tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS January 18, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, january, 18: the president finalizes a plan to increase tax breaks for the middle class that would be paid for by the rich. a new study shows just how many schoolchildren across the country are growing up poor. and in our signature segment, an ambitious program to count all of the elephants in africa >> you can't fight a war to save something if you don't know how many you are trying to save. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:
corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios in lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening. thanks for joining us. president obama reportedly will unveil a plan to offer tax relief for the middle class during his state of the union address tuesday night. the plan would be paid for by increasing taxes the rich pay on investments and inherited property. for more about the president's proposal, its chances of success and its political impact, we are joined now from washington by carol lee. she is white house correspondent
for the "wall street journal." >> does the administration say that this will help and how? >> their main target is the middle class. and they-- their argument is that it will help the middle class by taking-- closing certain tax loopholes that they say benefit the top 1% of americans and making different changes to the tax code including raising the capital gains tax from 23.8% to 28% by as you mentioned taxing some of these investments and assets that people transfer to their/zoy children that currently are not taxed. and a number of other things. and what they would do with that money which is roughly several hundred billion dollars is put it towards proposals such as tripling the child tax credit so that would go from 1,000 to
$3,000. they're proposing to create a new tax credit for households where both spouses work. and if the president has unveiled a proposal to offer free community college for folks and that's another thing that this would pay for. so it's basically the president's opening bid on a number of tax issues that have been investigationing washington for a long time. and so far it has not gotten a very warm reception from republicans. but the white house's argument is that this would help the middle class the republicans say that they are no focused on the middle class. the economy is doing better so now's the time to do things take steps like this. and wile conceding that they probably won't get everything that they want which is a very optimistic view of this package given the response that we've seen from republicans the hope is that this is an opening bid to what the white house hopes are broader
negotiations on some of these individual tax code issues. >> srennivasan: all right so, what are the political implications even if it can't get through congress? >> well, it septembers the parameters of the debate for 2015 which is turning into 2016. and the two things that the parties have agreed on you have seen this in a number of potential republican presidential candidates you've heard it from former secretary of state hillary clinton and the white house is really pressing on this issue, is that the middle class is in need of help. and that wages are stagnant. and while gdp is growing and unemployment rate is at new lows, the middle class is still really struggling and requires some targeted measures to try and build them up. and so what you're going to hear the white house and democrats do when they get with these measures, the package that the president is going to roll out on tuesday in the state of the union address is put the ball in republican's court
to say okay, well what are your proposals what do you want to do. and if you don't support this what do you support. and so it's designed to even if it doesn't pass, move the debate along to where the two sides are having to stakeout their territory that head of the 2016 election. >> srennivasan: all right carol lee joining us from washington from the "the wall street journal". thank you so much. >> thank you for having me. >> sreenivasan: federal law enforcement officials say multiple shots were fired last night outside the delaware home of vice president joseph biden. neither the vice president nor his wife were home at the time of the incident. authorities say the vehicle from which the shots came raced away before anyone could be apprehended. the bidens' home is set back a few hundred yards from the road. in dresden germany, an anti- immigration group known as patriotic europeans against islamization of the west called off a rally that was to have taken place tomorrow because of terror threats against its leader, lutz bachmann. a police spokesman said that a ban has been placed on all public marches in the city until
midnight tomorrow because of threats to kill an enemy of islam. the threat was conveyed in arabic on a twitter post. recent anti-immigration rallies there have drawn as many as 25,000 demonstrators. in iraq today, isis freed at least 200 mostly elderly and infirmed prisoners its fighters had captured five months ago. the group did not explain its decision. those released were yazidis, a minority religious group that regularly has been targeted by the extremists. as you'll recall, thousands of yazidis were stranded on a mountain last summer after isis swept into iraq from syria. israel has launched another attack inside syria. israeli military sources confirm that an israeli helicopter fired missiles at a convoy traveling near the golan heights. five senior members of hezbollah reportedly were killed. just days ago, a lebanese hezbollah leader said he considers israeli strikes in syria aggression and said syria and its allies have the right to retaliate. israel has struck syria several
times since the start of the civil war there, the israeli government says it is part of their effort to keep arms from reaching hezbollah fighters. pope francis wrapped up a week- long visit to asia today, by celebrating mass in front of millions of worshippers who turned out in manila despite a steady rain. the pontiff said families need to be protected from programs he described as being contrary to all that we hold true and sacred. an apparent reference to a 2012 law that made birth control more available in the philippines. fighting once again is intensifying in ukraine, despite a cease-fire between the government and pro-russian rebels that went into effect last september. overnight, government troops launched an offensive and afterwards said they had regained control of most of the airport in the provincial capital, donetsk. rebels had made gains there in recent weeks. the world health organization says nearly 5,000 people have been killed since fighting began in eastern ukraine in early 2014.
a prominent north korean defector has admitted that parts of his account about life in a labor camp there were inaccurate. shin dong hyuk was the subject of a best-selling book and testified in front of the u.n. commission of inquiry about north korean human rights violations. there, he spoke about how he was tortured in prison and described his harrowing escape. shin is sticking to the broad outline of his earlier accounts but he now admits that the time and location of certain events were incorrect. today he posted a message on facebook to apologize and wrote, "every one of us have stories or things we'd like to hide." back in this country, the federal aviation administration has suspended a program which had allowed safety inspectors to skip security checkpoints while on the job. the decision follows tuesday's arrest of an faa agent at new york city's laguardia airport. he had carried a firearm in his carry-on bag after bypassing security checkpoints at hartsfield-atlanta international airport. investment by venture capitalists into start-ups is surging. measured by dollars, it was up 61% last year over 2013. this, according to a survey by the national venture capital association and pricewaterhouse.
the single biggest beneficiary was uber, which uses a mobile app to connect drivers and passengers. the company now competes with standard taxi service in more than 200 cities around the united states and overseas. all told, estimates are that venture capitalists pumped more than $48 billion into startups last year. 2000, the tail end of the dot-com boom. and more than 50 years after they were convicted of trespassing for sitting at a whites only lunch counter in south carolina, members of the friendship nine will have their criminal records cleared later this month. in an act of defiance, most of those convicted for their sit-in chose to work on a chain gang at a county prison farm rather than pay a fine. >> sreenivasan: a newly released report by the southern education foundation says a majority of all public school students across the united states come
from low income families. experts say that could have important implications for the nation. for more about that, we are joined now from washington by lyndsey layton. she covered the story for "the washington post." soufer the numbers have been getting worse over number right. ten years ago it was only four states that have more than half their population schoolchildren populations qualify for free or reduced lunches, now it's 21 states. >> that's right, hari we've seen a really rapid acceleration in this group of kids. and of course you know people point to the 2008 recession as something that really made these numbers explode. but we've seen continued acceleration. it hasn't stabilized. it's getting worse. and now we're at 51%. so a majority of public schoolkids qualify for free food. >> srennivasan: so what are some of the other strains on the system. in your story i remember seeing that basically teachers are starting to act more than just teachers, they are social workers they're psychologists.
>> well, if you talk to any teacher in a high-poverty school, they will tell you that they spend a huge amount of their time just making sure the kids are okay. i mean these kids don't come into school wondering am i going to take a test today. they come into school wondering am i going to be okay. i talked with one kindergarten teacher, a veteran teacher from new mexico. she teaches in downtown albuquerque. and she told me that the first hour of her morning she does an inventory to checker kids. have they eaten, are they clean. she keeps a drawer full of socks shoes clean underwear toothbrushes for them just to take care of their immediate needs. she can't even focus on the academics. >> srennivasan: what are some of the impacts or the potential impacts for education policy? i mean right now there is a national conversation going about testing and whether to reauthorize no child left behind or the common core et cetera, et cetera. but how can we really focus on tests if what you are
saying and what this teacher is saying is that you really have a deeper underlying problem. the kids aren't going to be thinking about tests if they are thinking about being hung real estate. >> a lot of advocates for kids and democrats and progressives want to see more spending to create wrap around services around these kids. that the schools not only need help with the academics with technology and curriculum and teacher training but they also need to provide social services for these children. that's the argument that a lot of progressives are making. right now in town here the congress is about to debate the reauthorization of the main federal education law. and republicans think that perhaps we're just not spending our money efficiently. and that if states had more authority and more power in their spending, that the money would go to you know the greatest needs. and that we need to streamline spending and give
more authority to states. there's a real debate going on about what to do about this problem. >> srennivasan: are there patterns that you see here emerging when you look at the data around the country or certain parts hit worse than others? >> all you need to do is glance at the map. it's available at the southern education foundation web site and also at the "washington post". you just take a look at that map and you can see the red areas where you've got the high concentration of poor kids, it's obviously the south and it's the west. so those are you know border states with a lot of immigration. that's obvious. but then you also see in other parts of the country where you don't expect that. vermont, for instance one out of every three kids in vermont has-- needs free lunches and breakfast. so the need is growing. it's all over the country. and beyond the obvious issues in the border states
you can find it all over the place. >> srennivasan: all right lindsey leighton from the washington post, thanks so much. >> thanks hari. >> sreenivasan: and now to our signature segment. our original in-depth reports from around the world. for decades now, we've heard about the great damage poachers are inflicting on africa's elephant population. the best estimates are that tens of thousands of elephants are killed there every year. but the actual numbers are difficult to measure. now, an extraordinary effort is underway to count all the elephants across that vast continent, something people behind the project call an essential step to save them. newshour special correspondent martin seemungal reports. >> reporter: scrambling through the ethiopian bushlands, a team of conservation biologists, running to find an elephant,
darted from the air with a tranquilizer earlier and part of a much bigger discovery. >> we took off from a very small airstrip over this range of hills into this valley, and it was paradise like the last frontier and i just could feel we were on the verge of discovering something great. and we did, nearly three thousand elephants, unknown to anybody, tucked away, safe in a very remote corner of ethiopia. >> reporter: considering elephant numbers are dwindling across africa it is a remarkable find. the team fits it with a huge collar so they can track the herd.
the mission to ethiopia is part of a plan to count africa's elephants. that's right, count all the elephants in africa. it is an ambitious two year project expected to conclude in may. called the great elephant census the seven million dollar initiative is being funded by american philanthropist paul allen. it is led by chase, he grew up in botswana and has dedicated his life to protecting elephants founding a nonprofit organization called elephants without borders. >> how many elephants are on the african continent? and that's a question which nobody can answer with any certainty. and the worlds largest terrestrial animal, the six ton animal roaming our continent and people can't tell you how many are left. they can tell you how many are dying, 100 elephants a day
africa is losing. >> reporter: elephants die of natural causes, old age, disease. this young elephant was hunted and killed by a pride of lions part of the natural cycle of life in africa. but big numbers of elephants are also killed when they come into contact with humans. farmers in particular, they sometimes lose crops to elephants and so they shoot them. and then there is poaching. during the 1980's there were some years when 100,000 elephants were killed for their tusks. kenya is estimated to have lost 83% of its elephant population during that period. iain douglas hamilton is a leading authority on elephants. he is based in nairobi and he says there has been another spike in elephant poaching recently. >> in 2011 we estimated there were 40,000 elephants illegally killed. if that rate were to continue it would inevitable drive the elephants down, because they cannot reproduce fast enough to
replace the losses caused by natural mortality and illegal killing for ivory combined. >> reporter: hamilton is one of nearly 50 conservationists across africa supporting the great elephant census. >> you can't fight a war to save something if you don't know how many you are trying to save. >> so to have this foundational information on precisely how many elephants are left will help gauge future conservation efforts. >> reporter: it is an enormous challenge, elephants are found in 37 african nations. populations vary in size, but some countries refused to take part in the survey. >> and that for me has been the most difficult part of the great elephant census to comprehend why people, why countries don't want their elephants counted. >> reporter: chase is optimistic many countries will ultimately join the census.
in the meantime, he is working hard in the 18 nations that have agreed. from south sudan in the north pockets of west africa through east and central africa down to south africa. and botswana his home country, with an estimated population of 100,000 elephants, the largest in africa. counting is done from the air. a small plane flying low across the african landscape. the plane flies back and forth in a series of straight lines called transect linespre programmed ahead of time using g.p.s. coordinates. >> there's a tremendous amount of skill that goes into flying
an aerial survey. a consistent height. you can't deviate off the transect line. you've got to maintain a speed of 170 kilometers, you go too fast you're going to miss animals. >> reporter: kelly landen is one of the regular spotters. originally from buffalo new york, now living in botswana. >> well the transect lines are about 15 minutes each in one direction and then on the turn we get a little bit of an eye break, we stretch, we close our eyes and try and get a regroup for a few minutes until we get to the next transect which is really quite a relief. >> reporter: in neighboring south africa the massive kruger park is also home to thousands of elephants. chase and the team won't have to do any counting here, because the south africans will provide figures from their own aerial surveys. sam ferreira is an ecologist in kruger park well aware of the difficulties of counting elephants from the air. >> imagine an elephant stands
under a tree. you fly over it. the elephant is there but it's not available for you to be sampled and you can't see it. >> reporter: to compensate cameras are mounted on each side of the plane the spotters constantly take pictures. after the flight, the photos are downloaded and used to verify what the spotters have reported. using a special program each elephant is highlighted making it much easier to spot those elephants under the trees. >> this verification helps quite a bit. especially when you have large herds that are mixed. when you go by for just a few minutes so the numbers are really well verified when you count it on the computer. right now i missed an elephant on this one. >> it would be extremely difficult if we didn't have this technology available to us to fly aerial surveys over such a vast scale an area that we're covering. >> reporter: wildlife officials with the botswana government are observing and assisting with the count here.
it is indicative of the concern african nations have for elephants. alfred seonyatseng is a senior wildlife warden. >> i think it's going to help all the african countries to know and conserve and to know exactly what the number they have and that they can know how they can conserve their elephants. >> if we don't intervene it's going to be a problem, the elephant will soon disappear. >> reporter: chase is encouraged by the response so far he says that trip to ethiopia gave him a lot of reasons to be hopeful. >> as soon as a government hears that they have 3,000 elephants tucked away in the southern corner of their country, which they didn't know about--man! that changes things, that gets people excited and that's what we've discovered on the great elephant census. >> reporter: and there are many more countries still to be counted. >> sreenivasan: how do you count
all the elephants on an entire continent? get an inside look at newshour.pbs.org. >> sreenivasan: there is no shortage of reporting about the health dangers associated with obesity. but scientists at cambridge university in england followed more than 300,000 people over 12 years and concluded that inactivity actually kills more people. the solution: walk. briskly. richard morgan of itv reports >> at my age, strenuous exercise is a bit out of the
question. but walking just, it's a pleasure and it keeps me motivated. >> and according to figures out today, we would all do well too take a leaf out of leonard's book. researchers claim obesity cause 347,000 deaths across europe in 2008 but twist as many 667,000 deaths were put down to physical inactivity it it's claimed moderate exercise each day can reduce this risk by 16 to 30%. that can mean as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking. >> society has changed. we've engineered physical activity out of our every day lives. what we feed to do is reverse that process. reengineer it back in. >> back in this london park those taking a stroll said they had no doubt about the benefits. >> i'm not generally a very sporty person. but i love walking the dog. >> you move your muscles. >> i think every now and again it's good to break a sweat but walking is probably the best. >> so the message is clear if you want to live longer get your trainers on
whether or not you've got a dog. richard morgan itv news. >> i'm gwen ifill. >> i'm judy woodruff. >> immigration health care conflicts overseas. a state of the union. president obama is set to deliver the annual address tuesday january 20th. tune in for special program approximating from the pbs newshour team you trust including analysis from mark shields and david brooks. >> when the direction of our country is at stake there's only one place you should turn t the "pbs newshour". >> srennivasan: some more news before we leave you tonight, nuclear negotiations between iran and the world's major powers resume today in geneva sweats land, afterward the french negotiator said quoting the mood was very good but i don't think we made a lot of progress. the talks resume next month.
join us onair and on-line tomorrow. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a good night. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support is provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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