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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  June 17, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: senator harry reid, the majority leader, told the newshour the war powers act has no application to the nato-led air strikes in libya and the operation would be over soon. good evening. i'm jim lehrer. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, senator reid also talked about afghanistan and the budget deal in our newsmaker interview. >> lehrer: then, we look at dissent in saudi arabia, as some women challenge strict male-only driving rules in the islamic kingdom. >> woodruff: margaret warner gets an update from steven greenhouse of "the new york times" about a labor dispute that pits the government against boeing, and washington state against south carolina.
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>> lehrer: mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. >> woodruff: and gwen ifill talks to human rights activist john prendergast and his "unlikely brother," michael mattocks, co-authors of a new book chronicling their unique bond. >> did you think who is this strange white guy taking me out in the street like this? >> in the beginning, yeah, but i really at that time didn't care because we was having so much fun. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> well, the best companies are driven by new ideas. >> our future depends on new ideas. we spend billions on advanced technologies. >> it's all about investing in the future. >> we can find new energy-- more cleaner, safer and smarter. >> collaborating with the best in the field. >> chevron works with the smartest people at leading universities and tech companies. >> and yet, it's really basic.
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>> it's paying off every day. the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. 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: and to our newsmaker interview with the majority leader of the senate, harry reid of nevada. i talked with him a short time ago. senator, welcome. >> thank you very much for allowing me to be on the show. >> lehrer: well, first on the libya military operation, do you believe the war powers act requires authorization of
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further action? >> the war powers act has no application to what's going on in libya. >> lehrer: none? >> i don't believe so. we did an thanks,-- authorizing for afghanistan, we did one for iraq but we have no troops on the ground there and this will be over before we know it anyway so i do not think it is necessary. >> lehrer: as you know, there are some democratic colleague,including senator durbin, who feel differently about it. why do you think the fact that u.s. troops are not on the ground, but u.s. military hardware and equipment and personnel are being-- are involved, why-- >> i think you can see what the problem is. superior court boehner, they did something in the house, and qaddafi wrote a letter and said thanks. i mean, i think very clearly what we're doing there is the right thing to do. i would much rather have qaddafi
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gone. i don't think the draft-- act when drafted took this into consideration. >> lehrer: there is going to be a vote? >> i don't know. in the senate there's nothing very definite about votes. i had a long conversation with john kerry, and john mccain has strong feelings on this. >> lehrer: speaker boehner says if they don't do something like this in the house, he may try to keep the. away from being spent on the libya operation. >> i don't think john really believes we should stop our inaction libya. i mean, this madman is just that. he's a mad man. the sooner he goes, the better off. and i don't think people should play around with this. we do not want qaddafi running libya, and so i think the superior court should be very careful about these threats. >> lehrer: just so i understand, you support the president's
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position that that was put out and that statement, 30-some pages here, a few days ago? >> yes, we talked about it and i agree with the president. >> lehrer: okay. now on afghanistan, the president is due to announce very soon a-- the schedule for an afghanistan troop withdrawal and the size of these-- of the withdrawal. where do you come down on this? >> well, the american people have war fatigue. it's been going on for a long, long time. i think the president was right when he said july 1 there was going to be a draw-down. he said that a long time ago and there's going to be a draw-down. i am confident that it will be one that's substantial. i certainly hope so. >> lehrer: you're confident it will be? >> yeah, i think he's going to-- i think he's going to draw down. i hope it's a number that is substantial. >> lehrer: you know, there was a report today in the "wall street journal" that says the military, u.s. military, is urging the president not to do a substantial-- >> this is more, though, than the military. much of what we're doing in that part of the world is done from a
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diplomatic core to run intelligence operations. i met with general petraeus yesterday. we didn't go into a lot of detail of what he was recommending to the president but this is more than what the military want. it's what the american people want, what they need, what the intelligence community believes should happen there, and certainly our diplomatic core, led by secretary clinton. >> lehrer: what about the idea, though, of the so-called fighting seasons that are-- in afghanistan, and the military says, look, let's keep our strength really strong until we get to the fall of 2012. that will assure a better military outcome in the long run. >> i'm a strong supporter of the military. but let's be realistic-- in afghanistan, afghanistan, the fighting season is 12 months a year. it may get a little less when they-- the snow comes but 12 months a year. we've got provinces now in afghanistan that have been turned over to the afghanis, and
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we should continue along those lines ask start bringing our troops home. they need to come home. >> lehrer: now, have you said this to president obama? is he aware of your position on all of this? >> i've-- i've talked to people in the administration. the president knows how i feel. i have told him i hope that there's a troop withdrawal and one of significance. >> lehrer: and you expect that to happen. >> well, i hope so. >> lehrer: you don't have any inside information. >> no, i have no inside information. >> lehrer: do you have any idea when it will be announced? >> i think it will be very soon. it's a couple of weeks to the first of the month and that's the day datewe have. i would guess the week after next. >> lehrer: let's go to domestic things. the biden negotiations on deficit reduction, and the debt ceiling. where do they stand as we speak? >> well, i serve with joe biden. he does a terrific job at atever he is involved in and he's been very good. people like him. i have one big complaint, that is they shouldn't be taking
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breaks. they should be meeting every week, multiple times each week. and all these congressional recesses, that should have no bearing. our country is at a very important time in the history of our country. we must reduce our debt. we must increase the debt limit, and there's no-- no vacation during this period of time. we've got to move forward. >> lehrer: so if there's-- this-- if there's no agreement by the 4th of july recess, you're saying go ahead, do not do the recess? keep talking? >> what i'm saying is right now there's a process where the house is in two weeks, out a week. i'm saying when the senate is in recess, we should be working on this. when the house is in recess, we should be working it. >> lehrer: what is your understanding about how close they are to coming to an dreamt? >> well, there's progress being made. but until it's done, it's not
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done. there are still some bridges to cross. i, of course, believe that the debt is extremely important. we've got to focus on that, reduce that debt. we've got to make sure it's done fairly, though. it can't all be done on the backs of the old people as the so-called ryan budget wants to do, the republicans want to do. it can't all be done with domestic discretionary spending. there are certain things we have to protect and the republicans seem to be very determined to protect the billionaires and millionaires. they don't want the oil companies-- even though they made $37 billion profit last quarter, that they're still getting the subsidies which even most of them say they don't need. >> lehrer: the republicans also said they will not go along with any tax increases, but is it possible to do what needs to be done without tax increases in your opinion? >> according to grover norquest, 34 republicans in the senate broke that pledge yesterday when we voted to get rid of the subsidies on ethanol. so this is-- we're not working on a math problem.
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we're working? in the senate of the united states, working in the congress. we're trying to come up with something that will help lessen the burden of debt on the american people. and there are things we can do on revenue. i think, of course, i believe that the people making more than $1 million a year should pay their fair share as warren buffett and others believe. but they obviously have locked in there. i think even grover norquest who has been criticizing people for breaking the tax pledge, there are ways we can do this. there has to be something done with revenue to make this fair. >> lehrer: so when vice president biden says, okay, we have some agreement here, but the hard part it's hard parts are still to come what, is he talking about? >> i'm sure the president is going to be making some of those decisions what the hard parts are. i'm pretty sure that speaker boehner ask i had been called in and o'connell and-- not the speaker now, but my friend nancy
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pelosi to find out where we should go on this. joe biden has done the heavy lifting. there's still a lot more to do. but in the end, as you know, the president will have to step forward sgleerl do you think it's going to be done? >> we have no choice. >> lehrer: no choice? >> we have no choice. >> lehrer: from your point of view, why do we have no choice? >> i have to say i am very troubled with some of the-- i was going to use a word i shouldn't use-- the people in the house, the tea party folks who say and have said publicly we're not willing to raise the debt under any condition. i'm a little concerned about that, but i think cooler heads will prevail. we cannot let the full faith credit of the united states go down. if we do, it will not only hurt our country. it will hurt the world. >> lehrer: in order to do that, $2 tril yorng at least according to what has been proposed, $2 trillion in some form has to be through tax cuts or revenue increases has to be accounted
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for. >> i personally believe it should be more than $2 trillion. if we could get to three that week terrific. but at least $2.5 trillion. >> lehrer: and that of course would be plenty enough to handle what the debt limit would be. >> oh, yes. i would-- i hope that we can do more than the debt limit. we should-- we should do it-- i don't like-- long term, five, six years, but at least multiple years. >> lehrer: it can't be done without revenue enhancement in your opinion. >> it can't be done without revenue enhancement without taking a big hammer. the american people know it's unfair to have oil companies, five of them, made $37 billion last quarter, and we're paying them billions of dollars in subsidies? that's not fair. that should be part of the mix. >> lehrer: finally, let me ask you this. there's a new poll, a gallup poll in the last 24 hours about the approval rating of the congress of the united states. 17%, according to this poll, 17%
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it's basically republican colleagues stopped everything we've done. well, almost everything. we were able to push through the session, a patent bill which is 60 years overdue. reforming that is worth 300,000 jobs. we were able to reauthorize in the senate. it's so important to do that. that's another 280,000 jobs. those are lost over there someplace in house. they haven't done anything with those bills, announced anything.
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they're talking about all these cuts, all these things dealing with women that are unnecessary. and nothing about jobs. we've tried to bring up a couple other jobs bills, small-business innovation. that's where the electric toothbrush came from, through a very small grant, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. they stopped that. we now have-- we're going to have a cloture vote next week on the ada bill, started in 1965. in the last five years, 314,000 jobs for $1.2 billion invested because there's a seven-to-one multiplier-- they stopped that, it appears. >> lehrer: so it's all the republicans' fault? >> well, you know, i don't like to say "poor me," but the fact is they stop everything. they're filibustering by amendment, they just stop bills by real filibusters. >> lehrer: okay, senator, thank you very much. >> my pleasure.
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>> woodruff: still to come on the newshour: the only country where women can't drive; the boeing labor dispute; shields and brooks; and two unlikely brothers. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: the prime minister of greece, georges papandreou, shook up his government today in a bid to defuse the country's debt crisis. a reshuffled cabinet was sworn in, hoping to get new austerity measures through parliament. the new finance minister, who had been in charge of defense, said: "the country must be saved and it will be saved." >> ( translated ): i told the defense ministry today i leave from defense to go to the real war and i come here in the name of the greek people because they are the real managers of the crisis. they are the ones called to make sacrifices. only with the people. only with society. only with the productive forces in a climate of consensus and mutual understand category we carry out this great historic challenge. >> holman: greek markets and political leaders reacted well to the shakeup.
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world markets also rose, after germany and france said they want a solution to the greek problem soon, without forcing private investors to share the burden. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained more than 42 points to close at 12,004. the nasdaq fell seven points to close at 2,616. for the week, the dow gained a fraction of 1%; the nasdaq fell 1%. officials in yemen announced today that president ali abdullah saleh plans to return home within days. he's been receiving medical treatment in saudi arabia after being wounded during an attack on his palace. word of saleh's plans came as vast crowds-- several hundred thousand people-- filled a main boulevard in sanaa, the capital. they chanted appeals to the saudis to keep saleh away from yemen. a new round of friday protests swept across syria, and activists said security forces killed at least 16 demonstrators. thousands of syrians marched in city after city following
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friday prayers. they waved banners and called again for the downfall of president bashar al-assad. meanwhile, troops and tanks poured into maaret al-numan, near the turkish border. it was part of a drive to crush dissent in the region. the u.n. appealed today for $200 million immediately in relief for southern sudan. the south is three weeks away from gaining independence, but continued violence has displaced at least half a million people. much of the trouble is along the border with northern sudan. in the latest fighting, the north's army shelled a town today in the disputed area. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: there's another kind of stirring going on in the arab world on behalf of women in saudi arabia who are forbidden to drive a car. this may not look like radical activity, but in saudi arabia today, women got behind the wheel in a drive for new
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freedoms. videos posted on youtube showed several women driving in riyadh and other cities, in direct violation of a religious ban in the conservative muslim kingdom. >> ( translated ): this is what we want to do. we do not want to count on other drivers. i need to go to my work, and if i need anything, i can drive myself. i think the community is ready to accept us and welcome us as drivers. >> woodruff: for weeks, activists, using social networking, had urged saudi women with international driving licenses to turn out for today's "women-2-drive" effort. the protest was sparked last month by this woman, manal al sharif, who posted a video of herself driving in riyadh. >> we have a saying in arabic-- ( speaking in arabic )-- "the rain starts with a drop." so this thing is really a symbolic thing for us, women driving.
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>> woodruff: al-sharif was detained for ten days and forced to sign a document promising not to drive again. still, her case sparked worldwide interest. on thursday, amnesty international urged the saudis to drop the driving ban and reconsider a whole range of other measures aimed at women. >> it's part of a web of legislation and bans and restrictions on women that basically means they are second class citizens. so, in the same way that women are not allowed, without the permission of a male guardian, to travel; they're not allowed, without the permission of a male guardian, to enroll in higher education, to take up paid work, and they're not allowed to vote in elections. >> woodruff: today, at least, saudi security forces mostly stood by as the driving protests got rolling. it remained unclear what, if
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any, action the authorities might ultimately take. for more on this story and its possible wider ramifications, we go to hala aldosari, a writer and blogger and saudi women's rights activist. and michele dunne, a former state department and national security council official, and now editor of the "arab reform bulletin." we thank you both for being here. >> thank you. >> my pleasure. >> woodruff: let me start with you, hala aldosari. you have lived in saudi arabia. we described this as a religious ban. what sort of law is it? >> well, there is no written law according to our knowledge. we have surveyed the written laws in saudi arabia and there is no written law in saudi arabia, constitution, or the traffic laws that specify prohibiting women from driving. the assumption was made that this is just a customary thing, ask based on statements released from the government top fors,
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that it is a societal issue and once society is ready, the ban would be removed and lifted. many women have tried to talk in the media and the time to lift the ban. the pressure on the government to justify women being arrested because there is no written law, this came out in the press and said that there is in fact a law enacted by the ministry of interior nthe 1990s, based on a religious fat what. we were not aware of such a law. >> woodruff: michele dunne, it sounds like it's principally a religious law. >> yes. yes, this was a religious fought
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what. but the thing is, in saudi arabia, these can be enforced by the religious police. >> woodruff: and what is the practical effect of it? what does it really mean for women? >> the practical effect is it makes it very difficult for women to work. for example, they either have to have male relatives drive them or to hire chauffeurs. there are hundreds of thousands of chauffeurs in saudi arabia. a lot of people can't afford that. and so it really makes it difficult for women to have any freedom of movement, even within the country, let alone to move outside of the country for which they also require permission of a male guardian. >> woodruff: you were also saying that in the countryside, there is women-- women do drive more than they do in the cities. is that right? it's more observed in the city. is that right? >> yes, i understand in the rural areas, a lot of women drive informally without a license and it's not enforced. but in the cities, it is, and it's very unusual for a woman to
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try to drive, and if they do, like those that did today, it is without a license. >> woodruff: hala aldosari, why this protest now? we know women have been unhappy about this for some time. why is this happening now? >> oh, i think the thing that really sparked everything is the positive impressions received by the government. because of them-- intentions of reform and because of the general situations in the arab world, we did assume that there is a good time for reforms happening in saudi arabia. and based on that, people started putting petitions for all aspects of reform, and one of them, are women. so i think an opportunity. reform was ripe. that's why the call for driving was renewed again. >> woodruff: and what exactly, hala aldosari, staying with us--
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what exactly are the women asking for? are they limiting their demands just to be able to drive or does it go more broadly than that? >> of course women are demanding discrimination-- removal of discrimination against them in all aspects of life. but, of course, the most powerful movement that happened was-- we had another campaign going on that didn't really receive a lot of attention, although the local media spoke about it, which is the campaign to allow women to taint. the municipal elections and this is one of the first elections where 50% of the members in the municipal counties or council ril now open for people to vote and to be elected instead of being appointed. so there was a movement along the driving movement. >> woodruff: michele dunne, how is the official-- what's the official response to this by the
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monarchy? >> i think on this occasion, they tried not to respond much. there were not arrests today and so forth, unluke a protest that happened like this 20 years ago. this has been going on for a long time that women have been pressing to be able drive in which the women were arrested and treated very badly and so forth. so now i think they try to play it cool. king abdullah has been sending a signal-- this will happen at some point. women will be able to drive. the other issue as hala just mentioned is political rights. political rights are very limited for everyone in saudi arabia. there is no elected legislature, but there are municipal council elections, and saudi arabia is moving towards holding its second set. the first ones were in 20i've. in the fall of this year, in late september. and there is a move on to allow women to vote and to run in those elections. >> woodruff: now, saudi arabia has been relative calm publicly calm, compared to other countries in the middle east during the entire arab
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uprisings. does this indicate there is more unhappiness under the surface or is this an isolated thing, the protests by women? >> what's going on here i thin shows us that change in saudi arabia is maybe going to take a different course, and it's going to focus initially, perhaps, more on social issues. we have the women's rights issue. and then there are also, for example, the rights of shiite muslims as opposed to the majority sunni muslims in the kingdom, shiites pushing for their rights. that's been another sort of focus of some unrest and protest within the system. there are small numbers of people in saudi arabia who signed petitions asking for real political change to move the kingdom to a constitutional monarchy and so forth. but those, i think right now, are considered more distant demands. >> woodruff: hala aldosari, finally, and very briefly, how far are the women, do you believe, prepared to take this? i know you're in touch with the leaders of this movement?
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>> well, the people that i've met are determined to go on with this until they claim the right for driving and for other rights as well. none of the women are willing to just to give it up because the government is not responding sgleed all right, well, we will leave there and continue to watch the story. hala aldosari, thank you very much. michele dunne, thank you. >> you're welcome. >> lehrer: next, a fight among government, labor and business over the location of a manufacturing plant. margaret warner has our story. >> warner: the fight is over a case brought by the government's national labor relations board, or nlrb, an independent agency where democrats currently hold the majority. at issue-- a just-opened $750 million boeing factory in south carolina, where the company plans to build some of its 787 dreamliner passenger jets.
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the new light-weight planes are already being built at boeing's main factory complex in the seattle area. but after a series of union strikes in washington state, the company decided to open its second 787 assembly line in north charleston, south carolina, a "right-to-work" state. in april, the nlrb charged boeing with illegally retain any idea why they didn't just go to congress before they did this? or was it-- it couldn't have been an oversight. >> no, no, it wasn't an oversight. but i do think the administration-- i think one thing that they thought it was going to be-- it was going to be a lot easier going in. i mean, i think they thought libya was going to be an awful lot easier than it has been. they thought it would topple. i mean this is what, now we're up to-- approaching three months on it. >> lehrer: what is your reading david as to why the administration didn't, as you say, as a common courtesy, if
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nothing else,-- >> especially when you've just castigated the previous administration for being unilateral, and they make the bush administration look like models of consultation. i guess i would have to say a couple of things. first, they thought there would be resist expanse they didn't want to have a big national debate. they wanted to do it. to be fair to them, they were in the middle of a lot of sburnl pressure-- we have to act right now-- but as mark said it wouldn't have prevented-- secondly, and this is a deeper problem with the administration, there's been a general lack of communication, a surprising lack of kmurkz given how many people, especially early in the administration, who worked on capitol hill, even within the democratic ranks. i think the administration has not been as communicative. i think the president is very good at having a tight circle of intimate friends, and he meets a lot of people casually, but he doesn't have acquaintances as much as he should, which is to say he doesn't have a lot of people he calls occasionally, including members of congress.
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and i think there's sort of an insularity to some degree which pervades a lot of issues. >> lehrer: i had the feeling-- i don't know what you thought, mark and david-- but also when senator reid was talking about the afghanistan troop withdrawal that he seemed to be kind of "we" and "they" and i don't really know what's going on here. and dick durbin, who is his number two, is-- is saying essentially what a lot of republicans are saying on the afghanistan thing. >> yand when you asked him if he expressed it to the president, he said, "i've made it known to the people in the white house." it doesn't sound like there are continuing, casual conversations. >> lehrer: do you agree with david's overall point? >> i do. i do. i think that is probably reflected in his golf four sells. if you look at who the president plays golf, with he is finally playing golf with speaker boehner this weekend. but it's been used essentially
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as totally recreational for the president. there's nothing sorblg political or even cerebral about it. he plays with this small group of people all the time. and so, it isn't a sense of reaching out and getting different points of view. and i think that has been a criticism of democrats, of democratic senators, of people even within the administration, that it is insular. >> lehrer: what about the point that speaker boehner is the one who is really raising the war powers issue. and there have been other issues similar issues raised by republicans. have the republicans become more dovish than they are normally considered to be and we didn't notice it? >> first, institutions often matter more than ideology. if you're speaker, you're going to be protective of the war powers act because it gives your branch, the legislative branch, power. >> senator reid didn't. that's true. >> he's in the president's party.
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sometimes party trumps-- and then there's where you sit. if you're out of power, you're always going to be left interventionist than if you're in power. the party in power controls the pentagon-- or the party in the white house-- and they have to meet with other world leaders and tend to do things internationally. the party that is out of party tend to be much less internationalist. this is true when you go back to the clinton years when he was in kofls, the republican party back then was very suspicious of these actions abroad. it's the natural state of the party in opposition to be this way. i do think there has been a shift generally away from president bush in the republican party in many different spheres, some of it associateed with spend, but some of it associated with his foreign policy. so there has been this shift. and john huntsman in the debate a shift away from-- to use power to spread democracy and freedom. >> lehrer: a new subject, the
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biden negotiations. you heard what senator reid had to say. what can you add or subtract? do you see a deal there? >> senator reid urged them to meet more often and ignore the constitution in the house and senate recesses and just meet constantly. you know, i have the distinct feeling that it will come right down to the wyler. >> lehrer: one of these midnight deals. >> one of these midnight deals and i don't see it being resolved before that. on the question of the republicans, jim, i just think that there isn't that imperative any more that the only way you prove you're tough on terrorism is to go in and start a new war. i think--. >> lehrer: that's over? >> that's over. you can do--. >> lehrer: republican or democrat. >> republican or democrat, and when you're talking about $2 billion a week, what afghanistan is, and you're talking about cutting back on expenditures at home and cutting-- whether it's women and infants and children or cutting food safety or whatever else-- it's kind of
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tough to make that case when you-- we still don't know how we would know the success or the forum of our mission in afghanistan. >> lehrer: do you agree with that? >> i agree. and going back to the biden thing. there is a-- we're in a period of austerity, a long-term period of austerity, and every issue gets filtered through that and money comes in. whether it should or shouldn't it comes when we talk about health care, a jobs program in the middle a recession or afghanistan. on the biden thing, i think it will go past midnight. i'm very pessimistic about it. i think wall street is vastly underpricing the possibility, and it will either be we'll have something three days after or a week after or perhaps longer after. i don't-- i don't see-- you hear various things about what's happening in the room. but i really don't see cause for a big deal. i was actually quite struck by what senator reid said about wanting to have a $3 trillion-- not just 2 trillion, 3 trillion.
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what exactly is going to make up the 3 trillion. maybe if you spread it out over 100 years you can get 3 trillion. that suggests to me that senator reid is interested in something big, as a lot of people are, but exactly how you're going to identify 3 trillion in cuts, that's tough. >> lehrer: finally, before we go the republican presidential nomination debate this week. were there winners and losers? was it a significant event? >> it was a significant event. everybody is on the stage. you've got a clear front-runner at this point in most surand that's mitt romney. we don't know if he's got a glass jar if he could take a punch because there were no punches throw tloern at him. any time you go into a debate as the front-runner and nobody lays a glove on you, you come out, it's to your advantage. tim pawlenty, the-- in many people's minds, the principal challenger to him, made the strategic, tactical mistake-- maybe both-- on the sunday morning show of saying something confrontational, aggressive, about-- about romney, and
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setting up the terms for the debate on monday night. and then when he was asked about it monday night, backed off, didn't want to discuss it. >> lehrer: that is the massachusetts health care. >> had a little 2:00 courage as we used to call it in the salon. a guy with after a couple of belts-- "i'll tell you what i'm going to tell him" and when he had a chance to tell him, didn't. >> lehrer: the wisdom among the pundits is michele bachmann came across well. >> i do. she came across as a serious player. she came across as a serious, polished person who came to the room with a plan and executed the plan. you would think they would all do that. she knew what she was going to do and she did it. she has tremendous advantages. she's the only clear christian conservative candidate and she's
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also the most anti-washington candidate imaginable. so those are two strong things, quivers in her arrow. one thing about tim pawlenty, what struck me about him is he doesn't understand his candidacy. his strongest thing is his biography-- his father of a truck driver, his mom died when he was young, and he gives you an economic plan that is completely corporate. why doesn't he give you an agenda that actually matcheses had biography, a working class biography, and that would make his job in debates a lot easier if had a coherent message. >> one quick thing about michele bachmann. there is a great constituency in the republican party in 2012 and donald trump tapped into it and got traction and great vertical lift by being the most aggressively anti-barack obama candidate. that's the only thing that propelled his candidacy. and i think michele bachmann anybody else. but there is a real constituency in the republican party in 2012 for that. >> lehrer: another thank you both very much.
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>> woodruff: finally tonight, siblings don't always share a mother or a father. some forge lasting bonds that go beyond family. gwen ifill has this story of two "unlikely brothers". >> ifill: their lives could not have been more different-- john prendergast, son of the white middle class; michael mattocks, a product of urban poverty. one went on to become a white house adviser who travels the world with celebrities; the other dropped out of school in seventh grade, opting instead for a lucrative living selling crack on the streets of washington, d.c. their paths converged, then diverged, and now have become intertwined again, this time as co-authors of a new book documenting their 25 years of friendship, near-death experiences, family trauma, and finally, survival and success.
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john prendergrast and michael mattocks, thanks for joining us. >> thanks. >> ifill: the title of your book is "unlikely brothers". i get the "unlikely" part, looking at you, but what about the "brother" part? how did that start? >> well, i was visiting a buddy of mine who was overseeing a homeless shelter in washington, d.c., back in 1983. i was 20 years old. and this guy, age seven, and his little brother, age six, came scrambling into the room where we were sitting, tumbling and tossing. and we just started playing and talking, and it just got into my head, "why don't we go to the library, do a little reading, do some other stuff?" one thing led to another and we became brothers-- little brother and big brother, michael and i. >> ifill: michael, how would you say the two of you are alike and how are you different? >> he had the good job and i had the bad kind of job. you know, that's the god's honest truth. >> ifill: you got to bond as a
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little boy, going fishing in the potomac river with john. did you think, "who is this strange white guy taking me out in the street like this?" >> in the beginning, yeah. but i really, at that time, didn't care because we was having so much fun with him. we never, like... different types of things he had us doing, like fishing, taking us to all these different parks, going on canoes. i never, like, experienced these types of things when i was small. you know, a lot of my family, they had a lot of problems with that. "who is this white guy coming in here taking them kids out?" they was always telling my mom, you need to stop letting that white man take them boys because you know, who is he? he don't know this and... but, you know, my mom knew we was in good hands with john. >> ifill: you were kind of a do- gooder. >> i was a do-gooder, you know, in a universal sense, but not necessarily in the interpersonal sense. but michael, then, became someone who pierced right through my heart, and i had a
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lot of shells around my heart, pierced right through my heart, and i just felt very early on that we were family. >> ifill: this was a part of your lives where you did very different things. john, you went to africa. i'd like for you to read a little bit about your experience in one of the places you went. in uganda. >> "in northern uganda, i once befriended a former child soldier who had recently escaped from captivity, and who had endured some of the worst horrors i had ever heard from my years in war zones. seeing his hard eyes, his cruel demeanor, the dangling cigarette, and the ever-present vaguely concealed weapon, i couldn't help but think how similar these child soldiers were in africa to the child soldiers in the streets of d.c., making money for older people who were willing to use them as pawns." >> ifill: now, michael, if you read that literally, you are one of the child soldiers. if you don't mind, read for us the section of the book where
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you talk about your experience. >> "i used to walk around with my buddy tony with my sawed-off pump shotgun up under my coat. i had the burl in my pocket and the butt under my shoulder. we robbed crackheads with it. we'd only get, like, 50 or 60 bucks, but it was the fear in the faces when i whipped that big thing out. respect, man-- fear or respect." >> ifill: respect. how much did you enjoy doing what you were doing, even though you knew you shouldn't be doing it? >> i enjoyed it. i really did. i was tired, you know, and i i enjoyed it. i enjoyed everything. >> ifill: so, what made you get out of it? >> ( sighs ) i was tired, you know, and i basically knew that there were
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three things that were going to happen: i either was going to stop, i was going to die, or i was going to go to jail. i didn't want to die or go to jail. i wanted to stay living. i have my sons, i really love them a lot. and then, also, my wife. >> ifill: why did you decide to write this book? because this is hard. >> it was all michael's idea. i got to give him the blame or the credit, whichever it is. and he felt like his story could be an example for other young people who go through really difficult circumstances and come out on the other side okay. if you had a poster or a calendar for best big brothers, i would not be on that calendar. i failed him. i wasn't part of his life at the critical moments when he was going down some of these paths, dealing drugs, getting kicked out of school or leaving school, and all these other things. and so, even though, despite all that, the bond that we had over the years helped be a compass, in some ways, for him to help
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navigate out of all that life. so i thought maybe that could be the best recruiting tool ever for getting more volunteers for big brothers, and mentors and tutors. if they could see that, yes, you can fail; yes, you can let the kid down; yes, you don't have to show up every day, you know, and still can make a difference in another person's life. >> ifill: both of you, separately-- and i get the feeling you told each other about it for the first time in this book-- had moments of depression in your lives where you considered taking your own life. >> yes. >> ifill: did you tell him that for the first time in this book? >> yes, i didn't tell no one until i wrote this book. i wanted to kill myself. i was tired. and i was young. i was tired of living. i was so stressed out. i look back on it, and they're so young and stressed out and depressed, the way i was. i just didn't want to be here no more. i wanted to end it. >> ifill: how old were you? >> i was probably, like, 14 years old.
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was i 14? >> i'm just crushed to hear this. you know, just crushing to know that you were going through all that and i wasn't there. >> yeah, i wanted to kill myself. i really did. >> ifill: you went through something similar, maybe not as young as he did. >> yeah, i was in high school, and through a variety of things- - very difficult relationship with my father, social alienation i felt as a teenager. i also felt like, "should i really go on?" i almost walked in front of a train one night, and just pulled back at the last second and decided to just soldier through it. >> ifill: i want to end this by talking about the dedication you wrote at the front of your book. you wrote, "we dedicate this book for our fathers and our brothers-- both the ones who are still here on earth, and ones that have departed for what we hope are greener pastures. we are sorry for so many things that happened, and finally forgive you for the rest." how important is the forgiveness
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part of this, michael? >> i forgive everybody. whenever they did anything wrong to me, i ask god for forgiveness of everything i did to everybody myself. i hurt a lot of people. >> ifill: have you forgiven yourself? >> yes. yes, i have. >> ifill: have you, john? >> for 20 years, my father and i didn't speak. for 20 years, i didn't look at him. when i'd be in the same room, i wouldn't acknowledge his existence. a very, very complicated relationship. we found each other. we built a bridge back to each other and rebuilt the relationship in his later years. it was very, very hard to forgive some of the things that had happened. but once i did forgive, the proverbial weight lifts off the shoulders, and i'm able to sort of move on with a lot of things in my life that were impossible when i was holding all that stuff inside me.
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>> ifill: mattocks is now the father of five, happily married, working two jobs and living in suburban maryland. prendergast is getting married, and planning return trips to sudan and congo, hoping to draw fresh attention to old conflicts. and they are brothers for life. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: senate majority leader reid broke with some of his fellow democrats, saying president obama does not need congressional approval for the u.s. mission in libya. he told the newshour the u-s has no troops on the ground, and he said, "it's going to be over before you know it, anyway." the prime minister of greece shook up his government in a bid to defuse the country's debt crisis; and thousands of people protested in yemen, amid reports that president saleh might return from saudi arabia. and to kwame holman, for what's on the newshour online. kwame. >> holman: there's more on the driving protest by saudi women on our "world" page.
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we check in with a globalpost correspondent in riyadh. patchwork nation takes a new look at how geography can impact diet, especially in so-called "food deserts." plus on "art beat," jeffrey brown talks to the author of a new book about museums and the looted-antiquities market. all that and more is on our web site, judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll look at the role of afghan women in any peace negotiations. 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: chevron. we may have more in common than you think. and by the alfred p. sloan foundation.
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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 captioned by media access group at wgbh
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