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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  February 24, 2013 9:00am-11:00am PST

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and contact! tony stewart, a terrible crash! >> new questions today about fan safety following that harrowing, frightening wreck that injured dozens at the famous daytona speedway. it all happened saturday when a pack of drivers jockeying for first place barreled right into each other in the final lap and one car went flying into the fence. 28 spectators were hurt when they got hit with the flying debris. good day to all of you. welcome. we begin with that developing story. coming as drivers are fueling up right now for america's biggest and most famous auto race, the daytona 500. just a short time ago, track officials told reporters some fans who were injured in that crash are so devoted to the sport they insisted on returning to the track today. >> some of the patients who were released late last night and early this morning will be coming back to attend the vent, and we're going to make sure
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they've got good accommodations to enjoy the event. that was a key on some of the guests that were released. they wanted to make sure they could come back to the race today. >> janet shanleyian is in daytona. what else are we hearing? >> reporter: at that briefing from the speedway just a short time ago, they told reporters they are ready for today's race, that overnight they made the necessary repairs to the catch fence and the retaining wall, and the signature event here, the daytona 500, will go on as skem yu scheduled today. in terms of yesterday's crash, we know there are two critical but stable patients and one of them is a child. there will be a review of safety here at daytona. authorities say that that catch fence that really prevented a lot more debris from going up into the grandstands is 25 feet high, and there was a full safety review here in 2009. that followed the incident at talladega where debris went up into the grandstand, and eight
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people were hurt. but they will once again take a full review of what happened here and see what they can improve on. here's what they had to say. >> i think we've taupe a great job being prepared for our racing events. incidents do happen. and i think that those are the exception now. if you look at our 55 years in the business, we've got a pretty good safety track record, and so i think we're prepared today. and we met with nascar this morning to review everything we did last night, to actually inspect what we repaired. so i feel like we're going to do a great job for our fans today. >> reporter: we were here when this happened yesterday. at first all eyes were on the track. i mean, it was a terrible fire, basically the car was severed in two, and it was only in the moments after that you realized that there was something far more serious going on in the stands. and, in fact, the drivers involved were all treated and released. it was up in the stands that we had these very serious injuries. but as we turn to today and the daytona 500, there is a secondary story two-pointing here, and that is danica
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patrick. she's got the pole position. she's the first woman to ever have that. a lot of people are wondering and hoping she might win this race and take it pap woman for the first time. back to you, alex. >> wouldn't that be interesting. thank you, janet. front-page politics. pressure intensifying with just five days until massive budget cuts take effect barring any last-minute deal. members from both parties are ratchetting up the rhetoric and pointing fingers. here's bobby jindal and deval patrick of massachusetts both on "meet the press." >> the pet needs to step up to the plate and say to congress here's how you can cut $85 billion. delay the medicare and health care exchanges so they can work with states on waivers on flexibility. you could save tens of billions of dollars there and you're not cutting a program that even started yet. >> we've seen $2.5 trillion of budget kouts from this president and the only plan on the table to avoid sequester is the president's plan.
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this notion about not having leadership, this is about leadership, and the president has shown that a balanced approach, which is about cuts and closing loopholes that enables us to invest in the things that grow jobs -- >> also knew nu today, the "washington post" reports a bipartisan group of senators is close to a deal that would expand background checks to all private gun sales with limited exceptions. sources say the talks are being led by two republicans and two democrats and the plan is expected to earn gop support in the coming days. peter alexander joins me. good sunday to you. what else did we hear on the sequester issue today snr. >> a good question. a gorgeous day at the white house but not nearly as pretty as you look at the horizon, barely 100 hours from the sequester that leading democrats call stupid, they call dumb across the board cuts, the white house rolging out some of its top cabinet secretaries, arne duncan, raily lahood, to make i
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clear the potential impact of these cuts. david gregory this morning on "meet the press" suggests perhaps this is being overstated by the government. >> this is not your father's faa. this is an faa that has to meet certain contract obligations with our controllers. we know that air travel back at a par prior to 9/11, and we know that a lot of people are flying, and we're not making this up, daismd, and we're not making this up in order to put pain on the american people. we are required to cut a billion dollars, and we're going to do that unless congress gets together and works together and compromises on this -- >> all right. so you -- >> reporter: that's $1 billion from the department of transportation, less than 2% of its overall budget. but to give you an example of where the impact may exist for average americans, $600 million
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come out of the faa and a lot of that money will affect the security checkpoints that you experience around here. that more specifically comes from homeland security, but at airports there could be long delays at security checkpoints ultimately because of air-traffic controllers being affected. that could mean long delays on the tarmac. this is one of those balances where no one's exactly sure what it's going to look like. some republicans think the white house is overplaying its hand, the white house insisting this is going to be very bad. recognize some of though notices about furloughs and forced days off unpaid don't go out until march 1st, which means they won't go into effect until the start of april. there may be, as one observer described it, why it may look like a low-speed car crash. >> peter alexander, thank you for that. you've set us up for this next interview. joining me now, contributor to "newsweek" and the daily beast, pa tri ma murphy and mother jones staff reporter andy croel. thanks for joining me.
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patricia, five days until the cuts take effect. does either side have any real incentive to compromise? it seems like there's little common ground here, the president who wants revenues, republicans want only the spending cuts, and never the twain shall meet. >> there does not seem to be any ensi incentive for either side to compromise, and i don't understand that because both sides stand to lose significantly when it comes to going back to voters and explaining how this happened because both sides have their frinlts on this deal. the president did come up with the idea. 70% of republicans voted for it. so nobody is without blame in this situation. i think once you start to see how these sequester start to affect people not in d.c. but around the country, 780% 80% of change, the furloughs will happen outside washington. once people see their neighbors being affected, losing their jobs, security lines longer, people will see the effects of
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these cuts. there's no benefit to americans in their daily lives to see this happen with such a cleaver. and i think that everyone's going to start and the president and republicans will hear it. >> patricia makes a good about how we'll start to feel the effects potentially. what are you hearing about any realistic framework for a deal? does it have to be by this friday because the government doesn't run out of money until the end of march, that they feel like they've got these other four weeks or so to get this together. >> there is some talk of putting together a deal after the sequester begins to go into effect. we heard peter have this kwld of sl idea of slow-motion car crash, perhaps when people feel the effects, government parts make the cuts, perhaps that could nudge republicans and white house and congress to come to some agreement.
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once this thing is in effect. as you said, the looming potential government shutdown is a whole other battle that's yet to be played ow, more brinksmanship, but maybe again, like we saw with the fiscal cliff, maybe they need to see this thing actually go into effect before they feel the urgency to do something about it. >> okay. i want to get to one aspect of gun control, patricia, a new report in "the washington post" says there are senators close to a deal on background checks for most private gun sales. but then there's disagreement over whether the government should keep records of those sales. here's gop senator tom coburn, part of this group. >> i don't think we're that close to a deal, and there absolutely will not be recordkeeping on legitimate law-abiding gun owners in this country. and if they want to eliminate the benefits of actually trying to prevent the sales to people who are mentally ill and to criminals, all they have to do is create a recordkeeping, and that will kill this bill. >> so how close are they to getting something they can agree upon and potentially pass?
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>> i think they're closer than they've been obviously in the last 10 to 20 years. the senate has been unwilling to take up gun control legislation, so i think they're closer than they have been, but with this congress that really means absolutely nothing. for senator coburn, who is the lead republican on this, for him to be laying the groundwork to step away from this if pieces of that legislation aren't the way he wants them to be, if there is this concept of sort of universal list of who owns guns and who doesn't, that has always been just a total deal killer for republicans and moderate democrats, by the way, so i think that they're closer than they ever have been, but that is not close enough if tom coburn doesn't like the way it looks. the senate will start to look at this in committee this week, and democrats know time is starting to run out. their momentum is slowing down. we start to get into the sequester, start to get into the budget shutdowns, the government shutdowns, people are going to lose their focus on this issue if democrats don't move quickly. >> andy, nra ceo wayne lapierre spoke last night and his
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organization released a new ad. >> they don't make us free. we're free already. and as long as we have the second amendment, we always will be. we are america, and our politicians are only as powerful as we, the people, allow them to be. >> the message from the nra just doesn't change. how much influence does it still have? >> it doesn't have influence with television ads like that. i mean, that's an ad that they put out there, i mean, tries to appeal to patriotism or appeal to something, i'm not really quite sure. but the nra as a political entity, as an outside group, they do have power. it's not a power wielded with ads like that. it's power wielded in republican primaries, it's power wielded with the threat of mobilizing nra members, to, you know, knock on doors and try to, you know, get someone thrown out of office whether in the primary or the general election. that is where the far naer's might is really felt.
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now we're seeing folks on the other side sort of pop up to counter that. mayor mike bloomberg's superpac, but the nra really, when they wield their power, you know, it is about threatening lawmakers or use support say a registry for gun owners or universal background check, we're going to come after you in election time. >> let's talk about john mccain and immigration, that really tense town hall that he held last week for immigration in his home state. let's take a look at the senator's comments as a result of that. take a listen to this. >> some people say, oh, look at that. that's what town halls are supposed to be about. that's why they're always packed. i didn't believe that that person was correct with his facts. so i fired back at him. and people said good, that's what we want to hear. this is a debate we want to hear. i'm proud of that. and if anybody doesn't like it, then you don't have to come to the town hall meeting. >> did you see what he did
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originally at that town hall? he called t ted the border fenc banana, and he got very testy and was really fighting back against some of his constituents there. how does the gop make strides on this issue if that's the tenor of the kind of conversations we're having around this country regarding immigration? >> that probably strikes a lot of fear into your average republican who has any kind of town hall scheduled over the next couple months while immigration is being debated. listen, republicans know what happened in the last election. they can read the polls. they know the hispanic population is the fastest growing segment of the population and they can't continue to afford to lose it by such gigantic margins. republicans are willing to take the heat at the town halls in order to set themselves up for the next election. they've never been talking in ten years about their willingness to move on immigration reform. i think republicans will be much more willing than they have been in the past and will have to gird themselves for their town halls as they do it.
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>> okay. guys, we have to take a break now. andy, i'll begin with you the next time you're on. how's that? >> sounds great. >> thank you so much. >> thanks. in west coast headlines, professional athletes making big money on workers' comp. also, a strange coincidence in the case of oscar pistorius. really getting salon quality... or settling for wannabes? stop compromising! new vidal sassoon pro series. care and styling from the original salon genius, created to let you have it all at an affordable price. new vidal sassoon lets you say no to compromise and yes to very shiny... very silky... very sexy... very you. it's salon genius in a bottle! now in your store. new vidal sassoon pro series. salon genius. brilliantly priced.
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to the completely unexpected. and you'll only have to think about a list... when you cross this, off your own. los angeles. endlessly entertaining. plan your getaway at some headlines making news out on the west coast. the las vegas sun has the headline, "suspect named in strip mayhem." police say amar harris is behind thursday's predawn shooting and crash that killed three people and injured several others. and the seattle ti"seattle time running a story about how pro athletes are cashing in on california's workers' comp. the state has reportedly awarded millions of dollars in benefits for job-related injuries to thousands of athletes including many who played for out-of-state
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teams. among those reportedly receiving money, moses malone and dallas cowboys great michael irvin. to vatican city, where more than 100,000 gathered in stst. peter's square to hear pope benedict read the angelus to the faithful one final time. anne thompson joins us. the world just saw benedict xvi on that balcony window for the last time. what's the mood been there to y today? >> reporter: i think a lot of gratitude and also sadness to see him retire. but peoplens why he wants to retire. he's 85. he told the crowd that he's not going to abandon the church, alex. he said that in instead god has asked him to lave life of more prayer and meditation, and he says that's more appropriate for someone of his age and his strengths. >> yeah. you know, not to besmirch all this, but there were some reports circulating in some
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italian papers about blackmail being a reason why the pope was stepping down. how does the vatican address that? >> the vatican has come back very strongly against those reports, alex. they were in a paper called la republica this past week. and the vatican took the unusual step yesterday, the vatican secretary of state, of calling -- of issuing a statement calling the situation beplorable, accusing the news media of running false reports to try to influence the election of the next pope. and, in fact, the secretary of state went so far as to call these reports unverified, unverifiable, and completely false news reports. >> what's the word on when the conclave begins? >> reporter: that's the $64,000 question here, alex. nobody is quite sure. we are told that the vatican is going to hold a very important news briefing tomorrow. it's expected perhaps at that
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time that we will learn something about -- something that's called a mottu propriu that the pope could goif change the start date or the pope could do that himself. currently it's scheduled to start between march 15th and march 20th, but because they're saying good-bye on march 28th, some think it should be sooner. >> when you get the answer to the $64,000 question, bring it to us. a bizarre new tryst twist in the pistorius murder saga. carl pistorius, the older brother of oscar, is also facing a homicide charge for his alleged involvement in a motorcycle accident. this according to the pistorius family lawyer. more on that as it develops. first let's bring in legal analyst lisa greene to discus oscar pistorius's premeditated murder charge. good to see you. >> nice to sew you. >> let's talk about the lead investigator who was taken off
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that case. there was the discrepancy of whether or not steroids were found in the house. there's a lot of things that are being put out there. is this all for a reasonable doubt case? >> well, it's going to matter less and less as time goes on. and it definitely looked like a hectic week with some keystone kop activity. we've all been down this road before, and it's perfectly appropriate for the defense to point out holes in the investigation. but, alex, we are closer to the beginning than we are to the end of this case, and in the intervening months until pistorius stands trial, both sides are going to trache a lot of care in building evidentiary kalss to support their points of view. >> so the fact he was granted bail, does that weigh at all once this trial starts? or is that just a matter of fact? >> it was sort of a minitrial. in many ways some legal analysts there say the prosecution was trying to draw the defense out. pistorius has given a sworn statement. that's admissible at trial, too. so both sides have a preview, we all have a preview of what's going to happen at trial. but it's a whole new thing, a
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real reset. >> it's also so different for us because this trial will be in the hands of a judge. >> that's right. >> not a jury. how does that change things? >> i think it could be significant, alex. there are no jury trials in south africa. they've been abolished for decades. the conventional wisdom is judges are much less easily swayed by gossip, by public relations efforts, and by all accounts the south african judiciary is really professional. so you're going to see judge who is recognize the scope of this case. it's not just about a murder. it implicates a lot of societal issues. they are going to be sober and serious in sticking to the facts, not letting things like celebrity, money, other outside influences, influence their decision in this case. >> what about the image of pretoria, south africa, as being not a particularly safe city, the fact he kept guns around him, add the fact he is physically handicapped, and concerned for his safety. how much does that all play into defense? >> you know, i had an
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interesting comfointerest ing conversation this morning with a friend who works in south africa. he was once victimized by what he thought was an intruder entering his home. he said he was 18 years old, before i pulled out my legal weapon and before i thought about shooting, i did a mental inventory in my mind, who was home, is my mother home, my brother. it's his opinion, and i bet this is shared by other south africans, that using this self-defense defense feels in a way unfair to them, that it sort of colors their society as a much more dangerous place than perhaps is warranted under these facts. but of course it's an understandable defense and does resonate some in a country where there is a lot of violent crime. >> we'll look forward to seeing this as this nonjury trial gets under way. thank you very much, lisa green. florida, a new report today about what happened when tea party politics in the sunshine state, it is not a picture post kard scene. mr. clean magic eraser extra power
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now to today's number ones. which states will be hardest hit if the sequester cuts take effect and remain. the biggest loser, california, which could see nearly 126,000 defense-related jobs disappear. virginia would suffer the second biggest blow with almost 123,000 jobs followed by texas' loss of 91,500 jobs. high unemployment is just one reason detroit tops "forbes" magazine's new list of the nation's most miserable cities. other reasons, detroit has the nation's highest violent crime rate and the state's considering taking over the city because it's gone broke. its neighbor, flint, is second most miserable followed by rockford, illinois. chicago fourth most miserable due to a bad housing market, long commutes and brutal winters. modes modesto, california, rounding out the top five. toy story's buzz and woody may not be surprised to hear hawaii is the happiest state in
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america. people in hawaii used more positive language. the saddest, louisiana. and beaumont, texas, wins the dubious distinction of saddest city. napa, california, deemed the happiest. of course you'd be happy, too, in wine country. those are your number ones. [ designer ] enough of just covering up my moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. i decided enough is enough. ♪ [ spa lady ] i started enbrel. it's clinically proven to provide clearer skin. [ rv guy ] enbrel may not work for everyone -- and may not clear you completely, but for many, it gets skin clearer fast, within 2 months, and keeps it clearer through 6 months. [ male announcer ] enbrel may lower your ability to fight infections. serious, sometimes fatal events, including infections, tuberculosis, lymphoma, other cancers, nervous system and blood disorders, and allergic reactions have occurred. before starting enbrel, your doctor should test you for tuberculosis and discuss whether you've been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. you should not start enbrel if you have an infection like the flu.
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ya. alright, another one just like that. right in the old bucket. good toss! see that's much better! that was good. you had your shoulder pointed, you kept your eyes on your target. let's do it again -- watch me.
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just like that one... [ male announcer ] the durability of the volkswagen passat. pass down something he will be grateful for. good arm. that's the power of german engineering. ♪ back to you. welcome back, everyone. now headlines at the half. john kerry has left for europe and the mideast on his first overseas trip as secretary of state. he's expected to focus on the violence in syria and iran's nuclear program during his nine-nation, ten-day trip. at least 20 teenagers are under arrest after a disturbance at a mall in chicago. witnesses say the teens were fighting and trying to break into stores. several cars were vandalized. police say it was a group of 30 that started the chaos. and "us weekly" reporting kim kardashian and kanye west are expecting a baby girl. the magazine reports the couple are ecstatic about the news. in today's strategy talk,
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five days till the sequester, and washington's still playing the blame game. >> it appears that speaker boehner doesn't have any kind of bill that he can even put on the floor of the house that could pass within his caucus. and i think there is a little bit of a civil war that's broken out among the republican ranks. >> well, the crisis is made up, it's been created. i didn't support the sequester because that's a stupid way to cut spending. >> joining me now, retired admiral and former democratic congressman joe sestak and former republican congressman tom davis. thanks for joining me. it would appear to the casual observer no attempt has been made to come up with a reasonable compromise on the sequester. we've got both sides who would rather argue about who's at fault and point fingers. do beth democrats and republicans have incentive to not get a deal done? >> well, they may think they have as far as their party is concerned, but it's the american people that are going to be suffering, alex. i mean, 700,000 jobs will be
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lost. around i do think we have to do spending reductions, but this is such an unwise way to do it. i think these individuals at both end of pennsylvania avenue, the leaders of the two parties, actually have to assume responsibility for getting us into this mess. they should be in washington, d.c. they should actually be doing some sort of constructive engagement to try to get us through this mess. >> unless it's going to be a "rocky iv" days trying to get it done before friday. congress mapp davis, let's talk about the gop's incentive. if and when the sequester happens it will be a gradual process. any chance republicans want it to happen to temper people's fear of budget cuts? they'll see it's not so painful and then join the party line. is that potentially their ideology? >> well, i think you have to remember they agreed to these budget cuts as a condition of lifting the debt ceiling. so they count this as already in the bank. this is not the best way to do it. i think everybody will tell you that. but i think their base wants to see real cuts. some of these other cuts have
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been seen illusory. and i think the nary stif that they do not think this will be as bad, at least at the onset, as everybody is saying with gloom and doom. but this is going to have to play out. as you can see, both parties are taking their time blaming the other par fi for where we are instead of trying to negotiate a better way to make these cuts stick. >> but republicans said in the leadtown the fiscal cliff they refused to raise taxes. in the end, taxes went up. now they're refusing to raise them again. does this play out the same way? do they relent in the end? do taxes get raised? >> well, the agreement here was that these weren't going to be increases in taxes. these were going to be cuts. that was the agreement when this came in. they couldn't specify what the cuts would be, which is why they put together the super committee, but i think from a republican perspective, as you look at the history of this, these were going to be cuts. they just couldn't agree with what specific cuts there would be. this would kick in if they couldn't agree to anything else. but really tax increases were not under consideration when this came up. >> okay. i'd like to switch topics here
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and get to drones beginning with you, admiral -- admirable, as well. former white house press secretary robert gibbs was on with chris hayes earlier today. take a listen. >> when i went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was you're not even to acknowledge the drone program. you're not even to discuss that it exists. >> does it concern you that one of gibbs' first missives from the administration was deny something that everyone knew exist pd. >> i honestly do believe that setting aside classified information where you cannot, that transparency in government cannot do anything but serve the public well. the drone program is another type of weapon, one that can loiter for 24 hours over country and then in a moment take out an adversary that wants to do us harm. if this has to be classified about the specific operational mission at the moment, that's
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fine. but for the public not to know how we go about our business in the aftermath i think is absolutely wrong. look, i can tell you the value of a drone. i once placed, when i had command of my carrier battle group in the indian ocean, a ship off yemen. and it had, a $1 billion warship drill holes in the ocean waiting to shoot a tomahawk missile once we knew where the adversary was. of course we couldn't get it that quickly, but then a drone was flown over and just a little while over he was able to, as we say, pick hole a weapon off. immense benefit to the government, but we have to be transparent about how we go about warfare. >> but how much transparency do you think? where is that line? >> well, i think that if you actually are going to be able to target eve an u.s. citizen that is meant to do us harm, which this administration has said i think rightly we have the right to do, then there should be in
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camera, right to congress, that has oversight for our military. they tear ones who declare war. they're the ones that raise moneys for our military and provide for rules and regulations of our millionth by the constitution, should be able to then see post facto and watch to make sure that we have not gone too far. that's happened before as you know. and so therefore that's when you can review the processes if it has to remain classified. >> representative davis, and not implying here this is a major scandal at all, but the saying does go that the cover-up is always worse than the crime. >> right. >> is there any sense that's what's going on here? >> well, i don't think anybody foresaw the wide application of drone usage that the administration's undertaken. and i think you're going to have to have some transparency in terms of when are they going to be used, what are the protocols, some transparency on that, and of course after the fact. but i agree with joe. you know, when it's being utilized at the time, there's national security in not letting those kind of things happen. but it would be helpful to have
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some wide protocols and procedures that are transtransparent that everybody understands. these are widely used today. >> absolutely. >> and if i could, just for a moment, alex, you know, we do this now in our ability to listen in, that it goes to the court and we make sure we oversee this, to make sure we don't have -- what can happen in government is it then bends the rules too much. this is what we need, is the post facto look at this. >> see, there aren't any rules now, and that's the problem. >> that's i guess what we're getting to, what the rules will be. >> absolutely. >> thanks so much, you two. in today's "office politics," former new york city mayor david dinkins, the man responsible for locking up new york city as the home for the annual u.s. open tennis tournament. that is one of his many accomplishment ls as mayor. but first si i asked him about the legacy of the infamous crown height ls riots. >> rosenbaum would have been
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stabbed nonetheless. he was stabbed in the opening hours of the dispute out there. you will recall that gavin cato and his cousin were struck by a car in the motorcade. gavin was killed, his cousin was injured seriously, and the word went out that the ambulances had come and taken away the whites and left the black children to die. now, this was not true. but this spread, and it resulted in a gang attacking rosenbaum, who was stabbed more than once. i saw him in the hospital. they said he was going to be okay, but the doctors overlooked one of the wounds. and anyway, he died. and that was tragic. but if the police had done a better job, we would not have
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had the complaints that the city hall had sent out word to the police to not to hold back the blacks and let them attack the jews. that's untrue. never happened. >> what do you consider your greatest accomplishment? >> well, it's difficult to pick a single thing, but -- >> you can pick a few. >> okay. i think our safe streets, safe city program, where we put a surcharge on personal income tax to get the moneys to provide more police officers, if you need more cops, you need more assistant d.a.s and more probation and the rest. and our program was subtitled "cops and kids." and that has to be way up on the list. i will always be proud of what we were able to do in producing the u.s. open, to keep it here
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in new york city, and the u.s. open in two weeks generates more revenue into the economy of the city than the yankees, mets, knicks, and rangers combined. it's a number somewhere north of $700 million each year. and there were those who opposed that notion. fortunately, we prevailed. >> your love of tennis. where did that come from? >> i was a tennis fan way back, because i had met arthur ashe and althea gibson. there was a place in scotch plains, new jersey, a small black country club with a nine-hole golf course called shady rest. it was 1975 at wimbledon, where arthur played jimmy connors. jimmy was number one in the world. arthur was not supposed to prevail, but he did.
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arthur was a dear friend, and i called him the day he made his announcement that he had aids. and i was not one of the few that knew, but i called, and i said, hey, man, what are you doing? he said i'm going to a press conference. i said what's it about? and he told me. i said, can i come? he said, sure. so i was standing there with him and jeannie, and you will recall seeing the news clips, he couldn't get through his statement. he handled it to jeannie and she read it. read the balance of it. and this all because he had a transfusion in the days when you couldn't determine whether or not the blood was contaminated. but arthur, what a human being, and he founded, along with sheraton snyder and charlie, he founded something called the national junior tennis league, which continues today.
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>> i see pictures in your office of you with monica seles, you with serena williams. do you have a favorite female player? >> all time? would have to be serena. >> not a bad choice. she's still rocking. >> oh, yeah. next weekend, the issue of china's apparent cyber war on the u.s. and america's drone policy. discussion with the president of the council on foreign relations richard haass. the final favorites ahead of tonight's academy awards. >> be nice. she's making crappy snacks. come on, dad! mallon brothers magic? watch this -- alakazam! ♪ [ male announcer ] staples has always made getting office supplies easy. ♪ another laptop? don't ask. disappear! abracadabra! alakazam! [ male announcer ] and now we're making it easier to get everything for your business.
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"newsweek" and daily beast senior writer is here to help us pick from the flicks. great to see you. let's get right to the awards. we've seen "argo" as being the go-to for best picture. what do you think for tonight? >> i think "argo" wins. it's won all the gild awards, screen actors, the bathda, as nate silver wrote in "the new york times," it's won every precursor, kind of like the iowa caulks of the academy awards. i think it pulls out best picture as well. >> as we say, not nominated for best director. picked up all the other awards leading up to this. who's the contender for best director? >> i think this is a kind of tricky gat gory because ben affleck won a lot of directing awards and it was a surprise he wasn't nominated. steven spielberg, "lincoln" has the most number of nominations. i think he's the front-runner but there could be an upset. if there is, i think it will either be ang lee, who made "life of pi," a huge technical
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achievement, or david o. russell and "silver linings playbook." >> what about daniel day-lewis? is she a shoo-in for best actor? >> if you're doing an oscar, you should pick him. if he wins, which he will, i think, he'll make history. no actor has ever won best actor three times, for "my left foot," "there will be blood," and i think he gets it for "lincoln," one of the only times hollywood votes for a republican. >> what about best actress? >> jennifer lawrence has been winning a lot of precursor awards for silver linings playbook. jessica chastain might have a chance for "zero dark thirty" and emmanuelle riva for "amour," but both have an outside chance of winning but i think jennifer lawrence is probably going to win. a lot of fans know her as catness from the "hunger games."
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>> best supporting actress, does anne hathaway have it locked up? >> i think so. people will be looking to see whether or not her acceptance speech is as annoying as some of the others she gave and hopefully it will not be because she's winning all the awards but people on twitter haven't been loving her speeches. >> i love her as an actress. supporting actor. what do you have there? >> this is a little bit of a race. i think either tommy lee jones who plays thaddeus stevens in "lincoln," or it could go to robert de niro for "silver linings playbook." they're all winners. we'll see who picks up their second oscar tonight. >> what about seth mcfarlane? i have to say the promos i thought were particularly good and just clever and fun. how do you think he'll deliver as host? >> a lot of people may not know who he is. he's the creator of "family guy," he made "tag," the highest grossing movie that came out this year. he was selected so particularly younger guys tune into the
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academy awards. he did that with john stewart, didn't do that so well, did that with anne hathaway and james franco. the academy has the a mixed result when they go for younger, but i think he has a good chance of being funny. >> guys have like a gross humor? is that what you're trying to say? gross kind of dirty humor? >> yeah. he has kind of a dirty sense of humor. they want the 18 to 49-year-olds to watch. >> we may drop in. have fun. >> thank you so much. florida after the tea party, does the sunshine state have buyer's remorse? so, beginning today, my son brock and his whole team will be our new senior social media strategists. any questions? since we make radiator valves wouldn't it be better if we just let fedex help us to expand to new markets? hmm gotta admit that's better than a few "likes." i don't have the door code. who's that? he won a contest online to be ceo for the day. how am i supposed to run a business here without an office?!
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a shock to everyone. florida governor announced he would not opt out of the expansion to 1.3 million floridians in a particularly timely article in "mother jones." my next guest looks at how much
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of an effect governor scott and his tea party backers have had in florida. stephanie, staff reporter for "mother jones," welcome. >> hi. thanks for having me. >> glad you're here. governor scott certainly throw you for a loop with this announcement on wednesday. how surprised were you? >> i was not totally surprised because the signs were sort of there he was eventually going to change his mind. >> why do you think he did? >> well, what actually happened is the federal government gave florida a waiver so that they are going to be able to privatize most of their medicaid program. and scott had been saying all along that he would probably agree to the extension of medicaid if he could put all the people into private, like, hmo-type organizations under medicaid. >> okay. this article of yours paints frankly a disturbing picture of the health care system in florida. you have children abandoned in nursing homes. it cuts to disease prevention, public hospitals, rape crisis
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centers. how much of an impact with will the medicaid expansion have assuming it gets through legislature? >> actually, it will be huge. i think they're expecting -- if they keep it for the full ten years, florida could receive almost $70 billion in federal money. and they will basically be extending health insurance to about a million people, a little bit more than a million people who don't have it now. and that's a pretty enormous stimulus to the state. >> stephanie, this article isn't just about health care funding. it's really anything with big government's name on it. what else has been affected? >> well, rick scott came into office really as one of the few tea party elected officials in 2010, and he was opposed to taking any federal money that he thought was going to somehow affect the deficit or make the state of florida have to pay a little more money as part of its own share. so he made a lot of news when he turned down i think it was $2.4 billion in funding for a
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high-speed rail line between tampa and orlando. but there have been other less sort of notable event where is florida has turned down about $37 million in funds that were attached to the affordable care act but not part of obama care. they were just in the same bill to get funded. and that money would have helped people transition out of nursing homes and be able to be cared for in their own homes with their kids, their parents or elderly people with their children. and scott said no way, and the legislature also said we're not taking it because they perceived it to be as part of the affordable care act. >> so when you look at florida, is it fair to use it as a case study for the tea party system or were there other factors here as well? >> i think it's a fair case. i mean, florida has been a fairly republican and conservative state for a while. but in 2010, they elected scott and they also had a super majority of republicans in the state legislature that gave them quite a bit of control. and there are a lot of people in the legislature who were aligned
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with the tea party. it's one of a few states in the country where they've really followed through on a lot of those promises to cut spending, cut taxes, and to try to shrink the size of government. >> it's an interesting article in "mother jones." what it's it like to wake um from a tea party binge? just ask florida. stephanie, thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. the notre dame football player in the middle of that fake girlfriend scandal faces down cameras and rotters for the first time. with the spark cash card from capital one... boris earns unlimited rewards for his small business.
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congress, here's how you can cut $85 billion. delay the medicare exchanges and health care exchanges so they can work with states on waivers on flexibility. you could save tep tens of bill of dollars there and that's a program that hasn't started yet. >> we've seen $2.5 trillion of budget cuts from the president right now and the only plan on the table is the president's plan. so this notion about not having leadership, this is about leadership. and the president has shown that a balanced approach, which is about cuts and closing loopholes, that enables us to invest in the things that grow jobs. >> nbc's peter alexander joins me from the white house. peter weather another hello to you, lots of heavy hitters swinging out on this issue today. who else are we hearing from? >> reporter: that's right, alex. we heard from a couple of cabinet secretaries for the white house today, arne duncan and ray lahood from the transportation department. he indicated air travel could be crippled by this. the white house is trying to make it very clear to americans across the country that this is
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going to affect all of you, they insist, in one form or another. the ripple effect is significant, the defense department obviously will be affected specifically, civilian workers, more than 700,000 of them will get basically a 20% kay-pay cut. they will have one day of the week where they'll be furloughed, stay home and not get paid. beyond that we heard from ray lahood pushing back against some accusations, mostly republicans insisting this is an overexaggeration by the white house. take a listen. >> this is not your father's faa. this is an faa that has to meet certain contract obligations with our controllers. we know that air travel is back at a par prior to 9/11, and we know that a lot of people are flying, and we're not making this up, david, and we're not making this up in order to put pain on the american people. we are required to cut a billion dollars, and we're going to do
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that unless congress gets together and works together and compromises on this -- >> all right, so you -- >> reporter: also today we heard from bob mcdonald, the republican governor, alex, from the state of virginia. he said the quester was intended as a hammer not as a policy. he said and here we are less than a week away. that's the way a lot of governors specifically view this issue. obviously the states will be hard hit by it, many of those governors expected to be here at the white house later tonight meeting with the president. alex? >> all right. peter alexander at the white house, thank you, peter. the u.s. debt clock illustrates the nation's financial picture. currently the u.s. debt is about $16.5 trillion, which is a burden of more than $146,000 per taxpayer. now, if nothing is done to close the budget gap, the debt in four years at this race will rise to a staggering $22.5 trillion with each taxpayer's burden amounting to almost $185,000. joining me now, "new york times" congressional correspondent jonathan weizman and
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congressional reporter for "roll call," meredith shriner. thank you both. >> thanks for having us. >> jonathan, you write this last-minute deal to avoid the sequester unlikely, but there could be changes in where the cuts are made. who makes that decision? >> that's right. right now almost nobody makes the decisions because the rules laid out in 2011 in the budget control act says the cuts have to go across the board to affected programs and projects. you can't say i'm going to spare an aircraft carrier but hit a golf course. everything, every project, every program has to absorb the cut unless they were personally exempted frips like personnel in the military or social security. those are safe. everything that's not impacted, everything's going to feel it. now, there are members of congress, a lot of republicans, who want to at least give the administration more latitude to decide, you know, some programs don't work well, let's whack those, and let the programs that are most vital stay, like
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air-traffic controllers. that would really put democrats in a bind because the white house does not want that kind of latitude. they want to keep the pressure on. >> that is interesting. meredith, i want you to take a listen to congressman john yarmouth, with whom i spoke with earlier this weekend. >> the real deadline is march 27th because we run out of money -- funding authority anyway. we're going to have to come to some kind of agreement on how to fund the government between the end of the month and the end of the fiscal year, september 30th. so friday's kind of an artificial deadline. >> artificial deadline. one we keep all talking act, meredith, four days from now, and it's really march 27th. can you explain that? is that why there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency here? >> well, sure. i think that when you look at what the budget control act did, it had originally implemented the sequestration to begin at the beginning of the new year. but with the fiscal cliff deal, in addition to $650 billion of
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new revenue, congress basically in their typical fashion kicked the can down the road two months. so they created this march 1st deadline. but again, you want them to have some sort of other pressure to force them to act so the wide conventional wisdom has been that this march 27th deadline with the continuing resolution, which is that stop-gap measure that keeps the government funded, can put some extra pressure on lawmakers to come to the table. but i think the one thing to remember is the march 1st deadline is real and real cuts are going to happen. and you see the administration employing top cabinet members like secretary lahood, who made a surprise appearance at the press briefing on friday then again made the rounds on the morning talk shows this morning talking about the real impact of these cults. so the administration and senate democrats especially are hoping that in these three weeks, 3 1/2 weeks between this march 1st deadline and the march 27th deadline, the real cults and the real impacts will mean something to the american people and that there will be more pressure for republicans to come to the table and for lawmakers to negotiate a
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deal. >> you know, jonathan, meaning something to the american people, how about meaning something to our elected representatives? the people being cut here include congressional staff members, but it's not going to affect the paychecks of congressmen and women. >> no. >> do you think there might be a greater sense of urgency if the lawmakers were hit in their own pocketbooks? >> interesting, they exempted themselves and the white house is also exempted. you won't see furloughs in the oval office either. you know, they did go easy on themselves. you know, basically, they're going to act if they start hearing their constituents screaming. and both sides want to believe that this -- want to believe what they want to believe. a lot of republicans just don't believe they're going to really start seeing the real pain until after that march deadline. april is when you're going to start seeing the the furloughs. you're not going to see many furloughs at all in march. so that march 27th deadline i don't think is that big a deal because i actually think that the republicans really don't
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want to shut down the government. that is very visible. i think the house is going to move very quickly in the next week or two to make sure that the government doesn't shut down. lit actually be up to the senate democrats to decide whether they want to play with the republicans and just keep the government going or if they want to play hardball and perhaps let the government shut down. >> you talk about the senate, meredith's latest article, i want to ask you about it, because you write about the senate dems and republicans working towards a compromise agreement, what does that include and do you think there will be a vote on it this week before friday? >> so, the senate is planning to hold test votes on two separate things. senate democrats have a plan that would replace this first year of the sequestration with a balance of revenues and further cuts. they'd like to eliminate the direct payment program that was part of the agriculture bill that was passed on by partisan lines last year but never fully got implemented into law. they have a series of other tax
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provisions like corporate jet taxes. republicans have said we already gave you $650 billion in revenue when they raised the top income levels during the fiscal cliff negotiation, so you'll see senate democrats push that as part of their balanced approach, and then off lot of republicans in what jonathan talked about earlier pushing these flexibility measures. senator toomey had a provision like this, senator inhofe has a provision like this, that would grant the administration more leeway to apportion the cuts and hit the same top lines as the sequester mandated. so republicans see two sides of this. they would like the onus to be on the white house to make these cults that might hurt and impact people. but at the same time, there is some reservation that ceding this authority to the administration might mean cuts in programs the republicans hold most dear. >> when you talk about cuts that hurt most to people, jonathan, there was a stunning disturbing figure i came across while reading your latest piece. roughly 600,000 low-income women
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and children would stop receiving food aid. explain that. does that really mean what it says? >> it does. and there's a program called wic, and it was not protected in 2011. so, yes, there will be a number of families simply dropped out. head start, too. talked to head start teacher who is say, you know, we're going to have to actually pick and choose families to say you can't come in next week because there isn't enough money for you. so there are -- these are very consequential cuts. because, remember, because so much of the government was exempted, social security, medicaid, food stamps, because army and military personnel was exempted, everything that wasn't exempted gets hit extra hard. the programs that are not protected in the military will take al 13% cut over the next seven months. the domestic programs unprotected will take an 11% cut over the next seven months. you cannot tell me that that
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will not be felt. it will be felt. and if you want to look at the macro numbers, yes, the government continues to grow. that's because medicare takes only a 2% cut. that's because social security gets no cut. but the programs that will be affected will be affected. don't let anyone fool you on that. >> i really appreciate both of you bringing such clarity to all this. it was a great conversation. jonathan wiseman, meredith schrieber, many thanks. >> thanks. pope benedict xvi delivered his final address today recruiting the angelus. he is stepping down on thursday. let's go to vatican city. claudio, hello to you. as large as this turnout was today, what are they expecting wednesday? even more when the pope addresses a general audience? >> reporter: well, alex, indeed, it was quite an impressive turnout today. you said it. 100,000 people to watch the pope
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appear on the window one last time. but on wednesday, we expect hundreds of thousands of people, because that's when the pope holds the last general audience, going to be the last chance for people to see him dressed as a pope. and let me tell you, you don't see that a lot or very often. once every 600 years. so no wonder we expect so many people to come out and fill up that square behind me, st. peter's square, on wednesday. >> you bring a good point up. i hadn't thought about what kind of attire we might see him in again. it will look rather odd. was there a particular message that he relayed to the faithful? >> reporter: indeed. he said specifically god instructed him or asked him to climb on top of -- onto a mountain so that he could dedicate himself more to meditation and prayers. but that doesn't mean that he will abandon the catholic church. on the contrary, he will serve it with the same dedication, with the same love, only on a
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different form that is more suitable, he said, or suited to his age and his declining health. >> claudio lavagna, thank you. president karzai is ordering u.s. special forces to leave part of afghanistan. more on that in just a moment. also ahead, the u.s. expands its use of drones. could the administration's drone policy backfire? i'm here to pick up some cacti. it should be under stephens. the verizon share everything plan for small business. get a shareable pool of data... got enough joshua trees? ... on up to 25 devices. so you can spend less time... yea, the golden barrels... managing wireless costs and technology and more time driving your business potential. looks like we're going to need to order more agaves... ah! oh! ow! ... and more bandages. that's powerful. shareable data plus unlimited talk and text. now save $50 on a droid razr maxx hd by motorola.
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developing news this hour. afghanistan president hamid karzai is ordering all u.s. special forces to leave the country's province within two weeks. the decision stems from allegations made at a security meeting today that u.s. special forces of kidnapped, tortured, and murdered people in that province. an international forces
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spokesman says allegations of misconduct are taken seriously. these will be investigated with afghanistan officials. and that news comes amid another controversial development for the u.s. military. president obama announced that 100 troops have been deployed to niger in north africa where they will establish a drone base to aid in the fight against islamic mill tans in the region. joining me now, p.j. crowley, former assistant secretary of state and a fellow at the george wa university institute for public diplomacy and global communications. p.j., always a pleasure. glad you're here. >> thanks. >> this just the beginning, is it, for the u.s. military presence there in africa? is that going to be our primary focus after the afghan drawdown? >> no. we've had drones in djibouti for some time. what's crucial about a difference, say, between what what's happening in niger and what might be happening in a place like yemen, these evidently will be unarmed and part of an intelligence and surveillance, you know, support for french and african troops that have intervened in mali.
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>> so any indication that islamic militants in niger or elsewhere in northern africa have the capabilities to attack the u.s.? >> well, there certainly is concern about the spread of extremist fighters throughout starting with libya and then moving west towards nigeria. so i think part of the u.s. policy is to try to help stabilize and improve the capabilities of governments in that region. obviously, libya is a work in progress, mali you had unfortunately a coup by some troops that have received u.s. training in previous months. and obviously the effort in nigeria to pose a group is of great, you know, long-term concern for the united states and otherses. >> i want to pick up further on
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the drone strikes because you wrote recently in an op-ed that pakistan is actually undermining any developments we might be making in the region beyond just pakistan. are drones having a net positive or neg impact on our national security? >> well, it's a little bit of both. obviously, if we're able to bring effective lethal force without putting 100,000 troops on the ground, that's a net positive. i mean, in niger you have a situation where they're unarmed but the government of niger has signed a status of forces agreement and acknowledged that u.s. forces will be there, obviously the president has done the same. that's the way the system is supposed to work. you have drones operating in yemen. again, the yemeni government has on the one hand acknowledged that droeps are there, on the other hand occasionally it has been deceptive in suggesting that operations that were conducted by the united states were actually conducted by
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yemen. so there's some disinformation there. the situation in pakistan is really unsustainable where you have a very significant drone campaign under way, it's evident, you know, to the pakistani public. it's reported widely in the news media and in the united states has not overtly acknowledged that -- what's happening there. as a result the pakistani government claims drones are a violation of its sovereignty and has not acknowledged what might be known in pakistan's government about, you know, cooperation that might be going on with that program. >> let's talk about the other big foreign policy news today. secretary of state john kerry on his first overseas trip as a newly sworn in secretary of state. he's hitting a bunch of countries across europe and the middle east. so is there a uniform message that he's going to send? >> well, he's going to be talking about several issues. obviously, what's of great note is, you know, john kerry's going to i think nine countries in ten
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days, but his first stop is in europe. and that's in contrast to hillary clinton, his predeces r predecessor, whose first stop was in asia. i think he's there to reassure european countries -- lots of talk in terms of the european financial crisis, the fee future of the eu and the eurozone as well as developments happening in north africa. then as he moves across into the gulf where he'll talk in turkey and to leading gulf nations there, the topics are likely to be syria and also what's happening with respect to iran. there's a very important negotiating meeting this week where the so-called p-5 plus 1 lead negotiators will get together with iranian officials and see if something can be negotiated on iran's nuclear program. >> p.j., i want to ask you also what yesterday was. it marked bradley manning's 1,000th day in custody without a trial. he of course the army private
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accused of leaking the classified materials to wick leaks. you left the state department after getting in a little bit of hot water after saying the pentagon was treating manning unfairly. three years later, what are your thoughts on him now? >> for a caveat, the formal trial has not begun, but there is a legal proceeding under way, you know, regarding the charges and a potential, you know, plea-bargain. so this is a very open and transparent legal process, so it's not as if he's being held without charge. that said, obviously, two years ago i was concerned that it was punitive confinement at quantico. eventually the army moved him to ft. leavenworth, and he received more suitable pretrial confinement which is consistent with, you know, our norps both in the military and civilian justice system. he stands accused of very serious crimes, and the legal case will get under way late
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they are spring. >> p.j. crowley, always a pleasure. thanks. >> all right, alex. >> still ahead, manti te'o meets the press. how did he handle the barrage of questions about that infamous hoax? ♪ [ male announcer ] were you more interesting in your twenties, or now? when you were starting out? or after a few decades working in some well-worn character? experience makes you wiser for the wear. and now come the richer possibilities. [ children laughing ] aarp. an ally for real possibilities. find tools and resources at ♪ j dreams of landens an meet sea, deliciously ♪ties. ♪ friskies surfin' and turfin' favorites. ♪ ♪ feed the senses.
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ends sunday! i just served my mother-in-law your chicken noodle soup but she loved it so much... i told her it was homemade. everyone tells a little white lie now and then. but now she wants my recipe [ clears his throat ] [ softly ] she's right behind me isn't she? [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. it was a "meet the press" moment for man mike taibbi owe. he held his first news conference since his infamous girlfriend hoax. michelle franzen has more. >> the nfl event is desiped to see how players perform and react under pressure on and off the field. for manti te'o, it was a tougher test. he revealed the hardest part of the hoax was the impact seeing it had on his family and dealing with the personal embarrassment publicly. manti te'o faced a crush of media and questions at the nfl scouting combine at indianapolis.
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>> i've been a friend of a few cameras, but not as many as this. >> reporter: it was the first press conference for the linebacker since admitting the woman he was tricked into dating and falling for online actually never existed. >> i cared for somebody and unfortunately i didn't end up the way i thought it would. >> reporter: it ended with te'o believing his girlfriend had died from cancer. the hoax played out on social media with tuiasosopo admitting in interviews he was behind the elaborate fake relationship. >> i hurt every day. >> reporter: te'o was asked why he never tried to see the girl. >> i did. we made plans. it just obviously didn't work out. >> reporter: the annual event showcases the next wave of nfl talent for teams and owners before the april draft. but it also gave te'o a chance to tack it will criticism that he didn't come forward sooner after finding out he had been duped. >> it was just a whirlwind of stuff for me, you know,
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22-year-old, 21-year-old at that time, and just trying to get your thoughts right. >> reporter: teams are taking a hard look at this top defensive player to see how he handles the pressure, but the real test sportswriters say is yet to come. >> nothing compares to when you step into a locker room and you have to face that sort of macho testosterone-filled environment, and then even more so when you have to get on the field and teams are not only testing you physically but also mentally. >> reporter: former pro players say controversy is not new to sports and teammates, along with the public, will gave te'o a chance to prove himself. >> winning cures all. come in as a rookie, a top 15, top 20 pick, become a starter, lead your defense to a better season than they had the year before, that cures it. >> with the press conference behind him, te'o will be put through the drills on the field tomorrow. he says the houston texans and green bay packers talked to him on saturday and that he has a long list of team interviews in the coming days. the draft, alex, is of course in
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april. >> i say he does his talking on the field. then he'll be okay. thank you very much, michelle franzen. it was a long, hard, painful fight to pass the voting rights act back in 1965, so why is the supreme court considering getting rid of part of it now? [ kitt ] you know what's impressive? a talking car. but i'll tell you what impresses me. a talking train. this ge locomotive can tell you exactly where it is, what it's carrying, while using less fuel. delivering whatever the world needs, when it needs it. ♪ after all, what's the point of talking if you don't have something important to say? ♪
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campbell's has 24 new soups that will make it drop over, and over again. ♪ from jammin' jerk chicken, to creamy gouda bisque. see what's new from campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." a jaw-dropping and scary wreck that injured 28 spectators at daytona speedway is raising concerns about safety at the nascar events. it happened saturday when a pack of drivers plowed into each other coming out of that final turn. that car goes flying right into the fence. nbc's janet shamlian joins me from daytona with the latest on today's race. we know that is under way. we can hear something happening, janet. good day to you. >> reporter: hi, alex. yeah. we just started a couple minutes ago and it gets loud about every 60 seconds. not quite yet. the focus is on safety today.
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here we go. >> there it is, right on cue. >> reporter: what i can tell you is nascar officials say they're looking at this. the speedway says it worked overnight to replace that retaining wall and the crash fence that actually prevented the engine from going into the crowd. but nonetheless, as you mentioned, we have something like 30-plus injuries, two people critical but stable, one of them a child. a lot of questions today is what they're doing out here enough. to answer that question, speedway officials said that after the incident at talladega in 2009, in which eight people were injured, they had a complete review of security and safety here at daytona, and at that point they made improvements including the 22-foot-high crash fence. here they go once again. okay. tv time-out there. they will once again take a look at the security measures following this incident where people were hurt by debris and a
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tire that flew as high as the upper grandstand after yesterday's race. on another subject, there are high hopes here for danica patrick, the crowds out big time to see her and all the merchandising trailers here, hers is the one with the line. she's the first woman to start at pole position. can she pull off the race? the answer in a couple hours. ? thank you very much for rolling with it. appreciate that. janet shamlian. on wednesday, the supreme court will begin hearing arguments in a case challenging the landmark voting rights act of 1965. the case focuses on a part of the act that requires state and local governments with a history of racial discrimination to obtain permission from the federal government before making any changes to voting laws. joining me now is patricia anne miller, head of the firm supreme court practice. she has argued over 30 cases before the supreme court. also james peterson, director of afternoona studies and associate professor of english at lehigh university and an msnbc
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contributor. with a big welcome to the both of you, patricia ann, what would the impact be if this part of the law is overturned? >> i think it will deliver substantial blow to the efforts to increase equality in voting and access to the vote progress says, efforts to eliminate discrimination in voting restrictions, everything from voter i.d. laws to voter registration measures. lit really -- it will eliminate a proactive check that you have on the governments that are covered by this statute now and leave parties to nothing other than lawsuits, which are hard to bring and slow to bring to try and check and stop these measures when they're adopted. >> james, is there evidence that this specific aspect of the voting rights law is still necessary? >> i think there's tremendous evidence, and i think patricia is right. we wonant to acknowledge the fa that, yes, we've made progress since the voting rights act have
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been implemented. i think it's section 5 or clause 5 that allows the federal government to have oversight over changes in different counties and different municipalities can make with respect to voter i.d. law laues, with respect to registration laws, with respect to redistricting and things that certain communities can use to ostracize other folk in the communities from the voting process. when you look at it, it's kind of ironic, alex, because when you look at this particular moment where we've just come out of a presidential election where registration issues were part of the discussion, where early voting accesses were diminished in some states, there's been a lot of movement and energy around voting rights and it seems a little untimely we should be having this particular debate. >> both of you, what you've said makes absolute sense. patricia ann, what is an argument a plaintiff would make about why this aspect of the law is not necessary? >> what they're going to highlight is the fact the statute doesn't apply to every
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jurisdiction in the country. it's only select jurisdictions. and those jurisdictions are ones that were, you know, identified through a formula in 1965 that hasn't changed. what they're going to say is, look, time to declare victory, the blatant barriers to voting rights are gone. and these what they call second-generation barriers to voting, other jurisdictions that aren't covered do them just as much as we do, we're no different, our system of government requires that states be treated equally and they'll invoke the supreme court's decision in 2009 in a case called northwest austin that said a shot across congress' bow and said current burdens have to be justified by current needs. they're going to say that need isn't there, the justification isn't there. >> james, there was a radio interview on friday in which the president spoke about what he thinks would happen if this part of the law is overturned. let's take a listen. >> generally speaking, you see less protection before an
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election with respect to voting rights and people could keep coming up with new schemes each election, even if ultimately they were ruled to violate the voting rights act. it would be hard for us to catch those things up front to make sure that elections are done in an equitable way. >> he seems to be saying that election schemes are much more prevalent than in just the 16 states that are part of this aspect of the law. do you think it should actually be expand pd. >> i think that's a legitimate question, more legitimate than whether we should be eradicating the act. think of it this way, alex. who are the people who most have to wait on lines and who waited the longest times to vote in this past election? that was poorer folk, people of color. when he's talking about new schemes he's talking about things that republican legislatures or any kind of legislature can put in place to impact the vote progress says. so it seems to me that, yes,
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that's a more legitimate question than whether or not we should be e vlad kating this. when you look at the actual case, shelby county, sort of taking this to the supreme court, you know, these counties and ammunition pamies can be eligible to be bailed out or to be sort of freed from this voting rights act if they have a decade of essentially good behavior. shelby county is not even eligible for that good behavior bailout of this portion of the act. >> patricia ann, you know the court. how do you expect them to rule? >> i'm trying to be -- keep hope alive because i think the law should be upheld, but it's very hard to be optimistic in part because as i said in 2009 eight justices said congress, you need to give us current justifications for this burden and this differential treatment of some states and counties versus ore others, and congress hasn't done that. i hate to be too pessimistic but i'm trying also not to be too
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cockeyed optimistic about it either. >> james, what's your prediction? >> well, i predict that, first of all, it seems like the obama administration is interest and invested in defending this and i think they'll win it out in the end. i think we have to revisit this in terms of -- because you have to take what they're saying honestly here, which is this is a differential between certain states and we do see problems with access to voting in states not covered in the voting rights act. we have to rectify that situation. but i think the obama administration wins the day. >> guys, thank you so much. >> thanks, alex. the sequester squeeze begins in five days but the blame game already in full swing. ♪ ♪
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but cascade complete pacs help leave glasses sparkling. cascade. love it or your money back. the poll of the week and the latest bloomberg national poll, 55% of approve of president's performance, the high nest this poll in over three years. it is time for the big three in today's topics. blame game fatigue, town hall part two, and this week's
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must-reads. we have political editor of the pbs news hour christina bellantone, robert traynumb, a georgetown university dean, and ed rendell, an nbc news political analyst. hello. nice to see you here. >> hello, there. >> robert, let's go to the blame game fatigue. let's take a listen to the first question that governor bobby jindal was asked on "meet the press" today. >> local air traffic control is on the funding block with this sequestration. and you heard the secretary say this is real disruption because they've got to cut a billion dollars. >> you know, the president, and you heard right, compared the president to lincoln. we need real presidential leadership here. the president needs to stand up to the plate. >> governor jindal's first instinct was just to blame the president, not talk about his state, for example. i mean, why shouldn't the american public be frustrated about this? it seems like it's always pointingpoint ing fingers and nobody taking a mirror and turning it on
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themselves and saying here's where i can do better. >> you're right. it's a par zan issue that both sides are responsible for. this is a circular firing squad. let obesity honest. both the president and also congressional leadership on the house and senate side are both to blame for this. you know, this is not something -- this is a made-up, manufactured crisis that both sides quite frankly sat in the back room and decided to conjure up to put pressure on them to make a decision because they couldn't otherwise. this is a self-inflicted wound both sides. >> well, there is a flip side, as you said. let's listen to part of the president's weekly address. >> are republicans in congress really willing to let these cults fall on our kids' schools and mel care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners? are they willing to slash military health care and the border patrol just because they refuse to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies? >> there you go. the president's playing the blame game too.
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how can the american public expect a solution if everybody's too busy pointing fingers and blaming each other and not working together to solve this? >> well, i think robert's basically right. he's wrong about one thing. this isn't a made-up crisis. this sequester may be a made-up crisis, but dealing with the debt as you know, alex, is not a made-up crisis. every day that goes by that we don't deal effectively with the debt costs us $3 billion. and we can't afford to keep doing that. we have to come up with real solutions. and i fear with only five days left they'll eventually do something that basically kicks the can down the road and avoids a major impact of the sequester but does nothing to resolve the real problem of the debt. and robert's point is well taken. there's plenty of blame to go around. but for the republicans, they're facing a little different challenge because they truly have become the party of "no," and this sequester is being played out in that context. republican party filibustering for the first time in history, the president's cabinet
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nomination, you know, someone saying that if the president sends an immigration bill over, it's dead on arrival, essentially because it's the president's bill. that's a huge problem for the republican party, blame game notwithstanding. >> this back and forth blame game, the tenor of this type of behavior in congress right now, is this as bad as it gets? where do you think it ends? >> well, the government shutdown crisis, i think, probably was as bad as it got when you looked at polls and how the congress was viewed and how the white house was viewed. but there are some real-world effects of what is happening right now based on what will happen on friday if sequestration kicks in. so whether you're blaming the white house or congress, there was an agreement on this deal and real things are happening. people are having their wages frozen, there are furlough, a lot of uncertainty in a lot of different areas of government. that's what's important to really look at as they come back to washington and attempts to negotiate some sort of last-minute fix as congress is
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pretty frequently doing these days. >> yeah. okay. let's go to our next top wick you, robert. town hall part two. senator john mccain talked today about his kind of tense town hall last week over immigration. first let's take a look at some of the town hall, that one, followed by the senator's comments today. >> cut off their welfare and all their stuff and they'll go back. [ applause ] >> the majority are not on welfare. >> you're a senator with the federal government and you're doing nothing about it. you said build a dang fence. where's the fence? >> in case you missed it, i showed you. >> that's not a fence. >> that's not a fence? it's a banana. we've put up a banana with about $600 million worth of appropriations we had. some people say, look at that. that's what town halls are supposed to be about nap's why they're always packed. i didn't believe that person was correct with his faxes so i fired back at him. people said, good, that's what we want to hear. that is debate we want to hear.
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so i'm proud of that. if anybody doesn't like it, you don't have to come to the town hall meeting. >> you know, robert, you see that crowd, there when you have your constituents that opposed to immigration reform, what kind of position does it put the senator in when he's one of the leaders on the whole issue? >> you know, it's interesting, alex, because you mentioned something in your question that's important -- leadership. and, you know, quite frankly, this is a very complex issue, and it sounds like what the constituent was trying to say was he was trying to say, well, let's just erase the problem. well, if that was easy, we wouldn't be having this conversation. so senator mccain is right on two fronts. number one, you know, it's a little more complicated than that. number two, that's what debate is all about. let me say this quickly. this is the second time i've seen senator mccain challenge his own constituency. the first time was when there was a person up there that challenged the president or then senator obama's religion and insin waited he was a muslim and senator mccain corrected that person. senator mccain -- >> i remember that. >> -- is very consistent in trying to be a leader and trying
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to make sure all the facts are just sure that facts are just that, the facts. >> you have seen your share of town hauls. what are they like? how tough are they usually? if they are tough is it because the people who attend them have passion to take time out of their busy days to look at the issues and get feedback. >> i agree with robert again. this is two times in a row. the answer to your question and it's a very good question because the people who come to town hall meetings are not representative of your constituents. they are overly passionate about issues. that may not be the case. on immigration i believe mccain's constituents as a whole come to his position. town hall meetings are good. you go to a town hall meeting knowing you are going to get a lot of feedback and a lot of it
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is going to be negative. you stand in there and say what you believe. leadership is telling people what you believe, not what they want to hear and give senator mccain credit for doing that. >> we have senator mccain representing arizona. this is an issue residents there are certainly concerned about. is this not a real reflection of the general republican feeling on the issue? >> that comment was, for sure. i will point out in that town hall it was interesting. he did a town hall in colorado and had a frank exchange with people there who are family members of the victims of the aurora shootings and told the woman that she needed a reality check on the political will to pass an assault weapons ban. that exchange was eyebrow raising and an interesting debate. you are seeing that not just with senator mccain.
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sometimes in town halls they are people you have invited from your own office so you are attracting a certain type of crowd, depends on where you are advertising these. as we talked about earlier with the president's plan getting out there it is going to be a political debate. >> and it is so complicated. she was a picky eater. well now i'm her dietitian and last year, she wasn't eating so well. so i recommended boost complete nutritional drink to help her get the nutrition she was missing. and now she drinks it every day. well, it tastes great! [ male announcer ] boost has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones, and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. and our great taste is guaranteed or your money back. learn more at [ dietitian ] now, nothing keeps mom from doing what she loves... being my mom.
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now back to the big three. we will go with you first, christina. wha whats -- what's yours. nasa shows hangouts is cool and anybody can do it and this is such a way to connect with young people who are dreaming big dreams. >> i would hang out with you. >> over the last couple of months we have been hearing he
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said he said conversation about questering. we know bob woodward is good with his facts. he said the president needs to own this and that this idea originated from the white house. a must read. >> it is excellent. i totally agree. governor, what's yours? >> today's "new york times" has a piece in which he talks about the governor's meeting in washington. governors in both parties sending a message that the sequester is a disaster. the republican governor of oklahoma says don't balance the federal budget on the back of the states and scott walker says across the board cuts are not sensical. he wouldn't do it with his budget and we shouldn't do it with the federal budget, as well. >> thank you very much. this is a wrap of this sunday edition of "weekends with alex witt." up next, "meet the press."
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