tv PBS News Hour PBS January 27, 2015 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: blistering winds topping 70 miles per hour dump more than two feet of snow on new england. but the blizzard packs less of a punch than expected in new york city. good evening i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. also ahead this tuesday, the white house signals more offshore drilling in the atlantic, but as crude prices sink, north dakota producers scale back and wait out the freeze on the oil boom. >> no one wants to lose money drilling an oil well. so everyone is going to pull back because of where oil prices
are right now. >> this isn't the usual suspects, to use an old phrase, some of this is new people coming into the terrorist cause. >> woodruff: the threat of homegrown terror in europe and the dispute over how to stop violent attacks. >> to tell the muslim community that you have to spy on your children or you think that there is something wrong you have to report and all of this, this is not helpful. >> woodruff: and, why what you say matters, the men and women who fight to keep dying languages alive. >> language is the way we think if you begin to think in another language that's fine. but if you have to lose the way that your family has been speaking. that's losing who you are. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
>> it doesn't matter what kind of weather. it doesn't matter what time of day or night. when mother nature's done her worst, the only thing that matters to us, is keeping the lights on for you. we're the men and women of the international brotherhood of electrical workers. keeping the power on in communities like yours, all across the country. because when bad weather strikes, we'll be there for you. the i.b.e.w. the power professionals. >> at bae systems, our pride and dedication show in everything we do; from electronics systems to intelligence analysis and cyber- operations; from combat vehicles and weapons to the maintenance and modernization of ships aircraft, and critical infrastructure. knowing our work makes a difference inspires us everyday. that's bae systems. that's inspired work.
>> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build measurably better lives. >> 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. >> woodruff: new england faced a near-hurricane of wind and snow today, but states to the south were spared the worst. megan thompson of "the weekend newshour" reports again from new york. >> reporter: howling gusts and drifting snow greeted boston and surrounding towns this morning. >> it's really windy.
it's currently a blizzard. i wasn't expecting much when i woke up this morning but here we are. >> reporter: the storm struck with full force last night and kept going through the day. boston was on the way to getting at least two feet of snow. winds gusted to 75 miles an hour at cape cod and beach towns flooded as heavy storm surges rolled in. at midday, massachusetts governor charlie baker warned there was more to come. >> we fully expect that there are parts of eastern and central massachusetts where people may get as much as another five to ten inches of snow on top of what they already have. the drifting continues to be an issue, the blowing. there are drifts now as high as four, five, six feet in many places. >> reporter: elsewhere, blizzard conditions buried the eastern tip of long island and parts of rhode island and connecticut. meanwhile, thousands of flight cancellations promised to snarl air travel for days to come
creating a ripple effect around the country. but farther south, snowfall was far less than predicted, as the storm system shifted nearly 100 miles east of its projected track. despite dire forecasts, new york city was largely spared the brunt of this nor'easter getting less than a foot of snow rather than a record tally. officials lifted travel bans around the city early this morning and by mid-day, subway and bus service in the big apple was returning to at least weekend service levels. that left some new yorkers wondering today what the fuss was about. >> turned out to be nothing. i mean it's some accumulation but not what they expected it to be. you expected it to be a lot worse. and i've seen worse dustings than this, so, that's new york for you." >> reporter: one forecaster with the national weather service even tweeted an apology for not getting it right this time. but new york governor andrew cuomo dismissed criticism of the emergency measures.
>> here virtually every state made the same decisions, new jersey, new york, connecticut, massachusetts, we all made the same decisions. and sometimes the predictions turn out to be more or less accurate. and that is the nature of the beast. >> reporter: and new york city mayor bill de blasio likewise defended the calls he made to shut down subways and buses last night. >> these were the right precautions to take. they worked. obviously, they're gonna speed our ability to get back to normal. in situations like this, you can't be a monday morning quarterback on something like the weather. >> reporter: in the end, for many in new york and elsewhere, it came down to a case of: better to be safe than sorry. >> we've been through a couple of hurricanes. and when they kind of make a call like that, it's better just to stay at home and listen to them, what they say. so at that point, we both wake up, and we go, where's all the snow? and there's like this. but we're still happy, because we're going to the park and play in the park with little skipper boy here! >> reporter: for the newshour i'm megan thompson reporting from new york city.
>> woodruff: and from one extreme to the other: there was record heat today in the northern plains. forecasts called for temperatures in the 70's in south dakota. the winter storm cost the northeast an estimated a billion dollars in economic activity. and wall street took it on the chin today, too-- from warnings of weaker corporate profits. the dow jones industrial average lost 291 points to close at the nasdaq fell 90 points to close at 4,681. and the s-and-p 500 slid 27, to 2029. a grim new countdown has begun for two hostages held by "islamic state" militants in syria. the group warned that a japanese man, kenji goto, and a captured jordanian pilot will be beheaded by tomorrow afternoon. an online message showed a photo of kenji goto holding an image of the jordanian, over a recorded statement by goto. >> i only have 24 hours left to
>> woodruff: "islamic state" militants murdered another japanese hostage over the weekend. they're now demanding the release of an iraqi woman sentenced to death in jordan for a 2005 terror attack. gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in tripoli, libya today, killing five guards and four foreigners. one victim was an american security contractor. a faction linked to the "islamic state" group claimed responsibility. the attack started in the early morning and included a car bombing. after an hours-long standoff the gunmen set off grenades killing themselves. a u.n. relief agency has
suspended aid to palestinians who lost their homes in the gaza war last summer. officials say the u.n. program ran out of money because donor nations gave only $135 million dollars. they had pledged $720 million. in poland today, a somber remembrance marked the liberation of "auschwitz", the nazi death camp where jews and others were systematically murdered. it was overrun, 70 years ago today by the soviet army. paul davies of independent television news has our report. >> reporter: enclosed in a giant tent, the gates to the world's most notorious death factory as 300 of those who survived its evil gathered to remember more than a million who did not. >> how can one erase the sight of human skeletons? just skin and bones but still alive.
>> reporter: these stories of loss and suffering make the most painful of hearing, but there is a determination that these stories and the lessons they carry will not be lost. director steven spielberg has been collecting the stories and today he released a factual film to constantly remind the world. >> reporter: there was appreciative applause. but this was not a day for celebrity or for the heads of state present. it was for the survivors who began early this morning bringing their wreaths and their memories to the camp's notorious wall of death where many who'd escape the gas chambers were executed. >> reporter: then there was auschwitz survivor susan pollock, a hungarian who now lives in london, nervously retracing the footsteps of her family into the very gas chamber
where they died. >> my entire extended family came here with their many children and i lost every one, more than 50 members of my family were murdered. >> reporter: like many, susan was back here for the first time in 70 years. tonight, those years seemed to roll away as a group of survivors walked where they'd walked once before. along the railway line through the snow to place candles on a monument to more than a million men, women, and children who had made the same walk and never returned. >> woodruff: the presidents of france, germany and austria attended the ceremonies, and vowed to fight anti-semitism and extremism across europe. >> woodruff: the indonesian military called off its search today for the victims of air asia flight 8501. officials said the fuselage proved too hard to raise from the java sea, in strong currents and poor visibility.
rear admiral widodo, who goes by a single name, like many indonesians, said he was calling back three warships and two helicopters. >> ( translated ): we apologize to the families of the victims. we've been trying our best to find the bodies. for the past two days our divers have gone down and couldn't find any bodies. whether we pull up the fuselage or not doesn't affect the ongoing investigation because it is empty, according to our divers. >> woodruff: 70 bodies have been recovered so far, but 92 victims are still missing. a civilian agency will continue the search for them. >> woodruff: back in this country, senate democrats agreed to stop a move to impose new sanctions on iran, over its nuclear program. they said they'd give the obama administration negotiations with iran another two months to produce a framework agreement. most republicans back the bill but they'd need democratic votes to override a threatened presidential veto. 32a
and house republicans said they're unimpressed with new numbers that show the lowest deficit yet under president obama. the congressional budget office projected red ink totaling $468 billion dollars this fiscal year. at a hearing today, republicans pointed out that deficits will start rising again in 2017. still to come on the newshour: expanding offshore drilling in the atlantic; north dakota businesses cautiously wait for oil prices to rise again; european strategies to combat extremism at home; saudi arabia's mixed record on human rights; and, documenting what happens when a language disappears. >> woodruff: less than 48 hours after the president announced a proposal to block energy development in alaska's arctic refuge, his administration said today it plans to open up parts
of the atlantic coast for oil and gas exploration. the proposal would allow offshore drilling along the southeastern atlantic coast for the first time, from virginia down to georgia. companies could win leases for drilling, but would have to keep a 50-mile buffer from coastal areas in case of a spill. the plan would, however, block exploration in some waters off alaska's north slope. we take a closer look at what this would mean, and the reaction to this series of moves, with amy harder, who reports for the wall street journal. welcome to the program. >> thanks for having me on. >> woodruff: why is the administration announcing this right now, 48 hours as we said, after the other announcement? >> reporter: it's certainly not a coincidence. the administration has, since president obama became president has really done a got of give-and-take with this energy and environment policy. so they came out on sunday announcing they're going to put away about 13 million acres of the artic national wildlife
refuge as wilderness, which really puts it off to oil and gas development. of course, this plan out of the interior department is required by law, but they wanted to show the environmental base and some congressional democrats that they're committed to protecting some of these lands. at the same time they're clearly giving some support to the industry by opening up cautiously some of these areas. >> woodruff: and how troll is this announcement that they're going to allow oil and gas drilling, or tentatively will allow between virginia and georgia. >> and i think it's important to say "tentatively." secretary jewel of the interior department stressed this is the broadest plan they're going to consider. when it goes time in the next couple of years, they may whittle it down to something smaller than mawhatthey proposed today. but the move to even consider drilling off the atlantic coast is significant. there's no drilling there now. there's been very little ever in the-of that region to have drilling there. >> woodruff: but is there consistency here? i mean, on the one hand they're
saying you can't drill-- mainly off the north slope of alaska along that very fragile coastal area, but you can drill along the eastern seaboard of the united states, off the coast. what's the difference? >> i think one big difference with the atlantic coast is a lot of those governors and lawmakers are virginia down to georgia actually support the prospect of offshore drilling because they hope to receipt economic benefits from that. so that's one reason that secretary jewel cited as the purpose of opening up at least one lease sale in that region. i think it's also important to note that the democrats representing the states north of virginia are not happy about this. they're worried about spills. and so i think you're going to see a big congressional push-back on that front as well. >> woodruff: but is the argument the manager making, one of them, that this region along the mid-atlantic is not as fragile as what's in alaska? >> i think what the administration has said is the conditions in the arctic are
very unique, especially compared to the gulf of mexico where most of the offshore oil is done in the atlantic. the weather is very cold, very icy. the season for drilling at all is a small window, given the cold weather. but i think that's a point that congressional democrats make when they don't want the drilling off of the atlantic coast. i think that the administration actually did props proposed a lease sale in 2010 but retreated on that in the wake of the oil spill that occurred just a couple of months, ironically after that announcement. >> woodruff: what has changed since then? they were willing to do it in 2010 as you point out. they pulled back after the big spill in the gulf. what happened? >> congress never passed a law requiring tougher standardss in offshore drilling because of the typical gridlock, but the administration said it has done a lot to beef up the own regulations what it can do without congress. there are two pending
regulations coming down the pike that they will also cite as to why the safety standards are up to par. one is require tougher standards on blow-out preventers a type of equipment blamed for the b.p. disaster, and second the regulations coming to require special standards in arctic drilling. >> woodruff: amy harder, finally, how likely is this proposal as we're looking tat now to become a reality, to become regulations that are goching what companies can do? >> right, the answer to that question will come in two years or soy. and even if there was drilling off the atlantic coast executives say that wouldn't happen until 2030. so i think the plan can only get narrower, and given the president's commitment to climate change, i wouldn't be surprised if they ultimately took it out of the final plan. soy at this point it's too early to say. >> woodruff: amy harder with the "wall street journal," we thank you very much. >> thanks for having me. >> woodruff: the push for more
oil and gas comes in the wake of a record boom in domestic production and after an unexpectedly steep plunge in the price of crude oil in recent months. one of the states where the boom has been most pronounced, of course, is north dakota. but as oil's price keeps dropping, things are starting to change there for many oilfield businesses bracing for the slowdown. we have a report from emily guerin of inside energy. that's a public media collaboration on energy issues working with the newshour. >> reporter: drive around western north dakota and you'll see a lot of these. drilling rigs. there's over 150 of them in the state. all drilling new oil wells into north dakota's bakken shale. six months ago, there were a lot more. oil prices have dropped since then, so companies are cutting back on expenses. that means drilling fewer wells. north dakota is already an expensive place to drill for
oil. transportation costs are higher here than in places closer to gulf coast refineries, $10 per barrel or more. so the drop in prices makes things even harder for companies drilling in the bakken. with oil prices in free-fall, companies like emerald oil are suddenly cautious. it's a small company based in denver with just 50 wells, not much by oilfield standards. ceo mcandrew rudisill says he's drilling fewer wells next year. >> no one wants to lose money drilling an oil well. so everyone is going to pull back because of where oil prices are right now. >> reporter: niles hushka is the ceo of a large engineering firm based in bismarck, north dakota. he says companies of all sizes are starting to feel the slowdown. >> almost on a weekly basis there's some new announcement of companies cutting back on the
number of rigs that they have or possibly re-deploying those rigs into more highly productive zones. >> reporter: he's seen plenty of booms and busts before in his 30 plus years as an engineer. but he says this one is harder to predict. >> the interesting thing about this particular cost cycle is it's not supply or demand driven. in that the entire price of oil today is being politically influenced. and therefore you can't look at a traditional economic model and say supply equals demand and therefore prices should go up or down. what he means is: north american oil producers are pumping so much oil out of the ground there's a glut. and opec, the organization of petroleum exporting countries, isn't cutting back on their production. so prices are plummeting. here in north dakota, oil touches everything. so people are nervous. falling oil prices could have a huge impact. the slowdown isn't just affecting oil companies. it's hitting their contractors
and suppliers too. small oilfield businesses like industrial equipment sales and service in williston, north dakota are bracing for that impact. they make and fix parts for oil field equipment. rory anderson is one of the company's owners. they've got about 50 employees and they're trying to avoid laying anyone off. so they cut back hours, and let their cleaning crew go. they also give advice to younger employees who haven't been through a boom and bust before. >> we tell them, you need to save as much money as you can. put it away. don't buy new things. just be prepared 'cause it's going to tighten up a long ways. >> reporter: one way companies prepare for a slowdown is by diversifying, not relying just on the oilfield for all their business. that's what bob ayala is trying to do. he's the owner of shale oilfield services. he leases a few trucks mounted with powerful hoses and vacuums. his company gets called to clean up oil and wastewater spills and
blast holes into the ground for new pipelines. but that's not all they can do. >> for the specific services we offer, it is tied to the oil boom. because everything is here. but we do a lot of utility work. we expose fiber optics. we do other work besides just drilling rigs and those type of oil boom services. >> reporter: he says demand for his business is pretty constant. because even if drilling slows down, there will always be spills. >> going forward, even when the oil boom slows, there are still so many wells in north dakota that have to be maintained there are still on-going fluid that's being moved. there still has to be support services, and we're one of them. >> reporter: and for some other businesses, demand is still
high. take this indoor rv park. inside the oversized storage units it's warm and quiet. you don't have to worry about your sewer and water pipes freezing. owner louis bonneville says it's an obvious choice for the harsh north dakota climate. >> we do have a waiting list for our indoor units and we have a few openings outside right now. but every day we get three or four calls for somebody to go inside. and most of the time it's because they're froze up from another rv park and they'd like to move in. >> reporter: a few people have moved out recently, but bonneville says that always happens this time of year. >> i believe people are leaving because of the weather, not because of the price of oil. if it was the price of oil, we'd have a mass exit. we'd have companies that are here with ten people, and all of a sudden we'd have ten people all leave and go home. and we haven't seen that yet.
so i don't think the oil price is dictating our move out right now. williston, the town at the heart of the boom, usually feels slower this time of year. cold weather puts a lot of the new construction and pipeline projects on hold, so there's far fewer heavy trucks rumbling through town than in the summer. but it's really hard to tell what's seasonal and what's due to low oil prices. some say this is actually a pretty good time of year for prices to drop. >> we'd rather not be drilling now anyways, we'd rather be slowing things down, we'd rather be waiting for better weather to come along. and if there was such a thing as a best time it would be right now in the middle of the coldest part of winter. >> reporter: the full effect of low prices probably won't be felt until spring, when the prairie thaws, temperatures rise and activity would normally start back up. until then, a lot of people up
here are in a kind of hibernation. waiting to see what happens. for the pbs newshour, i'm emily guerin in williston, north dakota. >> woodruff: we return again to islamic extremism in the united kingdom. last night, chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner reported from london about what's driving so many british, and european muslims to travel to syria to fight with the islamic state group. tonight she reports on what the british government and community leaders are trying to do to stop that trend. >> reporter: imran khawaja was supposed to be a dead man, the londoner went to syria last january to join a radical group affiliated with islamic state. he was a star of its online recruitment videos, usually masked, brandishing weapons. then last june, the group announced on social media that
been killed in battle. but it was all a ruse, that same day the 27-year old was arrested trying to sneak back through the british port of dover. last week, he pled guilty to four terrorism-related crimes which could carry life in prison. just days ago, scotland yard announced it had made 165 syria- related terrorist arrests in 2014, including khawaja's, a six fold increase over the 25 arrested in 2013. >> it's the surge of work over the last year is stretching us. >> reporter: britain's counter- terrorism chief mark rowley says not even the uk's 40 years of dealing with irish republican-inspired terrorism prepared them for the scope of the new threat from islamic extremists going to, and returning from, syria and iraq. >> half of the people who we are concerned about who traveled to syria weren't previously on our radar, so new people being drawn into this. this isn't the usual suspects,
to use an old phrase, some of this is new people coming into the terrorist cause. >> reporter: to date, authorities estimate 600 uk muslims have gone to join jihadi groups in syria, and nearly half may have returned. none of these returnees has pulled off an attack in the uk, but authorities say they foiled also highlighted the threat posed throughout western europe by under-the-radar jihadis trained abroad. rowley said authorities are trying to stem the surge of these fighters at every point in the pipeline, depending on tips from the muslim community, which have surged in the past year. >> you scum should rot in hell, muslim. >> reporter: mohammed kozbar chairman of the finsbury park mosque, who is trying to help, read us anonymous hate mail received after paris. his london mosque was once a hotbed of extremist preaching, under imam abu hamza al masri,
convicted in new york this month for instigating terrorist attacks. shoe bomber" richard reid was among the radicals who prayed there. in 2005, kozbar and others wrested control of the mosque away from its radical leaders. now, he says, they work with members, starting at the youngest age, warning about the dangers of extremism. >> we look to people who are vulnerable, especially young people, who might be in a way driven away from the mosque to extremism so we try to engage with these people in advance >> reporter: that's the idea behind the active change foundation, in east london's leyton neighborhood. it's the brainchild of hanif qadir, who went to afhanistan to fight against the u.s. after 9/11, but left when he saw cruelty being committed by both sides. >> i got caught up up in a network of individuals, afterwards known to be from al qaeda. it's a classic case of being recruited into a network and being radicalized. >> reporter: qadir returned to
london on a mission to prevent violent extremism among its muslims. at first his message fell on deaf ears. >> nobody was appreciating the fact, you know, we've got problems in our community. then we had at that point if was like 'we told you so', but now we hope that you can understand and help us to get on with the work that needs to be done. >> reporter: the london transport suicide bombings of july 2005, which killed more than 50 civilians, were the work of four british-born young muslims. the attacks sparked new laws and programs to combat extremist terrorism. 18-year-old javid khan, who moved to london from afghanistan with his family in 2010, said qadir's program helped him as a teenager resist radicalizing influences. >> this is the only place you can find out about what's going on in the world and how we can avoid the recruiters of isis and other extremist groups. i don't want that name on me or on my family.
>> this is a highly-populated area full of muslims so there was a high chance of me meeting the wrong type of people. >> reporter: 22-year old university student hamza abdulwahi, who moved to the neighborhood at 13, says the program helped him understand that the way of allah does not include violence. >> if the person went there to fight you have to be concerned because clearly he's not of the right mind, if he went for other motives to go kill people, and that person comes back he could clearly do the same thing here. >> reporter: but there is a fierce debate here about the effectiveness of these programs, whether it's intervening before someone goes to fight, or trying to rehabilitate them afterwards, concedes the minister in charge for the uk "home office", james brokenshire. britain does have one of the highest percentages of muslims youth going to fight. what is your evidence that your programs are successful? >> we've had around 2,000
referrals and several hundred people are receiving direct support in other words to challenge the ideology. but i think there's no one size fits all. so it is a complex picture, one that we are vigilant and constantly challenging ourselves as to what more we can do. >> reporter: but there is criticism from the muslim community that these programs target only muslims. >> basic programs like "prevent" for example, preventing violent extremism as it was called in the beginning, wanted communities to literally spy on one another. >> reporter: moazzem begg detained at guantanamo for nearly three years on charges of attending al qaeda training camps in afghanistan, returned to london in 2005 to found the group "cage." it opposes what it sees as draconian anti-terrorism measures. last year he was arrested for going to syria in 2012 to train rebels fighting president bashar assad's forces. western governments were supporting some anti-assad fighters then too. the charges were later dropped.
so what happens when they come home? >> i was in prison with many of these young men who have returned. people don't know whether they've committed a crime or not. they went for benign reasons they thought they were helping the syrians and they found out something else is going on. >> reporter: but counter- terrorism chief rowley is skeptical of such claims. >> some of it sounds a bit incredible to me, "my son's been out there, he regrets what he's done, he wants to come back, he's sorry." if someone has traveled and not got involved with anything, then we can help them. but people who are going out there, they are planning to join a terrorist group. you can't possibly not realize how awful the activities out there by isis are all regarded, if you are going to take part in that then we are going to investigate you and we're going to throw the book at you. >> reporter: britain is looking
to add pages to that book a controversial new anti-terror bill is working its way through parliament, critics dub it "the snoopers' bill." it would increase government's powers to monitor suspected extremists and expand the universe of people asked to report suspected cases to authorities. all this, says finsbury park' mosque chairman kozbar, will put british muslims even more in the crosshairs. >> to tell the muslim community that you have to spy on your children and the schools to spy on the children, to tell them when you see something wrong or you think that there is something wrong you have to report and all of this, this is not helpful. we want as british people to be safe and secure, but we want to do it the right way. >> reporter: for now, though the "right way" to counter the threat, remains in dispute. i'm margaret warner in london for the newshour.
>> woodruff: the death of a monarch highlights the complicated relationship between two strong allies. but behind praise from the u.s. lie serious questions about saudi arabia's human rights record. >> woodruff: the president stepped off air force one, on a mission to pay respects to the late king abdullah, who died thursday at the age of 90. and to meet with the new saudi king, salman bin abdul-aziz. white house officials said they discussed the "islamic state" threat; the chaos in yemen; just to the saudis' south; and the ongoing dispute over iran's nuclear program. at the same time, president obama walked a fine line on the issue of the saudi human rights record. an aide said he did not ask king salman about a saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting islam. instead, the president argued in general for tolerance and free
speech. as he told cnn's fareed zakaria before arriving in riyadh: >> what i've found effective is to apply steady, consistent pressure, even as we are getting business done that needs to get done, and often times that makes some of our allies uncomfortable. it makes them frustrated, sometimes we have to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns that we have in terms of countering terrorism or dealing with regional stability. >> reporter: the full interview will air on "fareed zakaria gps" this weekend. on the saudi side there are indications that salman wants stepped-up cooperation with the west, especially on fighting islamist extremism. an early sign came when he chose 55-year-old mohammed bin nayef, a western-educated minister
focused on counter-terrorism, to be second in line to the throne. but the king and his advisors face a balancing act between working with the west, and accommodating the country's ultra-conservative brand of islam. recent reforms have allowed women into political life, but they are still not permitted to drive cars. and just this week, the saudis carried out another public beheading, the first under king salman's rule. >> woodruff: for more on whether the u.s. has struck the right it's notable that later today a u.s. official said the new saudi king did not raise any >> woodruff: for more on whether the u.s. has struck the right balance between its interests and concerns over saudi arabia's human rights record, i'm joined by gary sick, a veteran of the white house national security council staff during the ford, carter and reagan administrations. he's now at columbia university. and tom porteous, deputy program
director of the advocacy group, human rights watch. and we welcome you both to the program. gary sick, to you first how would you assess saudi arabia's human rights record compared to other countries around the world and in the region? >> well, it often isn't a-- it isn't very helpful to do a comparison and saying one is better than the other in this. but i must say that, you know saudi arabia has one of the worst records in the region for all the reasons that you just enumerated, but, you know they've been cracking down hard on their internal dissent. you know, the poor fellow who is being flogged in public is guilty of doing nothing more than practically, you know, hundreds of thousands of americans do on fab every-- on facebook every day. the other thing, is the saudis are facing a series of
challenges which actually we can come back to that if you like. actually some of them are of their own making and some of those have to do with human rights in terms of their ability to export their own ideas and that those ideas in many cases are coming back to bite them. >> woodruff: and we will come back to those challenges. but to you, tom porteous, how do you size up saudi arabia's human rights record? >> well, i think gary sick has put it very well. it is one of the worst in the region, if not in the entire world, on women's rights, for example the male guardianship system requires that women get permission from their nearest male relative to do just about any business with the government, to do just about any kind of transaction in public life. there's the issue of freedom of expression and series, which gary just touched upon there. and there's actually been an
increase since 11 in the crackdown on freedom of expression and association, particularly directed at those who are expressing concern about extremism in the kingdom. political participation is practically minimal. there's religious persecution. muzz lum minority sects in saudi arabia, like the shia, are persecuted, and non-muzz lum religions, if you belong to a non-muslum religion, you are not allowed to practice your religion at all. and then there's the whole issue of the justice accept the based on a very strict and extreme interpretation of islamic law. and as bear sick just mentioned as well, saudi arabia's foreign policy is-- is to support abusers of human rights around the region. >> woodruff: well, let me ask both of you starting with you,
gary sick. what do you make of the fact we're told what president obama did in his conversation-- granted, it was a short one-- with the new king today was to raise broadly the issue of human rights but not to bring up any specific instances, like this blogger. >> , you know, if it's-- i wish they had had more time to talk because i think there are a lot of things that they really needed to talk about very much. i can understand the president's interest in dealing with the issues of what do we do about the iranian negotiations? how do we work out our differences over syria? what about our differences of opinion with regard to egypt? all of those are very serious issues. but, you know i think for all of us who really care about this, it really is important, especially with the blogger case eye mean, this is so public and so obvious and it's such a complete travesty of justice, that you wish that u.s. officials would in fact put that
higher up on their priority list. >> woodruff: tom porteous, should the president have made more of a specific issue of that today? >> yes, of course, he should have and plenty of others issues he could have raised. the president said in that clip just now that he found steady, consistent pressure was effective. well i mean, there's very little to show for any steady consistent pressure even if there has been from the united states. the fact is the united states has never really pushed saudi arabia, except in a very sort of broader, rhetorical or cosmetic way, and that's mainly for commercial reason. the stakes are enormous for, you know, various sectors of the defense and security and energy industries in the united states. but when it comes to security, it's-- you know the united states really does need to ask whether its current relationship with saudi arabia is well served, whether its interests
are well served by its current relationship with saudi arabia. >> woodruff: you mean despite the human rights record? >> well i mean, that the human rights record of the security record are-- are extremely linked. i don't think that you can disassociate the two, and i think for two reasons, one is-- >> woodruff: i just want to go back to gary sick at this point. is it possible for the administration to put more pressure to bring this issue up more frequently and to get something positive-- to get movement in return? >> well, first to be fair, it's simply a fact that we have very, very limited pressure-- leverage that we can bring to bear to really change saudi behavior. and the one thing that i'm looking at that i think is really most significant is that saudi arabia is facing an almost perfect storm of international problems right now with the drop in oil prices, but their
relations with bahrain and with iraq which are bad, the syrian thing, which has gone very badly for them. the need to keep pumpingly money into egypt to keep them alive and then on their southern border they have the failed state collapse of yemen. and these are major issues, many of which are actually-- and especially the isis threat which is pointed directly at their legitimacy and their heart. that is their own ideology coming back to them. and they simply cannot hide from that. and so they're going to have to face the fact that their own ideology, their open religious beliefs are in fact being repackaged abroad and brought back to strike right at their very heart. and that's something which i think has got to impress them and which, if you're going to try to change their point of view, that's one place where you should start. >> woodruff: tom porteous, downing there's any reason to believe the saudis will pull back on some of these drastic
human rights abuses that they've been accused of? >> i think they're going to have to in the long run if they're going to survive. saudi arabia faces a choice between political reform and greater respect for human rights or being overwhelmed by the sort of militancy and intolerance and extremism that it has largely helped to create as gary sick pointed out. any from the united states' point of view it does need to convince the saudi arabians of that. and, certainly i don't think that an effective way of countering extremism and terrorism in the region is to be so closely aligned with an authoritarian government which has in the past and continues to promote an ideology of sectarianism and intolerance in the region. >> woodruff: well, we do hear you both. tom porteous with human rights watch. gary sick at columbia university. gentlemen we thank you both. >> thank you, judy.
>> woodruff: and finally tonight, to languages around the world at risk of being lost. that's the subject of a new documentary premiering on some pbs stations this week, and now streaming online. jeffrey brown has our look. >> are you listening to a song sung in a language called amerdad, a language spoken in northern australia. there is virtually only one person left on our planet who speaks this language. his name is charlie. > brown: a language nearly gone from an aboriginal area in australia. we explore tongues around the globe at risk of being lost
forever and what is lost with them. >> we are being narrowed and homogenized by the loss of languages that we're not even aware of. >> brown: predictions are dire, that by the end of this century, more than half of the world's 6,000 languages will be gone. >> every language has poetry, although it's very different from culture to culture, and as i began to learn about how these languages are disappearing, that kind of poetry is also going. the entire inner life of a people is disappearing when their language vanishes. >> is that your language? >> brown: bob holeman came to this project as a poeet. he and filmmaker david grubin traveled from australia to wales to hawaii looking at languages on the brink and how some people are fighting to bring them back. i talkedded with holeman
recently at the smithsonian natural history museum in washington. >> each of these languages holds a little piece of information or a lot of information, can hold information about medicines and health, can hold focus about the constellations in the sky, and that's information that if you lose the language you lose that connection with that place with that way of thinking with tens of thousands of years of that language's lineage. >> brown: one cause of the loss of languages, of course, lives around the globe increasingly interconnected through technology, the economy, and the dominance of a few languages, including online. >> everybody wants to join in on the conversation but there's no reason. >> brown: the bully languages? >> it seems english and mandarin and spanish are gobbling up languages as people decide they need to have this in order to
assimilate into a culture. but if you-- instead of feeling awkward about speaking another language, if you were respected for who you are and if that became part of the fabric-- talk about a multicultural fabric but it seems we have to have our multi cultures cultures in english, and it just sounds so much more delightful-- there are so many more opportunities if you begin to hear the real deal. >> woodruff: glow at the same time according to anthropologist joshua bell, the natural history museum's "recovering voices" project technology has opened up new ways to preserve new languages. >> a lot of people talk about how the internet, cell phones are reducing people's linguistics range, et cetera. the flip side is communities are increasingly using these tools to create spaces for thenselves so you'll see specific cherokee languages, for example, facebook appfor smartphones,
where communities are engaging. >> brown: in the film, holeman shows how even languages seemingly vulnerable can continue to exist in the right conditions. >> it's extraordinary. we were on an island in australia that has 400 people and 10 different languages. how-- >> brown: 400 people and 10 languages. >> exactly. and in australia, there are languages that are quite stable with only 70 speakers or 500 speakers, you know. how does this happen? this happens because it's not a big deal for these people to learn these languages. it's what their parents did, and their parents' parents did. and for them to learn the language of another people is a sign of respect, and that's exactly what the movement now the language movement, is trying to say, to respect the mother tongues of each other is the way that we can keep languages alive.
>> brown: an example of this has unfolded in wales. a woman visited an annual welsh language festival to see how the small country part of the united kingdom has managed to create equal footing for its native language alongside english, giving it a place in schools, in bars, even in hip-hop. ♪ ♪ ♪ holeman attempted to learn enough welsh to recite his own people in a live competition. what's the key to a language surviving? >> a language survives if you have the choice to learn it. if it's available for you to live your life in some way with your language as part of you. in wales, you have a choice of whether to go to an english medium school or to a welsh medium school, and in this way,
children can learn in the language that they are speaking at home. >> brown: but couldn't you make the the argument that it would be better if we all spoke the same language, that we all understood each other? there would be more understanding in the world. >> well i love that argument and it makes so much sense until you understand what understanding is. you know, language is much more than communication. when we talk about it on the surface, that's what it is. but language is the way we think, and it's the way it's been handed down through generations. if you begin to think in another language that's fine. but if you have to lose the way that your family has been speaking, that's not so fine. that's losing who you are. and when we lose who we are, that's when we become this homogenized consumer of life, rather than a citizen who comes from a place and knows who you
are. >> brown: and that's a conversation this documentary wants to facilitate in any language. i'm jeffrey brown for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. blizzard conditions howled across much of new england. snowfall totals topped two feet in places, and winds gusted above 75 miles an hour along the coast. but in new york, the storm failed to live up to its billing, and one forecaster even apologized for getting it wrong. corporate profit warnings and a drop in durable goods orders spooked wall street, and the dow industrials lost nearly 300 points. and "islamic state" militants threatened to behead two more hostages, one japanese, one jordanian, by tomorrow afternoon. they killed another japanese
hostage over the weekend. on the newshour online right now nearly a year and a half ago, photographer amy sacka challenged herself to shoot a photo a day for 365 days, all in the city of detroit. now, 543 days later, she's still documenting street scenes and portraits from this great american city. see what she's captured so far we have a video on our home page. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll explore whether the u.s. and iran should forge a closer relationship. 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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