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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 16, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: iran's president pushed back against hardline critics of the interim nuclear deal with the west. our own william brangham is in tehran surveying reaction to the negotiations for a long-term accord. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff is away. also ahead, goodwill is well known for selling second hand goods, but in indianapolis the charity is offering high school dropouts a different kind of second chance at life. >> i didn't have to go through high school from the beginning to end it's just from exactly from when i walked out the door as to where i walked back in and they test you, they figure out where you are at and tell you what you need and they help you get there. >> ifill: plus, u.s. carmakers
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back in the fast lane. we look at this year's detroit auto show and what's in store for a once-battered industry, now on the rise. those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability that thrives on so many streets in this country has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it, when you know where to look.
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>> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and friends of the newshour. 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: the justice department is likely to place new limits on racial profiling by federal agents. the current ban only prohibits profiling by race. "the new york times" reported today it may be expanded to include religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation. civil rights groups have said authorities continue to target muslims and hispanic americans unfairly. there are conflicting new claims about the safety of information on at a house hearing today,
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medicare's top cyber-security official said the federal website has passed full security testing. but at a separate hearing, the head of the security consulting firm trusted-sec l.l.c. warned the site is anything but secure. he cited more than 20 vulnerabilities. vatican officials got a grilling today over how they treat clergy who sexually abuse children. they appeared at a united nations hearing in geneva and answered claims that roman catholic church leaders have protected pedophile priests at the expense of victims. the vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor said, "the holy see gets it", but he insisted only local police have the jurisdiction to act in such cases. >> there are certain things that need to be done differently. i would talk about cover-up, for example, because this is a very important concern. the states who are cognizant
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of obstruction of justice need to take action against citizens of the country >> ifill: pope francis has appointed a vatican commission on ways to protect children from abuse and help victims heal. the destruction of syria's dangerous chemical weapons stockpile will be delayed again. the deadline had been the end of march, but the world's chemical weapons watchdog agency said today it's likely to slide to the end of june. it cited security problems and bad weather. separately, secretary of state john kerry accused the syrian government of delaying humanitarian shipments. >> i talked yesterday with russian foreign minister lavrov in an effort to push still harder for access to some areas where the regime played games with the convoys taking them around the circuitous route instead of directly in the way that the opposition had arranged
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for and was willing to protect them in. it is important that there be no games played with this process. >> ifill: kerry also pressed the main western-backed syrian opposition group to attend peace talks in switzerland next week. the syrian national coalition meets tomorrow to make its decision. early results from egypt's referendum on a draft constitution show more than 90% of voters favor the new charter. that's according to state media reports today. an interior ministry official estimates voter turnout topped 55%. ballots are still being counted and final results are expected to be announced by saturday. in the netherlands today, four men accused of assassinating former lebanese prime minister rafik hariri went on trial in a u.n. court. hariri and 22 others died in a beirut bombing in 2005. the suspects, members of hezbollah, were not in the courtroom today because they've never been arrested. the shi-ite militant group
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condemns the trial as a u.s.- israeli plot. hariri's son, saad, was there and insisted the killing of his father must not go unpunished. >> you never seek vengence and hopefully by the end of this trial, we will find out the truth and we will get the justice that we called for in lebanon. >> ifill: prosecutors are expected to call hundreds of witnesses and the trial will likely last months. a searing heat wave forced the australian open tennis tournament to suspend play for several hours today, as temperatures in melbourne hit 111 degrees. the world's number three women's player maria sharapova won a three and half hour marathon during the height of the heat. she used an ice vest to try to cool down. players complained the last two days about the intense heat. one player's water bottle even melted courtside. the nominations for the 86th academy awards are in.
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the con artist sting movie "american hustle" and space thriller "gravity" lead the pack with ten nominations apiece-- including best film and best director. also recognized, the pre-civil war drama "12 years a slave" -- nominated nine times, including for screenwriter john ridley. we'll revisit our conversation with him later in the program. the number of homes heading into foreclosure fell sharply last year. the listing firm realty trac reports foreclosure starts were 2006. meanwhile, wall street struggled today after big banks turned in disappointing earnings reports. the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 65 points to close at 16,417. the nasdaq gained not quite four points to close at 4,218. still to come on the "newshour", reaction inside iran to the nuclear talks. hunger and starvation for palestinian refugees in syria. a cheating scandal among air force officers entrusted with nuclear missiles.
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goodwill offers a second chance for a high school diploma. the u.s. auto industry's drive back to profits. plus, the screenwriter of the oscar-nominated "12 years a slave". earlier this week, iran and world powers moved one step closer towards a final agreement on the country's nuclear program. tonight, we have an inside look at how negotiations with the west are playing inside the islamic state. hari sreenivasan has more. qr cor william brajham is in iran this week on a reporting trip. we caught up with him earlier today. william, welcome. so this week iran and world powers worked out the technical details of the internal deal over its nuclear program. what has been the reaction on the streets of tehran? >> well, hari, the deal has been received relatively well so far this week. in fact, members of iran's
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revolutionary guard who for weeks have been criticizing the negotiations and the deal offered what is considered mild praise this week. so that was considered a bit-of-a step forward. that said, president obama set off a bit of a diplomatic does they will week when he and his statement on sunday describing the deal referred to it as quote dismantling some part of iran a's nuclear infrastructure. which is a charge the iranians completely reject. the foreign ministry rejected that statement and earlier this week president rouhani felt compelled to give a speech where he said that the deal, in fact, represented a quote, surrender of the western powers to iran's will. so there seems to be a good deal of domestic political posturing going on, to put the best face on this deal. >> so here in the u.s. president obama is seeking a little breathing room from lawmakers who are threatening new sanctions, what kind of pressure is on president rouhani right now? >> there is a great deal of
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pressure on president rouhani in these ongoing negotiations. you have to remember there's a large percentage of the iran parliament that would very much like to see rouhani fail. and so they are looking for any signs that he is capitulating or showing signs of weakness that they can then hold up and say see, he's failing the country. at the very same time, iran's supreme leader who thus far has given rouhani a good deal of leeway in negotiating this deal, nonetheless last week gave again a very fiery speech where he referred to the united states as the great satan. and warned his negotiators that they cannot quote trust the smiles of their enemies. so a lot of pressure on the president here. >> how do most iranians view these negotiations with world powers? are they hopeful that this will improve their country's situation? >> i do think there is a sense of hope among some iranians about this deal. it's important to remember that rouhani was in no small part elected to do exactly this.
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he campaigned on a platform of reducing iran's isolation in the world, of negotiating with the western powers, of trying to reduce the sanctions and trying to improve the economy. so you could argue that he is absolutely delivering on his promise and so for the people who put him into office, yes, i think there's a genuine sense of hope that these negotiations will finally bear fruit and improve the economy. the ode iranians, we've spoken to in the last few days haven't seen those results yet. but they're certainly hoping that they are going to come. >> so the u.s. administration credits these so-called crippling sanctions in bringing iran to the negotiating table. you've been on the ground for a few days now. what is the economic situation like there? how severe are these sanctions to average iranians? >> as a first time visitor to iran, it's not immediately apparent how sanctions have impacted the city and this country. tehran is a bustling, thriving city. there's people out on the streets. the stores are full of produce and fresh food.
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household goods. but in other ways, in ways that maybe not quite so visible it's clear the sanctions have bitten very hard into iran's economy. unemployment is very high. inflation is very high, and so at the very time that prices for goods have gone through the roof, the value of the local currency, the money, the rial that people use here to buy those goods has limited so it is very, very difficult for middle class iranians to buy the necessity of life. a few days ago we spoke with a shop keeper who we just walked into his store, and we started talk with him. and he told us that he bought his business about two to three years ago, right at the time that the most recent set of sanctions had been implemented. and he said that the price of the goods that he needs to import to sell in his store had gone way up. at the very same time that his customer's ability to buy those goods had gone really far down. and so there's really evidence everywhere in that sense that the sanctions have really hurt the iranian
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economy. and they are in a large way what is driving the urge for these ongoing negotiations to try to reduce those sanctions. >> william brangham, newshour, weekend correspondent, thanks for joining us. >> thanks very much, hari. >> ifill: we'll have more of william's reporting from iran next week. the syrian government today allowed relief aid into two areas at the frontline of the civil war. it appeared to be a goodwill gesture ahead of international peace talks next week in switzerland. but there was also a military attack today outside a refugee camp where young and old alike are starving. lindsay hilsum of independent television news has this report on their plight. a warning: this story contains some graphic images.
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>> governments determined to force out the last rebels in southern damascus. but there were 18,000 civilians in this a girl's been injured. can they get her to hospital? after the dust settled the destruction is plain for all to see. most of the people scrambling over what remains of yarmouk aren't even syrians. they're palestinian refugees who fled to damascus for safety decades ago. people are desperate, forced to pick dandelion weeds to eat. yarmouk has been besieged since last july as regime tries to starve the rebels and seemingly the people into submission. these next images are very distressing to watch. shortly after these were taken, activists say ella al masri died of starvation. adults are skeletal too. hunger means they can't resist
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infection. such agony is no accident, it's the result of the siege of yarmouk. in the last few days, several children have reportedly died of hunger. activists filmed the funerals. 50 people are said to have died from starvation or lack of medical care in recent months. aid agencies say the people of yarmouk urgently need food and medicine. they are prisoners, no one can get in or out. >> ( translated ): if they put a dog in a cage at least they would give him food and water. but we have nothing, we're just waiting for a kind person to bring grass or wheat for the children. >> reporter: he screams at the camera, "we have no money to pay for food. we have nothing to do with either side. we just want something to eat. desperation is driving people over the edge.
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on monday, six u.n. vehicles set off for yarmouk with polio vaccines and food supplies. they'd negotiated access with the government, but the aid never made it through. >> government told us we had to use the southern entry into yarmouk, which forces us to go into rebel territory. we could have used the northern entrance to yarmouk which the government controls, but they wouldn't allow us to do that, so we took the southern route. when we got to the last government checkpoint, the bulldozer at the front of our convoy took a direct hit. >> reporter: at dusk. the palestinians of yarmouk light fires, it's another form of protests. smoke signals to the outside world, which seems neither to watch or listen. >> ifill: next week, chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner will report from switzerland on the latest round of international peace talks. and right now on our world page,
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you can read how organizations like save the children and unicef are setting up kid- friendly spaces in countries like syria, which are caught up in natural disaster or conflict. >> ifill: now to the country's nuclear arsenal and new questions about those who sit at the controls of some of the world's deadliest weapons. >> this was a failure of some of our airman, it was not a failure of the nuclear mission. >> it may >> ifill: it may be the biggest cheating scandal in air force history, detailed yesterday by air force secretary deborah lee james. >> 34 missile launch officers at malmstrom air force base in montana were involved in the compromise of answers to a launch officer proficiency test. some officers did it. others apparently knew about it, and it appears that they did
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nothing, or at least not enough, to stop it or to report it. >> ifill: the accused officers are among those entrusted with the nation's 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles or i.c.b.m's. their alleged cheating came to light during a separate drug investigation at six air force bases. two of the 11 suspects in that probe are among the 34 nuclear officers now accused of cheating. it's all part of a series of stumbles in recent years involving the air force's nuclear wing. in 2007, the service was embarrassed when six nuclear warheads were accidentally flown across the country. last spring, more than two dozen launch officers were decertified at a north dakota base for poor performance and bad attitudes. and in october, the head of the nuclear force, major general michael carey, was fired for heavy drinking and other
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misconduct during an official visit to russia. this new scandal comes a week after defense secretary chuck hagel visited a nuclear missile base in wyoming in a bid to boost morale. >> i suspect you feel maybe that no one cares or no one's paying attention to you, but we are, and also to re-emphasize how important your mission is, how important your work is, how we depend on your professionalism and how you do your work. >> ifill: the 34 officers implicated in the cheating episode have been pulled from their posts while the investigation continues. and, the entire i.c.b.m launch force is slated for retesting by close of business today. i'm joined now by robert burns, national security reporter for the associated press. and bruce blair, a research scholar at princeton university.
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he was once a intercontinental ballistic missile officer in the air force. robert burns, describe how the air force discovered this latest breach? >> well, it began when they found there was a drug-use problem at several bases. the first one they found it at apparently was one of the icbm bases. and in the course of investigating that they came upon this exam cheating scandal. >> ifill: so it's one scandal leading to another, leading to another? >> and they're just getting started. they said that it's too early to tell exactly how extensive this is. because they've literally and quote are just getting started with this investigation. >> ifill: so the 34 people that we heard about from the pentagon, that is just as far as we know, the beginning of this investigation. >> that's right. they said that's all they know of at the moment. but this investigation is just beginning and more people will be talked to about it. >> ifill: miss claire, you've done this job. exactly who are these officers and what are they responsible for doing? >> they're responsible for fighting a nuclear war with
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primarily with russia, which is an obsolete mission an that's partly responsible for the distress that the force feels and the lack of decline of-- decline of morale and decline of discipline. but they sit out in 24 hour alerts in underground launch control capsules waiting for orders from higher authority to fire up to 50 of these very deadly weapons under their control. so if an order went down right now from the pentagon, two of these crews to fire their forces without any advance warning, they could fire all 450 of these minutemen missiles in less than two minutes, probably closer to 60 seconds. >> ifill: but how is that, then, an obsolete mission, it sounds kind of important. >> well, the cold war ended 20 years ago.
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and if your primary mission is to fight a large scale nuclear war with russia and it's no longer a very compelling scenario, then it's difficult to sustain a high degree of motivation and edge within this force, frankly. i participated in a study with senator hagel, now secretary of defense hagel, and general cartwright former head of all nuclear forces, less than two years ago. and this was a study for global zero of which i'm involved in. and it recommended that we look very seriously at eliminated this force completely because the mission has basically disappeared. and the military utility of these weapons is very low. >> let me ask robert burns about that. as they are investigating this problem, were nuclear weapons compromised? was access to nuclear weapons. >> not as far as we know. in fact, the air force has emphasized that that is not
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the case. but to make up for the point on what mr. blair just said there, when the initial set of problems were first exposed by the ap last spring, the air force's initial response was, well, part of the problem is these fellows, these officer was do this job are very young and they have not taken it seriously enough. >> and they have a moral problem. >> and that's norbted with this morale problem. on the other hand, that is some what putting the blame on these young officers. other people will tell you that the real problem is weak leadership by the more senior people in the air force. >> ifill: is that something you found in your investigation with secretary, then senator hagel as well, mr. blair? >> well, we didn't look into this dimention very thoroughly. but i stay very close to the ground on these questions, in close contact with former and current launch control officers and my view is that these men and women are every bit as capable and proficient, competent and
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dedicated as previous generations of launch officers, including my own generation. i would like to make a point about the notion that this is a scandal of unprecedented proportions. that's the way it has been portrayed by the air force. but the truth of the matter is, is that a sub culture within the minuteman force has evolved over decades. in which cribbing is wide spread. i have known hundreds of officers personally on active dultee and all of them cribbed at one time or another in my experience. >> ifill: you say cribbed n this case it was texting the answers to those taking the proficiency test. >> texting is something, basically one used to look over the shoulders of each other and help each other. and the reason is because although we were extremely proficient and professional,
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you couldn't miss a single question. if you did you flunked and went through some punitive process that was extraordinary. and so we kind of all banded together and helped each other out. so i don't, you know, cheating has been, of this sort has been going on extensively for a long long time. >> ifill: let me ask robert burns, there has been a lot of reporting on this, what is your sense of the scale of this, not only this particular scandal but also all these other things which we delineated in the set-up piece, all these other mistakes, all these other issues and questions and investigations under way within the air force. >> uh-huh, well it seems pretty clear that there is a problem. the root of which has not really been identified and addressed yet, apparently, by the air force. and they've said repeatedly over the course of several months when a number of problems have been exposed by our reporting that this is an isolated incident. we understand what the problem is we're fixing it and that sort of thing. but the real big question
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teams to be, is this symptomatic of something more long-term and more permanent. >> ifill: that was my question, yes. >> and the answer i think is still to be determinedment but i think even secretary hagel's spokesman said today that he leaves open the possibility that this could be symptomatic of a bigger problem. and of course secretary hagel has been in office about a year. a number of the top air force nuclear officers commanders are actually fairly new in the job. and i think people are not yet quite sure where to go with this. >> ifill: do you think it it's symptomatic of a larger problem? >> well, again, i think that the mission is obsolete. these are young men and women without came of age after the end of the cold war, never thinking russia was an enemy. they were thinking osama bin laden is the enemy. or north korea, kim jong-il and others, and their mission has nothing to do with confronting north korea and iran. it's to fight a war with russia. so it's obsolete.
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it's time to come to grips with that. and you know, these people are not, they're not naive. and i they see the writing on the wall. and they want to transfer out of nuclear. there's no future in it. it's always been a back water. you could never really have much prospect for promotion, certainly not rise to the level of general in an organization that is dominated by pilots. and so the only hope, the glimmer of hope for these crew members has been that they could transfer out. into other more interesting and promising caer radios, including cyberand drones, space operations. the air force has chokd-- the air force has gone too far in choking off that set of options. very, very difficult now for a missile air to get into space operations, for example, they have to open it up. >> ifill: that you so much, bruce blair, princeton university, robert burns of the associated press, thank
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you so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: now the importance of improving access to college for lower-income students. that was the subject of a white house summit today that attracted more than 100 colleges and universities. research has shown high- achieving students from poorer families graduate from college at roughly the same levels as lower-achieving kids in that same economic bracket. today, the first lady said she understood from personal experience that too many students might not reach for top colleges. >> the truth is that if principles paragraph-- princeton hadn't found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if i hadn't seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, never would have occurred to me to apply to that school, never. and i know that there are so many kids out there just like me. kids who have a world of
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potential but maybe their parents never went to college, or maybe they've never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there. and so that means it's our job to find those kids. >> ifill: but some young people who never got their high school diplomas are now facing a difficult job market. tonight, we look at a program in indiana that's trying to help some get the diploma they missed out on years ago. the newshour's april brown reports for our american graduate project. >> reporter: it's a name that bargain hunters across the country know well. the charity sells donated clothes and used goods at its retail stores to fund career training and social programs for everyone from the disabled to ex-convicts. but for some indianapolis residents like nichole thomas, goodwill has come to represent something else: a chance to confront a lingering regret. >> i think the biggest thing to overcome is just swallowing your pride.
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>> reporter: since 2010, goodwill of central indiana has offered thomas and other dropouts the opportunity to earn a high school diploma at its network of charter schools known as the excel center. in 1995, thomas became pregnant with her daughter ashley. she was just 15 and dropped out of high school before earning a single credit. but despite her lack of education, the young mother was able to find work for nearly 20 years. >> i will admit that there is plenty of times i lied on applications and said i had my high school diploma and even some college education and it was never even looked into, so i was able to get some really good jobs. within i was able to get some really good jobs and get in and stay there without that education. >> reporter: but a few years ago, as the recession tightened its grip on cities like indianapolis, she was laid off. without a diploma, she found it hard to even get an interview where she could sell herself to future employers and finally realized that she needed to go back to school.
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>> i wanted to do it right and i wanted to further my education beyond that and i felt i'd have an easier time getting into colleges with a high school diploma. >> reporter: today, thomas is among more than 3,000 adults enrolled at the excel center's nine sites. the move into education marked an evolution for a non-profit known for reselling donations. jim mcclelland, c.e.o. and president of goodwill of central indiana says his organization thought carefully before deciding to offer them a diploma over a g.e.d. >> some of the data that we saw as we started looking into this, showed that ged is the highest level of education you attain, you don't make any more money than a high school dropout. and your rate of unemployment is no greater than that of a high school dropout. >> reporter: the indianapolis they didn't decide to reach out all on its own
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>> reporter: the indianapolis mayors office has the unusual ability to sponsor charter schools in the state. jason kloth, the deputy mayor of education for indianapolis says there are about 150,000 dropouts in the city's metro area, and that offering them educational opportunities is an economic imperative. >> there is a clear need with existing high school dropouts-- people who may have made a mistake at one point or another in their life and this is an opportunity for them to re-enter and earn their high school diploma and then go on to enter employment. >> reporter: mcclelland says goodwill has been working with and employing dropouts for decades. so the organization tailored a school that met their needs. free childcare is provided and weekend and night classes are offered year-round. like any other public high school, the students education is paid for by the state. but at the excel center, students also have the chance to earn college credits and move toward technical certifications- - steps that could improve their chances of finding employment in
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indianapolis' new economy says jason kloth. >> today as our economy has shifted from an industrial economy to an information economy, having the high school diploma is the bare minimum that's going to be required to enter into that middle class lifestyle that we aspire. >> reporter: because it's a relatively new and untraditional model, both goodwill and the mayor's office are studying the excel center's success, which will determine future state funding. the school's students are judged by the same standards as all other high schoolers in indiana, which is a good thing according to algebra teacher kandas boozer. she says it forces teachers to have high expectations for students in spite of difficult circumstances. >> i expect them to always give 100% no matter what that looks like. everybody is at a different level, so i just want to make sure they give me everything they have. >> reporter: montaque quentrel
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koonce is one recent graduate who had his fair share of challenges. a former dropout, koonce came to the excel center after being laid off from his job on a assembly line and struggling to find a place to live. >> there was two things i'm terrified of, you know being homeless-- i've never been homeless in my life, and having to do math. so i had to confront both of those fears at the same time >> reporter: koonce studied hard, graduated with a 3.2 g.p.a, and later found a job at a packaging warehouse for amazon. for a man who hadn't been in a classroom in more than 30 years, he found the teachers to be patient and encouraging and felt he succeeded, in part, because he could pick up where he left off when he dropped out of high school at 16. >> i didn't have to go through high school from the beginning to end it's just from exactly from when i walked out the door as to where i walked back in and they test you, they figure out where you are at and tell you what you need and they help you get there. >> reporter: president and c.e.o jim mcclelland says his
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organization's educational effort is not only helping people like koonce today, but >> we have a lot of students who tell us that they are doing this for their kids or so that their kids won't have any excuse not to. that's pretty neat. >> while we know that by earning that diploma it's going to have a positive impact on the mom or the dad, we are think the greater impact is going to be with their children. >> reporter: as for nichole thomas, she'll graduate from the excel center in may and has already begun earning college credit. she says she is anxious to rejoin the workforce, but has only one specific job in mind within the only job prospect i'm interested in is coming back to one the excel centers so i want to am could back as an instructor. >> reporter: teachers will likely be in high demand for goodwill of central indiana going forward. more than 1,000 students were on a waiting list to enroll.
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>> ifill: you can find more online about goodwill's push into education as they move to duplicate the model around the country. american graduate is a public media initiative funded by the corporation for public broadcasting. >> ifill: five years ago, two of the largest auto manufacturers, g.m. and chrysler, were on the brink. the bush and obama administrations offered them critical lifelines of cash-- tens of billions of dollars, most of which has since been repaid. in the wake of the crisis, carmakers said they would change the kinds of vehicles they were selling, reducing their size and increasing fuel efficiency. to some extent, that is happening. but in detroit this week, the industry also returned to some of its old high-powered old form. hari is back with that story. within ladies and gentlemen, introducing the big nasty, the 2015 corvette
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>> sreenivasan: detroit puts its best new offerings on stage each year at the north american international auto show. previewing concept cars that may never be made. alongside those that car-lovers can expect to see in the coming years. vice president joe biden was among the enthusiasts today as chevrolet rolled out the new corvette. >> now you know that old corvette, that rear end, it wasn't what you'd call stable, right? but they tell me this new one, man, can take the porsche. i'm, i'm, i'm counting on it. >> sreenivasan: auto-makers seem to be counting on a new yearning for high-performance cars, after focusing more on smaller sedans and electric vehicles in recent years. trucks are also moving off dealers' lots. and at the auto show, manufacturers tried to spotlight redesigned models like ford's f- 150, which are lighter and more fuel-efficient. >> overall as much as 700 pounds of weight has been saved, helping the f-150 tow more, haul
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more, accelerate quicker, stop shorter all with better gas mileage. >> sreenivasan: ford and its competitors are racing to meet a surging demand, fueled partly by contractors buying more as the housing industry is picks up. the new c.e.o of general motors, mary barra, unveiled her company's new mid-size pickup, the g.m.c canyon, on sunday. >> at today's g.m., our products are the result of putting the customer at the center of everything we do. >> sreenivasan: overall, the industry racked up strong sales gains in 2013 with more than 15- million vehicles sold. it's hoping to build on that performance in 2014. some further thoughts about the state of the industry and what the auto show reflects about that. dan neil is the auto columnist for "the wall street journal." he attended the show in detroit earlier this week. and karl brauer is a senior director at kelley blue book, a company widely known for its research and data about pricing and reviews. so let me start with you, what were your impressions from the floor?
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>> well, it would appear that detroit is getting the band back together again. the sort of the conditions of the mid 2000 bubb sell there in forces. a lot of focus on big trucks, big suvs, the new escalade was there, the new cadillac coup, cadillac has had a great year. and so a lot of the conditions are reoccurring. there is a lot of cheap money out there, a lot of incentives. there's moderate fuel price pressures. you've got manufacturing with these very intense volume driven business plans that is sort of kicking this all over. >> so do you detect a sort of confidence in the industry right now? i mean this is one of the firstiers that the u.s. government is really out of chrysler and gm. >> yes, you could call it confidence. you could call it pernicious amnesia. you know, is a little eerie to walk through the show and see soch of the same film we
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saw six or seven years ago. and part of that is the nature of the automobile industry itself, you know. it is based on growth. it's capital intensive. you have o to put, you know, factories in the ground. so you're always a little bit out over your skies. and the other thing, it has to be said the u.s. market is intensely competitive. it's the most stable automobile market on the face of the planet. and so everybody wants to play. >> all right, karl brauer, i want to ask you, there was a push a few years ago about the small vehicles, the more efficient vehicles, here we are rolling out trucks, they might be lighter but they're still big trucks. >> yeah, well, what has happened is we've got technology now that is making trucks and/uvs get the kind of mileage that economy cars used to get. that is one of the things you have to keep in mind when you look at the horsepower numbers and performance numbers these cars are getting, they are doing it in spite of or in addition to meeting the government standards that are rapidly increasing the
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fuel efficiency that these cars have to acquire. they have to go up by about 10 mpg in the next ten years to meet those standards, on average. every car has got to be about 10 mpg better. and we did that last year. the average car sold in this country was i think 24/8 was the average mpg and 23 v 8 one year ago. so even though we saw a lot of pfermance considers like dan said, a lot were niche cars or concept cars,. the volume vehicles are getting better and better mileage because of the technology under the hoods of these new vehicles. >> staying with you for a second wa, about the alternative fuel vehicles that we heard so much more about. is the chevy volt or the exception and not the rule? >> you know, it's still basically is. you know,we did see some growth in the hybrid market this year largely because ford put out models in the last 12 months that did quite well but when you put all the alternative vehicles together including the
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electric, hybrid and diesel you are still less than 4% of the total market and it really was interesting to walk through the show and look through the show this area and see almost nothing talking about, you know, alternative superhigh fuel efficiency technologies. it was really more about performance and capability. >> dan, i almost heard more about alternative fuels at the consumer electronic show news than here. what is it with all the sports cars that are being announced today. not just the corvette but subaru, bmw all these guys are putting out very high performance vehicles now. >> yeah, well, you know, people buy sports cars are interested in bench raising which is comparing the numerical values in the owners manual and bragging about them. but let me offer a corrective here. the ford f-150 is the built out of aluminum. this is a radical and risky step forward for the company that makes the most popular vehicle in america, for 32 years running. i mean they sold three quarters of a million of
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these trucks last year. they are going to make it out of aluminum and it's going to save on average they estimate 3 miles per gallon. doesn't sound like a lot but when you lay the big multiplier in of three quarters of a million vehicles and hundreds of thousands of miles driven, the ford f-150 will save more real world gas than-- than certainly, you know, tesla or the volt, as admirable vehicles as they are. >> all right, dan. also it seemed like there were more models announced this year. it seems like there is an option at every price point. >> yes, absolutely. and that is another thing. i mean it is a year of inner levers, take, for example, german premium luxury manufacturers, bmw, audi, mercedes-benz, they're all going down market. mercedes c an cl arc. bmw introdusd the 2, which is a two door between the one and now the four. so and you have this hyperfraction-- frat ranizing of the seg. the audi has the q3 which is
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an suv. porsche is bringing a very tiny suv to market called the mecanz, so the germans are coming after the territory now occupied by honda. and hyundai. and so that is a big change. and they're coloring in all the white space. >> karl, let's think about this on a kind of a macroeconomics picture. with what dan said, with money being cheap w these long loans, are we getting into a possible trap here where people are maybe buying more than they can aford in terms of cars? >> well, so far the numbers are still looking pretty good in terms of, you know, the amount of loans that are out there, how high they are, how many are being defaulted on. right now everything still looks fine in terms of the availability of credit. what is really fabulous is that we're seeing an increase in transaction price across all these sales, all these new vehicle sales that are going on. and a decrease relatively
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speaking in incentives. so when you have the manufacturers not cutting prices and also selling as many or more cars at higher prices, what you are left with is good profitability. and don't forget when that restructuring occurringed with the domestics, the idea was to make them so they could be profitable at 10 million annual industry sales. and we hit 15.6 last year. and we're going hit probably something like 16.3 this year. so so far, at least, everything is really looking good in terms of profitability. >> all right, karl brauer from kelly blue book and dan neil from "the wall street journal", thank you so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: finally tonight, a brutal portrayal of slavery in america that's earned wide acclaim and offers a different approach to bringing american history to the silver screen. the honors continue to pour in for "twelve years a slave". it won a golden globe earlier this week for best dramatic
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motion picture. and today, it earned nine oscar nominations, for acting, directing and best picture. the film was also recognized for its screenplay, adapted from an 1853 autobiography of free man turned slave, solomon northup. jeffrey brown recently spoke with screenwriter john ridley, and today seemed like a good moment to revisit that conversation. >> brown: when we first meet northup, he's a well-educated carpenter and musician living with his wife and children in saratoga springs, new york. the film follows as he's kidnapped and sold into slavery, experiencing all its brutality and forced to hide his identity and education for fear of punishment or death. in this scene, he encounters the wife of a cruel louisiana plantation owner. >> this is a list of goods and sundries. you will take it to be filled and return immediately. take the tag. tell bartholomew to add it to our debt. >> yes, missus.
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>> where you from? >> i told you. >> tell me again. >> washington. >> who were your masters? >> master name of freeman. >> was he a learned man? >> i suppose so. >> he learn you to read? >> a word here or there, but i have no understanding of the written text. >> well, don't trouble yourself with it. same as the rest, master brought you here to work. that's all. any more will earn you 100 lashes. >> brown: john ridley wrote the screenplay for "12 years a slave." he's also written for television, authored several novels and directed two films of his own. well, welcome to you. tell us first about this person, solomon northup, and the book it is based on, and your own experience of encountering it for the first time. >> solomon is a truly remarkable individual. and one of the interesting things is, after he was freed
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from slavery for 12 years, his story, his memoir called "12 years a slave" was really quite well-known here in america. it sold nearly 30,000 copies. he toured. he talked about it. many abolitionists credit his story with helping drive their movement. and then it really... it disappeared from the cultural consciousness. steve mcqueen and i, the director of the film, we sat down about four or five years ago and had breakfast, talked about many things. and in the course of this discussion, he stumbled upon the book. he gave it to me. i read it and thought it was a really singular document in how evocative it was, how the clarity of how solomon talked about his experience. and we both decided that this story in particular was worth telling, and, in a way, that really introduced in some ways america to slavery in the sense that it had not been excavated the way that steve in particular wanted to do with this film and the story. >> brown: well, tell us a little bit more about that because what were you... what were you after in telling the story, what kind
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of portrait that you felt needed to be told? >> i think two things. for me, as a writer, there was an emotional honesty and emotional velocity with solomon and his story. you have to understand, at that time, for a lot of people of color, particularly slaves, as you saw in that clip, to read and write was a death sentence. so, comparatively, there were very few first-person narratives of what it was like to live through and to survive slavery. i think, for steve as a filmmaker, he wanted to render these images-- the beautiful ones, the difficult ones-- with a level of authenticity that for a lot of people has not been seen in film or in television. for most people, their visual experiences with slavery were "gone with the wind," things like that, or "django," which may be an entertaining film but went at slavery with a very... a different mindset. for us, again, we wanted an emotional honesty, and that's what we tried to achieve in every step of the way in every department, with the look, with the performances and certainly for me from the script.
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>> brown: you mentioned something like "gone with the wind." a lot of people have noted the... there is a long history here and a tradition of looking at the civil war and at slavery in particular. were you consciously working for it again in some case or against that portrayal in others? >> for me, it was trying to be honest to the source material. but since the film has started to roll out-- and we're just reaching a national density at this point-- one of the things that has really surprised me-- and this is not for any kind of person in particular or any race of people-- but i was shocked at how many people really didn't understand how brutal the system of slavery was, how pervasive it was in its indoctrination of all individuals. and i think that's because, here in hollywood, we have done a really poor job of representing the facts of slavery. so, yes, you go to big costume dramas like "gone with the wind" that over the decades has really reached a point that that is folks' reference point for slavery.
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slavery was not a bad day on the job, it was not your boss yelling at you, it was not hard work for little pay. this was a full system of human subjugation. and to do that, you have to get everyone to be complicit. and, look, we're not prisoners to the past, but when you see where we are in 2013 and why some of our views about race are so calcified, you have to understand that the indoctrination of slavery in this country for such a long time, it's the reason we are, unfortunately, still where we are about race relations. >> brown: well, and having seen the film, i know that you do not spare the audience. you do not spare us much of the... it's the daily violence, the whippings, the rape that were almost routine. i wonder, were there discussions among you and steve mcqueen and others about how far to go? i mean, you're trying to be realistic, but you also... it's a film that people are going to see. >> yes, i think in some ways you have to compare where the language of cinema is. we have just come out of a summer season-- and i don't say
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this in an overly disparaging way-- but where entire cities were torn down and people just shrugged because of the level of violence and the scale of destruction and within that language of cinema. with this film, i think it's because you care about the people and because we take so much time to show these lives and show these individuals as humans that, on the occasion-- and, really, when you break down the film, there are three or four moments that are very difficult-- it means that much more because we see these individuals as people. and we never wanted to flinch from these moments, either-- the beauty, the humanity, the family nature that is going on here, or things that are difficult, by the way, that aren't very barbaric in terms of the physicality. but when you see a mother being torn away from her children and somebody's response is "have a meal and you will forget about them," that hurts because we care. and that was our objective at every moment, to humanize these very dehumanizing moments in the history of slavery. >> brown: just in our last 30 seconds here, but i am wondering, given the response to it, the very positive response,
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do you think this signals a new openness to looking at difficult parts of our history? >> i think it's an openness to looking at our history and looking at history at not just being african-american history or white american history. this is our history. and to move forward in it, we have got to learn and we have got to grow. and i'm very gratified that people are willing to sit and learn. >> brown: john ridley is screenwriter of "12 years a slave." thanks so much. >> thank you for having me. >> ifill: find the full list of this year's nominations and take an oscar's quiz on art beat. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day: the senate gave final congressional approval to budget bill worth $1.1-trillion. it funds the government for the rest of the fiscal year. iranian president hassan rouhani accused hardliners of opposing
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his nuclear deal with world powers for their own interests, within living longer may be more than food and exercise. researchers have now found evidence that the effects of racism could lead to premature aging. you can read the latest study on our science page. all that and more it on our web site, newshour and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, we'll look at president obama's new rules on government spying. i'm gwen ifill, we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with david brooks and ruth marcus, among others. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪
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