tv PBS News Hour PBS February 13, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: president obama unveiled his 2013 budget today, calling for higher taxes on the rich and more spending to create new jobs. good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we examine the fiscal blueprint and the reaction from republicans. >> ifill: then we interview the greek ambassador to the united states after a night of violent riots, as protesters in athens reacted to parliament's passage of new austerity measures. >> i think the bhol greek society right now is rather numb.
>> brown: judy woodruff updates the republican presidential campaign, with stu rothenberg and susan page. >> ifill: we look at the pbs documentary "slavery by another name," which tells the forgotten stories of forced labor that continued long after the civil war ended. >> brown: from beijing, global post correspondent kathleen mclaughlin reports on the lure of western culture for china's youth. ♪ i have nothing, nothing if i don't have you ♪ >> ifill: and we close with a conversation about the life and legacy of music icon whitney houston with gordon chambers, a singer-songwriter who wrote and produced for her. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway.
>. 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. >> ifill: this year's budget battle in washington was formally joined today. president obama rolled out his spending plan, and republicans offered their objections. it set up an election year fight over austerity versus spending. ray suarez has that story. >> suarez: an annual rite played out at the capitol this morning. the arrival of the president's budget blueprint. the price tag this year $3.8 trillion. appearing at a community college in northern virginia, mr. obama cast the plan as an essential tool to spur growth.
>> at a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we've got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track. >> suarez: and as a responsible plan, to bring down overspending after four straight years of trillion- dollar deficits. >> i'm proposing some difficult cuts that frankly i wouldn't normally make if they weren't absolutely necessary. but they are. and the truth is we're going to have to make tough choices in order to put this country back on a more sustainable fiscal path. >> suarez: in fact, the budget envisions the deficit of $900 billion next year, down $400 billion from this year's projected total. the president said he would reduce the red ink by $4 trillion over ten years. that would mean a deficit of $575 billion in 2018. to get there, the obama budget would let the bush era tax cuts for better off americans expire at the end of this year. and it would impose the so-
called buffet rule, named after billionaire investor warren buffet, a minimum 30% tax rate on those making at least $1 million a year. all told, the president wants to raise $1.5 trillion from higher taxes on the wealthy. >> we want to keep these tax cuts for wealthiest americans or keep investing in everything else: education, clean energy, a strong military, care for our veterans? we can't do both. we can't afford it. some people go around and they say, well, the president is engaging in class warfare. that's not class warfare. that's common sense. >> suarez: the budget also relies on ending tax breaks for oil, gas and coal companies and on winding down military spending in afghanistan. and iraq. at the same time, major entitlement programs would continue to grow, and the president also laid out new spending today such as $8 billion to train community
college students for jobs. >> by reducing our deficit in the long term, what that allows us to do is to invest in the things that will help grow our economy right now. we can't cut back on those things that are important for us to grow. we can't just cut our way into growth. >> suarez: for their part, republicans dismiss the budget today as a litany of failed policies and stimulus ideas that congress has rejected before. and with the election looming in november, they said the president has issued nothing more than a campaign document. senator minority mitch mcconnell gave his review on the senate floor. >> once again, the president is shirks his responsibility to lead by using this budget to divide us. the game plan is perfectly clear. rather than reach out to congress to craft a consensus budget, the president will take this budget on the road
as he did today and talk about the parts he thinks audiences will like. what he won't say is that it's bad for job creation. bad for seniors. and that it will make the economy worse. >> suarez: republicans also insisted that the president's plan would not cut deficits but simply slow their growth. assuming the cuts every take place. wyoming senator. >> the president is ambushing the american people. by promising to cut the deficit by $4 trillion when in fact over the next ten years he adds to the debt by $11 trillion. additionally he has this pretext of trying to help everyone. and in fact what his budget does is continues to bury the american people under mountains of debt. the savings that he promises will never occur. and the spending that he demands are things that we just cannot afford. >> suarez: house republicans vowed to give the country an
alternative: they plan to release their own budget in the spring. >> brown: still to come on the newshour, violent reaction to greece's spending cuts; what's next for the republican campaign; forgotten stories of slavery; western cultural influences in china; and remembering whitney houston. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: rebels in syria pushed back against government tanks in a key town today, as the uprising moved more toward open warfare. the fighting in rastan came as the military continued an assault on the city of homs, and after rebels killed an army general. we have a report from bill neely of independent television news. >> reporter: it's the music they fear. the sound of a revolution gaining ground. they were burying one of syria's top ranking army officers, assassinated outside his home. the grief of his relatives matched by the anxiety of his
come raids. no one is sure who will be next. seven soldiers were buried here, many killed in homs, the scene of a brutal assault by syrian army on civilian areas. under the gaze of president assad, syria's front men are defiant denying that the army is bombarding homs. >> the government is dealing very softly with them. we don't want to harm innocent civilians. >> how can you justify using tanks and artillery against civilian areas in homs? >> this is absolutely incorrect. >> you have not used tanks? >> no. absolutely not. >> there are pictures of tanks, both video pictures and satellite images of tanks in homs. >> i think you know how such images are being fabricated. >> you are not firing on civilian areas in homs? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: this is the sound of the revolution, not far
from where the minister spoke. the peaceful protest is is protected from attacks by the rebel-free syrian army. assad, they cry, your days are numbered. but tanks and artillery used by syria's army against the uprising clearly has not detered these people nor the snipers that regularly fire on protests like this. in fact, they say the depth of this uprising inspire them. they tell me they simply will not give up. >> the world should do something or say something at least. make it stop. make the blood stop, please. even if it cost me my life, there's no way on earth we're going to go back to the way they were before. >> reporter: this conflict is deepening. defiance and death mark both sides. a clash that can only have one winner.
>> holman: on sunday, the arab league called for u.n. peacekeepers in syria, but there was little immediate prospect of such a mission. in afghanistan, nato acknowledged an air strike accidentally may have killed eight boys last week. coalition officials said the incident, in kapisa province, happened as air and ground forces were attacking insurgents. car bombs targeted israeli diplomats in india and the republic of georgia today. the diplomats were unhurt. but the blast in india wounded four other people after a magnetic bomb was attached to a diplomat's vehicle. a similar device was found on an israeli embassy car in tbilisi, georgia, but was defused. in jerusalem, israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu accused in of carrying out the attacks. >> iran, who stands behind these attacks, is the biggest terror exporter in the world. the israeli government and security forces will continue to work hand in hand with the local security forces against
such acts of terror. we will continue to act forcefully, systematically and calmly against international terror originating from iran. >> holman: the attacks mimicked bombings that have killed top iranian nuclear scientists. iran has accused israel of complicity in those assassinations. iran denied any role in today's attacks. the deep freeze over central and eastern europe grew more dire today. a state of emergency was declared in eastern romania, where 6,000 people have been cut off for days by heavy snow. in nearby serbia, helicopters delivered much-needed aid to ships trapped in the frozen danube river. they also evacuated sailors. meanwhile, teams in montenegro rescued some 50 passengers stranded on a train for three days. an avalanche had trapped them inside a tunnel. wall street warmed up today, and stocks started the week by moving higher. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 72 points to close at 12,874.
the nasdaq rose 27 points to close at 2931. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we turn to the turmoil in greece, and still no sure thing that europe has solved its debt crisis. we begin in athens with a report from james mates of independent television news. >> reporter: the morning after a particularly violent night before. even for a city that is well used to street protests and angry confrontations, the burning of 48 buildings, the looting of 150 more, was something different. (gunfire) these scenes last night in a major european capital were enough to make even the most optimistic fear for where we're heading. 100,000 on the streets and a crowd so angry they struck out indiscriminately. in parliament m.p.s were voting as they had been ordered to by the eurozone but in doing so the greek body politic appeared to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. one in six m.p.s were expelled
from their parties last night. two years ago greek conservatives were expelled after voting for austerity. last night they were chucked out for voting against it. and this the party, likely to form the next government here. >> that's pretty much the end of it. that's the bottom line. they've had seven... i understand them. you know, i believe that they had enough. >> reporter: atenians surveying the damage today could find few grounds for optimism. is there worse to come? >> i think so. i think this is not the end of it. the whole greek society right now is rather numb. >> reporter: how worse can it get? >> i think it will be like world war iii. >> reporter: do you think there might be worse to come? >> obviously we'll be here and see the same happening again. >> reporter: even after they withstood all of this in order to get their austerity package through, there are still
voices in europe who are asking whether the greeks can be trusted, will they've done enough, whether they should get their bailout money. without that money, greece is bankrupt and all bets are off. as last night proved, that will put us into very dangerous territory. >> brown: and joining us now is greece's ambassador to the united states, vassilis kaskarelis. >> thank you very much. thank you for the invitation. >> brown: we just saw some stunning pictures of rioting in the streets in athens. many people in your country seem unwilling to accept the austerity measures. how serious is this moment for your country? >> the situation is quite serious. but on the other hand, there are extremists in every single country. this deplorable... were provoked yesterday by very small but very well organized groups of anarchists. the vast majority of greek
people were demonstrating peacefully yesterday in the streets of athens, waiting for the outcome from the voting of the parliament. so, of course, we do see on the screens, on the monitors the damages, fires, but this rarely on the ground is limited. >> brown: the fear, of course, of many greeks is that these austerity measures will make things worse. will lock greece into a long- term economic gloom. do you think that that could be avoided? >> it can be avoided. we are already negotiating this aspect of the problem with our partners in brussels and the i.m.f., and brussels has already decided to put... to earmark for greece some $30
billion for development. consequently, if we manage to absorb the money and put it in work, i believe that the results could be positive and the situation would start to change as from next year. at this point, what we have to do-- and this is the most important-- is to implement profound structural reforms. >> brown: are the people ready for that? >> the people, i believe, have digested already the fact that things have to change in greece. and this is why since we started these reforms in early
2010 and for the past two years we have had, of course, some demonstrations in greece. but most of them were peaceful and most of them were limited in size. >> brown: at the same time, of course, you have european finance ministers already suggesting that even these measures may not be enough. using some rather tough talk about greece as a, quote, bottomless pit. you had the german finance minister saying greek promises aren't enough for us anymore. are their demands valid or does this begin to feel like the more you give, the more they keep asking for? >> for the past two years, i'm reading on a daily basis statements from every minister of finance or every writer all over the globe mentioning greece and recommending what greece has to do.
you have always to keep at the back of the mind when you listen to these statements that they also have public opinion back home. they have to explain why they are giving this money to greece. why they spend tax payers' money. and at this point, i would like to clarify that the money that we received from our partners in brussels and from the i.m.f. is not free money. it's not a bailout, as people used to call it. it's a loan. it's a loan with a very high interest rate. actually higher than the rate that you can obtain in the market. >> brown: but you talk' public opinion. are you concerned about the level because you have strong resentment in northern europe bailing out what is seen as a bailout of a greece.
you have resentments now in greece that we see daily about germany and others sort of dictating to your government. it's getting rather ugly. i wonder if you're concerned about whether this can be healed. >> actually, i believe it can be healed. it's a reaction that was expected. when you ask two people, two everyday people, ordinary people, to change completely their lives, their planning, their family planning, and this in a matter of several months but in a very short period of time, it's something to expect that you have some reactions. but the vast majority of greek people have fully digested and understand the fact that we have to change. we have to change not the
salaries or our way of life but we have to change the structure of the state. we have to limit the government. we have to privatize state enterprises. we cannot go on like this. >> brown: there are still many that fear or think that even these measures and even this new money may not be enough. that there is still the possibility of a default by greece. does your government think this is still a possibility? >> i don't believe so. i don't believe so because the money that we received from the european union and the i.m.f. is quite enough to overcome the crisis. the point is if we will be able to implement the... all the measures that we have adopted and we adopted yesterday-- i mean, the
austerity measures package-- and i believe that all political parties in greece, i mean, major political parties in greece are ready to deliver. >> brown: you think so? >> i think so. >> brown: tomorrow, of course, you have european finance ministers.... >> actually on wednesday. >> brown: on wednesday, i'm sorry. >> we have the euro group in brussels, and the euro group will decide for the new loan to greece, for granting the new loan to greece. >> brown: ambassador vassilis kaskarelis thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> ifill: now, to the shifting state of play in the republican presidential campaign. judy woodruff has that. >> woodruff: mitt romney came out of the weekend hoping he'd at least partly rebounded from losses in three states last
tuesday. with a pair of wins on saturday. >> i want to be your nominee. i want to be beat obama. i believe i can. i believe i'm the one person in this race who actually can beat the president. >> woodruff: the former massachusetts governor pulled off a victory the maine caucuses taking 39% of the vote. texas congressman ron paul placed second with 36%. rick santorum annuity gingrich finished far back. fewer than 5600 people voted, and one county delayed its caucuses due to a forecast of snow. romney also won saturday's straw poll of the conservative political action conference in washington. with 38% to 31% for santorum. but sunday on cnn, santorum cast doubt on how romney won. >> you know, those polls at c- pac as you know for years ron paul has won those because he just trucks in a lot of people. pays for their ticket.
they come in and vote. then they leave. we didn't do that. we don't do that. i don't try to rig straw polls. i know that there were some.... >> do you think that.... >> i'm happy with the announcement. well, you have to talk to the romney campaign and how many tickets they've bought. we've heard all sorts of things. >> woodruff: romney faced renewed questions about his conservative credentials from sarah palin, the 2008 republican vice presidential nominee. >> i am not convinced, and i don't think that the majority of g.o.p. and independent voters are convinced. that is why you don't see romney get over that hump. he's still in the 30 percentile mark when it comes to approval and primary wins and caucus wins. >> woodruff: but at the c-pac conference, others said the differences between the republican contenders have been overblown. grover nor quist runs the anti-tax group americans for tax reform. >> all the candidates are in the same zone.
minor differences are picked at. see, big difference. what big difference? what are you talking about? they all want lower taxes. they all want less spending. they all want less regulation. >> woodruff: and the head of the american conservative union says romney has been consistent. it's the field that's changed. >> in 2008 he was running against john mccain and rudy giuliani primarily. both perceived to be to his left. so he was viewed as the conservative candidate. now you've got a field of candidates, some of which are perceived to be to his right. that doesn't make him a moderate. he's as conservative asy always been but the dynamics of each race have been very different. >> reporter: the latest evidence of those shifting dynamics came today. as a new national poll by the pew research center found santorum slightly ahead of romney, 30 to 28%. and to some analysis from susan page, washington bureau chief of "u.s.a. today," and stuart
rothenberg of the "rothenberg political report" and "roll call" newspaper. thank you both. good to have you back with us. >> thanks, judy. >> woodruff: mitt romney did make up some ground over the weekend but, stu, as sarah palin put it, why is he having such a hard time getting over this hump? >> this race really has been a lot about momentum. who won the last contest? and i just think he has a fundamental problem in spite of his successes, in spite of his strengths, and he has plenty of assets. he just has not convinced a majority of the republican party that he is a true blue conservative. they don't believe it. he's been saying how conservative he is, judy, for months and months. they just don't buy it. >> woodruff: if he's been saying it, susan, why aren't they buying it? >> his past is more moderate. as we know in massachusetts, you know, the irony these very conservative forces, the tea party movement, supporters in the republican party have won the war. all the candidates have positions on the big issues that are very consistent with the tea party. very conservative.
part of the party's agenda. and yet they lack trust in romney. and enthusiasm for romney. it doesn't mean they wouldn't support him if he was the nominee against barack obama. barack obama is going to be a great unifyer for republicans this year but it's not the candidate that they want in their hearts. >> woodruff: but when he uses the term, stu, like severely conservative. add verb we hadn't really heard. >> an awkward phrase. >> woodruff: how do you explain that? >> well, i think he seems to talk a lot from talking points. when he gets outside of that comfort zone, anything can happen. i think he is so intent, judy, on expressing his deep conservative convictions that he's searching for terms and words. and really i don't think there's anything he can say that can or will convince, can convince very conservative republicans, we're not talking about somewhat conservative republicans. we're talking about the most conservative, there's nothing that he can say. he has said everything already. they just have looked at his background, seen his multiple
position on abortion, stylistically he's just much more an establishment kind of guy. they're not going to believe him. >> woodruff: susan, what does that portend? you do have a lot of other primaries coming up in the next few weeks, arizona, michigan, washington state. >> then you go to super tuesday where we have ten states voting on one day. romney continues to be the candidate who has the best organization, has the most money. has the most discipline. he's the guy who has been around the track before. all of those are advantages. one consequence of the fight that he's had against one alternative after another is that it's really beaten him up. it's beaten him up for the general relax. we see his favorable ratings among independent voters the people he'll be coming back to after winning the nomination if he does really falling. his standing against president obama standing. in the pew poll that you mentioned he trails obama nationwide by eight points now. they used to be competitive in that pole. that reflects the bruises he's taking on as a result of this fight.
>> woodruff: but can he go on to the nomination, stu, if he doesn't ever win over this conservative core? most conservative core of the republican electorate? >> i think he can. it's obvious the problem. i think he can because what susan said. the size and the weight of the campaign, the financial advantage. as long as he has two conservative candidates dividing up that vote. in longer we go through the process the more delegates he will pick up. newt gingrich will get some and rick santorum will get some but there will be a point at which romney starts to really look like the inevitable candidate that he hoped by now he would look. and at that point he may start to pick up steam. but it is going to be over the next few weeks and maybe longer quite a slog. >> woodruff: meanwhile susan rick santorum seems to be the beneficiary. does he have the kind much strength that is going to give him the wins that he needs then to be considered a real contender. >> it's nice to be riding a wave which is what he's doing
now. in the gallup daily track he moved up 14 points in ten days. that's the fastest, biggest surge in the history of this very volatile race. so that's good for him. but the thing we've seen is these candidates they go up and come down just about as fast. he's going to have scrutiny he's not had b his tax returns for mitt roll knee turned to be pretty troublesome. rick san torp up said he'll put out his tax returns. at that point there will be stories about that. he'll face an onslaught of negative ads against him by mitt romney's campaign and the super pac that is supporting mitt romney. we saw when newt gingrich how hard it is to stand up against that when you have all these big states voting lots of contest going to face an ad campaign like that. >> he has the same problem that newt gingrich has. that is washington. he's been in congress. he was in congress for years. he voted for earmarks. i think the romney folks are going to have after him again as a washington insider who
supported a process that got this country in the substantial hole it is. >> woodruff: two other quick subjects. one is, stu, the whole contraception controversy. the administration, the obama administration tried to put an end to it. they gave ground at the end of last week. catholic hierarchy, republicans not apieced. but for most people, have been they able to put this behind them? >> i think for the moment although i think we're going to end up coming back to this in a different context of the role of government and government being bigger and getting involved in really controversial decisions. i'd point out this, judy. for weeks the president was not in the... was not the center of attention. it was all about the republicans. now we have seen within a matter of days first with the contraception issue with the religious freedom issue and now with the budget how he's going to be back to barack obama and his positions are going to be controversial. >> woodruff: when it comes to that budget which was released today, susan, what do we know
about how the president is thinking' the election because these budgets are always seen as election... especially in election years seen as political statements. >> they're always political statements this one particularly so. there's no expectation that this is a blue print for how the nation will proceed on its actual budget. it's a blueprint for the debate we're going to have this year. it provides a pretty sharp contrast for americans on what they want to spend their money on. the government's money. how big a government they want. what role they want the government to play. in the economy and in their lives in things like education and health care. so in that way a helpful debate but in terms of this is the course the nation will go on? no. this will be the debate we're going to have for the next nine months. >> woodruff: susan page, stu rothenberg, thank you both. >> thank you, judy. >> thanks. >> brown: next tonight, the debate in china over the growing influence of western culture.
slavery by another name based on the pulitzer prize winning book of the same name tells the story of the thousands of african-americans who are arrested on trumped-up charges and forced to work as convicts labor. in many cases they were sent to the south coal mines including some owned by businessman and former slave owner john mill er in. historians and actors describe it in this excerpt. >> after emancipation, industrialists replaced slaves with convicts, acquiring thousands from state and county governments. >> you can't drive free labor the same way that you can force prisoners to mine five tons of coal a day. and this is why people like millner wanted prisoners in his coal mines. he saw them as a great source of profit. he didn't have to worry about labor disputes.
>> we would leave the cells around 3:00 a.m. and return at 8:00 p.m., going the distance of three miles through rain or snow. >> the conditions in a coal mine at this time, to say that they're primitive, you can't even imagine it. >> this is a place where for weeks or months at a time men might never see daylight. the mine was often filled with standing water around their ankles and their feet. they to drink from that water. disease ran rampant through these mines. >> they were incredibly dangerous places to work, being subjected to violent explosions, poisonous gases that were released as coal fell from the walls. in addition to the falling coal itself.
>> whipping, keeping people chained up, brutal kinds of physical torture. and meant... mental abuse are the norm. a lot of the things that kept people in control under slavery are amplified under this convict labor. >> ifill: douglas blackman is author of the book and co-executive producer of tonight's film. a former reporter for the wall street journal he's now the chair of the miller center forum for the university of virginia. welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> ifill: you make the argument that slavery didn't end in 1863 when the emancipation proclamation was signed not in 1865 when the 13th amendment to the constitution was ratified. by 1942. >> slavery didn't end when we all have been taught that it did. it receded for a time. in the first years after the civil war, african-americans, the formerly enslaved african- americans did experience a period of authentic citizenship but after the civil war a whole new regime
of involuntary servitude began to be put in place all across the south and hundreds of thousands of people were affected. >> ifill: why didn't we know these stories? >> we did know. americans were very aware of it. white southerners were. by the beginning of the 20th venturi whites all over the country had seen stories written about some of the particularly worst atrocities and some of the brutalitys. the truth is by the early 20th century most of america didn't care anymore. the country had been fighting over the role of african- americans for almost a generation at this point. they were worn out with the political fight. by the early 20th century the north had largely decided to let the south do what it wanted to with black people. >> ifill: help us understand how this could happen. tell us the story of one person you mentioned in the documentary. green cottonham. >> he was the son of two former slaves in alabama. he was born in freedom. he experienced some of the... some of that period of time in which you had huge numbers of black people who voted. some were elected to office.
they had a certain amount of economic freedom. they were largely still impoverished but separating themselvess from the white families that controlled their lives. by the time he grew to adulthood, this whole new regime of laws had been put in place that essentially turned the american justice system on its head. and it became an instrument of injustice instead of a system of justice. there were rafts of laws that effectively criminalized black life. it was almost impossible for a black man in the south, in the rural south in the early 20th century not to be at risk of arrest at almost any time and the consequences of even the most trivial of offenses were enormous. >> ifill: you make an interesting point. in the book and in the documentary, you say that economically it made more sense to protect slaves than it did to protect the lives of people who were convict laborers or people who were under ponage it was called. >> that is essentially debt slavery where a person is held against their will to work off
an alleged debt to a land owner or to someone who has purchased them essentially. that's the language that was used. buying and selling. someone who has been purchased from a county jail or purchased from a state prison system. that's what had happened to green cottonham. he was arrested on a charge of va raens. he couldn't prove he had a job in 1908. he couldn't pay the enormous fines. it was two years' labor was the fine for va graens. he was immediately sold to a coal mine on the outskirts of birmingham to a company that would pay his fines off one month at a time. instead five months later he died under horrible conditions in a coal mine outsides of birmingham owned by u.s. steel corporation. >> ifill: there are long-term consequences for these practices which link... which over the years have linked criminality and race. >> this is how our country got in the habit of finding it normal to see such a huge population of african-american men in particular incarcerated all the time.
it also is, i think, really the missing link in understanding the persistence of the economic and educational gaps between african-americans and whites in modern society today. slavery didn't go away 150 years ago. african-americans haven't had that long opportunity to recover from all the terrible damage of slavery. instead slavery began to recede meaningfully more like 50 or 60 years ago. that is all the difference in the world. >> ifill: were there white convicts who were leased in this manner. >> there are whites who were sucked into the system. no doubt about it. when there was outrage or concern about this system back in the early 20th century it was typically when a white person there's a story in the film of a young man who was a traveler from the pacific northwest who ends up sucked into a forced labor camp in florida. eventually whipped to death under horrifying conditions. that led to a scandal. that led to some reforms. but overwhelmingly, this was something that happened to black people. through most of the period of
time that this was happening, these forced labor camps tended to be 80 or 90% african- americans and the mortality rates in them were often as high as 30 or 40%. >> ifill: whether it was the sharecroping, people were tied to the land by debt or whether it was peonage or whether it was convict leasing, this had a long-term effect that affected the entire american economy or just african- americans? >> no, this is a huge drag on all of american life. that's one of the things we for get sometimes when we talk about the atrocities really that were committed against african-americans. it didn't just injure black people. it injured the whole country because we deprived ourselves of the talent, energy, ambition and abilities of this huge population of people that was getting bigger and bigger all the time. the proof of that is that once you get to the truly modern times, to 1970, and that is really the first point in time that we can really say african- americans on a large scale begin to have real access to the mechanisms of achievement in america. since 1940, even with all the
problems that persist, since that time, since 1970, even with all the problems that persist, african-americans have achieved on a level economically and educationally, i think, that's unrivaled by any group of people in human history. it's the story of american history. a story of terrible things done by americans to other americans. if we want to appreciate the triumphant parts of our past we have to be willing to confront these parts as well. >> doug blackman, author and co-executive producer of slavery by another name on pbs tonight. thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. >> brown: next tonight, the debate in china over the growing influence of western culture. it comes as china's vice president kicks off a trip to the united states this week, one designed in part to head off mounting tensions between the two countries. kathleen mclaughlin, beijing correspondent for our partner, global post, reports.
>> reporter: western culture is big and getting bigger in china. kfc is the country's most popular restaurant chain, a buick is the top-selling car. and a public square in beijing 35-year-old and friends show off moves they learn from watching their american idols on the internet. >> the west influences us a great deal. for example, those of us who skateboard now are all learning from the west. from america. we watch how their professional skateboarders practice and imitate their methods. the way they dress influences how we dress. we imitate how they skateboard. watching them inspires us to think about how skateboarding should be. >> reporter: western culture swept into china when the country opened to trade 40 years ago. western brands and ideas have exploded in the past decade as economic boom expanded the country's middle class. now the government is pushing back. the president says china's culture is being infiltrated
by hostile western forces. and the government has set new limits on chinese mass media. first they issuedy dikts that killed some racy and wildly popular tv shows and pushed others out of prime time. this man is a professorate a the communications university of china. the country's top tlaning ground for budding tv journalists and hosts. >> the rules are meant to restrict two types of programs. the first is crime programs that show audiences how crimes are committed. how to steal and rob, criminal techniques and scenes of the crime. this is what ordinary people like to watch. but these types of programs are against the law and order. second are dramas with contents of immortality. moral and ethical betrayals. >> reporter: what's allowed and what is not is murky. take china's got talent. in one episode a poor man who sells duck necks for a living dresses up like a suicidal pig to try to earn money for a karaoke parlor for his wife. in the end the man's wife comes on stage to for the
judges and wins both their tears and approval. regulators deemed this show has a social value. but they threatened to cancel china's hugely popular version of the bachelor. if you are the one. in one famous episode, the bachelor asks one of the female contestants to ride on his by cycle. she replied i'd rather cry in the back of a bmw. to stay on the air producers eradicated content with a negative social impact brought on older contestants and added a professor from a communist party school as the third host. this man says producers are finding it difficult to figure out what might offend regulators. >> there are good intentions behind the regulations. but then the rules become very complicated. and people down the line still have to car eye them out. >> reporter: but many of china's culture consumers disagree with the government's very premise. this man, who worked for an insurance company in beijing, is certain that western culture isn't taking over
china. >> i feel both cultures are very good. they should be mutually beneficial and not replacing each other. >> reporter: chinese culture often takes western influences. walk into kfc and you'll find an egg tart and a menu almost unrecognizable to someone in the states. that fusion has happened on the internet too. which with more than 500 million users is even more popular than television. this person is an american who has lived in beijing for 16 years. he's a spokesman for china's top internet site and a well known local rock musician. >> aate low of the names that have become popular in china are indecipherable to western audiences. of course that's because they're chinese. so i think the idea that chinese culture is becoming westernized is a little misguided. i think that these are... there isn't the strict, you know, sort of dichotomy between western and chinese culture. >> reporter: the government however has also begun internet crackdowns in the name of fighting off western
culture. they started by forcing people who use chinese versions of twitter to register under their own names but these restrictions stifle the very creativity the country nodes to develop. >> in recent years we've seen the internet really blossom into... well, it's fully, it's the crude i believe of con temperatureary culture in china. >> reporter: that contemporary culture may be what the government is worried about. over the next two years china will change power at the very top and get a new president. the last thing it wants during this rare and secretive transition is the free wheeling that's happening online with its internet users. while many topics like china's power transition are being banned on social media, posts about pollution, corruption and government negligence spread lie wild fire. last summer a notorious high- speed train crash that killed nearly 50 people. before censors deleted it one offending post read, quote, china, please slow down your break neck pace. wait for your people. wait for your soul.
wait for your more als. recently china's... they reposted and discussed at length the u.s. embassy's independent air data. in the end beijing's government caved and started publishing more pollution stats on its own website. this person, long-time china media watcher and founder of an online magazine said the government likely has more to do with posts like that than with western culture itself. >> i think the real concern is a loss of control. this is a push back against western culture is a way of talking about control. without using those words. >> reporter: the government may find it hard to take back control. this person works for a japanese car company. her favorite tv program, the social issues talk show, removed from prime time. she now mostly watches tv clips online instead. >> every day especially now
that i'm working when i drag my tired body and mind home, i really want to have a moment of relaxation. i want to laugh outloud. but i can't be as easily satisfied as before. so i feel a bit disappointed. >> reporter: she misses her shows. she was even more offended by how the rules were rolled out with no public input. >> i feel perhaps they have good intentioned but their methods are very undemocratic. they're too forceful. it feels like a monopoly. >> reporter: this generation of chinese wants a voice. freedom is what the skater talked about when asked what he likes about western culture. >> it attracts and interests me a great deal. i think it's very free. that really attracts me. their thoughts are very open minded and positive. >> reporter: the government may find it very difficult to change his mind. >> brown: finally tonight, our remembrance of singer whitney
houston. >> how will i know that he really moves me? i say prayer with every heartbeat ♪ >> brown: from the release of her first album in 1985, whitney houston was a super star. turning a background in gospel and soul into pop music gold. ♪ if he's thinking of me ♪ i want to dance with somebody ♪ >> brown: first artist to chart seven consecutive number one hits, eventually selling more than 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide. ♪ somebody to love me ♪ saving all my love, yes, i'm saving all my love ♪ >> brown: she won hundreds of awards including six grammys and turned to acting, starring in films including "the body guard." ♪ if i don't...
>> brown: more recently it was the struggles in houston's life that drew attention, the turbulent relationship with her husband singer bobby brown and battles with drug addiction. ♪ i will always love you > at last night's grammy awards performers paid tribute to her music making and soaring voice as in the song the greatest love of all. ♪ never to walk in any one's shadow ♪ ♪ if i fail, if i succeed, at least i live as i believe ♪ ♪ no matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity ♪ ♪ because the greatest love of all is happening to me ♪ >> brown: whitney houston was found dead in a los angeles hotel this weekend.
the cause of her death is not yet determined. she was 48 years old. we're joined now by gordon chambers a grammy-award winning singer, producer and songwriter who worked with whitney houston on a number of songs and albums. welcome. i mention this melding of gospel, soul and pop music. what do you think it was that set her apart? >> it was the clarity of the tone of her voice. the precision of her pitch. you know, you never forgot that she was of the gospel tradition. but when she sang she could sing a melody to clearly and so precise that she could make a song a copyright. she had what a stradivarius was to a violin. the best voice of the 20th century. easily hands down the finest, purist tone of a singer in the 20th century in my estimation.
>> brown: she came from this very rich musical background. her mother, cissy houston, aretha franklin, her godmother. deonwarwick a cousin. >> yes. and you know, there's even more singers that are in her background. cissy was a member of a wonderful group called the sweet inspirations. she and her sisters made up a group. the houston legacy of singing goes back for two generations even before whitney in newark, new jersey. these are fabulous, fabulous soulful singers in the gospel tradition. >> brown: you worked with her. what was that like? >> i worked with her. i produced songs on two of her albums just whitney and one on a song on her christmas album one wish. whitney is really funny and really warm. real he'll somebody who comes in a room and introduces herself to everyone in the room. i asked her to say if she wouldn't mind saying hello to my parents. she spoke to hem for about 20 minutes on the warm. a very warm and radiant person. as much of a star as she is on
tv she has that same quality, star quality even when they walks in a room and there are two or three people. she lights up a room and the room lights up to her. she's funny, charismatic. we laughed a lot but we got our work done. she treated me with absolute respect. you know, when i got to the studio the first time i said whitney i have waited for this moment for a long time. she said, no, gordon chambers, i have waited for this moment for a long time. very real and warm. >> brown: in spite of that and despite so much success the tragic personal life in later years, what can you tell us about that? >> you know, i can just say that whitney is human. like all of god's children, she was flawed. but she never lost her faith. you know, there's many times we sat together and i could tell that she was under pressure and so was i. we prayed together. so in our instances of being together, what i remember was somebody who was turning to god, turning to a higher being. who in times of turmoil or
times of turbulence just as i do. that's part of what the glue of our friendship was. i remember a woman who was seeking a higher being. i remember when she went to israel. she was always connected to her faith and never lost that. i do believe that she's in heaven because she never lost her relationship with god. >> brown: what of her legacy or her impact? her influence on other singers? where do you see it today? >> well, i'll tell you her influence on me. when i was actually producing her christmas song, she... there was a note i wanted her to hit in the bridge to take it a little bit higher. she looked at me and said, "i think you want to do what i do, baby?" i think you want to sing. if you want to sing, you should go for it. really sure enough that was the kick that i needed. i came to new york from atlanta and began recording the first of my three solo albums the first album introducing gordon chambers which is an album she loved. i'm now on my third album
senior. i wouldn't be the singer i am if not for her inspiration. many many singers, many younger singers kelly roland was on the the red carpet at the grammys saying the first time she ever met whitney houston she was sing to go her a destiny's child song. she gave so much inspiration. on thursday night the night before the grammys she went to support kelly price at a pre-grammy party. i think that she gave a lot of encouragement. the girls that were in sparkle with her said she was very maternal, very warm. i think she set the bar high but in her interactions with other vocalists she knew how to get down low and make you feel like you were a colleague. i think that's her legacy. >> brown: gordon chambers on the life and music of whitney houston. thanks so much. >> thank you,. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. president obama unveiled his 2013 budget, calling for higher taxes on the rich and more spending to create new jobs.
and greece struggled to recover from riots and fires that swept athens on sunday, as parliament passed a new battery of austerity measures. on our web site, we're debuting a new page. kwame holman explains. >> holman: our new eurozone crisis page is a one-stop source for the causes and effects of europe's financial woes. margaret warner's recent reports from germany and italy, and much more, are on our eurozone crisis page. from another part of the world, a global post reporter in caracas talks about venezuela's presidential race, where hugo chavez will face a center-left opponent in fall elections. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, china's vice president visits the white house. i'm gwen ifill. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway.
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