tv PBS News Hour PBS June 2, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: more signs of a stalling economic recovery emerged today. good evening. i'm jim lehrer. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we walk through the numbers and debate whether the government has the will and the way to kick-start growth. >> lehrer: then, judy woodruff reports on the official coming of mitt romney into the 2012 race for the republican presidential nomination. >> brown: ray suarez has the latest on the outbreak of a deadly mutant strain of e. coli, sickening hundreds throughout europe. >> lehrer: and we talk to
jill abramson, named today as the first woman executive editor of "the new york times." that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work on a big scale. and i think it's got to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. pacific life-- the power to help you succeed. 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. 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. >> brown: the u.s. economy gave fresh evidence today that the recovery may be losing steam, and there were growing questions about what, if anything, the
government can do about it. the latest signs of trouble came from major retailers, like target, reporting consumers pulled back on spending in may. data from mastercard pointed to the same concern, showing americans are shelling out less on everything from furniture to electronics to clothing. and the payroll company adp says private employers added just 38,000 jobs last month, the smallest increase since september. american businesses, in fact, cut back orders for computers, cars, and heavy machinery in april. and even the auto industry, which had been helping to lead the recovery, reported an overall decline in sales last month. altogether, it was enough to shake up world stock markets this week and provoke a new round of political infighting. house speaker john boehner spoke this morning. >> it's now been nearly a year
since the white house declared the beginning of "recovery summer." but all in all, it hasn't been much of a recovery. the american people are still struggling. >> brown: a short time later, white house spokesman jay carney cautioned against reading too much into recent numbers. >> we are aware of these different economic reports. obviously, we watch them closely. we're also aware, and i would point out that the trends here, the longer term trends are quite positive. >> brown: some economists do point to temporary factors, like the march earthquake in japan, that caused many auto dealers to run short of models. natural disasters, from tornadoes across the midwest to flooding in the south, may also be contributing to economic woes. plus gasoline prices at $4 a gallon have weighed on consumers, but may now be backing down at least a bit. all the same, a depressed housing market remains a huge
drag on growth, with no end in sight. in the meantime, policy makers seem to have little appetite or ammunition left for new measures. the federal reserve's $600 billion program of buying government bonds to stimulate growth will end this month. and in congress, speaker boehner and other republicans insist more spending is the problem and not the solution. >> last week, we put forward a job creation plan that builds on our pledge to america, and we asked the president to take a look at it. and this blueprint recognizes that spending, borrowing and regulating our way to prosperity hasn't worked and it won't work. >> brown: even the president's aides are focused on ways to cut the deficit and not on adding new stimulus. >> we need to reduce our deficit, not as an esoteric goal, but in order to prove that we can live within our means, and by that, show... create
confidence in our economy, grow the economy, and create jobs. >> brown: more on the outlook for economic recovery comes tomorrow, when the labor department releases the unemployment report for may. this afternoon there was an another development as the rating agency moodies warned it could lower the united states top credit rating if the debt limit is not raised within weeks. so with all of this, what if anything can government do to insurance growth and new jobs in we get two very different perspectives from: heather boushey, senior economist at the center for american progress, a liberal policy group. and stephen moore is the founder of the conservative club for growth and senior economics writer for "the wall street journal". welcome to both of you. heather, first, how worries are you and how do he define the problem that we face now? >> well, we've had some bad news this week. but we had seen the labor market improving over the past few months. the rate of growth of jobs
over the past few months have been twice as much as over the prior three months. so i think that we should be very concerned especially about the decline in manufacturing. we should be very wary but i personally am very anxious to see what those employment numbers are tomorrow because that's really going to tell us are we the fork in the road? are we going to see employment start pulling back or are we going to see the kind of trends we've seen over the past few months. but importantly even over the past few months when we were creating over 200,000 jobs that wasn't enough. i was worried before. a little more anxious now but we need more data to know exactly what is going on. >> brown: how worried and how do you define the situation. >> reporter: heather is right t looked like the economy was starting iting to expand. the last year has been pretty good for the u.s. economy but then we got a first quarter gdp growth rate which was just 1.8% which was really anemic given this stage of the recovery. jeff, my major concern right now is that we should be growing at a much faster pace.
if you just look at the natural kind of economic cycle usually at this stage of an economic cycle we would be growing at 5 or 6%. right now we're only growing at 2%. and the problem with that is it magnifies other problems in the economy. if are you only growing at 2%, are you not going to get the jobs that heather was talking about. employers aren't going to hire workers. forebig problem, if we only grow at 2%, you're to the going to bring the deficit down. will you not have enough people working and companies making enough profit. so it makes the debt problem even worse. >> brown: but why given all that we have been looking at happening over the past few months, the fed stepping in, the stimulus plan, why in spite of those still slow growth? >> i think actually the question is we've done so well because of many of those policies. >> brown: you mean they worked but not -- >> they weren't-- they haven't been enough to push us over the edge. you know, what this administration and the prior couple of congresses did in terms of the recovery act and what the federal reserve has done in terms of
expanding the money supply in a variety of different ways certainly pulled us back from a precipice. back in early 2009 we were leaving jobs at the-- losing jobs at the pace of 20,000 a day. we pushed back from that. now we adding jobs and growing again. but what we haven't been able to do is push ourselves over that hump and get back on an accelerated growth path that will create jobs. and a big piece of it is if you don't create jobs in this economy you have an american consumer, a middle class here in america that is very constrained. they can't borrow. their homes have lost a lot of value. many of them don't have jobs. those that are working have lower incomes and they can't be the kind of consumers that we need for growth. we need more demand. >> do you read it the same way, that these things that have been put into place did something, they were effective just not enough? >> i think they were a complete failure. i mean this is where i think heather and i disagree. i think most americans think they are a failure. we've really thrown the keynesian playbook at this recession. we had $2 trillion of
additional spending over the last two or three years. we've got the federal reserve out, pedal to the metal on monetary basis doubled. you have qe 2 which is the fed printing $600 billion and then buying debt with it. so this is everything the keynesians have and here we are, in the third year of a recession. and we've got this kind of anemic growth. so i think most of these things have failed. and i think the keynesians need to be held to task for this. why didn't it work? why don't we have the job growth? here we in the third year of a recession with a 9% unemployment rate that is intolerable. >> brown: here we get to the brunt of where to go next, right. depending how you read what has happened so farp. you suggest that we ought to be doing more, i assume, more spending. >> more spending. and keeping on the path that we are on. i think one point i would really disagree with you on, stephen, we did a lot of keynesian policies but a lot of the stimulus, about a third of it was in tax cuts which is the least efficient way to put money out there. we put, and then we added to that last december when we gave more tax cuts, especially with the wealthy.
>> reporter: tax rate reduction not the kind ronald reagan put in effect which reduced tax rates which incentived economies. i was against those tax caughts vrn cuts because they don't incentivized work dns it didn't provide as big a bang of the buck. >> brown: what would you like to see government do now? >> first we need to do no harm. right now the conversation in washington is about whether or not we're going to increase this debt ceiling limit which is not helping anything and it is certainly not going to help the economy if we don't do it we're also seeing a lot of states paring back on the kinds of policies that have helped. paring back on unemployment benefits. the republicans put forth a plan to further reduce unemployment benefits. we're seeing states and counties cutting education spending which i think everyone would agree is not good for us now or for the long-term. so i think that we need to focus on what's possible. which is to stop doing these bad things. and to make sure that we keep that money growing. that we don't stop the kind of spending that we're doing. and i'm very conditioned
that unless we deal with this debt limit ceiling question, that could really have a big effect on us. >> i see a big difference between the two parties right now. what you are talking about is sort of the president's position. i think where i stand, on this, is that i think this is a financial emergency. i think this debt that we've increased the national debt by $5 trillion in the last three years thanks to these keynesian policies. if we stay on the course we're on right now we will borrow another 10, trillion dollars that is more money than the united states borrowed from 1776 to 2005. we can't afford it. what you are seeing as a result of this is a weakened dollar that weakens the u.s. economy. i think this debt ceiling issue is a big deal. i disagree with moodies. i think what would really cause you know, the calm to the financial markets is if the president and congress could get together and say we've got a plan to reduce this debt by 2 or 3 or 4 trillion dollars over the next ten years. i think you would see a
rally on the dollar, a rally on the stock market. >> brown: what about the economy? what about the growth and jobs. >> i think you need a strong financial system to have jobs. and i think would you get jobs as well. what we haven't had in the last two or three years is private sector jobs. we have created a lot of government jobs. we haven't seen a lot of growth in the private sector. >> brown: you both watch the policy and policymaking, the politics of this, right? given the political realities, when you said what is possible now, i assume that's what you meant. >> well, certainly. the emergency in front of us is the nearly $14 million people out there in america that don't have a job. >> that's for sure. >> and the millions of families that are seeing their incomes fall because they have lower-- they have lower hours and earnings. >> right. >> so i think we should be focus on that issue. and i think the debt ceiling conversation is a distraction from dealing with the urgent jobs problem here in front of us. so i think that the politics right now is sort of getting in the way of dealing with the real fundamental economic problems which are we need to be focused on job creation. we need the private sector to start stepping up to the
plate. you know, you have the private sector with record profits. they're sitting on a lot of money. >> but why is the question. >> they're not investing. why aren't they investing-- every month -- >> heather, i agree with you. yes, jobs is the number one focus. and getting people's incomes up. we have 5% inflation now, wages are only rising by 1%. but why don't we try to change the strategy? why don't we do tax rate reductions. if we can have the kind of growth right now, heather, that we had in 1983, '48 during the reagan expansion we would be growing at 7%. we would be creating 250,000 jobs a month. that's the kind of growth we need tos aspire to. >> well. >> certainly not the way it looked in the 2,000s. we cut taxes, the lowest employment growth. >> 8 million jobs after 2003 within it was the lowest employment growth of any recovery in the post world war ii era. >> this one is pretty good. >> brown: policy, debate and political debate. stephen mooree, heather boushey, thank you very much. >> still to come, mitt >> lehrer: still to come on the newshour:
mitt romney makes it official; a deadly strain of e. coli; and a new executive editor of "the new york times". but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: wall street labored again today to overcome concerns about the economy. the dow jones industrial average lost 41 points to close at 12,248. the nasdaq rose four points to close at 2,773. at least 18 communities in central and western massachusetts took stock of their losses today after a night of tornadoes. the storms killed at least three people and injured 200. some of the worst damage could be seen across springfield today. a school bus lay on its side among splintered trees, and damaged cars sat on the roofs of flattened homes. governor deval patrick toured the tornado sites today and declared a state of emergency. >> we got a real mess on our hands here. but we are all in this together. and for those who are feeling quite understandably that they can't imagine what a better tomorrow looks like, i want to assure them that
we're going to dofering to help folks get to that better tomorrow and that we're going to get there together. >> holman: springfield is home to the naismith basketball hall of fame. the site was not damaged in the storm. officials said the deaths were the first caused by tornadoes in massachusetts since 1995. the war on drugs was branded a failure today by an international group of political, financial and cultural figures. the global commission on drug policy said the evidence is clear that the drug fight "cannot be won". former brazilian president fernando henrique cardoso chaired the commission. he said governments should decriminalize marijuana, for instance, and focus on regulation instead. >> stop the war on drugs. and let's be more constructive in trying to reduce the consumption. if you look at the production, the market is so profitable that all time will be someone which will be capable to risk his life to continue to be
trafficking. so it's better to reduce consumption and to use other instruments and not just to limit ourselves to the position of war. >> holman: the office of white house drug czar rejected the group's conclusions. a spokesman said making drugs more available would only raise the risk to public health and safety. the commission included former treasury secretary george schultz and former federal reserve chairman paul volcker, among others. in pakistan, islamic militants from afghanistan battled pakistani security forces at a border checkpoint for a second day. officials reported at least 63 people had been killed in the fighting. the clashes erupted in a town in pakistan's upper dir district, just across from kunar province in afghanistan. police said 25 troops were killed, along with 35 militants and three civilians. fighting raged through the night in yemen's capital, sanaa. tribal militias and troops loyal president ali abdullah saleh traded artillery and gunfire,
forcing the city's international airport to close for a time. 30 miles to the north, at amran, thousands of tribal fighters skirmished with saleh's forces, and waited for word to march on sanaa. there were new killings in central syria as heavy guns again blasted a town that's been a center of protests. activists said 15 more people were killed in rastan for a total of 58 in the last three days. the latest victims included a four-year-old girl. the killings of children have fueled new public anger toward president bashar al-assad and his regime. opposition leaders have called for a new round of nationwide demonstrations tomorrow. china today denied any involvement in or support of recent computer hacking. it came a day after google reported attacks on g-mail accounts used by senior u.s. government and military officials. the company said the attacks originated in china, but in beijing, the chinese foreign
ministry rejected any official culpability. >> the chinese government has always opposed any kind of criminal activity that tries to harm the internet and computer systems. including hacking activities and will punish these crimes according to the law. hacking attacks are an international problem. and childrena is also a victim of this-- china is also a victim of this crime. the so-called allegation that the government supports hacking attacks is fabricated with ulterior motives. >> holman: google said the g-mail hacking was traced to the city of jinan, home to a military vocational school. computers there were tied to another assault on google's systems 17 months ago. in washington today, secretary of state clinton said the fbi has opened an investigation. >> google informed the state department of this situation yesterday in advance of its public announcement. these allegations are very
serious. we take them seriously. we're looking into them. this going to be a continuing problem. and therefore we want to be as prepared as possible to deal with these matters. >> holman: a white house spokesman said no official u.s. government email accounts were compromised in the attack. also today, sony said it is fully restoring its playstation network in the u.s., europe, and parts of asia. hackers stole customer data from the network back in april and forced sony to shut down the service. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim. >> lehrer: former massachusetts governor mitt romney formally entered the 2012 presidential race today. he came with a nominal frontrunner status, as well as some lingering questions. judy woodruff has our report. >> woodruff: the former massachusetts governor kicked off the official start to his 2012 campaign in stratham, new hampshire, at a farm owned by a
couple of his supporters. romney said his top priorities as president would be jobs and the economy. >> from my first day in office, my number one job will be to see that america once again is number one in job creation. ( applause ) >> woodruff: this marks romney's second run at the white house. he was competitive in 2008, winning 11 primaries, but dropped out that february. with the economy expected to be the main focus of this election, romney is trying to sell himself as the republican best suited to challenge president obama on the issue. in addition to his four years as governor, romney was president of the 2002 olympic winter games in salt lake city, and spent more than a decade as an executive with a private investment and management consulting firm. romney said today that president obama had "failed america." >> turning around a crisis takes
experienced and bold action. for millions of americans, the economy is in crisis today, and unless we change course, it will be in crisis for all of us tomorrow. >> woodruff: romney's front- runner status is bolstered by his fund-raising prowess. last month, he raised more than $10 million in a single day. and he plans to add to that total with almost 30 fundraising events this month. still, romney is not without political liabilities. one of those most cited is the healthcare law he pushed in massachusetts, a plan resembling the national overhaul signed by president obama, which romney has pledged to repeal. >> i took it on and hammered out a solution that took a bad situation and made it better-- not perfect, but it was a state solution to our state's problem.
>> woodruff: during a stop today in romney's hometown of boston, former alaska governor sarah palin stole a bit of his limelight when she said the healthcare mandate central to that plan was misguided. >> in my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, obviously, and i am not the only one to say so. but there will be more explanation coming from former governor romney for his support for government mandates. >> woodruff: romney also continues to face questions about how genuine he is, questions that dogged him during his previous run. polls show romney at the top of the field nationally, and with a wider margin in new hampshire. we take a look at some new poll numbers now with andrew kohut, president of the pew research center; and ryan lizza, washington correspondent for "new yorker" magazine. gentlemen, good to have you both with us. >> thank you. >> woodruff: ryan, i'm going to begin with you. before we talk about his position on the economy which is what he wants to
talk about, you looked extensively at this health-care plan that he pushed in massachusetts. and you concluded that it has become his biggest liability. why is that? and how is he dealing with it? >> well, the number one thing that republicans seem to not like about president obama, or at the top of the list anyway is his health-care plan, right? well, essentially obama, the architecture of the obama plan is based on the architecture that romney innovated and really invented in massachusetts. so ever o the course of the last few years there's been a very lively debate on the right. some conservative intellectuals demanding that obama renounce his support for this plan and specifically for the individual mandate. this mandate from the state government in massachusetts, the federal government in obama's plan, that every one of us carry health insurance. and back when obama, excuse me back when romney proposed this plan, this was a pretty mainstream conservative idea,
frankly there was a sort of fringe of libertarian conservatives who opposed it. and over the course of 2006 to 2010 what has happened in the republican party is that the libertarians really won this debate over the mandate and it's now become sort of the consensus among republicans that the government should not force each individual to carry health insurance. and romney is has decided that no, he's not going to apologise for that policy. he's going to defend it but at the same time he's saying he will repeal obama's law and his state law is different from obamas. >> woodruff: which raises the question how different are they. he looked at very complicated the national is more complicated that the state law. the health care that romney invited literally in massachusetts is the same as that obama, the able for the
poor is buy health insurance, the market for exchange for help people buy health insurance and a mandate make sure that everyone is in the pool. that three legged stools was invented in massachusetts. >> woodruff: you're saying that is what a lot of conservatives now don't like. >> that is what a lot of them don't like. >> woodruff: you have done this poll, you look at what republican voters think about the candidates, what are they saying right now about a romney. >> mitt romney among all voters republicans as well, would consider voting for him. more than any other republican candidate. there is the list. romney at 75%, but next to him, kane and pawlenty newcomers. and we could have michelle bachmann on that list and she would almost test as high as romney.
but look at the bottom of the list, other well-known candidate, palin, gingrich and paul. and we have 40% of republicans sayinging there is no chance they are goinging to vote for him, not in a primary but period. so romney does relatively well for a well-known candidate. but is open to potential challenges from these people these people who are pretty well regarded by the relatively small percentage of people who know about them. >> woodruff: and again you were asking them is there a good or some chance that you would vote for these people for president. what-- you can tell at this point what it is that republicans like about mitt romney or don't like? >> well, we can do it infer exal-- inferentially. there are three things people say they want, governors are more popular, businessmen are more popular and people with no washington experience are more popular. all of those things apply to mitt romney. and that's part of it. his biography, the kind of person he's been.
and he has broad appeal to independents, particularly to some of the more moderate independent-- the people we call libertarians. >> woodruff: and ryan lizza, let's pivot back now to what he is saying about the issues. as we said, he is saying that jobs in the economy are what he wants to focus on. what specifically is he saying he would do different. he's criticizing the president. what meat is he putting on the bone. >> well, there were very few specific approximates in the announcement speech today. and that is typical for these speeches. the policy papers, the papers come later but one thing he did throw out there is that federal spending should be 20% of gdp. now he hasn't laid out specifically how we get it down to that number. >> which is well below what it is today. >> and so we'll see over the course of this campaign if he actually lays out a specific plan to hit that target. republicans in congress who have tried to do that have really been hammered once they put the specifics out. one thing to note is the difference between romney's
2007 announcement speech and this year is fascinating. 2007, the meat of the speech was about issues of concern to social conservatives. really had his eye on that iowa caucus voter. this time the meat of the speech was all about the economy. he's just locked in and focused on the economy. and very much focused on the new hampshire voter. >> woodruff: so given how much or how little he's saying about the specifics of the economy right now, andy, do you get a sense of whether people like what they think we do with the economy? >> well, he is and other republican candidates will be the the 58 attorney difficult to barack obama if the economy is not doing well. and they will say we've got a different approach. and if people are unhappy, people, voters will opt for a different approach because obama's approach may not seem to be working. the important thing about romney, and that is on the negative side, he doesn't have as much relative appeal to a very important group in the republican base these
days. and that is people who identify with the tea party. yes, he's near the top of the list but he doesn't get the boost among tea party people that some of the new candidates doand sarah palin does. >> woodruff: what do they say, can we say specifically what they're saying? >> well, i think that they're more attracted to insurgent type candidates. and mitt romney is many things. i don't think anyone would describe him as an insurgent kind of candidate. the other thing that we have to talk about with respect to romney is his religion. we have 20% of all people saying they're less likely to vote for a mormon for president and 34% of white evangelical protestants who are very significant bloc of the republican party were not there considering those kinds of issues right now. but if you look at romney and huntsman, those are very significant. >> woodruff: who also happens to be-- within that's right. >> woodruff: and we haven't heard the question of religion come up very much yet on the campaign trail yet, have we.
>> not much at all. this was the issue in the 2007, 2008 when he was running. and i was just thinking i wrote 5,000 words about him, never even mentioned that he was a mormon and it's frankly not as much of the debate. and he's been around once. people have gotten used to this, they learned about the mormon religion and sometimes it takes a couple of cycle it's for someone to break through a barrier and maybe it won't play as important a role this time. >> woodruff: so is it simply too early to know how will deal with how his republican opponents will come after him on the claims on the economy as well as on health care. >> yeah, i think we can already see from pawlenty and sarah palin, a characterlogical tact not so much ideaological, but about character. they will make the issue, mitt romney's consistency. they're going to point to issues where he changed his position on issues. that is the reason he was smart in sticking with defending his plan in massachusetts. because it would have been deadly to come out and renounce his greatest achievement as governor. but that is the tact they
are going for, character, not ideology. >> woodruff: we will leave it there but we will be looking at a lot in the months to come. ryan lizza, andy kohut, thanks so much. >> brown: next tonight, a new food scare in europe in an age when the fruit and vegetables on your table can come from just about anywhere. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: scientists in this german laboratory worked today to find out more about the deadly form of e. coli that's afflicting europe. >> ( translated ): we were able to determine that this is a new strain, a version of the pathogen not seen before. >> suarez: preliminary testing indicates it may be a mutated form of two e. coli bacteria, which may explain why this outbreak is so widespread and dangerous.
at least 18 people are dead so far; 1,600 people are sick. cucumbers, raw lettuce, and tomatoes are the prime suspects, but the source of the outbreak has yet to be identified. the illness has spread to at least ten european countries, and russia today banned the importation of all vegetables from the european union. the move was praised by russians. >> ( translated ): concerning the ban on importing vegetables from europe, it's absolutely the right decision. as if we didn't have our own. we need to support our own producers. >> suarez: but e.u. leaders said the russian action was disproportionate. overall, germany has been hardest hit, with nearly all the victims either living there or having recently traveled to the country. initially, the germans said the e. coli came from spanish cucumbers, but that turned out not to be true. >> ( translated ): the source simply cannot be clarified yet. it is clear that these bacteria have appeared in humans, and we are working non-stop to find out
where they have come from. >> suarez: spain says lost sales are costing it $ 287 million a week, and despite an agriculture minister enjoying one on television, many are still afraid to buy spanish cucumbers. >> ( translated ): shoppers don't say anything, but they are not buying cucumbers. now, we are in season for high sales of cucumbers. when it gets hot, it is used in gazpacho and salads, but we are hardly selling any at all. >> ( translated ): my husband likes them a lot, and so do i. but at the moment, i am going to wait. >> ( translated ): i am not frightened. i eat cucumbers every day. this thing about the cucumbers is a piece of nonsense invented by the germans. >> suarez: previous e. coli outbreaks have mainly hit children and the elderly, but this one is disproportionately hitting adults in a way that hasn't before been seen. >> this form of e. coli seems to be attacking people's kidneys and making people sick in a way
that seems to be unusual, and is much more dangerous than some of the other strains we've seen before. >> suarez: more than 450 victims have developed a rare complication-- kidney failure. for now, officials are struggling to halt the outbreak and pinpoint the cause. and some scientists think the answer is in sight. >> clearly, this is a german problem. it is german food that has caused the outbreak. it may be entirely a german problem, not food produced anywhere else and imported into germany. and there's no evidence that food anywhere else, eaten anywhere else, has caused any cases at all. >> suarez: but nailing down the final answers won't be easy, in an age when countries no longer rely exclusively on their own farmers and import much of what they eat. for more, we turn to bill marler, an attorney who has worked on food-borne illness cases, including the e. coli outbreak at jack in the box restaurants in 1993. he joins us from seattle. and robert gravani, professor of
food science at cornell university. he joins us from ithaca college in ithaca, new york. well, bill marler, we're now pushing 2000 people sick or dead. why is it so hard to figure out where the e. coli bacterium comes from in a case like this? >> well, primarily and i think the fact that you've got german officials pointing to cucumbers, salads, lettuce, tomatoes, it is difficult sometimes to parse out exactly what people have eaten. you've got 1500, 1600 people sick. eventually they will be able to figure out what the common denominator is. but i fear that what the common denominator might be is a product like a salad that has multiple items. so then it becomes very difficult to pinpoint a particular item which then makes it difficult to do the trace back to a farm, trace
back to a manufacturing center that might be where the bacteria entered the system. >> suarez: well, professor, where in the chain from the farm to the dinner table does the e. coli bacterium enter with food and with human beings? how does it get in somewhere? >>-- issues and the water proximity to animal operations. we certainly are concerned about worker health and hygiene. we're certainly concerned about the importance of properly composted maneuver-- manure that might be used on crops. and clearly we're also concerned about wild animals that may enter the fields despite some of the mitigation strategies that some of our farmers use. we have to remember that this is a very complex problem. and as bill said, it's very difficult to trace back because number one the product is extremely
perishable. there may be compound products involved as in multiple ingredient salads, et cetera. also, the investigators need to interview the folks who became ill to try to find out what their food histories were. and then link that all together to identify a common source and then trace it back. and certainly traceback is a real issue these days that we're making better strides. in but it's clearly very difficult because of the packing and repacking. and distribution systems with our produce. >> suarez: well, professor, is the detective work that you were just talking about made harder by the fact that now it's much harder to figure out where your food came from when you walk into a produce section in a developed country it's vast and has many, many sources for food, doesn't it? >> yes, it does. i think we live in an international food system. a global food system. we source ingredients and
products from around the world. and clearly consumers enjoy that diversity of products in their diets. but they also appreciate no seasonality to products like produce. you can remember back maybe 20 or 30 or 40 years ago when specific produce items were in season for a short period of time. and then you couldn't get them in your homes. well now that has changed because we can source these products from different parts of the world. i think the important piece here is we need to be sure that the standards that are used to produce foods internationally as well as domestically are the same. and that we are using good agricultural practices to prevent these human path agains from getting on to or into our produce itemses so we can continue to offer consumers a wide variety of healthy products. and we want them to consume more produce so clearly prevention strategies here are extremely important as farmers and growers think about these issues and move forward and again, trying to
assure the safety of the products that they produce. >> well, bill marler, have those systems the professor has just been talking about kept up with the pace of food moving around the globe? >> well, in part, yes. i mean the international regulatory bodies have been working very hard at trying to get, you know, traceback measures, standards set within countries. but you know as you can see from sort of the battle that is going on in europe, pointing fingers at anticipate ear, cutting off, you know, products being imported, it is not an easy thing to get a lot of diverse people to work together on a common goal. in united states we are still having problems, you know, both in need and in produce. and frankly we're not prepared for the type of bacteria that has been found in germany, certainly can happen in the u.s. we have three ill people who have traveled to germany but this outbreak is as likely
to happen in the united states as it is any other country. and so i completely agree with the professor that, you know, more needs to be done. a more coordinated effort both in food safety but also more importantly in surveillance of illnesses. so we catch these outbreaks sooner and we can be much more accurate in figuring out what the like lee contamination investigator is. you know, is it really, you know, cucumbers, is it really tomorrow national owes. because the one thing that we don't want to happen is to have the public and have business not trust our governmental officials who have to make incredibly difficult decisions balancing public health with in a sense having a business loss. and those are difficult decisions. the germans made a decision, it's now found not to be quite the case. and now we're still going to, you know, stumble through this. >> suarez: professor do you agree with bill marler it
could just as likely happen here, an outbreak similar to this one with this kind of virulence. >> i think that the seg of agriculture earlier today made a comment that there is no immediate threat about the situation in europe. but clearly these organisms mutate, we transport them from place to place. we transport them around the world. the likelihood that it can happen here, yes, it can. i think it's right now a bit more remote than what's going on in europe. but i think the important piece that we need to remember is this is a wake-up call. if this new strain is out there, a relatively new strain or unusual strain, we should really take this as a wake-up call and begin to crank up our research, our mitigation strategies and clearly some of the proers-- procedures that we have in place on farm to prevent contamination with one of the cousins of this outbreak strain that is occurring in europe, would prevent that from happening here as well. so we need to really make sure that our farm ares and
growers, and many of them are implementing foreign food safety plans and being much more vigilant about some of the issues we talked about earlier, to prevent these organisms from attaching on to or into our produce and making sure we can again continue to insurance safe food supply to consumers in the united states and around the world. >> suarez: bill marler quickly before we go, any signs that the food industry is taking this seriously enough, so closing the loops, closing the possible investigators for this kind of infection? >> i think as it relates to the bug that we're more aware of here in the united states, camplio backer or the e. coli that caused the spinach outbreak or jack in the box, but one of the things we're not paying attention to is the non0157, the type of bug we have seen in europe that is devastating europe that is what we are not paying attention to and we need to pay attention to. >> suarez: bill marler and
professor gravani, thank you very much. >> thank you very much, ray, appreciated being on tonight. >> lehrer: finally tonight, a conversation with jill abramson, named today to be executive editor of "the new york times," the first woman to hold the top news position at the "times". she will succeed bill keller, who will return to writing full- time for the paper. abramson was a "times" managing editor under keller for eight years, and before that, the washington bureau chief, among many other things. she joined the "times" from "the wall street journal" in 1997. jill abramson, congratulations and welcome. >> thank you so much, jim. >> lehrer: first just on the personal level, what does it mean to you to become the executive editor of "the new york times"? >> it means the world to me. i grew up here in manhattan
and "the new york times" was worshipped in my family. and what the times said was true, was the truth. and so i became an avid reader of the paper as a young schoolkid. and it seems scarcely believable to me that i will hold the top editorial position in the newsroom. >> lehrer: did you ever find yourself longing to be the boss or dreaming about it or just, i mean, is this a fulfillment of something that you saw coming some time? you didn't know when but maybe? >> that's a great description, jim. i hoped that it would come. but felt like definitely it was a maybe. i knew because i work so closely with bill as his
managing editor. i got to see his job up close and how much fulfillment he got from it. and we both working together got such a kick out of running the news report that sure, on certain days i would think boy, it would be nice to have that job. but being managing editor for news was a very sweet job itself. >> lehrer: how significant do you see it and should others see it that you are the first woman to get this job? >> i think it's significant. all of us gave short talks in our newsroom today and i made a point of saying that i stood on somewhat different shoulders than past executive editors. i talked about janet robinson, our c.e.o. who has been just an unwaivering friend and supporter of mine. but i also did shout out to
people like than robertson who i never even got to meet, who wrote the girls in the balcony and was part of a generation of bim who had such a hard time being hired as reporters. and she went on to win a pulitzer prize. and you know, i hit on some of the other great women who have worked here, all the way through, you know, my great friend maureen dowd who was really the one who brought me to the times. >> lehrer: do you-- should readers of "the new york times" after you take over, after you've been there a day or two, from then on, should they expect something different? is there going to be a new and different "new york times" under jill abramson? >> i don't think there will be that new and different a "new york times" times. i have for eight years created, i think, a very vibrant news report with bill leading it.
and you know, what i hold dear is well-known to all of my colleagues. and really the times is the kind of place, the greatest journalism doesn't just pop forth from our heads. it's, you know, a group of people and the great ideas bubble up from the reporters to their editors. and get to us. so i thin i will make some changes. but no, readers will not see a new "new york times". >> looking ahead, as you know and everybody knows, there has been some technological changes in the internet and whatever. do you believe that "the new york times" primary function is going to always be the printed newspaper that comes out every day? >> i think our primary function is to create the strongest, deepest, most
interesting news report there is in the word. and whether it's on the front page of the newspaper or leading the home page doesn't really matter. we reach a huge audience on the web. and really, you know, the journalist, whether they are reporters or editors or web producers or multimedia specialists, we're all creating, you know, the journalism that is the bedrock of our news report and that's true for the newspaper, the web, our apps and you name. >> and you believe that's going to continue to grow, right? that that is the growth. >> oh, sure. >> that is where the growth is, right? >> that's where the growth is. and we actually have had some happy news of late on the print side as well. we've seen a bump in our home subscribers. and in the number of people
who subscribe and get home delivery of the paper for two years or more at which point we think they're hooked for good. that number is actually gone up as well. so -- >> you know, print is still responsible for a significant portion of the revenues that you know pay for the work of this newsroom. but you know, digital is very important. and part of the thrill of having this job now is i get to lead us through what is both a thrilling and very challenging transition from a print world to a digital world. >> but you're also in a world where there are fewer resources. all of news organizations are hurting financially. "new york times" has taken tremendous hits. you've had to lay off people. the news budget is down. is there going to be more of the same? >> we have not had the kind
of deep cuts that some of our competitors have had to endure. and i have to say that that is because of arthur salzburger's, jr.'s commitment to quality journalism. he has not made a radical downsizing of either our budget or the number of people in our newsroom. the times have as many foreign correspondent as ever we've had. we've had more national correspondents, many newspapers have cut back on having any. we just open two new bureaus. his commitment to delivering quality journalism is undiminished. and his family have really sacrificed for that. >> so you don't expect -- >> he doesn't get the credit he deserves for what he is protected. >> you feel that going in finally you feel going into
this new job, to be the boss, that you have the resources that you need. >> i sure do. >> lehrer: to maintain what you've got now and improve it? >> i do. i know that may surprise you, jim, but i do. and i can tell you it's the absolute truth that no one on the business side has ever come to bill keller or to me to ask what will covering a story cost. or questioning the number of people we're sending someplace. it just has never happened. >> lehrer: okay. well, again, jill abramson, congratulations and thank you. >> thank you so much, jim. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: the u.s. economy gave fresh signs that the recovery may be losing steam. former massachusetts governor mitt romney formally entered the 2012 presidential race as the nominal frontrunner. the death count reached 18 in the e. coli outbreak across europe. the world health organization said the culprit is a new,
"super-toxic" strain of e. coli bacteria. and the government of china denied any role in hacking google email accounts. but secretary of state clinton said the fbi will investigate. and to kwame holman for what's on the newshour online. kwame. >> holman: there's more on mitt romney's official launch into the 2012 presidential field on our "politics" page. while you're there, sign up for the "morning line" email, a daily dispatch from david chalian and the politics beat. and the government scrapped its food pyramid today, and instead unveiled a nutrition campaign called "myplate." our health unit has the details. plus as part of nasa's 50th anniversary celebration, a new exhibit at the smithsonian air and space museum looks at artwork inspired by space flight. view a slideshow of some of the works on display. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> lehrer: and again to our honor roll of american service
>> lehrer: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work on a big scale. and i think it's got to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technologies to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now. >> and by bnsf railway.
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