tv PBS News Hour PBS December 3, 2013 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama was out touting the benefits of the affordable care act today in the latest bid to move past the rocky rollout of healthcare.gov. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead, the biggest municipal bankruptcy in u.s. history gets the green light. a judge ruled detroit can shed billions in debt and reduce public pensions while overhauling its finances. >> woodruff: and tensions are rising in asia, where vice president biden voiced support for japan as it feuds with china over islands and airspace. >> we, the united states, are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the
status quo in the east china sea. >> those are just some of the stories we are covering on tonight's pbs news hours. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and...
>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the president sought to shift the focus today, away from what's gone wrong with implementing the health care law to what's gone right. he said the benefits are being overlooked amid problems with the web site and policy cancellations. but insurers still warn they're getting unusable data. we'll have a full report on the president's new p.r. push right after the news summary. >> the university of notre dame over the healthcare law's mandate to cover birth control for students and employees. school officials went to court today arguing they are being forced to violate roman catholic teachings, a federal judge dismissed a similar suit last year, saying the it was not yet
facing imminent penalties under the law. >> a federal judge has cleared the city of detroit to proceed with its bankruptcy filing and shed up to $18 billion in debt. it's the largest public bankruptcy in u.s. history. the judge turned aside challenges from unions, pension funds and retirees who stand to have benefits cut. later, retiring mayor dave bing called for all parties to work together. >> we have got to start changing the conversation and we can't think that bankruptcy is the worst thing that ever happened to us. it can help us now because it will allow us once again to deal with the things that should have been dealt with over the last 20 or 30 years. the city cannot go forward with the kind of debt and liabilities that we have on our balance sheet. >> >> ifill: detroit's emergency manager, kevin orr, has said the city is now using 40 cents of every dollar collected to pay its debts. he warns that figure could rise to 65 cents without bankruptcy relief.
>> major cuts in retirement benefits for thousands of state employees, and retirees, the legislature approved a bill that also raises the state retirement age. it is the latest effort to help erase the state's $100 billion pension shortfall. boston in the nation, the governor said he will sign the bill. >> the the house voted today to renew a long-standing ban on plastic firearms that can evade metal detectors and x-ray machines. the republican-sponsored bill passed on a voice vote, extending the ban another ten years. democrats supported the measure even though they wanted greater restrictions. virginia congressman bobby scott said the guns should contain metal parts that cannot be detached. >> the law has a critical loophole which may encourage the production of firearms that may escape detuck shun. >> they may produce a firearm that is detectable only because it has a metal component, which
is not essential to the operation of the firearm but is easily removable by the firearm user seeking to avoid detection. >> >> ifill: the senate could take up the bill on monday, when it returns from thanksgiving recess. the existing ban expires on tuesday. on another issue, the house decided to spend the money that air travelers accidentally leave at security checkpoints. all those coins added up to more than half a million dollars in 2012. under the "loose change act," it will go to non-profit groups that run airport lounges for military personnel and their families. the bill now heads to the senate. in japan, visiting vice president joe biden rebuked china for imposing an air defense zone over islands that tokyo also claims. he said the u.s. is "deeply concerned." the vice president travels to china tomorrow. we'll focus on what's fueling the tensions in the east china sea later in the program. protests eased today in thailand as the prime minister ordered police to avoid new confrontations with demonstrators demanding her
ouster. days of violence had left four people dead and more than 250 hurt. we have a report from jonathan sparks of independent television news in bangkok. >> reporter: for three days, anti-government protestors and thai police waged war in the center of bangkok. today, however, the barricades came down and the two sides shook hands. flowers were exchanged and tears were shed, and the police got out of the way. the protestors tried to take this government complex by force. this morning, however, they simply walked in. >> ( translated ): i think we've won. it feels like victory. i think we've 90% won it now. >> reporter: but there was a problem: the protestors may have occupied the lawn outside the prime minister's office, but yingluck shinawatra was still the prime minister.
a few hours ago, one of the most secure areas in the country, now it is rammed with anti- government protestors, like an open-day fete full of festive people. protestor leaders accuse the government of corruption, and they're promising far-reaching reform, but they're not prepared to wait for the next election. i caught up with one of the >> ( translated ): normally, we give them power for four years, but they've used it in the wrong way. they're corrupt so the people want the power back. >> reporter: the decision by the police to dismantle the barricades has come as a surprise. they'd spent days defending key government ministries, so i asked them why? >> ( translated ): we did this so we could talk to each other and reduce tensions, but we are not going to let the protestors do whatever they like. this decision was made to avoid further confrontation. >> reporter: for the country's prime minister, yingluck shinawatra, a small measure of
relief is expected. with the nation now preparing for the thai king's birthday on thursday, she's asked people to use the time to brainstorm. but the leaders of this protest, as well as their followers, are in no mood to negotiate. we watched at the ministry of finance, which they've occupied for several weeks, as volunteers were trained to resist and besiege. they are organized and committed to their cause, and they seem increasingly determined. >> ifill: the ukrainian government survived a no- confidence vote in parliament today. that followed days of angry protests after ukraine's president shelved a landmark trade deal with the european union. thousands of pro-e.u. demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building today. they vowed to continue their fight to overthrow the government. the united nations food agency is warning that hundreds of thousands of people in congo
will lose their food aid. the world food program said today it's received just a quarter of the money it needs to feed more than four million congolese through 2015. eastern congo, in particular, has been ravaged by repeated armed rebellions. >> the new york commuter trainl nodded off just before the crash that killed four people, a union leader said william rockefeller told him he nodded and then caught himself but it was too late. the national transportation safety board is interviewing rockefeller as part of its probe. >> in economic economic news, home prices rose just slightly in october. it's the latest sign that the market is stabilizing after a big run- up in prices over the past 12 months.
and on wall street today, stocks fell again amid concerns that holiday spending is falling short. the dow jones industrial average lost 94 points to close at 15,914. the nasdaq fell eight points to close at 4,037. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour: the politics of the affordable care act; rising tensions in asia; how american students performed on a world wide report card; and detroit's bankruptcy gets the green light. >> woodruff: in washington today, president obama worked to refocus the health care debate on the successes of the affordable care act. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage.
>> reporter: the president touted benefits of the affordable care act at the white house this afternoon, flanked by people who've gained under the program. >> right now, what this law is doing is helping folks. and we're just getting started with the exchanges, just getting started with the marketplaces. so, we're not going to walk away from it. if i've got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what i'll do. >> reporter: the president's appearance opened a new public relations offensive to move beyond the law's troubled rollout. >> do not let the initial problems with the web site discourage you because it's working better now, and it's just going to keep on working better over time. everyday i check to make sure that it's working better, and
>> reporter: meanwhile, white house chief of staff denis mcdonough reported the healthcare.gov web site had more than one million visitors yesterday after weeks of work to fix it. there also were reports not all the kinks have been smoothed out. yesterday, enrollment counselors in some states reported delays mounted as the day wore on and traffic on the web site increased. and a new problem loomed: insurers warned the system is generating faulty enrollment data that could prevent some people from getting coverage by january 1. at the white house, press secretary jay carney challenged those claims. >> that statistic that was cited in the newspaper today does not reflect at all the picture of what is happening right now. in fact, i'm not sure it's an accurate picture of issues with the back end of the system even going back weeks. >> reporter: the administration also reported that nearly 1.5 million low income people gained coverage under medicaid in october. 25 states have expanded medicaid under the health care law. but republicans, led by house speaker john boehner, kept up their assault on the overall law. >> this bill is fundamentally flawed. it's causing people to lose the doctor of their choice, causing them to lose their health plan. and if that isn't enough,
they're having to pay much higher prices at the same time. >> reporter: other republicans looked to buttress those claims with stories from constituents. wisconsin congressman sean duffy: >> in my district, denise needs a kidney transplant. she's lost her insurance, she's lost her doctor, she's going to the exchange, looking for insurance, and the one option that she has doesn't provide coverage with her current doctor. >> reporter: the political back- and-forth has intensified as polls show opposition to the health care initiative growing and support for the president falling. mr. obama himself has acknowledged he faces an uphill fight to recover, even when the web site is fixed. >> to that inside some of the politics here we turn to strategists on each side of the healthcare fight. republican ron don i didn't worked with communications director, former house speaker dennis hastert and chief of staff of the senate republican conference and brad woodhouse
former communications director for the democratic national committee and now president of the democratic group, americans united for change which has been backing the president on healthcare. thank you both for being here. >> so woodhouse, to you first, why is this regrouping on the part of the white house necessary? >> well, look, i think it is necessary because what we have seen, this has been a tough eight weeks, the rollout of healthcare.gov could not have gone worse for the white house or for democrats or frankly, for the people who want access to healthcare, but look there is a front facing aggressive period here where we are going to try to get people signed up and first two days it looks like the healthcare web site is working, so we will see what republicans complain about next. >> so if the white house is going to do what they say they are, they are going to get the web site working and address some of these other problems why won't they be able to undo some of the damage that has been done? >> this is what the president is
worried about, he is putting a firewall around obamacare right now because democrats are running away from it in droves and he is trying a last stand to put the best face of obamacare, you know, best face of the branding around obamacare that he can, because next year is an election year and it is so critical, and millions of americans are losing their health insurance this january 1st and they need to get signed up into obamacare quickly. >> but if they get a lot of people, if they get millions of americans signed up, the web site is working better, can't they undo that -- >> what is really interesting is republicans we all know the web spite is going to get fixed. the technology is going to eventually happen what we are do yotalking about now is the acces and affordability of obamacare. people's premiums are likely to go up, people's deductibles are going to go up, the access around to getting to their doctor is going to be troublesome and i think that is what you will see, along with the security and lack thereof of the exchanges.
>> woodruff: so woodhouse, you hear what he is saying, either the web site is fixed and working very well, it is the other parts of this law that are going to create problems. >> well, judy, these are just scare tactics, remember you are talking to the same people who said there was going to be death panels as part of this law, first of all, let me say this, democrats are not running away from this law, all of the political committees on the democratic side and the white house announced aggressive and offensive efforts to promote this law and to hold republicans accountable, frankly judy for sabotage, we have republican governors throughout this country who have been given a gift they can expand medicaid to take care of people who are just right above the poverty line and can't afford healthcare and we are going to hold them accountable. we are not afraid of the politics of this. ron is right, the web site is fixed and people are going to get signed up and people are going to like it. >> woodruff: so how are republicans going to respond to that, democrats come back and say, hey it is working, there are people who are being helped? >> well it is frankly the people
are po speaking for themselves, and people are getting dropped from the plan and have trouble getting access and paying more, what republicans are doing this week is having oversight hearings, at least five in the house over everything from should the government be running your healthcare to the quality of what is going to happen to small businesses with healthcare, you know, they are goingoing the gambit, the, theye going to put out a major digital push in the next 24 hours to talk about the problems with obamacare so there is no question about it, i think the product does not sell itself. i mean, president obama to have andreas schleicher neck dote sold us a lamp and instead now they are saying well look at this great paperweight. >> here is the issue, judy, is that republicans still, 100 years into this debate still haven't offered their plan, speaker boehner today just kind of was flippant yeah we will see if we offer our own plan, yet obama has had problems in the rollout but wha what the plan os in the rollout is far superior
to going back to the type of discrimination the insurance companies participated in before, the gender discrimination paying more for healthcare coverage, just because you are a woman, so, you know, they can argue for the status quo, we will argue for the success of obamacare and things will play out next year. >> woodruff: ron, is it enough for republicans to criticize, which they clearly are doing or do they need to come up with an alternative on their own. >> absolutely, republicans were shut out of the process of developing obamacare, and they need to talk about the law, they need to talk about the problems in the law because that that is what it is, yes, they need to talk more about the answer to obamacare. what do they have to sell? there is plenty, they believe in market driven solutions and they believe in health -- having small businesses, lower insurance costs to have them lower, they believe in going for trying to, for allowing for people to die their insurance across state lines, they believe in expanded healthcare savings
accounts, they believe in people have preexisting conditions should keep their health insurance if they are making continuous payments there are all kind of things to talk about and there will be a time for that definitely. >> well, judy, that plan leaves millions and millions of people uncovered, it doesn't deal with people who can't get health insurance because of a preexisting condition and that plan was shown i think during the romney campaign to cover one or 2 million additional people in the country. >> leaving millions of people off health insurance. >> woodruff: hold on. >> and raising the premiums. >> that is not true, premiums are down, the cost of healthcare, inflation is down to its lowest point in 40 years, the cost of this law, judy, is lower than it was estimated. there are a lot of good about obamacare and we are proud of it. >> brad, let me ask you one final question. we know that a lot of democrats, a number of democrats have been really nervous about the rollout of this, the content of the healthcare law. to what extent has the president been able to calm those fears on
the part of people who are running for reelection next year? >> well, yes, i think the president has done what he could do and what he can do. he has reflected the frustration with the web site. but all this came down really comes down to getting that web site fixed and making sure that people who got those cancellation notices can go on the web site and get signed up for new and better and lower cost plans, and there is going to be a sprint here in the next three weeks to make sure that the first number of people can do that before january 1st. >> woodruff: and now that the white house, the democrats are clearly focused on fighting back on this, does it make it harder for republicans to make the case you are trying to make? >> well, i think it is really going to be up to the senate, the democrats especially, those who are vulnerable in red states to make the decision. it is their blood, the question is, if their blood pressure is still up and signing on bills, to legislation that delays obamacare for at least a year then they will still have problems. if this bill smooths out and the
blood pressure goes down the white house is not going to have as many problems. i think it is going to be up to the democrats to see what happens next. >> woodruff: all right. we are going to leave it there, ron bonjean we thank you, and mr. woodhouse. >> thank you. >> >> ifill: now to rising tensions in asia, and the united states' strong words for china. >> the only conflict that is worse than one that is intended is one that is unintended. >> ifill: the vice president issued that warning in tokyo today, on the first stop of a weeklong asia tour. he sought to reassure an anxious japan, as a tense standoff continues with china over which country controls a string of uninhabited islands. >> we, the united states, are deeply concerned by the attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the east china sea.
this action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation. >> ifill: the dispute over the islands, known as the diaoyu in china and the senkaku in japan, has spiked sharply during the past ten days. it began when china announced a 600-mile-long east china sea air defense zone, which includes the islands' airspace. the u.s. ignored that declaration by dispatching two unarmed b-52 bombers to fly over the islands-- ostensibly part of a training mission-- without informing the chinese first. on wednesday, beijing announced it knew about the flights, but it offered no insight into how the zone might be enforced. >> ( translated ): we have said many times before that we will react accordingly, depending on the extent of possible threats we are facing and the circumstances. >> ifill: a day later, japan announced its aircraft, too, are continuing surveillance missions in the region, also ignoring china's demand that they get
permission first. >> ( translated ): we have no plans to change what we are doing out of consideration to china. >> ifill: south korea, which has interests in the east china sea, as well, said it also would not recognize china's new defense zone. >> ( translated ): as of now, south korean government will allow our airplanes to pass the zone without notifications to china. >> ifill: chinese officials have not backed down and instead accused japan of refusing to negotiate in good faith. not backed down and instead accused japan of refusing to negotiate in good faith. >> ( translated ): china proposed that china and japan should enhance communication and dialogue to properly solve the issue of flight safety in the overlapping zone. we have demonstrated our sincerity, but, the japanese side on one hand keeps saying we should talk; but when it comes to dialogue, they keep the door closed. >> ifill: all of this comes against the backdrop of china asserting its growing economic and military might. last week, the chinese sent their sole aircraft carrier into the south china sea, where other
territorial and mineral rights are in dispute. vice president biden, who will visit south korea later in the week and beijing tomorrow, says he'll raise the airspace issues with china's president. so, what is behind the recent escalation, and what's at stake for the region and the u.s.? i'm joined by: kurt campbell, former assistant secretary of state for east asian and pacific affairs during president obama's first term-- he now has his own consulting firm; and susan shirk, who was deputy assistant secretary of state for china policy in the clinton administration. she's now a professor of china and pacific relations at the university of california. >> welcome. repeat some of the words that bide said that china's actions, quotes, has raised regional tex tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculations. how serious is this? >> it is pretty serious, unfortunately. if you had to choose two countries that you would not want a crisis to occur between their two militaries it would
probably be china and japan, japan is not, has not fired a shot in anger in over 70 years. china has, i think, still an unknown relationship between the party and the military in times of crisis, what we have is higher operational tempos of fishing vessels and other vessels and airplanes around these uninhabited rocks, really in the middle of nowhere in the pacific, with both countries determined not to back down. i think the situation is relatively fraught, and this new air defense zone that china has just demarcated really captured and, captures an enormous amount of civilian over flight and remember this is the cockpit of the global economy here, and to raise risks and uncertainty about civilian airliners, this is a hot like the dynamic that led to kloo 7 in 1983, the
tragic, unfortunate and deeply preventable crisis that took place between south korea and russia. >> susan shirk, the vice president says the u.s. has an interest in lowering tensions in that region. what are the u.s.'s interests and how can they go about lowering those tensions? >> well, i think obama administration has done an excellent job of sending very clear signals about its interests in maintaining stability in the region, and standing by its ally japan. both the secretary of state and the secretary of defense made official statements # something that doesn't happen all that often and of course we did send the b52s through as well, and the u.s. presence and our forceful response to china's unilateral actions i think has prevented a much worse kind of
crisis, because if we had not been there, then perhaps the japanese would have felt they had to react more strongly, the chinese would have reacted to that and things could have spun out of control. >> but this has been bubbling for a while, i want to continue with you for a moment, susan shirk and yet now we have this action. was it purposefully provocative on china's part? >> well, actually, i am kind of puzzled about the timing. we certainly believe that shiping must have personally approved it but coming so shortly on the heals of the announcement of china's reform blueprint that just a few weeks ago we were discussing, which got pretty good reviews internationally, and now everyone is discussing china's assert if the, even aggressive actions. now, of course, this air defense notification zone is perfectly
legal and china has every right to do it, but if they a had done it in consultation with their neighbors, if it were really aimed at safety instead of strengthening its claim to these islands, then things would have been of course much better. >> woodruff: i will ask kirk campbell about that. i am actually with susan about this. i am mystified about the timing and the approach. remember, chinese strategy really is to narrow this between china and japan, to try to ease the americans out of it and certainly not to regionalize the dynamic but by doing it the way they have, they have undermined one of the great achievements of the last several years which is an improvement in china-south korean relations which we support, and it is also brought the united states very clearly into play, and so my sense, and it is also on the, it takes place right on the eve of vice
president biden's strft so i think this was not well executed. i don't think it was well conceptualized and i don't think it has furthered chinese foreign policy or national security. >> woodruff: so what you have seen happen, campbell, is u.s. japan, south korea, continues military fights over that airspace, that airspace, was this -- what are the chance this is becomes a diplomatic standoff and escalates from that to a military standoff involving any of those players? >> what has gone on between japan and china has now gone on for over a year and this is like a case of the mumps, you know, it comes and goes. these territorial issues are nothing new in asia, but this particular cycle has been longer and more intense. i think the most likely thing is not a diplomatic crisis which then turns into a military crisis, but a lone actor, a guy on a fishing boat or a plane
captain that basically exceeds what, you know, hopefully are occurrence rules of engagements and there is a collision or a crash or a local crisis which then has an intense short duration but in that particular area which will really cause a crisis in relations between china and japan. >> woodruff: susan shirk what is the u.s. stance on the stofer gnty of these islands, the rocks in the middle of the sea? >> well, we take a neutral position. we don't side either with japan or china on the sovereignty claim. >> woodruff: why not? >> why not? well, that is our position, we are neutral on most sovereignty claims just as we are neutral on the claims in the south china sea. we don't have a position, but we do have a treaty commitment to japan, which extends to areas under japan's effective control,
which means the senkaku, diaoyu islands, so this is a position that certainly in china is not accepted, it doesn't make much sense to them, but that is what our position is, and we stand by it. >> woodruff: let me ask you finally whether you think that given what has happened, the backdrop that happens with the planes in flyover with no incident, no reaction, what are the chances especially with vice president biden vic visiting the tomorrow that the time -- that the chinese will back off? wrong they can formally or publicly back off. i think what they are likely to do is either taylor their operational dimension to very narrow circumstances. they may just stop talking an it for a while or they may decide to change the subject. i don't think it is likely that they will continue with launching fire aircraft against uncertain civilian over flight.
i just think that is so contrary to their strategic interests. ultimately, i think the u.s. role here is to privately go in to japan, to south korea and to china and say, look, you have got to put some of these issues behind you and work more constructively on future, larger issues, and not what are really tertiary issues. >> woodruff: susan shirk, what do you think? will they kind of back off or does the u.s. have a role? >> no, i don't think china will back off and i don't think -- i mean, although that would be our preference, i think what we should do is to press both sides to consult on emergency communication measures in order to present accidents, prevent accidents and we should also ask china what its intention whereas in the south china sea because in that announcement, it made on the air defense notification zone, it said it intended to
announce further zones in certain areas, which could mean that where -- we are heading up on a similar cry dismiss the south china sea. and this is really very dangerous, because right now, the nationalist public in china is pressing the government and saying are you just a paper tiger? you have made this threat, and you are not acting upon it, and that is one thing i am quite concerned about. >> woodruff: susan shirk, kurt campbell, thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> >> woodruff: next, how the american education system stacks up in global rankings and the questions surrounding that assessment. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: it's considered by many the world's most important exam. the program for international
student assessment, or "pisa" test, has been given to 15-year- olds in 65 countries every three years since 2000. a way to test and compare performances in reading, math and science. results from 2012 were released today, and, once again, the u.s. hovered near the middle of the pack, lagging in some areas even as other countries advanced. math remains the biggest challenge. 29 other systems had higher average scores than american high schoolers. the u.s. fared better in reading, where it ranked 20th, and in science, ranking 23rd. the best results were in east asia, where students from shanghai, singapore, south korea and japan, among others, placed near the top. pisa results also showed another concern for american teens as well: a smaller percentage of them reached the top levels of proficiency. as in the past, though, some education experts questioned
just what and how much pisa tells us, given social, cultural and economic differences among nations. the pisa test is coordinated by the organization for economic cooperation and development, the o.e.c.d. andreas schleicher serves as deputy director for education and skills there. he helped develop and runs the tests, and joins us now. >> so explain to us first, what is the role and importance of these tests? what do they actually tell us? >> well, they allow us to look at what is possible in education. they show us what the world's leading education systems, what is possible in terms of student achievement, in terms of equity in educational opportunities, they are very important in which we can look at ourselves in the light of what other countries show is possible, really. >> so when we look at ourselves, the headline once again was, average. is that the -- >> some countries have moved ahead. is that the take away that you would put for the u.s.? >> well, yes, i think the u.s. is an average performer. will is a lot of movement around
the world, change high, singapore moving from good to great, in europe, poland, germany actually addressing many of the same challenges the u.s. faces in terms of creating more equitable distribution of learning opportunities, and a lot of lessons in that, not just sort of seeing, ya, yeah, yeah, it is how things can become better. >> one of the criticisms you mentioned shanghai, singapore, how do you compare them, shanghai, a city, to the united states? where there are so many huge differences? >> absolutely, that is a very fair point. and it is more appropriate to compare for example shanghai, the province in china with massachusetts, the top performing state in the u.s., but still, there is a gap of two and a half school years, shanghai leading massachusetts, so it is relevant for us to look to those places, however, they actually deliver those kind of out comes. >> what do you see some countries doing well that we are not doing here? >> well, a, in particular in
east asia they give a great central to education, they attract great people into the teaching profession. they attract the most talented teachers and the most challenging classrooms, the u.s. has great difficulties with. and every student believes that they are the owners of their success, that their investment in learning effort is going to make a difference, not talent, the amount of lessons i think all over the world we can learn from east asia and see high performing systems in europe, when you look at can -- very impressive in some of the provinces there. >> and you see them taking actions that have -- you have seen the shift from the last time that these results? >> absolutely. shanghai did really good last time but they are doing a lot better now. it is not only the relative position that we have seen, but also the pace of change, at the bottom of the list you can see a country like brazil rising from the bottom, turkey, mexico, there is a lot of improvement,
out of 65 countries, 40 have seen some improvement in one of the three subjects. >> the u.s. has a higher proportion of lower income students, than many of these kuntz, the u.s. has a more diverse population, including immigrant groups in many of these countries. >> actually, with our common belief -- on income that is not actually right, in terms of child poverty the u.s. is around the average, among many countries, it has a more diverse population but even if you account for all of those factors, you know, to take vietnam a country that is very -- has poverty and still it comes out better than the average. so quality is a challenge, but you can actually see some countries very good at moderating inequality and very good at helping disadvantaged students actually to excel, you see it in asia and sipping pore and japan, you see it in northern europe where you have children coming out of poverty, and the education system then
assures those children get the best educational opportunities. >> these numbers are inevitably pounced upon by advocates of all kinds, right? once we know the .. results of the tests, can we therefore say policy x is the right way to go? policy y for any particular country? and i am thinking specifically of the u.s. here. we have these -- we have all kinds of discussions and debates on the table. >> it is hard to come to cause and effect when you a study like this and you can't copy and paste and education system, but i do think that what the comparisons allow you, they allow you to study the drivers of success, what have those countries actually done that have moved upwards and have realized good results? and then to think about how you can configure those drivers in your own context, actually, some one country that does that well is singapore, in singapore you haven't seen nothing that you haven't seen somewhere else but they made it work. here and across the whole system, they are very good at
policy implementation. >> yes, but you mentioned singapore again and people say, singapore okay that is an interesting country, a smaller country and has a much more stricter regime than -- and it is a different form of cup government than the us u.s. >> let me give you another example, in my own country, germany, is poorly on pisa, in terms of average performance and in terms of the achievement gap. the country has really worked hard on these kind of issues, giving immigrant students better chances in school, investing into the teaching of lower income students, and the performance gap between the rich and the less wealthy children have halved in the period of nine years. so actually, there are challenges but actually there are good examples, poland, another middle income country that has seen dramatic improvements on its learning out comes. >> so just in the last three seconds your advice is get past the headlines. >> right. >> and try to see what can work in a given country? >> absolutely. the world is a fantastic
laboratory, we can actually see different ideas playing out in different ways and we can actually -- we don't have to copy every thing but we can look at how ideas like choice, like competition, like standards, how they have been played out and in the u.s. i think there is one great example if you look at the common core standards that are now being implemented by states this is exactly an idea like this, international benchmark, they actually are modeled on the top performing educational systems, if they are actually done in classrooms they are get the u.s. pretty much upwards. >> that is an on going example that we will be watching overtime, andreas schleicher of the eecd, oecd, thank you very much. >> >> ifill: we'll be back shortly with a detailed look at the detroit bankruptcy ruling and what it means for the motor city. but first, we are taking a short break to allow your public television station to ask for
your support. that support helps keep programs like ours on the air. >> woodruff: for those stations not taking a pledge break, we have a story on refugees from across africa flocking to libya willing to risk their lives in a bid to eventually end up in europe. lindsay hilsum of independent television news reports. >> reporter: the north wind blows in from europe. it's whipping up a storm. bad news for those determined to leave the shores of tripoli for a new life. even the most desperate or intrepid can't set sail in seas and winds like this, but a storm can brew up at any time once they're beyond the libya coastline. and every week, more migrants are coming across the sahara, heading here to tripoli.
and whatever the conditions, they're determined to make it across the mediterranean to europe. the libyan coastguard pursues the rickety migrant vessels. this footage gives a rare glimpse of how eritreans, somalis, west africans, and, these days, syrians are crammed on board. they've all heard the stories of boats capsizing, people drowning off the italian island of lampedusa. but europe is their only hope, so they pay people smugglers $1,500 and take the risk. we met a group of eritreans in hiding in tripoli. they fled one of the most repressive and poorest countries on earth and dreamed of europe. but after a few hours at sea in august, their boat started to founder. "it was night. how could i be happy? i was scared. i can't swim. we were praying and crying." like many other vessels, their boat was rescued.
they were brought to the camp of garabuli just east of tripoli. this footage shows men from another boat filing in. conditions in detention camps were bad in the time of colonel gadaffi, but now libya is lawless-- no one's accountable. the eritrean women were entering a new hell. >> ( translated ): the prison wasn't good. they separated the men and women. it wasn't good. the guards would come drunk. at night, they would take the women to sleep with them. and then, another night, another would come. it happened to all of us. it wasn't good. >> reporter: the camp director told us there was no rape in garabuli, but aster says they were raped for 11 weeks until a friend paid a bribe for their release. their suffering reached its depths in the camp, but it started months before they took to the seas. as they crossed the desert in the back of a pickup, two men
fell sick. the driver left them to die. >> ( translated ): what could we do? we just carried on. we cried because the driver said, "either you get back in the vehicle, or i leave you here, too." we cried, but we had no choice. >> reporter: tracks across the sahara, evidence of smugglers bringing cigarettes, drugs and people. but the journey to europe may come to an abrupt end. the detention center in the town of sebha is a place where dreams die. 150 migrants arrested in two days face deportation. they were from mali, niger, ghana, gambia-- those whom geography has condemned to unemployment and struggle, who see getting out as the only chance of a future. amongst the men, a 14-year-old boy. >> ( translated ): i was in the
fourth form. then, i lost my parents, and i couldn't afford to buy pens and exercise books. i left to come to libya and then go on to europe, but my money ran out, so i stopped here to work. >> reporter: within days, they'll be back where they started but in post- revolutionary libya, where no one's in charge and government has all but collapsed, immigration officials know the migrants will try again. >> ( translated ): the borders, the borders, that's the key. it would be easy to find migrants inside the cities and prevent them from going on to the coast if the borders were well secured, but nowadays the borders are open and it's difficult. as soon as you deport 1,000, 2000 come back. >> reporter: those who make it up to tripoli hang out at roundabouts or under bridges, hoping for work as a laborer or house guard. the days are long. someone's brought a few plates of couscous. everyone's hungry. and they can get caught at any time.
with no proper police force, a militia apprehends immigrants, but they seem to catch mainly people with the right to work in libya and no intention of going to europe. they take those they've seized to their headquarters, which-- this being libya, where nothing is quite normal-- happens to be the zoo. the lions would quite like their freedom, too, and the hippos are submerged in the smallest of pools. they say these migrants are being held in an old office, but it looks suspiciously like a cage. the 18-year-old bangladeshi said he worked as a hospital porter near tripoli. he was later released. we found no evidence of mistreatment, but detainees are forced to have an h.i.v. test and held at the zoo until they can prove they're legal. >> we need to treat those people once they are in libya in the right way, humanely. we are not doing that in all cases. mostly, when we have centers that are not under the control
of the government, most of the problems come from the lack of security. >> reporter: the eritrean women live in the shadows. aster's husband is dead. she must send money to her three children, left with an aunt. she must find work as a housemaid in tripoli, she says, to pay the smugglers and try again. >> ( translated ): i can't stay here. if i get money, i'll try to go to europe again. here, it is torture. >> reporter: the libyan coastguard will find few boats now. the season is ending. but next spring the migrant craft will set sail again with their cargo of pain and hope, a tide of desperation washing from the shores of libya to an increasingly hostile europe.
>> woodruff: finally, the choices ahead as detroit moves forward with bankruptcy. today's ruling by a federal judge begins to clear the way for it to happen, and he said public pensions could be cut as part of other changes aimed at shedding billions in debt. unions and pension funds had argued that michigan's state constitution protected those pensions. christy mcdonald of detroit public television joins us again. >> christy, welcome back to the program. remind us why this judge's ruling was necessary. the city was pretty much already clearly going into bankruptcy, wasn't it? >> it was. but, judy, he had to answer several legal questions before he could clear the way for detroit's eligibility for chapter 9, 1 of those is the city insolvent and the judge found yes, the city is insolvent and can't pay its debts and no one really arranged that point there, there is an $18 billion debt, the other question he had to answer was, did the city negotiate in good faith with its creditors before they even filed
for bankruptcy? and while he chastised the city and said you know what? the city really did not negotiate in good faith he moved to the next legal question was, did the city, was it even possible for them to negotiate and he said it really wasn't given the fact they had 100,000 creditors in an $18 billion debt, and then the other question he had to answer was, was it constitutional to file for bankruptcy and indeed he said yes, it was. an interestingly enough the judge said that detroit should have and could have filed for bankruptcy even years ago, given ththe financial situation it is in. >> so, christy, how do the pensions of city workers become a part of this? >> well, once they started going into chapter -- once they started going into chapter 9, the creditors are looking at the pensioners and the retirees they wanted to make sure that that money wasn't going to be touched, but what happened is, is they took a look at it and the judge said, you know what? in federal bankruptcy court that is a contract, the pension is going to be termed as a contract
that can be restructured in this process, so even though the pensions are protected under the michigan constitution in federal bankruptcy court it is going to be for game, the judge cautioned the city once they go through the restructuring plan tread lightly he won't go with any agreement that guts the agreements and when you look at 21,000 retirees from the city of detroit, retirees they worked their lives and they knew they were going to get the pensions at the very end and they could be losing some of that money that should be coming to them. >> well, is it possible to know at this point what percentage of their retirement money their pension could be affected? reduced by this? >> >> woodruff:. >> . we won't know. that is going to be part of the ongoing negotiations now that the emergency manager of the city of detroit is now going to start to go through with the pensioners and then other creditors. we won't see anything until probably the first or second week of january, they do have until march 1st to get that restructuring, that
restructuring order in to the judge. >> how is it, tell us just briefly how is that process going to work? who makes these decisions which of course the workers themselves, the unions are going to continue to push back on? >> they are going to continue to fight on that, one union already filed and appeal to today's ruling and you can probably expect more litigation in the days and the weeks to come, but eventually they are going to have to sit down and have to sit across the table from kevyn orr the emergency manager the one who will be negotiating this entire process and not only is he going to be negotiating with retirees he is going to be negotiating with the lenders and being negotiating with other lend in other words trying to figure out how to pare down this massive debt. >> woodruff: and finally, christy, tell us about the service, the city has lost so much in the way of services, i was reading today the average for example response time for the police is something like five times the national average. what is the city expecting in the way of seeing some of those
services lost restored now? >> when we see the headline of the largest municipal bankruptcy in detroit, in, in detroit, in is starting to make way when you start to erase the debt and come out with a clean slate is you are going to be able to a take the tax revenue that comes into the city of detroit and put it back into the services like police, the police department like the fire department and making sure the fire rigs are working when they are called out to a fire and picking up trash and making sure the lighting grid is up and running and working streetlights in the neighborhoods in the city of detroit, so what that is going to do, when you bring down the debt and you bring it, you erase it and you start with that clean slate you will be able to infuse money back into the city of detroit, back into the services and really make detroit a better place to live and that is the bottom line in in story. >> a big day, in the life of your city, detroit. christy mcdonald, we thank you very much. >> thanks, judy.
>> >> woodruff: again, the other major developments of the day. president obama touted the benefits of the affordable care act in a bid to shift the focus from problems with healthcare.gov and policy cancellations. vice president biden arrived in japan and rebuked china for imposing an air defense zone over disputed islands. he said it could lead to "accidents and miscalculations." and protests eased in thailand as the prime minister ordered police to avoid new confrontations with demonstrators demanding her ouster. >> ifill: on the newshour online, right now, how smart hiring managers can help you get a job by telling you what to expect in the interview process. that's on "making sense." has animated 1994 interview with the late rapper 2pac shah
cure where he says he felt like a tragic hero from a shakespeare play, you can watch that video on the rundown. all of that and more is on our web site, news hours dot pbs.org. >> >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at what millennials, a group key to the success of the affordable care act, think about enrolling for insurance on the new marketplaces. plus, we sit down with the lead u.s. negotiator for international talks on iran and syria. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and...
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