tv PBS News Hour PBS January 18, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. on the newshour tonight: major breakthroughs in iran's relationships with the united states. we examine the prisoner release, new missile sanctions, and implementation of the nuclear deal. then, reviewing the final democratic primary debate before iowa, and more news from the trail with only two weeks left until voting begins. and methane gas from a leaking pipe overtakes a southern californian town, forcing residents to flee. >> there's this enormous stain on the community right now caused by this leak, and a stain that's not going to go away the day after the leak's fixed, unfortunately. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: washington and tehran faced each other in a new light today, but it was clear that decades of division will not disappear overnight. the latest point of dispute: new sanctions that appeared, even as old ones melted away. hari sreenivasan begins our coverage. >> sreenivasan: the new sanctions -- aimed at iran's ballistic missile program -- sparked fresh criticism from tehran, after a weekend of milder words. >> ( translated ): the islamic republic of iran, as it has made clear in the past,
will respond to such acts of propaganda and harassment by following its legitimate missile program more seriously and boosting its defensive and national security capabilities. >> sreenivasan: the limited sanctions announced sunday followed a missile test in october that violated a united nations ban. far more sweeping sanctions are ending, after saturday's announcement that iran's nuclear program has complied with a landmark agreement. president obama hailed the accord's formal implementation in a sunday appearance at the white house. >> under the nuclear deal that we, our allies and partners reached with iran last year, iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb. >> sreenivasan: under the agreement, iranian technicians removed the reactor core at the arak nuclear site, effectively ending its production of plutonium for a possible weapon. the regime also cut the number of centrifuges at its fordo and natanz sites for enriching uranium. and it shipped tons of low- enriched uranium materials to russia. as the nuclear deal came to full power, iran on sunday released four imprisoned iranian-
americans. they include washington post reporter jason rezaian. former u.s. marine amir former u.s. marine amir hekmati. and pastor saeed abedini. now undergoing physical and psychological evaluations at the u.s. military's landstuhl regional medical center in germany. family members gathered there today to be reunited. rezaian's brother was among them. >> jason is in good spirits. he obviously is concerned to make sure that he works hard to get better. but he is also the same guy. he is not too depressed. he really seems to be in a good state of mind. >> sreenivasan: also released in the deal: nosratollah khosravi- roodsari, who opted to remain in iran. and separately, a detained student: matthew trevithick, who returned home sunday to boston. in exchange, the u.s. justice department is releasing seven iranians being held in the u.s. and dismissing charges against 14 fugitives. the swap went through despite last week's seizure of 10 american sailors by iran in the persian gulf.
secretary of state john kerry acknowledged today he'd been angry and frustrated by iran's action. but both he and president obama say the new, improved relations with iran helped resolve it quickly. >> some folks here in washington rushed to declare that it was the start of another hostage crisis. instead, we worked directly with the iranian government and secured the release of our sailors in less than 24 hours. >> sreenivasan: now, the focus turns back to the nuclear deal and inspections to ensure iran's compliance. the head of the u.n. nuclear watchdog met today with president hassan rouhani to discuss a way forward. meanwhile, as sanctions end, it's been widely reported the islamic republic will see a windfall of up to $150 billion. secretary kerry said today it's actually closer to half or a third of that amount. the end of sanctions also means iran will pump more oil. the government announced today it's ramping up production by 500,000 barrels a day. for the pbs newshour, i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: we'll have a full analysis of all of this, after
the news summary. two iranian poets who faced heavy prison terms have fled the country. fatima ektesari and medhi mousavi told the associated press that they escaped, but declined to say where. the pair had been convicted of anti-government propaganda and quote, "insulting sanctities." in addition to prison terms, they'd been sentenced to 99 lashes for shaking hands with the opposite sex. security forces in iraq fanned out across part of baghdad today, after three americans disappeared over the weekend. iraqi officials said they were kidnapped on friday and taken to the heavily shiite neighborhood known as sadr city. a key sunni figure strongly condemned the growing wave of abductions. >> ( translated ): we reject any kidnap operation. we fully support the government, stability and security. we absolutely condemn and reject anyone who violates the law and disturbs security and stability.
we denounce outlawed acts and kidnappings. such acts are rejected from any party. >> woodruff: an iraqi lawmaker said the missing americans worked for a private company. the u.s. embassy did not identify them or say what they were doing in iraq. in afghanistan, a second round of talks unfolded in kabul, aimed at ending the war with the taliban. officials from afghanistan, pakistan, china and the united states gathered to lay the groundwork for future negotiations, and called for the taliban to step up. >> ( translated ): any delay by the taliban at the negotiating table will isolate them more in the eyes of the afghan people. those who missed the chance to join the peace process clearly proved that they do not want an afghanistan with sovereignty, independence, stability and welfare and their aim is insurgency and destruction. >> woodruff: an earlier attempt at negotiations collapsed last summer. in great britain, lawmakers
debated today whether republican u.s. presidential candidate donald trump should be banned from their country. the house of commons took up the topic after more than 500,000 people signed a petition to bar trump. it's a response to his call to stop muslims from entering the united states. back in this country, an arctic air mass brought bitter cold to parts of the upper midwest, and pushed east. temperatures sat in the single digits or below zero in wisconsin, michigan and illinois. much of minnesota, meanwhile, saw wind chills today between minus-20 and minus-40. streets in minneapolis were left nearly bare, except for a heavily bundled up few who braved the cold. this martin luther king holiday brought an air of change, especially in columbia, south carolina. crowds marked the day for the first time since the confederate flag was removed from the state capitol grounds. in washington, f.b.i. director
james comey laid a wreath at the king memorial, and called for both police and minorities to put aside distrust. >> we have to also understand that all of us law enforcement and non-law enforcement carry with us implicit biases. we react differently to a face that looks different than our own. we have to stare at that and own that. >> woodruff: for their part, president and mrs. obama visited an elementary school in washington, where they planted gardens and gave books and supplies to needy students. wall street was closed for the holiday, but oil prices slipped below $29 as iran increased its output. meanwhile, french president francois hollande declared a state of "economic and social emergency". he announced a $2.2 billion he announced a $2.2 billion plan to jumpstart jobs and growth. >> ( translated ): in a country capable of facing the most horrible challenges such as terrorism, a country plagued by high levels of unemployment, it
must be capable of reforming itself, creating a solid and demanding economic and social system and belief in progress. >> woodruff: also today, the value of the russian ruble fell again, to an all-time low. and a passing of note. rock musician glenn frey died today, in new york, after a long illness. the guitarist co-founded "the eagles" with drummer don henley in the early 1970's, and together, they wrote such hits as "hotel california" and "life in the fast lane". glenn frey was 67 years old. still to come on the newshour: what could be a new era in iranian relations, with prisoners freed and sanctions lifted. democrats battle it out just two weeks before iowa. california's methane leak that's gone on for nearly three months. and much more.
>> woodruff: as we have reported, the former prisoners returning to the united states are now at a military base in landstuhl germany. my colleague jeffrey brown picks up the story from there. >> brown: i'm joind by u.s.reprs in land-- landstuhl ger annie tofnltd is he the former u.s. marine released by from iran on saturday after four plus years imprisonment. the congressman represents hekmati's hometown in michigan. thanks so much for joining us. so you met with amir hekmati today. tell us about the meeting, what was his continue? >> first of all t was a great day. it was the first time i had ever met amir hekmati despite the fact i have been work on his case for so long an feel like i have come to know him. i gave him a great big hug, told him how proud i was of him.
and really we spent time together just talking and chatting. he told me a little bit about the time he was in prison. but mostly, we just talked about how great it is for him to be free. we had dinner together tonight with his two sisters and brother-in-law. he looks pretty good. for a guy who has spent the last four and a halfiers in one of the worst prisons in the world. you would expect him to not look so strong. he's lost some weight, at least according to what we can tell from the pictures. i hadn't met him before. he looks thinner am but he looks good. and he sounds strong. it will take time for him to come back home and be fully reintegrated but i think is he in good shape. >> brown: we had a photograph om a journalist informer prisoner there. and a report in recent days of amir being treetded for a medical condition. what did he tell you about his treatment there, and his medical condition? >> yeah, it was tough, any time you are not able to move around, and he is a young, athletic guy,
it takes a physical toll. and not being able to exercise as he had become accustomed, i think, had an effect on his health. it has been a tough four and a half years. he's in solitary confinement for a part of it. for a number of months he was facing a death sentence. so the physical strain, but also the psychological impact of that kind of an experience, obviously is tough. but i was impressed by his spirit. he's anxious to get back home and restart his life. he's a young man. he's got a long future ahead of him. you know, and again he's got a whole community that loves him, and is looking forward to help welcome him back home. and helping him restart his life. >> brown: was he aware and forte you aware of the negotiations? did he know how close he was to a release or that this might be in the works? >> well, he had heard that it might happen a few days before.
but he had heard that before. so i think he put it in that same context. and what he told me, it wasn't until he was actually taken to the airport that he knew that this time it was going to be different. i had been in contact, of course, with the state department and the white house for the last few years working on this. and we had a sense that things were getting close through the discussions that we had. but these situations are always delicate until they happen. and so obviously we were just absolutely thrilled when we discovered that yep, this time he's actually coming home. >> brown: and let may ask youfie critics of the swap aspect of the deal. people who think that the u.s. should have demanded unconditional release of the prisoners in iran. what is your response? >> in a perfect world, we would get everything we want. we would have our way and we would hold everybody else to the standards that we would like to hold ourselves to. but we don't live in a perfect world. and i look at amir hekmati
coming home, and i understand that we had to do a lot. we had to fight to get him home. when i sat with amir hekmati and had dinner with him tonight, it was absolutely clear to me that it was consistent with our american principles to get him home. an i think any critic of this really has to ask themselves whether or not they're living in the world that we live in, or the one they would like to live in. the people who are in positions of authority actually have to get things done. and i commend the president, the secretary of state and others who worked on this. it's a happy day and i'm thrilled about it. >> brown: congressman dan kilde, germany, thanks so much. >> brown: now we get the perspective from one of the iranian-americans released by the united states as part of this deal. for that i am joined by attorney joel androphy, the lawyer for bahram mechanic. he is a dual u.s.-iranian national who co-owns companies in houston and in iran. he was accused of selling
millions of dollars of electronics to iran that aided the contry's nuclear program. he was granted a full pardon and released from prison yesterday. he is in houston. thank you so much for joining us. it has been reported that you were contacted even months ago by an iranian official to ask about the possibility of this kind of deal for your client. is that correct? and what was said? >> yes. for the last four or five months my associate and i have been trying to get a visa to go to iran and investigate our case. and we were told to deal with the iranian con sul in washington d.c. and we have been pursuing that with them. and about two months ago the head of legal affairs contacted rachel thompson an myself and told us that there was a possibility, only at that time, a possibility that we were involved in a prisoner exchange that had been advertised throughout the press. >> brown: now so that meansmr. l
was in the works. what was his reaction over the weekend? >> well, this was a couple of months ago that this happened. things transpired after that that gave us more convincing thoughts that we were part of the deal. two months ago, it was a possibility, it was like a lottery ticket. about ten days ago, the same council people, the head of legal affairs came down and told us that it was going to become more of a reality. we didn't know the timing of it he thought it could be within the next 60 days but he gave us pretty good assurances that we were on the list and that we would be exchanged for americans held in iran. it wasn't until-- it wasn't until last wednesday that we got confirmation that it was going to happen right away. the u.s. attorney's office in houston got confirmation from the attorney general and the president of the united states. and they were told to contact us
to communicate to our client the fact that the president was giving him a pardon. >> brown: let me ask you,mr. mes innocence all along. is his claim that none of the technology he sold to iran was used for military purposes, or that it didn't defy any of the sanctions? what exactly? >> well, first of all, we disn sell any. his company has never sold anything to iran. his company is on the black list. his company is not allowed to do business in iran with the iranian government or the iranian police. so any allegations made like that were basically false. and allegations were made to what's called the international fisa court, foreign intelligence surveillance court. and they go make application to that court to get a warrant to do surveillance on somebody. and in order to get that warrant, they lie. they lie to the secret judge who gave them a secret warrant, to get secret information. and it was all built on lies. because he doesn't do business
with the iranian government. >> brown: is he planning-- what? will he stay in the united states? will he continue to run the iranian company? >> well, he plans to stay in the unitied states and run his business here. he has a very successful business here that sells similar products to his iranian company. the business here sells to businesses in the united states. the iranian company sells to consumers in iran. it has a store front. and they're two different businesses. but they market similar products. and they're all legal products. and they have nothing to do with national security or any thing like that. these are search protectors. that everybody has in their computers that you could buy at wal-mart. you could buy at any store. you can go online and buy these type of apparatus. >> brown: all right, joelandropm
mechanic, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: for what all the weekend's developments on iran mean for the future of u.s.-iran relations, and iran's role in the region, i'm joined now by: robin wright. she writes for the new yorker. her former research assistant at the woodrow wilson international center was one of the americans released by the iranians. ray takeyh. he was a senior adviser on iran at the state department during president obama's first term. he's now a senior fellow at the council on foreign relations. reuel gerecht, a former case officer at the c.i.a., he's now a senior fellow with the foundation for the defense of democracies. and karim sadjapour, a senior associate at the carnegie endowment for international peace. we welcome all of you to the program. so let, let me ask you first about this release and i will start with you, carim, of the five iranian americans. was this inevitable, given the fact that this new clear deal was being concluded?
was it just going to happen? >> the timing wasn't inevitable but i think at some point after three, four years in prison, it was inevitable, that these folks were going to be released. and i think it's important to note that there still is an iranian-american in evin prison. it is a very important case because is he someone who has been an energy consultant. he is very well-known by international corporations. and i think as people see eye iran, the sanctions are lifted, they are looking to do business. his case is an important one because that will continue to deter companies from doing business in iran. >> woodruff: how do you see the decision on iran's part to release these people. >> the first thing you have to say it is a renewable pool. they can release hostages-- hostages an take more. hostage taking is as old as the islamic republic. so i don't think that this exchange is strategically very
as teut. i-- astute. i think the notion of trading, essentiallyk innocent americans who were seized in iran and allowing individuals who were convicted of sanctions violations of aiding, abetting the iranian new clear program and otherwise engaging in what you might call technical espionage isn't lies. and i think dropping people in interpoll sets a very, very bad precedent. i'm sure the iranians will abuse it in the future. >> woodruff: robin, how do you see this swap. >> i think the new clear agreement and the pri soarn swap are probably very important developments in a relationship. prisoner swaps and spy swaps have gone on threuts ages. many of those released by the united states were convicted of crimes that are no longer techically illegal. so it wasn't at a huge cost. the bigger picture, i think, is really important when it comes to what kind of cooperation we
might have with irans and notably syria. peace talks begin this month and that is the next big challenge we face on whether we can really do business with iran or not. >> brown: i want-- .woodruff: iu about that, by what about this decision to swap these iranian americans in prison for the iranians in the u.s.? >> the issue of american hostages always exercises an emoted burden, on any u.s. president. and it did so with ronald reagan when he essentially traded arms for american hostages in lebanon. i think as this unfolds, you begin to see the humanitarian aspects of it. and the possible emotional burden it imposes on the president. but as you step back from it in hindsight you begin to see the problematic aspects of it which we lewded to. for one thing trk violates the administration's own red line. they had suggested that all these pri soarns have to be released immediately which is another way of saying unconditionally. and essentially you see a trade take place. and also money changed hands.
so the components of a deal are problematic. but the humanitarian aspect of it are quite american. >> woodruff: you are saying money changed hands over the prisoners. >> there is a report of 1.7 billion going into accounts iran had going back to shaw's time because of the military sales and contracts and so forth. so that could be another aspect of this deal. but even if you just look at it from a prisoner to citizen hostage swap t has problematic aspects to it but you have to juks ta pose that to the humanitarian aspects of it. >> woodruff: what does it say, karim about the balance of power in tehran, about, you know, we are told there is the very conservative faction and the more mod-- moderate faction, however it is described, what does it say about the power balance there? >> well, i think we can't underestimate the civil society and the vast majority of iran, 80 million population is very eager for change and reconciliation with the outside world. at the same time we shouldn't
underestimate the forces of darkness in iran, the supreme leader of the revolutionary guards who are deeply entrenched. they haven't gone anywhere. and they actually thrive in isolation. ra proachment with the united states, international economic integration would be more of a threat to them than continued hostilities. >> woodruff: regardless of this new deal, let me pick up on that. because reuel gerecht, some people were surprised that this new clear deal was implemented as quickly as it was. how do you read that? why did iran move as relatively quickly as they did or do not see it as relatively quick. >> i think they moved quickly. i think people expected implementation day to be later, even as late say as july. they want the money. i mean i think that's pretty clear. the price of oil keeps dropping. they need the money desperately. they have-- i mean they have to afford syria, the war in syria.
they spent a lot of money in iraq. they spent some money in yemen. i think you have seen an accent yaition of what you might call iranian imperialism and warfare, they have to support there and there are also the domestic needs. think one has to be very careful about pairing moderates and hard-liners in iran. i think on this issue they are marching more or less in sync. >> so robin wright, how do you see that divide or split as it exists in tehran? >> it's a very profound split and it's really over the future course of the revolution. is the country first and fore most an islamic state or is it a modern republic. that has been the issue that has been debated since the very beginning of the revolution and it will play out again next month when iranians go to the polls. one of the reasons in terms of the timing of when the new clear deal and the prisoners were released has a lot to do with public perception, momentum to show that president ryu hani has been more effective than some of
the hard liners but opening to the outside world t is not an opening inside the country. today the iranian government, guardian counsel disqualified over 60% of the candidates with want to run for parliament next month. this is still a very closed society. so we shouldn't have any illusions that these very two important steps are going to change the political dynamics significantly. >> woodruff: i mean that gets me to the question i wanted to ask next, ray takeyh, do we expect iran to change as a result of this? a new clear deal, the release of these pri soarns and the rest of it. >> i think that certainly as she was saying the fear of the supreme leader and those around him, that this particular opening can prestage a moderation of iran and modernization of its politics, that is why they are disqualifying people. why you have an extraordinary degree of repression inside the country today because they fear that they have is an opening will essentially sub vert the revolution.
they understand as well as anyone the dynamics of their society. and the demographics of their society. and they essentially want to close off those paths. >> woodruff: so karim, what do we look for next? i mean does iran change its position on syria? i mean robin mentioned syria. i mean they are involved in so many different pieces of the messy puzzle in the middle east right now. what do we expect to change? if anything? >> i don't think iran's external policies are going to change. and at least in the near term i think there is a concern they will become even more repressive dommestically to send a signal. don't confuse our external flexibility for internal weak fns. but i think this momentus peace deal in the middle east really have to be judged over a period of many years. and i think that trying to crack open iran, the fact that it's eyian-- iranian civil society and modern forces happy about this new clear deal and the hard-liners who are concerned, i think it increases the chances
even if small, about the prospects for change in europe. >> woodruff: how do you see the propros-- pros pecks for change, reuel ger eck. >> i think it is going to get worse, i think the new clear deal will do the opposite of what president obama hopes it will do i think the iranians will become more aggressive in the region. and i think dommestically they will hit very hard. >> woodruff: why? >> because as karim and ray said, i think the supreme leader of the revolutionary guard korp and many others really do feel the penetration of a western wedge, western businessmen come, et cetera, et cetera, they will bring the plague of western culture and the whole regime will start to unravel. >> woodruff: are you saying on balance the new clear deal and prisoner release were a bad idea? >> yes, i think on balance, if you your objective is to stop them from developing a new clear weapon permanently, the new clear deal is certainly not going to do that. what it does at best is kick down the road eight to ten years this question of the new clear
development of new clear weapon at best. >> woodruff: how do you see the future iran? >> i teully think the new clear deal was a very important step and that it takes the danger of a new clear weapon off the table for a lot longer than eight to ten years. 25 years in some cases, on some of the most pornlt issues, and longer because iran has to sign an agreement. and if it violates that agreement any time, even after 25 years, it's liable for military action. the military option is not off the table. it is off the table for now. this is still a revolutionary society. and but it does have interest. and when it comes to interest, self-interest, iran has taken some practical steps over the last week. the big question is, is it willing to take more? it will face a lot of tests particularly across the region. can it-- is it willing to walk away from president a sad in the name of peace and stopping the islamic state which has gotten as close as 25 miles from the iranian border. they are afraid of it too. can they solve, are they willing to tolerate some kind of peace
arrangement in yemen? what is going to happen in iraq. there are places that we actually have common interest with the iranians these days which is a far cry from the way it's been for most of the last 40 years. >> ray takeyh, do you see anything positive coming out of this? >> well, there is a contest in iran. two visions, they are both impractical. one is a viftion the-- can develop this local economy and regional economy. as a means of economic growth, trade with the iraq, afghanistan, central asia and doesn't require western commerce. and rouhani's vision that we can do a china model vsm commerce without democracy. they both are impractical visions and neither of them can succeed. iran cannot be self-sufficient nor can it insulate it outside from outside influences. it feels like the soviet yeuns of 197 0s, a stagnant bureaucratic state incapable of reforming itself and prestaging its probable implosion. >> woodruff: but are you saying that that is going to change.
>> it is a good thing. now i don't know when that is going to happen but islamic republic not reform itself. it is too-- gns-- . >> woodruff: on balance, karim, themove over the weekend, do you approve. >> i think so. when are you in this business, if are you opposed to something, you have to propose a better alternative. and i think that we're hard-pressed to come up with a better alternative, and we have to see what happens. >> woodruff: well, we will all be watching, i know the four of you, nobody watching closer than you, ray takeyh, karim sadjapour, robin wright, reuel gerecht, we thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: the impact of the ongoing gas leak in los angeles. and a rare recording of martin luther king released to the public.
but first, two weeks from tonight voters in iowa will gather to caucus and cast the first votes in the race for president. last night, the democratic candidates debated one last time before voting. newshour political director lisa desjardins reports how the tightening race sparked the democrats' most tense debate yet. >> reporter: the three democratic candidates entered the stage, and a debate, with substance and swipes both. the first topic, guns, was close to home for the charleston, south carolina crowd where nine black churchgoers were killed by a white gunman in june. nbc's lester holt asked bernie sanders about his 2005 vote to protect gun makers and gun sellers from lawsuits. sanders replied he was now for a bill that would roll back some of those protections. >> and what we also said, "is a
small mom and pop gun shop who sells a gun legally to somebody should not be held liable if somebody does something terrible with that gun." so what i said is, "i would re- look at it." we are going to re-look at it and i will support stronger provisions. >> reporter: hillary clinton pounced at the chance to be to the left of sanders. >> he has voted with the n.r.a., with the gun lobby numerous times. he voted against the brady bill five times. he voted for what we call, the charleston loophole. he voted for immunity from gun makers and sellers which the >> reporter: third on stage, and a distant third in the polls, martin o'malley hit at both rivals. > they've both been inconsistent when it comes to this issue. i'm the one candidate on this stage that actually brought people together to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation. >> reporter: another clash came on health care. clinton said political reality makes another health care overhaul impossible right now, and instead president obama's
affordable care act must be protected. >> there are things we can do to improve it, but to tear it up and start over again, pushing our country back into that kind of a contentious debate, i think is the wrong direction. >> reporter: but sanders insisted the u.s. should strive to cover everyone. >> no one is tearing this up, we're going to go forward. but with the secretary neglected to mention, not just the 29 million still have no health insurance, that even more are underinsured with huge co- payments and deductibles. >> reporter: the volleying came hours after sanders released this: an outline of his "medicare for all" plan. sanders would replace the current system -- private insurers -- with a single government-run system. the price tag: $1.4 trillion a year. he would pay for that a few ways: employers and most taxpayers would each pay a percentage of income as a kind of premium. but the biggest chunk comes from a sweeping income tax change:
sanders would raise rates for those making over $250,000. they'd rise to a 52% income tax for the very top multimillionaires. that touched off a dispute over whether the middle class would come out ahead or behind from the plan. >> i'm the only candidate standing here tonight who has said i will not raise taxes on the middle class. >> it's one thing to say i'm raising taxes, it's another thing to say that we are doing away with private health insurance premiums. >> reporter: with each exchange, the candidates were fighting to define themselves and each other. sanders pushed his anti-wall street message, and clinton's donations from banks. >> it's easy to say, well, i'm going to do this and do that, but i have doubts when people receive huge amounts of money from wall street. >> reporter: in her defense, and through the night, clinton clung to president obama more than ever. >> he's criticized president obama for taking donations from
wall street, and president obama has led our country out of the great recession. senator sanders called him weak, disappointing. >> reporter: the candidates did talk foreign policy, but the real divides were domestic, and sharper than seen before. a sign of a tightening race, with voting in iowa just two weeks away. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: with more on last night's debate and the race among the republican candidates. for "politics monday," we turn to tamara keith of n.p.r., and filling in for amy walter, susan page of "usa today." is welcome to you both. >> thank you. >> so they didn't hold back, tamara. did either one of them land any lastk blows? >> i think that they both came out and they defined themselves the way that they wanted to be defined. which is hillary clinton came out and she really was the
pragmatic one. the one who said you know, i've fought this fight. and this is going to be tough. and tried to paint senator sanders of ideal statistics and etty good job of painting her as willing to settle for less. and why should the u.s. do what it's done before and sort of settle for what the washington establishment says is possible. i think they both came out and they were themselves. >> woodruff: susan? >> such a different toam from the previous three debates. remember that first debate when bernie sanders said we're sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails and they shook hands and everybody smiled. days of smiling with each other were over. two weeks from the iowa kaw uses, margin of error races in iowa, and new hampshire. so you really saw them really fiercely attacking one another in ways that we haven't even before. >> did you think that anything that was said did real damage? >> yes. i do. i think that the-- that the bernie sand ires did some damage to hillary clinton by saying i have an ideal statistics vision for coverage for all health-care
coverage, for all. that going to appeal to voart was are in the democratic -- who vote in the democratic primaries and i think hillary clinton by embracing barack obama in a way that she hasn't done before helped her in states like south carolina where, barack obama has a 90% approval rating among democrats in sot carolina. and raising issues about the criticism that bernie sanders has made of bama in the past. i think in that way both of them did some of the damage. they came in intending to do. why didn't we see this earlier? >> and i ask because it was i think a "new york times" story over the weekend that said there's some in the clinton camp who think maybe they should have begun after sanders earlier. >> it's not clear to me that those people are really inside the clinton campaign as much as maybe friends of the clintons or people in the orbit. this was inevitable. this race has gotten closer. and also people are paying attention now. i went to a bunch of events in iowa last week. and every voter i met said oh, this is the first campaign event
i'm going to this cycle. people are paying attention now and the candidates are making their closing arguments. and it can't be all hugs and ku mbaya at the end. they need to define them sefs. an interesting question for bernie sanders is does defining himself, does trying to define hillary clinton make him seem more like a politician. people expect hillary clinton to be like a politician. it's not as clear that people expect bernie sanders to do the politician thing. >> and susan, how much is hillary clinton being pulled to the left by sanders who is as we need remind no one has called himself a democratic socialist. >> i don't know if bernie sanders will get the nomination or not, will win the war, will win the battle but he's won the war. hillary clinton already has been pulled significantly to the left on a whole series of issues including saying she wants to change the health-care system. she hasn't really laid out any details on how she wants to improve and build on obama care. on other issues well, she's
including income inequality and treatment of wall street. we have seen her pulled to the left because of this challenge from bernie sanders. >> let's talk for a few minutes about the republicans. if it's getting tougher, tamara, on the democratic side, it's clearly getting tougher on the republican side, between these two frontrunners, at least in iowa. ted cruz and donald trump. in that case, is it the same dynamic at work, that we're getting close to voting and it's just getting nasty as a result? >> we are getting close to voting. and ted cruz had said he had sort of predicted this, that he was going to hug donald trump until he didn't any more. donald trump has not fallen as ted cruz sort of expected him to. and so he's starting to go on the attack and say hey, look, donald trump isn't a real conservative. he used to be a democrat. meanwhile, donald trump, whenever someone is on his heels turns around and begins attacking. so this is not a surprise. one interesting thing today,
that sort of gives a sense of the state of the race. donald trump was at liberty university, the evangelical university giving a speech and ted cruz is now in new hampshire where donald trump has a solid lead on a 17-stop bus tour. so they are going,-- going for each other's strengths there. >> what, susan, how do you see this race between the two of them? is it really between-- is it down to the two of them now? >> it's down to the two of them to be the frontrunner. and who would have thought six months ago when these people were announcing that we get two weeks before the iowa caucuses and the two leading candidates nationwide and in the first two states would be donald trump and ted cruz. i don't think any of us would have predictded that it just shows how remarkable this state has been. there's a battle to be the outsider candidate, that have been leading the field from the start. there is a second race going on to be the surviving establishment figure. whether it's john kasich or chris christie or jeb bush or marco rubio, to be the alternative once that battle is
won. >> that separately. but the issues matter at this point, tamara. are voarts, you have been talking to voters in iowa. are they asking about the candidate's positions or is it-- who do they like? >> i still think that it's so much of politics comes down to who do you like and who would you like to have a beer with some day. there's certainly an element of that i think that issues matter too. but i think that there may not be a really strong cry for details. and specifics. it is not clear yet but it sure seems like this could be a passion election. >> woodruff: and susan, we hear, we understand that ted cruz has a pretty good campaign organization in iowa. how much does that matter? the final. >> it could really deliver for him in iowa. because donald trump has tried to build an organization but ted cruz has an traditional iowa organization that turns-- but
look what hasn't malt erred. money hasn't matter. i don't think issues matter so much it vl who can channel my anger. who can shake things up, especially on the republican side. so it may be a year in which organization matters less. we're just going to have to find out in two weeks. >> woodruff: are we seeing quickly, tamara, new hampshire waiting to see what iowa does or is new hampshire already making up its mind. >> i don't think new hampshire would ever say that they are waiting to see what iowa does. you know, there is like real intense campaign happening there just as there is in iowa. and especially in the establishment on the republican side. >> woodruff: it doesn't get any more exciting than this. it will be more exciting next weekment tamara keith, susan page, we thank you. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: now we turn to the natural gas leak in southern california. earlier this month, governor jerry brown declared a state of
emergency for residents of the porter ranch neighborhood of los angeles, many of whom have been suffering from health impacts since the leak began in late october. relief well drilling efforts continue at the site, but southern california gas company, which owns the well, says it could be late february or march before they are able to stop all leaks. special correspondent cat wise recently visited porter ranch, and filed this report. >> reporter: on the surface, it seems a serene picturesque southern california town, with gated communities and views. but porter ranch, which is home to 30,000 residents in northern l.a., is anything but serene these days. an invisible environmental disaster is unfolding in the hills above the community. where natural gas, seen in this infrared video taken by an environmental group, is now spewing out from one the country's largest underground gas storage facilities called
aliso canyon. >> this one leak is roughly equivalent to the entire los angeles basin. it'll change california's emissions for the year, substantially. >> reporter: steve conley -- an atmospheric scientist with the university of california davis - - owns one of only a handful of planes in the country with specialized equipment that can measure gas leaks from the air. for the last several months, he's been flying the skies over porter ranch to monitor methane emissions for the state. methane, a greenhouse gas, is the main component of natural gas. and it's extremely potent -- it's more efficient at trapping radiation and heat than carbon dioxide. >> that first flight, we measured something like 44,000 kilograms per hour. the best number that i've come up with to give people a perspective, it's close to 100,000 pounds an hour. every month, it's the weight of an aircraft carrier. my first thought was tapping the instruments, something wrong.
because i'd never seen anything like that on any of our flights in the past. >> reporter: in recent weeks, as the southern california gas company has begun to drain the reservoir where gas is stored, and reduce the pressure, the amount being released in the air has come down by as much as 60% according to spokesman mike mizrahi. but the company is still unclear why it happened. >> we really won't know what caused the leak until we're able to stop it. but we've estimated that about 500 feet down the well, there was a break through the encasement around the pipe that's used to inject and withdraw gas, and that natural gas is seeping through that encasement, up through the ground, and then coming up right about at the wellhead. >> reporter: the well causing all the havoc was built in 1953. like other natural gas wells in the area, which are regulated by the state, it underwent yearly inspections, and weekly pressure testing, but the day-to-day
monitoring was done by personnel who smelled the air and listened for the sound of gas escaping. and that's how this leak was discovered. much focus has been on a safety valve that was removed by the company and not replaced back in the late 70's. >> the regulations do not require that we put valves or sensors all the way down. the department of oil and gas also has said that we were in total compliance at the time of this leak. it's speculative as to whether a valve in this well would have made any difference. >> reporter: you were in compliance, and yet when public safety, public health is at risk, why not exceed that? >> well in fact we have a filing before the california public utilities commission that dates to 2014 where we will be enhancing our inspection protocols, as well as our pressure testing protocols. that will hopefully give us the funding to be able to move forward.
>> reporter: the well that is leaking is about a mile and a half over that hill behind me. some residents here have no problems with the gas, but thousands have been sickened by the strong odorants that are added to natural gas to make it detectable. and while health officials say there are no long term health impacts, many residents remain concerned. the cohens are among those families. for the past month, they've been staying at a hotel about 30 miles from their home in porter ranch. they decided to move after all four of them experienced health issues they attributed to the gas leak, including nausea. they are one of about 4,000 households that have relocated, or are in the process of relocating, to temporary housing -- paid for by the gas company. >> we're still kind of figuring things out as we go. everything's on the fly right now. our normal routine is not there. >> we have to make the best of it. and we have to be positive. and be there for our children. and for everybody else in the
community. >> reporter: on the morning we caught up with them, the cohens were heading out for seven-year- old weston's first day back at school after the winter break. but weston wasn't returning to his neighborhood school. he and nearly 2,000 other porter ranch students have been relocated to two temporary schools miles away. l.a. unified school district got these portable classrooms setup in just three weeks - a project that would normally take six months. the costs so far exceeds $5 million, and the district expect the gas company will foot the bill. all the disruption has been tough on the community according to paula cracium, president of the porter ranch neighborhood council. >> there's this enormous stain on the community right now caused by this leak, and a stain that's not going to go away the day after the leak's fixed, unfortunately. property values have been enormously impacted. small businesses have been impacted, and the question is whether or not they'll even survive.
>> reporter: cracium has been a driving force in the effort to bring attention to the leak, including securing a meeting with governor jerry brown that led in part to his emergency declaration. and she is also pushing for better safety regulations at aliso canyon going forward. but she says the long-term solution isn't easy because millions in the l.a. area depend on the gas stored there for their for energy needs. >> we can't flip on a switch and say no fossil fuels tomorrow. i mean, that's just not a realistic approach to being able to provide people and their needs. there's a certain percentage of the community that is very confident that it can be made safe and they're comfortable with it being up there. >> reporter: resident matt pakucko definitely isn't comfortable with the wells above his home. pakucko, who is a music producer with a recording studio in his garage, is the co-founder of a group called "save porter ranch". the group has been advocating that the entire storage facility be closed, even before the leak started. as we talked, the wind blew in
the gas. >> you smell the gas right now, right? nice breeze of gas. people smelling gas and oil outside their homes in these neighborhoods has been going on for years and decades. can't have these kind of things next to residential neighborhoods. they say that even if there was the safety valve, it may not prevent this. are you telling us that you can't stop a well blowout?! shut the place down! >> reporter: for scientist steve conley, the priority is better monitoring of future leaks. >> as long as we are relying on fossil fuels, as long as we have houses that are using natural gas, we have to have a storage system. we have to store it. and if we store it, we're going to have leaks. one of the things i feel like we've learned from this is that nationally, we should have a system in place to rapidly respond to these kind of events, because they're going to happen. >> reporter: back at the hotel, the cohen family, and another
displaced porter ranch family, are hoping it doesn't happen again, and that they can go home soon. for the pbs newshour, i'm cat wise in porter ranch, california. >> woodruff: the case in southern california is dramatic, but not unique. experts say that many smaller and mid-size leaks occur across the country, and while not as huge, combined, can add up to serious environmental damage. read more of that research on our home page: pbs.org/newshour >> woodruff: finally, our newshour "shares of the day," something that caught our eye that we thought might be of interest to you too. in honor of martin luther king jr. day, the nobel prize foundation released the full audio recording of his 1964 peace prize acceptance speech.
>> woodruff: on the newshour online: for poet ashlee haze, having black female role models makes all the difference to young girls like her, and so she penned a poem about it and dedicated it to one of her heroes: rapper missy elliott. the songwriter was touched, and even surprised haze with a visit to her home. hear the poem that inspired it all, on our home page: pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we begin our series exploring the roots of autism. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
>> and by bnsf railway. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media ac
this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. good evening, everyone. welcome to a special edition of "nightly business report." the u.s. markets may have been closed today, but there is still, sue, plenty to talk about. >> there sure is, ty. the first two weeks of the year have been tumultuous to say the least, with oil prices continuing to plunge down double digits to start the year and fears that china's economy might drag down any global growth out there. our markets have been consumed with negativity. >> but there is one bright spot for the u.s. economy, and that would be the labor market. that is where we begin tonight. the job market ended 2015 on a high