tv PBS News Hour PBS November 25, 2014 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: simmering anger and unanswered questions in the wake of a missouri grand jury's decision not to indict police officer darren wilson for the death of ferguson teenager michael brown. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this tuesday... as communities across the nation absorb the missouri decision, what happens next? >> ifill: then, in an effort to fight obesity, the f.d.a. announces unexpectedly sweeping new rules that could change what and how much we eat. >> woodruff: plus, scientists aim their telescopes' toward the skies for a glimpse of a previously unseeable thing. >> so the first question is do black holes exist.
and if we see the shadow that will be the most powerful evidence we have that they do exist. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour >> major funding for the pbs >> at bae systems, our pride and dedication show in everything we do; from electronics systems to intelligence analysis and cyber- operations; from combat vehicles and weapons to the maintenance and modernization of ships, aircraft, and critical infrastructure. knowing our work makes a difference inspires us everyday. that's bae systems. that's inspired work.
>> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions 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: ferguson, missouri bore witness today to the chaos and destruction that erupted last night. the st. louis suburb remained tense over a grand jury's decision that a white policeman face no criminal charges for killing an unarmed black teen- ager. >> ifill: the blackened remains of a ferguson business smoldered in the morning light. and streets were mostly subdued, as people ventured out to see
the aftermath of the rioting. the family of michael brown and their lawyers also emerged, at a st. louis church, to reject the grand jury's findings. >> we object publicly and loudly as we can on behalf of michael brown juniors family that this process is broken. a first year law student would have done a better job of cross examining a killer of an unarmed person than the prosecutors office did. >> no justice, no peace! >> ifill: the family's fury echoed sentiments on the streets last night. >> ifill: the news that darren wilson, a white police officer, would not be indicted for killing brown, a black teenager, gave rise to raw emotions. i have a son so i'm hurt. what am i going to tell my son when he grows up? >> did you expect this?
>> yeah i did. >> but you still hoped that it would be different? >> you try and have hope but this is what happens." >> we just hoped for one time that our lives would matter, that somebody would see that our lives are valuable, but it didn't happen that way, just like it hasn't happened before." >> ifill: at first, many people marched peacefully, and some tried to keep things under control. from the white house, president obama called for unity to help address racial and other divisions. >> that won't be done by throwing bottles. that won't be done by smashing car windows. that won't be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property. and it certainly won't be done by hurting anybody." >> ifill: but soon enough, anger turned into violence, looting and property destruction, far
worse than what happened in the days after brown was killed in august. buildings and cars went up in flames-- with more than 20 fires set. authorities reported hundreds of gunshots, wounding several people and keeping fire crews at bay. police were out in force, many wearing full riot gear, using armored vehicles, and firing tear gas to disperse the crowds. at least 61 people were arrested in ferguson, and 21 more in st. louis. >> ifill: but the mayor of ferguson, james knowles, complained later today that, although governor jay nixon activated the national guard, he did not send them in quickly enough. we are asking that the governor make available and deploy all necessary resources to prevent the further destruction of property, and the preservation of life in the city of ferguson.
he announced he's tripling the number of troops tonight. >> altogether, it will be more than 2,200 national guardsmen in the region. lives and property must be protected. this community deserves to have peace. (chanting) >> ifill: the grand juror finding sparked protests across the country in mostly peaceful shows of support for brown and his familiar ally. in new york city they marched through times square. >> i think it's an embarrassment to american justice. >> it's demoralizing. >> it's demoralizing and it makes you question the fabric of the place that you grown in and whether you can exist here. >> ifill: there were similar marches in los angeles...
>> it's a very sad day in our community right now. we share the sympathies of the same people in ferguson. we feel the same way they do. we're very upset. we're afraid for our kids, we're afraid for our families. because it just feels like black life has no value. >> ifill: and in oakland, california, demonstrators shut down a freeway in both directions. back in ferguson, at the center of the storm last night, prosecutor bob mcculloch acknowledged there would be criticism of the grand jury's conclusions. >> i'm ever mindful that this decision will not be accepted by some and may cause disappointment for others. but all decisions in the criminal justice system must be determined by the physical and scientific evidence and the credible testimony corroborated by that evidence, not in response to public outcry or for political expediency. >> ifill: mcculloch said the grand jury of nine whites and three blacks met on 25 days, heard more than 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses,
including officer wilson, and found no probable cause to charge him. in key testimony, wilson said brown came at him in his car, and grabbed at him and his gun. he testified, "i felt like "a 5- year-old holding onto hulk hogan." the officer said he shot brown multiple times, first while in his car, and again after brown charged at him on the street. a friend of brown's who was with him denied brown struck wilson or charged him. the testimony of bystanders conflicted on both points. today, wilson told abc news that he feared for his life in the struggle with brown, and that his conscience is clear. he still faces a possible civil suit for wrongful death, by michael brown's family. and, the justice department is continuing separate federal investigations. today, attorney general eric holder said investigations will be vigorous and thorough and has
ordered an after-action review to help identify those behind the violence. we'll hear what the people of ferguson are saying and look at the grand jury report after the news summary. >> woodruff: two teen-age girls blew themselves up at a busy market in nigeria today, leaving at least 30 people dead. it happened in the northeastern city of maiduguri. one of the teenagers set off her bomb, and when a crowd gathered, the other one followed suit. nigerian officials said they think it was the work of the islamist group boko haram. the militants already control other towns in borno state, where today's attack took place. >> ifill: the number of u.s. troops who remain deployed in afghanistan past year's end may increase. 9,800 are already scheduled to stay, and reuters reported today another thousand may join them. a pentagon spokesman did not rule out that possibility. president obama has recently expanded the future mission beyond training afghan force, to include fighting the taliban.
former under secretary of defense michelle flournoy has asked not to be considered for secretary of defense. she led the list for potential replacements for chuc chuck hago is resigning. she says she'll stay where she is fighting family considerations. >> woodruff: in syria, activists report heavy government air strikes against islamic state forces killed at least 60 people today, more than half of them, civilians. the syrian observatory for human rights says the raids hit raqqa, in the northeastern part of the country. other groups put the death toll higher. >> ifill: the supreme leader of iran gave tacit approval today to extending nuclear negotiations with the west for another seven months. ayatollah ali khamenei spoke publicly for the first time since iran and six major powers agreed yesterday on a new schedule of talks. but in a nationwide broadcast, he also sounded a note of defiance. >> ( translated ): as you saw on the nuclear issue, the united
states and the european colonialist countries gathered and applied their entire force to bring the islamic republic to its knees, but they could not and they will not. >> ifill: iran wants sanctions against its economy lifted. the u.s. and five other powers want tehran to stop enriching uranium and scale back its nuclear program. >> woodruff: thousands of north koreans rallied today against u.n. criticism of their country's human rights record. the demonstrators filled a square in pyongyang, the capital, backing their communist leaders and denouncing the u.s. the rally was organized by the government. a u.n. commission has found north korea's abuse of human rights, quote, exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror. the issue could go to the international criminal court. >> ifill: pope francis today called on the nations of europe to help migrants struggling to get to the continent, usually by sea. the pontiff's appeal came in his first-ever address before the european parliament. he warned that too many migrants are dying as they try to reach
the continent in rickety boats. >> ( translated ): there needs to be a united response to the question of migration. we cannot allow the mediterranean to become a vast cemetery. the boats landing daily on the shores of europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. >> ifill: the pope also said the absence of a coherent migration policy across europe contributes to what he called slave labor and continuing social tensions. >> woodruff: back in this country: the government reports the economy has been growing faster than initially estimated. it expanded at an annual rate of nearly 4% between july and september. but a separate survey finds consumer confidence fell this month, after a big gain in october. >> ifill: and on wall street today: the dow jones industrial average lost nearly three points to close just under 17,815. the nasdaq rose three points to close at 4,758. and the s&p 500 lost two points to close at 2,067. >> woodruff: two of hollywood's
best-known pieces of memorabilia have new owners. the cowardly lion costume worn in "the wizard of oz" in 1939, sold at auction last night for nearly $3.1 million. and the upright piano from rick's cafe americain, in "casablanca", fetched $3.4 million. they went on the block at bonham's auction house in new york. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour: what's next for ferguson. the f.d.a.'s new mandatory calorie counts. scientists looking for photographic evidence of a black hole. chasing fortune, truth and ambition in the new china. and, a city once synonymous with violence turns a corner. >> woodruff: we turn now back to ferguson, missouri, a city still very much smoldering and tense in the wake of last night's protests over the grand jury decision not to indict officer
darren wilson for the death of michael brown. the news hour's stephen fee reports from ferguson: >> reporter: just after sunup today, a group of protesters blocked the offramp. a short walk to the county courthouse where grand jurors decided not to indicted officer darren wilson. >> i'm in disbelief. we can't be surprised. it really hurts. >> reporter: for less than 10 minutes the group stopped traffic, hoisting signs and chanting. it was calm, peaceful. that's in contrast to the scenes we witnessed last night in ferguson as demonstrators took to the streets. >> it didn't have to get to that point. but we felt trapped. they blocked us in. people didn't know what to do. it was scary. >> reporter: was your anger justified? >> it is. dollar demonstrations that
are organized and ones that aren't and the ones that aren't organized quite often lead to some out of control stuff. there was also a lot of people from out of town that caused problems that came here to cause problems. >> reporter: back in ferguson today, a long stretch of west florissant avenue at the center of last night's unrest is blocked off as a crime scene. while the fires were mostly out, we could still see smoke from buildings hanging over the roadway. small businesses here have taken a major hit. brothers steve and gussape owned and managed prime beauty on the corner of west florissant and chambers road. steve said he tried to secure the building before nightfall. >> got in there, unloaded the place. it got burned to the ground. we lost pretty much everything. >> reporter: steve says he disagrees with the grand jury's decision not to indict, but also with the decision to destroy small shops like his.
>> justice having been served by -- justice hasn't been served by burning our businesses. >> reporter: the store's manager, jessica, was one of the shop's three employees. she says the destruction of local businesses last night was unjustified. >> i feel that it's not right, you know, because it affected so many people in this community alone, a lot of residents, a lot of people that work at the mobile, that work at the barbershop. you know, this is a lot of people's basic source of income. >> reporter: and hers, too. i love my job. like a kid in a candy store. it's is only thing keeping me sane and calm is that we want to rebuild and we will have our jobs. it's just like, what are we going to do in the meantime? you know, bills have to be paid. bills are due, rent is due. it's, like, what are we gonna
do? >> woodruff: and stephen joins us now. he is near a police command center in jennings, missouri this evening, another town in st. louis county right next to ferguson. stephen, we know you recorded those interviews earlier today. tell us what the situation is there now. >> well, you know, it is just about nightfall here. we're just probably a five-minute drive from the main drag of ferguson where you saw some dramatic images where we were last night. you're already seen immobilization of some of the national guard members who the governor spoke about earlier this evening. they already have began to amass around the police station in ferguson and we've also seen an increased police presence as well. there have been a few coordinated actions, some in clayton, the town where the county courthouse is, where the grand jury met, and other actions going on into the evening hours. right now it's anybody's guess what nightfall will bring. >> woodruff: there's a sense
of greater law enforcement presence tonight? >> reporter: i would say absolutely. you've seen a lot more law enforcement in the town as we were going around today compared with, say, yesterday afternoon. even before the announcements were made, you didn't see a lot of police presence around the police department or on west florissant avenue which is right over here where a lot of that major activity broke out. today it's a very different story. all day, a long stretch of west florissant avenue was basically an active crime scene, sealed off and we couldn't get past the yellow tape. there's a question about, you know, as you lock down other parts to have the city and seal off some sectors, there's a real question about where will people gather if they choose to. > >> woodruff: stephen, most to have the people you talked to seemed to be in disagreement with the grand jury decision. have you run across anyone who believed the grand jury did the right thing? >> reporter: judy, we have.
in fact, just a few hours ago we spoke on the phone with a woman who didn't want to be named but her husband is a police officer here in the state of missouri. she's organized online a number of supporters for darren wilson. she says that when she heard about the decision, she cried. she was relieved. she thought it had been such a long process, but she was also scared, her own husband working overtime last night. she says he's safe today, but she thinks officer wilson hasn't been characterized correctly in the press and thinks there is a lot of bad information out there, but there is commonality on both sides of the issue. people are uncomfortable with the degree of violence reached last night and they're hopeful the community can turn a corner. >> woodruff: stephen fee on the ground for us in missouri, thank you. >> ifill: part of the confusion in ferguson is what actually happened between darren wilson,
the white officer, and michael brown, the unarmed black teenager. the evidence presented to the grand jury released late last night has stirred a new round of legal debate. joining us to explain, are: susan mcgraugh, a law professor at st. louis university. and christina swarns, litigation director for the naacp legal defense and educational fund. let's start about talking about the the process, christina swarns. how unusual was this grand jury process compared to others you've had an experience with? >> this was a remarkably unusual grand jury process. i have been a criminal defense attorney my entire career. i have put clients of mine into the grand jury, and i will say, in each of those cases, which in all the case is handled were significantly much more minor offenses, you know, my clients were subjected to very real, very thorough, very aggressive cross-examination. what you see here when you look at the transcript of darren wilson's testimony in the grand jury, there was virtually no
challenge to the testimony he offered here. this was absolutely unheard of. i mean, additionally, you know, this prosecutor allowed all of the evidence that was available to be presented to this grand jury, and we have to be clear that the point of a grand jury is simply to determine whether there is enough evidence to file a criminal charge, it's not about whether someone is guilty or innocent. but that seems to be the way this grand jury proceeding was handled, and that is simply unheard of. many of my colleagues have opined and we've discussed amongst ourselves, i would love to have prosecutors handle my clients' cases in the way this prosecutor handled this defendant's case. >> ifill: we're still trying to get the audio connection to st. louis. i want to stick with you for a moment, christina. why is it the grand jury's job not to indict if the evidence support it's not. are they only there to bring an indictment? >> no, they're absolutely to make a determination of whether there is or is not enough
evidence to charge. as you know, there is anecdotes, the anecdotes about how it is to get an indictment before a grand jury. the old quotation is you can indict a ham sandwich. the question is not hard. the evidence is is there evidence to support a charge? in this case there's unquestionably evidence to support a charge. there is no dispute about whether the officer shot and killed michael brown. he concedes that when he testifies. >> ifill: but there's plenty of dispute about exactly who caused this to happen and who started the fight and what the physical evidence was and the conflicting testimony. these are all the things that robert mccullough was detailing last night. >> we, an conflicting testimony is something to be resolved by a jury who max a determination of guilt and innocence. that is not something that should be resolved by a grand jury who simply decides whether or not there is evidence to charge. and in this context again, the
testimony about whether there was a fight and the magnitude of that fight, you know, really comes largely from the officer, and that testimony was almost completely unchallenged by the prosecutor in this. this is the lightest cross-examination i have ever seen. i have not had a hearing where a client of mine testified where they faced that little challenge to the testimony they offered. >> ifill: i hate to interrupt. we have sisa susan sisan mcgraun st. louis. that is your sense, did they make their case or overstep? >> i'm not sure they overstepped. i'm just thinking they didn't try hard to make their case. usually these things are short and precise and obviously intended to come up with a certain result. we really don't see that here.
you know, i wouldn't even call what i saw cros cross-examinati. in fact, there was a lot of times when the asking attorney appeared to be leading officer wilson, you know, kind of pitching softballs as it was. so it certainly wasn't the type of rigorous testing of evidence or testimony that we normally see in a criminal case. >> ifill: so if you were a member of this grand jury and we discussed they were made up of 12 people, three of them black, the rest white, and you were presented with this justice information, did they reach the correct conclusion based on what they knew? >> you know, i'm sure they think they did and i'm sure they did the best they can do, but you have to remember that they were hearing cases prior to this one, and those cases were run very, very differently than the one they were presented with, and it could be that either consciously or subconsciously they knew they
needed to reach a different result because the process was so different. >> ifill: among the things allowed to stand were the characterizations of michael brown as hulk hogan or as a demon. i want to go back to christina swarns on. this to what degree can you gauge whether that influences a jury, those kind of characterizations, lacking, as you pointed out, cross-examination? >> those kinds of characterizations which really do -- really echo in racial terms are extraordinarily damaging and extraordinarily influential and prejudicial in a proceeding. that's the kind of thing a defense attorney would be objecting to, would be raising as a basis for a new trial or a new sentencing. i mean, that is absolutely inflammatory and prejudicial. it should not have been allowed to go to the jury unchallenged.
>> ifill: susan mcgraugh, given what we've seen here and heard attorney general holder say today that they will continue with a thorough and vigorous investigation, what is left for the federal government to do? >> well, you know, they can see if there's any violation of federal law. unfortunately, for people who are concerned about this verdict, that's going to be a hard case to make. >> ifill: what do you mean when you say that? the civil rights case can't be made or the civil lawsuit? >> i'm not saying it can't be made. i'm going to say that it's difficult to make, that it's a higher standard than some of the homicide charges that officer wilson was facing. i don't think people who are hoping for this situation to be remedied can count on the department of justice stepping in and making a case against officer wilson. >> ifill: what about the
possibility of a civil suit? that's something we saw in the rodney king case, for instance. >> absolutely. those actions are all still open. nothing that's been done in the grand jury is going to affect the civil suit. in fact some of the information garnered by the grand jury might be of use to mr. brown's attorneys as they go forward. >> ifill: professor susan mcgraugh at st. louis university and christina swarns of the naacp legal defense and educational fund, thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: let's turn to a different story on the domestic front today, one that could affect many americans and their dietary habits. the food and drug administration announced new rules that require chain restaurants to list calorie counts clearly and conspicuously on their menus and displays. they'll apply to chains that
have 20 locations or more. but that's not all. the requirements will also apply at coffee shops, bakeries, pizza places, movie theaters, vending machines and prepared foods at grocery stores. and if alcohol's on the menu, the calories per drink will be listed too. americans get as much as a third of their calories from eating out. but several industry groups say they are disappointed with the rules and contend they will affect what they offer and how much it costs. i spoke earlier today with f.d.a. commissioner margaret hamburg. dr. margaret hamburg, welcome. this is a pretty sweeping set of requirements. it affects just about all the prepared food people buy. what was your goal here? >> well, as you know, congress passed a law in 2010 asking the fda to put in place new requirements for menu and
vending machine labeling. obviously, this reflects the fact that overweight and obesity is a huge problem in this country affecting millions and millions of people and that consumers have a very big interest in knowing more about the food that they eat and the food that they feed their families. so we're trying to provide uniform, consistent information about calories, in particular, but access to other nutritional information as well for consumers when they eat outside the home. >> woodruff: but isn't the research on this on whether providing this kind of information actually leads to cutting calories, isn't that research mixed? >> well, the research is mixed. we need to learn more about it. some studies have indicated that there are clear benefits, both to individuals and also that the companies, the restaurants involved may change their menus
to offer more low calorie food choices, but this is about giving people choices and information that we know consumers like to have. right now, consumers do get access to clear quality nutritional information on the packaged foods that they buy thanks to the fda nutrition facts panel that is present on the backs or on all food containers, packaged food. but when you go to a restaurant or similar food business, you can't get that kind of information. so what we're doing, really, is filling a gap, and i think it matters because when you look at where americans are eating, americans eat about a third of their calories outside of the home, and often, purchasing foods outside of the home have no idea whom calories are in that food or other important
nutritional aspects of the food that they're eating. >> woodruff: we know the national restaurant association is now supporting, but we know pizza chains and others have been seriously opposed to this. why limit it to chains of 20 stores or 20 restaurants or more? >> well, that was explicit in the law. so we're building on the legislation that congress gave us. but in defining restaurants and restaurant-like establishments, we spent a lot of time listening to stakeholders and looking at the different ways that foods are prepared and sold in this country and, you know, really tried to put forward rules that would make a difference in terms of giving consumers information that they want and need but would reflect the realities of the marketplace. >> we've seen today the national grocer's association saying
they're disappointed. they say this imposes such a large and costly regulatory burden. we know you're saying if the food is prepared for one individual, it's to be labeled, but if it's for more than one, it doesn't have to be. isn't there going to be a good bit of confusion for people? >> well, we're going to work closely with industry and certainly the grocery stores will be one important area of focus. there are a lot of questions as people dig down into the rules. number one, the grocery stores will recognize that fewer of the products they're concerned about actually will fall under our labeling requirement. it's really the food that's for immediate consumption, the salad bars, the hot food bars and the deli sandwiches that are prepared and are presented to consumers in much the same way that they would be in certain fast food restaurants.
you know, it's intended for immediate consumption or soon after you leave the premises, and there are menu boards and the calories will just have to be added to those menu boards. >> woodruff: so how soon does this take place? >> for the menu labeling, there's a year for implementation. we actually extended our original plan in the proposed rule in order to accommodate the needs and concerns of food businesses. for vending machines, which are also subject to this rule, if it's part of a chain of 20 or more locations, for vending machines, it's actually two years to implement the law. >> woodruff: dr. margaret ha hamburg, commissioner of the food and drug administration. we thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: now, an amazing scientific search pushing the limits of what we know about
the cosmos. the quest to see a black hole. the newshour's rebecca jacobson went to chile for this report. >> black holes are some of the most exotic objects in the universe. they come about when matter gravitationally collapses in on itself, and everything becomes pulverized and crushed down into a single point. >> reporter: m.i.t. astronomer shep doeleman is leading an international effort to understand black holes. these exotic objects are fundamental to our understanding of the universe. when stars, dust, and planets cross the event horizon surrounding the black hole, nothing, not even light, can escape. but no one has ever seen one. doeleman is trying to change that. >> the event horizon telescope project is really about seeing what we've always thought was unseeable. >> reporter: but to boldly go where no telescope has gone before, scientists have to drive up a 16,500 foot-high mountain. this is the atacama large
millimeter array, or alma, in northern chile. alma's 66 antennas form the most powerful radio telescope in the world. each antenna weighs 100 tons, and they are so accurate, they can see a golf ball nine miles away. they will form the anchor for the event horizon telescope, a worldwide network of telescopes that will capture an image of a black hole for the first time. alma's antennas sit just 400 feet lower in elevation than mount everest's north base camp. before going up the mountain, we had to undergo rigorous physical testing. because working at this altitude is dangerous. >> my blood pressure was a little too high, so we waited to see if it would go down. >> reporter: ivan lopez is the safety manager at alma. >> if you don't get to the minimum levels that we have for pressure and oxygen, you're not allowed to go to the high site. >> reporter: what would happen if you went to the high site and
your blood pressure was too high? >> you'd have a stroke. >> reporter: and too little blood oxygen can swell the brain and cloud thinking. oxygen tanks help scientists battle nausea, dizziness and fatigue, but it can still be hard to think straight. >> we have what we call summit moments and what i can tell you is that once i spent about five minutes trying to screw in a screw when in reality i was unscrewing it. >> reporter: it's not just the altitude that makes working here difficult. the atacama is the world's driest desert. trucks haul thousands of gallons of water to the observatory every day. add to that high winds, hot sun, and dangers below ground. >> we have actually designed the alma antennas to withstand an earthquake of grade 9. >> reporter: but the tradeoff is
worth it: some say its the most beautiful view on earth of the night sky. richard simon is an astronomer working at alma. >> the reason alma exists is that there is something about astronomy, about learning about our universe and reaching out into it that's a very human and a very important thing to do. >> reporter: in 1916, albert einstein's theory of general relativity first predicted the existence of black holes. that was nearly 100 years ago, and that theory has not been disproven. but with no real visuals, it hasn't been confirmed yet either. this year, a cloud of space dust is spiraling into the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. if it swallows that dust, as astronomers predict, the event horizon should light up, casting a shadow. so the first question is do black holes exist. and if we see the shadow that will be the most powerful evidence we have that they do exist. i hope we'll see something transformative. i hope we're going to see
something that knocks our socks off but whatever we see it's going to be new >> reporter: it's a rare opportunity to find out if einstein was right. >> we think we know the theory of black holes. this is a key test. it's the one of the only black holes that we actually observe and make direct measurements of >> it needs telescopes spread all across the globe to get the maximum separation between telescopes and the maximum resolution, the finest picture possible. >> reporter: even alma's powerful antennas can't do it alone. alma will be the anchor for a worldwide network of telescopes. scientists will link alma's antennas with telescopes in hawaii, california, mexico, arizona, spain and the south pole, and then piece together all of the information they collect. syncing all these telescopes means equipping each with the most precise atomic clock available. that means taking out alma's clock, and replacing it with one that costs a quarter of a million dollars that won't lose a second in the next hundred
million years. >> right now we're in the holiest of holies, the central reference room at alma where all the signals that are sent to all the antennas originate. so basically what we've done is perform a heart transplant for alma. >> reporter: the event horizon project is estimated to cost between 10 and 20 million dollars over the course of ten years. but simon says its mission, and alma's, is worth more. >> there is a deep curiosity that we all have. 100 years from now my name and what i've done for this project will probably not be remembered, but what this instrument does and what it means to everyone around the world is something that will be remembered. >> reporter: the event horizon telescope is slated to begin observations in the spring. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm rebecca jacobson in the atacama desert, chile.
>> woodruff: this year's winner of the national book award for non-fiction is an in-depth look at the dramatic changes underway in china today. the book is: "age of ambitition: chasing fortune, truth and faith in the new china." its author, evan osnos, spent years there reporting for the "new yorker" magazine. jeffrey brown talked with him this weekend at the miami book fair. >> brown: this was, i know, the culmination of many years of your work in china for the "new yorker." what were you trying to come to terms with after those years there? >> trying to get my arms around it. >> brown: yeah. this is the challenge on china. it is this vast story. it's this epical story in a sense that you do sense, when you're there, that one-fifth of humanity is going through a transformation and how do you capture it and do it justice, that's the challenge.
>> brown: you had a sense of it when you were there because these were the years of -- >> you simply can't escape it. it's the overwhelming impression you have when you're living there that you feel like you're living through history. i've lived in other places. it wasn't just the fact i was abroad that gave me the impression. people around you's lives go through rapid changes. >> brown: what's an example? i met a woman out of graduate school, and she was trying to get married and was so frustrated and trying to figure out how to meet the right kind of person because she was from a village and got a great education and her parents couldn't introduce her to the right kind of people. she started a company, it succeeded. she made $77 million by the time i had left china. in its own way -- in some ways, it's kind of a familiar story, sort of american, sort of what we've done in our own history, yet it's not the whole story. it's one tiny piece of the story and there are all kinds of
people in china who are trying to get on the train and are not, they're not getting the piece of the big story. so capturing both of those in one portrait was the goal. >> brown: so that creates the kind of splits in a society we're familiar with more in our society but you're seeing it happen real time, real fast. >> hugely. we talk about the gap between the rich and poor in the united states. the numbers are larger in china. the difference between the poorest and the rich estplaces the difference between ghana and new york city. this is the people's republic of china. this is still ruled by the chinese communist party, and that creates a daily drum beat of cognitive dissidence and there's a sense something hypocritical going on and people are trying to get their minds around that. >> brown: when we've talked over the years, it's usually because of something the government has done at a high level. the title "age of ambition," now
what is the ambition as you look back, broadly, the ambition of china. >> there's a national ambition, a collective, in a sense, political ambition, which is the thing i think we see from far away. that's the fact that china's building roads and airports and extending its reaches into the east china sea and the south china sea in a way that's putting it into some tension with its neighbors, that's the thing we feel from far away. but i think one of the interesting facts of living there and one of the things that's essential to this book is the fact there's a second ambition, one beneath the surface, the one felt by 1.4 billion chinese people. and each in their own way is defining what that aspiration is. so the chinese government talks about the chinese dream, the current slogan of the moment. i get what the chinese are trying to tell me -- >> brown: a little like what we all grew up with. >> right. there's energy in the idea. >> brown: yeah. the difference is when the chinese government talks about the chinese dream, they're talking about a single idea
they're offering to people, the renewal of the country, the return of china to greatness, but, actually, on an individual level across the country, people are interpreting their own life trajectory on their own terms and that's an inherent contradictions. >> brown: are most interpreting in financial terms, economic terms, that kind of ambition? >> i think they start with it in financial terms. the first thing people want is after all these years of deprivation, they want to get rich. once they do, they realize there is other things they need. they want information but not for abstract reasons. when you get a house and car, you realize they're not really secure, they're not safe. somebody could knock down your house if you don't understand who's setting the rules and breaking the rules in your society. >> brown: which is still happening all the time in china. >> so that creates that appetite for information. >> brown: but the bargain that we've always talked about and heard about with china is still that strong government, right. we would give the security in exchange, but we will not give
you -- and we will give you economic empowerment but not freedom of expression. >> sure. >.>> brown: or privacy. right. and this gets harder. as people get further away from the worst years -- it's easy to forget in our lifetime the chinese have suffered through terrible things in. the first years of the extraordinary economic development that began in the late '70s, people were willing to mortgage a whole lot of other things because finally they felt they had enough food on the table and could put their kids in a decent school. those kinds of satisfactions no longer satisfy in a way and people say, i want a richer life. >> brown: you're in washington, right? >> yeah. >> brown: how do they compare? do you look wistfully, o when yu follow what happens in china? >> it's been harder than i thought. i spent 11 years abroad. all of the years, i would say, i
know we have political problems at home, but have faith in the united states congress, it will prevail in the end. then i come home and the very first day of work in the u.s. was the day the government shut down last fall, and i had to recalibrate the instruments right away. >> brown: welcome home. exactly. i have a lot to learn. >> brown: "age of ambition," evan osnos, thanks so much. >> thanks. >> ifill: finally tonight, we take a look at one south american city that's gone from being one of the world's most dangerous places, to an urban success story. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro has our report from medellin, colombia. it's part of our series, "agents for change." >> ♪ one, two, three, o'clock four o'clock rock ♪ >> reporter: for two decades, martha alvarez has held dance classes year-round seven days a week. for 350-odd students who cram
into her tiny studios it's an alternative, she says, in a city that offers few. >> ( translated ): i started this is 1992 out of concern for the amount of drug use and prostitution in the neighborhood. >> reporter: that was back when medellin had become the world's murder capital; the cocaine capital, home of the drug lord pablo escobar, who was killed by police in 1993. >> it has changed a lot since then in terms of drug use and the armed conflict has certainly diminished. >> reporter: medellin has seen a dramatic drop in violence; the murder rate is down from about 380 per 100,000 people to about 50. experts credit a general calming trend in the country's long running civil war. also, the efforts of new political leadership to bring people together in the city, says alejandro echeverri.
>> ( translated ): when we look at the "narco" years of pablo escobar people did not trust each other they built barriers around themselves and they put walls up and so public space in this city takes on a far greater significance than anywhere else because people didn't look each other in the eye when they walked down the street. >> reporter: alejandro echeverri is an architect. he was part of the administration a decade ago that set out to create spaces to bring people together >> reporter: we spoke in front of the exploratorium he designed -a science museum that's one of several distinctive new buildings. >> ( translated ): this project right here is part of a broader narrative of social urbanism that the city started in 2003 and 2004 and this place is symbolic because it connects the north of the city which has traditionally been stigmatized, its got a lot of poor neighborhoods with the south and its not just the exploratorium. it's also the botanical gardens and the metro. >> reporter: the metro is perhaps the most extraordinary of all the building projects here, with a system of escalators and gondolas you typically see at ski resorts. here they reach into the poorest
neighborhoods. these barrios cling to the mountains that surround the city, an almost vertical hike that was a barrier that excluded the poor, echeverri says. >> ( translated ): all of these policies are geared towards trying to decrease inequality and include the poor and marginalized sectors who today can now access transportation can access services. >> reporter: along the new transit routes are community centers, libraries where there's everything from computer and internet stations to loan programs for would be entrepreneurs like fernando posada. he was among winners in a city- run contest. he won money to buy the kitchen equipment to expand a business he runs out of his home. today he's expanding from two to four employees, his cookies and waffle chips look like professional products, he proudly says. and they are selling well.
>> ( translated ): since 2009 when i began training i've been able to mechanize our production and to professionalize; to meet all the labeling requirements so we can sell in more stores >> reporter: the money for all this come from and unlikely source for a city. >> one of the biggest drivers of medellin's transformation is a company headquartered here called e.p.m. it's one of latin america's most profitable electric utilities. this company is wholly owned by the city but run independently and privately. it pays taxes to the city but it also sends it profits to the city. last year, those amounted to $600 million. epm has expanded into six latin american countries and seen record profits in recent years. the construction it's fueled has won medellin international awards, says urban affairs scholar catalina ortiz. but, she adds, its not the whole story. >> don't be fooled by the great marketing that has been done scratch a little bit more and you are going to find several
things that usually are not really unveiled. >> reporter: not unveiled, she says, is a huge housing challenge. the city has seen an influx of hundreds of thousands of rural residents displaced in colombia's long running conflict. >> housing for the poor, housing to re-house the households that are located in risky areas or try to break the segregation pattern, and try to have more mixed-income housing, for instance, and that is a very big part of the problem, because if you are dealing with informality you really need to think in terms of alternative ways of tenure, of land tenure. >> reporter: many newcomers are in informal settlements, ever higher up the mountains. ortiz says they're vulnerable to poor services, possible landslides and also extortion by criminal gangs that still have a major presence. architect echeverri agrees
there's still much to do in a city where crime though lower, is sill high, by corruption. a city who's historic industries like textiles have gone away... >> ( translated ): there still remains a profound level of inequality here and a lot of economic policies that exclude the poor, a lot of it due to globalization. i'm also concerned about politics, things are very fragile and could change very quickly. but i'm optimistic because medellin does have this spirit of social commitment and trust. >> reporter: that optimism is also new despite the challenges and complaints. martha alvarez says her neighborhood hasn't seen a lot of new investment. it still lacks community meeting spaces she says. >> ( translated ): i'd like the expand this space because we could get 500 kids to attend every day. >> reporter: still, she says, her own business thriving-tiny
tots to seasoned performers. just the week before we visited, she told us, four of her senior students took jobs teaching dance in china-helping in their own way to make medellin famous for a more wholesome kind of export. fred de sam lazaro for pbs newshour in medellin, colombia. >> ifill: a version of this story will air on the pbs program religion and ethics newsweekly. fred's reporting is a partnership with the under-told stories project at st. mary's university of minnesota. >> woodruff: again, the major story of this day. president obama condemned the rioting in ferguson, missouri last night, calling it "a criminal act". violence erupted after a grand jury declined to charge darren
wilson, the white policeman who killed michael brown, a black teenager. this evening, wilson told george stephanopolous of abc news that brown struck him, grabbed for his gun, and finally, charged him. i thought, can i legally shoot this guy? the question i answered was i have to, he'll kill me if he gets to me. >> even though he's 35, 40 feet away? >> once he's coming that direction, if he hasn't stopped yet, when is he going to stop? >> woodruff: meanwhile, authorities braced for more potential trouble. missouri governor jay nixon tripled the number of national guard troops on duty in the area, to 2,200. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll talk to the director of the new documentary "happy valley," a look at penn
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