tv PBS News Hour PBS March 25, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> ifill: desertion charges. a once-missing soldier now faces prosecution for abandoning his post in afghanistan. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this wednesday: yemen unravels. rebels seize a key airport once used by american forces, and put out a bounty for the capture of the country's president. >> ifill: a day of decisions and arguments at the supreme court. justices revive a pregnancy discrimination claim against u.p.s., reject a re-districting plan in alabama, and question regulations to remove mercury from the air. >> woodruff: plus, disease resistant machines. how robots can advance the fight
against ebola, one year after the deadly outbreak began. >> so it's exposing all of the surfaces in a hospital room, in an operating room to this intense v-non lamp. it will literally kill any virus or spore that we've ever seen. >> ifill: those are 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.
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and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the u.s. army sergeant who disappeared in afghanistan for five years, now faces a court martial. sergeant bowe bergdahl was formally charged today with desertion and avoiding military service. bergdahl left his post in 2009, was captured by the taliban and held until his release last may. we'll have some of the army's announcement, and reaction from sergeant bergdahl's defense attorney, after the news summary. >> ifill: there were questions, but no answers today, about the german airliner that smashed into a mountainside in the french alps. tuesday's disaster killed all 150 people on board and left investigators looking, literally, for bits and pieces. jonathan rugman of independent television news reports from the scene.
>> the search began at day break, the hunt by helicopter for what remains of 150 passengers and crew. the hunt for clues as to what exactly happened here. because why the germanwings airbus a-320 came down in this remote and craggy ravine remains a mystery. there was no distress call or conversation with the pilots taf plane suddenly began to descend. the pilots were experienced. the plane's safety record and the weather were good. french police scouring the french alps have not ruled out terrorism completely but they will suggest some other catastrophic event on board is more likely. the plane crashed just on the other side of this mountain here. it was traveling so fast that it broke into very small pieces. the area is only really accessible by helicopter and the police who are searching on the
other side of this mountain say the debris has been scattered far and wide. this afternoon, the leaders of france and germany arrived to see the crash site for themselves. the dead include 72 germans, at least 49 from spain. prime minister rajoy has also flown in to meet recover teams and the relatives of the dead who have chosen to come. this is the worst air disaster on french soil in decades and france's president is determined to find out why. >> dear angela, dear mariano, rest assured we'll find out everything and we'll shed full light on the circumstances of this catastrophe. >> reporter: the plane's so-called black box is in fact orange. investigators say it will take several days to make sense of the cockpit voice recordings inside. only the exterior of the second box has been found and its
memory card is reportedly missing. in the mean time, it will take several weeks and dna samples to identified all those who died. >> i'll say it again, it won't be done in five minutes. it's going to take several weeks. everyone has to be aware of the fact that this is going to take some time. >> reporter: meanwhile, the tiny village is waiting to receive the bodies and grieving relatives. one of the quietest corners of france has been transformed into one of the busiest. >> ifill: u.s. officials confirmed today that three americans were on the airliner. >> woodruff: secretary of state john kerry headed back to the iran nuclear talks today, with a deadline bearing down. the united states and five other countries are trying to work out a framework agreement with iran by the end of the month. the talks have drawn strong criticism from israel and congressional republicans. kerry fired back today, before leaving washington. >> what happens if as our critics propose we just walk
away from a plan that the rest of the world deemed to be reasonable? it could happen. well, the talks would collapse iran would have the ability to go right back to spinning its centrifuges and enriching to the degree that they want, if that's what they want, if that's what they choose, and the sanctions will not hold. >> woodruff: iran issued its own warning today. foreign minister mohammed javad zarif said any nuclear deal must include the immediate lifting of all sanctions. he told iran's official state news agency: "this is the position that the government has insisted on from the start." the u.s. and the other western powers have consistently said sanctions must be lifted only gradually. >> ifill: the u.s. has launched new air strikes in iraq to jump- start a stalled offensive against islamic state forces. a senior u.s. official says the strikes hit isis targets in tikrit this evening. iraqi troops and shiite
militias, guided by iran, have encircled the city, but they've stalled against dug-in opposition. until today, the iraqis had not asked for american air support. >> woodruff: the president of afghanistan voiced confidence today that his government can make peace with the taliban. in an hour-long address, ashraf ghani told the u.s. congress that the key is getting taliban fighters to break all ties with terror. >> the taliban need to choose not to be al qaeda and be afghan. provided that combatants agree to respect the constitution and the rule of law as the outcomes of negotiations, we are confident that we can find a path for their return to society. >> woodruff: ghani also thanked the united states again for billions of dollars in aid, and he vowed afghanistan will be self-reliant within this decade. he said quote: "we're not going to be the lazy uncle joe." >> ifill: the f.b.i. has made major progress on counter-
terrorism since 9/11, but it needs to make more to meet the islamic state challenge. an independent commission reported those findings to congress today. it called for better technology and analysis. f.b.i. director james comey said he largely agrees. >> there was no intelligence career service in the fbi until after 9/11. the progress has been extraordinary, and so i don't want to ever let that be forgotten. but it's not good enough. and so it's about training, and deployment, and about culture. >> ifill: the commission highlighted the threat of home- grown extremists who go abroad for training, then return home to stage attacks. >> woodruff: president obama said today he'd sign bipartisan legislation to resolve a long- running medicare problem. he did not endorse a particular measure, but the house is set to vote on one tomorrow. without it, doctors face a hefty cut in medicare fees a provision that congress has waived for 17 straight years. >> ifill: in economic news, h.j.
heinz company has announced it's buying kraft food groups. the move would create one of the world's largest food and beverage conglomerates. if federal regulators approve the deal, the new "kraft heinz company" will bring heinz ketchup, oscar mayer, jell-o and other well-known brands under one roof. >> woodruff: in montgomery, alabama, thousands of people marked the conclusion, 50 years ago, of the civil rights march from selma. the crowd celebrated with banners, songs and speeches. the events in selma, and the march, led to the landmark voting rights act of 1965. >> ifill: and on wall street, what started as a slide turned into a rout late in the day. it was driven in part by a drop in factory orders. the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 300 points to close near 17,700. the nasdaq fell nearly 120 points, and the s&p 500 slipped 30. still to come on the newshour:
bowe bergdahl's lawyer on today's charges. from pregnant workers to mercury regulations at the supreme court. rebels seize control of more parts of yemen. engineers develop robots that can help eradicate ebola. and, the uncertain future of the arts in america. >> woodruff: now more on the case of u.s. sargeant bergdahl. he has been back in the u.s. since being released by the taliban last year, in exchange for the transfer of five guantanamo detainees to the nation of qatar. soon after that deal, some of the men who served with bergdahl came forward and said they believed he deserted his post. this afternoon at fort bragg north carolina, army colonel daniel king announced charges against the soldier. >> the u.s. army forces command has thoroughly reviewed the army's investigation surrounding sgt. robert bowdrie bergdahl's 2009 disappearance in
afghanistan and formally charge sgt. bergdahl under the armed forces uniform code of military justice on march 25, 2015 with desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place and has referred the case to an article 32 preliminary hearing. as you recall, sgt. bergdahl disappeared june 30, 2009 from combat outpost mest-lalak in paktika province, afghanistan and was subsequently captured. regarding next steps, an article 32 preliminary hearing is a legal procedure under the uniform code of military justice designed to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to merit a court martial and is
required before a case can be tried by a general court martial. >> woodruff: and with me now is eugene fidell, sgt. bowe bergdahl's lawyer. he's also a scholar in law at yale university. eugene fidell, welcome. we know sergeant bergdahl got the news while he was at if fort sam houston texas. was he expecting the charge? what was his reaction? >> i can't tell you his reaction because that would be breeching the attorney-client privilege, but he was -- what i can tell you, i think in fairness, is that he's philosophical about this entire controversy. you know, it's lasted many, many months more, i think, than any of us anticipated. it's something that he and all of us would like to see over but, at the same time, we have to make sure that we're protecting his legal rights. >> woodruff: is he guilty? (laughter)
judy, i'm not going to go into that. i've made a point over the time that i was asked to represent sergeant bergdahl of not attempting to try the merits of the case in the media. i'm going to hold to that rule, if you don't mind. >> woodruff: why did he leave his post? what was he trying to do? >> i'm also not going into that except to say that major general kenneth daal who conducted the investigation concluded his motives were pure that he was truthful in describing his motives and conduct, and i think that's important. now the facts of the case, including my client's motivation, will come out. they will emerge as this case now moves forward into a more public arena. article 31 hearings are open to the pub -- article 32 hearings are open to the public except to the extent of the classified information. i don't think that's the case in this case. i think the public will have
more of a feel for him, his conduct and the proper disposition of his case, given all the circumstances. >> woodruff: we have been shown a letter you wrote to the army in which you said this investigative report concludes that bergdahl's specific intent was to bring what he thought were disturbing circumstances to the attention of the nearest general officer. what disturbing circumstances? >> conditions in the unit, in the management of the unit and within the battalion of which his unit was a part, and we did put that in the letter, you're right right. his concern was these matters were something that merited the attention of a general officer. >> woodruff: then why would he leave the post-in order to bring it to an officer's attention? >> that gets into a level of detail that, if you don't mind i'll defer commenting on. >> woodruff: you also said in the letter, i believe, that the
general's report concluded -- and i guess you referred to this just a minute ago -- that bergdahl didn't harbor an intent to remain away permanently. can you shed light on how you know that? >> oh, well, we've said it because that's a fact and i don't think that's inconsistent with what major general daal concluded. i want to comment, if i may, we have not been permitted to examine the full report of general daal. all we got was the executive summary. there are i believe, thousands of pages of exhibits. there is also a final action by a general at the department of the army that comments on the report and makes certain recommendations and directions. we can't really proceed without having the same kind of information that was supplied to
general millie and that is going to be major issue. we've got to have the information on which general daal's decision was based. without that we cannot have have a an article 32 hearing. >> woodruff: besides desertion, eugene fidell, one of the charges leveled today was misbehavior before the enemy. what does that mean and what does that mean for sergeant bergdahl? >> well, it's piling on, to be perfectly honest. it's a practice in military justice -- and i served on active duty myself a long time ago -- the practice of military prosecutors is to try to come up with as many ways of charging the same conduct and hope that something sticks. the violation it's the second of two charges under article 99 of the uniform code of military justice concerning misbehavior before the enemy basically is another way of saying the same
thing that was said in the charge under article 85 which is desertion. i don't know why it was thrown in, if it was to terrify us. we've all been around the block, my co-counsel and i from the u.s. army, we'll deal with that. it presents legal issues and we'll deal with them. >> woodruff: do you think the sergeant will get a fair hearing? >> i have to say that i have some concerns in two dimensions. the first is his case has received a niagara of vilification in the media and elsewhere. i'm not going to name names. everybody knows who i'm talking about. a number of people, many people have said the most dreadful things about my client without knowing the first thing about his actual conduct or his actual motivation. people have said he should be shot, he should hanged, he should be shot in the legs and
then shot again. the most bizarre things. i do have some concern given the amount of publicity this case has generated over the time he was liberated by president obama that it will be very, very hard to assemble a jury if the case ever gets to a court martial. that's the first point. the second point is that this is an area where i think people's emotions run very strong and the case has been tangled up in some people's views of the current president of the united states and various other controversies over which sergeant bergdahl has had absolutely no control or influence. people have used sergeant bergdahl as a punching bag and lever to get at president obama. that's their privilege. we have a democratic society
but let's make sure that we don't let other extraneous political factors weigh in. by the way another factor that is definitely on my mind is whether there's been back-channel communication that has tend to be adverse to my client i. we'll be following this, eugene fidell. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> ifill: a busy day at the supreme court, where justices heard arguments over a high- profile environmental case. more on that in a moment. first, we turn to two significant decisions, on the discrimination claim of a pregnant worker, and on the politics of race. as always, joining us to explain her day at the court is newshour contributor marcia coyle of the "national law journal." we'll start in alabama with this redistricting case which we talked about some time ago in
the program. we talked about the district in alabama and whether race was a factor. on the left is the way it is now and on the right is the much larger 7th district which the plaintiffs were saying had been drawn in order to put all the black voters in one area. >> that was the claim that this was a racial gerrymander that black voters were packed into districts that were already majority districts in order to make surrounding districts more white and republican. the claim is unconstitutional racial germander. a three-judge panel of a federal district court agreed with the state that it was not racial gerrymander and the alabama legislative black caucus and the alabama democratic conference brought an appeal to the supreme court which ruled today. >> ifill: 5-4. 5-4, and the opinion written by justice breyer found the
lower federal district court made a number of errors, two probably key among the errors, first that the lower court had examined the racial claim on the basis of the boundaries that were drawn by the state as a whole instead of looking district by district as to what the legislature did here. and secondly justice breyer said the lower court and state legislature relied too heavily on trying to maintain the percentages of minority voters -- the same percentage of minority voters that were approved in the old plan, bleaching that that was how it had to comply with the voting rights act, which bars at the time a state like alabama from diluting the influence of minority voters. >> ifill: justice breyer said today asking the wrong question
may well have led to the wrong answer. what did he mean by that? >> he meant instead of asking what percentages are needed to maintain the same number of minority voters in a district the court and the legislature should have been asking what percentage is needed to preserve the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice. >> ifill: we should say briefly there was pretty strong pushback from the dissenting side including justice scalia. >> justices scalia and thomas wrote separate dissents. justice scalia saw this a more sweeping decision than justice breyer presented it. he didn't say exactly how it played out but felt it had serious implication force the one man one person one vote fundamental principle in the constitution. justice thomas felt -- he actually criticized the department of justice and special interest groups like the aclu saying they had hijacked the voting rights act, that this
was simply a quest for the best racial quota. >> ifill: the second decision which also justice breyer wrote, this time 7-2 decision, had to do with whether an employee of ups was discriminated against because of her pregnancy when they were making special accommodations for other employees. in fact, justice breyer wrote why when the employer accommodated so many could it not accommodate pregnant women as well? how did the court reason this through? >> ups had three categories of employees who could get accommodations if they were not able to do their regular jobs, and pregnant workers were not one of the three categories. justice breyer said today that pregnant workers like peggy young, in this case could prevail in the lower courts if the pregnant worker showed she was denied an accommodation that had been offered to a
non-pregnant worker similar in their ability or inability to work and the employer could not come forward with a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the difference, and that's what justice breyer's quote was about. >> ifill: he said provide me with a reasonable reason, perhaps this could hold. >> he said the lower court failed to ask the critical question of ups, why did you treat pregnant workers differently? so both the pregnant worker in this case and the challenges to alabama's redistricting plan get basically a re-do in the lower courts. >> ifill: this is considered at least for now a victory for the woman in this case and for women's rights groups. >> yes, it is. the framework that justice breyer announced today is not a new one in discrimination cases, but he very clearly said what each said has to do in order to either prevail on a pregnancy
discrimination claim or prevent being held liable for discrimination. >> ifill: marsha coil "national law journal." >> ifill: now we turn to today's arguments in a case that pits energy producers against the environmental protection agency. in question, whether e.p.a.- mandated limits on toxic emissions go too far, and cost companies too much. here to make the argument heard at the court today, are: vickie patton of the environmental defense fund, which favors the regulation. and david rivkin, an attorney who represents some of the companies opposed. is this about the dangerous of mercury emissions or is it about who pays for them or is it about defining what the cost is? let's start with you, david rivkin. >> it's not about the dangers at all. it's about environmental protection agency in environmental cases taken on by the high court about e.p.a. we are writing the statute, they
clearly required reasonable cost. putting out a rule that costs over $9 billion a year but has the benefits of between 500 and 6 million which is a high ratio which is inappropriate and the last minute a hail mary argument using a reason not articulated by the agency in the record namely that because of opportunity of costs under the different statute is subjecting the entire utility and the state of its regulation. disrespect of the law and the judiciary riin part because jieshed riis supposed to review the record and what the agency did, not grapple with the arguments. and it is utterly regrettable. there's nothing to do with environmental. the reason there's a special section that dealt with the
electric utility industry is it's heavily regulated. >> ifill: i need to let vickie patton start to reply. >> the clean-air protections heard before the court today are the single most important clean air safeguards we can put in place as a nation for our communities and our families. the coal plants that are the subject of these vital emissions standards are the single largest source in our country of mercury, arsenic acid gases. those are very toxic contaminants. contaminants. mercury, there are fish consumption requirements, hundreds of thousands of children born each year with mercury levels that impair their brain development. every other major source in our country of mercury -- cement plants, incinerators, industrial boilers -- have taken important measurers to lower their mercury emissions. the question before the court is
will the single largest source in our country finally do its fair share in protecting our communities and families from the most toxic emissions in our environment. >> ifill: is the question whether the industry will do its fair share, or what the fair share is? >> the question before the industry is whether or not it was reasonable for e.p.a. to fail to consider cost in putting the utility industry in this regulatory basket despite clear statutory obligations. >> ifill: how do you define costs? because the industry obviously say there are different costs. >> there is no disagreement as to what the costs were here. the agency refused to consider costs. the agency originally claimed they could not consider costs. an old argument generally claimed that the agency could consider costs but should not have. a point vickie made mercury is a dangerous pollutantent but the benefits attributable to mercury regulation to have the power plants are so tiny because to have the small amount of mercury
emitted which is why i mentioned 500 to 6 million vs. 6 billion. the agency came up with other benefits that have nothing to do with mercury. they came up with benefits that have to do with particulates. >> ifill: health benefits. yes. they took the benefits attributable to totally different pollutants they should regulate under their own section of the clean air act. >> ifill: are they mixing apples and oranges? >> no the time tested test is we can protect our children against pollution and grow our economy. the environmental protection agency thoroughly considered costs here. the narrow legal question before the court was how does the agency make its threshold inquiry in deciding to proceed with protective emission standards? those protective emission standards were designed with costs and technology thoroughly
sort of taken into account in every respect. but the threshold question, which is one that the agency faces all of the time throughout the nation's clean air laws in deciding whether to put in place emission standards is -- and this is the language that congress used -- congress used this language -- it says environmental protection agency determined whether there are hazards to human health. hazards to human health. the environmental protection agency looked at that language and said, okay, congress you've told us to determine whether there are hazards to human health. we believe our job is to assess the health hazards and then when we set the emission standards based on the hazards to human health, we will take into account costs and technology. >> ifill: i want to take this inside the courtroom today because you were there and i'm curious whether you heard your argument well made today. >> really well made but i cannot help myself. the statute says the administration of e.p.a. shall regulate about utilities -- >> ifill: you're not been
helpful reading that &o the audience right now. >> forgive me. the e.p.a. should regulate if it finds it appropriate and necessary. the word appropriate conveys you're looking at more than environmental risk. >> ifill: that's the point that's part of the argument in the court today. >> there was nothing else. >> ifill: how did the justices respond? >> one of the most interesting things that happened at the court today was that there were a set of power companies that were before the highest court in our land. these are power companies that provide power to over 60 million americans and what they said is that we find that e.p.a. standards are economically reasonable, on the record before the high court, and they said we're rolling up our sleeves and delivering cleaner healthier air at a fraction of the costs that were predicted and really demonstrating that we can in america have both clean air and a strong economy. >> ifill: and the supreme court will ultimately get the
last word. vickie patton, david rivkin thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now to the chaos in yemen, which seems to be growing with each passing hour, with questions of who's in control. >> woodruff: the last vestiges of yemen's government crumbled as shiite houthi rebels advanced on aden. the pro-american president, abd- rabbo mansour hadi, had taken refuge there, but the houthis offered $100,000 dollars for his capture, and local officials said he fled on a boat. hadi's foreign minister speaking from egypt, disputed that report. >> ( translated ): until now aden is still standing and the president is still in aden and he is trying as hard as possible to withstand. >> woodruff: in washington, the state department said only that hadi has left the presidential palace.
>> he is no longer at his residence, which you've seen in reporting, but we can certainly confirm. i'm not in a position to confirm any additional details from here about his location. >> woodruff: the houthi advance was aided by fighters loyal to former president ali abdullah saleh, who was ousted in 2011. the rebels now control the capital, sanaa, and have spread south and west. their advance, with iran's apparent support, prompted saudi arabia to station forces along its border with yemen. "victory to the revolution!" they cried. "victory to the south!" as the rebels cheered today, hadi's aides formally asked the sunni arab states to come to his aid. >> woodruff: joining me now to help us sort through what all this means for yemen, the region, and the united states is les campbell, regional director for middle east and north africa for the national democratic institute. welcome to the "newshour".
so wherever president hadi is whether he's left the country or not, has his government collapsed? >> i don't know if it completely collapsed. it's on the verge. his ministers have been -- in fact his prime minister was kidnapped a few weeks ago, got away, ministers held in house arrest, the president is clearly on the run if he hasn't already left the country. but i don't think it means it's over for him. the houthi rebels have not shown any inclination to govern. former president ali abdullah saleh is waiting behind the wings. >> woodruff: behind what the rebels are doing? >> i think so. i think this is not so much a sectarian struggle or civil war as it is a play for power. the former president was humiliated, from his point of view. he left office unceremoniously with gulf cooperation council agreement. i think he wants back in and doesn't like the fact his former vice president took over. so it's not over yet but it's
obviously a messy, chaotic situation. >> woodruff: to the extent president hadi is struggling right now and he had the backing of the u.s., who is helped by this? is it the former president saleh? >> i think it's clear the former president is making a play to get back into power but there are other power vacuums in yemen. the houthi rebels i guess we'll call them, have swept through the country. they took over the capital city but it's clear they've done so with at least the acquiescence of some of the military units that are still loyal to the former president. but iran is helped by this. i wouldn't say that they're actively the ones controlling it but this is a group, the houthi group which is a form of shiaism. they have ties. maybe this puts the u.s. or
saudi arabia off balance. but i don't think that's primarily what's going on. primarily what's going on is in the country, people who had power want it back. >> woodruff: the former president saleh is benefited by this, to that extent, who is he aligned with? >> yemeni have many alliances. >> woodruff: not pro american. he was pro-american for a long time. he was cooperating, president hadi, with the western anti-terrorism campaign, but right now he's not. it doesn't suit his purpose. president saleh has been aligned up until he almost left office with the saudis, even though right now he seems to be aligned with the houthis. president saleh led many wars against the houthis who are now his ally. so i think it's hard to put this into an easy category. this is a country, it's not a failed state -- and i want to make that clear, there are many
people in yemen who want the things to go well, there are parliament, parties. but you have powerful interests who are able to pillage the wealth of the country, such as it was, and they're on the outside and want back in. >> woodruff: let's talk quickly about the region. we know president hadi reached out to the arab sunni countries in the region. what is their stake in this? >> they have a huge stake. no one wants an untable state. yemen has a large border with saudi arabia, so they have a big stake in this. the gcc countries sponsored a national dialogue conference of the last two years which was supposed to bring stability to yemen so they have some stake in this. they don't want those two years to be wasted. the international community obviously the united states a i think, primarily because of the presence of al quaida in the arabian peninsula wants a stable, a good address, a good leader, a set of people they can
go to to negotiate various things that have to do with security in the region. so many countries have a stake in this. >>this. >> woodruff: bot online, what does it mean for the united states? most americans can barely -- yemen is not a country that's been in in the headlines. >> it's remote to most americans but the stakes are huge. the security stakes are huge. al quaida is in yemen no question. the iranians have an interest and the houthi rebels appear to be taking the country. that's a problem. egypt, for example, the other arab sunni states don't want another unstable post-arab stream country. but, on the other hand, it's a big country, a lot of population, poverty. the whole world has a stake in making sure it goes well and doesn't become a sectarian or civil war. it's not that yet but on the
brink. >> woodruff: we're watching that too. les campbell, thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: next, this week marks the one year anniversary of the ebola outbreak in west africa. we've learned a lot in 12 months, including this: how robots might one day help quell medical epidemics. the newshour's mary jo brooks reports. is is an unmanned aerial vehicle. this is an air robot that we have been using for -- >> reporter: robin murphy is the indiana jones of disasters. the texas a&m professor showed us her storage room of robot-filled cases ready to be deployed in a moment's notice. >> this class of robots actually have been used the most in building collapses. >> reporter: as head of the center for robot search assist and rescue, murphy has taken her
high-tech teammates to the world trade center bombings, japan hurricane katrina and the mudslide in washington state one year ago. her mission, to use robots for tasks that are too difficult or dangerous for humans. it's only natural that when the ebola crisis broke out last fall in west africa murphy wanted to see if her disease resistant machines could help. >> this is a new set of disasters, a new set of issues for us, is there anything to be gained? >> reporter: she says she knows robots will never replace doctors and nurses but believes it is possible for robots to deliver logistical support, deliver supplies or depose of waste. >> the healthcare workers want to be there themselves to help the victims. they're trying to ease suffering, so if we can let them spend their time in their suits
to do those types of things and let the robots swipe out the i.v.s, take out the trash, those things, that will be the big win. >> reporter: in this country hospitals have begun using robots for routine tasks. some medical centers use them to distribute medicine and food to patients. but murph j says putting robots like that in a remote field hospital bring a whole set of other problems. can they work in less than ideal conditions? >> their track on an uneven floor might get caught. you have doors that robots might get tangled up in, in the tent. most>> reporter: most to have the promising is the mutt, the vehicle can carry stretchers with patients over long
distances. >> if we move this way it goes this way. if i move back that way, it goes backwards. likewise, i can clip it on my belt and just walk off with it and it will follow me. >> reporter: clint arnette demonstrated how it works at disaster city, a training facility run by texas a&m that looks like a disneyland of disasters. on the day we visited, first responders were practicing on a derailed rain, a simulated propane leak and a fire at a mock oil refinery. general dynamics, the manufacturer of the mutt, is using disaster city to test the robot in a variety of real-world conditions. david martin is the facilities program director. >> it can be utilized for transport of taishts patients in-- of patients infected with
ebola limiting the exposure of people who would come in contact with the patient and make it much easier for them to move patients around without having to suit up a number of people to transport that patient. >> reporter: another potential weapon is the xenex decontamination robot. >> it will go up -- >> reporter: already used in 300 hospitals, the robots use u.v. light to disinfect hospital rooms. c.e.o. of xenex -- >> you turn it on set it to run, the top lifts up, the bulb pulses as soon as its visible and goes up to 52 inches and comes back down so it's exposing all of the surfaces in a hospital room, in an operating room to this intense xenon lamp. it will literally kill any virus or spore that we've ever seen. >> reporter: simple to use,
the robots are usually operated by hospital cleaning crews in two five-minute sessions. one machine which costs $100,000 can typically decontaminate up to 50 rooms a day. the robots had real world testing with ebola last fall. the machines in use at the dallas hospital where eric duncan was unsuccessfully treated for ebola. the robots have been used for two years in san antonio at the university health system and the robots were part of an ebola response plan they developed. >> with a patient with the herballa virus, at all times they minimized the patient's movement and kept the areas decon tam naivmentd we wanted to use the xenex machine to decontaminate areas through which the patient passed including the elevator.
>> reporter: earlier this month a study published in the american journal of infection control recommended the xenex robots be used to disinfect the suits care takers ware when treating the patients. it can be six to eight months before the robots are deployed to africa and concedes with the number of ebola cases dwindling, the need seems less urgent now but says all the robotic work that's occurred in the last few months means they will be ready when the next infectious disease outbreak occurs. in college station, texas, mary jo brooks, texas "newshour". >> woodruff: now, the plot thickens for the arts in america. jeffrey brown has our conversation for the "newshour bookshelf." >> brown: have you been to the theerkts seen a modern dance concert? have your children? will those theater dance and other arts institutions survive? the questions are at the heart
of a new book with a question in its title, curtains the future of the arts in america. author michael m. kaiser has headed many arts organizations including the kennedy center for the performing articles, the american bally theater and the dance troup and has arts management at the university of maryland. what's the essential problem? is it economic, cultural? >> we face many challenges in the arts for many years but more recently so much entertainment and arts are available online or in movie theaters and they are becoming very important competitors to those who present live performances in theaters. >> brown: just a new world of technology and entertainment and choices? >> just as newspapers are challenged by the existence of online news, so are theaters and opera and ballet companies, particularly those in mid size cities competing with the very large organizations whose art is
available electronically. >> brown: you're also writing about a first generation of an audience who have grown up without a kind of traditional arts education without exposure to the arts in the media, for example? >> absolutely. we -- i enjoyed a great arts education in the public school system when i was growing up, but most children today don't. so we have a generation of children who are coming out of high school without the kind of background in the arts that i had and that many of my peers had and, as a result, as they age and as they would typically become more subscribers and donors and board members we worry that they won't be there for us and the arts in the future. >> brown: and you write too many people feel like the arts are relevant to them. it's come to that no connection? >> both because of the education and ticket pricing. we use ticket prices to balance our budgets for so many years our tickets have gotten so expensive that many people have felt priced out to have market and thought the arts aren't for
them because they simply can't afford it. >> brown: one of the things that struck me in the book is something we talk about a lot is the gaps in the american society -- the income gap, the wealth gap. you're talking about kind of an arts gap. >> i am. >> brown: arts for some not for others. >> that's true. we enjoyed over the last 50 years this explosion in arts accessibility to people all over america. we expect a theater company or dance company or opera company in our towns even mid-sized towns, and worry that that accessibility will change and diminish in the next 20 years. >> brown: you travel around the country a lot, where is this hitting? >> it's hitting orchestras first. we hear so much about orchestra union problems and union negotiation problems. that's just a manifestation of diminishment in ticket sales and contributions. so when you look around the arts world right now you see many, many organizations either doing less work or going away
entirely. this is true particularly of arts organizations of color which is an important part of our arts ecology that is starting to shrink which is more fragile a ill now and we're now seeing it in mid-sized american cities and large, classical organizations and i worry they won't be able to sustain themselves. >> brown: what you do see when you write about and again we see it in society as winners and losers some at the high end will do well and many at the low end, because they can get along basically on a shoestring it's the great middle. >> it's the great middle at risk and that's who made art accessible to all americans over the last 50 years. >> brown: what's to be done? arts organizations have to get more creative about the actual arts nay make. so many boards and staffs have to do what people want. we have lots of swan lakes,
but -- >> brown: doesn't that bring people in? >> not if they're available online or at the royal opera house, then you have to do something that's really special. artists have to get back to dreaming and stop planning art to a budget. if they're doing great work consistently it will keep its audience and donor base. >> brown: should arts organizations and managers be thinking of their institutions more as commodities, more as businesses or -- >> we always had to think of ourselves as a business to the extent that we needed to balance our budgets to sustain ourselves, but we have to think of ourselves more as creative enterprises who do really interesting work that engages our community and those organizations that dream big and create amazing projects are going to do very, very well. >> brown: i asked you for a negative example. can you give me a positive
example? >> the opera companies in philadelphia and st. louis do great work and exciting work and interesting work. they get a lot of coverage. they're both mid-sized opera company. they're not the metropolitan but they maintain the interest of communities and donor bases because their work is so interesting. so i think the organizations do interesting work the ones that are going to survive and compete well against online arts. >> brown: so the question in the title "curtains?" what's the answer? to be determined? >> to be determined i hope not. >> brown: thank you, michael m. kaiser. >> thank you. >> ifill: finally, to our "newshour shares" of the day. something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too. today, the library of congress added 25 new songs and recordings to its national registry to acknowledge their cultural, artistic and historic importance. you might find some of them familiar.
>> ifill: you can find all the new inductees at the library of congress website: loc.gov. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. u.s. army sergeant bowe bergdahl was charged with desertion for leaving his post in afghanistan in 2009. he was later captured by the taliban and held by them until last year. shiite rebels in yemen drove the pro-american president from his last redoubt. there were some reports he fled the country by boat. and investigators recovered some of the cockpit voice recordings from the german airliner that smashed into the french alps, killing 150 people. they could have an initial readout within days. >> ifill: on the newshour online, with march madness in full swing, you've likely filled out a bracket for this year's college basketball tournaments. perhaps you even put a dollar or two in the pot. but, and this is no fun, outside
of las vegas, betting on almost any sporting event is illegal. but should it be? join us at 1:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow for a twitter chat on gambling and sports. our handle is @newshour. and you can find more details on our homepage. that's on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at how investors are cashing in on foreclosures in florida. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. 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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