tv PBS News Hour PBS October 24, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: rescuers pulled a few survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings in eastern turkey today, after a powerful, deadly earthquake struck yesterday. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we get the latest on the death toll, the search for the missing and the recovery effort from i.t.n.'s john ray in the city of van near the epicenter of the quake. >> ifill: then, we assess the
impact of the arab spring uprisings as libyans declare independence; tunisians head to the polls and new attacks in syria force the u.s. to withdraw its ambassador. >> woodruff: margaret warner examines new tensions in the u.s. pakistan relationship. >> i think the obama administration understands that the relationship with pakistan spiraling out of control will jeopardize their ability to leave afghanistan. >> ifill: we look at the administration's plan to jumpstart the ailing housing industry, as president obama visits nevada, the state hit hardest by foreclosures. >> woodruff: and jeffrey brown talks with the irish nobel laureate known as "famous seamus" about his newest collection of poems and his life's work. >> i began to write poems about my parents, kind of elegaic poems connecting up with previous generations, so that was partly human chain. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs
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this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: a desperate search played out in turkey today, a day after a powerful earthquake killed at least 279 people. the quake devastated the cities of ercis and van in eastern turkey. some 1,300 people were injured, and dozens more were trapped in the wreckage. we have a report from john ray of "independent television news." >> reporter: somewhere under here, lay a boy, still alive, close by there are bodies. his parents' fate is unknown.
as daylight dawned, rescuers redoubled their efforts, pulling the lucky to be living from the ruins of homes and offices. hundreds are still trapped. as the hours pass, hopes fade. they have been digging here now for more than 24 hours. to the chill of the nights and through the dust of the day. so far they have pulled two survivors from this rubble. but as evening falls a second time increasingly this is becoming a search for bodies. this woman's daughter and grandchild are somewhere underneath the concrete. there are many others here, praying for the best, preparing for the worst. close by another body. the ruins too precarious to disturb it. the fear: they will collapse utterly. the work of rescue teams can seem agonizingly slow. to rush is to risk further disaster. this was a huge quake, even by the standards of a nation where they are all too common.
at first it was survivors left to fend for themselves using bare hands and brute strength to tackle the rubble. the turkish prime minister touring an overcrowded hospital says the worst of the disaster has yet to unfold as rescuers reach remote villages. there have been scores of aftershocks. tonight tens of thousands are huddled around fires sleeping outdoors despite the cold. the fear: another strong quake will bring further tragedy to a region and to lives already in ruins. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": the ripple effects of the arab spring; the troubled u.s. pakistan relationship; fixes for the housing crisis and a collection of poems from seamus heaney. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: according to nato some 200 insurgents have been killed or captured in a pair of afghan-nato operations
in eastern afghanistan. a spokesman confirmed the raids today, and said they targeted the haqqani network. the militant group is based in pakistan but has launched several high-profile attacks inside afghanistan. also today, a nato service member died in a roadside bombing in the south. thailand's flood disaster grew even more dire today as one of the main shelters in bangkok was forced to evacuate. the water rose faster than officials had expected and threatened to cut off the facility. hundreds of evacuees gathered their belongings and crossed makeshift bridges to move to higher ground. the monsoon flooding began back in august and has killed at least 356 people. a bailout fund for eurozone nations is set to top $1.4 trillion. that news filtered out today from german officials, after a eurozone summit on sunday. the stability fund aims to protect countries like italy and spain from falling victim to the european debt crisis. speaking on french radio, the
french finance minister called for a lasting solution. >> ( translated ): we are working day and night on this issue so as not to get it wrong. what france wants is a strong and solid response, not supplementary steps, there have been too many repetitive crises. we need to draw lessons on governance and we need stable responses. >> sreenivasan: the news out of europe helped stock markets around the world. announcements of several corporate takeovers also helped. on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained more than 104 points to close at 11,913. the nasdaq rose nearly 62 points to close at 2,699. argentina has reelected president cristina de kirchner in one of the widest margins of victory in the country's history. supporters cheered in the streets of buenos aires last night after de kirchner racked up 54% of the vote in sunday's election. her closest opponent got less than 17%. argentina has enjoyed an economic boom in recent years. since 2003, the income gap between rich and poor has been cut nearly in half.
the online whistle-blowing group wikileaks is suspending publication in order to focus on raising money. founder julian assange said in london today that a financial blockade could force the web site to close all together by year's end. visa, mastercard and western union refused to process donations to wikileaks after it started publishing thousands of state department cables last year. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: and we turn to the shifting political winds in the arab world and what the future holds when and if the immediate upheaval subsides. we begin with a recap of the news from libya, tunisia and syria. a warning: what you are about to see contains some disturbing images. from libya today came word, the public will no longer be allowed to view the battered corpse of moammar qaddafi, as hundreds have lined up to do since friday. >> the terrorist is gone, the regime is gone, now we have to look for a new future. i just came here to see and make
sure that he is finished and every piece of my body knows that he is gone, finished, gone, finished now. >> ifill: qaddafi's remains-- and those of his son and former defense minister mutassim-- had been displayed in a commercial freezer in misrata. the local military council is now saying they may finally be buried tomorrow. in tripoli, the country's interim leader, mustafa abdul- jalil, announced officials will review the circumstances of qaddafi's death. >> ( translated ): we have indeed requested, based on international demands, that the death of qaddafi be investigated as he died during a clash and crossfire with his supporters. >> ifill: in a new twist, abdul- jalil suggested qaddafi might have been killed by his own supporters to guarantee he never talked about their misdeeds. but even more graphic images have emerged of the deposed dictator's last moments, as he was beaten and dragged in his hometown of sirte.
and there are new questions about a mass grave found yesterday in sirte. it contained the bodies of 53 people. human rights watch said they appeared to be qaddafi loyalists who may have been executed by rebel forces. >> libya, libya libya. >> ifill: but days later, many libyans are still celebrating their newfound freedom sunday in benghazi. interim leader abdul-jalil addressed thousands and set out plans for a post-qaddafi government with an islamist foundation. >> ( translated ): we as a muslim nation take sharia law as the basic source of law. >> ifill: in neighboring tunisia-- the birthplace of the arab spring-- the moderate islamic party ennahda appeared to have won sunday's election for a national assembly. turnout was nearly 90% in the country's first truly democratic vote and tunisians reveled in it.
>> ( translated ): i feel so delighted now because i took part along with the tunisian people and i did my duty as a voter. i participated in the laying of the foundation stone for the democratic nation which we deserve. it proves again that we are worthy of democracy, the values of civilization and civility are the values of our revolution. >> ( translated ): there is nothing stronger than that the feeling of voting. i passed my exams, i had children, but there is nothing as strong as that. i have never felt anything like that in all my 40 years to decide the future of your country, there is nothing better than that. >> ifill: tunisia's longtime leader president zen el-abidine ben ali was toppled in january after a month-long uprising, which quickly spread across north africa and the middle east. but in syria, there was still no end in sight to the uprising against president bashar al assad. video shot around the city of homs on sunday appeared to show damage and fires caused by shelling from tanks and heavy artillery.
over the weekend, the u.s. pulled ambassador robert ford from damascus. state department officials cited credible threats to his personal safety. ford had played a high-profile role since the syrian uprising began this year. in july, he angered the assad government by visiting the city of hama as protests began there. and last month, his convoy was pelted with eggs and tomatoes as he arrived at the office of a leading opposition figure. in washington today, state department spokeswoman victoria nuland said the regime had conducted a smear campaign against ford. >> you've seen the incidents he's encountered. on top of that incidents of state run media going after him personally and the concern is that this could lead to further violence.
>> ifill: the syrians responded by recalling imad moustapha, their ambassador to washington. to put all this in context i'm joined now by michele dunne who has served in both the white house and as a state department diplomat. also with us is marina ottaway, a middle east watcher for the carnegie endowment for international peace. and finally hisham milhem, the washington bureau cheif for "al arabiya" news. marina ottaway, we've been talking about transitions of a sort in syria, in tunisia, in libya. how are they alike and how are they different? >> they're quite different from each other. tunisia is probably going to be the most peaceful of the transitions in the arab world that we are seeing. it's a relatively small country. it's is aek larized country and pretty accepting of democracy. we have seen or we saw in that short piece that you showed
the leader of one of the parties that was... had expected to do quite well in the election conceding. the fact that they had lost. he didn't say somebody cheated here. this is really something very, very very encouraging. libya, of course, has had a very difficult war. it's also likely to be a real revolution in libya because no matter what happens-- and it may not be pretty what happens-- but i think that is going to be a totally new regime there because qaddafi was the regime. once qaddafi is removeded it's bound to be a different political system and a different political elite that comes to the fore. >> ifill: michelle dunn, in syria there's still a crackdown underway as far as we can tell. and no transition has occurred as of yet. does this... do violence to our ideas about what democracy is? >> well, i mean syria is seeing a very protracted
uprising. when that's being put down with a great deal of force. as we've seen these successive uprisings in the arab world the regimes in power have responded with more and more force, seeing what happened in the other countries. the other thing i think that's really critical in differentiating one situation from another is the role that the militaries have played. in tunisia and in egypt, the militaries decided to side with the protestors and to abandon the regime very early on. that led to quick uprisings and a relatively low number of casualties. that's not the case in syria. in libya we saw the military splinter. in yemen we're seeing that. these situations in which the military splinters or in syria when it largely sticks with the regime although we're seeing some splintering on the edges that leads to much more violence and a much longer, bloodier process. >> ifill: at first there was a great cheer that qaddafi is
gone. now it seems untiedy and unsavory. where does libya goes post qaddafi. >> libya will probably have the most difficult time going through the transition. in libya you have to start from the bottom up. there is nothing left there. qaddafi's regime pulverized libya politically, physically, culturally. in every way. in libya they couldn't have tried qaddafi in five years. they don't even have a judicial structure. there is no functioning civil society the way we know it. there are no political parties. there are no parliamentary traditions. and in libya also is not as homogeneous as tunisia. libya was cobbled up together by three main regions. and the only thing we know about libyan nationalism was forged during the struggle against the italian colonialism between the two world wars. now it's splintered. we have ideological differences. we have the islamists trying
to assert themselves against the suffis in libya. then you have regional differences. yesterday jalil, the new leader, was talking about not the priorities that i would like to see or many people would like to see. his priorities were restoring polygamy, talking about islamic banking and the primacy of sharia in jurisprudence. instead of talking about writing a constitution and preparing for election. >> ifill: let's talk about that. in tunisia even though it is a different definition when they talk about, it seems like when they talk about islamic law, to what degree is this return or this affection or this promise to bring back islamic law going to create a different next chapter for these kinds of nations that maybe the united states didn't anticipate? >> well, first of all i think it's important to keep in mind that there is no arab constitution. it does not talk about islam. it does not talk about the sharia.
the one that was put in place in 1971 by a man who was supposedly an ally of the united states declares that egypt, islam is the faith and the source of legislation. the question is not whether the constitution mentions sharia or whether it talks about islam and so on. the real issue is what are the kinds of institutions and how sharia... sharia is not a law. it's 13 centuries of interpretations of, you know, of the religion. so the sharia can mean everything. >> ifill: exactly. in tunisia, the party which seems to have... it's claiming victory tonight. it seems to interpret it in a far more moderate way than what we heard talked about yesterday. >> yes. that's absolutely the case. i think in all of these countries, whether we're looking at tunisia, libya, egypt, the critical issue is
going to be whether islamists and non-islamists can get together and work out a set of rules, new constitutions and laws that protect all the citizens involved and allow for free political competition without overturning the system. >> ifill: let me just interrupt to ask you this. if you can't figure out how to bury your deposed leader after several days, how do you know you're going to be able to come to this more complicated, almost quasijudicial accommodation? >> well, the libyan national transition council does actually have a road map going forward. they're supposed to... they have the deadline for forming a government within a few weeks and they have a timetable set out for elections. now whether they will be able to abide by all of this, we'll have to see but there are plans. it's not a completely chaotic environment. >> it's not whether islam is the religion of the state.
most of them have that. the issue is whether the sharia is one source in jurisprudence or the main source. that's what troubles me. i don't like that because you cannot have equality of genders if sharia is interpreted the way many people in the arab world and many islamists interpret it. the fear is well founded. every experience we've had in the region with the islamist is they like to monopolize political power. when you talk about the group that went undergrown its leaders returned for the first time after 20 years of exile. they were brutalized by the regime. like most islamists in the arab world. that's why we are the only functioning effective political group if you want to call them that way. other groups were to succeed under ground or in exile. the problem is everybody says we are a moderate. everybody now has fell in love with turkey because turkey has become the model for them. look at the you cans. they are moderate but they are islam i haves. turkey has a long secularist tradition just as tunisia. i'm afraid that the secular
tradition in tunisia could be undermined and could be undermined in turkey too. >> ifill: syria is not like the other two. we have the withdrawal of the u.s. ambassador. does that portend, for what is about to happen especially for u.s. relations in the region? >> certainly the united states is trying to get into a very difficult situation. i think the united states does not have the kind of longstanding allies that it had before. the united states does not know who is going to be in power in egypt. it still has relations with the military. but it certainly cannot count on another mubarak essentially. but it certainly can't count on that. >> ifill: you mean another friendly ally? >> another friendly ally that is not only another friendly ally but a friendly ally who is there for a really long
period of time. you know, without creating real problems for the united states. so there is no doubt that this is a period of uncertainty for u.s. policy in the region. it's a period of uncertainty for all these countries. but i think it's important to keep in mind the united states has been talking about democracy and wanting democracy in these countries. democracy also is brought about through a period of transition. there has never been a country that became democratic without going through a very difficult period. >> ifill: does the u.s., michelle dunn, drawback and allow them to figure out what democracy is on their own or does the u.s. have to stay intimately involved in all these transitions? >> the u.s. is much closer, for example, has had a much closer relationship with egypt than tunisia and has more influence in some places than others. but i agree are marina that, you know, the process of moving from authoritarianism to democracy is a long process,
it's a messy process. the u.s. ising if to have to do what it can to promote the growth of institutions in these countries. it's going to have to take a little bit of a deep breath sometimes when elections are held or when certain parties especially during elections say things that the united states is uncomfortable with. >> ifill: deep breath? >> there are many disturbing signs we've seen in egypt. today the president of the united states called a 75-year-old appointed by mubarak who is the head of the supreme council of the armed forces and urged him to get rid of the emergency law. what you see in egypt today harassing the media, harassing secularists and other groups, stoking the fires of sectarians against the coptick minors when the television called on the honorable egyptians which is a code word to go to the streets and meet up on the christian cops. i'm reminded sometimes of that
old song we won't get fooled again. meet the new boss. same as the old boss. we should have every reason to be concerned that an ally in egypt which receives a good deal of funding and support from the united states may go in a different direction. i'm hoping that tunisia will be the only one that would chart a course towards a democratic future. >> ifill: hisham melhem, michelle dunn, marina ottaway, thank you all very much. >> woodruff: next, a new urgency to resolve escalating tensions between the u.s. and pakistan. margaret warner has our report. >> it is no secret, that our relationship of late has not been an easy one. >> reporter: diplomatic understatement from america's top diplomat, friday in islamabad. the secretary of state was in pakistan's capital to press one
of america's most vital and mercurial allies in the fight against militants who are still wreaking havoc in afghanistan, as the u.s. begins drawing down its forces there. washington is fuming over pakistan providing safe haven and otherwise aiding extremists, like the haqqani militant network and the afghan taliban. on her way, mrs. clinton stopped thursday in kabul and, with afghan president hamid karzai by her side, warned that pakistan could not let the current situation continue without paying a price. >> the terrorists operating outside of pakistan pose a threat to the pakistanis as well as to afghans and others. and we will have ideas to share with the pakistanis. they can either be helping or hindering. >> reporter: she brought a high-powered delegation to islamabad to reinforce her message: the new director of the
c.i.a., david petraeus; and the new joint chiefs chairman, general martin dempsey. she conceded relations had hit a dangerous lowpoint. >> we have seen distrust harden into resentment and public recrimination. we have seen common interest give way to mutual suspicion. >> reporter: despite the tough talk, her trip was designed to stabilize the relationship as well says former state department advisor vali nasr. >> i think the obama administration understands that the relationship with pakistan spiraling out of control will jeopardize their ability to leave afghanistan. >> reporter: several incidents this year have made a hard road even rockier. the january killing of two pakistani men by a c.i.a. contractor, raymond davis. the u.s. mission to find and kill osama bin laden in may undertaken without informing pakistan.
and a spate of bloody attacks on u.s. soldiers, on an international hotel kabul and on the u.s. embassy and nato compound there that american officials believe were the work of the pakistan-backed haqqani network. late last month, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral mike mullen laid out the charge bluntly and publicly. >> the haqqani network for one acts as a veritable arm of pakistan's internal services intelligence agency. in choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of pakistan and, most especially, the pakistani army and i.s.i. jeopardizes not only the process of our strategic partnership, but pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence. >> reporter: long preoccupied with its arch-rival to the east, india. pakistan has wanted afghanistan
to the west to remain weak and non-threatening and many have viewed islamic extremists as an instrument to ensure that. the question in washington: how to divert pakistan to a different course? >> we have to adopt a harder line towards pakistan. we can begin by conditioning the billions and billions of mil and military and also economic assistance to pakistan. >> reporter: peter tomsen, who was u.s. special envoy to afghanistan 20 years ago, says it's time to face the fact that the u.s. and pakistan have fundamentally different interests in afghanistan. >> in a war you always have an adversary, and we have come to the conclusion that pakistan is an adversary, both in afghan both also on global terrorism. we must treat pak as an
adversary and not accept their claims that they're not involved with these terrorist organizations inside pakistan. >> reporter: but vali nasr says the u.s. cannot afford to sever ties or cut off billions in aid to pakistan right now. >> every one of our assumptions about our timetable of getting out of afghanistan our success on the ground with military operation has been predicated on the kind of at least minimal cooperation we have had with pakistan over the last two years. if that cooperation ceases to exist and our relations get any worse than they are currently, it will be difficult to see how u.s. can meet its deadlines in order to be able to withdraw from afghanistan. >> reporter: the afghan war end game, as the u.s. sees it, is to continue hitting militants on both sides of the border with or without pakistan's assistance, while trying to draw them to the afghan peace talks at the same time. nasr says the pakistanis won't
cooperate, unless they also have a seat at that bargaining table. >> and also i think the pakistanis have used this meeting in islamabad to push the u.s. to envision a much more direct role of pakistan in the peace negotiations. pakistan so far has been consulted on the peace process and has been pressed to bring the taliban to the table, but has not a direct role in the negotiation and this is something that they very much wish to have. >> reporter: but tomsen warns that could be a dangerous course to take. >> pakistan has interests, strategic interests in afghanistan, very important interests in afghanistan, as do all afghanistan's neighbors. but those interests do not extend to choosing the ruler in kabul as they've done in the past. we shouldn't be doing these exercises of direct involvement in the afghan political cauldron
because nobody understands or really can be successful in that cauldron. >> reporter: as if to prove that-- even as secretary clinton was still in the region-- afghan president karzai threw a curve ball washington's way in an interview with pakistan's g.e.o. tv. >> if anybody attacks pakistan, if pakistan is attacked, afghanistan will be there with you. >> ( translated ): if fighting starts between pakistan and the u.s., we are beside pakistan. >> reporter: whatever karzai's motive, it underscored how maddeningly impenetrable the politics of south asia can be. >> woodruff: now, back here in the u.s., the big problems still facing the housing market as states struggle to cope with mounting foreclosures. president obama proposed some corrective steps today at the same time he heads into a tough re-election campaign.
with some 11 million homeowners underwater on the value of their homes and five million foreclosures expected in the next few years, housing remains a major drag on the u.s. economy. today, the president headed west to nevada-- the state with the highest foreclosure rate in the country-- to roll out a new plan to help some homeowners. the administration announced it would adjust the so-called home affordable refinance program or "harp"-- to make it easier for borrowers to refinance their mortgages regardless of how much their home values have dropped. it also would eliminate or waive fees. the plan is open to homeowners with mortgages guaranteed by fannie mae and freddie mac before june of 2009. previously, the program would not let homeowners refinance if their mortgage loan exceeded 125% of their home's value-- a
problem for many americans. secretary of housing and urban development shaun donovan told the "newshour" the changes could make an important difference. >> in normal times a homeowner that has a mortgage of $260,000 at a 6% interest rate could go out and refinance at 4.5% or lower given how well today's interest rates are. that would be a savings of $250 a month and $3,000 a year. >> woodruff: nearly 900,000 borrowers refinanced under harp until now-- far short of an intended goal. donovan said he didn't know yet how many people would take advantage of the program now, but said there was a market to be tapped. >> there are about four million underwater homeowners who have a fannie mae or freddie mac mortgage and who save a significant amount of with
refinancing, and that's the eligible pool. some share of those will actually take this advantage and choose to refinance. >> woodruff: the president came under new fire today for not doing more to deal with the housing crisis. the latest salvo: a web video from republican presidential candidate mitt romney saying the situation has worsened. >> welcome to nevada. >> woodruff: but romney-- along with the rest of the republican field-- did not offer specific plans of their own to deal with foreclosures during a debate last week. >> what would you do as president to help fix the overall problem of real estate and foreclosures in america? >> the right course is to let markets work. and in order to get markets to work and to help people, the best we can do is to get the economy going. and that's why the fundamental restructuring i've described is so essential to help homeowners and people across this country. >> woodruff: for the moment, the
president has the responsibility of trying to alleviate the problem. >> these steps i've highlighted today won't solve all the housing problems here in nevada or across the country. given the magnitude of the housing bubble and the huge inventory of unsold homes in places like nevada, it's going to take time to solve these challenges. >> woodruff: some people could begin refinancing in december. but for most borrowers who are underwater it would begin next year. we begin with a look at the housing crisis in nevada and its political implications. jon ralston is a columnist for the "las vegas sun" and host of the television show "face to face with jon ralston." >> hi, judy. >> woodruff: let me first ask you how bad is the housing situation in nevada and overall the economy? >> well, you heard the president say in states like nevada there is no state like nevada, judy. we have the highest foreclosure rate in the
country. 60% of the people in this state are underwater on their homes. we have the highest unemployment rate in the country at 13.4%. those are just the people who are still looking for jobs. it's probably much worse than that, maybe double that number. and president obama stepped right into one of the worst parts of that housing crisis today in las vegas. >> woodruff: and to what extent, jon, do you believe people there believe this is the president's fault? or where do they assign responsibility? >> well, i think they're just upset. i think that they're starting to tune out what anyone says, including the president. they just want some help of any kind. it was interesting, you played those responses from the debate. i was actually stunned as much as the republicans want to talk about free market solutions i think a lot of people in this state and especially in this city where it's really been bad for the foreclosure crisis, i think that that free market was not so free, that it was riggeded. they see banks being bailed out. they see wall street being
bailed out. they wonder when they're going to get some relief. you know, that plan that the president announced today, the expansion of harp probably won't help aate lot of the people he was talking to today, judy. let me just give you one example. that street that the president was on today, a house there, a specific house we looked up was worth $ 210,000 in 2007. a month ago it sold for less than $70,000. >> woodruff: but you're saying many of these houses, many of the homeowners in your state are not going to be able to take advantage of what the administration announced today? >> well, as you know the details are still coming out on this. $ it's just fannie and freddie mortgages guaranteed before 2009 i'm not sure how many people that's going to help. some of these people are underwater on their homes way more than $125...125%. how far are they going to go? at some point this does cost somebody some money so i think it's unclear but it's interesting because i think
president obama had a lot of reasons for going into that specific neighborhood because it's been so hard hit. there's a campaign component of all this. he came from the las vegas strip, one of the fanciest hotels on the strip where he raised a lot of money to this very poor neighborhood, a predominantly hispanic neighborhood, a community that voted for him by 70 to 20 in 2008 but has been very hard hit, very upset. his numbers are not nearly so good with hispanics right now in this state, judy. >> woodruff: very quickly, jon, any sense of specifically what people want to help them with the housing problem? >> well, i'm sure they'd love for a truck with a bunch of money. dump it on their doorstep. but i think they want some light at the end of the tunnel. they want some hope. there's a foreclosure mediation program here put on by the state. the governor says it's a model for the country but it hasn't worked as well as it should have because' banks are making
it difficult. i think they want to see some action to force the banks to deal with them. on the other hand, the president probably agrees with the republicans that you can't just have the banks forgive all those loans. could they do better principal reductions? could they work more solicitously with the homeowners? that remains to be seen. they want relief, judy. they don't care who it comes from. who takes credit. >> woodruff: we hear you. jon ralston joining us from las vegas, thank you. next, we assess the substance of the plan and what kind of difference it might and might not make. we check in with two people who watch this closely. john taylor is president of the national community reinvestment coalition, which focuses on the housing in traditionally under- served communities. he has served on housing advisory boards for both fannie mae and freddie mac. and, susan wachter is professor of real estate and finance at the wharton school at the university of pennsylvania. i'm going to start with you, susan wachter.
we just heard-- and i believe you were able to hear him-- jon ralston in nevada describing the situation out there. he said what people want is a light at the end of the tunnel, some kind of help. do you see in this new plan that the administration rolled out today something that homeowners like them will be able to grab on to? >> yes, i do. i think it's a win-win. i don't think it's a game- changer but i think it does help get to that light at the end of the tunnel. i think it's a help. it's a help not only for the homeowners who will be able to take advantage of the historically low interest rates, who could not before because they were underwater far too far. of course nevada will have many of those homeowners. but it also will help markets because fewer homes will come on to the market continuing downward pressure. >> john taylor, what do you see in today's proposals from the administration that could make a difference? >> i'm not as optimistic as my
friend susan. but i really look at this as incremental steps. what we really need right now is a giant leap forward. there's simply not going to be an economic recovery without housing recovery. because they've limited it to the people who can access this program are those who are already paying, with one exception, if you were late 30 days in the last 12 months you'd still qualify. so people who were just hanging on, whose mortgage payments are too much but are paying almost every month, you know, say, search out of ten months they're on time but three months they're delinquent they won't be eligible. those are precisely the people who would be the most helped by this. it's the biggest pool of people i think that would become eligible. the pool is just too small if you limit it to those who are either current on their loans or just had one delinquency in the last year. >> susan wachter, if it's just limited to this small group,
how will it make a difference? >> well, it's small relative to the overall depth of the problem of potentially 11 million homes that are out there if borrowers are underwater but it might help as many as a million homeowners who are underwater. that's a million more than have been helped to date. so for those homeowners it clearly will make a difference. it can help in a market that is very fragile at this point. and whether it's at a point of a second leg down-- of course if that happens then i'm with john, we are near a real problem not only for housing but for the overall economy and a vicious cycle. but it can help stabilize in 2012 which is going to be a year of great concern and need for stabilization. not only from that but from other factors, from other interventions like keeping interest rates low. so that such plans like this borrowers can access these really historic low interest rates.
>> woodruff: john taylor, this point again that we heard jon ralston raise that essentially the administration is saying they're going to cover, if your home... if the value is less, i guess, or has dropped more than 125%, the overall value of the mortgage, then is that the part of it is that you think.... >> sorry, judy. but they're actually going to not have any ceiling so regardless of the loan to value, you'll be eligible if you're current on your payments or only missed one payment or have been delinquent one time in the last 12 months. but there's a problem there too. because the current level is 125% of loan to value. if the value of your house is 125% less than what... if your mortgage is not... i'm sorry. i'm getting this wrong. if your loan-to-value ratio of your house is 125%, they're
saying that it can go up to 150. it can go beyond that. the problem is what fannie and freddie have been doing is only refinancing loans, 95% of the loans they have refinanced have been at 105%. even at 125 which is their current level they haven't been making these kind of adjustments or these refinances for even loans up to 125% so what's going to make them go very high to 150, 175% of loan-to-value ratios? it's going to be a real challenge for them. so i obviously, all of us, susan, everybody wants us to grab this housing problem and this foreclosure problem by the throat and kill it because it's killing the economy. but if we don't have either principal... we don't have the option of bankruptcy where people can protect their homes we don't have what fdr did when houses crashed for his citizens and he put a moratorium on foreclosures and then created a corporation to
refinance those loans and make these loans they don't have any of that. it's all voluntary let's all work together and hope as we do these incremental steps it will make a difference. as susan pointed out, we have a monumental task in front of us. we need something bigger than these incremental steps. >> woodruff: susan, do you want to respond to that some. >> i do. nonetheless this is a positive step. this is win-win. it's not just, you know, that 70,000 dollar house we heard from jon, that would qualify. any home, however underwater as long as borrowers are current with that small exception of the 30 days. those people should have this option so they now will have this option. why not? this is something that is or should be available. besides there are details in the plan which are pretty ambiguous so i'm not sure how it's going to come out. nonetheless the details are that more of these will close before. but fees will also be reduced
that fannie and freddie have been charging. that could be a game changer also to some degree. >> woodruff: susan, just quickly, assuming some element of this works, what about the larger housing picture? what are we left with as we look at the next year? >> well, obviously this is not going to solve our problem. it can help. the problem is if housing prices start to decline again, then we might be in a vicious cycle. the housing market weakens. and with the overall economy weakening, we need price stability. with interest rates at historic lows, we could get to price stability. the key is job growth. >> woodruff: and, john, the same question. what is the rest of the housing picture look like setting this aside? >> considering we have ten million foreclosures facing us and unless we get the housing... the building of housing industries restarted, we're going to not see the kind of
job creation that i think everybody is hoping for. susan is right. we need to create jobs. but we will not have an economic recovery if we don't have a housing recovery. we can't worry just about helping a million people. that's obviously important. we need to help four or five million people and prevent them from going into foreclosure because that will simply tear against and work against anything this administration or anyone does to create jobs. >> woodruff: john taylor, susan wachter, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: finally tonight, reflections on a lifetime of verse. jeffrey brown has our conversation. >> brown: in his native ire ireland, it's long been known as famous seamuss. indeed he's that rare bird, a world famous poet. now 72, he joined me recently in new york at poet's house, a
literacy center and poetry archive to talk about his newest collection: human chain. poems that are as all for seamus heaney grounded in the physical world around him but also now filled with much looking back. >> the title came from a poem called "human chain," which begins with a description of an old human chain, people passing one thing to another. there's that first... that's the first meaning of it. and then i began to write poems about my parents, poems connecting up with previous generations so that was part of the human chain. >> brown: your parents in fact appear often here. >> they do indeed. my parents appear early in the book at the moment that i imagine myself being conceived. >> brown: you went all the way back. >> i went way back. >> brown: why do you think
that is that you've gone back and reimagined your parents? >> funny enough. for decades i never thought of them as young people. they were always the parents. and i suppose you get to a certain stage yourself you see things in another pattern. you realize that you are not much older than they were. they were in their 30s or 40s at the time, 30s must have been. that interested me. >> brown: in the poem "uncoupled" he conjures his mother who is this coming to the ash pit walking tall as if in a procession bearing in front of her a slender pant? and later his father. "who is this? not much higher than the cattle, working his way towards me through the pen, his ash plant in one hand." in the poem "album," he imagines them together.
>> now the oil-fired heating boiler comes to life abruptly, drously like the time collapse of a song. i imagine them in summer season, as it must have been. and the place it dawns on me could have been grove hill before the oaks were cut. where i would often stand with them on airy sundays, shin deep in hill top blue bells looking out at the forest fires in the distance. too late, alas now, for the a.t.p. quotation about a love that is proved by steady gazing, not at each other but in the same direction. >> brown: he grew up in a rural family farm house in northern ireland. he was the first of nine children who lived a life very grounded in the soil. his famous early poem titled "digging" portrays his father working the earth with a spade and ends with an announcement
to the world that he, the young poet, will use a different tool. between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. i'll dig with it. in his nobel address, he spoke of making a life journey into, quote, the wideness of language. >> the first poetry a writer feels he can trust and come to a point that you think that is a poem is a life-changing experience. >> brown: do you remember that? >> i do, yes. it was certainly when i wrote d digging." you know, i felt when you're beginning you're not sure. i mean, is this a poem? or is it just a shot at a poem? or is it kind of a dead thing? but when it comes alive, in a way to feel that's your own utterance, then i think you're in business.
>> brown: five years ago seamus heaney suffered a stroke. in one of the new poems he describes his strip to the emergency room, strapped on, wheeled out, fork lifted, locked in position for the drive, bones shaken, bumped at speed. >> i was scared, all right. but i didn't think it was the end. maybe that's a kind of protection. i was very grief stricken really. being helpless. and weepy. of course you can't move or control yourselves and so on. >> brown: there's a short section i wanted to ask you to read from one of the poems. in the attic. >> oh, yes. >> brown: again remembering childhood, right? reading. then there's a section here at the end. as i age.... >> yep. this is all truth.
>> brown: all true. >> yep. as i age and blank on names as my uncertainty unstirs is more and more the light headedness of a cabin boy's first time on the rigging, as the memorable bottoms out into the irretrieveable. it's not that i can't imagine still that slight untoward rupture and world tilt. the wind freshens and the anchors weighed. >> brown: this is the poet as older, frail fellow looking back at his younger self. >> very much, yes. there's a lot of that in here. >> brown: that's because of what you see around you. >> right, rights, that's right, yeah, yeah. i think it needs to change. >> brown: what's coming next? >> i don't know. >> brown: in fact, the new collection ends with a look to the possibilities of the future. a poem about seamus heaney's granddaughter flying a kite. until spring breaks and
separate the late, the kite takes off. itself alone. a windfall. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: rescuers pulled a few survivors from the rubble of collapsed buildings in eastern turkey today, after a powerful, deadly earthquake struck yesterday. officials in libya announced plans to bury moammar qaddafi tomorrow, after ending the public display of his corpse. the nation's interim leader also promised an investigation into how qaddafi was killed. and european leaders worked toward agreement on expanding their bailout fund to nearly $1.4 trillion. online, you'll find more on tonight's stories and others. hari sreenivasan explains. hari? >> sreenivasan: seamus heaney reads one of his most well-known poems "death of a naturalist" on our poetry page. we look at alabama's tough new immigration law and the strong reaction from local business owners. that's on our making sense page.
and on our world page, view a slide show of images from this election day in tunisia. plus, we spoke with an election observer there. all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on tuesday, we'll look at the republican presidential candidates new tax plans. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providing jobs, keeping people at work. they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them.
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