tv PBS News Hour PBS June 3, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
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tornado-force winds literally blew the vessel over late monday, as it sailed up the yangtze river from nanjing. only 14 people have been found alive, and families are demanding answers. lucy watson of independent television news filed this report from the scene. >> reporter: the wait to be told anything is agonizing. all li ling and her family want is to be taken to the river to see where their parents could be. but they're being stopped. "i haven't been able to close my eyes or sleep since it sank. we've been told nothing. anything we know has come from the internet. i just want to go to the water to see it for myself." >> reporter: but, if she could get there this is what she would see. the reality of recovered bodies atop a mighty vessel now barely visible. apart from a few moments of triumph and rescue yesterday
this operation has been hampered by a strong current, murky waters and bad weather after this country's worst maritime disaster in recent memory. cranes are poised to salvage a wreck and this search area has been extended. rescuers stand waiting, still hoping. but the military, the medics are ever ready onshore. >> they will not give up the hope to find survivors until the last minute. when the five ships gather together the experts will make a decision, an evaluation how to be going on. >> reporter: the government is promising an investigation because the safety of this state-owned boat is being questioned. for now, any anger is being contained, and nobody is yet apportioning blame. grief is overriding everything. >> ifill: in the day's other news, more than 700 migrants
made it to shore in myanmar, in an overloaded fishing boat. the country's navy towed the vessel in, after holding it at sea for days. many onboard were muslim rohingya and some were bangladeshi. police separated the two groups and sent the bangladeshis away in buses. the rohingya were put inside a warehouse. myanmar is largely buddhist and does not recognize the rohingya as citizens. >> woodruff: the corruption scandal that's engulfed soccer rolled on today, with reports the f.b.i. is investigating how world cups were awarded. they came a day after sepp blatter, head of soccer's governing body fifa, announced he's resigning. the russian sports minister insisted today that plans to play the 2018 world cup in his country will go forward. >> ( translated ): blatter is the president of fifa and he has always maintained warm relations with russia. but in general, the decision on hosting the world cup was made by the executive committee of
fifa and it is a legal decision, no resignations can affect or change it. >> woodruff: the government of qatar likewise rejected any talk that it might be stripped of the 2022 world cup. the foreign minister said his country is the victims of "prejudice and racism" against arab/islamic states. >> ifill: a suspect in a boston terror investigation talked of killing police before he was shot dead by officers. that's according to federal court documents filed today. usaama rahim had been under long-term surveillance when he was shot and killed early tuesday. the police commissioner says he lunged with a large knife. >> our officers went out there to only question the individual because the level of our concern rose to the level that we needed to question him. i think we never anticipated what his reaction would be, and that he would pull out obviously
a military knife and approach the officers. >> ifill: video of the shooting was shown to community leaders today. they say it confirmed rahim was shot in the front, not the back. but they say it's not clear if police needed to use deadly force. meanwhile, an alleged accomplice, david wright, was arrested last night on a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. he appeared in federal court today. >> woodruff: former rhode island governor lincoln chafee has formally entered the race for the democratic presidential nomination in 2016. as a u.s. senator, chafee was the only republican to vote against the iraq war. later, he turned independent and then became a democrat. chafee made his formal announcement today in arlington, virginia. >> if we as leaders show good judgment and make good decisions, we can fix much of what is ailing us. we must deliberately and carefully extricate ourselves
from expensive wars. just think of how better this money could be spent. >> woodruff: chafee is the fourth democratic candidate in a field dominated, so far, by frontrunner hillary clinton. >> ifill: in economic news, the u.s. trade deficit fell sharply in april, by 19%. the march deficit had been the worst since 2008, after a labor dispute ended at west coast ports and a backlog of chinese goods flooded in. and on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 64 points to close near 18080. the nasdaq rose more than 20 points, and the s&p 500 added four. still to come on the newshour: a spike in the number of labs that mistakenly received live anthrax. out of pocket costs for health care on the rise. what did the red cross buy with half a billion dollars originally raised to rebuild homes in haiti? what a mighty china means for the u.s. and global stability. and, debating development along the grand canyon.
>> woodruff: the pentagon today gave new information about that scare over live anthrax samples. officials said 51 labs in 17 states, plus washington, d.c., and three foreign countries, received the suspected live spores. that's a larger number than what was previously disclosed. at a news conference today deputy defense secretary robert work sought to reassure the public. >> we continue to work with the c.d.c. to ensure that all possible safeguards are taken to prevent exposure at the labs in question. and that any worker that might have had risk of exposure, even to these low concentrated samples, they are closely monitored. we know of no risk to the general public from these samples. to provide context, the concentration of these samples are too low to infect the
average healthy individual. everyone in the department of defense takes this issue very seriously because it is a matter of public health and also the health of all of the members of our department. >> woodruff: joining me now to tell us more about what happened and the response is nancy youssef, senior national security correspondent for the daily beast. welcome back to the program. so many more samples of anthrax were sent out to these labs than was known before. why is this coming out in bits and pieces like this? >> part of it is it takes several days to determine which samples were sent out that were positive and which were negative. this is out of 400 lots, and from each lot comes several scores of samples that are september to various labs, so they're going through lot by lot and doing testing. the number we're giving is only out of four lots. in 100% of the cases, they have
come back positive for anthrax, so a lot more laboratories and states coming up as recipients of live anthrax. >> reporter: so there could be more coming out is what you're saying. >> that's right. they said it repeatedly to anticipate more. >> woodruff: tell us, they said today so far no one has been infected. are they certain of that and what are they saying about the danger to the public? >> well, they're say fog one's infected but also giving antibiotics to 31 personnel, nine here, 22 overseas as a precautionary measure. so there is some concern on that point. but to the public, it doesn't appear that there was any danger because these are samples that are sent to laboratories laboratories often a whose technicians are vaccinated, whose facilities are well protected for such measures. and so the danger is not so much to the public in terms of getting anthrax through those shipments, but the idea of live
anthrax being sent out to an untold number of laboratories states and workers. >> woodruff: so why is it being shipped out to so many place snls. >> what happened after the a anthrax letter scare in 2001 where powdered anthrax was sent to inter daschle and news agencies, there was an up tick for research on anthrax and detection message because it was feared this would be a form of bioterrorism. turns out it was an internal threat. so the d.o.t. keeps these spores, provides them to laboratories for doing detection research and other kinds of research to ensure that places can prevent anthrax from being brought in. the pentagon force protection agency received live anthrax and they use it to make sure those coming to the pentagon are not bringing in live anthrax with them. >> woodruff: quickly, nancy are they any closer to understand what was the laps, why this happened in.
>> no, today's press conference suggested they were further away from answers. they said they had methods in place to make sure live anthrax didn't go out and yet because there is no standard practice that everybody has their own way of determining what's accepted and the fact that 100% of the cases that tested so far show up positive suggested at the minimum there is a fundamental flaw in their prevention methods. >> woodruff: nancy youssef, "the daily beast," thank you for following this for us. thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: if it feels like you are spending more for health care-- through higher deductibles and premiums, you may be right. under the affordable care act, insurers are required to post rate increases if they exceed 10%, and, in many cases, the price spikes for the coming year range from 20% to 85%. another study shows people who are covered by their employers are also paying more-- through higher out of pocket costs that
leave as many as 31 million people underinsured. larry levitt studies this for the kaiser family foundation. and, dr. david blumenthal is the president of the commonwealth fund, which released the survey on out-of-pocket costs. larry leavitt, could you explain to me why these price hikes are going up all of a sudden? or is it not all of a sudden? >> first, i would say it's hard to generalize from what we've seen so far. insurers are only required to report increases of 10% or more. not surprising those are all in double digits. reading the tea leaves, that said, it looks like premiums are heading upwards. healthcare costs have been growing very slowly recently are increasing faster, particularly for prescription drugs, and insurers are for the first time, under obamacare, setting premiums based on actual experience with enrollees.
up until now they were guessing how much healthcare people were using, now they have experience under their belts and in many cases people look to be sicker than insurers expected. >> ifill: are sicker people drawn to this because of obamacare? is that part of the connection? >> yeah, one of the things the affordable care act did was eliminating discrimination for people with pre-existing conditions. so for the first time someone who was sick and wanted insurance can get it. the first people in the door tended to be those who knew they needed insurance and had pretty high healthcare needs. the key now is to try to get more healthy people in the door, and the big wildcard is will more people enroll and will those be healthier than the enrollees we have now. >> ifill: these numbers are only for increases over 10%, as you pointed out. what about state regulators? do they have a say in whether the numbers can go up or not?
>> they do. in most states, the insurance commissioner has the power to disapprove these increase ifs he or she feels they're unjustified. so the aches ac actuaries and insurance departments are sharpening pencils and it is thought they may come down somewhat and in some case as lot. >> ifill: in which states are people are most affected by this? >> medical costs, you know affect all states. i don't think that's a big factor in the variation across states. probably one of the biggest factors is how ebb rollment is doing. enrollment has varied tremendously across the country. florida signed up a lot of people, a very high percentage of the eligible population there. other states like iowa, for example, signed up very few people.
>> ifill: dr. david blumenthal, your report says 31 million people are uninsured because of deductibles. >> you're underinsured if you spend more than 10% of your income excluding premiums on your healthcare and you're insured, or if your deductible exceeds 5% of your income. now, if you are poor, that is if you have an income of less than 200% of the federal poverty level, we define underinsurance as spending more than 5% of your income on out of pocket expenditures. >> are these out of pocket expenditures, the deductibles, are they a tradeoff for getting premiums lower? >> one reason premiums can be kept lower is by asking people who are insured more.
>> brown:. half the people underinsured report they have trouble paying medical bills or getting less care than they need. >> ifill: what's the connection to the affordable care act? some would say this is one of the problems affordable care act was supposed to solve. >> we have been tracking this since 2003. most of the increase we have observed in underinsurance occurred before the affordable care act became law betweeno thee and 2010. >> ifill: so the trend kicked in already? >> the trend kicked in, since 2010 there really hasn't been much of a change. another thing to keep in mind is for us to consider you underinsured, you had to have had insurance for a full year. many of the people who responded to our survey had no insurance prior to 2014 or, if they had had insurance through affordable care act, they only had it for six months. so we don't feel that this survey captures the effect of
the affordable care act. >> ifill: let me ask you both now to answer a very basic question, which is, either way, no matter the cause of this, healthcare has grown more expensive for people for whatever reason. what do consumers do? do they shop for a better deal? just go without? >> one of the things the affordable care act has done which is advantageous to consumers is create marketplaces where people can go online and comparison shop. that was very hard to do before the affordable care act especially for people who had individual insurance policies. so the opportunity to see what a given insurance company charges for a given type of coverage is new and available to people and one of the reasons these announced premium increases may not be as serious as they are regarded is that people will have choice, they will have a chance to move out of the high price insurance into a low price insurance. >> ifill: will they have the
choice on out of pocket cost? >> they will. the affordable care act works in creating bands of insurance and the level of deductibles and co-pays is part of the chase. >> ifill: larry leavitt, what is your prescription for what consumers should do when faced with this sticker shock? >> well, i would agree with david. what we've seen in the first two years of obamacare is insurers are jockeying for positions in these new marketplaces. for some insurers increasing premiums substantially, others are decreasing premiums. so there are good deals to be had. consumers have to look around. many consumers did shop after the first year of the a a ca going into this year, but many just let momentum take hold and stuck with their old plan, potentially paying much more. so shopping around is really the key here. >> ifill: the supreme court may have a lot to say about what happens to all of us by the end
of this month. larry leavitt, kaiser family foundation, and david blumenthal of the commonwealth fund. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: the american red cross is under scrutiny once again for the way it operates, and how it's using the money that people donate to it. the latest item: a joint investigation by two news organizations pointing to what they say is a failure to deliver on promises of housing in haiti after the earthquake there five years ago. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: it was january 12, 2010: a catastrophic earthquake ravaged haiti's capital port-au-prince, shaking whole neighborhoods to bits, and leaving 1.5 million people homeless. the american red cross raised nearly $500 million for haitian relief, far more than any other charity. and a year after the quake, red
cross c.e.o. gail mcgovern announced plans to create brand new communities. >> we're working on a planned partnership to build permanent housing for people that were left homeless during the earthquake. under this partnership, usaid would identify and pair at least two locations in haiti, for permanent homes that would include roads, drainage, and other infrastructure. the plan is that the american red cross would build these homes, including water and sanitation. >> brown: but an investigation by pro-publica and npr has concluded the red cross response was plagued by failures. despite the lofty goals, documents obtained by the two media organizations show that only six permanent homes were built with red cross funds. it also found inaccurate numbers on how many people were helped by various red cross programs. npr and pro-publica say many displaced haitians were given short-term rental assistance or
housed in temporary shelters like these-- prone to termite attacks and unable to withstand tropical storms. haitians themselves say they are still struggling just to survive. >> ( translated ): the living conditions are very hard for the poor. we are sitting here and people don't really come to buy products like they used to. things are difficult. >> brown: in a statement today, the red cross criticized the report and touted its accomplishments in haiti: building and operating eight hospitals and clinics, providing clean water and sanitation, and moving more than 100,000 people out of makeshift tents. as for housing, the agency argued that haitian government red tape blocked it from gaining crucial land rights for building. for instance, an agreement for the new communities project was ultimately canceled because of a land dispute. laura sullivan of npr is one of
the two journalists on the team who reported this story. we invited the american red cross to join us, but officials declined our offer. so first give us some background on how this came about and how you reported it. >> this is a partnership n.p.r. did with pro publicca, myself, jesse elliott and another reporter in the fall where we looked into hurricane sandy and isaac and the red cross' response to the storms and we found they spent too much time focused on the public relations effort in those storms and failed in a lot of aspect. some questions about how they're spending donor's money. >> brown: and looking at haiti from there. >> we ended up seeing hundreds of pages of internal red cross records, e-mails and memos senior managers wrote to one another. we also talked to dozens -- a dozen current and former red cross employees about what happened in haiti and what happened to the money. >> brown: so on this specific issue of creating more housing,
the red cross cite a lack of land to build on, red tape making property rights impossible. they said they had to change course and, therefore, did. >> that is true. it is very difficult to build in haiti and a lot of non-profits had a lot of trouble but, still, is possible to do. at this point now five years after the earthquake, other n.g.o.s have build thousands of homes. the red cross has had half a billion dollars and five years in haiti and they have built six homes. >> brown: you're citing the reasons, the prime one that comes through is what you sea see is a lack of experience in the red cross and how to carry this out. >> that's something we heard from a number of red cross officials. through the red cross' own documents, which should show this is not an area they have a lot of familiarity with, they have either years of experience doing immediate disaster relief, provided things like blankets and water and did that in haiti
as well, but what they do not know very well how to do or have very little experience doing is rebuilding in a developing country and, yet, they outraised other n.g.o.s by hundreds of millions of dollars even after the immediate disaster relief was over so they could do just that. >> brown: how does it play out? a certain amount of money goes to immediate emergency relief. i saw that happen when they were there providing all kinds of things. they're saying after that they didn't have the knowledge -- they had the resources but not the knowledge. >> they had the resources, they did not have the knowledge. one to have the seniors we were talking to was in charge of the haiti shelter program and said they never had a plan for housing. other people we talked to said this is not anything they knew how to do and they were flying blind in terms of being able to get the housing projects off the ground ago housing projects where they weren't ever able tohey provided homes for 130,000 hatians. this is another number that we
came up with when we dug into it. >> brown: said the red cross is disappointed in the balancing and n.p.r. is disappointing to see ow work misrepresented considering we answered 100 questions in writing and provided an interview with the head of our intentional programs. >> it is true, the red cross has provide add lot of disaster services in haiti and they have certainly spent millions of dollars providing shelter and providing, you know, water and things like that. but at the end of the day, they did not do what they promised hatians they were going to do and they did not also do what they promised their own donors they would do. they did answer a lot of our questions. it went back and forth for many months, and it is good to have that information from them, but what hat information did show for us and what their own internal documents show is they were not able to provide hatians the kind of assistance they
promised them. >> brown: you finally -- we can stipulate it is hard to work in haiti. >> absolutely. >> brown: did you see examples where things were working, where housing was -- >> absolutely. that's one of the most interesting things about it is a number of n.g.o.s have been able to build 9000 permanent homes at this point. we went to one project done by global communities and p.c.i. we saw more than 300 homes being built. in the project gnaw, they're building 75 homes with running water for people. they hired hatians to do the bulk of the work. some of the sources and documents said the red cross had a difficult problem not hiring enough hatians and that they had a number of expats that were extremely expensive and didn't speak haiti languages. one ects piefort said how can you go to a meeting with haitian
government officials and not speak the language. >> brown: laura sullivan, n.p.r., thanks so much. >> ifill: we put a link to the full propublica-npr report, on our home page, that's pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: now, we take a broader look at china. and how the u.s. should engage with the rapidly growing economic and military power. today, president obama discussed the possibility of china eventually joining a major trade deal already in the works with other asian nations. he spoke to public radio's kai ryssdal, host of marketplace. >> well, they've already started putting out feelers about the possibility of them participating at some point. >> to you? >> to us, to jack lew the treasury secretary. that is that if we have 11 of the leading economies in the asia pacific region who have
agreed to enforceable labor standards, enforceable environmental standards, strong i.p. protections, non- discrimination against foreign firms that are operating, access to those markets, reduced tariffs, then china is going to have to at least take those international norms into account. >> woodruff: i recently sat down with two former treasury secretaries: democrat robert rubin and republican henry paulson. the two, good friends, and long- time colleagues, reached across the aisle to co-author a piece about u.s.-china relations, and how to get them right. it appears in this month's "atlantic magazine," and is the focus of tonight's installment of our partnership with the atlantic. >> woodruff: china's over 300 mile-an-hour bullet trains set the world standard. chinese shoppers fill shanghai streets, and the skyscrapers continue to rise.
this ancient asian power is not only on track to eclipse the u.s. as the world's largest economy by 2016, these days they're not shy about flexing their military might, as they stage their first ever joint naval exercises in the mediterranean with the russian navy just last month. even building up islands in the south china sea to press what it considers its territorial claims against asian neighbors. >> with its actions in the south china sea, china is out of step with both international norms that underscore the asia-pacific security architecture and the regional consensus in favor of a non-coercive approach to this and other long-standing disputes. >> china has emerged as really a formidable competitor and as they are asserting themselves on the global stage, the long- standing consensus that china's
rise is good for the u.s. is beginning to break down. >> woodruff: henry paulson and bob rubin worked for presidents from different parties-- george w. bush and bill clinton-- but they agree on the need to chart a mid-course correction in u.s. china relations, and say it needs to happen soon. what is it about this u.s.- chinese relationship that you think it was so important for the american people to know right now? >> i think that when you have the two largest economies in the world, united states and china, you have the opportunity for a mutually beneficial bilateral relationship and in addition, if we can get that right and if we can get a broad based understanding and recognition of each country that we benefit from the relation with each other, then i think we improve the potential for our working together on these transnational issues that so enormously affect each of our countries. terrorism, middle east instability, climate changes, so much else that affects the whole of the global community. >> they're all going to be easier to solve it or to deal
with if we got a good working relationship with china and much more difficult if we don't. >> woodruff: i recently met with the two men at the council on foreign relations in new york, where bob rubin is now the co- chairman. in their joint article, they turn u.s.-china critiques of each other on their heads. rubin and paulson argue that both the united states and china would be better off if they accepted, and acted on, the criticisms leveled by the other side. this in a relationship that is increasingly crucial to global stability. >> instead of having an exchange of grievances and we've referred to it as a dialogue of the deaf what you will see is that... if each of our countries does simply what is its own self- interest, it will address the critiques that the other country is making. >> woodruff: the two are on board with chinese claims that the u.s. needs to ease its fiscal crisis. and, both men believe, other chinese critiques are on the mark, like the need for the u.s.
to invest in infrastructure. >> i think the biggest challenge is fixing our own problems. we need a tax system that's going to let us raise the revenues we need to be competitive. >> we have a paucity of capital for infrastructure and we are in desperate need for infrastructure. we should be doing a lot more at the federal level, and i think there are ways we could do that and pay for it that would not create a fiscal problem. >> woodruff: in his new book, hank paulson goes even further, arguing that the u.s. should welcome chinese investment more broadly, holding up japan as an example. >> i argue all the time that the greatest compliment, any country can pay to the united states of america is make a direct investment here that creates jobs. back in the days when bob was my boss at goldman sachs, i remember very well when the japanese came in and they bought the rockefeller center and my mother was horrified, just horrified. and i said to her, "mom, what are you concerned about? they can't put the rockefeller center on an aircraft carrier
and take it back to japan. we've got the rockefeller center and we've got their money. this is a good thing." >> japanese companies subsequently created a lot of transplants in this country. manufacturing in this country manufacturing companies that hired american workers. and now, there is a lot of enthusiasm about the japanese investment in the united states. and i think the same thing could happen with china. i think we would benefit greatly from chinese investment in this country and i think we should be proactively seeking it and i >> woodruff: but they believe both countries must make changes. >> china has an economic model that has ran out of steam. they need a new economic model. now it's very easy to say that. it is very difficult to reboot an $10 or trillion dollar economy and that's what they need to do. >> woodruff: for a country with a communist system and a bureaucratic state-run economy, none of the fixes would be easy. >> the most important parts are
opening up to competition. >> woodruff: they want the chinese to stop subsidizing state owned companies. >> what they need to do is rein in the state-owned sector, to wean them from their preferential regulatory treatment, from their subsidies or energy subsidies, their interest rate and financing subsidies, and then open up to competition and that will create opportunity for private sectors in china and for u.s. companies to sell us products and provide services in china. >> woodruff: lower barriers to entry for foreign firms, help expand consumer spending, rein in cyber attacks and, once and for all, protect intellectual property rights. >> i heard this when i was there a few weekends ago that they've got to protect intellectual property rights effectively if we're going to drive the incentive for their own people to pursue the kind of technological and life science developments that they think are so central to their future. >> woodruff: recently the owners
of gucci and yves saint laurent filed suit against stock market darling alibaba, accusing the internet retailer of knowingly selling fake items. the company spent $160 million in 2014 trying to prevent the sale of fakes. if the lawsuit succeeds alibaba could lose far more. will these legal actions prompt the chinese to stop the production and sale of counterfeits? >> i laugh at people sometimes when they come to me and say, you know, you see chinese president xi jinping frequently just tell him this or that. it's sort of what i call the whisperer in the emperor's ear phenomena, which of course is not the way china works. china has a consensus-driven system. and these changes are very very difficult to make. let's think for a minute what xi jinping has inherited. he's got a broken economic model, he's got a broken urbanization model, he's got an
environment that is, killing people. he's got corruption running rampant. >> woodruff: but the prescriptions rubin and paulson are trying to sell now in the u.s. are no easier. because they involve raising taxes, spending billions on infrastructure and encouraging foreign investment, they're at least as difficult as anything they did during their terms as treasury secretary. a lot of people would applaud and say, that's a great idea, but getting it done, have you talked to the congressional leadership, to the leadership of the administration about this? >> i think it's probably fair to say both of us have had fair bit of interaction with people in elected office. i think we've got to get to the point where the american people begin to insist that those that they elect, no matter what their views may be, actually engage in the process of governance. going back to 1997, trent lott and president clinton surely had very different views on many issues, but they were able to come together and agree on the 1997 balance budget agreement. each of them accepted measures
they did not like in order to get an agreement that each of them felt was far better for the country and far better from the perspective that they look at policy than no agreement would have been, and that was what we have to get back to as a political system. >> woodruff: but on the republican side, hank paulson, we are already in the middle of a presidential campaign where the incentive in your party is, if anything, to move to the right when it comes to taxes, when it comes to frankly just dealing with china. the image of china has become much more negative in both parties. but i think it's fair to say in the republican party, very strongly. >> all i will say to those americans who are rooting against china, and hoping all i can say to you is "be careful what you wish for." because let me tell you, air and water knows no boundaries. you know, a ton of carbon emitted from china is every bit as bad as one from the u.s. if their economy struggles, our economic challenges are going to be greater. >> woodruff: looking at who you are, former chairman at goldman
sachs, some folks may look at this and say, wait a minute are these solutions really all about wall street and the american elite or are they really about helping the american working people? >> what we do have to do is to rout strong growth that will create jobs, tighten labor markets, and increase wages. i think people will have a better feeling about our economy and they'll be more receptive to this kind of objective in terms of trade and technology that are best for the american people best for workers, and best for consumers. i know the reason that i wrote my book on china dealing with china was because it is important for my grandchildren and everyone's grandchildren to grow up in a world that is prosperous and i mean inclusively prosperous is safe, has got a sound healthy environment and i think the odds of that are much, much greater if we're not in conflict with china but if we're working in complementary ways with china.
>> ifill: we'll be back with a look at the debate over development in the grand canyon. but first, it's pledge week on pbs. this break allows your public television station to ask for your support. and that support helps keep programs like ours on the air. >> woodruff: for those stations not taking a pledge break, we take a second look at a report from our occasional series, "transgender in america." hari sreenivasan has the story of one person's transition, and his efforts to change thinking and perceptions. >> sreenivasan: the soccer fields at choate rosemary hall in connecticut turned into an outdoor classroom of sorts this past sunday. high schoolers from area boarding schools gathered for the fifth annual conference on sexual minorities and straight supporters, or s-mass. >> it's really nice to see the words written into the rule book
and to see the words, gay lesbian bisexual and transgender students at choate, they exist you're making them visible. >> sreenivasan: alex myers was one of the speakers. he's the first conference presenter to be transgender and he uses his life story as a way of educating others about transgender issues. >> i was pretty much a normal little girl. >> sreenivasan: alex grew up as alice in the small, rural town of paris, maine. he went to boarding school at phillips exeter academy in new hampshire and in the summer between his junior and senior years came out as transgender, a first for the school. in 1996, he was also the first openly transgender student to attend harvard university and he worked to change the university's non-discrimination clause to include gender identity. 12 years ago, alex married ilona in a same-sex ceremony in vermont. when his gender was legally changed to male, they had a second ceremony to ensure their union was by the book. at choate, myers' story resonated with students. >> i just really admired him, i
think it was really cool that he was able to do that in high school in 1994 to be able to a place where he was the first ever person to do that i just think that's incredibly brave. >> sreenivasan: myers takes his story to high school and college campuses around the country and we caught up with him at american university in washington d.c., where he teaches at the k.o.g.o.d. center for business communications. >> society told me i was a girl, my parents told me i was a girl, i wasn't going to think they were wrong at the same time i always felt i was or i wanted to be or i should be a boy. and transgender as a word is a really powerful sort of force in my life. it wasn't until i heard that word, until i saw people who lived as transgender that i got oh, that's how you do it. >> sreenivasan: what was that validation like or what was it to hear about the fact that you weren't strange. >> oh i am strange, let me correct that notion and happy being so! yeah, it was exactly that i think validation is the right
word that other people felt the way i did. suddenly there was a door where i had previously seen a wall. >> i haven't had surgery, i have no plans to have surgery but i do take testosterone so i'm both female in the sense that i'm genetically female, in many ways i'm biologically female, but in some ways i'm not. and i live as a man. so there's a disconnect, some people might say, between my biological sex and my gender identity. and that to me is what it means to be transgender. >> sreenivasan: why is it important, and i mean in the sense that if i was to walk by you on the street and how you express yourself is like a man, we would probably, if i didn't know anything about you, i'd probably make that assumption and treat you the way i treat every man why is it important for me to know your history? >> i don't think it's important for the casual encounter. it's why i don't wear a sandwich board to announce it, among other reasons, to announce it on the street. but i do think if we're going to be friends, if we're going to be close, if we're going to be colleagues who know each other and trust each other, it's
something you need to know about me, in the same way that eventually you would share opinions that at first you wouldn't. you might share whether they are political opinions, or you might share some of your family history. i think it's part of becoming intimate and becoming close with another person. it's crucial piece of my identity, it's how i see and understand the world, in the same way someone's religious beliefs or upbringing might influence them. >> sreenivasan: part of myers' story is bound up in his first novel, "revolutionary". it's the story of deborah samson, a real-life ancestor of his, who disguised herself as a man so she could fight in the revolutionary war. >> in order to be free and independent and self-governing she had to be a man so she got men's clothes, cut her hair short and disguised herself as a man. i don't know if she'd had the word transgender she would have applied that to herself. what i do know is that in her life what she was doing was putting on men's clothing and living as a man and it was a disguise. there's a profound difference between being disguised and being who you are. and that's what transgender has let me do, right?
i live as who i am and in part i am able to do that because i have that category, that container to hold my identity. transgender. >> sreenivasan: transgender people are gaining visibility at least in hollywood. several award-winning series showcase transgender characters. the netflix series "orange is the new black" is one, and amazon has its own breakthrough, critically-acclaimed series "transparent." but myers says too often hollywood sensationalizes transgender stories. >> gays and lesbians and bisexuals are portrayed in the media and it's not glamorous, it's just who they are. so trans people aren't there yet in the media depictions of them. we're not just normal people. we're always somewhat dramatic still. when you can see it in your own town, when you can see oh that's how a lesbian couple raises a child, all of a sudden it's really different. whether you share that identity or you don't. all of a sudden they are people, they're not abstractions, they're not something that's sensational on tv or that you read about in the newspaper but they're people you live next to and they become human beings.
>> sreenivasan: what's necessary for that normative moment for transgender people? >> i spent a summer working as a forest ranger in wyoming and i wasn't out for that summer, i was just a guy doing the same job as everyone else at the ranger station, at the end of that summer i came out to my boss i felt it was important that he know and he said, okay he had a couple of questions for how i managed that and he said, great are you going to come back next summer? and it was just like that, he knew me as a good worker and as a human being and i think that's how changes are made in this country about identity. yes, there's the big legislation and supreme court cases about gay marriage but they can cause just as much controversy and schism and the real way you bring people together is by living in their communities, by being good citizens and by modeling who you are. >> sreenivasan: myers is attempting to do just that. for the newshour, i'm hari sreenivasan in washington. >> ifill: on our home page, you can learn more about transgender issues, particularly questions
people may have about the language we use. plus, you can watch alex myers's full speech to students at choate. that's at pbs.org/newshour. >> woodruff: finally tonight: a sacred spot, in one of america's most breathtaking landmarks. history, environment and economics collide, as a divided navajo community grapple with a plan to develop a pristine spot where two rivers meet. ryan hill, a reporter at arizona state university's walter cronkite school of journalism takes an in-depth look at the controversy. >> reporter: the grand canyon is one of the world's most protected places for a reason. >> it's my time with god. as you're heading down and the sun is just starting to peak out
and the shadows are across these beautiful creations, it's magnificent. >> reporter: millions come every year to marvel at one of the seven natural wonders of the world which remains unchanged since the late 1800's, when it first came under federal protection. >> this is a pristine, still after all these years, a pristine outdoors backcountry experience. national parks really were america's best idea and this is a fine example of that. >> reporter: but deep in a remote corner of the navajo nation in northern arizona there is a part of the canyon that few people ever see-- the confluence, where the colorado and the little colorado rivers meet, a place considered sacred to navajos who have deep ties to the land. >> two rivers, they come together, they make life, that's where life originated.
the emergence, that's where i people came from. >> reporter: the confluence partners a group of arizona based developers, see something else: a chance to build, make money and bring tourists to this secluded spot. this is an artist's rendering of the proposed escalade, a project that would include hotels, restaurants and an aerial tram that would take tourists down the canyon to the confluence. the project would be constructed here on hundreds of acres of navajo land on the canyon's eastern rim. and with it, a spectacular view. to navajo shepherd marie peyketewa and many others, the project is nothing short of sacrilegious. she works the land that has been in her family for generations. >> look at those walls. what's going to happen to the walls of the canyon. they're going to destroy it. my grandchildren's kids are not going to see this beautiful area. >> reporter: the development would consume more than land, it also would consume water-- water that would need to be piped in for building drinking and sanitation.
some fear that water would come from the colorado river and the grand canyon national park. among them, park superintendent david uberuaga. >> 270 seven miles of the colorado river go through grand canyon national park. it is the water source for over 30 million people. anything that you take away from that, anything that detracts that, especially on a permanent basis is a degradation that isn't what we can accept. >> reporter: five million people visit the grand canyon national park every year. one of them is jill mccall who has been hiking the grand canyon the grand canyon for twenty years. >> to put a hotel and parking lots and a tram coming down, its an abomination. >> reporter: it's not only developers and tourists who disagree, so do those who live on tribal lands. but just miles from the confluence on the weathered and
impoverished western fringes of the navajo nation, larry hanks lives without water, without electricity. he supports the project. >> we want a better tomorrow for our kids because our kids' future is paramount... to us. >> reporter: there are no grocery stores or parks. tribal souvenir stands are as deserted as the land itself. but the road to the escalade project would bring tourists right through this part of the navajo reservation. at this tribal land use meeting talk of economic opportunity is constant. brian kensley sees a tourist influx as a pivotal moment for his people. >> this would give them another choice for these visitors coming worldwide or nationwide to come in and have a choice to say "okay, there's a tribe that is living and existing. they are not extinct." >> reporter: the grand canyon national park superintendent says he's opposed even if it is built on tribal land.
>> the way the tram landing is, as proposed, lands on park land, so it's a trespass into grand canyon national park. >> reporter: and this land is valued by everyone-- those who see it as a chance to thrive... >> we're trying to fight so we can have a little bit higher, slighter quality of life. my dream for my daughter is i want something for her around here because this is home to her. >> reporter: ...and those wanting to protect it for future generations. >> when you have a tie to the land, especially here, our place of emergence, it's not worth giving it up for for money. >> my children and your children, they would not see wilderness here in what is really one of the most spectacular places on earth. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm ryan hill in grand
canyon national park. >> ifill: the recently inaugurated navajo president russell begaye, at first signed a deal supporting the project, but now states he is opposed. >> woodruff: on the newshour online: scientists are trying to understand a gigantic cloud of methane that hovers over the four corners region of the u.s. southwest. it is believed to comprise nearly 10% of all methane emissions derived from natural gas in the country, but its origins remain a mystery. our data team has compiled a report, and you can find that on our home page. that's at pbs.org/newshour. >> ifill: on thursday, miles o'brien kicks off a four part series, "cracking ebola's code." hari sreenivasan gives us a preview. >> sreenivasan: more than 26,000 dead, people still falling sick.
miles o'brien journeys through west africa. animals, disease trackers, virus hunters looking to stop the next big outbreak, possibly with the vaccine. fear and surprising hope. the next chapter in the fight against ebola. thursday on the "newshour". >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
this is "nightly business with tyler mathisen and sue herera. >> help wanted. may turned out to be the best month for private sector job growth since january. was today's data a warm up for friday's big rep bond market breakout. yields took the highs of the year but stocks didn't get soup. tonight the man who runs the largest asset manager offers advice on where to invest now. >> coming soon. why a department of justice investigatio could be this summer's big blockbuster. all of that and more tonight on for this wednesday, june 3rd. and we bid you good evening. i'm bill griffeth in for tyler mathisen. >> nice to have you with us. >>