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- 07/17/13--15:05: _Were Snowden’s Acti...
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- 07/18/13--05:55: _From Prisoner to Pr...
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- 07/18/13--15:02: _Will Health Reform ...
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- 07/18/13--15:39: _Language Wars: Shou...
- 07/18/13--15:49: _Happy Birthday, Mad...
- 07/19/13--05:00: _Gwen's Take: Making...
- 07/17/13--15:14: News Wrap: House Republicans Attempt to Delay Health Reform Mandates
- 07/17/13--15:37: In Race to Develop Myanmar, Government Grabs Farmland for Factories
- 07/18/13--05:55: From Prisoner to President: Mandela's Impact on the World
- 07/18/13--06:00: How Nelson Mandela Survived His Years in Isolated South African Jail
- 07/18/13--06:35: Obama Focuses on Health Care Law Positives, House GOP Attacks
- 07/18/13--14:49: 81 Lawmakers Join Forces to Fight Dysfunction in Congress
- 07/18/13--15:16: News Wrap: City of Detroit Files for Bankruptcy
- 07/19/13--05:00: Gwen's Take: Making Washington's Abstractions Real
JEFFREY BROWN: And now to a debate on Snowden, the government's response to his actions, and the programs he revealed.
Daniel Ellsberg was tried under the Espionage Act after leaking the so-called Pentagon Papers, a classified report which he co-wrote as a military analyst that was critical of U.S. decision-making during the Vietnam War.
The case against him was ultimately dismissed in 1973. And Michael Mukasey was attorney general during the George W. Bush administration.
Let's get on the table first what you both think about the programs that were revealed by Edward Snowden.
Michael Mukasey, you have written that real damage was done by Snowden. Please explain.
MICHAEL MUKASEY, former attorney general: I think reel damage was done in two respects. One is by disclosing the details of the programs and second is by showing both our anniversaries adversaries and our would-be potential friends, both allies and people who might provide human intelligence, that we can't keep secrets.
I think that's -- those two things damage us tremendously.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Daniel Ellsberg, what is your biggest concern about the NSA program?
DANIEL ELLSBERG, former State Department official: Pardon me, but listening to that just now, I have to smile at the thought that our friends will be very upset about the thought that Snowden had exposed that we were spying on them, which he has done.
I must say, I think a lot of them would be envious of our capability. I think Russia and China would be envious of our capability, the NSA capabilities. It's exactly what they want in countries that aren't exactly democratic.
My concern is that the very existence of this kind of capability chills free speech in a disastrous way. I cannot see how there can be investigative reporting of the national security community, when the identity, the location, the metadata, and really the contents of every communication between a journalist and every source, every journalist, every source, is known to the executive branch, especially one that has been prosecuting twice as many journalist -- sources as any president before.
Moreover, my even larger concern is, I don't see how democracy can survive when one branch, the executive branch, has all the personal communications of every member of Congress, and every judge, every member of the judiciary, as well as the press, the fourth estate that I have just been describing.
I don't see how the blackmail capability that's involved there can be -- will not be abused, as it has happened in the past, including to me, by the way, and to other -- and to journalists.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Without that freedom to investigative or bring checks and balances, we won't have a real democracy. That's my concern.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let me -- let's let Mr. Mukasey respond.
MICHAEL MUKASEY: That is a hysterically inaccurately portrayal of what information is available to the government.
What is available are two kinds of information. One is so-called metadata, which is simply a pile of numbers, numbers called and times. They are not even associated with particular people.
And the only purpose of having that is to have a database against which to check suspicious numbers from abroad that are documented to belong to suspected terrorists under the supervision of a court and to query that database.
That database consists of millions and millions of numbers. That's all. And in 2012, it was queried 300 times by the 15 people who are authorized to query it. That is a microscopic amount of use, although an important amount of use.
So far as surveillance conducted abroad, our friends spy on us, and we spy on them. That is an open secret and has been for years. And I seriously doubt that any of them would be either surprised or actually disturbed to hear it.
And to say that the Russians and the Chinese would like to have access to these techniques is to prove my point. The Russians and the Chinese now do have access to them, thanks to them having access to Mr. Snowden's computer, whether he likes it or not, because he was in China. The Chinese were perfectly capable of taking what was in his computer. And I'm sure the Russians already have it as well.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, Daniel Ellsberg, what word would you use to describe Edward Snowden? Is he a whistle-blower? Is he a criminal, what?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: First of all, he is certainly a whistle-blower by any reasonable standards.
If I'm a whistle-blower, he is a whistle-blower. I'm glad to hear, by the way, that there is some dispute about that because in my day whistle-blower wasn't an honorific term.
It was more usually equated with traitor. So, there has been progress in that way. Now it's something to argue about, about whether this person is really a whistle-blower.
And I would say there is no question that he is and I'm confident that he is not a traitor, any more than I am. And I'm not, or Mr. Mukasey.
By the way, when Mr. Mukasey says that the Russians now have access to what he has, I believe, actually, what Mr. Snowden, Edward Snowden, has told as of today, former Republican Sen. Gordon Humphrey, he assured them that the people are wrong, that he used to teach computer security to DIA, and that he was confident that even our own NSA wasn't capable of getting the secrets.
I think it's simply mistaken to say that he has either intentionally or inadvertently given that away. But in terms of the question of why we're spying on our friends, I don't think we're spying on the Chinese in order to find Muslim terrorists, may I suggest.
I think that what has been revealed about the degree of listening in we're doing to the rest of the world is that that's hardly a major purpose in spying on France, or Germany, or elsewhere, any more than it is here.
The benefit to the government, the executive branch -- it's not a benefit to us as a public -- of finding out, in the case of the Chinese trade negotiations, but any kind of negotiations they want, any kind of dissent.
I want to say very specifically what doesn't seem to have come out. Russell Tice, a 20-year veteran not only of DIA and CIA, but of the NSA, has stated, as have every other NSA whistle-blower, William Binney, Thomas Drake, Kirk Wiebe, have all stated that this is the tip of the iceberg, and that in fact NSA has not only the capability, but is now collecting and storing all the content of all these communications. So, to say it's just metadata is I think absolutely mistaken.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me let Michael Mukasey respond to that.
But, also , I would like to know how you characterize Edward Snowden and the U.S. efforts to get him back?
MICHAEL MUKASEY: Well, I guess I join with Mr. Ellsberg in saying he's not a traitor, but only because he hasn't committed treason as defined in the Constitution.
He is, however, a criminal. By his own admission, he has violated at least one, probably two or perhaps three sections of the Espionage Act. And he ought to be sent back.
JEFFREY BROWN: Hold on. Hold on, Mr. Ellsberg.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: I'm really disturbed by hearing a former attorney general describe Mr. Snowden as a criminal.
MICHAEL MUKASEY: Oh, come on.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: He's an accused person.
MICHAEL MUKASEY: He is an admitted criminal. He admitted that he stole.
JEFFREY BROWN: Just a second, Mr. Ellsberg.
JEFFREY BROWN: Go ahead, Mr. Mukasey.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Am I a criminal? Was I a traitor?
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Ellsberg, hold on a minute, please.
Let me let Mr. Mukasey respond.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: That's outrageous.
MICHAEL MUKASEY: Nobody says you were a traitor, Mr. Ellsberg.
Nobody says you were a traitor. Nobody said it then. Nobody responsible said it then. Nobody says it now.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Was I a criminal?
JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Ellsberg, please. I have to insist that you let him respond.
MICHAEL MUKASEY: The fact that you admitted it doesn't make it not a crime.
And you did it in a very responsible way. I will say that. The stuff that you stole was of negligible importance, because the most recent stuff that you stole was no more recent than three years old. And you preceded what -- your disclosures by offering it to two senators, both of whom turned you down, because they didn't want to be the people to disclose it.
George McGovern and William Fulbright both refused to take that stuff and disclose it. You disclosed it instead to The New York Times.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Mr. Ellsberg, just in our last minute, please come back to the Snowden case. What would you like to see happen? What would you like to see happen now?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: I will tell you exactly.
I would like to see Russell Tice, William Binney, Thomas Drake, and Kirk Wiebe testify before Congress under oath as to their knowledge that they are -- these programs are unconstitutional and criminal, which is why two of them resigned from the NSA.
They have asked to testify and they have been ignored by Congress. That is exactly the debate that Edward Snowden wanted to have. And it should take place in a new investigation in Congress, not in the Intelligence Committees, which have been totally co-opted, and obviously not involving the FISA court, which is essentially a joke, for how many hundreds of pages it's put out, and its thousands and thousands of acceptance. It's clearly a rubber-stamp court. We need to change that.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, very briefly, Mr. Mukasey, what would you like to see happen?
MICHAEL MUKASEY: I would like to see happen what happens in any other criminal case. That is to have Mr. Snowden sent back here and have him stand trial.
And so far as congressional hearings, all this material was gathered pursuant to statutes passed by Congress, under the supervision of an Article 3 court, and at the direction of the executive. So all three branches of the government were involved in it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Michael Mukasey and Daniel Ellsberg, thank you both very much.
MICHAEL MUKASEY: Thank you.
KWAME HOLMAN: House Republicans moved today to delay key provisions in President Obama's health care overhaul. It was the 38th time they have voted to repeal or scale back the law.
The latest bills would postpone the law's mandates for individual and employer-based coverage. The Obama administration already has delayed the mandate for larger businesses.
The Federal Reserve's timetable for dialing down its economic stimulus efforts remains flexible. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke underscored that today. He said he still thinks the Central Bank could start reducing its buying of government bonds this year. Bernanke told a House committee it depends on job creation, and is not preset.
BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve chairman: If the data are stronger than we expect, we will move more quickly, at the same time maintaining the accommodation through rate policy. If the data are less strong, if they don't meet the kinds of expectations we have about where the economy is going, then we would delay that process or even potentially increase purchases for a time.
KWAME HOLMAN: On Wall Street, stocks took Bernanke's testimony mostly in stride. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 18 points to close at 15,470. The Nasdaq rose 11 points to close at 3,610.
The Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for more than a decade pleaded not guilty today to hundreds of charges. Ariel Castro faces 977 counts, ranging from aggravated murder, involving a terminated pregnancy and rape, to kidnapping and assault. Castro is in jail on an $8 million bond. His trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 5.
Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen has announced the death of its second-in-command, Saeed al-Shihri. The group said today that al-Shihri, seen here in 2011, died of injuries from a U.S. drone strike in November. He was hit while speaking on his cell phone. Al-Shihri spent six years at a U.S. prison as a U.S. prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and fled to Yemen.
A prominent commander of the Pakistani Taliban voiced regret today for the shooting of Malala Yousafzai. The teenage advocate of educating girls was wounded in October. She has since recovered. Now, in a letter to the 16-year-old, Adnan Rashid calls the attack shocking and says he wished it had not happened. But he stopped short of apologizing.
Officials in Eastern India now say at least 22 children died Tuesday after eating a free school lunch contaminated with insecticide. Parents rushed to a nearby hospital with children who'd consumed the meal of rice, lentils, soybeans, and potatoes. Later, villagers vented their anger, toppling kiosks and smashing police buses. A state official said the grain may not have been properly washed.
Queen Elizabeth formally approved gay marriage in Britain today. That made it official a day after parliament voted to legalize same-sex unions. The new law allows gay couples to be married in both civil and religious ceremonies. The Church of England will not take part.
Those are some of the day's major stories.
GWEN IFILL: New research suggests there may be some good news in the struggle against dementia.
Two recently released studies show severe memory loss declining among healthier and better educated populations. In England and in Wales, dementia rates over the last two decades have dropped by 25 percent among those 65 and older.
And in Denmark, the percentage of elderly whose cognitive abilities were severely impaired also dropped between 1998 and 2010.
In the United States, about five million people have Alzheimer's disease, but that number is expected to rise sharply as baby boomers age.
For more, we're joined by Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Program at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Thank you for joining us.
DR. MURALI DORAISWAMY, Duke University School of Medicine: Thank you very much. Great pleasure to be on.
GWEN IFILL: What are the most hopeful signs you see in these new studies?
MURALI DORAISWAMY: Well, this is terrific news.
The so-called silver tsunami that we have all been scared of has just downgraded from grade five to grade four.
So, the key thing to keep in mind is we're not out of the woods, but what these two studies are telling us is that successive generations or even slightly younger cohorts separated by as little as 10 years apart may not have the same risk.
So in other words, our children or our grandchildren may not have the same risk for Alzheimer's that we do. The second thing I think that these studies are pointing out is if the risk for Alzheimer's is going down with successive generations, then that is good news because it indicates that it is likely to be due to environmental or lifestyle effects.
In other words, many of the public health interventions that have been put into place since the 1970s, such as encouraging Americans and people all over the world to exercise more, cutting down on smoking, the disappearance of the Marlboro Man, if you will, eating healthier, and indeed better education, I think all of these things might be having an effect.
GWEN IFILL: But do you see any red flags in this research? We're talking about England and Wales. They're not necessarily the same type of population as we see here in the U.S., for instance.
MURALI DORAISWAMY: That's not the main red flag.
There are studies that have been done in Sweden, in the U.S., in many countries that show the same essential decreasing incidence rates, if you will, for Alzheimer's in successive generations.
That said, these are also called observational studies, so these are not clinical trials, where people are sort of randomly assigned to different treatment arms. So, we cannot be sure, but I think the signs from all these different studies in multiple countries all are pointing in the same direction.
GWEN IFILL: But at an Alzheimer's meeting conference today, they were talking about memory loss being more of a warning sign than we have been necessarily led to believe. We have been told, well, losing your keys is not necessarily a problem, but now people are saying maybe it is. Help us with that.
MURALI DORAISWAMY: Well, memory problems have always been a warning sign of Alzheimer's.
I think what scientists are discovering now is that Alzheimer's can often start in a very, very mild form called a subjective cognitive impairment. These are not the so-called benign senior moments where you forget your key or you occasionally have a tip-of-the-tongue problem.
I think what we're talking about are much more serious memory problems, where people are not even remembering what they forgot. They're having trouble planning. They are forgetting the names of loved ones and those names never come back.
If you forget something and it comes back to you a couple of hours later, it's probably benign. But, that said, this research is still in early days, but I think the key point to remember is that there could be many, many causes of memory loss as you get older. If your memory problems start affecting your daily functioning, then that's when you need to take it more seriously.
And it doesn't always have to be Alzheimer's, because a number of conditions can mimic Alzheimer's, and many of them are reversible, such as depression or vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems.
GWEN IFILL: And there are other measures of brain health that you use to make these determinations, just besides diet or other health measures, right?
MURALI DORAISWAMY: Absolutely.
When we see someone coming in with mild memory complaints, we run the full battery of laboratory tests. We also do formal neuropsychological testing. And sometimes we have to get brain scans to make sure that it's not a small stroke or some other lesion in the brain that's causing these.
But for the vast majority of people with mild forgetfulness, I don't think they have anything to worry about.
GWEN IFILL: How do these stories square with -- we -- it feels like every six weeks, six months, we do another story on this program about another study.
How does this square about the one we heard that in the next 30 years, Americans with Alzheimer's will double? Are we talking about people who are alive now, as opposed to our children? Is it a question of scope?
MURALI DORAISWAMY: Well, so, first of all, you have to realize that many of these forward projections are merely estimates, and some of the previous projections fail to take into account the fact that with better health improvements, with reduction of cardiovascular disease, with reduction of smoking, with more exercise, the rates of Alzheimer's may actually go down in the future.
So, many of these projections are assuming that the rates are going to hold steady or are going to go up simply because of the rise in the older population.
So, the bottom line is public officials now probably have to revise some of these estimates a little bit lower, so, it's good news, but we're not entirely out of the woods.
GWEN IFILL: Now, dementia is a much broader umbrella than Alzheimer's specifically. So, if there's good news on dementia, does that always mean -- also mean there's good news on Alzheimer's and more specific cases?
MURALI DORAISWAMY: Most of the time, but not always.
It could very well be that much of the reductions that we're seeing are reductions in a type of dementia calls vascular dementia, which is accounted largely by cardiovascular disease, by strokes, by high blood pressure, by high cholesterol.
I suspect that that is the area where we have made the biggest gains, because we now have better ways to treat cardiovascular disease. I suspect that Alzheimer's has also gone down a little bit because we're getting better at education. And Alzheimer's is also linked to heart disease, even though not as strongly as vascular dementia.
GWEN IFILL: But we don't know for sure that the rate yet -- we don't have any reliable studies that show that the rate of Alzheimer's is declining, like the rate of dementia, as we see in these studies?
MURALI DORAISWAMY: So, I think what we have to differentiate is the risk vs. the total numbers.
The total numbers of Alzheimer's disease are going to climb upwards quite dramatically because older age and the rising number of people who live into their 70s, and 80s and 90s is a huge risk factor for Alzheimer's.
But within each generation, what we're seeing is a given person's risk for developing Alzheimer's might actually reduce and go down.
GWEN IFILL: Dr. Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University, thank you very much for helping us out.
MURALI DORAISWAMY: Thank you very much.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, what constitutes a decent wage?
Citing growing economic inequality, campaigns are under way around the country to pressure employers to boost workers' pay. Some cities, like San Jose and San Francisco, have raised their minimum wage. Washington, D.C., is trying a different approach.
Judy Woodruff has the story.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It looks like any other routine construction site, but the work at this location in Washington, D.C., is at the center of a major fight over wages that is capturing national attention. When completed, the building is set to become the first Wal-Mart in the nation's capital, one of six stores it says it plans to eventually open in D.C.
But now a battle over a living wage could derail that plan. Last week, the D.C. City Council approved legislation that would require select employers to pay an hourly rate that's almost 50 percent higher than the city's current minimum wage.
If signed into law, the measure, called the Large Retailer Accountability Act, would force businesses to pay workers at least $12.50 an hour.
The bill applies to stores with operating space of 75,000 square feet or greater and with annual corporate revenues of at least $1 billion. Unionized stores like the area grocery chain Giant would be exempt. Wal-Mart officials have said plans for three of the six D.C. locations would be dropped if the bill is signed, and could jeopardize the other three currently under construction.
Just before last week's vote, Wal-Mart's regional general manager criticized the bill in a piece in The Washington Post. "From day one," he wrote, "we have said this legislation is arbitrary and discriminatory and that it discourages investment in Washington."
The fight in D.C. is the latest in a growing number of battles and smaller demonstrations around the country to call for higher wages for lower-income workers. Just last week, employees at Smithsonian museums who work for contracted franchises like McDonald's went on a one-day strike over pay.
JOHN ROSS, protester: Now, I don't expect to make $70,000, but as an American, I expect a living wage. I'm a single father, and I make $10,000 a year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yesterday, workers rights groups spotlighted pay at McDonald's by calling attention to a new budgeting tool made for employees. As seen in this video, it acknowledged workers may need to hold a second job.
In D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray has not said whether he will sign or veto the city's wage measure. He had supported bringing in Wal-Mart.
We get two views on this battle over wages and what's at stake. David Madland is the director of the American Worker Project at the Center For American Progress. And Stephen Moore is the senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both.
STEPHEN MOORE, The Wall Street Journal: Hi.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David Madland, let me start with you.
First of all, how is the dollar amount of a living wage arrived at, and why should some retailers be required to pay it, and not others?
DAVID MADLAND, Center for American Progress: Well, usually, the standard is trying to get to something above a poverty level wage where you can really start to pay -- pay all your bills and not rely on kind of government assistance.
And so I think that's partly how this standard, $12.50, for the D.C. bill is set. And the law applies to large retailers, and I think that's a start. The idea here is that more -- larger, more profitable businesses can afford to pay this higher wage. I think, ultimately, you want to apply it to all classes of employers, but it's a start.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stephen Moore, why shouldn't big, successful retailers be asked to pay more?
STEPHEN MOORE: Well, I think one of the problems here for an area like Washington, D.C., which has a very high unemployment rate -- and, by the way, I live in Washington, so I know what's going on there -- is that there's little question that from the historical evidence that if you raise the wage rate from $7.25 to $12.50, which is an enormous increase, by the way, that you are going to increase unemployment.
The effects of this will be that stores like Wal-Mart will hire fewer workers. Now, the big issue with respect to Washington, D.C., Judy, is whether Wal-Mart will face even move into Washington as a result of this. They have six stores that are planned and they have basically said we may not -- three of those stores which aren't under construction yet may not happen.
Now, if that -- if they don't move in, you're talking about the loss of hundreds of jobs and maybe thousands.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Madland, what about that argument that if you impose this on a big retailer, they're just not going to come here? And in fact Wal-Mart has said that about Washington.
DAVID MADLAND: Yes.
So, I think it's hard to know exactly what Wal-Mart is going to do. But the studies that look at when cities or states raise their minimum wages, the studies -- the best studies, they will compare like a county in one adjacent -- one adjacent county to another or adjacent state to another. They show that raising minimum wage have no effect on unemployment.
Studies have also looked at what happens when Wal-Mart comes to town, also no effect on employment. So, they create some jobs with Wal-Mart, but they also simultaneously destroy some jobs at some smaller competitors. So there's no net impact on jobs here.
The question really is whether Wal-Mart is going to pay a living wage so that its employees and -- make a living wage. Not only Wal-Mart, but other large retailers can pay a living wage.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stephen Moore, he is basically saying the evidence is that it doesn't hurt employment.
STEPHEN MOORE: Yes. We must be looking at totally different studies. I have been studying this for 25 years.
I think there's general agreement among economists that when you raise the minimum wage, it causes more unemployment. The question is, are the benefits worth costs of this?
Look, I will just give you one example. I have two teenage sons. I guarantee -- I love them -- but they're not worth $12.50 an hour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They may not...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, these Wal-Mart jobs we're talking about that pay $7 or $8 an hour, these are starter jobs.
And one of the things I really worry about with respect to these super minimum wage laws is what you do when you raise that wage rate is some people are going to benefit because they will get a higher wage, but the people unquestionably that are hurt the most are the least skilled, the people with the least education, the people who don't have a job now and want that starter job.
What the minimum wage essentially does, it cuts off the bottom rungs of the ladder. That's very harmful.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that?
DAVID MADLAND: Well, really, what we have is a debate about what is the best theory to grow the economy?
And Stephen is arguing for what I would call trickle-down economics, this idea that if you make the laws as easy as possible on businesses and the wealthy, that wealth will trickle down to everyone else. I think that's been -- the experience we have had for the past 30 years shows that it's a failure.
Instead, the right way to grow an economy is from the middle out. You raise wages and benefits, so that you have a strong middle class that really has the purchasing power that you need to drive the economy. And core problem with today's economy is that workers do not have the purchasing power they need.
That means that businesses are not investing. So, by raising the minimum wage in D.C. and other states, that is part of a high-road strategy to really build a strong economy.
STEPHEN MOORE: Well, except let me make another point that I think is important here.
It is my belief -- and there are a lot of economists who have done studies that confirm this -- that the most successful anti-poverty program in the last 50 years has been Wal-Mart, because what Wal-Mart does is provide low prices, affordable prices to everything from toothpaste to tricycles to cell phones for low-income people who would not otherwise be able to afford them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you are talking about across the country?
STEPHEN MOORE: Exactly. And you're talking about tens of billions of dollars of gain.
And one thing I could never understand is why liberals hate Wal-Mart so much. I'm not here to apologize to Wal-Mart. There are things not to like about Wal-Mart, but it is a very effective anti-poverty program.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But to keep this on the question of the living wage, Stephen Moore, what about the other argument here that, especially in the big cities, where this has become an issue, the cost of living is higher?
It's harder to make it on a minimum wage in a city like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, or Washington, than it is in other parts of the country.
STEPHEN MOORE: OK. So, here's -- I guess my response would be this, that if you look at where is the unemployment rate the highest in the country, it is clearly in central cities, in Chicago, in New York, in Washington, D.C., where unemployment rate is 8.5 percent.
These have been playgrounds for liberal ideas for 50 years, one of them being the super minimum wage laws. I do think that this -- look, there's a lot of reasons for the high unemployment there, but my point is the last place you want to impose these really high wage requirements is in places that already have tens of thousands of people who don't have a job.
DAVID MADLAND: Well, look, Mississippi has just about the highest unemployment rate in the country. No minimum wage. Vermont, one of the highest minimum wages in the country, has one of the lowest unemployment rates.
Really, the evidence on the minimum wage is it doesn't affect employment. That's really...
STEPHEN MOORE: If that were the case, why not raise the minimum wage to $15 or $20 an hour?
DAVID MADLAND: At the levels we have seen, the minimum wage doesn't have an effect.
But the point -- the reason you raise the minimum wage is three reasons. First, it ensures that workers who work full-time are not in poverty. That's a key moral imperative. The second key thing is, it's good for the economy. It really is part of a strategy to ensure that we have purchasing power we need in the economy.
And the last is that it's good for taxpayers, because when you don't impose these kinds of wages, you actually end up subsidizing low-road employers, because you have to pay for things like food stamps and Medicaid.
STEPHEN MOORE: Except the problem, I think, look, remember, we're not talking about a national minimum wage, which is a different debate. We're talking about whether a city or a state should have a minimum wage.
The problem for Washington, D.C., is it borders right on Maryland or Virginia. And the problem is, if they raise this minimum wage -- and you're right -- we don't know what Wal-Mart is going to do. Maybe they're bluffing. Maybe they're not.
But if that minimum wage goes up to $12.50 and they don't build those stores, you're talking about the loss of thousands of jobs.
And, by the way, you talked about tax revenues. It's estimated that each Wal-Mart store would generate about $1 million of tax revenues for a city that really needs tax dollars.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You're not worried about the loss of jobs if...
DAVID MADLAND: Well, the best-case scenario here is that Wal-Mart comes to D.C. and pays the higher wage. That way, everyone wins. That's what we're -- that's what I think the real goal here is.
If they don't come, really, as I said, most studies show that when Wal-Mart comes to town, it has no net effect on jobs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to leave it there.
David Madland with the Center for American Progress, Stephen Moore, editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, we thank you both.
STEPHEN MOORE: Thank you.
DAVID MADLAND: Thanks very much.
GWEN IFILL: Next, we take you to the Asian nation of Myanmar, also known as Burma, where some farmers are paying a heavy price for the country's emerging economy.
Special correspondent Kira Kay reports.
KIRA KAY: The first drops of the rainy season have fallen on Mya Hlaing's rice paddies, and it is time to plow and sow. The rice will be ready for harvest in November. Mya Hlaing's land and the village that abuts it were settled by his forefathers while Myanmar was still a British colony.
MYA HLAING, farmer (through translator): I have been living in this village since I was born. Even my great-grandfather lived here. When I die, I wish to die in this village.
KIRA KAY: But, on Jan. 31, Mya came home to find an eviction notice nailed to his wall. The Myanmar government had entered into a major development agreement with a consortium of Japanese companies, like Mitsubishi, that will include high-tech, food and textile factories.
For impoverished Myanmar, this means lots of jobs and a surge of trade and revenue. But for Mya Hlaing and his neighbors, it meant they would have to move out in two weeks, or face jail.
MYA HLAING (through translator): This meant the destruction of our lives. We were ordered to move out, but we were not offered any other housing or compensation for our loss.
KIRA KAY: Like most of Myanmar's farmers, Mya Hlaing never held an ownership deed to his inherited fields, and for decades this wasn't a problem as the government allowed farmers broad rights to cultivate and live on the land. But in the late 1980s, that all changed, as a repressive dictatorship took power and started seizing land for military use and to hand out to the elites.
MAUNG MAUNGWIN, Win and Partners (through translator): Powerful government leaders, their children and relatives, together with their business cronies, lawlessly confiscated a great deal of agricultural land for their own interests.
KIRA KAY: Maung Maung Win is a lawyer based in Yangon.
MAUNG MAUNG WIN (through translator): Farmers who demanded their land back were jailed. There was hardly any compensation. If an offer was made, it was a meager amount. These confiscations created great difficulties for the farmers' lives.
KIRA KAY: In Mya Hlaing's case, it was the housing authority that seized the land in 1996, but never did anything with it. Officials let him stay, and even farm, as long as he also paid taxes.
But now foreign investors are coming to Myanmar and, all of a sudden, Mya Hlaing's land has become very valuable to the government that took it many years ago.
In the last year, as a reformist government has ushered in more democratic practices, economic sanctions have been dropped by countries that had for decades boycotted Myanmar, including the United States.
Already, the first signs of change are apparent. Celebrity-filled showroom openings light up the Yangon night. There's a hum of construction as new hotels and office towers rise. Modern shopping malls are making the lives of Burmese more comfortable.
PHIL ROBERTSON, Human Rights Watch: It is a get-rich moment, and the land tenure of poor people in Burma is the victim.
KIRA KAY: Phil Robertson is with Human Rights Watch.
PHIL ROBERTSON: What you have seen is a deprivation over the past 40 years in Burma, where people have not been able to invest, make -- do business and things like that, because it's been controlled by the state, controlled by the army.
Now people with connections are recognizing that this is the window, my three to five years, when I can make my family secure. It's a race to control things.
It's a race to control assets. It's a swamp that international investors are going to be wandering into as they look to invest in Burma in the future.
KIRA KAY: Lawyer Maung Maung Win says that with some 70 percent of the population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, the risk of insecurity from unresolved land issues is high.
MAUNG MAUNG WIN (through translator): Solving the land situation is the most important issue in Myanmar, but the current government cannot as yet handle it. These standoffs are happening everywhere around the country, and if we do not prioritize this issue, we are going to run into a lot more problems.
KIRA KAY: Some of these land disputes have turned violent. In February, dozens of people were hurt and an officer was killed when police used rubber bullets to disburse protesting crowds.
And near a Chinese-backed copper mine in central Myanmar, security forces have repeatedly clashed with villagers. In November, they burned protesting monks with phosphorus munitions. An investigative panel was assembled with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the helm.
But when she delivered the news that the project would continue, with compensation, the normally beloved democracy icon was berated, a vivid demonstration of how critical these standoffs are becoming.
But emboldened activists are also now seizing the moment of some new freedoms of speech and assembly to reassert farmers rights.
MAN (through translator): During the military regime these lands were taken.
KIRA KAY: Nay Myo Wai (ph) is working with farmers to measure every foot of their fields, establishing the exact boundaries with a GPS.
The fields sit near Yangon International Airport, and were given to a local company that is still on the U.S. sanctions lists. The company has said it paid the government $50 million, but farmers say they saw little or nothing of that money.
Now the company is laying in roads and walling off parcels, reportedly selling them to investors for up to $47,000 an acre.
Last year, Nay Myo Wai got a government permit to lead the farmers in what became the first legal protest in the country in more than 20 years. Now they are taking the GPS data and filing petitions with local authorities. And they have some hope. As part of the reforms process last year, Myanmar's parliament passed new land laws.
Although the state remains the official owner of all land in Myanmar, farmers may be granted formal recognition of their rights to occupy, mortgage, inherit, and sell their fields, and receive fair compensation for acres taken for legitimate government use. The farmers say the stakes are high.
MAN (through translator): Now we can't work on our land, so we have to go somewhere else as day laborers. We have to be ditch diggers, construction workers, carpenters.
But because we are not experienced, we are exploited by the employers. Now our families are broken. We are going around in circles.
KIRA KAY: It would have been unthinkable two years ago that protesting farmers could meet a foreign television crew. And they didn't seem bothered by the plainclothes police officers filming our conversation.
MAN (through translator): This could be a turning point. And it's about time. Honestly, we shouldn't have to protest. It should be taken care of by writing a letter. Protesting is not fun, and we don't want to do it. We just want authorities to resolve this issue.
KIRA KAY: Lawyer Maung Maung Win and his staff are also helping farmers navigate the complexities of the new land law, holding a walk-in clinic that is drawing farmers from around the country.
MAUNG MAUNG WIN (through translator): When they took over your land, did any negotiation take place?
KIRA KAY: These farmers fields were seized for a naval base that never materialized. They had been allowed to keep farming and have tax documents to prove their many years of occupancy.
But in recent months, the military started renting out the land for local factories and the farmers were told to stop planting. Some of their huts were bulldozed. The lawyers and farmers decide to contest the original land seizure with a newly established parliamentary commission. But Maung Maung Win admits he faces an uphill battle.
MAUNG MAUNG WIN (through translator): There's no real rule of law and corruption remains within the courts and administration. We have sometimes been intimidated because of our activities.
We do now enjoy some freedom of expression because of the new constitution and our newspapers are no longer censored. But all these developments are mostly taking place on the surface of society, and injustices continue to take place.
KIRA KAY: Back in the rice fields outside Yangon, farmer Mya Hlaing has organized his neighbors. They put up signs in defiance of the eviction notice, stating they were rightful occupants who pay taxes. And Mya Hlaing began studying Myanmar's land laws.
MYA HLAING (through translator): I think this project is important and will bring in benefits for our country. But we never had a voice. If there is exploitation, we have to fight against it.
KIRA KAY: Just a few weeks ago, with Japanese investors making their impatience clear, Myanmar government officials announced they will survey the area to set a compensation package using -- quote -- "international standards."
Mya Hlaing says he will leave if the deal is fair, but he continues to till his rice paddies, hoping to squeeze in one more harvest before he leaves his ancestral home for good.
JEFFREY BROWN: Kira's story is part of our partnership with the Bureau for International Reporting.
GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, the Republican Party's civil war in Wyoming, where an incumbent senator is getting a challenge from a candidate with a familiar name.
LIZ CHENEY, R-Wyo., senatorial candidate: I'm running because I believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate.
GWEN IFILL: Liz Cheney announced her plans in a Web video yesterday. The conservative commentator and eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney is challenging three-term incumbent Mike Enzi in next year's Republican primary. Cheney calls herself a Tea Party sympathizer, and argues Enzi's long stay in Washington is part of the problem.
LIZ CHENEY: We can no longer afford to simply go along to get along. We can't continue business as usual in Washington.
GWEN IFILL: Cheney actually spent much of her life in and around Washington, before moving back to her home state last fall. Her father was a longtime congressman and White House aide. Later, she worked at the State Department.
Her announcement came shortly after Enzi announced his own plans to run for reelection in a typically low profile written statement.
"Working behind the scenes," he said, "this is what I have been doing since I was elected, and this is what needs to be done."
Senate Republican colleagues, including Wyoming's other senator, John Barrasso, quickly declared support for Enzi. Because Republicans heavily outnumber Democrats in Wyoming, the candidate who wins the GOP primary will almost certainly go on to take the general election.
We get more on the duel in the Cowboy State from Jonathan Martin. He's national political correspondent for The New York Times.
Jonathan, how unusual is it to have a sitting senator challenged by such a high-profile person at this time?
JONATHAN MARTIN, The New York Times: Right.
Well, it's unique in this sense, because we have seen these challenges in primaries in recent years. It's been with a senator who has crossed the party base in some fashion.
GWEN IFILL: Right.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Either they had stopped going home, in the case of Dick Lugar from Indiana, or they took some really unpopular votes with their conservative base.
We don't have that in this case. This is more of a matter of a small conservative state and somebody who has a famous last name in that state and somebody who is a very formidable figure in her own right who wants to have a Senate seat.
And I think there was an assumption -- or a hope, at least -- in the Cheney camp that Sen. Enzi was going to call it a career. He has served three terms. He's up next year. He's almost 70 years old. Well, that didn't happen. And so I think Cheney decided to just go forward with it.
GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask this. Wyoming is a big state in acreage.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Geographically, yes.
GWEN IFILL: But, politically, it's small.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Very small.
GWEN IFILL: So, is there bad blood between the Cheneys and the Enzis?
JONATHAN MARTIN: Just the opposite.
In fact, Mike Enzi and Dick Cheney have been friends for 35 years. I was out there earlier this month. And I had a long chat with Sen. Enzi. He first got to know Dick Cheney when Cheney was in the U.S. House and Enzi was the mayor of a town called Gillette. They were fly-fishing friends. They go way, way back.
And it is a small political state, in the sense that everybody knows each other. I asked Sen. Enzi if he had heard from Dick Cheney. And he said, no, but he expected to if his daughter did in fact run. We learned yesterday that he still has not yet heard from his old friend.
GWEN IFILL: Or from her either.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Right. Well, she called him to say that he was thinking about running a few months ago.
GWEN IFILL: But not that she had decided.
JONATHAN MARTIN: That's right.
GWEN IFILL: What is Sen. Enzi's reputation?
JONATHAN MARTIN: Yes.
GWEN IFILL: You say -- you mentioned that other challenged incumbents are people who were taken out by Tea Party or something like that.
JONATHAN MARTIN: That's right.
GWEN IFILL: Does he have a reputation for being too what?
JONATHAN MARTIN: He's a low-key senator.
The cliché in Washington, Gwen, as you know, is show horse or a workhorse, right? He's a workhorse. He's a behind-the-scenes, consensus-oriented senator who votes conservative down the line. You can't find many votes that are not conservative.
The one area where he could be vulnerable is, he supported a measure to impose sales taxes on Internet sales. But, besides that, he's a pretty conservative fellow.
The vulnerability -- and we're seeing this with Cheney's comments here already -- is that he worked with Democrats. He was very close to the late Senator Ted Kennedy on the Health and Education Committee. And so he is known as somebody that...
GWEN IFILL: Too accommodating.
JONATHAN MARTIN: ... in the eyes of some conservatives is too accommodating.
GWEN IFILL: Right.
JONATHAN MARTIN: And the Obama era, and with Democrats in the majority in the Senate, they would need somebody in this way of thinking who is more pugnacious.
GWEN IFILL: And what is her reputation? She is pugnacious?
JONATHAN MARTIN: She is pugnacious, right. She is sort of a hard-charging, true-believing conservative, and on foreign policy especially, very hawkish.
That's where she's probably best known is on the foreign policy issues. And so I think she will run at him from a generational standpoint. He's 69 right now. She's 46. Time for new energy, those kind of ...
GWEN IFILL: In fact, today, she said that she thought maybe he was kind of confused, didn't think she wouldn't run for his seat.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Confused was a word that I was struck by too.
So, I think she will run a generational campaign. And I think it will also be ideological, in the sense that, in her words, he's a get-along/go-along person, and the party in the Obama era needs someone who is going to really take it to the Democrats.
GWEN IFILL: Now, this comparison may not hold up, but Hillary Clinton, when she went to New York, moved to New York and ran for Senate, was branded in some circles as a carpetbagger, and it didn't stop her from getting re-elected.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Correct.
GWEN IFILL: Liz Cheney, even though her family goes way back in Wyoming, was raised and spent most of her formative years in Washington.
Does that hurt her?
JONATHAN MARTIN: Right. I think that's going to be a challenge for her.
In fact, the clue that I got yesterday that she knows that is her biggest challenge is that video that she used to announce her campaign, the first minute or so was spent -- was effectively a genealogy rundown of her family roots in Wyoming. That told me that she knows she has to overcome that issue.
She's never lived there full-time until last year. People are going to be suspicious of the fact that she came back to the state to run. And I think that's probably her biggest challenge right now.
GWEN IFILL: Why announce now? The deadline for announcing isn't until next year. This is a 2014 race. Why are they getting into this now? Money?
JONATHAN MARTIN: Well, when I talked to Mike Enzi earlier this month, he tipped me off that she had called and said that she was thinking about running.
GWEN IFILL: Right.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Once that was published, I think it probably fast-forwarded some of the thinking on this score.
It was very interesting last night the one after-the-other announcement. My sense is that Enzi heard footsteps, that he knew that she was moving towards an announcement, and he wanted to put out word that in fact he was in fact running for a fourth term.
GWEN IFILL: Does she get a lot of national money and support for a race like this?
JONATHAN MARTIN: Well, that's going to be Enzi's challenge, Gwen, is that he is not a good fund-raiser.
When I asked him out there how much he had raised in the previous quarter, he shrugged at me. He didn't know the answer. Most senators would know to the penny how much they raised in a previous quarter. That is going to be his challenge, because she will raise a lot of national money, a lot of conservative money. And this is a campaign that Wyoming has not seen for a long, long time. And it's going to be a really tough race, but fun for us to watch.
GWEN IFILL: Always fun for us to watch.
Jonathan Martin of The New York Times, thank you so much.
JONATHAN MARTIN: Thanks, Gwen.
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. During that time, his activism and influence never ceased.
Photos courtesy of "Mandela: The Authorized Portrait," Andrew McMeel Publishing.
Read the full story.
Mandela and Tambo
In 1952, shortly after his first arrest, Nelson Mandela opened a legal firm with Oliver Tambo. Mandela and Tambo was the first all-African legal firm in South Africa. Photo: Photo by Jurgen Schadeberg
Over the course of five years, Sophiatown -- a multiracial slum that was considered Johannesburg’s "bohemia" -- was destroyed in an effort to force black families out of their homes. Mandela frequently helped organize protests with the African National Congress, an anti-apartheid party.
In 1959, police beat a group of women from Cato Manor in Durban who were protesting liquor laws. Photo: Photo by Laurie Bloomfield
We Won't Move
Residents of Sophiatown protested against the police’s forced removals. But their “We Won’t Move” campaign couldn’t stop the demolition of Sophiatown. Photo: Photo by Jurgen Schadeberg
Mandela, then dubbed "the Black Pimpernel" (after "The Scarlet Pimpernel"), was arrested for seditious activities in August of 1962. He would remain in prison for 27 years. Photo: Photo by Getty Images
Members of the African National Congress who fought against apartheid, used Rivonia, a suburb of Johannesburg, as their base. Photo: Historical Papers, U. of Witwatersrand Library
In 1963, Mandela and his fellow defendants began their famous "Rivonia Trial." Photo: Courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing
'I Am Prepared to Die'
“It is an ideal for which I have lived. It is an ideal for which I still hope to live and see realised. But if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Mandela always believed blacks were equal to whites. Handwritten notes from a court statement reveal the depth of his conviction. Photo: Historical Papers, U. of Witwatersrand Library
Mandela served the majority of his time in prison at Robben Island and worked in a lime quarry as part of detention. It is said that his labor damaged Mandela’s eyes and lungs.
Even while imprisoned, Mandela maintained his political activism. He, along with fellow ANC members, members from the PAC and the Unity Movement, worked to provide political education for prisoners. Photo: Courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing
With Mandela in jail, physically removed from the struggle against the apartheid regime, the “Free Mandela” movement exploded. Photo: Historical Papers, U. of Witwatersrand Library
In 1976, thousands of young students marched through Soweto in protest of the government’s use of Afrikaans language in school. Police opened fire, killing several children. The “Soweto Massacre,” as it came to be known, marked a turning point in the struggle against white rule, as white and black South Africans united in opposition to the crackdown. Photo: Photo by Sipa Press/Snapper Media
“It was at such times when I perceived the beauty of even the small, closed-in corner of the world, that I knew that some day my people and I would be free.”
-- Nelson Mandela, from “Long Walk to Freedom,” his best-selling autobiography that he began writing secretly in prison on Robben Island. Photo: Historical Papers, U. of Witwatersrand Library
Fighting for Rights
Anti-apartheid groups would turn out in the thousands for regular mass actions as part of the campaign against the white minority government. Photo: The Bigger Picture
Prison Cell Home
Robben Island -- an Alcatraz-like prison off the coast of South Africa -- was where Mandela was held for 18 of his 27 years of captivity. The list of prominent prisoners who have lived behind its walls is extensive, including current South African President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Robben Island Museum
Violence on All Fronts
Throughout the 1980s, violence did not exclusively affect black South Africans. After land mines planted by the ANC killed one family, a group of white farmers dug graves for the deceased. Photo: The Bigger Picture
Through the Rubble
Poverty, injustice and the threat of violence haunted South Africa in the years Mandela was a prisoner. In this photo, a woman who escaped a squatter camp in the Cape takes with her all that is left of her house. Photo: The Bigger Picture
Free at Last
On Feb. 11, 1990, after nearly three decades in prison, Nelson Mandela was freed. He addressed a sea of people at Cape Town’s City Hall. Photo: Photo by Getty Images
'Peace, Democracy and Freedom'
“Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans. I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”
-- Mandela addresses the crowd outside Cape Town City Hall, following his release from prison. Photo: The Bigger Picture
The Edge of Anarchy
Mandela’s freedom from prison did not immediately dampen violence in South Africa. Power struggles between black political parties like his ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party resulted in bloodshed. The last gasp of the apartheid regime often fueled the conflicts. At times the country teetered on the edge of anarchy. Photo: The Bigger Picture
In 1993, Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize. He shared the prize with South African President F.W. de Klerk for their efforts to bring a peaceful end to apartheid. Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images
On April 27, 1994, Mandela voted for the first time. Two weeks later, his African National Congress party won the democratic election and Mandela became president. Photo: Courtesy of Corbis
A Free Man
At 95 years old, Nelson Mandela is known worldwide as a champion of human rights and the liberator of millions of people. Even before he was freed from prison, black South Africans called him “Tata” or “our father.” Photo: Photo by Jurgen Schadeberg
View photos of Nelson Mandela's prison years and release.
Former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela turns 95 on Thursday. He spent many of his years in jail while still fighting for a democratic and free society.
In all, Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of those on Robben Island, a rock quarry off the coast of Cape Town. He and eight other African National Congress leaders were convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and were sentenced to life in jail in 1964.
Mandela and the other prisoners were completely isolated, got little to eat and had to undertake the grueling work of pounding rocks into gravel.
What kept him and the others sane was the community they formed for themselves, according to Gay McDougall. During apartheid, McDougall was director of the Southern African Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, assisting in the defense of thousands of political prisoners in South Africa.
"One of the things that was extraordinary about [Mandela] is his sense that being in a group -- a collective -- of people committed to the same principles, along with making collective decisions about the way forward, is an essential element in movement-building and survival in circumstances that are harsh and oppressive," she said.
Mandela's cell on Robben Island. Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images.
"People refer to 'Robben Island University' because they began to study" everything from politics to their individual areas of expertise, said McDougall.
Mandela also knew he was serving a larger purpose in jail and didn't hold it against the guards, she said. "That lack of personal animosity toward those in charge of his confinement was important to his survival."
Times were tough, though. It was in prison that he learned about the death of one of his children from his first wife Evelyn Mase.
His health also took a toll. In 1982, he was moved to the maximum security Pollsmoor Prison on the main land, where he was believed to have contracted tuberculosis. He has fought respiratory ailments ever since.
An international movement helped secure Mandela's release in 1990 at age 71. When he emerged from jail, no one knew what he would look like -- that's how closely the apartheid government had shielded him from the world, said McDougall.
"I thought he looked remarkably fit and handsome, upright and dignified," she said. And the speech he gave in Cape Town upon his release was remarkable in that he "didn't give an inch" from his original demands going into jail, she added.
"The need to unite the people of our country is as important a task now as it always has been. No individual leader is able to take on this enormous task on his own. It is our task as leaders to place our views before our organization and to allow the democratic structures to decide," Mandela said on Feb. 11, 1990.
(Read his full speech on the ANC website.)
Mandela helped negotiate the end of apartheid under then-President F.W. de Klerk. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and his ANC party won multi-racial democratic elections a year later. Mandela became president of South Africa, serving one term.
On the June 28 PBS NewsHour, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, special correspondent for NBC News, discussed Mandela's legacy and how democracy helped shape South Africa:Watch Video
Slideshow assembled by Colleen Shalby. View more of our World coverage.
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., check out a printed version of the Affordable Care Act at a May press conference on Capitol Hill. Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.
More than three years since President Barack Obama signed the health care bill into law, and a year removed from the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the policy overhaul, the fight over the Affordable Care Act rages on.
A day after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to delay Obamacare's individual and employer mandates, the 38th and 39th time the chamber has voted to repeal or modify the law, Mr. Obama will use a White House appearance Thursday to tout the benefits of his signature domestic achievement. The president is expected to highlight a provision that requires insurance companies to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or improvements to health care delivery, or issue refunds to their customers.
Updated 12 p.m. ET - Watch President Obama's statement about healthcare:
And minutes after the president began speaking, John Boehner held a dueling press event:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gave a preview of the president's remarks on Wednesday, noting that 8.5 million families had received rebates, with an average payment of nearly $100. "This is just one of the many ways the Affordable Care Act is giving consumers a better value for their health care dollar and making our health care system stronger," Carney said.
The public push comes two weeks after the Obama administration announced that it would delay the enforcement of the employer mandate until 2015, giving businesses with more than 50 employees an extra year to provide health insurance to workers or face penalties as much as $3,000.
Following Wednesday's votes in the House, Speaker John Boehner released a statement urging the president and Senate Democrats to support the Republican-led effort and delay the mandates for all Americans.
"If the president's going to give relief to businesses, he ought to give relief from these harsh mandates to families and individuals, too," the Ohio Republican said. "Yet the White House has signaled the president's intention to veto these efforts, thus opposing basic fairness and laying bare the hypocrisy of Washington Democrats."
Politico's Paige Winfield Cunningham and Kyle Cheney note that the votes were intended to put House Democrats in a tough spot. And moments after the second vote on delaying the individual mandate, the National Republican Campaign Committee sent out a press release blasting the 13 House Democrats who supported the deferment for employers, but not individuals.
Ahead of the votes, Carney called the GOP approach a "futile effort," and also took aim at the party's motives.
"There are few things more cynical than the House Republicans who have made it their mission in life to repeal the Affordable Care Act and deny the American people the benefits that they would receive from implementation of the Affordable Care Act, claiming that they are concerned about the delay of the implementation of a relatively small provision within the Affordable Care Act," Carney said.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff, meanwhile, go inside the White House plan to sell the health care law, and find that the operation has its roots in the old Obama campaign organization:
The focus on young, minority voters. The heavy reliance on microtargeting. The enthusiasm about nontraditional communications channels. The analytics-rich modeling. It sounds like the Obama campaign. And administration officials don't shy away from the comparison.
"When I hear the conventional wisdom about Obamacare," said Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy, "this is the difference between the Karl Roves who put their fingers to the wind and the Nate Silvers of the world who looked at the numbers."
But the effort will have to go far beyond engineering turnout among key demographics. The administration needs to build more insurance marketplaces than they ever expected, and create an unprecedented IT infrastructure that lets the federal government's computers seamlessly talk to the (often ancient) systems used in state Medicaid offices. They need to fend off repeal efforts from congressional Republicans -- like Wednesday's vote to delay the individual mandate -- and somehow work with red-state bureaucracies that want to see Obamacare fail. And they can't escape the fact that the law, three years after passage, remains stubbornly unpopular.
Given how deeply divided the American public is on the health care overhaul, both sides are likely to keep up the fight, with the president singing the law's praises, and House Republicans sure to set up vote number 40.
A dozen GOP senators have met regularly with senior White House aides over the past six weeks to talk about a big fiscal deal as this fall's debt limit deadline looms, National Journal's Chris Frates reports.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll on immigration reform proposals finds a majority of Democrats support, while a majority of Republicans oppose, the pathway to citizenship provision. And while majorities from both parties support adding 20,000 agents and 700 miles of fence on the U.S.-Mexico border, support dropped significantly when the survey added the $46 billion cost to questions about those border security measures.
Emails obtained by the Washington Post show Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell helped arrange a meeting for Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams to pitch his dietary supplement to the state's secretary of health.
In the race to succeed McDonnell as Virginia Governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe holds a narrow lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli, 43 percent to 39 percent, in a poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.
Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., unveiled a new media shield bill on Wednesday.
The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs reports that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will speak at the 10th Anniversary North Iowa Wing Ding Fundraiser next month.
Team Romney is reuniting to celebrate a PAC next week in Washington.
A grand jury in California is investigating whether the sources of $11 million in donations for 2012 ballot measure campaigns can remain secret.
Iowa officials fired the agent who complained about speeding by the governor's state trooper drivers. The agent spoke with the Des Moines Register Wednesday.
The Senate's newest member, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, received his committee assignments Wednesday and won't be on a panel that addresses one of his pet issues, environmental policy.
The new Vital Statistics on Congress counts how the 112th Congress compared to previous ones in passing legislation. Spoiler alert -- it was the least productive in more than six decades.
The Verge slickly presents with infographics how the National Security Agency's surveillance and data collection programs work.
A high school intern for the Daily Caller got under press secretary Jay Carney's skin at Wednesday's White House briefing after asking a question about George Zimmerman's security.
Wednesday was also the day a Capitol Hill intern would grab Twitter's attention, with an enthusiastic leaked email about the Pledge of Allegiance and some eyebrow-raising social media posts.
Buzzfeed will offer a one-year $100,000 national security reporting fellowship to honor Michael Hastings, whose 2010 Rolling Stone story ended Gen. Stanley McChrystal's military career.
Republican George P. Bush, son of Jeb and nephew of George W., will face a Democratic challenger from El Paso in the race for Texas land commissioner if he wins his primary.
Liz Cheney, who is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Enzi in a 2014 primary, said her opponent must be "confused" when he responded to her campaign announcement with surprise Tuesday. She had told him before she announced that she was thinking about running, she said.
When Wyoming hit the political news cycle this week with Cheney's announcement, enterprising reporters gravitated to the quirks of the state. The Atlantic found that yes, Wyoming still has only two sets of escalators. And the New Republic argues its small population doesn't deserve two Senate seats.
NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshowGwen Ifill spoke with Jonathan Martin of the New York Times about Cheney's decision to run against Enzi in the Cowboy State.
Watch the segment here or below:Watch Video
On our Making Sen$e page, Fulbright scholar and stand-up comedian Jesse Appell explains how a Chinese pop song illustrates similarities between the U.S. and Chinese economies, and what puts the Chinese in worse shape. Don't miss his parody of "Gangnam Style."
Paul Solman examines the toxic effects of China's cut-throat economy and obsession with wealth.
Science Wednesday highlights new organisms shining a light on microbial dark matter.
How will scientists name the new moon discovered orbiting Neptune? Find out in Lunch in the Lab.
If Rolling Stone ran this letter as their cover, it would be pretty Rock'n'roll pic.twitter.com/CZmoSTDt8E— Dan Milano (@DanMilanoABC) July 17, 2013
Liz Cheney at campaign launch presser: "It's not true -- I did not tell Sen. Enzi I wouldn't run if he did. I suppose he's just confused."— Mike O'Brien (@mpoindc) July 17, 2013
Simone Pathe and desk assistant Mallory Sofastaii contributed to this report.
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By Paul Solman
Does the American dream still exist for American boomers? Photo courtesy of Thanasis Zovoilis/Flickr via Getty.
Paul Solman frequently answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his Making Sen$e page. Today's query is about the lasting value of the American dream as baby boomers approach retirement. As we've been documenting here on Making Sen$e and on our new site "New Adventures for Older Workers," retirement looks a lot different than it used to. But has the American dream always been a ruse?
David Soasey -- Vancouver, Wash: Paul, thanks for the huge and invaluable service you are providing to those of us contemplating our "retirement" years as well as to those who will presumably be contributing by their precious life force (taxes on wages) to help enable it in the coming decades.
There is an elephant in the living room, however, and I believe you have alluded to it many times without, perhaps, saying it plainly. That is that the great majority of our potential "baby boom" retirees have little or no assets, nor do they have funds set aside to live on for even six months, let alone the rest of their lives.
Social Security checks, Medicare and food stamps represent the only income and/or support they will have going into the future. We have millions of people who are about to be trapped, resigned to infernal poverty and insecurity for the rest of their lives -- in other words, barely making it, surviving by a thread and marginal in every sense of the word.
Already thousands of them fall into a sort of structured destitution each day without any choice in the matter. The irony is that the "safety net" represents hope, the only hope they have of not being thrown out on the street and starving. But it is only a bone. And that bone, as you have so aptly described it, has been or is about to be stripped bare.
In the final analysis, the so-called "American dream" has always been a terrible ruse on the working man. It was as unreal as believing each of us could look like movie stars, be successful entrepreneurs or own a "McMansion." Part of that dream was the carrot always hanging just ahead, of not having to work anymore and collecting Social Security. If you ask most of these boomers, I think they would say that they expected the retirement years to represent true happiness and the end of troubles.
Well for so many, that isn't what lies across the threshold they must cross; it is just the beginning of even more trouble and pain, and for many, hopelessness.
Funding Social Security and Medicare is critical, but being brutally truthful with ourselves about why we must do it is even more so. The lie of the dream has caught up with us. We must find a way to help each other, and if we don't, the need will overwhelm our people and economy.
Paul Solman responds: As my dad used to say when I was going too fast, Dan, "hold your horses." You are startlingly right about insufficient savings in America. Just look at our brand new online tool "New Adventures for Older Workers." Everyone should take a ride through this comprehensive piece of retirement software.
And yes, for many, the "American dream," which so struck Alexis de Tocqueville when he toured the country in the 1830s, ain't what it used to be. As George Carlin famously said, "It's called 'the American Dream' 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it." It is generally accepted that for decades now, the economy has been bifurcating, the split widening between those with less and more money.
But when George W. Bush characterized the split, was he wrong to call it a division between the haves and the have-mores? Compared to truly poor people around the world, or most people ever in the recorded history of the world, are we not comparatively well-off? It's useful to remember that almost no one starves or freezes to death in America.
Disagree if you like. But when you write that the American dream "has always been a terrible ruse on the working man," that's just nonsense. Emulation of the Joneses may come from an unappealing place in our animal psyches and may often have unpleasant side effects. But it sure does work, doesn't it?
I leave the last word to Adam Smith in his "Theory of Moral Sentiments," where he captured the fundamental ambiguity of what was then the "British Dream":
This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.
But, as the following Panglossian passage makes clear, emulation of those in "higher stations" is what drives the material world ever onward and upward. And so we meet "the invisible hand," in much the same sense that is is used today, and the value of the competitive drive.
A watch... that falls behind above two minutes in a day, is despised by one curious in watches. He sells it perhaps for a couple of guineas, and purchases another at fifty, which will not lose above a minute in a fortnight. The sole use of watches, however, is to tell us what o'clock it is, and to hinder us from breaking any engagement, or suffering any other inconveniency by our ignorance in that particular point. But the person so nice with regard to this machine, will not always be found either more scrupulously punctual than other men, or more anxiously concerned upon any other account, to know precisely what time of day it is. ... How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility?...
The poor man's son, whom heaven in its anger has visited with ambition, when he begins to look around him, admires the condition of the rich. He finds the cottage of his father too small for his accommodation, and fancies he should be lodged more at his ease in a palace. He is displeased with being obliged to walk a-foot, or to endure the fatigue of riding on horseback. He sees his superiors carried about in machines, and imagines that in one of these he could travel with less inconveniency...
He is enchanted with the distant idea of this felicity. It appears in his fancy like the life of some superior rank of beings, and, in order to arrive at it, he devotes himself for ever to the pursuit of wealth and greatness. To obtain the conveniencies which these afford, he submits in the first year, nay in the first month of his application, to more fatigue of body and more uneasiness of mind than he could have suffered through the whole of his life from the want of them. ... Through the whole of his life he pursues the idea of a certain artificial and elegant repose which he may never arrive at, for which he sacrifices a real tranquility that is at all times in his power, and which, if in the extremity of old age he should at last attain to it, he will find to be in no respect preferable to that humble security and contentment which he had abandoned for it...
Power and riches appear then to be, what they are, enormous and operose machines contrived to produce a few trifling conveniencies to the body, consisting of springs the most nice and delicate, which must be kept in order with the most anxious attention, and which in spite of all our care are ready every moment to burst into pieces, and to crush in their ruins their unfortunate possessor. They are immense fabrics, which it requires the labour of a life to raise, which threaten every moment to overwhelm the person that dwells in them, and which while they stand, though they may save him from some smaller inconveniencies, can protect him from none of the severer inclemencies of the season. They keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm, but leave him always as much, and sometimes more exposed than before, to anxiety, to fear, and to sorrow; to diseases, to danger, and to death...
Our imagination... in times of ease and prosperity expands itself to every thing around us. ... The pleasures of wealth and greatness, when considered in this complex view, strike the imagination as something grand and beautiful and noble, of which the attainment is well worth all the toil and anxiety which we are so apt to bestow upon it.
And it is well that nature imposes upon us in this manner. It is this deception which rouses and keeps in continual motion the industry of mankind. ...The earth by these labours of mankind has been obliged to redouble her natural fertility, and to maintain a greater multitude of inhabitants. ... (T)he proud and unfeeling landlord views his extensive fields, and without a thought for the wants of his brethren... (but the) capacity of his stomach bears no proportion to the immensity of his desires, and will receive no more than that of the meanest peasant. The rest he is obliged to distribute. ... The rich... consume little more than the poor, and in spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they mean only their own conveniency... they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species...
In 2012, Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny spoke about the protests in Russia leading up to elections that President Vladimir Putin won handily.
In a Feb. 29, 2012, interview on the PBS NewsHour, Alexei Navalny, a vocal critic of the Russian government, said despite more than a decade of economic growth in Russia, President Vladimir Putin could have done more to help his country.
"Simply comparing Russia with neighboring countries, we see that other former Soviet Union countries grew even stronger. So Putin's time is a time of lost opportunities. Russia had and still has enormous oil, gas and other energy resources, and prices are very high."
On Thursday, Navalny was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison in what critics called a politically motivated trial because of his anti-government stance.
The criminal charges against Navalny included stealing $500,000 from a state-owned timber company during his time as adviser to the governor of Kirov, Russia, a city about 900 miles northeast of Moscow.
In the Kirov courtroom, Navalny was using his smartphone during the verdict reading, and sent a message to his supporters via Twitter: "Oh, well. Don't get bored without me. And, importantly, don't be idle," reported the Associated Press.
Russian news agencies reported that Navalny would stay in a detention facility in Kirov before being sent to a prison.
He had been planning to run for mayor of Moscow, but his campaign said he would withdraw his name following the verdict.
In the 2012 interview, Navalny also responded to allegations from his opponents that the protest movement in Russia and he himself were connected to the West:
"I'm quite an ordinary citizen who lives on the outskirts of Moscow. My children go to a regular Moscow school and kindergarten. My life is completely transparent, which is absolutely not the case for Putin's officials, whose children live abroad, who have accounts in Switzerland, the United States and Great Britain.
"So the question arises, who is more connected with the West, the opposition or Russian corrupt ruling class?"
View more of our World coverage.
No Labels Problem Solvers gather at the Upper Senate Park to promote their bipartisan legislative package that targets Washington gridlock. Photo provided by No Labels
New data from the Vital Statistics on Congress shows that the 112th Congress was the least productive in more than six decades. It passed only 561 bills, the lowest amount since record-keeping began in 1947. And looking at what the 113th has accomplished so far, reveals it may be on track to beat that record. Just recently, no deal was made to avoid a hike in student loan interest rates, a version of the farm bill passed in the House without food stamp funding, immigration reform stalled, the filibuster fight erupted in the Senate, and House Republicans made their 39th attempt to repeal or modify the Affordable Care Act.
Gridlock in Congress is nothing new, but one bipartisan group of 81 lawmakers, is trying to find new ways to make progress.
The goal of No Labels is to create a platform where legislators can work together on solutions to make Congress effective. Co-founder Kiki McLean said "this is a long-term movement to change the culture of how our government's working. And the fact of the matter is, Congress doesn't work right now, we don't have an environment of trust, and this is a group of 81 leaders from both chambers, both parties, who want to make it work."
On Thursday, "Problem Solvers" of the No Labels coalition gathered in the Senate Park to show their support for bipartisan collaboration and to promote the Make Government Work! package, which they describe as "nine common-sense bills designed to make government more efficient, effective and less wasteful." These include consolidating government agencies, eliminating automatic spending increases ("No Adding, No Padding"), cutting government travel ("Stay in Place, Cut the Waste"), and reducing energy waste. So far, they take credit for getting Congress to pass legislation that withholds members' salaries if they fail to pass a budget on time. Whether or not the bill actually withholds pay is up for debate.
No Labels needs numbers to pass legislation, so they regularly push for new members to join their coalition. "The most important thing that's going to happen is members of Congress are going to hear from constituents in their districts all across August recess telling them to get back, get back there and join problem solvers and be part of the solution," said McLean.
At the rally various members of Congress stood up to say why they joined the coalition.
Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., said: "Bottom line is to get things done. If not, get someone in my seat to do it."
No Labels co-chair, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., added: "No Labels is simply this, putting our country above ourselves. Talking to each other, not about each other."
And Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., reasoned that "no party has a monopoly of good ideas, we have to do it together."
The group emerged in January with 24 members and has since grown to 81, made up of 37 Republicans, 1 Independent, and 43 Democrats. "At the end of the day this is really about building trust and the infrastructure of trust, so that you actually get problem-solving ahead of partisanship," said McLean.
JEFFREY BROWN: Much of the public remains skeptical or unaware, an important component has been delayed, and Republicans continue their attempts to derail it.
But President Obama again today offered a strong defense of his signature health care reform law. His remarks came as deadlines approach for its implementation.
President Obama ratcheted up his campaign to sell the health care law today in a speech in the East Room of the White House.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The Affordable Care Act is doing what it's designed to do: deliver more choices, better benefits, a check on rising costs, and higher-quality health care.
JEFFREY BROWN: The president highlighted a relatively obscure part of the law, which he himself now regularly refers to as Obamacare, that requires insurers to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or send rebates to their customers.
BARACK OBAMA: I bet, if you took a poll, most folks wouldn't know when that check comes in that this was because of Obamacare that they got this extra money in their pockets. But that's what's happening.
JEFFREY BROWN: Today's speech was part of a broader effort to sell the law. It comes amid continuing criticism from Republicans and worry from some supporters about its implementation.
Health insurance exchanges, one of the law's central components, begin to open Oct. 1.
BARACK OBAMA: New online marketplaces will allow consumers to go online and compare private health care insurance plans, just like you would compare over the Internet the best deal on flat-screen TVs or cars or any other product that is important to your lives. And you're going to see competition in ways that we haven't seen before.
JEFFREY BROWN: The president chose not to address the decision earlier this month to delay the insurance employer mandate until 2015.
Other major parts of the law, such as an individual mandate, will still take effect as scheduled.
But opponents have seized on the delay as a sign of greater problems with the law. Yesterday, the Republican-led House voted to delay the individual mandate that requires most Americans to get coverage next year or pay a penalty.
House Speaker John Boehner:
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: Listen, this is about basic fairness. To say that, well, we're going to -- we're going to relax this mandate for a year on American business, but we're going to continue to stick it to individuals and families is strictly, and simply, unfair to the American people.
MAN: All those in favor say aye.
MEN AND WOMEN: Aye!
MAN: Those opposed, no.
MEN AND WOMEN: No!
JEFFREY BROWN: The House vote marked at least the 38th time that Republicans have tried to eliminate or scale back the Affordable Care Act.
Republican Representative Luke Messer of Indiana:
REP. LUKE MESSER, R-Ind.: Obamacare is not working. The American people know that. Now it seems that President Obama knows that, too. The president's unilateral decision to violate the law and delay the employer mandate, postpone some of the law's worst damages for businesses, fundamental fairness dictates that individuals get the same reprieve.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yesterday's vote came on the same day New York State announced its insurance premiums on the individual market are expected to drop 50 percent.
Today, the Obama administration put out its own report on the expected cost of premiums once the new exchanges take effect. It concluded that 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, would be able to offer monthly premiums that will be 18 percent lower than initially projected by the Congressional Budget Office. Those estimates were for a lower-cost plan that would run about $320 a month for an individual.
But other states have come up with very different and higher numbers. Last week, Ohio issued its own estimate. It reported the average individual market health insurance plan would jump 88 percent next year.
The question of how much insurance will cost is a crucial one for the success of the law.
And we explore the issue further with Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked with the administration on the health reform law and is a key architect of the Massachusetts law.
And Avik Roy, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, he served as Mitt Romney's health care adviser during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Well, welcome to both of you.
Jonathan Gruber, starting as a sort of general starting point, is there a simple answer as to whether the health reform law will lower or raise premiums?
JONATHAN GRUBER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: There's never a simple answer with something as complicated as health care, but there's a three-part answer.
The first part is, for most Americans who have private health insurance who get it from their large employers, nothing changes.
The second part of the answer is, for the second largest groups, those who get insurance from small employers, what they're going to see is increased premium certainty. They won't see their premiums jump 50 percent in the year because someone gets sick.
And on average, they are going to see rates basically stay the same. Some will go up some, some will come down some, but basically stay the same. The third group is individuals.
Now, the effect on individuals is going to vary a lot across states, because -- depend on how regulated the individual market was before this law.
But what we are going to see is on average the premiums individuals face will go up, but that will be offset by the fact that the Affordable Care Act includes tax credits to cover the cost of health insurance. After you factor in tax credits, premiums will go down on average.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, we will go through some of the details.
But first I want to ask Avik Roy the same question. The general proposition, what do you see?
AVIK ROY, The Manhattan Institute: So, I agree with most of John's framework.
I would say that it's important to understand that in the small group market and the large group market, you are still going to see insurance rates go up because insurance rates just go up every year with health care inflation, something that unfortunately the Affordable Care Act doesn't do that much to dent.
In the individual market, he's right that certain states will do OK because they are highly regulated already. They are regulated much the way the Affordable Care Act regulates the entire country.
But in unregulated or lightly regulated states, such as California, where today an individual who is say 40 years old can buy an insurance plan that is reasonably good for say $94 a year, they're going to see substantial increases.
And the subsidies won't offset increases for everyone. So, there will be a certain slice of low-income individuals who will benefit, but there's -- the majority will not.
Even if you get a partial subsidy, your rates will still go up. And if you're not eligible for a subsidy, you get hit twice, because not only does your insurance rate goes up, but you are paying the taxes to fund subsidies that go to other people.
JEFFREY BROWN: Jonathan Gruber, respond to that. So, it's different as opposed to what you were starting to talk about, the difference within different states.
JONATHAN GRUBER: Yes, it's different in different states.
Look, the idea of insurance is that the healthy contribute more than they expect to get at the end of the year. The sick collect more than they contributed. And over time we are all both healthy and sick so it all evens out.
The problem is you can't get insurance to work that way in the private market, because if you just leave the private market alone, what happens is insurance companies don't want the sick guys, right? They're not going to make money on them. They just want the healthy guys.
So, what they do in states like California and other states is they exclude the sick from coverage, and the healthy get very skimpy coverage. So, for instance, the $94 plan that Avik mentioned is not good coverage. It's a plan with maybe a $10,000 deductible. These are really -- or a plan which caps the benefits you can get.
What happens is states that are not regulated end up with insurance where the sick can't get it and healthy get very skimpy plans. The result of the law will be the sick and healthy will pay same price. Plans will be more generous.
We both agree some are going to pay more. I think it's a minority of people. By my estimates, after you factor in tax credits, about a third of those currently buying in the individual market will pay more, and about two-thirds will pay less.
JEFFREY BROWN: Avik Roy, first, I want to clarify. You said $94 a month, I think, as opposed to a year?
AVIK ROY: Ninety-four dollars a month, and that's for a 44-year-old individual, single and childless.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me ask you about that impact of tax credits that Jonathan Gruber was talking about. Doesn't that offset -- or to what degree does it offset any rise in premiums?
AVIK ROY: Yes, so two actuaries looked into this in the magazine "Contingencies," which is published by the American Academy of Actuaries.
And they estimated that if you are between 20 and 30 years of age, 80 percent of people, even despite the impact of subsidies, will see increases. And for people who are 30 to 40, it's about 30 to 40 percent of people will still see increases, despite subsidies.
So, the subsidies will have impacts for some people, but other people will see substantial rises. And here is the thing.
Jonathan had this framework where he said, well, the deal with insurance is that healthy people pay more, so that sick people can pay less. That's one way to think of insurance.
Another way to think of insurance is the way we think of car insurance or auto insurance, which is I want to be protected. I want to protect myself if I get into a collision or my car gets stolen, but I don't want to subsidize -- I don't want my rates to go higher because there are drunk drivers running around who are crashing their cars all the time.
So, if insurance is a bad deal for me, I have more of an incentive to drop out of the market, despite the individual mandate and some of the other factors in the law that try to dragoon people in, even though they're being forced to subsidize people where they don't actually benefit from the amount they're spending on their health insurance.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Jonathan Gruber, feel free to respond to that, but I do want to clarify to both of you just so the audience understands, the population that we're talking about in all of this, right? Do we agree on that, the size of the population and who is affected?
JONATHAN GRUBER: Yes. Yes.
I mean, the population is -- first of all, it's those who buy individual insurance now who's really affected. That is currently about 7 percent of the U.S. population.
Second of all -- of the non-elderly population -- second of all it's the young healthy group, individuals who are not poor, which is about a third of that group.
So, we're talking about something like maybe 2.5 percent of people in the U.S. might see rates go up, something on the order of that.
AVIK ROY: I would add something.
JEFFREY BROWN: Go ahead.
AVIK ROY: ... which is that, if you look at the Congressional Budget Office's estimates and you add up all the people that the Congressional Budget Office projects will be shopping for insurance on their own, either through the ACA exchanges or through other means, it adds up to about 77 million people by 2016.
So it is a substantial number of people, because it's not just the people who buy insurance today on the individual market. It's the people who are uninsured who should be buying insurance on the individual market, but don't, either because they think it's a raw deal for them or because they can't afford it or for some other reason.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Jonathan Gruber, now that we're getting close, things are starting to kick in and we are getting closer to fuller implementation, what are the key uncertainties here as we try to figure out what's going to happen? What are you looking for?
JONATHAN GRUBER: Well, I think there's really two big sources of uncertainty.
The biggest source of uncertainty is this issue of the Medicaid expansions. State policy-makers are making absolutely short-sighted, really there's no other word but stupid decisions not to expand their state Medicaid programs, despite the fact it's federally financed, leaving millions of Americans without health insurance coverage, and adding confusion in implementation, because if I go to an exchange tomorrow or in January and my income is 99 percent of the poverty line, they say, sorry, you're out of luck if you're in Texas or Florida, because there's no Medicaid.
But if I'm 101 percent of the poverty line, I get great subsidies. I think that uncertainty, it's going to be a problem.
The second source of uncertainty is people not really understanding the laws in place, understanding the benefits of the law. The misinformation that is being passed out is going to confuse people.
And unless people understand what the law could do for them, they might not sign up and that might limit the benefits of the law.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Avik Roy, same question to you. What uncertainties do you see?
AVIK ROY: I would say that the biggest uncertainty is whether or not healthy and young people will sign up for insurance under the ACA exchanges.
And I think that is why you heard the president give that speech today. It wasn't really so much for political reasons. It was because if young and healthy people don't sign up for the exchanges, you will have a result that is a lot like the New York insurance market of today, where insurance cost $800, $900 a month for people. It's unaffordable, because young and healthy people drop out of the market.
So, there's a lot of concern I think among the administration and its officials that young and healthy people will see this as a raw deal -- and I think correctly -- and not sign up for the cross-subsidy, where they are spending a lot more for insurance to subsidize other people, where the money doesn't benefit directly.
JEFFREY BROWN: Jonathan Gruber, just the last word on that one, on that specifically, on the young people, healthy people?
JONATHAN GRUBER: I think Avik is exactly right.
It's critical that the young and healthy sign up. I think they will because there's going to be low-cost insurance products available and many of them will get tax credits.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jonathan Gruber and Avik Roy, thank you both very much.
AVIK ROY: Pleasure.
JONATHAN GRUBER: My pleasure.
KWAME HOLMAN: Detroit declared bankruptcy today, the largest American city ever to do so. The city's state-appointed emergency manager made the filing with a federal judge. It would let him liquidate assets in a bid to pay off creditors and city pensioners.
Those parties have rejected a fiscal restructuring plan that would have paid them pennies on the dollar.
A new bipartisan has deal has been struck that surfaced in the Senate on student loans. It's the latest attempt to rescind a doubling of interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans. The compromise would tie rates to financial markets, as Republicans wanted.
For now, the rates for undergraduate loans would fall back below 4 percent.
Maine independent Angus King praised the agreement today.
SEN. ANGUS KING, I-Maine: People signing up for loans in the next month for college this year are going to pay about half of what they would have paid if the law had stayed as it was. We were able to come together, talk to each other, listen to each other, and find not only a compromise solution, but a good compromise solution.
KWAME HOLMAN: The rates could rise over time. Undergraduate rates would be capped at 8.25 percent, something Democrats demanded. The bipartisan deal is expected to reach the Senate floor in the coming days. The House already has passed student loan legislation that also ties loan rates to the markets.
The Senate confirmed two more members of President Obama's second-term Cabinet today. A party-line vote cleared Thomas Perez to be the new secretary of labor. He's currently head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
Later, Gina McCarthy won confirmation as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The votes followed this week's agreement between Democrats and Republicans to end delays on nominees for top administration posts.
In Jordan, Secretary of State John Kerry heard the sharp criticism of angry Syrian refugees who demanded stronger action against the Syrian regime. Kerry sat down with six refugees living in the Zaatari camp, where 115,000 Syrians have taken shelter. They insisted the U.S. and the international community establish a no-fly zone and safe havens inside Syria. The meeting lasted 40 minutes, and Kerry said he promised to relay the complaints to Washington.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: I think they are frustrated and angry at the world for not stepping in and helping. I think there are -- and I explained to them I don't think it's as cut-and-dry and as simple as some of them look at it. But if I were in their shoes, I would be looking for help from wherever I could find it.
KWAME HOLMAN: In Washington today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, said he's laid out options for President Obama on using U.S. military power in Syria. Republican Senator John McCain pressed Dempsey to say what he would do, but the general declined.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman: The decision to use force is the decision of our elected officials.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: You know, I just ask the -- Chairman, just ask you if you would give your personal opinion to the committee if asked. You said yes. I'm asking for your opinion.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY: About the use of kinetic strikes? That issue is under deliberation inside of the -- our agencies in government, and it would be inappropriate for me to try to influence the decision, with me rendering an opinion in public about what kind of force we should use.
KWAME HOLMAN: Afterward, McCain said Dempsey must share his recommendations with the committee and he will block Dempsey's nomination for a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs until he gets an answer.
A military judge refused today to dismiss a charge of aiding the enemy against Army Private 1st Class Bradley Manning. It's the most serious of 21 charges in Manning's court-martial for leaking of reams of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
If he's found guilty on that count, Manning could serve life in prison without parole.
A Southern California wildfire still is growing, after forcing 6,000 people from their homes. The fire has burned across 35 square miles southeast of Los Angeles. Residents from the town of Idyllwild packed up yesterday, as the blaze threatened more than 4,100 homes, cabins and hotels. By today, it was only 15 percent contained.
The U.S. credit rating got a boost today. Moody's investors service upgraded the outlook for federal debt from negative to stable. It cited data showing the government is on track to record its lowest deficit in five years. On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 78 points to close at 15,548. The Nasdaq rose one point to close at 3,611.
Those are some of the day's major stories.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The reverberations continued today in northeastern India from yesterday's news of the sudden deaths of young schoolchildren from eating contaminated food.
Angry protesters today demanded the resignation of the chief minister of India's Bihar state. Crowds burned an effigy in their rage over the deaths of 23 children who'd eaten a contaminated free lunch at school, while relatives of one victim gathered around a fresh grave.
MUKESHA RAM, father of victim (through translator): We are angry with the school authorities because they fed my child such food that he died. That is why we buried him in front of the school.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Families rushed children to the hospital Tuesday, within hours after they'd had a meal of rice, potatoes and soy. Today, a top state official said the rice might have been tainted with insecticide, and investigators found an insecticide container in the cooking area.
One of the cooks fell ill as well, and one told authorities the cooking oil had looked odd, but the principal ordered her to use it anyway. The principal fled after children began getting sick, and police are still looking for her.
India's national education minister also promised a thorough investigation of the free school lunch program, which feeds almost 120 million children.
M.M. PALLAM RAJU, Indian national education minister: And I think the focus should be to see that it doesn't occur again. And, of course, responsibility will be pinned on what has gone wrong and who is responsible for it. But that apart, it is an important and integral part of the schooling system, and which gives those minimum nutrients to our children.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The incident has already become a political issue. Opposition leaders visited one hospital and complained about the emergency response.
SUSHIL KUMAR MODI, opposition leader (through translator): The biggest flaw which was apparent is that, had the officials been active and ensured that these children reached the hospital in Patna urgently, they could have been saved.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dozens of children remain hospitalized, most now in stable condition.
For more on how this could have happened, I'm joined by Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute, where he's an expert on Indian economic growth, trade and development.
Arvind Subramanian, welcome back to the NewsHour.
Twenty-three children dead, how could this have happened?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN, Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics: Well, Judy, you know -- the irony is that this is one of the more successful programs in India, the midday meal scheme.
And because it was so successful, the Supreme Court in 2001 actually named it mandatory for all states to do that.
But that being said, you know, this kind of thing requires good administration to deliver. So what's obviously happened is some combination of negligence, incompetence and also corruption, frankly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Who's in charge of this program? You said it -- we said it's a national program, 120 million children. Who runs it?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: But it's actually administered not just by the state, but in this case it's actually administered at the school level.
The local government provides the food. And the schools in fact hire people to cook it. And it turns out in this case that the oil was contaminated. Now, that was in part negligence. It also turns out that actually the groceries were bought from the store which was owned by the principal's husband.
And they both disappeared. So there's also something there fishy going on. So maybe the supplies were not very good either.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tell us about regulations.
How much in India or in this region, this Bihar state -- are there regulations how food should be handled in schools and other public institutions?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Well, in all of this, it depends very much upon how good the local administration is and what kind of accountability there is of these officials, and the school who are implementing this.
Now, Bihar is a state where regulation is not -- this is not a byword for good regulation in the state. It has -- traditionally been lawless. There has been a lot of corruption, although the last eight, nine years, it turned around.
So, the irony is that this has happened at a time when this government -- the chief minister is called Nitish Kumar. He has actually acquired a reputation for being very able and his government has been showing good governance. But, in this case, things go wrong.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet we saw people marching in the street calling for him to be removed from office.
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Yes.
But the question is that this will disappear in a few years. The question is, do we have strong accountability mechanisms to actually ensure that this doesn't happen again? And that is not obvious. It's pretty weak in a state like Bihar.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We also heard complaints about the fact that the children died in their parents' arms on the way to the hospital, on the way to getting medical care. What sort of medical system are we talking about?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Right. Very weak, very weak, Judy, because even finding a place, a hospital with enough doctors and enough supplies is a big problem.
Many of these children were transported in motorcycles by their parents trying to just scramble to find some kind of facility where they would have some basic care, and that wasn't easy. So one part of the story is also about how weak the Indian medical system is and how weak health delivery is in places like Bihar.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But let me just understand again. The preparation of food is purely handled at the local level.
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Absolutely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There is nobody, there is no set of rules and regulations that is saying, food has to be inspected, the containers have to be inspected?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: No, there are regulations.
But the question is that there's one thing, it's in the law. How well it's respected, how well it's implemented, it depends upon local administration officials.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tell me about India's food supply. Is it a matter of food being scarce and difficulty of getting it into the schools and the school system or is it a matter of distribution?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Right.
You know, the irony now, of course, that India is sitting on something like 70 million to 80 million tons of stocks of unused food.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Unused food?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Yes, so it's just piling up.
Often, the rats are eating it up and it's -- there's just a lot of food. So, food scarcity is not the issue. The issue is when this gets supplied to schools here, how well they're kind of used in cooking, the quality of the food. Often, the quality is not great because they have been lying around for such a long time.
So it's all about how good governance is, how good the capacity is at the local level to actually do the things that the law requires them to do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You said a few minutes ago that in a few days this may be forgotten. Why do you say that? Is not something like this -- couldn't it provide an impetus for the state or the country to tighten up these regulations and make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: You know, this program had a record of lots of things going wrong in the past in different states.
And I just think that this is not seen as a big enough kind of calamity to galvanize action. This is kind of yet another kind of incidence of poor mismanagement, corruption in parts of India that never had a good reputation for good governance.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You really mean that, losing 23 young children and then dozens of others still in the hospital, that's not seen as a serious -- as a -- you said a calamity?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Yes. I wish I could say honestly that this will be seen as a calamity enough to spur action. I'm not so sure, Judy, to be honest.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why?
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Because this kind of thing -- it all finally boils down to, what are the pressures on these politicians and officials to be accountable? What pressure is there on them?
And because we have had much worse, you know, cases of calamities in India, floods, famines, chronic malnutrition. We did a story here last time here about power shortages in India.
So, on the scale of things, it seems odd to say, but this doesn't rise up to the level of something that I think politicians would really respond to with the kind of vigor that this requires.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sobering.
Arvind Subramanian, thank you very much.
ARVIND SUBRAMANIAN: Thanks, Judy.
JEFFREY BROWN: And now to Russia, where, today, a court convicted and gave a five-year sentence to a leading member of the opposition movement.
Ray Suarez has the story.
RAY SUAREZ: The guilty verdict for Alexei Navalny and his co- defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov, was all but certain this morning.
JUDGE SERGEI BLINOV, Russia (through translator): The court concludes that the guilt of Navalny and Ofitserov in this circumstance is proven in full. And the court and sentences Navalny to five years in prison.
RAY SUAREZ: And with that, Russia's most prominent voice challenging President Vladimir Putin was transformed into a convicted criminal.
Navalny was convicted of embezzling $500,000 worth of timber from a state-owned firm in Kirov in 2009.
But the lawyer-turned-muckraker claimed the case was really reprisal for his crusade against corruption and for organizing against Putin and his United Russia Party. Navalny had famously dubbed it the party of crooks and thieves.
The judge rejected any claim of political bias.
JUDGE SERGEI BLINOV (through translator): Navalny's defense has not given a single piece of evidence that people involved in investigation of this criminal case or people providing expert opinions were biased in any way.
RAY SUAREZ: But outside the court, Navalny's attorney said the entire proceeding was a setup.
OLGA MIKHAILOVA, attorney for Alexei Navalny (through translator): The verdict was copied from the prosecution statement word for word in some places. Everything created in the depths of the investigative committee was voiced today by the court.
RAY SUAREZ: Navalny became a leader of mass protests when it became clear in late 2011 Putin would once more become president, following the term of his handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.
Just before the March 2012 presidential election, Margaret Warner interviewed Navalny about Putin. They spoke at his office in Moscow, where Navalny later found an eavesdropping device.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think that he could institute reforms and also weed out corruption from within his system?
ALEXEI NAVALNY, Russian opposition leader (through translator): Unfortunately, this is impossible, because corruption has become the core on which he built his political power.
In his opinion, corruption is a very efficient way of management. For him, there is no problem of his ministers being billionaires. There is no problem in his governance being so corrupt that everybody in the country knows about it.
RAY SUAREZ: Today, Navalny spent much of the three-hour court session tweeting defiant commentary, despite orders from the judge to shut off his smartphone.
One final tweet read in part: "Oh, well. Don't get bored without me, and, importantly, don't be idle."
Then, he was led from court in shackles, and driven to jail, pending transfer to a prison camp. Thousands of protesters gathered near the Kremlin after the verdict and sentencing. Dozens of arrests were reported.
ALEKSANDR RYKOV, Navalny supporter (through translator): This is total lawlessness. This is absolutely a result of the political order from above. We all here understand that if we don't come to protest, then it could happen to any of us.
RAY SUAREZ: The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, also denounced the verdict in a tweet, saying: "We're deeply disappointed in the conviction of Navalny and the apparent political motivations in this trial."
Late today, perhaps in a bid to cool public sentiment, prosecutors asked that Navalny be released pending appeal.
RAY SUAREZ: For more on Alexei Navalny and the broader significance of his conviction, we turn to Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. Her latest book is "Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin."
Fiona, is this just another trial of a pesky opposition figure or is it something more significant than that?
FIONA HILL, Brookings Institution: Well, for Putin, it may well be just another trial of a pesky opposition figure.
But if you look at this in the broader totality of the Russian opposition movement that the piece that we have just seen has really tracked, beginning with the response to falsification in the December 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia, then to the protests about Putin essentially telling the country that he was going to come back as the president and making sure that happened in the presidential elections, this is actually more significant, because what we have really seen over the last year is a concentrated effort by the Kremlin and by Putin himself to decapitate that opposition by targeting key figures.
And Alexei Navalny was question one of the most prominent of those opposition figures who is now being dispensed with, from the Kremlin's point of view, in a very public and rather humiliating fashion, because what they have done is turned around on Navalny the accusations that he has been throwing at the system of corruption and of personal enrichment by key figures, and saying, well, you are no better than we are, and here you are, you have a five-year jail sentence to contemplate your role in this movement.
RAY SUAREZ: If we were to walk on Russian urban streets tonight and talk to people about the verdict, would what they say reflect whether or not they support President Putin himself?
FIONA HILL: To some degree.
I think there's a great deal of cynicism across the board right now with this political game that many people are being -- seen playing out in Moscow.
There is a recent poll by the Levada Center, which is one of the independent polling groups in Russia, that show about 44 percent of the population think that -- at least those who have been polled -- think that this was pretty much a setup of Navalny.
Another 13 or so percent think it was definitely targeted against him because of his political activism. But a good 20-plus percent of people think that there might have been some malfeasance there.
So, there is also a proportion of the population that probably is not as large as the support for Putin who actually think, well, whole system is full of corruption, that the opposition people are also in the game of enriching themselves too. Frankly, there's nobody here who is clean and that everybody is out there for personal gain.
So the situation is quite complicated. A lot of people clearly see this for what it is, as an attempt to get rid of the opposition. But there's still that feeling that, well, the whole system of this country that we're in now, there's always something going on here.
RAY SUAREZ: Did this pass a plausibility test that a blogger and opposition figure based in Moscow would be involved in provincial timber swindling schemes?
FIONA HILL: There is a whole number of these kinds of cases right now.
There's another situation where a prominent mayor has been arrested and is being put upon trial. There is a whole host of trials across the country for people involved in corruption.
What's significant about this particular case, however, is, as we saw in the segment, that the case has been pretty much lifted from the prosecution's indictments of Navalny himself. There wasn't a jury in this case. It was a judge trial, where the level of the evidence that has to be presented is not particularly high.
And what's also significant is that the defense were not able to call their own witnesses. Each one of their attempts to put the case in Navalny's favor was rejected.
So there were no witnesses for the defense that were called. There was very little of the evidence that they had gathered to refute the prosecution's case that was put on the table.
So this in itself is a pretty glaring example of one of the kinds of show trials that we have seen in the past. And if there had been a jury presence or there had been much more evidence put forward and the defense had been able to present their case, we might have been having a different review of this matter.
RAY SUAREZ: Do you expect a chilling effect? If you have been working with Navalny's movement, are you likely to go to ground now?
FIONA HILL: There has already been very much a chilling effect.
This case has actually been going on for the last three months. There's also some other cases of protesters who took part in many of the demonstrations that we saw in the segment.
About 28 people have been plucked up off the streets in these demonstrations fairly randomly, ordinary people who were not leaders of the opposition, but -- and some of whom had just taken part in protests for the very first time.
They're also standing trial, some of them for organizing the protests, some of them just taking part, some of them, more ominously, for carrying out acts of violence against the police, which can also hold very large prison terms. Some people have already been sentenced.
And about 12 people now are under trial too collectively for their part in these demonstrations, so definitely a chilling effect for people thinking about whether they want to protest in the future some political act.
RAY SUAREZ: Does this intertwine with the current track of U.S.-Russia relations?
We have got the American ambassador tweeting about his opposition to the verdict. We have got the continued presence of Edward Snowden in Moscow Airport and the possibility of the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg around the G20 suddenly looking very shaky.
FIONA HILL: Yes, the relationship between the U.S. and Russia has been beset by a whole host of problems recently.
We have many discussions going on and how we can reset the reset, the attempt to put the rhetoric of the relationship and the substance of the relationship on a different footing after many of the difficulties that we have had over the last several years.
The intended meeting between Obama and Putin in September, which was going to take place against the backdrop of the G20 summit in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, was intended to really try to cement a new way forward, try to have a cordial meeting between the two leaders. The last meeting that just took place in Northern Ireland against the backdrop of the G8 meeting was anything but cordial.
People remember the images of very poor body language between Obama and Putin. It was a very cold meeting. There wasn't much substance in it. So, now we have a question mark whether Obama should in fact go and have a big summit meeting with Putin in September.
And I think a lot of things are pointing in the direction that this would be a real question for the White House to address is it really worth, against the backdrop of Edward Snowden still being somewhere in Moscow and against these recent incidents, and would it really be worth it for the White House to have that meeting?
We also have no progress on Syria, for example, and the meetings that Secretary Kerry is trying to push forward with the Syrian opposition and Russian involvement. There's really more on the negative balance sheet right now than the positive.
RAY SUAREZ: Fiona Hill, thanks a lot.
FIONA HILL: Thank you, Ray.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There's long been debate about bilingual education in the United States and what's the most effective way to make sure students are proficient in academics in the English language.
Special correspondent John Tulenko reports on a Connecticut school district that's taking a different road, one that may yield results, but is sparking a battle over its approach.
JOHN TULENKO: From kindergarten to third grade, these are the reading years. But when students exit them, national tests show, only 35 percent read proficiently.
Here in New Britain, Conn., the figure is just 25 percent, among the lowest in the state. But this urban, mostly Latino school district is trying to turn that around.
The effort began with home visits to address chronic absenteeism among kindergartners.
JOE VAVERCHAK, New Britain Public Schools: Chronic absenteeism last year was 30 percent. So, that means we had approximately 1,000 -- around 1,000 kids last year. And 30 percent of them were missing at least 18 days of school.
JOHN TULENKO: Attendance officers Joe Vaverchak and Jerrel Hargraves have made some 400 home visits this year.
JOE VAVERCHAK: We're not there to put a hammer to the parent, because there's lots of issues that cause truancy and absenteeism, a lot.
WOMAN: The good thing about the school is that they're helping me potty-train him. That's why his attendance has...
JOE VAVERCHAK: Poverty plays a key piece, clothing associated with poverty, hygiene. Again, each case, you need to really sit down with them, and speak to them a little bit, talk to them, find out what we might be able to do to help you.
JOHN TULENKO: A recent study found that among chronically absent kindergartners, more than 80 percent were behind in reading by the time they finished third grade.
JOE VAVERCHAK: We want the little guys in school.
JOE VAVERCHAK: OK? Because they're the ones that need to be in school.
JOHN TULENKO: Home visits are making a difference, reducing chronic absenteeism among kindergartners from 30 percent last year to just under 18 percent.
Along with getting more students in the door, New Britain has changed reading instruction, especially for its sizable population of students who arrive at school speaking only Spanish. Nearly all of them were sent here, K-through-eighth-grade DiLoreto school, where, by design, half the students spoke Spanish and the other half English.
DiLoreto's selling point was its dual language approach. Teachers here taught in Spanish one week, English the next, with the goal that all students would graduate fully bilingual.
But test scores over several years showed DiLoreto was struggling. Seventy percent of all students and 85 percent of those learning to speak English were failing Connecticut's reading test.
So, last fall, New Britain replaced DiLoreto's original dual-language approach with something very different.
Now Deirdre Falla's class of mostly Spanish-speaking second-graders receives virtually all their instruction in English, like this lesson on conjugating irregular verbs. Each day includes two hours of intensive English grammar instruction.
WOMAN: The idea is teach the foundation of English, the syntax rules, the way that sentences form, so they can write correctly. And writing is really a springboard to reading.
KELT COOPER, New Britain Public Schools: When it comes to English-language learners, I make it very clear. Our job and our objective is to get them to acquire English as rapidly as possible, so they can be in the mainstream.
JOHN TULENKO: Requiring that instruction be delivered in English was the first major policy change by New Britain's new superintendent, Kelt Cooper. He had extensive experience with Spanish-speaking students, having just come from Texas, where he ran schools along the U.S./Mexico border.
KELT COOPER: For all of those years that they were struggling through language blocks, they're getting a fraction of what's being instructed. Our English development program is to teach them English as rapidly as possible, so that they can get math, science, and social studies content as early as possible to 100 percent.
JOHN TULENKO: But not everyone favors the district's emphasis on English only.
ARAM AYALON, New Britain School Board: The message, of course, is that you don't value the first language and the culture that goes with that.
JOHN TULENKO: Aram Ayalon is a professor of education who serves on New Britain's School Board.
He argued for strengthening DiLoreto's original dual-language approach, which a recent state audit found had been implemented incorrectly, hampered by increases in class size, limited resources, and frequent changes in leadership, not by any problem with dual-language instruction itself.
ARAM AYALON: The best way to learn English is to tie it to the first language.
For example, you do a comparison. You learn how grammar in Spanish, for example, the adjective comes after the noun, for example, kind of like in Hebrew, you say man handsome, not handsome man in Spanish. So you learn -- through comparison, you learn how English and Spanish are connected and how they're different.
A basic truth in teaching is you start with what your students know, which may be Spanish, German, Polish, and you build on that.
JOHN TULENKO: The debate isn't confined to New Britain. With some five million students in the United States learning English for the first time -- and most struggling -- it matters tremendously which approach works better.
When you look at the research, it strongly suggests that a better approach is to teach students first in their native language. What do you say?
KELT COOPER: Well, there's a lot of different academics. You can make everything fit what you want. I'm doing things different, because if we continue to do the same things we have always done here, we're going to get the same results, and the results here are why I'm here.
JOHN TULENKO: While sink-or-swim English only has been shown to be less effective, New Britain's version comes with supports, daily lessons for teaching the language itself.
KELT COOPER: We're teaching English as a foreign language. It's a lot of different fun methods, sentence surgery. Classic terms we use is sentence diagramming.
JOHN TULENKO: What was with the writing on the desks? You're not supposed to write on the desk.
WOMAN: Darn it. You're not supposed to tell people about that. They had to write a 14-word sentence using several adjectives to describe the noun. It's a great tool.
JOHN TULENKO: But others see a fundamental flaw in the grammar-based approach.
School Board member Aram Ayalon:
ARAM AYALON: You can do all the gimmicks you want, but grammar isn't something that is meaningful to kids. Adults are better at that. Kids want stories. Kids want to interact with each other with language, and this takes the meaning out of the instruction.
JOHN TULENKO: Something else we noticed, nearly every inch of classroom wall space was devoted to grammar, very little social studies, very little science, very little math.
KELT COOPER: It's deliberate. We're less concentrating on the content of math, science, social studies at the same time, whereas other methods try to blend these all together.
JOHN TULENKO: Well, to a lot of observers, you're shortchanging the kids. What do you say?
KELT COOPER: That's where we place our value. If you don't acquire English, then you're effectively barred from all sorts of different opportunities.
JOHN TULENKO: Though it had been less than a year, was the approach working?
Boys and girls, I'm going to write some sentences on the board.
I asked these second-grade English-language learners to fix them.
The kittens was cute.
Young man in the back right over there.
STUDENT: The "was" needs to change to "were."
JOHN TULENKO: Excellent.
Next, a little harder.
Yesterday, the dog Brown come to town.
STUDENT: Brown needs to go before dog.
STUDENT: Because the adjectives come first.
JOHN TULENKO: Ah, OK.
STUDENT: And come needs to be changed to came.
JOHN TULENKO: And why is that?
STUDENT: Because come is that you're coming right now. If it was past, it needs to be came.
JOHN TULENKO: That's exactly right. That's exactly right.
KELT COOPER: The proof is in the pudding. It's very clear that the ones that have gone through these programs have a better articulation of the English language, better understanding of the English language, understand the grammar rules and are much more proficient in English than their native English counterparts in the mainstream.
JOHN TULENKO: Cooper bases that on his own experience. He used this approach for four years in his former district in Texas. And in terms of English-language learners who reached English proficiency, his district rose from nearly the bottom statewide to nearly the top.
But that's not the whole story. In math and science, scores for English-language learners fell by as much as 15 percent to levels below state targets, leading the district to abandon the program after Cooper left.
ARAM AYALON: When you spend so much time on grammar, I think it kind of reduces education and it reduces kids' motivation to learn. The bottom line is that it's doomed from the beginning.
KELT COOPER: Yes, I can go to the same people that say do it the same way and same way. I don't want to do it the same way. I could still have kids not acquiring English and they're still not writing a sentence in proper English by the time they're a senior in high school too.
And the things could go on their merry way, just the way it is. But my job is to fix this and get this place out of the ditch.
JOHN TULENKO: New Britain will soon get an early look at whether its attendance and reading policies are making a difference. Results from the latest state test will be released this July.
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight: a milestone in the life of former South African leader Nelson Mandela. He turned 95 today.
We go again to Kwame for the story.
WOMAN: Hip, hip!
KWAME HOLMAN: Schoolchildren joined the chorus of South Africans in celebrations of Mandela's long life.
IVIWE MVITSHANE, student: Happy birthday, Tata Nelson Mandela. We are all praying for you to get better soon.
KWAME HOLMAN: Across the country, people marked the occasion by volunteering 67 minutes to charitable work. That's one minute for each of the years Mandela spent fighting apartheid, and then serving as the nation's first black president.
The current president, Jacob Zuma, welcomed families into newly-built, low-income housing outside Pretoria. And he spoke of the man known to all by his tribal name.
PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA, South Africa: What is being done by everybody today, to take some time and do something for people in honor of Madiba. That's why we came today, to do our own here.
KWAME HOLMAN: Elsewhere, hundreds flooded into a Johannesburg convention center to pack meals for the poor.
WOMAN: It's important for me, because it's like I am doing something. Like, for example, I sleep every day with a meal. And there are people out there who don't have anything meal to eat. So, for me, it's like, wow, it's something that I do for someone who doesn't have anything.
KWAME HOLMAN: And in Capetown, Archbishop Desmond Tutu helped paint walls in a local orphanage.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: And, today, people are thinking about Madiba because it is international Madiba day. And he makes us walk tall as South Africans and reminds us that we have the capacity to be this fantastic nation.
KWAME HOLMAN: Tributes also poured in from around the globe.
DALAI LAMA, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader: I would like to express my -- firstly, my admiration about the great man Nelson Mandela.
KWAME HOLMAN: Leading figures, including the Dalai Lama and former President Bill Clinton, spoke in a Nelson Mandela Center of Memory video.
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: We have all equally been awed by his dedication to others and by his inspiration to serve as he did, working to build a more just and peaceful world.
KWAME HOLMAN: Leaders of the U.S. House also weighed in, praising the legacy of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: Scarcely, a week or day goes by without us pointing to Mandela as an example, an example of standing on principle, of loving your neighbor, and of extending the reach of freedom.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif.: He had the courage to turn, not to hatred, but to love, not to vengeance, but to compassion, not to resentment, but to reconciliation.
KWAME HOLMAN: The patriarch himself remained in a Pretoria heart clinic, where he was admitted June 8 with a recurring lung infection. There've been conflicting reports about his condition, but, today, hospital visitors generally gave upbeat reports. Mandela's daughter said he's making remarkable progress.
ZINDZI MANDELA, daughter of Nelson Mandela: Over the past three weeks or so, I have just seen a huge turnaround. Of course, I am not a medical doctor. They are the ones who will decide or determine when he goes back home, but I am confident it will be some time soon.
KWAME HOLMAN: One grandson was more cautious, saying Mandela is still critical, but a lot more alert.
I went to a movie a few weeks ago where we were required to don 3-D glasses in order to view the thing properly.
But periodically, I would take my glasses off to see what the screen looked like without enhancement. The screen immediately went fuzzy. I could still see what was going on, but not clearly.
So it is in Washington. Unfortunately, someone neglected to hand out the 3-D glasses to the American people.
Almost anything of import that happens here requires something or someone to bring things into focus. The abstractions demand explanation because they actually affect our lives.
As the equivalent of a cage match fight was unspooling on the floor of the United States Senate, this was a good week for the 3-D glasses. What were the lawmakers fighting about? It was kind of fuzzy.
Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, had vowed to change Senate rules to allow executive branch nominees bottled up for as long as two years, to be confirmed by a simple majority of 50 votes instead of a supermajority of 60.
Unfortunately, someone neglected to hand out the 3-D glasses to the American people.
This would have been the equivalent of applying a little laxative to the constipated Senate process that allowed lawmakers to deny the president his nominees simply by threatening to talk things to death. (Actual filibusters seldom happened, but the prospect of them happening gummed things up quite effectively.)
For the minority in the chamber -- in this case the Republicans -- the 60-vote threshold is a valuable lever that allows them to seek out their own priorities. Democrats appreciate that fact when they are in the minority, too. So changing the rules in that context is the equivalent of going nuclear. (Hence the curious term "nuclear option.")
Majority Leader Harry Reid "is going to be remembered as the worst leader of the Senate ever," Republican leader Mitch McConnell raged.
In the end, it took a rare and secret meeting of the entire Senate to come up with a plan to free the logjam. But the standoff did end up un-sticking things.
The Republicans still have their right to filibuster. Four of the president's seven stuck nominees have been confirmed. And we are on to the next fight.
The 3-D glasses also come in handy when trying to understand simple politics. Take Wyoming.
When Liz Cheney, the former vice president's outspoken eldest daughter, moved from suburban Washington to the Cowboy State last year, it wasn't for the fly fishing. This week she ended any mild suspense by announcing she will challenge the unassuming and reasonably popular Republican incumbent senator, Mike Enzi.
It is not unheard of to challenge an incumbent senator. Bob Bennett of Utah and Richard Lugar of Indiana were forced into unanticipated early retirement when they were challenged by tea party Republicans.
But Cheney's announcement did seem to come as something of a surprise to Enzi, especially since the challenge came from the daughter of a Wyoming native he considered a longtime friend and political collaborator. Enzi seemed stunned. "I thought she was my friend," he told reporters.
Here's where the glasses help. It helps to know Liz Cheney has been an unflagging critic of President Obama who until this week used her perch as a FOX News commentator to rail against Washington deal-making in any form.
It also helps to know that Liz Cheney is perhaps her father's closest political adviser.
Also, if Enzi had been wearing his 3-D glasses, he would have heard Cheney's shot over the bow when she called him weeks ago to say she was even thinking about the race.
It also helped to have a little assistance clarifying abstraction this week when Attorney General Eric Holder spent two consecutive days speaking to historic black organizations -- the Delta Sigma Theta service sorority and the NAACP -- about the George Zimmerman verdict.
The headlines were all about how the Department of Justice would investigate the case, and about the attorney general's declaration that "stand your ground" laws on the books in more than 20 states "senselessly expand the concept of self-defense."
These were very popular speeches in the rooms in which they were delivered. But it required political 3-D glasses to appreciate two things:
The president himself was saying no such thing.
And there is little the federal Department of Justice can do to roll back state laws.
Those 3-D glasses can help with almost anything. They can sharpen the fuzziness on health care, and student loans and many of the other obscure abstractions that often make Washington so exasperating.