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tv   In the Arena  CNN  April 20, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

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as you can see around here, all of the peonal effects, even photographs, there'sa photo through there as well. just how quickly they had to leave. just an eerie feeling of how there was once life and then nothing. >> nothing. that's all from us tonight. "in the arena" starts now. right now, there are about 6,000 planes in the air over the united states. this real-time track map shows just how crowded the skies are. of course, the question is, how safe? well, fasten your seat belts because the faa has snapped into action tonight. the agency has announced they fired two air traffic controllers who fell asleep in the last few weeks. that came on the heels of this announcement. if you're the president's wife
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or his vice president, you will now have a supervisor tracking your every flight. great news for two very important people. but for the rest of us, not so much. this blizzard of activity comes one day after first lady michelle obama and dr. jill biden were heading back to washington after an appearance on the tv program "the view." the plane they were in flew dangerously close to a giant c-17 cargo plane. this, while they were preparing to land at andrews air force base. tonight, as we learn more about the incident, we come face-to-face with an ugly reality. we just don't have enough air traffic controllers. to keep the skies safe, new york's jfk airport should have 270 on staff in the tower. instead, they have about 150. air traffic controllers can't keep up. which may be why we saw such a close call. faa rules say no plane should be within five miles of a c-17 cargo plane.
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and here's why. such a heavy plane flying at low speed close to the ground creates major turbulence in its wake. it's like flying straight into two tornadoes. joining me now to discuss all this is former inspector general for the department of transportation, mary schiavo. she's also a lawyer representing victims in aviation related lawsuits. she's in charleston. and back with me tonight is michael goldfarb, the former chief of staff for the faa, the federal aviation administration. welcome to you both. michael, let me start with you. i just got to ask, air traffic controllers fall asleep at the switch, errors up 50%. the first lady's plane, of all plane, just about in a dangerous situation. in a dangerous situation, almost a tragic one. this is emblematic of what's going on in the skies? as the old question is, how scared shall we be? >> it remains the safest system in the world but that does little justice to the kinds of problems we're seeing. the system's under enormous stress. the controllers are fatigued.
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there's not enough bench strength. they don't have the reserves to fully staff the towers. what we're seeing is the normal symptoms of somebody under enormous stress. somebody happens to be the entire air traffic control system. >> let me turn to mary. it's not as though there's not just a bench that's lacking. we're putting only eight guys in the field when you're supposed to have nine in a baseball metaphor, it's baseball season. you were the i.g. for the system. are things getting worse right now based on everything you've seen and heard? >> yes, for a variety of reason, not least of which is this problem has been brewing for a very long time and the faa has not taken strong action where there are problems. the sleeping controllers, that was around when i was inspector general in the '90s. we addressed those issues. the faa didn't react. it took the secretary of transportation and some serious incidents including with the first lady's plane to really get action. it shouldn't have come to this. it's been a long time coming to this. >> i just got to raise this
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issue because i know there's a debate going back and forth about whether air traffic controllers should nap on the job. now, look, i don't mean to be simplistic about this, but i've been a boss in a whole lot of different contexts. i've never been a boss in a situation where i if saw somebody sleeping, i'd say that's a good thing. whether is the rationale to say air traffic controllers should take naps during their shifts? micha michael, why don't you head into this one? >> absolutely, eliot. all the scientist, researchers agree, it's a very difficult shift to stay awake. remember, we're not talking about someone coming for an eight-hour shift and taking a nap. we're talking about controllers who have backlog, worked three to four days. they're coming in many times to a dark radar room after midnight, not a lot of action -- >> they're watching movies, that's the problem. >> right, many probably are. and the only thing they're allowed to do, if there's not
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air traffic coming in, is to read the faa policy manual. that alone would put you to sleep. >> that doesn't sound like a good idea. >> in effect, many countries have ten-hour shifts, they encourage napping. euro control, all the european nations, australia, because everybody has come to realize that that sleep enables safety as opposed to takes away from safety so -- >> michael, i hear the logic of it. i still don't have my arms around the notion we want these guys sleeping on the job. it sounds to me what you're really saying is because it's the backlog, the sequence of 10-hour shift, 12-hour shift, compressing their workweek. it sounds like the real problem is not enough controllers to create a schedule that is optimal for safety. mary, is that really what we've got here? >> well, partially. that is certainly one concern, and we're still thirtysome years later since the firing of the
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controllers when they went on strike, we had to go through a period of time where a number of them retired a couple years ago. that started a trend as well. we had to replace those. but the faa also allowed controllers to command their own schedules so they could have four-day workweeks instead of five-day workweeks. they had this thing called the rattler schedule where they would schedule four days of regular work and their fifth day, right after their fourth day schedule. so they'd have back-to-back schedules. secretary la hood said no more of that last week. >> can i interrupt you for one second? why was it called the rattler schedule? >> because it comes back to bite you. >> which is exactly what we're seeing right now. this is the rattlesnake metaphor. it seems good in the short term. who wouldn't want a four-day work sfwheek you get a three-day weekend every week. if safety's on the line, we shouldn't be doing that. >> we're not dealing with the larger issue. >> which is what? >> we almost have a rule -- it's almost a rule de jure.
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every day, there's another reaction. today -- i mean, most people would have thought that there's not that many presidential, vice presidential flights. most people would have thought an air traffic control supervisor would have an eye on a controller guiding that flight. so we're changing the rules. we're talking about no sleeping. it doesn't deal with the heart of the problem. you said it, eliot, the heart of the problem is there are not enough controllers. there's a backlog of trainees and they can't staff the critical facilities. so all the sleeping, all the fatigue, not to excuse it, but all that symptomatic of an agency playing catch up from a decades long problem. as mary described, it's been going on for a long time. it's coming to a head right now. >> it seems there's a need based on what i've read on the faa system, there's a need to implement a whole new technology. we're stuck with an old technology, without the people to man the system or woman the system, whatever the gender term should be. i just saw the house of representatives at least cut $4
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billion out of the faa budget over four years. what will that cut do to the capacity to bring in the additional controllers that we need? mary, is this going to have a real many pact? >> yes, it is going to have a real impact. it's not going to show up this year because we're already foraging ahead into the budget. it's going to do two bad things. it's going to hurt our buildout of the next gen air traffic control system. that system we must have. it's not going to be finished as it is until 2020. it is a beautiful system. it has the potential to make midair collisions a thing of the past. we have to have the funding to finish it. all aircraft in the system have to be equipped to be seen in the system and we're going to need more controller, not less, just because we have the new system, because we're going to have 3.5 increase in traffic, in air traffic, every year until then. >> michael, you were the chief of staff for the faa. you were involved in this budget. in 30 seconds, tell me, what would you see happening because of this budget cut that is p ju
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been voted by the house? >> it's a devastating budget cut because anybody who works in the organization, what's the first thing you cut, not the employees, you cut the training. if we're talking about training, it cuts that, it it'cuts aviati safety inspectors. i wonder how many members of congress on that plane would vote for less aviation safety inspectors. i don't think so so it's a huge cut for the faa to take at a critical time when we're trying to catch up to better fund air traffic control and better -- >> on the other side of the ledger, you told us in their downtime plane plabetween plane, they're supposed to read the faa manual. thanks so much for being with us. >> here are some of the questions we'll be drilling down on. the u.s. plans on sending $25 million in aid directly to t
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rebels in libya. is this a deepening involvement for u.s. forces? and where will it take us? as the market hits a three year high, why isn't main street enjoying the windfall? and thousands fled from their lives from certain death in japan. what does a modern day ghost town look like? and the memories it carries. e.d., you're continuing our coverage with what's going on with air traffic controllers. >> i didn't get the chance to read the faa manual. i understand that's send late i scintillating. it's interest everybody now is acknowledging that the work rules they set up led to problems. they're in essence dangerous. why did everyone agree to them? what else is in here that needs to change before we have a problem? >> we're going to have that debate later on. tragic news from libya as two western journalists are killed trying to cover the civil war. i'm good about washing my face.
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today to civilians to stay clear of gadhafi forces in order to give nato planes a better target to shoot at. for two months, those forces have pummeled targets within the city of misrata. so many civilians have died there. today, word that two journalists are among them. one, chris hondros, a still photographer for the getty news aj agency and also acclaimed photo journalist tim heatherton. cnn's fred meet ken is with us tonight from tripoli. you're there, you're at risk. we have seen the danger you as a journalist are in. so i -- all i can tell you is thank you for your remarkable reporting in this dangerous war
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zone. >> reporter: yes, thank you. we also have new information on what happened in that incident today. i can tell you from my time on the ground this is really something we were afraid of when we were there as well. it seems as though the crew was on the western fringes of misrata. they were in an area that was sort of contested. out there with a couple of the rebel fighters when their group got hit by either an rpg or rocket propelled grenade or a mortar. it seemed that tim hetherington died on arrival at one of the few makeshift clinics. i can tell you from having been on the ground there, that's pretty much the worst nightmare that can happen to you, is to get wounded in a place like misrata because the few clinics you have there that are still functioning there are very low on medication. they have almost no operating
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space. and there's almost no way to medevac you out of there if you do get hit. the shortest boat trip out of there is about 20 hours, eliot. >> fred, the only good news perhaps of the past 24 hours is nato troops and nato leadership finally seems to be ramping up what it says it's going to do. word that three of the nations are going to send senior officers to help train and take a leadership role perhaps with the observation forces and nato planes seem to be coming back to life. >> reporter: i have indeed and i can tell you there were strikes, three or four loud explosions. to us, it seemed as though it might have been an ammunition dump that was hit here.
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that didn't target any anti-aircraft fire. but you can see the nato strikes are still going on. they're trying to hit strategic targets like, for instance, headquarters of the gadhafi brigades. they're trying to hit telecommunications installations. they're having their pilots go up in the air and try and scout out targets that they believe have been firing at civilians. they believe they're aiming towards civilians, things like tanks, so it does appear as though nato is ramping up. at the same time, they're doing it seems more, short of putting combat groups on the ground. you mentioned the advisers from italy, transportation and the uk and of course the u.s. is now saying it wants to provide about $25 million in what it called nonlethal aid to the rebels to bolster their governance but the main thing nato is trying to do is trying to make the rebels a better equipped and more
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coherent fighting force especially in the east of the country where they're having so much trouble and are getting pounded so badly by gadhafi's forces. >> exactly. thanks for your excellent reporting. we'll be talking with you later. what can the u.s. do to prevent these indiscriminate killings? today, secretary clinton proposed send $25 million in nonlethal aid to the rebels. is this something we should be doing? former mato supreme allied commander general wesley clark joins me. thank you for being with us tonight. first, i guess i have to ask, how do you assess the military situation? you have enormous experience. you've won the battles you've waged. can the opposition forces in misrata survive based upon what you know that's going on right now? >> i think they can. i think that they'll be more support coming into them from
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italy, france, uk, maybe some of that nonlethal equipment from the united states will be coming in to help them as well. they have the seaport there. i think they will survive. remember they're fighting a group of mercenaries under gadhafi's aim that's equipped with heavy weaponry. but they don't have the city. they haven't been able to take it to date. so i think they've got a good chance of holding on misrata. >> you're a bit of a diplomatic sort but i want to push it a little bit for the viewers. are you envisioning that some of the nato countries, france in particular, has been a bit more bellicose than other leaders? will they send troops in if it appears misrata is about to fall to gadhafi? >> i wouldn't be surprised to see adviser teams go in from these countries. that's permitted under the u.n. security council resolution. i think what gadhafi probably
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doesn't understand is that the leaders of france, uk, italy, the united states, nato, they're not going to allow him to survive. so it may look like his forces are superior at some point but gadhafi's lifeline will be choked off. the rebels will be strengthened. nato will maintain an iron-clad grip on the skies above and gadhafi has to go. that's the policy goal. and he will go. >> you're exactly right. the political imperative behind ensuring gadhafi is gone within some reasonably short time frame is overwhelming. on the other hand, the military tab low we see playing out here has not been encouraging lately. i have to give you credit, you were very presient when you said the mission's always been the same but the creeping escalation of our military engagement has been visible just as you
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predicted. now we're sending so called nonlethal aid. this is what you foresaw. what happens from here on in? >> the president's always been very candid for the united states at least, what he said is the purpose of the u.s. military involvement was to protect civilians but he had a policy goal that went beyond the military mission. and i think that's exactly what you're seeing play out here. to reach that policy goal, you can provide nonlethal aid, provide assistance in the rebel governing areas. you can provide hospital support. and, in fact, allies can certainly do more than that as they're preparing to do. i think all of that will be ratcheted up against gadhafi. gadhafi's going to try to stall for time. he's going to believe he can get extra mercenaries to come in there. he's going to try to bribe and threaten and coerce the rebel groups but all of this is going to fail because he's up against overwhelming power. he just doesn't see it yet. >> i think the question is one of time frame. certainly is the case, the power
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against him is overwhelming, but until now, as i think we're see in the fight in misrata, in the fight outside ben ghazi, so far militarily, he's been able to hold his own, even -- i mean, i saw the list of what's included in the $25 million of nonlethal aid, binocular, body arm, some trucks. all of that is fine but if they don't have the troops to get into the field to use that stuff, what good is it? so don't they just need more troops and firepower in the field ultimately to get this over the finish line? >> well, he'll get the troops and other countries probably will provide them with the firepower. i think some of that's coming in. it's a matter of getting the organize, the training right. taking small steps and trying to -- instead of trying to take their whole country all at once. it would not surprise me to see these trainers on the ground from our allies also can communicate with the aircraft overhead. i think that's inevitable. that's going to happen. they're going to do whatever it takes to be effective against
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gadhafi and he's going to go. so we're watching the policy unfold. i think the united states has been very adroit thus far in avoiding mission creep with the military action of the united states. so it's up to the other elements of power than to apply the pressure and force gadhafi out. >> all right, general clark, as always, thank you for your wisdom on this, your counsel and patience, something most of us are not terribly good at. coming up, wall street is rolling in profits. what exactly is wrong with that picture? our schizophrenic economy when we return. building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity... and making a substantial investment to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible.
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today, the dow jones industrials surged to hit its highest level since june '08. the economy is schizophrenic. our government is going bankrupt. jobs are scarce. the middle class is getting punched in the gut.
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here's what president obama said just last week. >> in the last decade, the average income in the bottom 90% of all working americans actually declined. meanwhile, the top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. >> so, is america's economy booming or tanking? i asked cnn's richard quest a short time ago from london. richard, thanks so much for joining us. >> reporter: eliot, good evening to you. >> explain to me the schizophrenia i see in our economy. you can't turn on the tv without hearing about how our government here is bankrupt and how the middle class is just suffering every day. and yet this afternoon the stock market hit a high, hasn't been this high, this robust, for years. explain to me this dichotomy. >> it's very simple. overseas business. the companies that are doing
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well are those like intel that have more than 50% of their revenues coming from overseas. if you look at the earnings numbers that we're seeing in the first quarter of this year, time and again, it is the same story. it is china, india, brazil, emerging markets. those are the places where general motors, where ford, where intel, where all the big companies are making big bucks. even boeing. you're looking at overseas markets to make money. now, that is not the case in the united states. deficit, debt, leverage, worries about interest rates, worries about the future of the economy, worries about the jobs. they have a corrosive effect on consumers and that's why you have schizophrenia. >> richard, i love it when anybody who's an economist tells me something is simple because usually it's 18 parts to an answer. you're exactly right.
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the globalization of the world economy has been great for multinationals and has been terrible for the american middle class. if you talk about jobs -- i want to put a chart out that shows where the jobs have gone over the last decade. u.s. multinationals have cut u.s. jobs by 2.9 million. those same u.s. multinationals have added 2.4 million jobs overseas. that's just what you're saying, whether it's intel or general motors, they're doing great overseas and collapsing over here. what you're telling me is trade may be bad for the american middle class. >> no, come on, it's not as simple as that and you know it. >> i'm just trying to bait you a little bit. >> right, you've succeeded. firstly, those profits that those companies are making overseas get plowed back into dividends that are paid into 401 ks, into investments, into muse wall funds, so it's not a zero
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sum game as some would have you believe. if a u.s. company does well overseas, people back in the united states do of course benefit from higher dev denieds. but there is a -- there's a revolution going on at the moment in economies like the uk, european union, in the united states, a shift from manufacturing, which has been on the downturn for a long time, even from high tech, even new forms of growth. >> you are absolutely right. when intel or general motors makes money, those moneys get distributed in dividends to the stockholder. but here's the point. as president obama said the other day, the 1% of the top that controls capital, that owns those stocks, are doing rell wale. their average income up 250,000 bucks over the last decade. the people who work with their hands day in, day out, who don't
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control capital, have seen their income going down because they sell their labor. as they sell labor, they're competing with the workers in china or vietnam or brazil, right? isn't that true? >> the moment i now bring my argument, you're going to run the socialist flag up the -- >> oh no. >> of course it's true, but then for instance, you raise the taxes on the richest part of the population. that's what's happened in the uk. where there's a 50% tax on people earning more than 150,000 pounds a year. you do that across the board. of course you start doing that. when times are bad, those who have most have to pay. there's an argument, and you know it as well as i do, that will say, well, they're the wealth producers. >> i'm not saying anything about taxes now. i'm describing the globalization of the economy because as you know, which is a good thing for a lot of people. if the jobs are going oversea, the people who control capital are doing great, but the people
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who are working here have to compete against those workers overseas. now we got to figure out how -- >> hang on, hang on, an economist in the united states wrote brilliantly in a book, the day americans are prepared to pay more for shoes is the day that they'll be a shoe industry in america. that can go across the whole board. the day people are prepared to pay for higher cost production, then you're going to have an industry. as long as the targets, the walmart, pushing prices, pushing supplies, pushing everything down, down, down, then you're going to have it down to the lowest common denominator of costs. >> the benefits of trade come into consumers. the workers who used to make those products have seen jobs go
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overseas. >> as long as the united states is saddled with $1 trillion worth of debt. billions of dollars that service that debt. the two sides cannot agree. think of the austerity measures being implemented in greece. when you put that context into the picture, you start to see. the moment anybody like me says the answer is simple, it's time to head for the hills. >> you have the answers for all of us. i thank you for that. i love getting you on. richard quest has solved it all. thank you for coming on the show. never a dull moment talking to richard quest. he's right about most of what he says about international economists. e.d., what have you got for us tonight? in terms of air traffic
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controllers? >> you start feeling the effects of that wind turbulence. we've got a guy coming up who has not only worked in the control tower, he has also piloted those planes, and he's going to explain to us exactly what the first lady and dr. biden went through. >> can't wait for that. look forward to it. later in the show, an amazing excuse frie exclusive from japa. cnn allowed inside the evacuation zone around the fukushima nuclear plant. it's unforgettable. stay right there. o for a guy like -- [ ping! ] she says she'd love to. [ ping! ] she can't wait to see me. [ ping! ] she's wanted me to ask her out for over a year now! [ ping! ] she just sent me a video. [ girl's voice ] hi stephen, can't wait for our date! oh, can i see that? aah! [ male announcer ] in the network, sparks fly faster. at&t is getting faster with 4g. rethink possible. ♪ imagine zero pollutants in our environment. or zero dependency on foreign oil.
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under new rules put in place by the faa air traffic controllers are now guaranteed an extra hour off between shifts. is that enough? our next guest has been both a pilot and a controller and knows firsthand what goes on in the tower and cockpit. help says the new rule by the faa is the stupidist thing he's ever heard. rob mark joins us from chicago. explain why. >> well, the problem with the way the schedules rotate. they are very fatigue inducing. one extra hour is not going to make any difference. >> whose fault is that? i'm looking through the union contract. and it allows for a basic workweek. eight hours a day, five days a week, and a compressed workweek. it's my understanding the controllers bid for these workloads. is the government forcing them to work compressed shifts where
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they may not have enough sleep? or is it a little of both? >> these schedules have been this way since i can remember. it's a long time. again, most of the time everybody realizes they make you very tired but there really haven't been any issues and honestly everybody's kind of looked the other way. so why get in the middle of it? >> they're making one other i think more substantial change. you've been on both sides of this. they're now going to put the controllers back up in the skies. they're going to let them go and sit in those jump seats in the cockpit so they get an idea of what really is going on in the cockpit as they're being guided into landing. will that help? does that help in the understanding of how to better communicate? >> i think that's always been a
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very important point. faa pulled them out a long time ago because some controllers were abusing it. but the people i've had in the cockpit have always come away with their eyes very much open, especially when we went into a busy city and they saw how hard we worked, depending on the instructions the controllers gave us. they're sitting in a chair and they don't move and we're in a very dynamic position. >> something else and eliot was talking about this earlier. we heard it from a guest previously in the week. that is we are so low in the staff of air traffic controllers. elliott was saying in new york city it's the half of the controllers. how do they operate with that few number of workers? >> it's not easy. one of the issues we are facing that's really still fallout from the patco strike of 1981 is we
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have bodies, we have people, but they're not very well trained. each successive generation knows a little bit less than the people who came before them. and the kinds of things we're seeing now about people just not paying attention, those are some of the direct issues -- some of the results we're going to see if we don't step up the intensity, the training, with these new people. >> i understand. this may be a good thing. there's a high washout rate. a lot of people start the program and don't cut it. is that a good or a bad thing? >> well, of course, i think high washout rate is always a good thing. i think if we look at the numbers, the aff washout rate in the last few years, has not been nearly as high as it was in my day, because they give them much more time. they're a little more lenient in how much time they have to learn the job. and again anybody can probably do it if you give them long enough but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going
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to be good. >> help us understand what the first lady and dr. biden were going through. you've seen it on both sides. when you get usually a smaller plane in back of a larger plane and they're too close together, that wind turbulence builds up. what does that feel like? >> the issue we're talking about for listener, the way turbulence -- simply sort of horizontal tornados that come off the tips of the wings of a very large aircraft as it approaches to land. the reason the first lady's airplane was supposed to be five miles behind was it was -- that's the safe distance for an aircraft so they have a chance to dissipate. when the airplane got too close, there was the chance. it didn't happen but there's a chance they may have gotten caught in that turbulence and it can flip an airplane.
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>> i love going to the airports and watching planes land. when you're standing there, you can sort of feel that wind draft. >> oh, absolutely. on some of the large aircraft, 747 or a-380, the velocity is just unbelievable. they have flipped airplanes on their back. >> is there anything else you think just isn't working right in the control tower they should be taking a look at now before it's a problem? >> i think the research on sleep is a big one. this is not anything new, these schedules people work. some of it's not just the way they rotate. a lot of facilities are on six day weeks. you cannot keep working people indefinitely on crazy schedules and six day weeks and not have it appear as a problem
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somewhere. so i think the faa and d.o.t. need to look at the research and actually take some action as opposed to just reading it. >> coming up, some amazing pictures.
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westerners have not been allowed inside the exclusion zone around japan's crippled nuclear complex until today. cnn was given exclusive access. our stan grant and his crew were allowed inside the zone to witness firsthand the devastation. were you worried about exposure to radiation? nobody else has been allowed back into that proximity to the nuclear facility. >> of course there's always a concern. we don't want to expose ourselves to a dangerous level of risk. he deemed it was an acceptably low level. we took precautions. our feet were covered. so we were able to work for a
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limited amount of time in there. there is the ongoing concern about radiation fallout. tens of thousands of people have been moved from that area. the government has said there is an element of risk. this is a house that has been damaged and abandoned. this is also sitting inside the exclusion zone established to get people out to protect them from the effects of radiation from the nuclear plant at fukushima. i head inside the zone so i need to take precautions. i'm wearing face covering and my shoes are also protected. this is to stop me coming in contact with contaminated material or breathing in any contamination. there are some cars still moving through this area.
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we passed through the checkpoint and they are allowing people to move around, to come in and out. that's why we've been allowed to come in here now. we are keeping a close watch on any impact, any potential exposure to radiation. we're carrying these devices here. these will give me a constant reading of the level of radiation we're coming into contact with. interestingly, as we move around to different parts of this area, it rises and then drops again. i must point out that the levels we're seeing here are not at a rate that is going to cause any effect to my health now or have any lingering effect later. as you can see, much destruction throughout this area. here's a track that has picked up by the wave that swept tlup here and has come to rest against the shed next to the house. over here, some more houses. most of them, in fact almost all of them, have been abandoned.
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this is a ghost town. it's a very eerie place. you can hear the wind as it comes through. you can hear the creaking of the materials and the tin and timber and so on around here that's been left exposed by the damage. it is a ghost town. they dealt with the tsunami. they've had their lives turned upside down. and now they're being stalked by the invisible hand of radiation. >> stan grant, great reporting. amazing footage. on foreign oil. ♪ this is why we at nissan built a car inspired by zero. because zero is worth everything. the zero gas, 100% electric nissan leaf.
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in the aftermath of the devastating bp oil spill and all of the devastation, kenneth fineburg was put in charge of a $20 billion fund created by bp to compensate the victims.
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now, one year into the oil spill, after the oil spill, that should be, the media is playing up a lot of complaints against fineburg. not enough money being given out not fast enough. thanks for coming on the show. let's start with the basics. you have $20 billion to give away. how many requests have you received and who is eligible for this money? >> i've received in the last nine months alone, 850,000 requests from 50 states. every state in the union. anybody is eligible for compensation if they can demonstrate damage caused by the spill and that damage has to be linked to the spill and that's the key. >> you said you got requests for damages from all over the country. somebody in alaska sent in a claim. >> that's right. we get a rest raunt in las vegas puts in a claim saying we have the best shrimp scampy in las
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vegas. now, that's not a valid claim. >> assuming that 98% who submit claims are good honest people, have you found those fraudulent claims that simply defy logic? >> of course, but you're absolutely right, the number of fraudulent claims, although in absolute terms, very large, we've found internally about 8,000 suspicious claims and we've sent about 1,000 fraudulent claims we think to the department of justice criminal division. >> you've given away $4 billion so far? >> satisfied 300,000 claims. >> the hardest question seems to be linkage between the spill and
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the damages. i want to give you an easy examp example. somebody was a shrimper. his whole business depended on it. how do you quantify their damages? >> what were you earning in the way of profit before the spill? what are you earning now after the spill? how can you -- you tell us, please document, since you're obviously eligible, under your hypothetical, demonstrate to us the damage you suffered prespill, post spill. >> but these are the things you look at. i'm throwing hypotheticals at you. imagine you own a lumber company that is 500 miles away from the coast. how do you determine if their business slowed down, is that causally linked? >> no, that lumber company 500 miles away is going to have a
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difficult challenge because the only way that lumber company's going to recover under the gulf coast claims facility is to offer hard specific evidence. mr. fineburg, here is a canceled contract on the beach to build a condominium, cancelled right here because of the spill. dear lumber company, because of this spill and oil we're not going to build and we don't want your lumber. other than that, there won't be recovery. >> even as sensible as this sounds, you're still making assumptions, using the best evidence, when would the golf economy recover in trying to quantify the damages? >> this is very, very difficult. you're putting your thumb right on the problem. i spent four months asking all of the experts, everybody i could find, what does the future
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hold in the gulf for purposes of this program and final payments? and i got back after four months a general view by the experts including professor tunnel at texas a&m. nationally known marine biologi biologist. it is reasonable to believe by the end of 2012 the economy of the gulf will return to normal. not certain, reasonable to assume. for oyster harvesters, it will be longer. it may be 2014 before the oyster business will be back to normal. >> thank you for coming on the show. what is a clear editorial comment, no good deed goes unpunished. thank you for what you're doing. as you've heard, there are a lot of critics of what fineburg
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