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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  September 7, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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on this edition, aid officials prepare for a new flood of refugees from syria. in our signature segment, israel's huge energy discovery. how will it change life through there? >> that's the equivalent of taking all the cars off the road in israel for over a year. >> and why were seattle police handing out bags of doritos? next on pbs "newshour weekend."
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from new york, this is pbs "newshour weekend." >> good evening, thanks for joining us for the debut of the pbs "newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan. we hope to be with you for many years to come. president obama returned home late last night from russia after failing to persuade several world leaders attending the g-20 meeting to go along with his plan to attack syria. but today in his weekly radio address, the president made another appeal for support, this time to the american people and their representatives. >> i know the american people are weary after a decade of war. even as the war in iraq has ended and the war in afghanistan
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is winding down. that's why we're not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else's war. but we are the united states of america. we cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of syria. >> secretary of state john kerry made his own case for a military strike against bashar al assad's regime during a meeting of european foreign ministers in lithuania today. afterwards, an official for the group said the attack which killed 1,400 syrians cannot be tolerated. >> in the face of the the use of chemical weapons, the international xhuntd cannot remain idle. a clear and strong response is crucial. to make clear that such crimes are unacceptable and that there can be no impunity. >> but the statement stopped short of endorsing an attack against assad. instead it embraced french
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president francois hollande's statement that a strike should come after inspectors issued their findings. hollande was a supporter of an american-led attack on syria. with all the talk of war, at the vatican today, pope francis held a peace individuvigil and urged to the war in syria that's left 100,000 people dead. the war led to a mass exodus from syria. 2 million syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries. what's life like in a refugee camp in jordan? kristen gleps pi gillespie met a woman there. >> did they bomb them today? it's been month since dallala
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last saw her husband. in january, she says, government forces attacked their villages in a rebel-controlled area in southwestern syria. several of their relatives, including children were killed. a short time later, she dmred it will country with her own kids. her husband stayed behind. >> translator: i came to jordan in spite of myself. i didn't want to come but my husband made me for the sake of our children so that they can stay safe. he saw his brother's children getting killed. and he told me to return. >> reporter: this is where she came, to this refugee camp, about ten miles across the border from syria in northern jordan. the camp opened om a year ago. but as the civil war back home escalated, its population has swelled. the camp has grown so large to more than 120,000 people that it actually feels like a city. the camp is today the fourth most populous place in jordan.
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all along this road, shops have opened on a street where the french government opened a hospital. it's kno it is now the second largest refugee camp in the world. and that has put a strain on nearby communities in jordan where water is often scarce. the surge in the refugee population has also severely taxed humanitarian efforts, says eva mcdonald of the united nations. >> if we want to continue to support these people, we have got to be well-funded. and the delivery of water and the delivery of food every day, the provision of shelter, something a family can call a temporary home. a shelter that they can stand up straight in. every single aspect of service delivery in this kind of environment is incredibly difficult. >> reporter: life is certainly difficult for those they are trying to help.
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she and nine others live in this tin shed. they sleep in mattresses on the floor, use communal bathrooms and rely on a gas cylinder to cook. they get three rations of oil, sugar, tea and rice. when we visited, she was cooking zucchini stuffed with rice. she can purchase vegetables and other items at shops in the camp. >> translator: our life here is hard, really hard. we have so little. i need to work to support my daughters. i have to feed six girls. >> reporter: we asked her 13-year-old daughter about her life in the camp. >> translator: it is not good. our country is better than here. there we go to school. we go to other places. we go out and play with our friends. here we don't have friends. we used to go to school but it is too far from here in the camp. drr i'm afraid for my daughters.
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they want to go to school. they want to study but the school is far. >> translator: all we do is sit home all day. >> these are ordinary families. families that had washing machines, that had pick-up trucks and their own kitchen and bathroom. and now they're facing who knows how long living with their families in a tent. >> reporter: the challenges facing aid workers might actually grow if there's a military attack against syria. u.s. officials say their making contingency plans to house an additional 150,000 syrians who might flee into jordan, that could mean more divided families. for now, her only connection to her husband is the phone. >> translator: hello, peace to you. how are you? how is the village today? the bombing is still going on? god help us, sweetheart. tens of thousands of syrians have also fled to egypt.
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for more about that and for the latest diplomatic maneuvering in the arab world, we're joined now from cairo by "the newshour's" margaret warner. how many syrians have taken refuge in egypt and are they being welcomed there? >> reporter: hari, there are more than 100,000 syrian refugees here. in a country of more than 80 million, doesn't sound like much. but they're mostly concentrated in the cities here in cairo and alexandria and they're not being terribly welcomed. i've heard complaints from egyptians saying you see them on every corner begging. since morsi was ousted, police and military have been rounding up syrian men and boys, putting them in detention accusing them of being morsi supporters or muslim brotherhood supporters. and there are reports that some of the syrian refugees feel so unwelcomed and threatened that they're paying smugglers to try to get them into europe. >> let's talk about a bigger
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picture. june 2009, president obama comes to the city that you're standing in now, tries to reset relations in the middle east with that big speech, the new beginning. with the reporting you've done over the past few days on this trip, what are you hearing about how much support arab governments are willing to give the united states on a possible strike in syria? >> reporter: well, one thing's for sure, hari. there will not be a unified arab support for strike here as there was, vis-a-vis, libya. you had the arab league meeting here earlier this week. those members did endorse the idea, the accusation that bashar al assad was behind that august 21st chemical weapons attack. they refused to endorse the military strike and at the g-20 meeting that just ended in st. petersburg, only two of the muslim countries, majority muslim countries there, saudi arabia and turkey, signed onto this statement that called for some sortover, quote, enforcement of the prohibition against chemical weapons used.
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secretary kerry discussed in his testimony this week that there might be some financial support from arab countries for such an operation. but so far, nothing has been materialized publicly about that. >> and what about the egyptian streets, so to speak? i know there are still people out because the curfews have been eased. but what do they say about a possible military strike by the united states? do they support it? >> reporter: i have talked to dozens of egyptians in this past week. i have not met one that supports a strike against syria, despite their compassion for people who are gassed in the chemical weapons attack. they talk about iraq, that the u.s. intelligence is fall si. and that iraq has descended back into sectarian strife and is exporting jihadi terrorists to syria and some may fear to egypt. the other thing, hari, is that this is exacerbated here by the
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strongest anti-americanism i have ever felt. the pro-military ouster of morsi camp feels strongly that if the obama administration coddles president morsi as he became more and more autocatic, morsi supporters, muslim brotherhood supporters went to a rally and angrily said to me, why won't your president call what happened a coup? it's coming from both sides. and that's made itself felt on us. we've been thrown out of restaurants. we've had our local producer called a traitor to egypt for working with us. so there is not much of a feeling of connection between the average egyptian and really anything americans do. >> while the world's been focused on syria, the situation in egyptian seems to be deteriorating. >> reporter: it is deteriorating in the sense that this is
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becoming a very divided society. when we were just first during the revolution 2 1/2 years ago, seculars and islamists alike were united. even later that year, there was great unhappiness with military recall but still those two camps were united. now you have deep polarization between the two. each side branding the other. if there's any democratic power grabbers as terrorists. and one woman said to me on the street yesterday, it's so sad, we don't even talk to each other anymore. she said, if you're in the other group, i can't hear you. so this is -- who knows where it's going? this new government may be able to bring about some sort of a conciliation and get a civilian democracy back here. but for now, i would say it's very up in the air. >> margaret warner, chief foreign correspondent for the pbs "newshour" reporting from cairo, thanks so much. >> reporter: my pleasure, hari. for the latest developments
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from the middle east, including more reports from margaret warner in cairo, visit in other news, pakistan has freed seven members of the afghan taliban, a gesture toward peace talks to end the war in afghanistan. pakistan released another 26 members of the taliban earlier this year. today's move came two weeks after a visit by afghan president hamid karzai. australia is getting a new government. voters there turned prime minister kevin rudd out of office after his party imposed an unpopular tax on carbon emissions. the new prime minister will be tony abbott who's promised to repeal the carbon tax and said he will trim billions to close the nation's budget deficits. australia is one of 23 countries that makes voting mandatory. those who don't vote and can't produce a valid excuse are required to pay a fine. ibm is taking steps to reduce its health care costs.
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in a letter obtained by "the wall street journal," it told its employees they have to leave the company's health plan by the enof the year and purchase health insurance on an exchange. the letter said, quote, cost increases under our current retirement group plan are no longer sustainable. there was a space launch late last night from virginia. >> 0, ignition. >> an unmanned rocket carrying a satellite blasted off from nasa's flight facility off the virginia coast. it soon developed a mechanical problem but nasa is optimistic the problem will be resolved. the rocket will orbit the moon to gather data about dust in the moon's atmosphere. the mission is expected to last six months and cost $280 million. welcome news for the digitally savvy. leo tolstoy's work is now
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available online. in case all this has you intrigued, one note of caution, the entire archive is in russian. now to our signature segment, tonight we take you to israel. at first glance, given all the turmoil in the middle east, that important american ally might seem more besieged than ever. but some say israel is actually stronger than it's ever been and not just militarily. israel's economy may be about to take off because of recent discoveries that have important implications for the region. "newshour" correspondent martin fletcher reports. >> reporter: it's a running joke here in israel. moses lead the jews through the
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desert for 40 years through the only place in the middle east with no oil and no gas. so israel's been almost totally dependent on fuel imports for energy. costly and precarious, a nation surrounded by often hostile neighbors. but now that's all changing. israel has at last discovered so much natural gas, it's heading towards energy independence, a gas exporter in just a few years. 56 miles after israel's mediterranean coast, the tamar reservoir started flowing earlier this year with enough gas to supply israel for decades, another field nearby almost twice as big should be pumping in three to four years. israel believes both fields lie well within its maritime borders though the lebanese government has challenged that. the stakes are high because there are also reports of huge oil deposits near the very same gas fields. some call these new discoveries an economic miracle.
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>> amazing, amazing, amazing story. >> reporter: and that joke about moses? >> we proved that joke to be wrong. >> reporter: it all began with tadmore and his company which began drilling for gas onshore in 1991. >> obviously we needed luck and god's help. we needed the resources to be underground. but i think the unique contribution that we were able to bring is the human spirit and the belief. >> reporter: tadmor, a lawyer by training, also needed partners willing to invest millions. he had a hunch there was gas in israeli waters because egypt found some nearby, and he sought investment from the texas oil giants. but he says nobody bit. afraid of upsetting their much bigger customers, the arabs. finally, a small texas company with no arab clients today called noble energy agreed to
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invest in israeli dream. >> started the energy industry here in israel. >> reporter: a completely new industry? >> that's correct. >> reporter: you literally help found it from nothing. >> that's correct. >> reporter: gas began flowing to the tamar platform in march and should be able to generate most of israel's energy instead of relying on costly imports of coal, diesel and heavy fuel oil. >> we estimate in fuel savings alone to the power plants that go right to the consumer that over the life of tamar, israel will save over $100 billion in fuel savings. >> reporter: it took considerable engineering to get at the gas. five wells were drilled, some more than three miles below the seabed, in waters too deep for a production platform. so pipes were laid to shallower waters more than 90 miles away. the longest in the world. the platform and base were built
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in texas and transported more than 8,000 miles to the mediterrane mediterranean, where the base was plunged into the sea and the platform placed on top. from conception to operation, just over four years. this is a gigantic place, the tamar platform weighs 34,000 tons. it's 290 meters high and 50 people work here around the clock. this is where it's coming in. on the platform, water and humidity are separated from the gas. it then comes onshore here, filtered again and fed to multiple power stations which convert it into electricity to feed israel's electric grid. it's already helping the environment. today, 40% of israel's electricity is fueled by gas. it's much cheaper and much cleaner than oil. >> we've saved the country 17 million metric tons of co2 emissions. that's the equivalent of taking all the cars in israel off the road for over a year.
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>> reporter: the biggest benefit, a huge boost to israel's economy. gas will add 1% to israel's gdp this year. that's triggered a debate here. what will israel do with its financial windfall. the key question? will energy independence make israel stronger and how? it's a red hot topic in the country that already spends 20% of its budget on defense, far more than other western nations. critics worry that protecting the new platforms, sitting ducks at sea, will mean even more money is diverted from domestic spending to defense. and they say that's a bad idea. there have been also been protests about the government's plan to export much of the gas. the government says this will generate billions in new revenues. but critics say the government acted without necessary parliamentary approval and are challenging the plan in court. lawmakers like this one say more gas should be kept at home and more of the gas revenues invested in domestic programs
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other than defense. >> there is an economic and a social threat. and poverty is a bigger threat than security right now to israel. the prices are going up, salaries are going down and social services like, for example, housing are being neglected. we should build a more viable and more sustainable economy. this is something that the natural gas can truly help doing but it takes patience. >> reporter: and there's another aspect to this story. how will israel's gas find affect the always volatile politics of the region? that's a concern because the gas space is believed to extend into waters off syria and lebanon, both technically at war with israel. and israel's maritime border with lebanon is in dispute. michael levy from the council on foreign relations sees both opportunities and risks in the gas discoveries. he worries that maritime border disputes could erupt.
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>> if you disagree about where your borders are and you both claim areas as your own, if something valuable is discovered there, you're going to have some conflict, at least diplomatic, over who gets to develop the wealth of that area. >> reporter: but he also sees opportunists. >> we're looking at israeli exports into the palestinian territories and into jordan, that will intensify the relationship between those parties. and you'll see discussions about new trade relationships. for example, will israel be able to strike up trade arrangements with turkey. >> reporter: better israeli/arab relations, they say, with god's help. but whatever happens, gas and oil will make israel a wealthier country, less reliant on others. and that's no joking matter. this is pbs "newshour weekend" saturday.
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finally, the connection. making sense of the scattered news iteming bombarding you every day. sorting through contradictory marijuana laws. we started thinking about this when we heard the new jersey governor saying that some sick children should be able to take a pill form. he said, quote, i believe that parents and not government regulators are best suited to decide how to care for their children. new jersey is one of 20 states that allows medical marijuana. out west, some states have gone further. last november, colorado and washington state approved ballot measures allowing recreational use of the drug. ten days ago, the obama strags said, as long as strict regulations are in place, it would not challenge marijuana laws in those states, a decision
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that chuck grassley said send the wrong message to both law enforcement and violators of the law. sounds like a good subject for a constitutional law class but some aren't taking the issue too seriously. a "washington post" reporter said the issue was creating a buzz and that the president wasn't high on the idea of ending the federal ban on the drug. thousands attending the recent festival in seattle didn't examine the nuances of the law even though they smoked outside but didn't have to hide from police. instead of issuing tickets, the cops handed out bags of doritos. the police say they weren't trying to treat the munchies. they detailed what the washington state law allows and does not allow. seattle authority working hard to weed out fact from fiction.
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on pbs "newshour weekend" tomorrow, jeffrey brown profiles broadway legend steve sondheim. >> he used language and music to explore complex ideas. adult relationships in company. ♪ >> it's something that scares you, exploring new territory. something that you're not certain about. you want to surprise yourself. >> recapping today's top story, the obama administration continues to press its case for a military strike in syria. that's it for this edition of pbs "newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan. pbs "newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan. we'll see you tomorrow. -- captions by vitac --
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♪ ( horns honking ) mexico city-- one of the largest concentrations of humanity anywhere on the planet. it's currently estimated that around 26 million people live here, and the city stretches for miles in all directions. but scratch the surface and you'll find there was once another great city here, one that rivaled in size and complexity the cities of europe, but whose religion, rights and ways of life and death, were utterly alien to europeans.


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