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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  September 9, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight: an escalating crisis leads to a standoff in europe; the divided response on the surge of migrants and refugees; william brangham reports from hungary on the voices from another great migration. >> hungarians are angry because of the migrants because they think they have to pay so much money to take care of the people. >> ifill: also ahead this wednesday, republican rivals unite, hoping to spark a political revolt that will derail a capitol hill vote on the iran nuclear deal. plus, the frontlines of wild fires in the west: a force nearly 10,000 strong fights to keep blazes at bay during one of
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the worst fire seasons on record. >> throughout the west, big fires have become the norm. fire managers are having a tough time keeping one all the demands for firefighters and firefighting resources. >> ifill: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years.
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bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the united states is moving to take more of the many thousands leaving africa and the middle east. the associated press reported today the obama administration will accept at least 5,000 additional refugees next year. meanwhile, europe faced a fight over a proposal to relocate 160,000.
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we'll have much more after the news summary. in syria, al qaeda rebels and others have captured a key air base in a new blow to the assad government. their victory means virtually all of a major province is now free of government control. militants besieged the air base for two years and posed today for victory pictures. state tv confirmed the military abandoned the site. as damascus faces new battlefield losses, there are growing signs of a russian military buildup backing the regime. moscow confirmed today its military advisers are on the ground in syria. >> our country has long been supplying arms and military equipment to syria in accordance with bilateral contracts. there are also russian military experts in syria who are instructing the syrians on the use of the military systems being delivered. the weapons are aimed at combating the terrorist threat that has risen to an
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unprecedented scale in syria and in neighboring iraq. >> ifill: the russians still deny their forces are actually taking part in combat, and they accused the west of creating "hysteria." in washington, a spokesman said secretary of state kerry spoke by phone with the russian foreign minister. >> he reiterated our concern about these reports of russian military activities or buildup, if you will, in syria, and made very clear our view that if true and born out, those reports could lead to greater violence and even more instability in syria. >> ifill: there was also word that iran is letting russian planes fly over its territory to syria, but iran's supreme leader rejected discussing the issue with the u.s. ayatollah ali khamenei told a group in tehran:
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just yesterday, iranian president hassan rouhani said tehran was open to talks on syria. al qaeda's leader today dismissed the rival islamic state group as "illegitimate." in an audio statement, ayman al- zawahri declared, "we don't recognize this caliphate," but he also said his followers should join isis in attacking u.s. coalition forces and shiites in iraq and syria. back in this country, the california assembly today approved a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. the bill now goes to the state senate, which is expected to endorse it. four states-- washington, oregon, montana and vermont-- have already legalized assisted suicide. thousands of teachers in seattle went on strike today after failing to get a new contract. the walkout came on what was supposed to be the first day of school and kept 53,000 students home. seattle teachers have gone six
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years without a cost-of-living raise. president obama made a pitch today, a fresh appeal to make two years of community college tuition-free for all who want it. the plan has gone nowhere in congress burks at a community college in warren, michigan, the president charged his opponents are badly out of step. >> at a time when we should be growing our investments in job training and apprenticeships, we've got republicans in congress who are going in the opposite direction. some are even talking about shutting down the government at the end of the month. that's what would happen if congress fails to pass a budget. it would be wildly irresponsible. >> ifill: despite the impact in washington, the president pointed to half a dozen states that are going to make community college free. new york city will be the first in the nation to make chain restaurants add salt warnings to their menus. the city's board of health voted today for the mandate. it affects dishes with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, about a teaspoon's worth.
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the average american consumes about 3,400 milligrams a day. on wall street, an early rally collapsed as oil prices fell sharply on the day. in tend, the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 240 points to close back near 16,250. the nasdaq fell 55 points and the s&p dropped 27. and the national geographic society is selling its storied magazine and related tv ventures to the fox media conglomerate. today's announcement said fox will buy a majority stake for $725 million. nat-geo said the deal will increase its endowment to nearly $1 billion, and will also help fund science and research. still to come on the newshour: voices of another great migration; republicans push to delay a vote on the iran nuclear deal; and much more.
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>> ifill: european union commission president jean claude juncker announced new plans today to address the continent's massive influx of migrants and refugees. they would require countries to absorb a share of 160,000 asylum seekers now flocking to italy, greece and hungary, with mandatory quotas. juncker also pushed for strengthening europe's border and coast guard, and he encouraged countries to allow asylum seekers to work. we will be talking to the e.u.'s ambassador to washington in a few moments, but first we take a look at the people on the front lines of the crisis. we begin with a report from our own william brangham near the serbia-hungary border. >> the steady flow of syrian and other migrants coming across the borders is the constant focus of hungarian press.
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in their local news reports the word on screen there calls it "siege." here they say "extremists could be coming." as hungarians see this constant flow of images of refugees, some of them obviously played up for their scariest possible impact, it's understandable why some locals in nearby towns have gotten concerned. in szeged, the largest town near hungary's border with serbia, we heard several worries about the arrival of newcomers from the middle east. >> it's a different culture. these people will never be an inherent part of our communities. >> a lot of hungarians are angry at the migrants because they think that "oh, my god, we have to pay so much money to take care of these people. we have to give them food, accommodation." >> it's a bit hard to handle them because they are so many people. and i think that is a problem that there are so many people and we don't really have a solution to deal with this many
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people. >> the syrians themselves should come because they are in trouble. but the refugees that are looking for better life, maybe they should start making a better life in their country rather than looking for a better one in another place. >> brangham: but lenard lowy, who owns "sun city" tattoo shop in szeged, says, yes, his country is overburdened right now, but if other nations help out, this crisis can be solved. >> ( translated ): we can't speak only about hungary here. we are in the european union, so i would welcome a unified solution. they should use funds to establish refugee camps and reception centers. police should also receive more support. europe can tackle this crisis. but even europe is not able to take in millions more refugees, so a line should be drawn somewhere. but the hungarian government has behaved very ineffectively. the fact that all these migrants are stuck in roöszke is absurd.
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>> brangham: hungary's prime minister, viktor orban, doesn't seem to share that same belief, warning repeatedly that his nation must defend its christian traditions against this coming wave of muslims. the implication being: refugees will inevitably change the fabric of hungary for the worse. opinion polls have shown some support for the prime minister's position, but it's not a universal belief. in szeged today, i sat down with these two hungarian men. gyorgy zimoni, is torn over the plight of the refugees, as well as the european nations who now have to grapple with them. >> ( translated ): my opinion has two levels. on the one hand, i feel sorry for the migrants, as the conditions they're in are very hard. but i also feel sorry for the whole country. they were not prepared for this, just as all of europe was not prepared for this wave. we can see no end of this. >> brangham: george's friend of 20 years, abdul latif-zanda, is originally from libya, but is a hungarian citizen. he's says he's living proof that practicing muslims can integrate into european society.
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>> ( translated ): i've lived here for 30 years now. i've never had a problem with anyone, neither for political nor religious reasons. islam teaches that you should lead a decent life, and you should treat others fairly. there are many others, however, who use religion, money, or whatever else, to convince poor muslims to do stupid things. in europe, you can lead a normal life. and if you are normal, you will be accepted. >> brangham: many of the refugees and migrants we met this week in hungary agreed. said halabi, who fled syria with his wife and three children, said that their arrival shouldn't be the cause for alarm. >> we hope that the european people understand that diversity is good for them. we are looking for a new life for our children, where they can access schools, where i can get a job, support my family. >> brangham: another syrian refugee, basel esa, who we found
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practicing his rap outside a migrant processing center, says those who think all refugees will simply drain europe's public services are wrong. >> for me, i don't want the luxury life. i just want to live in a peaceful place, just normal life, peaceful place, that's it. good job, that's it. i don't want anything else. i don't want to cause any problem for anyone, nobody causes a problem for us. >> brangham: for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham in szeged, hungary. >> ifill: the surge of syrian refugees arriving in europe may be relatively new, but the displacement caused by the war has spilled over into neighboring countries for more than four years. perhaps nowhere is that more pronounced than in neighboring lebanon, where one quarter of the country's residents are refugees. alex thomson of independent television news reports from beirut, where many displaced
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syrians-- particularly the marginalized-- are contemplating a new life in europe. >> i the next wave is already coming to europe. living on the edge in lebanon, there is only so much any human being can take. >> you come in and see for yourself. it's really bad. >> reporter: so we did. in through the stinking, flooding passageway, yet three floors over our heads, the entire building is collapsing, too dangerous for human habitation say the authorities. officially, the entire block is too dangerous to live in. down below, single mom and five children, pays $130 a month for one stinking, damp room which
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could collapse anytime. >> things are betting much worse here. my son was studying in syria. now he has to work. i feel bad for him. >> reporter: every time there is a problem with the water, and that is often, they have to come up to the roof to sort it out. she says conditions are so bad living here that she wants to go back to her old place. that was an underground place where six families were living together and being charged $1,000 a month. better, she says, than this. two floors down, here's mohamed from racca, the islamic state's headquarters. he says, i just want to get out of here, any country, please. across beirut, across lebanon, the sense of things breaking down here. the capital, an historic
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sandstorm has descended, the like of which few people here can ever remember. the capital is pock marked with piles of rubbish. on the face, hum drum municipal dispute but it's actually about government corruption, the sense of things not working. (shouting) >> again today, protests. >> reporter: so the lebanese government has snapped. they've had enough. they're pushing this exodus out of their country by banning syrian refugees from working. so come with me to the palestinian refugee camp in south beirut and see the effect of this. >> i want to go to england. >> reporter: to england? yes. >> reporter: mohamed, historian, teacher and double refugee. he's fled from the palestinian refugee camp of yamuk in syria.
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proud, but has his doubts. you like churchill and margaret thatcher? >> yes. but mr. cameron, i don't understand him. >> reporter: his father fought with the british army in the second world war to norway. but they can't take much more of this. >> if possible, just like my husband, i'd like to go to sweden, england or norway, perhaps. >> reporter: she says we need $5,000 to try to get to europe. we're nowhere near that. so they struggle on here day by day with their son who has profound learning difficulties,
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and the daily grind of food, rent, and relentless power cuts. on beirut's famous cornish, surface life is normal, but across the country, the gigantic push and pull, the push of a government that cannot cope and wants perhaps 2 million refugees gone. these refugees in their millions see the e.u. welcome on television, facebook, twitter. they see the welcome. they see the hope. >> ifill: that's alex thomson reporting. joining us now to talk about that push and pull, and the announced proposal today to help remedy the crisis, is the european union's ambassador to the united states, david o'sullivan. welcome. >> thank you. >> ifill: so let's talk about the proposal put forth today to accept 160,000 of these migrants and refugees and spread them
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somehow among different countries in the e.u. how feasible is that? >> i think it's imminently feasible. i mean, you need to understand, of course, this is basically a proposal designed to relieve the immediate pressure on the front line countries in europe who've had to bear the brunt of the increased wave of refugees, particularly italy and greece coming from the mediterranean and hungary through the route of the western balkans. it's true these companies, enormous efforts though they've made, and the italians and greek people have been extremely generous in their reaction, it is more that they can cope with, so we need a redistribution on european soil across all the member states so the burden can be shared more equitably. but this is not the only action being proposed, of course. we're also looking at stepping up action across the borders. we are the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the refugees in turkey, jordan and lebanon. but as your report has shown,
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the system there is at breaking point and this is part of the push that the international community will need to address. >> ifill: a lot at the breaking point including emotions. we want to talk about the 160,000, that's where you're saying is a baseline, where you begin, not necessarily end, and you're talking about enfarcing this by mandated quotas, certain countries have to accept a certain amount. how do you enforce that? >> this will be adopted by european union legislation and the member states will have to implement it because the member states will adopt the legislation. the enforcement is not a problem. the challenge will be openly, i admit, actually to get member states to agree to impose upon themselves legally mandatory quotas. but i think this is the challenge which the european commission has laid down and all have said this immediate challenge is a challenge to our common european commitment to
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humanitarian rights and values and our international obligation to eke withum refugees in decent conditions. i emphasize this is not to be confused or conflatted with the more general problem of migration or freedom of movement across the european union. this is a specific problem to people fleeing persecution or war. >> ifill: if you're in denmark or hungary and not necessarily on board with this, how do you persuade them to vote for this? they are members of the e.u. in good standing, why would they do this? >> i think you make the argument to why europe has a moral responsibility in this situation to live up to our international commitment, to treat refugees decently, to hold them in decent conditions while they are processed and their request for asylum is assessed, and this is not easy to do in the conditions in which you've seen in hungary and in the conditions we know exist on some of the greek islands which are literally
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overrun not as a vast numbers of people seen as the european population but for these country and specific municipalities and towns, it is more than they can be reasonably asked to cope with and i think it's reasonable to expect all of europe, all 28 member states show solidarity with our member states who are struggling and with these refugees who are generally fleeing persecution and war. but, of course, this is not the only element the european commission has proposed a comprehensive approach. it involved search and rescue in the mediterranean. we've rescued many hundreds of thousands of people in the mediterranean. we are looking at the origins of this problem, the crisis in syria, the crisis in libya -- >> ifill: which i want to get to in a moment, but i want to go backward a little bit. how do you get so bad and why does it seem like it took the e.u. so long to act in a unified way? >> i would contest your second observation. i don't think it has taken us very long because i think we
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have been extremely active, already, for several months. i mean, we produced our first proposals back in may and we increased the search and rescue activities in the mediterranean and have saved many thousands of people in the interim. why is the situation becoming so critical, i think two reasons. one is the breakdown of law and order in libya which allowed it to become a transit state without any control over the exit of refugees particularly into the hands of smugglers and secondly i think is very interesting and, frankly, heart-rending report from the camp in lebanon showed that syrian refugees are nearly four or five years in camps in lebanon, in jordan, and in turkey. those countries are doing their best, but a country like lebanon, as we know, has its own problems, and to be asked to deal with 1 million or more refugees is more than you can ask of them. so then the conditions for these refugees have become
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increasingly difficult and, of course, they are despairing and anxious to try and escape to a better life which they hoped for in europe. >> ifill: finally, is there a greater responsibility than goes beyond the e.u. the u.s. is talking about 5,000 settlers being allowed here. are other countries shirking their responsibilities, or is there more than they could be doing? >> i think there is more than the international community could do. the gulf states, the arab states have a responsibility to help the situation in jordan and lebanon and turkey. this is a global problem. the e.u. is not seeking to shirk its responsibilities. we will step up to the plate and do what is needed an more than is need tbud dimension is such that we'll need a global response as the secretary of the united nations has called for. >> ifill: ambassador to the e.u., david o'sullivan, thank you very much. >> thank you.
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>> ifill: presidential politics came to capitol hill today as republican candidates joined with lawmakers to protest the iran nuclear deal. political director lisa desjardins was there. >> god bless the united states of america. ( cheers and applause ) >> reporter: republican presidential hopefuls and rivals donald trump and ted cruz joined forces to slam the nuclear deal with iran. >> let's rise up and tell every elected official in washington-- no more talk, no more show votes. get it done, stop this deal! >> reporter: thousands gathered on the west lawn of the capitol to hear the speeches, many using umbrellas for shade in the 90- degree washington heat. >> if this deal goes through, i'm really scared for our country. >> i don't like the iran deal. and i think it's going to hurt us in the long run.
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>> reporter: the texas senator organized the event, along with tea party supporters, but the star of the show was clear. >> never, ever, ever in my life have i seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal in iran. and i mean never. >> reporter: hours earlier, inside the capitol, secretary of state john kerry dismissed much of the opposition as irrelevant. >> i believe the people who count are the 42 senators that made up their minds. that's the count that matters right now. if donald trump and ted cruz and dick cheney want to be the face of the opposition, that's their choice. >> reporter: the 42 senators are democrats who support the deal and could block any republican move to disapprove it. with that in mind, kerry and energy secretary ernest moniz sought to pressure republicans to move on. >> we hope that the senate would move rapidly to do the business
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of our country-- not of a party, but the business of our nation. >> reporter: despite the drama, speeches and jockeying, the iran deal's legislative future seems secure. president obama has more than enough votes for it to survive in the u.s. senate. what the rally outside and other words today may indicate the future of the deal as a hot 2016 issue. democratic hopeful hillary clinton laid out her views in a washington speech. she acknowledged the iran deal is "not perfect" but maintained it's the only way to keep iran from developing a nuclear bomb. >> either we move forward on the path of diplomacy and seize this chance to block iran's path to a nuclear weapon, or we turn down a more dangerous path leading to a far less certain and riskier future. >> reporter: and on the senate floor, her democratic rival, bernie sanders, compared critics of the deal to those who voted to go war with iraq in 2003. >> unfortunately, these
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individuals have learned nothing from the results of that disastrous policy and how it destabilized that entire region. >> reporter: the iran deal seems certain to figure again in the next republican presidential debate a week from today. the deadline for congress to vote is the next day. >> ifill: tonight, we hear from a man with a unique relationship to the iran deal. career diplomat and former deputy secretary of state william burns was first dispatched to begin secret talks with iran back in 2008 by then president george w. bush. burns' role which wasn't revealed till late 2013 continued even during the formal negotiations up until the final agreement was signed in july. chief foreign affairs
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correspondents margaret warner sat down with ambassador burns today in washington to ask him about the deal and whether iran will truly comply. >> william burns, thank you for joining us. >> pleasure to be with you. >> reporter: now that it's clear e president has at least the votes he needs to get the iran deal through somehow, does it matter internationally whether he has to do it by veto or is able to finesse having a vote at all? >> i think the more quickly this can be accomplished on the hill, i think the better it is for the united states. it's a demonstration of our commitment to this agreement. then to focus on implementation, which is going to be a real challenge for all of us. >> reporter: there are some republican members of congress who are talking already about, once the deal goes through, slapping new sanctions on iran, unilateral ones that are non-nuclear related. would that throw a monkey wrench in the works either on the iranian or implementation side? >> it could, is the honest answer. i think the real issue here is
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the measurers at this point and it's the rigorous implementation of the provisions that exist and push back against iranian behavior whether push for terrorism in the region, directly through proxies or human rights practices we've continued to condemn. >> reporter: so even more rigorous than now? >> yeah, i think there are things we can do working with others to try to interdict arms shipments to hezbollah as well as to houthis in yemen. i think we're in a stronger position to do that now that we're moving ahead with implementation of the nuclear agreement. >> reporter: how politically divisive as this issue has been with all the republicans lining up against it, how hopeful are you that this deal will be implemented fully on the u.s. end without constant attempts to undermine it? >> i think it's clearly in the u.s. interest, notwithstanding the bitter debate that's gone on over this agreement to implement the agreement as long as the iranians are living up to their
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obligations, which is why i think it's likely important in the first year of implementation that both sides live up to their obligations, because i think that builds some momentum that can then be sustained over the entire course of the agreement. >> reporter: as we know the critics have faced many different charges about the agreement and one vote the president lost is the ranking democrat on the foreign relations committee and one of his big concerns is the $140 billion it will free up for the iranians which he says are sure to be spent just to form greater terrorism in the region. what do you say to that? what could the u.s. do about that? >> well, first, there are risks in any option that we pursue with regard to the iranian nuclear issue, and there are honest concerns such as senator cardin expressed. the truth is it's only a subset of that $140 billion that the iranians would have access to that's not already committed whether to long-term projects with the chinese or others, so it's maybe $50 billion or
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$55 billion. that's still an awful lot of money, and some of that money is surely going to go to the kind of purposes the iranians demonstrated before, whether support for proxies in the region or efforts to destabilize other parts of the middle east. i don't think in the end that it's going to have a huge determinative effect on, you know, how effectively the iranians continue to pursue those aims and, as i said before, there is a lot that we and others can do to push back against that behavior over time. >> ifill: more than we're doing now? >> that's true. >> reporter: you expect the iranians, you dealt with them perhaps more than anybody in the united states government. do you expect them to try to cheat -- to try to violate around the edges the actual agreement? >> i think the test, you know, any areas of ambiguity they perceive, which is why i think it is going to be very important, especially in the first months, the first year of implementation that we and our partners are quite rigorous in the execution of this agreement.
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>> reporter: when you say you think they'll test it, do you think they'll test it openly, essentially, or that they will try to do something and wait to be caught? >> i think it will be something around the edges where they perceive areas of ambiguity in the agreement and i think that's why it's important to hold them to their obligations from the start. >> reporter: both sides talk about the decades of distrust between our two countries. do you think all the months of painstaking negotiations have eased the distrust? >> there is a lot of mistrust that beer cysts, there are a lot of serious differences that persist, and we have to be very clear-eyed about that. but i think we've built up during the course of the negotiations in the last few years a fair amount of professional respect. the iranian negotiators with whom i dealt directly were very tough-minded, skillful negotiators, and i think, over time, i wouldn't say that we eliminated the mistrust between us, i think that's going to endure for some time, but i do
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think we built up a fair amount of professional respect, and that's important when you're trying to get anything done. >> reporter: just yesterday, president rouhani said he could imagine that iran and the u.s. and saudi arabia could cooperate in trying to resolve the syrian conflict. do you expect something like that to develop, once this deal is implemented? >> i honestly don't expect any overnight transformation of iranian behavior whether regarding the the syrian issue or u.s.-iranian relations. >> reporter: meaning they're still supporting hezbollah blah, accused of shipping weapons in? >> yeah, i think this iranian leadership has a pretty sentimental view of its issues in syria. i don't think there will be an overnight transformation, will take time and be a compcated process. it's not an argument against making the effort, it's just an argument for being realistic about it. >> reporter: the syrian
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unresolved conflict has unleashed this migrant crisis in europe. if you were still advising the secretary of state and the president, what would you be advising the u.s. should be doing in the migrant situation? >> it's certainly an horrific human tragedy. i think there is more the united states can do in terms of taking in more refugees than we do today. there is more that we can do by working with leaders like angela merkel, germany's willing to take in more refugees. the united states can be proud of the contributions we've made to supporting refugees -- >> reporter: writing checks really? >> but i think there is more we can do in terms of not only taking in refugees, david miliband asked for the united states to take in refugees. i think there is more that we can do to revive the serious diplomatic effort to produce the transition in syria.
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much easier said than done but i don't see how you come to grips with the migration crisis unless you begin to address the deeper political crisis of syria and the region. >> reporter: william burns, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: thousands put their lives on the line to keep western wildfires from spreading; and queen elizabeth makes royal history, becoming great britain's longest reigning monarch. the announcement took the airline industry and the business world by surprise. the c.e.o. of united airlines resigned after the markets closed yesterday amid a federal investigation. the inquiry focuses on potential favors he may have granted for the former head of the new york and new jersey port authority. jeffrey brown picks up the story from there. >> brown: the investigation reportedly was looking into
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whether united had restored flights from newark, new jersey, to columbia, south carolina, even though those flights were losing money and had been discontinued. columbia is near the weekend home of david samson, former chairman of the port authority. united, in return, allegedly wanted improvements done at newark airport, which was overseen by samson. united's c.e.o., jeff smisek, had led the airline since it merged with continental in 2010, but that merger has been anything but smooth. yesterday, amid the new turmoil, smisek and two other united officials resigned. scott mayerowitz covers this for the a.p., and george hamlin is an airline industry analyst and consultant. welcome to both of you. scott mayerowitz, let me start with you. trading favors, cronyism, inside dealings? it's quite a tale. tell us a little bit about the alleged dealings here. >> this is one of those scandals that started with the closing of a few lanes on a bridge has now led to the toppling of the
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c.e.o. of th the second largest airline in the world. the flights were one of the issues. united wanted more improvements to its airports and also wanted to get a direct from wall street and appears executives were willing to do whatever it took to make port authority officials happy to they'd approve the changes. >> brown: all of this is flowing from this prior investigation that our viewers will remember from a couple of years ago involving governor chris christie and -- or at least some of his aides. >> yeah, and this all goes to the port authority of new york doesn't just operate the three airports. they pretty much control all the bridges, tunnels and many of the roads in the region, and there were political allies of governor christie who allegedly shut down some ramps to the george washington bridge, one to have the busiest bridges in the
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region if not the nation, and a whole investigation started around that and has now led to questions about what the interactions were between united and the officials at the port authority and who knows where this is going to go next. >> brown: where are we in this investigation? because these resignations came yesterday before anything had really been made public, right? certainly before any action by the federal authorities. >> that's right. back in february, united disclosed some of its executives had received subpoenas from the federal government. they went ai had at the same time and said they were starting their own internal investigation. then yesterday they abruptly announced the dismissal of their c.e.o. plus two c.e.o. executives in the government affairs division of the airline. they didn't say what their investigation turns up, exactly, but just said, because of the results of that investigation, these three executives, including the c.e.o., were
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moving the airline. so the real question is what they find out and what do the federal governments have that they're looking at also. >> brown: george hamlin, there had already been calls for jeff smisek to resign but for a completely different reason, because to have the aftermath of the merger are continental. >> yesterday, a lot of the noise was the fact the computer system had another meltdown, the third of this year and fifth overall. yes, there has been discussion of this. it's been five years, why isn't it fixed? >> brown: tell us about it, why have there been a lot of problems? because there was hope there might be a good mix between united and continental. >> yes, this is one of the americans that created the u.s. big legacy carrier and i thought the smisek team had gone a good job at continental and we expected good things at united. united went through a bankruptcy, very lengthy, took
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several years and my opinion is they didn't get the cost down as much as they needed to. >> brown: cost in terms of -- operating costs, personnel, in particular. the previous management basically also didn't order any new aircraft, they didn't invest in the business so that to some extent the new team may have been walking into something where it was kept alive and in working order but may not have been the best acquisition in that respect. >> brown: you mentioned yesterday even another computer glitch. >> some of that was trying to merge computer systems, but five years. >> brown: so now a new c.e.o. is named oscar muños and he's been named to the united board. what's the challenge for him? >> he has pretty diverse experience, he had been in organizations worked with consumer finance, he was in the transportation business which led to the csx railroad.
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i don't see he has person to person experience, but has good solid experience running a large, heavily unionized transportation company and people i talked to in the industry never has anything bad to say about him and i've heard good things as well. >> brown: scott mayerowitz, you cover the industry. you hear about him. what do you think is the biggest challenge for united now? >> the biggest challenge is to lure its passengers back. if you look at delta, for instance, they are boasting ability having the best on-time performance in the industry of the big three airlines, and united has been lagging behind there. many of the frequent flyers who spend tens of thousands of dollars of year with the airline, they need to come down and stop having these computer outages, have flights on time and have flight attendants and gate agents who are happy and interact with challengers. this will be a big challenge for
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them coming in. but as george said, he is big in transportation and the airlines are complicated, logistical organizations, so hopefully he will try to come in and figure things out there. >> brown: scott, do you hear anything about how any of this may affect governor christie, whether there is any speculation you're picking up, already? >> that's been one of the questions from day one in this investigation was how high up does it go up. so far, no one has leaked anything directly to the governor. it's probably not going to help his political career right now, but as everybody has been concerned, his poll numbers have nowhere to go but up at this point. >> brown: scott mayerowitz and george hamlin, thank you very much. >> thank you.
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>> ifill: nearly 10,000 firefighters and support staff are working to contain about 20 large blazes in washington and oregon. the region is experiencing one of the worst fire seasons on record. special correspondent cat wise recently spent time with the men and women on washington state's frontlines, who have traveled there from all over. >> reporter: fire crews in north central washington have had a busy summer. nearly a million acres have burned in the region. and one of the hardest hit areas is the hilly, majestic countryside in okanogan county, where firefighters are still hard at it. and the workday begins early for them. its still dark when crews at the alta lake fire camp begin gathering supplies for the long day ahead. there's a line for the pre-made boxed lunches distributed from a semi truck. and the food tent delivers hot grub for the early risers. >> sausage and french toast? >> that would be grand, thanks.
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>> reporter: this camp, like most fire camps, was set up in less than 48 hours. it has everything needed to support some 600 firefighters and fire managers who are working to contain a group of fires, near the town of chelan, which have been burning since august. >> everyone have an incident action plan? >> reporter: at exactly 0600, 6:00 a.m., fire managers gather or the morning briefing. crews have made good progress in recent days to contain the fires, but some areas are still very active. >> we had an injury yesterday. know your evacuation protocols. watch out for those stump holes and overhead hazardous. those are the things that are going to get you. >> reporter: the firefighters here are all too aware of the dangers they face on a daily basis. three of their colleagues on a nearby fire died, and another was critically injured several weeks ago. flags at the camp remain at half-staff. but the work must go on, and
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fire trucks were soon pulling out of camp, heading to the frontlines. we followed along, too, up a windy mountain road through areas that were still smoldering. we met up with a strike team from california that had recently come off a series of big fires in that state. 29-year-old andrew may, like so many other firefighters, has had little rest since june. >> my longest stretch was about 26 days. then i was off for three and a half, and have been back for about eight days now. >> reporter: may says despite the grueling schedule he >> reporter: may hustled off to join his crew who were laying water hose through a thickly wooded area. after getting their gear ready and new instructions from their chief, the firefighters headed up a steep hill carrying about 80 pounds of hose and equipment toward an active fire line. another big job for crews is securing the edges of the fire. this 30 foot wide fire line had
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been bulldozed earlier in the day, but firefighters were worried it was about to flare up again. >> once we get around a fire, the job isn't done. >> reporter: andrew hostad is a fire prevention specialist with the u.s. forest service. >> so much of what goes into actual firefighting isn't the glory shots with the big flames and that sort of thing; it's the head down in the dirt, digging. and really doing the vital role of mopping up and securing that fire. >> reporter: more than 400 square miles have burned here in okanogan county near the canadian border. it's now the largest wildfire in state history. throughout the west, where big fires have become the norm, fire managers are having a tough time keeping up with all the demands for firefighters and fire fighting resources. >> evacuation levels are at level one.
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>> reporter: and nowhere is that scarcity of resources being felt more than at the northwest interagency coordination center in portland, oregon. decisions are made here about where firefighting equipment and personnel will be dispatched throughout oregon and washington. >> it's been a real challenge for us to mobilize and get our resources out to where they're needed as quickly as they need them. >> reporter: carol connolly handles public affairs at the coordination center. she says basically everything, from camp supplies to helicopters, has been in short supply this year. and well trained fire crews, known as hotshots, are really in demand. >> we were told, about the third week of august from our national office, that we're not getting any more resources. what we have inside our boundaries, that's all were getting. so that's when we share crews, and we borrow crews. and two fires that are close together, one incident commander might talk to the other and say: "hey, i need one of your hotshot crews for an operational period to do a burnout." and so they will send them over
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and help, and send them back the next day. >> reporter: in fact, the wildfire season in central washington has been so intense this year that nearly anyone who can help is being asked to. about 300 heavy equipment operators were given special training so they could work on the frontlines. they were part of an even larger program, the first of its kind for the state, to enlist hundreds of locals wanting to aid firefighters. one of those offering to help was angela davis, who was raised in the area and is a descendent of a local native american tribe. davis was assigned to the finance division at a base camp in okanogan county. >> i thought i should step up and come over and help out with the firefighters protecting my native land. we look at all the people on the frontlines, and they're doing their work, and we forget what really goes on behind the scenes. and that's kind of what i am taking away from this is that every link in a chain is important. >> reporter: the call for help has even extended overseas. >> i didn't even hesitate.
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as soon as i was asked, i said yes. >> reporter: australian john costenaro is one of 70 firefighters who have been sent from his country and new zealand to assist in the efforts. that hasn't happened since another bad fire season in 2008. costenaro, who is from victoria says he has a very personal reason for wanting to help the firefighters in washington. >> in 2009, victoria suffered the black saturday fires. very severe fires, the worst in our history. we had the americans come over and assist us during that period. and i wanted to repay that favor because they came to my hometown and helped us a great deal. >> reporter: he is repaying that favor now by supervising heavy equipment, like bulldozers, and walking about eight miles of fire lines a day. >> the friendliness that the americans have shown me and my colleagues is overwhelming. it's people shaking hands with you in the street, and thanking you, and understanding you have come from another country, and it's very appreciated to be felt welcome in another country, and to assist. >> reporter: as crews get a better handle on the multiple
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fires in central washington, aided by recent precipitation and lower temperatures, some are now starting to shift to fires in other states. and many expect to soon head to south to california where the states infamous santa ana winds start picking up at this time of year and the fire season gets even busier. for the pbs newshour, i'm cat wise in okanogan county, washington. >> ifill: finally tonight, britain's monarch marks a milestone. tim ewet of independent television news has the story. >> reporter: it was a routine royal engagement the reopening of a railway line, but this was a momentous moment in the queen's reign. she arrived from balmorrow, her estate in the highlands, where she had originally hoped to spend a quiet day.
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she was met in edinburgh, a moment not without irony, by scotland's first minister nicola sturgeon. many in her scottish nationalist party would like to sever the links with the crown. the queen was to be carried in style aboard the steam train the "union of south africa." today was a day all about making journeys-- one long, extraordinarily so-- touching seven decades, the four corners of the globe and the affections of many millions of people. the other, short-- 31 miles from edinburgh down to the borders. the queen's thoughts may have been on another rather more somber journey many years ago. in february 1952, she flew back to london from kenya after the sudden death of her father, king george vi. she had left a princess and returned a queen at just 25 years old. as the "union of south africa" headed south, a tide of tributes was gaining momentum led by the
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prime minister. >> and it is, of course, typical of her selfless sense of service that she would have us treat this day just like any other. >> reporter: the queen's first stop was mutant grain station. it was the chance to meet thousands of well-wishers who had turned out to share her big day. the queen was always uncomfortable about celebrations she regards as inextricably linked to the death of her great, great grandmother, but such was the level of public and media interest in today's milestone in her reign that she was in the end forced to respond to it. nicola sturgeon, passionate advocate of scottish independence, was now cheerleader for the british monarch. >> your majesty, today you become the longest reigning monarch in british history. >> reporter: and the queen herself accepted that there was more here than just the opening of a railway.
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>> many, including you, first minister, have also kindly noted another significance attaching to today, although it is not one to which i have ever aspired. inevitably, a long life can be surpassed by many milestones. my own is no exception. but i thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness. a monarch who has traveled further and met more people than any other is now the longest to reign over her subjects. >> ifill: on the newshour online: in the past four years, a rookie rhode island principal has boosted morale and turned around an urban elementary school that had been struggling for years.
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her secret weapon? an unconventional method called "blended learning." read how it's changing classrooms. we have a story from the hechinger report on our home page. that's and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm gwen ifill. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ >> bnsf. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh
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this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. >> late day drop. the bears come out in force minutes before the closing bell, for what had been a relatively calm day into a tissy. >> i'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. how pervasive is that behavior that forced the ceo to resign? >> and what slow down? the facilitiering of the chinese economy could be a positive for the united states. all that and more tonight on "nightly business report" for wednesday, september 9th. >> good evening, every one. welcome. late day drama which saw the markets go deep entire reverse and swing 400 points. the dow started with a spark