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tv   Frontline  PBS  April 26, 2012 9:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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>> tonight on frontline: they're hailed as medicine's greatest triumph: conquering smallpox, diphtheria, polio and more. >> if you look at vaccines over the past hundred years, they've increased our life span by 30 years. >> but today, some americans question if all those vaccines are worth the risk. >> and i said, "why am i supposed to vaccinate my newborn baby against a sexually transmitted disease," and the
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nurse got really mad. >> and some parent groups attack vaccines as the cause of chronic diseases from adhd to autism. >> my kid got six vaccines in one day, and he regressed. >> would i rather have the measles versus autism? we'll sign up for the measles. >> despite numerous scientific studies that say vaccines are safe, public concern persists. the result: outbreaks of infectious diseases not seen for a generation. >> we are not living in a bubble. it's just a matter of time before someone brings that disease into our community. >> as public health officials struggle to communicate with a skeptical public, they face a radically changed social media environment where youtube videos spread virally across the internet. >> a regular flu shot gone horribly wrong. >> these people were much more likely to believe something they had seen on youtube than the centers for disease control and the fda. that's a little frightening. >> tonight, frontline reports on the science and politics of the bitter "vaccine war."
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>> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.and by the corporatir public broadcasting. major funding is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. and by reva and david logan, committed to investigative journalism as the guardian of the public interest. additional funding is provided by the park foundation, decated to heighning plic awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund. with grants from scott nathan and laura debonis, and the hagler family.
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>> what a cute little face. aww, here we come. it's a girl! >> yeah! >> she's beautiful. >> what's her name? >> rachel. >> she's beautiful. she doesn't want to cry. >> narrator: a new life begins. >> congratulations. >> thank you. >> narrator: out of her mother's womb, rachel murphy is now surrounded by a new world filled with countless germs. modern medicine will do what it can to protect her.
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>> just a tiny little stick. >> narrator: barely an hour old, rachel gets her first shot against hepatitis b. this is the first of up to 35 inoculations she will get in the next six years of her life to fight 14 diseases. >> it's all right. it's okay, princess. >> narrator: public health doctors celebrate vaccines as one of medicine's shining achievements. >> that's all. you're okay. >> they've increased our life span by 30 years. hib would cause 20,000 to 25,000 cases a year: gone! i mean, polio would paralyze, you know, tens of thousands of children every year: gone! i mean, diphtheria was the most common killer of... of teenagers in the 1920s: gone! i mean, you know, vaccines... the benefit of vaccines is clear. >> well, there's now 16 diseases that are preventable by vaccination for children. 14 of those are diseases that we vaccinate infants and young children for, and two of them are diseases that we vaccinate
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adolescence. from my point of view, being able to prevent 16 diseases by vaccination is a really good thing. >> narrator: but not everyone agrees. across america, the cdc has discovered certain communities where parents are hesitating to vaccinate their children. one is ashland, oregon. >> you're walking? >> yeah. what am i going to do with the baby scooter? this is our neighborhood, and we love it because we can walk everywhere. ashland is a very safe town compared to almost every place else in america. >> narrator: it's a college town, the home of an annual shakespeare festival, where a well-off, educated populace has easy access to alternative organic food co-op and yoga centers. >> go get 'em! >> narrator: jennifer margulis, a writer with a ph.d in english literature, is the mother of four children.
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>> when my daughter was born in 1999, the nurse bustled in with her tray and said, "okay, it's time for your hepatitis b vaccine." and i looked at my daughter and i looked at the nurse, and i said, "isn't hepatitis b a sexually transmitted disease?" and i said, "why am i supposed to vaccinate my newborn baby against a sexually transmitted disease?" and the nurse got really mad. >> narrator: margulis went on to research and write about vaccines, and, in 2009, published a long article about the vaccine debate in "mothering magazine," a magazine promoting a natural lifestyle. >> why are we giving children so many vaccines? they get four times the number of vaccines than i got when i was a child growing up in the'i 70s. as a parent, i would rather see my child get a natural illness and contract that the way that illnesses have been contracted for at least 200,000 years that homo sapiens have been around.
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i'm not afraid of my children getting chicken pox. there are reasons that children get sick. getting sick is not a bad thing. >> narrator: in common with many other ashland parents, margulis decided not to fully vaccinate her other children. ashland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. an estimated 28% of its children lack some or all of their recommended vaccines. >> so we're going to need today the d-tap#5, your final polio... >> narrator: pediatrician dr. donna bradshaw walters worries that these parents may unwittingly bring back diseases that haven't been seen for decades. >> and say "ahh." >> ahh. >> good job. the possibility of an outbreak is real here in ashland. we are not living in a bubble, especially in this day and age of international travel. our shakespeare festival draws people from all over the world. and it's just a matter of time before someone comes to here
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from another area who is unimmunized and who has the disease and brings that disease into our community. >> narrator: there are many pro- vaccine parents in ashland who agree, like lorie anderson, whose adopted son evan is fully vaccinated. >> it's an outbreak waiting to happen. and so i... i don't just care about my own child. my child may be well protected because of his vaccination, but i hate to see people get hurt, injured, die, have to be quarantined, isolated because of an outbreak that is preventable with a vaccine. all they have to do is sign an exemption, and their kid is exempt from immunization before they go to school. i will try not to be angry. i hope it doesn't get contentious. it will, though. it will get contentious if there's an outbreak.
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if vaccinated children start to get breakthrough disease because of the high rate of unvaccinated children, it probably will get ugly. >> narrator: the cdc tracks outbreaks of infectious diseases around the country from its center in atlanta. in 2008, for example, there were numerous small pockets of infection. one involving measles erupted in an under-vaccinated area of san diego. like most measles outbreaks, it came from abroad. it began when an infected seven- year-old returned from a family vacation in switzerland on january 15. the child gave measles to two siblings, and collectively they infected classmates at the san diego cooperative charter school in linda vista. a visit to the children's clinic of la jolla spread the infection to four others. one of these, an infant, flew on
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a plane to hawaii where she was intercepted and quarantined. her fellow 250 passengers had to be contacted and tracked. dr. wilma wooten is san diego county's public health officer. >> this entire process resulted in exposures of almost 1,000 individuals-- 90 individuals having no proof of immunization, 73 were quarantined, 12 additional actual cases of measles in san diego. >> narrator: public health officials determined that what allowed measles to enter the community was the number of vaccine-hesitant parents who took advantage of the personal belief exemption allowed by california. school principals find themselves caught on the frontlines. >> the fact is that some families choose not to immunize their children. and then there are families who have children who are particularly medically sensitive, and they're in jeopardy because they could get
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sick from unimmunized children. so it's a very emotional issue on both sides. >> narrator: a vast public health infrastructure is committed to preventing such outbreaks. the national institutes of health, the food and drug administration, the centers for disease control and prevention, large vaccine manufacturers. the mainstream medical establishment speaks with one voice: vaccines are a public health miracle far too valuable to put at risk. emilio emini has spent his life making vaccines in america's pharmaceutical companies. he heads pfizer's vaccine operation. >> people haven't seen these diseases in a while, so people become complacent. they don't vaccinate, and what they wind up doing is putting their children and themselves in considerable risk of a severe disease and infection. polio-- even though people aren't worried about it because haven't seen much of it-- it's
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still present in many parts of the world, and it can easily be introduced into a non-vaccinated population. and for what we've seen in other parts of the world, once it's introduced it will spread very rapidly and cause a lot of disease. >> the fear, my friends, is polio. but soon, perhaps within a year, there may be a vaccine. >> thanks for visiting with us. hey, kids, how about saying goodbye, huh? >> say goodbye. >> come on, say bye-bye. >> when i was a child and the big scare was polio, where you would see your friends playing ball outside with you-- baseball and basketball-- and all of a sudden get sick and be in bed, be in an iron lung, and then come out with a deformity, a serious limp or a serious physical disability. that is absolutely frozen in your mind as a very scary scenario. >> i think we're compelled by our own fears. and certainly for my parents, who grew up in the... in the 1920s and '30s and '40s, saw these infections. they saw what they could do.
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for them, vaccines was an easy sell. >> narrator: paul offit is a pediatrician and co-inventor of a vaccine against rotavirus, a pathogen that causes serious fever, vomiting and diarrhea. >> i grew up in the 1950s and '60s. i saw measles. i had measles. i had mumps. i had german measles. i mean, i knew what those diseases could do. i watched my friends also be sickened by those diseases. and so, for me, vaccines was an easy sell. i think for people now, young mothers today not only don't see these diseases, they didn't even grow up with these diseases. so for them, vaccination becomes a matter of faith. >> narrator: but the faith of some parents has eroded. offit, for example, is seen in some quarters not as a hero for inventing a successful vaccine but as a self-interested entrepreneur whom skeptics call "dr. profit." >> they all have this guy paul offit. you guys know him? ( audience boos ) and he is the poster child for the term "biostitute." he does not disclose the millions of dollars... >> narrator: for such critics, the fact that vaccines have made
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offit rich is enough to discount what he is saying. but offit, a prolific author, makes no apologies. >> i'm the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine, a vaccine that i made in collaboration with merck. and it's a vaccine which has caused a dramatic decrease in this country in hospitalization and has causedlready a dramatic decrease in hospitalization and death in some countries in the developing world. i'm enormously proud of that. i would argue that i have an expertise in rotaviruses and... >> you also financially benefit from that vaccine. >> it... it's... i know this isn't going to... going to sell, but it doesn't matter. it doesn't matter whether i financially have benefited or not. the only thing that mattered is... is... is... is, did the vaccine that we created at children's hospital of philadelphia do what it was claimed to do? has it prevented hospitalization and suffering and death? and the answer to that question is yes. >> you like it? >> it's a mistake that we have a vaccine against rotavirus, the vaccine that paul offit helped to develop. in the third world maybe people are dying of rotavirus, but in this country, you have to do
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back flips to show a death toll of people from rotavirus. >> well, one of the bitter ironies of vaccination is it carries with it the problems of its own success. >> narrator: author and bio- ethicist arthur caplan runs a special program at upenn on the ethical issues surrounding vaccines. >> many parents are not thinking about the risk-side of disease because they don't see those diseases. they've never en any child rendered deaf by the mumps. they've never seen somebody who's had a case of polio. i had polio. i was in the hospital paralyzed, legs and neck, for about a year. so i know firsthand what the polio epidemic looked like. i was sort of at the last outbreak before the... the vaccines really came online and eliminated it. >> narrator: vaccine-preventable diseases like polio have become vanishingly rare in the united states-- so rare, in fact, that most younger pediatricians have never seen a case.
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this is one of the few places where you can see what vaccine- preventable diseases look like. this is a case of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. the audience is made up of paramedic students. >> she can't breathe, and that's horrifying for any patient of any age to discover that your airway has closed and you can't inhale. >> narrator: the teacher, dr. cynthia cristofani, is a pediatric intensivist who treats children in need of critical care. she decided several years ago to document the rare cases of vaccine-preventable illness that turned up in her portland, oregon, icu. she uses the footage to teach other medics how to recognize these diseases. >> i'm old enough to have seen most of the serious life- threatening illnesses that are largely suppressed and some almost eradicated by the modern vaccines. this baby was a victim of rotavirus. there's major fluid deficiency in this child's tissues.
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actually kills over half a million humans annually, most of them elsewhere on the planet. the community recollection for these diseases has largely disappeared, and so the parents of younger kids who are of vaccine age are unlikely to have had any personal experience. and unless the grandparents or others can tell them what it was like and happen to have had knowledge of somebody who had a severe complication, it's easy to imagine that these diseases are eradicated. those spots are actually something probably none of you have ever seen. they're chicken pox. this patient had one of the commoner potentially lethal complications of chicken pox. he got strep sepsis from an infected lesion. this child came as close to dying of chicken pox as you can come without doing it. and so i encourage you to remember that chicken pox also can cause fatalities even though most people used to think of it as a rite of passage in childhood and we all got it. you can do better than that. there's a vaccine. this one's a scary one. this is haemophilus influenza type b-- meningitis-- and he was
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actually the last patient i ever saw with this disease. i can tell you it was the scourge of pediatrics when i was in training because there was no vaccine. but beware it could come back if people stop vaccinating. >> why are we giving children so many vaccines? there's no more polio in the united states and there's no more diphtheria in the united states, and no one, no child, has contracted wild polio since 1979 in the united states. so when do we take polio off the vaccine schedule? when do we say, "fantastic, the vaccine worked, we figured it out, we don't have a polio epidemic anymore, let's stop vaccinating against polio"? >> narrator: as vaccine- preventable diseases have become less visible, some americans have become more conceed about the risks posed by vaccines than by the diseases they prevent. public health officials like nih's anthony fauci have struggled with how to communicate the risks of vaccines without causing undue fear from common side effects
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such as mild fevers and serious adverse events that are extremely rare. >> to say that there is no risk in any vaccine would not be truthful. what is the risk of injecting something into someone's arm? the risk is that a certain proportion of people will get swelling and a little bit of pain, lasting from an hour to a day. that is a very acceptable risk. a very, very, very small percentage of people will get an allergic reaction. namely, there's a component of the vaccine that they didn't realize that they were allergic to. and then there's a subset of a very, very, very, very small percentage of those who actually can get a serious reaction. but if you look at that, the risk of that is so minisculely small as to be completely outweighed by the benefit. >> narrator: the cdc's web site tries to convey all these risks
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accurately even when scientists are not sure the vaccines are in fact responsible. here's what it says about the measles vaccine: >> "severe problems-- very rare. several other severe problems have been known to occur after a child gets mmr vaccine. but this happens so rarely, experts cannot be sure whether they are caused by the vaccine or not. these include: deafness, long- term seizures, ca or lowered consciousness, permanent brain damage." >> when the cdc communicates risks, they... they fall into two groups. one is... are those risks that are very rare but, in fact, are real. >> sometimes, very rarely, it can cause a rash later on. >> and the other are those risks that have been reported following a vaccine but for which we have no evidence that the vaccine actually caused the problem. those, i would argue, are at best theoretical. >> my son was a bright, precocious, healthy two-and-a- half-year-old child in 1980 when i took him in for his fourth dpt shot. >> narrator: barbara loe fisher
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runs an independent watchdog organization dedicated to vaccine safety issues. >> national vaccine information center. >> narrator: it's an organization she helped found in 1982 after her son suffered a serious vaccine side effect. >> to make a long story short, after that, he regressed physically, mentally and emotionally and became a totally different child. he was eventually diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities and attention-deficit disorder and had to remain in a classroom for the learning disabled throughout his public school. >> narrator: fisher's organization lobbied successfully for laws that promote vaccine safety. today, a much safer vaccine has replaced dpt. the laws also created a special vaccine court to evaluate and compensate victims of adverse vaccine side effects. >> vaccines are pharmaceutical products that inherently carry a risk of injury or death. and that risk can be greater for some than others, particularly for... for genetic or biological
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high-risk reasons that have... some of which have been identified and some which have not been identified. >> shame on you, shame on you... >> narrator: surveys show about one-third of americans worry about rare but serious vaccine side effects. but one fear has come to dominate the vaccine war, the fear that vaccines are responsible for autism, a mysterious disorder that appears to be on the rise. the theory that vaccines could cause autism has become well known, partly due to the advocacy of vocal celebrities like jenny mccarthy and jim carrey. >> you're a shining example of unconditional love, and we're so proud to be here. >> jenny, jenny, jenny! >> today, i am not a celebrity. today, i am a mom of a child who had autism. >> narrator: former "playboy" playmate jenny mccarthy knew little about autism until her
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son evan received a series of vaccines including the shot for mumps, measles and rubella: the mmr triple shot. a few weeks later, evan developed seizures and was diagnosewith autism. >> so i left that office devastated, hopeless. the next day, i-- or maybe it was even that night-- went on google and typed in "autism." >> narrator: she found the site for generation rescue. >> so i clicked on generation rescue, and i found this community of parents. >> narrator: generation rescue is run by businessman j.b. handley. handley's son was diagnosed with autism following a series of shots in 2004. at the time, he'd also gone on the web and discovered a community of parents with stories to share. >> there were literally tens of thousands of parental reports of
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children regressing and changing after vaccine appointments. >> my child was fine before the vaccine. >> the vaccine made sam autistic. >> he completely changed. >> after the mmr, he wouldn't look at us. >> cole just stopped speaking. >> he got the shot, we started losing him. >> narrator: the vaccine most often blamed in these stories wathe mmr triple shot for measles, mumps and rubella. >> okay, then she would get her second mmr. >> few people without kids today realize that when a child goes in for a doctor's appointment-- and they're required to go in at two months, four months, six months, and 12 months to get their initial vaccines-- there are literally somewhere between five and seven vaccines lined up on the table. they're all given simultaneously within about 12 minutes. >> your daughter will be protected against five things: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and hib. >> well, tens of thousands of parents have reported that their kid was never the same after those appointments. the second data point is the knowledge that vaccines cause brain injury in a small segment of the population. we know that.
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the federal government knows it. they pay money to kids who've been injured that way. this is something that's been known for years. and then we also know that the number of vaccines given has risen dramatically. so it does not take a rocket scientist to draw a possible correlation between the vaccines being given and the brain injury that our children are suffering, because autism is brain injury. >> narrator: combining his resources and her celebrity, handley and mccarthy have been highly effective at organizing a movent oconcerd pares. >> hi, i'm jenny mccarthy. i am here today to beg you guys... >> narrator: the science that gave the movement its originalw impetus was a 1998 article by british gastroenterologist andrew wakefield in the medical journal the "lancet." he reported on 12 children with gastrointestinal problems, eight of whom developed symptoms of autism following an mmr shot. wakefield's theory was that the measles vaccine inflamed the intestines, causing harmful proteins to leak into the bloodstream, eventually damaging
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the brain and causing autism. >> measles, mumps and rubella, given together, may be too much for the immune system of some children to handle. clearly for the vast majority, it is protective. and we must emphasize that it is just a small cohort of children- - we don't know how large-- but who have appeared to have developed a syndrome. >> we don't want your dna. >> narrator: news of wakefield's provocative "lancet" article spread across the world, creating fear that measles shots might cause autism. >> there was a dramatic decline in the coverage of young children with measles vaccines. >> narrator: autism expert eric fombonne was working in london at the time. >> there were areas, like in urban areas, where it was even lower than 80%. and in ireland in particular, vaccine coverage fell to close to 70%, and there was a big outbreak of measles occurring as a result of that fear. 110 infants were admitted in hospitals in critical conditions, and i think three of
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them died from measles. and measles is a preventable disease. >> parents reasonably thought, "my child was fine, they got an mmr vaccine, then they developed the first symptoms of autism. could it have been the mmr vaccine that caused that autism?" that's a perfectly reasonable question. >> narrator: the fact that two events happen close together might mean they are causally related, but it could also be simple coincidence. >> this vaccination is given at an age where often the first symptoms of autism emerge. and typically it... it occurs around 15 or 18 month of age, when these children start to walk and also when we expect them to develop language, which they usually fail to do. >> there are a certain set of diseases that become apparent when children reach a certain age. that's not cause and effect. >> just because one event followed another, it doesn't mean it was caused by the other. i mean, every morning the rooster crows, the sun comes up. it doesn't mean the rooster's causing the sun to come up. the question is, was it caused by it?
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>> autism is the canary in the coal mine. i believe that it's telling people that this vaccine program is imbalanced. it's a good thing that's gone too far. >> isn't the problem here, jenny, that people sometimes casually listen with one ear are going to panic, and not vaccine at all? >> probably. but guess what? it's not my fault. the reason why they are not vaccinating is because the vaccines are not safe. >> what we are saying is that the number of vaccines given, and the ingredients like the frickin' mercury, the ether, the aluminum... >> narrator: vaccine critics questioned not only mmr but the many ingredients in vaccines. these included aluminum, formaldehyde, formalin, yeast protein, and a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal used in multi-dose vaccines. one very influential critic is environmental lawyer robert kennedy, jr.
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>> so the government scientists are acknowledging that even tiny, infinitesimal amounts of mercury parts per billion will cause profound neurological injury in children. the biggest exposure is coming from our own vaccines. when i was a little boy, we only got three vaccines. but my children, five of my six children, got 22 vaccines. beginning in 1989, that's the thimerosal generation. that's the vaccine generation. >> daddy, daddy! >> so the mercury hypothesis had more plausibility than that for mmr because of the nature of mercury, which is known to be a neurotoxicant. but mercury poisoning does not resemble autism at all. the fact that mercury is a toxicant is not sufficient to claithathe mercuryontained in vaccines can lead to autism. so it was critical, therefore, to follow up this hypothesis
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with properly conducted epidemiological studies. oh! >> narrator: under public pressure, public health agencies decided to act on the side of caution rather than wait for the results of such epidemiological studies. in 1999, the fda asked manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal in vaccines as soon as possible. >> unfortunately, i think it precipitated the notion that the thimerosal was doing harm. and from a parent's standpoint, that again was very understandable. why would you take something out of vaccines in such a precipitous and frightening manner unless there was a problem? >> too many, too soon. >> when i began my crusade for autism, one of the first speeches gave was: is it mercury? is it the schedule? is there just too many? my answer to people and what i've been telling them is, it's all of the above. we don't know for sure, which is why we keep saying, "studyt."
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but they won't. >> narrator: in fact, around the world, scientists had been studying groups of children, searching for a possible link between vaccines and autism using the same epidemiological methods that linked smoking to lung cancer. one country renowned for its epidemiology is denmark. unlike the us, danish authorities collect demographic and health data routinely on the entire population in a series of naonal registers. they know when every child was born, when every child was vaccinated, and when every case of autism was diagnosed. >> it's sort of a paradise for epidemiologists because we don't have to work to collect this data. it is available to us. >> narrator: anders hviid and colleagues at the statens serum institut analyzed data on all the danish children born between 1991 and 1998, over half a
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million. they compared two groups: those who had received the mmr triple shot and those who hadn't. then they counted the cases of autism in each group and calculated the autism rate. they found no difference. children who didn't get the shot had the same risk of developing autism as those who did. the team published the findings in the "new england journal of medicine." other studies carried out by researchers in sweden, britain, finland and the us also found no association between mmr and autism. additional evidence came from japan. the japanese changed their vaccine schedule in 1993, replacing the mmr triple shot with three separate vaccinations.
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but following the change, autism rates did not fall. in fact, they appeared to rise, thus making the triple shot an unlikely cause of autism. the danish team now went on to investigate the second theory: the mercury preservative thimerosal. it turned out that in denmark there was a simple way to test this as well. >> in denmark, since the '70s, only one vaccine has contained thimerosal, and that was a pertussis vaccine. it contained thimerosal until may-june '92. then the same vaccine continued but without thimerosal. >> narrator: hviid and colleagues found that children who were given pertussis vaccines with thimerosal before 1992 had identical autism rates as children who received mercury-free vaccines after that date. >> we did not find any association between being vaccinated with the... the thimerosal-containing vaccine and the risk of autism.
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>> narrator: other studies in the us, the uk and canada also found no association between autism and thimerosal. in 2004, the institute of medicine carried out it's own analysis of the research and concluded: >> "the body of epidemiological evidence favors rection of a causal relationship between the mmr vaccine and autism, and also between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism." >> the allegations against me are both unfounded and unjust. >> narrator: then something extraordinary happened. on february 2, 2010, the "lancet" retracted wakefield's landmark 1998 paper, saying it was scientifically flawed. scientists around the world had not been able to replicate wakefield's findings. and it turned out th some of the kids in his small study had been referred by a lawyer who was suing pharmaceutical manufacturers on the children's behalf. but in the wake of the
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retraction, organizations like generation rescue came out in strong support of wakefield, continuing to believe in his science. soon after, parents of autistic children who brought class- action lawsuits based on the mmr and thimerosal theories had their hopes dashed by the federal vaccine court. >> and good evening to you. we begin with a ruling that affects millions of parents with children who have autism. mili who went a feral court over these vaccines were told that their case was "without scientific or legal merit." >> narrator: the vaccine court that barbara loe fisher's organization had helped set up issued a strongly worded ruling on march 12, 2010, denying a link between autism and vaccines. >> scientifically, i think the matter's settled. but i don't think... i think there are a lot of people who don't listen to science and don't understa it. so they... they're going to be
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difficult to... to sway with the scientifical... scientific arguments. >> i don't give a [ no audio ] about what the mmr said. my kid got six vaccines in one day and he regressed. you don't have any science that can show me that the regression wasn't triggered by the six vaccines. what the parents are saying is, "i went in for a vaccine appointment. my kid got six vaccines and they regressed." we need to ask the question as to why the regression took place. not whether the regression took place, why the regression took place. the only way to do that is to look at that load of vaccines and compare a group of kids or a group of animals who got the load and who didn't. >> if you're going to do epidemiology, let's ask the right question. let's not confine it to mmr, and let's not confine it to one component in the vaccine, mercury. you have to do bench science. you have to look at the human body and what occurs in terms of changes in immune function,
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brain function. you can't just do epidemiology where you' comparing groups of children against each other. >> narrator: vaccine critics say many more studies are needed before scientists can rule out side effects like autism. studies of the other vaccines, studies of multiple additives, and studies to see if certain children are genetically predisposed to a vaccine reaction. >> the hypotheses continue to shift. the first hypothesis, which, you know, people bought into long and hard is that the combination measles, mumps, rubella, mmr vaccine cause autism. 12 epidemiological studies showed that that wasn't true. then the hothesis shifted to thimerosal, an ethylmercury- containing preservative that was in vaccines, that's no longer in vaccines with... except for some multi-dose preparations of flu vaccine, that that caused autism. and that clearly has been shown not to be true. so now-- and this is classic for pseudo-science-- is you just keep moving the goal post. so now the goal post is: "no, we didn't mean actually mmr caused autism or thimerosal caused autism; we just meant vaccines
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in general cause autism." >> narrator: in the vaccine war, two kinds of knowledge compete for the public attention: the collective but dry conclusions of the scientific community and thpersonal anecdotesf parents. >> something happened. and when i say something, i mean a behavior, a trigger. something different happened to our children, which then led to autism. do i know that exact link? no. i don't have that proof, but i've got evidence in evan. just one leaf? >> yeah. >> and i've got evidence in thousands and hundreds of thousands of parents all over the world. and these are the mommy warriors that will make change, because we have to. >> it's a tragedy that there are kids who are unprotected because their parents are choosing not to vaccinate out of fears that are unfounded. the other tragedy is that the kids who have autism-- who desperately need better research
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into why and, more important, what to do about it now-- that research isn't being done, at least to the degree that it should have been, because most of the would-be research... those dollars and hours have been lost. >> any pain behavior that you can't explain? >> narrator: cdc is involved in a five-year study called seed, the study to explore early development, to help identify what might put children at risk for autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. but it's not clear that such scientific studies will settle the vaccine war. to the contrary, public skepticism of scientific authority seems to be growing, fueled in part by a new battleground where ideas fight for public attention: the internet. ( phone rings ) >>thank you for calling cdc info.
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>> it's not just about the science. we wish it were. unfortunately, the issue persists. and one of the challenges is that once something gets up on the internet it's there. there are new cohorts of parents every day going to the internet, reading about that for the first time. the web really has served to keep these controversies alive that really should be non- controversies. >> there's absolutely no control over what appears on the internet, and you can post anything you like, true or not. >> the centers for disease control, a nazi organization. >> those original myths are still there, and they're hard to counteract. you know, conspiracy theories tend to be popular, and it's hard to undo that kind of damage. >> i spoke recently at a high school near here; there were about 200 people in the audience. and i asked them how many had gotten the influenza vaccine,
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and about half raised their hands. of the half that didn't raise their hands, they said that they didn't get it because on youtube they saw a... a redskins cheerleader say that she had gotten the vaccine and had a so- called dystonic reaction. >> she's the beautiful cheerleader whose heartbreaking story is shocking the nation. >> narrator: this clip of redskins cheerleader desiree jennings went viral on the web after a local fox news station broke the story. she reported a bizarre neurological reaction to a flu vaccine th caused her to be able only to walk backwards. her story's been viewed and shared almost 2.5 million times. >> desiree can run just fine. it's only when she stops... you see, that's when... that's when the spasms start. now, you can walk backwards, though. >> these students who sat in that room were much more likely to believe something they had seen on youtube from a washington redskins cheerleader than they would have believed something that they would have heard from the centers for disease control and prevention or the american academy of pediatrics. that's a little frightening.
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>> narrator: after jenny mccarthy saw desiree on youtube, generation rescue became involved iher treatmt, connecting her with a controversial osteopath, dr. rashid buttar in north carolina. >> she flew out to see this doctor. he chelated her and did hyperbaric chamber treatments and many other type of biomedical therapies that we do with our kids, and she got better quick. after a few days of treating her, she was down to about seven seizures a day and speaking and walking. >> look at desiree now. >> narrator: upon finding her cured of a supposedly incurable condition, the media now presented her story as a hoax. >> we've been trying to reach you, and you have not been returning our phone calls. >> oh, i'm sorry. >> narrator: by now it had emerged that her admitting neurologist suspected desiree's condition was psychogenic. >> is it all some kind of elaborate hoax? >> it's part of the turf in medicine. inaccurate, misleading and destructive information can get
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widely spread. so it... it is tough in the age of the internet. >> i think the internet has been the fuel on the fire of anti-vaccine fears. there's plenty of web sites out there putting out formation about people alleging all kinds of complications and problems with vaccines, their own pet theories about what might be dangerous about vaccines. so there are oodles of sources of lousy, dangerous information out there. >> narrator: but advocates like barbara loe fisher see the internet as a democratizing force that has empowered people to challenge medical dogma. >> when i first started this work in the early '80s, i had a selectric typewriter, and i had the post office. that's it. today, you have access to the library of medicine on the internet. you can communicate with people all over the world. so it has changed everything. >> narrator: in this new world, many parents are no longer
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willing to take the word of their doctor on faith, or to accept the conclusions of the medical establishment, frustrating public officials charged with protecting the health of the community. >> i'm the mother of a two-and- a-half year old, and i haven't done any vaccines at all. and i feel very safe and very comfortable with my decisions. >> i'm a mwife, and i'm also the co-leader of the rogue valley holistic mom's network, which is a national... >> narrator: ashland's public health officer, dr. jim shames, meets periodically with parents to talk about their responsibilities for the public health. >> do you feel that when you say "no, thank you," that you might be putting anybody else at risk besides your child? >> this is the major thing that we're always up against. public health officials are looking at the good for all; mothers are looking at the good for their one child. and that's very important for them. it's the most important thing. it's their world. >> when you make that decision for you child-- which you have a right to do-- do you think that you may be affecting other children? >> do i believe that i'm causing
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harm by not vaccinating my child? no, i don't. because if the vaccines work, who am i putting at risk? >> so let's... let's talk about that. now, not everybody can get immunized. that child right there is probably too young to get immunized against pertussis. if your child gets pertussis by not getting the vaccine, and your child passes it onto a delicate newborn... >> i... i really don't believe it. i feel like, first of all, i feel like it would be responsible to then quarantine my child and not expose them to other, you know, potentially fragile populations. >> a lot of diseases are transmitted before you even know you're sick. >> it's my responsibility as a parent to keep my child safe, i think, and i don't think it's your responsibility to take a vaccine because i might be at the same party with you and you might cough on her. honestly. i think your job is to protect your own health. and i mean, maybe i sound... i really don't mean to be sounding selfish in that way. >> there has to be some step beyond just "i take responsibility for me and my kids," because there's things
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that happen in the best of intentions that diseases do get transmitted. >> narrator: for these ashland mothers, health is a private affair, not a public responsibility. for them, refusing a vaccine is no more significant than refusing any medication for your child. but scientists say vaccines are special. >> vaccines have an odd power that drugs don't have. if i take a drug, it doesn't help you. but if i get vaccinated and some others get vaccinated, then you may be benefited by so-called herd immuny. >> together, we are together. >> in other words, if a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated, that will stop infections from spreading because most of the people around that child are vaccinated. so therefore the virus can't really spread. however, when a critical number of people aren't vaccinated, when there's a critical drop in herd immunity, then the viruses can spread. and not only are those children who aren't vaccinated at risk, but those who can't be vaccinated are at risk. >> thank you. >> narrator: when enough people
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don't vaccinate, herd immunity begins to crumble. the first to suffer are vulnerable populations, those who because of age or illness can't be vaccinated. when vanessa was six weeks old-- too young for most vaccines-- her only protection was from the herd. then, she came down with a severe cough. >> she turned totally blue. she stopped breathing. and we didn't know what to do to have her breathing back again. i took outside, you know, bring her back. she wasn't responding. >> narrator: an ambulance brought her to the pediatric icu in her home town of portland, oregon. fortunately, the intensivist on call that night was dr. cynthia cristofani. this was vanessa. >> i look at the video, and i keep saying, "vanessa, take a breath, please," because we knew that a child of that age with a already narrow airway baseline who's not inhaling well could easily lose consciousness from lack of oxygen and perhaps die.
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>> yeah, they're giving her oxygen. >> narrator: dr. cristofani opened the infant's airways and sucked copious secretions from her mouth. vanessa had pertussis, whooping cough. her status was so dire, a chaplain was brought in to the er. >> vanessa was 40 days old when she was diagnosed with whooping cough, so we were probably a week away from having her vaccine for whooping cough. so the only thing that will protect a kid like that will be the herd immunity. and in that case, it failed. i mean, somebody in the community didn't vaccinate or... got vanessa infected with it. >> narrator: after an exhaustive investigation, cdc traced vanessa's pertussis to an infected student at her brother's high school. from the very young to the very old, scientists say herd immunity matters. >> the more immunity we have in a community, the better it is. 50% is better than nothing.
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and a 100%, it's like building a brick wall around a city and protecting it against an enemy. it's excellent protection against something entering our community that could cause illness. >> narrator: very strong herd community could completely eradicate many vaccine- preventable diseases, rendering vaccines unnecessary. this happened with smallpox in the 1970s. a decade ago, the world health organization had plans to eradicate polio, followed by measles, but vaccine scares around the world served to chip away at herd immunity, pushing these goals into the future. >> many of these germs belong to us only, which means if we can make enough humans immune simultaneously, we could eradicate them. and then, yes, we could stop vaccinating. there was actually a campaign hoping to eradicate polio from planet earth, as we did small pox, and notice we're not vaccinating anymore for smallpox because it's gone.
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but at the moment, at least, while they're in the world, there still is the potential for outbreaks if people are willing to stop vaccinating prematurely. >> narrator: why is it so hard for some americans to embrace this communal aspect of vaccines? frontline turned to political scientist hank jenkins-smith, who surveyed a representative sample of americans on their views about vaccines. >> are you required, do you feel like society requires you to vaccinate your children? >> it never felt like a choice to me. i mean, from the moment i had him in the hospital, it was never, "would you like us to give your baby these shots?" you know, it was like, "we're doing this now." so, i never felt like it was ever an option to not. >> cynthia? >> there's that kind of odd pressure to vaccinate, and certainly i get a lot of expectations from relatives, and i think we might go to the same pediatrician. ( laughs ) >> sif you pose a qution to people about whether the
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acquisition of vaccines is a societal responsibility or a parental choice, they lean very hard in the direction of having it be a parental choice. and should the government be able to tell you that you have to vaccinate your child? >> i should do it for public health, but i don't think the government should require me to do that. i think i should have a choice. >> it's a decision that each family should make. i think it should be left up to them. >> when you make something compulsory, when the state can require a parent to have their children take a risk, you introduce a whole new aspect to the problem. i mean, you think of the front lines in this battle, it's pediatricians and family doctors and it's schools who will require that children have their vaccines up to date. and that this... these institutions that we have in place put a price on not getting vaccines.
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>> hi, jazzy! how are you, girl? >> it feels a little bit lonely because sometimes it just feels like it's me as the pediatrician against the media, the world. when you're five. i think it's the most difficult when i have a family come in whose already... because of the internet, because of the news broadcast, because of something they've seen on youtube, they already are coming in with their set ideas, and it's really hard sometimes to break through that. >> pediatricians need to listen. they don't need to say, "do it my way or take a walk." they need to say, "how can i accommodate you so that we can both get our needs met in this situation?" >> have you talked to your pediatrician? >> the days of paternalism in medical policy are over.
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people are taking control of their own health. they want to be more in charge of the way that they live and not simply rely on a doctor. physicians are going to have to get over the idea that they tell people what to do and people are going to do it without questioning. >> parents don't have unlimited rights with respect to the welfare of their children. you can't put them at risk of fatal disease. you can't put them at risk of devastating disability. you know, the ethics isn't just on the side of the critics. the ethics is also on the side of those who say, "do good in the name of children. do good in the name of public health." >> narrator: one thing both sides can agree on: there's a lot at stake in the vaccine war. on the one hand, the fear that american communities will be exposed to serious diseases; on the other, something equally compelling-- every parent's wish to do what's best for her child.
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>> next timfrontline, rupert murdoch. >> an incredibly powerful force. >> a very aggressive news organization which targets people who get in its way. >> people who are unsuccessful dislike him intensely. >> the government was so scared of rupert, he could do anything. >> they hacked my phone. >> they hacked my messages. >> a 13-year-old girl killed, and this newspaper tried to profit from that. >> who the hell's going to trust him now? bye-bye, murdoch. >> "murdoch's scandal." watch frontline. >> frontline continues online. share your thoughts about vaccines and take our survey. >> conspiracy theories tend to be popular. >> read the interviews with advocates and critics. >> something different happened to our children. >> more from baby vanes's pares, w watched her struggling with whooping cough. and more on the vaccine/autism controversy. follfrontline on facebook and twitter, or tell us what
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you think at >> frontlinis made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major funding is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur undation, mmitted to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. and by reva and david logan, committed to investigative journalism as the guardian of the public interest. additional funding is provided by the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. and by the frontline journalism fund, with grants from scott nathan and laura de bonis, and the hagler family. captioned by
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media access group at wgbh >> for more on this and other frontline programs, visit our website at frontline's "the vaccine war" is available on dvd. to order, visit or call 1-800-play-pbs. frontline is also available for download on itunes.
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>> you're watching pbs.
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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: former liberian leader charles taylor was found guilty today of war crimes. among them: arming rebels who committed atrocities in sierra leone. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight: we get the latest on the verdict-- the first time an international court has convicted a head of state since the nuremberg trials after world war ii. >> brown: then, ray suarez updates the phone-hacking story in britain, as newspaper mogul rupert murdoch admits one of his
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tabloids was involved in a coverup. >> woodruff: margaret warner examines the widening political scandal in china, amid new allegations that a former party official ordered wiretaps of the country's president. >> brown: and we close with two science stories: paul solman raises disturbing questions about a future full of high tech advances. >> there are 60,000 pacemakers in the united states that connect to the internet. it's great when you're suffering from an arrhythmia and your doctor can remotely shock you, but what happens if the kid next door does that? >> woodruff: and we talk with maria klawe, president of harvey mudd college, about her mission to bring more women into scientific fields. >> you get them into an intro to computer science course that is absolutely fascinating and fun and creative. you have them have so much fun that they just can't believe this really computer science. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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>> citi turns 200 this year. in that time, there have been some good days and some difficult ones. but through it all, we persevered. supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history. so why should our anniversary matter to you? because for 200 years, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. and the next great idea could be yours. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting.
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and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: for the first time since world war two, a head of state has been convicted of war crimes. the verdict came today at the hague, in the netherlands, against charles taylor, former president of liberia. we begin with a report from alex thomson of independent television news. >> reporter: it took judge richard lussick well over two hours to read out his verdict. but that's after a trial that lasted five-- yes, five years. >> the trial chamber unanimously finds you guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of the following crimes, and planning the commission of the following crimes. >> reporter: murder, rape, using child soldiers, mutilation, sex slavery. charles taylor, the former liberian leader, planned and
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abetted hundreds of thousand of these offenses over a three year war fought by his militias in neighboring sierra leone. charles taylor used diamond money to fund his proxy forces fighting in sierra leone. >> today is for the people of sierra leone who suffered horribly at the hands of charles taylor and his proxy forces. this judgment brings some measure of justice to the many thousands of victims who paid a terrible price for mr. taylor's crimes. >> reporter: that price still very obvious in sierra leone today and in the hague, too.
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violent militias run by heads of state. human rights groups have been quick today to say it's a huge message that nobody is now above the law. they're sincere but entirely wrong as defense counsel courtenay griffiths q.c. pointed out. >> have we forgotten nicaragua? have we forgotten el salvaldor? have we forgotten the mujahadeen in afghanistan? whether you're the president of the united states or the prime minister of britain, if you engage in such covert activities and crimes are committed, yes, haul them before an international court. >> reporter: but limited justice it'll be argued is better than no justice at all, and in that regard, a little history was made here today. >> brown: for more, we turn to eric stover, director of the human rights center at the university of california at berkeley. he has participated in several criminal investigations of international leaders. so, eric stover, howignificant is ts conviconndhy?
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>> oh, it's very significant. it's historical for several reasons. first, as you pointed out earlier in the tape, this is the first conviction since nuremberg just after world warle two of a former chief of state who is held culpable for crimes against humanity. second-- and i think this is really most important-- the 11-year war ended in 2002 in sierra leone and the fog of war lifted people came to realize that the perso behi the ma terror and destruction that took place in their country was charles taylor. so they're seeing a measure of justice, as the prosecutor said. thirdly, it's important to look at the... what he was convicted of. charles taylor wasn't at the helm ordering these crimes but he was behind the scenes planning and aiding and abetting making millions of dollars for his government's coffers and his
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personal coffers. this has sent a message that those who will profit fm arms trading,hose who will profit from the suffering of others can be held accountable in international court. >> pelley: well, eric, i was wondering... i want to stop you there because i was wondering about that. so you're suggesting that the fact that they found him guilty of aiding and abetting as opposed to actually controlling the militias or commanding the militias might have a wider implication for other cases out there? >> absolutely. look in the trial of the srebrenica massacre, general khristich was actually convicted of aing and abetting, yet he was there at the crime. aiding and abetting has been present in our trials ever since 1994 in these courts so aiding and abetting means that that that individual is being held responsible for the behind-the-scenes operations and the fact that he gained money from this and that he knowingly, was fully aware, of the
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crimingss being committed. so this pushes international law further out and can grab more of those who are responsible for these crimes. >> brown: what about the process as you look more broadly at these cases of international justice. there's been criticism of the length of time, the money involved. this case took five years, lots of money. there's been some criticism that these efforts can lead to a kind of circling of the wagons. it makes leaders less willing to lead voluntarily going to exile to other countries. where are we now when you look at the broader situation? >> well, listen, justice is the thing that's always about to happen its toug it's going to take time. but if you ask the question how much destruction was brought about by that 11-year war compared to the cost of a five-year trial. and the fact that sending out a signal to those that leaders can
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be brought to justice is extremely important. you know, it was said just after day t dayton accords in 2005 that by bringing the war criminals to justice in bosnia, the war would break out again. well, look what happened. here we eith 161 indictees at the yugoslavia court, all of them brought in and there's still peace in bosnia. so, yes, it's difficult. it takes yes commitment on the part of government. it's not easy. but it is a first step towards assuring peace in the long run. >> and briefly, of course, in the case of charles taylor, there's still sentencing to come. there may be an appeal, i guess, right? >> well, he has an appeal and the stiffest sentence that's been handed down for the six others is 52 years so it could be anywhere in that range up to life in prison. the important thing is the message that it's sending to the
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sierra leone people and those potential perpetrators in the future. >> and this, of course, was a special court set up for sierra leone. this disbands, i gather, after this case, but you're saying the quest, these other kinds of courts, the i.c.c. in particular those go on. >> that's right. the international criminal court. ke, for instce, the ca of omar al-bashir of sudan. in 2011 he traveled to kenya yet the kenyans signed on to the i don't think statute of court and they didn't arrest him. he left but now the ministry of justice in kenya has an arrest warrant out for him. so if he comes back, the importance is that government stand up and support these courts and for the international criminal court to really be effective we need to get the united states on board. >> pelley: eric stover, thanks so much.
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>> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": rupert murdoch's apology; allegations of wiretapping in china; high anxiety over high tech breakthroughs and getting more women into science. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: the supreme court of pakistan has convicted prime minister yousuf raza gilani of contempt. it stemmed from his refusal to pursue a corruption case against president asif ali zardari. the ruling carried only a symbolic sentence of less than a minute in detention, allowing gilani to stay in power. in afghanistan, three u.s. troops were killed today in a bomb attack in the east. nato also announced a man wearing an afghan army uniform shot and killed a u.s. service member late wednesday, in the south. the gunman was killed when coalition forces returned fire. there've been at least 16 such attacks this year against american or other foreign forces. the u.s. secret service widened its investigation of a prostitution scandal today. the probe was extended to include previous presidential travel overseas.
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the latest allegations predate the scandal that exploded two weeks ago, ahead of the president's trip to colombia. the secret service now says it's pursuing a report by seattle television station-- kiro. according to that account, agents hired strippers and prostitutes in march, 2011, in advance of a president obama's visit to el salvador. the station reported a local contractor said agents drank to excess and brought prostitutes to their hotel. at the white house today, spokesman jay carney reiterated the president's view. >> he believes that every american who travels abroad representing the united states should behave himself or herself in accordance with the highest standards of probity and dignity. >> holman: earlier this week, "the washington post" reported senior agency managers have tolerated similar behavior during official trips.
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the report said agents spent a long night drinking and going to strip clubs during a 2009 trip to argentina for former president clinton. >> the allegations are inexcusable, and we take them very seriously. >> holman: just yesterday, homeland security secretary janet napolitano condemned the colombian incident, and assured senators there likely was no pattern of misconduct. >> what the director is doing is really reviewing training, supervision, going back, talking to other agents, really trying to ferret out whether this is a systemic problem. if it is, that would be a surprise to me. >> holman: but texas republican senator john cornyn said today the new reports show the need for a wider probe. >> it does concern me, and that's why we need a thorough investation. not just by the white house, not just by d.h.s., but by congress.
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>> holman: so far, eight secret service agents have been forced out, and one has lost his security clearance, as a result of the colombian episode. three were cleared of wrongdoing. the pentagon still is investigating a dozen military personnel who were implicated. in economic news, first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week. and, a rolling average was the highest in three months. but wall street shrugged off the news, and focused instead on upbeat earnings reports. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 114 points to close at 13,204. the nasdaq rose nearly 21 points to close at 3,050. the political fight over student loans heated up today. house speaker john boehner blasted president obama for traveling to college campuses in three battleground states this week. at each stop, the president pressed republicans to support holding down interest rates on student loans. but boehner accused the president of campaigning on the
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taxpayers' dime and manufacturing an issue to boot. >> here's the president wasting time on a fake fight to try and gain his own reelection. these are the kinds of political stunts and frankly they aren't worth it and worthy of his office. this is the biggest job in the world and i've never seen a president make it smaller. >> holman: in response, white house spokesman jay carney insisted this week's trip was for legitimate presidential business and not campaigning in disguise. >> the president was arguing on behalf of a policy that he believes is essential. he was calling on congress and will continue to call on congress to act to fix a problem that if not fixed will negatively effect millions of students across the country. and he'll continue to do that as part of his job. >> holman: the house votes tomorrow on a republican measure to prevent interest rates from
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doubling on federal student loans in july. the $6 billion to cover the cost would come from a public health fund under the president's health reform law. democrats favor paying for the bill by imposing new taxes on owners of some privately held corporations. the government of syria and the opposition traded blame today over an explosion that killed at least 16 people. it happened wednesday in the city of hama. the blast apparently flattened part of a residential area. activists posted video of the explosion, and blamed intense shelling by government forces. state t.v. ran graphic images of bodies. it said opposition bombmakers accidentally set off the blast. israel's military chief said today various countries are prepared to strike iran to stop it from building nuclear weapons. lieutenant general benny gantz spoke in jerusalem. he did not name the countries, but he did say this. >> there's no doubt that the iranians are seeking for military nuclear capability.
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there is no doubt that they should never get there, and there is no doubt that they will never get there. the military force is ready to use, not only our force but other forces as well. we all hope that there will be no necessity to use this force but we are absolutely sure of its existence. yesterday, gantz said he believes the iranian regime will decide, on its own, not to build a nuclear bomb. israel's political leaders have taken a more wary view of iran's intentions, but gantz denied today there's any internal rift over the issue. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we turn to the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal in britain. today, 81-year-old media magnate rupert murdoch took the stand for a second day, as a judicial panel continued its probe. we begin with a report from paul davies of "independent television news." >> reporter: darkened windows offered some protection from the attention of the photographers, but rupert murdoch always knew
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this was the uncomfortable day he'd have to explain the criminality that took place at a newspaper he owned. addressing the phone hacking at "the news of the world," he made a blunt admission: >> iave adm thasome newspapers are closer to my heart than others, but i also have to say that i failed. >> that may be... >> and i'm very sorry about it. >> reporter: he conceded there had been a cover up of the criminal activities of the news of the world, but then claimed he and those at the top of his empire had also been victims of it. >> i think the senior executives were all misinformed and shieed from anything that s going on there. i do blame one or two people for that. there's no question in my mind, that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone
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took charge for a cover up. >> reporter: the media tycoon said his mistake was being more interested in the other newspapers in his stable. >> when allegations were first made against "the news of the worls" former royal itor ive goodman, he says h personally should have taken charge. >> i should have gone and thrown all the damn lawyers out of the place. and seen mr. goodman one on one. >> reporter: he admitted it was the public outrage at the hacking of murdered schoolgirl millie dowler's phone, that drove him to close "the news of the world." >> to say it succinctly, i panicked. but i'm glad i did. and i'm sorry i didn't close it years before, and put a sunday "sun" in. this whole business of the "news of the world" is aerious blo on my reputation. >> reporter: his evidence had taken seven hours to give.
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it had been part contrition but 100% a denial of any personal knowledge or involvement in wrongdoing. >> brown: ray suarez takes it from there. >> suarez: john burns has been covering the inquiry for the "new york times" and joins me now. john, we heard rupert murdoch say he had failed, that he was sorry, but then number himself and senior newscorp management among the victims of what was gog on at his paper. how is this latest testimony going down in britain? >> well, there's pretty wide reactions. i think there was fascination to begin with with... for millions of television viewers this was covered live on his nemesis, the bbc, his principal adversary in the broadcasting business. i think the fascination we're seeing center stage under the lights a man who's had enormous influence in this country for the st 30 or40 ars who has
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never before been put on the stage like that. people will, of course... many people will have doubts as to the authenticity of what he had to say. they'll say, well, he would say at, wouldn't he? but he put forward a, if you will, a scenario that has a certain kind of potential credibility about it. he was, although he denied it, started out scraping in the newsroom. he an instainedwretch who went from a small provincial newspaper to being the largest media conglomerate in the world, $60 billion of assets and he transferred himself to the united states, he got involved with fox television, 20th century fox and basically he's saying he took his eye off this ball. he made, shall we say, at least
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a case that had some sort of credibility to it. well, we know, o coue, thers th criminal investigation that goes on whether there's a smoking gun there but if there is, there was no side of it at the hearing today. >> people have seen rupert murdoch testify already grilled by members of parliament but that was judiciary inquiry. was he under snoet could thing he is said during this latest questioning be used in other criminal cases? >> there's an important distinction here. that parliamentary committee that he faced last july with his son james the head of the itismedianterts a the time was relatively brief. it was... the main headline that came out of it was when a protester got in there and threw a foam cream pie at him which generated, at least briefly, certain amount of sympathy. he's an 81-year-old man. but the investigation at that
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time was not particularly forensic. british legislators don't have the kind of staff or budget that people on capitol hill have. that was separate inquiry. this was a broader inquiry in, as they say, the culture, ethics and practices of the british press. it specifically precluded from trying to get to the heart of the criminal investigation for the very simple reason that that is, in effect, subjudice. criminal charges ar pending against 50 people give or take with links to the murdoch tabloids who have been questioned in this affair. so there wasn't any attempt by the council or by the lord sticto g to that today. but the question was difference nick another sense, going to the power rupert murdoch has going to what happens what he should
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have known given the dominant position he holds in this company. those are the sorts of questions and it was fascinating. >> brown: were there any important disclosures coming out of this testimony and whether there were or not does it look like rupert murdoch is done? perhaps out of personal jeopardy at least for this round? >> wel i wodn't be surprised. he's been tier ten days preparing for this. it would be tremendously stressful for anybody. he's a fairly thick-skinned man by all accounts but still the burden he has borne-- i don't want to sound too sympathetic here because what his newspapers or the "news of the world" in particularly did was, of course, as he put himself a great blot on his reputation but i think he must have felt a great sense of relief that the seven hours were done and he might, i would ve thought,ery well head forhe airpt anget on his plane and fly back to new york with his wife tonight.
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did he get away with it? did he get away with anything? we can't know what's going to come with the criminal investigation but i think what he did was he put rupert murdoch at least the rupert murdoch that wants the public to know on the stage and he did it fairly effectively. he was tough, practical, unsentimental. he's deeply anti-establishment and has become the estaishmt and he was at times engagingly charming, frank, admitting what had to be admitted. he should have closed down the "news of the world" years before he had. in fact, at one point he implyed he should never have bought it. i had the strong impression that rupert murdoch sees a sort of "king lear" style that there is no recovery ultimately from this for him. there's a question as to whether his family can maintain control noof the news corpotion a
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i think he see this is great'm fire he built under serious threat. >> suarez: john burns of the "new york times" talking to us from london. good to talk to you, john. >> thank you, ray. >> woodruff: and to another scandal, this one reaching the top political leaders in china. margaret warner has our story. ( singing ) >> warner: it's been six weeks since bo xilai-- the one-time risi star of t chinese communist party-- was last seen in public. since then-- amid corruption allegations and a mysterious murder-- the man who aspired to the standing committee of the politburo has been stripped of all of his powers and positions for "serious discipline violations." and the story has continued to unfold. today's "new york times" reported that bo used wiretaps to spy on other top chinese leaders, including the president. unnamed chinese officials said
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bo set up a widespread bugging system in the southweste city of chongqing, where he was communist party chief. last august, the paper said, the bugging was detected, electronically, when a beijing disciplinary official visited chongqing and telephoned president hu jintao. also implicated in the wiretapping, bo's then-ally wang lijun, who was the city's police chief. in february, wang fled to the u.s. consulate in nearby chengdu after a falling out with bo. and this month, bo's wife, gu kailai. was arrested as the main suspect in the murr of btish businessman neil heywood. he was found dead in this chongqing hotel last november. the furor has also extended to bo's free-spending son, a student at harvard. this week he released a statement to harvard's student newspaper denying that he was a party boy who owns a ferrari. but, he wrote, "i understand
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that at the present, the public interest in my life has not diminished." the same holds true for his father and seemingly, everyone connected to him, as the almost daily disclosures continue. for more on this rapidly unfolding story, we turn to richard mcgregor, a long time correspondent in beijing for the financial times and author of "the party," a book detailing the communist party's control of the country. and xiao qiang, editor of the "china digital times," an online publication. welcome to you both. what do you make of thisatest bombshell, that bo chill lie's bugging system wasn't just bugging crime figures but top chinese officials. >> well, it's the latest fascinating insight into the hitherto closed world of chinese politics and on this occasion
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it's frankly nixonian. i suspect a lot of this goes on. one of the most remarkable aspects of a remarkable case is that we're learning about in the almost realtime. it often takes years for this to come out. i'm sure they bug each other, they all keep files of dirt on each other andt's ju at dierentipping pints when it becomes valuable and are used. but it certainly shows that's how that play the game internally and it's very tough. >> warner: and xiao qiang, does this also suggest that the reason he's been not only stripped of power but humiliated is not just the murder and original stories we heard? >> i think everyone who lives china, grows china, is an adult in chinese society or someone familiar with chinese politics will understand. 's not bcause the... mr. bo's wrongdoings such as his family members involved in a murder case or himself and his close
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partners, police chief, wang lee june involved in wiretapping causing his downfall. it's because he's the loser of a chinese political struggle now and then the dirt coming out against him. everyo famiar with the chinesregi, one party, closed box politics will believe mr. bo and these charges and new facts against him are probably not an exception. such as this couple, the bo family, had been secretly transferred $6 billion u.s. dollars of funds to u.s., the british and other oversea bank accounts according to, again, another chinese official. >> warner: all of this leaking. so richard mcgregor, there have been reports on e internet--
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and then i want to get back to mr. xiao about the internet, too because that's his expertise that bo xilai was trying to undermine the current chinese leadership and the presumed successor to president huh, xi jinping. is there evidence of that? >> there's no direct evidence of that. his major crime, if you like, politically, was to campaign so publicly for a place in the inner circle of the chinese leership. he w a veryharismatic western-style politician. that doesn't sit well with other leaders because you're meant to do your business behind closed doors. having said that, it's true they all have dirt on each other but this is pretty exceptional. not every top chinese leader is involved or their families are involved in murder and that makes it exceptional. there's a loser in a power struggle there's more to that, i think. >> warner: xiao qiang, you're
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smiling. is >> i guess we don't know if her leers havee involved or not, right? not until they became lucid. >> well, that's true, but this is a pretty remarkable case. i don't think we should assume they're all stuffing cyanide down foreign businessmen in hotel rooms. >> warner: (laughs) >> this is because of murder involving a foreigner, the british. but here's the information in politics that with the chinese characteristics, if you want to call it. because in a democratic open society the political enemys will go after each other in open media space but in a closed inese hig politics the party media is not usually being used in that way, that different political agenda or political opponents go after each other but in the internet age it became the information that became rumors that leaked to foreign media, to hong kong and taiwan newspapers, to internet,
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even to the microblogging spaces and every fight of this political struggle is trying to maneuver the informational politics and advancing their own agenda. >> warner: do you agree, richard mcgregor, that they're trying to shut down... if you try to google-- of course you can't google in china-- but if you try to search for bo xilai or gu kailai it's blocked but chinese officials are involved in leaking this to the internet? >> there's mump more leaking than usual. you can't control it like you used to be able to and because of that clearly some senior factions are using this for their own ends just like they're doing in the west. i mean, i think they are over6-overall trying to close it down. that's just about impossible to do these days. >> warner: so xiao qiang, where is this going? >> well, first of all this is
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the biggest political scandal since tiananmen massacre, in the last almost 30 years. but, again, it's not such an exception if you consider the history of chinese communist party since people's republic of china being funded. en they comehe hghest power transition, almost every single time the number two or the original candidate or some huge strug logical happen and someone will go down. whether it's any of them, but ten years ago the current president, hu jintao's transition was exceptionally smooth, but now we see that was only an exception. the fundamentally inherently instability of such aegime in tes of higher wer transition is being illustrated dramatically in the internet age by mr. bo xilai's case.
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many people will see that. >> pelley: we're just about out of time but richard mcgregor, do you think there is a... is this exposing a larger split between real factions or is this just one rogue party guy who got out of step? >> i think that's the key point. we all... china has been moving to institutionalizing how to hand over power which communist societieare very... systems are very, ver bad at. they looked like they did it ten years ago, they look like they're able to do it this time. >> warner: this fall. >> this fall. but whether they can is an open question. also a question whether something like this will make the party close up and become less transparent than ever or whether reformers, as we're reporting tomorrow, want to sort of constitutionalize the system, make it more open, put up more candidates for the jobs and try to make it more democratic. not the u.s. sense, of course, but generally. >> warner: well, it will be fascinating to watch. richard mcgregor and xiao qiang, thank you both. >> thank you.
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>> brown: now, part two in our series on using technology to make the world a better place. that's the goal of singularity university, a futuristic think tank in california. "newshour" economics correspondent paul solman recently attended a conference there and reported on some of the mind-bending research being explored. tonight, paul looks at the downside of the high-tech revolution. it's part of his ongoing reporting: "making sense of financial news." >> reporter: in a recent conference filled with the wonders new technology, one presenter's vision of the future was downright frightening. >> there are two million computer viruses that are generated every month. >> reporter: marc goodman is a former cop who ran the los angeles police departments internet crimes unit. >> never before in the history of humankind has it been possible for one person to rob 100 million people. >> reporter: nor has it been possible, says goodman, for
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anyone to hack into personal medical devices like pacemakers or insulin pumps connected to the internet. >> we are putting all these >> the thing that scares me the most after cybercrime is biocrime. we are putting all these little computers in our bodies. and what this means is our bodies are going to become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack. >> reporter: a high-level consultant to the u.s. government and interpol, goodman advises on technology-based security threats worldwide. goodman is the faculty skeptic at singularity university, the futuristic california think tank, who rains on his colleagues utopian parade of to goodman, high octane high tech is a double edged sword. >> i think all of this technology will develop in really cool and interesting ways, and there'll be a lot of great things that happen. but i can tell you at the same time there will be some bad stuff as well. there are bad actors from both the crime and the terrorism perspective that are using these technologies for ill. >> reporter: now, there's already plenty of bad stuff says goodman like those two million
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computer viruses a month. but today's hackers are much more dangerous. >> the bad guys live inside your machine, they watch everything you do. anytime you type in your bank account or credit card information onto the machine they're capturing it, they're capturing your password. >> reporter: moreover, computers are becoming increasingly embedded in the hardware around us. the typical new car, says goodman, has 250 computer chips. and in this google prototype, now legally riding the roads of nevada, even the driving is fully computerized. >> so you could put in bad g.p.s. directions and have a car drive off a bridge. every day we're plugging more and more of our lives into the internet including bridges, tunnels, financial systems, hospitals, police emergency dispatch 911 systems, military systems, robotics systems, and there's a history of all of these being hacked. >> reporter: the stuxnet computer worm that disabled iran's nuclear program made
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headlines. but smaller targets are increasingly under siege. >> diabetic pumps are being hacked. diabetic pumps, cochlear implants, brain computer interface, entirely hackable. there are 60,000 pacemakers in the u.s. that connect to the internet. it's great if you're suffering from an arrhythmia and your doctor can remotelshock you, but what happens if the kid next door does that? he thinks its fun and does if for the lols. >> reporter: l.o.l.s? you mean l-o-l, laughing out loud? >> yeah. it sounds crazy but we've had people hack into for example the epilepsy foundation and changing the computer code on the screen so that it would blink really rapidly so that they would generate seizures on the part of epileptics, that type of stuff. >> reporter: somebody actually did that? >> somebody actually did that. for what they call the lols, for the fun of it, for the laughs to see if they could do it. >> reporter: upside; downside. consider 3-d printing, a new way of manufacturing, layer by layer, everything from art to
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artificial organs. this is a 3-d printed model for a prosthetic leg. >> this is the lower receiver of an a.r.-15 semiautomatic rifle. all the other parts you can just buy. this is available for free download on something called thingiverse. so criminals a goi to start printing guns. >> reporter: but again, the sword of technology cuts both ways. mark goodman's colleagues at the conference, like andrew hessel, extolled biology's coming ability to concoct cures for everything from the common cold to cancer, downloadable as easily as the latest iphone version of angry birds. >> today, we say there's an app for that. now imagine these were viruses each made for an individual cancer and they were available for free or 99 cents.
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that's where we're going. >> reporter: the first step in that process may well be synthia -- the first synthetic life form, created two years ago by craig venter. >> this is a picture of the very first synthetic cell, based entirely on synthetic d.n.a. just around the corner, for human genome code cracker venter, the future is now. >> biology has always been controlled in science by who had the d.n.a., who had the cells, who had the species. now it's all digital. most labs instead of getting the d.n.a. from another lab download it digitally and synthetically make the gene. >> reporter: and prices have plunged. what is that moving there? >> these are some harmless bacteria that somebody's growing for a project. >> reporter: equipment is cheaper, too. this co2 incubator for maintaining tissue cultures costs $15,000 brand new. oh, look, little petrie dishes!
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but bought used on ebay? >> it was definitely well under $1,000. >> reporter: put simply,asic genetic engineering is becoming do-it-yourself. >> so the experiments that were nobel prize winning in the 1970s are now done in high schools. >> reporter: ph.d biologists ellen jorgensen and oliver medvedik helped found genspace, a d.i.y. lab in downtown brooklyn which draws amateur genetic engineers from all walks of life. like lawyer dan orr, who says he found his previous line of work unfulfilling. >> i w working mainly lping large banks fix their foreclosure programs. >> reporter: so unfulfilling doesn't quite do justice to your discomfort. >> i felt it would be better to work in something that was better both for myself and for society. >> reporter: so orr is now genetically altering bacteria to detect mold: they'll glow when they sense it.
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it makes his teacher, ellen jorgenson, proud. >> you just can't really predict what-- where the imagination of somebody creative will lead them, in terms of solving a problem that's societal or scientific or environmental. >> reporter: or maybe creating problems, says marc goodman, if the bio hacker is so inclined. >> as it becomes democratized, i can go ahead and capture your d.n.a. and come up with a particular attack that's targeted against you specifically. >> reporter: and all you'd have to do is shake my hand to get some d.n.a. >> shake your hand, get the coke can that you throw away, get the pen that you signed something with. >> reporter: and then cook up the paul solman virus: one and done. deedcraig vent tolthe conference he himself is worried about off-the-shelf biotech. >> while i think it's very cool on the one hand that we have all this biohacking going on, i think it could also be the most dangerous trend. you don't want your kid to be
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the first one on the block to make ebola virus. >> reporter: so how does craig venter react to the charge that in making life forms from scratch, it is he who's created a monster? >> what we've stressed from the beginning is having biological control on these systems is an essential part of things. we don't want new organisms to be added to the environmts repertoire, we want it to be added to our industrial repertoire. >> reporter: but aren't you afraid that it could get out of the lab? >> i'm not afraid, no. if things are done properly that won't happen. >> reporter: but a lot of things are done improperly. >> well, they're not actually. there's not been one single accident from molecular biology in almost four decades. >> reporter: but venter is not naive. >> every time there's a new technology, whether its new there is always abusers. there's no question about it, and ery new technology has been a battle between making sure there's adequate countermeasures for those that want to do harm to others. >> reporter: genspaces ellen jorgenson agrees. >> i think what you have to
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place your faith in to a certain degree is the people whose business it is to ensure that we're safe. so the bio security experts, the people who work for homeland security, the people that work for the fbi, i've worked with a lot of these people and i have a great deal of respect for them and i think that that's probably our best defense against this sort of stuff, because any technology igointo have dual use. u cathinof dual usfor practically any technology that's ever been invented. >> reporter: "dual use," meaning bad and good? >> yes. >> reporter: so if it's a cat and mouse game, the cat is the law enforcement and the mice are the bad guys, who's going to win? >> who will win eventually is unclear. i can tell you the mice are really far ahead right now. they're significantly ahead. criminal perpetrators are significantly outmaneuvering and outthinking law enforcement. >> think that's nonsense. you're telling me that there's bad guy out there that has more
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resources than craig venter? i highly doubt that. >> reporter: on the other hand, if some group is dead set on doing harm, they may not need more resources than craig venter as technology continues to progress at a breakneck exponential pace. >> woodruff: ellen jorgensen aside, why are most women not pursuing careers in the so- called "stem" fields of science, technology, engineering and math at the same rate as men? i recently put that question to maria klawe, president of harvey mudd college in california. she was in washington to attend a conference about changing that trend. >> dr. maria chrau, thank you for talking with us. >> it's a pleasure to be with you, judy. >> woodruff: so when it comes to girls and women going into the
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sciences, what's happening? we look at women andgirls and there's soany more men tha young women looking into that. why is that? >> we have lots of women going into chemistry and biology, ma m because they're going to go to med school but we get very few young women going into computer sciences in physics and areas and engineering. we know why? they think it's not interesting they think they wouldn't be good at it and they have the image of people in those fields that they don't think is attractive and what we encourage our young people do in this country is followour passion. well, if you don't think it's interesting and u don't think you'd do well at it, would grow there? probably not. >> woodruff: why is it boys thing it's interesting and young women don't? >>. >> i think the image is that this is a boy thing. so we've done lots of research on children in elementary school
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middle school and high school and if you ask girls and boys about computeers they'll all say it's boy thing. not usg computers, everybody uses computers but when th think about actually becoming somebody who would create things with computers who would actually study computer science both boys and girls think that's something boys do. >> why does it matter that we have more girls interested in the science? >> that's such a great question. for me there are three reasons. the first one is these are amazing careers. particularly right now in computer science, job opportunities are incredible. it's not just about going to work for a place like google or microsoft or facebook. it's about doing computer science in medicine, or computer science and arts. or doing computer science and languages or educational software. so the first thing is careers are out there that play very well. they're very flexible, great opportunities to provide a
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career with family. so i hate that young women don't get that opportunity. the second one is what gets created in technology depends on who's doing the creation. i'll talk about computer games for a moment. so for a very long time, virtually all the computer games were built by young men and somewhat older men and played by young men and somewhat older men so we had shoot 'em ups, lots of violence, sports. now all of a sudden what has happened is the game publishers and game developers and the nintendo and sony and so on have realized that the market for video games has plateaued so now they're going after young women and older women and suddenly we're seeing games are fun. so the first example is isims which came out of electronic arts and became the most popular computer game ever played. a lot of people associated with
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the simms were female. >> woodruff: but it's a bigger issue than them playing game. that's important but it's also the skill. >> it's the skill. it's what kind of user interfaces do we have, what kind of medical devices get created. if you completely shut ou the entire feminine perspective on the world you' have a different set of products. >> woodruff:ou'v been working on this for years. you said they don't think it's interesting. how do you get them interested and make them confident they can do it? >> let me answer in two ways. if i could wave my magic wand and change the world right this second i would change the way the media portrays careers in science and engineering. we tend to think of those people as dorks and dweebs and geeks and nerds. and back in the '70s we started to show doors and lawyers where there are women and men who had liv and fell in love
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and out of love and had all kinds of problems and suddenly we saw numbers of women going into medicine and law skyrocketing and it's 50-50 now. that would be the easy solution. seems to be a difficult nut to crack. >> warner: changing the image. >> changing the image. so what i recommend right now is the problem is if you do a program at the middle school level and get girls interested they've got another four years of high school for peer pressure to get them disinterested again and it mostly happened so my recommendation to do it when they enter college. you get them into an intro computer science course that is fascinating and fun and creative and you have them have so much fun that they just can't believe that this is computer science. and that's what we've done at harvey mudd college because we have all kinds of students who arrive saying "i hate computers" but they have to take a computer science course in the first semester and halfway through the
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semester i'll be asking them "what do you any what's your favorite course?" and probably 90 say "c.s. 5. i hate computers and compute bug that's the greatest course ever." >> woodruff: so what about to parents who are watching? >> number one, try it. you won't know until you've tried it. also go into it and for f there are male students in the class who know more than you do, ignore it. because they tend to show it off more. look for an instructor who is encouraging because that makes a huge difference. and i have had so many female udents in my life who i talked into taking their first computer science course and they're so grateful. they're going like, oh, my god, i have these great career opportunities, i can do anything i can travel around the world but they had to take the first course. >> woodruff: finally, a question about the national agenda, you participated in a conference at the white house where the
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president talked about the importance of science and math in school, the importance of students studying that. how important is this whole question of not just women but elevating science, math and engineering this country in terms of the future of the united states? >> when you think about where the economic opportunities are it actually... completely demands that we have to have a work force that is skilled in science, engineering and mathematics. we don't have a future unless we achieve that and unfortunately we graduate many fewer scientists and engineers and mathematicians than our competitors do. so i truly believe that if we are to have the kind of future we'vhad in the past we have to address getting more young people to major in these areas. we have to improve math and science teaching in our schools. >> warner: maria klawe president of harvey mudd college.
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thank you for talking with us. >> it's been a great pleasure. thank you for having me. it's science thursday online, where you can find our series on the gender gap in the hard sciences. we've posted more of our conversation with maria klawe. plus, join our live chat tomorrow on women in science at noon eastern time, the details are our science page. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: an international court convicted former liberian leader charles taylor of fomenting atrocities in neighboring sierra leone. and the u.s. secret service widened its investigation of a prostitution scandal, after allegations of agent misconduct on previous presidential trips. the house passed a bill that encourages government and companies to share information in a bid to prevent cyber tacks. the president has threatened to veto over privacy concerns. online, we look ahead to
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election day, 28 weeks away. kwame holman explains. kwame? >> holman: judy sets the scene for a possible season of negative campaigning. her blog post is on our politics page. also, you can watch paul's earlier story about the futuristic inventions at singularity university. all that and more is on our web site: jeff? >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields d david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our ecomy for 160
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ars. bn, the engine that connects us. >> citi. supporting progress for 200 years. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. 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
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