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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  October 25, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: g.o.p. presidential hopeful rick perry unveiled a federal flat tax plan of his own today. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight: we explore his and other candidates ideas for reforming the tax code, with economic writers robert kuttner and stephen moore. >> woodruff: then, "washington post" science reporter rob stein has the latest on the center for disease control's recommendation that boys and young men get the h.p.v. vaccine. >> brown: we have an update from libya, as moammar gadhafi, his son and a top aide are buried in secret. >> woodruff: margaret warner reports on the worsening flood in thailand's capital, bangkok. >> brown: special correspondent
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saul gonzalez has the story of one university's experiment in religious education: the nation's first multi-faith school of theology. >> sock of us are looking in a jewish direction. some of us are looking in a muslim direction. some are looking into n a christian direction and yet we're all looking in a god direction. >> woodruff: plus, different screens for different kids. we look at the "app gap" among the nation's children. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work on a big scale. and i think it's got to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now. 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
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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. the about taxes was topic "a" in the presidential campaign today. republican rick perry rolled out his plan for an across-the-board tax rate of 20%. as heavy machinery hummed in the background, the texas governor unveiled his flat tax proposal at a south carolina plastics plant. >> the best representation of my plan is... is this post card. this is the size of what we are talking about right here. tax payers will be able to fill this out and file taxes on that. ( applause ) >> woodruff: the perry plan breaks down this way: the 20% flat tax would be optional.
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americans at any income level could choose between that or their current tax rate. the first $12,500 of income per individual would be exempt. and the plan, which had no price tag attached, would maintain deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions for households making less than $500,000 a year. >> taxes will be cut across all income groups in america, and the net benefit will be more money in american's pockets with greater investment in the private economy instead of the federal government. >> woodruff: perry also touted a broader economic overhaul, including: lower corporate tax rates; a balanced budget constitutional amendment; and social security reforms that include private accounts for younger workers. the perry plan has the blessing
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of a key adviser: steve forbes, a two-time contender for the republican presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000. he ran almost entirely on the idea of a flat tax. the flat tax is a tax cut. you will gain more than you lose. >> woodruff: this time around, tax reform in its many variations is a top priority for the republican field. >> if 10% is good enough for god, 9% ought to be good enough for the federal government. ( laughter ) >> my first priority would be to put in place a fair tax in this country. >> get rid of all tax expenditures, all loopholes, all deductions, all subsidies. >> we want successful families focused on job creation and growth, not meeting with c.p.a.s and tax lawyers to avoid taxes.
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and the death tax is inherently, morally a bad tax. >> woodruff: another top contender, mitt romney, has stopped short of proposing a flat tax, calling instead for other changes to the tax code. but perry today criticized the plans of his rivals as well as that of president obama, who has proposed a surtax on millionaires, among other changes to the code. >> america is under a crushing burden of debt, and the president simply offers larger deficits and the politics of class warfare. others simply offer these microwaved plans with warmed- over reforms based on current ingredients. >> woodruff: the president's reelection campaign, in turn, targeted both romney and perry, saying they "would shift a greater share of taxes away from large corporations and the wealthiest onto the backs of the middle class."
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perry said today he anticipates such attacks, but he insisted his ideas show he is the change agent voters want. we get two different views on the flat tax now from: stephen moore, co-founder of the conservative club for growth and a member of the "wall street journal's" editorial board; and robert kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of the "american prospect" magazine. he's also a senior fellow at demos, a liberal think-tank. gentlemen, thank you both for being with us. stephen moore, i'm going to start with you. you've long ban proponent of flatter taxes. do you agree with governor perry that what he is proposing today is going to lead to stronger economic growth? >> i don't think there's any question, judy. i think the tax system right now is a complete albatross around the neck of the u.s. economy. we have on the corporate side the second-highest tax rates in the world among our trading partners and i think that most businessmen and women and corporate c.e.o.s will tell you
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that puts the u.s. at a competitive disadvantage. on the individual side the system is just a complicated mess. the average american is spending 15 hours a year just figuring out what their taxes are. the simplification of the flat tax, the driving down the rates and one other thing, judy, that's very important. the flat tax eliminates all of the double taxes on saving and investment. so hopefully that means we would get more saving and investment and those are the seed corns of a growing economy. >> woodruff: so robert kuttner, the argument you're hearing from mr. moore and governor per is that this is going to unleash job creation... a creation of jobs and economic growth. >> well, there are several things wrong with perry's proposal. first of all, he didn't put any numbers on it. so anybody-- whether in business or running for public office who's remotely serious about changing something as fundamental as the tax system is going to tell you what it costs. secondly, his plan says if you do better under the present tax system you can pay your taxes
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under the present system. if you do better with a 20% flat tax you can take the 20% flat tax. obviously that means that people are going to take which ever one does better for them, which means they there's going to be a huge revenue loss which is going to make the deficit worse. also, the people who are going to opt for the flat tax are people currently paying more than 20%. they're the more affluent people. so this is a tax break for affluent people and, look, we had three big tax cuts under president bush. if tax cuts were the key to prosperity, we'd all be in clover but we're in a deep recession. >> woodruff: on the point of whether it creates economic growth, how do you see that? >> well, again, we've had a legacy of one tax cut after another and we are in the worst crisis of unemployment and low investment since the great depression. there's more to life than low taxes. and finally if you think about the issue of tax simplification, the complicated part of paying
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your taxes is not multiplying the rate times your taxable income. the complicated part is going through your receipts is going through and figuring out what your taxable income is. this doesn't do anything to simplify that. >> woodruff: let's go to the point he made a moment ago, that it would result in a revenue loss because people could pick and choose which system they wanted to go under and make the deficit worse. >> i kind of like this idea of making the flat tax optional because what it basically says to americans is "look, if you want to keep your mortgage deduction or charitable deduction or some other sacred cow, you can stay in the old system." but for people who want a modern sized system that's very simple, we're talking, judy, about a postcard tax return that you can fill out literally in 15 minutes. that's a big deal. i disagree where he says everybody is going to take whatever form gives them the lowest tax liability. i think vast majority of americans say give me a system that is fair and simple. i think the point that robert misses and a lot of liberal criticss of this miss is this plan is ultimately a kind of
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washington versus america issue. everybody in washington hates the flat tax. when you... think about it. lobbyists hate the flax tax, tax accountants hate the flat tax, politicians hate the flat tax, because the power center in washington is the tax code. if you have a simple system that can't be gained, you don't have corporate welfare in the tax code then you basically allow americans to have something simple, pro-growth. look, robert, you're right, we had tax cuts under bush but it's also true we had big supply-side tax rate reductions in the 1980s. we not only got a huge increase in economic growth, we doubled the tax revenue. so i think we could do this in a way that increases revenue, increases jobs, and is not regressive. >> woodruff: several points to react to, robert kuttner. what about the point he made about fairness? that this is basically is a more fair system? for taxpayers. >> well, washington versus the rest of america, fair system. those are slogans. he didn't respond to any of the points that i made. it is going to increase the
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deficit. more affluent people are going to get a bigger tax break. the governor didn't even do us the courtesy of telling us what it costs. so you can't make policy based on slogans. i think the fact that this doesn't have any numbers in it means that it was thrown together as a campaign device and it's the mark of its fundamental lack of seriousness. the tax revenues went up in the '80s and '90s because people were getting whacked with social security increases and now you're going to put social security at risk because revenue is going to be socked again. so i think it's a very half-baked plan. >> woodruff: come back to you stephen moore. it's not just rick perry, it's herman cain with the famous 999 plant, it's newt gingrich, governor jon huntsman who are talking about a flat tax. as you look at those proposals, is there one that's better than the others in your mind and how many americans are paying taxes today. what percentage of americans pay
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taxes? >> great point, first of all, i think newt gingrich said something very wise in the last republican debate when he said "look, at least republicans... they have all these different plans out there, the 999 plan, this flat tax. they're having a very substantive debate about what to do about this tax code which is simply indefensible. everybody agrees we have to get rid of it and start over-- at least among republican voters. so it's a very healthy debate and liberals are reactionary. they want to defend the status quo, not move to something perot growth. and probability, here's the key point i would make about this plan. you say it's regressive and the poor will get hit hard. there's nothing more regressive than our current tax code. we have a tax system this that in part because of the taxes... we have 14 million unemployed people. it's not working. so i say the most regressive plan out stl there is the current tax system. >> woodruff: you want to respond to that, bob kuttner? >> i certainly. do 14 million people are not working and the numbers are higher than that not because of the tax code.
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we've been cutting taxes. 14 million people are not working because we let wall street go berserk by deregulating all of the protections that prevented wall street from gambling with the house's money. and i just want to repeat the point: if you have any deductions at all-- which most americans do-- you can't fill out your tax form on a postcard because you have to calculate what your reductions are. so it sounds like a serious debate because you've got different proposals. 999 is even worse because most people face a tax increase and this is a way of making the budget deficit worse so you can then say "whoops, the deficit is bigger than we thought it was, now we have to cut social security, we have to cut other programs." it's fundamentally unserious. it's mainly a set of slogans. >> woodruff: bob kuttner, you're essentially dismissing all the different republican flat taxes. flatter tax proposals. >> i'm being critical of the flat tax. it's not going to make things simpler, it's simply going to make things less fair.
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it's not going to generate jobs. and i'm also being critical of the 999 plan because most people would face a tax increase. they'd face 9% sales-- which is a huge sales tax hike on top of state sales taxes-- they'd still be paying property taxes, still be paying excise taxes. these plans are all very half-baked, they haven't been costed out in a very serious way. >> woodruff: brief final word. >> this could be a bipartisan deal. basically... >> no, it couldn't. >> republicans are saying we're willing to get rid of these deductions and loopholes in exchange for lower rates. we've done this before, judy, we did it in 1986 when 97-3 it passed the senate. we got the rate down to 20%. yet people like... remember when the governor of california, not gray davis but... the current governor of california.... >> woodruff: you mean jerry brown? >> when he ran for president he ran on a flat tax idea! >> and he lost. >> this is something liberals and conservatives can agree with. >> no way.
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>> woodruff: this is just the beginning of a discussion of taxes. gentlemen, thank you both. >> brown: still to come on the newshour: the h.p.v. vaccine for boys; gadhafi's secret burial; rising waters in bangkok; a new twist in theological education; and young children and their screens. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> reporter: new doubts arose today about a plan to tackle the european debt crisis, on the eve of a euro-zone summit. officials said the 17 countries have yet to agree on details of how to reduce greece's debts and expand a bailout fund. in germany, chancellor angela merkel has championed the plan. she faced a crucial vote of support in the german parliament. >> ( translated ): this is uncharted territory for everyone, and, as such, my oath of office demands that i, too, keep the german people from any harm and do the right thing for the german people. that must guide my actions. in doing that, i am working to win as much support as possible. >> reporter: the news from europe sent wall street down from the opening bell.
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the selling was also fueled by lackluster corporate earnings and by news that consumer confidence this month hit the lowest levels since march of 2009 the dow jones industrial average lost 207 points to close at 11,706. the nasdaq fell 61 points to close at 2638. police in oakland, california, broke up an anti-wall street protest today with tear gas and beanbag guns. at least 75 people were arrested. officers staged a pre-dawn raid on a plaza in front of city hall, where protesters had camped illegally for two weeks. police said they were hit with rocks and bottles, and fired tear gas in response. protest organizers said they may try to reoccupy the plaza at some point. in turkey, the death toll from sunday's powerful earthquake rose to at least 459, and a strong aftershock set off new panic. but there was a moment of hope in the hard-hit region as rescue workers found a baby still alive in the wreckage. we have a report from john ray of independent television news.
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(screaming) >> she's just two weeks old. today she has been reborn. one fragile life saved where so many perished caused a celebration. her name is asra, a tiny survivor amid the vast ruins. but the operation to free asra's mother is complex. one wrong move could bring the rubble down. three long hours pass before she too, is released. a mother who has spent two days protecting her newborn baby wins her own battle for life. this is the moment they have worked and waited for and if it's not quite a miracle it is certainly remarkable. the persistence of hope against all odds.
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this tent is home to 30 women, their houses gone. this man tells me he dug with his bare hands but couldn't reach his two sisters and two grandchildren in time. in the villages, help has been slow to come. and in the town of ercic, desperate survivors need blankets and get food from aid loris. supplies are short but tonight as baby asra and her mother await their reunion, at least hope is not exhausted. >> reporter: later, the turkish government announced it will accept outside aid for thousands of homeless survivors now facing winter. government officials in yemen signed a cease-fire today with a dissident general. but fighting continued, with at least seven protesters killed. in the capital city, sanaa, yemeni troops fired on demonstrators and used a water cannon to disperse the crowd. at least two people were killed there. meanwhile, president ali abdullah saleh called in the u.s. ambassador and said he would sign a deal to step down. he has made similar promises before.
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partial vote results in tunisia show a moderate islamist party is on track to win the most seats in a new, national assembly. the numbers released today suggested the ennahda party will not win an outright majority. but the head of a leading secular party rejected any talk of joining a coalition. despite that, the islamists promised a broad-based government to write a new constitution and complete the transition to democracy. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> sreenivasan: five years ago, health officials recommended the h.p.v. vaccine begiven to girls and young women to protect against the human papillomavirus a sexually transmitted disease that's a major cause of cervical cancer. it's been available to boys for the past two years to guard against other medical problems associated with sexual activity. but today the vaccine was recommended for 11- and 12-year- old boys for the first time. rob stein covers health and science for the "washington post" and joins me now.
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welcome back. >> nation to be here. >> brown: why is the committee saying it's time to turn from a suggestion to a recommendation? >> well, the vaccine was approved in 2009 for boys and in that point they didn't recommend it become part of the routine vaccinations that all boys get as part of going in for their well-baby visits of childhood visits. but last two years there's been enough data that the committee feels like it makes sense to recommend that, like girls, all boys 11 and 12 routinely get the vaccine. >> brown: remind us a little bit more about what h.p.v. is. >> it's the human papillomavirus it's a sexually transmitted virus. the most commonly sexually transmitted infection. it can increase risk for all sorts of things. it can cause genital warts as you mentioned in girls and women. it can cause cervical cancer and in boys and men and it can cause age anal cancer, penile cancer,
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throat and mouth cancer. it's become one of the leading causes of throat cancer. >> brown: the vaccine was recommended for girls 11 and 12. it's been controversial from the start. >> yeah, yeah. this is one of those health issues that's been sucked into the politics and economics of the issues it raises. early on there was a concern among some parents that just giving a child a vaccine for a sexually transmitted virus might somehow send a signal to children that it's okay to become sexually active. >> brown: and that's played into some of the recent presidential politics. >> that's right. in texas where rick perry was governor this was a big issue and he tried to make the vaccine mandatory and that got people upset and they ended up having to reverse it. then michele bachmann weighed in and made comments about the supposed health risks of the vaccine and it got caught up in the g.o.p. presidential nomination process. >> brown: scientists clearly stand by the health associated with it. >> the vaccine is extremely
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effective and it's been administered to more than 40 million girls in the united states and it appears to be very safe. >> brown: my understanding, however, is that a very low... unexpectedly low percentage of girls have gotten the vaccine. >> it's been a big disappoint to public health advocates because this was seen as a major break through for preventing cervical cancer and it's only been about 40% of girls eligible have gotten at least one dose and only 30% have gotten all three doses of the vaccine they need. >> brown: is that thought to be because of the talk surrounding it? >> the thinking is it's because of the controversy swirled around the vaccine. part of it is parents being sort of worried about giving it to children when they're so young and not even thinking about sexually active and there's some concern it's a new vaccine. a lot of parents think, well, i'll wait a little while to make sure this thing is safe.
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>> brown: is it right that part of the thinking now in recommending for boys is not only to help boys but also to prevent cervical cancer for girls, the later possible sexual activity? >> the thinking is two-pronged. one is to protect the boys from the cancers and the genital wart it is virus can cause but it's also to reduce the spread of the virus when they get older and have sexual partners and that's both for women and other men. >> brown: is there reason to think that these new recommendations will be equally controversial? >> it will be interesting to see how it plays out. it doesn't seem to be creating the same sort of concerns about sexual activity that the recommendation for girls did but there still are... a lot of people who are not sure about how safe the vaccine is and so it will be interesting to see what the uptake is. so far only about 1% of eligible boys have gotten the vaccine. it's been available since 2009. >> brown: what about other factors like costs? insurance coverage? >> it's a very expensive
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vaccine. it takes three doses and when all is said and done it costs $400 just for the vaccine itself. that doesn't count the doctor office visit costs. so that's, again, one of the reasons why this recommendation is more important because tkdz lead to more insurance companies covering the cost. >> brown: so what's the next part of the problem? >> this is the recommendation. it has to become a final set of guidelines and that comes out of the centers for disease control and prevention. they follow the recommendations of that committee. it's a very influential committee they rely on. >> brown: what kind of time frame are they talking about? >> they haven't set a specific deadline but probably pretty quick. they don't usually spend a lot of time waiting on something like this. >> brown: rob stein of the "washington post." thanks very much. >> nice to be here. >> woodruff: next tonight, a secret burial for a leader who performed in the international spotlight for 42 years. bill neely of independent television news reports from tripoli.
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>> reporter: once, colonel gadhafi might have hoped for a state funeral. instead, libya's new leaders say, some prayers were said, then he was taken to a secret location and, with just a few witnesses, sworn to silence. he was put in an anonymous grave in the desert. to convince libyans he was gone for good, the empty meat locker where he'd been on public display for four days. but the manner of his killing and burial has given libya's leaders a headache. >> we win, the tyrant lost. >> reporter: they are triumphant, defending his secret burial, promising an investigation into his killing. >> we are not afraid of the truth, so we show the people, the whole world, no? ( horns honking ) >> reporter: on the streets, celebrations of the news that gadhafi is dead and buried.
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>> gadhafi is dead, he stay dead, that's it. >> and it's better to bury him in secret? >> or drop him in the sea, yes. >> i don't care. >> you don't care how he was buried? >> no, no. >> where he was buried? >> no, no. i don't care. >> reporter: only one man disagreed. >> very bad. >> very bad? >> bad. moammar gadhafi good man. >> reporter: this government minister says gadhafi's killing and burial was better than he deserved. >> we should throw him in the sea like bin laden, for example. >> reporter: with gadhafi dead and buried, fighters have been handing back their weapons. hundreds here, but millions were handed out by gadhafi or looted from stores. the war may be over, but libya is awash with weapons. abdelbaset hossein is saying goodbye to his commander after fighting gadhafi's men for months. he was an oil engineer who'd
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never fired a gun before. he's glad gadhafi's now dead, and he's going home. >> i don't need to carry weapon anymore. >> the war is over. >> the war is over. we... we fight it for the freedom, and now we are free. we freed our... our country. >> how many people do you think will give their guns back? >> i think the libyan people will... will surprise the world. >> reporter: the student fighters guarding gadhafi's compound say they'll soon give up their weapons, too. many, of course, will not. but with gadhafi dead and his compound a house of ghosts, the dark past, like their old leader, is being buried. >> brown: now, the flooding that won't stop in the southeast asian nation of thailand. margaret warner has our update.
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>> warner: don muang airport was more riverport today as floodwaters broke through protective barriers around the thai capital's main domestic air hub. >> well, all the flights for today are canceled because apparently the water is coming here. >> warner: bangkok's other airport, serving mainly international flights, remained open. but don muang also faced a flood of people. it has become a refuge for thousands displaced-- some under government edict-- by the flooding. today, officials ordered some to be moved, to ease crowding. one displaced woman was near wit's end. >> ( translated ): because the authorities have ordered us to leave, we have to leave as they cannot let us stay here. i don't have any money, so i have to leave this center. but this is really upsetting. so many people have come to this evacuation center and there is not enough food for everybody. >> warner: more than 350 people have died in thailand over three months of monsoon- and typhoon- borne rain that have swamped much of southeast asia.
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one-third of thailand's provinces have been inundated, affecting millions of people. bangkok, a city of nine million, remains largely dry. but the chao praya river, which flows through the city, has flooded seven northern districts. and anxiety is rising with the floodwaters. the airport closure was the latest blow to the thai government's efforts to save the city from being swamped. the agency it created to manage the crisis, housed at don muang airport, is now in danger of being submerged itself. on monday, prime minister yingluck shinawatra sought to calm nervous thais and investors who've seen large swaths of thailand's industrial zones flooded. >> ( translated ): i want the foreign investors who are currently investing in thailand, and those who plan to invest here, to continue having confidence in thailand because we have a plan for the investments, a plan to solve the flooding problem, and we have
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mega projects so that the industrial business can quickly recover. >> warner: waters north of bangkok have now stabilized or begun receding. but with massive runoff still moving downstream, for the capital, the worst is yet to come. for more, i spoke with patrick wynne of "global post" in bangkok earlier this evening. patrick wynne, thank you for joining us. you were out at the airport today. what was it like? was there water on the airport grounds? >> absolutely, yeah. when i arrived i could see floods sort of creeping in from the distance. by the time i left, they had totally encroached on the airport. so there's talk of evacuating that airport. it's a bit of an embarrassment for the government because that's their flood relief center and that's been one of their largest evacuation centers. so the fact that they've sent a lot of people to a relief shelter that now has to be evacuated is a bit of an upset.
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>> and what was the scene at the evacuation center inside the airport? >> well, it was fairly orderly. but there's about, i would say, 2,000, 3,000 people there and it's just been turned into a tent city. everything is okay there. people have food. there's a big long queue for the showers. but i think the real worry is how long people are going to stay there. there's predictions that the floods could be soaking bank cot in its environments for another four to six weeks. >> as you move around bangkok, how different is the picture in different parts of the city. >> well, bank congress has turned into sandbag city. even the heart of the city which may or may not flood there's sandbags around the financial center ins in bangkok, all of the shops. part of that may show some distrust in the government. they say these parts of the city may or may not flood. people are not risking it. they're walling off their homes with sandbags even though it's
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not clear the floods will be that bad. >> warner: and what are thai officials predicting now? >> just how deep the floods will be in the city center and how long they'll last. but officials have promised to empty out the water if it does come into city center as quickly as possible. it will displace a lot of people. the closer it comes to the core of the city. >> warner: how is the public reacting to this? >> there's a collegiate pole with a fairly small sample size of about 450, 500 people that suggested about 85% of people polled felt that the government was sending mixed messages. that it wasn't clear when and where the floods were going to hit according to the government's predictions. it has been a big run on instant noodles. that seems to be the emergency food of choice in bangkok. 7-eleven shelves are pretty
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empty depending on where new the city. seven doing panic buy buying. and the government has told people stock up on baht bottled water. >> this flooding started up north back in august. what's been the economic impact so far? >> 800,000 homes have been destroyed. millions have been displaced. the world bank is predicting that g.d.p.... thailand's annual g.d.p. could slip by 2%. you have a lot of people that can't go to work. you have a lot of kids that can't go to school. all these people have to be fed, sheltered, they need electricity babies need diapers, women are arriving to the evacuation centers pregnant. >> and what about exports? >> thailand is an export economy. they produce namely pickup trucks, electronic parts, a lot of these... part of a supply chain that goes on to china. so there's going to be a... there's predicted that there could be a shortage of certain parts that go into computers.
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but overall exports are going to take a big hit. thailand is the biggest rice exporter in the world and there are untold numbers of crops that are just soaking and rotting right now. >> warner: so what's the government's plan now for dealing with this? have they had to regroup since the airport's been flooded? >> the plan now is the hope to embankments hold and to keep the pumping stations running as quickly as possible. and to hopefully give people accurate and precise information so they can plan and evacuate if need be. there's only so much the government can do. that is horrible natural disaster and the water is going to come into bangkok. we're not sure how bad it's going to be. >> woodruff: patrick wynne of global post in bangkok, thanks so much. >> woodruff: next, a graduate university that brings christians, jews and muslims
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together in the same classrooms to educate leaders for churches, synagogues and mosques. special correspondent saul gonzalez has the story. a version of his report aired recently on the pbs program "religion and ethics newsweekly." >> reporter: with korean american drummers leading a line of professors, a new experiment in religious education began this fall. this was the opening of southern california's claremont/lincoln university which describes itself as america's first interreligious school of theology, one that pastors, rabbi, and eventually muslim imams have on one campus. the school's philosophy was captured in the opening remarks of muslim american religious scholar jiba sayyid miller, a professor at claremont. >> the diversity of humankind is not a curse from god.
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it is a sign of god's creation and the beauty of humanity is in our very differences. >> reporter: what do you hope to accomplish here at claremont/lincoln? what's the grand vision? >> you have to get beyond the point of people defining their religions by the traditional walls. >> reporter: phillip leighton is claire monday lincoln's provost. he sees the school as offering an alternative to traditional religious education. >> when you train rabbis in one school, pastors in another, imams in another, you put them out into communities, they create an "us versus them" mentality. what if we do something that's never been done before. let's train them the same classroom. let's let them work out their differences in their day to day education. when they go out into their communities, you won't find them doing the "us versus them" but, we hope, the "we." what would what that would do for the face of religion in america would be staggering. >> reporter: claremont lincoln is the creation of united
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methodist school of theology in 1885. it partnered with the academy of jewish religion and the islamic center of southern california to form this new school. students can get masters degrees in divinity, rabbinic studies and muslim counseling. >> i'd like you to stand or to turn in the direction that you normally pray. >> reporter: but all are required to take classes like that one that emphasize interreligious education and understanding. many students feel they couldn't get this multifaith education anywhere else. >> most of the reason i'm here is i looked at other colleges and other programs and it appeared that they were preparing students to be leaders in the church of yesterday where claremont is training people to be leaders in the church of tomorrow. >> reporter: this school's ambition to train muslim clerics is important to valentina khan, a muslim american student of
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iranian descent. >> i definitely think we need to have a voice that's an american voice as muslims. having somebody in saudi arabia tell us how it should be here in america is, in my opinion, not the way i'd want to be told. >> reporter: however, the creation of the school has also generated some criticism. >> i'm actively involved in blogging and social networking and i began to find sites that would label what we were doing as the work of the devil and people absolutely guaranteeing the blogosphere that i was on my way to hell. so it really drew a hostility. people felt that we were undercutting the way they defined their entire religious tradition, which is this oppositional and exclusionary approach. >> reporter: however, many of the students and faculty at claremont lincoln don't want to ignore the tensions and theological differences between their faiths. >> i hope there is conflict. i often say when we get together
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in interfaith dialogue we try to outnice each other and say, oh, you're wonderful, no, you're wonderful. if we're truly going to be conversation partner wes need to say, look, this is how i view your tradition. i think we also need to get in a conversation about history because so much of what we carry in interfaith dialogue is about the negative histories that each of our communities has had with one another. so if we're not willing to go there i don't think any of us are going to be able to move forward. >> reporter: beyond america's changing religious landscape there's another reason why claremont went multifate-- survival. like other schools of theology and seminaries during these tough economic times, this campus faced the declining enrollment and declining budget. allowing students from other faiths to train here is one way to keep the lights on and the doors open. >> this is an extremely hard time for american theological schools. we could go on with a dwindling number of methodists students but we decided we wanted to be
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ahead of the curve. >> reporter: ahead of the curve because you had to be. you had to open up this institution to other faiths to keep your head above water. >> sure. but we had a 45-year history of being edgy. we were always sort of pushing the envelope and we decided that we would push the envelope on this one. >> reporter: to help it go multifaith, this school received a $50 million grant from philanthropist david lincoln and his wife. in their honor, the school was named after them. clayton believes to survive more and more schools of theology and seminaries will have to adopt claremont's interreligious approach. >> we're starting to get visits from academic deans and presidents that say, oh, we've seen where you're going, can we talk about this new movement? >> reporter: but skepticism remains high. >> it's fine for claremont. it would not be good for us. >> reporter: dennis durings is the dean of the talbott school of theology in california, a christian multidenominational evangelical institution.
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he says religious clarity not a mixing of faiths is essential to religious school arguing the multifaith approach could weaken the curriculum and anger alumni and other campus supporters. >> we're frequently asked do you admit non-christians here? they want to know. they want to hold us accountable for that. so that's something we want to look at. >> reporter: and they want to make sure non-christians are not here? >> well, yes, not as enrolled students because they're afraid of... they're fearful of diffusion of the curriculum. >> reporter: but do you think it's easy for faiths to co-habitate like that in theological instruction... >> no, i think it's very difficult. i think there are great challenges. >> reporter: however, at claremont they think the future is on their side in an increasingly multifaith america. >> some of us are looking in a jewish direction. some of us are looking in a muslim direction. some are looking in a christian
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direction and yet we're all looking in a god direction. >> reporter: beyond christians, jews and muslims, administrators here are already talking about enrolling buddhists and hindus. >> brown: and finally tonight, in a media-saturated society, how much time are our youngest children spending in front of their screens? for years, pediatricians have warned about the risks of exposing young children to too much television and other electronic devices. a new study by common sense media out today says that exposure is starting younger. in a survey of nearly 1,400 parents, it found one in three children under two have a tv in their bedroom, and nearly half of all kids under age two watch tv for up to two hours daily. as technology has evolved with the rise of smart phones and tablet computers, a substantial proportion of the time that
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young children spend with screen media is spent digitally. the study found 12% of kids ages two to four years use a computer every day. half of all children under eight have access to a mobile device-- a smartphone, video ipod, tablet computer. and with that, a new digital divide, the so-called "app gap" of parents who download new media apps for their kids to use. only 14% of lower-income families have done so compared to 47% of upper-income parents. the study comes just one week after the american academy of pediatrics issued a similar report saying television watching has no educational value for very young children. we're joined now by representatives of the two groups pitting out the new studies.
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james steyer is founder and c.e.o. of common sense media, a non-partisan organization focused on media use by children and families. dr. ari brown is a pediatrician in austin, texas and lead author of the american academy of pediatrics study on the affects of television on children. this is touted as the first big look of things since smart phones and tablets. fill in the picture. texas and lead author of the american academy of pediatrics study on the affects of television on children. this is touted as the first big look of things since smart phones and tablets. fill in the picture. kids are moving to mobile or texas and lead author of the american academy of pediatrics study on the affects of television on children. this is touted as the first big look of things since smart phones and tablets. fill in the picture. kids are moving to mobile
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and t.v. is the elephant in the room. what the american academy of pediatrics came out with last week which is t.v. for kids under the age of two is not necessarily helpful. >> brown: what are you seeing with television? including televisions in the room, right? >> right. 30% of children under the age of two have a t.v. set in their own bedroom. that's nuts. that's just crazy. if you go to the five to eight category, almost half of them have a t.v. of their own and their own bedroom. that's the cold real estate maxim: location, location, location. i would recommend that kids don't have that in their bedroom. i think the other thing you're really seeing, too is that in 40% of home it is t.v. is on 100% of the time. that's not good for attention and doctor brown understands that as well. >> brown: let me ask you, your study of research suggest there is's no educational value for children under two at all. what are the risks and problems that you see? >> well, there's three concerns that have come up in the literature. the first one being language skills and so children who are
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watching televised programs under the age of two have fewer vocabulary words than their peers who aren't watching these programs. we don't know why, though. one question we raise, though, is that because parents are actually talking less to their children. there's less talk time because the program is on. we know that kids need that talking times for their language skills to develop. to that's the first issue. the second issue is its impact on sleep. and so with assertive kids under age three with a t.v. in their bedroom and a third of parents admitting they use t.v. as a sleep aid there's a concern because we know t.v. is not calm and it reduces the quality of sleep so kids are getting less quality and quantity of sleep which is important for their growing bodies and brains. and the third issue is that is this time placed in front of the t.v. or a television program on
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any screen displacing more valuable time spent in unstructured unplugged play? because we know that.... >> brown: sorry, go ahead. >> we know that that unstructured play helps a child with problem solving skills and using their imagination and creativity and that just can't be approximated with watching a passive form of programming on your skin. >> reporter: i saw that you said in an interview that the last time these recommendations were made the academy got a lot of flak and you said that people asked you what planet do you live on? it's a media-saturated society. it's two couples working all the time. screens are all around us. so what do you say this time? what exactly are you telling parents... recommending to parents? >> right. if you look at the policy statement from 1999, we are reaffirming the comment that we made. we discourage media use in this age group.
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we didn't say no t.v. although that's what the headlines read. we know you can't keep your child away from a screen 100% of the time. what we're trying to inform parents about is that in this age group programs are not educational because the program gets lost in translation. they can't understand the content and context. so if you're trying to feel good about putting your child in front of a program so they're learning smk so you can cook din other take a shower, you're not doing that for your child. it's entertaining but not educational. so we really want parents to hear it and make a thoughtful decision on media use for their entire family. >> brown: what about the newer forms of interactive devices because many parents would say these are useful. kids are learning from these things. >> i think they can be and it depends on the device and the age of child and choice of content. but i agree with dr. bruin under the age of two. there's no proof anyone's going
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to learn anything and it will be a passive babysitter. as you get older, there's no question the number one category of iphone apps is for pre-schoolers so the market is responding to the idea that you can create educational interactive content. the issue, though, is making good choices. if you're a parent or educator who wants to use it. as kids get colder they can be exposed to screen time. they can use these devices in moderation. that's what the pediatrician says. you can't do it five or six hours a day. you're going to still have the issues of brain development and you'll still have the saturation effect where kids are plunked down in front of the device. but the new interactive media has great potential. the issue as a society is to make sure all kids have access not just wealthier kids. >> brown: speaking of that, what do you make of the digital divide or an app gap. do you see it growing as well? >> i certainly know that in some public school system there is's an emphasis on technology.
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my son when he was in kindergarten knew how to do a powerpoint presentation and now in high school all the kids have gotten ipads to use during the year. my school emphasizes that and i hope all schools will because you're right, the technology is important and an educational tool and we want to make it available to every child. >> i think that's a huge issue. where the world is going. you can talk arne duncan. smart choices by parents and schools. dr. brown said her kid got an ipad. my two children who are in high school also got given ipads this year. the ipads going to replace the backpack. no more backpacks. so it's loaded on to a device. the key is to make it available to all children and that we look for educational content. we'll have content next year to launch an educational rating system which will rate apps to
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see if they're educational because everybody and their mom is developing software claiming they can teach you math or science or geography. it will be what is educational content. "sesame street" used to be ton gold standard in the old days and it will be on your ipad or iphone and will quality software be made? but you have the limits issue. >> brown: dr. brown, you're not suggesting turning away from this world because it's very much with us. >> it's a reality. consider media use for your entire family because when you're watching your own screens it's distracting for you and if you want to connect with your child turn off your own screens, too. >> brown: dr. ari brown and james steyer, thanks very much.
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>> thank you. >> good to be here. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. republican presidential hopeful rick perry unveiled a plan for a federal flat tax with a rate of 20%. and stocks fell after euro-zone nations failed to agree on key elements of a plan to resolve the european debt crisis. the dow industrials dropped 200 points. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the newshour online. hari? >> reporter: we get more on the rising floodwaters bearing down on bangkok. we have a slide show and updates on our world page. on our health page, we look at the deadly drug epidemic of bath and our global health team reports from nicaragua, where cocaine consumption has increased as traffickers press into new routes through central america to the united states. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org.
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>> brown: once more our honor role killed in afghanistan and iraq conflicts. we add them when their deaths become official. here in silence are nine more.
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>> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll have a newsmaker interview with bob king, president of the united auto workers. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> computing surrounds us. sometimes it's obvious and sometimes it's very surprising where you find it. soon, computing intelligence in unexpected places will change our lives in truly profound ways. technology can provide customized experiences, tailored to individual consumer preferences, igniting a world of possibilities from the inside out. sponsoring tomorrow, starts today.
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>> and by bnsf railway. >> chevron. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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