tv PBS News Hour PBS July 24, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: mitt romney accused president obama of allowing big cuts in defense spending and failing to stop national security leaks, one day after mr. obama challenged his rival's foreign policy credentials. good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, margaret warner examines where the candidates stand on foreign policy issues as romney embarks on a three-country trip. >> ifill: then, we have a report from damascus on the aftermath of fierce fighting, as government forces use helicopter gunships and heavy artillery to pound the rebels.
>> woodruff: and in a second election story, ray suarez reports on a voting rights showdown in a battleground state. >> a court here will be asked to decide whether pennsylvania can run next november's elections with one of the toughest voter i.d. laws in the country still in place. >> ifill: i sat down with sir elton john to talk about his new book and his determination to put an end to the aids crisis. >> i feel strong enough and lucky enough to open up and say "i'm h.i.v.-positive" then we're facing an uphill battle. >> woodruff: and we talk with miles o'brien about the lasting legacy of the first american woman to enter space, astronaut sally ride. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy, productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the presidential campaign's focus has turned--
however briefly-- to foreign policy this week. president obama and republican mitt romney made their cases to a major veterans group, albeit on different days. margaret warner has our report. >> warner: mitt romney took direct aim at the president's leadership? the world today, telling the veterans of foreign wars convention that the last few years have been a time of declining influence and missed opportunities. >> he has given trust where it is not earned, insult where it was not deserved, and apology where it is not due. i am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of america. (cheers and applause) i am not ashamed of american power. >> warner: romney spoke the day after the president touted his foreign policy leadership to the same audience. he pointed to winding down the iraq and afghan wars and to
killing osama bin laden as we look ahead to the challenges we face as a nation and the leadership that's required, you don't just have my words, you have my deeds. you have my track record. you have the promises i've made and the promises that i've kept. >> reporter: but romney charged today that administration disclosures about the bin laden raid and leaks on other sensitive matters showed the president puts political gain ahead of the nation's security. >> this conduct is contemptible. it betrays our national interest. it compromises our men and women in the field and it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special council with explanation and consequence. >> warner: the salvos came as the republican challenger embarks on a five-day trip overseas. first to england for the opening of the summer olympics and for a
meeting with prime minister david cameron. then to israel where he'll hold talks with israeli and palestinian leaders and finally to poland next monday and tuesday. the president's side is already criticizing the romney trip as all photo-op, no substance. campaign advisor robert gibbs said yesterday "mitt romney is not engaged on these issues. instead of offering specifics, he's so far talked only in plit tuesday and criticized the president." romney's criticisms today were more pointed than in the past accusing mr. obama of appeasing the russians, misjudging iran and undermining israel's position. mr. obama visited israel as a candidate in 2008 but not as president. then candidate obama also visited kuwait, afghanistan, iraq, jordan, france, the united kingdom and germany where a crowd of hundreds of thousands gave him a rock star's welcome in berlin. now with the economy dominating
the 2012 campaign foreign policy has been on the back burner. but november's winner will face serious challenges, including the war raging between syria's regime and rebels, tensions with iran over its ongoing nuclear program and the scheduled departure of american troops from afghanistan even as fighting continues. we look at where each man stands on the challenges abroad, beginning with obama campaign foreign policy advisor, former ambassador to india tim roemer. i talked to him earl today. tim roemer, thanks for joining us. >> happy to be here, thank you. >> warner: these were pretty tough words from mitt romney today. he said the last few years have been ones of declining american leadership. what do you say to that? >> well, listen, margaret-- and i think your viewers all know this-- president obama's track record, his success, his level of achievement i think is at
historic levels compared to every presidency we've had so far. when you look at what the president said when he left on his trip in july of 2008 and he went to great britain to meet with our troops to sit down with leaders not to talk about platitudes or do photo ops or fund-raisers now talk about what he would do policy wise with detail as president. he talked about going after bin laden and al qaeda and he's done it. he talked about bringing our troops home honorably out of iraq and he's done it. he talked about strengthening our alliances overseas and building coalitions. he's done that both in iran... with iran, against iran, and he's done it with respect to qaddafi. and getting qaddafi out of power. so across the board the president has a track record, not speeches. and the president's also somebody who has effectively used american power and not been
an appeaser and apologist for it. he's gone after bin laden and qaddafi. ask them if he's tough enough and uses american power effectively. >> warner: romney speaking of appeasing does accuse the president, though-- and this keys into his upcoming trip-- of appeasing rivals like russia and undermining allies like poland or eastern europe or israel. >> here's where i think the governor really needs to step up to the standards that the american people believe in and expect for a commander-in-chief. commander in chief is one of the toughest jobs in the world and the expectations from the american people are protect our country from attack, form alliances with the neighbors and friends and bring our troops-- when you bring them home, take care of them. the president has done all three of those things. he's brought our troops home honorably, he's put a time frame forward in afghanistan. >> warner: what about the specifics on... >> he's recognized where the threats are in the world.
governor romney on the other hand has said very general things, margaret, like "russia is our primary foe today." al qaeda's not? bin laden's not? he said he would do the opposite from president obama in israel. the opposite of what? is that the opposite of helping israel build their iron dome to protect themselves from the missiles of hamas? is that cutting their record security aid that the president has delivered for them what is governor romney about? and this speech today i don't think we're clear about it. i don't think we know what he'd do in afghanistan. >> warner: and we'll get a chance to ask rich william son in a minute but let me ask you about another specific criticism which is he's blaming what he called radical defense cuts on president obama, both current and looming ones. >> i think this is more rhetoric more campaign talk. look, the congress and the supercommittee were supposed to come up with a resolution for our budget. they came up with this
sequestration if they can't fix it. so there are going to be some pending cuts if the congress can't fix their looming problem. now, the president has outlined a problem where he has said we have put two wars on the credit cards for americans. trillions of dollars. and wants the-to-strategically balance a strong, quick, smart army and maybe an air force and defense for america but not just say as mitt romney has said "i'm not going to cut a dime anywhere." >> warner: let me ghetto a final quick thing. he's also attacking the white house for leaks in disclosures about sensitive foreign covert operations including the raid to get bin laden. >> and the president has been very clear and determined about this. he has said he won't tolerate leaks in his administration. he knows how he relies on the special ops people and the great c.i.a. people that helped him pull off these stellar and spectacular hits with al qaeda, with the drop attacks and getting bin laden and bringing
them to justice. and the president has said a prosecutor appointed by a republican and a democrat will get at the bottom of this and get at these leaks. >> warner: thank you. >> thank you for having me, margaret, nice to be here. >> warner: and now for mitt romney. we go to the campaign policy advisor who is a former ambassador to the united nations what we heard from robert gibbs yesterday is that the essential (inaudible).
>> we have substantial cuts he is orchestrate ago crisis on sequestration that will resolve in the lowest army by mccain and others on defense. what romney is saying is we should increase our naval ships which is why we have problems in the south china sea and elsewhere. we're seeing the deployment in the persian gulf. be specific about maintaining the size of the army. he's been specific about reforms and procurement so with all due respect to ambassador roemer he either isn't listening or is intentionally misdirecting. >> warner: let's take a couple other things that governor romney mentioned today. what about afghanistan?
today he seemed to be saying he would stick to the nato time line of 2014. what would be different going forward? >> well, you know, i think that's a false paradigm. the real question is how president romney will address these issues once he's in office. how president obama has addressed them during the last four years. we've criticized the degree to which politics had to do with the timeline. that when the army announced the surge, which was his third afghan policy in his first year president obama also did a date wh he was going to withdraw. so governor romney is going to listen closely to military advice. he's going to deal with the neighbors in the area. but we have to recognize the need to get a vigorous security in place in afghanistan. >> warner: but nothing specific?
>> nothing on his map. i gave you specifics on the timetable. >> warner:. >> warner: vice president biden said romney had done a compelling job. >> i know vice president's job is to attack and say things that may push the envelope but that's ridiculous. four years ago this month senator obama in israel gave a speech where he acknowledged that the most looming threat was iran's nuclear program. three and a half years late iran is irrefutable making substantial problem toward nuclear breakout and substantial progress on its missle defense. bismarck said diplomacy without the credible threat of force is like music with no instruments. this administration has music with no instruments. how come we engaged right away when the green revolution of
innocent people were being beaten to death, were being arbitrarily arrested we said nothing we are now engaged in a phony engagement with the iranians to give them more time to go to nuclear breakout. >> warner: how would foreign policy be under mitt romney? would i assume he'd be quicker to use military force? >> he would have credible military force. no one in tehran, no one in israel, no one in the region believes that barack obama barack obama will use military force and the result is tehran listened to that open mic between president and medvedev and said wait until after the election when he has more flexibility and he'll cut a deal allowing us to have enrichment and that's what we l happen if we reelect obama and that will result in a much more dangerous region not only for israel but the united states. >> warner: and would he be more encouraging to israel to take military action? >> i tell you what he'd do.
he'd be talking to them to get a coordinated approach as opposed to only publicly castigating them. he should work with our allies not try to corner them. >> warner: we have to leave it there. rich william yamson, thank you very much. you can watch both candidates speeches to the v.f.w. later tonight. plus our politics team will track romney's international travels each day this week in "the morning line." >> ifill: still to come on the newshour, attacks and counterattacks in syria. pennsylvania's tough voter i.d. law. sir elton john >> ifill: still to come on the newshour, attacks and counterattacks in syria; pennsylvania's tough voter i.d. law; sir elton john on aids and his new book; and the life of astronaut sally ride. but first, with the other news of the day, here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: wall street slid lower for a third day, partly over renewed fears that europe's debt crisis still is not under control. the dow jones industrial average lost 104 points to close at 12,617. the nasdaq fell 27 points to close just under 2863.
the new orleans police department will have to undertake a sweeping program of federally supervised reforms. the u.s. justice department announced the changes today. they include mandatory training on the use of force, new diversity standards for recruitment, and videotaping of interrogations in homicide and sexual assault cases. the measures are aimed at eradicating decades of corruption, mismanagement, and abuse. the city of anaheim, california, braced for more protests today, after police killed two hispanic men over the weekend. the first was unarmed when he was killed saturday. police said he was a gang member, but did not say why he was shot. hours later, a near-riot broke out as protesters clashed with police. police responded by firing bean bags and pepper balls, and one police dog ran into the crowd and grabbed a man by the arm. on sunday, officers killed a second man. they said he fired on them first. so far this year, there have been six officer-involved shootings, and five of those were fatal.
>> sreenivasan: why are they gaining momentum? >> well, they're gaining momentum because they feel their voice is finally being heard. harry, this did not begin past saturday and sunday with the ascevedo shooting by anaheim cops. this is a culmination of anger against the city of anaheim and the police department. you have primarily a latino contingent that's very angry at what's been going on. in march there was a shooting of a young man by cops. the officer remained on duty. no action was taken now this saturday and sunday. you have these two incidents, the crowds converges, of course, the police go in there to tear gas the rubber bullets. another catastrophe. finally those in the latino community say they want action. there's going to be a city council meeting going on this evening. hundreds will be gabing in front of city hall and they feel for the first time with enough momentum the mayor is going to have to say, hey, we've got to the do something to be pro
active. >> sreenivasan: what's the status of the investigation into the behavior of the police officers. the police chief says he apologizes, the canine officer apologizes, didn't mean for the dog to get out. what's happening to the officers? >> the officers involved in the shootings are on paid administrative leave but more importantly you have a shift when you need him. they're saying we're not going to go this alone. for the first time they're going bring the u.s. attorney's office on this thing because, again, many in the latino community say this is just a culmination of years of abuse by cops on the latino community. they feel finally action is going to be taken. >> sreenivasan: thanks for the update. a roman catholic cleric in philadelphia was sentenced to three to six years in prison for covering up sexual abuse by priests. monsignor a roman catholic cleric in philadelphia was sentenced to three to six years in prison
today for covering up sexual abuse by priests. monsignor william lynn is the most senior clergyman convicted in the long-running scandal. for a dozen years, he handled priest assignments and child sexual assault complaints in the archdiocese of philadelphia. lynn plans to appeal his conviction on a charge of child endangerment. prosecutors in britain have charged eight more today in the phone hacking scandal. all worked at a rupert murdoch tabloid that's since been shut down. we have a report from andy davies of independent television news. >> the names and faces may be unfamiliar to many. but in the world of tabloid journalism and in politics they mattered enormously. especially names rebekah brooks and andy coulson. in 2003, he succeeded her as the editor of what was then britain's biggest selling newspaper, "news of the world." he'd later become david cameron's communications chief. she elevated to run rupert murdoch's businesses in britain. a friend to prime ministers. and yet today both stood accused of being involved in the most notorious episode of this whole hacking scandal.
of conspiring with others to intercept the voice mails of the murdered school girl millie doweler. within hours of the charges, the prime minister's former press chief gave this statement outside his london home. >> i'm obviously extremely disappointed by the decision today. i will fight these allegations and get to talk but i would like to say one thing today about the millie doweler allegations. anyone no who knows me or has worked with me would know that i wouldn't-- more importantly that i didn't-- do anything to damage the millie doweler investigation. >> reporter: what's so striking about today's charges is just how far up the editorial chain of the "news of the world" the c.p.s. claim this conspiracy went. seemingly every decision-making level there was involvement, it's alleged. stewart kuttner was once managing editor at the "news of the world." ian edmonton was a news editor there. so, too, greg lynsky. james weatherup was an assistant
news editor. and he was their award winning chief reporter. all big tabloid names. >> sreenivasan: if they're convicted, those charged could serve up to two years in prison. the british government is going ahead with plans to deploy 1,200 more soldiers to help secure the olympic games in london. the opening ceremony is just three days away. but the private firm hired to guard the games has been unable to fill all the security positions. with the new deployment, more than 17,000 troops have been called out to cover the shortfall. the leader of a model democracy in africa died today. john atta mills had been president of ghana since 2008. there was no word on the cause of death. the vice president was sworn in as the new president within hours, underscoring the country's adherence to constitutional stability. john atta mills was 68 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: we turn now to the syrian conflict. in washington, secretary of state hillary clinton said the rebels were gaining ground, taking territory that could become a "safe haven" inside the country. on the ground, army helicopter
pounded the opposition in aleppo, syria's commercial center and large cy.it and in damascus, residents are trying recover from a week of attacks and counterattacks. alex thomson of independent television news filed this report from the capital. >> reporter: even as we entered a man whispered to me "tell the truth, the syrian army is killing the people." then he ran off. this hospital is close to an area of recent fighting. but wounded rebels would never come inside here. they'd be instantly arrested. the past year... the picture of president assad dominates the gallery and every single person we speak to here says they've been injured by rebel forces. like this 18-year-old girl. >> ( translated ): as we left our flat we were hit by snipers from the armed militia. >> reporter: faisal is 11 years old and has blast injuries.
he's responded well to surgery. again, his mother knows that the blast was caused by rebels somehow. not the syrian army. >> ( translated ): we got hit and we were all unconscious. as i understand it, he has injuries to his stomach. i was injured in my legs and my daughter was also hurt on her back and front. >> reporter: what is clear across the capital is the rebels had kalashnikovs and little more, the syrian army obviously had helicopters, tanks, cannon, machine guns and rockets. back in the hospital, the manager insists they have around 50 bodies, all kidnapped by the rebels then murdered. they show signs of torture, he says. when we insist on seeing them he gets reluctant. eventually we are shown to the basement, a stinking chaotic place where bodies lie bloated and nobody can give us any evidence of any torture or execution victims.
clearing up in the north of damascus where people say 150 fighters were seen leaving only yesterday. the now-familiar syrian army pattern pound, pulverize, and then pull out as the rebels retreat. and this is just going to go on and on and on until one of three critical conditions is fulfilled. firstly, that those supplying arms and money to president al-assad turn offer the tap-- principally russia. second, that defections from the military become mission critical and the regime can't continue. and, third, that those around president al-assad decide the game is up. and here real support for the regime, an alawite family returns to their house. she says "i'm lucky the house is safe, thank god the syrian army was here." their friend chants "a love of god and president assad."
pro-assad celebration might ultimately prove premature. >> woodruff: and back to the campaign. this election story is from the battleground state of pennsylvania. ray suarez has our report. >> suarez: 60-year-old wilola lee of philadelphia says she's voted in almost every presidential election since the '70s she's a retired employee of the city's board of education, who spent several years working at her local polling station. but in november, under the voter identification law passed in pennsylvania, lee will not be able to cast a ballot. the new law requires all eligible voters to have a state- approved form of identification issued by penndot, the pennsylvania department of transportation, and the requirements for approval are strict. wilola lee already has a number of identification cards.
>> this is the only i.d. that i have to identify myself, it's a social security card. then i have a personal pennsylvania i.d. card. >> reporter: but lee does not have one document required by the law to get a state-issued i.d., her original birth certificate. it was destroyed in a fire. >> i've been trying to get my birth certificate for the past ten years, over ten years. so i did send to georgia where i was born at in order to obtain a birth certificate but they sent me a delayed birth certificate without a seal on it and come to find out it's only an application. >> suarez: lee is not alone. the state's most recent numbers show more than 750,000 registered voters in pennsylvania lack the identification required to vote under the new law. when the pennsylvania legislature passed what critics and supporters alike call one of the toughest photo voter i.d. laws in the country it set off a ferocious debate. there are some who say that this is really a law in search of a
crime while others say it's doing nothing less than protecting the integrity of every election here. representative daryl metcalf is the sponsor of the voter i.d. law-- house bill 934. >> this doesn't disenfranchise anybody. and i think it should be insulting to any american to say that you might be disenfranchised because you don't have the ability to get a photo i.d. that's legislation i've been working on for about the last ten years to ensure that we have this very common sense policy in place so that when one shows up to vote they prove that they are who they claim to be. >> suarez: but the state has stipulated that there are no documented cases of fraud in the polls at pennsylvania. yesterday, the civil rights division of the justice department opened an investigation into the law to determine whether it complies with the voting rights act and four civil rights groups are challenging the voter i.d. law in pennsylvania's commonwealth court.
in hearings beginning tomorrow the groups will seek a temporary injunction to the law arguing it will disenfranchise specific groups of voters who are not likely to have acceptable identification-- among them, minorities, seniors, and the urban poor. david gersh of the washington, d.c. law firm arnold and porter is one of the attorneys arguing the case on behalf of the plaintiffs, including wilola lee. >> there's no plan for getting hundreds of thousands of people the proper i.d. they can say it's available, but they have no plan for actually accomplishing that. >> suarez: gersh and his team say the law is a partisan evidence to suppress votes. as evidence, they will introduce comments by the republican house leader. in a recent speech the state's republican committee, he added the voter i.d. law to a checklist of republican victories. >> voter i.d., which is going to allow governor romney to win the
state of pennsylvania. done. (cheers and applause) >> reporter: 33 states have passed laws requiring i.d. for voting. of these, only five-- pennsylvania, indiana, kansas, tennessee, and georgia-- have strict photo i.d. requirements. in all five of these states the laws were republican-led initiatives. in pennsylvania, opponents and supporters of the law are mounting a vigorous campaign to educate voters before election day and pressure public officials to elect the identification requirements. last week, state officials announced a plan to offer free identification cards to every one of these voters in time for election day. as long as they can provide a birth date, social security number and two proofs of residency. but these cards are not be available until the end of august and details of how they will be rolled out remain unclear. carol achel is secretary of the commonwealth and a spokesperson for the law. people on the other side of the
question have maintained that this is really a regulation in search of an infraction, or prevention in search of a crime. how do you respond to that? >> i think people say "what's the big deal about showing an i.d.? i have to show i.d. to buy cough medicine over the counter." >> reporter: joe certain is the president of the pennsylvania voter i.d. coalition, part of a non-partisan government watchdog group called the committee of 70. the coalition is leading an evidence to educate voters on the new law and certaine says it's no easy task. >> there are all kinds of problems associated with the implementation of this law that was not considered by the legislature when they drafted the law and when it was signed by the governor. we are trying to do what we can across the commonwealth, stting here in pennsylvania, in philadelphia, to make sure that those people get the assistance that they need in order to be able to comply with the law.
regardless of our feelings about the law. >> reporter: voter rights advocates say they're not opposed to a law reporting live from identification to vote. it's the complexity of the pennsylvania law they object to. to some voters, they say, acquireing the right identification is not as simple as a visit to the pen dot center. a study by the non-start zahn brennan center found nearly half a million eligible voters in six states with voter i.d. laws live in households without vehicles and reside at least ten miles from an office that issues i.d. more than two days a week. in an effort to educate voters on the new law, pennsylvania has launched a $5 million outreach campaign. >> we think we're up to the task and we're aiming to make sure that all 8.2 registered voters in pennsylvania have photo i.d. >> reporter: but advocates say they're frantically racing to reach every at-risk voter in the short runup to election day. they're also trying to coordinate efforts for voters
like wilola lee who's still trying to get a valid voter i.d. card. >> if i don't get the birth certificate to get the proper photo i.d. i won't be able to vote. >> reporter: no matter what happens in court tomorrow, one side or the other will almost certainly appeal and president obama and mitt romney's campaigns will be prepared with legions of lawyers on standby if pennsylvania ends up being a close contest on november 6. >> warner: >> woodruff: in this week's political checklist, ray talked about what he saw in the battleground state with the newshour's political editor christina bellantoni. that's on our politics page. >> ifill: next, advocates from around the globe are in washington this week for the 19th international aids conference. this year's keynote speaker was musician, songwriter, and performer sir elton john, whose 20-year-old foundation has raised more than $275 million to fight the disease.
in his speech and in his new , book, "love is the cure," sir elton told the story of how ryan white, the young indiana boy who contracted h.i.v. through a transfusion, inspired him to create the foundation. white's death in 1990 also spurred passage of the ryan white care act, the nation's largest domestic program for people living with h.i.v./aids. i sat down with sir elton this morning after he spoke at the russell senate office building. >> ifill: you start your book by writing about how you came to your activism, and i just want to read something that you wrote. you said you began the '80s, you lived through the '80s as a passive bystander to this human calamity that was exploding all around you; that you knew about aids, but you had done nothing about it. >> i knew about aids. my friends were dying right, left, and center. i did a record with dionne warwick, stevie wonder, and gladys knight. i did a couple of benefits.
but apart from that, i wasn't involved in anything. i wasn't out... you know, i know i wasn't in act up, i wasn't by his side, i wasn't saying what i should do, because by all accounts, i was a drug addict and an alcoholic, and i was living in a complete bubble of self-absorption. >> ifill: so you were someplace else during this period, and ryan white focused your attention. >> yes. it took a child with a blood transfusion not only to wake me up, but to wake america up, basically. i mean, i read about his plight in a doctor's office in new york in a magazine. i was so outraged about it that i contacted the family. we became friends. i helped them move to another place in indiana, and we became constant friends. and i spent the last week of ryan's life in indianapolis with jeanie and andrea-- jeanie is mother, andrea his sister-- and some other beautiful people who came, and it taught me a lesson.
he spoke to me. he spoke to me that my life was out of order. my life was a mess. i had no values anymore. and he was so stoic with his infection. he wasn't bitter, he wasn't angry. he just was a kid. he wanted to go to school and play football, drive his car, and he had no bitterness about him. he had a kind of angelic aura about him, and his family, too. it's like they are going through all this suffering, and i'm living this life of riley. i'm complaining about everything, and they are living this horrific life and complaining about nothing. >> ifill: ryan white's life and death was... you are right, he was angelic, he was accessible once people got to know his story. he seemed a typical midwestern child. but you write a lot about marginalized people and how they have been the ones who have suffered the most because of aids. >> well, we can't leave anyone behind just because they are sex workers or they are needle users, intravenous drug users,
prostitutes. you know, no one should be marginalized in society when it comes to health. and, you know, as the foundation, we've tried to champion those people and be by their side and say, "listen, these people cannot be forgotten." if you forget about them, the disease is never going to go away. >> ifill: how great is the power of stigma in this? >> it's tremendous. i mean, that's what i focus on in my book, and i focused on my speech yesterday. i can't talk as eloquently as everyone else about a prevention or medicine or, you know, funding, but i can talk about the human element, which is the main part of aids. you know, it comes to the human being and how they are being treated, what medicines they are on and what medicines they are not on. and the stigma hasn't really changed that much in 31 years. you are still getting people who feel it's a shame-based disease, it's based on sexual transmission. and it's still shame-based. and until people feel strong enough and feel loved enough to
actually open up and say, "listen, i'm h.i.v.-positive," then we are facing an uphill battle. you know, it's a very treatable disease. you shouldn't feel ashamed. but i'm afraid that's carried on very much from the first days of aids, when it was basically a gay disease, and then, of course, you know, it affected everybody. but until we get rid of that shame, then people are going to stay underground. they are not going to get tested, and we're facing an uphill battle. >> ifill: you first started the elton john aids foundation 20 years ago? >> 20 years ago. >> ifill: and you came to washington-- you write about it-- some years ago, and met president george w. bush for the first time. and did that live down to your expectations? >> he lived... well, he was someone i wouldn't have voted for. his policies were not mine. but we came from the kennedy center awards, which was
incredible honor, being a british person, i was bestowed this honor. and my partner and i, david, came, and we were so pleasantly surprised by george bush and his knowledge of aids. david and i and laura were social. they were so friendly and so courteous. and he was passionate about aids, and we had a ten-minute talk at the interval of a concert at the kennedy center about aids, and i was astonished about well-informed he was and his commitment to aids. and so it's the typical thing of don't judge a book by its cover until you've read the book. >> ifill: you are here in washington at this international aids conference, and you are also meeting people here on capitol hill about what they can do and what they can continue to do. do you find that government intervention is in the end more of a help or a hindrance, not only in the u.s., but worldwide? >> well, it is certainly helped in america, because i came in ten years ago lobbying for money to senators orrin hatch and edward kennedy, and we were begging for money to stop this epidemic becoming a global pandemic, which it was. and they listened to us. and i'm here ten years later, and i've just been at a
breakfast meeting, as you were, and listened to the most wonderful speeches. we've come so far. it's become a real bipartisan cause, which i'm very happy to see. and in the case of america, it's... certainly without america, we'd be facing catastrophe. >> ifill: so many nations in africa resisted. >> they resisted for a long time and now south africa has woken up and is doing great things. if south africa becomes a template to where aids is in the subsaharan continent all the other countries will follow suit and michel sidibe spoke at the breakfast meeting this morning saying there was so much hope for africa now that south africa has its house in order. and president'm beck kay said if you have aids you get a shot and it goes away. or it's causeded by poverty. we faced those issues. now the new regime, they really paid attention and when south africa speaks, the whole of
africa will listen. >> ifill: you have harsh words in your book for pharmaceutical companies. >> of course. they're making a killing out of people's deaths. and they're benefiting by people suffering and i find that obscene and ridiculous in this day and age that that would happen. it took president clinton to go to rogue pharmaceutical companies to copy the anti-retro viral drugs for a fraction of the cost. and these companies are still threatening to sue and you know, do you not have a conscience? do you not want the world to be a better place? you're still making a profit. >> ifill: you mentioned michel sidibe who we talked to on this program and he's very optimistic about where we stand now and the fight against aids globally. do you share that optimism?
>> of course. 20 years ago, when we started i was delivering meals to people in atlanta and we were direct care organization, and it was.. people needed meals, they needed transport, they needed medication, they needed buddy systems. they had a death sentence. there was a.z.t., and that was just prolonging the agony basically. now people of course if they are on the anti-retrovirals, they face a lifetime of health basically. i mean, it's... i would say in the 99% certainty bracket that if you are on that medication, you will have a healthy life. and we've come so far like that. i mean, the advances on the medication side have been enormous, and the advances on the human side have been enormous. but we still have this stigma to t rid of, and then we really will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. >> ifill: sir elton john. thank you so much for talking with us. >> thank you. >> ifill: and i asked a few more questions about his music and his famous fashion sense. you can find that our web site. >> woodruff: finally tonight,
remembering an american hero. sally ride was an astronaut, physicist, and champion of science. we start with a look back at her life and groundbreaking work. >> the moment of ignition, there's answer newtly nothing like it. there's so much power. so much thunder. you know that something you have no control over at all is happening for the next eight and a half minutes. >> reporter: it was 1983 and sally ride made history as the first american woman in space. the first russian woman had made it 20 years before. ride was flekted on the experience in a nasa interview 25 years after her mission. >> i remember unstrapping from my seat, floating over to the window and that's when i got my first view of earth. i could see off the coast of australia, coral reefs, huge storms swirling in the ocean.
i could see an enormous dust storm building over northern africa and then starting its way across the north atlantic toward us. unbelievable. >> woodruff: ride was just 32 during that first flight and she said at the time she thought her age was more important than her gender. >> i guess that i was maybe more excited about getting a chance to fly early than i was about getting to be the first woman. i'm more excited about that opportunity than i am about being a-- as you say-- a footnote in history. >> woodruff: in fact, by nasa had moved beyond the days when astronauts were drawn from the ranks of military test pilots. ride was a physicist and one of the first six women chosen for the program. >> our training has been no different. i don't think there's been any distinction between the women astronauts and the men astronauts. so from that point of view it really hasn't been hard. >> woodruff: ride made her
second flight in 1984, but her third was canceled after the "challenger" exploded in 1986. instead, she was chosen for the investigative board looking into the "challenger" disaster and, again, for the board that investigated the loss of "columbia" in 2003. after her nasa years ride focused on engaging young people particularly girls, in science. in that 2008 nasa video ride promoted earth cam, an effort to put cameras on the space station allowing middle schoolers to take pictures from space. >> we provide a web site that allows them to do appropriate calculations, figure when the station is going to be over that part of the earth and command the camera to take a picture at that second. >> woodruff: science education remained sally ride's life work phenomenon she was overcome by
pancreatic cancer. she died monday at her home in san diego at the age of 61. we explore ride's contribution to science and to our understanding of space with someone who knew her well, our own science correspondent miles o'brien. welcome. >> good to be here, judy. >> woodruff: miles, it sounds like she thought too much was made of her being the first american woman in space. >> yeah, i think of course the lead line in the obituary is "first american woman in space." but that's such the tip of the iceberg for sally ride. she had such a string of accomplishments and her imprint on the u.s. space program and space exploration in general is really hard to overstate. in addition to being part of the two commissions which focused on the two losses of the space shuttle orbiters she was also involved in the augustine commission report which looked at the future of space most recently and then in 19875 report that's been called the ride report which if you read it today applies to almost everything relating to nasa.
she saw the problem. she saw the issues, and she saw the opportunity of space and for years and years beat that drum beat. >> woodruff: what did she love so much about space and space exploration? >> there are people who love space for the thrill of the speed and adventure and altitude. sally ride, i think, saw space as a means to an end. her passion, her goal, was to inspire young people. to take on careers and science, technology, engineering and mathematics. when you're eight years old you don't want to be a waste management engineer, you want to be an astronaut, right? she understood that intuitively that to get kids in the tent, inspiring them in space was the way to go. and her post-nasa career was all about that, consistently and relentlessly. >> woodruff: as you pointed out, miles, she was appointed to the two commissions investigating the terrible shuttle accidents and she was appointed to the... part of those groups looking at the future of space. why was she chosen for those important jobs? >> she had a keen analytical
mind. admittedly a physicist. what does a physicist know about the engineering of why a shuttle might or might not crash. she had an intuitive sense having been through the program and flown but in addition had a mind that was able to cut through that clutter and come to some significant conclusions in both cases. she... anybody i've talked to her on those commissions said she was a force of nature. >> woodruff: what did she want the space program to be? >> she wanted it to be a means of inspiring young people in particular young girls. she saw that as the way. that effort cam we talked about. this fixed digital camera on the international space station, young boys and middle school to this day can operate that camera themselves. it's a tiny little thing but it makes their minds really get a long way away from the classroom and the cinder block which is might surround them. >> woodruff: i was reading she's incredibly intelligent. she studied not just physics and
astrophysics. in graduate school she was an accomplished athlete. a nationally ranked tennis player. she was a whole package. >> yeah, maybe she should become an astronaut. oh, yeah, she did that, too. it's interesting, covering this beat and knowing astronauts as i do it's a constantly humbling thing because you meet people like that who in a seemingly effortless manner achieve success on so many levels. she was one of those people. >> woodruff: what is it about her interest in young people and young girls especiallyly. is it just she fears that they don't have other reasons to be interested to go in that direction? >> she grew up... it's interesting. that was not her. she looked at the stars and was interested. that led her to a career in physics and almost on a lark she answered an ad when she was at stanford university which led her to houston and the space program. she didn't have this burning desire to be in space so in that respect she saw space as a tool
as much as a thrill ride. and she never... good capability on the right frame. too. she was accomplished in english and she could communicate. she was able to engage people even though she was off-the-charts start on the technical side as well. rough where you have what was she like to be with? >> she was a reserved person. there was a privacy wall built around her. it was only after her death it became publicly known that for many years she... her significant other was a woman and that was known within a certain circle but she wanted to keep that as a private thing as it was described by her sister. we're norwegian, we don't talk about these things. but if you engaged her on subjects she was interested in, she was... it's like she lit up like a solid rocket booster. >> woodruff: i read she did not want her illness talked about. >> amazing within the circle of people i know how few people even knew about this. right up until the end.
that's the way she wanted it. >> woodruff: miles you spent so much time thinking about reporting on space, what is her leg any >> i think sally rooid's legacy, that milestone will always be there she will be in the history books as the first american woman to space. but i think what her legacy is is that she took something that would have been enough for most of us, to just have that, and never stopped. had a tenacity and focus which is commendable. that to me is as inspiring as scrapping yourself to a shuttle. >>. >> woodruff: it's not fair to ask you to fair her to compare her to other astronaut bus how would you say she stands? >> sally rided is s to the shuting era what neil armstrong is to the "apollo" era. in many respects similar characters. high degree of fame. great reserve. a privacy zone around them. and a desire to engage in the technicalities and the science, reveling in the science and
trying to share it as best they can for others. >> woodruff: miles o'brien, our science correspondent, thank you. big loss. >> thank you. >> woodruff: roger mudd reported on sally ride's departure from nasa in 1987 on the newshour. you can watch that video on our web site. also there, ride's own reflections on her shuttle flights and space exploration, recorded 25 years after her first flight. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. mitt romney accused president obama of exposing the military to deep cuts and allowing national security leaks for political gain. he spoke one day after mr. obama challenged romney's foreign policy credentials. the u.s. justice department announced sweeping, mandatory reforms for the new orleans police, aimed at ending decades of corruption and abuse. and in syria, government warplanes and helicopters blasted rebels in aleppo, the country's largest city. at the same time, troops largely
regained control of damascus. how wide is america's socio- economic divide? we explore that online. hari sreenivasan explains. >> sreenivasan: back in march, we asked if you're living in a bubble. thousands of you took our "bubble quiz," answering questions about beer, politics, colleges degrees, and more. now we want you to send us your scores. you can find the quiz on our making sense page. that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. and again, to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in the afghanistan conflict. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs become available. here, in silence, are nine more. and that's the newshour for
we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >. bnsf railway. >> and by the bill and melinda >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org