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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  March 17, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. on the newshour tonight... >> i'm glad you're sorry now. i'm glad you're taking action now, but it's a little bit late for the kids in flint. >> woodruff: in a heated hearing congress members grill michigan governor rick snyder and head of the environmental protection agency over flint's water crisis. also ahead this thursday, next steps in the political battle over president obama's supreme court pick. and, as march madness sets in, we look at some of the questions surrounding paying collegiate athletes >> close to fifteen years later, and they're still making money off of my image.
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and i just thought to myself, there's got to be something wrong about this. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future.
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>> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the well-being of humanity around the world by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> woodruff: president obama's supreme court nominee, merrick garland, began making the rounds on capitol hill today. it came in the face of senate republicans saying they will not consider any nominee this year. instead, garland started with minority leader harry reid and patrick leahy, ranking democrat on the senate judiciary committee. leahy said the judge won't be commenting on the political fight. >> he's not going to go out before the press like i am. where he gets his chance to tell his side of the story is at a hearing, and that's what he ought to have. >> woodruff: a spokesman for senate majority leader mitch mcconnell called the visits a "stunt" orchestrated by the white house. we'll take a closer look at the nomination politics in the senate, later in the program. in the presidential race, house speaker paul ryan tried again to
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shut down speculation that he might agree to be the republican nominee, instead of donald trump, if there's a contested convention. he said anyone who's saying otherwise should "knock it off." but at a weekly briefing, ryan also criticized trump for warning his supporters might riot if he's denied the nomination. >> nobody should say such things in my opinion, because to even address or hint to violence is unacceptable. >> woodruff: the republican frontrunner also drew fire from moscow. a spokesman for russian president vladimir putin charged an online ad for trump reflects a "demonization of russia." the ad refers to putin as "one of our toughest opponents." russian president vladimir putin warned today he's prepared to send more war, if need be. russian forces began a partial pullout this week after helping syria's military make major
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advances in the run-up to peace talks. at a moscow ceremony today, putin made clear that he won't let those gains be lost. >> ( translated ): if necessary, literally within a few hours, russia can build up its contingent in the region to a size proportionate to the situation developing there and use the entire arsenal of capabilities at our disposal. >> woodruff: meanwhile, kurdish regions in northern syria announced they're forming their own federal region. the area extends from the eastern border with iraq to the cities of kobani and near aleppo farther west. the syrian government and opposition groups rejected the move, and the united states said it won't recognize any self- ruled region, unless the syrian people vote on it. secretary of state john kerry formally declared today that the islamic state group is committing genocide in iraq and syria. the targets: christians and other minorities.
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congress and human rights groups pushed for the finding, and set today as a deadline. but the announcement does not obligate the u.s. to take any additional action. in turkey, a kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for sunday's bombing in ankara that killed 37 people. the group is an offshoot of the main kurdish separatist group p.k.k. it warned there may be more attacks. and, german officials shuttered their embassy in ankara and consulate in istanbul in response to a threat. they called it "concrete and very serious." the european union is wrestling again with how to stop the human tide flowing out of turkey. a summit opened today, but there were signs that a tentative deal might fall through. alex thomson of independent television news, is watching developments from greece, where some 40,000 migrants are stranded.
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>> still unable to agree, leaders arrived for another two-day sumentd to discussion the migration crisis, which saw more than 1.2 million migrants arrive in europe last year. >> if we all work together in a coordinated manner and keep our cool, we will achieve success. i am cautioutimistic, but frankly speaking more cautious than optimistic. >> reporter: under so-called one for one deal, for every syrian refugee just across the water there in turkey behind us, a refugee from greece goes back across the aegean. when all this was arranged ten days ago, the figures were vague. since then it's emerged the e.u. is only prepared to take 72,000 such people, and there is no commitment yet beyond that figure. further places may be available under a voluntary separate scheme, but this would require a
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change to e.u. law and getting all 28 member states on board is a tall order as the e.u. summit chairman has acknowledged. but charities say the controversial plans are against european and international law. >> woodruff: all 28 e.u. member states must agree to the deal. saudi arabia has announced it's paring back combat operations in yemen after nearly a year of air strikes and ground combat. the kingdom has been leading a sunni arab coalition to roll back gains by shiite rebels in yemen. but the air raids have killed hundreds of civilians. and, the united nations today raised the death toll to 119 in a strike tuesday, near the yemeni capital of sanaa. the earth's temperature was much higher than usual last month. the national oceanic and atmospheric administration reports february 2016 beat the old record by six-tenths of a degree-- a much bigger margin than usual.
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in the process, arctic sea ice reached a record low. scientists say the heat was partly due to a super el-nino effect. automatic braking systems will be standard in most cars and light trucks within the next six years. 20 major automakers agreed to that voluntary schedule today, with the national highway traffic safety administration. u.s. drivers have nearly two million rear-end crashes each year. and on wall street, oil rose back above $40 a barrel, and helped push stocks higher. the dow jones industrial average gained 155 points to close above 17,480. the nasdaq rose 11 points, and the s&p 500 added 13. still to come on the newshour: congress lambastes michigan's governor and the epa over the flint water crisis. the economics of paying student athletes. sea world ends its orca breeding program, and much more.
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>> woodruff: the water crisis in flint, michigan, was in the spotlight again today. this time, at a hearing before congress where the question seemed to be who's the most to blame for dangerous lead poisoning. it was heated at times, and there were calls for resignations of top officials. correspondent john yang begins. >> committee on government oversight and and reform will come to order. >> reporter: michigan governor rick snyder and e.p.a administrator gina mccarthy took the oath, settled into their seats, and the grilling began. democratic congressman elijah cummings started with republican snyder. >> governor snyder has been described as running the state of michigan like a business. there's no doubt in my mind that if a corporate c.e.o. did what
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governor snyder's administration has done, he would be hauled up on criminal charges. >> reporter: an emergency manager appointed by snyder's administration switched flint's water supply to the flint river in april 2014, in a bid to save money. but no corrosion control was added. that allowed lead from aging pipes to leach into drinking water for more than a year. snyder said today that michigan's department of environmental quality repeatedly assured him the water was safe, until last fall. >> it was on october 1, 2015 that i learned that our state experts were wrong. flint's water had dangerous levels of lead. on that date i took immediate action. not a day or night goes by that this tragedy doesn't weigh on my mind. the questions i should have asked, the answers i should have demanded. how i could have prevented this? >> reporter: that wasn't nearly enough to satisfy some on the committee.
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>> plausible deniability only works when it's plausible and i'm not buying that you didn't know about this until ocober 2015. you weren't in a medically induced coma for a year and i've had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies. >> reporter: republican committee chairman jason chaffetz laid blame mostly with the environmental protection agency and its boss, gina mccarthy. >> i am asking the questions. yes, ok. in february was when you first arrived on the scene and it wasn't until january of next year that you actually you did something. that's the fundamental problem. don't look around like you're mystified. that's what happened. you didn't take action. you didn't. you could have pulled that switch. >> we consistently took action from that point forward. consistently. >> there are a lot of people in this audience from flint. nobody believes you took action. you had the presence, you had the authority, you had the backing of the federal government, and you did not act
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when you had the chance and if you're going to do the courageous thing, you too should step down. >> reporter: mccarthy maintained she did everything within her legal authority to respond. >> we just couldn't get a straight answer anywhere. people don't deserve that out of their government. i will take responsibility for not pushing hard enough but i will not take responsibility for causing this problem. it was not e.p.a. at the helm when this happened. >> reporter: the issue of lead in water also affects communities from ohio to north carolina to mississippi to new jersey. governor snyder today urged congress to approve $220 million for replacing contaminated pipes in flint and other cities. and, he said he wants michigan to spend a similar amount. >> no justice, no peace! >> reporter: but some flint residents who attended today's hearing said that's not good enough, given michigan's budget surplus of $575 million.
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>> i was hearing stuff in snyder's testimony today we was never told about any of this until january of 2016. he has ignored flint and all warnings then he says he has money put up for a rainy day fund. well it's pouring where is the money at? >> reporter: lead levels in flint's water are dropping, but they still do not meet federal drinking water standards. that means city residents will continue to use bottled water for the forseeable future. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: let's pick up further on these questions of what mistakes were made, and by whom, in flint, as well as growing concerns about the safety of water in other communities. david shepardson, a michigan native, has been reporting on flint and watching the latest developments for reuters. and mark edwards is a civil and
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environmental engineer and professor at virginia tech university. widely credited with helping to expose the flint water problems, he testified before the same house committee earlier this week. and we welcome you both. david shepardson, to you first. you get the impression from listening to this hearing today that everybody involved bares some responsibility. is that accurate? >> i think everybody admits that things did not go well. i mean, the state, the local authorities, and the e.p.a. has probably a little bit different position, that they do not admit specific wrongdoing. all they admit is they did not act fast enough. the agency yesterday released 1,200 pages of e-mails that show that as far back as september the administrator asked her deputies whether it was appropriate the intervene and she said this could get big very quickly. so certainly the agency knew this was a growing issue of concern, but they did not opt to take the step of issuing an emergency order to intervene
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until january. >> woodruff: so given that, is there one individual or one agency that bares more responsibility than others? >> well, i guess it depends on your point of view. the main problem was that the state failed to add corrosion control to the water, and the e.p.a. would say, and the state would agree, that they did not inform the e.p.a. of this for months and months. because of that, that catastrophic decision led to the ultimate poisoning of the water, but from there, depending on what political party you're in, it really... the putting of the blame depends on your point of view, that's what the last two hearings have been about. >> woodruff: it's impossible to separate it from the politics, but we'll try. professor mark edwards, you were asked to go in and look at the flint sweart -- water situation almost a year ago gamely that lived there. what would you add to where the responsibility lies here? >> well, it's very clear that
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governor snyder was guilty of not listening to the complaints of residents in flint. he was guilty of being overly trusting of the michigan department of environmental quality and the e.p.a. he's accepted that blame. he called it his katrina. he also now wants to be part of the solution, but i think the thing that concerns me most is e.p.a.'s testimony, which i find to be outrageous and orwellian. >> woodruff: in what way? >> well, i mean, for example, they said the e.p.a. whistle-blower's memo that blew the lid off this back in july was inconclusive when, in fact, it proved that the entire city was in danger. e.p.a. today claimed that they didn't know if they could enforce federal law. e.p.a. didn't know if they could enforce federal law or not. they said also that they were strong armed by the state. i mean, how can you be strong armed by someone you're supposed to be supervising? and even more outrageous is they claimed that they warned flint
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residents in july that the water was not safe to drink when, in fact, when virginia tech, our team tried to warn people in july, august and september that the water was unsafe, we had to fight the e.p.a. e.p.a. said nothing to back us up. so they are a major part of what went wrong in flint, and for them to sit there and act like they've done nothing wrong is just, again, outrageous and orwellian. >> woodruff: well, we should point out that we did invite the e.p.a. to participate in the discussion tonight to come on for an interview, and they declined our request. this story goes on, but for right now, david shepardson, in flint, the problem has gotten a little bit better, but it continues. is that right? >> right. so there's two funding issues right now. the water is not yet safe to drink, and there are still... the e.p.a. is still doing tests, and there are still many people who are forced to use bottled water for cooking and drinking. but both the state, the governor has asked the state legislature
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to fund another $160 million over two years, and there's another fight in congress over whether the federal government should kick in about $2250 million for -- $220 million for flint and other cities struggling with lead in pipes. >> woodruff: all that to be resolved. professor, while we're talking about this, you have written that there are a number of older american cities that are confronting very similar problems to what flint has experienced. where are we talking about exactly in this country? >> well, you're talking about all the major u.s. cities that have lead pipe, whether it's acknowledged that the intent of this rule, 70% of the cities would have to tell people the water is unsafe. we've been arguing this with e.p.a. for ten years, warning them that something like flint was going to happen. the only thing that's unusual here is that they got caught in flint. a group of outsiders exposed that children were getting lead poisoning even as m.d.q. and
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e.p.a. are claiming the water is safe. to this day e.p.a. and m.d.q. have not admitted that the water broke federal law. >> woodruff: how much of the rest of the country should be worrying about this? >> well, i think what you're going to do is when you start turning over rocks and looking what's going on with lead in drinking water, something will squirm out every time. you're seeing that in new jersey, philadelphia, jackson. e.p.a. has known about this problem for ten years and it's done nothing. we've been screaming at e.p.a. to try to stop something like flint from happening. >> woodruff: when you say "we," you mean you and those folks who are working with you on this. >> yeah. there were several us in washington, d.c., who saw how this attitude of e.p.a. that anything goes in terms of cheating on measuring lead in water, so that it looks low when you sample it, but it could be high when people are drinking the water, it was leaving... it's left all americans in harm's way.
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>> woodruff: dave shepardson, how well prepared are america's cities, states and the e.p.a. to deal with what apparently is a much bigger problem than anybody realized? >> it's a staggering issue. there are about 155,000 water systems the e.p.a. enforces. the vast majority of states in the primary ones overseeing these water system, and by the e.p.a.'s estimate over the next 20 years, the water infrastructure of the country needs at least $600 billion in investment. and there have been numerous reports recently of lead problems in mississippi and pennsylvania and throughout the country, and as mark said, clearly flint has cast attention on it, but it's not just lead in water, but it's also read -- lead in paint and other sources. the lead issue for children across the country goes far beyond certainly flint. >> woodruff: quickly, to what extent is this issue a priority to the congress and the administration? >> well, michigan senator debbie stabenow was on the floor today
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complaining they didn't reach a deal before the senate goes on a two-week recess, and there will be more fighting. it's also an issue in the presidential campaign. both bernie sanders and hillary clinton have called for governor snyder to resign, and i do think the issue of infrastructure and funding for cities like flint is going to continue to be an issue throughout the campaign season. >> woodruff: well, we certainly need to continue to watch this, and we will do that. david shepardson, we thank you, and professor marketwards at virginia tech, thank you. >> woodruff: supreme court nominee merrick garland made the trek to capitol hill today. president obama's selection for the supreme court made his first official visit and met with key senate democrats. for more we're joined by npr congressional correspondent ailsa chang. she's on capitol hill.
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hello, ailsa. so tell us what sort of a reception did judge garland get? >> well, today because it was the two democrats, he got an overwhelmingly positive reception. but that was what was so conspicuous. today's visit to capitol hill was just made up of two appointments with two key democrats. usually when a supreme court nominee arrives on the hill, the first people he received are the top two senate leaders, one in each party, and the top senators on the judiciary committee of each party. so today because he only met with minority leader harry reid and the ranking member or top democrat on the judiciary committee, patrick leahy, it wasn't quite the reception that we're usually used to seeing for supreme court nominees on the hill. neither senate majority leader mitch mcconnell nor the judiciary chair, chuck grassley, were on his schedule today. >> woodruff: any word, ailsa, on how these meetings went, or were they purely formalities? >> they're usually a formality.
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they're very ceremonial. it's a gracious affair, mostly a photo opportunity. the question now is how many meetings will he actually get with republican senators in the weeks ahead? he actually spoke on the phone with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell yesterday. mcconnell through his spokes pec told everybody that he wanted, he preferred to speak with garland on the phone because he didn't want to put garland through the unnecessary political routines and that he wanted to inform him that he will not get face-to-face meeting with the senate majority leader because garland will not get a confirmation vote this year according to the senate majority leader. but he said that he did wish garland well. now, chairman ted grassley, at least the white house yesterday said that grassley's office had said grassley planned to meet with the nominee in a couple weeks after the senate recess, but grassley this morning made it very clearly that he made no
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such promise, that when he spoke to garland personally on the phone yesterday he said garland should call him back after the recess is over and check in with him again, and they would decide how to go forward from there. >> woodruff: now a few republican senators have said that they will meet with him. is that right? just handful. >> just handful. about five or six. susan collins of maine, who has been known for a long time to be ad many rat from the very outset she said she thinks the nominee, whomever obama picks, should get a full confirmation process, should get a full confirmation hearing, should get a confirmation vote, so it's no surprise she reiterated this week that she would meet with merrick garland. three senators that are running in battleground states in 2016 said they would go ahead and meet with garland, kelly aidea aidea -- ayotte of new hampshire, and mark kirk from illinois. kirk said from nearly the outset that he thinks obama's nominee
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should get a full confirmation hearing. >> woodruff: these are democrats who have to compete in states where democrats have some chance, so they're feeling differently. so what does merrick garland vz v to face? are we looking at weeks and months of no contact with the estimate? >> we'll be coming to the hill for many, many meetings with democrats, but the question is how many more republicans will agree to these meetings? now, if you talk to chuck schumer of new york, he says that the ice is breaking, the fact that five or six republican senators are saying now that they will meet with the nominee shows that there are many more republican senators who are going to crack because it's untenable the position they're taking, that sort of the hope that democrats are expressing right now. but it's really going to be up to the nat democrats to try to keep this issue alive, especially now we're going into a two-week recess. you know, it means calling up
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press events. it means getting their grassroots efforts out there, continuing to push this into the public eye and getting reporters like me to keep writing about this story, because if the story ceases to change, it's hard to keep justifying coverage of it. >> woodruff: well, it's an unprecedented situation at least in my memory. i don't remember anything like this. ailsa chang with npr, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: millions of viewers began tuning into the ncaa's march madness games today. billions are paid for the tv rights. last year, an average of 11 million people tuned in throughout the month. yet, one question looms larger than ever: should the players be entitled to further compensation?
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our economics correspondent, paul solman, explores those issues, part of his weekly "making sense" report which airs thursdays on the newshour. >> i saw myself on a video game. >> reporter: former ucla star ed o'bannon, mvp of the 1995 ncaa finals. >> it was pretty cool to watch, i mean the guy was left handed, bald headed. the jumper was good and so i was very pleased about it. >> reporter: but the friend who showed o'bannon the game was puzzled. >> what's funny about it is, he says, is we paid "x" amount of dollars for it for the video game and you didn't get one penny. >> reporter: it was this encounter that sparked a famous firestorm-- ed o'bannon's eventual 2009 lawsuits against the ncaa and video game maker e.a. sports-- for "blatant and unlawful use of student athlete likenesses to increase sales and profits," while denying college
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athletes any share of the revenues they generated, besides a full-tuition sports scholarship. >> close to fifteen years later, and they're still making money off of my image. and i just thought to myself there's got to be something wrong about this. if i was an entertainer of any other sort, would i have the same things happened to me, you know? >> reporter: no. you get royalties, residuals, >> absolutely. >> reporter: we'd come to find out what's happened to ed o'bannon and his suit, landing in las vegas, passing the strip, more decked out than ever, winding up in henderson, nevada, where o'bannon works, lives, and helps coach basketball at liberty high school. he now coaches the ncaa-ers of tomorrow who, if they're absurdly good and lucky, will play in a final four themselves someday.
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the rights paid to the ncaa to broadcast the ncaa tournament this year? nearly a billion dollars. the players' take? still zero. "new york times" columnist joe nocera has long made the case for paying so-called student athletes. it's starkly laid out in his new book, indentured. >> they are fundamentally exploited by a system that makes not millions of dollars but billions of dollars and that enriches everybody around them except themselves. >> reporter: but athletes, if they make it, make millions of dollars. >> sure. the very small five percent who make it from college to the pros will get, will get very rich. what about the other 95%? >> reporter: o'bannon was one of the five percent. and yet in college, he often went hungry for lack of cash.
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>> there were many nights when i went through the night without eating. >> reporter: you? >> absolutely. >> it's simple, gentlemen; the little things is what's going to win us the game. >> reporter: back at liberty high, the coaches were prepping the patriots for a playoff game. >> do what got us here. have some fun. keep us winning. >> reporter: kyle thaxton is one of the team's stars. should college athletes get paid? >> if they're the ones playing and doing it on the court then they should be the ones getting paid also, it shouldn't just be the coaches. >> reporter: coaches who can make $6 million a year or more. and it's not just pay. >> in ncaa sports you have players who can be stuck with sports-related medical expenses. >> reporter: ramogi huma, who played football at ucla, has been doing the lonely work of organizing players. >> injured players can lose their scholarships, graduation rates hover around 50% amongst the sports who are generating this money, and the ncaa's refusing to adopt the same concussion reforms that the nfl has adopted.
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we're not advocating for professional salaries and things like that but we're saying that, "look, some of that value should be given in the form of basic protections like medical expenses and degree completion." >> reporter: ncaa president mark emmert declined an interview, but we caught up with him at a press conference. why not pay college athletes? >> because they're students and they're not employees at the end of the day. you know, young men and women come to college because they want to get an education, because they want to participate in their sport as part of that educational experience. >> reporter: we relayed emmert's response to ed o'bannon. >> the way that they run their business-- and that's what they're doing, they are running a business-- you can't possibly do that and think that your employees-- because these athletes are employees-- they shouldn't get paid. that is to me is mind boggling. >> reporter: but it was time for the tip-off. in the playoff game, the home
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team seemed comfortably ahead. but big-time college sports is rarely comfortable, says joe nocera. >> really being an athlete on a campus is a full time job. the ncaa rules say it's only supposed to be 20 hours a week, but if you go on a road trip they only count the time you're on the floor. so, when you're in the airplane, when you're in the hotel, that doesn't count. >> reporter: and on campus... >> you have weightlifting in the morning, then you go to some classes. then you've got practice, then you've got more strength training, then you've got, enforced study hall, then, you know, you go to bed at midnight, you get up at 6:00, you do the whole thing all over, it's a full time job. and not only that. let's be honest, there's a cartel that is suppressing the wages of a labor force. if you want to think about it in economic terms. >> reporter: "cartel?" we asked the ncaa's emmert. >> he's allowed his opinions. >> reporter: as it turns out,
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it's not just the ncaa that has a problem paying players, though. cardozo law school professor eko yankah. >> the more and more we treat them as young, minor league professional athletes, the further they'll get from the other things we find valuable about college. >> reporter: or as liberty high senior khalil deruen put it: >> we don't want the importance of being a student to be diminished. >> reporter: moreover, eco yankah asks, if you pay basketball, football and baseball players... >> what does that mean for the water polo team? what does that mean for volleyball? there is a very dangerous line here where the very natural thing to do would be to have three revenue generating sports and get rid of all the others. >> reporter: so professor yankah has an alternative for athletes who aren't students. >> if there are young people who are not at all interested in being student athletes, and their life's project is to develop their particular athletic talent, there ought to be professional developmental leagues into which they can go. >> reporter: right now, of
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course, the only option for young athletes is college. do almost all of them think they are going pro? that is people who play in division one college let's say. >> in my experience, yes. >> reporter: and it's a delusion right? >> it's a delusion but i think it's the right delusion. and that you have to think you're going to go in order to get there. >> reporter: okay, so what happened to o'bannon's liberty city patriots? hoop dreams dashed-- theirs and by this time ours-- they wound up losing, 67 to 61. >> we as the coaching staff, we tip our hats to you guys. you played hard all season. >> what you did today, and in the previous four years, you will get to further your education, and get it paid for. that's the goal. >> reporter: and maybe even getting paid extra, in cash. and so, in the end, what's happened to the lawsuits? well, e.a. sports actually
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settled for roughly $60 million, with thousands of players, past and present, getting, on average, about $1,600 each, the money finally awarded just this week. in 2014, the court ruled the ncaa's refusal to pay players was an anti-trust violation, and also ordered up to $5,000 per student athlete be put in trust for using their likenesses. the ncaa appealed; the money award, reversed. and so, this tuesday, o'bannon's lawyers asked the supreme court to review the case. from henderson, nevada, this is economics correspondent paul solman for the pbs newshour.
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>> woodruff: the popular theme park, sea world, has been under ever-growing criticism for the way it breeds and shows its popular orcas. but sea world is now bowing to pressure and making a big change. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: orca whales have been entertaining audiences at seaworld parks since 1964. once feared-- they're commonly known as 'killer whales'-- they became hugely popular and even beloved. today's announcement, made with the humane society, means the era of public exhibition is coming to an end. >> current orcas under our care will be the last generation at seaworld. we're going to phase out our theatrical shows. >> brown: seaworld is ending its breeding program for the animals, though it's keeping the whales it already has. and the orlando-based company says the shows will gradually give way to what it calls "inspiring natural orca encounters."
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animal rights activists have long criticized keeping the animals in captivity. >> any of us would be miserable if we had to spend out life living in a bathtub and orcas at seaworld are just as miserable. they spend their lives confined to tiny tanks where they go mad from confinement and boredom. >> brown: the parks came under new scrutiny in 2010 after one of the whales drowned a trainer. that attack was captured on later became the peg for 2013's "blackfish," a documentary examining the effects of captivity on killer whales. the company also faced regulatory and legislative efforts to ban orca captivity. and ticket sales to the parks have dropped significantly. and we're joined now by the man who made today's announcement: sea world c.e.o. and president, joel manby. and by wayne pacelle, c.e.o. of the humane society of the united states, a longtime critic of sea world that worked with it on the new reform measures.
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welcome to both of you. joel manby, let me start with you. is this an acknowledgment that raising and using the whales for public exhibition has been wrong? >> jeffrey, what's really clear to me, i've been c.e.o. for about 11 months now, is that society has shifted. and people's view of having these majestic, very large animals under human care has changed over time. and more and more people are becoming uncomfortable with it. i had to make some difficult decisions to move the company forward, and i felt that the right thing to do for the company and all things considered is to end our breeding program. >> brown: the right thing to do for the company, so should it be seen mostly as a business decision? >> yeah, i think any business in today's world has to be connected to a corset of values. our corset of values is to help animals in the wild. a lot of people don't maybe realize that about seaworld, but we have the best zoological organization i think in the world. we're passionate about animals.
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we're passionate about animals in the wild. i felt that the orca issue was an overhang for us that was stopping our incredible story from being told to a country that's changing. i think it's great that the millennial, the younger folks care about conservation, they care about animals. we do too, and i wanted them to hear our story more and more. >> brown: so wayne pacelle, a long-time critic of seaworld, now working with them. what do you see as the importance of this move, and what would a move toward a more educational or more natural approach be? what do you want to see happen now? >> well, we celebrate the end of breeding of orcas in activity. this has been a long-held aspiration of the humane society and so many other groups in our field. obviously attitudes changed dramatically after the airing of "blackfish." in terms of these animals, they are long-lived animals. they are going to be around if
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they are not released into the wild. there would be a whole set of challenges if their were contemplated. we're very focused on the idea of an orca centric experience where trainers allow them to exhibit their natural behaviors, that they're exercised, that within the captive setting there's enrichment. it's a great challenge with these highly intelligent, complex, sociable animals who live in pods in the while. we think there's a ceiling in terms of how much can be done for them, but obviously seaworld and its staff need to do their best to accommodate their needs. >> brown: mr. pacelle, staying with you, i wonder if you would go further, because your organization has been critical of keeping dolphins in captivity. are you pushing seaworld to go there? do you expect this to continue to something like that any time soon? >> well, we think there's actually a very artful solution, which is if seaworld has continuing needs for animals to populate its expi bigs, if they
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can get animals who are beached or otherwise in distress from the wild and those animals can be brought in, rehabilitated and in some cases if they cannot be rehoboth leased, then they can meet those needs. that is a de facto sanctuary. that's what big cat sanctuaries and chimp sanctuaries and lots of otherfanimal-based sanctuaries do. some animals simply can't be released into the wild again. and a lot of very progressive zoos and others are relying on rescues to populate their exhibits. we hope that's the direction of seaworld in the years ahead. >> brown: what about that, mr. manby. >> if i could. >> brown: go ahead. i want your response on where you see this going, and why not if there are cultural shift, why in the move to other animals like dolphins. >> well, a pit that wayne made that is very important, a lot of people don't realize that there is a tremendous need for rescue operations, and the capacity is much lower than the demand. one thing i announced today was
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seaworld is committing $50 million over the next five years with a goal of being the largest rescue organization in the world. and just in the last year, we rescued seven animals a day, 1,000 dolphins stranded last year alone. there are hundreds and hundreds of sea lions in california that we save. this good work can't continue unless seaworld has the expertise and the facilities. >> brown: is there, mr. manby, with the orcas, you said it would be dangerous to release the ones you have, what about on a case-by-case basis or transferring them to some kind of transitional area? >> you know, this is something that actually wayne and i have talked a lot about. we don't always agree on everything, and we won't, but we're trying to look for common ground. and the truth is, any research you read, any peer reviewed research, a whale that's born into human care is not a good candidate for release. in fact, in the history of
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mankind, no whale or dolphin born under human care has been released successfully. the only time it has been done successfully, if they're wild, they're brought in for a short period of time and released. we have four whales taken from the wild over 35 years ago, they're quite old now. they've been under human care for a long, long time. we don't think it's worth the risk for those four whales. >> brown: mr. pacelle, i want to ask you about the largest context here. do you see this as part of a movement. in the way zoos and aquariums look at the treatment of animals, movies and a much larger cultural shift here? >> no question. i've got a back coming out next month called "the humane economy," and my argument is that business and commerce must narrate itself with these emergent values about animals and their well-being. it was march last year we saw ringling brothers give up its traveling elephant act. we have seen movies migrate away
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from live animals to computer generated imagery. we're seeing changes in the food sector where companies like wal-mart and kroger and mcdonald's are now buying their products that come from more humane farms. this is a cultural live shift, and this happens to be one manifestation with a live entertainment company like seaworld getting on board. we're happy at that, but we're very happy about the broader trends in society. >> you think about for 20 years we have been adversaries, really monologuing against each other. now we're dialoguing. i think the winner is animals in the wild and their habitats. and let's focus there because the crisis is bigger than any organization can handle. we can do more together than if we fight all the time. i think it's a good move. >> brown: joel manby and wayne pacelle, thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> thank you, jeffrey.
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>> woodruff: now, an editorial note. in our report tuesday night on a north carolina family that's supporting donald trump, we were continuing a long newshour tradition of talking directly to voters. we want to hear from them, in their own voices, speaking about what motivates their political preferences. regrettably, none of us at the newshour recognized the questions that could arise from grace tilly's tattoos, and didn't raise them with her until after the report aired. at that point, our producer contacted ms. tilly and she insisted the tattoos are religious in nature and have nothing to do with a neo-nazi theme or white supremacy. we referenced her comments in an editor's note, posted on our website. many of our online commenters have since let us know they reject that explanation. we're now posting this note as a follow up. the newshour remains committed to being as transparent as possible in covering this election.
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and we'll be back in just a moment. but first, take this time to hear from your local pbs station.
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>> woodruff: and a news update. presidential candidate bernie sanders has conceded the primary to hillary clinton after the am p. declared her the winner. he derailed by 1,500 votes but says he will not seek a recount. the republican race in missouri remains too close to call between donald trump and ted cruz. and u.s. officials confirm that north korea has test fired another ballistic missile. it comes a day after the u.s. imposed new sanctions for earlier nuclear and missile tests. and that is the "newshour" for t and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday we'll look at "eye in the sky" and the myriad of ethical questions surrounding drone warfare. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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this is "nightly business report." with tyler mathisen and sue herera. green for the year. on this st. patrick's day the dow goes positive for 2016, erasing all of the turmoil of january and february. tackling entitlements. what the speaker of the house wants to do with social programs you want to touch. fill her up. grab a taco or go for a swim. an entrepreneur's journey to prove everything is bigger in texas. all that and more tonight on "nightly business report" for thursday, march good evening and happy st. patrick's day. a stunning turnaround. the blue chip dow index is positive for 2016, who'd have thunk it. it erased losses from the mark's worst start to a year ever and reversed