tv PBS News Hour PBS December 29, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: without a trace, a missing airasia jetliner disappears and international searchers look for signs of the plane officials say is likely at the bottom of the sea. >> ifill: good evening, i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff is away. also ahead this monday, the u.s. and nato put an official end to its official combat mission in afghanistan. what's next for the fight against the taliban? then, a year of viral philanthropy filled with thousands of ice bucket challenges. plus, fifty years after colombia's civil war began, the fear and reality of threats, brutality and death remain for those caught in the crossfire. fred de sam lazaro reports on the high cost for finding peace amid violence.
those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
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. >> ifill: it's been a fruitless hunt so far for an air-asia jetliner that disappeared sunday morning off indonesia. 162 passengers and crew were on board and two days of searching has failed to find anything. alex thomson of independent television news has our report. >> reporter: dawn this morning on the java sea for the international search effort some hopes raised as an australian team reported seeing debris off shore. the sighted debris proved to be nothing of significance leaving another day passed in this
operation with no sign of missing flight qz8501. human sight is daylight-limited and compromised by cloud cover. so the plane's flight data recorders fixed with underwater locator beacons might prove crucial. when submerged, they should emit a signal every second to be picked up in theory, locating the plane. with every passing hour the likelihood of it having gone down in the ocean increases. after today's disappointment, the search area has been expanded to include islands to the south and east there are now 30 ships involved in the search, and at least 15 aircraft. i think the possibly this one will be found quickly. the java sea is actually quite shallow. which means there si a much greater chance that the signal from the position indicator will be detected.
>> reporter: the man in the eye of the storm right now air asia boss and chairman of q.p.r. football club. >> reporter: the search for flight qz8501 resumes on and in the java sea at first light. >> ifill: there was no suggestion of foul play in the air-asia disappearance. ten months ago, malaysian airlines flight 370 vanished on a flight to china, with 239 people on board. investigators believe it was deliberately diverted and went down in the indian ocean. no trace has ever been found. emergency crews today completed rescuing 427 people from a greek ferry that burned off the coast of albania. at least ten others died. fire broke out yesterday on the
ferry's car deck, not far from the island of corfu, between italy and albania. video from the italian navy showed crews lifting passengers from the upper deck of the vessel onto rescue helicopters. the operation was hindered by driving rain and high winds. in iraq, a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people and wounded two dozen more, just north of baghdad. it happened at a funeral for a man linked with pro-government sunni militias. officials said the attack bore the hallmarks of islamic state militants. a british medical worker was diagnosed with ebola today after flying home from sierra leone. the patient arrived in scotland last night, and only then showed symptoms. meanwhile, the world health organization announced the number of cases in west africa has passed 20,000, with more than 7,800 deaths. the kremlin confirms that russia's economy lost ground this year for the first time since 2009. it shrank by half a percent under pressure from falling oil prices and sanctions over
ukraine. the news sent the russian ruble tumbling another eight percent. people-- back in this country the number three house republican acknowledged he addressed a gathering hosted by white nationalists in 2002. "the washington post" reported louisiana congressman steve scalise was then a state representative speaking on wasteful spending. his office says he was unaware of what it called the sponsor's hate-fueled ignorance. and wall street had a lackluster day, the dow jones industrial average lost 15 points to close at 18,038; the nasdaq was virtually unchanged, closing just under 4,807; and the s&p 500 added about two to finish at 2,090. still to come on the newshour. the search widens for a missing airasia jetliner. the official combat mission ends for u.s. troops in afghanistan. an uncertain future for greece after the prime minister calls for snap elections.
how the ice bucket challenge sparked a year of viral philanthropy. the colombian government tries to repay victims of civil war. putting urban homicides on the record. and, judy woodruff's exit interview with outgoing republican senator saxby chambliss. >> ifill: now back to the search for the missing airasia flight. "wall street journal" correspondent guarav raghuvanshi has been covering this story from singapore. i spoke to him a short time ago via skype. and guarav raghuvanshi thank you so much for joining us tonight. can you tell us what the latest is that you know? >> yes, it has been more than two days and the plane is still missing. so as the day breaks today
the-- with the day break which will happen in a couple dch dch more than an hour from now, we will see the ships and the aircraft renewing their search and trying to look for this aircraft. >> ifill: how expensive is the search at this point? >> we are trying to look all over an area that is around the last known location of the aircraft. and they want to broaden the search a little bit. so they are searching some parts of the islands over there to see if tended up on land. >> ifill: is weather the leading theory? i know it's monsoon season there. >> that's right. monsoon is the season. and weather is possibly one of the factors because we are aware that there was a little bit of a problem in the area.
but until it is found everything is a theory. >> ifill: do we know anything about the experience of the pilot? >> well, he had more than 20,000 hours of flight experience. he was in the air force pilot and he had more than 6,000 hours on this particular aircraft with this airline. >> ifill: and how about the safety record of airasia itself? >> airasia so far has had no safety issues. it has been a very safe airline in the last years or so that it has been running. so with airasia there are not safety issues. >> ifill: there have been obvious comparisons to the missing malaysia jet from earlier this year, even though the routing obviously is different. but can you tell us what is similar and what is different? >> well the only thing that is similar is that the aircraft has not been found. typically, there are if an
aircraft goes down there are-- that get triggered and it is very quickly the signals from those transmitters are picked up. so we know where the aircraft is and that seems to be the case with this particular-- with this particular incident. the signals from those-- . >> ifill: and yet other planes apparently, went through similar airspace just before and after this plane turned up missing. is anything surface yet from those other jets that tells us something whether they also went through turbulence whether they changed altitude, anything that what give any indication about what happened here? >> there was an aircraft that was-- that plane did make some distress calls. it was seen on the radar tract as moving slightly away from its course.
and that's probably because of weather. we tried to speak to the airline. they said the aircraft arrived on time and they wouldn't give us more details. from the radar track it does appear that also tried to avoid some weather jz the java sea where the search is concentrated is supposed to be more shallow than where they were looking for the malaysia jet. does that raise hopes about the potential of finding any kind of wreckage. >> yeah, there is a lot of difference in the terrain because the java sea where it was last located is reasonably shallow. something like 50 meters, which is actually pretty shallow. so that does give hope that it will be easier, the seven for this aircraft will be easier. >> ifill: and how many countries are we talking about involved in this search right now? >> at the moment it is primarily indonesia and ships from malaysia and
singapore. there are other countries the u.s. has offered and they stand ready to come into the search if required. >> ifill: guarav raghuvanshi of "the wall street journal," thank you so much. >> thank you >> ifill: after thirteen years, a major mission for u.s. forces and others in afghanistan came to its official end with little fanfare this weekend. and as jeffrey brown reports there are major doubts as to whether the country is capable of fighting a resurgent taliban. >> brown: a subdued ceremony in kabul brought a formal close sunday to the longest war in american history. >> today marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. today nato completes its combat mission, a 13-year endeavor filled with significant achievements and tremendous sacrifice. >> brown: the conflict began
with a u.s.-led invasion in october 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks. the assault quickly ousted the taliban from power, but fighting continued as the american focus shifted to iraq. then, in 2009, president obama ordered a surge, and u.s. force levels peaked in 2010 with 140,000 troops. since then, the u.s. combat role has wound down after a tremendous cost in both blood and money. more than 2,200 americans been killed over the course of the afghan war. another 22,000 have been wounded in these 13-plus years. and to date, the war effort has cost the u.s. treasury one trillion dollars. now, though, the taliban is mounting its own resurgence, making 2014 the war's deadliest year, with 5,000 afghan security forces killed, including four today.
it's a daunting challenge for the country's new president ashraf ghani. >> ( translated ): if they insurgents, with their terrorist acts, want us to ignore the peace movement, they are wrong. or if they think that by their terrorist acts they can weaken our intentions, they need to know that people of afghanistan have a unified intention and they will never surrender to terror acts. >> brown: still, thousands of afghans have fled the violence and now face a harsh winter in makeshift camps like these in kabul. in a bid to bolster the regime, some 13,000 foreign troops, mostly americans, will remain in afghanistan next year. and joining me now is npr's sean carberry. he was the news organization's chief kabul correspondent before it closed down its permanent presence in afghanistan a few weeks ago. and welcome. i want to start where that pace ended with the troops that will remain even after
this is officially declared over. what will they be doing? >> well they will have two primary missions. one is counterterrorism operations. so going after any remnants of al qaeda or affiliated groups that are still in afghanistan. the second is what the military calls a train advise and assist mission which is essentially to continue mentoring and helping the afghan forces which is really what has been going on for the better part of the last year. u.s. forces transition from running combat operations to this training advisement largely over the course of 9 year. so there is not a huge dramatic shift that is happening right now. >> that is the obvious question. what does it mean in practical terms that this end of the war ceremony? >> not that much. >> it really is more ceremonial than it is substantive at this point. because u.s. forces have been conducting very few combat operations over the past year afghan forces are leading operations.
u.s. forces are continuing to support in some cases they provide air support sometimes on the ground support. special forces do some joint operations and most of that will continue next year with just a smaller number of forces. so there will be u.s. forces who will still be seeing combat. there will still be u.s. air support provided intelligence, other support to the afghan forces. >> brown: well s so when we speak of a resurgent of the taliban, we see their ability to have deadly attacks. at least in small force. how much are they-- how strong are they? how much are they able to change things in larger ways? >> well it's always hard to assess them as a force because they do operate in cells they're scattered around the country. they did carry out a number of large scale attacks over the course of the summer. they did challenge afghan forces in a number of places. they carried out a lot of attacks that did take over terrain for a while and the
afghan army had to push them back out. so they are clearly a very substantial force and able to put afghan forces on their heels in parts of the country. and we saw a huge uptick in violence the last couple of months i was there in november, about 12 different suicide attacks in kabul alone. most violent month certainly in the time that i was there and a lot of people said one of the most violent months they had seen. so the taliban are still very strong, active and want to push this new government. >> brown: before we get there, the afghan security forces their ability to counteract the taliban at this point? >> u.s. forces swrenly say afghan forces can hold their own. but in the face of an ongoing insurgency holding their own is not a fantastic grade. and while they can fight well, they still have huge problems with logistics with maintaining their equipment, with intelligence. the air force is years away from being a powerful force that can replace the air
power that the u.s. and other countries provided. so they can fight on the ground but they're not a self-sustaining force by any stretch of the imagination. >> brown: so the new goff of ashraf ghani still having some trouble even getting organized, still facing a bad economy, still facing the taliban threat. >> yes it's three months since he was inaugurated and there's still no new cabinet. and part of this is a function of this dynamic of this national unity government which was the compromise to end the election standoff that went for months over the course of the summer. secretary of state john kerry had to fly in multiple times to broker a resolution to the disputed outcome. as a result you have ashraf ghani as president and abdullah abdullah the runner-up as the c.e.o. of the government. so they have to agree on a new cabinet. they have to agree on a lot of decisions that are being made. and they each have their own circles of people around them that they have to deal with. so it's made a much more complicated government situation. and they have not been able to competition very much in
the first three months. >> brown: well, that-- what have been the priorities of ghani and the government at this point? what kind of initiatives are they able to take? >> well so far ghani has tried to put a focus on cleaning up the government. notoriously corrupt government and country. he's tried to focus on going after some of the serious case the kabul bank case where there was nearly a billion dollars siphonned out of the bank by its shareholders several years ago. he reopened that case has tried to prosecute these people to send a signal that this government is going to be clean, is going to go after corruption. so he's taken some steps in those record. -- regard, but on any large scale effort there really hasn't been anything major that has been accomplished by this administration yet. >> brown: let me ask you finally and briefly from your time there almost three years that you were there how much has life changed for citizens? >> depends where you are in the country. for some it has changed. someplaces are more secure.
they're seeing a little bit more economic development. someplaces got worse over the time that i was there. so still people are very concerned about security. they're very concerned about the economy. and by and large there's not a huge net positive change today from when i first got there. so the country still has a lot of challenges and a long way to go before it's going to be stable secure and sovereign. >> brown: all right, sean carberry, thank you so much. >> you're welcome jeff. >> ifill: in athens today, the greek prime minister called snap elections after parliament failed to agree on a new president. the contest is less than a month away and many fear that an outright rejection of years-old and painful austerity measures could send shock waves throughout the european economy. paul mason of independent television news reports. >> reporter: in the greek parliament they vote one by one.
by the end of it all eyes were on this man. alexis tsipras, leader of the far left syriza party, submerged in a media scrum, but potentially on the brink of power. "the future has begun," he said, "be optimistic, and glad" but the market's weren't. the greek stock market plunged by seven percent, and the cost of government borrowing rose. two years ago tsipras was still effectively leader of a small protest party. his typical interview venue was the street. then came austerity. imposed by europe, resisted on the streets, increasingly with violence. but as the austerity drained political goodwill towards the centrist parties. today, one poll put him 6% ahead. by 25 january europe could have
its first far left government. the snap election leaves the greek prime minister, and the whole european strategy of austerity in greece, fighting for survival. >> ( translated ): to rid of us uncertainty we will establishh stability. >> reporter: the greek economy shrunk by a quarter in five years, but stopped shrinking. on the depressed streets like these, where there's high unemployment, the election will be a straight fight. the entire political establishment versus the far left and its allies. at stake, the 319 billion euros greece still owes europe and the i.m.f.
when young people rioted it showed the kind of pressure he would company under if it took power. some observers think a change of government here could be the catalyst for a wider european rethink. >> europe policies for austerity for six years now. that obviously wrong. they're obviously not-- the performance of europe is much worse even than the united states. europe needs to change the policy. but given the current state of politics, in europe it's
unlikely to happen unless it's a-- greece might deliver that. >> the athens stock exchange deep in the red today tell what the markets think of that. >> ifill: tonight, as we approach the end of the year and the deadline for last-minute tax deductible charitable giving, we look at philanthropy at the click of a keyboard. we start with a look at the viral campaign that changed the online game last summer-- the ice bucket challenge. it was the internet craze of the summer. people around the globe dousing themselves in ice-cold water to raise money and awareness for a.l.s., or lou gehrig's disease. from n.b.a. star lebron james. to former president george w. bush. and even cartoon character homer simpson.
>> hoo! hoo! oh, boy that was cold. >> ifill: all told, the effort raised $115 million for the a.l.s. association, which thanked donors in september. >> no one could have predicted this amount of attention for als, but we're incredibly grateful to everyone who's willing to stand up to a disease that steals your ability to walk, and even breathe before it takes your life. >> ifill: but the challenge also generated criticism, that it was too much a gimmick, and it took attention away from other worthy causes. the idea for the campaign was widely credited to the family and friends of pete frates, a former boston college baseball player. he was diagnosed with a.l.s. in 2012 and just yesterday, he celebrated his 30th birthday
at a new england patriots game. pete's mother, nancy frates helps run the family's team frate train fund, which covers some costs of pete's care. she also serves on the a.l.s. association's board. she joins me now to talk about the lasting impact of this year's ice bucket windfall. nancy frates, thank you for joining us. we're talking about 220 million worldwide, is that what you expected? >> oh i don't know if we set any expectation when this started. >> when we started in july when it came to boston initially it was to raise awareness. and raising awareness was a mission that my son set two and a half years ago the day he was diagnosed. we as a family looked at the situation of als. it was discovered about 140 years ago. lou gehrig was 75 years ago. and when the doctors told us that our 27-year-old son had
als we kind of went to our knowledge rollo desk what did we foe about als at that moment. and all i knew was that it was bad and that lou gehrig was 735 years ago. and the second question-- was 75 years ago. and the second question was what is the treatment. and unfortunately, there is no treatment. and there is no cure. i'm not exactly sure what was more devastating. the actual diagnosis or to find that there was nothing that was being done right now. >> well, you know full disclosure, here judy woodruff and i both took that challenge at one point this summer and i'm still cold thinking about it. what was more valuable in the end after this whole exercise? was it the money that was raised or was it the awareness? >> oh, i think both. i think they're hand-in-hand with each other. we knew if we raised awareness, that the funding would follow. because our family looked at it as an unacceptable situation, that the disease
had been in the shadows. and we knew we needed to get the rault of what the disease actually-- the reality of the the disease does to a patient and the family and community around it. once they realized there was no treatment at all for this disease right now and what it actually does to a patient with a 3.5 year prognosis, that they would feel the same way we felt. that it would be unacceptable. so awareness, we knew it would lead to funding. and continued momentum in the awareness we believe will continue the funding coming in until we find the treatment and cure can. >> ifill: well, where does the money go? how do you measure the success of this other than money in the bank? >> well we're already putting the money to work. the als association in the united states in october we released 22 million dollars. ten million and a 5 million dollar grant both of those
funds projects that had matching funds. the 10 million dollars to head a 10 million dollar matching fund from the als finding a cure foundation. and 2.5 million dollar grant from the tao foundationment all of that 18 million of the 2 2 million went directly to research projects that are being used in discovery and development of therapies that we can quickly get to pharmaceutical companies and to clinical trials. >> ifill: nancy frates. >> the other 4 million-- . >> ifill: i'm sorry pardon me. i just wanted to ask you what do you say to other worthy causes other charity fwheels like they could use a little boost who feel like maybe they got distracted by this bucket challenge that the viral nature of it took money out of their coffers. >> and from my discussions with other people involved in other charities that quite did not happen.
august traditionally in nonprofits is a very slow month. and the fact that the ice bucket challenge happened in a month where nonprofits really don't count on any money coming in other diseases and i'm sorry, i don't have any facts and figures to actually back this up but i have been told that other nonprofits saw a rise in their coffers during that month. the other piece is that the als association reports that 50% of the donations that were received during this campaign were from 18 to 30-year-olds. that's good news for everybody in the nonprofit world. that means that this generation has dipped their toes into philanthropy. and as they grow and as their income grows that is good for all nonprofits. >> ifill: was this a lightning strike or something that can be duplicated? >> i'm not sure if we want to duplicate it or if we just want to enhance it
grow it. we want to keep the educational arc going as far as we're concerned awareness will continue to keep the money comesing in. and we know that there are a lot of very smart people working on this disease. they just needed to have the light shown on it and to have the money start coming in. we're talking about game game-changing money that the ice bucket challenge gave to the als community at large. so i have talked to the top doctors and top researchers. and all of them have said this is the tipping point in the trajectory of the disease. >> ifill: all right nancy frates mother of pete and member of the als association board, thank you very much. >> well, thank you for having me. >> ifill: we turn now to colombia, where a civil war between the government and the revolutionary armed forces of
colombia people's army-- or f.a.r.c.-- has lasted more than half a century. along the way, it's claimed more than 200,000 lives. peace talks have offered some hope, but they've dragged on for more than two years. tonight, special correspondent fred de sam lazaro reports on efforts to bring reparations to the war's victims. its part of his agents for change series. a warning: some of the images in the story may be disturbing. >> reporter: edgar bermudez is one of seven million victims. 15% of colombia's population, who've been promised reparations for their suffering in this country's long running civil war the 35-year-old former policeman lost his sight-and much of his face-when a landmine set by rebel forces exploded. >> ( translated ): the way you see me is a lot better than i used to look.
i didn't have eyebrows, my nose was a lot more damaged. i had a lot of scars and injuries that stuck out in my face >> reporter: bermudez suffers from hearing loss and other issues. he struggles to support his two daughters and wife. she did not want to be filmed. reprisals are an ever present danger. >> ( translated ): the police gave me a pension but it's not commensurate with my injuries. reparations have to be far bigger, more multi-dimensional that what's being given now. >> reporter: colombia has set up more than 100 victims centers like this one. they are the first stop in a long journey that's supposed to bring education and health benefits and housing, some cash and where possible, restoring people to land they were driven from. the government's war with leftist f.a.r.c. rebels, one dating back to the cold war, has shown some signs of ebbing. peace talks are being held in havana cuba. however paula gaviria, who heads the agency helping victims says her task is fraught with complication. >> were doing this in the middle of conflict and we are hopeful
that this will have a good end with the f.a.r.c. in habana. but there are regions like buenaventura, where it's not only conflict with the f.a.r.c. its different conflicts that are there, there's narcotics, there are guns going in and out. >> reporter: buenaventura, 300 miles from bogota on the pacific coast, is the country's largest commercial port. its also a transhipment point for narcotics, an industry that thrived in the turmoil of the war. soldiers patrol here ostensibly to keep f.a.r.c. rebels out. but many residents say the real danger comes from paramilitary groups who've run amok. started by rich landowners who also opposed the f.a.r.c., these groups are often allied with the military, some are connected to the narcotics trade. they've driven some 12,000 people a year from their simple
homes and murdered with impunity >> on nov 13, 2013, the paramilitaries came into the neighborhood and we had a friend visiting. they took him outside the house and shot him in front of my children and my nephew. >> reporter: ten years ago, they took her father away. the family never heard from him again, never reported it for fear of even worse consequences. even today she does not reveal her face or her real name-- we are calling her gloria. dozens if not hundreds have disappeared or been murdered some with particular brutality, their bodies dismembered and disposed of in clear sight, in a campaign designed to terrorize people. things began to change in one small part of the neighborhood called la playita. the 4000 residents put up a gate and a sign and declared this a humanitarian space. starting last april a nervous
calm distinguishes it from other neighborhoods. so do frequent visits by outsiders these are organized by a group called the inter denominational committee for justice and peace. father jesus alberto franco geraldo was one of its founders >> ( translated ): the fact that we have these links with the international community is what keeps us alive, ensures that we haven't been assassinated. but the reason we have the attention of the international community is our ability to provide really concrete documentation. >> reporter: the group was started in the 80's when violent evictions and extra judicial killings-began to escalate. they've collected large amounts of evidence, bringing cases to the courts and to global human rights groups. >> ( translated ): we began at a time of assassinations of human rights defenders and those haven't stopped to this day. >> reporter: under orders from the inter american court of human rights, colombia's government provides security protection to the group.
but father geraldo says that there are no real guarantees because corruption allows criminal and para military groups to still operate. >> i receive government protection and i move in a government car, which last year was shot at when it was parked in front of my house. >> reporter: in buenaventura the justice and peace group sent maria mosquera and her brother edwin to live in the humanitarian zone. the goal is to have constant vigilance, record any incidents and to hold security forces accountable for doing their job. >> ( translated ): when we first arrived, there was a lot of fear. nobody left the house after 6:00 p.m. >> ( translated ): they built a gate outside, its a symbol that say we don't want the paramilitaries in here. >> ( translated ): we asked the police at present in five strategic locations in the
humanitarian zone. the role of the police is to patrol just the perimeter of the zone and to be alert for the paramilitaries. >> ( translated ): since the 13 of april when the humanitarian space was inaugurated we have not had one single killing. >> reporter: still community activist orlando castillo says he has to be careful leaving the humanitarian zone. he'd had 27 death threats in recent years, he says. gloria also lives in fear of her life. she doesn't send her young children to school because it's outside the safe zone. nor does she visit her husband who lives two hours away. many residents of buenaventura say they've seen an escalation of terror in recent years. free trade agreement, including one with the united states, have made the land more valuable and people living here more vulnerable to being driven out.
>> ( translated ): colombia has suffered a great deal of violence as a result of just a few interests but it's been regular everyday people who've had to suffer the consequences and take the brunt of that violence. >> reporter: back in bogota, former policeman edgar bermudez is going back to school. he hopes some day to start a nization to help wounded combatants. i'm fred de sam lazaro in colombia for the pbs newshour in colombia >> ifill: a version of this report aired on the pbs program "religion and ethics newsweekly." fred's reporting is a partnership with the under-told stories project at st. mary's university of minnesota. >> ifill: this has been a year of extensive debate over crime and justice and public safety. but keeping track of the ebb and flow has often fallen to organizations outside of law enforcement. now, one of those tracking sites is shutting down. jeff brown is back with that story.
>> brown: "mark every death. remember every victim. follow every case." that's been the mantra of a group called homicide watch started by two journalists in washington d.c. to comb data bases and document under- reported crimes occurring in their city. it's received much praise from law enforcement and families of victims. and the concept has been picked up in other cities, including chicago, boston, and trenton, where sites partner with a local newspaper or university. now, though, the original washington d.c. site is shutting down, unable to find a permanent home. joining us laura amico, a boston globe reporter who created the site with her husband, chris. we should let viewers know that chris used to work here at the newshour. laura amico, what's the idea behind homicide watch? why did you think it was needed? >> hi, jeff, thank you for having me. homicide watch started because i had a need. and i was willing to take a risk. we moved across the country from california so that my husband, chris, could take that job with pbs newshour.
and i have was an unemployed crime reporter in 2009 when there weren't that many jobs in journalism. as i was searching for a job i saw a need to be done in my local community. i saw families of victims and suspects traying to connect on places like facebook and twitter and legacy.com. they were looking for information about cases and they were looking to connect with one another to hair what they were learning. i looked at this and i looked at my skills. and i saw that i had a lot of free time on my hands and thought maybe there is something here i could do. and it grew very organically out of that. >> brown: so how do you actually do it? how hard is it to comb through databases? and what were you trying to put together on the site for people? >> it started day one with visiting d.c. superior court. and everything that's on homicide watch d.c. comes from the courthouse or from law enforcement and legal sources. we create our own data. by going through the press relesses from the police department, by going through the court records and hand
collecting the different elements that make up our context and understanding of how the criminal justice system worked. >> brown: so even today i was looking at the site. on the site right now you a father and son were killed in a shooting sunday night along southern avenue this is in washington d.c. so information like that that you put out there and then how is it shared how do people contribute to it? >> people kind it very organically. mostly through search or through knowing homicide watch.org. we see a lot of people coming in because they're looking for people's names that they no know. they're looking for addresses where they see crime tape up. they're looking for information because they know something. what we see them doing with that then is reading the stories and then commenting on them sharing their experiences, whether they knew the victim or the suspect, whether they have experience with the criminal justice system in this case. and sometimes even sharing information about what they would like to see happen how they would like to see the criminal justice system
working. and that's really gratifying. >> brown: so how does this differ from the way most crime is covered today, or is the difference that most crime is not covered today and you're trying to put it out there? >> most newsrooms cover crime in the day-to-day blotter approach so they hear about something overnight from the police department. they write that up as a-- maybe a 1200 500 word story. and then that story disappears five, six seven hours later. well hmmmm side watch does is it stores that story in our database with all of the data around it so that we're able to then put it into context of this is the fifth homicide on this street in the past two years. or this is the tenth victim under the age of 18. or 50% of the victims this year have been male or female, whatever it may be. and that helps the public better understand the role that violent crime is playing in the communities and what they would like to do about it. >> brown: now it is up and
running in several other cities. and i gather there are such efforts in still more cities. what's the potential here? where guess it seem to work well the kind of situations does it work well in. and why have you yourself now as we reported have to close down the washington d.c. office? >> in all the cities that we're in in city-- chicago, trendton new jersey in boston in partnership with northeastern university we've seen an incredible community around these sites. we see people wanting to engage on these issues wanting to better understand how the criminal justice system is working. and those are communities where homicide watch works very well. i believe that there are many more of those communities across the united states. what's happened in washington d.c. is that two years ago i accepted a newman berkman fellowship in harvard to study journalism innovation. and we moved to cambridge for me to complete that fellowship. we ran a kickstarter campaign at that time to raise money to pay student interns to keep doing the work i was doing.
going to court to attend trials hearings sentencings, et cetera. we've been running with those interns for two and a half years. and it's becoming increasingly evidenced that we can no longer continue to edit the site and run the site from boston. it is a local news site and we believe it needs d.c. ownership that can be there. >> brown: briefly, but more broadly, you see the potential for this around the country. and you see it developing. >> that's correct. i think that any community that is trying to come together to talk about how they would like the criminal justice system to work is a community that is better served by reporting that includes context includes data, it includes space for them to share. >> brown: laura a miko, thank you so much. >> thank you >> ifill: a new congress arrives in washington after the new year even as many veterans head out. tonight and tomorrow we talk to two of them, one democrat and one republican, about what they found here and what they now
leave behind. we begin tonight with republican senator saxby chambliss of georgia. judy conducted this exit interview, last week. >> woodruff: senator chambliss, thank you for talking with us. >> sure, good to be with you. >> woodruff: you are retiring just as your party is about to take over the majority in the senate. a new opportunity to work on some of the issues you care the most about no regrets? >> no regrets what so ever judy. i'm happy as i can be for my colleagues in the senate that are going to be in the majority next time around. but you know there comes a time when you need to make a decision what your future needs to be relative to staying in public service or moving on to the next chapter and let new ideas and fresh ideas come forward. so i made the decision at the right time. i'm very happy with it but i'm surely happy for my colleagues too.
>> woodruff: well, one of the issues that i know you cared a lot about is the federal debt, not to be confused with the deficit which has been shrinking pretty dramatically in the last year or two. uthe debt which is about i think 18 trillion dollars right now. you spent a lot of time with a bipartisan group of senators, the so-called gang of six. you came up with a proposal that would have involved tax reform cuts in government spending changes in so-called entitlements. that didn't fly. are your expectations that there is going to be serious a serious move to address the debt now? >> well judy here we are fixing to start a new session of congress and within the first six months they're going to have to raise the debt ceiling again. i'm very hopeful that the new majority that comes in is going to say okay guys we've got to get serious
about this. and if they're going to get serious about it it's not rocket scientist, what it is going to take to solve this issue of this debt, you do have to cut spending. you've got to reform entitlements and increase revenues through changing the tax code. you just simply can't do one which we've tried with sequestration just to cut spending. it doesn't work. you can't do it by raising taxes. you've got to have a combination of those three items the bowles simpson as well as gang of six said needed to be done and we are increase revenues without raising taxes through major reforms of the tax code. i really hope that the next majority in congress is going to take this serious and they're going to move forward with it. the foundation frankly that the gang of six laid. >> woodruff: but we know that member of the congress in both parties have been resistant. democrats resistant to go along with some of the spending cuts. republicans reluctant to go along with some of the tax
changes you talk billion. i just want to ask you senator, you said in your final farewell remarks on the floor of the senate, you spoke in a very moving way about your friendships with other senators both democrats and republicans. and you mentioned for example i mean i was struck by what you said about senator mark warner. you said you spent hundreds of hours together working on this debt issue. what is it about the rest of the senate members of the senate that makes it so hard for them to work across party lines? >> well this is not easily done. the hard and tough votes that are going to have to be made are not going to be politically popular. but you know we didn't get sent to washington to make the easy votes. members that get elected to the senate to take those hard and tough votes and to make those tough decisions judy. until we get the mind-set to do that, i think it's going to be very difficult to see it done jz. >> woodruff: and do you think it's harder to get it done than it was when you
first entered the senate 12 years ago? >> you know, that's a good question. what we saw when i first got to the senate was still a lot of that not just working across the aisle but working across different parts of the country. we had a lot of democrats and a lot of republicans who really wanted to see things done and they would compromise on the numbers or compromise on policy without compromising on principles. and i worked very closely with ted kennedy. now ted and i were at opposite ends of the political spectrum but we worked very hard to come up with some solutions on immigration issues the h1-b and l1 visa issues. and we found the right compromise. and those are the kind of liberals and republicans that have to come together somewhere in the middle to find that sweet spot. and we saw that 12 years
ago. you don't see much of it now. >> woodruff: but what dow say to those members who are saying wait a minute, what i'm hearing from my constituents is they want me to stick to principleses. they're not interested in having me go and find compromise with the other party. >> well, we saw that with the government shutdown judy. and i would like to think that that is still as fresh in the minds of those members of the senate who will be coming back as well as in the minds of the general public. nobody wins in a government shutdown. and that is where we're headed if we're just so hardheaded that we're going to-- everybody on the hard right is going to stay there everybody on the hard left is going to stay there, and not willing to come towards the middle some. you don't have to-- you don't have to compromise on principles, but you can sure compromise a little bit on policy aren't a little bit on numbers and wow, we could really provide the leadership that the world
remembers and that the world is so starving for today. >> woodruff: one last question on a particular issue, and that's immigration reform. do you expect to see the congress move on immigration reform in the near term? >> well there's going to be a huge debate on that issue in my opinion. i mean the president's laid his marker out there. and now you're seeing a lot of criticism on the president issuing the executive order on immigration. but the fact of the matter is congress didn't act. i would have preferred for the president to say okay congress, here's what i'm going to do on the 15th of april if you don't make a decision to come together on immigration reform. this is what-- this is what is going to happen. i think that would have forced their hand. he didn't do that so i hope what we don't see is just simply trying to tear down what he did. but take what he did and build on it. make changes to it if you disagree with it.
but our system is broken. we've got to find a solution to this immigration situation in our country. i do think now is the time to do it and i love to see him do it right out of the box as a new majority. >> woodruff: senator saxby chambliss no doubt many of your colleagues are listening to your words of advice. we thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> ifill: tomorrow, we turn to the other side of the aisle to one of nancy pelosi's departing top lieutenants. representative george miller, dempocrat of california. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. a multi-national search for an air-asia jetliner entered a third day off indonesia. the plane vanished sunday over the java sea, with 162 people on board. the pbs newshour confirmed
the u.s. is scanding the sampson to aid in the search of the downed jetliner in the java sea. emergency crews completed rescuing 427 people from a greek ferry that burned off the coast of albania. at least ten others died. and a new wave of economic jitters hit greece after the government was forced to call early elections next month. if the opposition wins, it may try to change an international bailout deal. on the newshour online right now, it's been a year since three al jazeera journalists were arrested in cairo while reporting on the civil and political upheaval in egypt. read more about what's happened since then on the rundown. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, some of the nation's best-selling authors name their picks for the best books of 2014. i'm gwen ifill, we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening, for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night.
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