tv PBS News Hour PBS October 5, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. the times square bomber was sentenced to life in prison today. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, we talk to reporter ailsa chang of public radio station wnyc, who was in the courtroom this morning. >> lehrer: then we look at the close race for the u.s. senate in wisconsin. >> woodruff: jeffrey brown has a newsmaker interview with elizabeth warren, the new head of the consumer financial protection bureau. >> lehrer: special correspondent fred de sam lazaro reports on the dispute over water resources in the middle east.
>> 98% of the historical flow of the jordan today no longer flows. we're left with this very, very sad sight. >> woodruff: science correspondent miles o'brien has the story of today's nobel prize winners for physics. they developed graphene, the thinnest yet toughest material known. >> lehrer: and we talk to philanthropist melinda gates about the push to improve job training programs at community colleges. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: the man who tried to set off a bomb in the heart of new york city will spend the rest of his life behind bars. the formal sentencing came today in a federal court in manhattan. faisel shahzad had already pleaded guilty in the times square bomb plot, and his life sentence was mandatory. but he remained defiant today in court. in his statement, the 31-year-old pakistani-american said, "brace yourselves because the war with muslims has just begun." shahzad's failed plot unfolded
last may when street vendors alerted police to a smoking s.u.v., a nisssan path finder, on a bustling saturday night. the bomb squad diffused the car bomb, and police said it was packed with fuel and fire works. >> on the back seat of the vehicle were two full five- gallon red plastic gasoline containers. between them was a 16-ounce can filled with between 20 and 30 m-88 devices. >> lehrer: today in court prosecutors showed video of an f.b.i. test showing what the bomb could have done. investigators said shahzad watched live web cams like this one to pick a site where he could kill as many people as possible. in a statement today, the head of the f.b.i.'s new york office said shahzad built a mobile weapon of mass destruction and hoped and intended that it would kill
large numbers of innocent people and planned to do it again two weeks later. in the event, the would-be bomber was arrested two days after his first attempt as he tried to board a flight to dubai at john f. kennedy international airport in new york. he has since admitted the pakistani taliban trained and financed him. this internet video showed him meeting with the head of that group last year. elsa ailsa chang of public radio station wnyc covered today's sentencing. >> thank you. >> lehrer: what was shahzad's tone and demeanor as he made his statement today in the courtroom? >> well, just as you notedn the report, he was extremely defiant from the beginning to the end. it was almost like a replay of his guilty plea hearing in june where from the very get-go he not only wanted to launch into a speech but not only wanted to say that he was proud of what he did but
wanted other muslims to follow his example and also commit violence against americans. >> lehrer: did he have a written speech or did he just stand up and talk? >> he did stand up and talk. it sounded like he was reading from a prepared remarks. he said that we are only muslims. but if you call us terrorists we are proud terrorists. we will keep on terrorizing you. he said at another point that the defeat of the u.s. is imminent. again in another point he said the u.s. and nato forces who are occupied muslim lands, we do not accept your democracy or your freedom because we already have sharia law. that was the tenor of the entire proceeding. at multiple points during his speech, judge miriam goldman- cederbaum tried to draw out a colloquy, a conversation between the two of them. at one point she cut him off
and said, when you were made a naturalized citizen last year weren't you supposed to swear your allegiance to this country. shahzad replied i did swear but i did not mean it. the judge replied so you took a false oath. that was basically the mood of the entire half hour sentencing hearing today. >> lehrer: the whole thing you say lasted 30 minutes from beginning to end. >> about. >> lehrer: when what did the judge have to say? did the judge derek any comments to him about his crime and what he had done and why he's going to prison, et cetera? >> she certainly did. she said that obviously this is a defendant who has not even a tone of or a hint of remorse. he's someone who would obviously want to repeat his crime if given the chance. in this particular case, it was very important to her that she impose the harshest sentence possible in order to deter others who may want to follow in his footsteps. in saying these things she echoed what prosecutors had
said in their pretensing memorandum which they submited to the court last week. they said that shahzad is somebody who needs to be made an example of. there is a rise in home grown terrorism across the country. people like shahzad, naturalized u.s. citizens or even american-born citizens who have u.s. passports and can travel freely throughout the country and the world, who speak fluent english, these are people that are particularly prized assets for foreign terror organizations. so it's particularly in this high-profile case with a man like shahzad who came here from pakistan and created a life here in the u.s. but became radicalized and basically adopted a life's purpose to pursue a terrorist agenda, it's people like him who really need to be made an example of now in order to deter others who may want to follow suit. >> lehrer: was there a lawyer who represented him in any way way, who spoke for him or said anything on his behalf? >> today the federal defender
philip weinstein did not make any remarks on his behalf. he ceded the floor to shahzad who wanted to speak for several minutes. he told the judge right at the get-go, i'm going to take 5 to 10 minutes. the judge didn't let him get through all of his statement. it was almost of a tug of war. she would interrupt him and remind him i'm only interested in the comments you have that relate specifically to what sentence you think you deserve. shahzad would bring her back to the speech he had prepared and just reannounce his hatred of america and of u.s. policies, and his desire to see all muslims rise up and attack the u.s. until they stop invading muslim lands. >> lehrer: he didn't speak directly to the idea that he was going to prison for the rest of his life? >> he did at the end. the judge asked him, well, when the judge first announced i impose a life sentence on you, the first words out of shahzad's mouth were
in arabic god is great. it was the first words that escaped from his lips. then when he was asked at the end do you have any final words to say, shahzad only replied i'm very happy with the deal god has given me. there was no sense of regret in his voice. he seemed like someone who was proud to announce what he had done and is perfectly willing to spend the rest of his life in prison because of that. >> lehrer: for the record this is a real life sentence, right? there is no way that he could ever be paroled for good behavior or anything like that? >> that's right. in fact the judge didn't even want to discuss any provisions for supervised release because in her mind this man is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. one of the counts against him, count 6, which was for use of a destructive device in a crime of violence actually carries a mandatory life sentence so he will be spending the rest of his life in prison without possibility
of parole. >> lehrer: there were about how many people in the courtroom altogether including reporters, spectators, whatever? >> all the rows of seats were filled. i would say maybe close to 100. there weren't a tremendous amount of spectators just from the general public. most of the courtroom was filled with journal i haves and what looked to be staff from the u.s. attorneys office and federal defenders' office and court staff. i didn't see any supporters of shahzad in the crowd. that's for sure. >> lehrer: generally speaking, a tone of ... a quiet tone? was it scary? noisy? what was it like? >> he's a very soft-spoken man actually. you really had to strain to hear him because he was speaking up so he wasn't miked directly. although his tone was soft spoken, his words were, you know, extremely aggressive. you know, right at the get-go he says how can i be judged by
a court that does not understand the suffering of my people? if i'm given a thousand lives i will sacrifice them all for the life of allah. he says it quietly. at least in the beginning he had to confer with his attorney for a bit. other than that, he just kept on going with his prepared remarks. >> lehrer: elsa chang, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, a tough fight for wisconsin's russ feingold; elizabeth warren on financial protection for consumers; limited water resources in the middle east; the nobel prize in physics; and melinda gates on community colleges. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: police in southern france arrested a dozen suspects today, in raids aimed at islamic militant networks. the arrests came amid warnings of a possible terror plot aimed at cities across europe. police said three of those taken into custody today have links to a network that recruits fighters
for afghanistan. in pakistan, a small bomb damaged another nato oil tanker. it was the fifth attack on supply convoys headed to afghanistan since pakistan closed a key border crossing last week. but in washington, pentagon spokesman geoff morrell said he expects the problem to end soon. >> we have been given indications that we are making progress on that front and hope to have the gate reopened as soon as possible. we obviously have a number of supply lines from the north as well which provide us the able to keep resupplying our forces. >> sreenivasan: the pakistanis shut down the border crossing after a nato helicopter raid killed three border guards. this was a big day on wall street, as stocks hit some of their highest levels in five months. the rally followed news that the service sector grew again, and that japan's central bank cut interest rates to near zero. the dow jones industrial average gained 193 points to close above 10,944. the nasdaq rose 55 points to close near 2400.
a former trader at the french bank societe generale was convicted today on all counts, in one of history's biggest trading frauds. jerome kerviel was sentenced to three years in prison, and he was ordered to repay the bank a staggering $6.7 billion in damages. defense lawyers promised to appeal. they said, at his current salary, it would take kerviel more than 175,000 years to pay the damages. the u.s. supreme court will decide how far the government may go in background checks of employees. the court today heard a case involving private contractors working for nasa. they oppose having to give personal information, including medical history and past drug use. the outcome could have far- reaching effects, because the same employment questionnaires are used throughout the federal work force. hungary declared a state of emergency after a torrent of toxic sludge from an aluminum plant tore through several towns. the death toll rose to four, with 120 injured. the reddish mud burst through a containment reservoir yesterday, and gushed down roads, pushing cars out of its way.
the sludge covered entire villages, forcing hundreds to flee. the toxic waste from aluminum production can burn skin on contact, and cause cancer if it's inhaled. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: we're exactly four weeks away from election day, when voters may reshape the country's political landscape. i spent last weekend in one state where a democratic senator is in a surprisingly tough battle: wisconsin. if you're looking for voters on a sunday afternoon in wisconsin, there's no better place than the tailgate scene at a green bay packers' game. >> go, packers. >> woodruff: that's where we found three-term democratic senator russ feingold on the eve of the start of early voting in the badger state. >> go, russ, go. >> woodruff: it wasn't so long ago that feingold, long viewed as a maverick in the democratic party, was assumed a shoe-in for a fourth term.
his go it alone identity would inoculate him against problems other democrats might have, so the thinking went. but that was before a new president and his ambitious agenda stirred up a hornet's nest of opposition. wisconsin has voted democratic in the last six presidential elections. some of them just narrowly. not in 2008 when then candidate barack obama carried the state by 14 percentage points. but less than two years later with the economy still struggling and obama policies under attack, all the democrats here-- even russ feingold-- find themselves facing a tougher political environment. a wealthy plastics manufacturer from oshkosh was one of those stirred up enough to get involved with the tea party movement. ron johnson, who says he's never before thought of running for public office, spoke at some rallies.
>> good morning fellow patriots. >> good morning. >> woodruff: he was soon a candidate for the senate. knocking off several better known republicans. >> hi. >> ron johnson running for u.s. senate. >> woodruff: he put numerous ads on tv to introduce himself to the voters, stressing his outsider status. >> i spent the last 30 years building a manufacturing business in oshkosh. russ feingold, you spent the last 30 years as a career politician. i've created secure jobs here in wisconsin. russ feingold, he thinks government creates jobs. >> woodruff: johnson, who is spending millions of his own money to run quickly singled out the size of government spending under president obama, especially the stimulus plan which feingold supported. >> we are committing inter-generational theft and it is immoral. >> i think government has gotten too large and too intrusive. over the last 50 years the federal government has been spend 20g% of g.d.p.. now it's up to 25 and 26. >> here's a guy who never said
a word about george bush's reckless budget ak. here's a guy who says he's about spending and knows how to count who wants huge tax cuts for the wealthy in addition to the ones that are already in the so-called bash tax cut. >> woodruff: johnson's other main target has been the obama health care reform plan which feingold also voted for. >> i believe that is designed to actually lead to a government takeover of health care. you know, we take a look at what the canadian system looks like, what the british system looks like. that's rationed care. a lower quality of care. that's what i think this health care bill is designed to do . >> woodruff: feingold has become one of a handful of democrats running this year to take on the criticism and defend health care reform and his vote. just last week he launched this ad. >> russ fought to stop insurance companies from denying wisconsin children health care due to pre-existing conditions. >> what was done here was historic. people have been trying to get
this through for 70 years. it's going to take a while for people to realize the benets. we finally beat the insurance industry. ron johnson wants to give it back to them. >> woodruff: even some voters who were with feingold the last time he ran say they're changing their vote this time. >> i think there's too many career people and politicians instead of going with what the needs of the people or what the people really want. for example health care 61% of the people didn't want it. instead of going with what the people want they thought they knew better. >> woodruff: still others say they continue to admire the senator's voting record. >> we're a little afraid of the baby getting thrown out with the bath water. >> woodruff: wt do you mean? >> we kind of think feingold has been pretty independent thinker. i don't know that he could be easily lumped in with the majority ray long with aate lot of the other ones. >> woodruff: most political watchers are still surprised that feingold, who built an image of independence and who has beaten back challengers before, is facing such a serious threat this year. university of wisconsin
political scientist barry burden. >> ron johnson has been able to convince voters that, at least some voters that he's responsible for many of the things happening in washington that they don't like at the moment: government spending, health care, stimulus funds and the like. >> woodruff: compounding feingold's problem is a so- called enthusiasm gap. the higher interest polls show this year among conservative voters compared to those on the left. besides the seasoned republican party operatives he has brought in to help run his campaign, johnson benefits from the tea party, a force that tea party organizer mark block says is bringing most of the excitement to johnson's campaign. >> look, the tea party movement in wisconsin has done is brought people into the process that have never been involved before. they are fearful that the government is intruding on their lives to an extent like it's never done before.
>> woodruff: in feingold's corner going up against this phenomenon is the traditional get out the vote effort on the left including by organized labor. afl-cio political and field director for the state sarah rogers says her team is not wilting. >> we're rolling up our shreves, putting our boots on and getting out in the streets. we've been doing this for a long time. this wasn't something that strung up in the last year or so because of a particular president who was elected to office. we've been in the streets for a number of years. we know how to organize. we know how to mobilize our members. quite frankly they are energized this year. >> woodruff: feingold's campaign says they're also looking to younger voters who have a record of political engagement in wisconsin. they got a big lift when a crowd of 26,000 showed up last week in the university town of madison to see president obama promoting the democratic senator. >> he doesn't always agree with me but always agrees
with the people of his state and look out for them, senator russ feingold. >> woodruff: still some democratic rank-and-file voters who plan to vote feingold say they're worried. >> i think there are a lot of people in the middle that may stand on the side lines . >> woodruff: and that hurts. >> i think that hurts the democrats. i think the issues that russ feingold has to argue about are more complicated and he has to do so with aate low of substance. i think ron johnson's positions and his party's positions much more lend themselves to very quick sound bites. >> woodruff: but others are more confident. >> i think it makes for good press. this isn't a knock on the press. it's just that it makes for a good story. oh, the republicans are energized. oh, there will be a right wing takeover. you know, the tea party, blah, blah, blah. i hate to think that people like me who are more of a progressive agenda are going
to sit on their hands. as obama said when he spoke in madison just this week, in fact, there's too much at stake. >> woodruff: with the latest public polls showing feingold's seven points down among poem most likely to vote, that seems to be just what's been happening. the interest level on both sides may rise this week when the two men meet for their first face-to-face debate. our 2010 election coverage will highlight key races in other states in the coming weeks. >> lehrer: now, setting up a new federal agency to protect consumers. jeffrey brown has our newsmaker interview. >> brown: perhaps the most contentious among government responses to the financial crisis of the last few years was the creation of the bureau of consumer financial protection and perhaps the most polarizing figure in that debate is the woman whosed idea it was and who was recently appointed to get it going elizabeth warren. a professor at the harvard law school she served as the head
of a congressional panel that kept an eye on government bailout funds. she joins me now. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: after years of writing and talking about this, here you are. what's the first priority? when would consumers know that you... that this agency now exists? >> they know now. >> brown: they know? >> they know in part because this agency does not exist because there was some interest group behind it because there was a lot of ton lobbying money behind it. they know because the only reason this agency exists is because millions of american families said, hey, yeah, that really sounds like a sensible deal. that's a part of financial regulatory reform that i think is important and could make a difference in my life. they are the best allies of this agency. they are the owners of it. >> brown: what's the priorities? what do you do first? i mean, is your authority clear about what you do? >> i think the priority to keep in mind what the end goal is. and the end goal here is on
financial products, these credit products so that american families can evaluate how much they cost, can see the risks in them and can easily compare one product to another. that means what these products have to be is short and easy to read and very clear in their terms. not bucks and buckets of fine print in between, you know, clause 16 and clause 17 lurks something else that will come out and bite you. >> brown: in fact, you've been very blunt in the past. even recently you used the term tricks and traps of the banking industry. that's what you're still after. you're not backing away from any of that? >> i'm not only not only backing away from any of that, what i'm really doing is reaching out to the banking industry and saying some of you want to find another way to compete for your customers. some of you have have tried to put good products out there. but those products get overshadowed by the ones that are full of tricks and traps. the folks who can pretend to
offer you 0% financing when the reality is they know they're going to make the money through the back door. what i hope this is about is something that's good for families and quite frankly something that is also good for the financial institutions that are really willing to do head-to-head competition and serve those families. >> brown: i introduced you as a polarizing figure. in fact there was lots and lots of opposition to you taking this from the financial sector, from wall street, from many republicans. do you have a lot of fence- mending to do here? and how are you doing that? >> you know, i suppose people would say i have a lot of fence mending to do. but the truth is i just don't see it that way. what i see is that i'm here to help markets work for consumers. that means lots of trarns transparency. that means being able to read and evaluate those products. that means some financial institutions are going to do very well.
those who are really not afraid of the competition, who are really ready to come in and say, look, apples to apples, here's what i offer. i'm will to go compete for my customers not by tricking them but i'm willing to compete by giving them better customer service, giving them lower prices, do cool new i-phone amms. knock yourself out on competition. just do it in a way that the customer can see it. don't do it in a way that surprises the customer through fine print because because that's never good news. >> brown: i said you've been appointed to get this agency going. in fact the president made you a special advisor to the white house in treasury. that was seen as a way of avoiding what would be expected to be a contentious senate confirmation hearing. >> i don't think so. look, there are two jobs on the table. they were always there by statute. one certainly is the director of the agency that's confirmation process in a world of secret holds in which e senator can keep you fm coming to the floor for debate,
that would be a very long time, likely for this agency for anybody who got named. as the president explained to me very clearly during that process if i were nominated, i wouldn't be allowed to talk about the agency. it wouldn't be allowed to do anything to help getting it to stand up. there is a second job that was available. it's clear in the statute. somebody is supposed to get out there and get that agency going. truth is one has a cool title. but the other one gets to work right now. >> brown: is it an interim position that you've got? >> i have a job for as long as the president wants me to have this job. >> brown: now, so it's not an end run-around. you don't see it that way. >> it's a different job. it's in the statute. >> brown: a director will be named. >> of course. >> brown: now the opposition , critiques continue to come. just the other day in the op-ed piece of the "new york times" william cohen noted that the agency will cost about $500 million a lot. quote, that's a lot of money
for tax payors to fork over to support a new govement entity designed to help us curb our impulses." people took mortgages they shouldn't have taken or they got credit. they accepted credit they shouldn't have taken. you're going to be out there to help that? >> no. let me start with a couple of pieces. the first one is is about the cost. we won't let this one slip by. the cost is designated as 10% of what the federal reserve gets, what the fed gets. and the reason for that is, remember, the fed all along had the power to protect american consumers, to clean up the consumer credit market, and the fed failed to spend it. to spend their money in that way. so the notion is you say in effect to the fed, okay, fed, 90% of your job is what it always was. it's monetary policy and all that other cool stuff. 10% is set aside for consumer issues. that's what this agency is
about. that's the money it will get. this is not about spending new money. but the second part of your question.... >> brown: you're saying now. >> now it is designated. it will spent not on general monetary policy but on consumer issues. i think that's good. but the second one, this question about personal responsibility. you know, i really just want to say here let's be clear. this is not about an agency that comes in and says you shouldn't spend money at the mall or you should do or shouldn't do this. this is about making sure that families have the power to make good decisions. that they can see the contracts. they can see what the stuff costs. they can get a competitive market to start working for them. they can compare it right now. try us. compare four credit card contracts and tell me which one is more expensive. you literally can't do it. i don't care how long you pore over it. pages and pages of fine print. >> brown: your hope is to get that down to what? >> i want to get it down very short and i want people to say,
oh, that's the cheap one. because when that starts to happen, people make better decisions, better personal responsibility, but they also have a market that's driving down costs right at the margin for what it is to produce it. >> brown: elizabeth warren, thanks for talking to us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: as the israelis and palestinians grapple with direct negotiations for peace, there's another issue that divides them: water. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro looks at one group's efforts to tackle the problem. >> reporter: the terrain is rocky and parched, more so in recent years due to drought. but many israelis say they've witnessed a modern-day miracle in the holy land. >> in another three year israel's water crisis will be over. >> reporter: this commercial from israel's public water utility boasts of a new abundance.
>> it will happen because the desal nation plants will reach full working capacity. >> reporter: 25% of israel's drinking water now comes directly from the mediterranean through expensive desalination plants built along the country's coast line. israel has developed a thriving farm sector but efficiently using limited water resources in many different ways. >> we have a pipe here with a driper. >> reporter: this man, a new york native, moved here 30 years ago. among other things he grows or beganic asparagus. >> we stick right by the young asparagus plants. the water when it's opened-- it's opened by a computerized system-- goes just to the as pair gas plant. >> reporter: this is in a recycled tire. it's not just the tires. across israel 70% of the water used in homes is is treated and reused in agriculture. in this case the groves of fruit and olive tree.
>> raw sewage from all the houses comes here, the washing machine, the shower, the toilet, the sining, it all flows here. here the water is recycled. >> reporter: israeli farmers have fulfilled a zionist dream of making the desert bloom. but these two people say it's come at a cost. the two men, one israeli, one palestinian, are with a group called friends of the earth mimile east. they say israeli water use, however efficient, still stresses the faj ill arrayed... fragile arid environment. the water is not entirely israel's to take since a lot of it comes from the shared aquifers or those under palestinian land. >> apart from two springs the whole eastern bass inof this valley is palestinian water. we shouldn't be here. we shouldn't be pumping water. when we pump water from the eastern basin, we do it directly at palestinian expense. >> reporter: water or access to it is a key measure of the growing gap between the
israeli and palestinian standards of living. the water disparity is especially sensitive in the west bank. land captured by israel in the 1967 war, a lot of it now under palestinian self-rule. in the proposed two-state solution the west bank as well as the gaza strip would form the future palestinian state. but today over 300,000 israeli settlers live in the west bank, some with large bountiful farms. israeli farmers received water year round at sub diesed rates. their palestinian neighbors must rely on rain-fed springs which flow only in the winter, says this man. >> if you look around us, you will see that the palestinian land is totally bare now. there is no farming here because there is no water. next to us here we can see a big farm owned by one israeli settler who is taking the water from a well while the palestinians have no access or
right to dig any new wells to have the ground water. >> reporter: palestinians complain that israel controls water sources that should be shared even though there's a joint committee set up under the 1993 oslo accords that must approve water permits. palestinian water minister says israel's water policies imperil any permanent peace plans. >> when you talk about a two- state solution and enable a viable palestinian state imagine there's no water. there will be no viable state if there's no water. >> reporter: international agencies like the world bank estimate that palestinian per capita water consumption is about a quarter of the israeli figure and well below the minimum goal set by the world health organization. but the bank claims not just israeli policies but also palestinian mismanagement of resources and facilities. for their part israeli officials say the consumption comparison is unfair since israel's far more
industrialized and developed economy uses more water. and infrastructure minister says the palestinians get much more water than they used to. >> more than, close to three times than what they used to get 30 or 40 years ago in 1967. there is much leakage. in their pipes. i don't think it is making much sense that we should provide them with more fresh water so that it will get lost in the their leaky system. >> reporter: he says the palestinians have few in any working waste treatment facilities. >> as we provide them with fresh water, we in turn get sewage. they claim that this land belongs to them. that this is their land. if this is the case, don't they care about their land? are they that easily spilling sewage over it? >> you turn back sewage because you never approve a palestinian project submitted
or to the civil administration. >> reporter: he notes that israeli settlers also release untreated sewage. the israelis say that's because the palestinians haven't issued permits for treatment plants. those aren't likely since the palestinians regard these jewish settlements as illegal. as the arguments go back and forth, as the impasse drags on, friends of the earth says it wants to draw attention to the humanitarian and especially environmental consequences. >> water is a human rights issue and should not be kept the hostage of the conflict. >> reporter: their group is unique in this region for having israeli, palestinian and jordanian members including many school kids. they want to publicize what this man says are issues that should alarm all sides which rely on common water resources. for example, thanks to mismanagement by all sides, the once mighty river jordan,
damned or diverted by israel, syria and jordan, is reduced in most places to a trickle. >> 98% of the historical flow of the jordan today no longer flows. we're left with something around 2%. this is not fresh water. this is a mixture of sewage water, agriculture run-off, saline water and what left is is this very, very sad size of a river that is holy to half of humanity. >> reporter: and one that no longer flows into another fabled landmark. we walked in the ruins of a hotel veranda from where a few decades ago tourists stuck their toes in the dead sea. the shoreline has now receded more than a half mile away. lake kineret the biblical sea of gally is another body of water that used to be naturally connected to the jordan river. >> that should be completely underwater. the sea of galilee should be five meters higher in depth.
>> reporter: he blames five years of drought and overpumping. the lake remains a major source of fresh water for israel and ironically also for the jordan river that once flowed in to it. the fresh lake water is pumped into the river to keep a two- mile stretch clean for christian tourists who come to the jordan where they believe christ was baptized. >> 1, 2, 3. >> reporter: it's here to make a media splash that friends of the earth recently got mayors and officials to jump into the jordan river. >> cannot wait until there is an conflict. you are thinking about the future generations. >> reporter: they've been called naive or worse for working across the historic enemy lines, but friends of the earth insists it has raised the visibility of water- related issues in the region and that working on them at
the grass roots level can be a confidence builder between people who have long lived in fear of each other. >> lehrer: next tonight, the nobel prize for physics, which was announced today for two russian-born scientists. both are professors at the university of manchester in england. their work isolated graphene, a form of carbon only one atom thick, but 100 times stronger than steel. miles o'brien, the newshour's new science correspondent, is here to tell us all about it. first, miles, welcome to the nehouream. >> jim, it's a great pleasure and an honor. >> lehrer: okay. now tell us what did these two physicists discover? >> it's interesting. it sounds so exotic. this stuff is stronger than steel. it's transparent. it conducts electricity and
heat better than copper and could revolutionize electronics among other things. where would you find such exotic material? how about your number 2 pencil? that's exactly where it comes from. the material is very thin graphite at the end of a tie kond rogue a. >> lehrer: how did these two guys figure it out? well, what did they do? >> well, it's interesting. you know, you would think something as exotic and wonderful as this portends t t be, they would use some fancy machine, some sort of device that would give them this material saved down as a nano meter slicering on something. you know what they used? tape. what happened was they were working with graphite trying to figure out how to slice the graphite as thin as an atom? that almost boggles the mind, right? they were trying to clean off the graphite using the tape. they threw the tape in the trash. one day they had one of those great accidental serendipitous eureka moment and said let's look at the tape.
they put it under the microscope and realized they were on to something. they went back and forth a bunch of times. each time you do that, it gets a little thinner. if you keep doing it long enough, it's the thickness of an atom. >> lehrer: so they knew what they were looking for? it was an accident find but they knew it was there? >> yes. we know carbon is a magical thing. we are made of carbon. carbon is a pretty magical thing when you think about us for a moment. they knew it was out there. the question was how do you get to it? how do you get it that thin, a two dimensional sheet of carbon that would have all these amazing properties? >> lehrer: but where does the strength come from? how does it come from the thinness? in other words, the lead from the pencil you held up that's not very strong. so why does.... >> it's counterintuitive, isn't it? when you think about it. if you take it and you layer it up a little bit say as thick as saran wrap and imagine putting that over a tupperware thing.
then you stuck this pencil on there and you put on top of this pencil an elephant, it would take that elephant to actually breakthrough the saran wrap because the bonds, carbon is bonded so tightly and so strongly. >> lehrer: now this happened at the university of manchester, right? these two guys are working on this, correct? >> yeah. >> lehrer: when did this happen? >> this happened, the paper came out in 2004. they actually had a second one in 2005. it was published in the journal of science. incidentally it was rejected by the journal nature. i think they have a litt bit of carbon egg on their face today. don't you think. >> lehrer: i would think so. what's been done with it since? between 2004 and now, what has been the next step that has been taken and what are the steps still to be taken with it? >> well, there's a lot of things it can do for us. you know, one of the big headlines in all of this is that for those of us who are really savvy and familiar with computers we all know about what is called moore's law which holds every two years or so the power of
transtransistors, the computer ompf you can put on a computer circuit doubles. there's been a lot of concern that this law might be retired soon because we're running out of space on silicon. well, this material, this graphene may be a replacement for silicon and may allows our computers to get even smaller. i love this i-pod or i-pad that i carry around. imagine if it were as thin as a sheet of paper and just as capable? that is what potentially graphene could do for us. >> lehrer: where does it actually come from? >> carbon is an element. it's right up there on the periodic table. where carbon comes from goes back literally to the big bang. we're made of carbon. is is this pencil. carbon is absolute fundamental building block of life. it's so fundamental that it's kind of surprising to scts at times at how marvelous it can be. >> lehrer: these two scientists, these two russian- born scientists, they're considered quite characters.
tell us what we need to know about them. >> andre geim who is 51 years old, my age, i'm still waiting for my nobel prize. >> lehrer: gotcha. >> 51. he is is first nobel prize winner to have won the spoof award, the ignoble prize back in 2000. he likes to play around with electro magnetism because of the super conductivity properties of it. he was able to levitate a frog and whon won what is called the ignoble prize for odd, bizarre science. he did a paper once his co-author was his favorite hamster. now novoselov, both of them are russian nationals. novoselov is younger and served under geim. he is the youngest laureate in nobel physics history since 1973. you know, it's nice to have guys who are having fun, letting the hamster co-author and levitating frogs on the
side. it's nice to have guys who are willing to take it with a sense of humor. >> lehrer: it's nice to have miles o'brien as our new science editor. thank you very much, miles. again, welcome. >> you're welcome. thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight, president obama shined a spotlight on community colleges today as he drew a direct line from the education these schools provide to the country's economic rehabilitation. at a white house summit today, president obama urged a much greater role for community colleges. he said two-year schools can help raise the percentage of young people earning college degrees. the u.s. currently ranks ninth among all nations. >> by 2020 america will once again lead the world in producing college graduates. and i believe community colleges will play a huge part in meeting this goal by
producing an dish 5 million degrees and certificates in the next ten years. >> woodruff: the president has already pushed through more money for community colleges. that is critical as many schools struggle with lack of funding, high dropout rates and climbing enrollments. at today's summit, jill biden, wife of the vice president and a community college professor herself, said the schools are crucial especially in tough times. >> they're giving hope to families who thought the american dream was slipping away. they are equipping americans with the skills and expertise that are relevant to the emerging jobs of the future. they're opening doors for the middle class. at a time when the middle class has seen so many doors closed to them. >> woodruff: the administration has also announced an initiative to help community college grads find work with major corporations like macdonald's
and the gap among others. >> the bill and d linda gates foundation announced today it will donate $35 million worth of grants to help improve graduation rates at u.s. community colleges. co-founder and co-chair melinda gates was at today's white house ceremony, and she joins us now. and we should note for the record, the bill and melinda gates foundation funds the newshour's global health coverage.- ood to see you. >> nice to see you, judy. >> woodruff: thank you for being with us. first of all, why are community colleges getting this attention right now? >> well, i think it's so important to have this conversation as a nation to realize that eight million students go through community colleges. i think as a nation so often we think about college as being those elite four-year institutions when in fact so many kids today, so many students are really older and really are going through college in a non-traditional way. if we're going to link education to the jobs of the future, we really have to talk about community colleges. >> woodruff: explain what this program is that your
foundation, the gates foundation, has set up to give a boost to these schools. >> well, we're looking at the nine states that educate via community colleges the majority of low-income and minority students. we're saying to them there's this $35 million of funding available, if you can help sort through the best way to take the kids when they come to the front door of your community college and help them complete community college, we have money available to do that. that means thing like helping the kids really the guidance counselor figuring out their course of study. helping them if they need remade iation in mathematics to not only do it in a traditional way or to have hybrid learning so students who are strapped for cash and have two jobs they're holding down and have a child which many of of these do don't have to come to the college campus everyday. they can do some learning with technology at home or on their job and then later come to the campus. >> woodruff: but how much of a funding gap exists out there?
we know when president obama came into office he was looking for $12 billion. he ended up i guess with only $2 billion because they got caught up in the health care reform debate. how much of a gap is there out there for these schools? >> some of the community colleges are absolutely struggling. it really has to do with the state funding that goes to community colleges. but what the federal government can do is to stimulate. stimulate innovation in community colleges to say how can you use technology in new ways which is a lot what they're doing in the high school system, right? in the high school system the states fund the high schools but the federal government comes in with funds that stimulate innovation. that's what's happening there. but what the community colleges are find ing is they spend $2 billion a year remediating students who don't remember what they learned in math or didn't learn it well enough in math or science or english, they're spending $2 billion to remediate. they're losing the vast majority of students right there in that first year. if they can repurpose those dollars in smarter ways to remediate just what the students don't know or need to
noor their course of study there's a lot of money they can actually free up. >> woodruff: what sort of skills are we talking about, melinda gates, that these young people or older people for that matter, we know that older people are going back to school to get their education. what sort of skills can they pick up that they might not otherwise get? >> we know the economy today that you have the earning potential if you earn something beyond a high school diploma, we know that most of the jobs in 2018, 63% of those jobs are going to require something greater than a high school degree. we also know your earning potential is much higher if you earn a two-year or four-year degree. if you want to go back to school and be a nurse or a pharmacist, you want to be in these health care jobs that exist you need to get a different kind of degree or a certificate. if you want to participate in the green technology that's happening, if you want to be a manager of people who install solar panels or part of the wind farming you really need to have some technical expertise. these community colleges go around those industries and train people for exactly those
types of jobs which exist in the economy today. >> woodruff: since the are there going jobs for these young people once they do work their way through these community college programs? >> i think absolutely because again we know that if you only have a high school degree the unemployment rate is over 10% if you have a high school degree. if you have a four-year degree the unemployment rate is less than 5%. we just have to make se that the people get the retaining to go in them. i'm very optimistic of what students can learn and how
they can adopt in the economy today. >> woodruff: what more is needed at this point? there was a summit at the white house. your foundation, the gates foundation is making this gift. what else is needed to give these schools what they need. >> what's happened is is there's been a start of a conversation. the community college presidents convene once a year. they had convened in the last two years several times to get together to talk about what's really working so there were some great ideas today about financial aid. it's hard to find financial aid officers to puin your community college. get their strap for cash. there's great ways to do that in a virtual system. connecticut has a fantastic system. so i think it's the community college presidents getting together and figuring out where is the innovation happening? how do we not recreate the will and what do we still need to do together and then disseminate those ideas? i think that's exactly what they'll do. >> woodruff: melinda gates with the bill and melinda gates foundation, thanks very much for coming by. >> thanks, judy.
>> lehrer: aga, the major developments of the day. the times square bomber, faisal shahzad, was sentenced to life in prison. and two russian-born scientists won the nobel physics prize for their work with a kind of carbon just one atom thick. it could lead to faster computers and lighter airplanes. and to hari sreenivasan in our newsroom for what's on the newshour online. hari? on this week's political checklist, political editor david chalian talks to judy about that tight senate race in wisconsin. we have a q-and-a with marcia coyle about today's supreme court arguments on the limits of employee privacy. plus on art beat, jeff talks to musician phil collins about his latest album, called "going back." all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at a first amendment case at the supreme court involving anti-gay protesters at military funerals. i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: