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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  May 16, 2012 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama and speaker boehner clashed over raising the nation's debt limit today, setting the stage for a replay of last year's stalemate good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the "newshour" tonight: we look at the latest partisan divide over the debt ceiling and assess how the issue could play out in this year's campaign. >> woodruff: then, we examine the case against former bosnian general ratko mladic as he faces charges of genocide and ethnic cleansing at the u.n. court in the hague. >> bwn: om o "amican
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graduate" series, ray suarez has the story of an eighth grader who turns to journalism to tackle violence in his middle school. >> if i didn't have a camera i would probably be led up with the wrong people and doing the wrong stuff and i wouldn't >> woodruff: margaret warner explores the dramatic results of a new study showing paralyzed patients moving their robotic arms just by thinking. >> brown: we update the trial of john edwards, as the defense rests its case without calling the former presidential candidate or his mistress to testify. >> woodruff: and we remember mexican writer carlos fuentes, whose prolific literary career spanned more than five decades. that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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anwith the ongoinguppo of these institutions and foundations. 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 confrontation over raising the national debt ceiling consumed washington for much of 2011. now, the issue has re-emerged. it was raised at a white house meeting today, and sparked a new war of words in congress. >> the issue here is the debt-- almost $16 trillion worth of debt, $1.3 trillion budget deficit again this year. >> woodruff: battle lines were already being drawn today for a new fight over raising the
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country's borrowing limit. the government will not reach the current debt ceiling until the end of this year, or maybe 2013. but house speaker john boehner went into a white house luncheon with the presidentvowing to make it a prime topic now. >> and what i'm trying to do is encourage people on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the capitol and at both ends of pennsylvania avenue to be honest with the american people and to be honest with ourselves, to begin to tackle this problem in an adult-like fashion. >> woodruff: boehner announced tuesday that he will again demand spending cuts only and no tax hikes to match any increase in the debt limit. but congressman james clyburn and other leading democrats charged it was a made-up issue to helrepublicans sce litical points. clyburn said today, "i hope the president will not get roped into this foolishness." boehner took the same stance in last summer's protracted battle over the debt ceiling. a last-minute deal averted national default.
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and white house press secretary jay carney said the president warned lawmakers today against letting history repeat itself. >> we're not going to recreate debt ceiling debacle of last august. it is simply not acceptable to hold the american and global economy hostage to one party's political ideology. >> woodruff: mr. obama did not mention the debt issue during an event promoting his economic to- do list. >> we want to sustain momentum and one of the ways that we can sustain momentum is for congress to take some actions right now, even though it's election season, even though there's gridlock, even though there's partisanship, take some actions right now that would really make a difference. >> woodruff: but, like speaker boehner, republican presidential candidate mitt romney raised the debt issue yesterday. he returned to it today, in st. petersburg, florida, with a national debt clock behind him, for emphasis.
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>> i'm concerned about the debt, i find it incomprehensible that a president could come into office and call his predecessor's record irresponsible and unpatriotic and then do almost nothing to fix it. and instead every year add more and more spending. >> woodruff: republicans and democrats alike say they don't expect action on the budget or the debt ceiling until after the election. to help us understand the latest political maneuvering, we are joined by todd zwillich, a reporter for "the takeaway' on wnyc radio, and steven dennis, who covers the white house for roll call newspaper. with us. todd zwillich, to you, first. if nothing is likely to be done until after the election, why is this speaker bringing this up now? >> the speaker to this yesterday at a conference here in washington which you were at, judy. we all saw you moderating a discussion there. take the speaker at his word.
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he said, "i don't feel like i is have any other tools to get washington serious about spending cut other than the debt limit." why would he say that? we have all seen this movie before. we remember how bruising it was last year when republicans insisted on tying the debt limit to spending cuts and it became a long, protracted fight, one the president and the white house says they don't want to repeat. there's a political angle to this, also, of course. the speaker does his right wing some favors, probably does the conservative base that mitt romney is also trying to satisfy someavors by saying we are dead deert about debt. this is our main charge against the president. it's an economic charge. it's a fiscal responsibility charge and we're here to solve it. >> woodruff: steven dennis, what light can you showed it now? >> i think if you look at the context of the election, considering the debt limit isn't going to need to be raised until probably probably january, february of next year, this is about focusing the nation's attention on the debt which is
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something the republicans would rather be talking about and mitt romney, obviously, wants to be talking about. th want the issue focused on debt and deficit-- >> woodruff: rather than this? >> the white house this week wanted to be talking about their new jobs packages. they wanted to be talking about letting people refinance their homes. they want to be talking about small business tax cuts, all these things that are sort of passing out goodies, instead of dealing with a big barrel of pain which is what's headed at the end of the year. we have expiring tax cuts, huge spending cut and the debt ceiling increase. those are three legislative nuclear weapons all about to go off. and everybody is holding one of them hostage. >> woodruff: but the fact that the speaker is talking about it now, todd zwillich, does that mean something can be done about it in the near future? >> something can always be done. congress makes the laws. the president signses the laws. sure, something can be done. will it? not until after the election. and in terms of the debt limit maybe not until after new year's. you saw jay carney say we're not
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going to do this again. you say, well, mr. president efficient debt limit expires, you kind of are. they have a little power over this. tim geithner, the treasury secretary said yesterday essentially the speakes threat is large hollow because we have some tools and if the debt limit expires in late november or december, we can-- we can-- we have some tools in treasure tow extend things out. this may come after new year's and maybe it won't come down to a debt limit showdown. the speaker says he don't have to wait until the last minute. we can talk about this now. we can be responsible. yes, the republicans want to have the discussion now. that doesn't mean the. president is going to take the speaker's bait and debate it over the sumr and fall and tie it to sendi cuts. i don't think so. >> woodruff: let's talk about the substance of this. what the speaker is asking for, only spending cut to match the increase in the debt ceiling. when you talk today, as i did to deficit hawks, people who care about the debt and deficit, said
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to do that is realistically difficult. you stay away from defense, you have to go to programs for apart, education-- >> medicare. i mean, these are third rails, and, you know, i think the real problem the risk here that republicans have is that-- you know, they're having a har enough time deeg with a sequester, $1.2 trillion in spending cuts that kicks in this year from last year's deal. >> woodruff: if they don't come up with a new plan. >> how are you going to come up with new cuts for another $2 trillion increase? it will be very hard for them to do that. the risk here, if you look what happened in europe, they're forcing all these countries to do austerity and the countries have fall. austerity is pret unpopular when you go to the people and say, "do you want to cut medicare?" the job here for the president, the democrats, is to go to the folks and say, hey, if you follow john boehner's prescription, we are going to decimate programs you care
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about, and take that to the election. in the meantime, though, there is a real risk-- people are starting to get nervous on with the again, and-- >> woodruff: just by the subject being raise. >> just the possibility of a year-end fiscal train wreck. ben bernanke is worried about if all these three bombs go off at the same time, the economy could go back into a recession very quickly. un, if with the starts thinking maybe they can't come up with a deal, that could be happening right around the elections. and, you know, that's a very volatile environment. we saw in 2008 when wall street gets nervous, you know, the politics can change really fast. >> woodruff: todd zwillich, you talked to folks on both sieftdz aisle victory republicans thought through that part of it? as we noted, mitt romney is out on the campaign trail at the very same time raising the debt issue. coordination there or coincidence? >> well, the speaker's speech yesterday was scheduled for a long time. it was clear that mitt romney was eager to get off of other issues that capitized the
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campaign last week-- gay marriage, for instance. he wasn't eager to talk about that. john boehner certainly was not eager to talk about gay marriage. he would answer that question saying, marriage is between one man and one woman but i'm here to talk about the economy." democrats on the hill in terms of the fiscal bombs that are about to go off think they have some lemple steve mentioned the sequester, domestic and defense cuts-- >> woodruff: automatic cuts if they can't reach an agreement. >> which are going into effect january 1, a everyone including republicans signed on to. democrats are sitting on the hill telling me, we're fine with that. republicans, sure, we can undo those $600 billion in defense cut if you want to. we can tie it to the debt limit if you want to. let's talk revenue. put a dollar of tax increases on the table. in terms of the election, as the president and mitt romney go to the public with these two issues, the democrats' message is, yes, we have a fiscal problem, but the other side won't even consider a tax increase for the richest among
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us. you've heard that refrain, i don't need to explain it. yes, we have a fiscal problem. let's talk about balance, not just spending cuts we have already taken from the middle class. >> woodruff: steven dennis, finally, what do we look for next? do we look for meeting to be scheduled to talk about this? >> no, we're going tote go the same posturing we've gotten over the past year, as far as the big picture. they did talk during the summit, they did talk about things they can get done in the next few months, things they need to get done on student alones, on the transportation bill. maybe they'll take up one ortwo of mr. obama's to-do list, maybe a small business tax cut. there are some things that are really small ball that they can get done as long as they don't attach tax increases and that's the message mitch mcconnell brought into the meeting. >> woodruff: attention is focused on the debt ceiling but you're saying there was real
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practical work done. >> it wasn't a negotiating session. but i think the fact it was cordial, that they came out saying maybe we can get things done, i think is a positive sign for at least a few things happening under the radar here. >>oodruff: a good note to share, todd zwillich, steven dennis thank you both. >> pleasure. >> great to be here. >> brown: still to come on the "newshour": ratko mladic in court for war crimes; an eighth grader takes on violence in his school; robot science helping paralyzed patients; the defense rests in john edwards' trial and, remembering mexican writer carlos fuentes. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: greece appointed an interim government today as it struggled to escape a deepening political crisis. meanwhile, germany appeared to hold out the prospect of additional economic aid. we have a report from jonathan rugman of "independent television news." >> reporter: greece's presidential palace was a vision of tranquility this morning. no outward sign of what the governor of the bank of england has called "a eurozone tearing itself apart." but for these political
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heavyweights, even agreeing a caretaker prime minister proved hard. and this is that caretaker p.m. a safe pair of hands for an unsafe country. his name is panagiotis pikrammenos and he's a senior judge. the president congratulated him. "it's a great joy but a heavy burden for me," the new prime minister replied. pikrammenos translates as "embittered" in english. in fact, there is such bitterness here that far-left politicians who planned to cancel the eurozone's bailout deal, could win those elections next month. in berlin last night, chancellor merkel appeared to be steering francois hollande of france. but now there's the newest hint that the french are steering the germans, and not the other way around, with germany's leader today cutting greece a little slack. >> ( translated ): we want greece to stay in the eurozone. if greece believes that there are certain stimulus to be
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pursued for growth in the eurozone, which we could pursue in the interest of greece, we're open for this. germany is open to this. >> reporter: though some greeks aren't waiting that long. they're voting now with their money by taking it out. over $1.2 billion euros were withdrawn from greek banks on monday and tuesday. with even greece's president admitting what he called "great fear" could turn to panic. >> holman: greece now faces new elections, on june 17. the turmoil in greece roiled markets for another day. the euro hit a four-month low, the price of oil dropped again, and even gold hit its lowest level since december. on wall street, the dow jones industrial average lost 33 points to close at 12,598. the nasdaq fell more than 19 points to close at 2,874. former liberian president charles taylor offered no apologies today for fomenting vil r ineighringierr
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leone in the late 1990s. he told a u.n. tribunal he sympathizes with the thousands of victims, but he admitted no wrongdoing. he claimed his support of sierra leone rebels was aimed at stabilizing the west african region. the court convicted taylor of war crimes last month. he is to be sentenced on may 30. medical records have emerged as new evidence in the killing of an unarmed teen-ager in florida. george zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder, in the death of 17-year-old trayvon martin in february. the case has generated national attention. now, according to abc news, a doctor's examination of zimmerman a day after the shooting shows he had two black eyes, a nose fracture and cuts on the back of his head. that could bolster his claim of self-defense. president obama awarded the medal of honor to army specialist leslie sabo junior today, for heroism during the vietnam war. sabo was killed in an ambush in cambodia in 1970, but, he saved several other soldiers even using his own body to shield a
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wounded man from a grenade blast. the award nomination was lost for decades. then, it took more years to be confirmed, and win congressional approval. >> leslie sabo left behind a wife who adored him and a brother who loved him. parents who cherished him and family and friends who admired him. but they never knew. for decades they never knew their les had died a hero. the fog of war and paperwork that seemed to get lost in the shuffle meant this story was almost lost to history. >> holman: the president also honored other vietnam war veterans during the ceremony. he said they were shunned after the war when they should have been praised for their patriotism. the world health organization underscored today that risk factors for diabetes and heart disease are spreading. a new study found a quarter of the world's population-- over the age of 25-- has high blood pressure. nearly one in ten has high levels of blood glucose.
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w.h.o. officials said it's due largely to increased tobacco use, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise in people in developing nations. the footwear company skechers will pay $40 million to settle charges it falsely advertised its fitness shoes. the federal trade commission found the company deceived customers by claiming several of its shoe lines helped reduce weight and build muscle. those who purchased the toning shoes will be eligible for unspecified refunds. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: srebrenica, the seige of sarajavo, the still raw feelings from the bosnian war. the past returned today to a courtroom in the netherlands. >> the international tribunal for the foer yugoslavia is now in session. >> brown: the bosnian serb general-- ratko mladic-- was once one of the world's most- wanted fugitives. today, after more than 15 years on the run, he finally went on trial before an international court at the hague, in the netherlands.
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a prosecutor opened the case. >> your honors, two decades ago this past month, bosnian serb leaders commenced an attack on their fellow citizens of bosnia and herzegovina, civilians who were targeted for no other reason than they were of an ethnicity other than serb. >> woodruff: mladic faces 11 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes tied to the bosnian civil war in the 1990s. his forces besieged sarajevo for 44 months and they carried out the mass killing of nearly 8,000 muslim men and boys in srebrenica in july of 1995, the worst massacre in europe since world war two. he was arrested just a year ago this month in serbia. today, a group of muslim women watched the trial on television om a home in srebrenica.
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>> ( translated ): i am furious. why were they waiting so long for this? why did we have to wait for so long for him to be arrested? why did we have to wait for a whole year to begin this trial? i wish he does not die. i wish him to suffer. i beg god to punish him. human punishments are weak. >> woodruff: but in the town of pale, this group of bosnian serbs applauded mladic as they watched the court procdings. >> the international community and the hague are still leading anti-serb politics. they never mention the opposite side, while this great man, our general, is kept behind bars in very bad health. >> woodruff: now 70 years old, mladic has denied any wrongdoing, insisting he only defended bosnian serbs. meanwhile, the bosnian serbs' overall leader radovan karadzic is also on trial at the hague. he was arrested in 2008. and former yugoslav and serbian president slobodan milosovic died in prison in 2006 before a verdict was reached in his case.
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a shortime ago i spoke to author and journalist michael dobbs, who's currently a fellow at the u.s. holocaust memorial museum. he covered the bosnian war and has return to the region to interview mladic's victims. today, he was inside the courtroom at the hague. michael dobbs, welcome. so this all goes back many years now. you were in the courtroom today. what was it like? what was the atmosphere? >> well, there were a lot of spectators in the courtroom who been victims of the war in bosnia. ey were filling out lf t courtroom. and there was some back-and-forecast, not orally but visually between them and ratko mladic. when mladic came into the court, he waved at these spectators, did a thumbs-up. some of them waved back. others cursed him. he seemed to relish being in the presence of people who could be described as his victims.
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>> brown: so, take us back in time to what this is all about. this was a horfic war i so ma ways. what made srebrenica in particular stand out? >> well, seb neets aftershock the final episode in a horrific three-and-a-half-year war in bosnia, in europe itself. srebrenica was the worst massacre to occur in europe since world war ii. people had said after the holocaust "never again," and here it was happening on europe's own doorstep. and the great paths led by the united states were unable to do anythi about it. at srebrenica it's now been established pretty conclusively, that at least 7,000 muslim prisoners were executed in cold blood by mladic's forces and another 1,000 were killed as they tried to reach government-held territory to the
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north. after the massacre in seb neets affinally the west got its act together and began the-- what led to eventually-- to the peace gotiations. thisas t first big conflict after the end of the cold war, and for a long time, for three and a half years, the united states and other western governments proved inadequate to the challenge. >> brown: so this particular tribunal, i gather, was set up soon after the war, so long ago, only now in the last years are we getting to some of these very high players, high generals and leaders. why did it take so long? >> actually, the tribunal was set up during the war in what was interpreted then as a kin of token gesture of solidarity with t victims. that's 20 years ago. and it took them the best part of two decades to bring the most
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high-profile war criminals, including mladic and the president of the bosnian serb republic, to court. for a long time, mladic was wondering about bosnia in belgrade, but nobody dared to go and arrest him. hfs only last yea that mladic was finally arrested in his cousin's house in a remote village in northern serbia, and transferred to the hague. so i think at the beginning, it was a lack of political will, and it's taken two decades to get over that. >> brown: if you bring the story right up to today, we see these very different responses to mladic. we see it in this tape of people reacting very much for him, very much against him. so these divisions are still very much with us? >> right. in one sense, the war criminals won, in the sense that bosnia is
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an ethnically divided country now. and i was there fairly recently, and you go to the muslim side and the kurd side and the serb side, and you get three different narratives of what happened, and we saw that reflected in the reaction to the trial today. in the muslim side, of course, there's a lot of joy that mladic has finally been brought to court. on the serbian side, there's still a denial about the basic facts of what happened at srebrenica, and in other parts of bosnia. and among many serbs, mladic is still regarded as a hero. and he plays on that in his courtroom appearances. >> brown: finally, michael, how will this trial proceed? how long is it supposed to last? >> well, they think it's going to last about two years, which, believe it or not, is theast tracfoheugoslav war
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crimes tribunal. they want at all costs to avoid what happened to, in the case of the former leader, milosevic, who died while his trial was going on. there were originally 196 charges separate incidents against mladic, and they cut the indictment to 106 charges. so they put him on the fast track. he is not in good health. he suffered several strokes while he was on the run. so it's anyone's guess whether he's actually gointo last in e end ofhis tri. but today at least, he seemed in pretty good health. >> brown: all right, michael dobbs in the headache, thank soaches. >> woodruff: now to our series on the dropout problem in america. personal experiences outside of pure academics often contribute to whether a student may leave school. tonight, we visit st. petersburg, florida, where one eighth grader's enthusiasm for journalism has helped shine a
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light on problems in his school, while at the same time brightening his future. ray suarez reports for our american graduate project >> reporter: this is how 14- year-old deqonton davis starts every school day in st. petersburg, florida. he wakes up early and walks his 12-year-old sister terrijana six blocks to the bus stop. to the casual eye, his family's neighborhood seems pleasant and sunny. but on closer look, the scars of poverty and a lingering recession become apparent. high unemployment, foreclosures and some of e highest crime rates in the city. last month, deqonton says he began making it a point to walk with his sister, after a man she didn't know repeatedly tried to get her into his car. terrijana refused and got away unharmed. >> i always was raised in the hood, never in the quiet place. we always have violence, trouble
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something always going wrong and every day. you got loud music, loud people, drinking, smoking, drugs everything in that one little neighborhood. it turns the whole neighborhood into a bad zone. >> reporter: the family lives in an area of st. petersburg known as midtown-- a predominately african american section of the city that was at one time largely segregated. deqonton believes midtown's problems have had a profound effect on many students growing up in the neighborhood. and two years ago, he noticed a trend of violence starting on social media websites and spreading to his classrooms here at john hopkins middle school. >> my sixth grade year, we had 100 and something arrests and most of the time the fights with some gangs and stuff that happened at home from facebook and twitter and all that stuff from home and they came into the
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school. we had police every day at the school and i really didn't like that. >> reporter: what the violence did was spark an idea for deqonton. he hoped to shine a light on the roots of the fighting and why it was happening at john hopkins. deqonton led a team of his classmates in producing a video for the pbs "newshour" reporting labs, which showcases student journalism across the nation. >> they put us in groups and they was talking about gangs, drugs and fights and how that's making a bad influence on our school and i said the gangs and the bullying and stuff might happen at home. something that happened at home from their anger and frustration, they bring it in school and the oy wato te it out is to fight but to yell at the teacher or do something bad.
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>> reporter: the students questioned other students. >> i just like to fight because it's in my blood. >> reporter: teachers... >> when you have a disagreement in the neighborhood the easiest place to find the person is in school. >> reporter: and even administrators and the campus police, in search of answers as to what was causing the dramatic number of arrests and assaults at john hopkins. the end result was a striking six-and-half minute report titled "fighting chance," a deeply honest look at the problems inside the school. >> in 2010, a police officer was shot and killed in the neighborhood. while police searched for the suspect, john hopkins was closed for the day, and students had to go to another middle school. after a day of searching, 16 year-old nicholas lindsey was caught and charged with the officers murder. lindsey is a john hopkins alumni. >> reporter: the video was produced as part of a communications magneprogram in
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the pinellas county school district, known as journeys in journalism. the program places professional journalists in three st. petersburg title one schools, including deqonton's. >> there was never a doubt in deqonton's mind that he wanted to do this story. >> reporter: journeys in journalism coordinator cynda mort says deqonton and his classmates took on a complex and sensitive issue that adults have been trying to deal with for years. >> so far this year there has been four instances of teachers who have been assaulted by a student. >> reporter: mort says the video is exactly the type of work she hoped would be created when the program was launched ten years ago. her goal was to teach students as young as kindergartners. >> reporter: all the way through high school... the fundamentals of news
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gathering. >> there wasn't any journalism program that was trying to reach students in k-5 anywhere across the country, so i came up with the four core concepts: curiosity, observation, accuracy and fairness and just sort of took those as a starting point and tried to figure out how to connect those concepts on a level that even a kindergartner would begin to understand. >> reporter: deqonton joined the program following elementary school and his teachers said he showed an immediate knack for photography. deqonton's mother, laqonya stewart says that journalism has been a blessing for the family and that it has helped her son become more outgoing. but she says she was not expecting him to produce such a well thought out video on the violen at his scol. >> that was kind a of shocker because that's not a conversation that most teenagers as boys talk about or say that wait this is not the problem it starts before then. >> reporter: and the surprise didn't stop there, when the video was being made john
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hopkins principal barry brown was one of the first subjects to be interviewed. he says his middle schoolers have been so professional, he first thought adults were doing most of the work. >> i think my first take i made them stop. my first interview i had some kids come in and i mean i had to pull data. and i was like guys who wrote these questions? and they were looking at each other and finally one of the kids was like i did. >> reporter: in fact, that was eighth grader and lead reporter alexis barnhart grilling principal brown. >> we needed to come up with hardcore questions that give us the answers that we need for the project. you have to show them that you are actually serious and they can actually hold a conversation with you. >> reporter: while brown admits being nervous about how the video would reflect on his school, he says the journalism program has been great for both students and faculty at john hopkins, where violence and fighting have declined in the last two years.
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>> how often does a middle school kid get a chance to come in with his own list of questions that they developed themselves and question a principal that and that principal is going to have to give them some answers. so i think it definitely establishes some professionalism for the kids. >> reporter: for deqonton, who wants be a fire fighter and a photographer when he grows up, journalism has given him a reason to stay in school. >> if i didn't have a camera i would probably be led up with the wrong people and doing the wrong stuff and i wouldn't probably make it to coege. >> reporter: and as for his video, which drew attention from local media outlets and is now gaining national exposure,
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deqonton says there is one person in particular he's hoping will watch it. >> i want the president to see what i could do and see what young kids, young black american kids. and i want them to know that somebody out there is trying to learn and trying to get their education right be a good adult dad and community when he grow up. >> rorter: deqonton and his fellow journalists in st. petersburg are now working on a video that is examining the lack of male influence in the lives of some of their classmates. >> woodruff: we have more online from our series, including a look at a day in the life of a first-grade journalist. "american graduate" is a public media initiative funded by the corporation for public broadcasting. >> brown: next, how paralyzed patients are using their minds to control robotics.
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margaret warner looks at a major advance. >> warner: for the first time, researchers have shown that patients paralyzed from the neck down can manipulate robotic arms with their thoughts. a new report in the journal nature documents two cases involving victims of brain-stem strokes. one-- 58-year-old quadraplegic cathy hutchinson-- was able to direct a mechanical arm to pick up a bottle of coffee and bring it to her lips. it was the first time she'd been able to drink without assistance neay 15 years. the so-called "braingate" system relies on a sensor of electrodes implanted in the motor cortex of the brain, which controls movement. simply put, the patient's thoughts are relayed from the sensor to a computer, which sends instructions to the robotic arm. in brain-gate's previous breakthrough six years ago, the patient was able to move a computer cursor through his
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thoughts. for more on all this, we turn to doctor lgh hochbg, a crical care urologist at massachusetts general hospital. he's co-director of the braingate research team, which includes brown university and the department of veterans affairs, among others. with us. how big an advance is this this in the sort-long-term goal of trying to restore movement to patients who are paralyzed? >> i think that this is a nice and important step in the field that's evolving a we tryfor people who arenab to mo their arms or their legs to develop a technology that would restore either communication or mobility. >> warner: and how does this brainigate system actually work? if you can, try to explain in lay man's terms? in other words, to transmit the intent of the patient to this
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artificial limb. >> that's right. as you described, the motor cortex, which sits right on the top of the braen, is very important for the control of voluntary movement-- for example, the movement to reach out and pick up a coffee cup. the's smalreal este of microelectrodes in the cortex, and the brain signals, the neurons, we capture that electrical activity, which is really the language of the nervous system. that's passed by some fine wires to a pedestal or plug that protrudes just above the head, and then during research sessions, that electrical activity is brought down to some computers, and the job of those computercomputers is to decode t neural activity-- that is, to decode the intended movement of someone who, for example, might be trying to reach out with their arm a hand disarg now thwomain t study, cathy hutchinson, hadn't moved any limb in nearly 15 years, yet, her brain-- you captured this-- was still sending signals-- able to send signals to do so. that was surprising?
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>> yeah. she had had no functional use of her limbs for over 15 years. she had a little residual movement movement of her arms but it was of no function for her. it was very encouraging for neurorehabilitation and the potential to harpas these brain signals going forward, even 15 years afterruly devastating stroke that essentially disconnected a perfectly working brain from a perfectly working body that she was able to think about the movement of her own hand. we were able to record those dismlz she was able to reach out and pick up that thermos of coffee. >> warner: what sorts of patients could be helped by this? in other words, what sorts of injury or damage would this basically transcend or bypass? >> in our ongoing pilot clinical trial of the brainigate nurlal interface system, an investigatal medical device, we're examining how it might work in people unable to move
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their arms or legs. this technology, though, and the ability to record from ensembles of single brain cells-- that is many different individual brain cells -- simultaneously, to me suggests some great potential that we would be able to use those signals for people who may perhaps be not so physically impaired as the people that i was describing and the folks who so kindly helped us in this nuscript. >> sreenivasan: bu i mean, thsortof damage, spinal cord injuries, these two had brain stem strokes. what sorts of injuries could it help and what sorts couldn't it the? >> exactly reet. so for people with spinal cord injury, with brain stem stroke, with a.l.s., lou gehrig's disease, these are all injuries or diseases. from the person who has this injury or disease is perfectly weak or alert, able to appreciate everything in the environment, ablto think and
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haevery desire toove and communicate. it's for those types of injuries or diseases that this early initial research is being focused. >> warner: so in other words, the brain's motor cortex, as it's known, that still has to be intact and functioning? >> well, we're recording right now from the motor cortex, which is one of many parts of the brain that are involved in the control of movement. so while we're learning a lot and really we've gotten to this point the result of more than 40 years of publicly funded science and clinical research, tond how this part and other parts of the ain work. but it's quite possible that this same array or other technologies would be able to record from other parts of the brain that are similarly involved in the control of movement displarg could this also work for amputees? >> as sponsored by the department of veterans affairs, part of this paper published today in "nature," we're testing the feesibility for whether this type of brainigate recorded signal-- that is, the signals
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that can be harnessed from inside the brain-- might be of use for the ctrol of a new and advanced prostheticimb, such as the decca prosthetic limb that was discussed in the paper. >> warner: so how far away are we? how far away are families from this having any practical use? >> that's the critical question,sh, and i'm encouraged by the stage of the research that we're at and the progress that we're making. there's still a lot of research left to do, and if i look to the future and think about something like either of the two participants in this paper, both of whom not only can't move their arms and their limbs or their arms and their legs in any functional way, t also can't speak, i'm hoping that this tiech technology would first be able to restore communication-- for example, to be able to type on a security screen. later on, perhaps, to be able to control a robotic assistive device. put the real dream for the research is to one day reconnect brain to limb and to bring those signals from the brain back down to the arm, to stimulate the
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peripheral nerves in the arm and to allow that person with paralysis to reach out and pick up that coffee cup again displarg using their own muscles. dr. leigh hochberg, thank you so much. and online you can watch more video showing how brains and machin can interact. find a link on our home page. >> woodruff: we turn to the courtroom drama involving the 2004 democratic vice presidential nominee john edwards. edwards faces charges he violated campaign finance laws by securing funds for his mistress, rielle hunter. after more than three weeks, the defense rested today without calling edwards or hunter to testify. closing arguments are tomorrow. michl biesecker of the associated press was inside the courtroom, and joins us now from greensboro, north carolina. thank you for being with us.
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before i ask you about what happened today, michael bieseckler, give us a sense of what the prosecution laid out over the time that it was in charge. >> reporter: well, the prosecution presented 14 days of testimony from very close friends of edwards and former aides that presented him largely as a liar be a liar who lied about his affair, who lied about fathering a baby with his mistress, and who highed about his knowledge of the money and covering it up. they represented their case with an abc interview in 2008 where they repeated all the lies and played it for the jury. the defense had to try to mitigate the damage in presenting its case. >> woodruff: how did the defense do that? and, again, in just over two days, what did the defense say? >> reporter: well, since they at any time put edwards on the stand they had to attack the credibility of those who questioned his. they attacked the aide, andrew young, who initially claimed the
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baby,. the defense used the youngs' own financial statements to show much of the money they received, almost $1 million in total between two donors, was funneled to build their $1.6 million dream home in chapel hill. it didn't go to the cover-up of the affair, at least the majority of it. >> woodruff: is there a sense, an understanding of why the dense decided not to call jn wards, celebrated trial lawyer throughout most of his career, or rielle hunter, the mistress? >> well, on edwards, obviously, he made his living before he entered politics, situationing jurors, and after entered politics situation voters. but he took-- he would have stood a whitherring cross-examination about his past lives, about his sex life bthe baby he fathered and denied for two years. and i think they-- when they did the risk analysis, they felt the prosecutions case was weak enough that they didn't have to
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expose edwards to the risk of what he might be forced to say on cross-examination. for hunter, if they-- if the defense put her on the stand, that would just potentially remind jurors of the affair and the sordid tabloid nature of this whole scandal. >> woodruff: what about the core of this, "the notion this a ceem finance law may have been violated here? the core of that argument, does either side-- there some sort of consensus that either sides has the-- made the better case on that? >> certainly the defense contend edwards had very little knowledge of the cover-up and money used in it. but the defense has hammered that this was money that flowed from a third party, the wealthy donors, to another third party, the aide young and the mistress rielle hunter. edwards never touched the money. it never went through his
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campaign account. and they argued these were personal expenditures between two individuals that didn't have anything to do with the candidate or his campaign, essentially a gift. the prosecution counters that it was clearly a campaign finance violation because the money was intended to influence the outcome of the election. i.e., hiding the mistress from the public, and keeping edwards' campaign viable as he went through the early flares 2008. >> woodruff: tell us, what has it been like covering this trial? it has got know so much attention because of the sensational details, watching-- we've seen pictures of john edwards coming and going with his parents, with his daughter. tell us about at side of this trial. >> well, for those of us from north carolina, we watch john edwards' meteoric rise if a local trial attorney to senator to vice presidential nominee for the democratic party. and as rapid as that rise was, his life fell apart even faster,
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and all the sordid details, some of comrp previously unknown bthat fall, have tumbled out into the courtroom. you know, it's-- it's shakespearean in its dramatic nature, and certainly there have been ments in the testimony, especially t testimony about his deceased wife, elizabeth edwards, and an argument they had at an airport in raleigh when she ripped over her blouse when she challenged him about the affair. some of the testimony was so emotional, that it hadn't his daughter fleeing in tears. the defense has tried to refocus from all that emotion, all that sex, all that scandal back to the central technical legal issue of were these campaign finance violations and take the emotion out of it. and they had some success in trying to do that in the last two ys. >> woodruff: well, closing arguments tomorrow. we will be watching. thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> brown: finally tonight, we
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remember mexico's grand man of letters. ray suarez is back with that story. >> suarez: carlos fuentes was a prolific writer, penning novels, essays, newspaper articles and even an opera. recognized as one of latin america's greatest literary figures and a politically outspoken artist, fuentes brought stories from mexico to the world stage. dieyesterday at thege of 83 in mexico city. to discuss his life and work we are joined by ilan stavans who teaches literature at amherst college in massachusetts, and edited the norton anthology of latino literature. professional staff ans, welcome back to the program. i keep hearing carl fuentes referred to as a novelist, but that seems too small a box to put him the into. >> yes, too small. i think he was a renaissance man. he perfected the role of the international man of letter and ery me o of his kindidize, we think the last public intellectual has passed away.
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i'm not going to fall into that kind of lazying thinking. there are others, but carl fuentes represented the passion for the ideas, the engagement for politics and the vision that you could go from one culture to the other, from one language to the next, and engage audiences in their own realm, bringing the passion of thought through writing but also through lectures, through all sorts of strategies that he could come up with. he w reay a man that believed in the idea that ideas are at the center of our democratic society. >> suarez: in 2012, an american student who finishes hool, maybe goes on to college, it likely to read a latin american writer. but take us back to 1958, when fentes' first novel appeared. it was a very different scene, wasn't can? >> mex cae was seen to be an awkward, primitive country with
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little to offer towestn sill braigz, and it was fentys and a cadre of writers, that believed the european novel, the north american novel had both run their course and it was time for the latin american pen to stand up to the world stage and present a different vision of what literature was all about and the idea of politics and the imagination together could result in. he, together with grielle markas, and with julio cartasa, from argentina were at the foremonforefront of a movement d the latin american lit real estate boom, and presented latin america as a factory of dreams and as a factory of thought that others had to be taken-- had to take into consideration.
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at one point, one of his friends and eventually his enemies, octaveio parse ed, at that ti latin america entered the banquetest west, and it was thanks to these writers that it was possible to do so. certainly, fentes was at the forefront of that movement. >> suarez: but he was hardly from central casting for that role, was he? this is a man born outside his country in panama, into a diplomatic family, spent much of his formative years in the united states. didn't even really live in mexico full time until he was a teenager. >> and that was in some measure the element that caused lots of rentment in in meco toward fentes. he was a man both admired, celebrated, but also pushed aside, pushed to the distance in some ways, certainly in the last period of his life. he believed that he was the spokesperson for mexico, the voice for the voiceless in his
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country. but many in his own country, and in other parts of the world, question to what extent did he really-- was he really part of mexico? and i think that we finally have gone beyond that kind of stereotyl approach. you have to be brn in your country. you have to go through the education in it in order to represent it. he was a man who had as his base mexico. >> professor, we'll continue our conversation online. ill an stavans, thank you for joining us. >> this was a pleasure. thank you for having me. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: republicans and president obama began drawing battle lines over raising the nation's debt limit later this year in a replay of last year's battle. and former bosnian serb general ratko mladic went before an international tribunal, on charges of war crimes and genocide in the bosnian civil war.
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online, we start a new series to mark national women's health week. kwame holman has the details. kwame? >> holman: we profile a san francisco woman struggling with fertility treatment and battling cancer at the same time. that's on our health page. judy spoke with former senator bill bradley about his prescription for ending gridlock in washington. watch their conversation on our politics page. ever wonder why the world doesn't share a single currency? paul solman explains on his making sense page. plus, on art beat, two prominent russian poets discuss a recent march in moscow in which a group of writers led 10,000 people to protest president putin. all that and more is on our web site: judy? >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll talk with treasury secretary timothy geithner about the state of the
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u.s. economy, unemployment and more. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> growing up in arctic norway, everybody took fish oil to stay healthy. when i moved to the united states almost 30 years ago, i could not find an omega-3 fish oil that worked for me. i became inspired to bring a new definiti of sh oiluality to the world. today, nordic naturals is working to fulfill our mission of bringing omega-3s to everyone, because we believe omega-3s are essential to life. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations.
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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. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh
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