tv PBS News Hour PBS August 17, 2012 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
the prison sentences for three female punk rockers in moscow who denounced president putin; and margaret warner examines what the trial says about dissent in russia. >> brown: paul solman reports on a government program that allows u.s. firms to hire foreign students for the summer. is the motivation good will or cheap labor? >> they're disfranchising young american workers who need these jobs. their motivation is not good international relations. their motivation is the bottom line. >> woodruff: plus mark shields and rich lowry analyze the week's news. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy, productive life. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: it happened again today-- twice, in fact. afghan forces turned their guns on international troops. in farah province, a new police recruit shot and killed two
americans just minutes after receiving his gun to begin training. d in kandahar province, an afghan soldier wounded two coalition troops. there was no word on their nationalities. that made seven incidents in two weeks involving shooters in afghan army or police uniforms, so-called "green on blue" attacks. in all, there've been 29 such attacks so far in 2012, nearly double the figure from last year. at least 37 foreign troops have been killed, including 21 americans. the toll for all of last year was 35 coalition deaths; 24 were americans. for more, we turn to mark thompson, "time" magazine's pentagon reporter. mark, start with the latest incidents, do we know anything more of the motive or who the person was. >> we know what may have been a new recruit but he was either 60 or 70 years old. he was a farmer. this was the local police force. not the national police force. he had been recruited only two weeks ago and signed up
with other fellow villages to maintain a local presence in that far western part of the country when the american troops leave. he got his gun. he did his target practice. and he turned and killed two american special forces. >> so the obvious question that and to many of these, to what extent who is carrying out these so-called insider attacks. to what extent is it infiltration of the taliban or other things. >> when you talk to folks at the pentagon they think it's 50/50. roughly 50% of these folks are infiltraters. they came in with that as their goal. sort of a human ied to explode down the road when the opportunity presented itself. but a lot of them, you know, are just personal grievances. there's a lot of friction between u.s. and allied forces and the afghans. both come from very different backgrounds and they don't always mesh well so there is a mixture and that is what makes it tough to stop. >> brown: taliban are taking credit, though, right. >> yes, well secretary of defense panetta said earlier this week, basically they
claim credit whenever any of these things happen. and that's true. in fact, this past week mullah omar the leader of the taliban now in pakistan issued a statement taking credit for it they welcomed some of these guys who escaped back as herous. so youan see the taliban beginning to try to leverage these attacks to their own political ends. >> brown: one thing we do foe is that they are happening more often, right so, what is the pentagon, they've said they're going to try to take some new steps. >> they have an 8 step vetting process. they have had it for about six months it involves everything from drug checks, criminal check, getting two letters from your local elders to vouch for you that you are a good guy, good man, good kid. but plainly the spate has increased dramatically, 40% of the killings of this nature since 2007 have happened in the first seven months of this year. so they're way up. and they're increasing counterintelligence, an
order has gone out that u.s. and nato troops should carry their weapons at all times even when they are so-called inside the wire, on their base, not outside, interacting with folks. and there are now guardian angels. you know, have you three or four americans training an afghan platoon, one of them will simply stand and watch and be sure nothings happening. so it's a very inefficient and demorallizing way to train a fighting force. >> i guess the other big question here is to what extent if any it is having an impact on the overall strategy of winding down and turning things over to the afghans. >> that's the problem, of course. number one for the u.s. to leave and its allies to leave they've got to train up the afghan national security forces. they're really ramping that up. there are a lot more afghans now being trained. and nato will quickly point out that's one of the problems. we've got a lot more afghans that we're interfacing with than was a case a year or
two ago and this request account for some of the increase. but plainly it does hamper the handoff and that is a big concern in the military. >> brown: i want to turn to another investigationing and actually very sad problem that you have been covering. that is the suicides in the military. according to new figures from the military, in july 26 active duty soldiers took their own lives, representing a big jump, more than twice the number reported for the month of june. the july figure was the highest since the army ban reporting monthly suicides in 2009. and it made a total of 116 this year. in the marine corps there were 8 suicides in july, up from 6 in june. the march evens have reported 32 so far this year, equaling the number for all of 2011. you have been watching this over time as have we on this program. what is the thinking about why the new spike. >> well, i think it's interesting. were just talking about these green on blue attacks. suicides are the same way in
the sense that both are unexpected killis in a war zone. but the war has been going on for a decade and that weighs heavily both on the guys fighting it on the american side which can lead to suicide amo really depressed soldiers, as well as the green on blue attacks as the enemy figures out the best way to, where we may be the most vulnerable. plainly, you talk to anybody in the military, yes. the turnstile deployments of u.s. troops has played a role. many have not deployed. but there is an overall pressure on the u.s. military that has existed since 9/11. and as we coast to the end of our presence in afghanistan as we already have done in iraq, the military's mental health experts are saying something somewhat counterintuitive that, you know, the soldier used to go for 12 months, come home, go, come home, go. they never really relax. >> and that was used to-- i mean as a cost-- as a cause. >> right, but now when they
are coming home and staying for a year or two or three, the family is trying to reintegrate in a way where it didn't try to reintegrate before. so for the first time the military, especially the army is seeing a spike in suicides among ncos, noncommissioned officers. these are the older fellows who tend to be married. so reintegration with the family is important. and have tried to make the army a career, unlike a lot of the younger guys who come in for one or two tours and then are gone. >> brown: we've got a chart i want to put up here that shows the increase. and this is army suicides. but this is interesting because as you are saying, it's going up and up and up but even as the pace of deploynts is goin down, and after iraq is over and as the drawdown in afghanistan continues. >> yeah, i mean mental health problems in the military and elsewhere, you know, going to combat is like a seed, it's planted. it doesn't sprout.
it sprouts some where you know, in the next rainy season and whether that's six months or three years remains to be seen. but generally the impact of you know traumatic brain injury, of pstd actually has to ripeen. and it doesn't happen quickly. >> of course the military has accepted this as aajor problem. we talk about it a lot. they've implemented various programs. so what is the problem? i mean are they not working or is this still an access problem or are they not the solution. >> there is an access problem and there remains a stigma problem although those are going down. just like with the green on blue killings, jeff, there are a lot of factors it that play into both of these. consequently if you fix one, there are seven others so there's no sort of one size fits all solution. and that in part is why both are so investigationing. >> all right, mark thompson of "time" magazining thanks so much. >> thanks, jeff. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour:
the prison sentences for russian punk band members; summer jobs for foreigners in the u.s.; plus, shields and lowry. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the death toll from a wave of attacks in iraq rose to at least 93 today. the coordinated bombings and shootings began thursday before dawn, and lasted well into the night. it was the second deadliest day since u.s. forces pulled out last december. the aftermath was still evident today in baghdad as bombed-out buildings and twisted debris lined the streets. a pair of car bombings there accounted for 35 of the dead. in south africa, the government launched an investigation into yesterday's bloody confrontation at a platinum mine. police fired at charging miners, killing nearly three dozen and wounding scores. we have a report narrated by carl dinnen of independent television news. a warning-- some of the images may be disturbing. >> reporter: where yesterday there was gunfire, today there was singing. the wives of the lonmin miners had come here to protest in
front of the mine, dancing in the place where their husbands had dived for cover. >> why we are here now. is to ask the government, why, government, they done give our sons and they kill them. >> reporter: some of the women are still searching for their loved ones. >> my brother. maybe he's dead. we don't know or if he is in the hospital. we try to call him, the phone just ringing. >> reporter: this was yesterday. police opening fire on the striking miners. it left 34 men dead and 78 injured. afterwards one policeman request be seen recovering a pistol and the police say they fired in self-defense. it has been a violent
strike. four policemen and security guards were klledearlier in the week. this evening the south african-- african president cut short a regional summit, announced a commission of inquirery. >> the loss of life among workers and members of the police service is tragic and regrettable. >> reporter: the sheer scale of yesterday's violence has taken everyone in south africa by surprise. >> the >> sreenivasan: the chairman of the mining company, lonmin l.c., issued a stement tod saying the deaths were deeply regretted. shares in the company dropped as much as 8%. a global study released today found "alarming patterns" of tobacco use. researchers based at the university of buffalo found roughly 40% of men in developing countries smoke or use tobacco. and women are starting to smoke at younger ages. the findings were published in the british medical journal "the lancet". they're based on surveys done between 2008 and 2010.
in the presidential race, the obama campaign challenged republican mitt romney to release at least five years of his tax returns. romney's campaign said no, and accused the president of avoiding issues that rlly matt. romney said yesterday he's paid at least 13% of his income in taxes every year for the past decade. wall street finished this friday with modest gains. the dow jones industrial average was up 25 points to close at 13,275. the nasdaq rose 14 points to close at 3,076. for the week, the dow gained half a percent; the nasdaq rose nearly 2%. also today, facebook stock finished just above $19. it's lost half its value since the company's initial public offering back in may. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: three women from the russian punk rock band called pussy riot were sentenced to jail time today for their protest in a church against president vladimir putin. it's a case that has sparked worldwide attention.
jonathan rugman of independent television news reports from moscow. >> reporter: this afternoon, the three punk band protestors were led in handcuffs into a glass box in court. they'd already been detained for five months, and after a two- week trial, the judge had set today for her verdict. the pussy riot three didn't look remorseful. in fact, they frequently smiled, especially when the judge read out the text of their offending song. it was a song five members of pussy riot had performed for no more than two minutes in this moscow cathedral back in february, though only three were arrested. the judge said the three were guilty of hooliganism driven by religious hatred. the sentence-- two years in jail, a year less than the prosecutor askedor. but the women smiled again as if freedom of expression was really on trial here and not them.
all this being broadcast live by russian state media, nevertheless. and as masha, katia and nadia were led back to jail, it seemed that pressure from paul mccartney and protest groups around the world had no discernible effect. the husband of the lead singer nadia, told me two years was apparently mr. putin's definition of leniency. the father of katia said that every russian generation had gone to prison, that the country was now turning into saudi arabia or iran. hundreds of protestors for and against the punk band were kept back by police.
a few dozen were rounded up, including the former world chess champion gary kasparov, who could still be heard shouting after the door to the police van closed with him inside. this evening, the russian orthodox church said in a statement the verdict was lawful, but it asked for mercy, though it didn't spell out what mercy meant. "the women's action slapped christians in the face," this priest said. but he added that god had already punished them by taking away their common sense. the kremlin hasn't commented, though president putin said two weeks ago that the women should not be judged too harshly. >> woodruff: coming up later tonight, we'll examine what today's verdict means for putin's struggle with the opposition.
and on our web site, see the song that got the band in trouble in the first place. >> brown: next, who's filling that summer job? newshour economics correspondent paul solman looks at a program bringing in student workers from around the world. it's part of his ongoing reporting, "making sense of financial news." >> we're gonna die for this game today! and we want to win it! >> reporter: emmett woods, pumping up his gaelic football team before a recent home match in rockland county, new york. >> this is our field! this is rockland's field! and we control this field! >> reporter: among woods' recruits, irish students here for the summer to play and work, like cormac mcleron. >> he can help us with accommodation, sort us out with jobs, and all we had to do was just play football for his team. >> reporter: mcleron is one of some 85,000 collegians from 190 countries working here with j-1
visas, thanks to the state department's summer work travel program, launched during the cold war to promote goodwill abroad. but with youth unemployment now in double digits, u.s. firms hiring foreigners, even just for the summer, is causing bad will at home. jerry kammer of the center for immigration studies, which supports immigration reduction. >> they are disenfranchising young american workers who need these jobs. their motivation is not good international relations; their motivation is the bottom line. >> reporter: not so, says robin lerner, who oversees the program at the state department. >> one of our most effective tools in engaging with other countries is through people-to- people contact. they're unskilled seasonal and temporary jobs. >> reporter: so, good will or cheap labor? emmett woods employs 25 to 30 americans at the modestly named pub emmett's castle.
but he's also hired cormac mcleron to wash dishes, to lug lager to the cellar... >> i hope you ate your wheaties. >> reporter: ...to set tables on the patio woods says mcleron will take home a happy picture of america and will foster global goodwill here. >> i like to put a little bit of irish charm and humor into it. >> reporter: mcleron thinks there's a payoff at the pub. >> if they're coming to an irish bar, maybe speaking to real irish people like it sort of heightens the experience, i suppose. >> reporter: even if they don't always speak brogue. >> most americans are struggling to make us out, so they are. >> reporter: so, yes, we went good will hunting in new york and found it. found it at a swim club in manassas, virginia, too, where chinese lifeguard eric wang was buffing his english while learning about america. >> americans like to make jokes, always make jokes with me, but i didn't understand what they said. >> reporter: so they laugh, but you're not exactly sure why they're laughing?
>> sometimes, they laugh, but i just stand there, and they told me "it's a joke." i just say "ha, ha" like this. >> reporter: doug winkler's been hiring j-1s like wang for a decade to lifeguard at the 225 pools he manages in the d.c. area. >> we use about 50%, we say domestic, american guards, and 50% international, and it's the x ofoth. >> reporter: he hires j-1s not just because they add cultural breadth, he says. >> the international students have a tremendous work ethic. they show up on time, and they work hard, and they work to the end of their shift, and they often inquire, "what else can i do?" >> reporter: key question-- isn't this taking jobs away from americans? >> i really don't think so. we have a tremendous recruiting effort. we do craigslist. we use some advertising agencies. we do high schools. we do not get enough american applicants to fill all the positions.
i'm a firm believer that in the areas where this high youth unemployment exists that some of those youths don't want jobs. >> reporter: company vice president chris waters says they've got too much else going on. >> prom, baccalaureate, graduation, beach week, fourth of july, vacation, football, lacrosse, everything else, all the fall sports. >> reporter: in rockland county, restaurateur woods had a more basic complaint. >> i can't get an american to wash dishes. i find it very hard to get american help that would do some of the jobs. >> reporter: but jerry kammer says employers like woods and winkler overstate the efforts they make, downplay the benefits to them. >> there are a lot of employers who know that they have a smoking deal with this smoking deal with this program. why recruit when you have recruitment done for you at no cost by the summer work travel program? this program provides no
incentives for american employers to hire american kids. it provides plenty of incentives for american employers to hire the s.w.t. kids. >> reporter: the main incentive, claim the folks at crystal aquatics, is cost. they hire all-american at their 30 northern virginia pools, and vice president jeff collins says it hurts business. >> companies that hire international lifeguards get 8.45% payroll tax savings by not paying federal unemployment tax, medicare, and social security. >> reporter: as for american workers being hard to find, sean davidson has worked here for five years. >> i have people who will come to this pool and they, you know they ask if they can get a job to work here, and we have to say no, that we're full. >> reporter: crystal aquatics would bring on more locals, says collins, if they could win more pool management contracts, but... >> when we compete against companies that hire international lifeguards we are consistently higher or at best
equal with them. it's hard for us to compete with the international lifeguards >> reporter: in nearby manassas, winkler admitted his foreign hires are less expensive than americans, but says there are hidden j-1 costs. >> it's a tremendous effort, requires a lot of people, and they'll arrive in the middle of the night. they're in a foreign country and all they know is to call our phone number. >> reporter: still, cheaper is cheaper, and must be part of the reason companies hire j-1s. if you offered $12 an hour, you get more americans? >> but i'd have no business. >> reporter: it's the standard race to the bottom economic argument against foreign workers in general, that they put downward pressure on low-wage woers. but michael mccarry, who lobbies for firms that take part in the summer work travel program, claims concerns about its economic impact are overblown. >> the exchange programs are very unlikely to have any impact on american employment because of the small number of exchange
participants compared to the enormous size of the american economy. >> reporter: to jerry kammer, however, the program's problems go beyond lost jobs and low wages, all the way to exploitation. >> there are a lot of employers who take no interest in their cultural experience, and just want to get the work out of them. and the kids are happy in many day, because if you're from instances to work 12 hours a day, because if you're from moldava and you're making $8 an hour, thats a lot of money. it's like an american kid going overseas and making $60 an hour, that's the differential. >> the effort to bring hersheys to justice has officially begun today! >> reporter: the most visible example of apparent exploitation came last summer. hundreds of j-1 summer workers at a hershey chocolate warehouse in pennsylvania walked off the job, claiming overwork and underpay. the state department banned the firm that placed the workers.
robin lerner says, this spring, they beefed up protections for foreign workers and americans, too. >> our may rule includes language that requires that no participant be placed in a job where an american worker is displaced, and where there have been layoffs and strikes in the past 120 days. >> reporter: lerner emphasizes that, at most places, the original purpose of the summer work travel program is being served. >> we have these university students that are coming here and they will one day be something in their country. they understand our culture, they understand our customs, and they will be they are sympathetic and friendly toward us. and that's important. >> reporter: the kids we met certainly seemed to like america so far. igor bilousov came from the ukraine. >> if i ask you something for example in the shops, you answer me "with pleasure," and that is nice that you are so friendly and nice people. >> reporter: cormac mcleron's problems seem downright trivial. >> i can't get used to some of the american words.
>> reporter: like what? >> like soda and garbage. it just dont go right. in ireland we just call it rubbish and coke. even the youth around here are using words like whack, and all this sort of stuff. sometimes you just do not know what it means, you dont know if it's a good thing or a bad thing! >> reporter: you dont know if its a good thing or a bad thing. when it comes to the j-1 summer work travel program, we wound up with pretty much the same ambivalent conclusion. good will for sure, but costing at least some american jobs. >> brown: which countries send the most summer workers to the u.s.? you can find that and an interactive p showing where in america they're going on paul solman's "making sense" page. >> woodruff: and to the analysis of shields and lowry-- syndicated columnist mark shields and "national review" editor rich lowry, filling in for david brooks. he also is a contributor to fox news. gentlemen, thank you for being here. >> thanks for having us.
>> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: it has been almost a week now since governor romney named paul ryan as his running mate, ma, how has that changed everything. >> i think changed a lot. i think changed the perception of mitt romney first of all that was a bold decision. it energized mitt romney in a way that i had not seen before. i mean he almost seemed spontaneous and natural and paul ryan's company. when we first saw that, judy in wisconsin during the wisconsin primary there was a natural rapport between the two of them, an ease which one doesn't associate mitt romney. >> woouff:ven before he ose him. >> he did. and the other thing de that the choice has done internally, every republican was for whoever the nominee was because they were against barack obama. and they weren't particularly passionate about mitt romney or intense but with paul ryan somebody,
especially lead by the conservative intelligence, one of whom leading members is hitting here. >> don't insult me right off. >> no, are you a strong champion of his selection so you have to feel pretty good about it. >> woodruff: so it has energized the right. >> it has. i think it's energized republicans. the romney campaign didn't have to be reckless. but it did have to have a pulse. and this particular has given it a pulse. for the reason mark talked about, republicans were sort of negatively energized by the prospect of beating president obama but they needed something more. i just, before this program i went down the highway a little bit to west springfield high school where paul ryan was having a rally. real shoe leather reporting here in virginia and there were about 2,000 people jamm at e gym, ovelow crowds, huge crowd in the cafeteria in the overflow room. he has generated excitement. i think mark is right about the basic appeal to mitt romney. there is a connection there. a lot of people thought he would go with someone like
rob port nunn the senator from ohio because eval us experience. but i think what this picks tell us about anything else, is eval us brains and kind of a-- and he connected with paul ryan on that level and you can see paul ryan having being the sort of person that mitt romney would have hired wh he was at bain capital. >> woouff:oes is mean it improves romney's chances at winning? >> what does it mean in terms of the longer term. >> i don't think it durx judy. i think it makes the election a lot more choice than simply a referendum on barack obama which is what you ideally would like to have it. given the state of the economy, unemployment in the country and the doubts about the president's job rating. you want it to be a referendum on him. i think because paul ryan comes with a definition w a precise biography, with an established ideology and philosophy, something that mitt romneyoesn't have, it makes it it a lot more of a choice election amount of and quite bluntly, i think
that if i were running the republican campaign and thank goodness both for them and me that i'm not, i want it to be about the economy. i want it to be about jobs, 8% unemployment. i don't want it to be about medicare. >> woodruff: what about this idea, rich, that instead of the focus on the economy, it's now what it is. >> well, i saw when he picked ryan that the campaign would feel for a week and a half, two weeks as though it was entirely about paul ryan. and we're stl in that phase. i do think it will pass. we'll eventually get on again to what is the most important issue on people's mind which is the economy. and paul ryan thinks of himself as not primarily an austerity guy but growth guy and advocates his policies towards that ultimate end. on medicare specifically, ordinarily it would just be deadly, associating yourself with paul ryan and this reform which romney had endorsed before. but the saving grace for republicans is the 700 million in cuts that democrats passed to fund obama care.
democrats had kind o a nixon in china moment with those cuts. i don't think the republican congress would have been able to pass them. the problem is once you have gone to china yourself it is harder to criticize the other guy force wanting to go as well. so we will hear that number over and over and over again, 700 million. >> not to get in the weeds but the 700 million was in paul ryan's own budget proposal and cuts. and it doesn't in any way cut benefits to anybody. it cuttings hospital reimbursement, it cuts doctors' imbursment. but that aside, judy there are twokinds of issues politically. there are position issues and-- a position issue is same-sex marriage. you are either for it or against it. but other issues like education, the environment, national defense, those are-- issues, one side is more believable or more identified with that issue. if this campaign were about national missile system, a new missile system for america, for defense i don't care how strongly the
democrats emphasized it, republicans come with a credibility and believability. on medicare, when you ask who for peserng prorx tecting medicare who has been the champion of it, voters and especially over 65 in states like ohio, pennsylvania, florida and iowa which now are in play i think more, you know, identify with the democrats as being the champion. >> so he's saying democrats can get away with playing around with it more than help cans. >> that's definitely true. republicans have a credibility gap. if they can just fight this to a draw it will be a huge advantage for them. and not to go even further in the weeds and mark already took us, b-- the ryan budget did accept those cuts, mostly because once they are in the baseline and writing a budget it's hard to get them o. he did not take those cuts and spend them on anything else. he left them for medicare and if you are starting from scratch, he would prefer to
repeal all of bama care including those cuts and technically they don't hit benefits to cuts but when are you hitting the providers, the physicians and the hospitals as hard as these cut does, year-over-year, they going totally unsustainable. and if you rea the medicare actuary, the reports are excoriate being what this will do to medicare if these cuts actually happen. they are skeptical they will. >> it sounds like this is still being fought out between the two camps. >> any day that you are arguing about medicare is not a good day for republicans. i mean it just isn't. you want this selection to be about the economy. you want it to be about jobs. and mitt romney is somewhat hampered. he was hampered by his own hand yesterday as mentioned earlier about the taxes. i mean all of a sudden we are into his own tax returns agai and you know, his strength as a candidate he has been a success in business. all people know about him he is has been a success, he's wealthy, he has been effective. how did he get there. he opened it up again.
he showed himself not to be the sure footed candidate that you want at a presidential level. >> i want to ask you both about the romney and the issue but we should point out the news story just now within in the last few minutes the romney ryan camp released paul ryan's tax returns for the last two years. turns out he paid just under 16 percent in 23010-- 2010 and paid 20% for 2011. is that a nonissue, an into, itch are. >> i haven't got a chance to look at them. i imagine they are much more complex. >> the income is significantly less. they took between 2 and 7.7 million in assets but that's not the same. >> i think romney should have released more returns from the beginning. now it's much too late. will get it coming and going because we already know about the complex affairs from the tax returns that have been released so they will hit them on that and hit them for not releasing more and you had this classic offer from the obama campaign today saying if you give us what you want, what we want and more tax return
returns-- we won't attack you any more for not giving you what we want but we will attack you for what is in the returns. >> so mark, mitt romney is saying, his wife ann said in this interview yesterday, on nbc, she said we're not releasing any more tax returns. for them it sounds like. judy, i think the question becomes this for mitt romney. i mean he was governor of massachusetts. in order to win the republican nomination he was in full flight from that experience. he is a practicing and committed member 69 church of latter day saints, been a bishop. he's inhibitied from talking about that. and his business success is really his credential. you know, that he's the man that can turn the economy around. how did he accumulate this. i mean we know that-- we know that he had cayman islands. we know that he had swiss bank accounts. i mean how did he accumulate, you know, this mass fortune. he said he paid at 13%, t
median income in the country right in the middle pays at 14.3% effective tax rate. i means that's-- you know, that's it. so you know, it's really a remarkable thing. and i think it's being going to become a character issue. if i were sitting in boston in the romney campaign yesterday, it would have been reaching for the vodka bottle when he started talking about the matter. >> he did say, rich, he was quoted, told the reporters, he said it is small minded to be interested in this. >> they are going to say, and they said this on a whole host of things, we want to talk about subsnce and about the future of the country. and i think paul ryan plays into that theme. if you want to talk about my tax, go ahead. and i just think in the scheme of things there's nothing in his tax returns that going to be disqualifying or tell us anything about the merits of his policies. one way or the other. so ultimately i think it's a bit of distraction. >> a lot of talk this week about the tone of the race, vice president biden's comment about chains,
republicans jumped on that and said that was taking it to a new low. are we seeing a different tone in this race or is this just wha we've alwayeen before but maybe earlier? >> i think it's earlier and more intense. and it was a misstep and bad statement by joe biden who has been rather sure footed in spite of the, i think the stereotype or caricature of him as someone who is garrulous and long-winded. he's really been a pretty effective advocate. but to me, it snacked of sort of almost amous and andy minute strell show language talking to an audien thats partly african-american. i think the campaign itself, this is august. and when you have the candidates themselves making the charges, you've got, which is amazing. the president saying -- >> opposed to surrogates, campaign op rattives, the president talking about dishonesty and accusing the
president of a campaign of hate and viciousness, by governor romney. i mean yes, where do we go from here this is august and we're not even in labor day before the conventions. >> i don't like looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses. i'veeen doing research on abraham lincoln and you read about illinois politics coming up as a yong man. here is stephen douglas bitesing a governor's thumb and lincoln fought a dual with swords because he wanted to take advantage of his longer arms. burr ou political culture is coarser than it has been and both sides partake of that but i think a big part of the tone this time is president o brahma's re-election campaign cannot-- on a high tone, 1984 gauzey morning again in america campaign because conditions won't support it. so they have to destroy mitt romney and destroy him personally f they see an add accuse hem of killing a woman. you see this joe biden comment which was just outrage with us the fake southern or african-american, i don't know what it was
supposed to be, voice, and this idea that a vice president of the united states is engaged in this is extraordinary. >> woodruff: both sides hurt by this or is the president's campaign hurt more because of what rich was just say. >> i think both sides, judy t is an election. we used to talk about you get 40%, you get 40%, we're fighting over 20%. we're fighting over 3%. there are 3 or 4% undecided and they are in massachusetts, texas, north da cot a california, there is no campaign. the undecided feel, maybe couple of million of them in the 11 or 12 states become contested, so each side is interested in getting its own troops out and energize. >> i will give you a heartwarming moment. in springfield introduced a young jarx tow headed kid, i asked him are you a republican. he said no i'm an american. >> on that note, we're all american, lowry, mark shields, thank you both. >> thank you. >> brown: we'll be back shortly with analysis of the moscow
>> woodruff: finally tonight, back to today's sentencing of three female punk rock band members in russia, and what it says about that country today. margaret warner has that. >> warner: the white house said today it was "disappointed" by the verdict, and had "concerns about the way these young women were treated by the russian judicial system." to explore the trial's broader implications, we turn to stephen sestanovich, professor of international diplomacy at columbia university. he served in the state departnt during the agan and clton administrations. thank you for being with us. fair o to say this trial is about a lot more than what three young women did in an orthodox cathedral in moscow? >> absolutely. the political context is all
here. this prank, protest, demonstration, performance took place at the height of the protests against putin in february when there was a sense of possibility, even inevitability to the demonstrations and the opposition. since then w've-aot has happened. putin has sent a message to the opposition through a number of measures that he's introduced. fines and raids on offices. and the like, that it's going to be harder for them to operate. meanwhile the leaders of the protests have found a lot of their momentum dissipating. they haven't got a program. they haven't got any real unity. so six months later you have this trial. the authorities calcule thathey can make, they can use this to portray the opposition as marginal figures, weirdoes. the opposition sees it differently.
they think this is an opportunity to show that this, that the regime is just purely authoritarian and arbitrary. we don't know how it will play out yet but there are some interesting indicator, the there was a pole released today that said putin's popularity dropped 12% in the course of the summer. his lowest ranking ever. >> now it also expose odd, it seems, a rift in rsian society over the role of the russian orthodox church. now what was that about? >> well, you know, political competition and culture wars often intersect. in a lot of countries including ours. and the russian orthodox church has been a powerful symbol of national identity for a lot of people. it has gained adherence, more people go to church including young people, in the 20 years since the soviet union collapsed. but it is also a very rigid
and traditional force and one that has aligned itself with the putin regime, in a way that has made it the target of a lot of the protestors. they've come to see the church as their opponent. and that's why you had this performance in the cathedral in february. for the pro festers who were on the streets, who were on the streets today, what putin is doin, is showing that russia is not an ode european country. that there is not the kind of freedom that they have been promised. that the regime can crush opposition at will. and you see that change in sentiment reflected in the polls. a couple of months ago almost half of russians thought that two years, which is the sentence that they got today, would be a fair punishment.
that has dropped dratically or the course of the summer. people don't like the idea that attractive young women who are mothers of young children and performing music in public protesting putin should be sent to prison. >> so very briefly, where does this stand between putin and the opposition go from here? >> well, they are both trying to calculate how, what their advantages are going to be here. for putin, he has to play to his base. s base isradiol conservative russian now. people who haven't benefitted much from putinism. and he wants to show that he's with them. for the opposition this is perhaps an example of putin going too far as he often does. they want to try to capitalize on that. >> more to come, steve sestanovich, thank you so much.
>> pleasure. >> brown: again, the other major developments of the day: an afghan police trainee shot and killed two american troops, the latest in a rash of insider attacks by afghans against nato forces. the government of south africa opened an inquiry into a bloody confrontation at a platinum mine. police killed 34 striking miners yesterday and wounded nearly 80. and the death toll from a wave of attacks in iraq rose to 93. bombings and shootings erupted across much of the country on thursday. and a program note: tonight's edition of "need to know" profiles a ten-year-old girl determined to overcome a troubling family legacy, four generations suffering from diabetes and obesity. >> woodruff: and again to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in the afghanistan conflict. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs become available. here, in silence, are 11 more.
>> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll look at hands- on summer school classes to help vel the playing field for students from low income families. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online, and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: carnegie corporation
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org