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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  May 19, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: the former head of the international monetary fund was indicted on sexual assault charges in new york. the judge set bail while waiting trial at $1 million. good evening, i'm jim lehrer. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the "newshour" tonight, we have the latest on the case against dominique strauss-kahn and the leadership shakeup at the i.m.f. >> lehrer: then, judy woodruff reports on president obama's middle east policy address and margaret warner offers reaction from bahrain. >> brown: and we analyze the president's speech hailing the unrest in the arab world and calling for democratic reforms and progress toward middle east peace. >> lehrer: ray suarez talks to
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howard berkes of npr about a new report on the west virginia mine disaster that killed 29 people last year. >> brown: and "newshour" science correspondent miles o'brien places a really long distance call to put your questions to the space shuttle crew as they orbit the earth. >> as humans i don't think we'll ever stop exploring. and we're all excited to be a part of the great adventure. it's really all starting right here on the international space station. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i want to know what the universe... >> looks like. >> feels like. >> from deep space. >> to a microbe. >> i can contribute to the world by pursuing my passion for science. >> it really is the key to the future. >> i want to design... >> a better solar cell. >> i want to know what's really possible. >> i want to be the first to cure cancer. >> people don't really understand why things work. >> i want to be that person that finds out why.
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and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: one of the world's top financial leaders won restricted bail freedom today after resigning and being formally charged with sex crimes in new york. in less than 24 hours, dominique strauss-kahn stepped down as head of the international monetary fund, then learned he'd been indicted. he also won his release from jail in new york city. the resignation came overnight, five days after strauss-kahn was accused of attempted rape and sexual assault on a hotel maid. in a letter to the i.m.f.'s board, he wrote, in part:
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"i want to say that i deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me." but he went on to say: "i want to protect this institution and devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence." this afternoon, came word of the indictment. >> there is now an indictment. the first phase of this case seems to be over. it makes clear what the charges are, although i haven't seen it. but in any event, we know what the next course will be. and it will not be short. >> lehrer: the news emerged as a new york judge ordered strauss- kahn released on $1 million dollars bail, but placed him under house arrest. he's to be monitored by armed guards. >> and i agree with the people and the criminal court judge who remanded the
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defendant that money alone is simply not sufficient under the circumstances. >> lehrer: he's expected to go free tomorrow once the paperwork is completed. meanwhile, the jockeying to find a new head of the i.m.f. began in earnest. german chancellor angela merkel argued it should go to a european, as is tradition, especially given the continent's debt crisis. >> ( translated ): in the present situation when we have significant problems with the euro and the i.m.f. is very much involved there, there are arguments to propose a european candidate and support him in the international community. >> lehrer: the sentiment was much the same in brussels, at a meeting on eurozone debt. >> from the european point of view, it is essential that the appointment will be merit based where competence and economic and in this current juncture it is a merit if the person has quite solid knowledge of the european economy and decision making.
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>> lehrer: but in beijing, the chinese government said it's time to break europe's monopoly on the post. >> ( translated ): we have always believed that the i.m.f. in principle, we believe developing countries should be better represented at senior levels. >> lehrer: the u.s. took no position, at least, not publicly. instead, treasury secretary timothy geithner called for an open process that leads to a prompt succession. one leading candidate had already emerged-- french finance minister christine lagarde, a friend and colleague of strauss- kahn. the i.m.f.'s executive board was meeting today to begin considering strauss-kahn's successor. it was unclear how long that process might take. >> lehrer: more now, from zanny minton beddoes, economics editor of the economist. and sara eisen of bloomberg t.v. she was in the courtroom today. and sara, describe the scene, what was it like in there? >> well, it was a media friendsy, jim. outside the courthouse lined
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up along the street, center street, 100 center street outside themann mann-- manhattan criminal court tends pitched with media camera crews from all other than the world, not just new york city media. inside the courthouse, i waited on line for about two, two and a half hours just to get inside the courtroom with a select group of journalists. the room was packed, buzzing with journalists from around the world, lots of french reporters as well. then a hush came over the crowd once strauss-kahn's wife and his daughter entered the courtroom. from then it was quiet, all attention on the hearing, the bail hearing. >> lehrer: how would you describe strauss-kahn's demeanor and appearance? >> he did look tired and haggards. after all he has spent the last three nights in a liker's island single perso person-- ricker island jail cell. he walked in, looked immediately at his wife and daughter, flashed a smile to them. sat down. he was dressed in ode
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clothes, what you would typically see him in in an imf meeting, a gray blazer and either light gray or light blue collared shirt. very serious, quiet. did not speak for the entire hearing. and then at the very end once the bail had been granted, he did look back at his wife and his daughter and he smiled at them once again. you could tell there was a sense of relief to hear that news. and that was confirmed later by his lawyer william taylor. >> lehrer: and the judge made it clear that the issue here was not collecting bail money, he-- they wanted to ensure that strauss-kahn didn't go anywhere, right? was there very clearly made to him, do you think? >> it was very clear. in fact, at the very end, the judge turned to dominique-- dominique strauss-- dominique strauss-kahn. he said you need to be here, you need to be in this entire court. my decision was made that you will not leave new york, and will you appear before court. he said that if that does
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not happen then they will revisit and commod few the bail ruling. so that is certainly was very, very clear. it was his main concern, beyond the monetary bail, that he remain in new york city. that is why he agreed, say, to the 24 hour security guard to stay with strauss-kahn including the ankle bracelet security to monitor his activity. make sure he does not leave. and he is called to court for justice. >> lehrer: and of course, the critical issue there, of course is that if, in fact, he did leave the united states and went back to france, there's no extradition treaty with the u.s., correct? >> exactly. and the judge made it clear that in if he were to escape, if he were to go to france, it would be nearly impossible for him to return and appear in a new york city court. he also demanded that strauss-kahn hand over his passports. one of his passports has already been surrendered, according to the prosecution. he will also-- he has agreed this week to give his u.n. passport. so he cannot leave the
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country. >> lehrer: now an arraignment has been scheduled for june 6th. what happens at this arraignment? >> this is the arraignment for the indictment. we learned it was revealed during the hearing today, first from the prosecution that a grand jury had been meeting this week to hear the evidence and they had voted in favor of an indictment against strauss-kahn to proceed, proceed to trial with the charges against him. all seven charges against him. so that will no longer take place tomorrow as it was supposed to, whether the grand jury would proceed with the indictment because we learned it today during the bail hearing. that means the court will be adjourned again on june 6th where we will hear more details about the indictment. we don't know exactly what's in it. we'll likely learn in about ten days. >> lehrer: and at that time i formal plea would be entered too, correct? >> right. he has not given his formal plea yet. although his lawyer william taylor did say that he does intend to plead not guilty. he has denied all wrongdoing.
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and in his resignations as the chief of the imf last night around midnight, very strong denial of the charges against him. he vowed to spend all of his time and energy going forward to fighting, to prove that he is innocent. in court today, his defense lawyer william taylor did say strauss-kahn has one goal from now on, and that is to clear his name. >> lehrer: okay, well, thank you, sara, now zanny, mean tile-- meanwhile, the people who want to replace strauss-kahn are on the move. how would you describe that situation. where are-- what is the process. >> you described it very well in your report earlier, the jockeying has begun. >> lehrer: yeah. >> this is, the horses are at the gates, if you will. and the europeans have made very clear that they intend and want the tradition of the last 65 years to continue, which is this is a job that has always extraician-- traditionally gone to a european. there has been a stitchup for the last 65 years. >> lehrer: not by formal rule. >> by informal convention,
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the head of the imf has always been the european and the head of the world bank an american. >> lehrer: period. >> period, that's always been the case. and for the past few years the emerging economies have been increasingly angry about this. and they've said that this doesn't reflect the changing heft in the world economy. that it's a nonmeritaocratic process and they wanted it change. in some sense there was a move towards that change in the past few years. people recognized there had to be governance reform of the imf. and this is going to be a very real test. today you've seen both sides come out. the europeans have said it should be a european. we think it should be a european because the most important work right now is in europe, the debt crises in greece, portugal and ireland. and so they say it has to be a european there i find that logic somewhat tricky because the imf is supposed to be an impartial acker in all of this. and if have someone from europe already closely involved in this, it is not clear that they will be terribly impartial.
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>> lehrer: treasury secretary geithner says he wants an open process what is an open process. >> he also said prompt. >> lehrer: prompt, yes. >> and so i think the two, pushing two different directions. because prompt suggests perhaps, well, let the europeans have their thing. open suggests it needs to be a broader set of players, if you will. i think the americans are saying playing their cards close to their chest. they are really kingmakers in this process. the europeans control about a third of the heft on the imf board. the u.s. controls just under 20%. the u.s. puts its weight behind a european candidate, basically that candidate is in. but at the same time, i think the emerging economies have to do more than just say it's time for their person to have a go. they have to coalesce behind a clear candidate and that really hasn't happened yet. >> lehrer: now what is the process? is there a procedure, and a time line for getting this done? >> there is traditionally a procedure but the imf board, as your report said, is meeting right now to think about over the next few days
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what exactly the process will be like. and i'm sure there will be a few changes to that process. timing, well, on the one hand, you want-- i think everyone wants this sort of over with reasonably quickly. there is a lot of work to be be done particularly in europe. on the other hand i think there has to be some semblance of an open process. i think you can't just shoe in somebody overnight. >> lehrer: finally, let me ask you this, for folks who do not cover or follow the imf, the international monetary fund, how important is it to most people who the managing director of the imf is. >> that is a very good question. why do we all care about it. >> lehrer: yes, why do we care. >> there are two answers to that. in the short term, the imf which is the world's premier economic institution, it lends money to countries in crisis, it plays a very important role in the global economy and it's very embroiled right thought in europe, in grease,-- greece, portugal and ireland. and i think it's very important for that process,
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where the imf is playing a pretty critical role actually in defining what direction those rescue plans go. but more broadly and in the longer term, we're in the midst of a very big structural change in the world economy where the emerging he economies are becoming big are and more important players in the world economy. >> lehrer: it affects everybody. >> it affects everybody. and one part of, you know, managing that rise of the emerging economies and rising the impact on the global economy is to have kind confi credible-- where everybody gets together and talks about the effects on different part of the world. and the imf is already a central player in that. if the fund is not lead by-- doesn't have a strong and credible leader, mr. strauss-kahn for all his personal failings, was widely seen as having been a very, very strong and effective leader. i think a weak imf is to the good for the world economy. >> lehrer: and a weak leader could result in a weak imf. >> absolutely. too often, particularly in u.n. appointments and things, you have seen compromise candidates or indeed in europe, compromise
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candidates who have been weak leaders. >> lehrer: okay, zanny and sara, thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> brown: still to come on the "newshour": the president's middle east policy address; the investigation into the west virginia mine disaster and a long distance conversation from space. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: al-qaeda released a new audio recording of osama bin laden today praising the revolts in the arab world. the 12-minute message was recorded shortly before bin laden's death and was posted on militant web sites. in the message, bin laden urged muslims everywhere to join the uprisings. >> ( translated ): i think that the winds of change will blow over the entire muslim world, with permission from allah. so, what are you waiting for? save yourselves and your children, because the opportunity is here. >> sreenivasan: bin laden was killed by u-s navy seals in a raid in pakistan, on may 2. it is not yet clear if he made any other recordings beforehand. the government of libya has denied reports that leader moammar qaddafi's wife, safia, and daughter, aisha, fled to
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tunisia this week. a foreign ministry spokesman said late wednesday that the two women are safe, and still in tripoli. he also denied the libyan oil minister had defected. the government also staged a rally overnight, with hundreds of loyalists proclaiming the rebellion is all but over. in eastern afghanistan, more than 100 insurgents killed 35 workers and guards overnight, at a road construction site. the massacre happened in a mountainous region of paktia province, near the pakistani border. the attackers stormed a nato- funded work site, with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and assault rifles. the ensuing firefight lasted two hours. meanwhile, a u.s. military study warned that increased fighting is taking a toll on u.s. troops in afghanistan. it found the highest rates of mental health problems since 2005. at least 27 people died today in a series of bombings in northern iraq. most of the victims were police. the first blast erupted in a police station parking lot in kirkuk. a second bomb went off as officers left their fortified
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headquarters to investigate. thick smoke from dozens of burning vehicles billowed from the scene. a third bomb went off 45 minutes later on a road to the city hospital. in all, at least 70 people were wounded. the mississippi river has claimed its first flood victim since the water began rising in mississippi and louisiana. a 69-year-old man died early today after being rescued near vicksburg, mississippi, where the river was cresting. in louisiana, workers in morgan city, including jail inmates, rushed to fill sandbags. they're being used to shore up levees and a 20-foot floodwall. for the first time, president obama lost a fight today over a federal judge nominee. senate republicans blocked action on goodwin liu, a law professor at the university of california berkeley. democrats argued liu-- the son of taiwanese immigrants-- would bring much-needed diversity to the federal bench. republicans charged that liu is a liberal ideologue the two sides jousted on the senate floor. >> we are a melting pot and we're proud of this american dream.
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but if our court doesn't reflect this diversity, it could still be fair, it could still be just, but not as good as if we have a diversity of thought and ethnic diversity. >> mr. liu has extraordinary beliefs about our laws and constitution, beliefs that fall far outside the mainstream. they just do. professor liu does not believe judges are bound to apply the constitution according to what it actually meant at its drafting, or what it plainly says. >> sreenivasan: liu had been nominated for a seat on the ninth u.s. circuit court of appeals, based in san francisco. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 45 points to close at 12,605. the nasdaq rose eight points to close at 2,823. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim. >> lehrer: next, president obama addresses the arab revolt and israeli-palestinian peace.
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judy woodruff begins our coverage. >> woodruff: the speech at the state department was advertised as a response to the arab uprisings. but mr. obama made headlines on the long-stalled israeli/palestinian peace process. he had strong words for the palestinians and their diplomatic campaign at the u.n. >> for the palestinians, efforts to delegitimize israel will end in failure. symbolic actions to isolate israel at the united nations in september won't create an independent state. >> woodruff: but for the first time, he endorsed a key palestinian demand. the borders of israel and palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. the palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a
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sovereign and contiguous state. >> woodruff: the president also offered strong support for israel. >> our commitment to israel's security is unshakeable. and we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. but precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace. >> woodruff: palestinian president mahmoud abbas welcomed the speech. but israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu rejected any return to the 1967 borders, calling them indefensible. netanyahu meets with president obama tomorrow, at the white house. in the meantime, the president aimed much of his speech today at the muslim world. >> we support political and economic reform in the middle east and north africa that can
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meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region. our support for these principles is not a secondary interest. today, i am making it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal. let me be specific. >> woodruff: the protests began in tunisia last december, bringing down that country's president and soon after toppled egypt's hosni mubarak. from algeria in january, to the iconic demonstrations in cairo's tahrir square to yemen, gaza, lebanon and jordan. in february, pro-democracy groups began an uprising against moammar qaddafi in libya and protests also sprang up in morocco and bahrain. by march, demonstrators had hit
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the streets of saudi arabia and syria too. president obama has faced criticism that his response to the revolts is uneven, taking military action, for example in libya, but not in yemen, syria or bahrain. and while he issued sanctions yesterday against syria's president bashar al assad, mr. obama today offered assad one more chance. >> the syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. president assad now has a choice: he can lead that transition, or get out of the way. >> woodruff: the president also had words for bahrain-- a strategic partner and home of the u.s. fifth fleet. he urged the gulf nation's leaders to end their mass arrests and violent crackdown on demonstrators. >> the only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you cant have a real dialogue when
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parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. >> woodruff: there was no reference to saudi arabia, where protests have been minimal. how much effect these u.s. statements or actions will have on arab and muslim public opinion was unclear. a recent pew research poll found the rise in pro-democracy movements hasn't improved the u.s. image and the president himself remains unpopular, with most muslim nations polled disapproving of the way he's responded to the arab spring. but in a bid to show support for the democratic awakening, mr. obama did lay out economic aid plans worth billions of dollars for both egypt and tunisia. margaret warner has been reporting from the arab kingdom of bahrain this week and she joins us now. hellor, margaret, the president devoted a full paragraph in his speech to the situation in bahrain calling for dialogue.
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so how are the people there reacting to this? >> warner: well, judy, it depends whom you're speaking to, of course. members of the opposition, i spoke to a number of prominent member of the opposition and the reform movement, said they were at first dismayed that president obama didn't mention this country in the litany at first of countries where people were crying out for freedom. but when he got to the bahrain paragraph they used words like thrilled and surprised. and there were three things they were pleased by. one, that he did call for dialogue directly from the opposition to the government, which the government here has been backing away from. two, that he said it's going to be hard to have talks with the opposition when a great number of them are in jail. an three, that he talked about the destruction of shi'a mosques. and every one in the opposition as well as frankly on the internet were saying, you know, they thought this was a lot farther than any one of the administration but of course the president especially had gone. on the government side, i
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would say it was a little cooler. one member of the royal family did say to me well, he recognized the threat that iran poses to us. but if you certainly if you look at the twitter feeds, what you see is a lot of action, but the people on the opposition side, much more energized than the people who are supporting the government. >> woodruff: margaret, the criticism we've heard from the region is that the united states has been following a double standard in the way that it's reacted to at rab spring. that there's been a different approach to different countries. do you think what the president said today allayed those concerns? >> warner: i would say in part, but not entirely. that is particularly it is the opposition side, the shi'a lead opposition that is felt this way. that they were please add that he had a whole paragraph about it and that at least it was included. and it was included along with yemen, one noted, as a ally who is trying to stand in the way of this movement.
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and they liked being included with that. but a couple of them said to me, you know, there still is a double standard in the sense that america's security in oil interests still seem to matter more than their belief in a democratic revolution in the arab world. that he talks about the need for change throughout north africa and part of the middle east but not on the gulf. did not mention saudi arabia and did not really put it to the leaders of bahrain, so there is still a feeling there is a double standard. now the pro government people said to me well, that should put that to rest. and the other one said yes, there is a double standard and there should be. we're not egypt. we're not tunesia, we've had a 200-year-old, he called it pact, between the people and the ruling family, the monarchy. that we're not a revolutionary society. you know, we didn't have strongman take over by force, as say in egypt and tunesia. so there is a recognition
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even on the government side there is a double standard. but they think it is welcome and entirely appropriate. >> woodruff: remind us how much tension has there been between the u.s. and the government of bahrain over the u.s. response. >> warner: there has been considerable tension dating back to the way that the united states reacted when president mubarak was in trouble and ultimately left power in egypt. in bahrain, along with, along with saudi arabia, felt that here was a long time ally, a sunni ruler who had been a good, good friend to the united states. and essentially, the u.s. threw him under the bus. and that's the perception. and so there has been tension and distrust. and i say that still continues despite the number of visits from u.s. officials here and the calls from president obama to the king. so that remain, i would say, a tension. >> woodruff: what reaction are you picking up from the rest of the region, across
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the middle east, across north africa to the speech? >> well, it was interesting, judy, if you just looked at the media. bahrain tv didn't even run it live. they had a patriotic music videos on. but al-- al jazeera and all arabbia which is what everyone said they planned to watch anyway, covered it heavily t was on live, a lot of commentary. it won't surprise to you know that initially most of the commentary was about the arab-israeli situation. but when they did talk about bahrain and the rest of the arab spring, there was a recognition that bahrain at least had come in for some recognition. but that still a double standard remained. and it was noted that president obama had used the words about president assad, he either has to lead the transition or step aside. it's pretty of the same words he used about mubarak at one critical point. and one commentator on al jazeera i think was said why ask he saying that about assad or yemen but not about ra bahrain.
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>> woodruff: margaret warner reporting from the capitol of bahrain-- bahrain, thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> brown: and we take a broader look now at the president's speech, with rami khouri, a journalist and director of the issam fares institute at the american university of beirut. mona eltahawy, a longtime reporter in the middle east, now a columnist and lecturer on arab and muslim issues. and martin indyk, former assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs and u.s. ambassador to israel. he's now director of foreign policy at the brookings institution. rami khouri, start with the stated focus of this speech. addressing the arab uprising. what was your reaction, what did you hear? >> my reaction was pretty positive. i think when the president of the united states uses the words self-determination of the people, of individuals to describe what's going on and says that the legitimacy of regimes is defined by the freedom of the people,s that's pretty powerful stuff. he also said that these basic core principleses which he talked about, democracy, freedom of speech,
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pluralism, rule of law, that these are universal and that they apply to all people in the view of the united states. and that the u.s. would support this everywhere and oppose it when governments are pushing back. this is pretty powerful stuff. but it's at the the rhetorical level. i think we have to say that this is very good speech-making. and we hope that it translates into policymaking. it hasn't done so before very much. but i think the situation is changing and obama is now catching up with the arab people. this is a very interesting situation. so there's some very powerful statements, i thought, about the arab spring. arab-israeli issues i suppose we'll get to later. >> brown: let me ask mona eltahawy, was he catching up with what is happening on the ground? what did you hear or not hear? >> i think that president obama was trying to catch up. and remember that mohammed-- set himself on fire on december 17th, so it has taken several weeks of trying to catch up. but i don't think that the president really got there.
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because what i heard was a speech that perhaps was educational and was trying to realign u.s. foreign policy for domestic audience. but for an audience in the middle east, north africa that is fed up, and has long been very fed up in a clear double standard in u.s. foreign policy, a policy that would take the sides of dictators at the expense of the people, i don't think that the speech finally caught up. i heard many positive things but there were many things that were glaringly missing. for example, the united states gives the egyptian armed forces $1.3 billion in aid every year. the supreme military council which runs egypt right now is in danger-- endangering the very values and the resolutions that president obama praised today because the supreme military council in egypt detains people, detains revolutionaries, tortures them and puts them on military trial. and then when it comes to the most glaring omission of all, and the country that is the worst offender and the
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strongest counterrevolutionary force, saudi arabia, the president didn't mention it at all. president obama mentioned iran as a potential threat in bahrain. but remember saudi arabia has actual troops on the ground in bahrain. and when it comes to religious freedom and women' rights which the president mentioned and i praise him for that, saudi arabia again is the worst offender especially when it company coulds to its shi'a minority and women's rights. so i heard for a domestic audience those missing might not be important but for the people on the ground who far outpace the u.s., i think they will be disappointed that president obama didn't mention that. >> brown: let me bring in martin indyk, without do you think he was actually addressing in this speech? and start to bring in the issue that he did talk b the emphasis on israeli and the palestinians. >> well, i think he was clearly addressing the arab world. and indeed extending-- sending a very clear signal that he intended to align the united
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states as rami khouri has suggested with the people there may not have been a mention of saudi arabia but i can assure you that the saudi royal family, and the king in particular will not be happy at all with what they heard today because he basically laid down the gauntlet. and made clear not just on issues like women's rights but on the whole issue of political reform which the saudis are opposed to, that the united states was going to be on the side of the change, be on the side of the people, and that the status quo was unsustainable. and in fact, what we have here is a rift between the united states and our saudi ally on this critical issue of political reform. when it comes to the israeli-palestinian issue, the president made clear again that he sees a settlement based on a two state solution is critically important. but he went one step further than any president has gone by making clear that the boards-- borders of the two
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states needs to be based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps that would incorporate the major settlement blocs into israel in exchange for palestinian territory from israel. and that israel's security needs would have to be met in that context. so he laid down two terms of reference for a negotiation that hopefully will be possible to get under way again. >> brown: and rami khouri, so turning to that issue, does that step forward,-- how is that heard, do you think, in the arab world? where does that leave things? and is it enough? >> well, it's a presidential speech. and presidential speeches are expressions, signals of what may happen. and we'll have to see what policy changes may come. but i would add to what martin said two other things, he made what i thought an extraordinary-- opened up an extraordinarily open space
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in dealing with hamas. and de it in two ways. he said that the arabs must respond to the legitimate israeli questions about how israel can deal with a unity government in palestinian that deals with ham-- includes hamas. he said the arabs-- the palestinians should respond. and he said the quartet should now look again at the impasse that it has with the negotiations. this was, i thought, incredibly important. meaning the u.s. is not going to accept the israeli demand that the u.s. should block any contacts with the unity government of palestine and the u.s. is trying to forge, i think, some new ground here. the other thing he did which i thought was important was to separate the issues of territory and security, saying those basic principals have to be agreed to start the negotiations again and then deal with the tougher issues of jerusalem and refugees. so there is some new language and i think there is some new principals that are being articulated here. i read this as obama trying to support the self-determination of the arab people fighting for freedom, for their freedom,
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and articulating that the united states wants self-determination from pro israeli forces who have been dictating its policy for a long time. >> brown: and mona what did you hear in the israe israel-palestinian part of this? and how important is this issue still to all of these people in the arab street that we hear about? >> well, you know, again, what i didn't hear, i think, is much more important. and i didn't hear the president connect israeli-palestinian conflict and ways to resolve it with what is hatching on the ground, i.e. the revolution and uprising. because you know, when you look at why hams as and fatah have signed this historic unity deal, why did they sign it? because they recognize that realities on the ground have changed across the region around them. they recognize that mubarak who was a major ally to the palestinian authority is gone. and hamas recognizes that syria, a major ally for it, is, the regime there has been threatened by a revolution in syria. so i think, and israel now must also recognize that the reality on the ground has
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changed. and i think what we need to remember is that there is a long history of nonviole resistence by the palestinians that has influenced and inspired many across that part of the world in their own nonviolent uprising. and in turn, those nonviolent revolutions especially tunesia in egypt are influencing in-- palestinians which is what you saw over the last weekend when young palestinians began to march peacefully and were shot at by israeli soldiers. so the reality on the ground now is that palestinians are look around and saying well, we deserve freedom and dignity too. and they say this to hamas, fatah and to israel. >> brown: and martin indyk, just in our last minute, because we'll now have with this visit from prime minister netanyahu several days to be looking at this issue. but more broadly, we reported earlier on that poll that shows that in spite of the pro-democracy movements in the arab world, u.s. standing does not seem to be all that high right now. does a speech help or what has to happen next? >> well, i think the speech
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will help. but i think everybody in the middle east is skeptical about good speeches and want to see actions. and that's what president obama has been judged on in the past. he promised a major effort to try to resolve these very palestinian conflicts and so far he hasn't succeeded. and he's made clear in this speech that the road ahead is going to be long and hard. so he's not promising that. i think that so much of the reaction in the middle east depends on how one side or the other reacts. so meeting netanyahu tonigh tonight-- maybe netanyahu is very unhappy with this mention of the '67 lines, and sos as a result, the palestinians are saying they welcome the speech. it's a kind of zero sum gain in that part of the world. and the more the israelis protest i suspect the more that the arabs will like it. in the vend what-- in the end what matters is we can't run a policy, u.s. policy
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based on an applause meter in the arab world. what matters is how the president squares the difficult circle of promoting our values and promoting our interests at a time of revolutionary change in the arab world. and i think what he's done in this speech is rebalance in a way that does help to put him in the kind of middle way between promoting our values and protecting and promoting our interest, in a middle way between protecting israeli's security and promoting palestinian rights to self-determination. >> brown: all right, martin indyk, ram aye-- rami khouri, mona eltahawy, thank you all very much. >> lehrer: now, the results of a major investigation into last year's mining disaster in west virginia. ray suarez has our story. >> suarez: for five days in april last year, the community around the upper big branch mine
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in west virginia and the rest of the country awaited the fate of 29 trapped miners. >> all we can do right now as a community is just come together praying. because if you're from here we're all coal mining families. >> suarez: a prolonged rescue attempt could only bring two men out alive, after an explosion 1,000 feet inside the mine. 29 others were killed in what was the worst mining disaster in the u.s. in four decades. the mine is operated by massey energy corporation. in the five years leading up to the disaster, massey had been cited by the government for more than 1,300 safety violations. but massey c.e.o. don blankenship claimed he ran a tight ship. >> massey has probably the safest record, probably about 18 of the last 20 years, we've been safer than the industry average. >> suarez: early on, officials pointed to bad ventilation and coal dust buildup as key problems. >> i have heard stories, in no
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way confirmed, of unsafe methane and dust buildups. >> suarez: today, the first independent investigative report was released. it heavily criticized massey's operation. the report was written by former federal mine safety chief davitt mcateer. >> the most profound problem is that basic fundamental safety precautions and practices were neglected and those contributed mightily to loss of lives of these miners. >> suarez: the investigation concluded lack of air and poor ventilation was a chronic problem, allowing methane gas to build up where miners worked. it cited a history of violations from both state and national oversight agencies. >> i don't know how you could have assembled a worse record than they have assembled in the last several years.
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>> suarez: the report found the u.s. mine safety and health administration was far too lax in its oversight and said it "is proof positive that the agency failed its duty as the watchdog for coal miners." massey energy, in a statement today, disputed the findings, contending that a huge and unusual buildup of gases within the mine led to the explosion. >> suarez: howard berkes of npr has been covering the mine disaster and investigation for the past year. he joins us now, howard, welcome can. reading the report doesn't take any technical expertise. doesn't it just basically come down to the straightforward conclusion that basic safety practices were not followed in the mine? >> well, that conclusion is not highly technical but the report does contain an enormous amount of technical information that supports that conclusion. and there's a lot in the report about the safety systems that failed at upper big branch which included the ventilation that's supposed to sweep away
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dangerous gases,s that wasn't working properly. the process of neutrallizing coal dust in the mine, coal dust is highly explosive. if you have an ignition of methane, the methane that wasn't swept away, if you have an ignition of that methane and then ignites coal dust, that is an accelerant. and that is what fuels what was not just one explosion but a series of explosions throughout the mine. there is a lack of technical in the report. but fundamentallically, you're right t was a basic failure to follow the most fundamental safety processions that have been known in coal mining for over 100 years. >> suarez: the lead investigators said they talked to a lot of people who worked at the upper big branch mine. did mine errs know there were vent-- miners know there were ventilation problems before the explosion? >> you know, ray, the very first week that we were working on this story a year ago in april of 2010, miners first talked about ventilation. they really talked about the
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same things that have now been reported, and that took a year to investigate, we're hearing the same things that miners talked about that first week. they knew it because they would tell their friends we've got no air. if you are going to work up on head gate 22, take your own air, they say. and they would complain about not being able to breathe. they would complain about excessive heat which occurs because there isn't enough ventilation. this was a well-known problem at that mine. >> suarez: the author of the study also noted that there was safety equipment present but found what, that it was broken, turned off, not inspected as required? >> there were two major failures with safety equipment. one is with rock dusting machines. and rock dusting is a process by which they take crushed limestone and spread it out over the coal dust to neutralize its explosiveness. it's a common thing done in coal mines. well, the rock dusting machine they used was so old they couldn't find any record of it from the
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manufacturerer. and it was poorly maintained. it was constantly clogging. there were serious problems with that. the crews were poorly trained. so that was one major problem. the mine was not rock dusted the way it should to neutralize that coal dust. and the other issue was that at the long wall mining machine the cutting tool, the shearer has these water sprayers that helped keep sparks down, you know, a cutting tool is going to hit coal, of course. but it might hit rock as well. sparks fly. if there is meth ann in theary that methane can then ignite and that's what started this kind of explosion. those water sprayers were not functioning properly. they were clogged. some were missing. and so there wasn't a robust spray of water to keep those sparks from igniting the methane. another major safety system failure. >> suarez: was there any conclusion formed about why the company was operating the mine this way? did the report say massey decided that production was
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a higher priority than the safety of the people who worked for them? >> the report does suggest that. but also talks about a safety culture there in which the company believed in its own mythology that it put safety first. but in actuality, the records of violations over the years and the kinds of things that were discovered in this investigation, the kinds of things that miners finally came out and talked publicly about, clearly showed that there was much greater interest in production at this mine. that's really a greater interest in profits than in the safety of the miners. if these things were allowed to occur, then obviously the safety of miners is not utmost, that is what this report concludes. >> suarez: for all this identification of numerous and view teen violations, where was the state of west virginia? where were the federal regulators who were supposed
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to be finding all these infractions? >> i think that's one of the key questions. the team says that the state didn't have enough inspectors, doesn't have the budget to adequately keep track of all the problems in all of the coal mines in west virginia. they're underfunded and understaffed. and the report also suggests that there is not the political will in this state to enforce safety in a rigorous way. and as for the federal government, the mine safety and health administration is criticized very strongly in this report for failing to pay attention to safety not only at upper big branch but more broadly in coal mines across the country. the agency has failed as the report points out and as we have reported, it has failed to use the toughest tools at its disposal to keep coal mine companies in line to make sure coal miners are safe. it has started to do that since april 5th of last year when those 29 coal miners died. but it wasn't doing that
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before and when you ask the agency why it wasn't done, they'll say well, the previous administration didn't do it. that's not our fault. but while they still have applied these tools now, they haven't been applying them in a way that suggests that this is going to be the way they'll do business from now on. >> suarez: npr's howard berkes is in beckley, west virginia. thank you for talking with us. >> great to be with you, ray. >> brown: finally tonight, the space shuttle endeavor launched monday on a 16-day mission and this morning, "newshour" science correspondent miles o'brien talked with the crew, posing questions sent in from viewers like you, in a collaboration of google, youtube, and the "newshour." here are some excerpts, including his talk with astronaut mark kelly, husband of congresswoman gabriel giffords. now recovering from an assassination attempt. >> reporter: this one is a text
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question-- actually a couple of this one is-- he says, "mr. gifford's, it is difficult... is it difficult leaving your wife even though she's doing well? i think she would want to be where you are now. god bless you and your wife and the whole crew." and mark, i'll just button it up with, i know gabby had surgery yesterday. i assume you've had some updates. how are things going? >> well, i had the chance at the end of the day to call her mom and her chief of staff and my brother periodically through the-- as the surgery was going on. and she's doing really well. everything went as planned. her neurosurgeons are very happy. she's recuperating. and she's actually getting back to therapy today. so it went really, really well. >> reporter: now, of course, gabby was at the launch. i understand you're carrying her wedding ring with you. i don't know-- do you have it on you? and also, i'm just curious; i know you have a busy day up there. oh, you have it. let's see it. that's great, right around your neck, okay.
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in the course of... >> it's right there. >> reporter: in the course of your busy day, obviously, you have a lot to think about up there. your thoughts must go to her as well? >> yeah, obviously this has been a long road since january 8 for us. it-- her having surgery yesterday was not planned all along. but she was ready and the doctors, you know, wanted to do it then and didn't make sense to wait a couple weeks until i got back. so i've been thinking a little bit about that. but it's a pretty common surgery and it went really well. she was really excited to be at the launch, really enjoyed it a lot. >> reporter: i tell you what: pass the mic over to ron garan. ron who is a space station keeper and has spent a little bit of time up there. you tweeted a photo of the mississippi river the other day and nasa has been sending images as well. what's it like to see the devastation of that flooding
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from space? >> well, miles, that's an interesting question because, you know, we do have this sense of isolation being up here, you know, living off the planet. but at the same time, you know, even though we have this sense of isolation, we have the ability to be more connected with things on the ground because we fly over it all the time. so watching, you know, the mississippi river flooding on the news and then flying over it are two different things. and seeing with our own eyes the devastation and the tragedy that's going on in that area of the country, you know, is really something. and we feel a responsibility to try and document that as best we can as time allows and take as many pictures of that area as we can. >> reporter: drew feustel, this one from the grinning man from youtube. the question is how realistic is obama's promise to visit the planet mars by 2030? do you believe it is possible to do it sooner?
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>> i think we're all, as space explorers, interested in eventually getting onto mars and also visiting the moon, since that's our nearest neighbor. in my vision, can we do it sooner? i think we can. and hopefully with the progress were making with the commercial launch vehicles and what nasa is doing for heavy lift and with the intent-- as long as, you know, we have the intent to make it onto mars eventually, you know, we will get there. as humans, i don't think we'll ever stop exploring. and we're all excited to be a part of the great adventure. >> reporter: this one comes from florida on youtube. when you're in orbit, do you have to make a lot of maneuvers due to satellites, space debris and other stuff? >> the answer is sometimes. fortunately, many of those items are tracked for us. well, all of the items that we make maneuvers for are tracked for us. and so we do... we do that from time to time. it's not as frequent as some might think. obviously, the bigger danger for us is items that are not tracked. and that's especially true for spacewalkers. so it's something we think about.
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but fortunately, many of those issues are taken care of by the ground control teams that are watching out for us. >> reporter: all right, that's about all the time we have. i've got to implore upon you-- group somersault. can you do one for me? >> i think we can do that, right? that's certainly not as graceful as it could have been. that's why we usually hesitate to do those. but it's certainly fun to do. >> reporter: well, i got to say, at least you're having some fun up there. you're not going to the olympics with that. keep the day jobs, guys-- night jobs on this mission. >> lehrer: you can watch all of miles' space interview on the "newshour's" you-tube page and our rundown blog. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: the former head of the international monetary fund dominique strauss- kahn was indicted on sexual
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assault charges in new york. a judge ordered him released on $1 million bail. and president obama endorsed the palestinian demand that israel return to its 1967 borders. but israeli prime minister netanyahu quickly rejected the idea. and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> oil companies have changed my country. >> oil companies can make a difference. >> we have the chance to build the economy. >> create jobs, keep people healthy and improve schools. >> ... and our communities. >> in angola chevron helps train engineers, teachers and farmers; launch child's programs. >> it's not just good business. >> i'm hopeful about my country's future. >> it's my country's future.
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and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions
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