tv PBS News Hour PBS July 22, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions ( bell chimes four times ) >> woodruff: a town crier gave the news: a baby boy was born to the duke and duchess of cambridge today, becoming third in line to the british throne. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> suarez: and i'm ray suarez. on the newshour tonight, we get the latest from london, where crowds celebrated the birth of the royal heir. >> woodruff: then, workers and pension funds are pushing to derail detroit's bankruptcy filing. we ask who will bear the brunt of cuts, and what's at stake for the motor city-- and other metropolitan areas in fiscal trouble. >> suarez: in iraq, two military style assaults on prisons near baghdad freed hundreds of inmates.
we examine what's behind mounting attacks by insurgents. >> woodruff: why is los angeles throwing parties in a park long ruled by rival gangs? we profile a program putting a dent on gang related crime, in the first of three stories on stopping gun violence. >> when i was growing up, i wouldn't dare to go on that side unless i had a gun. there's still resent many towards that side and there's animosity towards that side. this brings us together. :9 >> suarez: political cartoons can provoke anger, poke fun, even inspire. christina bellantoni gets one author's take on "the art of controversy." >> boss tweed famously said i don't give a damn what they write about me. my constituents can't read. but get rid of those damned pictures. they can all see the damned pictures. >> woodruff: and a pioneering white house correspondent who fired questions at ten presidents died over the weekend. margaret warner looks back at
the life of helen thomas. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the royal baby watch came to an end in london this afternoon. prince william's wife, kate, gave birth to a child who may someday be king of england. we begin with this report from
paul davis of independent television news. >> cheering and a sudden rush of activity among the gathered cameras and well wishers outside buckingham palace were the first signs that the waiting was over. in a break with protocol, news of the royal arrival had been released minutes before ed perkins, a member of the royal household, walked from the hospital carrying the document that confirmed the birth of the future king. >> everything gone well? reporter: a quick thumbs up to the driver, an indication all was well, and celebrations could begin. >> we love kate! reporter: we want kate was the optimistic request from people who had waited all day to be a part of an historic moment. from st. mary's hospital to the palace, tradition now back on track. the document confirming the happy news was passed from one member of the royal household to
another. [ cheers and applause ] the crowd had been briefed on this royal ritual, and there was another expression of mass delight as the paperwork was finally placed on an easel, telling the world that her royal highness, the duchess of cambridge, had given birth to a son at 4:24 p.m. mother and son both doing well. >> it's boy! so exciting. we've been waiting all day for news. it's amazing. >> reporter: for anyone who had missed the news, the town cryer turned up at the hospital. >> on this day, the 22nd of july, in the year 2013, we welcome with humble duty a future king. >> reporter: the prime minister led the country in
congratulating william and kate. >> wonderful news from st. mary's paddington. i'm sure that right across the country and indeed right across the commonwealth, people will be celebrating and wishing the royal couple well. it is an important moment in the life of our nation, but i suppose above all it's a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who got a brand new baby boy. >> reporter: the prince of wales in yorkshire this evening appeared unaware of his grandson's arrival some hours earlier. >> any news yet, sir? no. you'll hear before i do i suspect. >> reporter: he later issued a statement saying he was a very proud grandfather. back at the hospital, the doctors who treated the duchess appeared well pleased with their work. >> a beautiful baby. very happy for them all. >> reporter: he's happy. the crowds are happy. buckingham palace say the queen and duke of edinboro are
delighted and the duke of came ridge at his wife's bedside issued a statement saying the new parents could not be >> suarez: still to come on the newshour, the challenges to detroit's bankruptcy; the attacks on prisons in iraq; a program to stop gang violence in los angeles; political cartoons that stand the test of time; and a legend in white house press corps. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: an earthquake in a remote mountainous area of northwest china killed at least 75 people today. the quake registered a magnitude of 6.6 and struck some 760 miles west of beijing, in gansu province. chinese officials said the shaking reduced thousands of poorly constructed mud brick homes to rubble. in addition to the dead, more than 400 people were hurt. in syria, rebels claimed today they've captured a key northern village on the outskirts of aleppo. amateur video showed heavy shelling and plumes of smoke.
the rebels' advance came a day after they'd suffered heavy losses elsewhere. opposition officials said government troops killed at least 75 rebels in and around damascus on sunday. the european union today added the armed wing of hezbollah to its terrorism blacklist. the designation came as the lebanese militant group has taken a growing role in supporting the government in the syrian civil war. the e.u. also cited a bus bombing in bulgaria last year. hezbollah's military wing now will be subject to having its assets frozen across europe. pope francis arrived in brazil this afternoon, on his first international trip since being installed in march. he was welcomed in rio de janeiro by throngs of supporters. during his weeklong trip, the pontiff is scheduled to address thousands of young people at the church's world youth day festival. rio has been rocked by antigovernment protests in recent weeks, but the mayor said today the entire city is open to the first latin american pope.
>> he will feel at ease in our city, having a dialogue not only with the pilgrims but also the locals of rio and all that visit us. therefore, there's a clear message among the local public powers that the pope will have all the liberty in the world to walk through the city and speak to the people. >> holman: the highlight of the papal visit will be an outdoor mass that could draw more than one million people at rio's copacabana beach. wall street started the week on a subdued note. the dow jones industrial average gained not quite two points to close at 15,545. the nasdaq rose more than 12 points to close at 3600. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to ray. >> suarez: we turn to the questions and legal challenges over what happens next in detroit, where residents, workers, and bondholders face the prospect of coping with the largest municipal bankruptcy in american history. >> the legal fight unfolded a day after the major players in detroit's bankruptcy made their case on the sunday news shows.
>> we've been kicking the can down the road for 60 years. my perspective is enough is enough. >> michigan governor rick snyder appeared on meet the press insisting the decision to file bankruptcy was not made lightly. >> it's something to be avoided. it's not something i'm happy to be in this situation. we went through all the other processes we could. there were no other viable options. once you go through every other option, then you should consider bankruptcy. >> suarez: but the filing has given rise to a series of legal questions. first, whether snyder even had the authority to make the bankruptcy filing. a state court judge says he did not. and whether payments to pensioners will be cut while the bankruptcy process is is still being hashed out. detroit's emergency financial manager kevyn orr told fox news sunday retired city workers should steel themselves for concessions on pension and health care benefits. >> my mother is a pensioner in that sense. so this is very personal to me.
but i also say we don't have a choice. we've crossed a rubicon on the level. we have 18-plus, 18 to 19 billion dollars in debt. no funding mechanism for it. so this is a question. >> of that total orr says some $9 billion is for unfunded pension liabilities and health care costs. one focus will be on whether those numbers are right and how much city workers and retirees might have to give up. a lawyer representing city retirees says detroit must honor its obligation to those who spent their lives working for the city. after the economic meltdown in 2008 the federal government stepped in to rescue general motors and chrysler, but there's been no indication the city will get the same treatment. and/oror said state and city officials are not counting on any federal assistance. >> we operate under the assumption that we have to cure this problem on our own. we are not expecting the calvary to come charging in.
we're out here and we have to fix it because we dug this hole. >> suarez: mayor david bing on abc's this week suggested he wasn't given up on asking the obama administration to step in. >> there are over 100 major urban cities that are having the same problems that we're having. we may be one of the first. we are the largest. but we absolutely will not be the last. and so we've got to set a benchmark in terms of how to fix our cities and come back from this tragedy. >> suarez: first though the various court battles will have to play out. there's no indication of just how long all of that might take, but it could be many months. many questions surrounding a bankruptcy involve who takes losses, who gets paid, and what it means for workers. that's our focus as we continue to explore the fallout from detroit. on friday, we interviewed governor snyder and kevyn orr, the city's emergency manager, both asking for the bankruptcy and cuts. tonight, we get the views of steven kreisberg, director of collective bargaining for the
american federation of state, county and municipal employees. and steven rattner, who oversaw the obama administration's efforts to restructure gm and chrysler. he's now chairman of willett advisors, an investment arm for new york mayor bloomberg's personal and philanthropic assets. steven kreisberg, let me start with you. this afternoon your union's president al garrett said that the city never really negotiated with union members before heading into this bankruptcy process. >> well, that's true. we requested that they neat with us to negotiate. they refused to do so. as recently as the second of july, i personally sent them a letter urging them to meet with us. they responded on the third of july saying they wouldn't do it. the following week they invited us to a meeting which was largely a presentation to talk about the process. and we agreed to go forward with that process. they reassured us that we had literally months to resolve this issue. then they caught us by surprise by filing the bankruptcy
petition last week. >> did they give you any indication of what union members and reretirees might expect going forward? >> well, to date we haven't had any offer from the emergency financial manager concerning the pension benefits. he has said over and over again that he expects to cut those benefits. we don't know the extent of the cut. we don't know when they'll be cut and we don't know how they'll be cut. we do know that a number of retirees will be devastated by any sort of cut. the average pensioner in the general city's retirement plan gets a pension of $18,000 a year. they have no room, no room whatsoever, to get a loss of benefits. on health care, we had a little bit more specificity. essentially what the city proposes for health care is to stop providing it and to offer people the ability to go the federal government for obama care and to medicare. that's not an acceptable alternative in our members' viewed. they worked for those benefits and they expect to see the city pay those benefits. >> a huge entity like detroit constantly has money coming in,
going out, different obligations that come due at different times. how do you even know how much money the city has, how much it owes, and how to pay it out? how do we start getting our arms around this beast? >> i think that kevyn orr, the emergency manager, did a report in the middle of june. it was about 100 pages. i'm sure not every number is exactly perfectly correct. he acknowledged that. but i think he got his arms pretty well around the magnitude of the problem. the problem is this. i'm sympathetic, i've written in the new york stiems that i'm sympathetic to the situation of the workers and the retirees. i think the cuts being proposed for them to take and i think on the pension fund it looks to me like it's anywhere from 20 to 40% ultimately of their benefits. i think they're too large and too harsh. you can't get blood out of a stone. detroit simply doesn't have the money. if these workers and retirees are to get more, it's going to have to come from somewhere other than the city because the city doesn't have it.
>> suarez: you're calling for help from outside michigan? >> well, outside of detroit anyway. i'm saying that i think the first instance the state should be helping. ultimately potentially washington should be helping. the math that he went through at the beginning is pretty simple. there's $18 billion of liabilities, something like $5.5 billion of them can't be touched because they're securedded bonds. so 80% of the proposed cuts in this bankruptcy would come from workers, retired and current workers. and i think that's a price that is far greater than anything workers have been asked to bear in other situations and greater that you can reasonably expect them to be able to bear. >> are these debts structured in such a way -- and you mentioned that there are some that are sacrosanct, but the remaining ones that aren't, are there rules going in so that we already can see the shape of this, so that we know that certain people are going to get more of what a dollar is that
they're owed and certain people are going to get less? >> the problem is this. again, you've got roughly 5.5 billion that i think every bankruptcy person i've spoken to says can't be touched. you've got something like $9 billion as you said that goes to the workers. what's left, 2, 3 billion, something like that, potentially can be cut. but it's a relatively small amount of money. even if you cut it to zero, it wouldn't solve detroit's problems. even within that small amount, there are certain kinds of bond holders who believe they have a preference and are going to litigate it. so the problem is there's just not a debt out there that can be reduced enough to solve detroit's problems. >> mr. kreisberg, it doesn't sound like there's that much to negotiate. some of these values are hard and fast. and your workers are going to take a haircut. >> well, that's the idea of the emergency financial manager and perhaps governor snyder, but we need to start with that $18 billion number.
that's a wildly inflated number as it pertains to pension benefits and retiree health care costs. the liabilities are not nearly that large. the first thing that the emergency financial manager did is to seek to exaggerate that to meet his intention of declaring bankruptcy. but moving beyond just the argument over the numbers, we also need to understand that the pension benefits themselves are protected by the michigan state constitution. the governor took an oath of office, an oath of office to uphold the constitution. now he's speaking to... he's seeking to evade know constitutional by going to federal court. there's still a lot of litigation to occur regarding not whether the governor has the authority to impair the peptions like they're proposing to do in bankruptcy. but as i said before regardless of the results of the litigation, what we're seeing here is a rush, an absolute rush to bankruptcy that makes no sense to us. there are many ways to restructure our benefits, restructure the debt short of the bankruptcy process.
we're anxious to get involved in it. we want to meet and solve the problems. our members are not only workers toker the city, but we live in that community. our members have lived there their whole lives. they have greater respect and affinity for detroit than the governor does or the emergency financial management. >> suarez: very quickly, sir, wednesday there's going to be an argument in court over whether the city can go ahead and freeze those pension payments while it continues to structure its new debt repayment schedule under bankruptcy. what's your argument against doing that? is there a precedent that would allow your members to continue to get paid while this goes through a very long litigation? >> not only is there a precedent, but the precedent is on our side. in stockton, california, in other communities that have gone through bankruptcy, pension payments were not interrupted. in fact at the end of the day they were not impaired. the city of detroit does not have a pension problem. pensions make up about 4% of the
city's revenue. the city of detroit has enormous debt problem. they have to grapple with those problems. part of the reason for the debt problem is because the state of michigan has withdrawn hundreds of millions of dollars of state aid to the city. the city has been left to languish. without the state aid it has starkly received. so the state's coffers are flush but communities throughout michigan are suffering the same way detroit is suffering but just not yet. >> suarez: steve ratner, before we go, counties, states and municipalities around the country that have underfunded pension liabilities must be watching detroit with some great interest. do we have a problem that goes far beyond this city? >> yes, i would respectfully disagree a little bit about mr. kreisberg. we do have a pension problem across this country. the level of funding in many many municipal pension funds is inadequate. detroit happens to be a little bit of a canary in a mine shaft and probably one of the worst examples in terms of the extent
of the underfunding that exists. but it is a major problem we're going to have to deal with as a country. i would just say finally that i would also disagree with him. i think detroit unfortunately had to file for bankruptcy. i don't think it had a choice. i've been through this with general motors and ford. you reach a pint where your liabilities are so vast you really have no choice. that's the position detroit sadly is in. >> suarez: steven ratner and steven kreisberg, gentlemen, thank you both. >> woodruff: and to the bloodshed in iraq. in a show of force, militants overnight attacked two prisons, killing at least 25 iraqi security troops and releasing hundreds of inmates. all that as a wave of sectarian violence continues to grow. the attacks came late sunday at the taji and abu ghraib prisons outside baghdad.
>> the attack against the jail alien was carried out by nine suicide bombers and three car bombs driven by suicide bombers. the attackers lobbed more than 100 mortar shells. they also used scores of missile shells and rocket-propelled grenades in addition to other intermediate and light weapons. >> woodruff: the prisons house thousands of inmates including many convicted al qaeda militants. u.s. forces returned control of the prison prisons to the iraqie departing in december 2011. according to two iraqi lawmakers, about 500 inmates may have escaped during the assault. one says many were recaptured or killed. other attacks today claimed 18 more lives as sectarian violence has surged since april. and more than 350 iraqis have been killed across the country just since the muslim holy month of ramadan began less than two weeks ago.
>> i was at home when a bomb went off and when people gathered a car bomb blew up sending people flying as you can see. pieces of flesh are scattered all around. dead people were lying on a ground. third bomb went off making the situation even worse. >> woodruff: today's prison assaults followed a bloody weekend. on friday, a suicide bomber blew himself up during the middle of a sermon at a sunni mosque killing at least 20. and yesterday shop owners and street sweepers cleaned up after a series of bombings hit predominantly shiite areas around baghdad on saturday. at least 30 people died in those attacks. for more on what's behind this dramatic increase in violence we turn to two experts. juan cole, a professor of history at the university of michigan. and stephen biddle is a professor of political science and international affairs, george washington university. welcome to you both.
juan coal, do you first. these attacks are not only widespread. they seem well coordinated. who is thought or what is thought to be behind them? >> well, there are a handful of cells of the islamic state of iraq, what the government tends to call al qaeda that clearly are able to coordinate these attacks. they have bomb-making factories basically hidden away in neighborhoods that don't report on them. and they're able to sit down in a room and plan out a wave of attacks. they do this fairly frequently, once every three months or so, you have a big wave of attacks. sometimes in as many as 26 cities. they conceive of themselves as revolutionaries. they ti that they can overthrow the government that they perceived to be a minority government. it's not true but that's what they think. that they believe was installed by the americans unfairly inth country. >> steven biddle, why do you
think this is happening now? it's been building. what's behind it? >> well, i think groups like i.s.i., the islam i can state of iraq are trying to exploit what they see as unsolved identity tensions still left over from the intense part of what had been a very intense identity civil war in iraq in 2006 and 2007. in situations of this kind, it's rare for the populations involved to just get over it as soon as the shooting dies down. at the moment i think what we see happening is in the early part of a reconciliation process that would normally take years or decades, spoilers like the islamic state of iraq and others, are trying to rekindle that older, much larger scale, program of violence in a way that they think will present the consolidation of some sort of representative government and give them a lever by which they
could... they and their allies could try to get control of their country which is what they mostly failed to do in '06 and '07. >> woodruff: how much of is is this is truly sectarian and why isn't the government there better able to keep control, keep a lid on this? >> well, it's not religious in the sense that they're not fighting over points of theology. but it is sectarian in the sense that there are political entrepreneurs, terrorism entrepreneurs that are using an identity as a basis. they try to mobilize people of their ethnicity for political purposes. i don't think there's been much of a reconciliation effort by the prime minister newery a.l. maliki government. it is a shiite-dominated government. the sunnis feel as though they've been locked out of most
power in the country. they've mounted their own kind of sunni-arab spring in their areas in the center and the west and somewhat north of iraq. and keep calling on a.l. maliki to step down. they don't see him as legitimate. he hasn't reached out to them in any significant way. there's a lack of reconciliation. from the one side which would be necessary i think to tamp down the violence because you have to appeal to the community that the terrorists are nested in in order to turn them in and turn against the violent one. he hasn't managed to convince them they should do that. >> steven biddle we know next door there's a civil war raging in syria. how much of an effect or is that having an effect on what's happening in iraq? >> i think it makes things worse and it makes things more dangerous among issues maliki's shiite government in iraq is, i think, understandably concerned that if the opposition in syria were to succeed and be sunni
militant component of the syrian opposition were to succeed, that could strengthen sunni opposition in iraq, make the tensions in iraq more violent than they would otherwise be and increase the odds that iraq returns to 2006-2007 scales of violence. there have been cross-border flows of militants in which organized militant sunnis have moved from iraq into syria to assist the opposition there. and in which sheepite militias have moved from iraq to try and assist the government in syria. that cross-border flow of militants doesn't make anyone a lot more confident about the future of the region. >> woodruff: juan coal, what about the long history of u.s. involvement in iraq beginning with the invasion in 2003? how much of that is or is not a factor, do you believe, in what's happening today? >> i think the united states' overthrow of the iraqi
government in 2003 certainly created the political vacuum in which these events are playing out. i think the bush administration also made a very severe error of seeing itself as a proponent of shiite rule. and to some extent kurdish rule in iraq. and it participated in very unfair processes of what were called de... but resulted in the firing of tens of thousands of sunnis from government jobs at a time when there was no private sector. so the way the u.s. policy developed, at least up to a certain point, was seen by the sunni-arab community as extremely unfair to them. and that sense of grievance and a sense that foreigners came in and opposed the shiite government on them... imposed the shiite government on them is is one of the things that provoked this violence. >> woodruff: steven biddle, how do you see the legacy of u.s.
involvement in favoring the she a, the kurds over sunni? steven biddle, are you able to hear me? let's see. i apologize about that. juan coal, let me come back to you. we'll try to come back to steven in just a minute. just quickly, juan coal, could the u.s. have done... well, i guess you answered this your last question. what could the u.s. have done differently to have possibly alleviated some of the pressures that we see playing out today? >> well, as you say, i think that's fairly clear. we needed to be more even-handed. maybe we needed not to go in there. i think the more important and pressing question is is what could be done now? as you can tell, i think that the government of nouri al-maliki needs to reach out more effectively to incorporate the sunni-arab population of
iraq into the new iraq. i don't think he's succeeded in doing that. i don't think he's been as active on that front as he should have been. and you asked earlier, you know, why is the government unable to stop these things? i was in iraq a couple months ago. i asked iraqis, we were hosted by one of the ministries, why? why this still goes on? and several of them told me that they felt as though the security forces, the government is penetrated by the opposition forces. so people get tip-offs if there's a raid. and this prison break appears today appears to have been partially an inside job. >> woodruff: well, we appreciate your insighs and our apologies to steven biddle losing that audio there the end. to juan coal, thank you. steven biddle, we thank you. >> suarez: and now to a series
of stories on air and online about efforts to reduce gun violence. it's part of our continuing coverage of the debates over guns, weapons and mental health. this week, we are focusing on efforts to bring down the number of shootings and murders in america. our first story looks at how the city of los angeles is taking a different approach to gangs and the hot summer season. what looks to an outsider like a typical summer fess tifl is in fact one of los angeles' greatest violent crime deterrents. six years since its inception, the summer night lights program has opened up and lit up 32 of the city's most violent parks to residents once caught in gang crossfire. deputy mayor guillermo cespedes heads up the project. >> between july 4 labor day weekend, wednesday through saturday, used to be referred to
by some folks in l.a. as the "killing season." and some of the parks we work in sometimes were referred to as the "killing fields." >> reporter: but instead of focusing solely on gang members, summer night lights attempts to get entire communities-- young and old, current and former gang members, and even rival gangs-- together every summer evening wednesday through sunday. >> we track your behavior, not your identity. we feed everyone, we provide jobs, we bring resources, we make it a good time. that reduces violence. my view is, these neighborhoods that we serve, if they are given the choice between a body bag and all these resources, they will choose the resources. >> reporter: the results are significant. since 2007, gang-related homicides in los angeles are down 47%; the number of shooting
victims down 44%; shots fired down 50%. the statistics have caught the attention of national public safety experts looking to curb big city gun violence. charlie beck is los angeles chief of police. >> gun violence in los angeles is gang violence. over 50% of our murders are gang-related, almost all are committed with handguns, and about 25% of our other violent crime is gang-related. so if you can reduce gang crime or gang violence, then you reduce gun crime. >> reporter: at $6 million, the summer night lights program is not cheap. the city relies on private donations to fund 50% of the program costs. >> my philosophy is, if you don't put positive things into these open spaces, they will be filled with negative things. >> reporter: in fact, this park in east l.a., the lou costello recreation center, is notorious for gang violence.
it sits between two rival gang territories. sergeant lopez has been patrolling here for years. >> you don't want to be caught on this side. you don't want to be caught on that side in the park. >> reporter: inviting both sides into lou costello park was unimaginable before summer night lights. >> this was always like the border, the divide, you know. it's almost an unspoken wall, so to speak. just through having these resources, having the program, we've been able to have that community interact with this side of the community, and folks that might have seen each other from afar are now interacting and talking to each other. >> reporter: the festivities brought out nick sanchez, a former gang member who grew up in a housing project that borders lou costello park to the east. >> when i was growing up, i wouldn't dare to go on that side unless i had a gun, and it would be safe to say that it was the same way, any person that was a gang member wouldn't come over here unless they had a weapon.
there's still resentment toward that side, and there's still animosity toward that side, but this brings us all together, and i believe that, little by little, they begin to understand that they're not all that different. >> reporter: just as important as engaging gangs, summer night lights engages los angeles police department. >> let me give you an example. you've been chased through out the year. you're a gang member, and you've been chased by a particular officer. the police officer has never really looked past the tattoo, and you've never really looked past the badge. so it may be... just may be that over a hot dog or a basketball games you may get a peek into you know, who this person is. and that starts to shift how you see yourself, and how other people see you. so that's what we try and create. >> reporter: but how do you get families to go to dangerous
parks at night? to do that, teenagers who are at risk for joining a gang themselves are hired to canvass the neighborhood and convince wary residents to come out for a family night. >> i'm from summer night lights. i want to invite you guys. it's going to be fun, free food and different activities for children. >> reporter: nicholas alfaro grew up in the housing project that borders lou costello park to the west. he lived with his grandmother, guadalupe avilez, who raised six grandchildren in this apartment, and who lost one of her daughters, nicholas aunt, to gun violence. > it's very sad. the shooting was provoked by a fight earlier that day. >> reporter: lopez says retaliation is the way most gangs react >> if someone beat you up, we're going to take care of that gang. if somebody shoots at you, we're going to go shoot at them. they don't care. they will take care of you.
>> reporter: and that is why the city's gang reduction efforts go beyond summer night lights. since 2009, they have responded to 2,500 police calls. >> we don't want any youth to die on the streets of l.a. without the mayor's office being present, sometimes at the scene, sometimes in the hospital, sometimes in multiple ways. >> reporter: usually it is someone like johnny torres, a former gang member from east l.a. with a criminal record, who now works for the city on crisis intervention. >> we're 24/7 on crisis. if a shooting should occur, we go to the homicide scene, the scene of a shooting. >> reporter: officers are told to respect the work of interventionists, even though they often have criminal pasts. >> they can get into that neighborhood. people will talk to them. they came from there, they understand the gang life. we're police officers. they don't want to talk to us. >> we look to them to respond, because it's not that they're going to do the job of the police, because they don't.
we do a very different job. but they are very connected. i look at violence in l.a., particularly gang violence, as all about stopping retaliation. it's about stopping the next shooting. >> sometimes you can have a gang think it's another gang, and end up starting a war on another gang. so we try rumor control. >> they have to stop rumors. rumors are what get people killed. >> reporter: chief beck says the police force has learned many lessons since the rodney king riots of 1992. a big change is for officers to embed in gang-dominated communities for the sole purpose of building better relationships. >> we've progressed from the point of... i wouldn't say a military state, but how can we make your life easier? >> there's no doubt that the communities that are most impacted by gang crime see us a lot differently than when i was a gang cop. back in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, when the police department
thought it was their sole responsibility to stop this problem, we didn't make any progress. >> that's one of our officers. see, he's just sitting trying to talk to the kids, tell them we're not bad guys. >> hey, how's it going? hey, you know, we're human, too, you know. we're not all there to arrest them. >> you have to engage the community. they have to understand that your real goal is to keep their sons and daughters safe, where they look at cops as their partners, not as an occupying force as we were seen in the past. >> reporter: those efforts may be paying off. gang-related assaults with a deadly weapon against police officers are down 66%.
but recent shootings over the fourth of july holiday weekend are a clear reminder that much work is still to be done. >> suarez: tomorrow we have the story of a california program that confiscates legally purchased guns from people who are now barred from owning them. and online, join us for a twitter chat thursday. we'll be discussing some of the issues talked about in this series. follow newshour on twitter for details. >> woodruff: next, a look back through history at the surprising influence of political cartoons. newshour political editor christina bellantoni has our book conversation. a picture is worth a thousand words. that old adage is how drawings have for century shaiched the conversation about government and its leaders is the subject of a new book. the art of controversy. political cartoons and their enduring power. the former editor and publisher of the nation magazine and now teaches at columbia university's
graduate school of jurnism. thanks so much for being here. very interesting book. let's dive right in with a broad look. what role do you think political cartoons play in our society? >> very difficult to say because you could argue that images of richard nixon is what stays with us to this day or david levine's picture of lyndon johnson showing his scarf in the shape of vietnam will be with us in history books in perpetuity so they have a lot to do with it. but they seem to, despite the fact that art c.i.t. critics or many of them don't take them seriously, they seem toen rage people. the leading palestinian cartoonist was murdered on the streets of london. dammier was thrown into prison. they have a power that no one can fully understand. >> one of the man that you
dubbed as the father of political american cartooning had boss tweed put in jail. tell us about thomas nash who really had this big influence in the late 1800s. >> he gave us or gave the democratic party its donkey and the republicans the elephant and actually gave us the image of santa claus with his white beard and his rosy cheeks. he did these cartoons of boss tweed. boss tweed famously said, "i don't give a damnn what they write about me. my constituents can't read. but get rid of those damned pictures. they can all see the damned pictures." ironically when he was under indictment, he was identified by someone in spain who had seen the cartoons of him. >> so getting to that. how do the politicians themselves react. richard nixon this famed example because he had such a distinctive face. >> you know, they all react differently.
in some cases they end up liking the cartoon no matter how outraged they are. hitler would go through the ceiling every time david lowe who was a well known british cartoonist would do a caricature of hitler. he would would call a meeting of his general staff. everyone would go into a great frenzy and the foreign secretary of england went to visit at the behest of the publisher of lowe's paper the evening standard went to visit the propaganda minister in germany to ask him how they could get the paper restored in germany because it was banned. he said get rid of the cartoons. that's how you can do it. hitler tried to do the impossible thing. he got so upset he wanted to answer all of the cartoons with words which it's very hard to answer cartoons with words. >> in fact, you get at that. you say you can't really write a cartoon to the editor if you're a reader getting provoked with a
response to a cartoon. how important is the media? >> i think it is critical because i think one of the reasons that people get so enraged by cartoons is they're frustrated because if you don't like an article, you can write a letter to the editor even if it's only in your head. there not only is no such thing as a cartoon to the editor but cartoons and caricatures are by definition unfair. they only tell one side of the story. they exaggerate it. and so you believe that you've been unfairly or someone you identify with has been unfairly accused. and you're powerless to respond to them. >> you write about this very blunt cover of the new yorker on july 21, 2008 provoked unprecedented emotional blow-back. this was the image of then candidate barack obama and his wife michelle obama dressed as terrorists doing a fist bump. why was that so powerful? >> i think that was a case where the cartoon was misunderstood
and david recommend nick the editor of the new yorker claimed that this was not a par deor a satire of obama and it was not intended to show him and michelle as terrorists. it was a satire of right wingers who thought of them as terrorists. so different people read it in different ways. and the great cartoonist art spiegelman did someone kissing a caribbean woman. she put an explanation in the very issue in which the cover appeared but it still caused cancellations and outrage. >> in the book you seem to be as intrigued by the imagery behind the cartoon as you are by the message. how important is the art of it all? >> well, i think it's critical. you know, we go back to the old testament. no craven images. the famous danish cartoon of mohammed which caused hundreds of thousands of muslims all over the world to demonstrate against
it resulted in injuries and deaths. the images themselves, however, ironically in the case of the danish cartoons of mohammed, most of the people who demonstrated never saw the cartoons. it was the idea of the image of the imagery that was upsetting. it was like a ku klux klaner burning a cross on your lawn. you don't have to see there and be there to understand why it's a desecration. >> very interesting. thank you so much, viblghtor navasky. >> thank you. online we posted a slide show of memorable political cartoons and a video of cartoonists holding a draw-off at last summer's convention. you can weigh in there. how do drawings like these affect the way we view or government and its leaders? >> suarez: finally tonight, remembering a pioneer of the white house press corps. margaret warner has that.
>> warner: helen thomas wag something of a legend in the white house press room. known for tough questions as when she confronted president nixon during the watergate scandal. >> you testified that you said it would be wrong to pay hush money to silence the watergate defendants. >> miss thomas, it would be improper as, of course, you know for me to comment on the substance of any charges. >> reporter: thomas made ten presidents squirm over five decades covering the white house for united press international. in 2006 she famously challenged president george w. bush. >> my question is, why did you really want to go to war? from the moment you stepped into the white house from your cabinet, your cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth, what was your real reason? >> i think your premise in all due respect to your question and to you as a life-long journalist, is that, you know, i didn't want war. to assume i wanted war is just flat wrong, helen.
in all due respect. >> warner: she also was a trail blazer for women in journalism. born in 1920 to lebanese immigrants in winchester, kentucky, thomas began her career in washington as a copy girl in 1943. in those days women reporters were relegated to society news and features. but thomas was assigned to federal agencies by the 1950s and got her big break in late 1960 when she covered president-elect john kennedy's family vacation. she became a u.p.i. white house correspondent and, in 1974, its white house bureau chief, the first woman to hold such a post. she left u.p.i. in 2000 to write a column for hearst news service, but she remained at the white house. >> helen, this is my inaugural moment here. i'm really excited. >> reporter: in the end though thomas' famously sharp tongue proved her downfall. during an interview in 2010 she was asked for her thoughts on
israel. >> tell them to get the hell out of palestine. >> warner: thomas resigned from hearst. she then wrote for a free weekly paper until her health declined. on saturday president obama said her unofficial title as dean of the white house press corps reflected not just the length of her tenure but her fierce belief that our democracy works best when we ask tough questions and hold our leaders to account. her front row seat in the white house briefing room remains inscribed in her honor. helen thomas was 92 years old. for more on helen thomas and for more on the legacy of helen thomas we are joined by karen tumulty. she's national political correspondent for the "washington post." >> hi, margaret. warner: take us back to the mid '40s to mid '60s when helen thomas was cutting her teeth in reporting. how hard for it was a female journalist to get to even cover serious news in those days? >> well, there were some women
who were out there reporting, but i think it was generally expected that women if they were reporters were going to cover sort of soft, featurey news. helen's own first assignment at the white house was not to cover the president but to cover the first lady. jackie kennedy despised her. she considered her... in fact at one point she called her a harpy. the other thing was that there were a lot of sort of formal/informal barriers to women in washington. they were not allowed to be part of the professional and social organizations that a lot of their male peers were part of. really i think the closest thing there was to real networking in journalism. >> warner: like thate national press club. >> the white house correspondents the association, the grid iron club. helen was the first officer in all of those organizations who was a woman. >> warner: what was it about her that made her not only persevere but thrive in that environment? >> you know, i think helen understood that the whole
atmosphere of the white house and the press was a little too cozy. what made her really unique and i think even more unique for a woman at that time was her feeling that she was there to sort of, in star wars terms, disrupt the force. you know, it was perfectly fine to make people uncomfortable. in fact, that was part of your job. >> warner: was her... i meeb, she's best known for her pugnacious questioning style. was that in the end her great contribution? >> i think it was. her style? absolutely. again, going into the television era, i mean we see a lot of this back and forth in the white house press room these days. but before the television era she was there doing it sort of when people weren't able to sort of do it as theater the way they do now. >> warner: you went to the white house as a correspondent in the '90s. what are your memories of her? what kind of a colleague was she? >> well, first of all i was really in awe back to my days at
the newspaper we worked at because it was her "by" line but as much as she enjoyed making people with power squirm. there was a generousness to her spirit. she would always look out for who the new person on the beat was. she was there with advice and help as much as she could. it was sort of the opposite of the personality that you saw in public. >> warner: do you think, did she leave a legacy in journalism? or at least in white house coverage today? >> i think she does. she really did probably more than anyone else change the environment. i know tom de frank, your former colleague, wrote something over the weekend where he said when he got to the white house an older colleague took him aside and said, look, our job here, they tell us what happens. we write it down. and we put it in the newspaper. well, helen changed all that. >> warner: so do you think that the adversarial nature of the
white house briefing room today does at least in a small part reflect her or is it much more the sort of politicization of cable television talk shows and that environment that seeped into what we see if we watch a white house briefing today? >> well i think it's a combination of things but i don't think it would have happened if it hadn't been for helen. >> warner: karen tumulty, "washington post," thank you. >> thank you, margaret. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day, a baby boy was born to the duke and duchess of cambridge today. he is third in line to the british throne. hundreds of prisoners escaped in iraq after coordinated attacks on two prisons outside baghdad. and pope francis, the first latin american pontiff, arrived in brazil for a week-long visit. major league baseball suspended milwaukee's brian ron for the rest of the season without pay
for violating drug policy. he's a former national league most valuable player. >> suarez: online we ask, when is the best time to file for social security? kwame holman has more. >> holman: in this week's installment of "ask larry," deciding when to start collecting. it isn't easy, but our social security guru explains how best to calculate future benefits. find that column on our homepage. and as part of our politics coverage, we live-streamed the first debate in the virginia governor's race saturday. watch a replay on our youtube site. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. ray? >> suarez: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we talk with two former national security agency analysts, who blew the whistle on what they say were abuses and mismanagement at agency. i'm ray suarez. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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