unesco's draft decision suggests australia's government has just done enough but the custodian of the reef is still on watch. plenty more stories for you any time on our website. the address for that is aljazeera.com. the economy takes a dive the brutal winter causes americans to slow their spending and companies also cut back. major step forward in the u.s.'s relationship with cuba. more rain falls on texas and even the rescue workers need rescuing. now the forecast calls for bad weather again this weekend. world soccer casting its
ballot over who should head up fifa. the u.s. is saying no to sepp blatter. ♪ this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm randall pinkston. a new report is out on the economy and so far the nation is off to a week start. the commerce department says the gross domestic product shrank in the first three months of the year. is this a surprise? >> it's not because this is the second revision, the second reading that we're getting on first quarter gdp, and with some of the data we have seen a lot of economists were expecting that the economy contracted in the first quarter. the gdp shrank .7%. the big drag exports those fell 7.6%. some temporary factors were
behind that including bad water, and strikes disrupting activity at u.s. ports. but a strong dollar also dragged on exports because it makes american goods more expensive to buy abroad. meanwhile u.s. imports increased 5.6%. consumer spending rose 1.8%, but it marked a sharp slowdown from the end of last year and that matters a lot, because consumer spending accounts for roughly two thirds of u.s. economic growth. now that is the awful first quarter is behind us the chief economist expects consumer spending will bounce back nicely. >> the good news for the u.s. is the consumer is still in pretty good shape financially. we think of the second quarter, consumer spending willing grow 2.5%. and that's 70% of the economy. >> reporter: many expect growth to pick up this quarter. the data is still rolling in
but we have had good housing starts and a rebound in jobs creation though we have yet to see a strong increase in wages and bigger paychecks would give consumers more to spending. another story developing today, the state department has officially dropped cuba from the list of state sponsorers of terrorism. mike viqueira is live in washington, d.c. mike there are other issues that still need ironing out, but how significant is this step? >> this was sort of a formality. you recall when president obama had that historic handshake and bilateral meeting with raul castro around the summit in panama. shortly after that the president announced he was going to remove cuba from the state-sponsors of terrorism list kept by the u.s. government.
a 45-day clock started after that whereby congress would have the ability to reject the move. koch has not done so. the 45 days is up today. this clears the way for full normalization of relations, which is what president obama has been after all along since his announcement that he wanted to normalize relations with cuba after 54 years. >> so what happens with the sanctions that came with being on the terrorist list? >> they are removed. cuba can now do business with american banks. this is considered a key move not only for cuban diplomats here who had to work only in cash but frankly for the entire cuban economy to have the backing of the u.s. financial system when they were on that sponsor of terrorism list no banks would do business with them. now we understand they have contracted with a u.s. bank so that is a very significant development indeed.
>> would it mean that tourists can now use their credit cards in havana? >> that's right. and there are other things on the way that need to be cleared away. there have been four rounds of talks between cuban and u.s. negotiators, all meant to do sort of the nuts and bolted required for full normalization. the cubans are very concerned about so-called democracy programs held at american embassies arp the world things like training journalists and information technology classes. they don't want that to go on in havana. the u.s. very concerned about restrictions of travel of diplomats within cuba. also worried about a cuban security presence around the u.s. embassy, or what would be the u.s. embassy, potentially intimidating cubans from making contact with americans. but again the big step will be a
formal announcement from both capitols that embassies will be opened relations will be normalized and ambassadors exchanged. this another step in that direction, and perhaps that could happen as soon as next week we understand. >> several inches of rain have fallen in the dallas area today, adding to the problems in the loan star state. roadways are flooding and a police officer found himself in trouble. there you see him being rescued. the death toll from flooding now stands at 24 people in texas and oklahoma. and the forecast calls for more rain this weekend. >> reporter: with more storms on the way into the state of texas, and particularly here in houston, the city is trying to assess the damage that has occurred over the past week. it's a huge task. there are 650 square miles for the city to cover, and they are trying to do their best so
federal funds can start making their way into america's forth largest city. while houston braces for more rain another water rescue outside of the city. meanwhile residents and officials from america's fourth largest city are cleaning up and surveying the damage. >> we're going to do some damage assessments. this is one of the forms that we used to collect data. >> reporter: melvin hopkins is a city inspector, he is among 40 teams documenting the destruction to federal aid can be justified. >> this is where some of these most severe damage occurred. >> reporter: what are you looking for? are you just driving by and looking for this kind of stuff and that determines what? >> that's one of the things we look for. but we're looking for if you can see some of the waterlines on the houses. most of these houses in this area have suffered major damage.
>> reporter: houston has until sunday to assess the damage and meet fema's federal aid deadline. a major task for katie's department. i think the perception is there's a disaster and all of a sudden there will be money that just comes in but there are a lot of steps that have to be taken to prove that money needs to brought in and that's what you do is that right? >> oh absolutely. there is also the perception that the federal government is just going to come in and purchase your house or whatever. and what they are after is the uninsured or under insured. >> reporter: though officials cannot put an exact price tag on the destruction, this neighborhood southwest of downtown houston, there were nearly 5,000 homes and the majority of them need complete gutting because of the water
damage. is there a possibility that we're going to go into the billions as far as damage here? >> i -- i think that's certainly a possibility. but right now it's just -- it's really too early to tell. >> reporter: and with more rain and flooding expected prompting voluntary evacuations in some areas, the task to secure federal and state dollars is going on and around the clock. this is a scenario that is simply not over. a person was taken out of the port of houston, out of the water, police took the body out, that's 30 miles from downtown houston. meanwhile many residents around the city are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, dealing with insurance, and the city is hoping that fema funds will kick in within the next week, as they continue to assess the damage here in houston. robert ray in houston. the search continues in central texas for missing
people. eight of them were in a vacation home in wimberley, the house disappeared into the river. search teams with dog continue to look for them. three children are among the missing. officials have found the body of a child and a man, but they have not yet been identified. today former house speak erdens any hastert is facing federal charges. he alleged tried to hide nearly $2 million in secret payments and lied about it to the fbi. john henry smith reports. >> reporter: one of the things that propelled dennis to the third highest office in the land was his low-key, good-guy reputation, a reputation burnished by his past as a small town high school teacher and coach. now there are questions about whether or not hastert has a darker past. >> i never envisioned that i
would have the opportunity to lead the united states house of representatives. >> reporter: eight years after stepping down as speaker of the house, he is in serious trouble. in an indictment federal prosecutors say a near lifelong associate identified only as individual a threatened in 2010 to make public some quote, prior misconduct that the 73 year old committed before becoming house speaker in 1999. the indictment does not spell out what the misconduct was. the indictment alleges hastert withdrew $1.7 million from his accounts between 2010 and 2014. this money was part of $3.5 million hastert allegedly agreed to pay for individual a's silence. all of that is only the background. here is what he is actually in froubl for. first, the faces one count of
lying to the fbi. when investigators asked him why he was withdrawing so much money, the indictment says hastert told them. it was for personal use and it was out of mistrust for the bank system. and he tried to conceal his actions by making 106 withdrawals of $10,000 or less. banks must report cash transactions over $10,000 by law. if convicted he faces a $500,000 fine and 10 years in jail. the as yet unnamed individual a alleged nows hastert from living in ohio where the taught school for 16 years and was a wrestle coach. residents of the town said this news was difficult to hear. >> he is definitely part of the town.
yeah it's very surprising. >> it's just disappointing. >> reporter: within hours of the indictment he resigned from the lobbying firm where he had worked since leaving congress. an interesting side note in his auto biography, he learned about one of the lessens he earned as a high school wrestling coach. they are counting the ballots now to see who will be the next president of soccer's governing body but fifa's president sepp blatter is not getting the support of the u.s. blatter spoke to delegates just before voting began. any soccer world has been in turmoil for days. this is a live picture you are
seeing from zurich. there have been calls for blatter to resign but he says he is the man to keep the job. >> 209 voting delegates in this room today, you are the individuals who hold the responsibility of changing the way the story of fifa unfolds. >> translator: i wish to stay among you. i wish to play this role. i would like to continue with you. this is a matter of trust, confidence. >> that was prince ali and of course sepp blatter, making their requests for votes. andy richardson has more on the voting now from zurich. >> there's two separate voting booths and each country is taking their turn to enter a booth, put their votes on a piece of paper and pop it in a ballot box. it's very old school and it's taking a long long time.
at least we have two candidates this time around. in 2011 at this stage, fifa president sepp blatter was standing against him after his opponent had been kicked out of the process after being charged with allegations of bribery. on that occasion you might remember sepp blatter saying that he was determined to route out corruption and wrongdoing in world football. we just had his final keynote speech and we heard something very similar again. in that if he was voted in the first thing he would be doing would be to start rooting out corruption and wrong doing in football. he said i have been with you for a long time. he was appealing to the voters in the room. i'm among you. i want to stay among you. and if can let me stay with you. in the next couple of hours, the voting process is pretty straightforward, but it is taking a long time. and if either candidate doesn't
get the two-thirds majority they will then have to do it all again, and then a simple majority is enough. the palestinian football association has dropped its calls for israel to be kicked out of fifa. hundreds demonstrated outside the meetings in switzerland, they say israel has restricted the movement of palestinian soccer players. no word yet on why the palestinian organization decided to withdrawal his proposal. there is lingering anger in brazil over how much money was spent for 2014's world cup. virginia lopez reports. >> reporter: for many in brazil this is an example of everything that was wrong with the 2014 fifa world cup. it cost $600 million to build, twice as much as originally planned and after hosting less than a handful of matches during last year's world cup, it has
never been filled again. today it serves mainly as a parking lot for these buses. after seeing cases of mismanagement and disproportionate spending in stadiums all around the country, to many the signs of wrongdoing were glaring and took few by surprise. >> translator: the brazilians have never trusted fifa. some of us already suspected corruption was rampant. for others what came as a surprise was the reach of the corruption scheme. >> reporter: indignation was such that thousands took to the streets in 2013 to protess what they thought were misused resources for a country where millions live on so little. >> translator: all of these stadiums are unnecessary. in brazil they have no football culture. the money would have been best spent on hospitals and schools. >> reporter: for most it's the fact that brazil has no
professional team. in fact this mostly sits entity except for the occasional concert. an investigation has now been approved. >> translator: there is no doubt that the government works to avoid our investigation related to the world cup last year. it's a all connected to the corruption scheme in fifa and the brazilian football confederation. >> reporter: building stadiums like this was meant to demonstrate to the world that brazil was now a major economic power. instead, critics say it might stand as a simple of rampant corruption and squadered resources. coming up on al jazeera america, not everyone in merck can access the internet what the white house is doing to get more of the country online. ♪
the white house is taking steps towards making it easier to get on internet. it's something most of us take for granted, but for some low income families the cost is too high. public libraries used to be all about books, but it's access to the internet that draws people in in the digital age. this library provides free online browsing. and for parents keen to get their kids online it provides a vital service. >> this is a really nice library, so we enjoy coming and my son enjoys coming as well. >> reporter: it's that kind of service that the u.s. government wants to get into people's homes. it's a program that helps
families pay their phone bills and also gets them online. the figures speak for themselves according to the latest u.s. census bureau findings 5 million households in the u.s. are without brood band and disproportionately they tend to be black or hispanic families. experts say if the u.s. is to remain competitive, everyone needs access to the web. >> if you are not connected you are almost a second class citizen. you are left out of the competitive opportunities, the job opportunities, but your children in particular are behind other children of their age. >> reporter: but critics say the program is already wasteful expensive, and ultimately could harm the people it hopes to help. >> really the program is full of waste, fraud, and abuse, and unless we return to making sure that people have skin in the game that is just going to
continue. and that means higher broadband taxes for everybody else including people who are not quite poor now have get the subsidy, and there will be less subsidies for those who really need it. >> reporter: few doubt that access to the internet is increasingly essential. andy gallagher al jazeera. coming up -- >> i'm rob reynolds in oregon with a report on the deplorable housing conditions experienced by native american families decades after they were displaced by hydroelectric dams.
>> out of steel and concrete their weld their answer to the river's fury. >> reporter: the dams also drown dozens of villages where native people had lived and fished for thousands of years. today some desend danths of those displaced native americans live in settlements. >> the luxury of having plumbing in a house, i really don't know what that is. >> reporter: gabriel has lived on cook's landing for 45 years. there's one toilet and shower facility for about 45 people. >> try as much as you can, you can never keep it clean. but that's all it is. >> reporter: about 500 native people live on-sites designated for access to fishing as guaranteed by treaties but the
places were never intended for permanent settlements. these deplorable housing conditions are another sign of the dam's enduring human impact. paul is head of the columbia intertribal fishing commission. >> all of this incredible wealth that everyone is getting but these people here don't have that. you wouldn't think that here in america, the united states of america, that you have these kind of third world living conditions, but it is here the government knows about it and they won't do anything about it. >> reporter: the u.s. army corps of engineers build the dams but they have no plans to build new homes. it's waiting for congress to fund more studies. >> the next step would be another study, so the fact finding is to determine whether or not a study is needed. >> reporter: the dowel's dam generates thousands of megawatts of electricity every day, but
the trailer where jesse lives with his family has only a wood stove to ward off the winter cold. >> look what they have done to our land and our country. it's a fact every dam like this they ruined another native american's life or family. and that's a true written fact. >> reporter: dams brought pos parity to the pacific northwest but only misery to this land's original inhabitants. a 97 year old has a fund-raising program to provide field trips, but has never been on a field trip herself. and she won a trip to the white house. >> it was an awesome, thrilling,
visit, and i felt very honored to meet both the president and the vice president. the first lady was not there, but she left a nice letter saying she regretted that she wasn't there. i certainly hope to meet her in the future. i also have a hope and wish that at some time we might be able to get the first lady to come out to our school. >> when she was growing up she wasn't allow to go on field trips since she attended segregated schools. finally a live look at one world trade center. the observatory opens to the public today. there are no outdoor balconies, but you can see for miles and miles and miles through the huge windows. the tower was built on the site of the september 11th attacks. thanks for joining us. i'm ron paul we're going to join our colleagues in london with the latest on the vote count in
zurich. >> reporter: blatter a few days ago would have expected a majoty in the first round. >> if there is a sense that [ inaudible ] away from sepp blatter people might start to get on that case perhaps put my weight behind the challenger at this stage, or does it not -- does that not follow? >> reporter: yeah i don't know -- i don't know if it would be floating voters so much? i mean these aren't individuals who can necessarily change their mind on a whim. they are accept senting the football organization of their country. so you would like to believe they have come in with the support of their organization