow. >> an the more people know about it, the better.
>> lehrer: sure. well, look, we have an excerpt from the very first of the reports that's going to run on monday which tells just a scrap of the story about you and nick. let's look at that. >> this was nick when he was nine months old. a healthy, alert and engaged baby with no apparent medical problems. now at six, my grandson seems like a different child. showing the classic symptoms of autism. a disorder in development. his difficulty connecting. >> i can read that one for you, you want to look at it yourself. nick struggles with language. the rigidity and resistence to change nick shares with other children with autism. >> a tendency to suddenly appear absent, to withdraw into an emotionally detached
inner world of his own. those symptoms are characteristic of the autism spectrum, severe to mild. in nick's case relatively mild. but beyond such mental difficulties, nick has serious physical illness in his digestive system. his mito con drya the energy needed for his cells for normal activity plus frequent small brain seizures and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. >> lehrer: so robin, is there an exact definition of what autism is, at least in accepted definition? >> well, it's a good question. there is a definition published in the manual that people in the mental health business use to describe it. and i've just mentioned some of the symptoms. it's a difficulty connecting, a difficulty with language, a difficulty empathizing with other human beings. and a remoteness about it.
plus in his case which is why not only because he is my grandson we're putting him first, but because he represents a wider concept of autism now that it can be accompanied by all these physical conditions. >> what is phone about the cause of not only in nick's case but in all cases. >> it's still quite a mystery but that is the subject of our third report on wednesday night. we've talked to the latest people doing the latest research and they're finding it an increasingly complex condition. they thought a few years ago that they were going to find a simple genetic clue. they haven't. they're finding many, many genes and possibly many things in the environment today added to a genetic predisposition which could trigger the neurodevelopment effects of this. so it is still some years from finding the cause. >> lehrer: so that means there is no cure.
there's no treatment? >> well, there are forms of treatment now. i mean there is some drug treatment for people with seizures, for example. and if you can afford it or the school system can ca ford it, one-on-one, individual education can help relieve some of the social symptoms of autism, and draw these young people away from it, especially if caught very young. but as far as everybody knows now, most people know now, it is a lifelong condition. mild or severe. and many of these people will need assistance for all their lives. >> lehrer: now when you use the word emergency a moment ago, does that mean this is growing or, what is the-- how widespread is it among americans? >> it now represents about 1 percent of american children, one in 110. but the head of the national institute whose's on our last program said he feels that it is still growing.
there's some disagreement about the rate of growth. some people feel it's because they've widened the definition of autism to include things its that used to be called things like retardation. but others say no, that only explains part of the increase. and it is, some people want it called an epidemic. but that suggests another kind of medical condition than this. it is, nevertheless, a very interesting, complex, frustrating and for the families, not only heartrending but demanding of them in looking after these children. an extent of love and patience and attention that is really extraordinary. >> lehrer: what's the principles focus of the research right now, of trying to find out exactly what happens and why, what can be done about it? our program on wednesday night will show, it's both genetic. they thought they would find a simple genetic cause. they have not. and they're looking both at
more increasingly at environmental factors. you know, we've added a lot of substances to our environments in the last few generations. and those together with genetic, some form of genetic predisposition or susceptibility is where they expect to find not one cause but combinations of causes that maybe very complex. >> okay. well robin, we look forward to all six pieces that begin on monday. and salute you for doinging this. >> well, thank you. see you then. >> lehrer: you bet. >> woodruff: you can already watch the first story in robin's series, in its entirety, on our web site. it's part of much more coverage online that complements our broadcast stories. you'll be able to see robin's stories the night before they appear on the program. the site also features information about dealing with costs, insurance coverage, and resources for autism. you can provide your feedback via email, facebook, twitter,
and even by phone. and when the series is over, robin will respond to viewer questions. it's all on our special "autism now" page. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: president obama said the war in libya is a military stalemate, and nato allies continue to pressure moammar qaddafi to surrender power; up to 100,000 people marched on damascus, syria, but security forces beat them back; and the u.s. house passed a republican budget for 2012. it cuts nearly $6 trillion from current spending levels over ten years. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the newshour online. hari. >> sreenivasan: we'll have more from shields and brooks on "the rundown" blog. it's called "the doubleheader", where we talk politics and sports. tom bearden reflects on his reporting on the b.p. oil spill at the height of the crisis, and on returning to the gulf coast a year later. that's on "the rundown" blog. on "art beat," jeffrey brown talks to british novelist howard jacobson, winner of the 2010 man booker prize for fiction.
and we remember walter breuning, the world's oldest man, who died thursday of natural causes in great falls, montana. he was 114 years old. in 2009, breuning talked with william marcus of montana pbs, and reflected on his long life spanning the 20th century. in this excerpt, breuning recalls his favorite president. >> well, i think roosevelt done the most when he created social security and made several changes. but, you know, the second war f it hadn't opened up at that time, roosevelt would have had a tough time. just like the new president is going to go in, he's going to have a heck of a time, i'll tell you that. he thinks he's going to satisfy all the people in the country. he better think again. >> watch >> sreenivasan: watch more of
that interview by following a link from our web site to montana pbs. all that and more is at newshour.pbs.org. judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll look at corporate tax rates on the day income taxes are due. i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online, and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> during its first year, the humpback calf and its mother are almost inseparable. she lifts her calf to its first breath of air, then protects it on the long journey to their feeding grounds. one of the most important things you can do is help the next generation. at pacific life, we offer financial solutions to accomplish just that. your financial professional can tell you about pacific life-- the power to help you succeed.
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