tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS December 1, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
on this edition for sunday, december 1st, a train crash with multiple fatalities in new york city. an update on the state of healthcare.gov. plus, the pension crisis in illinois. what it means for it the rest of the nation. >> there's probably a lot of lessons to be learned from the things that illinois has done wrong here. >> and jeffrey brown looks at images of war, before, during, and after. next on "pbs newshour weekend." >> "pbs newshour weekend" is made possible by lewis b. cullman and louise hirschfeld cullman, mutual of america, judy and josh weston,
citi foundation, in memory of miriam and ira d. wallach, cheryl and philip milstein family, rosalind p. walter, additional support is provided by -- and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs sto z station from viewers like you. thank you. good evening. thanks for joining us. the white house said today it's met its goal of improving healthcare.gov so that millions of americans can buy health insurance. the administration's progress and performance report said the website now works smoothly for the vast majority of people using it. it called the site stable 90% of the time and said it is now operating at its intended
capacity with pages failing to load less than 1% of the time. but republican senator bob corker warned that those trying to sign up for health care plans offered on the government website will encounter what he called a lot of negative surprises and some insurance brokers say they're still having difficulty when is they access the site. the administration's goal is to sign up 7 million people as . as of four weeks ago, only 106,000 had signed up. the vast majority of them on the state health care websites. the deadline to sign up is december 23rd. there was a fatal commuter train derailment in new york city this morning. authorities say at least four people were killed and dozens more injured when several cars of the train went off the tracks and came to rest right beside the hudson river. investigators from the national transportation safety board were dispatched to the scene to investigate the cause of the accident. the derailment occurred at a big curve in the track, requiring the train operator to go slowly.
authorities say the train has data recorders that should reveal how fast it was traveling when the accident occurred at 7:20 on a sunday morning. the fire commissioner said on a workday, fully occupied, it would have been a tremendous disaster. two top members of congress are warning that the terror threat against the united states has increased despite the killing of osama bin laden and american drone attacks that have killed other high-level al qaeda leaders. the head of the senate intelligence committee, california democrat diane feinstein and the chairman of the house intelligence committee, michigan republican mike rodgers, warned that al qaeda's willingness to stage smaller attacks and its access to more powerful and more difficult to detect bombs make the nation more vulnerable. rodgers told cnn, quote, people think we have this thing beat, and that's just knot the case. overseas, there was another massive protest today in the ukraine, which is torn between east and west. an estimated 100,000 people, many chanting "revolution," defied a government ban and
rallied on independence square in the capital city of kiev. there was renewed violence when some tried to storm a government building. riot police responded by firing tear gas and beating some of the protesters. the demonstrators are demanding that the ukrainian president move forward on a deal that would integrate them with the european union. russia has already banned some ukrainian imports and is threatening trade sanctions if the deal is put into place. there was another wave of protests in thailand. police in bangkok used water cannons at demonstrators who tried to occupy government offices and television stations. they're demanding the prime minister resign. she had tried to push through a law that would have granted amnesty for her brother. he was overthrown after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. authorities fear the protests could damage the nation's economy, particularly its $6 billion a year tourism industry.
it was a day of mourning in scotland today, a day after a police helicopter crashed into a pub, killing at least eight people. our british partner itv reports from glasgow. >> across scotland, people paid their respects today. a minute silence was held before the scottish cup match with celtic. ♪ and a special service was held at glasgow cathedral, just a few hundred yards from the street of the cash. the police chaplain has been supporting bereaved officers and those who have worked long, difficult hours here. >> we have seen the courage of glasgow. we've seen the sadness. and then we'll see that drive and that passion and that life and that humor come back to the force. >> with all real hope of rescue now gone, a recovery operation is underway at the bar in
glasgow. piece by careful piece, the wreckage of the police helicopter is being removed, but it's a delicate process. much of the building has collapsed and bodies still lie inside. bandaged and bruised, gary was inside the bar when the roof came down. clearly still shocked, he returned to the scene today. >> i just remember waking up, being pulled out by a fireman. just can't remember nothing after that. >> police scotland have confirmed their constabl died in this crash, as did their civilian pilot. john, on the left, is thought to have been in the pub at the time. he's still missing. as is 44-year-old marco prey. the body of gary arthur, on the right, has been recovered from the bar. colleagues waved him off from work on friday. he told them he was going for a drink.
the emergency services won't get proper access to the building until the helicopter's fuselage is removed. they don't know what they'll find. they can't rule out the possibility that the death toll may yet rise. this whole dreadful episode has galvanized glasgow in a way. out of the disaster, some real heroes have emerged. not just the emergency services, but the people inside the pub who led each other to safety and the passers by who ran towards danger to help. the city is rightly proud of that. itv news, glasgow. it is world a.i.d.s. day today. a giant red ribbon was displayed on the north portico of the white house. health experts estimate 1.1 million americans have hiv. it's believed more than 25 million people around the world died from the virus in the quarter century beginning in the very early '80s, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in
history. ♪ tonight, we continue our coverage of the pension peril, a public television initiative that will shine a light on the more than $1 trillion shortfall in funding for public employees' retirement benefit. we'll explain what it means for retirees and taxpayer, examine how it might threaten the fiscal stability of cities and states and report on proposed solutions. this week we focus on new efforts on pension reform in illinois, the state with the worth funded public employee pension system in the nation. estimates are that it is underfunded by $100 billion. the situation so serious that according to one recent report, about 20 cents of every taxpayer dollar in illinois is now used to pay for pensions. but on wednesday, state legislators announced a tentative bipartisan deal to address the problem. for more about all this, we're joined from chicago by sara burnett. she's with the associated press and has been reporting this
story. what's the framework of this potential deal? >> well, the biggest change is that it affects the cost of living increases, those annual increases that retirees receive on their pension benefits to keep up with the cost of living. so it will reduce those increases from the current level. some of the workers who have worked the longest and received the smallest salaries will continue to get increases at the level they do currently, but most everyone else will see their benefits grow at a much slower rate. other than that, it's raising the retirement age and making some other changes in how the state directs money to those funds. >> so people have been critical about this process as it's been happening from both sides. some conservatives say these cuts don't go far enough and some of the labor unions say this is almost unconstitutional and too deep a cut.
>> yes, exactly. they believe this plan is unconstitutional. the labor unions have already said that if it passes the legislature on tuesday, they'll file a lawsuit to have it thrown out. their belief is that these public workers and these retirees spent their careers paying into retirement systems, holding up their end of the bargain while the state did not. then it's unfair for them to cut their benefits to the degree they're being cut. the labor unions did propose a compromised deal earlier in the year, but it couldn't get through the house because lawmakers there didn't think it saved enough money. >> and so how unique is the illinois state constitution? are there -- is this a case that other states are going to study and say, wait, you know what, we have a very similar clause. the outcome matters to us as well. >> many states have constitutional protections. you've seen many, many other states have already dealt with these problems and are fighting
them out in the courts right now. what i've been told is that illinois's constitutional protection is a particularly rock-solid one compared to how the language is written into some other states. so it may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, but certainly people are going to be watching this one because it is such a huge case and it is so critical to the future of the state's finances. >> and what about the fact that this is a heavily democratic state? if this bipartisan deal can be agreed on and really challenges where the labor unions sit, can that have longer term or wider implications for the labor movement in the u.s.? >> well, that is one of the things that we've been looking at. you negotiatiknow, labor has ta in some sort of surprising places like michigan in recent years. you know, certainly this would be a blow to the labor unions. they have had a pretty amicable relationship with both republicans and democrats up to this point. but it will set off what i
believe will be some pretty hostile interactions between the unions and these lawmakers going forward. >> so what impact does this sort of a credit crunch have for the state of illinois and the taxpayers? >> well, the repeated failures by the lawmakers to come up with a solution for this problem has led the credit rating agencies to downgrade illinois's rating multiple times over the last several years. illinois now has the lowest credit rating of any state in the nation. that mean when is they go to sell bonds, borrow money, for capital projects, roads, things it like that, taxpayers in illinois are paying a higher interest rate on that borrowed money than taxpayers in any other state. at the same time, in order to make these payments each year, as you mentioned in the intro, the state is putting about 20 cents of every dollar into the
pension funds. that's money that could be going to schools. there are social service agencies that have not been paid what the state owes them for months at a time. they've got -- i think it's close to $8 billion backlog of unpaid bills sitting in springfield, waiting to be paid because there isn't money to do it. >> so what are the chances? now, this coming week we're going to have this be sort of proposed maybe in both sections, the house and the senate in the state legislature? >> correct. we're expecting this to move fairly quickly on tuesday. the house and the senate will both come in, and both chambers can address it on that day. it has the support of the democratic and the republican leaders in both chambers. and this is the first time that there has been any pension proposal. there have been previous proposals that the two chambers couldn't agree on or the two parties couldn't agree on. this is the first one that has the support from all four of those leaders, which makes it,
you know, people believe this is the best chance yet. >> okay. so stepping back for a second, is there a lesson that other states can learn in preventing themselves from getting in such an hundred-billion-dollar mess? >> yes, there's probably a lot of lessons to be learned from the things that illinois has done wrong here. first of all, the legislatures going back for decades, republican and democrat-controlled legislatures, for years and years did not put in their required contribution into these pension funds. they agreed to certain benefits, and then instead of putting the money away to pay for them, they used that money for something else. y now, obviously, the unfunded liability has grown to the point where that cannot continue any longer. >> all right, sara burnett from the associated press. thanks so much. >> thank you. ♪
we return now to an examination of war. the exhibit "war photography" is currently at the brooklyn museum here in new york. jeffrey brown reports. >> a marine in afghanistan has a close call with taliban fighters. a republican militia woman training on the beach outside barcelona in the spanish civil war. a bosnian soldier stands on a mass grave outside his destroyed home. a class photo of young children, many later killed in argentina's dirty war. and so familiar now, a jet crashing into the world trade center on september 11, 2001. they're images from 165 years of war, broadly defined to capture what happens before, during, and
after battle. part of a wide-ranging exhibition titled "war photography: images of armed conflict and its aftermath." now at washington's gallery of art, it was developed and opened at the houston museum of fine arts by ann tucker. >> i thought there was a human story to be told through the eyes of photographers about the full aspect of war. when people talked about war photography, it was either fighting or death. we just thought there was a much greater story, and we wanted to open the discussion up. >> many famous images are here. robert kappa's 1944 d-day photo of a gi struggling through the surf at omaha beach. this times square shot of a soldier kissing a woman. and the 1972 photo of vietnamese children running from a napalm
bombing. >> the torpedos going into pearl harbor. i can still cry when i see that picture. >> really? you see it from above. >> you see the torpedos going into battleship row. and you think about the people who are sitting on their bunks, writing a letter home, getting dressed for church and they're going to die. then there are pictures that feature an individual and you grieve for that individual. or you wonder what happened to them. you see the soldier by caroline cole waiting to go into battle with all of his war paint on. you can't help but wonder, did he survive? you know? is he home? is he okay? >> the exhibition is organized by themes that cross through wars and time, including recruitment. seen here through the eyes of australians heading off for battle during world war i,
captured by josiah barnes. execution, a shirt won by the emperor in 1867. and homecoming and memorials. ashley gilbertson captures the childhood rooms of american soldiers killed in iraq and afghanistan. portraits of lives that are no more. ann tucker says she and her team saw patterns to wars and their portrayal. >> the patterns were, for instance, photographs of women weeping on a grave. we only have one in the exhibition, but we saw hundreds. somebody with a prosthesis. there's only one in the exhibition, but we saw hundreds. people in military formation, people in transport. we began to look at these recurring types of pictures and
realize that these were the stages of war. >> another theme, waiting, the in between moments before the battle begins, as in this photograph of italian women ambulance drivers knitting. >> it is momentary calm because the fatality rate for these women ambulance drivers in italy was very high. our reason for putting it in the exhibition is precisely to show those quiet moments and also to show these essentially heroic women who are civilians or military who are part of the story. >> this photo journalist has covered the war in afghanistan since 2006. his portrait of this marine gunnery sergeant was taken after a muddy patrol in 125-degree heat through an area filled with ieds. it became a signature image for
the exhibition. >> every day i would go out with these marines. instead of taking photographs of them on patrol, which i had been doing for years, i would get to know them and talk to them. i wanted to know them so i could photograph them and pass on that experience to the viewers. i really wanted a photograph that confronted you and brought you to task to understand the psychology of what the experience of war is. >> will michaels says works like this are a mirror on to the subject and the photographer. >> i'm a big believer that especially with many of the portraits that it's a double portrait. it's a portrait just as much about the person in the picture as the photographer his or herself. it's the photographer's choices that made the portrait as powerful as it is. the better the portrait, the more universal it becomes. it becomes every soldier. it becomes not a specific one. it becomes about the whole experience. >> some of the images here are
horrific. a sign at entrance warning viewers is a reminder that the portrayal of dead bodies and other images have often been difficult for the public, the news media, including our program, and for government officials. another fraught issue in the history of war photography, the sheer beauty of images that portray death and horror. the balancing of documentation and aesthetics. tucker explains her approach. >> if the beauty brings somebody to engage with that picture, then it's essential. so you feel this push-pull to the aesthetics and the horror, and that war within yourself is fruitful to your thinking more about the picture. >> the exhibition offers visitors their chance to share their own reactions in a reflection room. just part of the continuing exchange among warriors, photographers, and viewers
capturing the horror, beauty, boredom, bravery, and so much more of war. >> the exhibit in brooklyn runs until february 2nd. ♪ further examine the photographs from the exhibit. visit newshour.pbs.org. join us on air and online tomorrow on the "newshour." we'll have an interview with lead u.s. negotiator for international talks on iran and syria. that's it for this edition of pbs "newshour weekend." thanks for watching. ♪