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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  August 22, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> larson: on this edition for saturday, august 22: >> a potential mass shooting on a train in trance is prevented. new talks begin to defuse tensions between north and south korea. and in our signature segment, can puerto rico climb out of its financial crisis and pay off its record debt? >> do you think this will give puerto rico a black eye, that it will be seen as greece? >> it's happening already. and i hate it. puerto rico's not greece. puerto rico's not a foreign country. >> larson: next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:
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corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios in lincoln center in new york, john larson. >> larson: good evening. thanks for joining us. i'm john larson in for hari sreenivasan. the presidents of france and of the united states are praising three americans who subdued a gunman who attempted to carry out a mass shooting on a passenger train heading toward paris. the high speed thalys train, going from amsterdam to paris
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last night, had 554 passengers on board. among them were three american friends in their early 20s: spencer stone, anthony sadler, and alek skarlatos, two of them active members of the u.s. military. the gunman boarded the train in brussels. he entered a passenger car carrying an ak-47 assault rifle, an automatic handgun, and a box cutter. stone, who is in the air force, ran down the aisle and tackled the gunman. >> i think spencer is the real hero. he was the first one to jump on him. he is the one who got cut up. like, none of us are injured but spencer. spencer took a few injuries, and he just had no fear. and he's our friend, so once we saw him go, we had to go join him, like we couldn't have just let everybody die like that. it was crazy situation. >> larson: skarlatos, who serves in the national guard and was recently deployed in afghanistan, wrestled the gun away.
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>> he had about 7 or 8 magazines in his backpack with him. and two firearms. so, he was there to do business, that's for sure. we are really lucky that his ak jammed, or else i don't know how it would have turned out. >> larson: stone, stabbed in the neck and the hand during the struggle, has been treated a nd released from a french hospital. president obama has telephoned the three american men to express his gratitude, and french officials have awarded them medals, along with a british businessman who helped tie up the gunman. the gunman's identity has not been confirmed, but french officials have described him as a 26-year-old moroccan. he remains in police custody in paris. france and belgium have increased police patrols in rail stations and on the high speed train line, which connects 17 european cities. the trains have no metal detectors or security checks. officials from north and south korea met today in an effort to ease tensions, following an exchange of artillery fire earlier this week.
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today's talks were held in the demilitarized zone between the two countries, in the same town where both sides signed their armistice in 1953. on thursday, north korea fired rockets at south korean loudspeakers broadcasting anti- north korean propaganda, and threatened further military action. south korea responded by firing dozens of artillery rounds into north korea. no casualties were reported on either side. the south korean broadcasts began after two of its soldiers were injured by a landmine explosion in the d.m.z. on august 4. joining me now via skype from seoul south korea is jean lee, she is a fellow at the wilson center, which conducts independent research on global issues. lee is the former associated press bureau chief in the north korean capital of pyongyang. jane, thank you so much for joining us. you've just returned from the border area, correct? >> i have. i was up there earlier today. i made a little day trip up to
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the paju, right on the border on the south korean side. >> larson: we heard tensions have been very high this week. what can you tell us about today? >> i have a feeling that it lookaise lot more tense from where you're sitting than it did for me in paju. i can tell you any time i asked people in paju if they were worried they just laughed at the question. south koreans are used to this kind of tension. they've been dealing with this for decades and to a certain degree life goes on as usual. there is absolutely no sense of panic in the town of paju. >> larson: to what extent do you think this is saber rattling by the different leaders of the two countries? obviously, the north korean leader not much is known about the person's ability to control the military in the south. he's been criticized for being too soft. is this sort of an opportunity for both of them to look tough? >> certainly. i think you've got that right. with the north carolinians, these kinds provocations are a
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way air, good chance to remind the south koreans and remind the world that the korean war remains unresolveed. the two sides agreed to a cease-fire in 1953 but they did not sign a peace treaty so the korean peninsula remains in a technical state of war and it's the reason the u.s. military has more than 28,000 troops on south korean soils. now, north korea may look at this as a reason to provoke but there's nothing like the threat of an outside force to bring out patriotism, and perhaps what he wants to show his people is that he can defend them from this threat from south korea and the united states. on the other hand, he may want to show his people as well that he's a statesman, that he can sunday his aids into the d.m.z. and come back with some sort of significant agreement with the south koreans. so i think that it will be interesting to see how it pans out. i'm not so sure that the tensions are quite over yet. >> larson: jean, for the past four or five years, certainly,
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this shoving match seems to take place around this type of year every year. why is that? >> the south koreans hold military exeer sizes this time of year and this they call defensive exercises but north korea create is as a rehearsal for invasion. so it does tend to rile them up. it's not surprising that this kind of tension is happening this time of year. there's one other thing that is going on. north korea is gearing up for a major anniversary, the 70th anniversary of the workers party of korea. that happens in october, and so that is also an occasion to try to pring the people together. so they may be looking for reasons to kind of traw the people together. displaw jean lee from the wilson center. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you.
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>> larson: in our signature segment, we focus on puerto rico, in the midst of an historic economic crisis. a u.s. territory since 1898, puerto rico has accumulated billions of dollars in bond debt that it is increasingly unable to pay back. this follows a decade in which hundreds of businesses and factories closed, and 300,000 residents left the island. and today, the poverty rate in puerto rico is higher than that of any u.s. state. newshour special correspondent chris bury reports on possible solutions to puerto rico's economic troubles. >> reporter: the financial crisis in puerto rico is clear in the emergency room of san juan's biggest hospital, centro medico, where patients line the halls, because there are not enough nurses to treat them or rooms to put them. doctor rosalie barrios is the head of emergency medicine here. >> there is no beds available in the hospital, so they have to wait here for a bed. >> reporter: and how long does that take? >> several days? >> reporter: several days. >> yes. to maybe a week, yes.
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>> reporter: the week-long wait is a symptom of puerto rico's bigger troubles: a third of the territory's debt is due, in part, to crippling health care costs. with more than 60% of residents qualifying for government- subsidized healthcare, hospitals rely on that money to provide services. but the u.s. government reimburses puerto rico at a much lower rate than states get. and now, a dramatic hike in sales taxes-- a new austerity measure to help puerto rico pay back its debt-- is squeezing health care even harder. at ashford presbyterian community hospital in san juan, the new, higher taxes are costing the hospital even more for everything it has to buy, including all its supplies, according to c.e.o. pedro gonzaález. >> the impact for us, for the year, is going to be about $700,000. >> reporter: $700,000 more. >> more, right. >> reporter: just for the sales tax. >> from the sales tax.
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>> reporter: the huge hike in sales taxes on the island-- from 7% to 11.5% percent-- and another new tax on services-- are expected to generate just over a billion dollars in new revenue. not nearly enough to put a significant dent in puerto rico's $72 billion debt. >> la situacioón es en extremo difiícil. >> reporter: in june, puerto rico's governor, alejandro garcia padilla, made a stunning announcement, appearing on television to say, "the public debt is unpayable." and pledged to come up with a plan by the end of august. puerto rico is in a bind. the white house has flatly rejected any kind of federal bailout. and the territory does not have access to the u.s. bankruptcy courts. so puerto rico has begun to default on some of its massive debt, the first such failure to pay by an american state or territory since the great depression. do you think this will give
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puerto rico a black eye, that it will be seen as greece? >> it's happening already. and i hate it. puerto rico's not greece. puerto rico's not a foreign country. >> reporter: pedro pierluisi is puerto rico's non-voting representative to congress. why is puerto rico defaulting on its debt? >> well, first, it shouldn't be defaulting. but the truth is we piled up quite a bit of debt, and i'm talking about 18 government entities which issued bonds for decades. >> reporter: some of those bonds are guaranteed by the puerto rican constitution. but others, such as those issued by the government-owned electric power authority, are not. congressman pierluisi has introduced a bill to allow those agencies to apply for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, just like they can in the states. it would let puerto rican owned entities and cities do what detroit did: restructure debts with all their creditors at the same time; wipe the slate clean.
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>> we need chapter 9, because when you need to reorganize an entity, adjust its debts, the only way to do it in the u.s. in an orderly, legal fashion is under the protection of a federal bankruptcy court. we cannot. it's unfair. >> reporter: the bonds were popular with investors, because they are tax-free, pay a high yield, and some have that guarantee in puerto rico's constitution. it's estimated that puerto rico residents own about a third of the bonds. american investors, individually and through mutual funds, own billions as well. and hedge funds have also scooped up a big chunk, often at bargain prices. economist arturo porzecanski, a professor at american university, spent three nearly decades on wall street. >> passage of the bill would be correctly perceived as rewriting the rules retroactively and i think it would be a terrible
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precedent for the municipal bond market. >> reporter: he opposes bankruptcy because he says that would make it harder in the future for puerto rico to borrow money in the bond markets. >> that is where the money is. it's not in puerto rico's banks, it's not in the pockets of the people of puerto rico. they have to come out elegantly from this crisis in order to resume normal financing. >> we believe puerto rico needs an orderly process to restructure its unsustainable liabilities. >> reporter: the obama administration has indicated it supports congress giving puerto rico the same access to federal bankruptcy courts. so have some presidential candidates, perhaps with an eye on florida where nearly a million puerto ricans now live. >> florida is a battleground state and puerto ricans are registering there to vote. and by the way puerto ricans could go either way. depending on the stance, the particular stance that the candidates take.
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>> reporter: but some on wall street oppose any major restructuring of puerto rico's debt. instead, a report commissioned by more than 30 hedge funds demands more austerity in a territory still reeling from a nearly ten-year-old recession. the report calls for more aggressive tax collection, privatizing public works, and firing more teachers. but puerto rico has already shut down more than 150 schools in the last few years, and teachers are leaving, being actively being recruited by states. doctors and nurses are leaving too. ophthalmologist dr. rauúl franceschi says he can easily double his salary in the states. >> there are many physicians that are, we have this escape valve that we just go to any state in the states. we don't have to stay here. we can flee. >> reporter: have you thought about that? >> well, in the back of my mind, yes. and this has been a very, very hard year. >> reporter: so many puerto ricans are leaving for the united states-- about 50,000
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every year-- that officials here worry more austerity could accelerate the exodus. they say that perpetuates a vicious cycle, leaving the government with even less money to pay its debts. university of puerto rico economist orlando sotomayor believes wall street's remedy would backfire. is more austerity the answer? >> no, the answer is growth. there is, we will just never be able to pay our debts through austerity. you cannot push a country too far, or it will just go into depression or recession. you cannot get blood from a stone. >> reporter: instead, an influential new study, sponsored by the puerto rican government advocates lowering the minimum wage below the same $7.25 an hour that applies on the u.s. mainland, to make the island more competitive with its caribbean neighbors. the study also recommends exempting puerto rico from a
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1920 law that requires all goods be imported on ships built in the u.s., which raises costs for businesses like joel franqui's gift shop in san juan. >> so, usually islands are more expensive in general, but i believe puerto rico is even more expensive because of that. other islands in the caribbean don't have that limitation. >> reporter: others here are calling for a rejuvenation of puerto rico's once-thriving tourism industry, in 1980, the island accounted for a quarter of all caribbean tourist dollars. by 2012, that number had fallen to 15%. puerto rico is now attempting to add more direct flights from its main airport, in san juan. economist heidie calero says it also needs to make a big push for tourists beyond the united states. >> as long as we have more direct flights, puerto rico is going to thrive. but we need to diversify. we have neglected going into
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europe, going into latin america >> reporter: puerto rico is also trying to attract more wealthy americans by offering generous new tax breaks on investment income for those who live here at least six months a year. the idea is to lure more big spenders to boost the economy. so far, the government reports, a few hundred people have made the move, generating more than $200 million in real estate sales. >> it's not going to make much difference in terms of economic growth. but at the same time it does create quite a bit of resentment. because we have this group of very wealthy individuals who are given the best treatment on the part of the government. they pay very few taxes, whereas regular puerto ricans have to deal with this very high tax burden. >> reporter: with so many native puerto ricans leaving, the population left behind is increasingly old and poor, putting more of a strain on a health care system that is
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literally running out of money. that puerto rico is ailing is as clear as the long lines in san juan's hospitals and clinics. but it's just as evident the government here is still searching for the right cure. >> larson: find out how puerto rico's debt grew and why thousands of residents are leaving the island. watch chris bury's first report at >> larson: this week, the militant group known as the islamic state, or isis, publicly executed one of syria's top scholars for refusing to reveal the location of some of the nation's antiquities in the ancient city of palmyra. the violent act is part of a campaign to destroy cultural heritage carried out by isis as it takes over territory in syria, iraq, and elsewhere in the middle east.
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but a pair of cyber- archaeologists are using technology in an attempt to virtually restore what has been lost. newshour's ivette feliciano reports. >> reporter: this video appears to show members of the islamic state, or isis, using sledgehammers to destroy artifacts at a museum in mosul, iraq, earlier this year. some artifacts were thousands of years old, like this winged bull from ancient mesopotamia. >> it's not a euphemism to refer to iraq and syria as the cradle of civilization. >> reporter: lisa ackerman is executive vice president of the world monuments fund, a new york-based organization focused on cultural heritage preservation. >> it's not just the physical remains that are going away but potentially our knowledge of how rich these regions are and the many different kinds of people that have traversed that terrain over a very long period of human existence. >> reporter: now, two europe- based archaeologists, chance
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coughenour and matthew vincent, are deploying three-dimensional computer technology to save this history. they spoke to newshour via google hangout. >> we both have a background in digital cultural heritage and the preservation of heritage, and i suggested that maybe we could find a solution to crowdsource images from people and reconstructing the artifacts in 3-d. >> reporter: what began as a desire to document lost antiquities became project mosul, with a website for anyone to submit pictures and videos of destroyed artifacts in iraq the team hopes to create a virtual museum. >> it seems like magic. i mean when you think about taking photographs and taking those photographs and turning them into three-dimensional models, it's you know, something that's kind of hard to fathom. >> reporter: transforming two- dimensional images into 3-d reconstructions requires a team of volunteers using photogrammetry, which estimates measurements from existing
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photos to create models. here's how it works: in this recreation of the lion of mosul, 16 pictures taken from different angles, seen here as blue squares, are aligned to find common features. those overlapping features, represented by black dots, are then connected, and a virtual texture is wrapped onto the model. because these replicas often rely on only a few photos, without actual measurements of the objects, they can never be exact. >> this is in essence, kind of a reverse engineering way of going about finding images that line up or match or were taken from a particular angle that are supportive of creating a three- dimensional model. >> reporter: so more pictures make a better model. >> often times we may have hundreds of images for a single artifact. in this case we may have a dozen. you know, so simple there is no way for us to really speak to the accuracy, and which is why we often emphasize that the most
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important part of what we get with these reconstructions is the visualize representation. >> reporter: the project isn't just focused on the middle east. in april, nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake leaving many ancient sites damaged. project mosul is now hosting the 3-d reconstruction of artifacts destroyed in kathmandu's durbar square during the massive earthquake. >> it's this incredible opportunity to at the very least get a good handle on what materials are out there, and demonstrating that if the worst happens, and we lose sites, at least there's a very powerful record of them. >> larson: on pbs newshour weekend on sunday: nearly 30 years after the nuclear disaster, chernobyl's surprising recovery. >> if take humans out of the equation, the wildlife surge is back despite contamination.
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>> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> larson: 30 german police officers were injured early today quelling anti-immigrant protests, near dresden. protesters hurled bottles and stones at security forces, and blocked the road leading to a new shelter for 600 migrants seeking political asylum. germany expects refugees from the middle east, africa, and the balkans to file as many as 800,000 asylum applications this year. further east, in macedonia, security forces today clashed with migrants, many of them syrian refugees, trying to cross the border from greece. macedonia allowed 600 migrants to continue onto serbia by train, but refused admittance to hundreds more. about 2,000 migrants a day have been arriving in macedonia. 50,000 landed in greece by boat last month. a federal judge in california
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has ordered the release of undocumented immigrant children held in u.s. detention facilities. the children are supposed to be released to a parent or relative in the u.s., and the order requires any parent detained with them be released as well. the obama administration has until late october to comply. in the past two years, u.s. border agents have apprehended nearly 100,000 undocumented families, mostly mothers and children, from mexico and central america. about 1,400 are being held at new detention facilities in texas and in pennsylvania that the judge has called unsafe and unsanitary. separately, in texas, undocumented immigrants have asked a federal judge to intervene, so their u.s. born children can obtain birth certificates. families want the certificates so their children can attend texas public schools this fall. texas officials have refused to
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issue them, saying the undocumented parents lack valid u.s. identification. >> larson: that's it for this eitition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm john larson, thanks for watching. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> this program is made possible by: for those who venture off the beaten path, tucson is proud to be a little out there, a natural oasis that inspires the free spirit in us all. more information can be found at the coalition for sonoran desert protection is an alliance of conservation groups in arizona working to restore this environment for both people and wildlife.


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