tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS November 30, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
on this edition for saturday november 30th, a new deadline for health.gov after a promise to be better than ever. >> if a million people or 2 million show up close to the deadline, it could bring the site down again. >> this town could be ground zero for climate change. >> it's definitely changing a lot. it's hard to say if our younger generations will be able to do what we are able to do. >> escalating tensions between china and japan and the united states. >> if there are fighter jets in the air and dogging each other, could be a mistake. that's what u.s. and japan are particularly concerned about. >> next on "pbs newshour weekend." "pbs newshour weekend" is
made possible by luis b. and luise coleman, judy and josh westin, joyce v. hale, the wallet family, in memory of miriam and ira d. wallet, the cheryl and phillip milstein family, bernard and irene schwartz. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america, designing customized, individual, and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support is provided by -- and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tish wnet studios in lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan.
the website health.gov was taken down for repairs and will be down again for what is described as routine maintenance 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. eastern time tomorrow. administration officials hope the will be able to service as many as 50,000 americans at once. their goal to sign up more than 7 million people by march. thanks for joining us. it's odd for me to be asking for a website update, but how is it doing? better than those problems we heard about? >> reporter: it's better than october 1st, that's for sure. that doesn't necessarily say too much because if you remember, october 1st, people were logging out and couldn't get past the home page they have slowly been making progress. as of late last week, myself and my colleagues we out talking to consumers, talking to insurance brokers, talking to nonprofits trying to sign people up. saying this website is still in some pretty rough shape a couple of people gave it 4-10 as far as
how is it functioning, 10 being the best. one of the problems we are hearing about most from people, the site improved to the point where you can get to the last step. you can create an account, you can shop around for plans, find if you get a tax subsidy. when you get to that point where okay, i'm ready to buy insurance which is the whole point of this website, that's where it locks up. that's where it breaks down. only a trickle of people are actually being able to buy an insurance plan. then there is another issue on the back end that we are hearing from insurers telling us that the data from this website is not being transmitted to them well. they're not getting accurate information about who is signing up. people are signing up for insurance and not sure if the insurers are getting that information. there are a lot of fundamental issues going on with this site. the administration says over the weekend they are still working, trying to work these out. those on the front lines of signing people up, they are still quite skeptical at this
point. >> one reason is this is almost a proxy for the efficacy of the law that people are looking at this so closely. best-case scenario. tomorrow at the deadline it launches, everything is -- does the math add up? can they get to 7 million by march? >> and how many people are going to all flood on at one time? so, yes, theoretically by the end of march 31st, that's when you have to sign up in order to comply with this mandate and not pay a penalty, they should be able to get enough people to sign up. the concern is that your show and other shows are going to be talking about how the administration plans to have this website functioning much better come december 1st. a million people are going to show up that day and it's going to crash the site again. so right now they've gotten it to a point where about 50,000 people can come on at one time. it can handle about 80,000 people a day. now, if a million people or 2 million people show up on one day or show up close to the deadline, it could bring the whole site down again.
that's a concern. >> we should remind people this is in the 36 states and online is only one way to do it. >> right. the 36 states is important, too. if you're in those 14 states that built their own exchange, new york, california, you might be watching this saying, what are you talking about problems signing up on the website? i signed up fine. in those states tens of thousands of people have been able to enroll. it's federal health.gov that's having the issues. >> you can call and go to a center? >> yes. a lot of people have been filling out these paper applications that the nonprofit groups people are going to, they give them a paper application and send it in. that could take a couple of months to process. there is a concern about how efficient that is, as well. >> shannon, thanks so much. christmas shopping season has begun. the national retail federation estimates that perhaps in excess of 30 million shoppers actually did their shopping on thanksgiving day this year. meanwhile, according to a survey
of e commerce sites, black friday online sales were up 20% this year compared to last, with smart phones making up almost 1/4 of all online commerce traffic. president and members of his family went shopping today at a book store in the nation's capital as they've done in years past to mark small business saturday. a day set aside to encourage shopping at traditional mom and pop stores. north korea's state media broadcast video of what it says was a confession to war crimes against civilians by an 85-year-old korean war veteran. detained in late october, merrill newman, a retired finance executive was taken off an airplane as he planned to leave that country after a ten-day tour. he reportedly made the confession november 9th. north korea media reported he signed a four-page statement confessing to his crimes, but its authenticity was cast in down with phrases like "i want not punish me." there were high level talks between pakistan and afghanistan
aimed at bringing peace to the region. the pakistani prime minister traveled to kabul with meetings with afghan president hamid karzai. they reached an agreement for members of an afghan peace council to continue negotiations with a high-level pakistani taliban leader recently released from prison. those talks began in the past few days. the u.s. offered to destroy some of syria's most lethal chemical weapons offshore. probably on a ship in the mediterranean sea. the plan is to package and transport the weapons from several sites within syria to the nation's largest port then load them on to ships. the weapons are to be removed from syria by the end of the year. all this has to be accomplished even as the civil war rages on in syria. in the ukraine, thousands of anti-government demonstrators turned out again today and some opposition leaders called for nationwide strikes after a night of bloody clashes between protesters and police.
the protests were prompted by the president's refusal to sign a deal supported in public opinion polls that would integrate ukraine into the european union, something russia is strongly against. heavyweight boxing champion, a leader of the opposition party expressed his support for the demonstrators. >> translator: what country do you want to live in? a totalalitarian country where your children are beat up? >> p the annual general social survey con ducked since the early '70s with the help of the national science foundation finds that 2/3 of americans have little confidence in the people who swipe their credit or debit cards when they buy something. about half of all americans say they don't really trust the people who do work in their homes, people who prepare their food at restaurants or the people in doctors' offices and
hospitals who have access to their medical records. you might not have been paying asessionally close attention to the news the past couple of days. you might have missed what many believe was a serious escalation of tensions in the pacific between some of the world great powers. china on one side and the japan and the united states on the other. it's all about a dispute between japan and china over control of five very small islands in the east china sea. the story is especially relevant for american viewers because the islands are administered by japan. under a treaty, the united states is obligated to defend japan against any attack on territory it administers. for more we are joined by john busy, assistant managing editor of the "wall street journal." earlier he was the newspaper's foreign editor and before that its tokyo correspondent.
why do these five islands matter so much to china and japan? >> they are in the east china sea, but they have unknown oil and gas deposits beneath them. they are kind of the governing trade routes for whoever has authority over them. they are kind of significant from a geographical standpoint and energy standpoint. and emotional standpoint for both of these countries. china says they are way too far from japan to really be part of japan. japan says, look, we administered them for decades, they're ours. >> what's the latest in this round of escalation that's been happening? china sent fighter jets to make sure the japanese and u.s. jets in that air space aren't going there? >> japan has been administering the islands. china said they claim them as their own. what china has done is it has declared a defense identification zone that
incorporates the islands, essentially into the security of china. anybody who flies through there must submit a flight path agreement to china. they must also identify themselves well in advance and they must do whatever china says they must do in the air. if you're flying in and they say take a left, you take a left. u.s. says no way. they flew b-52s without signaling they would do that. japan has done the same thing, south korea has done the same thing. commercial carriers are being more cautious. some in asia started submitting their flight plans to china, even though that's seen by the national governments as kowtowing to the chinese demands. >> are they giving the flight plans to china as if it's already their territory? >> yesterday the united states advised the carriers to provide flight plans. the usa wants to avoid any
possible escalation that leads to a mistake. if china scrambling jets to tag along with military planes wandering through the zone, this is a heavily trafficked area. you are going from hong kong to japan, you're going to fly through it. all these international flights and regional flights have to go through it. what the u.s. doesn't want to have happen is for there to be a mistake. there have been mistakes in the past where chinese fighter jet of 2001 hit a u.s. surveillance aircraft, supposedly in international air space and chinese said you're too close to our coast. >> vice president biden heading to the region. what does the obama administration say about all this? >> u.s. said this is unacceptable. you're being way too provocative, escalating tensions in the region. for china, they are playing into japan's hands because japan wants to strengthen its military, wants to change its constitution. is seeking domestic support for that. this is going to create more
domestic support for that. it's going to alienate china from its regional role and the strength it wanted to project to its neighbors and friendliness it wanted to project. it's going to enhance the u.s. position in the region as an alternative to china. i think a lot of these countries are going to be very happy that the u.s. has a presence in asia. >> what are the risks here of all the saber rattling? >> an escalation you don't expect. if you're looking at the blogs in china, there's a great deal of the inherent nationalism that china is feeling because of its substantial economic success oi over the last 30 years, reflected in international relations. bloggers are saying get those flights out of there, get the b-52s out of there. chinese are playing to a nationalistic domestic audience, trying to play with the international audience and seem flexible. if their fighter jets are in the air and they are dogging each other that, could be a mistake. that is what u.s. and japan are
concerned about. >> thank you so much. >> pleasure. now to a town on the frontiers of the united states which is also one of the first to feel the effects of climate change. even as residents of barrow, alaska, cope with changing weather patterns and melting sea ice, many are determined to keep their traditional way of life. april brown brings us this report which originally aired on the weekday broadcast, part of a "newshour" series called "artic thaw." >> reporter: it's a day of fishing for the brothers. they are checking on nets they set near point barrow 300 miles above the arctic circle. today's catch is seen as a moderate success. the brothers were born and raised in nearby barrow, alaska.
one of eight villages in the north slope borough, an area that sprawled over 90,000 square files and most of the year can be reached by plane or depending on the sea ice, ship. nearly 90,000 people call barrow home. nearly half of native eskimos. today is simply another day at the office. they're in search of walrus and seals. when the season is right they go for the biggest prize of them all, bowhead whales. the marine mammal has been at at center of their culture for generations. the catch will be shared later with family and friends. >> i guess you could say it's a certain standing within your community. you provide for your community. you assist others with providing for your community. it's like a job. you have a job and you need workers. while you catch a walrus or whale or seal, they don't get paid with money.
they get paid with the shares from these animals. it's a great bounty. >> reporter: it's part of a subsistians tradition handed around for centuries including land animals and birds, as well. >> this is our garden, our grocery store, you know. you can pretty much live off the land. >> reporter: this lifestyle can be traced back to 400 a.d. when the first humans settled around present day barrow, but michael donovan worries because of rising temperatures and melting sea ice, future generations may not be able to live this way. >> it's definitely changing a lot. it's kind of hard to say if our younger generations will be able to do what we do. >> reporter: donovan grew up in barrow. he uses his local knowledge to help with logistics and acts as a polar bear guard for a company that provides seal support for scientists working in the area. among them, ignatius rigger.
he's in barrow to check on buoys that measure surface air temperature and air pressure. like many scientists, he has been coming to the arctic for years. >> this is the front line of global climate change. basically before the planet can heat up, you have to, just like a glass of water, before it can get warm, you have to get rid of the ice. we are seeing the ice disappear. and we are seeing that arctic ocean start to warm up. >>. >> reporter: average winter temperatures have risen sharply over the past few decades and rigger, an expert on sea ice, says the result has had major consequences. >> this ice is melting away dramatically. each summer we lost more than half of the ice cover we typically have. we also lost a lot of the thickness of sea ice. so taken together, the total volume of sea ice is down less
than 40% of what it used to be. >> reporter: for centuries, what's known as multiyear ice or the accumulation of sea ice from one year to the next, has been crucial to life here. it provides whaling captains like harry brower the peace of mind to know they can stand on the thick ice hunting whales, something they have special permission to do. in the past few years, brower says he's seen mostly stretches of small shallow ice that are extremely dangerous for hunters. and because of the conditions, the community has struggled to reach its annual quota. >> last spring was very poor. we didn't even harvest one for barrow throughout the whole migratory season. >> reporter: poor whaling seasons also hurt other communities along the north slope where the cost of living is roughly 275% higher than it is for americans in the lower 48. residents routinely pay more
than $10 for a gallon of milk. >> it becomes a food shortage in a sense, if you think about one whale providing for a whole community. >> this is probably the collapsed roof of the structure. >> reporter: this arctic archaeologist points to another consequence of sea ice melting. coastal erosion. sea ice offers barrow's shore protection. now that it's starting to disappear, waves have begun washing away artifacts thousands of years old taking away a past that could provide clues for the future. >> we not only lose information about people's heritage and the past, but if you have a site layers, you can see how things change through time, how people's subsistence change. it's like burning libraries.
>> reporter: even though the melting sea ice is changingway residents go about traditions, it's bringing economic opportunities. sea routes once blocked by layers of impenetrable ice have begun opening and many corporations are eyeing ways to push further into the resource-rich arctic. oil and gas companies operating in the region pay taxes that finance the $350 million annual budget. >> without that support in industry, we won't have anything. our people got to have jobs. >> reporter: anthony edwardson is the president of a corporation that promotes economic growth in the north slope. oil was discovered in nearby prudo bay in the 1960s and transformed an area that at the time was largely without electricity, running water and modern schools. >> i firmly believe when you come to the end we benefit.
as long as it's divided among us, equal way. >> reporter: today the north slope produces as much as 1/5 of the nation's oil. ignatius rigger says they remain divided on further offshore development that could threaten their traditional lifestyle. >> the local populations are torn because they realize that there is a bounty off their coast that could really improve their lifestyle, but this bounty is also could be catastrophic for their way of life. if an accident happens, you know, there goes subsistence hunting and whaling. >> reporter: mike donovan says if the choice were up to him, it would be an easy one. >> even if they paid me $100 million, i wouldn't change that lifestyle for anything in the world. >> reporter: the people are
likely to face a range of climate decisions as the arctic is warming twice as fast as any place on the planet. for more from the arctic, how a pea-sized snail is being changed by ocean chemistry and complications surrounding oil exploration in the region, visit newshour.pbs.org. join us tomorrow on air and online. what happens before and during and after battle. images of armed conflict. jeffrey brown reports. >> then there are pictures that feature an individual and you grieve for that individual. or you wonder what happened to them. >> that's it for this edition of "pbs newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan, thanks for watching.
>> announcer: "pbs newshour weekend" is made possible by luis b. and lu ouise coleman, judy and josh westin, joy b. hale, the wallet family, in memory of miriam and ira d. w wallich, bernard and irene schwartz. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america, designing customized, individual, and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support is provided by -- and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by
>> explore new worlds and new ideas through programs like this. made available for everyone through contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by tjl productions, llc] >> folk music has been around as long as there have been folks to sing it. folk music is about real people and real lives and the frustration of dissent. there was a time in america when the simple act of gathering together to share experiences united us and helped us sing our troubles away. how do you do? i'm john sebastian, and that was me, and this is my music. tonight, we're going to look back at some of the most popular songs of the folk era. >> ♪ and when we go dancin', baby, then you'll see how the magic's in the music and the