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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  June 18, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. b.p. is now collecting more than one million gallons of oil a day from the gulf spill , and their c.e.o. will step down from daily oversight of the disaster. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour, damages will reach into the billions. the man in charge of the claims fund said initial payment
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elizabeth made within 60 days. >> lehrer: then judy woodruff gets an update on the bloodshed in krygyzstan. >> brown: ray suarez looks at the new -- obama administration's pressure on china over their currency. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> this is the engine that connects abundant grain from the american heartland to haran's best selling whole wheat, while keeping 60 billion pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere
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every year. 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: there were some signs of progress today in the battle to contain or stop the river of oil flowing into the gulf of mexico. and there were changes in b.p.'s handling of the cleanup.
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from the gulf came word b.p. crews are now collecting or burning off a million gallons a day. that's a substantial increase from earlier totals. to put that in context, the government's point-man, coast guard admiral thad allen, said the most probable daily flow from the well out of a range of estimates is 1.4 million gallons. the high end of the range is 2.4 million. >> we will achieve basic containment and normally you would we'll just operate that way until the relief well is finished. the added issue for us, however, is that we have hurricane season coming. we need a better way to be able to hook up and disconnect from the production facilities if we have hurricane weather approaching. >> brown: the latest plan to capture nearly all the oil hinges on a new containment system due to be installed by month's end. it will include the so-called "evergreen" burner which turns a flow of oil and gas into a
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vapor. the vapor is burned and pushed out of 12 nozzles without creating any visible smoke. 60 days into the spill , there were also new concerns about what lies below the oilly surface. scientists warned of huge amounts of methane gas mixed in with the oil. it would create so-called dead zone where's oxygen is so depleted nothing can live. the ultimate solution , plugging the damaged well for good, appeared a bit closer to reality today. b.p. reported one of the two relief wells being drilled is now within 200 feet of the blown-out well. they will eventually be used to pump down mud and close off the oil flow. in the meantime, the coast guard said it will move 2,000 private boats closer to shore to focus on skimming more oil from the surface. it was also reported that b.p.'s c.e.o. tony hayward will hand over daily oversight of the response to the spill. the timing was unclear. that came a day after he was
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roundly criticized at a u.s. house hearing, and even accused of stonewalling. but the top republican on the committee , joe barton, drew almost as much attention when here initially apologized to hayward. he charged the obama administration had forced b.p. into funding a $20 billion damages fund. >> but i'm ashamed of what happened in the white house yesterday . i think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what i would characterize as a shake-down. >> brown: that statement drew a hail of criticisms from white house officials, congressional democrats and even top republicans. in short order, barton apologized for his apology, apparently under duress. it was widely reported house minority leader john boehner and others had wander he'd lose his committee position otherwise.
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there was also new criticism today of b.p. over the slow compensation of victims of the spill. the house judiciary committee reported the oil giant has paid less than 12% of the damage claims submitted so far. the newly appointed oversear of that $20 billion compensation fund made his first visit to the gulf region today. ken feinberg previously served as special master of the september 11 victim compensation fund and more recentlyalities the so-called compensation czar monitoring executive pay at companies that received government bailouts during the financial crisis. i talked to him a short time ago from baton rouge, louisiana. ken feinberg, welcome to you. what's your first move to put a viable claim system in place? >> just what the president said we have to do-- we've got to make the existing system that's been set up by b.p. much more efficient , quicker, to help people down here in the gulf where i am today. >> brown: well, how do you speed up that process?
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you know there have been a lot of complaints from people in the gulf about b.p. being too bureaucratic , not paying enough of the claims. that was backed up by a report today from the house judiciary committee. you said today you could get things out between 30 to 60 days. how do you do that? how do you speed up the process? >> well, first of all, we've got to accelerate the process by which we pay emergency claims on an interim basis, just like we did in the 9/11 fund. we've got to get quick money out to eligible claimants much quick wer a minimum amount of bureaucracy and corroboration. b.p. started to do that. i give them credit. we've got to do it quicker. and then we've got to develop over the next couple of weeks-- not months-- a claim form and a system to come up with a comprehensive amount , a certain amount, that will be paid promptly to all eligible claimants. as governor barbara told me today in mississippi, time is the enemy. >> brown: now, what constitutes a legitimate
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claim? is that still a-- something to be determined? >> oh, i'll say. first of all, fraudulent claims will are illegitimatate. they have to be valid claims. secondly, we've got to decide how we're going to make decisions on attenuated claims, the ripple effect. "you know, mr. feinberg, i have a restaurant in las vague ags. i can't get shrimp from the gulf. it's hurting my business. i want to file a claim." we've got to come up with a formula that decides what claims are causally connected to the spill and what claims are simply too far removed to be eligible for compensation. >> brown: well, you have a lot of experience in these matters. is there a system for that? how do you do the equation-- especially to look at the kind of indirect claims that you're talking about, which i would expect you'll get by the thousands?
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>> that may be. now, in the 9/11 fund, you'll recall how we dealt with those claims. "mr. feinberg, i broke my leg in omaha, nebraska and i saw the planes hit the building at the world trade center. pay me." what we decided, what congress decided in those cases is look to the state tort law that governs such claims. so if somebody in louisiana has a claim which is, as you say, jeff, indirect , one way we may do this is look and see what would the state courts of louisiana say about the legitimacy of that claim? but i don't want to get hung up on just those claims. they may be in the thousands. much more importantly right away is the president's admonition to me -- prompt payment on an emergency basis to individuals and small businesses that have legitimate claims. >> brown: and can those people, that latter group that you just talked about, you want them to come forward right now
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and can they come back again later and come back and come back? >> absolutely. they can come back later. now, you raise a good questions usual-- how many times they can come back and come back is something i've got to deal with. but absolutely , get into this program. i can't help you if you don't file a claim. to b.p.'s credit, in louisiana , governor jindal pointed out he gives b.p. credit. they've set up 14 different offices in louisiana. governor barbara told me there are three different offices right on the gulf in mississippi. so b.p. is trying to do the right thing. they're well intentioned. we've just got to improve that system based on experience. >> brown: now, to be clear here, people will still retain the right to sue b.p. themselves. so part of what you're doing, i guess, is to convince them to join in to this fund, to go through the process that you set up. what's the-- what's the argument that you make to people?
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>> i make the same argument i do with all of these claims facilities-- you will get money quicker , you will get money with a certainty . you don't have to give 40% to your lawyer. come in and get a check. and you're absolutely right-- right now, these emergency payments for small businesses , individuals, you don't have to relinquish your right to sue. take this money , and later on file a claim with the fund that will give you a choice -- take the liquidated amount or litigate. and you'll make that choice only after you know how much you'll receive from the fund. >> brown: and does b.p. , the company itself, have any involvement in this process? and is the company's continuing financial situation , or financial health any part of your concern, something that you have to keep in mind? >> as the president made very
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clear , i am running an independent facility at the request of the president of the united states and b.p. my independence cannot be challenged. that is my independence in terms of how this program ought to be established. i am concerned that we not get flooded with so many ineligible, specious claims that no fund in the world could handle them. i mean, there are going to have to be some decisions made here. the president made very, very clear the $20 billion that's been set aside is not a final amount. there can be additional monies as needed. but any talk about b.p. going out of business or being bankrupt, that would be a horror that would mean that eligible claimants would now have to wait. that is simply not an alternative that i find acceptable. >> brown: but to the extent that
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the president did say that the $20 billion is not a final cap, that may come to your decision, right? if you realize that's not enough what happens then? >> then, as i understand it, from the president of the united states and b.p., there will be additional funds available. but that's very conjectural. until we know how much-- how many claims there are that are legitimate, that are eligible , what those claims are worth, how soon they should be paid, it is way premature to be saying that $20 billion is enough or it's not enough. that remains to be seen. but it certainly is good news that i know that the $20 billion need not be a final accounting. >> brown: and let me ask you finally, ken feinberg, you talked about the comparison to the 9/11 situation. there, of course, you were dealing with the deaths of several thousand people. here you've got a kind of longer derm, indeterminate impact. how do you compare the two?
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>> well, don't forget about the indeterminate impact in the 9/11 fund. we had 2300 respiratory injury claims where people said, "i can't breathe because i was cleaning up the dust and the debris at the world trade center and we had to deal with those long-termalatant claims in 9/11. there are similar claims here. i must say here, you can't really deal with that problem until the oil stops. we've got to get a final spill end point from which we then can decide how to deal withalatant claims where-- latent claim where's people come to me with an injury now, but they're concerned that they'll get worse and we have to deal with how we strike that balance. >> brown: like that one, this will play out for years, right? >> just as 9/11. we just settledly the 9/11 cases last week, some of the injury
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cases, seven years later. so there are long-term health effects. there are long-term economic effects. this is here for a while, yes. >> brown: all right ken feinberg speaking to us from baton rouge, you thank you very much. >> thank you. >> lehrer: we'll have a discussion on energy reform at the end of the program tonight. between now and then, the ethnic clashes in kirg stan, the push on china to revalue its currency and the analysis of shields and brooks. but first the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> communities across minnesota began cleaning up after a line of tornadoes ripped through the state. at least three people were killed and sdbz more injured. the storms swept through late thursday hitting the northwest and southern parts of the state the hardest. the national weather service had 36 reports of tornado sightings. some of the worst destruction was wadena. dozens of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.
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in colombia, hopes of finding 50 coal miners dimmed after an explosion at a mine wednesday night. rescue crews recovered 18 bodies at the site. the others were trapped underground and feared dead. three more american soldiers have been killed in southern afghanistan. their deaths raised this month's u.s. deekt toll to 34. another british soldier was killed today as well. and at least 27 people died in violence across iraq. they included an iraqi translator for the u.s. military police said he was killed by his own son, an insurgent linked to al qaeda. a convicted killer was executed by firing squad early today in utah after his numerous appeals failed. it was the first such time that know that method has been used in the u.s. in 14 years.jú uard was executed just after midnight. he was dressed in black, strapped to a black metal chair, and hooded with a target placed over
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his heart. then a five-man team took aim and fired. by 12:17 a.m. he was pronounced dead. several reporters witnessed the execution from a separate room >> loudness of the gun shocked me, even though i grew up with a winchester 30/30 in my house and shot it many times. but i think when you see it actually hit a human being and you watch them move to some extent, it was violent. and i didn't find it to be clinical at all. >> gardner was on death row for killing an attorney in a courthouse during an escape bid in 1985. he chose death by firing squad before the state eliminated it as an option in 2004. the execution drew protesters to the steps of utah's state house last night and online a wave of protests began after the attorney general of utah, shurt, sent messages to twitter as the execution happened. the criminal criticisms on twitter called his messages inappropriate and distasteful.
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>> lehrer : democrat alvin greene is still running for the u.s. senate in south carolina. last night, party officials ruled there is not enough evidence to throw out his primary win. he waged no visible campaign and faces criminal charges of showing obscene photos to a college student. he'll face jim demint, considered the heavy favorite. wall street finished higher for a fourth day. the dow jones finzs up for the week, the dow gained 2%. in the world cup, the u.s. team salvaged a draw sbaens slovenia today. a late goal that would have given them outright victory was disallowed. and los angeles celebrated after the lakers wunl their 16th nba title. they beat the boston celtics in game seven last night. portuguese novelist jose saramago died today at his home in the
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canary islands. he published his first works in 1997. one of his best known booked, "blindness" was made into a movie. he was 87. those are some of the day's major stories. now back to jim. >> lehrer: we return to central asia now where the violence in krygyzstan is abating. judy woodruff has our story. >> woodruff: the intermim president of krygyzstan made her first visit today to the stricken city of osh since violence erupted. roza otunbayeva said 2,000 people may have been killed. 10 times earlier estimates. >> ( translated ): by all means, we have to give hope that we shall restore the city, return all the refugees and create all the conditions for that. i think the entire world will be helping us because we
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have the good will to live in peace and friendship together. >> woodruff: osh sits near the border with uzbekistan. gangs of kyrgyz men stormed minority uzbek neighborhoods. 400,000 people fled the violence taking refuge in camps on both sides of the now mostly closed border. those who have tried to return home have found little left in the way of food or shelter. >> ( translated ): tranno one has helped us yet, not even the governor. no one has come to see us. only our neighbor have helped us. >> woodruff: today, u.n. secretary-general ban ki moon appealed for $71 million in emergency aid. and u.n. officials said one million people may need humanitarian assistance. krygyzstan is also home to a key u.s. airbase at mannas in the north that supplies operations in afghanistan.
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u.s. assistant secretary of state robert blake toured one of the refugee camp s inside uzbekistan today >> united states supports an investigation into the cause of the violence that took place and is still occurring in southern krygyzstan, so that everyone can better understand why this happened , so that this can be prevented in the future. >> woodruff: krygyzstan has been in turmoil since a violent uprising overthrew the president andrew bacevich in april. the intergovernment blames bakiyev and his sympathizers for inciting this new crise. earlier today i talked with clifford leevee of the "new york times." he has been reporting from osh for the past four days. clifford leevee, thank you very much for talking with us. first of all, what is the situation there now? >> the situation is relatively stable. we're not seeing the kind of
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violence that erupted here about a week ago. that spread rapidly to many of the minority uzbek neighborhoods leading to a lot of death and destruction. things have calmed a lot since then. that's on the one hand. on the other hand, immersions have hardened, and the uzbek neighborhoods that were attacked have essentially been caded now. what you're developing is a kind of system of ethnic enclaves which is a bad sign for this country's future. >> woodruff: when you say "barricaded" what do you mean? >> reporter: what's happened is in these ethnic uzbek neighborhoods, they have essentially set up roadblocks, cars that were destroyed in the attack, or buser or tankers, and they're block off the roads and preventing anyone to come in that wants to come in and
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essentially that often means the national guard authorities. at least for now, the uzbek enclafz are essentially almost autonomous from the kyrgyz federal and regional government. and the kyrgyz authorities are very reluctant to try to go in because tensions are so high. >> woodruff: and how is that affecting getting aid in to those who need aid? >> reporter: i think some of the aid, i think, can go through, especially if it's being brought in by nongovernmental organizations, and there are some negotiations going on between the uzbek community leaders and the kyrgyz authorities. but i spend a lot of times in the u.s. neighborhoods, and you have to take one taxi to a checkpoint, get out of the taxi, that taxi driver is kyrgyz, and then take a different taxi driver, uzbek driver at the checkpoint. it's worth discussing what it look likes in these neighborhoods. the devastation is quite astonishing. block after block
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after block is ridden with bullets. i was at a house today where they discovered a corpse, and this is after the fighting has been over for four or five days. and they're still discovering the bodies of uzbek residents in these neighborhoods. >> woodruff: now the interim president of kyrgyz was in osh today. what did she say and what is the reaction? >> reporter: well, it's kind of indicative of the problems and challenges she faced. she arrived and gave a town hall meeting but only before kyrgyz resident-- and she's even wearing a bulletproof vest-- and the kyrgyz residents expressed a tremendous amount of hostility to the uzbeks. she did, apparently, have some discussion wgz uzbek leaders. it's not clear whether they were over the phone or whether she met with them in person but she did not go to any of the uzbek neighborhoods, as far as we know, and that really suggests how difficult the situation is now. >> woodruff: is she taking sides
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in this? >> reporter: she says she's not. she's an ethnic kyrgyz. the uzbeks are only about 15% of the population. there are about 40%, 50% in the region we are in now, osh. she says she-- you know, she strongly believes in ethnic harmony, and she wants everyone to get along and she wants to reach out to the uzbek community. however, the community has a tremendous amount of suspicion toward federal authorities. they feel that the authorities cannot protect them when this violence broke out. and more importantly, they feel like the kyrgyz military was used against them. there have been many, many credible accounts from uzbeks who say that kyrgyz military in armored personnel carriers and even tanks, kyrgyz soldiers attacked them and killed many people and set fire to their homes in the first few night of the rioting. >> woodruff: you were at the border today. can you give us the latest on the situation there, the flow of
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people back and forth to uzbekistan? i was at the border today, and for the first time are a lot of people are coming back from refugee camps that they were in on the uzbek side, the uzbekistan side of the border. so that's a somewhat hopeful sign tp. there are still about 60, 70, 80,000 ethnic uzbeks from krygyzstan who are on the uzbek side, on the uzbekistan side of the border, and it will probably take a while for all of them to come back. but they are starting to trickle back. the kind of flip side of that, they're coming back and they're going to be seeing their destroyed homes for the first time, and they're going to be essentially crowding into the ethnic uzbek enclafz where there's a tremendous amount of hostility towards the kyrgyz government. >> woodruff: all right , we're going to leave it there. clifford levy with the "new york times" in osh in krygyzstan. thanks very much. >> reporter: thank you for having me.
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>> brown: next, tensions over currency flared again today between china and the u.s. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: for months the obama administration has been work behind the scenes to persuade the chinese government to adjust its titlely controlled currency the yuan. there had been some hope of movement before a major summit next weekend, but today, positions seemed to harden. white house spokesman bill burton said the global economy would be better off if beijing allowedded the yuan to rise in value. the chinese vice foreign minister responded saying china's currency is not an issue the international community should discuss. to help decipher what's happening and what's at stake we're joined by fred bergsten, the head of peterson institute of international economics. well, the white house didn't release this in some obscure communique. a spokesman said it to the corps
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on air force one, getting an immediate response from the vice premiere in charge of organization for the g-20. >> president obama sent a letter yesterday to all the heads of the g-20 countries indicating a number of changes in economic policies, including in the chinese currency. the problem is that the g-20 strategy agreed over the last two years in response to the global crisis includes a big element of so-called rebalancing the world economy. the u.s. runs huge trade deficits. china runs huge trade surpluses. that transfers jocks from the united states to china. it hurts our economic recovery. and it also means that china has to put a lot of money into the u.s. to finance the imbalance. that big in-flow of capital kept our monetary conditions easy, our interest rates down. that was a big factor leading to the over-borrowing and over-lending that produced the
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global crisis. so on both the trade side and the financial side these big global imbalances are poison. the administration here has wanted to get rid of them. the g-20, including the chinese, have said they would agree to do it, but there's been precious little action to achieve the desired outcome. >> suarez: just a couple of weeks ago an enormous american delegation including the secretary of state, the secretary of treasury, the chairman of the federal reserve, were all in china, pressing on this same issue, getting very little. why come back to it so soon? it's been on the burner for seven years. >> the chinese sent some very strong signals back in march and april that they were going to let their currency start rising again. as a result, secretary of the treasury geithner backed away from issuing a report that was required by the congress in mid-april which would have forced him to label china as manipulator of its foreign currency, which they clearly are. but he backed away. he gave them a pass. he took their snalz they were
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going to move. but he gave them kind of a deadline, and the end of the deadline period was this g-20 summit coming up a week from now. so we're just about at the end of the open period and the signal now from the white house is china, it's time to move. if you don't do it in the fixture few days, you're going goat some pretty sharp push-back from here. >> suarez: well, the chinese did some sharp push-back on their own and said this is china's currency. it's not a fit discussion for the world community. are they signaling that they're just not going to give in on this? >> they never want to give in to the foreign pressure, and that's why it's peculiar that they've waited to let the thing boilun again. the chinese statement on its face is ridiculous. for the chinese to say the currency is not an international issue is fraudulent. a currency relationship, by definition secretary price between the chinese yuan, the american dlark the european euro various currency. it's the
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quintessential international issue because any exchange rate has two sides so it has to be worked out internationally either by markets or government or some combination. so the chinese are barking up the wrong tree with that. it has clearly been a major issue of international discussion, as you said, for seven years, and it's part of the agreed international strategy to deal with these imbalances but now the chinese are just not fulfilling their part of the deal. >> suarez: well, for a long time there have been 6.8 yuan for the dollar. not much change, no matter what changes between the united states and china. what's been the chinese interest in keeping it at this level? what are they defending by not allowing their currency to float? >> the chinese are keeping their currency priced much more cheaply than market forces or economic fundamentals would suggest. >> suarez: so there would be fewer yuan to the dollar if it was allowed to float. >> exactly, a lot fewer, 20% fewer, 25% fewer, a big number. keeping their currency cheap
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means that the prices of their exports are kept correspondingly cheap in world markets, and that gives them a further competitive advantage to grow their economy by expanding exports. likewise, it over-prices imports. it means the dollars are pretty expensive for them to go into the market and buy to get imports from us or somebody else so they import less than they should. and the result is more chinese exports, fewer chinese imports, a humongous trade surplus that transfers economic activity from the rest of the world, including the united states, to china. that's what we call exporting unemployment, or exporting your problem to other people. the irony is the chinese don't need it. they're hugely competitive anyway. and a stronger currency would be much in their interest. right now, china is very worried about inflation. their inflation rate's popped up to 7% or so. they're worried about overheating. they're
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starting to step on the brakes. letting the value of the currency rise would help that. it would make imports cheaper, dampen demand for their exports, just what the doctor ordered. so it's actually quite puzzling that they do not see the light and imp plemt what they've said for five years they're going to do-- reduce their trade surpluses, let the currency follow market-oriented prices. >> suarez: where do you see this issue headlined? >> i'm afraid it's headed for a big dust-up. the chinese are now digging in their heels again, as you said. if there's no action through this g-20 meeting a week from now, there's going to be big push-back from here. the secretary of the treasury will have to issue this report. i think he'll have to label china a currency manipulator, which they will hate. whether he does or not, the congress is very unhappy. senator schumer and others are ready to pass legislation which would, at a minimum, require the u.s. to take account of this cheap currency in deciding whether to put counter veiling duties and now import barriers on chinese trade.
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i think the next step might be some disruption in the trade flows between the two countries if china remains as defensive as it is. >> suarez: fred bergsten, good to talk to you. >> good to be here. >> lehrer: and to the analysis of shields and brooks, syndicated columnust mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. on the oil spill , congressman joe barton's apology to b.p. and his apology about the apology, are you as upset about this as so many others? >> no, i am not as upset. politically it was an unbelievably stupid thing, and substantively it was two-thirds of an unbelievably stupid thing. let me go to the one-third. he actually had a kernel of truth at the core. which it, we're a nation of laws. we have laws to protect the unpopular, and to even protect people who do bad things, and we have a set of laws, when somebody does something bad,
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does something negligent to force them to pay and compensate those who were damaged. that's all on the books. what president obama did when he very publicly and very brutally strongarmed b.p. into setting aside this $20 billion is he went around those laws. and some people think, it's no problem. it's only b.p. imagine if dick cheney did it to somebody he didn't like and said we don't like you, we'll set $20 billion aside and i'll appoint the person who decides what will happen to the 20 billion. i'm not importantly worried about what will happen to the 20 billion. ken feinberg is a hero, he'll be honest and straight. i'm worried about the erosion of the rule of law, which is the president using the vast powers of the federal government to strongarm a company no matter how unpopular and no matter how badly they may have behaved. >> lehrer: you see it the same way, mark? >> i don't, jim. i think david's one-third is interesting but now persuasive. this was not the president brutallizing anybody.
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b.p. made a corporate decision , its leadership dat the outset to acknowledge accountability and responsibility, to assure that they would, in fact, pay the full cost, and make people whole. and what the president does-- and i think it can be said of the presidenciy-- he may not have been jack kennedy in the oval office but he was lyndon johnson behind closed doors at the white house. i think he took that and put bones and flesh on it and said, "okay, this is what it's going to be. you can come up with $20 billion and they could have delayed the process. they could have gone the legal due process and all the rest of it and had lawyered up, and i think it was in b.p.'s interest, as a corporation, as an institution for its reputation, for its solvency, for its well-being, in fact, to cooperate with the president. i don't think there was a brutality involved at all. >> lehrer: you don't agree with
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david that this was a misuse of presidential power? >> no. >> lehrer: what do you think about the kickback toward joe barton? did he deserve what he got? >> joe barton, right now, house republican caucus, he could not get a mother's day resolution passed. it is that bad for him. he is-- he is isolated. here was a story it's president's speech played, at best, to mixed reviews. so the thing is kind of coming along. and what does joe barton do? he takes b.p. , which is a local regard institution in our society right now , and identifies them with the republican party. i mean, he puts a republican face on the defense of b.p. , and it's almost an inclination, it seems to me, to blame america first. these people are so consumed with their animous towards barack obama , that they're going to go on the side of b.p.
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because b.p. is on the other side. and i just think joe barton -- joe barton will not be the chairman if the republicans take over the committee-- take over the congress. he will not be the ranking member. joe barton's seen his best days in the house of representatives. >> lehrer: david, i think that's a yes. >> politically, i completely agree. >> lehrer: you do. >> i mean politically, if you're thinking where should the attention be? it should not be on the republican party because of some stupid thing some guy said. politically it was insane. but if i could vent my general frustration with the week. >> lehrer: you may. >> we had a week of hearings, did the president emote properly did the head of b.p. emote properly, did joe barton say something stupid? we had all our puddles of narcissism in wurb. and yet in the gulf there's a lot happening which we are not paying attention to because we're worried about ourselves. you had governors outraged about this and that. you had the governor of louisiana in a confrontation with the coast guard about the oil vacuum barges.
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you had counties voting almost to secede from the country. you had cities, what, submitting plans to get the oil to not hit them. they never hear back. the oil rolls right in and hits them. so you've got a lot of actual substance happening down there in the gulf, really serious stuff, and we have hearings, we have emoting. we have ourselves looking at ourselves. and barton is a small part of the idosy of really what was a period of incredible self-regard in washington. >> ah, david had a hell of a week. ( laughter ) >> lehrer: we're all in this together! >> yeah, i thought the president addressed the nation. i thought he addressed the topic. i thought he explained as best he could what his administration has done. what was being done for the people down there under his watch. i agree with david that it-- that the lines of authority have not been clear and not been effective.
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but i don't think-- i mean, the hearing in washington was not some sort of meggula maniacal narcissism. it is what washington does. i mean, this guy is going to come in, tony hayward. he knows he's chopped liver. i mean, he's not going to be with the company once this thing eye mean, at christmas. and he wants his life back. he's going to get his life back. ( laughter ) he was a human pinata. it would have been, as david described it, but for joe barton. joe barton rescued the democrats from themselves. tony hayward, too. >> lehrer: one more hearing question if i can ask, david, okay? how did you think hayward did? >> how dare you ask me that. ( laughter ) no, i thought he did horribly-- >> things are going to be okay. >> i'll lie down here if you don't mind. listen, the guy was-- had this big, important job at the time . he probably wasn't there when the decisions were being made, and yet he has eyes.
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he has ears. he has staff. he can be briefed. he can learn about these things. i'm sure barack obama didn't know much either five, six weeks ago but he has been briefed. but apparently hayward has not been briefed. he said, i don't know, i don't know, i don't know." didn't he get briefed? doesn't he know what happened under his own command? i thought his performance was reasonably pathetic. >> lehrer: i think mark wants to defend tony hayward. >> i do. tony haywards of the alberto gonzales of international oil companies--. >> lehrer: the attorney general >> what his purview of authority was and what he was responsible for. and tony hayward looks like he's been on scholarship. i think the thing is that he has a legal problem , and--. >> lehrer: b.p. does. >> b.p. does, and i think he had to be sort of , as he was--. >> lehrer: just speaking of problems-- this is
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called a segue-- what about south carol's problem for the democratic nomination for the u.s. senate? what's going on? what do you think that's all about? is that -- in other words, is there a bigger message here that people voted for somebody that they never had heard of, and by a large margin, and now we have a democratic nominee for the united states senate, alvin greene. >> i don't know, jim, if the machine thing, which the losing candidate said the machines were not responsive. you know, the great vast conspiracy, which a lot of democrats embraced right at the outset, that republicans came over and vote in the democratic primary so they'd get this weak candidate who would be an embarrassment to the party. the democrats weren't even playing in south carolina , the national party, because jim demint was an overwhelming favorite. >> lehrer: the republican. >> the republican incumbent, national conservative leader. and i think the one point that is still unanswered is the
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question of where does this unemployed veteran with an involuntary discharge for the military get the $10,400 that's required in south carolina to file to run for the united states senate? >> lehrer: do you find a message here? >> well, first, i don't really care where he got the $10,000. obviously it would interesting to know but it's not dispositive because, apparently, people voted for him. if people voted for him, wherever he got the money, they vote for him. and i think it would be very hard politically in a democratic country to take that nomination away, assuming the votes were fairly counted. as for the larger message, i always detest candidates while they're campaigning so the fact that he didn't campaign he didn't lower himself in my eyes. maybe that's the secret here-- don't campaign. >> lehrer: let's talk for a moment here about the arlington cemetery problem. talk about a b.p. situation. this is-- this is relevant, is it not, similar? >> this is-- if b.p. and that continuing 60,000 gallons a day
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is a metaphor for government not being able to work , the corporate structure not being able to work, arlington cemetery is a blasphemy of -- and a metaphor of ineptitude. what we found out in this marvelous place, 144 years-- 146 years, since 1864, americans have been buried there, who qualified the standards to meet military service. i mean, there are also kinds of famous people in there. there is audi murphy who killed 240 germans--. >> lehrer: farmersville, texas. >> the most decorated american in world war ii. there are young naval lieutenants, one who became president jack kennedy and another who became chief justice earl warren. but this 300,000 people, jim, who aren't famous, whose families go there for a connection , for consolation, and we find out that at least 211
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graves are misidentified, misplaced, wrong headstones. this is not rocket science. i mean, this is-- these people are entitled to it. we owe them the respect and to me, it is truly an outrage, and it makes me sad and angry simultaneously. >> mark use the word "blasphemy." it is sacred. there are very few things that happen in this town-- but the remains of these marines, soldiers, everyone , they are sacred, so to mess up on that is really to trample on something that's very important. but this , as well as b.p., as well as a lot of things we've seen in this town-- in the country for a long time-- is about execution. and we have a very high regard for vision. i write, we do all this. vision's important. but actually executing properly, getting the proper computer system there, even after millions have been spent, executing in the gulf, execute og an oil platform-- that is underplayed in a society that
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likes something fancy, something oratoricle, but actually executing is tremendously important upon which everything else exists. we have a failure of execution with b.p., a failure in the gulf, and certainly at arlington. >> lehrer: do you agree, that's the overriding message here, mark? >> yes, it is. and it's a-- to the secretary of the army's credit, i think his anger with this was genuine. and i think you have to really give credit to the reporter for "salon.mag." mark, what's his name-- oh, boy oh, boy i should remember it. >> >> and he did-- he did all-- i apologize for that-- he did all the reports and he's done them over the last year, jim, and he finally forced the inspector general of the army--. >> lehrer: the inspector general made the report and the secretary of the army announce it, made it public. >> two have been relieved of duty. >> lehrer: thank you both very much.
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>> thank you. >> brown: finally tonight, a bigger picture look at energy use and the national conversation sparked by the oil spill. tuesday night, president obama urged americans to end what he said was our addiction to oil and said the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. we get a pair of views about what can and should be done. daniel wyss senior fellow and direct of climate strategy at the center for american progress a liberal think tank, and kenneth kbraen, resident scholar at the american enterprise institute. welcome to both of you. >> thank you. >> brown: daniel wyss, the president said the crisis should lead to some action. is he right? >> we -- he was absolutely right. the tragedy in the gulf isn't a wake-up call. it's a sonic boom.
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what we need to do is dramatically reduce our oil use by making significantly cleaner and more-efficient cars, by having many more alternative fuels like electricity for cars and natural gas for trucks etrucks, and making transit much more available for people. and finally, redugs global warming pollution from oil other and source. >> brown: now, you would have said all of that before this all happened, right? but you see this as something that can rouse the country. >> well, this damage edramatically increases the urgency for the first time nilong time energy policy and oil is a water cooler conversation. people are talking about it every day. this is the time to act. polls show support for this sort of action has dramatically increased over the past two months. >> brown: all right, a water cooler conversation. >> sure, and there have been many over the past 20, 30 years, including oil price shocks, oil embargoes , oil spills, and the like, and every time , the same conversation comes up, which is we need to move to these failed technologies of alternative fuels, ethanol, electric cars, which about b by the way--.
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>> brown: you call them "failed technologies." >> the "l.a. times" in 1910 was saying electric cars were just around the corner. these technologies fail time and time again for a very good reason-- it's hard to replace oil and fossil fuels. everything is not metal, glarks or wood is probably made with plastic, and that comes from oil. so to say i want to get away from oil, i want to do these kind of simple, failed technologies, it takes our eye off the real ball which is how do we make this safer? >> we're going to be using the fossil fuels. how do we make the extraction , production, distribution, safer and protect the environment better without deluding ourselves that there will be a new fuel. >> brown: that really reframes the entire conversation. but you don't want to go there, right? you still want to look at the issue of energy and oil dependence. >> well, i happen to be a very optimistic person. i believe that american ingenuity and entrepreneurship can solve problems once they
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have the right price signals and the right help from government to do so. it's interesting-- you may not want to have electric vehicles on the streets, but they've got them in china already. they're selling plug-in hybrid electric vehicles right now in china. and fortunately, in the u.s., general motors is about to sell one this fall called the chevy volt. that's the start. but we need to dramatically increase the rate of conversion. i don't know, one out of every five barrels of oil we use comes from a country that the state department classifies as dangerous or unstable. that's not goofor our security. it's not good for our economy. >> our biggest source of imported oil, actually, is canada, and our second biggest is mexico. ending trade in oil would do as much damage to our major trading partners as ourselves as the other groups we don't want to get energy from. china is fielding electricars and a new study shows since they are powered by coal they will be worse than gasoline cars. hasty adoption of failed technologies is likely to do
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more harm than good. let's embrace reality-- we're going to use these fuels. if we don't drill, hugo chavez will drill. we need to improve our technology and ability to prevent oil from moving to the shortstops. and learn how to use this material safer because we are going to use it. >> brown: let me ask you both this-- we talked about this happening, this kind of crisis every so often. what do we know what that does to people? you said it's a clarion call, even more. but what do we know about actual changes in public attitudes, willingness to change technology or behavior. >> americans do support using less oil. the problem is they aren't offered many realistic choices. when oil prices were $147 a barrel two years another driving only went down, like, 3%. why? because people didn't have many choices. what we need is government help to get private entrepreneurs and innovateors to human provide better, cleaner choices. for example, toyota just made a deal with
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tesla to make a sedan that is all electric. you know, ken, one of the reasons why electric cars were abandoned 100 years ago is because the auto companies made a deal with the oil companies and decide to go ahead and pursue that. >> that conspiracy theory has been debunked many times as tiger woods' monogamy. the reality is, these technology not there. it's not that people don't change their behavior because they don't have choices. they do. i got rid of my car five years ago. i live in an apartment. i take the metro into work. people have lots of choice. but it's hard to make those decisions because you have sunk investment in your house, in your car, in your career. these things change but slowly as do the technologies you buy which last 15, 20 years. so there's huge inertia and momentum in all energy systems that make them resistant to change. it's not that people necessarily want to change their behavior. it's that they want to improve their quality of life and the alternatives they're talking about don't let them do that.
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>> why wouldn't we want have to government take action to speed up the rate of change, given the b.p. oil disaster has shown us the domestic, economic, and public health cost of our reliance on oil, as well as the national security cost of reliance on oil, getting one in five barrels of our oil from countries rated dangerous and unstable? >> because the government doesn't actually know what consumers want. this whole idea of the five-year soviet plan, we'll tell you what sneerkz you want. that is a failed model the idea that the government knows which technology will work in the market and please consumers, i mean, it's just completely absurd. sglounl all right, a little taste of the national water cooler conversation. thank you both very much. daniel wyss and kenneth greene. >> thanks. >> lehrer: and, again, the major developments of this day. b.p. ramped up efforts to capture and burn more of the oil flowing into the gulf of mexico.
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the oil giant also announced c.e.o. tony hayward will give up daily oversight of spill operations. he's been roundly criticized for his statements on the crisis. on the newshour tonight, ken feinberg, the man in charge of the oil claims fund, pledged it work to accelerate payments once the fund is fully set up. he said it was premature to say whether $20 billion would be enough to pay all the claims. the newshour is always online, of course. hari sreenivasan in our newsroom previews what's there. >> mark shields and david brooks stom by the rundown next. check back later this evening for our conversation. on the world cup, fans in washington and baltimore give their theories on why professional soccer isn't as widely popular in the u.s. as it is abroad. gwen isle talks about covering the oil disaster. and on art beat, jack previews the summer movie season. jeff. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown.
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>> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online and again here on monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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