tv PBS News Hour PBS December 12, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
grover norquist. >> we'd love to see some real spending restraint. it's been four years and all we've had is five trillion in debt and more spending. >> woodruff: margaret warner looks at north korea's successful rocket launch, celebrated in pyongyang and denounced in seoul and the west. >> ifill: we examine how the budget debate is playing out on social media in tonight's edition of the daily download. >> woodruff: hari sreenivasan talks with journalist paul salopek, before he sets off on a seven-year, 39-nation trek across the globe. >> it's not an athletic event, it's not an endurance feat, it's all about communicating in the 21st century. slowing people down. ♪ >> ifill: and we remember composer and sitar virtuoso ravi shankar, who introduced the western world to traditional indian music. that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
>> 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. >> ifill: the regime of syrian president bashar al-assad faced new pressure at home and abroad today. a coalition of opposition groups won recognition as the legitimate representative of the syrian people. and rebel fighters pressed their attacks in and around damascus.
across the syrian capital, it was increasingly clear that no one and no place is safe. amateur video showed burned out cars from a blast near the justice ministry. and state television aired footage of emergency workers after three bombs exploded outside the interior ministry. the attacks highlighted an upsurge in rebel assaults around damascus and elsewhere. "the new york times" reported the syrian military is now fighting back with scud missiles, firing at least a half dozen in recent days. against that backdrop, president obama announced tuesday that the u.s. will now formally recognize the syrian opposition movement. >> we've made a decision that the syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the syrian population,
>> ifill: hours later, the friends of syria meeting in marrakech, morocco took the same step. the u.s. became one of 114 nations to endorse the syrian national council created just last month under international pressure. deputy secretary of state william burns: >> in a growing number of towns and villages, a new syria is being born, the regime of bashar al assad must and will go, the sooner he steps aside the better for all syrians. >> ifill: despite showing signs last week of a possible shift in russia's position, the decision did not go down well in moscow, which opposes outside action against the assad regime. foreign minister sergei lavrov: >> ( translated ): as the coalition has been recognized as the only legitimate representative, it seems that the united states decided to place all bets on the armed victory of this very national coalition. >> ifill: but no weapons have been promised, and a spokesman
for the coalition said it needs real support. the u.s. has resisted sending arms, amid fears they might wind up in the hands of islamic extremist groups. just this week, washington branded one such group-- the al- nusra front-- an offshoot of al qaida in iraq. but the head of the opposition council said today the islamist fighters are partly responsible for the latest rebel gains. >> ( translated ): the decision to consider one of the fronts facing off to the regime as a terrorist group needs reconsideration. we insanely love our country and while we may disagree with some on their thought process and politics, we affirm that all weapons used by the revolutionaries aim for the fall of this tyrannical, criminal regime. >> ifill: there was no dissent over the marrakech meeting's decision to send increased humanitarian aid and other non- military support. the u.n. now estimates that half a million syrians have fled to neighboring countries with two million more displaced within syria itself. >> ifill: for more on the syrian political opposition i'm joined now by murhaf joujati,
professor of middle east studies at the national defense university and a former member of the syrian national council, the last major syrian political opposition group. and fred hof, who served as secretary of state clinton's special adviser for the syrian transition until last september. he is now a senior fellow at the atlantic council. ambassador hof, i want to start with you. how significant is what the president said yesterday about this recognition? >> gwen, first of all, i'm delighted to be here. i think what the president had to say was extraordinarily significant. we're coming to the point now where we may be at or very close to a tipping point in syria. where the assad regime may be in serious jeopardy of going down. nevertheless, there are still millions, literally millions, of syrians on the fence. they have no illusions about the corruption, the incompetence, the brutality of this regime. but they do wonder what's next.
recognizing this organization, making it clear that there is international support for it gives these syrians an opportunity to see what's next. >> ifill: murhaf jouejati, do you think it's significant? >> it is significant. it's very important. this is a superpower that recognizes the syrian national coalition. this is a permanent member of the security council. now there are three that recognize the syrian national coalition. we heard in the introductory segment there are over 100 countries now that recognize it. this truly delegitimizes the assad regime. it makes assad no longer a chief of state but rather the chief of a sectarian militia. and so this is an important if not historic event, yes. >> ifill: it's one thing to delegitimize assad, but how do you know you're back in the right horse? how do you know this opposition group is not entangled in worse?
>> you listen to the street and you listen to the protests and you listen to the different political parties and the political factions that are in syria and they have chosen the syrian national coalition as their representative. the legitimacy of the syrian national coalition does not derive purely from a u.s. recognition or a french recognition but the recognition of the syrian street. and syria has spoken and they want the syrian national council to be their leader so it's only natural for states to accept them as such. >> ifill: is he right that this leads inevitably to armed support? >> i think he's right that the most likely way will this end is through armed struggle on the ground. but this decision does not in and of itself represent an american blessing of that kind of outcome. >> ifill: there is armed struggle now. i guess the question is only whether we then provide those
arms. >> my own view, gwen, is that it is inevitable that the united states is going to get into this business. if you accept the proposition intellectually that this is most likely going to be settled by force of arms on the ground then it's probably going to be essential. if the assad regime holds on, i would predict the united states will eventually be in this business. >> ifill: mr. jouejati, do you also agree humanitarian nonlethal aid is not enough >> look, the syrian people are facing a regime that as shown by the evidence will go to any length to keep its power. including shooting at bread lines from air force jets. including shelling towns, civilian neighborhoods with tank fire. and so there is no other way for the assad regime to go except through force. now, for the past 20 months, the syrians have had to endure the
military might of this vicious regime alone. and so there must be in the end -- there must be assistance. there must be support of the syrian revolution against such a mill tarrist regime. >> ifill: how concerned should the u.s. and these other groups be, countries be, that they are supporting opposition groups who have -- are a little too tied too closely to terrorists and terrorism? >> i think, you know, the united states yesterday designated the one group that is very explicitly tied to terrorism by designating the nusra front as a terrorist group. the united states basically unmaskedded this organization for what it is. it's al qaeda in iraq. >> ifill: but isn't the nusra front an essential coalition that we're supporting? >> it is not a part of this
coalition at all. as a matter of fact, when the mainstream syrian armed opposition met last week in turkey to form a supreme military council they very pointedly excluded the nusra front from that organization. >> ifill: is that a concern? >> from an american angle i totally understand the sensitivity in dealing with a front with an organized group that is affiliated to al qaeda. this is very natural, again, with regard to american sensitivities. but syrians don't see it this way. syrian civilians are under fire for the past 21 months by a regime and they will accept the assistance from anyone in order to save their lives, the lives of their wives and children and their towns. and so to tell the syrian people under fire now that nusra or anybody sells a terrorist organization, though they are helping you and though they are the ones who have made a serious
dent into the assad regime does not make a whole lot of sense. >> ifill: is it worth it for the u.s. to simply look the other way in that case? >> no, i don't think so. i think when the designation itself is intellectually defensible, okay? and it also does in a way constitute a message from the united states to minorities in syria to alawites and christians in particular who could be the targets of choice for this particular group that we will not countenance the participation of this group in the future governance of syria. but there is a question here of timing. and i think dr. jouejati alludes to this. this announcement would have been better after the recognition of the new national coalition. it would have been better after a change of policy where the united states actually gets involved in arming elements of
the opposition. >> ifill: final question for you both. wherever the u.s. or other western nations have intervened in these kinds of conflicts and opposition overthrowing the government, there's always been a question about who's in place to actually form a government afterward. is this opposition council, is this group the one that's going to take over? are they ready? >> this group is, as we are speaking, establishing a government, a ra transitional government that will as of now, as of the very near future build committees for various state craft things that will become the future institutions of syria. so, yes, the syrian national coalition is going to produce a transitional government. >> ifill: and you believe that that's a reliable transitional government? >> yes, i believe there's a lot of skill inside of this coalition. but the other aspect that's
important here is that continuity of government in syria is going to be important. no doubt the regime needs to go. but there are ministries, agencies of government that do provide vital services that will be important when the regime goes down and humanitarian asis tan has to flood into the country. >> ifill: fred hof and murhaf jouejati, thank you very much. >> great pleasure, thank you. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": an advocate for shrinking taxes; north korea's successful rocket launch; our social media update; a 21,000 mile walk around the world. plus, indian composer and sitar player ravi shankar. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the push to resolve egypt's political crisis hit a road block today after army leaders called off national unity talks. they said the response had been below expectations. meanwhile, egyptian expatriates headed to their embassies around the world to begin voting on a draft constitution. opposition leaders called for a "no" vote on the islamist
crafted document, rather than an outright boycott. russian president vladimir putin sounded a defiant note today on his campaign to curb dissent. in his state-of-the-nation address, he threw his support to what he called traditional institutions. and he told lawmakers, clerics and other officials that he would not stand for any foreign attempts to influence russian affairs. >> ( translated ): direct or indirect interference in our domestic political processes is unacceptable. those politicians who receive money from abroad for their political activity and thus serve, in all likelihood, alien interests shouldn't be politicians in the russian federation. >> sreenivasan: putin won a third term last march, despite major protests. since then, he has cracked down on dissent, with arrests of activists and strict limits on civil society groups. the u.s. federal reserve is sticking with aggressive efforts to buy government bonds and boost the economy.
fed leaders announced today said they'll continue until unemployment falls below 6.5%. for more, we spoke earlier with greg ip of "the economist." >> this is very significant. you know the fed, at least since 1977, has had a legal responsibility to aim for both full employment and low inflation. but fed officials traditionally cared a lot more about low inflation because they didn't think that in the long run they could affect unemployment. today's statement by the fed is essentially an assertion that they, in fact, do care about both those things and that they will keep stimulating the economy until they both get unemployment lower-- at least down to 6.5%-- or if inflation goes up more than they expect. >> sreenivasan: ben bernanke also had several caveats. explain those?
>> so ben bernanke, the fed chairman, was very clear that today's statement doesn't represent an abandonment of low inflation. he said, for example, that if inflation were to rise unexpectedly, over 2.5% in their own forecasts, that might be reason enough for them to start raising interest rates even if unemployment has not come down 206.5%. >> sreenivasan: markets traditionally love certainty. why didn't they embrace it today? >> i think markets are starting to question whether the fed actually has the ability to deliver on this commitment to low unemployment. they've got the interest rates at 0, they have trillions of dollars worth of bonds and still the economy is very, very weak. >> sreenivasan: going forward, are there things that we should be looking for as signs from the fed on what's going to happen or should we be paying more attention to unemployment rate? >> well, the fed has taken one more step today. they're doubling the amount of bonds they're buying by printing money. they call that quantitative easing. but the other factor weighing against them is that they have to see what happens in terms of the fiscal cliff negotiations.
their hope is that those will end with a deal between congress and the president and that will make way for a steady improvement in the economy. those are the things that they will monitor to see when is the time that they can ease back. >> sreenivasan: greg ip from the "economist," thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: wall street initially rallied on the fed's pronouncement, but the enthusiasm quickly flagged and stocks gave up the gains. in the end, the dow jones industrial average lost three points to close at 13,245. the nasdaq fell eight points to close at 3,013. indianapolis will be the first major american city to replace all city-owned cars with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. the program announced today calls for completing the switch by 2025. the city also plans to phase in fire trucks and other heavy vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. officials said they're asking auto makers to create plug-in hybrid police cars, which don't yet exist. retiring u.s. senator joe lieberman said goodbye to the senate today, with an appeal for principled compromise. he warned that gridlock is preventing progress on a host of problems.
lieberman ran as the democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000. all told, he spent 24 years in the senate, first as a democrat, and since 2006, as an independent. a pantheon of music legends takes the stage tonight in new york, raising money for those hit hardest by hurricane sandy. the program for the "12-12-12" concert includes paul mccartney, bruce springsteen, the rolling stones, kanye west and alicia keys, among many others. the concert and telethon could reach two billion people on radio and t.v., in movie theaters and on facebook and even digital billboards. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: negotiators signaled publicly today that there had been little progress in reaching a deal to avert the fiscal cliff with 19 days to go until a year-end deadline. >> i remain the most optimistic person in this town. but we've got some serious differences. >> woodruff: that downbeat assessment from house speaker john boehner came after he and president obama traded fresh
offers this week. >> we spoke honestly and openly about the differences we face. but, the president's calling for $1.4 trillion worth of revenue. that cannot pass the house or the senate. >> woodruff: the president originally sought $1.6 trillion in revenue over 10 years, before lowering his target to $1.4 trillion. the money would come from raising rates on the top two percent of wage earners and curbing loopholes. boehner's counter was little changed-- $800 billion in revenues from closing loopholes and capping deductions, but no rate hikes. republicans have also demanded entitlement reform, and in a tuesday interview, the president would not rule out raising the medicare eligibility age by two years to 67. today, his white house spokesman, jay carney, summed up. >> he is willing to make tough
choices and he has made clear and specified the spending cuts he is willing to make and he is willing to go further as part of a broader deficit reduction plan. but he will not extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest americans. >> woodruff: despite the apparent stalemate, house republicans pledged to keep at it. >> we've said we're committed to staying here. we're going to stay here right up until christmas eve, throughout the time and period before the new year, because we want to make sure we resolve this in an acceptable way for the american people. >> woodruff: but house minority leader nancy pelosi fired back that republicans are the ones holding everything up. >> if we were waiting for something, we would say it's well worth the wait. but we're just-- the republicans are just delaying-- just delaying, delaying, delaying, and that's not responsible. >> woodruff: and federal reserve chairman ben bernanke warned again that delay is dangerous.
>> well, cleary the fiscal cliff is having affects on the economy, even though we're not yet even reached the point of the fiscal cliff potentially kicking in, it's already affecting biz investment and hiring decisions by creating uncertainty, or creating pessimism. >> woodruff: all of which threatened to cast a pall over the holidays, at the capitol, and just about everywhere else. and that brings us to our continuing series of conversations on this topic. tonight, one of the more outspoken voices against raising taxes. grover norquist is a conservative lobbyist and the president of americans for tax reform. most famously, he's known for getting many elected republicans to sign a pledge to not raise taxes. but now some lawmakers are suggesting they may be willing to change their position. grover norquist, welcome to the program. >> good to be with you. >> woodruff: in fact, there are a growing number of republicans who are saying either they've renounced that pledge or they may be prepared to renounce it in order to deal with the serious fiscal problem facing the country. >> well, interestingly, the problem we have is too much spending. and so the only solution to spending too much is spending
less. we don't have a problem of not enough in terms of tax revenue coming in. the problem is government sp-pbdz too much. so raising taxes is what politicians do instead of reducing spending. that's the argument boehner's having with the president of the united states. the president wants higher taxes, boehner would like less spending. >> woodruff: well, i'm sure you know, a number of economists talk about the importance of a balanced approach. it was what was in the bowles simpson commission report. but let me ask you about not only the exit polls on election day but poll after poll since the election shows distinct majority of elections say they believe it's the right thing to raise taxes on income over $250,000 a year if that's what it takes to deal with the deficit. why are those people wrong? >> well, the actual exit poll, the question of should we raise taxes to reduce the deficit on election day, was 63% no. so people said no to raising taxes to reduce the deficit. why? well, if you look ator polls over the course of years, 75% of
the american people understand that if you start a conversation with "we're going to raise taxes on the rich" it ends with raising taxes on everyone, like the a.m.t., the alternative minimum tax is supposed to hit 150 people in january, it hits 30 million american families. so -- then the other part of that have is if you raise taxes to reduce the deficit, will they spend the money or will they reduce the deficit? over 60% americans point out they'll just spend the money. so the argument for raising taxes, the american people see through that. it's not a tax on the rich, it will hit everyone. the income tax was only supposed to hit people who made $11 million or more when they put it in. now half of americans get hit by it. >> woodruff: the polls i'm see dog show a majority of americans say they're prepared to go along with w higher taxes for people making over $250,000 a year. but let me ask you, grover norquist, about what happened in the past when tax rates went up under president clinton and previous eras. tax rates went up and there was still strong economic growth. >> well, you can go to the
clinton years. the first two years of the clinton administration had slow growth and not much job creation. he raised taxes and he planned to spend every dollar that came in in terms of a tax revenue plus $200 billion. his five-year plan was $200 billion every year out because he was going to spend every penny that the tax increases brought in plus $200 billion. however he lost the house and the senate because the american people objected to his tax increase. for six years he had a republican house and senate, they didn't let him spend the money he wanted to spend. so the budget went into balance, they cut the capital gains tax which gave you growth. so the last six years there were pro-growth tax cuts and they didn't spend the money he wanted to. so it is true that if you elect a republican house and senate as a result of tax increases it helps with growth. >> woodruff: we can debate that at another time. let me talk to about what we came back to at the outset. republicans -- more and more republicans are saying president obama won reelection in order to
get a balanced plan to reduce the deficit. each side is going to have to give. tom coburn from the state of oklahoma saying: >> well, you've always had some republicans who say maybe we could raise taxes as part of a deal. coburn did two years ago. but as i argued to senator coburn then that if you put taxes on the table you never get spending restraint. and in point of fact, the only time we got spending restraint out of one of these deals was two years ago when we had the budget control act for the debt ceiling, we cut spending two and a half trillion, not a dollar of tax increase, coburn was wrong that you had to raise taxes to get the agreement. >> woodruff: there are other republicans that are talking about this who have not said this in the past. >> well not too many. there have been a number who say
we could do this but in point of fact if you raids taxes you don't get the spending restraint just historically. it happened in '82, happened in '90. >> woodruff: let me ask you about cutting spending. you keep saying you don't get the spending restraint. but if there were a guaranteed commitment from the administration, from democrats and the congress they are going to vote and support reductions in spending would you then favor a balanced plan that would include higher taxes? >> if there were such things as pink unicorns what would i trade for them? the challenge is that the administration has been there for four years and done none of this. every time they've entered into a negotiation they only want to talk about tax increases. is it possible the president changes his mind? that would be a good idea. we just haven't seen it before. >> woodruff: the president has already talked about changes in medicare. just yesterday he left open the possibility of raising the retirement age which would lower
the cost for medicare -- sorry, not the retirement age but the eligibility age for medicare. that would cut the costs of medicare, a significant entitlement. >> spending restraint in his budget, what he put forward and every democrat voted against in the house and senate was to save a trillion dollars by not occupying iraq for the next decade. that's not a serious effort, the iraqis kicked us out of the country. he also wants to save a trillion dollars by counting tax cuts that have -- spending cuts that have already been put into law as part of the previous agreement. that's selling the same horse again. so that's $2 trillion of what he called spending cuts, one's phony, the other's already a law, he hasn't gotten serious about spending restraint. >> woodruff: so are you prepared to have the congress go over the fiscal cliff, in other words? that's the question people asked when the president threatened to default two years ago and people said would the republicans cause the default?
no, only the president can cause the default because only the president decides whether or not to pay interest the president i think has decided to go over the fiscal cliff for a number of reasons because he thinks he can blame other people for it. i hope he doesn't do that. two years ago he extended the business office for all this drama. he may decide to push us over a cliff. >> woodruff: finally, grover norquist, will there be a political price to pay for republicans who vote to raise taxes if that is what it comes down to? >> republicans will take a look, most republicans have committed, not to me, but their constituents, that they won't raise taxes and fight against tax increases. whatever they vote for they have to go to their constituents and say this wasn't a tax increase or let me explain to you what i did. they have to talk to their constituents. most republicans have made it very clear they're not interested in raising taxes. they want to reform government.
>> woodruff: grover norquist, thank you very much for talking with us. >> thank. >> woodruff: online we profile two lawmakers who oppose norquist's pledge. plus, you can watch other interviews from our series. >> ifill: and to north korea, where a successful rocket launch echoed in world capitals today. we begin with a report narrated by john sparks of "independent television news." today brought something special on the evening news. >news. >> (translated): it's the proud result of the workers' party's policy on science and technology. >> reporter: the last time they trade this back in april north korea's multistage rocket disintegrated a few minutes after takeoff. but this time it seems they got it right. the only pictures we've got come
from the control room's big screen t.v. but we can see the rocket leave the launch pad and climb into the upper atmosphere. we're told they put a satellite, the shining star 3, into orbit. this country may not be able to feed its own people but its engineers can fire things into space. "it's made with our own technology and our own strength" says the director of the command center. the country's boyish looking supreme leader, kim jong-un, has disregard it had will of the international community and enhanced his own credentials with the military at home. some hope he'd take a more reformist approach one year after the death of his father, kim jong-il, but those hopes have been dashed, it seems. in south korea, protesters took to the streets burning flags and portraits. and the international community added its voice, too.
the worry that the launch has more to do with the development of long-range missiles, missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons. >> woodruff: in washington, white house spokesman jay carney said north korea would face consequences for the launch. and at the united nations, the security council condemned the action and said that it is considering an appropriate response. margaret warner takes the story from there. >> warner: for more, we turn to david wright, a senior scientist and co-director of global security at the union of concerned scientists. and han park, professor of international affairs at the university of georgia. he travels frequently to north korea and witnessed april's failed rocket launch there. welcome, gentlemen. david wright, beginning with you, how big an advance in this in north korea's drive to develop its long-range missile capability and then to ten potentially something that could be married with their nuclear program? >> . >> we've known for a long time,
a number of years north koreans had the individual components that it could use, rocket engines, things like that. it's put them together in a rocket that looks like it has the capability to do what they did yesterday. what they haven't been able to do is to get it to all work together and all work at the same time. so from my point of view, i don't feel that much differently about their program today than i did two days ago simply because the fact that they were able to get everything to work yesterday doesn't mean they could do it again. it doesn't tell me anything about the -- the reliability, it doesn't tell me -- it doesn't look to me like a real technical advance. >> warner: han park, why would the new leader of north korea, 29 years old, who was said to be interested in economic reform make this provocative act one of his very first steps in his first year? >> well, this is the continuation of his policy by
his father, kim jong-il. kim jong-il lived through a very hostile environment, from their point of view. we have the bush administration here and other countries have in the soviet block have changed a lot and then they felt a great deal of security threat. so kim jong-il tried to have this. of course long range missiles, certainly having a satellite up in the space may be -- >> warner: are you saying that basically kim jong-un, therefore, is really just following in his father's footsteps? >> absolutely. when it comes to preparedness it's all kim jong-il. and kim jong-un's job is supposed to expand the economy. of course, economic development should never be pursued at the
expense of their national security. that's the way they feel. so they put everything together. now these missiles. the nuclear arsenals they feel their security is pretty much controlled. not that they're going attack others but others won't attack them. that's the way they feel. there's all kinds of motives behind this. but one thing that is not -- included there is the intention to attack the united states. that's a far-fetched discussion that we hear today. >> warner: david wright, let me get back to you. last time they had a successful test, rocket launch, excuse me, in 2009, they followed it pretty quickly with a nuclear test. is is that the next step from them now on this program, do you think? should we expect to see that? i haven't heard of any indications that people have
seen preparations for that. it's worth keeping in mind that in 2009 the launch that they tried to do at that point was also unsuccessful. whether or not they feel like this success-- which was a particular success for them because they managed to beat south korea in putting a satellite in orbit, and i think that's a real p.r. victory for the regime that may feel like the kind of p.r. boost they needed that they don't need to follow up with something as provocative as a nuclear test. but it's hard to tell how they're thinking about this. >> warner: does this increase the concerns about proliferation? i noticed that the japanese and south korean reporters announced iranian observers were on hand for the launch. >> we've known for a number of years that iran and north korea have worked together to some extent on this beginning with north korean sales of short-range missiles to iran that iran seemed to use to start
to build up their own program. and the third stage of this launcher looks very similar to the upper stage of the iranian launcher so that's pretty direct evidence that that there has been some level of discussion, collaboration between them but we really don't have a good sense of how deep that goes. >> warner: han park, there is talk among some countries-- the u.s., britain, and france-- about the possibility of increased sanctions. it's an open question as to whether that will happen. do you think anything can dissuade north korea, one of the most sanctioned countries in the world, from continuing down this path realistically? >> i think it's the wrong path. any kind of sanction will not work. if, in fact, economic sanction especially were to force north korea to give in, north korea would have given in many times over. so so economic sanctions will not bring the desired
consequence. so the -- we're talking about sanctions. what other sanctions are there? we have exhausted all sanctions. but north korea is not -- this time around no one is talking about possible demise collapse of the system. and when the grandfather died and the father died and all talks about it, about the possibility of the arab rising and then system collapse. but that is not going to happen. >> warner: professor park, thank you so much and david wright. thanks. >> thank you. >> woodruff: online you can see photographs of the celebrations in north korea and the protests in south korea. >> ifill: we continue our regular look at the intersection of politics and social media.
we're joinedded by two journalists from the web site daily download. lauren ashburn is the editor-in-chief. howard kurtz is "newsweek's" bureau chief and host of cnn's "reliable sources." the last time you were here we talked about how the white house and president was using social media's way of arguing this social -- this fiscal cliff argument. turns out he's not alone. let's look at something we've been seeing this week. >> stop instagramming your breakfast and tweeting your first world problems and getting on youtube so you can see gang 'nam style. ♪ gangnam style >> and start using those sprerbl social media skills to sign people up on this baby. three people a week, let it grow and don't forget, take part or get taken apart. these old coots will clean out the treasury before you get
there. >> ifill: "these old coots will clean out the treasury." this is alan simpson in his best but a completely different venue. >> i talked to him today and he said "i think i could go around the world in 90 days and never had the impact that this silly little thing did." and the idea behind this, he's hooked up with "the can kicks back" helping young people try to get involved and get engaged in the fiscal cliff and making decisions. and they're using a lot of twitter and other social media to make their point. >> ifill: they tweeted "when politicians delay, young people pay, it's time to fix our debt." is this effective? >> well, the former senator told us he was making a fool of himself. >> ifill: he didn't know he was doing a popular dance. >> no, he did. >> he said it was like riding a horse. >> he and erskine bowles have been saying this for a couple years. so now this group, the can kicks back and the committee for the
responsible budget and other groups are using twitter and social media as a way of reaching out, promoting their message and trying to engage younger people might not watch the public affairs shows. >> the thing that -- when we talked to them today they said their goal is to get a petition to congress and to the president and right after seeing the alan simpson video, they had 2,100 young folks signed up. but more importantly they have 310,000 signatures together, put together. >> ifill: you mentioned the committee for responsible federal budget. they also have been out there tweeting. one of the examples, we can see here, "charlie cook has called the fiscal cliff negotiations a roller coaster ride." an inside to roller coasters everywhere. is he right, though? >> well, this whole fiscal cliff melodrama is a bit artificial because congress created this deadline for itself and doesn't seem able to fix. but these groups have a serious
message and they're asking congress to something very difficult so using a alan simpson gangnam style video and tweeting certain groups, there was a treat about the impact the automatic tax hike would have on latino families, these are ways in which these groups are trying to hone their message so they can get people mobilized, put pressure on the white house or the congress or both to act here. >> and the campaign is called the millennial campaign. >> woodruff: so it's engaging people who wouldn't be part of these kinds of debates. very interesting. we had another big important user on twit they are week. someone already who already has 1.2 billion followers before he ever joined twitter and that's the pope who is out there. he sent his first tweet today. "dear friend, i am pleased to get in touch with you through twitter, talk for your generous response. i bless all of you from my heart." he's now tweeted seven times. >> and there's a picture of him actually tweeting on an ipad. what i think is good about this is that the reviews by some that
the catholic church is antiquated and this shows that they are embracing social media in an effort to engage, again, the younger generation. >> ifill: i checked before we came down here, he has already almost a million followers on twitter. >> that is really quick. there was a time when it was considered questionable for a pope to go on radio or television when those were newfangled technologies. i think it's very smart for the pope to connect with much younger people who live on twitter and also twitter has a whole team devoted to going around the world and trying to get high-profile people, whether it's bill gates or chelsea clinton or the dalai lama -- >> ifill: not by accident at all, is it? >> no. >> i think they welcome the vatican's outreach on this. >> and the vatican has put together a social media team to make sure this is executed properly. >> ifill: does that mean you don't actually is to go to mass? my catholic friend might disagree with that. >> what i want to know is are these tweets blessed by god? >> are they infallible. >> ifill: i don't know if social media is quite there yet but we'll watch and find out on the daily download.
lauren ashburn, howard kurtz, thanks so much. >> thanks, gwen. >> woodruff: and now, to a reporting assignment that will take 30 million steps to complete. and again to hari sreenivasan for the story. >> sreenivasan: paul salopek is a pulitzer prize winning reporter who road a mule across mexico and kamued down the congo, he's been a committed foreign correspondent. next month he will embark on a 21,000 mile walk from africa to patagonia, tracing the ancient path of human migration. the journey sponsored in part by national geographic will taken a estimated seven years to complete. thanks for joining us. >> good to be here. >> sreenivasan: the first question most people ask is why? >> story telling. that's the bottom line of this walk. it's not an athletic event. it's not an endurance feat, it's about communicating in the 21st century. slowing people down. >> so why that slow journalism?
is it something -- is it a reaction to what you've seen and the speed of twitter and facebook and everything else? >> i'm not against twitter or facebook. i think they're wonderful ways of getting information around. but i'm interested in long-form journalism, long-form story telling and i worry about finding a space for them in today's world. stories with beginnings, middles and end. so if i slow down stories to three miles an hour, let's see what people follow along. >> sreenivasan: what kind of updates are we going to see from you? i know there's one big story a year but in between how will you update us? >> we have a joint web portal between all of my partners outofedenwalk.com. there will be episodic reports, there will be reports that come up as the human topography merits it. what i won't be doing is microblogging the johnny. i think that would get boring very fast. i'll save the good stuff, gather the spring and spring it on
people. >> sreenivasan: what are you interested in covering? >> stories i've covered in the past. climate change, conflict, economic development, local innovations. i'm interested in finding local solutions to big problems. stories that don't get told because we're moving too fast to see them. >> sreenivasan: this is as we mentioned a seven-year trip and when we take a look at that route, you're leaving africa, going through central area, up around china, across the bering strait, i'm assuming you're taking a boat and through the americas. one of those, as i'm noticing, the strait line goes right through iran. how do you get through that? >> i think that -- iran straddles an ancient migration path into central asia and ideally it would be wonderful to set off on foot across iran. i'm going to see what relations are like in the late 2015, hopefully they're well enough, good enough, to allow me to go through iran. >> sreenivasan: if there's a necessary detour, how long does that take to get around? >> it's a big place to walk around. part of the beauty, i think, of this long project is that there are going to be obstacles that i don't know answers to about how to get around them until i get
there. and we'll see. sarin dip city a big part of this project. >> sreenivasan: what are the types of steps you've been taking? you've been planning this for a last couple years. visas? immunizations. what else? >> there's a lot of logistical planning that's gone into getting mainly governments comfortable with somebody walking through their territories. it's an unusual request, as you might imagine. but a lot of it also is just finding the stories enroute, pre-reporting them and, frankly, leaving some of it open. don't overplan it. because when our ancestors dispersed out of africa, they didn't have a map. they didn't have a plan. so we're matching that spirit. >> sreenivasan: you're doing something interesting. i read you'll be doing these tran sects every hundred miles. explain what they are. we have a couple videos but what are we seeing? >> basically, as well as the long form literary writing i hope to do episodically, every 100 miles along this 21,000 mile route i'll be stopping to take a set of narrative readings,
whether it's a 360 degree panorama of the earth's surface, a photograph of the sky, a photograph of the surface of the earth to create these shards in a larger mosaic that will give basically a picture, a slice of life on the surface of the earth at the turn of the millennium. >> sreenivasan: you're carrying everything. there's not a huge sag wagon, to to speak, everything you've got will be on your backpack and you're hiking. >> that's correct. the idea is to go light, to -- in the trend in technological miniaturization is going in my direction. things are getting smaller. the kind of communications i'll be carrying now will be obsolete by the time i'm halfway through and that's part of the story, too. >> sreenivasan: some folks are going to be concerned about your physical safety from other humans but i'm also as concerned about your biological safety. what are you going to be taking with you? antibiotics? any other precautions? you're eating and drinking whatever is available out there. >> that's right. the idea is to live close to the
ground, to eat what local people are eating. all i can say is that i've sort of -- i've had a background, 15 years of living around the word where i've got a pretty good immune system. i've got a pretty good stomach. i will be taking a small med kit with the usual antibiotics, et cetera. preventative medicine is going to be the key here because i cannot carry a pharmacy on my back. >> sreenivasan: what about safety the old-fashioned way? who's looking out for you? who's got your back in case you run into a sticky situation? >> i've got a collection of friends and supporters back here, not just "national geographic," but the knight foundation, the knee man foundation at harvard, the pulitzer senter who will be helping me basically navigate these trouble spots if there are new ones along the way i'm not aware of. >> sreenivasan: we're raising your awareness, there are other people around the world that are. what is the danger here in potentially becoming a celebrity. i call it the ""forrest gump" effect" there you are running along, you pick up more people along the way, how do you deal with that? >> it's a conundrum.
because my reporting method is observational. quietly watching the world unfold around me, getting into people's lives. and for them to admit me in their lives i have to be quiet. i have to listen. if this becomes too much of a spectacle, i can't work. and so i'm still figuring this out. in today's wired world, how anonymous can i be? i am on t.v., after all. >> sreenivasan: we'll continue this conversation on line with more of your questions. paul salopek, thank you very much for joining us. >> it's a pleasure to be here. >> ifill: hari asked paul salopek a lot of other things, including what shoes he plans to wear on his trek. you can listen to his answers online and see a map showing his route. plus, the pulitzer center is asking students to submit questions and to share stories about their own journeys. find a link on our website. >> woodruff: finally tonight, we remember indian musical icon ravi shankar who introduced western audiences to a new sound and a new instrument.
>> reporter: the legendary sitar virtuoso brought his unique sound to an international stage, striking a chord with music lovers around the world. in new delhi, india today, at the music institute named for ravi shankar, students came to pay their respects. >> ( translated ): the purity, sweetness, and innovation in his music that we have seen over the years, his legacy will continue. even if we keep trying, it is difficult to reach his level. >> reporter: shankar's contributions were also praised by his peers in the music industry. >> he was a great artist, i mean he took sitar to the world and today sitar is being played all over the world is all because of him.
>> reporter: from the 1950s on, the self-taught shankar sought to build a new appreciation for classical indian music and the long-necked string instrument he played. then, in the 1960s, his influence spread into western rock music, after beatles lead guitarist, george harrison asked shankar to tutor him. >> i was immediately charmed and attracted to young boy george because of his sincerity and he really wanted to know so much about our music. >> reporter: in short order, shankar came to share top billing with leading rock musicians, even performing on the opening day at woodstock in 1969. in 1971, he pioneered the concept of the rock benefit with the concert for bangladesh. along the way, shankar won three grammy awards and received an oscar nomination with the score
for the movie "gandhi". >> you see what i have been able to do was only popularize and make our music understood and appreciated in the proper manner. that has been my mission and i feel very happy that i almost-- i have completed that. >> reporter: ravi shankar died tuesday at a hospital in southern california after suffering heart problems, at the age of 92. he is survived by two daughters grammy award-winning musician norah jones and anoushka shankar, an accomplished sitar player and composer. >> woodruff: on art beat, you can watch clips from two of shankar's most famous performances from the 1960s. >> ifill: again, the other major developments of the day: the u.s. and more than 100 other countries formally recognized a new coalition of syrian rebel
groups, paving the way for international aid. the federal reserve announced it will continue economic stimulus programs until unemployment falls below 6.5% and north korea successfully launched a rocket that could be used as a long-range, nuclear- tipped missile some day. online, we have the story of india's secret weapon in the fight against cervical cancer. hari sreenivasan explains. >> sreenivasan: it's a simple household ingredient-- vinegar. doctors use it instead of costly pap smears to detect the disease. that's part of our series with pri, "cancer's new battleground." and we profile a social entrepreneur whose company transformed bicycles into machines for processing corn and charging cell phones in tanzania. all that and more is on our web site newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll talk with the u.s. special envoy to afghanistan and pakistan, marc grossman about withdrawing u.s. troops and negotiating with the taliban. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again
here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> support also comes from carnegie corporation of new york, a foundation created to do what andrew carnegie called "real and permanent good." celebrating 100 years of philanthropy at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations.
captioning sponsored by wpbt >> this is n.b.r. >> susie: good evening, everyone. i'm susie gharib. a surprising pledge from the federal reserve today. it will keep interest rates super low until unemployment drops to 6.5%. >> tom: good evening,. i'm tom hudson. the central bank also will continue buying billions of dollars of government bonds in its effort to keep interest rates low. pimco c.e.o. mohamed el-erian will join us. >> susie: and the legal marijuana business-- two states okaying it for recreational use. we talk with one company profiting from medicaar
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