tv PBS News Hour PBS November 24, 2011 5:30pm-6:30pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: egypt's military rulers vow elections will go forward next week, after days of unrest. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> warner: and i'm margaret warner. on the "newshour" tonight, we get the latest on the standoff from jonathan rugman of "independent television news" in cairo. >> brown: then, tom bearden reports on retailers pushing the start of black friday shopping to today. >> i think it's repulsive. >> reporter: why so? >> because thanksgiving is supposed to be a family holiday. >> warner: we have a food story on this thanksgiving day. judy woodruff looks at what's on the menu in schools. >> brown: hari sreenivasan
follows occupy wall street from new york to washington, where the activists have settled in. >> this looks a lot more permanent than just a-- an occupy at the present time. >> yes, definitely. i want to be comfortable because i'm in it for the long run. >> warner: as the aftermath of the financial crisis persists, ray suarez examines the question of who was punished for their roles and who wasn't. >> brown: and we close with conversation with author colin woodard about his new book-- a different take on america's political and cultural landscape. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> intelligent computing technology is making its way into everything from cars to retail signs to hospitals; creating new enriching experiences. through intel's philosophy of investing for the future, we're helping to bring these new capabilities to market. we're investing billions of dollars in r&d around the globe to help create the technologies that we hope will be the heart of tomorrow's innovations. i believe that by investing
today in technological advances here at intel, we can make a better tomorrow. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corration for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: a fragile truce between police and protesters held in and around cairo's tahrir square today as the military government apologized for the deaths of at least 39 protesters over five days of violence. it was also announced that
parliamentary elections will begin as pnnedn moay and that a new prime minister was appointed. kamal ganzouri previously held that post for four years under deposed president hosni mubarak. we have a report from jonathan rugman of "independent television news." >> reporter: cleaning up after a fifth night of violence. downtown cairo still in shock after the worst outbreak of fighting since februarys revolution. these protestors now want a second revolution. they still want to topple egypt's military rulers. yet, ironically its the army which is now safeguarding a truce between the people and the riot police. so the army can give up running last night, the violence spread to the city of ismailiya. yet an army spokesman said today
that the protestors don't represent all egyptians. that elections should go ahead so the army can give up running the country. >> ( translated ): i ask the honorable egyptian people that love their country to concentrate on the goals and not the slogans and the demonstrations. we should concentrate on the first goal which is the elections. >> reporter: the army's also apologized for the killing of protestors. it's promised an investigation and says it wasn't involved. yet even if that's true egyptians are asking why it took so long to rein in the police. and in tahrir square this afternoon they were still chanting for the country's military commanders to step down now. it's mostly a young crowd here, and many are unemployed. for them the army's apology has come too late. >> ( translated ): it's too late to say sorry. we want a civilian government with justice and freedom. the simplest of all human
rights! >> reporter: yet travel out towards the pyramids at giza and you find many egyptians who say these protests have done more harm than good. tourism's a mainstay of the economy and it's down 60% this year. and without the army the fear is of chaos nationwide. "i am not with tahrir square at all," says this man. "this talk of the military stepping down is very irresponsible. "the army has to stay" says another. "if the army leaves, we will have nobody else." what's more egypt's biggest political bloc the muslim brotherhood is on the brink of power for the first time if elections go ahead. so perhaps it's no surprise that the local candidate and his party have refused to join this weeks protests. >> we are all not happy about the performance of the military. we are-- we-- we are all in
agreement that the real wantives of the revolution are not met at all, but the only way out, the peaceful way out, is to have the elections and to have a parliament elect to the represent the people. >> reporter: on these streets those elections feel almost irrelevant. the protestors have been radicalized by days of bloodshed. and you feel it wouldn't take much for these smoldering stree to flare up again. >> brown: there was also word today that a court in egypt had ordered the release of three american college students arrested amid the protests. but there was no confirmation that they had been let go. >> warner: still to come on the "newshour": black friday starting on thursday; pizza and french fries on the menu in schools; occupy wall street comes to washington who's been held accountable for the financial crisis. and a fresh take on america's political and cultural map. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: security forces opened fire on crowds of protesters in yemen today,
killing five of them. the protesters were calling for outgoing president ali abdullah saleh to stand trial for crimes committed during yemen's ten-month-long uprising. yesterday, saleh signed an agreement to resign after 33 years in power. amateur video showed armed men firing assault rifles at the crowd. some demonstrators fought back by throwing rocks. a triple bombing in iraq killed at least 19 people and injured more than 70. it happened at a popular open- air market in the southern city of basra. police officers and soldiers responding to the first blast were among those killed by the subsequent bombs. the u.s. is in the process of pulling out of iraq all 20- 20-000 of its remaining troops. in mexico, authorities found 23 bound and gagged bodies in two abandoned vans. they were left in the heart of guadalajara, mexico's second largest city, at a major intersection. local media reported a message from one of two warring drug cartels was with the bodies.
guadalajara is known as a stronghold of one of the cartels. german chancellor angela merkel deflected calls for the european central bank to play a bigger role in fixing europe's debt troubles. she was in strasbourg, france meeting with her french and italian peers. they did agree to push for changes in e.u. treaties so that economic policies of member nations are more in line with each other. after their meetings, merkel emphasized the treaty changes would not affect the european central bank. >> ( translated ): the e.c.b. is independent and this is not what the modification of the treaties is about. the e.c.b. is there to oversee the money supply and for the stability of the currency. we are concerning ourselves with the modification of the treaties, and we will explain this to you in detail with the question of a fiscal union, closer political ties. so that's a different matter, and that's what we will put forward.
>> holman: changing e.u. treaties can be a very involved process that requires the approval of all 27 member nations. a 24-hour general strike in portugal shut down virtually all public services today, including hospitals, post offices and schools. workers took to the streets in protest marches against austerity measures. it was one of the largest strikes in more than 20 years. it came on the same day a ratings agency downgraded portugal's government bonds to junk status. celebrities in britain described today how the tabloid press made their families suffer simply because they were in the public's eye. "harry potter" author j.k. rowling was among those to testify at a public inquiry into british media ethics. it came about after a phone hacking scandal involving the now defunct "news of the world" tabloid. we have a report from juliet bremner of "independent television news." >> reporter: underlying her intense dislike of the media, j.k. rowling somehow avoided the bank of cameras outside the high
court. her list of complaints was long but her greatest outrage was reserved for the journalist who put a note into her five-year-old daughter's school bag. >> it's very difficult to say how angry and how-- how angry i felt that my five-year-old ughter's school was-- was no longer a place of, you know, complete security from journalists. >> reporter: her writing has made her rich and successful, and a target for the paparazzi. she's only worn a swim see the on a public beach on two occasions. both times, she says, she was long lensed. >> to call a spade a spade, i'm a writer, so i don't really think that it's of any relevance or in any public interest to know what i look like in a swimsuit. >> reporter: actress ciena miller shared the siege mentality. eventually she took out an injurisdiction to stop a mob of cameras relentlessly pursuing her. >> i would often find myself ifs 21-- at midnight running down a
dark street on my own with 10 big men chasing me, and the fact that they had cameras in their hand meant that was legal but if you take away the cameras, what have you got? you've got a pack of men chasing a woman. >> reporter: the constant leaks were corrosivive. she accused heav friends and family of lying, convinced they must have sold the stories. until she discovered they were all victims of phone hacking. by speaking out in this most-public arena, they hope to secure a complete system that's open and affordable to all. >> holman: the inquiry is expected to result in a formal report on the british media next year. americans at home and abroad observed the thanksgiving holiday today. in a radio address to the nation, president obama acknowledged the economic difficulties facing many americans, but said the nation will overcome its challenges. the president also made calls to ten service members stationed abroad. those members serving in iraq and afghanistan enjoyed traditional thanksgiving meals on their bases. back in this country, nearly
three million people lined the streets of manhattan to watch the annual macy's parade. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to margaret. >> warner: and to the holiday retail season. tomorrow is the traditional kick-off, but some stores are opening today. "newshour" correspondent tom bearden looks at how that's playing out in denver. >> reporter: black friday has become almost a competitive sport with shoppers trying desperately to outmaneuver others, hoping to get the hot items of the season at bargain basement prices. it's a concept playfully featured this year in a tv ad by the retailer target. >> it starts next friday morning at midnight. are you ready? in recent years, stores have started opening at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, attracting people like college student mckenna brink. >> are you a big time black friday shopper? >> yeah! i love it. i usually go every year with my family. >> why do you do that?
>> to get the best deals, of course! >> reporter: this year, in a competition of their own, some retailers are opening their doors even sooner. wal-mart, k-mart and toys-r-us will begin sales at 10:00 p.m. on thanksgiving. target's will begin at midnight, four hours earlier than last year. mark everett is target's director of sales for six western states. >> we are excited to be opening at midnight this year at target. our guests continue to tell us that they want us to be at the top of their shopping list and every year we do see that inching back a little more. and at target we want to do the right thing and be there for our guests so they can enjoy that shopping experience that they are looking for, planning for. >> reporter: but some people think stores have finally gone too far, like trisha marino. >> what do you think of this trend of more stores opening earlier and earlier? >> i think it's repulsive. >> how so? >> because thanksgiving is supposed to be a family holiday. and i think before you know it, it's going to become a holiday
where it will become the biggest shopping day and i feel sorry for all of the people who have to work that day. because they can't even enjoy their thanksgiving. >> reporter: some employees agree and began petition drives to make their complaints known. on monday, a target employee delivered petitions with nearly 200,000 signatures to target headquarters in minneapolis. but target manager everett says working on thanksgiving day is voluntary and that employees get paid extra for doing so. >> we have several team members who we did allow them to work when it made sense for them and the support has been overwhelming. >> reporter: still, it's the principle that bothers many. paula gendill was cooking thanksgiving dinner for more than 25 people this year. both of her adult sons work in
the retail business, and early store openings have disrupted their holiday in the past. >> couple of years ago, one of my sons had to be at work at 3:00 a.m. he went to bed at 7:00 p.m. and that was the end of thanksgiving for him. i want him, my family to have the opportunity to be together at thanksgiving as long as they want in the evening. this is one day. >> reporter: gendill signed one of the petitions asking companies to back off. >> i signed the petition because my voice is one little voice. and i was hoping to be part of a bigger voice that perhaps they would hear. i am afraid that america as a nation is getting away from their family values. they don't put an importance on being together. and i think that's part of what's going wrong with our society. i think we put profit and consumerism over being together and the more traditional family values.
>> reporter: laurie tart agrees. >> i was disheartened when i went into a store before halloween and there were christmas decorations. i was like no! we haven't even had halloween! i don't like that it's being rushed. i understand that they're trying to drag out the season and they want to make the season longer to get the money they need. >> reporter: but she's still an avid black friday shopper. >> it-- black friday puts me in the christmas mood. and then i can go out and decorate and get ideas for new decorations. >> reporter: economists say the reason so many companies are trying to push the christmas season is that consumer spending hasn't been rising over the last several years. that forces them to compete for a piece of the pie that simply isn't expanding. what are the prospects for retailers this season? >> it's going to be difficult. consumers still haven't built their confidence level and think they're still a bit scared. >> reporter: university of
denver business professor mac clouse says black friday is a critical day. >> for many businesses, it's the day that turns their profits from the red to the black. it's not necessarily the highest volume. they still get the highest volume from the sales in the days right before christmas. but it's probably the busiest in terms of the number of people out there. >> reporter: make or break for some? >> it can be make or break for some. if they have a good black friday then hopefully they will have a good christmas season. >> reporter: he says in this economy, retailers need to do everything they can to get shoppers in their stores earlier. and they need to make it as easy as possible. >> i wish you guys had layaway. >> reporter: this year, retail giant walmart reintroduced what used to be a christmas staple-- layaways. >> layaway is back for christmas. in our toys, electronics, and jewelry departments. >> it's a great idea for the consumer. if you can get credit from the vendor. it's tough now for consumers to get consumer credit. credit cards are maxed out.
tough to get a bank loan. so if you can get essentially an interest free loan from one of the vendors, that's great. >> reporter: the economic forecasts for the 2011 holiday season are mixed. some surveys indicate a modest rise in spending, but most say people will spend about the same as last year, or perhaps a little less. economists say it all depends on consumer confidence, which as been in short supply for the last four years. >> brown: and if it's thanksgiving, there will be food, as we turn to a story on students and nutrition. lawmakers recently weighed in on school lunches, a battle that attracted much attention from the food industry. judy woodruff has our update. >> woodruff: last week, amidst the continued tensions over the federal budget, congress did agree on one thing-- the rules for school lunches. the agriculture department had
sought to limit servings of french fries and to add more tomato paste to pizza so it could continue to count as a serving of vegetables for children, but members of both parties in the house and senate blocked those recommendations. they did approve an increase in the servings of fruits and vegetables required. here to walk us through the rules and what they mean for the tens of millions of kids who eat school lunches is ron nixon of the "new york times." ron nixon, welcome. >> thank you, judy. thanks for having me. >> woodruff: history me just start by asking you what were the main things the agriculture department was asking congress to do? >> the agriculture department introduced these rules in january and they were to update nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfast. this is the first update in 15 years. so basically, they wanted to have kids eat more fruits and vegetables, particularly levy green vegetables, which are better for you. they wanted to cut back the amount of starchy vegetables
that kids ate-- potatoes being one. they wanted to decrease the amount of sodium, or salt. and they also wanted to update the rules on how schools got credit for serving vegetables by serving pita based on the amount of tomato paste on pizza. so if you had about two teaspoons or a little bit more of tomato paste on a pizza and some mushrooms that got countedda two servings of vegetables so they wanted to update that. >> woodruff: but it was all about making school lunches healthier. >> exactly. >> woodruff: who was on each side? who was working with the agriculture department and who was fighting this? >> the agriculture department, the nutritionist, the obama administration particularly because the first lady really pushed more americans eating fruits and vegetables and having kid become healthier. and so health advocates were certainly behind the u.s.d.a. on
doing this. but on the other side were some of the trade groups like the national potato council, the american frozen food institute, and lawmakers from various farm states who said the rules went too far by limits things like potatoes, which are rich in potassium and other vitamins and nutrients, and that the rules on tomato paste made no sense because if you up the amount t to-- you would basically have a pizza that you couldn't eat because it would just be dripping with tomato paste. >> woodruff: too much tomato paste, wouldn't taste like letta anymore. >> exactly. >> woodruff: did the agriculture have a counter? >> they did. they had the institute of medicine look at this and come up with these recommendations. they wanted to have a scientific basis for doing this. and so they presented this to congress. they put the rules out for
comment, and they got thousands of comments back and forth. and so they were saying this is scientifically based. this is not something we're coming with op the top of our heads. >> woodruff: when it came time to vote, congress basicry side, for most things, where the food industry, is that right? >> that's correct. and this is what members of congress basically said-- and this was led, of course, by various members from the farm states. so their argument was that by taking away potatoes and changing the rules on tomato paste you were basically robbing kids of nutritional foods when at the same time you're telling them to eat more fruits and vegetables. here are two vegetables that you're trying to take away. so why do that? and they also went along with the industry's argument that, well, they could remove the
amount of salt or sodium in foods in a given time because sodium occurs naturally in foods so it would be a tremendous cost and they would have to do a lot things just to make it within the time frame that u.s.d.a. had set. >> woodruff: we should point out they update the requirement for fruits and vegetables. >> that's correct. >> woodruff: that the u.s.d.a. did win on. >> they did. >> woodruff: what are american school children left with, those who rely on these federally subsidized lunches? how healthy a lunch are they going to be getting? >> that's debatable and that's the argument as to how healthy these lunches are going to be because one of the things a lot of nutritionists said, things like potatoes, basically pushed off of the plate other fruits and vegetables that kids would eat. so there's still some debate well, how is that going to happen because you're still left
with-- you still serve potatoes. there are no restrictions on that. the tomato paste remains the same. so are schools going to go out and get more fruits and vegetables, which cost more and does dd cost to their budgets to buy this stuff. so it's sort of up in the air on how this is going to work. >> woodruff: end the battle for now, though? >> for now. the u.s.d.a. will probably go ahead and finalize the rules at the end of the year. but potatoes will still be on their and pizza will basically still count as a vegetable. >> woodruff: ron nixon of the "new york times," thanks very much. >> thank you for having me. >> warner: next, a two-part look at the discontent over wall street and big banks and their role in the financial crisis. first, hari sreenvisan reports on the occupy movement in washington, getting a shot in the arm from some energetic
friends from new york. >> reporter: mcpherson square, washington d.c.-- home to the d.c. wing of the movement known as occupy wall street. occupiers have held this park nearly 60 days and there is no sign of letting go. as we visited, preparations were underway for an infusion of new energy. protestors from the symbolic capitol of the movement; wall st. were marching this way and no amount of rain would dampen the spirit and anticipation. >> i'm excited, i am so excited to meet them. they are family, we are all here for the same reason and so, i am excited. >> yeah, that will be great. they come down here and we support them, arms wide open, come on down, you know. >> reporter: this encampment in the heart of the nations capital has drawn a lot of attention for its proximity to the seat of american governme and the variety of demonstrators that have come from all over the country to join in. j.c. cullen is 29. he's been here from the beginning.
>> i am here because i feel that i needed to be here. there is something that i feel like i have been waiting for since i was a little kid. i want it to go beyond this camp phase and i have met a lot of come together and build a community. >> reporter: j.c. helped build the kitchen which today is well stocked thanks to supporter donations and help from groups like the labor union a.f.l.- c.i.o. there is also a library, community spaces and a medical tent. all things that suggest a permanence here or at least a long occupation. but winter is coming. >> the tents are actually pretty warm and d.c. winters usually are not that harsh, but then again this will be my first one here, so i guess we'll just find out. but it is definitely going to stay. i'll definitely be here. i'll be here. >> this is where we live at, man. >> reporter: damian bascom has pretty much moved in. you've got furniture in here you got a futon. this looks a lot more permanent than just an occupy tent.
>> yeah. i want to be comfortable because i am in it for the long haul. >> i got a t.v. in here. >> reporter: why? >> so at night we can watch movies, civil rights movies. we're staying here. we are sacrificing our life. we're not just coming here to just play around and or to joke around and camp outside. a lot of the other demonstrators around the country in the different states, they have been demonstrating with violence. and they've been having a lot of controversy going on inside their tents in their camps which we only have about 250 people out here. we try to monitor them to the best of our amount with -- >> reporter: you're self-policing. >> we're self-policing here, yes. >> reporter: protesters say they've been working with authorities to >> reporter: protesters here say they've been working with authorities to keep things peaceful and nonviolent, but another one of the reasons why things might not be flaring up here at macpherson square is that d.c. is not just the nation's capitol, it's the nation's protest capitol. this city is used to it. beyond the police, there are a
lot of eyes on the occupiers. a steady flow of non-resident supporters come through the park daily, stop for coffee, ask some questions, or simply say hello. eric lotke is from virginia. >> i'm a middle aged guy i got two kids, i am in the p.t.a. i own my home, i got a job with health care, i'm doing just fine thank you, but i am with these folks in spirit. i think they are right, i think the economy is broken, i think the government is broken and i love it that they are out here trying to do something about it and i want to go stand with them, and i want to stand with them like a middle class middle- aged guy and a p.t.a. parent, not a hippie beatnick with purple hair. >> reporter: mid afternoon, the long-awaited marchers arrived, wet and tired. about 20 true believers who had walked for two weeks, 240 miles from new york city, joined by others along the way. they quickly gathered the whole camp in the center of the park in general assembly. no megaphone required.
>> there was a supercommittee that failed us. there was no decision, no democracy, we are democracy. i will march till my feet bleed. to make this point. so you ask me, why did i come to this march? i ask you, why didn't you. >> reporter: eric carter marched here after spending weeks occupying wall street. >> zuccotti park is recognized as kind of the beginning of the situation and people look to us i guess for tips and pointers on, and kind of affirmation that this is a valid part of the occupy movement. >> reporter: but not necessarily leadership. the occupy groups pride themselves on not having an official leadership structure. the movement's trademark, in fact, are its general assemblies
where decisions are made by all participants, opposing views are welcome and people are encouraged to speak. i asked carter if he saw problems in it. >> compromise is a natural part of the process, that your idea, while it's a natural slam dunk in your head, someone else may have a better idea, someone else may not agree, or that it might not be the right time for your idea to come up, you know. >> reporter: that democracy's messy. >> of course, it's super inefficient, it's super-- it grates my nerves sometimes how things grind to a halt, but at the end of the day, when you have a decision that was hard to make, and everybody agrees to it, and everybody agrees to the resolution, it feels so good. >> reporter: how different is that than what happens a few blocks from here on capitol hill? >> capitol hill is not making any decisions. they've come to a point now where they don't want to compromise at all. it's antithetical to their process for there to be any compromise, it's us against them
and i'm always right when that's just not the way the world works. >> reporter: this is very much a movement that is learning as it grows. and the protestors we spoke with said they didn't know what the future held for them. but they are sure they are not breaking camp anytime soon. >> brown: from the beginning, one theme of the occupy wall street movement has been anger over the financial crisis and whether those responsible have been held accountae. ray suarez explores that question. >> suarez: displai to date, the government has demanded financial settlements from some of the major firms, including $550 million from goldman sachs. it also decided this fall to take some of the country's largest banks to court on charges they misled investors about risky mortgages before the housing bubble burst. there have been no prosecutions of high-profile figures involved with the financial crisis. one of the most prominent cases initially pursued by the justice department, angelo mosilo, the former head of the largest
mortgage lender, countrywide financial, was ultimately dropped. lynn turner is a former chief as accountant for the securities and change commission and is a manage director's littianommics. he's a former u.s. attorney and issued a bankruptcy report examining the collapse of lehman eve smith is a financial writer chocovers the issues on her blog, naked capitalism and the author of ee-con. mark collab ria is now at the libertarian think tank, the cato institute. you have considerable experience on the prosecution and defense sight of the courtroom, why have there been very few meaningful prosecutions of high-ranking officials to date? >> i think the underlying factor is the complexity of many of
these cases where you have failure of a major corporation and are looking to identify individuals who are responsible. to a large extent what you find is the responsibility is defused so that a chief executive is able to say i relied on my accountants. the accountants are able to say we relied on the lawyers. if you're not able to establish an individual had criminal intent, then you can't bring the prosecutions in the first place. the cases where you've seen successful prosecutions are cases, for instance, like the insider trading cases where you had tape recordings which specifically identified conversations which you could consider criminal in nature. but absent that type of evidence of course these cases are very difficult to bring, very complex and, frankly, are often daunting for the prosecutor and so they don't get-- they don't come. >> suarez: lynn turner does that sound right to you, defuse responsibility and hard to prove intent. >> i probably differ with toneo that one. i think there's a number of
issues here. you've got to keep in mind that during the s. x. l. crise we had 1,000 people charged and convicts and we only have 39, 40 to date. we also have very complex cases in enron, worldcomm, many of the corporate scandals. those were just as complex as these are this time, and, yet, there was prosecution then. a decade later no prosecution. i think it runs to the heart of some of the problems in washington. i just think there's a lack of resources for prosecutors. and i think there's a lack of willingness on the part of prosecutors to bring cases. >> suarez: a lack of resources? does that mean your old agency, the s.e.c., isn't capable of bringing these kinds of cases any wronger? >> when you look at the case they brought against gold goldman sachs on the large transaction called abacus, they had a grand toldef four
attorneys to work on that case. on the flip side, on the goldman case, they would have had dozens backing up the defense. so it's almost like a david versus goliath type battle. the other thing, though, that also enters into it is there's a tremendous revolving door between the attorneys at the s.e.c. ar and the law firms who defend these people and people at the s.e.c. know that ultimately they'd like to get a job in one of those firms so at times it's been demonstrated that they're reluctant, really e, to take on and go very aggressively against those firms. >> suarez: eve smith, when you look back at the half several years, companies run into the ground, the economy almost run off the rails, what should have happened that didn't happen? >> well, i would agree with lynn on this one. i think this is a matter of will rather than ability to perfect cases. there were-- it's interesting that he mentioned specifically the enron prosecution. there was a series of laws put
into place after enron called sarbanes oxly. and those really have not been used in any serious way in prosecuting executives. one of the provisioning of the sarbanes-oxley rules is senior exclusive and-- it's typically at least the chief executive officer and the c.f.oosmed-- have to certify internal controls are adequate. for a big financial firm that has to include their risk controls. willful violation is-- sorry, a knowing violation is punishable by up to five years in jail time, willful violation is 20 years of jail time but no one's gone after these theories seriously. it's worse than lynn alludes, although what he says about the revolving door is 100% true, is the role big banks play in campaign finance. theatre second biggest donors in washington, second only to the health care industry, and for any case to be pursuedaisa criminal case, they can't pursue criminal cases on their own.
they have to be pursued in conjunction with the department of justice and the department of justice has been noticeably absent on this beat. >> suarez: mark, have people who committed crimes actually been in some jeopardy after the fact? >> not that we can tell for those who have committed crimes. i don't think it's an either/or. i think there's a very high level to prove intent in criminal cases and as somebody who cares about the rights of the accused i think there should be a high level. i agree there is a difference in will and many of the firms are still getting tremendous taxpayer assistance. you have the conflict of interest essentially from the bank regulators saying i don't want this institution to fail on my watch, so, of course, i don't want the s.e.c. to go after it. if you look for instance at the taxpayer, for instance, has paid the defense fees for former executives of fannie mae and freddie mac. of course, if the s.e.c. is going to look at this and say i might get a judgment. but if the taxpayer is going to pay twhere is the justice in that? there's a revolving door issue
that i think is very real but there's also an issue from the perspective of theirm and the s.e.c., the securities and exchange commission, sometimes getting the settlement, they look at that as a win-win for themselves. they can have a big press conference, the number sounds very impressive, even if it's small compared to the size of the firms, but the lawyers at the s.e.c. can say we got a settlement. we won. the company in question can say we didn't admit wrongdoing and made this go awaya. if you ended up having to take less cases but take those cases further to get them to court because in the case of settlements it's really he said/she said. we never know the facts of the case, if there's any real wrongdoing. one judge in new york said i'm not going to sign off on this. i need to see some fact here's and i think we need to see more too far where the facts get out before the public so we know whether there was criminal behavior or not and in the numerous settlements we don't get to see the facts. >> suarez: mr. valukas, there is a poster making the round on the internet which says, imagine if they went after corporate
criminals the way they go after people who set up tents in a park. is there a public role here that prosecutors understand, that they keep one eye on the law books, but they also understand that they operate in a-- in an arena where there's public will and then there's the black-and-white letter of the law? >> well, i think that the-- you can't confuse the issue of investigations with prosecutions and successful prosecutions. most prosecutors, people in the department of justice, u.s. attorney's office, that i've had experience with, would be stunned to hear that someone thinks they're being less than aggressive because they may go out and work for a firm afterwards. by and large, the most successfusuccessful prosecutione brought from the sophisticated office, involve enormous resources and a commitment by people that they're going to do their best to represent their client, the u.s. people. the difficulty is that if the proof isn't there in proof beyond a reasonable doubt-- and that's the standard you're
talking about-- no matter what you want to do, unless you're going to play to the crowd, you're not going to responsibly bring a prosecution that you don't think should be brought. and that's the difficulty here. if the evidence isn't there, you can't bring the case. now, these cases are brought, and you'll hear people saying as you did, for instance, in the situation involving the insider trading cases that they wanted to send a message, same reason the department of justice will bring prosecutions in tax cases in april so as to send a message. so there's a desire to send a message in these cases but the question is can they prove it beyond a reasonable doubt? if they can't, no matter what it is people are clamoring and no matter what people are saying in television, they should not be responsibly bring those cases. >> suarez: i've been at enough news conference where's you announced white collar prosecutions and sending a message was certainly part of the fmula. does the public faith in the operation of a marketplace depend on some confidence that it is being regulated, is being
watched, is being policed? >> critical to what's going on, both from the standpoint of believing miscreants will be punished for their conduct. but equally important-- and this is where we get off what is really significant here-- what is significant is in the first instance is to try to prevent these activities from take place. that is to say, undue risk being curred. people willing to gamble with the public's money and saying afterwards i relied on my accountants or somebody else to tell me whether or not what i was doing was within the chalk lines and frequently finding that in fact they were give than advice. if the regulations aren't in place which aren't specific to the issues which are being faced by these institution, then all of the prosecutions in the world afterwards are not going to prevent the disasters we've seen, including lehman and the most frequent-- the matters coming up most recently. so that's where the focus needs to be in the first instance, on the regulation and the regulators. and there, i think, there's been
failure. >> suarez: eve smith, one of the most frequently cited points of anger from the occupy demonstrators in cities around the country is that lack of prosecution. is that a fair comment? is the public right to be angry? >> no, i think that's correct. in fact-- and as i indicated before, there's been a failure to pursue theories and ways of getting information that appear to be very viable. lynn discussed how under-resourced the s.e.c. is, yet you have kathryn cortez masto in nevada, a state attorney general, and they don't even remotely have the resources that any federal agency has, she has started by launching a criminal case-- admittedly it's against two lower level employees at a vendor to bank servicers. but this is a classic-- the same strategy they used in mafia prosecutions. you know, if these two individuals who are-- who have been charged are actually found guilty, they face 30 years each
in jail time. they're going to roll. and they-- and they in turn-- and the firm that's-- where they worked provides all of the software for the bank servicers. there have been allegations from foreclosure attorneys that these firms engaged in systematic awiews of homeowners in the way they charge fees, that they charge impermissible fees, double charge investors, as well as the homeowner, and charge the fees in an illegal manner. and it's hard coded in the software. there are theories out there that no one has gone after. if you see state attorneys general are able to prove them, that calls into question the notion that these aren't viable, that peop can't be brought to justice. >> suarez: lynn turner is there still time to any after people who have demonstrated to be bad actors in the meltdown? >> certainly we're going to be running up against statute of fraud limitations here. which say that within a reasonable period of time, you've got to bring the cases. so the clock is ticking here, and the longer we get past when
someone might have actually committed a violation of the law, the chances of seeing something happen are going to disappear. and it appears that the government has already decide on some of these companies, such as an a.i.g., that required $150 billion, $250 well bailout that they're not going to do anything. so i think time is quickly passing us by here. which i think is also frustrating to the public. >> suarez: would people behave differently, mark, if they had a reasonable expectation that they might be prosecuted for operating on the edge of the law, let's say? >> well, i think it's certainly important to go after wrongdoers, i do think there's a real risk to be run that we paint this as a few bad people did a few bad things, and if we clear that up everything is all right. i think the problems in our financial systems are systemic.
i think they went far deeper than just a few bad people. i think the bad incidents you have-- and it was mentioned earlier, regulations is one set of incentives and another is market discipline, whether the firm would be abe to go out of business, the monetary loss an individual, an executive might suffer if they are engaged in fraud or just engaged in bad management. i think we need to focus on-- i'll be very clear eye don't believe the dodd-frank act fixed too big to fail and fixed other problems in our system so i think we need to go back and look at the systemic problems because i think even if not one criminal action happened, we'd still be largely where we are today. again, we need to be able to fix those systemic things and that's not to say we shouldn't go after prosecutors. i disagree slightly that state attorneys general don't have resources. as we've seen in the past with tobacco cases they have no relockettant to outlaw their jobs to trial bar firm who had more than happy to do that work for them if there is a #-r potential payoff for them.
theri think focusing on the criminal behavior, while appropriate, should not make us lose sight of what was essentially irresponsible behavior driven by perverse incentives. >> suarez: thank you all. >> warner: finally tonight, a book conversation on how the u.s. was shaped by settlement patterns as old as the time of the first thanksgiving. the author is historian colin woodard. the book is "american nations: a history of the eleven rival regional cultures of north america." we met recently in the old town district of alexandria, virginia, founded as a seaport in 1749. presidents from george washington to james monroe frequented its landmark gadsby tavern. colin woodard, thanks for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> warner: you write in this ok that the map of the united
states that we hold in our heads and the regions that we refer to, to describe our differences -- north, east, or midwest-- are really, you say, not only meaningless but really misleading. how so? >> it's because the regions we usually use, we think of those regions, they all follow state boundaries and the state boundaries, in understanding the real cultural fissures and fractures in our country, are almost irrelevant. the fractures don't facility state boundaries. origins of these cultures go way back to the early colonial period and spread out without regard to the boundaries. if you want to understand the real power that regionalism has over our politics or or history you have to have a new map because the current one is insufficient to understand it and be a base for us to analyze. >> warner: so you're saying the countries-- our colonial era, which this room certainly skeweds, is really absolutely still key in understanding the nation we became and the nation we are? >> it is, because the real
founding fathers weren't the generation that came together in 1775, and 1789 to put together our federation. they were the early colonial clusters' founding fathers in the early 1600s or the late 1600s or the early 1700s and each of these colonial clusters and each of these founding groups came founding very cinch countries, in essence. >> warner: we can't do all 11, but compare for us two regions that, in their history and sort of their essence, that you say were so opposite, one being yankeedom, which you have a huge area from nova scotia to the eastern edge of the dakotas, and the deep south, the slave-holding states of the deep south. >> these ended up being the two superpowers of our continent that a lot of our national divisions and conflicts have been between two coalitions of one sort or another led by one
either yankeedom or the deep south. and yankeedom was founded by radical calvinists trying to create a religious utopia, and this is important for understanding the culture today because the idea was to try to make the world more godly and actually do social engineering and create a more perfect place on earth. and this was done through public institutions and governments. and yankeedom has been on the side of efforts to reform and improve society, be it from prohibition through women's rights to the abolition of slavery to the environmental movement and beyond. >> warner: let's take a complete opposite it's deep south. 85 us thence of the deep south and how different was it. >> the deep south was founded several generations later by english planters from barbados and created it as a west indian slave society modeled on the republics of ancient antiquity,
the slave states of ancient greece and rome. and the deep south is a more traditional order with respect to hierarchy which has often been proposed to the reforms. they found themselves at the opposite sides of the great flashpoint of our history. >> warner: when the north and south came to lows alreadily, the civil war, we think of this as a division along the mason-on line but you write there are four regions in between that wanted no part of is originally. >> when the deep south seceded, only the states controlled by the deep south secede, and only yankeedom wanted to take up arms and go to war to stop them. everyoneless in between was deeply ambivalent and deeply concerned about either option. >> warner: so let's bring it forward to today. how do these rival regional cultures demonstrate themselveses in pothemselveses , particularly the debate over what are american values or
american principles? >> each one of these regional cultures has its own answers as to what our fundamental valuees and principles ought to be, and in the terms of american identity say, our immigrants, should they come and assimilate to a dominant angloprotestant nation that ties back to yankeedom, all the way to henry ford's great melting plot in his plant where immigrants came in, in their national costumes and exited wearing identical american uniforms. this is a very cinch idea than the midlands and netherlands, which were multi-ethnic and multilingual from the very beginning. >> warner: they considered that was the american ideal. >> absolutely. that it should be a mosaic of people with their own cultures and preferences living side by side. that's very much tied to those particular nations. >> warner: we have spent the better part of our 200 years welcoming immigrants to our
shores and great internal migration. why hasn't that blended or homogenized the differences? >> these are regionald cullures, lay down the cultural d.n.a. for these particular piece of geography. they left the dominant culture, the institutions and norms and practices and expectations that all of the rest of us encountered when we arrived in those places and when our children or grandchildren started assimilating to dominant culture around them, what i'm saying is it wasn't an american culture they asimulated into. it's one of these regional cultures. it works very much in the same way. >> warner: do you think the government dysfunction we're all talking about now, particularly here at the national level in washington, is that rooted, too, in these kind of regional differences or these culturally opposite views about the role of guest? >> absolutely. i mean, the stalemate we see the and the polarization is created very much by these strong
regionald differences and opinion over key issues like the role of the federal government and the balance of individual freedom versus social collective good and taxation and regulation. all of those things are classically polarizing on these regional terms. the midlands, it's ambivalent over may be of these questions. >> warner: meaning in modern terms sort of from pennsylvania all the way through the midwest? >> right. the region that particular area, which includes swaths of membership of the great swig states in presidential politics, that region is still ambivalent about some of these great questions which leaves the maps almost stalemated. our elections are decided by very thin margins in political locations because of the underlining regional geography. >> warner: should some come away from reading your book that it is preordained? >> that's what i'm hoping the
book can contribute. we've been having this argument but we don't know what we're arguing over. we don't understand what the underlying background is to the disagreements that we're having and the regional nature of those disagreements. i'm hoping by identifying what the actual questions on the table are, that we can actually start moving the conversation forward from there. gloorg colin woodard, thank you for this conversation. >> thank you very much. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: egypt's military rulers apologized for the deaths of at least 39 protesters during five days of violence. they also said parliamentary elections will be held monday as planned, in spite of the unrest. and in iraq, at least 19 people were killed in a triple bombing at a market in basra. online, we look at a thanksgiving ritual in washington. kwame holman explains. kwame? >> holman: every year, there's a
white house pardon of a turkey view our slide show of presidents from franklin roosevelt to barack obama. as u.s. troops pack up in iraq, we explore the logistics behind the massive drawdown on our world page. and on our making sense page, economics correspondent paul solman examines the state of the europan bond market. all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. margaret? >> warner: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm margaret warner. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. enjoy the rest of the thanksgiving holiday. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology,
and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org