tv PBS News Hour PBS April 24, 2013 5:30pm-6:31pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: vice president joe biden joined 4,000 people at an emotional memorial service for the m.i.t. police officer, ambushed and killed in the boston marathon bombings manhunt. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we explore what's known about the tsarnaev brothers' lives online where they may have been inspired to mount the attacks. >> ifill: plus, jeffrey brown talks to kenneth feierg, the man charged with overseeinghe $21 million fund to compensate the wounded and the families of the dead.
>> woodruff: then, we update the search for the source of poison- laced letters sent to president obama and a u.s. senator. >> ifill: ray suarez reports on the raging mississippi river floods that have inundated multiple states. >> reporter: steady downpours across the midwest have swollen streams, creeks and rivers beyond their banks. four people, in three states, have died in the floodwaters. >> woodruff: and margaret warner gets two views on whether food sent overseas to helporeigners in need should be bought from u.s. farmers and shipped on u.s. vessels. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and with the ongoing support
f the instutions and fouatns. 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. >> woodruff: federal investigators pieced together more of the boston bombings puzzle today, as one of the victims-- a policeman-- was honored. the service featured a mass turnout by other police officers. police officers by the hundreds lined up in the late morning sun to pay respects to sean collier, the m.i.t. officer shot and killed last thursday night, allegedly by the bombers. the college canceled classes for the day as thousands turned out to memorialize the 26-year-old collier. >> we do not understand why
taken away from family, brothers and sisters in law enforcement and friends on this campus. we shout into darkness and say thank you for sean. his gifts, compassion, his energy and sense of right and wrong. >> ♪ there is a ship and she sails the sea... ♪ >> woodruff: the singer songwriter james taylor played an interlude and later, came vice president biden. >> i've know the colliers my whole life but today's the first time i met them.
i grew in the same neighborhood you became a cop, firefighter or joined trades. i couldn't do any of them, so i ended up where i am. i know you. i know you. >> woodruff: mr. biden also spoke of the terrorist threat that gripped boston last week. >> whether it's al qaeda central out of the fata or two twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff jihadis here in boston, why do they do what they do? i've thought about it a lot, they do it to instill fear. to have us, in the name of our safety and security jettison what we value most and the world most values about us: our open
society, our system of justice that guarantees freedom, the >> woodruff: meanwhile, the scene of the boston marathon attack, boylston street, reopened to the public. and in the investigation, the associated press quoted unnamed u.s. officials who said the bombs were triggered by rudimentary remote controls. some of the gunpowder in the devices may have come from this store in new hampshire, where tamerlan tsarnaev bought $400 worth of fireworks in february. >> he just wanted the biggest, loudest stuff we have in the store pretty much. >> woodruff: the surviving tsarnaev, dzokhar has reportedly told investigators that the brothers learned to make the pressure cooker bombs from an online magazine called "inspire." it's published by al qaeda's affiliate in the arabian peninsula and includes a section called "open source jihad" that explains bomb-making techniques.
the ideology that apparently sparked the attack remained on display on tamerlan tsarnaev's you-tube page: links to videos from, among others, an islamist fighter in the north caucasus. this afternoon the washington post reported that the c.i.a. asked to place tamerlan tasaranev's name on a watch list more than a year before the attacks. it was not immediately clear when his name was added to the list. but the post said it happened after the f.b.i. closed its initial inquiry. for more on what may have turned two young men into violent terrorists, i'm joined now by dr. jerrold post, who had a 21 year career at the c.i.a. where he founded the center for analysis of personal and political behavior. he's now a professor of psychiatry, political psychiatry and international affairs at george washington university. and jessica stern, who is a
lecturer at harvard and former nation security council staffer who's interviewed dozens of terrorists to try to understand what motivates them. welcome to you both. dr. post, to you first. how does radicalization like what we've seen here happen? how does a young man living in the united states go from reading material to acting in a violent way trying to kill people? >> the phenomenon of radicalization on shrine really quite alarming. it's been estimated that there's some 4,800 radical islamist web sites and i am struck that young men and women who are isolated, not feeling they belong this way can belong to a virtual community of hatred. anwar al-awlaki, who is known as the bin laden of the internet, was very adroit at manipulating
individuals who were no longer lonely but now belonged. the issue of moving to violence is not so well understood. that often seems to be happen stance and off precipitated by the death of a friend, the loss of a loved one, the blowing up of a family home. and the issue of radicalization, this is a systematic process and quite alarming and a major counterterrorism challenge. >> woodruff: jessica stern, what do you see in yo research that cause these young men to turn the corner to something violent? >> well, i think it's often about confused identity and some young people seem to have a lot of trouble with standing that confused identity. and they find a way to identify
or -- with people who feel oppressed. that narrative of oppression is often appealing to young people for whom something, as dr. post said, has gone wrong. with faisal shahz hetart havintax problems, he became more religious. he started going to pakistan. but he -- until that change he was described as a fairly nice person. this is -- it's not a unique thing. we've seen this before. >> woodruff: and just to be clear, you're referring to one of the terrorists who tried to -- >> the times square bomber, i'm sorry. >> woodruff: that's right. i just wanted to be clear. dr. post, you talked about feeling isolated, not feeling as if they belong. but they had to have read or seen something before that that
fueled the change. is that right? >> oh, absolutely. and it's quite striking, jessica and my colleague gabby wineman who wrote a book called "terror on the internet" talks about especially youthful generation they are often consolidating the idntity online and the -- i've analyzed the themes in these online sites and there are three, and this coincides with what jessica said earlier. first, we are the victims. secondly, they, the west and especially united states and great britain but also israel are the victimizers and therefore defensive jihad is justified and required against those who are doing this ts. and that's a powerful message.
and you have people who have -- the brothers were characterized as losers by their uncle who are not doing so well in their lives and that he had given -- had lost his dream to be an olympic boxer. that his parents had left and were back in dagestan. all of these together may have helped move him into this sphere where -- from passivity and helplessness to activity to aggression. >> pelley: o>> woodruff: of course, some of this has to be speculation because we don't have the whole story yet. jessica stern, tell us about what kind of information is available online. we've heard about this one web site "inspire." but as both of you have said there are thousands more. what to they say? and are they all in english? >> yes, there are a lot that are available in english and, in fact, there are a number of scholars who communicate directly with jihadis online.
it's quite remarble what's going on now, the kind of back-and-forth. but it's not just jihadi ideology and how-to manuals that are available online. there are also the anarchist cook book, paladin press had a book called "hit man" that resulted in a lawsuit because someone followed the directions and actually committed murder. it's available online. i was curious and i looked last night. it's right there. >> woodruff: and what about the -- staying with you, jessica strn, ju a moment, what about the ideological or the religious islamist strain of this? i mean, for example, are there passages from the koran? or is it extreme language that veers off in another direction? >> well, what we found is that it's often people who are most ignorant about islam who can pick and choose passages,
actually, from any religion that would seem to support a holy war. and rht now there's a cand ideology, a jihadi ideology that seems to be very appealing to the kind of alien nateed and lonely and lost young men that jerry post is talking about. that canned jihadi ideology right there. some of them are converts. >> woodruff: i'm sorry. what did you say there at the end? >> i said about 35% of those who actually have tried to carry out jihadi attacks, most of them failing, of course, have been converts to islam. woodruf: dr. post, is enough beginning to be known about this process that more could be done by authorities, by experts like you, like ms. stern to identify people who are -- may be us is september to believe doing something?
>> well, this is a real dilemma and what we musn't do is undermine the very foundations of our liberal democracy in coping with this problem because we have individuals- we can't be monitong everyone's e-mail. the way major hassan, my psychiatric colleague at fort hood was found was by monitoring the e-mails of anwar al-awlaki. but it's a very difficult process. and if someone is himself exploring -- feeling a sense of fervor, meaning, of aggression, it's quite a daunting challenge but we musn't give up our civil liberties in pursuing that challenge. >> woodruff: just quickly, inal we doou, jessica stern, it seems a few years ago we were hearing there was more homegrown radicalization going on in europe and great britain because perhaps young people were not
feeling as assimilated there as they were here in the united states. that's changed? >> well, it does seem to be changed. for the most part, muslims in the united states are much better integrated. they're better educated than the average american. they're more likely to vote than the average american. but the new york city police department predicted after the 200 murder of a man that that kind of radicalization would come to the states in about five years and i think they were right. >> woodruff: on that note, we will live it there. jessica stern, dr. jerrold post, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> ifill: our coverage of the boston bombing story continues later with kenneth feinberg, who is overseeing the victims' fund. plus, the latest on the ricin investigation; the flooding in mid-western states and the debate over buying food for foreign aid. but first, with the other news of the day. here's hari sreevan. >> sreenivasan: rescuers in bangladesh worked frantically
today in the ruins of an eight-story building. it collapsed this morning, killing at least 87 people and injuring scores more. the disaster, near the capital city of dhaka, focused attention, again, on a garment industry that supplies major u.s. chains. we have a report narrated by john sparks of "independent television news." >> this mangled pile was home to four textile factories and a shopping mall. but at 8:30 this morning, the structure began to shake. pillars snapped, the floors collapsed, and the world went dark, said one. it's thought there were 2,000 people inside at the time. a huge crowd gathered in this suburb of the bangladeshi capital dakar, as workers used rolls of fabric to make their escape. others pitched in searching for survivors working together to carry them out. many simply waited and prayed for their loved ones.
>> ( translated ): my wife went to work this morning and i've been looking for her but i can't find her anywhere. >> reporter: at least 113 people young children may have been left in a number of creèches located in the building and locals say scores of people, perhaps hundreds, are still trapped inside. >> ( translated ): i went into the building. i saw a lot of people stuck inside. i rescued some but many can't get out. >> reporter: this catastrophe raises difficult questions for officials and company bosses. locals say cracks appeared in the building yesterday. it was even reported on television stations. but the factory supervisors said it was safe to work. poor safety conditions were highlighted last november when 112 lost their lives in a fire at another facility. when the alarm sounded, managers told employees to continue working because it was only a drill.
clothes bound for u.s. giants walmart and sears were found in the charred remains and campaigners criticized them for failing to protect workers, although th firms blame their suppliers for using the factory without their permission. today's disaster is unlikely to slow a booming industry which thrives on the world's lowest labor costs. >> sreenivasan: in iraq, at least 51 people were killed in a second day of violence between the shiite-led government and sunni tribesmen. a gun battle erupted when security forces tried to clear armed sunnis from a town northeast of baghdad. there was more killing in at least two other cities, one day after iraqi troops stormed a sunni protest camp, killing 56 people. a leading opponent of russian president vladimir putin went back on trial today, claiming he's the victim of political revenge. alexei navalny organized major protests against putin's return to power last year. now, he's charged with
embezzling half a million dollars in timber from a state-owned company in 2009. today, a court in kirov refused to throw out the charges, and navalny cried foul. >> ( translated ): we asked the judge to be replaced. our appeal that the case be retued to the osecutors has not been approved, which is yet further evidence of the obvious fact that the case is absolutely politically motivated and the judge is restricted in... making independent decisions. the judge has rejected our appeal that he be replaced. >> sreenivasan: putin's government denies using the courts to crush dissent. a new strain of bird flu has now spread to taiwan, after killing 22 people in mainland china to date. that word came today as the world health organization said the strain is one of the most lethal yet. w.h.o. scientists reported the h.7.n.9. strain jumps from birds to people more easily than previous strains did. so far, though, there's little evidence that it can spread easily between humans. the head of the federal aviation administration went before
congress today, defending furloughs of nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers. the unpaid days off have led to some flight delays, but michael huerta told a house hearing the decision was unavoidable, in the face of mandatory bget cuts. republican congressman hal rogers and others called for more flexibility. >> you imposed 11 days of furloughs across all f.a.a. employees rardless of how critical those employees are to the mission of safe efficient air traffic control, can you explain? >> what we came to the conclusion was the national airspace system is a interconnected network. weather phenomena or how aircraft are moved throughout the system does not make any distinction between large hub facilities and small air facilities the fact is that over 70% of our operations budget is devoted to payroll and the agency cannot put itself in position of choosing winners or losers.
>> sreenivasan: a white house spokesman said today the administration is now willing to consider legislation to keep the controllers on the job. the people of newtown, connecticut have rejected school and town budgets that included more money for school security. tuesday's vote came four months after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at sandy hook elementary in newtown. the budgets would have added $770,000 to hire more police and school guards. town leaders say voters balked at overall spending increases and tax hikes. wall street was held back today by some weak corporate earnings reports. the dow jones industrial average lost 43 points to close at 14,676. the nasdaq rose a fraction of a point to close at 3,269. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: and we come back to boston. jeffrey brown picks up on another part of the story: how victims will be compensated. >> brown: within hours of the attacks, city leaders were getting calls asking how people could help victims. part of the answer is coming from the one fund which was
announced by boston mayor thoma meino and massacusettsovernor deval patrick. it will provide compensation to those injured and to families of those killed. the fund has received more than $21 million in commitments already, some 50,000 individuals have promised nearly $7 million, the rest of it is coming from corporate donors. but hard decisions await about how the money should be distributed. attorney ken feinberg has been named the fund's administrator. he's overseen similar efforts before for 9/11; the shootings at virginia tech and aurora, colorado and after the b.p. oil spill. he joins me now. ken feinberg, welcome back to our program. one key decision, obviously, who will be eligible? what can you tell us so far? >> well, how much money is there in all of these programs that i administer. first you have to determine how much there is to distribute. then who's eligible, how much should eligible claimants receive?
how quickly? these are the tough decisions have that have to be made once a fund is established and certain individuals are deemed eligible to receive the funds. th>> brown:is insurance coverage a factor either way? whether people have it or don't have it? >> no. these are programs in which donors voluntarily, private donors, submit funds to a central fund and basically say "we want to help the victims. " the funds would get bogged down terribly if you started asking questions about need, collapse ral sources of insurance. the nature here is to try and get the money out the or to eligible claimants as fast as you can simply with a minimum of complexity. >> suarez: well, in trying to decide how much each person deserves, what kinds of things will be covered? >> well, first of all, of
course, you have to set aside funds for those who lost their lives. in boston it's, thank goodness, four people not 32 like virginia tech or thousands in 9/11. so first you set aside a certain amoun for the faliesf those who lost loved ones. then you set aside funds for those physically injured. now in boston some of the injuries are horrific. life-altering. double amputees, single amputees, brain injuries. people hospitalized for weeks and weeks. you set aside a substantial amount of money to distribute to those individuals depending on how long they've been hospitalized. hospitalization is a pretty good indicator of seriousness of injury. then if there are fundseft ov maybe you compensate others, mental trauma, et cetera. we did compensate mental trauma in virginia tech for those
students who were not injured but were in the classroom and witnessed the horror. but we did not do so in aurora, colorado, there simply wasn't enough money. >> brown: in thinking about those who have been horrifically injured, including amputees, isn't one question the kind of long-term needs that people will have of continuedehab and therapy and the prosthetics themselves? we checked one source that said a person with an amputation can easily run up about $500,000 over a lifetime. so how can you plan ahead for that. >> you can't. you can't possibly. there's only a limited amount of money. now, it's been extraordinarily -- it's been amazing to me how much money has already poured into boston for this tragedy. it's an amazing thing. the charitable impulse of the american people is something see time and ti again in these special programs.
but there's simply not enough money to make viims o their families or those horribly injured whole financially. you're not going to be able to do that. and you do the best you can but you try and dampen somewhat expectation to think that somehow there's going to be money sufficient to cover long-term life-altering injuri injuries. >> brown: is that one of the things you've learned? youe had lo of eerience at this. what have you learned that is most important, really, in setting this up and setting up expectations? >> most important lesson i've learned over the years, jeff, is the emotional context of all of this. my background in law is of very little help when it comes time to meet with families who lost loved ones or individuals terribly injured, tragically
injured. the emotion, the anger, the frustration,hencertainty the disappointment. "why me? why not my next door neighbor or my friend? why was it directed at me? why was i in the wrong place? why did i lose my son or my daughter?" and how you cope with that in trying to explain to families and victims, this is all i can do. i have this money, it is a thimble of what you need or what you have lost and it's a sense of frustration and helplessness that this is the beswe can do. that's all we can do. >> brown: that emotional issue is true in all the cases you deal with. i know you're just starting in n on this particular one with the boston fund. are there any important similarities or differences in this case that you see from others that you've dealt with? >> no.
the main one here so far-- and i'm just getting into the boston situation-- is the horrific physical injuries. fortunately in boston, fortnately-- a th sods strange-- but fortunately four deaths compared to almost 3,000 in 9/11 or 32 at virginia tech. but still you never get over the sense of trying to help people, of compassion in dealing with these one after another. it is difficult. >> brown: and ken feinberg, just very briefly, i think people can probably hear in your accent that you have some massachusetts roots yourself, from nearby brockton. does that bringanytng different for you to this? >> no, you feel a sense because you fear from that area so you're challenged 20 do the very best you can, i grew up in the area and it adds a little bit of
reinforcement that it's from your neck of the woods so you want to do the best you can. >> brown: ken feinberg is the administrator of the one fund, boston. thank you and good luck. >> thank you very much. >> ifill: now, an update the probe into poison pen mystery. federal investigators swarmed a tupelo, mississippi home last night, hunting for the sender of ricin-tainted letters sent to government officials. the home belongs to everett dutschke. >> everyone has something suspicious in their house but no, there is nothing related to these letters. >> ifill: dutschke has not been arrested, and no charges have been filed. today's search came after yesterday's sudden twist, when a first suspect was released. without explanation, federal prosecutors dropped all charges against paul kevin curtis, of corinth, mississippi. an f.b.i. agent testified that a
search of curtis' home found no evidence of the dangerous substance. curtis, who was released tuesday evening, said he told investigators all along that he was innocent. >> i respect president obama, i love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other public official. >> reporter: but it turns out curtis has some history with dutschke, who once threatened to sue him. dutschke-- seen in this 2007 photo with senator wicker, one of the officials who received the poisoned letters-- also maintains he did not mail the letters. >> my family knows i didn't have anything to do with this. the people who actually know me know i didn't have anything to do with this. >> reporter: the case bears some resemblance to the deadly anthrax mailings in 2001. scientist steven j. hatfill was under suspicion in that case for six years. >> i am not the anthrax killer. i know nothing about the anthrax attacks.
i had absolutely nothing to do with this terrible crime. >> reporter: the government later cleared hatfill and paid him a $5 million settlement. another scientist, bruce ivins, emerged as the prime suspect but killed himself after his name surfaced. now, the turn of events in the ricin investigation has official washington on edge again. there was a brief scare yesterday that another tainted package had turned up, but it turned out not to be true. >> ifill: and for more on what investigators do and do not know about the ricin scare, we turn to kimberly kindy, who is covering the invesitgation for "the washington post." and marilyn thompson, washington bureau chief for reuters and author of "the killer strain: anthrax and a government exposed." i spoke with them a short time ago. welcome kimberly kindy and marilyn thompson. kimberly, tell us what's the latest we know on this what's turning into a very odd investigation. >> it is, that's for sure. well, today f.b.i. went to the
former karate studio of the person who they are now focused on whthey arat least -- we can say they are investigating and that's james everett dutschke. the bizarre twist kind of is for that yesterday after they dropped charges against kevin curtis, he and his attorney actually pointed their finger at mr. dutschke and said that they thought he framed them. whether or not there's other evidence out there that is causing them to focus on mr. dutschke, i talked to his attorney and they said they are unaware of any other evidence that would have caused them to nowe lookg at him. >> ifill: but these two men have had some conflicts, we are given to understand. >> yes, according to mr. curtis, yes. according to mr. dutschke's lawyer, no. she said that her client says that there has not been any conflict or anger that she knows about and she said that her
attorney said that the last time they were in contact with one another was in 2010. she said they've had three or four encounters with one another and that they are acqintances. >> ifill: do we know whether there have been any other searches or there's anyone else who the spotlight has fallen in as the f.b.i. and other institutions continue this investigation? >> not that we know of. just mr. dutschke at this point. >> ifill: marilyn thompson, es this ring a bell for you? you wrote a book about the search for the anthrax killer. people actually died in that case back in 2001. and this seems the same in some ways, kind of poison pen letters sent to government officials. is it the same or is it different? >> well, it has some similarities, gwen. is quite intestingo e the par parallels and to try to examine what the f.b.i. actually learned from the horrific events of 2001 about investigating this type of case. they've invested hundreds of millions of dollars in beefing
up their bio terror capabilities and yet in many ways this really feels like the keystone cops out on the trail of an elvis impersonator and a karate teacher. it's really bizarre criminal investigation. >> ifill: so it's been 12 years sincethat case. do we know that authorities have learned anything and how one begins to get to the bottom of these kinds of biological weaponnization cases? >> well, what they should have learned in 2001 after a very rigorous, sophisticated investigation that took them all over the world was that the science of a bioterror agent is what can ultimately convict a criminal. they spent, as i said, an untold amount of money getting to the bottom of what the anthrax really was and ultimately using d.n.a. fingerprints of the material they were able to
finger an exact vial in the 14 dietrich laboratories that happened to be in the possession of a scientist there, bruce ivins. and so they felt that they could then go to court with absolute certainty about what this material was, how lethal it was, and where it came from which is very important in proving a criminal case. >> ifill: so it would have been impossible, for instance, for the first suspect to have had anything to do with this if there was no evidence of ricin either on his keyboard, anywhere in his home, anywhere at all? >> right. a that's exactly right and everyone that i'm talking to today who has watched the case that marilyn knows so much about, the anthrax case, said that this is -- they don't understand why they didn't learn precisely what marilyn was just talking about. look for evidence before you arrest somebody. was there evidence? apparently there wasn't. much of what they were looking at circumstantial, you know, the
letters that referenced a book that he was writing. the fact that he was out there and talking a lot. these are some of the same things that kind of tripped them up and led them to make a false arrest, a long arrest, the last time around. so why didn't they learn and hold back until they had true physical evidence before they made the arrest? that's the big question that everybody who's watched the f.b.i. over the years investigate these cases, that's the question they're asking. >> ifill: also, kimberly, wha do we kno about the letter that was sent to the judge? everyone's focused on the letter that was sent to the president, sent to senator wicker. but do we know if anyone has been able to point the finger at where that letter came from? >> i do not have any information on that. they believe that it is from the same person, that it's related. they just don't obviously know exactly who it is. apparently some of the same things that were referenced in the letter that went to the white house and the letter that
went to senator wicker very similar. but i do not have somebody sang that the gnof for instan, was "this is k.cnd i approve this message" things like that that led them to kevin curtis. >> ifill: marilyn thompson, is there any evidence that in these cases there is sometimes just pressure to get it done is to come up with a solution, especially so much other nervousness around the world about the boston bombing and other outstanding investigations? >> there's absolutely no question, gwen, that these cases are fraught with political pressure. especially when the intended targets are members of congress, the u.s. nat and t president of the united states. the f.b.i., being a political agency itself, has to show and be held accountable on the hill for every action they take in these cases. they go over regularly, as they did in the anthrax case, to brief members about the progress of their investigation. i'm sure they've talked with
president obama about it by this point. they are under a lot of pressure to do something fast and show that they're in control of the tuation. no queson. >> ill: i know you'll both be following what happens next. marilyn thompson, author of "the killer strain" now at reuters and kimberly kindy of the "washington post." thank you both so much. >> thank you, gwen. >> thank. >> woodruff: now, the floods along the mississippi and other midwest rivers, creeks and streams. this week communities are coping with rising waters, heavy rain and increasing damage with no immediate end in sight. the scope of the problem keeps growing with flooding along the mississippi, illinois and missouri rivers. towns and cities from north dakota to arkansas have felt the brunt, with its biggest impact so far in illinois and missouri.
ray suarez has the story. >> reporter: the rain-swollen mississippi river neared its crest today near saint louis, after days of rising waters. muddy river waters covered the tops of trees and street signs and a boat was the best way to get around in some areas. thunruly river has caused more than a hundred barges to break free earlier this week-- a handful of them hit a st. louis county bridge. the coast guard says at least ten barges sank. meanwhile, floodwaters on the illinois river crested at 29- feet. that's the highest it's risen in 70 years. the waters began falling today. volunteers worked steadily to throw up tens of thousands of sandbag barriers to stop flooding. but for some houses, the waters couldn't be stopped. many stood partially submerged yesterday-- buildings on the flood plain, like this one, were suddenly in the middle of the
river. meanwhile, in the north of the state, the water receded enough in some areas to allow residents to start their cleanup. in des plaines, just west of chicago, the streets are lined with the unsalvageable. >> we see people going through our things. it's not something you throw out that you don't want-- these belonged to my children. >> reporter: steady downpours across the midwest have swollen streams, creeks and rivers beyond their banks. four people in three states have died in the floodwaters. it's a striking change from just a few months ago. in saint louis, the river was almost 40 feet lower as recently as four months ago. last summer's drought forced barges to lighten their loads to ride higher in the water, shallow banks meant a long, single-file trip down the mississippi for thousands of barges. national weather service hydrologist mark fuchs spoke to our colleagues at ketc st. louis earlier today.
>> we were still in a drought in december and in regards to unusual, looking back in history >> reporter: the national weather service expects many of the rivers and creeks in the midwest to remain high into next month. illinois director of emergency management agency warned yesterday more flooding may be on the way. >> i just got the forecast up north for the dakotas, minnesota and wisconsin. their forecast is expected to be in the 70s this weekend which means we're going to have an extremely rapid snow melt up north which will contribute additional water to what we're seeing here. so it's definitely something we need to keep our eye on. >> reporter: in clarkesville, missouri, officials also said they too remain on alert for what's still to come, even as
floodwaters began falling. >> oh yes, it can change in an instant. it could change. if in fact we have a deluge of rain above us and the river should go higher than we can handle, then we'll have to increase the height of the wall that's there. and it can be done, but we'd have to pull things back together really fast. >> reporter: in north dakota, residents are scrambling to prepare for the coming melt of plenty of spring snow. bulldozers built more than seven miles of clay levees in anticipation of a rapidly rising river in fargo. >> intention is to get as much done in a managed fashion so it's not i don't want to say armageddon but not as hurried as the 2009 event or previous events. >> reporter: volunteers worked earlier this week to fill 500,000 sandbags in 5 days, ahead of the floodwaters. while some communities brace for
the snowmelt, the worst may be over in others. flood waters are slowly receding from the highest levels ever seen along the grand river, in western michigan. when it was running high the grand carried debris all the way to lake michigan. >> i found a picnic table, some shoes, i found some caulk that that looks like people were using to cover up holes in their house, just all kinds of stuff. >> reporter: weather officials said the grand river was expected to fall below flood stage tomorrow. >> ifill: finally tonight, the debate over food aid sent abroad who gets paid to grow it, ship it and deliver it. margaret warner has the story. >> warner: american food aid goes to places where the need is dire: to jordan, where thousands
of syrians have sought refuge from civil war; to haiti, after the devastating 2010 earthquake and to pakistan that same year, when floods forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. the budget for what's known as food for peace is $1.5 billion a year, managed by the u.s. agency for international development, or a.i.d., and the agriculture department. the idea came from president eisenhower nearly 60 years ago. >> it is to explore anew with other surplus producing nations all practical means of utilizing the various agricultural surpluses of each in the interests of reinforcing peace and well being of people throughout the world. in short, using food for peace. >> reporter: until now, the commodities have been bought
from u.s. farmers and shipped overseas on u.s. vessels, to be donated to local governments and non-governmental organizations. but president president obama's new a.i.d. budget proposal, presented by aid administrator calls for scaling back that system known as "monetization." nearly half the money would be used instead to buy local bulk food in or near the countries that need it. u.s.a.i.d. administrator rajiv shah made the case for buying local, a u.s. senate hearing today. >> a core part of our thinking is by using and partnering with those that represent real, local solutions we can bring the cost of our work down and create the kind of institutional strength that can sustain these efforts and activities after american aid and assistance goes away. >> warner: as rumors of the proposed change surfaced in february, u.s. farmers, food and shipping companies and some n.g.o.s objected in letters to lawmakers and a bipartisan group
of 21 senators from agricultural states protested in a letter to president obama. the final decision rests with the relevant committees in congress. for more, we turn to andrew natsios, former administrator of u.s.a.i.d. in the george w. bush administration and former vice president of world vision, a faith-based n.g.o. he's now a professor at the george h. w. bush school of government at texas a&m university. and ellen levinson, director of the alliance for global food security, made up primarily of g.o.s that deliver food and other aid. she also heads a consulting firm whose clients include u.s. companies that produce food. welcome to you both. andrew natsios, tell us more. what's the case for this change that the obama administration wants to make? >> we actually proposed this change ten years ago under president bush. we proposed that 25% of the budget at the time of title ii be used under food for peace for
local purchase of food. this is not a partisan issue. if president obama and president bush both support the same reform you have to ask the question who's opposed to it. special interest groups are opposed to it. they killed the legislation then and they're trying to kill it now. the case for it is, one, it takes three to four months to ship food. i ran the program for four years, 25 years ago and then when i was aid administrator for five years. i know exactly how much time it takes because that's the subject i teach, actually. famines, war, and humanitarian assistance. and people die waiting for the food to arrive. i saw people die in somalia waiting for the food to arrive. it's a long, complex process to ship food 7,000 miles from one part of the globe to the other part. particularly when the civil war is going on. when there's food surpluses locally, you ought to be able to buy the food locally. we're not saying all the food should be purchased locally, we think it depends on the circumstances. those decisions should be made by food for peace officers and
aid officers who have years of experience doing this. i might also add that 25% -- 20% to 25% of the food for peace budget is the cost of ocean shipping. if you buy the food in the area, you don't have to pay those costs, you can buy more food. we believe we can feed two million to four million more children as a result of these reforms. >> warner: let me get ellen levinson in on this. your group opposes this change. why? how do you respond to what mr. natsios had to say? >> well, thank you, margaret. actually, today the united states is being commodities overseas to deliver to people in need. it's giving out cash to people who are facing emergencies, inclung people who are refugees from syria. so there is authority to do it and $375 million was spent last year for that purpose. our members who are nonprofit organizations working overseas
agree with what andrew just said which is we should be able to do that in cases where it's a goodn control it and get good commodity. but no matter what, we're going to have to buy commodities from the united states because there's not enough to buy locally and the commodities available are not the quality we need. so no matter what, even under this proposal, we need american commodities. and to us we shouldn't be bypassing the law that says how to provide it. and nowadays, unlike when andrew was there, there is prepositioning of commodities overseas near the areas where emergencies take place. and those commodities can get there even before local which yopurchase. >> warner: and what about the point that the general accounting office made in a couple of reports that there is a lot of inefficiency, that the cost of shipping alone takes up a lot of the funds? >> well, actually, it's not shipping. and this is where there's a lot of confusion. the greatest cost-- and i think this makes a lot of sense if you
think about where we're distributing the food, in the worst countries and difficult situations in the world-- is the overland transportation. ocean freight is about 12% at most. >> warner: back to you, andrew natsios. first of all, how would you respond to miss levinson and -- >> well, the g.a.o. actually opposed virtually everything ellen's just said and has for ten years. the fact that we're buying food locally is something that we d over her objection and her coalition's objection when there was no other alternative but to accept this because the force of it was so powerful. they finally agreed to very modest reforms. we're trying to extend those reforms now. ocean freight is not 12%, it's 20% of the cost and there's an additional cost to go overland. now, let's say, for example, in southern sudan, we've been providing food there because of the civil war that went on far 25 years that killed 2.5 million people, the world food programme, which is the food
organization of the united nations which is one of the best-run u.n. agencies, made agreements with local farmers in uganda which borders in southern sudan. it's an inland country, it has no ports. by shipping the food from the farms in southern uganda -- northern uganda into southern sudan we saved four months of time and not only the cost of ocean shipping but also overland shipping because it was just a few hundred miles as opposed to a thousand miles. >> warner: but am i delight -- let me just get ellen levinson back in here. are you two disagreeing or is the proposal that the obama administration came up with-- after a lot of pushback from many of your members and people in the industry-- the pushback to the sort of early draft, it's now settled, it will be roughly 50-50. is that accept to believe your group? >> no, that's not the point here. first of all, local purchase sounds wonderful and i -- you know, we strongly believe that
we need to build the capacity of farmers in developing countries to produce sufficient amounts of food to meet their needs. and to us, that'shere aot of investment needs to go. however, they're not prepared at this point to provide the commodities. and local purchase could be distorting, which it has been in uganda. uganda was not a tradition almay skwror food producer of corn. they were asked to produce corn for emergency food aid. twice in the last decade small farmers lost all their incomes because that commodity was not being bought in two of the years and they didn't have commercial markets. so, to us, the best thing to do is help people produce for commercial markets. also buy for food aid when tey have it. but we do not think that that's, like, one against the other. we think we need both. >> warner: okay, quick final answer from both of you and that has to do with the constituency for these programs. the letters that were written to the president and to the senate said, you know, part of keeping this food for peace program
going or food aid going is that u.s. businesses and u.s. transportation companies have an interest. briefly, mr. natsios, on that? could you lose the constituency? >> well, most of the n.g.o.s now support president obama and president bush's position on this. ellen's coalition is basically shipping companies and the longshoreman's union and american farm group interests. it is not the n.g.o. community that support the proposal. there may be three n.g.o.s left that are taking her position. >> warner: let me give her the final word on that. >> i'm sorry, that's 14 organizations you can look at our web site. they're world vision, development agency, they're faith-based organizations and development organizations that do vast amounts of human taeurb +*r taeurpb and development programs overseas. >> no they don't, ellen, they do very small amounts. the biggest n.g.o.s who support food aid all support this proposal. >> warner: i'm sorry, i've got to leave it there.
ellen levinson, andrew natsios, thank you both. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: vice president biden joined 4000 people at an emotional memorial service for the m.i.t. police officer who was ambushed and killed in the manhunt for the boston bombers. and at least 87 garment workers died in bangladesh when an eight-story building collapsed. >> ifill: online, we have the first in our series on outstanding science and math teachers. hari sreenivasan tells us more. >> sreenivasan: a washington teacher transformed his third grade classroom into a new planet, turning his students into outer space explorers. the mission: to improve their science and math scores. that's on the rundown. and why are some evangelical leaders supporting immigration reform? ray talks to jenny hwang, co- author of a book about reform based on biicalrinciples. and on art beat, we talk to charles bradley, the 64-year-old
singer known as "the screaming eagle of soul" who loves to give out hugs. all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll cover the dedication of the george w. bush presidential library and museum in dallas with all five living presidents in attendance. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been proded by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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