tv PBS News Hour PBS September 24, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: president obama rallied world leaders to join the fight against the islamic state group and cripple what he called their network of death. as a new round of u.s. airstrikes hit syria. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this wednesday, archeologists struggle to protect iraq and syria's treasured cultural relics from being destroyed as casualties of war. >> this is ancient mesopotamia, really the cradle of civilization we're talking about. once we lose these archeological sites, we don't know what kind
of information and knowledge we're losing forever. >> ifill: plus, india sends a spacecraft to mars on its first try and on a shoestring budget. >> ifill: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> supported by the john d. and
catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions 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. targets at islamic state again this evening with a new wave of airstrikes hours after president obama addressed the united nations general assembly and appealed for action against both islamist terrorists and russian aggression. margaret warner is in new york for the u.n. gathering.
>> we come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope. >> warner: that stark statement headlined the president's address on a raft of major dangers facing the world. starting with the renewed confrontation between russia and the west. mr. obama accused moscow of endangering the post-war order with its aggressive actions in ukraine. >> this is a vision of the world in which might makes right. a world in which one nation's borders can be redrawn by another. america and our allies will support the people of ukraine as they develop their democracy and economy. we will reinforce our nato allies, and uphold our commitment to collective defense. >> warner: but the bulk of the speech was a direct challenge to
arab and muslim states to oppose what the president called a growing threat to global progress. >> that is the cancer of violent extremism that has ravaged so many parts of the muslim world. >> warner: he insisted again this is not a war against a faith but against those who pervert it. >> so we reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations. collectively, we must take concrete steps to address the danger posed by religiously motivated fanatics, and the trends that fuel their recruitment. no god condones this terror. no grievance justifies these actions. there can be no reasoning, no negotiation, with this brand of evil. the only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. so the united states of america will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.
>> warner: to that end, the president urged to join a four- part plan, degrading and destroying the islamic state; ideological rejection of groups like islamic state and al qaeda; reduce sectarian conflicts that stoke extremism; and creation of greater opportunities for people. mr. obama also argued, in blunt terms, that hostility to israel can no longer justify doing nothing about other regional challenges. >> the situation in iraq and syria and libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the arab-israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region. for far too long, that's been used as an excuse to distract people from problems at home. >> warner: mr. obama went on to say that while the u.s. is integral to any blueprint for a revitalized middle east, the real impetus must come from the region itself. >> no external power can bring
about a transformation of hearts and minds. but america will be a respectful and constructive partner. we will neither tolerate terrorist safe havens, nor act as an occupying power. >> warner: one partner in the newly-formed coalition against islamic state is qatar, which aided the air strikes on syria that began tuesday night. the wealthy gulf emirate has long been accused of stoking and funding extremist rebel groups in syria. today, the new emir of qatar did not address his nation's role in the region. >> ( translated ): if societies were to stand with us in the fight against terrorism we need to be fair to them and we need not push them to choose between terrorism and tyranny or between terrorism and sectarian discrimination. >> warner: turkey's president
recep tayyip erdogan spoke in mid-afternoon. he had signaled yesterday that turkey may join the anti-islamic state drive militarily. and this afternoon the president in an unusual turn chaired a security council meeting on a resolution requiring all countries to take steps to keep their citizens from traveling to join violent groups in the middle east, africa and elsewhere. after the resolution passed unanimously, he challenged everyone to back up their votes with deeds. >> promises on paper cannot keep us safe. lofty rhetoric and good intentions will not stop a single terrorist attack. the words spoken here today must be matched and translated into action. >> reporter: far from the council chambers, the u.s. continued airstrikes against islamic targets in syria and iraq with the latest wave starting as midnight approached. >> ifill: more insights into this day at the u.n. after the
news summary. >> ifill: militants in algeria have beheaded a frenchman after paris rejected their demand to halt air strikes in iraq. herve gourdel was kidnapped on sunday. a group linked with islamic state forces released a video of his killing today, and french president francois hollande confirmed it later. >> woodruff: a court in jordan today acquitted a radical muslim cleric, abu qatada, of plotting to attack israelis and americans back in 2000. qatada, known for fiery pro-al- qaeda speeches, was greeted by family and friends in amman after his release. he was deported from britain to jordan last year. >> ifill: nato reports a significant withdrawal of russian forces from inside ukraine in recent days, but the alliance said today thousands of russian troops are still deployed near the border, and special forces are operating inside ukraine. that's in spite of the cease fire agreement signed in early september. the russians deny they have any
troops in ukraine. >> woodruff: there's been another attack on healthcare workers in west africa's ebola outbreak. red cross workers in southwestern guinea were assaulted yesterday as they collected bodies of suspected ebola victims. locals say relatives of the dead went after the volunteers. last week, eight health workers and journalists were killed in guinea. >> ifill: authorities in ferguson, missouri called for calm today, after renewed unrest. five people were arrested and two officers were hurt last night. the trouble started after a fire burned an impromptu shrine to michael brown, the black teen- ager killed by a white police officer last month. highway patrol captain ron johnson said today that officers also reported seeing gunfire from the crowd. >> we must all stand. the citizens must stand. the this agenda for peace, this agenda to make our community bert takes us all.
we cannot have nights like last night. we can't have actions like last night that can result in injury or death. those will not be tolerated. >> woodruff: a jury is still investigating the shooting of michael brown. >> ifill: a state grand jury is still investigating the shooting of michael brown. the justice department is conducting its own, separate investigations. >> woodruff: nascar driver tony stewart will not face criminal charges in a fatal accident during a dirt track race. prosecutors in upstate new york announced today that a grand jury decided not to indict. in august, stewart's car struck and killed kevin ward junior after they collided, and ward climbed out of his car and walked to the center of the track. >> ifill: there were calls today for the head of the food and drug administration to step down. 16 groups charged dr. margaret hamburg has failed to stop an epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. opposition to hamburg heated up
last year, when the f.d.a. approved a powerful new painkiller over the objections of medical advisers. >> woodruff: a federal judge has ruled b.p. must stick to its agreement to compensate companies for losses in the gulf oil spill. the ruling today, in new orleans, denied the oil giant's bid to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable claims. b.p. said it will appeal. >> ifill: wall street staged a broad advance today, the dow jones industrial average gained 154 points to close at 17,210; the nasdaq rose 46 points to close at 4,555; and the s&p 500 added 15, to finish at 1,998. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour. can the u.s. convince more partners to fight islamic state militants? how iraq and syria's treasured cultural relics are being destroyed. why teachers are rejecting more rigorous testing standards for students. india's successful mission to orbit mars on a shoestring budget. and, decreasing calories
americans consume in soft drinks. >> ifill: it was a busy day at the united nations. chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner is there and joins me now. margaret, thank you for joining us again. it was unusual to see the president chairing the national security council meeting this afternoon. why did that happen? >? only the sixth time in u.n. security council history. the president saw an opportunity to galvanize the entire world, finally, in this fight because it suddenly had become clear that citizens from 80 countries in the world have gone to join i.s.i.s., islamic state, one of the groups in the middle east, recruited because they are westerners or have foreign passports, some recruited to go back and reinsert into their
home country to stage attacks later. he saw this opportunity to appeal to self-interest and get other countries in this coalition who are not willing to join a military effort. >> ifill: what precisely is the resolution and how would they enforce it? >> well, the wording is tough. it says every country must, as required to prosecute and penalize any national citizen to tries to leave to go join one of these groups, anyone in the country who helps finance them, recruits them, gets them excited about the idea, helps them travel, make logistical arrangements. so it's very, very specific. it also requires the countries to share a lot more intelligence with one another about no-fly lists, the airlines to comply with the no-fly list. i guess the question is what is enforcement mechanism. >> ifill: okay. well, we don't know the answers to that question yet, obviously, but because we'll have to wait and see what happens. but, obviously, we've watched
other nations including jordan and turkey respond not only to the president's speech but there watherewere a lot of leaders spg to that. what was the talk about what the plan was and whether it could be executed. >> enforcement is mostly peer pressure. >> ifill: right. the react was muted when the president gave his speech. he announced he got 104 countries to sponsor it, even members who weren't on the council. they all talked about the scourge of international terrorism and how much threat they feel, and some leaders talked about specific steps they've already started to take. as we know, the british and the french in particular are very exposed, have a lot of foreign fighters. the french president said of the 50,000 foreign fighters in iraq and syria 1,000 are french.
so they have built in parliament. they've crossed civil liberties line about preventing your own citizens from travel if they're reasonably suspected to be traveling for that purpose, that if any do to prevent them from coming back even though they hold passports. in britain's case, to prosecute and suppress extremists, not just violent but extremists forces in schools and universities. so all will be controversial in various countries. then you have the question of one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. the most interesting reaction from the islamic countries, the president of turkey, of india, qatar, and the king of jordan certainly agreed this is a scourge but have all been criticized especially turkey and qatar for not themselves having fund the groups or cross the
border. president of turkey took pot shots. he did say that now there's better intelligence sharing, they have arrested or stopped some 6,000 potential foreign fighters and arrested another 1,000 at the border. so he wouldn't admit he's doing more but did say he is doing more. >> ifill: fascinating and unusual day at the neighs. margaret warner, thank you. >> thanks, gwen. >> ifill: we get two views now on how the president's speech may be received in the middle east and around the world. jessica tuchman mathews is president of the carnegie endowment for international peace, and raghida dergham, columnist and senior diplomatic correspondent for al hayat, the arabic language daily. welcome to both of you. so the president made the case, jessica tuchman matthews, for concerted international
interventions. was that the right case to make? >> i think that speech hit it right on the nose for this audience in that he was tough, but at the same time engaging. he was, for the first time in a long time, not defensive and not backward looking at the war in iraq and afghanistan but forward looking, and the focus was not on what we're not going to do, but what we're going to do. i think the tone of this speech really finally captured a presidential tone he has lacked recently, indeed as a world leader. you could see it in the room people were listening, were engaged, were sitting forward in their seats. and the applause at the end was much more than pro forma. >> ifill: what is your sense of what he did and didn't say and perhaps what he needed to say, raghida dergham? >> i thought the president
lacked the opportunity say what his strategy would be. he sounded more like a preacher, what and what not to do, and rightly so. what he didn't address is, for example, iran's rule in the region, regional ambitions, its role in syria, in particular, which is a problem for his allies in the coalition. what he did not say is, for example, anything of the same or similar language about president assad whom, in the past, from the podium of the assembly, has called him a man who lacked legitimacy and at other times said your days are numbered, practically and this time he was very lenient on assad, he didn't leave a message there was urgency to address that part of the problem, not only the i.s.i.s. problem. significantly, in my view, he
did not mention yemen, a place being taken over by those groups close to iran and that's something people were talking about. libya which is falling apart, and i think there is a problem with that. but all i in all, his call for moderation is very important and call on other countries to make an effort in making sure there's moderation is very important. it's just a call for the moment and i think he needs to do more than that. >> ifill: jessica tuchman matthews, a very different speech than what he delivered at the u.n. general assembly in the past. did it need to be? >> it did need to be. the contrast last year couldn't have been stronger. that was a defensive speech. he was apologizing for things. he went easy on talking about america's role. today he was confident in america's role and unapologetic
about both our strengths and our use of force, but also about two things, that the situation in syria only had a political solution, and about the need to confront the ideology of violent extremism. and i thought he did it without in any way being preachy or blustery or separating himself from everybody else in the room. >> ifill: what about the part raghida was saying about assad. can i.s.i.s. be defeated and assad? >> everybody knows this is a tough line to follow. i think the most optimistic thing anyone can say that's accurate is our active engagement both in the air and on the ground, in training and equipping forces, provides an opportunity to perhaps get a cease fire to military forces on the ground and get a cease fire
from which you can move forward with a political solution, but it isn't going to be easy. >> ifill: another interesting point today, raghida dergham, the president required the hypocrisy of wealthy nations who accumulate wealth just to endisable terror groups and heard king abdullah from jordan make a similar point. is that speaking in particular to anyone? >> to individuals, not states. those states have been acting in alliance with the united states in fighting i.s.i.s. and other extremists who are right now part of the problem that is not for syria and iraq alone but also for them. so they have been very well aware of that. the trouble is there are individuals who support these extremist, violent, federalist groups and these are the ones we should worry about. in order for these countries, the governments to either take action against them or at least rally the public with the leadership in order to take
action against them, you needed to give more. the president needed to give more than simply say, here, you have a problem, and here's how you do -- you know, do laws and then we'll incorporate with intelligence and then end of the line. >> ifill: at the same time, however, we are hearing here, jessica tuchman matthews, that the heads of al-shabaab and france and khorsan, the strikes that began earlier this week, have all been eliminated. jessica tuchman matthews, how important is that piece to making the larger case at the u.n.? >> it's enormously important because it allows him, with u.s. planes in the air, acting as effectively as they have, it underlines the strength of our intelligence and that comes not just from our own but connections in the region, and i think it underlines the strength of that american pledge and that he repeated several times we will not be deterred, we will
not be distracted, we will not disengage, we will stay engaged in the region. this was a very different message than he has given before. there was none of the holding back and almost wish we weren't involved that we've heard so often before. >> ifill: raghida dergham, response? >> yes. there has been a history of reluctance because of the president's actions last year going all the way to an execution of a threat and then backing down from it. so the fact that he is now engaging in the fight in syria, the fact that he has taken as his allies the arab states and not the regime in damascus that said, listen, here i am, i am your partner in fighting federalism, this is important. but it's also important to know who are the boots on the ground. in syria it is the moderate opposition that it's not enough to wake up and say, you know
what? i should have armed you before. it's not enough to tell them you take care of this on your own. you need elements of going stronger, public announcement against assad, and in iraq you have the boots on the ground, the sunnis, the ones who have done awakening before, they're saying i'm not giving you my blood for free. i need assurances once again because it's happened before that i have come and helped, and iran was having the free hand in running iraq. so we need other assurances. i should have -- >> ifill: raghida dergham and jessica tuchman matthews, thank you very much. >> pleasure. thank you. >> ifill: now to another form of destruction taking place in syria and iraq, that of history itself. jeffrey brown looks at that side of the story, part of his series, culture at risk.
>> brown: on a site dating back to the eighth century b.c., this mosque in mosul was celebrated as the final resting place of the biblical prophet jonah. in july it was blown up by militants from the islamic state group. since taking control this summer of much of northern iraq a region boasting thousands of archaeological sites dating back to the beginnings of civilization. the group has destroyed invaluable cultural relics in spectacular fashion. abdulamir al-hamdani is an iraqi archaeologist now studying at new york's stony brook university. >> i've been in touch with my colleagues, friends in mosul museum and the university and i hear the terrible news, been very shocked for them. its really disaster. you know, they say we cannot see mosul without that shrine.
>> brown: for the militants its a bald statement of control and brazen destruction of religious and other sites in conflict with their interpretation of islam. just across the porous border in syria, the three-and-a-half year old civil war grinds on. nearly 200,000 are dead and millions more have been displaced. and much of the country's history spanning across millennia, languages, and religions is being laid waste. >> the damage is almost incalculable. >> reporter: amr alazm is an archaeologist and member of the syrian opposition who teaches at shawnee state university in ohio. overall, the damage is great and i think, you know, syrians will spend years to come trying to work out how much was lost. and not just for syrians but also for the rest of the world as well. >> brown: in syria's central region, the ruins of the ancient oasis of palmyra, which date
back to the 1st century a.d., have been damaged by mortars and shelling, as government and rebels jockey for position. outside of homs, the crak de chaveliers, a castle built by european crusaders in the 12th century is a united nations world heritage site now bearing the scars of war. >> its one of the biggest problems to confront the cultural heritage community in decades. >> reporter: corine wegener is a cultural heritage preservation officer at the smithsonian institution in washington. >> this is ancient mesopotamia. the land of the first cities, you know, some of the first writings. and its really the cradle of civilization that were talking about. and once we lose these archaeological sites, we don't know what kind of information were losing forever. >> brown: aleppo, thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, has suffered terrible damage. its medieval marketplace, another recognized world heritage site, was set ablaze in 2012.
it along with the old city and citadel, have been badly damaged by fighting and nearby bombings. watching the destruction from above, susan wolfinbarger heads the geo-spatial technologies and human rights project at the american association for the advancement of science in washington. through a new national science foundation grant, wolfinbarger, wegener and researchers at the university of pennsylvania are using satellite imagery to document intentional destruction of cultural heritage in syria and iraq, in places too dangerous to visit. >> we want to construct a timeline of what's happening at thousands of important sites across syria so that we can have a very clear idea of what's happened, when-- and this'll be important down the road bc we believe that there will be a lot
of international attention once the conflict ends in terms of litigation and prosecution. >> brown: but the destruction goes beyond collateral damage and intentional acts. earlier this year, the u.s. state department released these before and after satellite images, showing ancient grounds in syria. at dura europos, a hellenistic site in eastern syria, for example, the image shows a pockmarked landscape. thousands of holes in the ground, illustrating another erasure of history, illegal excavation and looting. amr alazm says as the conflict has dragged on, the looting has become far more sophisticated and destructive. >> in the beginning of the conflict, going to back to 2011, you know late 2011, and for probably much of 2012, it was mostly opportunistic. but what were seeing today in 2014 is far beyond opportunistic looting. were looking now at organized,
almost industrial scale looting in some cases. and that's what's really, really, dangerous. >> brown: and there are reports that the islamic state group, also called isis or isil, is allowing and indeed profiting directly from the looting and sale of stolen antiquities. in an effort to slow that market, the u.s. state department joined others in issuing a so-called red list of syrian cultural objects at risk ceramics, mosaics, sculptures and more, to help art dealers, museum directors, law enforcement and others identify plundered objects that may come their way via the black market. but the destruction and threat continue. and the world is taking notice. secretary of state john kerry sounded the alarm this week at the metropolitan art museum in new york. >> we gather in the midst of one of the most tragic and one of the most outrageous assaults on
our shared heritage that perhaps any of us have seen in a lifetime. ancient treasures in iraq and syria have now become the casualties of continuing warfare and looting. >> brown: meanwhile, and syrian archaeologists and curators on the ground are working to protect what they can. this summer, a group of them, their faces blurred here for their protection, came across the turkish border for a training session with amr alazm, corine wegener and others. >> the training focused on showing these activists and these museum staff how to pack items, how to pack artifacts in boxes, how to wrap them, how to record the activity, how to make sure that everything is documented. >> worse case scenario, you know, maybe all you have is a container or a cardboard box and you fill it with sand and you
put the objects in around the sand, because that's at least going to keep it from being broken until you get where you're going if you have to evacuate something. >> brown: sandbags in the dirt, satellites in the sky, brave men and women on the frontlines still working to protect and preserve their own and the worlds history. >> woodruff: has testing in our schools run amok? it's a question more parents, teachers and school officials are asking around the country. this is the first year scores on new tests tied to the common core standards will be published in many states. some early adopters like new york have already found student scores dive on the new exams. now more parents are opting children out of tests and some officials are calling for a time out when it comes to linking test results to consequences. as part of our american graduate series, we explore this with two who are closely involved.
alberto carvalho is the superintendent of miami dade county school district who's calling for changes. his district is dealing with dozens of mandated tests throughout the year. and kathleen porter-magee is with the partnership for inner city education and a fellow at the thomas b. fordham institute to you first, alberto carvalho in m miami dade, what do you see in your district in terms of the number of tests students are expected to take? >> well, i've seen a complete swing of the pendulum way too far in the direction of overtesting. right now this year we're facing about 32 different assessments, different tests our students will have to take, in addition to about 1,200 different end-of-course assessments mandated by both state and federal entities. so i think if that's not an indication of teaching time being robbed from teachers and students alike in favor of testing, i don't know what would be.
so i think that's a real crisis we facing not only in miami but across the country and i think we need to recalibrate the necessity of so many of these tests, conduct a thorough analysis of the duplicate nature of some of these exams and have a rapid progression back to reason in terms of what's appropriate for students and teachers alike. >> woodruff: kathleen, is this as onerous as alberto carvalho describes? >> this is a national debate. some districts students are taking hours upon hours of tests. other places, i think it is far less so and i think that is one of the challenges. we need to separate this out and have local debates about what makes sense for each community. >> woodruff: so you're saying it depends on where you live? >> depends on where you live, yeah, because in a lot of places there are state requirements, for example example, that students take english language arts and math assessments aligned to the common core
standards in. some districts, there are district level requirements, in addition sometimes school requires testings that go on top of that. all that can add to hours and hours of testing, taking away frin instruction, so it can reach a point where it's far too much. other places it's limited to the state mandate and far more flexibility at the local level so what students and teachers can do. >> woodruff: alberto carvalho in miami-dade, what is it you're saying is the deleterious effect of this? how is it affecting the education of these students? >> i think i agree with what was said just now. i think it varies from state to state, community to community. the vast majority of the 32 assessments are really state and federally mandated. but certainly the variance across the country is rather pronounced. look, the bottom line for me is i believe in accountability. i believe that you need to have a reasonable and respectful way of assessing children. otherwise, they don't have a way
of informing the teaching and learning process. that's key. i think how we're using the results of testing is what we need to question, in addition to the number of exams that we have in front of children. we have 32 different state and federally mandated exams on a system like miami-dade. in addition to the prospect of 1,200 additional end-of-course exams for every course taught in the state of florida i think is going too far. secondly, we all recognize as educators you cannot manage what you can't measure. however, when we use the rules of assessment, for example, in untested ways, venturing into areas that don't necessarily inform what teachers need to know or communities need to know about whether or not children are learning, you're going too far. the true applicability of assessment and accountability is strictly to inform the instructional process. tying it up into unprecedented methodology, the way it is to reward schools with additional
funding or teachers' evaluation, using untested methodology like them, is perhaps going too far. >> woodruff: kathleen porter-magee, sounds like he's saying the tests are made to measure something that came out of a think tank rather than applied to what the children need to learn. >> for the most part, i don't think -hat's true. let's talk about the state tests aligned to state standards. they're made to test whether or not students have mastered the skills the state says they need at each level. in some of those cases, the tests are very important because they gauge and tell us are our students learning what they need to learn. foin fact, it was the advent of state-level testing and accountability that allowed us to have the conversations we're having today about things like the achievement gap. we really saw that our most disadvantaged students were just learning far less and it was so
clear, and the power of the test was really contributing to that conversation. >> woodruff: quickly to you, this argument that teachers are now teaching to the test rather than teaching what they need to be spending time with these children. >> yeah, and i think that's a fair unintended consequence. when people say teaching to the test, i think what they mean is trying to game the test. essentially they're taking away from content instruction and teach tricks. here's how you answer this question, here's how you eliminate answer choices. when that is supplanting core content instruction, students lose. so there's no question that when that has started to happen and we have seen it happen and it has been an unintended consequence, that's bad. >> woodruff: i want to come back to superintendent ca carvao in our limited time. the point has been made florida and miami-dade had time to prepare for the common core standards and, yet, this has
happened in a way that the county and around the state, they seem to be taken aback by it. why wasn't the state or was the state, is the county better prepared to handle the common core requirements? >> well, i think the county is actually prepared. our teachers are ready to implement the standards. we have been implementing the standards over the past years. the state was on the late train in in terms of adopting the testing. nobody's questioning the necessity of assessment. i support the assessment. in fact, i believe that overtesting is just as bad as not testing at all. how would you know whether or not you can identify pockets of underperforming students even in high-performing schools or districts? so assessment is important. >> woodruff: kathleen porter-magee, to you, finally, what is it that needs to be done? you're saying don't throw out all testing, you're just saying
take a careful look at it? >> absolutely, i think there needs to be a careful look. i think we need to look at individual students and say how many hours of testing are we giving an individual student and is that too much, is it taking away from core instruction, and how with we using the results. i think those are tough questions we need to ask but i think we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. i think tests are important and i think they have contributed in a positive way to the education debate. >> woodruff: we leave it on that note. kathleen porter-magee, thank you. and superintendent alberto carvalho. >> ifill: our american graduate unit is part of a public media initiative funded by the corporation for public broadcasting. on friday, we'll bring you a second story involving the state of florida this about how schools are dealing with an influx of immigrants. saturday marks american graduate day across the country when there will be a special broadcast on most pbs stations, featuring interviews with
education secretary arne duncan, and celebrities like tony bennett, and actress allison williams, along with student voices and many others making a difference in the lives of young people. >> ifill: now let's turn to a space story that captured the world's attention today. as india claims a triumph in its first mission to mars. hari sreenivasan has the story. >> sreenivasan: cheers erupted at the indian space research organization on word that the satellite named mangalyaan, or mars craft, had swung into mars orbit. journalist pallava bagla was at mission control in bangalore, and spoke with us via google hangout. >> when it emerged from behind mars 12 minutes later and the signal came that the main rocket engine had its stopped firing, oh my god, i have never seen such happy faces in india. >> sreenivasan: india joined the u.s., the former soviet union,
and the european union as the only ones to land a spacecraft on the red planet, or place one in orbit. prime minister narendra modi. >> history has been created today. we have dared to reach out into the unknown and have achieved the near impossible. >> sreenivasan: the indians pulled it off on the first try for just $75 million dollars less than it cost to make gravity, the oscar-winning blockbuster movie. but there have been debates over whether the money could be better spent in a country where millions live in wrenching poverty. >> at one end of the spectrum so much of money that is being spent to send a rocket out into outer space, when we know that here on earth, in my country, there are children dying every day because they have no food to
eat. still, the success in space proved inspirational for many, including school children who arrived in class early to watch the tv coverage. >> it is a very big achievement for india. i mean, we are feeling very proud to be indians. proud to be born in a country who can do anything. >> sreenivasan: india's satellite followed close behind the u.s. maven orbiter, which arrived at mars on sunday. >> we are on orbit of mars, guys. ( laughter ) and we've taken eleven years to get here and now we get to do the science that we have been planning for all this time. >> sreenivasan: maven cost nearly ten times that of india's, but their missions are similar, to examine how the planet went from warm and wet to cold and dry. more now about india's historic mission, its space program and where this fits into our exploration of mars. miles o'brien is the newshour's science correspondent and he joins me from boston. they have every right to be excited, i take it. >> reporter: yeah, a great day
for space lovers everywhere. i always say the more the merrier in space. the beauty of these kinds of missions everybody shares the data. if this particular vehicle has a detector for methane, let's say, for example, and the nasa maven that arrived a couple of days before doesn't, that data can be added on to what they're using and they can share the information and it just increases our knowledge and builds another little puzzle piece in understanding what happened to mars over the millenia. >> sreenivasan: americans almost take it for granted that we have now successes on getting something up to the orbit of mars, but india, you know, was really impressed by the mathematical difficulty of it. how hard is it to do the right kind of course corrections to get something in orbit around a different planet from here? >> it wasn't too long ago when we were talking about a nasa mission that crashed on its way to arrive on mars, and the problem was, if you will recall, they had two teams operating on it. one team was using the metric
system, one team was using english units, and they completely missed mars. missed the landing spot and that was the end of that mission. so it's tricky stuff. it really is. the term, it's rocket science, it really is rocket science. so the fact they pulled this off is a huge demonstration of their prowess and a great technological common administrator. >> sreenivasan: one of the big headlines today is the cost of getting something from india to mars versus, three days ago, the cost of getting something from the united states to the same planet. why is there such a big difference? >> as you well know, hari, there is a difference in the wage structure, and that's part of it. but there is more subtlety to it than that. if you think of the origins of nasa, nasa began with a blank check to beat the soviets to the moon and that ethos, that mind set stayed with them for a long
time after they lished that goal in 1969. so i think nasa now has turned around on that and are opening up orbit to commercial entities to lower cost to get to states. but indians over the years, mothenecessity is the mother of invention. they couldn't throw things out like nasa. they had to it rate in a gradual way and, as a result, you can do it a lot cheaper and i think there's a great lesson for the u.s. space program. >> sreenivasan: even the ed of the indian space program says we've stood on the shoulders of those who went before us. so i imagine they benefit watching the mistakes and corrections of those who have gone therefore. >> it's always more expensive to be first. there were many mistakes along the way. the u.s. lost many craft, the soviets lost many craft. the europeans have lost craft.
finding it to mars is the bermuda triangle of planetary destinations in our solar system. so the indians were able to go to school all these years and learn what it takes to arrive there. it's not easy and they've proven a lot of things. this is a very ambitious space program. they want to join one day the ranks of human beings into space. >> sreenivasan: what is it with the five craft circling mars, what are we hoping to learn about mars with these missions? >> mars is very dry, very inhospitable and very cold. 3 billion or 4 billion years ago, it was warm and wet and we think a cushy birth for life. we haven't seen the smoking gun that there was life or may be life there subterranean, but something happened on the way there and understanding that is a very interesting scientific problem and may tell us something about climate change on earth, for one thing. the other thing, just understanding if there was life, finding that fossil or that tiny
microbe that might exist today will tell us one way or the other if there is life in other parts of the universe. if we find there is life or has been life, we can look at the stars and say, gosh, there's probably something else out there. >> sreenivasan: miles o'brien joining us from boston, thanks very much. >> you're welcome, hari. >> woodruff: finally tonight, a new push to help americans slim down. it comes from the world's largest soda manufacturers. yesterday, pepsico, coca-cola and dr. pepper snapple pledged to reduce the number of calories in sugary drinks by 20% over the course of the next decade. this afternoon, i moderated a discussion at the museum in washington, d.c. with pepsico's c.e.o. indra nooyi, and dr. risa lavizzo-mourey, president and c.e.o. of the robert wood johnson foundation, which have together been part of a
coalition of companies and non- profits working to cut calorie consumption and improve american's health. here is part of our conversation. this new pledge yesterday from three of the major beverage soda companies, how is this different? what new do you think will happen? >> this is a major commitment because, at a point where bad drinks are not in vogue, we're saying we will still commit to reducing calories by 20%, which means that we're going to sell more calorie options, go to smaller pack sizes, which means volume, maybe more but smaller pack sizes, and reformulations, fundamental r&d to research so people can still get a great experience in a beverage but much lower calorie.
so i think the 20% reduction in ten years leaves a huge undertaking. undertaking. >> woodruff: risa, what's your take on that? >> we know excess calories and beverages is a significant part of the calories we could take out of the diet and have people have a healthier weight. so it's significant from that perspective. it's also one that they're saying they're going to measure the number of calories consumed, or decreasing by 20% the calories consumed. so that's going to be tricky, do go from what's sold to what's actually consumed, and i think that's one of the ways that independent evaluators and others in the scientific community will be looking at it. it's significant, it's hard to do, but it potentially could make a difference in healthy
weight. >> woodruff: indra, you talked a few minutes on how so much attention is on the industry but a so much bigger challenge, are there many more actors who can have an effect on the outcomes and the attempt to reduce obesity? what about the role of the public sector, of government and could they have attempts in states to impose taxes, you have the highly publicized michael bloomberg effort in new york to ban supersized sodas, and other efforts with labeling. how do you see all that? >> i think the role of government, the role of n.g.o.s and policy makers have to be much broader than just say let's ban supersize sodas, or whatever. we don't want to become a nanny state. that should never be our goal. freedom of choice is very important. personal accountability and responsibility is very important. i think where government has to
play a role federal and state level, how do we improve the quality of lunches in schools? really good quality lunches in schools. we spend the highest per student on education as a nation. why is our school lunch program not as nutritionally outstanding at it could be? why don't they have mandatory every day in schools? we have to reexamine that. why don't we say that the towns have to encourage people to walk? why don't we have playgrounds in communities and not have litigation all the time if somebody falls down and gets hurt? i think we have so many issues we have to address. i think we need to point the
finger at ourselves in addressing the issue, but then assume if you impose taxons them everything is going to get taken care of. it's not. it's a slippery slope. you have private label manufacturers who don't fall under the major manufacturers. you have the restaurant industry that have food choices that don't come under the rules of the branded manufacturers. so it's a multifaceted solution as opposed to a simple solution which is to tax and create bans. >> one of the things in this country that we need to address is the gap that we see in the availability of healthy foods by income, and indra spoke earlier, one of the things is the rise in
childhood obesity has started to level off, but we're not seeing the same change in low-income communities and african-american and latino communities. we also know there tends to be more marketing of unhealthy foods in these communities. so we want to make sure that, as we're addressing this, we think of ways that we can all work together to reduce that gap, because we're not going to see a real benefit and a leveling off and a reduction of childhood obesity until we're able to address it in all the communities, especially those where there's a disproportionate risk. >> an upcoming addition of pbs "newshour" weekend will focus on the campaign in san francisco to raise taxes on sugar-added beverages. for the record, the c.e.o. of weta which produces the "newshour" is on pepsico's board of directors.
>> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. the u.s. and arab allies struck islamic state targets in syria again. at the u.n., president obama urged world leaders to join the campaign against the group and its "network of death." he also warned the militants to leave the battlefield while they can. and an algerian faction with islamic state ties beheaded a frenchman taken hostage last sunday. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you on-line, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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this is "nightly business susie gharib. npup,ñi up and away, the bul run on wall streetc thinningñi blue chip dow index up triple digits, reversing its previous losing streak. and one of the tope1 performers today, walmart as the world's largest retailer takes direct aim at the banks making its big%])t push ever. and sam waxel is back for on for he ise1 planning an fáe1ipo for latestw3e1ñi biotech adventure, stories and more today