tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS January 24, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by wnet >> thompson: on this edition for sunday, january 24: up and down the east coast-- digging out from this weekend's deadly blizzard. the political and legal issues surrounding the president's plan to close the prison at guantanamo bay. and, a new study reveals the effects of preserving animal habitats. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: lewis b. and louise hirschfeld cullman. bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the citi foundation. supporting innovation and enabling urban progress. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual
and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, megan thompson. >> thompson: good evening and thank you for joining us. this weekend's massive winter storm set records along the east coast, burying some places in as much as three feet of snow by this morning. the storm is gone now, and today emergency crews were working to bring some normalcy to the 80- million people affected. officials warn the work is far from over. the newshour's ivette feliciano has more. >> reporter: snowfall records in parts some places in pennsylvania, baltimore, and west virginia. more than 11,000 flights have been canceled between friday and tomorrow and tens of thousands
of homes and businesses were still without power today, more than 20,000 in new jersey, which is still reeling from coastal flooding. >> the winds are horrible, it's cutting you up the sand and the rain. >> we survived and then some. >> reporter: yet officials along the east coast say the worst of the storm is over. most public transportation is back to normal and travel bans have been lifted in places like new york city, which experienced the second largest snowfall in its recorded history-- more than two feet. >> the travel ban has been lifted, that does not mean people should go out and take a ride and see the sights. >> reporter: motorists and pedestrians being urged to stay off streets and highways so that emergency crews can get to work. accidents on icy roads are being blamed for most of the at least 25 storm-related deaths since thursday. >> we haven't had any food since yesterday. >> reporter: 500 vehicles were still stuck on the pennsylvania turnpike this morning, some waiting for more than 30 hours for the national guard and local rescue workers to dig them out and get them moving.
some travelers tried to make the best of it, stepping out into the cold and holding an impromptu sunday catholic mass. in the nation's capital, mass transit was still shut down on sunday and schools will be closed tomorrow. the u.s. house of representatives canceled all votes for the upcoming week. >> thompson: the "new york times" reported yesterday that former new york city mayor michael bloomberg is considering a presidential run as an independent. the billionaire businessman is said to have told close friends that he would likely enter the race if donald trump or senator ted cruz and senator bernie sanders won the nominations of their respective parties. some of the current crop of candidates took to the sunday morning news shows today to voice their reactions. >> the way i read what he said is if i didn't get the nomination, he might consider it. well, i'm gonna relieve him of that and get the nomination so he doesn't have to. >> he's very opposite with me on guns and he's opposite on pro- life and he's opposite on a lot of things. so, i would love to have michael
get in the race, but i don't know if he's going to do it, but i hope he does. i would love to compete against michael. >> if donald trump wins and mr. bloomberg gets in, you're going to have two multi-billionaires running for president of the united states against me. and i think the american people do not want to see our nation move toward an oligarchy where billionaires control the political process. i think we'll win that election. >> thompson: the times reports that bloomberg has set a deadline of early march for making his final decision on whether to launch a campaign. >> thompson: during his first week in office, president obama signed an executive order to close the prison at the u.s. naval base at guantanamo bay, cuba, within one year. that order was issued seven years ago this past friday. in his state of the union address earlier this month, the president said he'll keep working to close the prison, because, in his words, it's
expensive, unnecessary, and serves as a recruitment tool for america's enemies. president george w. bush opened guantanamo in 2002 to hold foreign fighters captured overseas, mainly in afghanistan, in the war on terror that began on 9/11. for the past 14 years, "miami herald" reporter carol rosenberg has covered guantanamo full time, spending more than a thousand days on site. she sat down yesterday with the newshour's hari sreenivasan to discuss the legal and logistical obstacles to president obama's goal. >> there were at one point 780 men there, now we have less than a hundred, i think 91 or so as we talk, and that might change. but why are people still there? >> people are still at guantanamo because despite president obama's desire to close it, congress won't let him am congress has decided that guantanamo should continue to exist. members of congress like
guantanamo. and they have systemically thwarted his efforts to close that detention center in cuba. closing guantanamo at this stage and the obama administration view is really moving guantanamo to u.s. soil. the idea is not to open the cages and let everybody go or give them federal trials and put them in federal detention. the idea is to pick up the last detainees and move them to military detention in the united states. what we call guantanamo north. closing the detention center in cuba and reconstituting on u.s. soil. congress so far has systemically blocked that vision. >> why? >> i think that part of it is that there is fear that for some reason these alleged terrorists are scarier than all of the alleged terrorists-- or actually the convicted terrorists in u.s. prisons. i think part of is that members of congress really like the message of guantanamo.
and the message of guantanamo to the world is mess with us and you end up in a cage at guantanamo bay. in addition, there is ambition by some people in congress to grow guantanamo. they like the idea that this could be an interrogation center. and mostly nobody wants guantanamo in their backyard. >> sreenivasan: what have the outcomes been? you made an interesting distinction. you said the people that have been federally convicted in the united states of acts of terror versus what has happened to these people who have been there possibly as long as 14 years. >> so with the most rarest of exception, these are not convicts. they're not criminals. they're war prisoners. they would be in a more traditional war, what we would consider to be a po-w, someone who is considered the enemy, taken off of the battle field and held until the end of that war. the bush administration never con ferred on al-qaeda, po-w status. they created this war prisoner
status. with a few exceptions of the 91 men down there today, ten are in criminal proceedings. the idea is just to hold them. and to systemically decide when they can go. you know, people don't resly understand that they're not all terrorists in the classic understanding of it. they're foot soldiers. they are people who were picked up by the northern alliance in and around mazar irsharif in afghanistan and ultimately handed over to the u.s the u.s. troops didn't march into afghanistan and take prisoners. people gave the americans these prisoners. and in some instances in gitmo, these people weren't in afghanistan at all. they were some people pick upped up in thailand, many in pakistan. this is not a battle field roundup of prisoners of war. but they are war prisoners. they are not accused, with some exceptions, of being criminals. thand is very different than
terrorists convicted and sitting in federal detention here. that is why the idea is to bring them to this country for military detention, not federal lockup. >> sreenivasan: some of them have also been cleared for release but they're still there. and we've heard in the past few months, we've seen one country takes a couple here and a few there and at some point there were 15 that went in one direction. but these are people that have been cleared maybe five or six years ago to be released. >> that's right. 26 countries have taken in people who couldn't go home. and that's what you have been hearing about lately is recently two men were sent to the balance cans. the vast majority of those we wouldn't send back were from yemen. the obama administration and the bush administration before them made a policy decision that yemenee detainees at guantanamo would not go home. they feared that they would be entering this destabilized country with a powerful al-qaeda franchise and that there would be what they call reengagement
that they wouldn't go back to normal lives and settle down, is the hope. that they wouldn't go and have families and get on with their lives. that in yemen the odds were they would be drawn back to al-qaeda and attracting american targets. >> sreenivasan: tell me about mohammed wazir. >> he knew where he was going. we don't know where he was going. he was offered sanctuary in a third country that his lawyer thought was a great country for resettlement, that was a great chance for him. but he said mohammed wazair is afraid. he has been there so long he fears the unknown. and he had been insisting that he only wanted to go to a country where his mom was, his brothers were or his aunts and uncles were. and theu aa, indonesia and saudi arabia. and the country that agreed to take him in one none of those. and he couldn't bring himself to get on a plane and start his new life somewhere else. it has happened before. but this is such a strange thing
because we have been hearing from the lawyer that the yemenees in particular will go anywhere, they are so desperate to get off guantanamo they will go fli where. this man wouldn't get on a plane. >> sreenivasan: what is their life like after they go somewhere. can't they just decide to leave those countries and try to make their way back to wherever their home is. >> the deal that the u.s. makes is a diplomatic arrangement. and they are not exactly public. but we know that they are not entitled to travel papers, at least for a year. in some instances for two years. they're supposed to go to a rehabilitation centre, something that's going to get them back into society. a new society, in some instances, you know, they give them a new language. inu ru gu ay, there are some that just arrived in oman. there are some chinese-- citizens of china muslim leaders who were sent to palau. they are all over the world and different countries offer different packages. but no, the design of this program is for them not to be able to jump on the first plane
and go to yemen. >> sreenivasan: part of the reason you go down so regularly is to cover the trial. one of them is the 9/11 trial that is still going. >> there are hearings, pretrial hearings. they are still trying to establish how there will be a trial of five men who were captured in 2002 and 2003 and taken off to the black-- of the cia, where they were not given access to the red cross, where they were subjected to what is now considered to be torture. and then dropped at guantanamo in 2006 for trial. this war court that was created for those circumstances after 9/11 is still trying to work on how it will hold that trial. they're still trying to figure out what constitutes legitimate evidence. it say death penalty trial. and so they have learned counsel, civilian defense attorneys paid for by the pentagon to provide them with the most robust death penalty defenses. and those lawyers are doing everything they can to attack
the integrity of this court that was created after 9/11 by george bush. and then reformed by barack obama. >> sreenivasan: all right, carol rosenberg, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> thompson: around the world, there are protected areas for animals in danger. for nearly a decade, researchers used motion-triggered cameras in central and south america, africa, and southeast asia to capture millions of photos of animals in some of these protected areas. those researchers from the tropical ecology assessment and monitoring network have sifted through all those pictures -- and they seem to show that efforts to preserve habitats worldwide may be paying off. the lead author of that study, lydia beaudrot spoke to the newshour's stephen fee. >> lydia, tell me a little bit about what you expected from this study and what you actually discovered.
>> will well, we know that globally there are massive declines in biodiversity and distinction rates are about a thousand times what they would be right now if there weren't human activity. and so we were expecting in this first assessment with this pantropical camera shot network that we would see those large-scale declines. but we're looking within protected areas and we're really surprised to find that actually these protected areas, at least for now, seem to be doing a good job of maintaining stable communities of tropical mammals and birds. >> reporter: and how is it that you were able to gather all of these photographs? explain a little about the logistics. >> the infrastructure that the t together by conservationwassd international and the wildlife conservation society and the smithsonian. and so together these organizations have put 60 to 90 cameras each in 17 forests all around the world. and that's 15 different
countries. and each of these camera shots and each of these sites is using the same approach. so we have this systemic way to analyze what's going on in these forests worldwide. >> reporter: you know, lydia, some of these photos are pretty incredible. i understand that some of these species we rarely see in person, is that right? >> that's right. these are some of the most elusive animals out there that if we were having people walk through the forest and try to survey what's there, very unlikely would they see these animals. and so that's why these cameras provide a really special glimpse into what is going on in these forests that is hard to know otherwise. >> reporter: what are some of those species you were able to capture on camera. >> well, any of the charismatic large cats, for instance, like jag wars and leopards that live in the forests that are incredibly iably elusive and hard to sh. we have some nice sighting of rare bush dogs in south america that are just-- it's hard to know if they are in a proteched area or not. so these cameras let us know that they are there which is great news.
>> reporter: what does it tell us generally though about how protected areas are maybe doing a good job of protecting wildlife? >> well, protected areas, even though they have their weaknesses, generally sustain the habitat that these animals need. and so when you look, for example, on goggle earth, you can often see a protected area because it's different from the landscape around it where a lot of forests have been converted to, for instance, agriculture or other development purposes. so having these areas that maintain the habitat is really important for wildlife. >> reporter: it tells us a lot about what is happening in protected areas but what about unprotected areas of the world. >> that's right. so we're seeing from this first assessment that these protected areas, at least for now, are showing good news. but that's not the final word. it's just the first word for the team network. what we also want to do is compare to outside protected areas. where we would anticipate that stability wouldn't be the case. so there are threats like conversion of forest areas to
agriculture, threats from illegal hunting, and other kinds of human influences that we would expect that the wildlife outside of the protected areas is probably not doing as well as the animals inside the protected areas. >> reporter: lydia beau drolt from the university of michigan, thanks very much. >> thank you. >> thompson: the average american is said to eat 27 pounds of bananas each year. but america's favorite fruit could be in trouble. the industry is worried about a fast-spreading fungus that is threatening to wipe out the cavendish banana, the type most popular in the united states in 2014 the u.n.'s food and agriculture organization called for a global response to the growing threat, estimating it would cost $47 million to stop the disease. the newshour's mori rothman reports from honduras, one of the top banana producing countries, to see what's being done to prevent a blight of the crop there.
>> reporter: in northern honduras, outside the city of san pedro sula, banana researcher juan aguilar and his staff are hard at work trying to develop a new variety of banana, one that's resistant to the banana plant killing fungus "tropical race four," also known as "panama disease." >> for this disease, do not exist any fungicide, no chemical. >> reporter: the disease is decimating banana plantations around the world. from australia to southeast asia, the middle east, and africa. in a study published in the journal "plos pathogens," researchers said: "clearly, the current expansion of the panama disease epidemic is particularly destructive." luckily for these farmers, the disease has not been detected in latin america, which accounts for 70% of the world's banana supply. farmers here grow the cavendish banana, the most widely consumed banana in the united states and around the world. aguilar, the chief banana
breeder at the honduran foundation for agricultural research, worries that honduran farm workers who go overseas to work could bring the fungus back even through something as simple as the dirt on their shoes. >> reporter: 60 years ago, a similar fungus wiped out what was then the most popular banana in the world, the gros michel, known for its sweet taste and creamy texture. the cavendish essentially replaced it. but finding a replacement for the cavendish through cross breeding is tough because most cavendish bananas are seedless. good for eating, bad for breeding. so how many seeds will you get out of this entire group of bananas? >> reporter: ten seeds from 100 bunches?
>> reporter:: his workers pollinate each banana plant by hand, harvest thousands of bananas, and look to find a rare seed here and there. >> reporter: through cross breeding, aguilar combines bananas favored by farmers, like the cavendish, with plants that are resistant to panama disease. aguilar cultivates thousands of bananas in search of the most disease resistant one. he numbers each new banana plant, and then sends his best samples to australia, one place where the disease exists. there it is tested for resistance to the fungus. aguilar is in a race not only to find a resistant variety of the cavendish, but also to help develop new varieties just in
case the cavendish can't be saved. >> reporter: tell me a little about what you need to make the perfect banana, the next banana that everybody wants to buy in a grocery store? >> reporter: one of the possible replacements is the sucrier banana, a smaller sweeter cousin to the cavendish. aguilar gave me a taste of a panama disease resistant prototype he created.
>> reporter: one problem: it tends to bruise during shipment. even if aguilar finds a panama disease resistant version of the cavendish, he warns that the disease itself can evolve. >> reporter: so you're always in a race against this changing disease. >> thompson: read eight things you didn't know about bananas at pbs.org/newshour.
>> this is pbs newshour weekend, sunday. >> thompson: a powerful earthquake rocked southern alaska early today. the epicenter of the 6.8 magnitude quake was near the coastal town of anchor point in the kenai peninsula. two smaller aftershocks hit off- shore hours later. tremors could be felt by people in anchorage about 160 miles away. officials reported scattered power outages and road damage, but no injuries. u.n.-sponsored peace talks to end the bloody conflict in syria are set to begin tomorrow in geneva. but the start could be pushed back by a dispute over who will make up the delegation of rebels fighting president bashar al- assad, and by opposition demands that assad-ally russia stop air attacks on civilians. more than a quarter-million people have been killed during the almost five-year long war and millions more syrians have fled the country as refugees. syrian government troops gained
a bargaining chip today by capturing the key rebel-held town of rabiaa. in europe, demonstrators gathered on both sides of the border between greece and turkey for a second day to demand that refugees, many escaping the violence in syria, be allowed to cross freely between the two countries. this eight-mile stretch of land connecting them is currently separated by a fence monitored by police, military patrols, and security cameras. the protesters claim the fence is an impediment to asylum- seekers, forcing them to make a more dangerous crossing into europe by sea. so far this month, at least 60 migrants have drowned trying to reach greece by boat-- 46 of them just this friday. of the more than 850,000 asylum- seekers that entered greece last year, only 3,600 crossed over the land border with turkey. elsewhere, austria said a cap on the number of refugees it accepts this year, just over 37,000, could be reached in a matter of months.
>> thompson: and finally, eight museum workers in kie ro are facing nedges charges for allegedly damaging the 3300 year old mationk of king tu t. the famous relic was damage fld 2014 when the masks beard was knocked off and then hastily glued back on. egyptian prosecutors charged the eight workers including the then head of the egyptian museum for trying to cover up the damage. the mask was put back on display last month after being repaired by a team of specialists. and that's all tonight for pbs newshour weekend. i'm megan thompson. thanks for joining us. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: lewis b. and louise hirschfeld cullman. bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the citi foundation. supporting innovation and enabling urban progress. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we are your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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