tv PBS News Hour PBS April 26, 2011 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
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>> brown: severe flooding and tornado damage dominated the day across much of the midwest after a wave of violent weather overnight. at least ten people were killed in arkansas, with the search for victims continuing. and parts of missouri were being submerged. for the people of poplar bluff, in southeastern missouri, it was a day of slow torture, watching the waters of the black river rise, but helpless to stop it. >> it's very shocking. just... it's sad, it's sad. look at all these homes. >> brown: some 1,000 households in the town of 17,000 people were ordered to evacuate, and officials warned the total could swell to 6,000 homes if there's a full-scale levee break. several hundred people took shelter at the city's black river coliseum concert hall. they retreated there after deputies went door to door with a warning: >> "you need to get your children and some suitcases and
get out as fast as you can. go to the coliseum. this area's being evacuated." >> brown: by this morning, sheriff mark dobbs reported the river had poured over a critical levee in at least 30 places. >> this is the levee, and the road would be here to my right. i was just here ten minutes ago, and where i'm standing now wasn't underwater. >> brown: crews did shore up a weaker section of the levee overnight, but their work was in danger of being overwhelmed by a series of powerful storms in recent days. more than six inches of rain fell around poplar bluff on monday, bringing the four-day total for the area to 15 inches. there was also a risk of record flooding in parts of kentucky and illinois. the u.s. army corps of engineers was even considering the extraordinary step of blowing holes in a levee at birds point, missouri. that would flood 130,000 acres, but relieve pressure on a levee upstream at cairo, illinois.
meanwhile, in arkansas, an apparent tornado destroyed most of the town of vilonia, just north of little rock, on monday night. the storm cut a swath of destruction three miles wide and 15 miles long. >> the next thing i knew, i looked out and it was raining so hard, you could hardly see nothing. and then it started doing all this. it happened so fast. >> brown: the storm tore power poles out of the ground, leaving wires draped across roads. and trees that had once lined yards now lay on top of homes. >> what kind of wind, what kind of strength did it take to pick those things up like that? i mean, they're big. and we had lots and lots of them, and i don't think we have a tree standing now. >> brown: the rain also triggered flash flood watches through wednesday morning for most of the state. arkansas governor mike beebe declared a state of emergency and toured the damage today. >> i'm amazed we haven't had any more loss of life, based on the amount of damage that you're looking at.
>> brown: a state of emergency was in force across kentucky, as well. the worst of the system was heading north and east, but a second round of storms was expected to follow later in the week. >> warner: still to come on the newshour: the government crackdown in syria; britain's defense secretary on libya; supreme court arguments in a drug marketing case; lingering anger on the gulf coast; your questions about autism; and poet c.d. wright. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: security forces in southern afghanistan have recaptured at least 71 inmates who escaped from kandahar's main prison sunday night. officials said today two others were killed resisting arrest. more than 480 prisoners got away after taliban militants tunneled their way into the kandahar jail. nearly all were insurgents. clashes raged today along the border between thailand and cambodia. it was the deadliest fighting the region has seen in years. the two governments said at least 13 soldiers have died
since friday. they're battling for control of disputed territory that holds the ruins of ancient temples. some 50,000 villagers have fled the border area to escape the conflict. in economic news, ford motor company posted its best first- quarter profit in 13 years. that, in turn, helped drive wall street higher today. the dow jones industrial average gained 115 points to close at 12,595. the nasdaq rose 21 points to close at 2,847. at the same time, a standard and poor's survey found home prices in most major cities have hit the lowest point since the housing bubble burst. more state governments are getting into pension trouble. the pew center on the states reported today 31 states face shortfalls in their public employee pensions. that's up from 22 in 2009. when the cost of retiree health care is added, the states are nearly $1.3 trillion short of what they'll need in coming decades. congressman ron paul of texas
moved today to join the race for the 2012 repuican presidential nomination. he announced in iowa that he will formally explore running. paul ran for president in 2008 as an anti-war libertarian. he is the fourth major republican candidate to put his hat in the ring for next year. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: in syria, the government crackdown on protestors intensified, and so did diplomatic discussions about taking steps against the regime of president bashir assad. we have a report from jonathan rugman of independent television news. a warning-- it contains some disturbing images. >> reporter: gunfire across deraa, the cradle of syria's uprising, where so many protestors have been killed in the last few weeks that sanctions against the regime are now being drafted by western diplomats.
these demonstrators in deraa filmed their own standoff with a tank at the end of the street, and then posted it on the internet. "we are not frightened. the army is with us," they shouted. seconds later, all such hope was cruelly dashed-- the army opened fire. the protestors ran for their lives. up to 25 were reported killed in deraa yesterday. and international calls for restraint have fallen on deaf ears. this afternoon, the foreign secretary cautiously upped the ante, hinting at e.u. sanctions without being specific. >> this violent repression must stop. president assad should order his authorities to show restraint and to respond to the legitimate demands of its people with immediate and genuine reform, not with brutal repression.
>> reporter: today, these appalling pictures emerged. they apparently show the crackdown in deraa on friday, which left at least 70 dead. a referral to the international criminal court now seems likely, while the americans are weighing targeted sanctions against syrian officials, including the president's brother, mahar, a military commander. the french and italian leaders today called the situation unacceptable, and a u.n. resolution is in the works, calling for an independent investigation. with so many tanks and snipers now in deraa, that residents say they dare not recover dead bodies from the streets. >> brown: earlier this evening, i talked by phone with a human rights lawyer and activist in damascus, razan zaitouneh. thank you for joining us. you're in the capital damascus. what's the situation there? >> damascus is quiet. there is a lot of security everywhere especially at the entrance of the capital. there's check points, and the
main crisis are in the countryside of damascus around damascus. all these areas are still surrounded, check points, entering and getting out with the i.d. duma is still... it is still cut off. more than 200 people got arrested only in duma. hundreds got arrested around the country. the crisis in duma because they have been surrounded for days. >> brown: how are the protestors holding up amid the crackdown by the government. >> during the crackdown was continuing in several cities and killing people was continuing in dereh, and duma was under siege. people got to the streets to protest in several cities yesterday evening. today also now there is a protest in other cities.
so it seems clear that people are insisting to go on, to continue. they are not afraid anymore. this crackdown might now affect the cities which the military and security are inside the cities like duma. it's impossible for people now to go to sleep because nobody can even walk in the streets. but in other cities people are continuing and going on. >> brown: how are protestors communicating? are people able to reach one another? >> we try. we use internet. we use phone when we can. we get to meet face to face when we can. we use everything we can to keep the movement on, to keep the people aware of what's going on in the other cities.
because it is very important thing to encourage the people around the country that they are not alone and they are... and other cities are continuing moving and going on. >> brown: what's driving the protest now? what's the goal at this point? >> their freedom. democratic regime. a regime where we have our dignity and we have our freedom. for more than 40 years, we live without freedom and without any kind of democracy. besides that, the killing which was crafted by t authority against its own people last month make people believe that it's impossible for this regime to change it from inside, to try to make any real change, any real reforms which led at the end to democratic regime. so there are continuing... so they are continuing until they get complete freedom.
razan zaitouneh in damascus, thank you so much for talking to us. >> thank you. >> warner: next, the libya story. some high level talks between britain and the u.s. as that conflict rages on. smoke rose from the port supplying misrata today, under heavy shelling by moammar qaddafi's forces. in the besieged city itself, libyans braved the fighting to line up for scarce fuel and food. >> we have to make sacrifices. we are paying with our souls and with our blood. >> warner: elsewhere, dramatic footage showed rebel fighters battling qaddafi forces near the far western village of al majabira. and in the east, rebels in ajdabiya stood guard against government troops entrenched in brega, just 37 miles away. as the fighting dragged on, british defense secretary liam fox arrived in washington to meet with u.s. defense secretary robert gates. afterwards, fox said there were reasons for optimism. >> in libya, we discussed how the situation is progressing.
we've seen some momentum gained in the last few days. we've seen some progress made in misrata, and it's very clear that the regime is on the back foot. the sooner that colonel qaddafi recognizes that the game is up-- either today or shortly-- the better. >> warner: fox's visit comes in the sixth week of an allied bombing campaign under a u.n. mandate to protect libyan civilians. from the beginning, the british and french pushed for active intervention. british prime minister david cameron was first to propose a no-fly zone in libya in late february. >> it is not acceptable to have a situation where colonel moammar qaddafi can be murdering his own people, using airplanes and helicopter gun ships and the like, and we have to plan now to make sure, if that happens, we can do something to stop it. >> warner: after the u.s. took out qaddafi's air defenses in the first week, the british and french took the lead in the nato-run air strike campaign to protect civilians. the u.s. scaled back to a
support role, flying a quarter of those missions. britain and france also have taken the lead in sending military trainers to assist the rebels. but late last week, defense secretary gates announced that two armed u.s. predator drones would join the nato effort. now, with growing fears of a stalemate, nato has intensified attacks on qaddafi's power structure, as well as troops. on sunday, air strikes flattened part of his compound in tripoli. secretary gates said today that's entirely consistent with nato's mission. >> i would say we have considered all along command and control centers to be a legitimate target. >> warner: i spoke today with secretary fox at the newshour today after his pentagon meetings. secretary fox, welcome. thanks for coming in. >> thank you. >> warner: you said today that qaddafi is on the back foot. what is your evidence of that? what are you looking at? >> we've seen in recent days opposition forces making
ground in misrata where the regime had been shelling the civilian population for some time. it's now clear that the opposition control a large part of, if not all of, the city. clearly that's a setback. we've also been able to hit a number of his ammunition dumps, fuel supplies, so the logistics are getting more difficult. we've been able to interdict petroleum products coming in by sea. that is also having an effect. so bit by bit we're tightening the noose around the regime's neck. >> warner: but qaddafi forces are attacking the port of misrata trying to go after its supply lines. how concerned are you about that? >> we've been able to push them back in recent days. obviously that's been made easier by the fact that the united states has made the predator on unmanned vehicles available to us. that's given us a shorter gap between the identification of
targets and striking the targets rather than the traditional air power that we've been using. so that's been an advance for us and obviously the opposition fors themselves have gained the greater capability in recent days. >> warner: so the talk in washington in the last week or so has been of a potential stalemate, the joint chiefs chairman said that last week. you don't see that? >> i don't see that in the last few days. there's been a bit of momentum there. we've been money coming in from kuwait $150 million or so for the opposition forces. we've seen greater involvement by the united arab emirates so there is some political momentum there that wasn't there before. in all of these campaigns we get periods of greater and lesser momentum. >> warner: so how can you step up the military pressure? did anything new come out of this lengthy meeting you had with secretary gates and admiral mullen today? >> this morning was a discussion about the wide range of issues not just
libya. obviously afghanistan which remains our main effort and the situation in egypt, what is happening in syria. what's happening in bahrain, what's happening in the rest of t gulf, what is happening in yemen. secretary gates said to me a few weeks ago it's like watching the seven playings of egypt unfolding. and as he said we haven't got to the locusts yet. we've been seeing an unusually large number of unstable situations in the region, all of which we're having to respond to. >> warner: but is there anything new that you came up with on libya to increase the pressure still further? >> well, it's not so much new as a continuation of the pressure we've been bringing on qaddafi. up until relatively recently really until the last few days, if you look at it from qaddafi's point of view, this has been something happening at arm's length, something happening in misrata, something happening in benghazi. what we've seen in recent days
are attacks on tripoli to increase the psychological pressure apart from anything else. qaddafi. to make him realize that this is something that he is involved in. i think that's very important in terms of the pressure we can bring on the regime self. >> warner: that's what the attack on his compound on sunday night and on state tv were about? >> what the primary aim was to deal with the command-and-control mechanisms. under the u.n. resolution we've made it very clear that part of protecting the civilians is to degrade command-and-control mechanisms wherever they are in libya. when people talk about compounds, i think they have an idea that this is some little homely patch he has. these are often dual-use areas that are used for accommodation but also used for command-and-control for the armed forces that are killing and terrorizing the population. >> warner: now the british are also sending in special forces as trainers. are they there yet?
and what are they actually going to be doing with the rebel forces? >> well, they're not trainers. they're advisors. they're there to advise in very limited circumstances on organizational capability, on communications, and on logistics, basically how the opposition forces can get better use out of what they've already got rather than training them. the reason for that is that we feel that that keeps us safely within the confines of u.n. resolution 1973. >> warner: so the nato advisors aren't doing anything to assist them in training themselves on basic discipline, basic fighting tactics and strategy, the things that at least journalists have been in on the ground with them, say, they really lack. >> we're not there to take a side. a side of one group in the population against the regime. our job is to take the side of the civilians and to ensure that they are protected. that is what the u.n.
resolutions have given the international community a mandate to do. it's very important that we stay within that because in doing so we maintain the wider coalition not just nato but the arab countries who are such an important part militarily and politically. >> warner: you said earlier in our conversation that the u.s. drones that have been added have helped a lot. do you need the u.s. to do more militarily to get back in on the basic operation in terms of bombing strikes? >>al with, we need them to do more of the same, for example, with the drones that have been made available in recent days. that has been a big help to the nato operation. also the u.s. air-to-air refuelers has been a big help. i think there's been unfair criticism of the administration in this whole operation. the u.s. made it very clear to us that in the early part they would be doing a lot of the heavy lifting with a lot of
the bombardment, but the u.s. had still its involvement in iraq. clearly there are problems and concerns in the gulf. afghanistan. so we entirely understood the position of the u.s., the fact that we're getting this additional help on the drones is extremely welcome. >> warner: the foreign secretary william hague told your cabinet yesterday to prepare for the long haul. now you are the defense secretary. what kind of time frame are you planning for? six weeks, six months? a year or more? >> before i answer that question, i have to take into account that any message we send on time scale is a message we're also sending to the libyan regime. what they need to understand is that we have a mandate to protect the civilian population. as long as the regime is killing its own population, the international community will protect them. the answer to the question really lies in the hands of
one man and that's colonel qaddafi. he can end all of this tomorrow by recognizing he's isolated in his country, he is unloved by his people, he's a liability to them. he has no friends in the international community. he is ostracized by the united nations. the best thing is to call it a day and go. >> warner: all right. secretary fox, thank you much. >> thank you. >> warner: now, the u.s. supreme court takes up a first amendment vs. privacy case. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: today's arguments focused on moves by some states to curb a marketing practice called "data mining." in this case, pharmaceutical companies used doctors' prescription drug records to help them pitch sales for drugs. marcia coyle of "the national law journal" was in the courtroom, as always, and joins us now. marcia, how did this dispute between data miners and big
pharma and the state of vermont make it to the supreme court? >> well, ray, you know that when we get a prescription for drugs we go into a pharmacy, we get the drugs. we leavement we don't think much about what happens to that actual prescription. federal law requires pharmacies to keep a record of the prescription and not to reveal the patient's identity. but pharmacies can and do sell the other information in those prescriptions to data mining companies who sift through all this information about trends and patterns and then sell that to, as in this case, drug companys who can then have their sales representatives do targeted marg iting of mark iting of brand name drugs to doctors. in 2007 vermont passed a law that said doctors' prescription information may not be used by pharmacies or used to market drugs unless the physician consents. three data-mining companies and a trade organization
challenged the law in federal court. ultimately the lower federal appellate court found that vermont's law violated the first amendment that it was a restriction, an unconstitutional restriction on the commercial speech of these companies. vermont then brought the appeal to the supreme court that we heard arguments in today. >> suarez: see if i understand this. the data-mining companies are saying in a sense because the state has the information, we should be able to request it. >> the data-mining companies are saying that vermont does allow this information to be used by others. vermont, by this law, is discriminating, violating the first amendment by discriminating on the basis of the identity of the speaker, here the drug companies. this, the supreme court has said, most notably last year in the citizens united campaign finance ruling, you may not discriminate on the basis of a speaker's identity.
>> suarez: so this was a first amendment case? if so, why exactly? this isn't the way we think of it as a protestors or a newspaper or press freedoms or even the arguments over wicky leaks. how can data-miners sit on the first amendment? >> it's actually the access to the information which... and then the use of that information which the data- mining companies and the drug companies say is commercial speech which the supreme court has recognized as being protected by the first amendment. vermont argued today that there is no first amendment violation. vermont's purpose in enacting the law was to protect the privacy of the doctors' information, to encourage prescription of generic drugs which would help lower health costs in the state and also to protect the public health which it felt could be endangered by drug companies'
sales representatives presenting one-sided information to the doctors. vermont's attorney and the obama administration's deputy solicitor general argued that all this law does basically is put the physician on the same level as the pharmacy company. the pharmacies. the pharmacies have all the control right now about whether this information enters the stream of commerce. now the physician is on the same level and can or cannot give consent. >> suarez: how did the justices take these two arments from the data-miners on one hand and from the state on the other. >> for vermont's attorney i think it was akin into running into a buzz saw. justice scalia was most critical of the state law. he criticized the purpose saying really the purpose here is to protect doctors from being bothered by drug sales representatives. the effect of the law, he said, really is to restrict the most
effective, efficient means of communication between drug companies and doctors. on the other side justice society mayor... sotomayor raised an interesting difficulty with the argument of the drug companies. she told thomas gold stein who was representing the data-mining companies and the drug trade association, that in today's society there's very little privacy for individuals anymore because of the internet and computer access. she said, why doesn't a state have a legitimate interest in protecting a segment of the population that says, i entered this one transaction. that was the only transaction i believed i was entering. i didn't want my name or any information to go elsewhere. it's just this one transaction. and mr. gold stein said, well, first of all, this information is very important information.
we're talking about life-saving medicines that the drug companies want to get that information about those medicines to doctors. he also said that the law has exceptions in it. for other uses. but the only speaker here who can't use this information are his clients, the data-mining companies and the drug companies. >> suarez: were you really watching a battle in court today about data-mining and prescription information? or is there wider application based on how the high court rules? >> i think there can be wider application in this sense: on the side of vermont, you had consumer organizations, 35 states as well as the federal government, who are concerned that a broad ruling in favor of the data-mining companies and the drug companies here could undermine consumer privacy protections. then on the other side, you have the drug companies and
other businesses concerned that if the court restricts access to this kind of information and, ray, you know data-mining companies-- that's a huge industry today. those businesses fear then that they won't get the kind of information they say they need to make important business decisions not just marketing decisions, research decisions, other decisions that they think could be beneficial to consumers. >> suarez: and your sense of how things look today? was there a general sense that you're going to follow precedent on the citizens united case? >> i think things look bad for vermont. >> suarez: marcia coyle of the national law journal, thanks for joining us. >> my pleasure, ray. >> brown: it's been a year since the "deepwater horizon" oil rig exploded. but for some gulf coast residents, their anger at b.p. and the government has hardly subsided. newshour correspondent tom bearden returned to the gulf coast and filed this report.
>> reporter: dave cvitanovich was showing us examples of erosion when he came across a small flotilla of boats pulled up against the bank over one of the oyster beds he leases on barataria bay south of new orleans. they were b.p. contractors doing marsh remediation, but they hadn't warned him they were coming. cvitanovich's long-running frustration with b.p. and the coast guard boiled over. >> hey! i'm the oyster lease owner here. i want to know what's going on. no one called me to let me know what's going on. >> go out over there and i'll talk to you. >> no, i'm staying right here, because this is my lease. >> reporter: when cvitanovich refused to move away, another boat approached, carrying a young man who appeared to be a member of the u.s. coast guard. sir, good afternoon! >> how you doing? >> i'm all right. how are you? >> i don't know. you tell me.
>> i've been requested by the site worker that you maintain a 150 feet. >> hold on a second, sir. i own all these oyster leases here. i've got 1,150 acres all up in here. i've got no cooperation from you whatsoever. >> reporter: cvitanovich says he was specifically promised he'd have advance notice when b.p. would come into his area. >> this is bull. i cant even go to see my leases. "stay away, buh, buh, buh!" you know, get away from here. get away from here." do i tell you to get away from your driveway in your house? do i stop this man from fishing? >> reporter: we're told that what happened that day in barataria bay was not at all uncommon. people say both the government and b.p. made a lot of promises- - promises they didn't keep. no one has been more outspoken than the president of plaquemines parish, billy nungesser. ever since the well blew out, he
has loudly criticized the coast guard and b.p., saying they never showed any sense of urgency during the emergency. and he now charges that they tried to cover up how badly the wetlands were damaged. >> instead of denying, instead of covering up, instead of lying, they could have saved hundreds of millions of dollars and done a better job. >> reporter: nungesser also accused b.p. and the coast guard of deliberately obstructing local efforts to mitigate the damage. >> they stood in our way, stopped us from rescuing animals. they stopped us by shutting down all the vessels to go in and check for life jackets and... they didn't want us to pick up the oil. and even at this late date, the sense of urgency is not there. you know, in areas that have been heavily impacted, like bay jimmy, the oil's picked up in a thunderstorm and slammed into the marsh, so about 80 feet of the land is destroyed. >> reporter: rear admiral paul
zukunft rejects nungesser's charges. he was the federal on-scene coordinator in the gulf between last may and february 2011. >> i'm not going to get into character assassinations. it is unfortunate. we had over 3,000 people working out of responder village in plaquemines parish. we brought in over 47,000 responders. i went down there repeatedly t talk to the crews, many of these people working 20 hours a day at heat indexes of over 115 degrees. and so, when we make the sense of urgency, it is speaking to those workers out there, putting their health at risk to protect that environment and mitigate the impact of this oil spill. >> reporter: me utsler is b.p.'s ceo for gulf restoration. billy nungesser, president of plaquemines parish, says he still in his view sees a lack of
urgency on the coastguard and b.p.'s part. >> well, i can only speak on behalf of this response for the past 12 months that i've been responsible and a part of its efforts, and that is to say that you know we expended every aspect of human and mechanical and technological capabilities. we developed new technologies, new methodologies and approaches, and we continuously improved as we've gone through thiresponse on the basis of those learnings. >> reporter: acy cooper and his sons are getting their boats ready for the upcoming shrimping season. cooper is the vice president of the louisiana shrimp association. he says he's had constant battles with federal authorities and b.p. contractors, and it's clear to him who really runs the show. >> the federal government is not in charge; b.p. is charge of everything. and the coastguard just seemed like to me they have them in their back pocket, and whatever they want to do, the coast guard's behind them. and they should be behind us and we say and what we want to do. try to go to... and they want to run you off. this is america, you know. we are free. this is our waters in our
country, not b.p.'s. >> reporter: robert craft, the mayor of gulf shores, alabama, also believes the coast guard has been overshadowed by b.p. the city's white beaches turned brown before the well was finally capped, and the tourist industry all but shut down for several months. >> i think they're desperately over their head, in that they're dealing with one of the best business minds... companies in any industry in the world and they're the... the strategy of b.p., in my opinion, is twofold: mitigate their losses and protect their brand... their brand and their reputation. and they're really good at it. it's hard for me to understand how the coast guard, who have... are very good at certain things, but not really known for their business acumen-- are trying to determine and force b.p. to do what they should do. that is a david and goliath deal, and david's not going to win this time.
>> reporter: admiral zukunft, whose two daughters live in gulf shores, says he understands the frustration but insists that the coast guard was and is in charge. >> the federal government directs the responsible party, b.p., to carry out certain response actions. b.p. takes that direction and they fund it; they provide the resources that does that cleanup. to date, b.p. has expended over $16 billion of this response. now, if b.p. doesn't respond, i have the means by which to use our oil spill liability trust fund, and then take on that piece of the operation, and then bill b.p. for those services. >> reporter: for its part, b.p. has been running national ads for months to convince people it's been doing the right thing. they have not convinced nungesser. >> i don't know how it's selling around the country, but it outrages people they spend that kind of money with full-page ads
and tv commercials, instead of putting in there. "look, here is where you can go to get checked out if you think you are sick. here is what we're doing to clean up the marsh." the information they spending so much money on public relations instead of informing the public across coastal louisiana that was affected-- it's absurd. >> its as important as a tool to tell the story. that not only were we saying we were going to do this, but here was proof in the actions and the efforts of more than 48,000 people and 6,500 vessels and 120 aircraft that were in action to respond to this event. >> reporter: utlser believes most local residents will eventually come around. >> it will be through our actions, though, that ultimately people will come to have confidence that this company said it would do it and this response said he would do these things, it did those things. >> reporter: but the state of louisiana wants more than the $1 billion that b.p. has just committed as an initial payment for coastal restoration.
it wants a much larger amount now, instead of waiting for the exact amount of damages to be determined by the federal natural resource damage assessment, a complex process that could take years. >> warner: and to viewer reaction and robin macneil's response to the "autism now" series. for that, we turn to hari, who's joined us in the studio. >> all last week we asked you to let us know what you thought of our special series on autism. hundreds of people left questions and concerns on our website. many commented from facebook accounts, sent emails and even left voice mails that we've read and listened to. we said we would have robert macneil back to answer some of your questions. he joins us now from new york. thanks for being with us. >> thanks, hari. >> even though we had six nights of coverage and we've seen all of these stories what we saw in these hundreds of
emails is that there are so many more stories about autism. so one of the first questions and concerns is, how did you choose the stories that you did? and what else do you wish you could have done? >> well, it's a good question. we worked-- that is, i for about a year on my own researching and then for six months karen zucker the producer who herself is the mother of a son of nearly 17 with autism and who has produced many stories on autism at her time with abc news. we worked... we thought what we should do is provide a comprehensive overview of what we saw as the pressing issues in the autism community. now the things we didn't cover are many. and many other stories could be done. we didn't talk about adults living now with autism, which is a very interesting story. and what their lives are. how they work. where they live. what kind of support they
need. we did concentrate on those about to become adults. if anybody is interested in this and wants to read the transcript of the interview with peter gerhardt of the school in new york who is an expert on this, it's really fascinating on what he envisions the lives of adults can be and should be. then we didn't talk about autism in its context with the criminal justice system. there are stories of people approaching adulthood who lose control of themselves and maybe physically attack someone. some of those people get sentenced to prison terms. we didn't talk about the odd phenomenon medicine is now investigating which parents have noticed for years that when children with autism develop fevers, their autism symptoms can become milder and so on. i could go on and on. there are many other stories to do. we thought we were doing the main urgent ones. >> people can go on to our
site and see there's an overwhelming number of comments on there that are very supportive of the series. let me just read you a couple very quickly before i get to ones that are perhaps a little bit more pointed. one viewer said you need to this if you have children. jackie who is is a special needs professional says, wow, this could just as well have been my life. they touched so many important topics in such a period. that said let's get to a couple of concerns the people had about your personal connection with this series. here's one that was on our website here. he said i reject the personalization of the story. it diminishes the importance of the subject since it suggests the story may only be as important because mr. macneil's grandson is afflicted. this confirms the seeming reality that a disease or dysfunction is only as urgent as the celebrity who sponsors it. >> well, i'm sorry he sees it that way because i don't think i could bring very much celebrity to the issue. what i tried to bring was half
a century's experience as a journalist of telling stories. that's what i thought i brought to it. >> since you also brought your family into it, it kind of opened up another line of criticism that we saw in some of the comments regarding your daughter. her opinions on autism and how that did or did not influence you. here's a note that was left on our website. he's profoundly influenced by his daughters's unsupported belief that vaccines caused little nick's autism. it's too bad that robert macneil in his role as a caring grandfather chose to promote ideas that have clearly been contradicted by evidence. nonetheless i respect him for his efforts. >> well, what i was profoundly influenced by was the pain and distress that i, over four years, saw my daughter's family experiencing because of my grandson's autism. i wasn't promoting anything. i was trying to be a reporter. the fact that my daughter believes what she believes about vaccines is her belief. i love her. i think differently. i've tried to bring to bear a
lot of habits learned over many years as a journalist and look at the whole thing objectively. so when she says in the first program that's what she thought i say immediately yes but medical science says there is no evidence of such a connection. all the epidemological studies do not prove a connection. later we have a very objective discussion of the issue in our third program, the one on causes. i think if those who think that... the trouble with autism and the communities of autism is that a lot of them are locked into a kind of zero tolerance for any point of view that isn't precisely their own. they should they just sit in their trenches and hurl missiles at each other. i think that if the people who feel that way are fair-minded, they would go back and look at the two programs, one and three-- and they're all on the website-- that mentioned vaccines, and then read the transcripts of the people involved, including the
transcript of the doctor who treats my grandson's gastro intestinal problems of mass general hospital who was part of a team that attempted to replicate the findings of the now notorious british doctor, andrew wakefield and were unabl toeplicatehem. so i think we've treated it objectively and we didn't ignore it. >> a process question came through on how you chose the guests and the ex-spers that you did. there's a comment from john horton who writes in and says i think an adult with autism should have been included on the round table. they're talking about them but not to them. >> well, perhaps he's right. we tried to con accept trait on what we thought were urgent issues, urgent problems. a lot of adults with autism particularly those who describe themselves as a kind of neuro diversity community
are high-functioning people with autism who have busy and productive lives in the world, who serve a wonderful purpose of helping the community at large to understand and witness autism and be tolerant of it. but they speak for themselves. we didn't see them as an urgent issue, as urgent as the impending arrival into adulthood of hundreds of thousands of teenagers with autism. >> finally, so many of these comments dealt with such specific questions about medication, about diet, about treatments and some of these circumstances that people find themselves in are just heart wrenching. what, where, how can people get help to find the resources that can assist them? >> well, i'm certainly not qualified to direct them because i'm a journalist who studied this. it's i'm not an expert but we have set up a resource. if people want to call, it's the autism response team at
awe tism speaks, the largest of the autism advocacy groups. that number is 888-autism-2. and the response team is there on the phones to answer specific questions or direct people to the kind of services they're looking for. >> many thanks for this series and for joining us today. >> hari, thank you. >> >> brown: finally tonight, another in our series on poets and poetry. c.d. wright is a professor at brown university who weaves oral histories, news reports, interviews and much more into her poetry. her latest volume is a book- length extended poem titled, "one with others." it looks back at the civil rights era in her native arkansas. >> "one with others" was mainly
intended to be a tribute to my friend "v", who was a self- educated woman with seven children and no income of her own, who lived in a town in eastern arkansas. she was a very singular individual, and for my part, it was the honor of my life to know her. "she had a brain like the reading room in the old british museum. she could have donned fingerless gloves and written 'das kapital' while hexagons of snowflakes tumbled by the windowpanes. she could have made it up, whole cloth. she could have sewn the cotton out of her own life while the thames froze over." along with many, many other towns in the delta, especially in the year immediately following martin luther king's death, those towns began to explode, one by one.
and this town was no exception. my friend "v" was a white woman who got involved in all of these activities and ended up being arrested. her car was burned in the police parking lot, her husband denounced her, divorced her, took custody of the children. once "v" got involved, she became a pariah in the town. there was a mass arrest of black students. they had gone, left the grounds of the all-black high school, gone to the all-white high school, linked arms and sang "like a tree planted by the water," one of the standards of the civil rights movements. the kids were put in the swimming pool because they had no room for that many people in the town jail and they didn't know where to put them.
after the pool was drained for the season, they arrested the kids who marched to the white school who stood and sang, "like a tree planted by the water. they took them to the jailhouse in school buses. they took them to the drained pool in sealed 18-wheelers. the sheriff told them they were to be taken to the woods and there shot. then, the sheriff told them they were to be take to the pool and there drowned. granddaughter of v's babysitter, who was put in the pool she had never seen before then. he was one mean man, that sheriff. i wanted to write a book of poetry that gave no quarter as
far as it still being a serious work of art, but that was also a page turner. it's a hybrid form, so it uses prose, documentary materials, uses the local newspaper, and there were lots of records to be found. i interviewed a lot of citizens in that town who are still there, working night shifts and still doing neighborhood watch. i think poetry aims to see better, to see more clearly, to see things, as agee says, "for the cruel radiance of what is." i think it still does all of this. it's harder for it to reach its field of ears than it ever has been.
"to walk down the road without fear to sit in a booth and order a sweet soft drink to work at the front desk to be referred to as 'gentleman' to swim in the pool to sit in the front row and watch 'run wild, run free' 'next week: death of a gunfighter' to make your way to the end of the day with both eyes in your head; nothing is not integral you want to illumine what you see fear reflected off an upturned face those walnuts turning back in the grass it is a relatively stable world, gentle reader but beyond that door, it defies description." >> warner: this volume, "one with others," is c.d. wright's 12th. it was recently awarded the national book critics circle award and was a finalist for the national book award. you can see wright read more
from her work on "art beat" on our web site. >> brown: before we go, a correction-- in our lead story, we identified arkansas governor mike beebe as a republican. our mistake-- he is a democrat. again, the major developments of the day: southeastern missouri braced for levee breaks and record floods, while arkansas counted ten dead after a night of violent storms. the government of syria intensified its crackdown on protesters. security forces deployed in two more towns. and fighting raged on in libya, as moammar gadhafi's forces tried to cut off the last lifeline to rebels in misrata. >> warner: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at fed chairman ben bernanke's news conference, and the latest in the 2012 g.o.p. presidential field. i'm margaret warner. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. 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:
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