tv PBS News Hour PBS May 16, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: rain in the rose garden, as the president responded to questions from reporters about controversies on several fronts. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we talk with the white house communications director, jennifer palmieri about what the administration is doing to weather the political uproar. >> brown: and we get two takes on the president's management of the i.r.s. revelations and more and how all this might affect his broader second-term agenda. >> woodruff: then, with syria high on the agenda for mr. obama's meeting today with turkey's prime minister. margaret warner has our update on the conflict and renewed efforts to put an end to the bloodshed. >> brown: ray suarez explores how demographic shifts and biblical ideas of helping others are changing the ways evangelical christians view the immigration debate.
>> i think this is a moral issue. i do think if you welcome the stranger and treat him as you would treat jesus, it throws things into a whole different light and messes up your politics. >> woodruff: and we close with the story of a scientific first, as researchers announced they cloned a baby's genes to create embryonic stem cells. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president obama stepped up his efforts today to calm a series of political storms. and word came that a second senior i.r.s. official is stepping down after admissions that conservatives came in for special scrutiny. the president addressed that and other issues at a rain-spattered appearance outside the white house. the occasion was a rose garden meeting with reporters, and the prime minister of turkey was the guest of honor, but most of the questions had to do with domestic matters. first and foremost, the i.r.s.'s targeting of conservative groups. >> it doesn't matter whether you're a democrat or a republican, you should be equally outraged at even the prospect that the i.r.s. might not be acting with the kind of
complete neutrality that we expect. and i think we're going to be able to fix it. we're going to be able to get there and get it done. we've already begun that process and we're going to keep on going until it's finished. >> woodruff: not long afterward came word that daniel werfel-- a white house budget official-- is being named acting commissioner of the i.r.s. the president had announced the forced resignation of his predecessor steven miller on wednesday evening. in their names, when they sought tax-exempt status. that followed revelations that the agency had zeroed in on groups with tea party or patriot in their names, when they sought tax-exempt status. in congress today, republicans welcomed miller's departure, but they said the investigations must continue. kentucky senator rand paul:
>> someone needs to be held responsible. someone needs to be imprisoned. someone needs to be prosecuted. the resignation is a step in the right direction, but we need to find out who wrote this policy, who approved this policy, and they need to be held accountable. >> woodruff: back in the rose garden, the president also was pressed about the justice department's subpoena of phone records from the associated press. the seizures apparently were part of an investigation into leaks about a foiled terrorist plot. mr. obama voiced support for a new media shield law. but he said freedom of the press must be balanced against national security as well. >> when i've still got 60,000- plus troops in afghanistan and i've still got a whole bunch of intelligence officers around the world who are in risky situations in outposts that in
some cases are as dangerous as the outpost in benghazi, then part of my job is to make sure that we're protecting what they do, while still accommodating for the need for information or the need for the public to be informed and be able to hold my office accountable. >> woodruff: and on a third front, the white house is trying to deflate criticism of its response to last year's attacks on u.s. diplomatic facilities in benghazi, libya. last night, officials released some 100 pages of e-mails related to the initial administration public talking points, that eventually dropped any reference to terrorist threats or al qaeda. house speaker john boehner said today it's a good first step, but, he said, the administration must do more. >> we have a job to get to the truth. and the administration can make this a lot easier by doing what
they started to do yesterday, turning over emails from benghazi. but they could make this a lot simpler by being up front with the congress and being up front with the american people. >> woodruff: republicans promise more hearings on all of this, starting tomorrow when a house committee will hear from the outgoing i.r.s. leader, steven miller. for more, we turn to white house communications director jennifer palmieri. welcome on the "newshour." and first on the i.r.s., republicans are saying, yes, it's fine, the president forcing these resignations, but they are saying there has to be more. there have to be prosecutions. people need to go to prison. does the president agree? >> well, you know, the steps that he has-- that he's taken on the i.r.s., you know, first thing we wanted to do was to let the inspector general's report conclude that investigation. that's happened. we have the report.
there's a lot of disturbing-- there's a lot of disturbing facts about how the place was managed in that and theecr ary lew, secretary of the treasury, to go back now and figure out exactly what happened and hold people who are accountable accountable for this mismanagement. so, the first action was secretary lew asked yesterday for the acting commissioner's resignation and received that. you know that there was anothe another-- there was another administrative action on personnel there today. so we still think that there's more work to be done here on our end with the work that secretary lew will do in following through on the-- what the i.g.positiv i.g. recommended. i will note, we think congress-- has a legitimate oversight role to play, and we would
certainly-- we welcome that and we will certainly cooperate with that but it needs to stay within the bounds of the substance and keep the politics out of it. >> woodruff: so does the president agree there should be prosecutions? >> well, the continual, eric holder, has started a criminal investigation, so we'll let that process move forward and let them make whatever appropriate conclusions that they make. but he thinks that-- but he does, obviously, think that there's a management problem here, appeared to be systematic. that needs to get addressed. and we are-- secretary lew is moving quickly on that front. this is an issue that-- we understand the american people have legitimate-- real legitimate concerns making sure that the i.r.s. in particular would not have political motivations. >> woodruff: jennifer palmieri, the president is not only being criticized for what has happened but also for how he's handled it, not just republicans but a number-- even
democrats are saying the white house was slow to respond, the president has been passive, not proactive enough. >> i know that it comes with the territory when you-- as president that a couple of things are going to happen. one is that there's going to be unfortunate-- as much as you try to protect, unfortunate problems in government. and the other is that there's going to be controversies that arise. and as someone who does communications, i think you always want to respond quickly and that is your first instinct. but the worst thing you can dough is respond in a way before you have the facts or respond in a way that would get you into more trouble over the long term. so in this situation, you know, we had-- we wanted to wait in the inspector general came out with the report from the i.r.s. so we actually had some facts before we acted. >> woodruff: i hear you. >> and to not have done that for us to have intervened ahead of
time, you know, that's where you get into trouble and so it's-- it's not worth getting an eight-hour, 12-hour jump on making news on an issue if the consequence of that is you're creating a larger problem that you're dealing with for years. and, you know, i've seen that happen, certainly many times before. so we wanted to get it right. and we got it right. and the president has dealt with all-- you know, three of these issues that arose this week, and most importantly, i think moved back to the substance of dealing with the problem. >> woodruff: let me ask you, the president clearly does have a big agenda for his second term. how frustrated is he that all of this controversy is clearly detracting, if not undermining his ability to get that done? >> like i said, we understand this comes with the territory, and there's always going to be some measure of distraction like this, and we feel that we're dealing with it.
did we have a week where-- that a lot of attention on issues that we hadn't anticipated? yes. but during that week, the president was also meeting on housing. he had a meeting with senator mccain yesterday, talked about immigration reform. we had a meeting today on implementation of health care. we're continuing to work with congress on student alone reform. it may not be getting attention but the work of the country is continuing. we have to deal with these issues, and we are, and we think the attention will turn back to the actual work of the country that the president is focused on. and, you know, it comes with the territory that you're going to have times where you lose attention to other unexpected issues. >> woodruff: this is even though republicans are saying they're going to keep at this for weeks to come through the summer. >> house republicans have done that the last couple of years. congressman issa's committee has had lots of investigations, lots
of hearings, and we cooperate as appropriate in those. and we continue on with our business. so we are able to manage through those-- through those kinds of-- those kinds of hearingses and that kind of process. and you have to manage that and you have to deal with it. but you have to stay focused on the main highway of what you're actually trying to get accomplished, and you have to be able to do both of those things. >> woodruff: jennifer palmieri, white house communications director, thank you. >> thanks, judy. >> brown: we'll have more on the white house's challenges with two outside views on the president managing controversy. also ahead, a new push to end the syrian civil war, how evangelicals are re-shaping the immigration debate and a scientific first for stem cell research. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: the justice department is being faulted for failing to ensure a small number of terror suspects were on the government's no-fly list. the department's inspector general said today the once suteteorists were in theral tnen
program. their new identities weren't shared with a tracking center, so some were allowed to take commercial flights. in response, the justice department said it has imposed a more restrictive travel policy for the witness program. there was terror in texas overnight from a powerful storm system. tornadoes killed at least six people, injured dozens and left hundreds homeless. it was the worst outbreak of severe weather this year. last night, dark funnel clouds appeared over north central texas, accompanied by heavy rain and hail the size of grapefruit. >> i heard glass shattering and i knew my house was gone. and we looked up and then, like, on top of the bathtub the whole ceiling was gone. and that was when we knew we were, we were probably gone, we were in trouble. >> holman: all of those killed were in the small city of granbury, about 40 miles southwest of fort worth. about 8:00 p.m., a twister dropped from the sky there with
winds up to 200 miles an hour and tore up two neighborhoods, hurled cars into trailers and splintered trees. >> there is nothing left, i mean our neighborhood is gone. it's just gone. >> windows in the cars are gone, both of our cars are messed up. i had a big shop, ain't a piece of it left now. >> holman: there also was heavy damage in the town of cleburne. all told, the national weather services said up to ten tornadoes struck the region. this morning, with several the sheriff of hood county, where granbury is located, spoke this afternoon. >> search mode is pretty much winding down, and we're going into a recovery mode now, but we're not going to stop searching until every piece of debris is overturned and we can make sure nobody is there, no pets, before we start the clean up on this. >> holman: authorities warned that the death toll still could rise as the search continues. federal and state officials have not yet pinpointed the cause of last month's fertilizer plant
explosion and fire in west, texas. but, they said today, they're not yet ruling out criminal activity. 14 people died at the plant, including ten first responders and two volunteers fighting the fire. the april 17 blast leveled homes and even registered as a small earthquake in the area. in west today, officials reported on their month-long investigation. >> the cause of this fire is undetermined. the investigation will remain open and when the calls cannot be proven to acceptable level of certainty-- again, acceptable level of certainty. this could be due to insufficient information or if multiple causes could not be eliminated. >> officials also said the plant had 150 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate on site at the
time. it's unclear how much of the material actually was on the premises. in afghanistan, a suicide car bomber plowed into a u.s. convoy in kabul, killing at least 15 people. six were americans, two soldiers and four civilian contractors. nine afghan civilians also died, including two children. 40 people were injured. the force of the blast completely mangled vehicles in the convoy. and, it was so strong it rattled buildings on the other side of the capital city. the islamic militant group hizb- e-islami claimed responsibility. sectarian violence in iraq continued with a wave of bombings and shootings targeting shi-ites and sunnis. in the last 48 hours, more than 50 people have been killed. today, bombs exploded in shi-ite neighborhoods across baghdad, striking a market, a shi-ite praying area and a bus stop at morning rush hour. at least 21 iraqis were killed today. more than 30 died in attacks on wednesday. president obama called in pentagon leaders today, and afterward, he said they're
ashamed about the failure to stop sexual assault in the ranks. defense secretary chuck hagel and the joint chiefs of staff chairman general martin dempsey were there, along with others. dempsey said today the issue has become a crisis. in congress, a bipartisan group of senators called for removing commanders from deciding whether sexual assault charges are prosecuted. new york democrat kirsten gillibrand: >> today we're standing on a united front to take on these this issues on with new legislation that will fundamentally remove the decision making from the chain of command and gives that descretions to an experienced military prosecutor where it belongs. >> holman: the pentagon estimated last week there were some 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact last year. most went unreported. and this week, there were allegations of sexual misconduct against an army sergeant whose job was to prevent such crimes. the u.s. house has voted to repeal the president's health
care reform law again. it was the 37th time the republican-led house has moved to kill the law since its passage in 2010. as before, the tally was almost entirely down party lines. the democratic-controlled senate is expected to ignore the bill. the senate today confirmed ernest moniz as the next secretary of energy. he's a nuclear physicist and a former energy under-secretary during the clinton administration. meanwhile, senate committees approved the nominations of gina mccarthy to head the environmental protection agency, and thomas perez to serve as secretary of labor. the nominations now go to the full senate, where both may face republican opposition. wall street gave back a little ground today. the dow jones industrial average lost 42 points to close at 15,233. the nasdaq fell six points to close at 3,465. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: we return to our look at the obama administration under pressure. how do commanders in chief deal
with crisis management? we get takes now from both parties. democrat tom perriello is the president of the center for american progress action fund. he served as a member of congress in virginia before losing his seat in the tea party wave. and republican strategist and author ron christie, who worked in the george w. bush white house on capitol hill. welcome to both of you. ron christie, let me start with you. first your reaction from what we just heard from jennifer palmieri. >> i think the white house is trying to project they're doing business as usual. the problem you have with the situation that i learned in my four years in the white house when you have the media buzzing around you looking for anang or a particular take, it's really difficult to get things accomplished. >> brown: i said your name wrong, perriello. >> i've heard worse. >> brown: what's your response to what you heard? >> after a really rough start of the week i think you've seen an impressive couple of days trying
to sho isw he still continuingfocusn very important issues, including heads of states that are visiting. you want to not err in either direction-- one, become so obsessed with the scandals that you stop doing other things, or, two, act like all the other things are so important you seem to not be taking the scandal seriously. i think what you've seen here. he's come out. he's been in front of the camera. he's made it clear to his staff and the country that he's going to get to the bottom of this and taking actions accordingly and i think that's why people are seeing this potentially as a sign of leadership and the no-drama approach people expect. >> brown: the no-drama approach in a week of drama. how do you handle a full crisis mode without stoking the crisis? >> i think what tom said is exactly right. in a situation like, this the president needs to continue to go out. he needs to continue to talk to the american people and to lay out his vifgz frankly how he's going to move beyond this series of scandals he's engulfed in. i think if he's successful in
coleui willk ss he's leading, he's actually moving the ball forward, but if he doesn't, i think he's in danger of being enveloped by what's going on and that could tarnish his ability to get something done in the second term. >> brown: what do you see happening so far? he's being hit not just with one but several fronts. >> i think it's too soon to say. i certainly do think it's a distraction for this white house and the president but the fact remains there's no real smoking gun yet on the i.r.s. story. the ap story seems to be a little more of an inside of the-belted way look. i think the one that will resonate is the i.r.s. i think folks could say the i.r.s. could target me. i think that is the one that will resonate. >> brown: do you agree? >> i think we know because the benghazi conversation has been going on for quite some time. it's not one that has resonated strongly across the country, and the recent e-mails seem to undermine the dramatic claims made by republicans on the hill. soic part of what they may doing
do is take one at a time. >> say here are the facts. let's october walkthrough this and see what's real and what's a claim. i do think the i.r.s. is something everyone understands. not everyone understands what it means to go through a 501 c4 process, which is different from what people hear, which is being audited and targeted by the i.r.s. we will see how this plays out. this is obviously in the context where you have this tremendous information about sexual assault in the military. vut impacts of the sequester, and most people are going to look about what does this mean in my life in terms of jocks and the economy, is congress focusing on that and other things? i think it's going to be important to walk through these and take them very seriously but i think it's going to be important for the president and republicans on the hill not to be seen as focusing on these at the expense of these bread and butter issues for americans. >> brown: on benghazi, just to take one example, yesterday the white house puts out all these e-mails that republicans had ," and yet today, we see your side saying great, but he needs to do
measure. is there ever enough? people from the white house could be saying what could we possibly do to allow us to move on. >> first of all, i don't think it's enough. the american people need ton what the the president doing that night? he said when pee hee found out he immediately took action. number two, we don't know what the secretary of state was doing that night, either. we know she spoke to mr. hicks around 2:00 a.m. benghazi time and she wasn't around when he called back to report the death of the ambassador. i think republicans are going to continue to press. they're going to continue to look for more information about what our leaders were doing, what they should have been doing, and where the breakdowns took place. >> brown: and you expect that? i mean, i guess the white house expects that as well? >> sure. i think what we know from the congress and particularly from the chairman involved is there's no expectation that this will go away or disappear. i think the question is the interest level and whether the right questions are being asked. these are important things to get to the bottom of. but i also think most americans say, hey are, we more focused on
the talking points from the past or embassy security going forward? and i think hopefully from all of this we can have proactive conversations in each of these cases about where failures occurred, whether it was in diplomatic security or management independent i.r.s., what's a proactive strategy to make this not happen again and i think americans will be more interested in focusing on how do we solve these problems, problems that affect me, than how do we score point-- >> brown: you're both talking about problem solving and not scoring points, but the context here-- we were talking about this earlier today in our editorial meeting, thinking about past moments like this. but now you have a 24-hour news cycle. you have constant talk. you have the white house feeling the pressure at every moment. so that's the context here. and you guys are part of it, too, right. ( laughter ) >> we're guilty as charged, unfortunately. no, my advice to this white house and this administration in order for these sorts of things to stop is to be as transparent as possible to put out as much information as possible. if it continues to drip out, i think they're going to continue to find themselves engulfed in
this, and that's my advice get it out and let the american people decide. >> brown: so the question of-- there's the second term question, right, often this kind of thing happens. and then loose the larger agenda of a second term. you're suggesting that he still has the ability to carry out what he wants to do. >> sure, i think that's going to be the question. there's this potential theory here where conservatives were able to score points with their base from some of these things and maybe have more room on issues like the budget and issues like immigration reform but we'll see. i think this is going to be a question of statesmanship and leadership on both sides of pennsylvania avenue. i certain tnk the president should be committed and i believe he is committed to continuing to focus on incredibly serious issues from the economy to syria to other national security threats. i think that their challenge is going to be to both show that they're clearly addressing this and i think they've set a very strong tone on that in the last couple of days and not losing sieft these things that are the priorities for the american people.
>> brown: is there one-- last word here-- center an area you think there might be a focus where both sides might come together to get something done? >> i do. i think tom is right. i think the budget issues facing this country are really, really, an important issue to focus on and i think there's willingness by the administration on one side and congressional republicans to come together and find a deal and immigration. >> brown: all right ron christie, and tom perriello, we'll end on a high note. >> we can agree, anyway. >> brown: thanks so much. >> woodruff: despite the swirl surrounding the i.r.s., reporter phone records and benghazi talking points, the issue of what to do about syria took center stage during the president's meeting with turkish prime minister erdogan today. margaret warner reports. warning this story contains some graphic images. >> warner: the rain today didn't seem to dampen the public unity of the president and the turkish prime minister on syria.
>> we both agree that assad needs to go. he needs to transfer power to a transitional body. that is the only way we're going to resolve this crisis. >> ( translated ): we also agree that we have to prevent syria from becoming an area for terrorist organizations. we also agree that chemical weapons should not be used and all minorities and their rights should be secured. >> warner: but turkey has been pushing the u.s., nato and the united nations, publicly and privately, for tougher action to stop the carnage and again after bombs killed 51 people in the turkish border town of reyhanli on saturday. reyhanli is home to 60,000 syrian refugees, among the more than 400,000 syrians who have fled to turkey. the prime minister has charged the bombings were linked to the syrian regime, which damascus denies. in the meantime, the u.s. and russia are pushing for a peace conference in geneva. secretary of at ker
ospespoke ab yesterday in sweden. >> each of us has agreed to work very hard with respect to the people we're in touch with the foreign ministers, the opposition, the syrian president bashar assad regime and others in order to bring the parties to the table. >> warner: but that same day, on npr, syria's vice minister of foreign affairs said the government would never agree to the demand that assad be ousted. >> the replacement of president assad means destruction of syria, means no international conference, and means support of terrorism. if this is the objective of the conference, then there will be no conference. >> warner: all of this comes amid signs of recent gains by the syrian army. this week, regime forces took control of a strategic town near the highway that links damascus with jordan.
such advances put new pressure on the u.s. to assist the rebels militarily. but balanced against that is new evidence that both sides are committing atrocities. rebels say this amateur video shows 20 members of one family killed by government forces-- victims of mass executions in the town of baniyas. while this video shows rebels executing three syrian officers in apparent retaliation. all of which had president obama saying today that the way forward in syria is anything but clear. >> there's no magic formula for dealing with an extraordinarily violent and difficult situation like syria's. if there was i think the prime minister and i would have already acted on it and it would already be finished. >> warner: for now, the president said, the u.s. will
pursue the conference, while maintain pressure on assad, and working with the opposition. for more on this i'm joined by henri barkey, a specialist in turkish affairs and a former state department official in the clinton administration. he's a professor at lehigh university. and steve heydemann, senior adviser for middle east initiatives at the united states institute for peace. and welcome to you both. first of all, you're experienced turkey watchers. you watched this press conference. how did you read what these two leaders had to say, and also from what you've been able to assess this afternoon in terms of whether they came any closer to narrowing the gap how to go forward in syria. steve heydemann, why don't you start? >> my sense is when prime minister erdogan arrived there were a number of issues that could have made these talks fairly contentious. we expected the prime minister too push the obama administration on a no-fly zone. we thought he might well request more aggressive u.s. policy in
dealing with syria. there were also concerns about the terms of a negotiation, and prime minister erdogan stuck to the position that assad's removal needed to happen before conditions could begin. he backed away from every single one of those positions. and it seemed to me as if prime minister erdogan was bending over backwards to cooperate, toinar oat differences between turket and united states, and to broaden the possibilities for cooperation between them. the no-fly zone was not mentioned. he seems now to agree assad's removal should not be a precondition displarg for talkses. >> for talks, and it seems he is no longer pushing the u.s. to take a more active role nonetheless policy towards syria. so i saw this as an interesting shift on the part of the turkish government. >> warner: henri barkey, how
do you read the body language and language? the body language seemed like he was having fun but as time went by he seemed as if he was not very happy today. i think he didn't get what he wanted. he had-- he did launch kind of the request earlier, about the no-fly zone, and i think what the president basically told him, first of all, there, will never be any boots on the ground, american boots, and secondly, the no-fly zone is one of these quagmires once you get in it's very hard to get out, and the people who want the united states to get in two weeks later will say, "you haven't achieved anything. you haven't completed anything." so i think erdogan now understands. the one place where there may be some new thinking on the part of the turks is with respect to the alniews raand fundamental forces -- >> warner: that's the al qaeda-linked forces. >> today, there is a story of
qataries have spent $3 billion to support the syrian opposition, and between the qatars and curks, they have given the alnurra front. >> warner: what is the situation on the ground? steve heydemann, do you agree with receipt reports that in fact the syrian forces have been gaining momentum? if so, where and why? >> the syrian military supported by forces from hezbollah -- >hezbollah-- >> warner: from lebanon. >> with a great deal of assistance from iran, technical assistance from iran has been able to recapture a number of important strategic locations along an urban corridor that the regime views as critical for its long-term survival. they have mounted braigzs in banias, along the coast, some of
which have resulted in horrific massacres that have drawn significant attention globally. but i view this as part of an effort on the part of the assad regime to ensure it can secure those areas of syria that are essential for the resplief its troops, for its access to lebanon, and for iran to remain able to access lebanon through syria in order to resupply hezbollah and ensure hezbollah's capability. for a variety of reasons i think we've seen a concerted to push them out of areas the regime views as critical. >> warner: the regime has militias they've beefed up. have they been a tremendous asset to them, in maybe a horrific way? >> look, i think these kind of conflicts go through all kinds of cycles. at the beginning of it the opposition that had the upper hand, and the syrian army and with the help of hezbollah, steve said, have learned the
lessons and are now fighting back. and it's up to the opposition to learn its lessons from this. the opposition needs to get itself organized and join forces and have some kind of command structure that can respond. i think eventually they will learn, also, from their mistakes, and you will see this conflict, unfortunately, go-- shift from one side to another. >> warner: now, the u.s. and russia seem to have come together-- talking about the prospects for negotiating a peaceful transition. do you think-- secretary kerry was in russia i think last week, prime minister cameron from britain. do you think the prospects for that have improved at all? what do you think the prospects are? >> i personally think the prospects are actually worse now precisely for the reasons steve was mentioning, that assad thinks he has the upper hand so he has very little incentive to negotiate. what he will probably do-- and fiwere him i would do the same thing eye would pretend to
participate. there is a price to pay if you don't participate in one way or another so you have to pretend. let's face it. this is a charade and it has to work itself out. and it's onl only after it fails that you will see others essentially taking much more explicit positions on the syrian conflict. >> i would agree. i think we find that russia and the united states have not yet reached agreement what that negotiating framework would look like, and both opposition and the regime have now begun to impose cop consciences on their participation. >> warner: you don't take at face value, russia willing to press the assad regime, and, clearly, president obama is asking qatar, turkey, and saudi arabia, who also support the rebels, to put pressure on them to attend. >> i think there is a sense of urgency, especially in washington, about the importance of getting these negotiations launched.
the u.s. is watching this conflict grow and expand, spill over beyond syria's borders, and lead to violence in every one of the neighboring countries. it's watching the humanitarian catastrophe in syria escalate at an enormous scale. and i think that is giving them a very compelling sense that they need to get a political process launched glerg steve heydemann and henri barkey, thank you. >> woodruff: now, we continue our examination of immigration reform as lawmakers consider legislation to overhaul the system in washington. ray suarez has our report from colorado, exploring how the evangelical community is advocating for changing how the country handles undocumented immigrants. ( singing ) >> reporter: it looks like a typical evangelical church
service with modern songs of worship, guitars strumming, arms raised in praise. ♪ but listen closely, the words are sometimes in english, sometimes in spanish. this is immanuel fellowship church in frisco, colorado. frisco is a mountain resort town. the latino population has zoomed, up 70% over the last ten years, as immigrants come, looking for service industry jobs. the demographic shift is reflected in the pews at immanuel, now half anglo, half hispanic. latinos are moving steadily from their centuries-long home in the catholic church toward evangelical congregations like this one. all across the u.s. that shift is transforming what had always been white, english-speaking congregations. erick luna, was raised catholic in el salvador, but is now a minister of music at immanuel.
>> it's really beautiful. it's like a marriage when two different people come together and start a family and even with our differences, we come together to glorify our god. >> reporter: that marriage of two cultures has at the same time prompted congregations to rethink political questions: many evangelical congregations are putting new emphasis on biblical commands to welcome the stranger, and how they may reframe the hot debate over immigration reform. pastor mike phillips says he normally doesn't get involved in political issues, but for him, immigration is a moral issue. >> i think the church has always appreciated, yeah, we need to be a champion for the orphan, for the widow. but people are surprised when it say in the same passages, the immigrant, too.
>> reporter: philips recently joined hundreds of other evangelical leaders on a trip to washington to bring those concerns to members of congress. the group, called the evangelical immigration table, was formed a year ago and includes leaders from across the political spectrum; from the left-leaning sojourners to the conservative southern baptist convention. >> i was a stranger. i was a stranger. i was a stranger and you welcomed me. i was sick. >> reporter: the organization launched a national video campaign, held workshops and seminars and is encouraging church members to engage on the issue. ♪ mark weaver of fort collins, colorado says bible study has brought a radical change in his
thinking. ten years ago, he was a businessman lobbying for tougher sanctions against undocumented workers, now he's organizing immigrant worship services like this one. and he's urging congress to be more compassionate. >> there are people's lives at stake and there are people who are hurt by our immigration system, broken up by our immigration system. there are all kinds of stories out there and if you take time to listen to them, it's hard not to engage on a compassionate level. i think this is a moral issue. i do think if you welcome the stranger and treat him as you would treat jesus, it throws things into a whole different light and messes up your politics. >> reporter: but there's not some new universal agreement among christians on immigration reform or a belief that the bible can, or should, be used to justify one approach or another to policymaking. mark tooley directs the institute on religion and democracy, a conservati
>> it's very problematic when people of faith start to claim that the bible gives a very direct guidance on a particular contemporary political issue. because the bible primarily is not a political platform and it >> reporter: tooley points out that evangelicals pushing for a more welcoming policy have gotten lots of media attention, but he's not sure that translates into church member support. >> i think by and large the advocacy for immigration legislation is coming from many of the elites of the evangelical movement, and as they themselves often acknowledge, one of their biggest obstacles is persuading their own constituency. >> reporter: a recent poll by the pew research center shows a majority of evangelicals, 62%, think there should be a way for undocumented immigrants to be allowed to stay in this country. that number trails general public support, which stands at
71%. >> in leviticus chapter 19: "the foreigner living with you must be treated as one of your native born." >> reporter: pastor mike harrison takes a middle ground approach. as a pastor of a mostly white, denver suburban church, his own views have shifted after working and worshipping with a latino congregation that uses his church. >> the most significant part of that is the personal relationship you develop and you get to know people's stories and you get to understand what it's like being here in america. >> reporter: his colleague, pastor francisco mendez, says as those personal relationships develop, issues like legal status become less important. >> every human being has the same value for us. it doesn't make any difference if they are undocumented or
documented. for me they are the same and have the same value. >> reporter: still, harrison says the immigration reform issue is a complicated one and he doesn't believe churches should advocate for specific legislation. >> we really work hard within our church to depoliticize and not actually take those political, partisan views on issues. it's the citizen's role to actively influence our political people. so i would love for our members of our church, who care about this, i would love for them to contact their representatives. but i believe that is a job of the citizens of our nation, not necessarily of the churches of our nation. >> reporter: that sentiment is not dissuading leaders of the evangelical immigration table. earlier this month, the group launched a three-month prayer challenge for churches, urging
passage of immigration reform. >> brown: finally, a major advance in stem cell work, but one that once again raises ethical questions. researchers at oregon health and science university were able to create embryonic stem cells through a cloned human embryo, a longtime goal since such cells seem capable of transforming into tissues and organs genetically identical to a patient who needs them. researchers took the d.n.a. from a donor's un-fertilized egg, then inserted mature skin cells containing the d.n.a. of a patient. that led to the creation of an early stage embryo called a blastocyst-- a group of 50 to 100 cells. from that, scientists derived stem cells and then transformed them into heart cells. the blastocyst was destroyed in the process and was never implanted in a human womb. rob stein has been covering this story for npr.
>> nice to be here. >> brown: flaul, why is this considered so important, this particular step. >> every since scientists discovered stem sez, they barely used them to mass produce nonetheless laboratory whatever kind of cell they want to treat patients, to be able to create thousands and thousands, millions of cells in the laboratory to tailor make cells to treat patients with alzheimer's or parkinson's disease or create heart cells to treat patients with heart attacks. or maybe cells for the pancreas, children with diabetes. but in order to do that, they wanted to be able to tailor make those cells with the genetic material of the patients they are trying to treat and this is the technique that will finally be able to accomplish that goal. >> brown: this has been hard to do, though, right? it's been a goal for a long time. why so hard? why the challenge? >> scientists have been trying to do this for years. they tried and tried and there's been failure after failure, claims they did it that turned out to be fraud. >> brown: very notable one.
>> very high profile. and for that reason, some scientists started to think maybe it was impossible. they could do it in mice and monkies and other animals but they were never able to do it in humans and some scientists started to think maybe there was something different about humans that made it impossible and we are never going to be able to achieve this goal. >> brown: glou is there a simple way to achieve to us what the difference was or what made it work? >> they basically tweaked the formula that they used to be able to do this. as you said, they took the genetic material out of an egg and replaced it with the genetic material out of a cell. there were a couple key steps that seemed to make the difference. they use very fresh eggs. many of the other attempts they used eggs left over from fertility places and that seemed to be a key difference. another thing they did, basically they had to keep the egg in a certain stage of development, so when they inserted the new genes, they had to do it at exactly the right moment so it would be able to go
on and develop into an embryo that could produce stem cells and it was that formula that made a difference. one of the aspects of that formula was caffeine. >> brown: what we all take in every morning. >> that's right. >> brown: what we were referring to that last time when it was announce bide some korean researchers turned out to be a hoax, right, or-- >> it was a fraud. >> brown: a fraud. >> it was a very high-frofile case of scientific fraud. >> brown: this time looks totally on the up and up. >> this is a very well-respected, well-known team of scientists, with a long track record of having had success in doing this, using this technology in the laboratory. as i said, they did it in mice, and then they did it in monkies. and that seems to have been one of the keys is they had a lot of experience to be able to tirchg wert formula to get the right one that would work this time. >> brown: as we noted, this does raise concerns that we've talked about here, and you've ropped for many years, including, of course, destroying human embryos. >> yeah, it raises several ethical questions. one of them is, as you said, the
whole idea of intentionally creating and then destroying embryos in a laboratory for research purposes. and for people who believe that embryos basically have the same moral status as a human being, that's just morally repugnant and unacceptable. another ethical question that this races is they compensated the women financially for their eggs, which in many places, is not permitted. there are only a couple of places in the country that will do that, new york state and oregon because it raises all kind of questions about comodifying body parts, selling people's body parts. and the last ethical concern this raises and probably the one most people are concerned about is the technology they used is the same technology used to clone dolly the sheep. some people think this basically could be a step towards human cloning, that they feel they use the exact same technique to possibly try to clone a human. >> brown: it plays right into those fears that have been out there for a long time about cloning itself. >> right, right. the researchers who did this research say they don't think it
would basically work, that whenever they've tried to do that with animals it failed. and so they think it would fail if anybody tried to do that with people. but there's a lot of concern that, that might not stop somebody from least trying. >> brown: there is also the other part of the context here, the work done with adult stem cells. explain the difference if you can briefly, and why some think that's a better option to pursue. >> we all carry around in our bodies, adult stem cells. these are stem cells that could be turned into specific tissues, like our heart have heart stem cells and they can be used to make new heart cells, but that's all they can do. the difference with the embryonic stem cell is they can used for any cell in the bod. they've done some experiments with adult cells that seemed promising for certain diseases,
like heart disease, perhaps, they use it for bone marrow transplants, leukemia. but the big difference here as i said is embryonic stem cells are much, much more versatile. >> brown: so where is it this leave things, in our last minute here, in terms of the policy debate that continues, what happens next? and how does the newest development play into that? >> there's a lot of talk now that there might be an attempt to revive legislation in congress to make cloning illegal in the united states, which it is not. many other countries have made cloning illegal. in this country, it is still legal in most states. maybe a dozen states have their own laws that make it illegal. that may be a big debate, political debate that comes up again in congress. last time that happened it doesn't go anywhere because it got mired in the whole abortion debate. we'll have to see if that happens again this time. >> brown: all right, rob stein of npr, thanks so much. >> thanks for >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day:
president obama made new efforts to calm a series of political storms. in particular, he promised to work with congress to prevent abuses at the i.r.s., as a second top agency official stepped down. the president also met with pentagon leaders and said they're ashamed at the military's failure to stop sexual assault in the ranks. and the town of granbury, texas, picked up the pieces after a night of tornadoes that leveled homes and killed six people. >> brown: and online today: for astronauts, returning to earth is more complicated than just making a safe landing. kwame holman explains. >> holman: canadian astronaut chris hadfield recently returned from a four-month stay at the international space station. on the rundown, we examine how his body changed in space and the challenges of reacclimating to life on earth. and on art beat, a look at life on the streets of the windy city, ray suarez talks with photographer jon lowenstein who turned his lens on chicago's south side, to document the
ongoing violence in a project called "chicago's bloody year." all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. jeff? >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on friday robert macneil and jim lehrer look back 40 years to the story that brought them together in our special report, "covering watergate." i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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