tv PBS News Hour PBS July 17, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: lawmakers clashed with national security officials today and threatened to curtail surveillance programs revealed by former defense contractor edward snowden. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the "newshour" tonight, we bring you the latest on the snowden saga and a debate about whether his actions were justified between daniel ellsberg, who leaked the "pentagon papers," and former attorney general michael mukasey. >> brown: then, we examine some good news about dementia, as two studies in europe show plummeting rates of disease, and sharper minds among the elderly. >> ifill: judy woodruff looks at the bitter standoff between walmart and washington, d.c.'s city council, part of a widening fight over paying workers a living wage. >> brown: from the asian nation of myanmar: kira kay has the story of land grabs, as
government authorities seize property long tilled by farmers. >> on january 31st, mya hlaing came home to find an eviction notice nailed to his wall. for mya hlaing and his neighbors, it meant they would have to move out in two weeks, or face jail. >> ifill: and wyoming politics takes center stage as liz cheney, daughter of the former vice president, decides to challenge a sitting republican senator. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> 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. >> brown: edward snowden was back in the news today, from the u.s. house of representatives to the russian far east. his disclosures of sweeping u.s. surveillance and his continued presence outside moscow prompted a series of new warnings. the day's developments began with russian president vladimir putin at a military exercise in siberia, offering his most expansive comments to date on snowden. >> ( translated ): mr. snowden, as i understand it, never intended to stay here, in russia, forever. he has even said so himself. he is a young man, i even don't quite understand how he plans to live his life in the future. but it is his fate and his choice. >> brown: but putin insisted again those choices will not be allowed to harm relations with the u.s.
>> ( translated ): bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles about the activities of the secret services. >> brown: snowden formally applied yesterday, in a handwritten letter, for temporary asylum in russia. for now, he remains holed up at an airport outside moscow. and, despite putin's statement, an attorney for the former n.s.a. contractor said today he expects that petition to be granted. >> ( translated ): he will leave the airport in the next few days because some legal papers are still required to be formalized. therefore i think this issue will be resolved within a week. >> brown: in washington, white house press secretary, jay carney called again for snowden to be sent back to the u.s., to face espionage charges. >> mr. snowden should be expelled and returned to the u.s. where he will be charged with serious felonies. we share putin's view that we don't want harm to bilateral
relations. >> brown: snowden has defended his leaks to britain's guardian newspaper and "the washington post" about surveillance efforts at the national security agency. they include massive collection of so-called telephone metadata- - numbers called, times and locations of calls and duration. snowden also disclosed an internet-monitoring program that mines data for users outside the united states. in addition, from his original temporary refuge in hong kong, he revealed major cyber- penetration of china, especially its universities. the statutes enabling those activities were the subject of a house hearing today with the justice department, directorate of national intelligence, n.s.a. and the f.b.i. deputy n.s.a. director john inglis warned snowden's revelations have the potential to do great damage. >> the impact associated with snowden disclosures can be very
harmful, it's too soon to tell whether in fact whether adversaries will take great note of the things he's disclosed but those capabilities gives playbook how to avoid time attention of u.s. intelligence r tt mattdoc intelligence organizations. >> brown: lawmakers complained too many innocent americans are caught up in the process. republican jim sensenbrenner told deputy attorney general tom cole that part of the patriot act, underpinning the metadata collection, is in danger of not being renewed in 2015. >> it's got to be changed and you have to change how you operate section 215. otherwise in the year and a half or two years you're not going to have it any more. >> brown: california democrat zoe lofgren agreed there is great skepticism on the left and the right. >> i share with mr. sensenbrenner the belief that this will not be able to be a sustained. but i think very clearly this program has gone off the tracks legally and needs to be reined in.
>> brown: deputy a.g. cole argued use of the material is severely restricted by the foreign intelligence surveillance court. but new york democrat jerrold nadler wasn't reassured. >> the fact that a secret court unaccountable to public knowledge of what it is doing- for practical purposes unaccountable to the supreme court may join you in misusing or abusing the statute is no comfort whatsoever. >> brown: the judiciary committee said it will soon take closed-door, classified testimony on the n.s.a. programs. now to a debate on snowden, the government's response to his actions, and the programs he revealed. daniel ellsberg was tried under the espionage act after leaking the so-called "pentagon papers"- - a classified report which he co-wrote as a military analyst that was critical of u.s. decision-making during the vietnam war. the case against him was ultimately dismissed in 1973.
and michael mukasey was attorney general during the george w. bush administration. general during the george w. bush administration. >> lits get on the table first, the programs, michael mukasey, you have written that real damage was done by snowden. please explain. >> i think reel damage was done in two respects, one by disclosing the details of the programs and the second by showing both our anniversaries d our would be friends people who would provide human intelligence, that we can't keep secrets. those two things damage us tremendously. >>brown: and daniel ellsberg, what is your viewpoint? >> pardon me, i have to smile that our friends would be very upset about the thought that snowden had exposed that we were spying on them which he has done. i must say, i think a lot of us
would be envious of our capability. i think
russia and china would be envious of our capability, in countries that aren't exactly democratic. my concern the very existence of this kind of capability chills in some way, i can't see how there can be investigative reporting of this community, when the identity the metadata and the communication between every journalist, every source is known to the executive branch. especially one that has pen prosecuting twice as many sources as any president before. moreover, my even larger concern is: i don't see how democracy can survive when one branch, the executive branch, has all the personal communications of every member of congress, and every judge, every member of the judiciary, as well as the press,
the fourth estate that i've just been describing. i don't see how the blackmail capability that's involved there can be -- will not be abused as it has happened in the past, including to me, by the way, and to other -- and to journalists. i think without that freedom to investigative -- bring checks
and balances we won't have a real democracy. that's my concern. >>brown: let's let mr. mukasey respond. >> that is an hysterically inaccurately portrayal of what is available to the government. what is available are two kinds of information. one is so-called metadata which is a pile of numbers, numbers called and times. they are not associated with particular people and the only purpose of having that is to have a database against which to check suspicious numbers from abroad that are documented to belong to suspected terrorists under the supervision of a court. and to query that database. that database consists of
millions and millions of numbers, that's all. and it -- in 2012 it was queried 300 times by the 15 people who are authorized to query it. that is a microscopic amount
of use. although an important amount of use. so far as surveillance conducted abroad, our friends spy on us, and we spy on them. that is an open secret. and has been for years. and i seriously doubt that any of them would be either surprised or actually disturbed to hear it. and to say that the russians and the chinese would like to have access to these techniques is to prove my point. the russians and the chinese now do have access to them thanks to them having access to mr. snowden's computer whether he libraries it or not because he -- likes it or not because he was in china. the chinese were perfectly capable of taking what was in his computers and the russians as well. >> so mr. ellsberg, what
description would you of mr. snowden, a whistle blower or a criminal or what? >> certainly he is a whistle blower by any reasonable standards. if i'm a whistle blower he is a whistle blower. i'm glad there is a dispute about that because in my day that was not an honorristic term, it was like trait. there is no question that he is and i'm confident that he is not a traitor. any more than i am and i'm not or mr. mukasey. by the way when mr. mukasey says that the russians now have access to what he has, i believe actually, what mr. snoant, edward snowden has told as of today, former senator gordon humphrey, he assured them that the people are wrong, he used to teach computer security to dia and he was confident that even our own nsa was not capable of getting the secrets.
i think it's mistaken to say that it was intentionally or inadvertently given that away. but in terms of the question of why we're spying on our friends i don't think we're spying on the chinese in order to find muslim terrorists may i suggest. i think that what has been revealed about the degree of listening in we're doing to the rest of the world is that that's hardly a major purpose in spying on france, or germany or elsewhere, any more than it is here. the benefit to the government, the executive branch, it's not a benefit to us as a public. a finding out, in the case of the chinese trade negotiations but any kind of negotiations they want, any kind of dissent, i want to say very specifically what doesn't seem to have come out. russell tise has stated as have any other nsa whistle blower, william ben yir, curtis drake,
william webe, that this is the tip of the iceberg, nsa is collecting
and storing all the content of all these communications. let me say metadata is absolutely mistaken. >>brown: let me let michael mukasey to. how do you characterize the u.s. efforts to get him back? >> i guess i join with mr. ellsberg in saying i fess he's not a traitor, he hasn't committed treason. he has violated two or three section of the espionage act. he should be sent back. >> pardon me -- brown: hold on mr. ellsberg. i'm really disturbed hearing a former attorney general describe mr. snowden as a criminal. >> he's an accused person. come on, he is an admitted
criminal. he admitted that he stole forecast and violated -- >>brown: mr. mukasey. you're up. >> am i a criminal was i a traitor? >> mr. ellsberg hold on a minute, let mr. mukasey respond. >> nobody says you were a traitor, mr. ellsberg, nobody responsible said it then, nobody says it there. but. >>brown: mr. ellsberg please i have to insist that you let him respond. >> the fact that you admitted it doesn't make it not a crime. and you did it in a very responsible way. i will say that. the stuff that you stole was of negligible importance because the most recent stuff that you stole was no more recent than three years old and you preceded what your disclosures by offering it to two senators. both of whom turned you down because they didn't want to be the people to disclose it. george mcgovern and william
fulbright, both refused to take that stuff and disclose it. you disclosed it instead to the new york times. >>brown: mr. ellsberg just in our last minute please come back to the snowden case. what would you like to see happen now? >> i'll tell you exactly. i would like to see russell tice, william benny, thomas drake and curt webe testify before congress under oath testify that these programs are unconstitutional and criminal, they have asked to testify and have been ignored by congress. that is exactly the debate that edward snoanld wante -- snowdend to have. that is the conversation that should take place in congress, not being involving the pfizer court, the thousands and thousands of acceptance, it's clearly a rubber-stamp court we need to change that.
the law's mandates for individual and employer-based coverage. the obama administration already has delayed the mandate for larger businesses. the federal reserve's timetable for dialing down its economic stimulus efforts remains flexible. federal reserve chairman ben bernanke underscored that today. he said he still thinks the central bank could start reducing its buying of government bonds this year. bernanke told a house committee it depends on job creation, and is not pre-set. >> if the data are stronger than we expect. we'll move more quickly at the same time maintaining the accommodation through rate policy. if the data are less strong, if they don't meet expectations we have about where the economy is going, then we would delay that process or even potentially increase purchases for a time. >> holman: on wall street, stocks took bernanke's testimony mostly in stride. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 18 points to close at 15,470.
the nasdaq rose 11 points to close at 3,610. the cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for more than a decade pleaded not guilty today to hundreds of charges. ariel castro faces 977 counts, ranging from aggravated murder, involving a terminated pregnancy, and rape, to kidnapping and assault. castro is in jail on an $8 million bond. his trial is scheduled to begin august 5. al-qaeda's branch in yemen has announced the death of its second-in-command, saeed al- shehri. the group said today that al- shehri-- seen here in 2011-- died of injuries from a u.s. drone strike in november. he was hit while speaking on his cell phone. al-shehri spent six years as a u.s. prisoner at guantanamo bay, cuba. he was returned to saudi arabia in 2007 and fled to yemen. a prominent commander of the pakistani taliban voiced regret today for the shooting of
malala yousafzai. the teenage advocate of educating girls was wounded in october. she has since recovered. now, in a letter to the 16-year- old, adnan rasheed calls the attack shocking and says he wished it had not happened. but, he stopped short of apologizing. officials in eastern india now say at least 22 children died tuesday, after eating a free school lunch contaminated with insecticide. parents rushed to a nearby hospital with children who'd consumed the meal of rice, lentils, soybeans and potatoes. later, villagers vented their anger, toppling kiosks and smashing police buses. a state official said the grain may not have been properly washed. queen elizabeth formally approved gay marriage in britain today. that made it official, a day after parliament voted to legalize same-sex unions. the new law allows gay couples to be married in both civil and religious ceremonies. the church of england will not take part. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen.
>> ifill: new research suggests there may be some good news in the struggle against dementia. two recently released studies show severe memory loss declining among healthier and better educated populations. in england and in wales, dementia rates over the last two decades have dropped by 25% among those 65 and older. and in denmark, the percentage of elderly whose cognitive abilities were severely impaired also dropped between 1998 and 2010. in the united states, about five million people have alzheimer's disease, but that number is expected to rise sharply as baby boomers age. for more, we're joined by dr. murali doraiswamy, director of the neurocognitive disorders program at the duke university school of medicine. >> thank you for joining us. very much, great pleasure to be on. >> what are the most helpful signs you see in these new studies? >> well, this is terrific news. the so-called silver tsunami that we've all been scared of
has just been grade down graded from grade 5 to grade 4. the key thing to know is we're not out of the woods but successive generations or even slightly i don't thinker cohort separated by as little as ten years pawrt may not have the same risk. so in other words our children or our grandchildren may not have the same risk for alzheimer's that we do. the second thing that these studies are pointing out is if the risk for alzheimer's is going down for successive generations then that is good news because it indicates that it is likely to be due to environmental or lifestyle effects. many of the public health interventions that have been put into place since the 1970s, encouraging americans and people all over the world to exercise more, cutting down on smoking the disappearance of the marlboro man if you will, better education i think all of these things might be having an
effect. >>ifill: do you see any of red flags in this research? england and wales not necessarily the same type of population as we see here in the u.s. for instance. >> that's not the main red flag. there are studies that have been done in sweden, in the u.s., in many countries that show the same essential decreasing incidence rates if you will for alzheimer's in successive generations. that said, these are observational studies, these are not trials, where people are randomly assigned to treatment arms. we can't be sure but all are pointing in the same direction. >>ifill: but at an alzheimer's meeting conference today they were talking about memory loss being more of a warning sign, we have been told losing your keys is not necessarily a problem but now maybe it is. hep us with this. >> memory problems are always a
sign of alzheimer's. alzheimer's can start in a very, very mild form called a subbive impairment. these are not benign problems like sometimes you forget your keys. much more serious memory problems, people are not even remembering what they forgot. they're having trouble planning. they are forgetting the names of loved ones and those names never come back. if you forget something and it comes back to you a couple of hours later it's probably benign. that said this research is still in early days but the key point to remember is there could be million causes of memory loss as they get older. if your memory problems start affect your daily functioning, that's when you have to take it seriously. a number of conditions can mimic alzheimer's, such as vitamin
deficiency and other health problems. >>ifill: just beside diet and other health measures right? >> absolutely. when we see someone coming in with mild memory complaints we run the full memory of laboratory tests, sometimes we have to get brain scans to make sure it's not a small stroke or some other lesion in the brain that's causing these but for the vast majority of these with mind forgotfulness i don't think they have anything to worry about. >>ifill: how do these stories square? seems like every six weeks we do another study or story about a study, how does that square that within 30 years americans with alzheimer's will double, is it a question of scope? >> well, so first of all you have to realize that many of these forward-projections are merely estimates and some of the previous projections fairly to take into account the fact that with better health improvement
of cardiovascular disease the incidence of alzheimer's will go down in the future. rise in the older population, the bottom line is public officials probably now have to revise some of these estimates a bit lower, it's good news but not out of the woods. >>ifill: now dme dementia if ths good news on dementia is there good news on alzheimer's in specific cases? >> most of the time but not always. it could very well be that much of the reductions that we're seeing are reductions in a type of dementia calls vascular dementia which is accounted largely by cardiovascular disease by strokes by high blood pressure or by cholesterol. i suspect that is the area we have made the greatest gains because we have other ways to treat cardiovascular disease.
i suspect that alzheimer's has gone down a bit because we have gotten better education. >>ifill: we don't have reliable studies that show that the rate of alzheimer's is declining as the rate of dementia as we have seen in these studies? >> i think what we have to differentiate is the risk versus the total numbers. the total numbers of alzheimer's disease are going to climb up wards quite dramatically because the rising number of people who live into their 70s, 80s and 90s is a huge risk. a given person's risk for developing alzheimer's may go down. >> dr. murali doraiswamy of duke university thank you for helping us out. >> ifill: to find out more about how to recognize early signs of alzheimer's, read our online resource guide: "ten things you should know."
>> brown: now, what constitutes a decent wage? citing growing economic inequality, campaigns are underway around the country to pressure employers to boost workers' pay. some cities, like san jose and san francisco, have raised their minimum wage. washington, d.c. is trying a different approach. judy woodruff has the story. >> woodruff: it looks like any other routine construction site, but the work at this location in washington, d.c., is at the center of a major fight over wages capturing national attention. when completed, the building is set to become the first walmart in the nation's capital, one of six stores it says it plans to eventually open in d.c. but now a battle over a living wage could derail that plan. last week, the d.c. city council approved legislation that would require select employers to pay an hourly rate that's almost 50% higher than the city's current
minimum wage. if signed into law, the measure, called the "large retailer accountability act," would force businesses to pay workers at least $12.50 an hour. the bill applies to stores with operating space of 75,000 square feet or greater, and with annual corporate revenues of at least $1 billion. unionized stores like the area grocery chain giant would be exempt. walmart officials have said plans for three of the six d.c. locations would be dropped if the bill is signed, and could jeopardize the other three currently under construction. just before last week's vote, walmart's regional general manager criticized the bill in a piece in the "washington post." "from day one," he wrote, "we have said this legislation is arbitrary and discriminatory and that it discourages investment in washington."
the fight in d.c. is the latest in a growing number of battles and smaller demonstrations around the country to call for higher wages for lower-income workers. just last week, employees at smithsonian museums who work for contracted franchises like mcdonald's went on a one-day strike over pay. >> now i don't expect to make $70,000, but as an american i expect a living wage. i'm a single father and i make $10,000 a year. >> woodruff: yesterday, workers rights groups spotlighted pay at mcdonald's by calling attention to a new budgeting tool made for employees. as seen in this video, it acknowledged workers may need to hold a second job. in d.c., mayor vincent gray has not said whether he will sign or veto the city's wage measure. he had supported bringing in walmart. we get two views on this battle over wages and what's at stake.
david madland is the director of the american worker project at the center for american progress. and stephen moore is an economics writer and a member of the editorial board for the "wall street journal." gentlemen, welcome to you both. >> so david madland let me start with you. first of all how is the dollar amount of a living wage arrived at, and why should some retailers be required to pay it, and not others? >> well, usually the standard is trying to get to something above a poverty level wage where you can really start to pay -- pay all your bills and not rely on kind of government assistance. so i think that's partly how this standard 12.50 for the d.c. bill is set. and the law applies to a large retailers and i think that's a start. the idea here is that more, larger more profitable businesses can afford to pay this higher wage. ultimately you want to apply it to all classes of employers but
it's a start. >> stephen moore why should big employers be required to pay more? >> i live in washington so i know what's going on there is that there's little question that from the historical evidence that if you raise the wage rate from 7.25 to 12.50 which is an enormous increase by the way, that you are going to increase unemployment. the effects of this will be that stores like walmart will hire fewer workers. the big respect to washington, d.c. judy is whether or not walmart will even move into washington as a result of this. they have six stores that are planned and they have basically said we may not, three of those stores which are under construction yet, may not happen. if they don't move in we're talking about the loss of hundreds of jobs maybe thousands.
>>woodruff: david madland what do you say? >> it's hard to know exactly what walmart will do. but when cities and states raise their own wages, the best studies compare one adjacent county to another or adjacent state to another. they show that raising minimum wage have no effect on unemployment. studies also, when walmart comes to down, no effect on employment. they destroy some jobs of smaller competitors so there's no net impact on jobs here. the question really is whether walmart is going to pay a living wage so thattists employees and -- make a living wage not only walmart but other large retailers can pay a living wage. >>woodruff: stephen moore he is saying the evidence is it doesn't hurt unemployment. >> we must be looking at different studies. i've been studying this for 20 years. the question is are the benefits you know worth class of this,
look i'll give you one example. i have two teen image an sons. i guarantee i love them but they're not worth $12.50 an hour. >> they may not agree with you. se jobs are starter jobs and one of the things i really worry about with respect to these superminimum wage laws is some people are going to benefit because they get a higher wage but the people unquestionably that are hurt most are the people less skilled, who have the least education and want that starter job. what the minimum wage does is cuts off the bottom rungs of the ladder. >>woodruff: allow about that? we have the theory of the best way to grow the economy. stephen is arguing for trickle down economics. that wealth will trickle down to everyone else. the experience we've had for the
last 30 years shows that it's a failure. instead the right way to grow the economy is from the middle out. you rise wages and benefits, the middle class has the purchasing power that you need to drive the economic and workers do not have the purchasing power they need now. that means that businesses are not investing, by raising the minimum wage that is part of a strategy to really build a strong economy. >> let me make another point that i think is supporting here. it is my belief and there are a lot of economists that have done studies that confirm this. the most successful antipoverty program in the last 50 years has been walmart. what walmart does is provide low proorses affordable prices to everything from toothpaste to try sickles to low income -- >> you are talking about across the country? >> tens of billions of gain. the thing i can't understand is why liberals hate walmart. there are things not to like
about walmart but it is a very effective antipoverty program. >>woodruff: but to keep this on the question of the living wage stephen moore what about about the other argument, especially in the big cities, the cost of living is higher, it's harder to make it on a minimum wage in a city like los angeles, chicago, new york or washington than it is in other parts of the country. >> i guess my response is this, if you look at where the unemployment rate is the highest in the country it is clearly in the central cities, in washington, d.c. where unemployment is 8.5%. these have been playgrounds for liberal ideas for 50 years, one of them being the superminimum wage laws. i do think that look, there are a lot of reasons for the high unemployment there but my point is the last point you want to impose these really high minimum wage requirements are places that already have tens of thousands of people who don't have jobs. >> look, mississippi has just about the highest unemployment rate in the country. no minimum wage.
vermont, one of the highest minimum wages in the country. has one of the lowest unemployment raitle. really, the evidence on the minimum wage is, it does not affect employment. that's really -- >> if that were the case why not raise the minimum wage to 15, $20 an hour. >> at that point the minimum wage doesn't have an effect. the reason you raise the minimum wage is three reasons, first, that workers who work full time are not in poverty. that's a key moral imperative. and the section, it's good for the economy to ensure we have purchasing power in the economy and the last, it's good for taxpayers because when you don't impose these kinds of wages you end up subsidizing low road employers because you have to pay for food stamps and medicaid. >> remember we're not talking about a national minimum ways which is a different minimum wage, we're talking about a city or state should have a minimum wage. the problem with washington, d.c. it borders right on maryland and virginia. if they raise that minimum wage,
you're right we don't know what walmart will do maybe they're bluffing maybe they're not. if the wage goes up to 12.50 and they don't build those stores, by the way you talk about tax revenues it's estimated that each walmart store would generate about $1 million of tax revenues or the for a city that needs tax revenues. >>woodruff: you're not worried about loss of jobs? >> the best case scenario walmart comes to d.c. and pays minimum wage, that's the real goal here. most studies show when walmart comes to town it has no net effect on jobs. >>woodruff: all right, we're going oleave it there, david madland, and stephen moore, we thank you both. >> ifill: next, we take you to the asian nation of myanmar, also known as burma, where some farmers are paying a heavy price
for the country's emerging economy. special correspondent kira kay reports. >> reporter: the first drops of the rainy season have fallen on mya hlaing's rice paddies and it is time to plow and sow. the rice will be ready for harvest in november. mya hlaings land and the village that abuts it were settled by his forefathers, while myanmar was still a british colony. >> ( translated ): i have been living in this village since i was born. even my great grandfather lived here. when i die, i wish to die in this village. >> reporter: but on january 31, mya hlaing came home to find an eviction notice nailed to his wall. the myanmar government had entered into a major development agreement with a consortium of japanese companies, like mistubishi, that will include high tech, food and textile factories. for impoverished myanmar, this means lots of jobs and a surge of trade and revenue. but for mya hlaing and his
neighbors, it meant they would have to move out in two weeks, or face jail. >> ( translated ): this meant the destruction of our lives. we were ordered to move out, but we were not offered any other housing or compensation for our loss. >> reporter: like most of myanmar's farmers, mya hlaing never held an ownership deed to his inherited fields and for decades this wasn't a problem as the government allowed farmers broad rights to cultivate and live on the land. but in the late 1980s that all changed, as a repressive dictatorship took power and started seizing land for military use and to hand out to the elites. >> ( translated ): powerful government leaders, their children and relatives, together with their business cronies, lawlessly confiscated a great deal of agricultural land for their own interests. >> reporter: maung maung win is a lawyer based in yangon. >> ( translated ): farmers who demanded their land back were jailed. there was hardly any compensation. if an offer was made it was a meager amount.
these confiscations created great difficulties for the farmers' lives. >> reporter: in mya hlaing's case, it was the housing authority that seized the land in 1996 but never did anything with it. officials let him stay, and even farm, as long as he also paid taxes. but now, foreign investors are coming to myanmar and all of a sudden, mya hlaing's land has become very valuable to the government that took it many years ago. in the last year, as a reformist government has ushered in more democratic practices, economic sanctions have been dropped by countries that had for decades boycotted myanmar, including the united states. already, the first signs of change are apparent: celebrity- filled showroom openings light up the yangon night. there's a hum of construction as new hotels and office towers rise. modern shopping malls are making the lives of burmese more comfortable. >> it is a get rich moment and
the land tenure for poor people is the victim. >> reporter: phil robertson is with human rights watch. >> what you've seen is a deprivation over the past 40 years in burma where people have not been able to invest, to make-- do business and things like that, because its been controlled by the state, controlled by the army. now people with connections are recognizing that this is the window-- my three-to-five years when i can make my family secure. it's a race to control things, it's a race to control assets. it's a swamp that international investors are going to be wandering into as they look to invest in burma in the future. >> reporter: lawyer maung maung win says that with some 70% of the population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, the risk of insecurity from unresolved land issues is high. >> ( translated ): solving the land situation is the most important issue in myanmar but the current government cannot as yet handle it.
these standoffs are happening everywhere around the country and if we do not prioritize this issue, we are going to run into a lot more problems. >> reporter: some of these land disputes have turned violent. in february dozens of people were hurt and an officer was killed when police used rubber bullets to disburse protesting crowds. and near a chinese-backed copper mine in central myanmar, security forces have repeatedly clashed with villagers. in november, they burned protesting monks with phosphorus munitions. an investigative panel was assembled with opposition leader aung san suu kyi at the helm. but when she delivered the news that the project would continue, with compensation, the normally- beloved democracy icon was berated. a vivid demonstration of how critical these standoffs are becoming. but emboldened activists are also now seizing the moment of some new freedoms of speech and assembly to re-assert farmers
rights. >> ( translated ): during the military regime these lands were taken. >> reporter: nay myo wai is working with farmers to measure every foot of their fields, establishing the exact boundaries with a g.p.s. the fields sit near yangon international airport, and were given to a local company that is still on u.s. sanctions lists. the company has said it paid the government $50 million, but farmers say they saw little or nothing of that money. now the company is laying in roads and walling off parcels, reportedly selling them to investors for up to $47,000 an acre. last year, nay myo wai got a government permit to lead the farmers in what became the first legal protest in the country in more than 20 years. now they are taking the gps data and filing petitions with local authorities. and they have some hope: as part of the reforms process
last year, myanmar's parliament passed new land laws. although the state remains the official owner of all land in myanmar, farmers may be granted formal recognition of their rights to occupy, mortgage, inherit and sell their fields. and receive fair compensation for acres taken for legitimate government use. the farmers say the stakes are high. >> ( translated ): now we can't work on our land, so we have to go somewhere else as day laborers. we have to be ditch diggers, construction workers, carpenters. but because we are not experienced, we are exploited by the employers. now our families are broken, we are going around in circles. >> reporter: it would have been unthinkable two years ago that protesting farmers could meet a foreign television crew. and didn't seem bothered by the plain clothes police officers filming our conversation. >> ( translated ): this could be a turning point. and it's about time. honestly, we shouldn't have to protest. it should be taken care of by writing a letter.
protesting is not fun and we don't want to do it. we just want authorities to resolve this issue. >> reporter: lawyer maung maung win and his staff are also helping farmers navigate the complexities of the new land law, holding a walk-in clinic that is drawing farmers from around the country. >> when they took over your land, did any negotiation take place? >> reporter: these farmers fields were seized for a naval base that never materialized. they had been allowed to keep farming and have tax documents to prove their many years of occupancy. but in recent months, the military started renting out the land for local factories and the farmers were told to stop planting. some of their huts were bulldozed. the lawyers and farmers decide to contest the original land seizure with a newly established parliamentary commission. but maung maung win admits he faces an uphill battle. >> ( translated ): there's no real rule of law and corruption remains within the courts and administration. we have sometimes been
intimidated because of our activities. we do now enjoy some freedom of expression because of the new constitution and our newspapers are no longer censored. but all these developments are mostly taking place on the surface of society and injustices continue to take place. >> reporter: back in the rice fields outside yangon, farmer mya hlaing has organized his neighbors. they put up signs in defiance of the eviction notice, stating they were rightful occupants who pay taxes. and mya laing began studying myanmar's land laws. >> ( translated ): over i think this project is important and will bring in benefits for our country. but we never had a voice; if there is exploitation, we have to fight against it. >> reporter: just a few weeks ago, with japanese investors making their impatience clear, myanmar government officials announced they will survey the area to set a compensation package using, quote,
"international standards." mya hlaing says he will leave if the deal is fair, but he continues to till his rice paddies, hoping to squeeze in one more harvest before he leaves his ancestral home for good. >> brown: kira's story is part of our partnership with the bureau for international reporting. >> ifill: finally tonight, the republican party's civil war in wyoming, where an incumbent senator is getting a challenge from a candidate with a familiar name. >> i'm running because i believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate. >> ifill: liz cheney announced her plans in a web video yesterday. the conservative commentator and eldest daughter of former vice president dick cheney is challenging three-term incumbent mike enzi, in next year's republican primary. cheney calls herself a tea party sympathizer, and argues enzi's long stay in washington is part of the problem.
>> we can no longer afford to simply go along to get along. we can't continue business as usual in washington. >> ifill: cheney actually spent much of her life in and around washington before moving back to her home state last fall. her father was a longtime congressman and white house aide. later, she worked at the state department. her announcement came shortly after enzi announced his own plans to run for reelection in a typically low profile written statement. >> ifill: senate republican colleagues, including wyoming's other senator, john barrasso, quickly declared support for enzi. because republicans heavily outnumber democrats in wyoming, the candidate who wins the g.o.p. primary will almost certainly go on to take the general election. we get more on the duel in the cowboy state from jonathan martin. he's national political correspondent for the "new york times."
jonathan. how unusual is it to have a sitting senator challenged by such a high profile person at this time? in well, it's unique in this sense because we've seen these challenges in primaries in recent years. it's been with a senator who has crossed the party base in some fashion. >>ifill: right. they have gone home in the case of dick luger of indiana or taken some votes from their conservative base. this is more of a matter of a small conservative state and someone who has a famous last name in that state and somebody who is a reform figure in her own right who wants to have a senate seat. i think there was an assumption or hope in the cheney case, that, he's served two terms, almost 70 years old, that didn't happen. i think she decided to go forward with it. >>ifill: wyoming is a big state but politically it's small. is there bad blood between the cheneys and the enzis,.
>> not at all. i had a long chat with dismart enzi, he first got to know dick cheney when enzi was a mayor of a town called gillette. they were fly-fishing friends, they go way way back. it is a small political state in the sense everybody knows one another. i asked the senator if he had heard from cheney, he said no, but if his daughter had not expected to run. he has not yet heard from his old friend. >>ifill: not from her either. not that she has decided. >> that's right. you mentioned oarl challenges other challenged incumbents have been taken out by tea party. >> the show horse or workhorse, he's a workhorse, behind the scenes, consensus oriented senator who votes conservative down the line.
you can't find many votes that are not conservative but one area he may be vulnerable is he imposed a measure to support internet sales. the vulnerability we're seeing this with cheney's comments already is that he worked with democrats, he was very close to the late senator ted kennedy on the health and education committee and so he is known as somebody that -- >>ifill: too accommodating. in the eye of some conservatives who is too accommodating. they would need somebody in this way of thinking who was more pugnacious. >>ifill: what is her reputation, she is pugnacious? >> she is pugnacious. a hard driving true conservative. very hawkish, that's why she's best known on the foreign policy issues. so i think she will run at him a generational standpoint. he's 69, she's 46. time for new energy. >>ifill: in fact today she thought he was maybe confused in think she would not run for his
seat. >> confused was a word i was struck by too. i think she's run a generational campaign, and ideologic, he's a get-long go-long, and the obama party should take it to the democrats. >>ifill: this comparison may not hold up but hillary clinton, and liz cheney, even though her family goes way back in wyoming was raised and spent most of her formative years in washington. does that hurt her? >> i think that's going to be a challenge for her. the clue i got she knew that would be her biggest challenge, the vird yoa she used to announce her campaign, the first minute or so was in effect a genealogy run down of her family grouped. that means she has to overcome that issue. people are going to be suspicious of the fact that she came back to the state to run
and i think that's probably the biggest challenge now. >>ifill: why announce now? the deadline isn't until next year. this is a 2014 race. why are they getting into this, money? >> she called thinking she was going to run. it probably fast-forwarded some of the thinking on this score. it was very interesting last night the one after the other statement, my sense is that enzi heard that her announcement and he was in fact running for a 4th term. >>ifill: will she get good financial support? >> that's the fact, he is not a good fund raiser. i asked him how much he raised an he slugd. he didn't know. she will raise a lot of national money a lot of conservative money and this is a campaign that wyoming last not seen for a long long time and it's going to be a really tough race but fun for us to watch.
>>ifill: always fun for us to watch. jonathan martin. thank you. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: u.s. lawmakers clashed with national security officials and threatened to curtail sweeping surveillance programs. and the head of the federal reserve said the timetable for dialing down economic stimulus efforts remains flexible. >> ifill: online, we have two stories about china. kwame holman explains. >> holman: new data shows economic growth in china is slowing. from beijing, fulbright scholar and comedian jesse appel reflects on the widening gap between rich and poor. and on art beat, a photographer captures hope and alienation felt by migrant workers who have moved to china's cities. all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. jeff? >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at the true costs and coverage for obamacare. i'm jeffrey brown. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night.
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