Need to Know, June 4, 2010

The devastating oil spill in the Gulf is headlining this week’s episode of Need to Know. We travel to Louisiana to survey the effects of the spill and explore how it might affect ocean life and migratory birds. “Oil spills don’t happen if people don’t use oil,” an environmental expert told us in a previous interview,  so we also pay a visit to a community in Denmark that does not depend on oil.

Steve Brodner provides an illustrated explanation of the ties between the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and the industries it is tasked to monitor. Alison Stewart speaks with David Drummond, the architect of Google’s policies on censorship in China and around the globe. Need to Know visits Heather Armstrong, author of the blog Dooce.com.

And Jon Meacham commemorates the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s Dunkirk speech.

 

Comments

  • Gary

    The coverage of the Gaza Flotilla and the violence that ensued was far too simplistic. The blockade by Israel and Egypt is designed to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas. A key fact that you failed to report that Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel, which understandably precipitated a military response (as it would from any nation). A blockade is a reasonable means of preventing Hamas from getting weapons. If Hamas gets rockets and other weapons then more innocent civilians will die on both sides. This is because Hamas will use them against Israeli civilians, which will require that Israel use military force to stop them. As is the case with most military actions, civilians would then be killed. A blockade is a more humane way to deal with this problem. A peace treaty would be the best way, but unfortunately, Hamas will not negotiate with Israel.

  • Bryant Hudson

    I need to know quite a bit more about the oil spill. It seems to me that most people would benefit from having discussions that focus on things we know and solid scientific knowledge. Tonights program was not useful for me. Since we do have history on oil spills, why not discuss this at least a little. The Ixtoc 1979 oil spill would seem to be an important analogue, and there are several other spills that have been studied. I believe that lessons of the past often do a good job of guiding future actions. The primary scientist interviewed mostly talked politics a gave virtually no scientific information. I realise this is primarily and entertainment show but really you could do a lot better.

  • Jane Califf

    I was very glad to see that you had Carl Safina from the Blue Ocean Institute bringing up what most news programs are not mentioning – that the oil disaster in the Gulf shows the great need to move quickly away from polluting fossil fuels toward a new, national clean energy policy. You showed that this was possible by going to a Denmark island which over the past 12 years has become carbon neutral – getting all of its energy from wind turbines, solar panels and other non-polluting sources. This Denmark community is showing the way on how to avoid drastic climate change which threatens our world.

    I was not as pleased with your coverage of the attack of the Israeli military on the flotilla of ships which killed 9 people and injured more than 50, humanitarians who were bringing desperately needed aid to the 1.5 million people of Gaza who are effectively living in an outdoor concentration camp because of the Israeli blockade. You mentioned that Israel destroyed thousands of homes in their 2008 attack on Gaza, but you neglected to mention that their bombs and rockets killed about 1,400 people, most of them children and other civilians. The Hamas rockets were responsible for less than 13 Israeli deaths.

    Our media rarely gives comprehensive coverage of why most of the world is critical of how Israel mistreats the Palestinians. Making the entire population of Gaza suffer because Israel opposes the Hamas government is cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of international law.

    To help correct your one-sided reporting on the flotilla’s motives and for what actually happened on the ships that were attacked in international waters, I urge you to invite some of the participants on your program, such as retired career U.S. Ambassador Peck, to explain their humanitarian mission and what they witnessed of the killing and injuring of their colleagues. That is what Bill Moyers, whom you said today that you admire, would have done.

    This is incredibly relevant to Americans since billions of our tax dollars flow to Israel each year – money that we could use here to solve our dire economic crisis. I do not want my tax dollars to support a policy of attacking unarmed civilians on a humanitarian mission or a blind policy of support for everything that Israel does.

  • William Baggs

    The program Need To Know keeps hesitating (stopping) every minute or two. It has taken an hour to go through half of the program. Now it has stopped (freeze framed) altogether.
    Last week there was no way to view the whole program, and when clicking on several segments they cam up as not available.
    I like this program, and would like to watch it each week. It is not being carried on the regular Georgia Public TV channels.
    Bill Baggs

  • Stanley Hamada

    Re: Interview with Carl Safina from the Blue Ocean Institute. I am concerned with the range of questions presented to Mr. Safina. It appeared to me that many questions concerned subject areas that Mr. Safina has no academic or history of expertise. It may be that he did have expertise in most of the subject questions, but we in the audience were not provided with that information. I thought that some of the question presented should have been given to other people with expertise in that area. The net result was that I felt the interview gave me a limited biased view of the situation. After saying all of that, I agreed with most of his comments, but that is not the point.

  • Stuart Karlan

    Great show.

    Would really like to be able to share a link to particular video sections of the show, in particular the Samso Island section.

  • Jim Koren

    Well I tried again to see if this show lived up to those to was created to replace…..NOT….

    I think the underlaying problem is that no one on your team has the depth of knowledge and conviction to take a stand on a topic.

  • Gary

    Jane – You have your facts wrong. The people in Gaza do not live in an “outdoor concentration camp”. This is a false assumption based on propaganda designed to force Israel (and Egypt) to open the blockade and allow weapons to enter Gaza for use against Israeli civilians. I imagine that you would have no problem with the USA imposing a blockade and using force to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States (as we are doing in Afghanistan).

    There is plenty of food, water, housing, medical supplies and access to hospitals in Gaza. There are beautiful restaurants, an Olympic sized swimming pool, public markets full of goods from foodstuffs to children’s toys to exquisite furniture and many amenities available in Gaza. In fact, the standard of living is higher in Gaza is higher than in many neighboring Arab countries.

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKL5zZR1vwc&NR=1

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/clothes-flow-into-gaza-after-israeli-embargo-eased-1.284635

    During the same week of the flotilla raid, for starters the facts tell a different story: in the week in which the flotilla raid occurred, 637 truckloads, consisting of 14,069 tons of humanitarian aid was delivered from Israel to Gaza.

    Among the goods for Gaza civilians were 810,209 liters of heavy duty diesel fuel; 21 truckloads of milk powder and baby food; 897 tons of cooking gas; 66 truckloads of fruits and vegetables; 51 truckloads of wheat; 27 truckloads of meat, chicken and fish products; 40 truckloads of dairy products; 117 truckloads of animal feed; 36 truckloads of hygiene products; 38 trucks of clothing; 22 trucks of sugar and 4 trucks of medicine and medical equipment.

    http://undhimmi.com/2010/05/31/gaza-do-these-people-look-like-they-need-an-aid-flotilla/

    While few Israeli towns have Olympic-quality swimming pools, Gaza, which critics claim is starved of water, has a state-of-the-art Olympic swimming facility inaugurated in May 2010.

    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=285242

    In addition to that, 781 medical patients and accompanying individuals from the Gaza Strip crossed into Israel to receive treatment in various hospitals and 191 staff members of international organizations crossed into the Gaza Strip, and 202 crossed back from Gaza.
    The infant mortality rate in Gaza is less than China, Lebanon and Jordan. Life expectancy in Gaza is higher than Jamaica, Bulgaria and Malaysia. This hardly illustrates the dire straits that some contributors would lead us to believe is the norm in Gaza.

    No Palestinian is denied medical care in Israel. In 2009 alone, 10,544 patients and their companions left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel. Moreover, there were 382 emergency evacuations from Gaza for medical purposes. Lebanese public hospitals do not admit Palestinians for medical treatment or surgery.

  • Richard Saldana

    Maybe it’s because i can’t help but compare this program to Bill Moyer’s Journal, & NOW, but I’m very much unimpressed with the news ‘lite’ style of the show. It reminds me of why I stopped watching network news programs. It really sucks to lose the quality programming associated with PBS.

  • Amanda Jane
  • Amanda Jane
  • Hilary Stookey

    Gary’s links and words, posted June 5, 2010 at 1.29pm are all vulnerable under intensive study.

    Firstly, the Israel-based newspaper Haaretz. It printed an article hugely critical of Israel’s preparations against the flotilla – before violent confrontation even took place. Written by Gideon Levy, a Haaretz columnist and member of the newpaper’s editorial board, the article should be read by anybody who is disturbed both by what happened then, and by the whole Palestinian situation:
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/gaza-flotilla-drives-israel-into-a-sea-of-stupidity-1.292959

    Secondly, if one reads Gary’s Haaretz link carefully, you will notice facts that should disturb you. For instance, the first paragraph talks about the easing into Gaza of stocks that “had been held up in transit, sometimes for years.” Some years? It says some 650 private containers are still stuck. Some were damaged in storage. Gary takes from this article what he prefers to see.

    Gary seems proud that at least 21 truckloads of milk powder and baby food got in the same week of the flotilla raid. Should it have been otherwise? This is an humanitarian issue. Rather, it is Israel’s arbitrary refusal of less vital needs which is very revealing. In the article, PalTrade is quoted as estimating that before the embargo came into force, 350 containers a month of clothing and footwear were being imported privately for Gaza’s 1.5 million people. I don’t know if 350 containers is a lot or not, but what it does say to me is why should Israeli authorities stop clothing being allowed through ? What weapons can you make with clothing? And why would you not allow footwear supplies? I happen to know that kids’ soccer shoes are included in that collection. Wouldn’t your own quality of life be affected if you were not allowed even such basics as replacing old footwear & clothing? The umbrella under which Israel always defends its decisions is Security. However, it begs the question if a deliberately engineered deterioration in the quality of life might not in fact be another element to this embargo – because that is exactly what has been happening, and it is unacceptable to 99% of the rest of the world.

    To open up Gary’s youtube video link and observe cars needing to be brought into a land through a tunnel, tells me there is something dramatically wrong with a picture which requires a people to tunnel their supplies in. It does not tell me, like it tells Gary, that Israel is doing the right thing, because see: those residents in Gaza can get new cars, life is not bad there.

    I would have thought by now that Gary and Israel would have grown uncomfortably disturbed that the rest of the world is using the term of a concentration camp to describe Gaza’s strip of cut-off land. Its strangulation has raised criticism not just from recognized Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International, and from the United Nations (which says the current embargo means that LESS THAN A QUARTER of what is needed, is allowed in), but also increasingly from within its own country. I urge you to open up the website of Israel’s most-respected Human Rights organizations, B’Tselem, founded by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists and Knesset members. If you do nothing else after reading what I’m writing, look at http://www.Btselem.org. The reliability of its information is recognized worldwide.

    So, why is it that Gary’s figures and details sound so astonishingly good, and present such a striking variance to such human rights/relief groups? Why the disparity? Their representatives have visited Gaza, why would they not be telling the truth? There does come a point when it is not possible to muzzle such respected voices in this modern world. The disturbing lack of response however in America is partly due to AIPAC, the extremely influential Israeli Lobby which has until recently been overwhelmingly successful in squashing/deflecting criticism. If you have not seen this article in the London Review of Books: The Israel Lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt – then now is a great moment: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html

    Open up and honor two American-based critical Jewish organizations’ voices: Jewish Voice for Peace and The Rebuilding Alliance. They are the tip of an iceberg for you. The Christian Peacemaker Teams (www.cpt.org) has another website which will bring surprise.

    Gary has his sources, but to question their reliability we need to explore further than his own offered-up links.

  • Hilary Stookey

    Gary’s links and words, posted June 5, 2010 at 1.29pm are all vulnerable under intensive study.

    Firstly, the Israel-based newspaper Haaretz. It printed an article hugely critical of Israel’s preparations against the flotilla – before violent confrontation even took place. Written by Gideon Levy, a Haaretz columnist and member of the newpaper’s editorial board, the article should be read by anybody who is disturbed both by what happened then, and by the whole Palestinian situation:
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/gaza-flotilla-drives-israel-into-a-sea-of-stupidity-1.292959

    Secondly, if one reads Gary’s Haaretz link carefully, you will notice facts that should disturb you. For instance, the first paragraph talks about the easing into Gaza of stocks that “had been held up in transit, sometimes for years.” Some years? It says some 650 private containers are still stuck. Some were damaged in storage. Gary takes from this article what he prefers to see.

    Gary seems proud that at least 21 truckloads of milk powder and baby food got in the same week of the flotilla raid. Should it have been otherwise? This is an humanitarian issue. Rather, it is Israel’s arbitrary refusal of less vital needs which is very revealing. In the article, PalTrade is quoted as estimating that before the embargo came into force, 350 containers a month of clothing and footwear were being imported privately for Gaza’s 1.5 million people. I don’t know if 350 containers is a lot or not, but what it does say to me is why should Israeli authorities stop clothing being allowed through ? What weapons can you make with clothing? And why would you not allow footwear supplies? I happen to know that kids’ soccer shoes are included in that collection. Wouldn’t your own quality of life be affected if you were not allowed even such basics as replacing old footwear & clothing? The umbrella under which Israel always defends its decisions is Security. However, it begs the question if a deliberately engineered deterioration in the quality of life might not in fact be another element to this embargo – because that is exactly what has been happening, and it is unacceptable to 99% of the rest of the world.
    To open up Gary’s youtube video link and observe cars needing to be brought into a land through a tunnel, tells me there is something dramatically wrong with a picture which requires a people to tunnel their supplies in. It does not tell me, like it tells Gary, that Israel is doing the right thing, because see: those residents in Gaza can get new cars, life is not bad there.

    I would have thought by now that Gary and Israel would have grown uncomfortably disturbed that the rest of the world is using the term of a concentration camp to describe Gaza’s strip of cut-off land. Its strangulation has raised criticism not just from recognized Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International, and from the United Nations (which says the current embargo means that LESS THAN A QUARTER of what is needed, is allowed in), but also increasingly from within its own country. I urge you to open up the website of Israel’s most-respected Human Rights organization, B’Tselem, founded by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists and Knesset members. If you do nothing else after reading what I’m writing, look at http://www.Btselem.org. The reliability of its information is recognized worldwide.

    So, why is it that Gary’s figures and details sound so astonishingly good, and present such a striking variance to such human rights/relief groups? Why the disparity? Their representatives have visited Gaza, why would they not be telling the truth? There does come a point when it is not possible to muzzle such respected voices in this modern world. The disturbing lack of response however in America is partly due to AIPAC, the extremely influential Israeli Lobby which has until recently been overwhelmingly successful in squashing/deflecting criticism. If you have not seen this article in the London Review of Books: The Israel Lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt – then now is a great moment: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html

    Open up and honor two American-based critical Jewish organizations’ voices: Jewish Voice for Peace and The Rebuilding Alliance. They are the tip of an iceberg for you. The Christian Peacemaker Teams (www.cpt.org) has another website which will bring surprise.

    Gary has his sources, but to question their reliability we need to explore further than his own offered-up links.

  • Dave Bagley

    Well, here we are after 4 shows. I watched the first episode and was not impressed. I said that I’d try again in a few weeks so tuned in again to see if there’s been any improvement. I’m still not impressed. In 51 minutes and 20 seconds, this program jumped through 8 different stories, spending most of its time on Google censorship (8 minutes) and blogging (8 minutes). The Gulf oil catastrophe was zipped by (3 minutes), along with the Israel shipping blockade (4 minutes). I did learn something about renewable energy from Samso Island, Denmark (6 minutes – good story). Too bad the producers didn’t take the opportunity to look at similar successes in the USA.

    PBS should be embarrassed by the lack of content and quality in this show. Surely, they realized what they had in Bill Moyers Journal and NOW. As I stated May 9, “Please consider dumping the show and bringing back NOW with David & Maria in a one-hour format.”

    Need To Know – needs to go.

  • heydayma

    we could sure use another Winstin Churchill..this was a great broadcast..thnk for the good work. wtgo PBS/Need to Know.. cing_love

  • Shelley Lewis

    Hey Dave. I’m the executive producer of Need to Know. I’m sorry you’re not finding what you’re looking for, but just to set the record straight about how much time was spent covering the BP disaster in the Gulf you seem to be forgetting the long and excellent conversation we had with Carl Safina, ecologist, marine conservationist, MacArthur Grant winner, on the impact of the oil spill on the ecosystem of the Gulf. If you really want to tally the time devoted to the Gulf disaster, that would be 13 minutes, not three. We will continue to report on the Gulf, with two producer teams down there now. And to answer your observation that it’s too bad we didn’t look at similar efforts in the US, in fact we will be reporting on a major effort to use wind energy in the Rockies. That segment is in the works now. We’re a new program, we have a lot of stories in the works, some long and in depth, some shorter. Thanks for your email.

  • E. Rivers

    Ms. Shelley Lewis

    I’m in agreement with Dave Bagely, this show is a shallow when compared to NOW and Moyers, but not measured by time. It is lightweight, one-size-fits-all and tries to appeal to an audience with some standard commercial-based media tricks – throw in the exciting graphics, “sexy up” the audio, have Alison and Jon perform your laugh track for Andy Borowitz. I had to turn it off shortly after they started giggling.

    Rather than focus on one or two critical issues and going into a lot of depth, NTK bounces around, barely dipping its toe in the pool, seemingly afraid to get into the core issues. Are you aware of what Marty Kaplan said of your first show, “What We “Need to Know” about PBS After Moyers”? “Less Hmmm, more Aha!”

    Look at the conversation between Jane, Hilary and Gary in your comment section. Their conversation screams the fact that you’re not reporting enough. Do the Gazans have working hospitals or not? Is Gaza living in the lap of luxury as Gary suggests? Doesn’t that tell you that we desperately need more than what you’ve provided?

    Just how heavy hitting was the Heather Armstrong’s blogging skills? Is that part of your new appeal? What the “everyday little person” can do? Is that how a PBS news program tackles corporate power and privilege?

    We’re still asking for Sy Hersh articles and you’re giving us USA Today with promises.

  • E. Rivers

    Ms. Shelley Lewis

    I’m in agreement with Dave Bagely, this show is a shallow when compared to NOW and Moyers, but not measured by time. It is lightweight, one-size-fits-all and tries to appeal to an audience with some standard commercial-based media tricks – throw in the exciting graphics, “sexy up” the audio, have Alison and Jon perform your laugh track for Andy Borowitz. I had to turn it off shortly after they started giggling. Embarrassing.

    Rather than focus on one or two critical issues and going into a lot of depth, NTK bounces around, barely dipping its toe in the pool, seemingly afraid to get into the core issues. Look at the conversation between Jane, Hilary and Gary in your comment section. Their conversation screams the fact that you’re not reporting enough. Do the Gazans have working hospitals or not? Is Gaza living in the lap of luxury as Gary suggests? Doesn’t that tell you that we desperately need more than what you’ve provided?

    The article about Heather Armstrong was fluff. Interesting, but hardly critical news. I believe more time should have been spent on the Freedom Flotilla. You’ll have to be covering it again because what is developing in the rest of the world. The fuse has been lit. If we had more depth in the first place, your viewers would be in a better position to evaluate Israel’s latest responses, their public outcries and comments from the IDF.

    We’re still asking for Sy Hersh articles and you’re giving us USA Today with promises.

  • TC

    Not to pile on, but I suppose I’m past the grieving stage – ended up missing the past two programs due to other commitments. And didn’t feel all that deprived.

  • TC

    ^ PS: Kinda like when I started swearing off NPR~

  • Gary

    Hilary’s post shows a complete failure to understand the truth and facts behind the blockade and the situation in Gaza and displays a profound disconnect between perception and reality of the events aboard the flotilla. The establishment of this disconnect is one of the chief strategic objectives of Hamas and other extremist groups.

    Moreover, Hilary’s many words fail to provide any support that there is starvation or conditions in Gaza akin to a “concentration camp”.

    The reason that Israel imposes a blockade is to put pressure on Hamas and prevent it from obtaining weapons with which to attack Israel. Hamas is a terrorist organization run by extremists that take orders from Iran. Hamas is bent on the destruction of Israel both in words and deeds. Israel, in its efforts to establish a peaceful coexistence with the Palestinian people, pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Unfortunately, Hamas took control of Gaza and began a campaign of firing rockets into Israel. Since 2007, Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets into civilian population centers in Israel. Israel ultimately imposed the blockade to put pressure on Hamas and to prevent it from obtaining rockets. The blockade is vital to reduce the number of attacks on Israeli civilians. Every nation in the world would (and do) take similar measures when confronted with violence directed at its citizens. For example, the United States, in response to 911 used military force to topple two governments (Iraq and Afghanistan) thousands of miles away from the United States. Gaza is directly on the boarder of Israel. Prior to the Iraq war, the United States imposed a blockade and sanctions on Iraq for many years. Certainly, Israel has the right to take actions to protect its citizens.

    Hilary’s statement that the blockade is “unacceptable to 99% of the rest of the world” fails to take into account that Egypt also imposes a blockade on Gaza. Indeed, Egypt is erecting a steel wall along its border with Gaza in furtherance of the blockade and to prevent Hamas elements from entering Egypt. Moreover, behind closed doors, the Palestinian Authority has consistently supported the blockade. The PA is also at war with Hamas. When Hamas took control of Gaza they rounded up many PA authorities and tortured and murdered them. The residents of Gaza are also victims of Hamas. Hamas routinely takes aid that is meant for Gaza residents and expropriates it for their purposes.

    No doubt the blockade presents hardships for Gaza. But it is inaccurate to say that there is a humanitarian crisis that has created conditions that are like those that were found in concentration camps. This sort of hyperbole falls on its face when one compares the availability of goods, food, medical care, etc. to the starvation and genocide associated with concentration camps. Indeed, the conditions in Gaza are better than for many who live in neighboring Egypt.

    Israel is a thriving democracy with all the freedoms that we enjoy in the US, such as freedom of speech. There are diverse opinions as to the situation in Gaza. Hilary seems to think that just because Betselem is an Israeli organization that is against the blockade, somehow the blockade is without merit. One can find in any free society opinions that critical of the government, but that do not reflect the realities on the ground. Betselem is one such group. While they are free to speak their mind, they consistently get the facts and law wrong.

    With respect to the events on the flotilla, Hilary fails to understand that aboard the Mavi Mara, and intermingled with peace activists, was a group of hardcore extremists who deliberately organized an armed attack on the Israeli soldiers in an effort to draw them into a violent confrontation. These extremists were bent on martyrdom. They boarded separately from the peace activists and did not undergo security inspections. Among them were known Hamas operatives. Essentially, this group hijacked the peace activist mission for their own radical purposes. None of the other 5 ships in the flotilla were engaged in violent conflict.

    For a good summary of the events, see “An Assault, Cloaked in Peace” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/opinion/03oren.html

    See interviews with the crew of the Mavi Mara. http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e112.htm

    Hilary’s view point reflects the trend to de-legitimize Israel by attacking the measures it takes to defend itself against radical violent extremists bent on its destruction. This trend is very convenient for many oppressive regimes around the world that stifle dissent in their countries and engage in wholesale human rights violations (e.g., Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria, Iran, China, Republic of Congo, Egypt, etc.,) because it takes the spot light off of them. Ironically, even Turkey, which is occupying half of Cyprus in violation of international law and violently oppresses its Kurdish minority, benefits from this.

  • http://skforussia.ru Adam

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