tv Worldfocus PBS August 14, 2009 5:00pm-5:30pm EDT
tonight on "worldfocus" -- the angry debate over health care reform in this country is triggering another round of outrage overseas. officials in great britain fight back defending their system from the criticisms of america's right. from australia, a story on another issue that has raised passions here -- the right to die. in perth, a quadriplegic man has asked a judge to let him kill himself. tonight we have the ruling. the president of taiwan raises the death toll from typhoon morakot to more than 500, amidst mounting criticism his government has been slow to help survivors. and one night in bangkok is not just a hit song from the '80s. it could also describe how long it takes to go from one side of
the city to the other. tonight, a report from bangkok's notorious traffic. buckle up. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here is what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus." made possible in part by the following funders -- good evening, i'm martin savidge. for weeks now, it's been topic number one in the united states. the president's ambitious plan to reform the health care system. there is probably no more controversial part of that plan than the so-called public option. supporters say it will help drive down prices by offering an alternative to private insurance plans. but critics say it's socialized medicine and they contend that, if it's included in the final package, elderly americans will get less care toward the end of their lives. that's just what they claim happens under britain's national health care system right now. well all of these comments have drawn the attention of folks in
great britain including pril minister gordon brown, who this week joined a twitter campaign to defend health care in his country. how they see it there. that's our "lead focus" tonight. >> i don't understand this -- >> reporter: at town mall meetings to discuss president obama's health care plans people have had to be restrained as accusations flew that democrats want to copy the nhs. described as a socialist mistake. >> i don't want this country turning into russia, turning into a socialized country. >> reporter: president obama isn't proposing a national health service, but a national health insurance scheme which would guarantee everyone's covered when they need treatments. so gordon brown's tweet draud a careful line. >> the nhs often makings the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. thanks for always being there. >> reporter: sarah brown also posted, "we lot of nhs more than we can say."
and there was this from health secretary andy burnam. >> over the moon about the strong support for the nhs, an institution i will defend to my dying day. >> reporter: but for many people the attacks on our health service coming out of america are beyond a joke. >> $22,750, in england government health officials decided that's how much six months of life is worth. under their socialized system, if a medical treatment costs more, you're out of luck. >> where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real. not these wild misrepresentat n misrepresentations that bear mow resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed. >> reporter: sarah palin, the republican former nominee for vice president, wrote on facebook, there's an nhs-style health insurance plan would see death panels deciding who gets treatment. something she called downright evil. thousands of british twitterers have retaliated under the banner, we lot of nhs.
>> oh, in america, if you are going to slag off on nhs, get your own first. we have free health care for all. you have healthy rich people. >> we love the nhs because we love it. it's just fact. cured my cancer. >> reporter: professor stephen hawkence in america to receive the presidential medal of freedom ended up having to confirm he's happy that his nhs care. he issued a statement saying "i've received a large amount of high-quality treatment. without which i will have not survived." many people here are furious, our health service has been dragged into america'srough over healthy form. if british might complain about the nhs, but it seems we don't like it when anyone else does. >> that report from itn's jane deeth. >> for more on the reaction of the united kingdom to the health care debate here in america, we're joined by andrew clark. mr. clark is the new york correspondent for the "guardian," one of britain's largest newspapers.dpr
welcome. >> thank you, nice to be here. >> all right, when britons look at how the national health service has been made part of this sometimes a raucous debate in this country about health care reform is the reaction in britain one of bemusement or anger? >> i think it started out with bemusement and certainly increasing to anger. people are pretty perplexed of some of the language that's being used. our health care in the system in uk has been described as orwellian, as socialist. even by some as evnil some way. so really what started out as a debate of how you pay for something has turned into something far more ideological where seems to have created a massive gap in understanding across the atlantic. >> what do britons make of suggestions that the nhs would people like senator kennedy or like stephen hawking die without getting any treatment? >> i think that's caused a great deal of astonishment. i mean, first off, it's simply untrue. senator kennedy, who had exactly the same treatments.
as a 77-year-old as a 50-year-old or a 30-year-old. the only criteria applied would be whether his body is robust enough to take certain aggressive tactics. but really i think people see that as an attack not just on the nhs but on the integrity of the uk, as a suggestion that people in the uk don't care enough, elderly people. that they make these kind of brutal, ruthless judgments death panels as sarah palin puts it and it's not the nhs that people know and understand in the uk. >> well, there have been suggestions that these attacks in the nhs, have somehow managed to bring liberals and conservatives together in great britain, is that true? >> that's absolutely true. we had one outliar, one right-wing conservative politician who i think made some comments on american television saying he would rather have health care in the united states and slapped back into line very rapidly and very aggressively by the leader of the conservative party. because under margaret thatcher back in the '80s and '90s spending was cut back quite
heavily and services suffered, so the conservatives are very keen to make clear, but they ard the nhs, it would be safe l in their hands if they were to win the next election. >> i presume though that there would be britons who say there are legitimate complaints against the nhs. perhaps they believe that the u.s. just has focused on the wrong things. >> absolutely, and that's what's so frustrating to so many people. there are plenty of -- through which could attack the nsp. long waiting lists. there are poor screening programs with things like cancer. there's no surprise that britons have pretty bad teeth because nhs dentistry is not very good. and yet that doesn't seem to be enough and certain people seem to need to go beyond that and stop telling lies. >> andrew clark from the "guardian," thank you very much. >> pleasure. >> in our "blogwatch" tonight, we hear from gareth wyn, who identifies himself as a welshman living in london. he is a 39-year-old civil
servant and big defender of britain's national health service, the nhs. he writes, "the american right seem to be getting their knickers in a twist, all over the fact that the obama administration wants to provide them with a basic level of health care and that the nhs is so bad that people are being left to die in hospitals. what a load of utter garbage.i claim that the nhs is perfect but it saved my life and that of my mother when i was born. it was fabulous when my grandparents were alive and when they were near death. my mother, father, uncles have all been fabulous treatment for cancer-related illness. i've had wisdom teeth extracted a number of surgical procedures, all for free." one final note about all this tonight, we wondered about the relative life expectancy of residents of the united states and great britain. it turns out the united states ranks 45th. britain is 37th. of course, as you've already heard, much of the uproar about the health care debate in this
country has been about how much care will be available in the final mo. but what about those who don't want it, who actually want to die? what rights do they have? it is a debate raging around the world. and in australia today, there was an important court ruling about it. it involves a man who was in a serious car accident, then suffered a catastrophic fall. jake sturmer reports from perth. >> reporter: christian ross arrived at court surrounded by supporters, confined to a wheelchair and bravie i breathih a tube it was a major operation to allow him to plead his case. the 49-year-old became a quadriplegic after a series of accidents. he's fed flew a nub his stomach and has repeatedly asked his stop feeding him and to let him die. bright water went to court to find fout it was legally obliged to follow his wishes. in the wa supreme court chief justice wayne martin ruled, as long as mr. ross understood he would die without treatment,
then bright water wouldn't be held kprlly responsible for the consequences. >> i want my right to die. >> reporter: the nursing home also says it now knows where it stands. >> our prime concern has always been and will continue to be mr. ross' care and comfort. >> reporter: mr. ross' care has become a touchtone for right to life and eurasia groups. >> he knows at least he's got the certainty and bright water's got the certaintyta there's not going to be any criminal charges against him should comply with these wishes and that's a very great result. >> the law in which is being applied can be a dangerous person. >> reporter: mr. ross says he'll talk to a doctor before he makes a final decision on whether he'll once again ask for the nursing home to stop feeding him. jake sturmer, abc news, perth.
from iran tonight, word on an extraordinary, some say, unprecedented, challenge to that country's supreme religious leader, ayatollah ali khamenei. it came in the form of a all letter written by former parliament airians who was reported on opposition websites today. in it, they denounce the beatings, imprisonment, torture and prosecution of protesters who claim the june 12th presidential election was rigged. the opposition claims that 69 antigovernment demonstrators have been killed by the authorities in iran. moving a little north now from iran to the former soviet republic of georgia and word night that dozens of u.s. marines are heading to georgia to help its troops train for deployment in afghanistan sometime next year. it's a particularly delicate mission because of russian sensitivities about georgia. last week, russia accused washington of rearming what it called georgia's "war machine." the pentagon says russia was consulted about the decision to avoid any misunderstandings. you'll recall that russia and georgia fought a five-day war last summer. and now to asia. and another sign of a recent thaw between north and south
korea. south korea said today it will renew its offer to give aid to the north, if it gives up its nuclear program. just yesterday, north korea freed a south korean man who had been detained for several months. tensions in the region seem to have eased considerably in the aftermath of former president bill clinton's surprised to visit pyongyang earlier this month. he helped win the release of two u.s. journalists being held there. and an update on a story we've been following all week long. the terrible flooding and loss of life in taiwan in the aftermath of a typhoon that struck there earlier this week. it's been called the worst flooding in the region in 50 years, and today the president of taiwan acknowledged that the death count is much higher than previously reported. our report comes from our partners in germany's deutsche welle. >> reporter: helicopters continue to crisscross the west effective parts of southern taiwan. airlifting survivors to safety. with hundreds of people still
unaccounted for, evacees and emergency shelters anxiously scam the new arrivalless in the hope of spotting missing friends and relatives. this man was trapped for five days before rescuers found him and his niece in the rubble of their family home in chung sun village in consoul county. >> i found a piece of wood expressing on my chest and i couldn't breathe. >> reporter: at a press conference on friday, president my ying jow has mentioned the situation was worse than orighought. >> translator: typhoon morakot has severely hit taiwan and has caused a significant loss of lives and properties. the death toll has already exceeded 120 people. the estimated life loss in show linvillessuage 380 people. the overall death toll is about 500 people. >> reporter: his statement comes amidst growing anger the other flooding pace of the rescue and relief efforts. critics say the government was
too slow to recognize the sheer mag touched the crisis, which has left hundreds of villages cut off by midslides. many residents have now been without food and water for lams week. with over 250 roads block said and some 30 bridges down, aid workers and rescue teams on the ground are facing extremely testing conditions. tens of thousands of army personnel have been deployed to the remote mountainous region to help in the rescue efforts. and now to our weekly roundtable. our look back at the major news from overseas this past week. our topics tonight include, afghanistan with as. offensive under way against the taliban and national elections set for next week. we'll assess what comes next week.
iraq, will the recent surge in suicide bombings under the obama administration's plans to withdraw american troops by 2011? and will the country even be able to hold together? and the story that just keeps giving. the enormously complicated relationship between bill and clinton. just what got her so angry this week during her trip to africa? >> wait, you want me to tell me what my husband thinks? my husband is not the secretary of state, i am. for more about all of this, we are joined tonight by two of our regulars. gideon rose, the managing editor of "foreign affairs" magazine. and carla robbins, the deputy ge editor of "the new york times." welcome to you both. >> thank you, martin. >> all right, afghanistan pageant let's begin there. the beginning of the week, general mcchrystal delivered a pretty terse kind of assessment of where things were. he said essentially the taliban hold the upper hand. i presume actually he was blatantly honest. but was he too honest? did he go too far. >> well you want your guy to be honest. we have the a-team in place now in afghanistan, and in fact, up the national security command chain.
the real question is giving this difficult, difficult conflict, the best attention, the right resources, is it still possible to do anything significantly constructive and actually get somewhere, or are we just kicking the can down the road before ultimately withdrawing and leaving the thing in chaos? >> how many troops do we need? sort of a question here whether mcchrystal was going to ask for more troops know that the secretary of defense said, no. >> he said he had asked for if now. he said wasn't going to ask for it, or he wouldn't get them. there aren't a lot of troops. and the withdraw in iraq is going to take a while itself. and i would think there's a pretty big debate in washington, about whether more troops is going to solve the more problem or whether enough troops to ever solve the problem. the problem is you going to define success. and we talk about the number of resource. the number people up in the chain of command. that's true. and at the same time the congress went on recess and didn't pass the systems. built for pakistan.
and pakistan's so intimately involved in this and there was this commitment that they were going do it and didn't do it. >> so what are you saying like a focus on the u.s.? my was a little surprise. i expected them to the congress to do the right thing on pakistan. because -- pakistan -- well, you know, they committed to it. but administration didn't push him. that's the thing that i find disturbing and a lot of perception in the region in both afghanistan and in pakistan, a lot of promises not fulfilled. and why should we put our lives on the line, even though we know it's really their fight. they don't get it. they think it's our fight and wooern not doing enough. >> it was pointed out of course that we've got this new offensive under way in the south of afghanistan and the taliban are being pushed out and i interviewed an expert who said you know we have not lost a set piece battle in that war, and that suddenly triggered a deja vu in mynined a previous conflict that we can all recall in southeast asia. are we falling into this kind of language? he absolutely. absolutely. in fact, the vietnam had been brought up as an analogy for
every single american military endeavor in the last four decades. time it's actually correct. for the first time, perhaps since then, this is a conflict that has -- >> you say, correct. could it be valid. >> yes. well, the analogy is valid and it poses a lot of same issues. and frankly, it scarce me with the direction that we're heading in because i think that we're starting to ramp up our commitment with unclear goals, no particular plan for how to get out. and an overly ambitious agenda that's essentially not going to be able to be achieved. >> except one real fundamental difference in my mind is that we should win this war. in war really does matter. >> and should have won vietnam too but it was not possible to do so at an appropriate cost and a time frame. >> okay i want to bring in iraq, because we have two wars actually that are going on. we have this upsurge of violence, that is shiites going on against -- or rather, sunnis attacking shias. should this be a concern for the u.s., or do we look at this and say, no, that's an internal manner? >> well,he u.s. is there for a while more. and i'm not sure it's really
going to go completely ever. and, yeah, we have to worry about it. because in the context of a u.s. withdraw, if that is your goal, is you want the country to be able to hold together. and a good part of it is also a regional stability issue. iraq is surrounded by sunni/arab countries that are also looking at what's going on inside and a big part of the problem here is that they haven't resolved a fundamental differences among communities. you've got problem between the kurds and the shiite-dominated government. the problem between the sunnis and the shiite-dominated government. there's a lot of internal problem and they haven't even passed an oil law itself. >> but you used the word "internal problem." >> but they're not internal problems in the sense that, this is not a place that's easy to walk away from. had is the middle flooecht's oil here. there's strategic neighborhoods around there. there's saudi arabia, there's kuwait. a big, big challenge itselfp. and there, has been progress made but i don't think they're tending their guard adequately. one of the reasons that the civil war backed off is because they cut a deal with the sunni
awakening counsels. they're not tending them. >> who are not tending them, the iraqi government. >> the maliki government isn't but u.s. is the big defender of the sunnis that the point. sunni extremists who basically lost their base supporters p and trying to get on initiatives, attack back and provoekt soonis again and unless the shiite-dominate government tend the sunnis. you have a really serious problem that it could reignite. >> do you awe that depiction? >> everything that carla said is true but it doesn't answer question that you raised. i have two kid, 8 and 5. we have two occupations the at 8 and 5. at some point, raises nations and kids. the question is when to let them go and walk on their own is going to be critical. and the question that carla raises is, yes, it's difficult to let them be on their own and we don't really think they're going to be able to handle their
problems, but we're also not going to be able to be there forever and so there's the right questions to be debating and just how much -- the question is, what are the costs and risks of staiing are the greater know that the cost and risk of going. >> that's not the issue. we are going to go. and i think we should go. but i think we don't want to blow the time being now and then by -- by thinking it's easy. it's not easy. and there are a lot of problems. >> timing's everything. but i want to move on to africa, the secretary of state, she's in -- >> you want to move onto the secretary of state. >> i do. >> i know you, martin. >> the outburst. this was a moment the secretary of state asked a question in which she responds, it's about her husband. how well do you think she responded to this? >> she didn't respond to it well. although you know outsbufrt one of those really great words. have you ever use that word outburst a man? ? she was asked about her husband. >> diplomatic and she is the secretary of state. the question that she was asked and it has been i think
misreported in a lot of places. the question was asked was, you know, what does mr. clinton think through the mouth of mrs. clinton? and she -- she snapped back at this kid. now the kid then said, you know i meant mr. obama. maybe he, did maybe he didn't. i have no idea. but you know she's secretary of state. she's supposed to be more diplomatic. in her defense, she had been with rape victims. she'd been focused on the issue how abused wmen are. she's really holding up that half of the sky in a very, very strong way. but when you're the secretary of state, particularly in a fraught relationship as with the former president of the united states, her husband, you just sort of got to chill it and she didn't chill that week. >> too much of it? >> yes is this pbs or tmz, i mean, come on. she was on a state trip to africa. i lot of very serious issues there. the question of just what the united states plans to do or actually can do to affect these internal conflicts or the case
back off a bit. i think the entire story was dramatically incomplete pbs or tmz, i like that very much, giddon. thank you. gideon rose, carla robbins, a pleasure. these are, of course, the lazy, hazy -- some might say lazy, hazy -- some might say -- days of summer. and if you're heading out to the beach, or a lake, this weekend, chances are you will encounter traffic that will leave you fuming. rest assured you are not alone. in fact, in the thai capital of bangkok, traffic is an unpleasant fact of life year-round. if it's true that misery loves company, then we promise you'll love our final package tonight. it comes to us from ella callan of al jazeera english. >> reporter: it's early morning in suburban bangkok when i meet morwan thepthong and her sons as they hurry into the car.
in this city, leaving just five minutes late can mean getting stuck in traffic for hours. >> we cannot predict the traffic in bangkok. >> reporter: breakfast is eaten in the back seat. a daily ritual pan and bell are accustomed to, as their mother tackles the expressway to get them to school. this morning, they make it on time morwan then begins her own journey to work. it takes an hour and a half to travel 27 kilometers. and already she's already planning for this afternoon, when she does the whole thing in again. >> if i know that maybe i have a meeting, i just plan to have dinner in the car. so i can save my children time. >> reporter: a long history of bad urban planning, count weld bangkok's ever increasing urban sprawl, means gridlock is part of life for most residents. in the traffic operation control
center many screens monitor the morning peak but there's little the traffic chief can do about it. >> translator: the city plan is not in good order. the roads into town are not continuous, the drivers are not well disciplined and we don't have enough mass transportation. >> reporter: over 3 million cars and 2 million motorbikes clog bangkok's roads. the mrt rail network and skytrain cover less than 50 kilometers of a 1,500 kilometer area. extensions have been planned and delayed for over a decade and now it seems there is no quick fix. >> translator: it's not just new cars. old cars are also a problem. some households have four cars that they park on a one-way street, blocking the road even more. >> reporter: traffic controls life in bangkok to a degree found in few other cities. close to 2,000 new vehicles are registered each day, an
indication of how important they are as a symbol of social status. perhaps that's why locals tolerate delays with surprisingly few cases of road rage. you may as well drive in comfort, if you're in it for the long haul. ella callan, al jazeera, bangkok. and that is "worldfocus" for this friday night and for this week. a reminder, please visit our website. that is worldfocus.org. you'll find lots more of international reporting. i'm martin savidge in new york. have a good night. drive safe and a great weekend. see you monday. "worldfocus" is made possible in part by the following funders -- -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com