tv PBS News Hour PBS October 7, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: good evening. i'm jeffrey brown. nato forces killed dozens of insurgents in afghanistan today as the war entered its tenth year. >> part of my reason for running for office is not just that i think we need another republican, i think we need reform of the whole system. >> i mean, i get that anger.
i think the question is how do people want to channel that anger? do they want to be destructive or constructive? >> reporter: david fahrenholt of the "washington post" has the details of a report showing the obama administration underestimated the size of the b.p. spill. >> brown: margaret warner talks to a european union official about the health and environmental risks of the toxic red sludge in hungary that has now reached the danube river. >> suarez: from pakistan's swat valley-- jonathan miller of independent television news reports on schools destroyed by the floods and by the taliban. >> brown: and we have conversation with supreme court justice stephen breyer about the court and his new book, "how democracy works." that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." jor ndinfor e pb newshour has been provided by:
and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributionso your pbs ation om viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the war in afghanistan went on unabated today, as another anniversary passed. at the same time, afghan leaders talked of trying to end the conflict. october 7, 2001-- u.s. warships fired cruise missiles in the opening hours of the invasion of afghanistan. after nine years of fighting, at varying levels of intensity,x the war against the taliban has again heated up.
today, nato reported air strikes and ground assaults killed dozens of insurgents. two nato soldiers also were killed. at the same time, talks to negotiate an end to the war, took center stage in kabul. president hamid karzai convened a new peace council to reconcile with militants who renounce violence. >> ( translated ): to the opposition forces, taliban, or any other citizen of this country who are inside or outside the country and are willing to serve the country, who want peace, once again i call upon them to use this opportunity and welcome this initiative. >> brown: the taliban issued a statement of its own. it claimed it now controls 75% of afghanistan and urged the u.s. and its allies to withdraw. the group said: "the strongholds of jihad and resistance against the invading americans and their allies are as strong asver." but at the pentagon this week,
spokesman geoff morrell insisted the war has tilted against the taliban. >> those who have remained and dug in and who are determined to fight are feeling enormous pressure. and the operational tempo that we're now undertaking is extraordinarily fast. it's-- we have more troops than we have ever had before, conducting more operations than ever before. and the taliban is clearly feeling it. >> brown: in all, about 150,000 foreign troops are fighting in afghanistan. more than 78,000 of those are americans including 30,000 that president obama added this year. they're set to begin drawing down in july 2011. u.s. commanders on the ground insist they are making progress, especially in the ongoing offensive against kandahar, in the south. >> we've taken back territory from the taliban, as well as taken some ammunition and caches that they have.
this is a very dedicated enemy, who's very willing to fight and >> brown: as a result, casualties have shot up this year. last june, nato forces suffered more than 100 killed in action-- the highest monthly toll of the war. th figure hafall somewhat since, but 15 nato service members have been killed already this month. overall, more than 2,000 nato troops have died since the war began. more than half of those deaths were americans. lately, the international forces in afghanistan have also faced delayed deliveries of supplies and equipment, after pakistan closed a key border crossing. it was retaliation for a nato helicopter raid that killed three pakistani border guards. the u.s. and nato have apologized, but a pakistani foreign ministry spokesman sid today there's still no date for reopening the crossing. >> our authorities are evaluating the security situation and the decision with regard to re-opening the supply
route will be taken in due course. >> brown: in the meantime, stalled nato convoys in pakistan have been targeted repeatedly by the taliban. >> suarez: still to come on the "newshour": the tea party challenge in kentucky; the investigation into the b.p. oil spill; the toxic red sludge in the danube river; the devastation after the floods in pakistan, and supreme court justice stephen breyer. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: two suicide bombers in pakistan hit a famed sufi muslim shrine today in karachi. at least eight people were killed, and 65 others were wounded. thousands of people usually visit the shrine on thursdays to pray and hand out food to the poor. more than 200,000 people have now been forced from their homes in southern china in the worst flooding there in 50 years. villagers on hainan island had to be evacuated by boat today. streets and homes were swamped by seven inches of rain in the last week. nearly 140 people have died in
flooding across asia. the obama administration has won a round in the legal fight over health care reform. today in detroit, a federal judge upheld the mandate that most americans have health insurance, by 2014. he also upheld the financial penalty for not having insurance. separately, 20 states are challenging provisions of the health care law, in federal court in florida. the president wilnot sign bill allowing home foreclosure documents to be accepted in multiple states. a spokesman said today it could worsen the growing problems caused by flawed documents. with congress out of session, mr. obama can kill the bill by refusing to sign it within 10 days of receiving it. the procedure is known as the "pocket veto." peruvian author mario vargas llosa has won the 2010 nobel prize in literature. he was cited today for his focus on resisting political violence and oppression. the 74-year-old writer's best- known works include "conversation in the cathedral" and "the green house."
he was in new york today when word came. >> i am very pleased talking seriously, very grateful to the swedish academy. it was totally unexpected, a real surprise, for any writer it is a great encouragement, a recognition of work, work of my life, no? >> sreenivasan: the nobel peace prize will be awarded tomorrow. new york city asked the u.s. department of agriculture today to bar city residents from using food stamps to buy sugared drinks. that includes sodas, teas, sports drinks and other beverages containing sugar. mayor michael bloomerg said the initiative would give families more money to spend on food that provide real nourishment. the move would affect 1.7 million people in the city. wall street stalled today over uncertainty about tomorrow's report on unemployment. the dow jones industrial average
lost 19 points to close at 10,948. the nasdaq rose three points to close at 2,383. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: now to campaign politics, as we travel to kentucky, where voter dissatisfaction with washington is front and center in the state's senate race. gwen ifill has our report, part of the newshour's "vote 2010" coverage. >> reporter: in kentucky, the tea party has a face. >> do we have some momentum for november? ( applause ) >> reporter: his name is rand paul-- an eye doctor from bowling green, whose father ron paul, is a libertarian republican congressman from texas. >> tonight, i'm going to make a prediction: rand paul is going to be the next senator from kentucky. >> reporter: the democrat vying for the seat being vacated by republican jim bunning is attorney general jack conway. both men are running hard. >> it's now a ground game, and with you on the phones, we're going to win this election.
>> reporter: kentucky-- the home of bluegrass, bourbon, baseball bats and the world's most famous horse race-- has a political one on its hands this year. two md-mannered canidates. two vigorous television ad campaigns. >> whose horse is jack conway riding? when the u.s. senate debated a government takeover of health care, conway supported it. jack conway, he's not riding kentucky's horse. >> rand paul wants us to pay $2,000 just to get medicare? that's crazy. i can't afford that. >> the real answer to medicare would be a $2,000 deductible. i don't know what planet he's from. >> reporter: in many ways, kentucky is the perfect state to test tea party strength. registered democrats outnumber republicans here by a healthy margin. yet barack obama lost to john mccain in 2008 by more than 16 points. so both senate candidates are going after conservative democrats jack conway by going after rand paul; and rand paul by going after barack obama.
he even started airing an ad this week using an obama impersonator. all you can see are his hands. >> conway supported me for now, i need conway in washington because i know i can count on conway to vote for more spending and debt, bigger government and higher taxes. ( phone rings ) there he is now. mr. jack conway, now there's a guy i can work with in washington. >> i'm rand paul and i approve this message. i'd like to thank the one person who made this election juggernaut possible this year. it's the guy in the white house who is wrong on every issue. >> reporter: wrong, paul says, on government programs from disability regulations to education spending, from medicare to medicaid. >> over half of the births in kentucky are to medicaid right now. half the people in kentucky are not poor. we've made it too easy. let's not have intergenerational welfare. and that's what's been going on >> reporter: paul's numbers are off. state statistics show medicaid
births at 37% in 2009 and the disabled also qualify for medicaid. but the underlying message strikes a chord. >> our country has gotten very out of whack. as you can imagine, i feel as a business owner, we create wealth, as opposed to being on the dole, where they have to confiscate money from those who produce wealth like myself and then redistribute it to other people. >> reporter: among conway's challenges: raising questions about paul without appearing to attack kentucky voters. >> look, i don't disparage the tea party. a lot of people talk about the tea party. the tea party is an expression of americans concern about spending. and i think that's legitimate. i think that's legitimate. i don't think rand paul's candidacy is legitimate when he comes out and says the things he does. >> reporter: as the polls have tightened, national democrats have begun pitching in to pay for ads that depict paul as the outsider. >> rand paul may get around but he doesn't get kentucky. e democratic senatorial campaign committee is responsible for the content of this adversing.
>> reporter: conway tries to drive that same point home on the campaign trail. >> he doesn't share our values. >> reporter: at a northern kentucky hotel last weekend, tea party activists from throughout the region were plotting campaign strategy. >> talk radio can be huge for helping candidates get what they need without having to pay for it. >> reporter: conway's name never came up. >> rand paul will win in november, and the establishment will be set back on their heels and the established republicans will look and say, "wow, we didn't know this was coming." >> reporter: blindsiding republicans as well as democrats is just fine by paul. >> part of my reason for running for office is that its not just that i think we need another republican. i think we need reform of the whole system. >> reporter: we caught up with paul, who avoids most reporters' questions, as he left a chamber of commerce meeting. what does that mean? what does that say?
>> i think the issues are more important than the party. i think often we get distracted by getting too partisan. i don't see people who are democrats as always being wrong or republicans as always being right. and i think there has to be compromise on the budget. and in order to address the deficit, the only compromise i think we can have is that you have to look at the whole budget. we've always excluded the military and said were not going to cut the military. or the democrats exclude the social and domestic welfare spending. everything has to be on the table. we have to do this intelligently. we can't make it a political football that, "oh, he's going to cut social security. i'm not going to cut social security but for the future. we have to figure out how to do this and we can't keep doing the same thing over and over again. >> reporter: but if the other republicans say, but that's not what-- you're naive, you're moving too fast. what do you say to them? >> i think there's going to be a lot of new republicans coming up there. and so, were hoping that the caucus has a much, maybe a different mixture of folks.
>> reporter: a little more edge perhaps? >> maybe, i hope so. >> reporter: mainstream republicans have reluctantly embraced paul. kentucky secretary of state trey grayson, who paul defeated in the primary, has endorsed him but still has misgivings. >> an argument i tried to make in the primary, which i didn't succeed, was we still need a role for government. it just has to be reduced. it'll be interesting when the reality of the reality and the rhetoric collide when we get to washington. governing is hard. it's really hard. >> reporter: but other republicans, including northern kentucky congressman geoff davis say candidates like paul are only the tip of a conservative iceberg. >> we're seeing a generation rising up now across this country, an arc from the mississippi river valley all the way up through the ohio valley, down to the central part of the united states where very significant numbers of conservatives of all stripes are coming out to vote. >> reporter: and jim demint, the south carolina senator who has been traveling the country on behalf of tea party candidates tells audiences ideological
purity is more important than party loyalty. >> i would rather have 40 republicans who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who believe in nothing at all. ( applause ) i know what numbers without principles can do. >> reporter: democrats, meanwhile, are counting on some voters to go to the polls to vote against paul, as much as for conway. >> i live in anchorage, kentucky, which is an eastern suburb of louisville, and i am surrounded by tea party supporters. they're quite vocal, and frankly, quite frightening. >> rand paul scares me. i do consider both parties every time i vote. i would not be for rand paul even if i weren't as convinced by jack conway. >> reporter: yet some democrats are uneasy. this man complained directly to his candidate at a sunday morning meeting for conway volunteers. >> it has to be beyond the sophomoric political pablum that's being pushed out. >> i appreciate that point and
we'll do that... >> reporter: and it didn't take much to start a debate between these two men at an outdoor festival in louisville. >> i have to make a decision based on the soundbites i hear on the radio, see on tv for five minutes before i go to sleep at 11:00 at night. >> or 5:00 in the morning. >> or 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, and it's just enough time. >> i'm 76 and i'm retired and ib hardly have time in my day. >> reporter: can i just say something. you guys both sound frustrated. >> amen. >> yeah, yeah, yeah. >> reporter: in a way, both conway and paul are counting on that frustration. >> we were out in the eastern part of the state and we didn't meet one person who agreed with the federal takeover of health care. we don't agree with the president on obamacare. >> i g it. i mean, i get that anger.
i think the question is how people want to channel that anger. do they want to be destructive or do they want to be constructive. i'd like to be a different kind of democrat maybe not so much partisan fighting. let's actually try to get something done. >> reporter: conway and paul met in their first debate sunday, and will face off four more times in the next four weeks. >> brown: we'll look at senate contests in florida, nevada and california in the coming weeks. >> suarez: now, an update on the gulf oil spill. a commission asked by the president to investigate the disaster has offered some harsh criticism of the white house response. the national commission on the b.p. deepwater horizon oil spill released its preliminary findings yesterday. it found the federal government "by initially underestimating the amount of the oil flow created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the american people about the scope of the problem." white house press secretary robert gibbs responded to the charges today.
>> we always sought to provide the best information as we were engaged in the most robust federal response that we've ever seen to an accident of this magnitude ever. >> suarez: for more, we turn to david fahrenholt, who is covering the story for "the washington post." he joins us from their newsroom. and, david, in addition to the criticism of the obama administration's counting on the barrels of oil, what were the main findings in this preliminary report? >> basically they were... could be embarrassing for an administration that has really prided itself on two things, on scientific rigor and also on transparency in government.
they show that at times the government stood by a figure for how large the oil spill was-- in particular 5,000 barrels a day-- that was the estimate for most of may, it stood by that figure at a time when other independent scientists seemed to be questioning it saying "look, the number seems to be much larger than 5,000 barrels a day." and when the origin of that number was actually not that strong. so the government didn't really seem curious about its own information, its own data and the reporter described it as having take an casual approach to the data. that's one thing. on the other side of this transparency issue, there was a question of when the government knew how bad things about the spill was. that shows up at the very beginning of the spill, actually, right after... the day after the rig sank the rear admiral mary landry one of the card officials was asked request v you seen evidence of a leak and she said "we've examined the riser pipe" which is a pipe that goes from the bottom of the ocean up to the rig "and found
it's not leaking." in fact, the report says they had not examed that pipe. it turned out later upon examination to be leaking. so if you look at this... if you look at those thing two things you see examples of where they sort out set out this high strain dard for themselves and the way they would handle the spill and didn't seem they were up to it most of the time or some of the time at least. >> suarez: the report makes clear the commission's belief that the government misstated all during the early parts of this crisis the amount of oil that was spilling into the gulf. but do they maintain that the government knew these figures were false? >> i make one clarification. this is not something that the commission itself has voted on, this is the staff of 2 commission. the obama administration made that point very clear today they think this is different than the commission having sort of decided on in. and the question of how much they knew, that was question both of not saying... there was a question in which the responders seemed to be using
higher numbers internally to guide their response. they were talking about numbers as high as 60,000 barrels a day in a vig sense behind the scenes and were basing their response on that but telling the public, look, it's only 5,000 barrels a day. the staff report doesn't say that the response to the spill was hampered in any way. there's no evidence that they have actually responded at a lower level than they should have. but it's characterization is the lack of forthrightness, the sort of troubles with numbers may have hurt public confidence in the government which in itself is damaging. >> suarez: what more has the obama administration had to say in its own defense about its handling of this problem? >> well, they've said two things. one would be that... something i just alluded to, that their response was rigorous and they responded sort of at the full capacity they could have. it may mean that they were throwing everything they had at this spill so it couldn't have been a bigger response. so the number in that case was sortof academic. that's one response.
the second response has been there's a particular part of the report that says at one point noaa, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the scientists studying this spill, had been inclined to put out a larger number for the size of the spill and be 60,000 barrels a day or something on that level which was orders of magnitude larger than the current announced spill size and that the office of management and budget, an arm of the white house, basically squelched that. the white house has responded by saying they that they weren't trying to kee scary information from the public, their concerns were about a different area of the same report and the report wasn't meant as a warning about the size of the spill, it had another purpose. >> suarez: also getting attention on the part of the commission and their taking testimony on it even today was b.p.'s role in the maintenance, the oversight of safety equipment and so on. what's coming out about what they knew about how the thing was built? >> that's something that's not
addressed as directly in this report. there's been some reports coming out of this... there's a very interesting set of hearings down in louisiana this week that examine what went on on the rig at the time of... just at the moments around the initial explosion. it seems like there were some alarm bells that could have been rung earlier and some safety devices that could have been put in place that weren't. so the one sort of element of this that shows up in the staff report wes wrote about was that just sort of a general attitude on the part of the administration that it describes sort of in the first days of the spill that people had this attitude that, well, this will be over soon, b.p. will get this fixed. not necessarily thathey failed to do any particular thing but that they were not treating it as a disaster of the size it would eventually become. >> suarez: what's going to be the product? what's the final outcome when this investigation is done and the commission releases a set of conclusions? >> the commission's role here is to recommend changes in the way that we respond to oil spills and the way that the government
regulars offshore drilling. it's going to be sort of a set of guidelines it recommends to the obama administration for changing... both keeping oil rigs safe and planning for the next disaster. i imagine you'll see a lot of the things we describe today show up as recommendations of sort of better... especially the idea that there was not really a known way or an easily used way of estimating the size of the spill. that turns out to be pretty darn important in something like this. so i think you'll see maybe an institutionization of that capacity to estimate the size of the flow and the size of the overall spill. something that it took the government many weeks to ramp up in this case. i think you'll see them recommend that be something they roll out a lot faster. >> suarez: david fahrenholt of the "washington post," thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> brown: and to another environmental disaster. this one in hungary. margaret warner has that story. >> warner: toxic red sludge from an aluminum plant in hungary reached the danube river today, widening the potential environmental fallout.
upstream, emergency crews continued pouring plaster and acetic acid, or vinegar, into the danube's tributaries, trying to neutralize the high alkaline levels in the water. the waters retained their the spill began monday when the wall of a factory''s containment reservoir in the village of kolontar collapsed. three villages were inundated, and their local creeks. villagers said all the fish there had died. hungarian chemical experts were busy testing the waters today. >> ( translated ): the toxicity did not reach the delta, we spoke to other colleagues who measured on the danube, and have set up other checkpoints. >> reporter: but there were conflicting assessments of how toxic the sludge was as it moved downstream toward the danube. hungary's emergency agency said the p.h. level-- measuring alkaline-versus-acid content-- had dropped from 13 to 10.
that's still above the normal range of six to eight. the state water authority gave another figure. and the hungarian academy of sciences said the heavy metal concentrations were not close to dangerous levels. but an official of the world wildlife fund in budapest said the sludge's toxicity or ultimate effect was unknowable at this point. "currently it is impossible to do any sort of estimate of the magnitude of the damage done to nature," he said. "yesterday i didn't think today it would reach the danube or be so alkaline." and in brussels, the european commission warned there remained a potential for widespread damage on the continent. nearly 1,800 miles long, the danube is europe's second longest river. so far, the sludge has travelled along the marcal river to the raba river and the mosoni river, reaching the main danube today. from there, the danube flows west to budapest, then turns south and west again to and through croatia, serbia, romania, bulgaria, ukraine and moldova to the black a.
officials in those countries, including this village in croatia, were testing the water every few hours today. >> ( translated ): you cannot notice anything with the naked eye, and we do not expect anything much to be visible with the naked eye, even if the sludge reaches here. >> ( translated ): possible contamination is expected in the next two to three days. around sunday we could see the peak of the contamination. >> reporter: meanwhile, back in the heavily contaminated hungarian villages, residents, soldiers, and firemen worked around the clock to hose and shovel the sludge away from homes. >> ( translated ): we have lost everything, my mother unfortunately had no insurance. our whole life: the house, the furniture, the groceries, dog, cat, hen-- everything is ruined. >> reporter: hungary's prime minister viktor orban visited kolontar today, and said the worst-hit sections were so toxic, there was no sense in removing debris. >> what i have seen is terrible,
simply terrible. this is the first, and probably the most ever happened, that kind of geological tragedy here in hungary. the people are desperate, there is no trust at all. >> reporter: the spill is blamed for four deaths and 150 hospitalizations for caustic burns. search crews in chemical suits continued to look today for several people still listed as missing. >> warner: for more on the wider implications of the accident, we're joined by joe hennon, the environment spokesman for the european union commission. mr. hennon, thank you for joining us. how alarmed, how concerned is the e.u. by the fact that today this toxic sludge did reach the danube? >> well, we're very concerned. i mean, we were concerned already even if this just was within hungary's borders, it's one of our member states and this is a very significant environmental disaster. so the fact that it's gone to
the danube now makes it potentially much more of an international incident. the danube is one of the most important waterways in europe and it crosses the borders of at least seven countries so clearly we're very concerned. we're hoping the hungarian authorities are doing everything they can to stop this. we've made it very clear that other e.u. member states are ready to provide assistance and, in fact, a couple of hours ago the hungarian government has asked for assistance so we will be looking at providing that. >> warner: you said you hope the hungarian government is doing all it can. how closely are you monitoring what, in fact, is being done? >> well, we're in daily contact throughout the day with the hungarian authorities at all kinds of levels. clearly we're here in brussels and they're on the ground in hungary so we see a lot of reports from the media and we follow it a lot that way so we have a good idea what's happening, but it's still... they're the people on the ground and we're the ones in another
part of europe. >> warner: now, what are the potential dangers from this kind of aluminum sludge? i know you probably don't know about this particular event, but in terms of... it's been described as highly alkaline and containing lots lots of heavy m. >> yeah. and we still don't know exact composition of it. we know what to expect from this kind of mud. it's certainly caustic. we've seen that with the affect on people who've been in contact with it. they've been in hospital with burns. the affect in the water seems to be so far that it's killing both animal and plant life. clearly some of the heavy metals that may be in there that would include things like mercury, lead, arsenic, cyanide, we don't have an indication yet as what kind of volumes of these things are contained there, but we can see already the effects are pretty obvious on people's television screens. >> warner: what are the potential effects to human health in heavy metals?
>> well, it depends on what quantities you're talking about but certainly if they're ingested then they can be poisonous so clearly they can kill you if they're inn sufficient quantitieses. so far most of the injuries that have happened have been from caustic soda so it's been burns to skin and damage to people's eyes. the effect, obviously, if it gets into drnging water it could be very serious, but so far we don't have any indications that that has happened. >> warner: or if it's ingested by fish. >> yeah. we've seen pictures of dead fish being taken out of the river. that's clear if you get any kind of quantity of these elements in the water then it can kill fish, it can kill plant life. so that's clearly a major worry if we have substances like this getting into the danube. i can say so far the measures of alkaline, they've been above normal but they're not critical yet so we're hopeful there that it's not going to get any worse. >> warner: do you have a sense
of... i mean, the danube is a very big river, it's sometimes called the mighty danube. do you have a sense of at what point this material becomes so'h diluted that it is no longer a hazard? >> we don't. we would be hoping that the scientists can tell us that and, in fact, the hungarian government have now asked for help from experts in the e.u. so people who are used to dealing with heavy metal, for example, and with decontamination with fighting ecological disasters of this kind. so it remains to be seen. it really depends on the volume and they can be diluted in water, the danube is big and it goes down as far as the black sea which clearly is also extremely large. but, yeah, we've seen the effects in smaller rivers and that has been to kill the fish and other living things in the water. >> warner: it was reported today that there's a commission for the protection of the danube and that this particular site has, in fact, since 2006 been on a list of at-risk sites for an
industrial accident. something like this happening. does the e.u. have in place the laws and the authority it needs to guard against the degradation that can come, especially from these communist-era plants that are scattered throughout eastern europe? >> yeah, we have very strict environmental legislation in the e.u. it covers all kinds of toxic and hazardous wastes and extracts from mining. all of the new member states have the same environmental legislation as the rest of the older member states do so when they were joining the european union in 2004, one of the things they said was to gradually respect all of the legislation, and that includes all of the environmental legislation. >> warner: but, i mean, does the e vu any authority to do anything about... if you think there are sites like this that pose a danger or it totally up to the local authorities? >> well, the enforcement of the law is on our side.
we have to make sure that member states respect environmental law, that they introduce it properly into their national legislation and that they give permits which are respecting the law. so our role is to control the member states, if you like. on the ground it's up to the member states to give out the permits and to make sure that the operators are operating within license and within the law. the hungarian authorities need to be sure that the operators did what they were supposed to do and if they didn't, well, then they could be liable for damages. >> warner: all right, joe hennon, the environment spokesman for the e.u. commission. thank you so much. >> you're welcome. >> suarez: and to a third country coping with a disaster, the floods began in pakistan on july 22. now, 11 weeks later, in the swat valley, pakistanis are coping with a double whammy-- the floods and the taliban.
we have a report from jonathan miller of "independent television news." >> reporter: with 90 bridges gone and great chunks of road washed clean away by the cataclysmic flood, the frontier lands of pakistan's wild northwest feel even wilder now and more remote. it's taken army engineers two months to bulldoze their way to this town, the road has only now reopened and this is where it ends-- a gaping chasm with 300 riverside homes had stood. at a street side store, we found these incredible pictures of the force of nature that came crash ing into the town. unbelievably, only a handful died here, but most of the 1,880 flood fatalities in pakistan were kill misdemeanor swat-- and you can see why: concrete and brick no match for the merciless cascading river.
this town lost its central market, hundreds of houses and shops, and its biggest school. here's the scene today. the skeleton of the multistory building in behind there was the school, one of 22 schools completely wrecked in swat. i was told of another village not far away which had lost its schools as well. you could only get to it on foot. so that's the village of bedali on the valley floor and 62 houses were completely destroyed when the floodwater came crashing down through the swat river tributary here. but it wasn't just houses that were destroyed. two schools were obliterated, too-- one for 400 girls and another for 350 boys. this is their headmaster and he's going to take me down there. the floods demolished 8,000 schools in pakistan-- 5,000 surviving schools house
displaced people. by the time we reach bedali, we've gained a cotry of schoolless pupils for whom the flood has been a double blow. >> (translated): we had two schools, the boys school was over there and the girls school over. there 1 months ago, the taliban blew up both schools, but after a few months we were able to resume classes in what was left. but now the flood has washed both buildings away. the future of our children and that of our women is at stake. these are dark days. this is a terrible time and we are appealing for help. >> reporter: the pakistan taliban have blown up 276 schools in swat, and most of them are girls schools. nine out of ten women in the valley cannot read or write. when the taliban ran this place, they put a stop to female education, but in bedali, the floods have finished the job.
>> (translated): the taliban blew up our school and now it's been washed away by the floods. >> reporter: another little voice pipes up "the water rose and rose" says six-year-old zakia, "and then i can took our school away." >> (translated): the taliban wants to stop girls going to school, they want to end alling for girls. >> reporter: but it will take more than floods to crush ambitions here. "what do you want to be when you grow up" i asked? >> doctor. >> reporter: everybody wants to be a doctor! we're on the road back to ming gora, the capital of swat. we pass flood-damaged buildings that looked like they've been bombed or shelled. and then there are the ones that which have been bombed or shelled. in may last year, the pakistani army pummeled then violently expel it had taliban who'd occupied swat valley for 18 months. during their reign of for rohr, this place was dubbed slaughter
square. the taliban dumped the beheaded corpses of those they executed under the telegraph pole. hanging from the same pole now are wanted posters for talibs on the run. memories of tho barbarous times are raw. the former shopping center in slaughter square is still a crime scene. it was the taliban's detention and execution center. the taliban themselves aren't far away even now. the valley bristles with soldiers, spies, informers, paramilitary police and well-armed neighborhood watch committees. like the one i met in a nearby town. the local council wanted us to see their latest project so we followed our armed escort into a residential district. is was their local girls school until the talibs bombed it. >> they want people to become illiterate so no education. >> reporter: the bombing of girls' schools has escalated since the flood with several more destroyed across the
northwest, including swat. the jirgas president said people around here had been terrorized. >> if they refuse, they will kill them. taliban will kill them. >> reporter: we turned into a nearby building with bullet holes in the walls. >> that's the local terrorist house, they run from here. >> reporter: this area used to be full of taliban, about 500 in this little area here. and the house we're standing in was the taliban commander's own house. and when they all fled into the hills, the committee invited the taliban back to ask them to explain why they were continuing to blow up girls schools in this area. the taliban insurgents, of course, didn't come. so it was decided to turn the commander's house into a girls' school. there's nothing in the koran, the jirga members told me, that rules out educating girls. and so it was that two days later at 8:00 a.m. we went back to taliban commander be legal's former home to find it crammed
to capacity with 2812 girls. there were girls, in fact, in every single room and at least 100 more girls on the roof. >> (translated): nibble god and so i do not fear the taliban. i know that one day we will die and when that day comes nothing will stop it. for now i'm just happy i can teach my students in this building, even if it's not a proper school. >> reporter: in the new girls school, they're betting that balil, the taliban commander, will think twice before bombing his own home. >> suarez: beyond those killed, the pakistan government said, the floods have left 20 million homeless. >> brown: finally tonight, the role and responsibilities of the supreme court as explored in a new book "making our democracy work." its author has a view from the inside, associate justice stephen breyer has served on the court since he was appointedy president clinton in 194. welcome to you. >> thank you.
>> brown: "making democracy work." you talk about the court needing to be practical in its use of power, in working with other branches of the government. what do you mean by that? >> i chose this title "making our democracy work" and the subject of working because this document which the framers wrote more than 200 years ago they intended as a document that would not be a painting in a museum for people to look at. they intended something that would be effective and as soon as you take that notion seriously that this is a recipe for an effective democracy, a democracy that protects human rights and assures a degree of equality and splits power among many groups and insists on a rule of law, as soon as you take those points seriously that they have to be real in the world, that helps not only guide the court, it also helps shape attitudes among people in the country. >> brown: well, speaking of attitudes, one of the things you hit over and over again here is that the notion of public acceptance of the court and its
rulings should not be taken for granted. now that's an unusual idea these days. we sort of take it for granted. you're saying we shouldn't and we might not. >> and it's a remarkable thing. the pentagon once sent over a russian general because he'd been in charge of missile pointed at the united states, he changed direction and he... we should be nice to him. and we should explain how the court worked. and the first thing he wanted to know is "why do people do what the court says?" i had a... the chief justice of ghana, a woman who's trying to make their court work. "why do people follow this document?" and that's a question that hamilton might have asked that he didn't because he didn't know the answer. and it's been a long, long struggle. >> brown: one of the things you talk about sheer you call for... to make democracy work better is a restraint on the part of the court and we are facing a... we're in a time where people talk a lot about judicial activism and you talk about a case like citizens united, a recent case, where
you're in the minority, but the court overthrew a lot of long... a lot of precedent there, right? >> >> i was in the minority-- i do sometimes dissent-- and i want to show to people what it's like to be a member of the court. and the differences among judges are probably less than people think. >> brown: really. >> we decide about 30% to 40% of our cases unanimously. the 5-4s are about 20% to 25%. it's not always the same five and the same four. and where there are differences, those differences are drawn less on the basis of what what people think-- which is politics, that's what they think-- and a lot more on the basis of very basic views about how law relates to the country, about what people in this country are like and supposed to do and how law affects that. now, that's a jurisprudential kind of consideration. now, i can't say that everybody agrees, they don't. but i want people to understand
what the baseses for disagreement is and i think it will come as something of a surprise. unless you believe on the one hand that laws driven by computers-- which it is-- or you suddenly jump on the other hand to think law is whatever the judge says and he just decides what he likes-- which it isn't-- >> brown: but some people think that, right? >> i know. some people think either of those things and i want to show through my own eyes that neither of those views is completely right. neither of them is right. rather, there are approaches that people take which can be coherent and consistent. and i want to go back to a period of time before the constitution where gordon wood in his book, a history book, quotes a connecticut judge as saying that in the united states judges basically follow views of prudence and pragmatism and great judges-- holmes, brandeis, learned hand-- have tended to follow that kind of approach. and i've tried to explain here
what that comes down to. it's not a bumper sticker. you can put meat on those bones. >> brown: but i can see in the book and i can see in your passion here this interest in getting people to understand what it is the court does. what does a justice do? what is the most challenging thing that you do as a justice? >> what i do everyday is decide cases, very concrete cases that are in front of us, and i know there's always speculation and lots of speculation that now it's liberal, now it's conservative, now it's this, now it's that. but that's not my job. >> brown: but are you concerned about a sense of... that the court is too politicized? >> i'd like... that's what you will say because it's your job to make that kind of judgment. i don't think that. i'd prefer that people agreed with me more.o so would everyone. i mean, i understand that. people have different views. and over time-- maybe go back five years-- i think i was in
the majority one year more than anybody and now i'm probably more in dissent. all right. it's a big country. there are 300 million people and people sometimes have very different basic views. it's not surprising that in a court that has to be a court to preserve this document for 300 million people and where they have long tenure you find people with very different basic views. and there we are. not quite as different as people think, less political than people think, less well it's left, right, or center than people normally write about. and i want them to have what i'd call a somewhat more nuanced view. and of course i have to see et through my own eyes. and that's all part of the bigger effort. the bigger effort here is to say why, why people in the united states might support an institution, the job of which is to enforce the words of this document when it's unpopular to
do so. >> brown: (laughs) i asked you what's most challenging here... challenging part of your work but you enjoy this work. >> i do. i do. i was going to say, you pick your case. you take one of those 5-4 cases that's closely contested and what we're doing there is we're really deciding what the boundaries of this document are. we're like the boundary patrol. is abortion in or out? which side? permitted or forbidden? >> brown: do you feel the weight of that? >> yes, yes, you do. i mean, my goodness, i can think of a view. the affirmative action cases, "bh v. gore" if you like, where of course you feel the weight of that. and of course the first few years there i was nervous as a cat and can i do this because there's no place to go after us, really, in many issues. and the best you can do is the best you can do and you learn that and you learn you're always on duty and you learn that over
time you get to understand the document a it little more. but it's always-- always, always, always-- filled with open questions that you have to think pretty hard about, read and take in and use your imaginative powers to understand how they'll affect your decision, will affect people in the united states. >> brown: let me ask you one more subject because we're in the first week of a new term and you have a brand new justice there, elena kagan. you had another new one just a year ago. there's been a lot of... i guess an unusual amount of change in a short time in the makeup of the court. how does a new justice change the court? i guess that's a way of asking how do personalities shape the court? what goes on behind the scenes? what kind of rulings come out? >> it's not just personalities, it's sort of views of law and how law works and justice byron white once said, well, with every new appointment it's an entirely new court.
and there's considerable truth to that. >> brown: you feel that? >> yeah, of course it changes it. now, how it changes it you can't really say too easily, too quickly. but you know it does change it. >> brown: of course, one thing that's changed in the last few years is you have moved up to a one senior position. >> i had one vote when i'm very junior. when i'm more senior i have one vote. >> brown: but do you have the potential for... court watchers all look at the reshaping here and they say well, okay, who is going to be, for example, one question is might justice breyer be the head of the liberal champion of this new court? do you think in terms like that? >> no. absolutely not. absolutely not. that's something that commentators might, but i don't. my job-- and i don't think others on the court do. the job that we have is to decide the case front of us as best we can. and that requires a lot of thought and discussion and working out how this
constitution or the statute works. and partly i've wanted to give a little view on how that's done from my own point of view. it has to be because i only see... i see things through my own eyes. but i think when people understand it, they'll be less tempted to start talking about the leader of this or the leader of that or force of that or force of that. perfectly fine, th can talk about what they want. i'll just say on the inside of the court it does not... that's not really a consideration. >> brown: all right, justice stephen breyer, thank you for talking to us. >> suarez: again, the major developments of the day: nato forces killed dozens of insurgents in afghanistan as the war entered its tenth year. and president karzai opened a new peace council for talks with the taliban. peruvian author mario vargas llosa won the 2010 nobel prize in literature.
and the toxic sludge spill in hungary reached the danube river. joe hennon, with the european commission, told the "newshour" that hungary has asked for help in dealing with the heavy metals. and to hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, for what's on the "newshour" online. hari? >> sreenivasan: jeff also asked justice breyer about the 2000 "bush v. gore" decision and the guantanamo detainee ruling. you can watch that on the rundown bg. read more from our politics team about their reporting on the kentucky senate race. we follow up on our story last week on the powerful stuxnet computer virus with a round-up of the latest information. plus, on "art beat," our interview with a ucla professor who wrote a book about author mario vargas llosa, winner of the nobel prize for literature. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> suarez: and i'm ray suarez. we'll see you on-line. and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs
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