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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  March 14, 2013 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: xi jingping assumed the presidency of china today. he now controls the army, the communist party and the state in the world's second largest conomy. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown.
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>> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we assess what the change means for china, and the united states and the biggest issues between them: trade, defense and cyber security. >> brown: then, as pope francis embarks on his first full day as pontiff, we examine his roots in argentina. >> woodruff: margaret warner talks to michigan governor rick snyder after he recommended an emergency manager to take over the finances of the troubled city of detroit. >> we've got at least 50 years of this problem growing and a lot of people on good faith in the past have tried to solve it and have been unsuccessful. so the way i view it as is this is all hands on deck. >> brown: spencer michels has the story of the high tech splash of lights transforming san francisco's bay bridge into a work of art. >> it was overwhelming. it was really very, very exciting. it's meant to be open ended, highly subjective so you can just relax, view the piecend take fom iwhat you will. >> woodruff: and r suarez looks at life in japan, two years after the devastation caused by the tsunami and nuclear disaster.
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>> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> 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 and foundations. and friends of the newshour. and... >> this program was made
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possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to yo pbs station froviewers like you thank yo >> woodruff: china officially installed its new leader today. xi jinping took the final step in affirming his status, adding the post of president to his other positions of power. the delegates arriving at beijing's great hall of the people had been carefully selected. and once inside, they did just as expected, formally electing xi jinping as president. ( applause ) he was the only candidate, and won 2,952 votes. a lone delegate voted no, and three abstained. >> ( translated ): it meets the popular expectations, and it meets the expectations of the
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chinese people and the nation. it is a happy ending. >> woodruff: the 59-year-old xi had already been named military and communist party chief in november. now, he will officially lead the most populous country on earth with more than 1.3 billion people. china also boasts the world's second largest economy, after the united states. and it is the second largest foreign holder of u.s. debt, about 7.5% of the total. but the two nations' economic relationship has been marred recently by allegations of widespread cyber-attacks on american targets. >> increasingly, u.s. businses are speakingut about tir serious ncer about sophiicat, targetedheftof confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from china on an unprecedented scale. >> woodruff: china's foreign minister initially dismissed the allegations, but on tuesday a spokeswoman took a different tone.
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>> ( translated ): what the internet needs is not war but rules and cooperation. china is willing, on the basis of the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, to have constructive dialogue and cooperation on this issue with >> woodruff: u.s. officials welcomed that statement, and today, white house press secretary jay carney said president obama telephoned xi to congratulate him on his election. as for the cyber-attack issue... >> i can tell you that at every level when we engage with our counterparts in the chinese government, we talk about all the range of issues that are important between us and, you >> woodruff: another friction point with the united states is china's growing military reach and its confrontations lately with japan and other neighbors over territory, disputed islands. on the home front, xi's arrival has raised hopes for reforms-- to stop corruption, environmental damage and a growing gap between rich and
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poor. the people of china and the rest of the world will have the next decade to size up xi. he's expected to serve two, five-year terms. for more on china's new president and what it means for the united states, i'm joined by ken lieberthal. he was senior director for asia on the national security council in the clinton adminsitration . he's n a sior fellow at the brookinginitution. and gordon chang. he was an attorney in hong kong for twenty years. now, an author and contributor to forbes.com. let me start with you ken lieberthal. what do we need to know about xi jinping? >> the most important thing we know is he's going to govern china for the next decade and that will be enormously important for china, asia and globally. he's worked his way up to every level of the chinese political system so he's a very
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experienced politician and administrator. he's coming on a program saying he's trying to clean up corruption, revitalize the communist party and keep in the power and use these capabilities to reform the chinese economic system while maintaining or building military strength. >> woodruff: is there something about his background we should know? >> his father is a comrade of mow say dung, which makes him a princelin he's the firstommunist par to be born after the communist leadership came to power. xi jinping is in a system and a politburo at least for maybe five of those seven member bodies are conservatives, the hard line anti-reformers. xi jinping, whatever he thinks, has got to work with those people. >> pelley: ken lieberthal, what do we have to look for that will be different? what will change from ching? >> he's already tried to change
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the style by being much more of a lively politician than his predecessor was. but gordon is right. we have to see whether he can forge the consensus to make deep structural reforms in china that the country deeply needs if it's going to move forward. >> woodruff: for example? >> for example, they need to shift from an export oriented and investment focused economy to one that's much more focused on domestic consumption as a driver of economic development which requires expanding the services sector, increasing incomes and so forth. that runs against hge vested interests in china. so he needs to rework through this system so that he can build the services sector, building comes, reduce huge capital intensive from you can which you are projects and reduce dependence on experts. >> woodruff: looking at him from the united states, what will we see that looks different do you think? >> i think the one thing we've
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been concerned about is al that although he's been in power for a few months when he became general secretary of the party china has engaged on provocative maneuvers against the japanese becau the chinese claim sovereignty over the east china say. people say xi jinping is leading china's foreign policy on this issue and if so we're in trouble because this is a troubled area. >> woodruff: do you believe ken lieberthal that that's a primary priority of his >> his real priority is domestic. he needs stability abroad in order to reform domestically. but his big problem is that he -- that the communist party has nurtured ardent nationalism domestically and can't allo thselv to g on the wrong side of that or he won't have the political capital to carry out reforms. so he's trying to walk a tightrope, he has to be seen as strong in international affairs but i don't think he's looking for trouble internationally. he'd rather avoid if it if he can.
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>> woodruff: do you see that the same way? >> i think he would like to avoid trouble but china is doing things which is causing trouble not only with its neighbors from the arc of india to the south to south korea in the north but also with the united states. it's not just a question of cyber hacking, it's these questions of sovereignty, closing off the south china sea, pport of north korea, these are ngs that deeply trouble the international community and the united states and if china wants better relations with us they can stop do what they've been doing for the last three or four years. >> woodruff: is that something that's believed the chinese leadership wants to pursue or is it something that just happened? >> clearly the people's liberation army, the security services, even the communist party itself have been involved. they'reoing aft our corporates and trying to get information to use for commercial purposes but most important they're attacking the institutions of a free society. "new york times," "wall street
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journal," "washington post." this really goes the core of what america is and so this is very serious for us. >> woodruff: how much does that, ken lieberthal, interfere with everything else that xi jinping wants? >> well, i think the cyber security issue is moving to the center of the u.s. china agenda so it's likely to be an issue that's troublesome. the chinese are engaging in a huge amount of cyber espionage, by the way, so is everyone else. i think this is an area that requires a lot of very careful thinking we can't ask the chinese to stop doing something we're doing. we can't ask them to obey rules that we don't ask france and others to obey. but this area is going to be troublesome, i think it will take a while to figure out even what we want with rules that we wou like everyone t adhere to
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that we're prepared to adhere to ourselves. >> woodruff: what about the huge role, gordon chang, that china plays in the u.s. economy, holding so much debt. a trillion dollars of american debt. >> i don't think that's a big issue or should be a big issue for us. last year china's transfer was 136.3% of its overall merchandise trade surplus. that means they're running deficits with the rest of the world so thecan run a surplus against us. that giv us levage if we care to use it on issues that ken's been talking about like cyber attacks. >> woodruff: finally to both of you, ken lieberthal, as you look at the next ten years of leadership under xi jinping, what can americans -- do they look for constant internal struggle in china or what? >> i think if you really understand the chinese system you'll see this is a place that's in serious trouble.
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there's trying toe revarp the economy and the system of the population i would much rather have barack obamas problems than xi jinping's problems looking ahead. we'll see over the course of ten years whether china has managed to make the changes necessary to be the dynamic wealthy economy ten to 12 20-years from now and beyond. if not they'll be in serious trouble within a decade. >> woodruff: quick final board? >> i think political system is in disarray. the communist party doesn't have its csolited. you have to military breaking free of civilian control setting the tone for chinese foreign policy. that is problem for us. >> woodruff: ken lieberthal shaking his head. >> i'll disagree that. >> i disagree with a lot of what you say, too. >> woodruff: we'll get you back soon to finish the conversation.
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>> brown: still to come on the "newshour": the view from argentina of pope francis; an emergency manager for detroit; the bright lights on san francisco's bay bridge and japan's recovery, two years on. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: president obama went back to the capitol for a third day, biddi to build support for a long-term budget deal. he met today with both senate republicans and house democrats. but it was unclear how much headway he will be able to make. most republicans are balking at any additional tax hikes to cut the deficit. many democrats are opposed to substantial cuts in entitlement spending. the democratic led senate judiciary committee approved a new ban on assault-style weapons today. the bill would outlaw the sale of 157 kinds of semi-automatic weapons and limit ammunition clip sizes to 10 bullets. it passed on a party-line vote of ten to eight, with all republicans opposed. but it faces long odds in the full senate. the head of the transportation security administration is defending a proposal to allow small knives on passenger planes. the idea has provoked a backlash by pilots, flight attendants and
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others. but john pistole told a house hearing today that the concerns are misplaced. he said an attacker could use any number of things already on planes. >> a metal knife or fork, whether it's a wine glass or wine bottle that they break and use, there's any number of things that could be used as a deadly instrument. it really gets again to what is the intent of the person on board as opposed to the object. if we simply focus on objects, then we're always behind the 8- ball. >> sreenivasan: pistole said airport screeners find some 2,000 small knives a day, and each one consumes several minutes of time. in afghanistan, the top u.s. commmander is warning american troops to be ready for more attacks by afghans. that's after afghan president hamid karzai accused the u.s. and the taliban of colluding to destabilize the country. "the new york times" reported today that general jose dford sent the warning to battlefield commanders. he told them in an e-mail, "we're at a rough point in the relationship." karzai issued a new statement today saying he wants to help reform relations with the u.s.
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a coordinated attack on the iraqi justice ministry killed at least 25 people today in baghdad. car bombers and gunmen launched the raid, near the heavily fortified green zone. fighting lasted for an hour, as ambulances attempted to remove scores of wounded. no group immediately claimed responsibility, but the assault bore the markings of al qaeda in iraq. there's been a surgin the exodus of syrians escaping the civil war in their country. u.n. officials reported today the number of registered refugees increased 10% just in the past week. that brought the overall count to more than 1.1 million. it's believed thousands more syrians have fled, but have not registered. israeli prime minister benhamin netanyahu reached an agreement today to form a new coalition government. it's the first in a decade to exclude ultra-orthodox jewish parties, and it's expected to try to curb preferential treatment for that minority. the coalition may also push to re-start peace talks with the palestinians after four years of
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virtually no movement. but netanyahu warned, none of it will be easy. >> ( translated ): we are engaged in the final details of the coalition agreement, in order to bring israel a new government next week. the next candidacy will be one of the most challenging in the history of the state, this is not lip service. we are facing great security and diplomatic challenges, there's no exaggeration, there's no exaggeration. >> sreenivasan: the new government is set to be sworn in on monday, two days before president obama plans to arrive for his first visit since taking office. honda moto is calling 250,000 vehicles worldwi due o braking prlems. the automaker said today the problem may cause braking even when the driver is not pressing the pedal. the recall affects four models made between 2004 and 2005: the acura r.l. sedan; the acura mdx s.u.v., the honda pilot s.u.v. and honda odyssey minivan. no accidents have been reported. wall street pushed higher again today and the dow jones industrials rose for a tenth straight day-- the most since 1996.
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the dow gained nearly 84 points to close at 14,539. thnasdaq rosnear 14 ints to close just short of 3,259. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: yesterday, a selection that took many by surprise. today, the new pope spent his first day as head of the worldwide catholic church. we begin with a report narrated by jonathan rugman of "independent television news." >> reporter: he's a vatican outsider who speaks five languages. pope francis or jorge bergoglio, celebrating mass in the sistine chal tonight with the cardinals who elected him decked in gold. he's 76, a little unsteady on his feet here but the argentinean spoke in fluent italian without notes and last night italy's bishops were so convinced that one of their men had won back the papacy that they sent out a message of
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congratulations by mistake. this morning the pope, who is also bishop of rome, visited one of its oldest churches, praying for the city's safety he's the first non-european to become pontiff in 12 centuries but his parents were italian and the welcome here could not have been warmer from here he took an ordinary police car to collect his luggage and pay his bill before the move into a more upscale neighborhood a no nonsense debut from what appears to ba back-to-basics down-to-earth pope. apparently hoping to change the vatican more than it changes him st. peter's square heaving with excitement last night when his church pulled back the red curtain and sprung him on the
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world. he used to be known as father jorge, now he's pope francis, but determined, it seems that these dizzy heights won't change him. bowing his head and asking the people to pray for him then sharing the bus back home with his fellow vicars. >> we toasted him, the cardinal secretary of state toasted him then he toasted us and he simply said "may god forgive you." (laughter) which brought the house down. in other words i hope you don't regret this later. ♪ >> reporter: the biggest cheer, of course, from his fellow latin americans. for a man with the common touch, yes, but no doctrinal pushover as tough on abortion or gay marriage or women priests his bookish predecessor. >> brown: outside of rome, perhaps no group was more excited about the choice for pope than catholics in argentina. a short time ago i talked with hugh bronstein of reuters in
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buenos aires. hugh bronstein, welcome. so 24 hours later, what's been the reaction there in argentina? >> well, at first it was stunned silence and it gave way very quickly to jubilation. the fifthful in argentina really believe this is the right pope to do what needs to be done at the vatican to improv transparency and get back to the gospels. >> brown: there's been much attention to the new pope's simple life-style, his work with the poor. how has that manifested itself in his life and work in argentina? >> well, this is a soccer-crazy country and when it came out yesterday that he is a card-carrying rank-and-file fan after sam lorenzo, one of the top five teams here in argentina people went nuts. twitter went wild and it came
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out as well that he has a very unassuming kind of life-style. his apartment is very close to the neighborhood where the headquarters of san lorenzo. is he takes the bus to work, if not the subway. on the bus and on the subway if the team did well the night before he talks with his friends his fellow commuters, if you will, about the triumphs or the disappointments of the san lorenzo football team. that puts him in very good said the here in argentina. >> brown: his appointment as pope reraisesomlong ongng questions about the role of the church, about his own stance during the years of the military dictatorship, the so-called dirty war of the 1970s. what is known and what has been debated and looked at there? >> well, that's a very serious concern so far i can tell you there is no smoking gun that stands up when you take away the politics. a book was written called "the
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silence" about his performance during the take tateorship. the accusation postulated in the book is that he did not properly protect two jesuit priests who were ministering in the poor neighborhoods and basically allowed them to be taken away and imprisoned by the dictator. his allies contest that version. there reason very deep investigations into that period but so far no smoking gun. >> brown: now, pope francis is described as theologically conservative and i gather you've seen this in argentina in his disputes more recently for example with recent governments, including the current president. tell us how that has played out. what kind of issues? >> sure. this is a progressive country. it's a catholic country but it's a progressive country as well. the president, christina fernandez dekirchner sent a letter of congratulations to the
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pope yesterday. it was only two sentences long. this is the first pope to be elected outside of europe in 1,300 years, the first from latin america, the first jesuit, the first from argentina. one would have thought that maybe three sentences wou have been merited under the circumstances. but it was two rather frosty sentence which is says a lot about the rather distant relationship that she has had in her six years in power with the pope. he spearheaded the opposition to her bill which became law in 2010 which became marriage. there's been a distant relationship ever since then. >> brown: briefly, hugh, if you could, finally how does that pla out. you started to talk a little bit about argentina, it's a catholic country but more liberal socially. how does the -- what is the role of the dlurj these days? how is it seen? >> well, if you ask the average
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argentine are you catholic the answer is absolutely yes. but not that many people go toll church here? they don't go to mass on sundays. you don't see huge crowds at mass. other countries in latin america colombia, mexico, central america, are countries where you see a much bigger presence day to day of the catholic church so keep in mind this is the land of evita. this is a place -- this is a country a little bit of populism goes a long way and the fact that he's taking the subway to work. the fact that he's a rankaround file soccer fan is going to bridge the gap. it shows a certain amount of political skill on his part that he knows that he's in a country is catholic but is one of the most progressive countries in latin america soe's doing what he can to bridge the gapnd that's what he's known for. >> brown: hugh bronstein of reuters in buenos aires, thank you very much.
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>> thank you. >> woodruff: now, to detroit, where the governor of michigan announced an emergency state takeover of the city's finances today. margaret warner has our report. >> warner: it was once a bustling midwestern city alive with people and the humming heart of the auto industry. but detroit today is just a shell of that with widespread decay andopulation loss. the 2010 census showed one person moved away from the city, every 22 minutes in the last decade. >> it makes me sick and i want to leave. i would have somewhere else to go because i will leave, and never come back. >> warner: detroit is also the poorest major city in the u.s.: running big annual deficits, and $14 billion in debt. all of that led michigan's republican governor rick snyder today to declare a financial emergency and recommend the appointment of an emergency
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financiamanager fothe ty, kevyn or. >> look at the history of the city, this is a problem that's been evolving for 50 plus years. this is a problem that now has reached a true crisis point. in many respects, it's a sad day, to say we have this day but again i like to view it as a day of opportunity. this is an opportunity for us to work together. >> warner: orr is a lawyer with the washington law firm jones day. he's best known for his work on restructuring chrysler in its bankruptcy of 2009. as emergency mager, he will he e power to renegotiate or even terminate the city's labor contracts; privatize public services and sell some city assets. detroit's city council has vigorously protested the move. but today mayor dave bing said he will work with orr to do what's best for the city. >> bottom line here is that we must stop fighting each other.
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we must start to work together, and so i'm happy that now i've got teammates. i've got partners that can help me do some of the things that need to be done in our city. our citizens obviously deserve more than they are getting. >> warner: orr faces huge challenges in doing that: a city in which even police protection has broken down, and corruption has blighted city hall. just this week, former mayor kwame kilpatrick was convicted on two dozen federal charges of corruption and bribery. fomoren the struggles facing detroit, we' ined by michigan governor rick snyder and the city's soon to be emergency financial manager kevin orr. gentlemen, welcome to both of you. governor snyder, the mayor and the city council last year put forth their own plan to get the city sol venn. why is it necessary to do this
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now? margaret, i appreciate them coming forward with the plan. the issue was the plan was not being implemented fast enough and was not going to be sufficient enough to resolve the financia crisis. so it was helpful. i ur the to ntinue to work on their efforts on that plan but what i would say is we need to do more. that was the point of adding a financial manager. so let's turn around so let's turn around detroit. we can and will address these financial issues. is. >> warner: mr. orr at your press conference you called this job the olympics of restructuring. what rur r your most pressing medie priiti? wht do you have to do first? >> well, hello, margaret, nice to meet you teleon theally. the first thing we need to do is ensure the citizens of detroit that we are focused on their needs as customers and enhanced city services.
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the reason i said it was the olympics is because we've got to deal with issues regarding employee and retiree benefits but we have to provide key services to the citizens so we need to look into that and see how there are ways we can improve it. some of which are in the pipelinalready. >> woodruf. >> warner: but in terms of coting costs, are you going to be looking at things like cutting city workers in a city with high unemployment or renegotiating labor contracts, privatizing some city services. >> margaret, everything is on the table. i think under these circumstances the three things everybody agrees -- two things everybody agrees on, there's a financial emergency in the city, something needs to be done about it. the question is what? so we want to taken a extended and granular look athat can done and nes to be dne but erytng is on the table. i want to make no decisions now because i haven't had an opportunity to look at everything but we deal what
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makes sense and what's driven by the data. >> warner: governor, the members of the city koun swhil have opposed this, who appealed the decision, who are talking about going to court say essentially it's undemocratic to take the power out of the city -- to run the city out of the hands of elected representatives. what do you say to that? >> the city is a subset of the state of of michiga we're theovereign sfwity here. 'm sponbleo all th city of michigan, detroiters and not detroiters and i'm focused on improving detroit so there is an elected official in charge of this process. if you go back to the consent agreement i worked out in the city in the past we all agreed on a series of things that needed to be done and that's a starting point is to say here's a list 2061 different items that need to get done. a lot of those restill in process or need to get started so that's one of the things that clearly needs to happen and we are all part of that process.
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the other thing that was very exciting was mayor bing was at the press conference so say this is about partnership. this is not about someone versus someone else. this is all of us getting focused on the citizens, the customers in detroit to create a long-term environment of success let's solve the short term problems and grow detroit. >> warner: mr. orr, you spoke about wanting to have a team approach but are you going to take the views of the members of the cy council who oppose se so these poteialste into account or can you just override them? there's the balance there? >> well, i don't think all the members of the city council necessarily oppose some of these steps, in fact some of them were baked into the consent agreement they agreed to so the reality is i'm a creature of a state statute that allows me to expeditiously bypass the impediments to achieving the very goal miss of them have agreed with.
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what i'd like to do, though, is as we see with the mayor and the governor who's taken aery coureoustep in terms of eclang the emergency, this has been breeding for a long time. in 2005 there was a discussion of a restructuring. what i'd like to do is embrace nerve that process to achieve the goals that have been identified in a collegial and ed expect dishes way. >> woodruff: what if the time frame you set for yourself. mr. orr, and if it comes to that is bankruptcy-- which is certainly what chrysler did-- is that an option? >> well, chapter 9 is different than chapter 11 but everything is o the table, incling t ossilityf abankptcy the reason i keep emphasizing the need for stakeholders to come together and reach a consensus is because that would be more fair. it would be quicker, bankruptcy, specifically chapter 9, could put a finger on the table in terms of the powers that the municipality has vis-a-vis other stakeholders.
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so i'd like to get to an agreement quickly, have 18 months to do it under my appointment. i'm going to enter into discussions with interested parties as soon as i can and ke assessment fr there going forward. i hope we can do it collaboratively because the reality is new york and philadelphia were able to do it that way. other great cities, baltimore and pittsburgh for instance ten years ago were considered in crisis and look at them now. they're thriving. there's no reason detroit can't have the same outcome. >> woodruff: gentlemen, i'd like to close by asking you both-- and i'll begin with you, governor-- is the underlying message that when a city is in this much trouble of long standing that only an outside manager with if not autocratic than tremendous power cans do what hasto be done? >> that's not necessary, it's a situation here we've got at least 50 years of this problem growing and a lot of people on good faith in the past have
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tried to solve it and be unsuccessful. so i view it as this is all hands on deck. this is not to exclude people, this is to say the mayor's been working hard on this. the city council have, many people in the community and let's add the resources we can and this is another tool in the cool kit to bring the powers of the emergency manager and to add this level of expertise. kevyn is one of the finest restructuring bankruptcy people in the country. let's go and do this as a team to turn detroit around because it will be a fabulous outcome for detroiters, michiganers and our whole country to feed detroit in a positive way. >> woodruff: final word from you mr. orr? >> margaret, this is an issue and an opportunity whose time has come frankly if we get everybody as the governor said pulling all oars, if you'll excuse the pun, pulling together wean get this do ve quily. i'm not unmindful that i'm
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comfortable in the bankruptcy courts in america and they're tremendously talented. they handle horse farms to airlines, they will be able to provide heft and impetus but i'm hoping we don't have to go that that route. that sounds odd coming from a bankruptcy practitioner but that's my goal. >> warner: governor rick snyder and kevyn orr, thank you so much. >> thank you so much, margaret. >> woodruff: michigan public radio has ongoing coverage of detroit's financial crisis. find a link to that reporting on our homepage. >> brown: next, bright lights over the bay. "newshour" correspondent spencer michels reports from san francisco on a work of public art. >> reporter: for 75 years, the bay bridge has been the workhorse on san francisco bay, linking oakland and san francisco, and carrying 270,000 cars and trucks a day. on the san francisco side, its
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towers support suspension cables that keep the bridge up. but this gray, utilitarian structure that partially collapsed in the 1989 earthquake has never captured the world's attention, the way its nearby cousin, the golden gate bridge has. built toward the end of the depression, both were engineering marvels. now, the bay bridge is making its own splash. on a cold rainy night last week it was transformed into a giant work of art. 25,000 tiny white undulating l.e.d. lights, strung from the vertical cables, were turned on in a flashy display of public art that can be seen for miles. for california politicians like lieutenant governor gavin newsom, it was a chance to tout the area's uniqueness. >> here we are in san francisco- - a wacky and wonderful place and a city that is probably best described as 49 square miles surrounded by reality. a city of dreamers of doers of
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entrepreneurs and innovators. >> reporter: the high tech installation, which is called the bay lights, is being billed as theorld's largest l.e.d. light sculpture. it's also a major piece of public art, an increasingly popular and often increasingly controversial art form. like the gates in new york's central park by christo... or the new york city waterfalls, by olafur eliasson or cloud gate, a public sculpture in chicago by anish kapoor. bay lights is the creation of leo villareal, a new york city artist who specializes in using l.e.d. lights and computer programming in works on display at several major museums and in numerous installations. villareal operates his laptop, using specially designed software to control and program the lights. once set up, it works automatically. the overall effect is meant to be abstract, but to reflect different movements around the bridge, from waves and boats to traffic and clouds. when you finally pulled the
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switch on this the other night, and the lights came on, what was your personal reaction? >> it was overwhelming. i mean it was really very, very exciting. i worked very hard to integrate this piece into its environment, but it's not specific and it's meant to be open-ended, highly subjective so you can just relax, be with the piece and take from it what you will. you will never see the exact same progression of sequences twice. >> reporter: the lights, which are on every night from dusk until 2:00 a.m. can be seen only on the side facing north towards alcatraz and the golden gate bridge. drivers on the bridge cannot see, or be distracted by, the lights-- one of many safety precautions dictated by a host of government agencies. >> installing the piece was also incredibly challenging. we had workers 525 feet up over the water at night from 11:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. for months on end. >> reporter: it's cold up there. >> it's cold.
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you know thousands of cars rushing at you with a couple of cones protecting you. you know dangling you know over the water at night. >> reporter: the $8 million project is being financed entirely by private donations, so far $6 million has been raised, much of it by public relations man ben davis, who came up with the idea. the rest of the money is still being raised. >> this is going to bring in my estitionundrs of mlions of dollars into the local economy. i think we're going to smash all records for public art. >> reporter: is there something a little commercial about all of that? >> not really, because that money's not going to anything but the communities that are here already. there's nobody catching a profit from this involved in the project. >> reporter: public art used to consist mostly of statues of generals or politicians, today many cities are requiring developers of large projects to pay 1% or more of construction costs for public art. j.d. beltran, who teaches public art at the san francisco art institute and is president of the art commission, says getting public approval is tough, especially for complicated or abstract works.
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>> many times the public feels like they don't understand a piece, it's being shoved down your throat, and they don't like it and they'll be very vocal about it. >> reporter: but beltran, who was not part of the project, says the bay lights works as public art. >> it doesn't take much to understand, because it's a gorgeous piece. i think it's beautiful, it's delightful, it fulfills all those requirements i think that the public wants in terms of a piece of public art. i think i can safely say it's pretty universally liked. >> reporter: unless they malfunction, as they did last weekend, the lights will remain lit every night for at least two years. a few years after that the bridge will need painting and the lights will have to come down. >> brown: spencer has written more about the bay bridge in a blog. you'll find that on our website. >> woodruff: we'll be back shortly with the long road back after the tsunami in japan. but first: this is pledge week on p.b.s.
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this break allows your public television station to ask for your support. d that support helps keep programs like ours on the air. >> brown: for those stations not taking a pledge break, we go beneath washington's puget sound to look at storm water runoff. our story comes from our colleagues at kcts 9 in seattle. katie campbell reports for earthfix, a public media project focused on environment reporting in the northwest. >> reporter: laura james has been diving in puget sound for more than 20 years. >> just the feeling of being weightless. it's just like flying. the animals are fantastic and so different from anything you'll see up here on the surface. it's like going into wonderland. >> i don't think people realize what a gem we have. it's the emerald sea. i mean, it's just. it's got so much life.
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the cold water has more nutrients, it can hold more oxygen, hold more nutrients than warm water so you can get tremendous invertebrate marine life. you get octopus and wolf eels and all sorts of sea slugs, every color of the rainbow. you go beneath the sea and you're in this different world. it's mesmerizing and brilliant. >> reporter: one day she came across something in the water that has haunted her ever since. >> we were coming up the slope and i saw what looked like a piling and it was this big black column. as i got closer, realized that it was actually a storm outfall. and it was so full of road grime and who knows what, that it was just black. it was just billowing and billowing and it just doesn't stop. when i saw that stuff flowing and of course, i went home and started looking it up on the internet. what's in stormwater? and i'm like, oh-- we don't want
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that there. >> reporter: stormwater is a toxic cocktail of sediment, grease, tire wear and any litter small enough to slip into storm drains. and that's just what you can see. there's much more we can't. microscopic particles of heavy metals, like zinc and copper, are commonly found in urban highway runoff. there's also oil and petroleum- based hydrocarbons. contrary to what a lot of people think, runoff is puget sounds biggest source of pollution. >> approximately 50% of the region believe that stormwater is treated, is captured and conveyed to a treatment plant of some type. when in fact, this doesn't take place and in fact nearly all of this water goes off totally untreated. >> reporter: throughout the united states, so much land has been pav over that the total amount of impervious surfaces would cover an area the size of ohio. everytime water washes over these hard surfaces, pollutants
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pour into to the nearest waterway. it, and obviously an impervious then very slowly seeps into the soil and the soil acts like a sponge, it slows down the water, it cleans the water, it filters it, and obviously an impervious surface like pavement just doesn't do that at all. >> reporter: jenifer mcintyre is leading a team that's studying how polluted runoff impacts aquatic animals. the team recently collected runoff from a highway in seattle and trucked it down to puyallup to the washington stormwater center. it's one of the only facilities in the world that's conducting cutting edge research on what's known as green stormwater infrastructure. >> green stormwater infrastructure is building stormwater control structures that more closely mimic natural settings. things like rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs. these are facilities that help
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improve water quality and mimic the natural filtration aspects of water infiltrating in the ground or flowing through vegetation. >> reporter: around the northwest and across the country new rules are being written that would require cities and counties to adopt green stormwater methods. but this prospect is causing a little bit of concern, because green stormwater methods, such as rain gardens, are relatively new, little is known about them and even whether they'll make any difference. >> on the one hand, peoplere waiting to see what's going to happen. and on the other hand people are running out and just building rain gardens and that's great, but there is the potential for them not to work because we don't know very much about them yet. some of the things that were hoping to learn at this facility are what are the best soil mixtures to use. what are the best plants to use. how long will these systems hold up to a continuous input of contaminants coming from stormwater runoff? so far we don't know the answers to those questions. we know that they can reduce some of the contaminants in stormwater, we know that it can
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reduce the flow of stormwater, these are all really good things, but is that enough? is it enough to protect wild fish and their food web from some of the harmful effects of stormwater runoff? >> reporter: that's what mcintyre is trying to find out. once all the stormwater was mixed and samples were taken, the team filtered half of the water through soil columns that mimic what happens in a rain garden. they then filled a series of aquariums-- half with the straight highway runoff, and half with the runoff that had gone through the rain garden filtration. >> and each uarium got 10 juvenile coho salmon. and then pretty much we waited to see what would happen. >> reporter: her plan was to monitor the salmon for four days. but within 12 hours, all the fish in straight highway runoff were dead. and the fish in the filtered runoff? all still alive. >> i think it's really telling
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that we can take something as concentrated and toxic as highway runoff after a long dry pell and pass it through soil columns and have it no longer be acutely lethal to fis >> reporter: while jenifer mcintyre searches for answers in the lab, laura james is trying to raise awareness in the real world, by documenting the effects of stormwater with her camera. >> if i can capture this on film, if i can share this, it will truly give our waters a voice. because people see it and there's just, it's like shock. they just stop what they're doing and they look, it's like a connection. >> i see puget sound and our oceans as a reflection of us. they're a reflection our humanity. and the storm drains are a conduit of our humanity running in there. >> woodruff: the environmental protection agency is in the process of strengthening
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national storm water regulations. >> brown: finally tonight, japan two years after the massive earthquake and tsunami struck its northeastern coast. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: the 2011 quake was one of the strongest in recorded history. it set off a tsunami that killed at least 16,000 people, left another 2,600 missing and triggered meltdowns at a nuclear power plant. today, official records show over 300,000 people are still living in temporary housing. for more on life in japan, two years after the disaster. i am joined by yuki tatsumi. she's a senior analyst on u.s.- japanese relations at the stimson center, a non-profit, non-partisan internatiol research group. she was just in tokyo last week. yuki, welcome. what are the observable effects
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of that earthquake in japan two years later? >> the answer depends on where you live, frankly. if you live in the disaster-hit area, if you know anybody who were affected by the disaster, the disaster is still very much with you everyday. people worried about radiation not only in their soil and the air but also in the produce that they buy in grocery stores but the further you move away from the affected area you feel much, much less impact. >> suarez: well, you were just in tokyo. there is there a conscious feeling of still trying to cope with this disaster and rebuild the country? >> yes and no, actually. on the day of the earthquake anniversary there were memorial service everywhere, including tokyo. there was actually a big memorial service in tokyo where prime minister and emperor and empress attended and gave a prayer t those who lost their lives. at the same time people in tokyo
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at least, go around and live their normal life but i wouldn't say as if nothing happened because parents very much worry about the radiation that still could be carried in the air, worried about their children's health and, also, like i said, in the food that may be still contaminated. >> suarez: we should talk a little bit about nuclear power because japan has no significant natural resources to create energy. it's relied very heavily on nuclear power and that nclear power became a subject of gre controversy after the power plant disaster followed the tsunami. what's the state of play now? is japan abandoning its stated desire to move away from nuclear energy? >> well, the reaction you just describe exactly what happened in tokyo or in japan as i should say in the immediate 12 months that followed. the government at that time partly because they were very much aware that they could not respond to the nuclear melt down
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as well as they could have so they wentomplete the other way and declared that japan will be a nuclear power plant free country in some 20 to 25 years from now. however, since then japanese expands two summers and as you may know wherever you are it's very humid, hot, much, much worse than the d.c./metropolitan area. people actually feel the power shortages and the implication of trying to reduce their dependence on nuclear power in a too soon, too short time span. the cuent government has a little bit more balanced approach, they still do believe that japan should reduce its dependence on nuclear power. however, they take a longer perspective of doing so and they are intending to invent more resources into accelerating the developing alternative energy to replace the demand currently met
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by the nuclear power. >> suarez: you mentioned radiation. you can't see it, smell it or taste it. we mentioned that they were still setting off radiation long after the power plant disaster. it must be unnerving to think that everything in your life might be contaminated. >> it's very unnerving. especially if you're the mother of a small child it's very unnerving. there's no solid scientific data that can say anything about the impact of the health in terms of how much radiation it can take in a contamination and so on and so forth so it's still very unnerving and in that sense, yes the aftereffect of the disaster very much sfchl with japanese. >> suarez: there was a great deal of shock after the tsunami and its aftereffects that more things didn't work better. has this been a knock-- now that we're two years away-- to
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japan's confidence? >> right after the disaster, as you can imagine, everybody was shell-shocked. no one ever imagined in their wildest dream that the disaster of that degree could happen and to them and immediate reaction among the public was that in some strange way we discovered their inner strength in terms of the way they were able to keep the stability as you remember we really hardly heard any news about rioting, money from of th. some in a sense in the public level they rediscovered the self-confidence in themselves but i think their confidence inform the government very much was shaken by, like you said, the system's not working, the government not being able to respond to a nuclear mtdown as quickly, the government not being able to provide a reliable information about the damage very quickly.
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>> suarez: in the intervening months, of course, japan has changed its government, changed its prime minister in -- partially in reaction. yuki tatsumi, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: xi jingping assumed the presidency of china. he now is the leader of the army, the communist party and the state, in the world's second largest economy. and pope francis spent his first day as head of the worldwide roman catholic church. >> brown: online: math geeks and dessert lovers have something to celebrate today: pi day. hari sreenivassan has the details. >> sreenivasan: march 14, or 3.14, is the official date of recognizing the mathematical constant pi, the number that represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. so celebrate by eating a circular and delicious pie on pie day. plus, new findings strongly
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indicate scientists have found the holy grail of physics. the higgs boson. read about it on our home page. all that and many is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions
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