Skip to main content

tv   The News Hour With Jim Lehrer  PBS  July 9, 2009 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

6:00 pm
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. on the newshour this thursday-- the lead story is the summit in italy. margaret warner reports on the climate change agreement, among other things. then, we have the other news of the day, including the renewed tensions in iran a month after the elections; the first in a series of stories about innovation-- tonight, a look at sharing software; an update from afghanistan on today's truck bombing and the u.s. marine offensive in helmand province; and a profile of writer, poet, hunter, and gourmand, jim harrison.
6:01 pm
major funding for the newshour with jim lehrer is provided by: >> the world is changing, and how we use energy today cannot be how we use it tomorrow. there is no one solution. it's not simply more oil, more renewables or being more efficient. it's all of it. our way of life depends on developing all forms of energy, and to use less of it. it's time to put our differences aside. will you be part of the solution? chevron, human energy. intel. supporting math and science education for tomorrow's innovators. the atlantic philanthropies. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible
6:02 pm
by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: the group of 8 industrial nations wound up their summit today with a pledge to limit global warming. president obama joined his fellow leaders in making that commitment at a gathering in italy. he conceded the worldwide recession is an obstacle, but he said the g-8 made "important strides".g >> lehrer: even so, there were questions about whether other
6:03 pm
countries will join in limiting greenhouse gas emissions. and the u.n. secretary general, ban ki-moon, said even the summit nations fell short. >> the policies that they have so far is not enough. it's not sufficient enough to meet the target. we must work according to the science. this is politically and morally imperative and historic responsibility for the leaders, for the future of humanity. >> lehrer: the u.n. is pushing to have a new climate change treaty signed in december. now, jeffrey brown has more of our lead story coverage. >> reporter: margaret, lots of negotiations and statements over these two days on climate change. what's the significance? >> i think the real significance came today, jeff, when you had not just the g8, the industrial powers but 17 countries including china india, and brazil agree in several key
6:04 pm
respects. they agreed that the temperature of the planet should not go up by more than 2 degrees over the preindustrial levels. and two, these, all countries agree to take meaningful steps between now and the midterm, maybe 2020, 2025, they didn't give a date, but to take meaningful at thes in the midterm to mitigate their carbon emissions. now the emerging countrys did not agree as to as the europeans and americans had hoped they would, actually establish target force themselves, specific ones like 50% cut by 2050 or 80% cut by 2050 but it is still a big step forward. because the attitude of all the emerge pog we ares last year was you big rich countries, you created this problem, it's your problem to solve. we need to grow. >> yes, and much of the past struggle in the climate change debate has been between the largest industrial nations and the emerging or developing
6:05 pm
nations. you're saying some progress but still much more to be done in. >> that's with a major focus for president obama and for the europeans here was okay, if we've the emerging countries now agreeing with this overall framework, scientific consensus here but how do we still get them to move to commit to something concrete. so when president hu of china had to leave because of the ethnic violence in china, they took that time slot and asked the president of brazil to meet with president obama this morning. and apparently in that meeting, president of brazil said to president obama, look, we would like to work with you on this. we would like to continue having discussions up to copenhagen but there are two things we need. the big rich countries have got to take specific steps in the midterm, not just this far away 2050 goal. and also we really need help financing and technology transfer, they call it, to help us build low carbon
6:06 pm
economies. and i'm told president obama's response was we're fine with that. because technology transfer means more jobs for the u.s. in green technology. so as president obama said in the statement he made today, there is a long, long way to go. and they don't underestimate the difficulty particularly with china, bringing china and india along. but they feel that they definitely achieved an important incremental step which is that everyone is saying at least that they're invested in helping so solve a common problem. not a problem just for one group of countries on the planet. >> of course all this is happening as the politics of climate change in the u.s. have changed with a new president and recent action in congress. >> yes, jeff, and that was an interesting subtext here. first of all the europeans and the australians said something today at this briefing we're delighted to see that the u.s., instead
6:07 pm
of being the laggard in the room, had to be nudged along as they felt it was during the bush administration that you had the u.s. driving, trying to come up with this consensus. and in fact president obama chairing that major economy for them today. the u.s. felt that since passage of the house bill, it was able to say as secretary -- as press secretary robert gibbs said today look, we've now got skin in the gamement it's time for you to put skin in the game. they could say that now to chinda and to india and to brazil. that said, president obama is somewhat constrained by the limits that congress is put on what it's willing to do. i mean the house bill, i won't get into the numbers but the target of emissions cuts were really considered laughable, maybe too strong but way too weak compared to european standards. so president obama, has, you know, his own, and he referred to it today. he said in this meeting i understood the domestic reality force a lot of my
6:08 pm
fellow leaders because i've got my own at home, words to that at home. so everyone's kind of balanced all of these competing imperatives. but i think that the white house feels that at least they all emerge from this strengthened when they go back home. >> let's move to the iran situation. i understand there was a lot of intense discussion on that last night what can you tell us? >> yes, yev, last night was the conversation on geo political issues. and what emerged was a glass half empty, half full. on iran you did get all of these ministers to endorse the statement that their own foreign ministers had made a couple weeks ago deploring the post-election violence in iran and calling on iran to respect human rights, the right prove test, the right of peaceful dissent. it also went a little further in that it totally condemned the arrest of foreigners and of journalists. and what's more, there was an interesting statement in the statement condemning what mahmoud ahmadinejad had
6:09 pm
said about denying the holocaust which was put in at france's instigation. on the nuclear issue, they did not go for endorsing additional sanctions which france very much wanted. but russia was resistant and said that would be counterproductive. but they did set another interim goal of september that is that at the u.n. meeting in september, the g8 are all going to get together and take stock of the situation. and president sar cozy said last night if iran hasn't done anything to really get serious about talks and negotiations, that at the g-20 summit which immediately follows in pittsburgh, follows the u.n., that quote decisions will have to be taken. >> and you have some european countries there at the summit that have strong commercial ties with iran, right? so they would be impacted by strong new sanctions? >> absolutely, jeff. and in fact, i'm told the president did not ask for these european countries to make a commitment now, that if the talk track doesn't work, that they are ready to
6:10 pm
impose sanctions. but i will give you a couple of examples. we all know about russia oil & gas am but germany and italy, huge trading partners of iran. germany sells all kinds of industrial machinery, oil drehling equipment, a lot of high-tech machinery that's really the backbone of the german economy. it's an export driven economy. italy, at least a year or so ago was considered, i hadn't realized this, iran's largest trading partner. it's eni oil company has built refineries in iran which are very important to iran iran despite having all this oil doesn't have enough refined gasoline. and iran's biggest bank, has a huge operation in rome that's really the major chrooinging house for eu trade with iran. so for these two countries, especially in the midst of a global economic downturn to agree to restrict those commercial ties would be a sacrifice. >> margaret warner at the
6:11 pm
g-8 summit in italy, thanks again. >> thanks, jeff. >> lehrer: in other news today, nearly 60 iraqis were killed in a series of bombings; another 100 were wounded. it was the worst violence since u.s. troops withdrew from iraqi cities last week. in the city of tal afar, 38 civilians died when suicide bombers staged a coordinated attack minutes apart. three other bombings tore through baghdad, killing 18 iraqis. two million pakistani refugees will be allowed to go home next week. they fled the swat valley region when an army offensive against the taliban began last april. the prime minister said today the valley is now secure, and basic services have been restored. in china, communist leaders demanded peace be restored in the country's northwest. president hu and members of the ruling committee issued their first statement on the ethnic
6:12 pm
rioting in xinjiang province. more than 150 people died there earlier this week. the warning came as 8,000 riot police marched through the capital city of the province. troops moved in yesterday in a show of force to calm the public and stop further rioting. a new political fight has erupted over c.i.a. briefings to the u.s. congress. it came to light today in letters from the chairman of the house intelligence committee, silvestre reyes, and other democrats. they charged the agency has repeatedly misled lawmakers. they said c.i.a. director leon panetta acknowledged it in a briefing last month. last may, house speaker pelosi accused the c.i.a. of lying to her about water-boarding terror suspects. on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained four
6:13 pm
on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained four points to close at 8,183. the nasdaq rose five points to close at 1,752. >> lehrer: and still to come on the newshour tonight: sharing software and servers; the fighting in afghanistan; and poet jim harrison. that follows the still simmering tensions in tehran. newshour correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage. >> reporter: after more than ten days of relative, but restive, calm, protestors were back in the streets of tehran today, nearly a month after the disputed election that returned mahmoud ahmadinejad to power. with a virtual media blackout in place, amateur video posted on youtube and similar web sites showed demonstrations in the capital. the hallmark cries of the
6:14 pm
islamic revolution-- shouts of "death to the dictator" and "god is great"-- once again filled the air. today also marked the tenth anniversary of a violent crackdown on student protests at tehran university. authorities warned of a crushing response to unrest, and again today, riot police and militia dispersed crowds. a state-sponsored tv network described the scene. >> police used tear gas in one locality to disperse the crowd. security has been tight in the streets in downtown tehran thursday, but onlookers did gather in numbers to watch the demonstrations. >> reporter: other reports said today's demonstrations attracted a few thousand people. that is much smaller than the gatherings of hundreds of thousands last month in support of opposition candidates, especially mir hossein mousavi, who said the election was rigged in ahmadinejad's favor. last night, the iranian president said the accusations of fraud were baseless.
6:15 pm
>> ( translated ): in the recount of the vote, no fault was discovered and, basically, those who had claims couldn't even provide one document as a proof of fraud in the election. the whole nation understood this, although we don't expect ordinary people to provide proof, but it is not acceptable from those who claim to be politicians. >> reporter: on monday, iran's supreme leader, ayatollah ali khamenei, lashed out forcefully at his perceived external adversaries. >> ( translated ): leaders of arrogant countries and interlopers interfering in the affairs of the islamic republic should realize this-- that even if the iranian nation has differences among them, when you and the enemies of the iranian nation come forward, they get united and stand against you with a strong fist. >> reporter: despite the defiant stand of ahmadinejad and his benefactor, khamenei, president obama recently has reiterated his intention to pursue diplomacy with the islamic republic. but mr. obama acknowledged that
6:16 pm
the dubious election, and the state's violent reaction to the ensuing protests, have complicated matters. he spoke on cnn on tuesday. >> we have to wait to see how the dust settles. right now, we have to continue to speak out and bear witness to the fact that the iranian people need to be treated with justice and fairness. but it certainly complicates our efforts, because there's the possibility that those who are now in power in iran choose to retrench and dig in as opposed to open up. >> reporter: yesterday, mr. obama and the other leaders of the g-8 summit in italy issued a statement deploring the post- election violence in iran. >> lehrer: now, the views of karim sadjadpour, an associate at the carnegie endowment for international peace. he previously worked in iran for the international crisis group. and trita parsi, president of
6:17 pm
the national iranian american council and author of, "treacherous alliance: the secret dealings of iran, israel, and the united states." mr. sadjadpour, first, how do you read today's protests w what is the meaning of them, do you think? >> well, this was the tenth anniversary of the 1999 student protests. and they're celebrated on an annual base nis iran. and i think it underscores, again, the depth of people's sense of injustice and pem's sense of outrage given what transpired three weeks ago at the election results. no one expected the scale of these protests to be similar to what we saw a few weeks ago but still we saw eye witness accounts several thousand people throughout the city. and again i think underscores people's sense of qout rage but also the bravery and great courage of the iranian people. >> lehrer: can you add anything based on your information that you got today as to the extent of these protests -- >> they seem to have been throughout the city but in smaller numbers. what the government has done is try to make sure that they prevent people from
6:18 pm
being able to gather in very, very large numbers. but nevertheless, the most important point, i think is, that people still went out. even though they knew the consequences. they've seen what has been happening to other protestors. and i think it shows that as the president pointed out, the dust has not settled in iran. prot test movement, the disznlts -- dissent of the ode people 45 believe the election was stolen, that has not lied down. this is not something that has entered. >> what are they protesting? >> do you think they are still protesting the election or is there something more involved here? the whole rule of the government at this point? >> i truly think it's evolved since the pre-election, pre-election people's demands were evolution within the confines of the islamic system. but i think people are now asking for much more. they are questioning the legitimacy of the islamic system itself. they are questioning the legitimacy of the supreme leader ayatollah khamenei. what is interesting to me talking to people in tehran, behind the scenes i think there more happening than we know given the fact that there is very little foreign
6:19 pm
media coverage in iran. i was talking to a friend of mine in tehran who said that he lives in a neighborhood which is ef heavily populated by revolutionary guardsmen. >> lehrer: these are the government guys. >> exactly, the people on the side of the government. and at night what people have been doing is chanting allah aqba, as a way to protest. >> lehrer: the revolutionary guards are doing that? >> yeah, this is in neighborhoods inhabited by revolutionary guardsmen. i think certainly the government has a monopoly over coercion right now and the scale of the demonstrations have increased. but i think the fissures that exist behind closed doors we're still not privy too. >> lehrer: are you picking up those kinds of things as well? >> absolutely. and i think we've seen that at the end of the day just because people are not on the streets all the time fighting, does not mean that the struck nell anyway, shape or form is over with. people realize rather quickly that because of the fact that the government holds all the power and all the violence it is not necessarily the best strategy to constantly go
6:20 pm
out and demonstrate. it's important to show that we defied the authority of ayatollah khamenei but once they have shown that once, it's enough. now they need to use other tactics in order in order to be able to continue the protest but while reducing the casualty rate. >> lehrer: what other tactics are there? >> well, they've been talking about strikes. they've been talking about other different ways that they can do so and this is, i think, one of the points that really shows, this is not any type of protest that are being revolution or orchestrated from the outside. this is something that genuinely coming from the inside. and part of the evidence for that is that they have improvising. they don't have the hand books of the serbians or ukrainians or georgians. they are improvising the situation right now. >> lehrer: is it correct to say that the u.s. policy of hands-off is actually real and the united states is keeping not only its mouth?v shut but its actions quiet too? >> absolutely. certainly for the first few weeks after the elections the obama administration was very careful. they didn't want to insert the united states into this
6:21 pm
momentous internal iranian drama which was unfolding for fear that we could potentially hurt those whom we're trying to help. and would recommend the obama administration to continue that approach and not call prematurely for any policy of engagement. simply because i think that would be demoralize those people that are continuing to agitate against the government if they feel the united states has accepted the outcome of these elections. >> lehrer: do you agree there is nothing to be gained by the united states encouraging whatever is going on. that we don't know b that you all have just told us about in tehran and the rest of iran. >> i have not heard from anyone inside of iran. at least not in large numbers that they believe that there is anything in particular else that the united states should be doing at this point. doesn't mean that they can't do things later on. but most importantly what si have been hearing from people is they want the world to see what is happening. they know very well that if the cameras go away. if the eyes of the global community start focus on michael jackson, on other things it makes it easier for the hard line.
6:22 pm
wills it in the government to continue to clamp down and even increase its brutality. as long as the eyes of the world are there i thinkment wills inside of iran will still feel that they have an ability to continue to call into question this election. >> speaking of prot testers, how did you -- what did you make of the fact that the government released 1,000 people who had been protestors and had been in jail for the last couple weeks or so. was that tered a gesture of what? what --. >> i don't -- i think that the scale of repression is still very high. we're not seeing exactly what transpired. i personally have about a dozen friends in prison now in iraq. >> lehrer: still in prison. >> still in prison. >> lehrer: not one of the thousands who have been released. >> no, they are in sol taree confinement. the government claims about two dozen people have been killed, unofficially the numbers i have seen are several hundred. so i think the scale of the repression is very high. and when there is no foreign media there to report this, i think the government feels
6:23 pm
they can get away with a lot more. >> do you have friends till in jail. >> we have common friends that have been put in jail and what is quite fascinating about it is these are not political individuals. some of these individuals are journalists or not even that, they are running consulting firms and dealing with economic analysis and they have been put in jail. i think for the government to release some of them may partly be because there is a lot of pressure on them and they realize that a lot of the violence that they view as backlash. but part of it is also because some of the people, a large portion of the people that they imprisoned are actually part of this government. these are elements that were part of --. >> lehrer: give me an example. >> individuals around mousavi that have been put in jail. these were individuals there --. >> lehrer: the lead are of the opposition. >> exactly. you had for instance the daughter of the former president, rafsanjani being put in jail. it's very difficult for them to hold individuals like that for a long period of time. >> lehrer: what do you make finally of what we saw in the setup, kwame's setup what president obama said on tuesday, that this week,
6:24 pm
let's let the dust settle as both of you referred to before we decide whether to make any more moves in any kind of official relationship with iran. >> that's absolutely right. i've always said that i defer to the leaders of the opposition themselves as to what is best for them. and now i see leaders of the opposition saying that the europeans, the united states should not recognize this government yet. despite --. >> lehrer: not recognize ahmadinejad. >> exactly, not recognize the results of this election. so i think despite this isn't over there is still plenty of fight in the opposition and just as we, the united states, didn't want to tip the balance in favor of those in the government of repressing people by coming out in favor of the opposition, the opposite is true we don't want to endorse the results of this election for fear that we are going to betray the millions of people who took to the streets. >> lehrer: how do you feel about that? >> i would agree with that. you can see that the opposition's fear is that right nowak ak has not managed to pass the goal line on his own. you see still these
6:25 pm
demonstrations. you see still more people from the clergy coming out and questioning the results. the last thing they want to see is to have international community start dealing with ahmadinejad in a manner that can help him pass and give him a push over the goal line when he cannot pass the goal line himself. >> lehrer: in other words, keep your mouth powder dry in terms of the united states. >> engagement and diplomacy is still the policy. the united states's interest in the region has not changed but there's no need to rush towards those negotiations at this point. as the president said, let's really make sure the dust settles first. >> lehrer: you agree with that? >> absolutely. >> lehrer: all right, gentlemen, thank you both very much. good to talk to you both again. >> thank you. >> lehrer: now, the first in a series of stories about how people are still innovating, even in a time of recession.
6:26 pm
tonight, a high-tech solution to some real world computer problems. newshour correspondent spencer michels has our science unit report. >> reporter: at wag hotels, an upscale dog care facility in san francisco, life can get complicated for the humans. some dogs come here for play, some for nail clips, some for vaccines; some come for the day, some overnight. to keep track of schedules and appointments and supplies, managers have begun using what's called "cloud computing." rather then relying on programs bought and installed on company computers, wag hotels use programs and data stored on the internet, or the "cloud." c.e.o. richard groberg is a big enthusiast. >> as we grow, that means more servers, that means more computers and software for all of our employees. with cloud computing, we essentially can have a dummy
6:27 pm
terminal for employees, and they go onto the internet and all of the applications are there waiting. >> reporter: cloud computing is being touted as the next big thing in technology. the cloud, essentially, is the internet. data, then, is in the sky, or the clouds-- that is, on the internet, actually in some server-- waiting to be called down to earth just the way you get information from mapquest or a google search. using the ever-growing storage capacity of servers belonging to companies like google or ibm, businesses and scientists and others store data on the internet, and then access that data and the programs to use it online only when they need it. it's like hiring taxis instead of owning a car, if you don't need one all the time. it's cheaper, and you don't have to worry about upkeep and breakdowns and parking. salesforce.com, a business software service company, is one of the leaders in providing cloud computing.
6:28 pm
the firm has nearly 60,000 business customers. >> ... this whole cloud that we have for infrastructure... >> reporter: mark benioff, its c.e.o., has become an apostle for the concept. >> you're not having to go out and choose which software package is right for me, what hardware. "is this software going to work on this hardware? oh, am i upgraded, am i updated?" all of that is done for you, just like it is on these consumer services. you don't upgrade amazon.com. >> reporter: and you can run a whole business from the clouds, a breakthrough called multi- tenancy. >> an office building has multiple tenants; well, multi- tenancy means that you're basically sharing, not just an apartment building or an office building, but a computer system. it's a tremendous innovation in how we structure our software itself-- that instead of it being written just for you on your server under your desk in your office, well, that stuff is being taken care of for you in the cloud.
6:29 pm
>> reporter: servers are computers that store and send out data, like a library. with so many servers linked together, businesses or universities can vastly increase available computing power, which they couldn't afford or organize without the cloud. and a company like vetrazzo, which makes countertops from recycled glass, can put its sales and raw material information on the internet, under a contract with salesforce.com. it can be accessed and updated simultaneously by salesmen, executives, and other company officials. c.e.o. james sheppard says the cloud has saved him time and money that he used to spend for expensive software. >> we track every slab that you see in the factory, and we're shipping, you know, 6,000, 7,000 tops a year out of here. every one of these slabs is tracked with a unique id. >> reporter: software developers fear they could lose business to the cloud.
6:30 pm
and business is only one use. jen mazzon uses cloud computing to run her family life. with twin boys and a 5-year-old daughter, and an artist husband, her schedule gets pretty complicated. >> i'm not with the people that i love during the day. i mean, you know, my husband, he works in the studio, my kids are either with their grandparents or in daycare. so, in order to stay in touch with them and make sure that, you know, my husband picks up the kids from daycare that day, or, you know, that i remember to pick up the dry cleaning, i rely on, you know, information sent to me here. >> reporter: a product manager for google, mazzon stays in touch using google docs, a program that relies on cloud computing. >> i can log into google docs and get information about, you know, what my kids have done in
6:31 pm
school today from the teacher, and i can respond and we can have a dialogue, so that when i have, you know, five minutes between meetings of downtime, i can think, "you know what? i want to use this five minutes to check in with my teacher on how my kids are doing. " >> reporter: are you saying the teacher in the school is on this system, as well, and can reply to you? >> yes, absolutely. >> reporter: mazzon is aware that some people ridicule her incessant use of the internet, and the cloud, as too complicated. >> who doesn't want a simpler life? for me, i find this way of working more simple, because when i'm in a place and i need a piece of information, i have it at my fingertips. >> reporter: on the job, she uses cloud computing to share and work on documents with fellow workers. >> what's changed is that everybody is working off the same version of the document that is in the cloud, verses watching... working off of their different silos of the documents, each on their own computer. >> reporter: even the company picnic can be planned in the
6:32 pm
clouds: favorite foods, and major dislikes, and what everybody will bring. google, which uses cloud computing in most of its own development work, is betting the concept will take off and soon will be the standard in business. we talked with eric schmidt, the c.e.o., in google's own studio, about the science behind cloud computing. >> computers have gotten so powerful that they can be tiny and amazingly useful. we can now have these huge data farms, and they're getting so much more powerful that we can make sure we keep all your information there and we don't lose it like you will. >> reporter: so, why is this important? why... why do people say this is the next big thing, cloud computing? >> well, a simple question for a consumer is, "have you ever dropped your computer? have you ever broken it? has it ever not worked on you? have you sat there and said, 'how do i back this thing up?' 'oh no, i just lost my term paper.'" in cloud computing, the professionals keep track of all the programs and the data, and they make sure you don't lose it.
6:33 pm
>> reporter: to which a cynic might say, hey, google was down for several hours recently, and previously as well. if the network goes down, i don't have anything. >> well, that was a terrible thing, and we worked really hard to make sure that doesn't happen. i can tell you that we're down a lot less than your computer is. >> reporter: but not everyone is in love with the cloud, particularly those worried about privacy issues. in fact, ibm is finding some companies are reluctant to give their company secrets to a third party, according to vice president willie chiu. >> they don't want to put data in a cloud somewhere where they don't know whether it's going to be secure or not. so, having businesses feel secure, feeling safe, is what ibm is all about. >> reporter: at the electronic frontier foundation, which advocates for internet privacy, the concern is that data stored on the internet could be compromised. cindy cohn is legal director.
6:34 pm
>> there's plain old hackers, things... security breeches, sometimes we call these "data valdez," where there's a spillage of data. >> reporter: like the exxon valdez. >> like the exxon valdez, only it's your data spilling out, not oil. the second risk is from overarching government requests, and of course, we've... we've seen, especially during the last administration, lots of efforts by the government to wholesale e-collect information about americans from third parties. and then, we need to make sure that there are other third parties don't have easy access to that data, either. >> reporter: but those in the data business say they're not worried. >> we operate under exactly the same laws that you do, and if your information is so important you have to hide it from the government, we probably don't want you to give it to us anyway. >> the reality is that there is tremendous laws and legal infrastructure globally to protect your privacy. >> reporter: so far, cloud computing, while growing fast, is largely used for basic business applications-- accounting, scheduling, sales and so forth. it may be awhile before more
6:35 pm
complicated and specific needs, like architectural design, appear in the cloud. >> lehrer: you can watch more of spencer's interview with google c.e.o. schmidt on our web site and on our education page, "newshour extra," find more about cloud computing and a lesson plan about privacy issues. it's at newshour.pbs.org. now, an update from afghanistan and the u.s. marine offensive in the south. we get that from rajiv chandrasekaran of the "washington post" in kabul. judy woodruff talked with him earlier this evening. >> woodruff: rajive, it's good to see you again, first of all, what you can tell us about today's truck bomb near a school in logar province which i gather is not far from kabul?
6:36 pm
>> this was a particularly horrific act of violence here today. a total of 25 people were killed, 15 of them young children in the worst bombing in more than a year here in afghanistan. what appears to have been the case that there were explosives that were secreted underneath some lumber in a truck that was headed towards kabul. that truck overturned late last night, this morning as police went to investigate and a bunch of children gathered around. those explosives detonated and leaving just a horrific trail of devastation. what's particularly disturbing here is that there is a belief that these explosives might have been on their way to kabul, the afghan capitol and logar province is one of the quarter -- areas that has seen a significant increase in the number of u.s. troops over the past year. and to see an act of violence like this over there certainly raises some disturbing questions about the sorts of security condition just on the very
6:37 pm
outskirts of the capital here, judy. >> woodruff: now you just came back from southern afghanistan which is the site of the main u.s. marino fenceive. tell us what you observed there? >> well, it was a massive operation that i saw over there. but one that was far less focused on acts of overt military power. on fire fights and nighttime raids. the real focus there has been on trying to win over the local population. it's a very unique position these thousands of u.s. marines are being put in. they're out there walking around trying to engage with the local population, trying to convince them that they're here more for the safety of afghan people than they are%y to go after and pursue the taliban. the hope among commanders out there is that by trying to win over the local population they'll
6:38 pm
effectively create a wedge between the people and the taliban. >> so are you saying that there really has not been much heavy fighting? >> there really hasn't been, surprisingly. you know, i went down there expecting to see, you know, an awful lot of fire fights, of raids, you know, the stuff that u.s. marines do best. instead it's been fairly quiet. it appears that the taliban fighters in the area, there were quite a few fighters there just a few weeks ago according to intelligence estimates and according to conversations i've had with local people. a lot of those fighters seem to have packed up and left on orders of senior could panders just because there have been so many marines that flood mood that area. nobody expects those people just to sort of drop out of the fight. i think they're in a sort of regrouping mode trying to assess just what the marines are doing. and there is an expectation among marine commanders that they will start to see a resumption of attacks in the coming weeks and months.
6:39 pm
>> so is the military leadership concerned that this is the response? we know that they expected that something like this might happen. but how concerned are they? >> well, that's a very good question. and i put that question to a number of commanders i spoke to on the ground saying, you know, why aren't you chasing after these guys or, you know, aren't you worried that the bad guys are just getting away? and they process not to be concerned. they say their strategy here is really very different from the way the u.s. military has gone about combating the tlb over the past seven years. they're really trying to focus on civilian outreach, on reconstruction, on trying to build up the local police force and the local municipal government. and they feel that if they can do that and they can build a degree of stability they'll be able to peel off members of the taliban and sort of brick them back within the fold. they believe that many of the taliban fighters are simply day labourers who take five or $10 a day to
6:40 pm
lay roadside bombs or to participate in ambushes. and so they feel that if they can kind of create a zone of development and at least progress, that they can sort of reduce the size of the taliban force they're fighting and then at some point in the future target their operations toward a small group of extremist holdouts. >> but it's a big gamble whether they can -- you know, whether all this will actually work. it involves convincing the afghan people that the u.s. military is actually here to stay. that they are here to help them out. it's no sure bet and as i walked on many patrols are the marines in parts of helmand pro since there was a degree of civil among the local population. >> are officials telling you rajiv that they are pretty satisfied with where things are 1 week in? >> well, they're pretty optimistic at this point. they certainly have been surprised by the lack of taliban activity.
6:41 pm
but they do remain concerned going forward on a couple of different levels. they're very concerned that they don't have enough afghan security forces to partner with them. not enough afghan soldiers or police officers to go on patrols with them to conduct check points. and they're also concerned that the other half of the great american effort here, the civilian side of the reconstruction effort has been a little slow to get off the ground. officials i've talked to at the u.s. embassy here say that civilian reconstruction personnel are coming in the next weeks and months but right now on the ground there are a lot of marine officers who are having to do some of that basic outreach by themselves and they're trying to improvise as they go along. >> woodruff: rajiv, you've covered marines in combat both in iraq and now in afghanistan. what would you say is different about this approach? >> well, in many ways there's a striking similarity here in that helmand province and anbar province are both largely
6:42 pm
deserts with a river running through them. sites of great violence and crossborder infiltration. but a key difference here is that the marines likely will not be able to replicate the single biggest tool of their success in anbar which was engagement with local tribal leaders to create a militia force that especially stood up to the foreign fighters in iraq. the marine was love to do something like that in helmand province. but the tribal dynamics are so much more complicated that it may prove to be impossible. and there's a great degree of skism from hamid karzai's government in kabul as well as from nato military commanders of such a venture so it seems unlikely that the marine grsing to be able to duplicate what was their greatest tool of success in iraq and they're going to be forced to work through the existing institutions for security here in afghanistan. and that of course causes
6:43 pm
them great concern because they simply don't have enough soldiers to work with them at this moment. >> woodruff: one other thing, and that is the casualty count for u.s. troops all across afghanistan. what are military officials saying about that? >> well, it's been a particularly bloody week here. there have been a number of u.s. casualties as well as a number of casualtys from forces from other countries here. and what appears to be case here is that the taliban are demonstrating their ability to strike back in other parts of the country. in eastern afghanistan, in other parts of the south where the marines aren't, and most alarmingly, in northern parts of the country. there was a bombing just a few days ago that killed four u.s. soldiers near a northern city which had been relatively quiet and that of course causes great concern that the insurgency here may be mat tas that sizing
6:44 pm
beyond the south and east to the areas that are the greatest concern and moving to parts of the country that have long been regarded as relatively stable, judy. >> woodruff: rajiv chandrasekaran joining us from kabul, afghanistan. rajiv, thank you. >> it's a pleasure to talk to you tonight, judy. >> lehrer: finally tonight, ravens, rattlesnakes, poetry, and a writer named jim harrison. jeffrey brown has our story. >> reporter: jim harrison is a walker-- these days with his dogs, zilpha and mary. he's also a hunter, a fisherman, a gourmand, and, as he once said, "not incidentally," a writer and poet. >> today the gods speak in drunk talk pulling at a heart too old for this walk, a cold windy day kneeling at the mouth
6:45 pm
of the snake den where they killed 800 rattlers. >> reporter: most of harrison's 32 books, including "legends of the fall", "dalva," and "returning to earth," have been set in the sparsely populated areas he knows well: northern michigan, the sandhills of nebraska, the arizona-mexico border, and here in the beautiful paradise valley near livingston, montana, where he now lives much of the year. >> other than fishing and a little bird-hunting, all i do is write. >> reporter: harrison is a determined "outsider," in all senses. >> you really get a hang of the country, rather than be struck in what i call the geo-piety of the eastern seaboard. >> reporter: careful, because you know that's where i am. >> i know. but you deserve it, too. but it does happen. >> reporter: now 71, jim harrison is a falstaffian figure-- blind in his left eye
6:46 pm
from a childhood accident, chain-smoking his american spirit cigarettes-- part wild man, part cultivated literary lion, who peppers his speech with talk of birds and great poets of the past. it's poetry, in fact, that has remained harrison's first love. his new collection is called "in search of small gods". >> you sense those spirits in certain, often remote places, whether it's the spirit of animals, the spirit of trees. so those are the small gods. >> reporter: and they appear throughout these poems, which sound as though they're coming from the walks you're taking. >> i think that's true. because you have these little breakthroughs. i've known this group of ravens for 19 years, chihauha ravens, mexican ravens, and last year,
6:47 pm
several times, they began to take walks with me. >> reporter: then you put them in your poetry? >> yes, you do. what is it that blake said-- "how do we know but that every bird who cuts the airy way is an immense world of delight close to our senses five?" that perception-- what is possible in the natural world? >> reporter: in the cabin behind his house, harrison writes every day-- longhand, no computer. he's always at work on a novel, which begins, for him, with a particular character whose story he finds he has to tell. poetry is different. >> poetry, there's still a bit of the burning bush aspect, of poetry descending on you. bang. as they say, you never quite see it coming. >> reporter: in your poetry, i
6:48 pm
hear what i think is you-- "i, jim harrison, looking out at the world." >> it would be the truest "i" i could offer. it's often fun in fiction to construct layers and layers of ambiguity, which is not possible in a poem. 'i hope to define my life, whatever is left by migrations, south and north with the birds and far from the metallic fever of clocks, the self staring at the clock saying, i must do this. i can't tell the time on the tongue of the river in the cool morning air, the small of the ferment of greenery, the dust off the canyons rock walls, the swallows swooping above the scent of raw water." >> reporter: after years of barely scraping by and refusing
6:49 pm
offers of academic positions, harrison made his money and began living the high life in hollywood, writing films like "wolf" for jack nicholson, who became a friend. harrison also became known for his legendary eating and drinking. food, for harrison, is more than just one of life's small pleasures-- his motto is "eat or die". he wrote a food column for "esquire" magazine for many years, and he and linda, his wife of almost 50 years, still cook and feast together. they shared with us what harrison thought of as a modest meal of roasted wild pig, homegrown vegetables, and fine wine. diagnosed with diabetes several years ago, harrison has mellowed a bit. but with several books of poetry and novels in just the last few years, he's more prolific than ever. >> i've been inordinately
6:50 pm
productive these last five years, and i think it was boiling down your life. dogan, an old 14th-century philosopher, talked about "cooking down your life". you cook down your life till the sauce is just right so you can let go. >> reporter: there is, in fact, much about loss and grief in harrison's writing these days. his brother and a number of friends have died in recent years, and on our walk near antelope butte, he told me of a talk he'd had with one of them, a native american, just before his death. >> i was falling apart and he said, "don't be upset. these things happen to people." isn't that an incredible thing to say? >> reporter: of course, a lot of characters in your books are like that, aren't they? >> yeah.
6:51 pm
that is native american stoicism. they tend to see the whole arc. moving higher my thumping chest recites the name of a dozen friends who have died in recent years, names now incomprehensible as the mountains across the river far behind me. i'll always be walking up toward antelope butte. perhaps when we die our names are taken from us by a divine magnet and are free to flutter here and there within the bodies of birds. i'll be a simple crow who can reach the top of antelope butte. >> lehrer: jim harrison reads more poems from his new book, "in search of small gods," on our poetry page at newshour.pbs.org.
6:52 pm
again, the major developments of the day: president obama and other world leaders pledged to limit global warming at a summit in italy; more than 50 iraqis were killed in a series of bombings. another 100 were wounded; and thousands of iranians defied police using tear gas and riot clubs to stage a new protest in tehran. an a followup to a story last month, the stalemate in the new york state senate, the kamber was deadlocked and all major action was stalled after a democratic senator switched sides and joined the republicans. well, today he switched back to the democrats. and he became the majority leader. democrats will now control the state senate again 32-0. -- 32-30.
6:53 pm
and again to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in the iraq and afghanistan conflicts. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs become available. here, in silence, are 13 more.
6:54 pm
we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening with david brooks and ruth marcus, among others. i'm jim lehrer. thank you and good night. major funding for the newshour with jim lehrer is provided by: intel. supporting math and science education for tomorrow's innovators.
6:55 pm
chevron. 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... 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
6:56 pm
captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
6:57 pm
6:58 pm
6:59 pm

2,342 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on