tv PBS News Hour PBS November 10, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: president obama in beijing, opens the door to easing business and diplomatic tensions with china. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this monday, the white house weighs in on the debate over a fair and free internet. >> ifill: plus, in mexico, a growing population, aging infrastructure and ineffective politics limit access to water in one of the world's most crowded cities. >> i've had people ask me for bribes, for example. they could put up a couple hundred thousand harvesting systems in their municipality and basically say this project will go to you, but you know what's going to come to me.
>> ifill: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better
lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions 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. >> woodruff: the federal government today lowered expectations for the number of people to sign up for coverage under the president's health care law. the report came just ahead of the enrollment period that begins this saturday. enrollment estimates the department of health and human services forecast nine to 9.9 million americans signing up for private health plans, in 2015. that's well below the congressional budget office forecast of 13 million. new numbers h.h.s. also reported 7.1 million people enrolled this year, 200,000 fewer than the previous estimate. >> ifill: the u.s. postal service says it's been hacked--
the latest government agency to come under cyber-attack. >> ifill: "the washington post" reported today that chinese government hackers are the main suspects in the mid-september attack. the postal service said they may have gotten social security numbers, addresses and dates of birth. it's unclear how many of the agency's 800-thousand workers were affected. >> woodruff: winter arrived, in force, in the upper midwest today with heavy snow and temperatures 40 degrees below average. a major storm moved in last night from the dakotas across minnesota and wisconsin. up to a foot of snow was possible in northern wisconsin and minnesota's mid-section. the frigid air is expected to freeze much of the midwest and eastern u.s. as the week progresses. >> ifill: in nigeria, a suicide bomber killed at least 48 students at a high school assembly in the country's northeast. the islamist group boko haram was believed responsible. survivors said the killer dressed in a student uniform and hid the bomb in a backpack.
>> woodruff: two fatal stabbing attacks in the middle east turned up arab-israeli tensions today. in the first, a palestinian man killed an israeli soldier at a train station in jerusalem. the attacker was arrested. later, in the west bank, another palestinian stabbed a woman to death near a jewish settlement before being shot and seized. they followed other recent attacks, and prompted a warning from israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. >> ( translated ): we will fight against the incitement from the palestinian authority with agents from extremist islam. those who protest against the state of israel and in favor of the palestinian state, i say to them, simply, move there, to the palestinian authority or gaza. i promise you that the state of israel will not make it difficult for you, but for those who stay here, we will make it difficult if you are a rioter or a terrorist. >> woodruff: the palestinian authority, which rules in the west bank, had no immediate comment, but in gaza, the militant group hamas praised the attacks.
>> ifill: the fate of the islamic state group's leader, abu bakr al-baghdadi, remained unclear today. the pentagon said it can't confirm reports that he was killed or wounded in weekend air strikes over northern iraq. separately, iraqi state tv reported an aide to baghdadi died in an air strike near fallujah. an american doctor who caught ebola in west africa will be released from a hospital in new york city tomorrow. p "new york times" reported dr. craig spencer recovered. word of his infection last month caused fears in the city where it came out he has been out in public before he tested positive. >> ifill: in economic news, oil prices fell again, below $78 dollars a barrel in new york trading. the latest lundberg survey also found gas prices have fallen
another 13 cents in the last two weeks. and on wall street stocks edged higher, posting new records along the way. the dow jones industrial average gained 39 points to close at 17,613, its best ever; the s&p 500 also hit a new record, adding six points, to finish at 2,038; and the nasdaq rose 19 points, to 4,651. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour. the president's push to expand trade with asia. the fight for a fair and free internet. e-mails show general motors knew of faulty ignitions months earlier than reported. a look at how money shaped this year's election. mexico city's water woes, how common street criminals in milwaukee stole a five million dollar violin. and, the life of nelson rockefeller, the politician with a democratic heart and a republican head. >> ifill: during president obama's first term as commander
in chief his administration signaled a new priority in america's foreign policy the so- called asia pivot. but three years of multiple crises on other continents, and at home, have distracted the administration from that goal. starting in china, the president hopes to change that this week. chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner explains. >> warner: the president arrived in the heart of the world's fastest rising power this morning fresh from a drubbing in last week's elections. his stop in beijing begins a week-long trip that will include myanmar and australia. as he seeks to boost u.s. influence in a region where china enjoys growing clout. his focus today was on commercial ties at the asia pacific economic cooperation summit-- or apec. >> over the next five years, nearly half of all economic growth outside the united states is pcted to come from right here in asia. that makes this region an incredible opportunity for creating jobs and economic growth in the united states and any serious leader in america,
whether in politics or in commerce, recognizes that fact. yet earlier at the u.s. embassy, he hosted leaders of 11 countries working to put together a trans-pacific trade partnership-- or .t.p.p-- that pointedly excludes china. at apec, he had sought to reassure beijing that the u.s. wasn't trying to hem china in. >> we welcome the rise of a prosperous, peaceful and stable china. not only because it's in china's best interest, but because it's in america's best interest, and the world's best interest. we want china to do well. obama will have extended talks with chinese president xi jinping tomorrow and wednesday. and today the two countries announced they'd grant each other's citizens visas valid for 10 years. but other concerns shadow the trip, including china's territorial assertiveness against its neighbors in the
east and south china seas. president xi and japanese prime minister shinzo abe did meet today in what was billed as a first step to ease tensions. but their public handshake was noticeably tense. also of concern to washington, cybersecurity attacks on u.s. companies and government agencies china's crackdown on human rights, and how it will ultimately respond to pro- democracy protests in hong kong. wednesday, mr. obama arrives in myanmar formerly known as burma. he'll meet with president thein sein whom he initially applauded for moving toward democratic reforms. but washington is now concerned that reforms are backsliding, and minority muslims, journalists and opposition activists are being repressed. the president also will meet with opposition leader aung san suu kyi, who initially encouraged the warming of u.s.- myanmar relations, but is now urging caution. the president ends his trip in australia at a g-20 summit.
>> ifill: and margaret joins me now. other than getting away from bad electoral news here, what is the president hoping to accomplish on this trip, margaret? >> last week when secretary kerry said that the u.s.-china relationship was the most consequential one in the world and would do a lot to shape this century, that to me summed up the opportunities and dilemma for the president. to the idea of china an arising power, challenging u.s. dominance in that part of the world for a half century, and aggressiveness and assertiveness territorial is new, but washington can't approach this like a 20th century grand rivalry because the u.s. kneads china, on issues click china change and other issues the u.s. can't solve without china. the dilemma is, you know, how to incorporate concerns that the u.s. has about china's performance on human rights, on
cybertheft and many issues without totally alienating the chinese. you saw that today when you listened to the president's comments about the hong kong protest. he said, please, you need to exercise restraint. he was very restrained himself and acknowledged there was a complicated relationship. >> ifill: is that because he has a more or less complicated relationship with beijing than last time in the meeting in california. >california. it's certainly different than 2009 where right after the bat in the financial crisis the chinese kept lecturing him because of the state of the american economiened you caused it, we're wet weathering it well, now it's the u.s. is doing better and the chinese are having problems. the white house took note of the
elections, went to demonstrate this is no lame duck president and the white house has been telling counterparts in china his hand will be strengthened in asia-pacific that republicans will be in charge in the gnat, more willing to spend on the security side in asia and more open to the t.p.p. which china doesn't like. >> ifill: to this day we hear of chinese hacking of postal service and regular reports. we saw the tension there, but are there between u.s. and its partners? >> huge especially in cybersecurity. the u.s. argument is, look, we know each spy on one another as governments but you all also spy to steal secrets and designs for american companies to give to chinese rivals. we don't do that. they agree to disagree on that, i think. >> ifill: yeah, well, as the president was arriving in
beijing or was on his way, two american detainees held in north korea were released. is that a coincidence? >> it's unclear because you can never know what's in the mind of kim jong-un or any north korean leader. i wouldn't say directly. china's always been a buffer and protector of north korea. that said the new chinese leadership regards to the new north korean leadership is a little bit, one person said to me, wacko. their relationship with and influence with north korea is not as great as it was and it is possible that this new human rights report that documented some systematic or gross violations they called it in the north korea prison system may have met the kim jong-un were nervous, referring to the criminal court, and maybe decided it would be easier for china to protect them on that but we really don't owe.
>> ifill: timing is everything. >> yes. >> ifill: nice to see you, margaret warner. >> as always. >> woodruff: the president's focus may be on asia, but earlier today he surprised many by weighing in on the future of the web. the subject, net neutrality, or the idea that all traffic on the web should be treated equally. it's been the focus of a major debate and battle for years as the federal communications commission must decide how to treat broadband providers. some of the biggest ones have argued there's a place and a need to offer premium service at a different price, while still maintaining vital access for all. the white house released a video in which the president made his most direct comments yet about how he thought the f.c.c. should proceed. they should make it clear that whether you use a computer, phone or tablet, internet providers have a legal obligation not to block or limit
your access to a web site. cable companies can't decide which online stores you can shop at or which streaming services you can use, and they can't let any company pay for priority over its competitors. to put these protections in place, i'm having the fcc to reclassify internet service under title 2 of a law known as the telecommunications ac. in plane english, i'm asking them to recognize that for most americans the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life. >> woodruff: we get a deeper explanation of the president's move and reaction to it with meg megan smith, chief u.s. technology officer at the white house. well come to the "newshour". i think the first question is why is the president making what i think some are saying an unprecedentedly strong statement of his own views about how the internet should operate? >> thanks, judy. yes, it's important to note the
sec received 3.7 million comments from the americans and today the president is adding his voice to that. net neutrality is such an important principle for the web and the internet. it's how the internet's operated for all this time. we want to make sure that stays clear as we advance into the future. >> woodruff: let me read you some of the comments that have been pouring in today from some folks who are concerned about this. the former chairman of the f.c.c., now president of the national cable and telecommunications association, michael powell, he issued a statement saying "we are stunned the president would abandon the long-standing bipartisan policy of widely regulating internet and call for extreme regulation. >> well, it's interesting some of the reactions i've seen as well. this principal of net neutrality has been operating since the beginning and, so, the f.c.c. has an opportunity here to put
that into practice so there's not some kind of extreme regulation added here. we really want to make sure the american people are able to get to any web site they'd like to get to. let's say for example you want to reach video providers, you don't want one provider to pay extra so they can get to you faster and others are slower. you want the internet to operate just as it operates equally across. also can you imagine if you're making a brand-new startup and there's one or two of you in the garage, you want to make sure that web site can get to you just as fast as a web site from a powerful company. so the most important principle is net neutrality and it has been operating from the beginning. >> woodruff: we're also seeing comments from verizon. it's call it a radical reversal of course that would in and of itself threatened great harm to the internet. we have the leading mobile phone association c.t.i.a. imsaying imposing antiquated commentary
or regulation on the mobile wireless ecosystem is a gross reaction. >> it's not playing out in how the internet works. you see an extraordinary amount of comments on the other side of that so it's an international american conversation. people who surf are supporting of continuing the web to have the same kind of regulation it's had the whole time. net neutrality is very important. for example, if you were on the phone, you wouldn't want your phone provider to, say, stop you from calling hertz if you wanted avis or vice versa. we want to make sure that the internet operates the same as the phone service. that's what title two in the come regulations make available. so we can do this light-weight, flexible law for the internet service providers to have them be covered under this law and
then it allows for something called forbearance, so there's a long history of these folks not investigate have the regular sense where they have price control. >> woodruff: but it's having the president at least saying to the independent f.c.c. that this is how he wants it to issue regulations. what's that say about the president's view of the independence of the f.c.c.? >> the f.c.c. is an independent regulator and organization and they will make a decision. they call for input from across the country and so the dresident is weighing in today with a voice and he's been in support of net neutrality from the beginning since he was candidate obama before president. again, there were 3.7 million comments that came into the f.c.c. they will be mixing all the comments together and looking at the opportunity and deciding this themselves are an independent regulator. it's just such an important principle for our economy and
for our future and innovation and for the american people to be able to have access to whatever web sites they would like to go to and for the independence of the established entrepreneurs who have been able to make the incredible web sites that have grown our economy and we want to make sure that stays strong into the future and they're not able to create unfair advantages for web sites and have people pay different amounts. >> woodruff: you say 3.7 million people weighed, in but you would agree the president expressing his view is a heavier, shall we say, finger on the scale than anyone else's, isn't it? >> it's very important. the f.c.c. is an independent organization and they will look at all the different things in front of them but the president's opinion is strong. it's important for nawrps, industry and the american people and important it's flexible in
the industry that we have this lightweight title 2 law available to us to keep the internet free and open for all american people. >> woodruff: finally, megan smith, some have asked why is the president doing this now, is there a reason he waited till after the election to step in? >> i'm not a pundit so i'm not sure about timing in that, but i think really the most important thing is he feels incredibly strongly about this and the f.c.c. is considering the issues so it's important for he and the rest of the american people to be out there with their voices. >> woodruff: megan smith, chief technology officer at the white house. we thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> ifill: there's yet another new revelation in general motors' mass recalls over faulty ignition switches. internal e- mails show g.m. ordered half a million replacement switches nearly two months before telling safety regulators about the problem.
the e-mails were released as part of a class-action lawsuit. the switch problem has been linked to at least 32 deaths, and caused the recall of 2.6 million vehicles. david shepardson has been covering the story for the detroit news and joins me now. david, welcome back. shoes keep dropping. why are we just hearing about this one now, david? >> these e-mails you mentioned were in 4 million pages of records that are in a depository in this multi-district litigation suit and lawyers for people suing have been mining these e-mails and uncovering them and, you're right, it does raise questions about why didn't the national traffic administration association, why didn't g.m. disclose the fact that six weeks before they ultimately decided on the recall to go ahead with what's a very large order? at least on its face it suggests the company was preparing for a recall far earlier than we knew. >> woodruff: not only a large but urgent order with words like aggressive and we need to do this right now in those e-mails.
>> right. >> woodruff: is that stha unusual, the 500,000? larger than you usually expect? >> it is usual in the sense that this happened a day after the meeting where g.m. said we don't have enough information to decide on a recall and ultimately got pushed back six weeks. companies start ordering parts for big recalls early for the obvious reasons, dealerships are flooded with customers and you can't get the parts in. even with the aggressive timetable, dwm didn't get the parts till april so it took a long time and as a result they gave out thousands of other recalls. >> woodruff: is the question about recalls or notifying the government about the impending recall? >> exactly. you're required within five days of determining there is a safety defect to notify the government and start the process. it does raise questions did g.m. know there was a se edefect and what did the senior manager know? the new general c.e.o. said she didn't know of the issue dill
late december and we don't know the answer about whether mary bar knew about the parts. >> woodruff: she didn't know till when? >> she said and testified she didn't know to have the decision to recall the vehicles until january 31, the day g.m. decided. >> woodruff: she haasent been asked about the parts order because we didn't know about it? >> right. >> woodruff: seems like we're on a hamster wheel. what is it we've heard about recalls being delayed before in this whole unfolding saga? is it make that story more expensive than we previously thought? >> i think it shows there's a lot of ammunition for critics on capitol hill to push for auto safety reforms. there are now auto companies that have recalled 8 million cars for exploding air bags, that can trap people, injury or potentially kill them. it raises questions about has g.m. come clean completely about the early days of this problem and whether, you know, did the
company know more in december, you know, six weeks before the recall began. >> mary said that was the old g.m. and this is the new g.m. what changes would be put in place to stop that sort of thing from happening today? >> g.m. is taking things far more aggressively. they're recalling hundreds of vehicles at the slightest signs of problems. even though they've had 78 separate recall campaigns, many are coming after one, two, three reports of problems. so they would say -- they would never have done what occurred in this case which is monitoring a problem year after year, not doing anything, creating committees, trying to get to the root cause. the new g.m. would, they say, move much faster and wouldn't get this fester as long as it did. >> woodruff: $35 million fine we're talking about so, far? >> and remember the obama administration called for raising that. that's the maximum amount by law. they want to raise it to
3 million. the attorney general could opt to fine g.m. under different statutes and more. >> other shoes could drop? far from being over. >> woodruff: busy day. thanks. >> thanks, gwen. >> woodruff: every election year, more and more money is spent on political campaigns. 2014 was no different. newshour political director domenico montanaro looks into just how much was spent and where it went. >> reporter: fewer people voted in last week's midterm elections than in a very long time. just 36% of voters went to the polls, the lowest since 1942. voters back then had a pretty good excuse, many of them were fighting in a world war.
in this election, though, there was one group paying close attention, big-money donors. more money was spent on these congressional elections than ever before four billion dollars. and estimates show there's about 200 million dollars in so-called dark money that goes unreported that's also out there. despite spending hitting record levels, the number of people giving money went down. that's the first time that's happened in at least a quarter century. fewer donors and more money means more people with deep pockets participating in the system. so where and how was the money spent? much of it went to television ads. more than a billion dollars was spent on tv ads, with almost half going to just ten senate races. the most money was spent in north carolina with its hotly contested senate race, won by republican thom tillis, who ousted incumbent democrat kay hagan. it was the one state where democrats actually outspent republicans on the air.
in the nine others, republicans had the edge. overall, $113 million was spent in north carolina, nearly 100 million in colorado, and 85 million in iowa. all three were considered democratic firewall states, places democrats said if they won, they'd hold the senate. they were outspent in two of them and lost all three. and in all of them outside groups spent far more than the campaigns there's another way to look at these numbers. how much was spent per voter. alaska, with its high-profile senate and governor's races, tops the charts. more than a $120 was spent per voter in the land of the midnight sun, where they are still counting votes. so why does money matter? sure, it's the most ever for a midterm. but that, by itself, doesn't tell us much consider this, 94% of the biggest spenders in house races won.
that makes who spends the most a pretty good predictor of who is going to win. domenico montanaro, pbs newshour. >> woodruff: for more on the impact of money in this year's election and how it could expand in the next presidential race we are joined by matea gold of "the washington post." well come back to the program -- welcome back to the program. a mind-boggling amount of money. matea, you've had a few days to look through the data and how much was spent. you were telling us you noticed democrats, though they lost so many races, raised more money this cycle. >> shiewmplet this is a really big story that's part of the 2014 race. we really thought -- we saw democrats engaged in the super pac world in a way they hadn't before. there was ambivalence and reluctance on part of democrats to give the sum because they thought the system was broken
and didn't want to participate but after 2012 when think saw what impact super pacs could have they jumped in. so senate majority led by top advicers to senate majority leader harry reid started raising money and in the end they were able to put $60 million into the key senate races. >> woodruff: how did you see the money being spent? we heard so much about the tv ads. was that where it was and was that seen to be the most effective place? >> clearly a huge share of the money went into television adds. we found an interesting development in which more or more conservative groups plowed their resources into new forms of reaching voters. so they engaged in opposition research really early in the cycle. they started investing in field, ground operations to reach voters. they started investing in more data efforts to try to consolidate their information about voters. and a lot of this was being done at the direction of donors who
really were disappointed with the return they got on their investment in 2012 when they spent hundreds of millions of dollars to try to eject president obama from the white house unsuccessfully. >> woodruff: so you're talking to people in both parties and on the outside and we've talked about how much money was raised on the outside. what do you see as the lessons taken place by all the players and what they need to do in the presidential cycle. >> one is that single-candidate super pacs were big in this race. we saw that in 2012 and pretty much every congressional race will have single-candidate super pacs. meaning your friends and family can write unlimited sums of money for super pacs to get you elected. and on the presidential front we see a huge superstructure in place for hillary clinton. there is already a super pak poised to run ads for her, opposition research group, the republicans have noticed this and are working to form their
own infrastructure to compete with that. i think if anything the outside groups will become more of a sense of driving the action in the coming years. >> woodruff: matea gold with "the washington post," the woman who walks around with a calculator. thank you. >> my pleasure. >> ifill: violent protests continued in mexico today. demonstrators clashed with police in acapulco as anger mounted over the disappearance of 43 students. late last week, three men detained in the case admitted to setting fire to the victims. government investigators said they found dozens of charred bodies. they are still working on confirming the identities. many throughout the country have been critical mexican president enrique pena nieto's reponse. tonight, we take a look at another less attention getting, but still severe, issue facing mexico the water shortage in its capital city. newshour special correspondent fred de sam lazaro filed this
report part of our series agents for change. >> reporter: every day, long lines of water tankers fill up at pumping stations. 4,000 gallons on each truck, enough for two homes for about a week. >> knock, knock! >> reporter: it's not an emergency or drought. this is normal practice in mexico city, with a population of 22 million, it's like filling a swimming pool with a teacup. environment scientist juan santabanez did the math for one large neighborhood. >> in istapalapa there are 1000 trucks distributing water to two million people, which is nowhere near enough to meet the needs of those people. >> reporter: it's expensive, inefficient and customers like sylvestre fernandez, a struggling cab driver, are not satisfied. >> sometimes it takes up to five days after we request it to arrive and sometimes we can't
buy other things, like diapers for the baby, because we have to pay for water. >> reporter: the alternative, really the only choice for many of the poorest is self service from a municipal tap. amelia segura trudges down and up a steep mountain, jerry cans on the back of three donkeys which her husband indalecia bonilla helps unload. >> ( translated ): its really hard. its 20 minutes down hill then i have to walk back up. we collect enough for about three days when it rains, when it's dry we need more. >> reporter: the city struggles to meet the pressing demand. water is pumped up from aquifers and also piped in from a neighboring province. its purified in plants like this, but here there's also a shortage of trust. mexicans consume more bottled water than any other nation. >> one reason is that less ten percent of the metro area's sewage is treated. the rest flows in open canals, often washed up with rains that flood this bowl-shaped city
overwhelming many homes in poor neighborhoods. shoveling black water from home these pictures are from a film documentary called h2o mx. the director, jose cohen says he wanted to inject a sense of urgency about this growing crisis, released this year to call attention to the growing crisis, says its director jose cohen. we found that it's an extremely serious health emergency and there is a lot of social injustice going on. >> there is a very high probability that by 2020 there will be a mini-revolution, at least in mexico city. >> reporter: no one disagrees the dwindling supply and growing population are leading to its a acute severe crisis.
yet there seems to be little momentum to do something about it. for one thing: where to start? >> work crews are shutting off the water supply to this neighborhood so they can plug a leak a few hundred yards down the street. the problem is not that there are a few big leaks but rather thousands of small ones across miles and miles of underground piping. mexico city loses 1000 liters of water per second through this system. >> 40% of the water that is available to the valley is lost to leaks. >> reporter: almost half of it. >> and 60% of the water that we use comes from the aquifer, the one that is drying, not only do people not get water, extracting it from aquifers below is causing the ground to sink. >> reporter: you see evidence of it in buildings that are tilting precariously as this one is doing in the basilica of guadalupe complex, one of mexico city's most historic landmarks. geologists say this city has sunk more than 40 feet in the last half century. enrique lomnitz, moved back to his native mexico from the u.s. five years ago, anxious to put his industrial design degree from mit to work. >> everywhere i went people were talking about water, about how they used to have more water, how they used to have higher-
quality water, how water was getting more expensive and i started thinking: why aren't people using rainwater? so lomnitz started a social enterprise that installs rainwater collection and storage systems in businesses and homes. >> this part of the city gets very high rainfall, it gets up to 1,500 millimeters of rainfall a year and for every square meter of roof, you get 1,500 liters of water per year. so a house like the one we're in right now, for example, has 240 meters of roof/which is about enough for two low-income families to go all year in five years, lomnitz's group, called isla urbana, has installed 1,500 such systems. not many, he admits, but there are big obstacles. homeowners simply can't or won't pay the $1000 cost. as for government helping out...
>> i've had people ask me for bribes simply to help me get a project, for example, they could put up a couple hundred thousand rainwater harvesting systems in their municipality and they'll basically say, this project will go to you but, you know, what's going to come to me? >> reporter: another complication, politicians are limited to just one term. >> so as soon as people take office, they're actually looking for a future somewhere else. i think if all of the buildings were harvesting rainwater i think we'd be talking about at least something like 30% of the city's water needs could be coming from rainwater harvesting but ramon aguirre who heads the city's water department thinks that number is much lower, since rainfall varies widely across the city. >> ( translated ): it is less than ten percent and that is being generous. to build infrastructure to capture the water store the water purify the water it's just not financially viable. >> reporter: his department has developed a comprehensive repair plan. >> ( translated ): we're talking about every possible action that can help collecting rainwater, fixing the leaks in the whole system, increase the use of
recycled water which can be used for bathing/recharging the aquifers and generally lowering consumption of water the problem? a price tag is four times the money that comes to his department. >> ( translated ): water is a basic service and it's very politicized we have one of the lowest tariffs in the country when we should have some of the highest but it is politically set. to compensate for that very low tariff we need very big subsidies from the government, which we don't get. >> reporter: so for the foreseeable future he expects to worry more about containing social unrest. dispatching more tanker and repair trucks like he does today than about the long term problems that are, literally, sinking one of the world's largest cities. >> ifill: fred's reporting is a partnership with the under-told stories project at st. mary's university of minnesota.
>> woodruff: now, the story of an unusual heist in the world of classical music that was years in the making, with an unlikely thief, a police commissioner devoted to the symphony and a historic instrument. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: it's called the lipinski stradivarius, a violin made 299-years-ago by the master instrument-maker. valued at some $6 million dollars. and on january 27, following a performance, it was stolen from frank almond, the concert- master of the milwaukee symphony orchestra. but just nine days later, it was found, safe and sound. in the attic of a local house. 42-year-old milwaukee native salah salahadyn pleaded guilty to the theft last month. and today was given a seven month sentence. journalist and writer buzz bissinger told the strange tale of the robbery and its aftermath in a story for vanity fair magazine. he's the best-selling author of "friday night lights" and other books. and joins us now.
welcome to you. so the theft itself was pretty easy. done with taser, right? tell us a little bit about the theft and the plot. >> well, you know, salah salahadyn had a plan, a plan he talked about in prison. he said, you know what would be really easy is to steal a stradivarius from a violinist because they don't protect them much there's no security. he thought about it and basically went and did it. he cased frank almond's house. he knew his patterns, went to his concerts, knew his exit patterns and on that frigid january night, he got out of his van, saw frank coming out of the concert hall. he used the taser. frank was obviously shocked, and he took his $6 million stradivarius violin and, by the way, bows worth $50,000. >> brown: not hard to take,
but then hard to know what to do with, right? do we even know what the motive was? i saw some theory that maybe it was to take it and then give it back for the money that he'd get. >> you know, look, it's common sense. he had a plan and, you know, it was a fine plan in terms of stealing the violin, although frank did take care of hit. he wasn't cavalier about it like some musicians are. but what are you going to do with it? where are you going to fence it? it's not like hubcaps. it's not even like a giraffe. no one wants it. what are you going to do with it? he had no idea what to do with it. what he said about wanting to buy the apartment complex where he lived to help older tenants and minority tenants, he's given a lot of different stories as to what he was going to do wit. i personally think he was going to try to profit from it, but he had one big problem which is the
police commissioner, commissioner flynn of milwaukee, ed flynn, he may be the only police chief in the country who knew what a stradivarius was. he went to the orchestra, knew board members. the police officers at the scene didn't know what it was. they said, mr. almond, how do you spell stradivarius? he said, what? $6 million! he knew. and he got one of the police officers of the scene and said, send in the cavalry and salah salahadyn because goner after that. they had cops and deckives, some from homicide, all over the place. >> brown: there's a history of strads being lost, take an, i don't know if ever by this kind of means. tell us about this particular violin. it has its own history. it's named after one of its
former owners, a polish violinist. >> well, you know, stradivarius, there are about 600 instruments left. it's amazing. it's remarkable. you think about it, an instrument that was made 299 years ago is still basically perfect. i don't think anything -- there is no anything that's ever been equaled by what stradivarius has done and the sound he created. it was made 299 years ago. the original owner was tartine, and he had a dream where the devil came to him, basically, and said, i'm going to play the most beautiful sound and melody ever. he wrote it down, called the devil's sonata, and then, from there, went to lipinski, who was a polish violinist, then other places and, finally, ended up in the hands of a man and his wife was a concert violinist who had
ties to milwaukee, which is how it found its way to milwaukee. >> brown: so, in the end, what do you take from all of this? it sounds like it's partly a very funny tale of a caper gone awry that didn't have a chance from the start and also partly potentially tragic. so what do you take? >> yeah, i find tragedy in it. to me, the tragedy is, first of all, frank almond could have gotten hurt. if you crack your head on the ice, and there was thick ice, you can die. i thought there was a tragedy in mr. salah salahadyn. i met him. he's a very, very smart, bright, engaging guy, but he kind of got on the wrong track. he had two prior criminal felony convictions and my sense was, you know, you could have done a lot else with your life than be the manager of an apartment complex of which he was making
no money, and then this cockamamie scheme to steal a violin. that, to me, is where the tragedy was. this is a guy who should have done more with his life but got caught up in the cycle of poverty and not knowing how to get out of it. it really should not have happened. >> brown: buzz bissinger, thanks so much for telling us the story. >> thank you. >> brown: let's close by hearing frank almond playing the lipinski stradivarius, here's a short piece of the devil's sonata. played shortly after the violin was recovered. ♪ ♪ ♪
>> woodruff: finally tonight, in the aftermath of the 2014 midterm elections, we take a look back to a different political time. a time when a national figure could describe himself as having a democratic heart with a republican head, and be taken seriously. that man, nelson rockefeller, was a four term governor of new york, served as vice president in the mid 1970's, and ran three times for the presidency. now, historian and newshour regular richard norton smith has written a new biography. "on his own terms: a life of nelson rockefeller." i talked to him recently. richard norton smith, welcome back to the "newshour". >> thanks. good to be here. >> woodruff: you surely now know more about nelson rockefeller than any living person on the planet. you spent 14 years working on
this book. why does he deserve so much of your time and talent? >> oh, gosh! well, he's an enormous figure, obviously, in the history of the republican party and in the history of the 20th century. i'll bet you very few of your viewers know he's the father of n.a.t.o. at the u.n. conference in 1945, a very young diplomat nelson rockefeller was responsible for mending the u.n. charter to allow for the creation of defensive military alliances. that's n.a.t.o. the history of the cold war and the 20th century would have been very different had it been otherwise. >> woodruff: and so much more. he came from this larger-than-life family. his graduate was a founder of standard oil. he was clearly shaped by his family but, on the other hand, he didn't conform to that, did he? >> no. i mean, his grandfather was arguably the most hated man in america except his other grandfather, senator nelson aldridge, the republican leader of the united states senate who
was hated in his own sphere. so nelson had a lot to redeem, in a sense. the key figure was his mother, abby aldridge rockefeller, who today would be the political candidate. that was not possible then, so he became her surrogate. when he was born, she said, i've done my duty by this family, i've given you a john iii, this one is mine. it was from abby he imbiewbed his love of people, politics, art and all things contemporary. anything that made him such a charismatic figure and such a power not only in new york but nationally. >> woodruff: you write, among many other things, about his severe learning disability, the dyslexia and how he throughout his life compensated for that and how that also shaped him. >> that's right. his dyslexia went undiagnosed. he was 50 years old before he ever heard the word dyslexia. he went through life believing he had a deficient i.q. and his
mother, abby, said surround yourself by people who are smarter than you. he took her advice. every rockefeller operation was in fact marked by all these advisors and gurus and one of them henry kissinger whom he introduced to the american scene. >> woodruff: let's talk about his politics. he worked for franklin roosevelt as a young man and he was a republican. but he didn't believe in so much of what was the gospel of the republican party. he was a huge supporter of the civil rights movement. he opposed everything barry goldwater stood for. where does he fit in the ideological spectrum? >> he goes back to teddy roosevelt who was a progressive conservative, a great believer in the capitalist system, but also someone who understood that that system uni'vetaably
produced inadd quais sis and injustices therefore it was the role of the republican party and thoughtful conservatives to, in a proactive way, address the inequities so that popular disaffection could not grow and reform toward revolution. nelson rockefeller famously said, "if you have a poor education and poor health, then i believe society has let you down." he believed there was such a thing as society, and he believed that democratic with a small d capitalism would be judged and indeed survive based on its ability to address those and other needs. >> woodruff: he was four terms governor of new york. you write people thought he wanted to be president but every time he got close he seemed to sabotage himself. >> happy rockefeller his second wife, divorce and remarriage was a huge controversy 50 years ago.
today, though, arguably, it would not be. she told me, she wondered how badly, in fact, he wanted to be president because every time he got close, she said, he did something stupid like marry me. there are other people who believed the ghost of franklin roosevelt haunted him and when he looked at the presidency, he wasn't running against john kennedy or richard nixon but f.d.r. f.d.r. was the president. it was hidden away from the public an element of vulnerability and etch self-doubt when it came to his ability to command the presidency the way f.d.r. had. >> woodruff: you spend a final chapter on his death. he was 70 years old. he was off with a young woman who was his mistress, died of a massive heart attack. why was that particular thing the end and why devote that much time to it?
>> unfortunately, for a whole generation, it came to define and in many ways diminish him. the fact is there's a lot we did not know. the background is he was dying. he had a very serious heart condition which, again, he kept from the public. to this day, that's news. but in a larger sense, there's one continuing, historically relevant, significant part of that story and that is the role of the press. the way i tell the story, it's a story of a coverup that unraveled very quickly. i argue, beginning that night, not with gary or a later incidence but beginning with the night of nelson rockefeller's death, the press redefine what was traditionally considered public versus private and you can get a pretty good argument over whether it's been for journalism or good for democracy, but there's very little doubt it began with nelson rockefeller's death as a coverup that unraveled.
>> woodruff: it is an extraordinary book, extraordinary story telling. a lot of love and work went into it. richard norton smith, we thank you. >> thank you so much. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. the obama administration predicted nearly ten million americans will sign up for private health care plans in 2015. the congressional budget office had forecast 13 million. and a suicide bomber in nigeria killed at least 48 students at a high school assembly. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now predicting election outcomes has become a popular pursuit for pundits and amateurs alike, but what if pollsters are asking the wrong question? we explain why surveying voters expectations about who will win is more reliable than asking about voters' intentions. that's on making sen$e. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll have a special
veterans day report on those who gave the last full measure. i'm gwen ifill. and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you on-line, 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... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs
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