tv PBS News Hour PBS November 5, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
>> ifill: at the supreme court today, the justices hear arguments that read like a soap opera. can a scorned woman who tried to poison her husbands' lover be prosecuted under a chemical weapons treaty? good evening. i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff is off. also ahead this election day, paul solman reports on a seattle suburb where voters are weighing whether to create a "living wage" of $15 an hour.
>> it's the right thing to do. right now we have corporations making profits and employees making minimum wage. >> it's hard to adjust to that overnight. >> ifill: and not too cold, not too hot-- new research suggests there are tens of billions of planets just right to potentially support life. >> this is the $464 million question. do these planets that orbit their stars in orbits that remind us of the earth, the size of the earth, do they actually have liquid water? >> ifill: those are just 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. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. >> 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. >> ifill: the white house spent another day on the defensive today about whether it over- promised on its health care plan. president obama said americans would be able to keep their existing insurance, but insurers are canceling thousands of policies. lawmakers from both parties are now complaining about a process
they say is at best unclear and at worst seriously flawed. medicare and medicaid chief marilyn tavenner told a senate hearing today the troubled web site's performance is improving. >> we are now able to process 17 registrants per hour or five per second with almost no errors. we've updated the site several times since october 1, fixing bugs and improving the healthcare.gov experience. we've added more capacity and we've doubled the number of servers in order to meet demand. >> ifill: in washington last night, the president told supporters he has "one more campaign" in him, to prove the health care law will work for everyone. he'll take that pitch to dallas tomorrow, meeting with enrollment volunteers. federal findings today raised major questions about day care. the inspector general for the department of health and human services found that 21 states do not require a yearly unannounced inspection at day care facilities, and only 15 states
require background checks on employees. 1.6 million children rely on federal subsidies to attend programs at 500,000 day care centers or homes nationwide. this was election day in a number of cities and states around the country. in new jersey, a strong reelection win for republican governor chris christie could boost his potential bid for the white house in 2016. he spoke after voting today. >> my children were asking me about it, why -- you know, what would this mean to you? i just said, you know, it's an affirmation of the hard work that we've done and that's -- could happen tonight. that would be very gratifying for me personally given all the effort that i've put into the job. >> ifill: there was also a governor's race today in virginia, and new york, detroit and boston chose new mayors. in colorado, a 25% tax on marijuana sales is on the ballot, and, in houston, a bond measure could determine whether the city renovates or razes the astrodome.
the landmark arena opened in 1965, but it's been closed since 2009. illinois is about to become the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. the statehouse approved it today and sent the bill back to the state senate for a final technical change. meanwhile, the u.s. senate moved ahead on the first major bill to bar workplace discrimination against homosexual, bisexual, and transgender americans. the measure cleared a key procedural hurdle last night and could come to a final vote by friday. it faces strong republican opposition in the house. we'll have more on this later in the program. the mayor of toronto admitted today he has smoked crack cocaine, touching off new calls for him to resign. rob ford has been dogged since may by allegations he'd been caught on video smoking crack. he sidestepped questions, but, last week, toronto police said they've found a copy of the video. today, ford spoke to reporters outside his office.
>> do i? am i an addict? no. have i tried it? probably in one of my drunken stupors probably about approximately a year ago. i answered your question. you asked the question properly i'll answer it. yes, i've made mistakes. all i can do now is apologize and move on. >> ifill: later in the day, ford apologized but said he will not resign. the video has not been released publicly, but police say it does not constitute enough evidence to bring criminal charges. police in paramus, new jersey, tried today to piece together why a gunman killed himself in the state's largest shopping mall last night. 20-year-old richard shoop fired multiple shots into the mall ceiling, then retreated to a back corridor where he took his own life. officers found his body after a lengthy search. hundreds of shoppers and employees were trapped for hours before they could leave. secretary of state john kerry acknowledged today that europeans have "legitimate" questions about u.s. surveillance.
kerry spoke in warsaw, poland, where he said he's trying to address complaints about u.s. spying on european leaders and their people. >> we have to strike the right balance between protecting our citizens and obviously privacy of all of our citizens. and we will work very closely with our friends in order to make sthaern the road ashed one that is understood and this is mutually agreed upon. >> ifill: kerry said it's important not to let the issue affect u.s. talks with the european union on creating the world's biggest free-trade zone. from poland, he flew on to israel in a bid to jumpstart peace talks with the palestinians. the kerry visit comes amid reports that israel, iran and arab states held a rare meeting two weeks ago on banning nuclear weapons in the middle east. diplomats said today the adversaries met in switzerland to discuss a possible international conference on the issue. one official said the gathering was "quite constructive," and there could be another meeting
later this month. more than 1,400 works of art looted by the nazis and found in munich, germany, are turning into a treasure trove. authorities announced today the paintings date from the 16th to the 20th centuries, and they include previously unknown works by henri matisse and marc chagall, among others. >> ( translated ): a total of 121 frames and 1,285 non-framed works, among them famous artists were seized. there were oil paintings, india ink, pencils, water, and color prints from others like max lieberman and others. >> ifill: the art was discovered last year in a munich apartment. officials still have to identify all the works, find the rightful owners and determine the legal status of each piece. india has launched its first mission to mars. the unmanned spacecraft lifted off today from an island off the country's east coast. if it arrives in mars' orbit
next september as planned, it will make india's space program only the fourth one to reach the red planet. on wall street, stocks mostly stalled over disappointing earnings reports. the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 21 points to close at 15,618. the nasdaq rose three points to close near 3,940. still to come on the newshour: the case of a toxic love triangle reaches the supreme court; changing attitudes toward protecting gay rights in the senate; a vote to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in a seattle suburb; the legislative battle over a treaty to protect people with disabilities around the world; plus, a breakthrough to end the violence in the democratic republic of congo; and billions of planets in the universe might be able to support life. >> ifill: the supreme court heard arguments today in a case
full of tabloid intrigue that could also carry consequences for the federal government's ability to enforce an international treaty. the case involves carol anne bond, who was convicted of using chemicals to attack her husband's mistress. but the story only begins there. marcia coyle of the "national law journal" was at the court today and is her with us now to explain the rest. this is really about treaties but tell us first back story. >> carol an bond emigrated from barbados and lived in pennsylvania with her husband. she found a new best friend in another woman who emigrated from barbados and lived in a nearby town. but that friendship ended when she discovered that her husband had an affair with the other woman and impregnated her. that combination triggered in her a campaign for revenge against the other woman. she was a -- mrs. bond was a microbiologist by training.
she stole a chemical from her employer and downloaded another chemical from amazon.com and over a period of about six, seven months 24 times she put those chemicals on the other woman's mailbox, car door, front door of her house. ultimately the woman suffered only a burn on her thumb because the chemicals changed color and she -- the other woman could see the chemicals. the other woman complained to the police several times and finally the police referred her to u.s. postal inspectors because it's a mill box. u.s. postal inspectors mounted cameras around her home. they saw mrs. bond take something out of -- a letter out of the mailbox and also put chemicals in the exhaust pipe of the other woman's car. she was arrested, a grand jury indictment followed, she was charged with mail theft and also violating a federal law that
implements the chemical weapons convention i think of 1998. >> ifill: which is what brings us to the supreme court. an international treaty, the same kind of treaty we've been discussing on this program applied to syria. >> absolutely. in fact, syria came up during the arguments. mrs. bond brought the case to the supreme court challenging her conviction under this federal law and her lawyer, paul clement, basically had two arguments today and he did not have an easy time of it. he argued, one, that this federal law if it reaches conduct like mrs. bonds which he said in essence is a domestic dispute it's unconstitutional because it intrudes, interferes with powers that were reserved to the states. if there were no treaty involved here, gwen, mrs. bond probably would have been charged under state law for assault or attempted murder. but he had a backup argument, too. he told the court if they wanted
to avoid the constitutional question, they could interpret an exception in the convention and the federal law for the use of chemicals for peaceful purposes which he said really means non-war-like conduct. >> ifill: killing your husband's mistress but not trying to go after a count industry >> absolutely. he snowed one who speaks normal english would see what happened here as deployment of a weapon. >> ifill: how did justices react to that argument? >> there was pushback. some of the justices said, you know, the treaty power in the constitution gives exclusive authority to the national government to enter into treaties and authority to congress to implement them. and the international treaties once they've been ratified and implemented are the law of the land. the court itself considered the state's rights arguments here back in 1920 and ruled in favor of the national government. justice sotomayor raised concerns about syria saying this
is now at the forefront of our foreign policy and what you're arguing could really hamper the united states in future negotiations. >> ifill: and the united states would have its sovereignty compromised by this international treaty. >> exactly. and some of the justices, for example justice kagan, pointed out that the backup argument by mr. clement would force judges to get into line drawing about what conduct is covered and what isn't and in essence force them into the minds of treaty makers. >> ifill: justice alito made reference to trick-or-treating. you guys were all over the map today. >> (laughs) absolutely. the government was represented by the solicitor general of the united states, donald verrilli, and justice alito in order to show, i think, how he feels this law can cover such broad conduct said to him "well, what would you say if i told you la that last week-- which was halloween-- my wife and i handed out a chemical that is dangerous
under this convention to animals. the convention prohibits the harming or the killing of animals as well as individuals." so the solicitor general did have a tough time with his argument which basically is that there really are no hard-and-fast limits on congress's power here on the treaty power or the implementing power h. chief justice roberts probed him repeatedly about what's the outer bounds. and mr. verrilli said that really the constitution itself contains structural limits on this power. treaties have to be ratified by the senate, implemented by congress. and those are the bodies that are going to protect state rights to ensure a treaty doesn't upset the balance in the constitution. >> ifill: the justices sounded a little desperate? >> yes. in fact, at one point mr. verrilli was give an
hypothetical that he said was unimaginable and justice kennedy interjected and said "it's unimaginable that will you brought this prosecution." >> ifill: (laughs) marcia coyle, thanks for being here. >> my pleasure, gwen. >> ifill: late yesterday, in a rare bipartisan step, the senate moved toward approving a law banning discrimination against gay workers. as public opinion has continued to shift on gays in the military and same-sex marriage, seven republicans joined with democrats yesterday to advance the employment non- discrimination act. jeffrey brown has more. >> it's now time to pass a national law! >> brown: supporters of the bill, including democrat ben cardin of maryland, pressed today for federal action to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. >> if we're going to be able to adequately compete globally, we need to empower all of the people of this country.
we can't leave anyone behind. >> brown: "enda," or the "employment non-discrimination act," bans employers from using sexual orientation or gender identity to discriminate in hiring and employment. the bill cleared a key procedural hurdle monday evening, marking a turnaround from 1996. >> the aye's are 49, the no's are 50. the bill is not agreed to. >> brown: then, a similar measure failed in the senate by a single vote. that same year, congress adopted "doma," the "defense of marriage act," barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage. 17 years later, the u.s. supreme court has overturned "doma," more states are legalizing same- sex marriage and polls find the american public increasingly accepting of gay rights. >> i think we'll finish enda this week. and there's been good work on both sides.
there's been trust, which is so very, very important. >> brown: senate majority leader harry reid and his fellow democrats are unanimous in supporting the employment discrimination bill. a majority of senate republicans are opposed, although none spoke today. it remains unclear if the bill will even come up in the house, where republicans are the majority. speaker john boehner issued a statement yesterday repeating his long-standing view that such measures can only increase "frivolous litigation" and put a new burden on business. and we walk through the arguments and examine the divisions within the republican party on this issue. gregory angelo is the executive director of the log cabin republicans. peter sprigg is senior fellow for policy studies at the family research council. both groups have worked to lobby gop lawmakers on this issue. pete per sprigg, let me start with you and start were the argument that has been raised by
john baner that this will have an adverse business and litigation impact. explain that for us. >> well, whenever you expand the number of protected categories under these type of laws what you're actually doing is giving a license to sue to new groups that didn't have such a license before. it's almost an inevitable result that there will be further litigation, and that will impose costs in terms of time and expense, even in cases where the merits of the case may be relatively weak. so i don't think any republican should be supporting this kind of further intrusion into the practices of private businesses. >> brown: let me ask gregory angelo why he thinks republicans should support this? >> well, first, to refute that argument that this legislation will be a boon to trial lawyers, the g.a.o. came out with a report less than two months ago saying they've studied states that have employment protections for gay and lesbian individuals
and haven't seen an explosion and upnick this legislation and a boon for trial lawyers. i don't like trial lawyers as much as the next republican. the fact is there's a strong conservative case to be made from employment non-discrimination protections for l.g.b.t. individuals. it's good for business, it's good for the economy, great to attract american workers and also great to make sure that gay and lesbian workers don't live in fear of being fired because of their sexual orientation. it's just common sense legislation from a conservative perspective. >> brown: another issue in this debate-- and i'll start with you-- is the question of exemptions for religious organizations which is in -- in part in the bill that's being debated before the senate. do you think that that is the right try go? is it sufficiently done? >> i most definitely think it's the right way to go. in fact, if you look at the religious protections that exist, they're exceptionally strong. they're in wlin title 7 of the civil rights act. all the religious organizations that are exempt are still exempt under the employment
non-discrimination act as it exists right now. much of the chagrin, i will add, to a number of democrats who don't believe the protections should be there. so the work we're doing in lobbying republicans is to make sure that they know they need to support employment non-discrimination act if they support religious liberty they need to support this legislation. >> brown: peter sprigg, what do you think about the exemptions there for religious institutions? >> i don't think there's any way to write a religious exemption that would be broad enough to adequately deal with the concerns that we have. even if you have an exemption which thoroughly covers all religious nonprofit organizations as well as churches, the chances that such an exemption would cover a profit-making company that seeks to operate in accordance with their personal moral beliefs and their faith it's unlikely. this is the same kind of problem we're seeing, for example, with
the h.h.s. mandate under obamacare. those corporations have the right to practice their business in accordance with their faith as well. and we're concerned, too, about the impact on individual employees that this will create a situation of reverse discrimination where people within the work force who express a personal opinion disapproving of homosexual conduct or saying that they believe marriage should be the union of a man and a woman may themselves become victims of retaliation and persecution. or we'll have a system in which homosexuals are brought out of the closet and christians are driven into the closet. >> brown: gregory angelo, respond to that. >> this fear-mongering doesn't have any credence and it's what social conservatives on the right are falling back on in a last-ditch effort to prevent this legislation profrom passing. we've never had a history in the united states of allowing for-profit institutions to
discriminate. and this simply codifys that into law for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. also the fact that we might be entering uncharted territory if we pass this legislation is something incorrect. right now we have 21 states plus the district of columbia that currently recognize employment non-discrimination for individuals based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. you have not seen religious organizations affected by this. you have not seen an uptick in litigation. and you have not seen any of the doom and gloom that individuals such as -- and organizations such as family research koun predicting will happen if we pass it. >> brown: mr. sprigg, you can respond to that but i want to ask you about the gender issue here that we referred to, the cultural shift in favor in the public -- we see in various legislation, in polls of gay rights. do you see that legislation playing into that? do you see a broader cultural
shift and do you see that legislation playing into it? >> well, i think we see situation in which people have been basically intimidated from saying anything negative about homosexuality in public because they don't want to be attacked, stigmatized, and vilified as being a bigot. and so we do see a growth in people saying, you know, that in a general sense they believe that gay people should have the same rights as anybody else. but they don't understand, i don't think, the implications of this kind of bill in terms of its intrusion on religious liberty and on free markets. i think particularly people are not well informed about the gender identity provisions of this. i mean, sexual orientation is a characteristic that's essentially invisible. nobody would have opportunity to know someone's sexual orientation unless they make a point of proclaiming it. but in the case of gender identity, you're talking about situations in which people who
are still biologically male but present themselves as female will be guaranteed the right to use facilities-- including showers and locker rooms-- in which they might appear nude before other females. that's a shocking implication of this bill that i don't think has been adequately publicized. >> brown: gregory angelo, last word for you. respond to that and yo do you see this cultural shift affecting republican politics? >> when it comes to the transgender issue, you're -- this is dealing with the notion that individuals who are transjender are doing it by choice. what we're talking about in this legislation are people who have a medical diagnosis of gender identity issues. so we're not talking about people one day waking up and deciding they want to as peter says "present themselves" as being man or woman. we are seeing cultural shift among republicans. we have 56% of republicans supportive of enda right now, far ahead whereof the united states congress is. i only wish 56% of republicans in the house and senate supported this legislation. it would make my job easier.
>> brown: gregory angelo, peter sprilg, thank you both very much. >> thank you, jeff. >> ifill: next, the second of our two reports on the movement to raise the minimum wage to what some say should be a "living wage." last night, hari sreenivasan chronicled the struggles of a fast-food worker in new york supporting a family on $8 an hour. tonight, we go to a seattle suburb where voters are deciding today whether to raise the minimum wage to nearly twice that much. the newshour's economics correspondent, paul solman, has the story, part of his coverage on "making sense of financial news." >> do we want living wages for seatac workers? >> yes! >> reporter: the country's latest living wage initiative: a $15-an-hour floor for workers in burgeoning seatac, washington-- population 25,000-- named after and built up around the seattle- tacoma airport located there.
labor on one side, business on the other, as in similar contests around the country. but this is a big one, with total spending on the rival campaigns approaching $300 per likely voter. >> hey, how are you! >> reporter: many of the 6,000 or so workers who would benefit from the proposed increase in the minimum wage live in complexes like this in seatac; among them abdirahman abdullahi, a somali political refugee 11 years ago. abdullahi works at the airport. >> now, i make $11.20 because i'm a supervisor with hertz rental car, and i have been working with them since 2007. i work two jobs at the airport, 16 hours a day. >> reporter: that's because one job, at $11.20 an hour in and around seattle, is not what sociologist diana pearce calls a "sufficiency wage."
>> it's the minimum you need to meet all your needs without any assistance; that's public assistance like food stamps and private assistance like sharing housing or getting free babysitting from a relative. it's a bare bones budget-- only grocery food, no take-out or restaurant food-- just to meet your basics. >> reporter: so, for seatac, what's the number? >> we've done the standards for south king county where seatac is located, and, for example, an adult with a teenager needs $15.01 an hour. if you've got a couple kids, it's going to be $21 to $24 an hour, depending upon their ages. if... even if you have two adults working and, say, they have a school-age and a pre- schooler, it's going to be almost $15 an hour each working full-time. >> reporter: so, $15-an-hour isn't exactly fat city. moreover, says initiative supporter david rolf of the service workers union: >> it's the right thing to do. right now, we have corporations making record profits but paying
their employees minimum wage or not much more. the impact of impoverishing these workers who used to make $16 an hour in the 1970s and '80s has been the decimation of the economic base of this community. >> reporter: you mean, they used to make $16 or $18 an hour, adjusted for inflation? >> no. they made $16 or $18 an hour in 1977 dollars in 1977. >> reporter: but if you can't live on washington state's minimum wage of $9.19, highest in the nation, how do you survive? >> you end up receiving medicaid, receiving food stamps, perhaps a housing voucher, perhaps transportation assistance. one of our state senators asked the state legislative staff to calculate how much the public spends for every low wage job at seatac, and it's about $20,000 a year. >> reporter: in seatac, private benefactors also help, supplying free food at a local methodist church, for example. what brought the living wage issue home to reverend jan bolerjack? >> when i saw people who were working full-time, especially at
the airport, coming and standing in line at my food pantry here. they work all day or all night and still not have enough to be able to feed their families. >> reporter: to the reverend, things have gotten progressively worse since she arrived in seatac 21 years ago, have gotten progressively unchristian. >> i believe the gap between the top and the bottom has gotten bigger and also that the top just doesn't even notice what's happening to the bottom. corporate executives that are, you know, making big money, i don't think they're seeing what's happening to their workers. i don't think in good conscience they could be seeing it and leaving it the way it is. >> reporter: economist peter hall also frames the living wage push in terms of growing inequality. >> this is an attempt at the local level to take a very important facility in the global economy and attempt to try to have some compensation from the winners to the losers. >> reporter: winners like the frequent flyers, who haven't balked at a modest bump in
airport prices in san francisco, san jose and los angeles which have passed similar living wage laws; winners like airport companies owned by shareholders who've also been flying high for years. seatac handled a record 33 million passengers last year who spent $180 million at places like anthony's, the top grossing airport restaurant in north america. alaska airlines, headquartered in seatac, just reported record third-quarter income. and yet, in 2005, living wage advocates declaim alaska airlines terminated 500 unionized ramp workers here, rehired some as lower-paid nonunion contractors. moreover, many airport workers get no sick leave. none. roxan seibel's been working at seatac for 30 years, has two adopted daughters, considers herself lucky to be making $13.95 an hour.
>> i've been sick enough over the years where i've thrown up in the garbage cans. and if i call in sick, i get a point, which is a demerit against me. >> reporter: enough demerits and she loses her job. >> i had pneumonia once that took me over three months to get over, and i was sick and i was going to work every day. and i would lay in bed and i was coughing, curled up in the fetal position, and my body was just one giant ache. >> reporter: so, what's the argument against? >> there's two main reasons that we would oppose prop 1. >> reporter: an enforced living wage will hurt both employers and employees, insists opposition spokesman maxford nelson. >> when you see minimum wages increase dramatically as prop 1 would do, employers tend to hire fewer workers or they lay workers off. it's also very difficult for businesses to comply with prop 1 because we're not just dealing with an increase in the minimum wage, we're also dealing with paid sick leave requirements, increased record keeping requirements, restrictions in hiring part-time workers and a
host of other requirements that these businesses have to comply with. >> reporter: now, the living wage ordinance wouldn't apply to small employers like mike west or daryl tapio-- or most non- airport related businesses like dave's diner, where we met them-- but local home builder tapio says the nine-page law tries to do too much, too fast. >> it's very hard to adjust to a $5 or $6 increase in minimum wage overnight. and if all the rules change, then it totally changes the economics of the business. >> reporter: mike west has run a nearby body shop for 40 years, insists that entry level workers can't possibly be worth $15 an hour. they don't know, he says: >> how to straighten a fender, how to paint a fender, how to prepare a car for a paint job, how to weld something. these are jobs that no beginner could possibly know. >> reporter: but how much of a difference is it going to make in your prices to be paying
somebody, a few people, $15 as opposed to $9 and change? >> well, i guess that's a crux of the situation here. we shouldn't be getting between the employers and the employees. >> reporter: especially as it would force them to raise what they pay in order to compete with the airport for workers. in the end, then, a familiar fight which growing economic inequality makes current, between those trying to slow what they call a race to the bottom of ever lower wages and work standards versus those for whom a market system is really a race to the top, providing cheaper goods and services to us all. >> ifill: the results of seatac's referendum may not be known for several days. that's because all washington state ballots are cast by mail.
>> ifill: in 2006, the united nations adopted a global agreement designed to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. since then, more than 130 countries have signed and ratified the convention. but when the treaty came before the u.s. senate last december, it fell short of the two-thirds needed for ratification. today, the foreign relations committee took up the measure again. illinois democratic congresswoman tammy duckworth, an iraq war veteran who lost both legs in that conflict, said the treaty would protect disabled americans overseas as well as citizens of other countries. but home schooling advocate michael farris of the home legal defense association warned the treaty would allow the u.n. to infringe on american sovereignty. >> it's not surprising, then, that when disabled americans travel abroad we can find ourselves mistreated and rejected simply because we are physically or cognitively disabled. blinded veterans have had their
guide sticks taken away after being mistaken for weapons. people with artificial limbs have been told to store them in overhead bins. >> despite pleas to the contrary u.s. ratification of this treaty does impose binding legal obligations on this country and it will be the responsibility of the united states to comply with international law. the treaty doesn't ban home schooling, but the treaty does is shifts the decision making authority from parents to the government. that's what the meaning of the best interest standard is. >> ifill: before today's hearing, chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner sat down with the treaty's chief advocate in the senate, foreign relations committee chairman robert menendez. >> warner: senator mendez, thank you for joining us. >> i believe this is about promoting the rights of 58 million americans and five and a half million veterans who have
some form of disability and being able to guarantee through the treaty and our leadership globally to create the opportunities for any american to visit another country in the world and find it more likely than not that they'll have the same accessibility standards as they travel abroad for business, for recreation, for sports, for advocacy. >> warner: you fell -- last december you fell six votes short. what makes you think that now you can get the votes? >> well, several things. number one is many members voted no because they said it was done in the lame duck session and we shouldn't have treaties in a lame duck session. that's not the case now. secondly, we've broadened the universal republican help with the treaties. senator mccain, senator ayotte, senator mark kirk are strong advocates of the treaty and are helping us in proselytizing members to our goal. >> warner: they were with you before, weren't they? >> but they weren't -- other
than senator john mccain they weren't out there actively. thirdly, our universal supporters have grown. with a the mesh legion, the fief due who are strongly advocateing for the force v.f.w. and to a business community that has come to understand that american leadership globally also means creating american standards for accessibility products abroad. >> warner: have you refind your arguments in any way from the last time? >> i think we're ready to refute the arguments on home schoolers that somehow this will abrogate the rights of parents to school their child at home. that is not the case. we're ready for those arguments. we're ready for the arguments on sovereignty and we have a universe of those who actually hold some of those views, the desire to home school their children, the question of pro-life entities and others who are strong supporters of the treaty and will use them as well
to refute these arguments. >> warner: you're saying last time you weren't necessarily prepared for those arguments? >> i think that on the home schooling issue we were blindsided by the nature of that. we're fully prepared for that and for other arguments as well. >> warner: number-one issue raised by the opponents before was that somehow this international treaty would infringe on the rights of states the rights of the u.s. in general to determine how it provides for people with disabilities. the rights it provides. do you refute that argument? >> the treaty does absolutely nothing to infringe upon american sovereignty, to infringe upon the rights of parents to teach their children at home or on any other issue. because we already have the highest standards in the world through american with disabilities act, through case law, through other federal legislation that makes us the highest standard in the world. so that is a non-issue. now there are some people who
see any treaty and say, sow, it's abdication of sovereignty. that's simply not the case. and also we will have something that is always done in a treaty called reservations, understandings, declarations, which is our countly say here's our reservations, understandings and declarations as we enter into this treaty and those have well-established in case law in the united states that they supersede any other responsibility. so the bottom line is nothing in the treat sdwre going to do anything other than to give us the global leadership, our seat at the table is vacant. we could be leading in world in this regard. >> warner: last time you had eight republicans voting with you. three of them have left the senate. if you got all the democrats and the independents you're at 55. where do you think new the count you need to get to 67. >> we're already at 61 including republican colleagues that are committed to us so we're looking at six votes. six votes for the incredible
opportunity for millions of americans with disabilities to enjoy the same freedom abroad as they do here at home. and i think that it has to be compelling among our deletion have yet to cast a vote on this treaty and/or will have the opportunity to do so not in the a lame-duck period. finally, you know, if we cannot pass this treaty, this treaty is about as much as motherhood, apple pie as you can get. if we cannot pass this treaty we're not going to pass any treaties on any subject. if >> senator menendez, thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: now to africa and the break through in the democratic republic of the congo. the m-23 rebel group announced today it is abandoning its 20-month armed insurgency against congolese government. the insurrection displaced 800,000 people and claimed the lives of thousands.
for more on the group's announcement and what it means for the region i'm joined by john sawyer executive director of the pulitzer center on crisis reporting. he recently return fad a reporting assignment for the newshour. welcome, john. tell us about the m-23. who is it and what is the significance of what they've done snowed >> the m-23 is a mostly tutsi ethnic group. same ethnic group that rules rwanda, the neighboring country next to eastern congo. they started this rebellion about 20 months ago in early 2012. they had been in the congolese army, they left the army, they started the rebellion and they've been holding large parts of the territory in goma for the past year and a half. >> ifill: is what they've done today laid down arms or are they being forced militarily to step back? >> well, it's the result of action by the congolese army and by the united nations that's
been there for 14 years and for most of that time has not really taken decisive action. but this year and last spring the united nations security council approved a tougher mandate for the force intervention brigade, as it's called. they set up a 3,000 person intervention brigade to go after and to neutralize armed groups in eastern congo and m-23 allegedly backed by rwanda, rwanda's government denies it but the united states, united kingdom, the united nationss have all said that, in fact, they do back the m-23 militia so that what happened was the intervention brigade working with the congolese army acted more decisively than it's ever acted to take action. >> ifill: did that happen because of the occupation of goma? was the u.n. more muscular in this? >> this happened late last year in november. the m-23, which had had this territory just north of goma marched into the city and
basically the congolese army walked out. they abandoned the city. the united nations troops baseded in goma stood by and did nothing so it was a humiliation both for the congolese army, for congolese government and for the u.n. and this tougher stance came about as a result. >> ifill: m-23 is a major coup to have them lay down their arms but they're not the only groups? >> there's three dozen groups in congo just along the border with uganda and rwanda are littered. it's a checker board of small militias occupying villages, suppressing the people, a lot of rape, a lot of killings, taking out the resources -- it's one of the richest most fertile territories in the entire world in terms of mineral wealth. a lot of it has been taken out of the country, used to empower these armed groups and what the government, what the united nations, what the u.s. and its
allies all hope is that by taking out m-23, which was the most prominent, that it would set the stage to disarm all of these other arms. fill nail the others would collapse on their own? >> that they would voluntarily disarm. they would reintegrate into society. give up control to the congolese government and to the army. i had an interview when i was there a few weeks ago with general carlos alberto desantos cruz, the head of the u.n. military force, he said something extraordinary in the video interview with us on newshour and on the newshour web site saying that they were there to take action to define threats -- to find threats and neutralize the threats and said we have to act. nobody's heard that kind of talk from the united nations in peacekeeping missions around the world for a long time. and if it works it's got an important -- will set an important precedent. >> ifill: is in the part because the peace talks haven't worked? >> the peace talks have been off
and on and i think here the other story is not just a military triumph for the congolese army, not just a success for the u.n. intervention brigade but also for the diplomatic territory. there were talks in uganda and kampala. and more talks in pretoria the heads of states, many of the african countries were together in negotiating the end of this. and there was a lot of pressure. there were calls from john kerry our secretary of state, to paul kig guammy the president of rwanda saying "do not pursue this. tell the m-23 to lay down their arms." >> ifill: but it had a big regional impact and could yet have a regional impact. but there are other countries in the region. you talk about neighbors, especially rwanda, have they signed on to this? >> well, paul kig guammy was not in pretoria and we haven't heard from the rwandan government but we have heard from the m-23 leadership saying this is an unconditional surrender, they're laying down their arms and
they'll reintegrate in congolese society and pursue their goals through political means. and if we can hold them -- if the world can hold them to that, if the congolese government can, that would be a big break through. >> ifill: quite a big break through. john sawyer, thanks so much for everything you do for us. >> thank you, good to be here. >> ifill: finally tonight, the never-ending search for life beyond earth just became more interesting. scientists now say they think there are many planets-- tens of billions, actually-- beyond our solar system that feature at least some of the right conditions needed for life. jeffrey brown picks up the story from there. >> brown: a key condition, of course, is having the right surface temperature for water. researchers identified planets in so-called goldly docks zones, potentially habitable areas that are not too close to a sun-like star making things too hot or too far away where it would be
too cold to their astonishment they found one in five sun like stars harbors an earth sized planet that may fit the category. the analysis came from data collected by the kepler spacecraft geoff marcie is one of the lead researchers. he joins me from mountain view, california. welcome back. we've had you on this program in the past talking about the discovery of planets so i was struck when you said about this new finding this is the most important work i've ever done. tell us why? what's the significance? >> well, you know, we've wondered for a long time even going back to the time of the greeks whether there were planet around the twinging lights you see in the night sky. but the real question is always been what about habitable planets? earth like planets that could support primitive life and maybe even intelligent life? now for the first time we have a census of stars showing that about one in five of the sunlight stars out there really
do have planet it is size of the earth, the temperature of the earth and perhaps conditions conducive to life as we know it. >> brown: that's what we mean by a habitable planet or potentially habitable? and this idea of a goldilocks zone? >> that's right. of course the properties of a planet that make it suitable for life is the basics have to be water because our own human bodies are made of water. life forms on the earth depend on water and so we assume perhaps incorrectly that life among the stars would also depend on liquid water. >> brown: how do you come up with this number of billions of potentially habitable planets? what n laymans term what does kepler actually see in. >> what we've been surveying with the nasa kepler telescope 150,000 stars for four years. it was a brilliant stroke by nasa to build this new telescope
and we watch for stars that dim as the earth-like planet crosss in front of the star blocking a little of the starlight and that census of 150,000 stars shows that about bun in five of them has a planet the size of the earth and the temperature of the earth. >> brown:. >> brown: there are caveats. a number of caveats. tell us what we don't know about these planets and whether they're, in fact, suitable for life? hfrjts this is the $464 million question. do these planets that orbit their stars in orbits that remind us of the earth, the size of the earth, do they actually have liquid water? do they have lakes and oceans within which the biochemistry of life could flourish? do they have atmospheres that are conducive to life? do these planets have a moon that might stabilize the spin of their planets? so there could be properties of planets that render them suitable for life that we don't
even know about. >> brown: and, of course, they're rather far away, right? so it's going to be hard to verify? >> well, one tragedy is that the stars we've been surveying are a thousand light years away. even traveling like that "voyager" spacecraft, it would take millions of years to get there. but the key is if one in five stars has an earth-like planet you only have to travel out a few light years to encounter the nearest five sunlight stars. so one of them within spitting distance may have anette like planet. >> brown: the future work at least for now has to happen without kepler, right? which is out of commission? >> we are very excited about a possible revamping of kepler. kepler has only two reaction wheels left to stabilize it but it can still work. so the scientists at nasa aims research center are working very hard to revitalize kepler so it
can continue hunting for earth like planets. >> brown: what does happen next for you and other researchers? >> well, the most exciting thing i think for the future is to actually search for intelligent technological life on any of these planets. are there intelligent beings there? maybe we can pick up the andromeda newshour from alpha centaurry and pick up their radio and television transmission. >> brown: i would like to hear that, actually! see what they're doing on andromeda. finally, is this something that you and i are likely to learn about or are we talking generations from now before mankind, humankind, is able to pick up that kind. >> there are scientists working day and night right now using radio telescopes, optical telescopes, infrared telescopes hoping to pick up laser communications, the radio
transmission from any other intelligence civilizations so it's possible that in the next few years or decades there could be the first detection of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. >> brown: geoff marcie of u.c. berkeley, >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day: white house officials declined to say if the president will support legislation to guarantee americans can keep their existing health insurance; voters around the country chose mayors and two governors on this off-year election day; and the ill ill lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage, making it the 15th state to do so. and the mayor of toronto admitted he has smoked crack cocaine, but he said he will not resign. on the newshour online right now, is an aids-free generation on the horizon? not, say public health officials, without the help of high-risk groups like drug addicts and sex workers.
read about the h.i.v. rebound happening in cities all over the world. that's on our homepage. also, how employers are contributing to the unemployment crisis by not actively recruiting the right candidates. that's in our weekly "ask the headhunter" column. you can find all that and more on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, miles o'brien explores a condition that afflicts 50 million americans, including miles o'brien: tinnitus, constant ringing or other sounds in the ear. i'm gwen ifill. i'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> my customers can shop around; see who does good work and compare costs. it can also work that way with healthcare.
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