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JIM LEHRER: Good evening. Leading the news tonight, more shuffling at the top of the Reagan administration, with Donald Hodel going to Interior and William Bennett to Education, among other changes. Secretary of State Shultz appealed to Congress today to not undermine the new arms talks with the Soviets. And Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was inauguratedpresident of Nicaragua. Robin?
ROBERT MacNEIL: Here's what you'll find on the NewsHour tonight. After the news summary, four sections. A former Social Security commissioner explains what cutting the cost-of-living increase would mean. Then aspirin and Reye's syndrome: we debate the reported connection and the need for warnings to parents. As Daniel Ortega is inaugurated president of Nicaragua, we have a documentary report on the opposition to his rule. And finally another debate: does New York's subway shooting mean the state's gun control law is too strict?News Summary
LEHRER: Three more changes in the Reagan Cabinet were announced today, as yesterday's rumors became fact. Secretary of Energy Donald Hodel will replace William Clark as Secretary of Interior. White House personnel director John Harrington will take Hodel's job. And William Bennett, now head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be the new Secretary of Education. That job has been vacant since Terrel Bell resigned and returned to Utah 16 days ago. President Reagan himself made Monday's announcement of the White House Chief of Staff James Baker and Treasury Secretary Donald Regan job switch, but White House spokesman Larry Speakes did today's duty following a meeting of the Cabinet. For the record, Speakes said Mr. Reagan remained committed to abolishing both the Energy and the Education departments. Speakes also said Richard Darman, a key aide to James Baker at the White House, will also go to the Treasury Department. He will be the deputy Treasury secretary, the number two job there. Robin?
MacNEIL: Secretary of State George Shultrz, congratulated by the President last night for his agreement to restart arms talks with the Soviets, went to Capitol Hill today to win congressional backing. In separate meetings with members of the Senate and House, Shultz appealed to Congress not to undermine the new talks and to unite behind his efforts.
GEORGE SHULTZ, Secretary of State: We've taken a first step, and it's a positive first step, and you can't take the last step until you take the first. But we have a long hard road ahead of us, and we're going to succeed in a measure related to the unity that we're able to achieve as an administration, as a country, working together as Americans with members of the Congress and with our allies. As far as where we stand is concerned, I would say the image might be that of a person who sees the task ahead, our coat is off, our sleeves are rolled up, we're ready to go to work in a constructive and positive spirit; but at the same time, with realism and with a consciousness of the importance of the unity here in the government and out throughout the country and with our allies.
MacNEIL: Shultz warned the Congress not to scrap the MX missile during the negotiations with the Soviet Union.
Sec. SHULTZ: If they can get what they want out of us without having to give up anything in return, well, they'd love that. And the Peacekeeper, MX missile, is a very important element in the modernization of our forces, and from the standpoint of the security of the country it simply must go ahead. Now, if any of our programs are to be shifted, that should be done as a result of negotiation. And in the meantime we need to always be looking at the security of our country and be ready to do the things that are necessary to see that we are strong and able to deifend ourselves.
MacNEIL: After the briefing on the House side, Florida Democrat Dante Fascell, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented, "I don't have a crystal ball, but I think the secretary's points will be very persuasive." He aidded it was entirely possible that the House might delay the vote now scheduled for April on the embattled MX missile. -- LEHRER: Overseas there was a confrontation between Thailand and Vietnam today that almost sparked gunfire. Vietnamese troops routed Cambodian rebels, and when the Cambodians fled across the border into Thailand, the Vietnamese gave chase. Thailand didn't like that, but Vietnam claimed it was still Cambodian territory. Troops on both sides were about to clash when a deal was struck. They agreed to establish a 22-yard-wide strip down the border and call it a demilitarized zone. And in overseas news from Washington, the Peace Corps today announced its largest recruiting drive in history. It wants to add 10,000 new volunteers to its ranks, most of them American farming experts who will go to Africa to fight famine.
MacNEIL: The Associated Press reported that the leaders of the embattled Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus have just about agreed on a unified state after 30 years of bloodshed and hostility. One fifth of the Mediterranean island population is Turkish. In 1974 Turkish troops seized more than a third of the island to prevent it from uniting with Greece. Under the reported settlement, the Turks would give up some of the territory they hold and their troops would withdraw.
In Nicaragua today there was an elaborate ceremonial for the inauguration of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega as president. Fidel Castro, the president of Cuba, was the most senior of the 57 foreign dignitaries who arrived for the occasion. And as a strong supporter of the Sandinista government of Nicarragua, he received a warm welcome from local officials. The Nicaraguans were relying on the election of a president and foreign presence at the inauguration to bolster the prestige of their revolutionary government. The United States was represented by the ambassador to Nicaragua. Britain and West Germany also sent only the local ambassador, but France sent a cabinet minister. Later in the program our special correspondent, Charles Krause, has a documentary report from Nircaragua on the opposition to Sandinista rule.
LEHRER: It's often said Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is the second most powerful man in America. Well, there was a little proof of that today. In a luncheon speech here in Washington, he said progress has been made against inflation. That's all he said. But it triggered an immediate rally on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average closing up more than 20 points, the market's biggest gain in three weeks. Social Security Freeze: What It Means
LEHRER: Social Security is back in the middle of budget things again, this time over whether to freeze next year's cost-of-living increase. Last night President Reagan said it might happen. Today, House Majority Leader Jim Wright said not if the Democrats have their way. Underlying that simple yes-no argument is the one over whether it really has anything to do with cutting the federal deficit anyhow. Judy Woodruff has more on that in our first focus segment tonight. Judy?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jim, throughout the campaign President Reagan said he would not touch Social Security funding. So his statement last night that he might consider delaying Social Security cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, came with a major proviso: that an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both houses of Congressr support the move first. The President also told the news conference that savings in Social Security funding would not reduce the red ink in the federal deficit.
Pres. RONALD REAGAN: Social Security is not a part of the deficit problem. It is totally financed by a payroll tax, and that tax is totally dedicated to that one program. If Social Security spending were reduced, you could not take that money saved and use it to fund some other program in the deficit.
WOODRUFF: Mr. Reagan's view on the impact that Social Security spending has on the budget deficit is not shared by some Republicans on Capitol Hill. Last night, just before the President's news conference, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole was on this program talking about Social Security and the deficit.
Sen. ROBERT DOLE, Majority Leader: If there is any change in Social Security COLAs, of course, let's say you were supposed to get a 3 increase next year and we say, "No, you're not going to get it next year," that money doesn't go to build missiles or ships or farm subsidies; it goes in the Social Security trust fund, which will make it even sounder than it is today. So it does, in a sense, strengthen the Social Security trust fund. It doesn't contribute to the deficit now, but in the unified budget it still counts as a deficit reduction, even though it stays in the Social Security trust fund.
WOODRUFF: To sort out the confusion over Social Security and the deficit, and to explain the impact of proposed cuts on retirees, we talk with Robert Ball, former Social Security commissioner. Mr. Ball headed the Social Security Administration from 1962 to '73 and recently served on President Reagan's 1983 Commission on Social Security Reform.
First of all, what is a unified budget, this term that we just heard Senator Dole use?
ROBERT BALL: Well, Judy, Social Security used to be entirely separate in the accounting procedures of the federal government and was not mingled in the accounts with other things. But beginning in fiscal year '69 Social Security is now counted, income and outgo, along with the income tax and the expenditures of other programs. Now, the funds are separately accounted for within that. They go in the trust fund, and the money is lent to the government. There are bonds there, and they can be used -- the Social Security funds can be used only for Social Security purposes. But Senator Dole is absolutely right that overall, when you look at the question of the deficit, surplurses in -- Social Security reduce the amount of the deficit in other programs.
WOODRUFF: So the President was wrong wheni he said last night that to freeze Social Security doesn't have any bearing on the deficit.
Mr. BALL: The President is essentially right, but he went a little far on that point. Let me tell you what I mean by that. Social Security is entirely supported by dedicated taxes.
WOODRUFF: What does that mean?
Mr. BALL: That means they come from payroll taxes and taxes on upper-income Social Security benefits. That's what pays for all Social Security benefits. Now, if you were to reduce Social Security over time, it would only be sensible and logical to reduce the contributions that go into Social Security. You wouldn't need so much in the way of Social Security taxes if you reduce benefits. So when the President says that you can't really reduce the deficits over time by cutting Social Security, that's completely right. But in the short run, in a year or two, you could, like, skip the COLA next year and that would show up in this unified budget as a reduction in the deficit.
WOODRUFF: COLA being cost-of-living adjustments.
Mr. BALL: Cost-of-living adjustments. Now, I think it's not a good idea. I think that the --
WOODRUFF: To freeze.
Mr. BALL: To freeze. That the system now with the 1983 amendments is adequately financed, both in the short run, the long run. The cost-of-living adjustments are a very important part of the program; people count on it, and I don't think that's the way to help balance the budget.
WOODRUFF: Well, if that's tihe case, why are the Senate Republicans talking about it so seriously and why is the President saying, "Well, I might be talked into going along with it"?
Mr. BALL: Well, because they think they're kind of desperate. They're looking for most anything that could possibly be done to reduce the deficit. I would think that Social Security ought not to be part of this budget deficit argument, because it is separately financed, and it would be better to look at the question of the rate of increase in defense, the possibility of finally getting to the question of whether with tax reform we might have some tax increases. I think those are the places to look.
WOODRUFF: Before we get into this question of what impact a freeze would have on the recipients, what is the condition of the Social Security fund right now? You just mentioneid with these amendments -- that the commission you served on helped to draw up changes in the law, that the fund is in much better shape than it used to be.
Mr. BALL: Oh, it's working very well, Judy. Both the short-run and the long-run picture look fine. It's better than it looked, actually, when we finished the commission's work. It would take a very major return of high inflation and a major recession to hurt the program in the short -- next two or three years.
WOODRUFF: So that's not the excuse for tampering with it.
Mr. BALL: No, I don't think Senator Dole would argue for a minute that you need to do this in order to help Social Security financing. And the 1983 amendments also solved, as far as one can predict, the long-term financing problem of Social Security. So it's separately and adequately financed.
WOODRUFF: So whar -- t we're talking about here is purely a deficit -- an attempt to get at the deficit.
Mr. BALL: Entirely. Entirely. And my view would be that that's really not appropriate.
WOODRUFF: What effect would a freeze, a one-year freeze have? I guess they're talking about -- what? -- over the next three years is what one proposal has been.
Mr. BALL: No, as far as I understand, they're talking about skipping the cost-of-living adjustment for one year. Now, that has an effect --
WOODRUFF: Over three years. That's corre -- ict.r
Mr. BALL: -- for several years on into the future.
WOODRUFF: Thart's correct. I'm sorry, that's right.
Mr. BALL: And it's serious. Sixty-five percent of Social Security beneficiaries have more than half of their income from Social Security. They're heavily dependent on it. Now, the average benefit, on the other hand, is only about a little less than $450 a month. So if the cost-of-living adjustment, say, is in the four to five percent area, skipping that means that these people, on average, would get benefits of $17 to $20 less.
WOODRUFF: But at a time when inflation is low, which it is now, you're not talking about that as serious an impact as we might have been talking about a few years ago.
Mr. BALL: Well, obviously a reduction in your purchasing power of $17 to $20 a month isn't as bad as a reduction of a hundred. But a large proportion of these people are living quite close to the line. It's really wrong to characterize Social Security, as I've seen it done, as a middle-income program.
WOODRUFF: Well, that was going to be my next question, because you continually hear it referred to as a benefit for the middle class.
Mr. BALL: Now, it's a universal program. The middle class are included. But when you say that 65 have more than half of their income from Social Security benefits, and the average benefit is only $445, you can see that that does not make people -- that's not really a middle-income program. It's true that because of Social Security there are now -- there's not much more chance now for elderly people to be in the desperately poor category than there is for the rest of the population. But there's a huge number that are in the low-income group just above poverty level. And it's not just a question of poor versus all the rest.
WOODRUFF: So you're saying it would push some of those back over the line.
Mr. BALL: Well, the estimate is it would push well over half a million below poverty. But I think the more important point, Judy, is that we ought not to be looking solely at those below the poverty level. Social Security is a universal system; it's the base on which everybody builds their retirement income. It's an insurance system. People count on it, and people somewhat above the poverty level. And a reduction in their purchasing power is serious too, not just for the very poor.
WOODRUFF: Who would be hurt the most, then?
Mr. BALL: Well, on average, as I say, there would be a cut in purchasing power on average, depending on what the CPI shows, somewhere around $17 to $20 a month.
WOODRUFF: So the people with the lowest incomes, you're saying.
Mr. BALL: Are hurt the most, obviously. And I'm not here to -- I wouldn't anywhere argue that very high-income people on Social Security, something might not be done. But they're a minority, a small minority.
WOODRUFF: You're here in Washington. Give us a quick guess on what do you think will happen. Do you think the Congress will try to do this or not?
Mr. BALL: I think it's too soon to tell. It looks to me like there's a good chance that the Senate Republicans are going tro propose this, but what happens next I don't know. What the President says sounds very good to me. I think he should have stuck to what he said in the first place.
WOODRUFF: Maybe we haven't heard the end of it. Robert Ball, thank you so much for being with us. Aspirin: Health Hazard?
MacNEIL: For our next focus section, we turn to the reported connection between aspirin and the rare but often fatal children's disease called Reye's syndrome. Yesterday the federal government urged the aspirin iindustry to voluntarily warn parents not to give their children aspirin for flu or other viral infections like chicken pox. This followed Iidisclosure of a pilot study by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The study found that of a group of children with the flu or chicken pox, those who took aspirin had 25 times the risk of developing Reye's syndrome. Reye's is a rare disease; only 190 cases were reported last year. But it is fatal about 25 of the time and can also cause brain damage. Jim?
LEHRER: The aspirin industry says there is no proof aspirin causes the disease. The Public Citizen Health Research Group, a consumer group co-founded by Ralph Nader, says it does. Dr. Sidney Wolfe is the group's director. He has been leading the campaign to require warning labels on children's aspirin.
What do you want the warning to say?
Dr. SIDNEY WOLFE: For three years we've asked the federal government to put a warning label on all aspirin-containing products that says, "Do not usethis product for treatment of chicken pox or flu in children 18 or younger," or 19 or younger now, because there are some older cases of Reye's syndrome. Unfortunately, due to pressure from the aspirin industry and other groups, this warning label has not been put on. We are renewing our effort to get a warning label on now.
LEHRER: Now, you think it should be mandatory, correct?
Dr. WOLFE: We think it should be mandatory, because if there's enough evidence for the government, for example, to say to the aspirin industry, "Please voluntarily put a warning label on," we think there's enough evidence to require it. Because there are a lot of companies marketing aspirin -- some of them may volunteer, some may not. When the government tried to get warning labels on food for salt content, half of the companies did, half didn't.
LEHRER: Do you have any feeling at this point as to how many aspirin companies will do this on their own?
Dr. WOLFE: I really have no way of knowing, but I think that the aspirin industry would take this much more seriouslry if Secretary Heckler not only said, "Please put it on now," but "We're also telling you that we're going to initiate regulations to require warning labels on all aspirin-containing packages." That would be much more serious.
LEHRER: There is no question in your mind of the connection between the two?
Dr. WOLFE: There reailly isn't. I think when the industry says that there's no proof that aspirin causes Reye's syndrome, it's like the tobacco industry saying there's no proof that smoking causes lung cancer. There are strong associations. In a statement that's just been released in the last hour or two by the Institute of Medicine they have said --
LEHRER: What's the Institute of Medicine?
Dr. WOLFE: The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academy of Sciences, and it was that group which oversaw the recent study done by the federal Centers for Disease Control. In a report that they have just made public, they have said, with respect to this new study, "The analysis of the pilot study data reveal a strong association between the Reye's syndrome and the use of aspirin. Considering data from previous studies also show an association of use of aspirin in Reye's syndrome, the committee recommends that steps should be taken to protect the public health before the full study is completed."
LEHRER: Now, how do you protect the public health? What else should be done besides labels being put on the bottles?
Dr. WOLFE: We've always advocated that a combination of things need to be done. Warning labels is one, and an important component. Public education campaigns --
LEHRER: Excuse me. Why is the warning label so important?
Dr. WOLFE: I think it's important because there are some people who don't necessarily read newspapers, watch television, listen to the radio, and some who can't afford a doctor. And for them, the only way they may know about the association between aspirin and Reye's and may protect their children is by reading it on a warning label. In fact, not only are there not warning labels, but as of now there are children's aspirin bottles on the shelf that say "recommended for flu."
LEHRER: That you can go out and buy now.
Dr. WOLFE: Right now. Bayer's aspirin for ichildren and St. Joseph's aspirin for children, two leading products of children's aspirin, have continued to say that this is recommended for flu "general rrelief for flu -- " in one case. And I think that's outrageours, and that's realliry miseducating parents to think that a label which the government hasn'tstopped them from putting on is accurate and safe.
LEHRER: All right, now. What else besides the labeling? I'm sorry, I interrupted you.
Dr. WOLFE: Well, the labeling and a public education campaign. We've always supported strong public education campaigns. We think that the public education campaign that's been done by the government really isn't strong enough and it's slightly inaccurate. It's not strong enough because they have said, well, there are two sides to the story. They have not come out and said -- I think hopefully they will now -- that aspirin and Reye's are strongly associated, you should not use aspirin for treating chicken pox or flu.
LEHRER: Period.
Dr. WOLFE: Period.
Dr. WOLFE: Certainly there are children who may have diseases that may require aspirin, and their pediatricians and parents I'm sure can work that out. We also think that the age that has been portrayed as the one that gets Reye's syndrome is inaccurate. The government has said under 16; there really are cases 16, 17, 18 and 19. I think it's safer, more accurate to say children 19 and under should not be using aspirin for chicken pox or flu.
LEHRER: Dr. Wolfe, thank you. Robin?
iMacNEIL: The aspirin industry and some doctors are not at all convinced that aspirin is really the culprit in Reye's syndrome. One of the skeptics is Neil Chayet, a Boston lawyer who fournded the Committee on the Care of Children to study the aspirin problem. The group, which has a membership of 1,200 physicians, received some funding from the aspirin industry. Mr. iChayet joins us from public station WGBH in Boston.
Mr. Chayet, does the CDC pilot study convince you that a warning on aspirin bottles is needed?
NEIL CHAYET: I wish that I could answer that question. The problem is, we have not seen the pilot study. It has not been made available to us, and to my knowledge the raw data of that study and what it is based on has not been released. And the disturbing part of this is that this is almost a replay of what has happened earlier. There was an earlier group of studies which proclaimed an association between aspirin and Reye's syndrome, and those particular studies, when it was looked at and the raw data were looked at, they were found to be very seriously flawed and very seriously wanting. In fact, there had been a proposal by former Secretary Schweiker to relabel aspirin, through the regulatory process relabel this drug. That was withdrawn when it was seen how seriously flawed those early studies were. And it just unfortunate that we could not have cooperated withal. We wanted to; we've asked that we be able to look at this new data and reach an opinion in concert with all parties, and for some reason -- and that is what is most disturbing -- we have not been able to have access to those raw data, iand that is what is very disturbing at the moment. So I cannot say to you -- I have seen the conclusory results, I have read the document which Sid Wolfe referred to, which is the Institute of Medicine. Unfortunately, we may have a replay of what happened earlier.
MacNEIL: Now, if the evidence is not conclusive, orr you haven't been able to read the raw data, is there not sufficient doubt that it would be safer to put warning labels on until the thing is -- until the evidence is conclusive and actually proved?
Mr. CHAYET: Well, I think there are a couple of answers to that. The first is that the early -- the pilot data and the pilot study was designed to indicate rwhether there were going toi be flaws or to remedy flaws that may be in the complete and larger study. That is a very important point. In fact, the document which Sid Wolfe was reading from contains the following sentence: "The pilot study data suffer from changes in methods during its conduct and the limitation of a small and geographically limited sample." It did find problems with the major study, and how one can use a pilot study and release it when it was designed not to show association or cause but to test the methods of the major study, that is something that is very difficult to understand. I think that is a major problem. It was contemplated by all parties, and as indicated in this document, that it was not to be released for this very problem, because it confounds the situation. As far as the question of doubt or what is more hazardous to do at this time, that is a very difficult question. For example, we found that the early releases of the government in relation to this matter, that is, the public education program, when people -- they were tested and people saw them, 40 of the people that saw those releases concluded that aspirin was the sole cause of Reye's syndrome and 45 concluded that if you didn't give your child aspirin you would prevent Reye's syndrome. We think that is very dangerous, because that can lead to the most dangerous thing with Reye's, which is delayed diagnosis. The problem is, in a nutshell, that there is no credible evidence that has yet seen the light of day which indicates that there is a hazard that the public should be warned of at this point.
MacNEIL: Well, do you think that parents should go on and doctors should advise parents to go on giving aspirin to children for flu and chicken pox?
Mr. CHAYET: I think that what should happen is that parents should use caution before giving any medication to a child with flu or chicken pox. Without any question, caution ishould be used before giving any medication. There is a controversy, there's no question about -- it. The question is, though, what lies behind that controversy, and all we want to do is to look at the raw data and see if the studies have been well done and if they are credible. That is all. It is inow admitted by almost everyone that those early studies were very seriously flawed. A new study was ordered. A pilot study was ordered to check the methods for the new study, -- and suddenly here we are again with the release of information that we are not permitted to see. I have spent the last two days trying to get the raw data to be able to talk with you so that the doctors could be able to express themselves, and it has simply been unavailable. And that is what is disappointing. It appears to be another precipitatous warning based on data that we cannot see. And if it is adequate, if it is honorable data, why can't we see it? That is what is troublesome.
MacNEIL: Dr. Wolfe, what do you say, what's your reply to that, that the pilot study is flawed, the procedures were changed, and that this appears to be another precipitate warning?
Dr. WOLFE: Well, there are flaws in all sorts of studies. People 20 years ago said that the studies showing a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer were flawed. It turned out that it did have some minor flaws, but they were valid enough to point out a very important kind of association. Here too there are some minor problems and there have been some changes, but the point is that a lot of credible doctors have seen the data -- doctors in the Food and Drug Administration, doctors in the Centers for Disease Control, and doctors on a panel brought in to look just at this data from the prestigious National Academy of Science. And they have all concluded that the studies show a strong association. In other words, there may be some minor flaws, but they are overweighed by the strong association. And even though they initially did not plan to make this public, the results of this study, they found that the findings were so strong that they really were forced to make them public in order to really help American parents protect their children.
MacNEIL: What do you say to that, Mr. Chayet, that the pilot study itself, finding a 25 apparent connection or causal effect --
Dr. WOLFE: Well, 25-fold. It's actually 25 times higher.
MacNEIL: Twenty-five times higher, I beg your pardon. Twenty-five times higher apparent causal effect -- felt that they just had to just publish this pilot study.
Mr. CHAYET: Well, again, the problems with the major study and also with the pilot study that Sid Wolfe refers to as some flaws, which we would all agree many studies, all studies have some flaws in them. The problem is that they go to the very heart of the study. The problem is that it's very difficult from the way the study was designed to tell exactly which came first, the medication or the disease. It's something that epidemiologists and scientists call the time zero question. In addition, how sick were the children, how appropriate were the controls? These of course are questions which we can only answer once we have seen the pilot study. However, the problems were of such a serious nature that it really remains to be seen as to whether they have been solved. Now, if they have been solved, and this is a reliable, appropriate study, then that is one thing. But if so, we have been involved with many, many physicians who have taken a real interest. We attended both of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science's meetings. We have tried to contribute in every way that we can to the total data in this situation. Why were we not able to work with all of those doctors mentioned by Sid Wolfe? Why were we not able to work with them and analyze this data when we have been intimately involved? The doctors that we are working with want only one thing: they want the truth, they warnt to know for their patients what is really happening. Why have we not been able to work in that regard and look at this material?
MacNEIL: First of all, before you come in, Dr. Wolfe, I want to ask Mr. Chayet another question, because it might occur to listeners to ask this, because I did say at the beginning that your group had some funding from the aspirin industry. If there were suspicion in some people's minds that you were just dragging your feet because you are funded by the aspirin industrry and you don't want to embarrass the industry financially, what would your reply be to that?
Mr. CHAYET: My reply is that we believe that the industry has an absolute obligation to find out what is going on. The question is, if you believe that your government, our government has made an error, where do you turn, who do you trust? And that's what this is really all about. And the doctors really feel that they have to find out what is happening to protect their patients, and they want to protect their patients. As far as the funding sources, once the government has gone out on a limb, the question becomes who will fund it. Will the press fund it? Should doctors or patients fund it? I submit that the industry has an absolute obligation to fund an arm's-length effort to find out what is going on. And that's what we are, and that is what is so frustrating, is that maybe we could all agree on this situation. Why cannot we have a different track than the one that ikeeps emerging, which is with Dr. Wolfe and leaks in Washington and sudden headlines? Why cannot it be a different process? I think one rof the major problems is, what this is all about is, what should the process of warning the public be?
MacNEIL: Well, Dr. Wolfe --
Dr. WOLFE: I'd like to respond.
Mr. CHAYET: I think the public -- if I could just make this last comment. I think the public is sick and tired of precipitous warnings which turn out not to be so. That can be very dangerous.
MacNEIL: Dr. Wolfe?
Dr. WOLFE: Yeah, I'd just like to make a couple of comments. We have looked at the relationship between giving aspirin and when the children develop Reye's syndrome. It turns out that children that ultimately develop Reye's syndrome, almost all of them were given aspirin well before there was any evidence at all to their parents or to themselves of Reye's syndrome. So they really were treated for the chicken pox or flu. I think the other thing is that Mr. Chayet and his friends in the aspirin industry were involved in a number of meetings with the government, invited by the government to make comments, which they did, on the protocol in August of 1983, August 1984. It just turns out that their comments really, by and large, weren't valid at all. They have been singing the same song for several years. They have not been locked out of the process; they have participated as much in critiquing the protocol as possible. And I think --
MacNEIL: Mr. Chayet?
Mr. CHAYET: I have to say that we were invited in and we have taken part, and we had hoped that we were listened to. It has been an excellent exchange of dialogue between us. The question I have is at the most important part of the situation, when the pilot study results are in and are going to be released, why would it not be appropriate for us to take a look and work with the same people that we had been working with? Why is it necessary that at the most important time, we rhave been excluded from the process? That is what is the problem.
MacNEIL: Gentlemen, obviously I thiink we're going to hear more about this, so thank you both for joining us this evening, Mr. Chayet in Boston and Dr. Wolfe in Washington. May I just say before we imove on that the producer of St. Joseph's aspirin products has just told us that it will cooperate with the request to put a warning on its labels, even though it remains unconvinced of any health risk to children from aspirin. Jim?
LEHRER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight, a Charles Krause report on the opposition to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the new argument over gun control as triggered by the so-called vigilante shooting in New York. Nicaragua: Opposition from Within
MacNEIL: Our next focus section is a documentary report on Nicaragua, where the Sandinrista leader Daniel Ortega was inaugurated president today in a ceremony attended by Cuban president Fidel Castrol. Ortega was elected last November in a vote criticized by the United States as a sham because the opposition could not freely take part. Today a crowd of about a thousand government officials, party leaders and foreign guests gathered for the ceremony on the shores of Lake Managua. Ortega became a revolutionary when he was a teenager. Soon after the Sandinistas seized power in 1979, he began to emerge as the central figure in the military junta, and eventually he was named coordinator. Then the directorate named him to be the Sandinista candidate for president. Our special correspondent Charles Krause has given us the following report on the state of the opposition now and the views of those who oppose the Sandinista definition of democracy.
CHARLES KRAUSiE [voice-over]: For Daniel Ortega's political opponents, last November's presidential election was a watershed. It's left the opposition divided and disheartened. convinced that the chance for Western-style democracy in Nicaragua is, in their words, a vanished hope.
XAVIER ZAVALA, opposition leader: We knew after five years of experience that the Sandinista Front did not have the political will to abandonOr the power, and they were calling for elections just to cover their image outside Nicaragua.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: Xavier Zavala publishes a social science journal and is a leader of the Democratic Coordinatora, Nicaragua's most important anti-Sandinista political icoalition.
Mr. ZAVALA: Nicaragua has a mask. Do you say mask?
KRAUSE: Uh-huh.
Mr. ZAVALA: Nicaragua has a mask. So there are two Nicaraguas, the Nicaragua of the mask, and that Nicaragua of the mask is receiving all sorts of praise and beautiful words from European politicians, from American politicians, from members of the press of Europe and members of the press of the United States. But the Nicaragua behind the mask, the real one, is causing so much suffering to the Nicaraguan people that you have thousands and thousands of Nicaraguan families abandoning the real Nicaragua. These elections as they were, they were a mask. It was very clear for us living inside, and the political parties, the democratic political parties, did not want to participate in that masquerade.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: Ortega's supporters claim he was elected president with more than 60 of the vote because most Nicaraguans support the Sandinista revolution. But there's no way to know if the opposition could have done better had there been a completely fair election. Ortega was able to campaign freely; opposition candidates were not. Arturo Cruz, for example. He worked closely with the Sandinistas for many years, first as a member of the government junta, then as ambassador to Washington. Disillusioned with the revolution, Cruz returned to Nicaragua last summer to run against Ortega as the democratic Coordinadoras' presidential candidate. But after several of his rallies were disrupted, Cruz pulled out of the election. Five opposition party candidates did remain on the ballot. But Cruz's decision not to run was crucial. It ended any chance the election would be viewed as credible outside Nicaragua.
ARTURO CRUZ, opposition leader: Trhe elections were nothing more than a perfunctory, ritualistic step to confirm the Sandinistas in power. There was not real contest. They believe in holding absolute power, and within that power, graciously make concessions to other members of society. But that will not work, that will not be functional. You see, totalitarians regard influence are like regard without the money. They just on. The same way that a miser holds on to gold coins.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: The Sandinistas claim Cruz did not withdraw because of lack of political freedom in Nicaragua as he says. They poiint to an article in The New York Times which reported that Cruz's political allies were taking orders from the CIA. Carlos Tunnerman is Nicaragua's ambassador to Washington.
CARLOS TUNNERMAN, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S. [through interpreter]: They knew that if Arturo Cruz participated or if the Coordinadora participated and lost these elections, that would give more legitimacy to the Sandinista front. So they took the decision to try to discredit the election by alleging that there weren't sufficient guarantees.
Mr. CRUZ: Not only I don't agree with Carlos Tunnerman, but I reject the allegation as false. In luncheons that I have with members of the administration on a personal basis, they felt that we, the Coordinadora, should go the elections regardless of conditions or not.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: Whether or not the CIA tried to discredit the election -- , the Reagan administration has provided arms, airplanes and covert training to counterrevolutionary guerrillas trying to overthrow the Sandinistas. In Washington, Cruz has urged Congress to renew financial aid for the contras. Inside Nicaragua, opposition leaders claim they have no direct ties to the guerrillas. But Enrique Bollanos, head of Nicaragua's most powerful private business association, told us the contras have helped the political opposition.
ENRIQUE BOLLANOS, opposition businessman: That's a coincidencie. I think that if you look at the facts, that ever since the contra has been operating, we found more room to maneuver insidie. It's nort anythinig that we planned or anybody planned, but the Sandinistas felt that the contra is more dangerous, and they paid more attention to the contra than they do pay attention to us, by coincidence.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: The opposition claims its leaders have been persecuted. The country's only opposition newspaper, La Prensa, is heavily censored. But Nicaragua is not El Salvador or Cuba. There's no evidence the Sandinistas have systematically jailed or tortured leaders of the political opposition. Opposition leaders concede their problems did not begin with the Sandinistas. Nicaragua has no tradition of democracy. For 50 years the country was ruled by the Somoza family, right-wing dictators backed by the United States. They too held elections where the outcome was never in doubt.
[on camera] When the Somozas were overthrown in 1979, the Sandinistas promised a revolution which respected political pluralism, private property, free labor unions and a free press. Ambassador Tunnerman says the November elections demonstrated his government's continuing commitment to those goals. But democracy is a word with many definitions. The Sandinistas now speak of people's democracy.
Amb. TUNNERMAN [through interpreter]: When we speak of democracy, we mean a clean participation of the people, participatory government in which the people have rtheir voice and are able to make their views known through a series of state organizations.
KRAUSrE: Do you believe the Sandinistas are interested in the pluralistic political system that they say they're interested in?
Mr. BOLLANOS: No. They have a concept of pluralism which is completely different from mine. For them pluralism is a universal supremacy of the Sandinista ruling party throughout the state and civic society.
KRAUSE: Do you think the Sandinistas are interested in the kind of Western-style democracy which you are talking about?
Mr. BOLLANOS: We have said for five and a half years now that since they are communists, Marxist-Leninists -- now, they have said it -- their goal is one party, one labor union, one voice, the state. That's their goal.
Amb. TUNNERMAN [through interpreter]: What happens in Nicaragua will be the product of the experience and the history of Nicaragua. Political models can't be transplanted. There are no copies of political models, and if copies are made, the result is disaster.
KRAUSE: Will anything change on January 10th?
Mr. BOLLANOS: Nothing. We'll still have the same executive power, which is Daniel. I don't think much will change. Of course, it could change for the worse. Ever since November 4th, the election day, things have gotten tougher.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: The opposition will have a minority voice in the country's new national assembly. But President Ortega and eight other Sandinista commandantes will continue to hold real power in Nicaragua. Over the next few months the opposition, outmaneuvered and discouraged, will watch closely for the answer to one important question: will the Sandinistas ifind a way to reconcile their revolution with the opposition's demand for political freedom? Can Guns Curb Crime?
LEHRER: Finally tonight, a focus segment on guns and gun control. Iti's an old argument with a fresh angle, so provided by Bernhard Goetz, the man they call the subway vigilante, the man who allegedly shot four teenagers who allegedly harassed him in a Manhattan subway last month. One of the four lapsed into a coma yesterday and is in critical condition. Goetz is free on a $50,000 bond, but faces charges of iattempted murder, among other possibilities. The case has become a big deal, as we all know. President Reagan was even asked about it at his last night's news conference. Today another news conference in New York turned the focus to New York state's relatively strict gun control laws, which Goetz violated by simply having the handgun he allegedly fired at the four teenagers. An official of the National Rifle Association said the New York law is too restricting.
RICHARD FELDMAN, National Rifle Association: The National Rifle Association in general supports the right of citizens to obtain firearms lawfully. We support the rule of law. And you folks in the media, you have an opportunity here to get a message out to the criminals. That message is that armed citizens prevent crime. Criminals make a habit, make an effort, rather, to avoid armed citizens. The greatest single deterrent to crime is an armed citizenry.
LEHRER: The National Rifle Association is the nation's chief lobbying organization for less gun control. The executive director of its Institute for Legislative Action is Warren Cassidy. With him tonight is his major opposite number, Michael Beard, president of the National Coalition to Ban Handguns, which lobbies the other way.
That's a strong statement, that armed citizens prevent crimes. What's the data to support that?
WARREN CASSIDY: Oh, I think it's a true statement, Jim. I think the latest studies done by academia prove really beyond a shadow of a doubt that the criminal is not looking for confrontation when he's about to commit a crime, particularly the burglars. They will stay away from homes that are armed and people that are armed. And I think there is enough backup material to prove that point. What we are attempting to do in New York City today is to start a public awareness of the laws as they exist and the hypocrisy with which they're enforced or not enforced -- attempting to loosen up laws so that self-defense, which has finally been c -- onceded by all parties to be a legitimate right, now may be exercised by people in New York.
LEHRER: But only if they have a gun.
Mr. CASSIDY: No, we're not -- the NRA has neverr advocated that people should or must have guns. If people prefer Doberman pinschers or German shepherds or prefer to stay and hide in their apartments or condominiums, that is their business. But we believe that the law-abiding citizen has theright and the choice to select the method by which he or she defends their lives.
LEHRER: Your reaction to that, sir?
MICHAEL BEARD: Well, Jim, the armed citizen with handguns does not prevent crime. In fact, a study done by the Justice Department showed that last year only 2 of all incidents in which a criminal assaulted a private citizen did the citizen have any kind of arms at all -- rifles, shotguns, handguns, knives, any type of defense. It's simply not true that you can defend yourself with a handgun.
LEHRER: Now, why is that not so?
Mr. BEARD: Well, it's simply not an effective way of protecting yourself. If you stop and think of all the incidences in which the person is confronted with the kind of crime we fear, and you realize that in most cases the private citizen is not able to defend himself or herself. And I think we have to point out that when you're talking about the deaths, the accidents and the injuries that occur from handguns, only a very small percentage of them are criminally related. Close to 75 of the homicides in our society have nothing to do with crime whatsoever. They're people who are acquainted with one another, shooting each other. Half of the deaths every year -- there are 22,000 deaths a yeiar from handguns in the United States. Half of those are people that shoot themselves with their own handguns.
LEHRER: What about Mr. Cassidy's point that criminals stay away from people if they know they're armed?
Mr. BEARD: Well, first of all, they don't know if they're armed, and secondly, handguns are probably one of the most stolen items in our country. I've talked tio a number of people in jail for burgir why he broke in, he said, "If you were looking for a gun in Washington, where would you go?"
LEHRER: Mr. Cassidy?
Mr. CASSIDY: Which do you want me to rebut, Jim? My opponent has --
LEHRER: Well, let's take the last one and work back. I mean, the point of guns. First of all, he says, how does a criminal even know if anybody's armed or not, and that most of guns -- well, you heard what he said, the last point.
Mr. CASSIDY: I think one of the reasons the criminal knows and one of the reasons the crime rates are so high in cities such as New York and other population centers is because the criminal knows that the law has made it so difficult for the law-abiding to defend themselves. You find the crime rates in areas of the West and Kansas and Texas, for example, and other areas very low. They know that the average individual out there may have a gun in his pickup truck or is armed. It's an accepted way of life. And where that is known, the crime rates are down.
LEHRER: Is it your position that if New York were to reduce or lessen its control of guns and there were more guns were made available to the ordinary citizen in New York there would be less crime?
Mr. CASSIDY: There is no question about that, and I believe that can be supported statistically.
Mr. BEARD: I strongly believe that if we have more handguns in our society -- and I stress, we're talking about handguns, not all guns but handguns -- if we had more handguns we would have more theft, more accident, more injuries of our society. We're going to lose a lot of our civil rights because we're -- going to be more concerned about protecting ourselves against the so-called law-abiding citizens who are arming themselves. And if we allow people to shoot down, take on their own vigilante approaches to our society, we're going to have an even worse society. We know that handguns give us the power of life over death, but they do not give us the right to be judge and jury.
Mr. CASSIDY: Jim, I think this is why this particular case that you mentioned at the beginning of the show has proven to be a wellspring, if you will, or almost a referenda on the attitudes of the people of the United States. It is my opinion and the opinion of others that the reason Goetz is getting so much support in a situation that has not been adjudicated and witnesses have not come forward is because of the manner in which the law -- Mayor Koch, who was on your show on this issue -- have attacked what the man who may be the victim, they've already -- they're bringing charges against him. Has anybody brought any charges against the four perpetrators? They're made out to be choirboys who were sort of wandering through the subway soliciting alms for the poor. And anyone who has read -- anyone who has ridden, rather, in the New York subway knows that simply is not true. And I think the American public is saying finally the hare turned around and bit the hounds. That's why the support is so general and so deep.
LEHRER: He's right about that, isn't he?
Mr. BEARD: Oh, yes, I think that's very clear that many people -- we all want to see the victims, and those of us who are would-be victims, to be able to defend ourselves. It's not an issue of self-defense; it's an issue of whether we're going to have a safer society.
LEHRER: Well, he says it is an issue of self-defense.
Mr. BEARD: Well, I think he's very clearly wrong, because if we had more handguns in our society, does anybody really believe -- I can't believe that Mr. Cassidy believes we're going to have a safer society if anybody riding the subways is carrying a handgun.
LEHRER: Well, you believe that, right?
Mr. CASSIDY: I don't believe anybody riding the subways will have a handgun. [TEXT ILLEGIBLE] armed. I have some statistics for New York -- and I think statistics can be dangerous -- but last year, for example, 84,000 robberies committed, 7,000 convictions -- these are the 1983 statistics. Twenty-seven thousand reported assaults, and 727 ended in conviction. Last year, Jim, on the New York subways 12,000 felonious assaults and approximately 120 cleared by arrest. Now, where is the police officer protecting?
Mr. BEARD: And we've been selling some two and a half million handguns a year in our society for the last 15 to 20 years. And are we any safer? Is the society any better because those two and a half million handguns are added every year? Are the subways of New York any safer? I don't think they are; I don't think anybody really believes they are.
LEHRER: What do you think would be the impact if Mr. Cassidy and his group had their way and these guns were more available to the average citizen?
Mr. BEARD: I think more teenagers would die in our society. I think we would have more accidents.
LEHRER: Why would more teenagers die?
Mr. BEARD: Well, because it's what's happening. There's a tremendous increase in the United States now in teenage suicides with handguns. A large percentage of violent crime in our society is done by people under the age of 25.
LEHRER: Let's stop right there. He's right about that, isn't he, Mr. Cassidy?
Mr. CASSIDY: Oh, I don't think so, Jim. Would any psychiatrist -- and certainly that profession is one that we can look upon with a little sense of wonder and awe at times -- does anyone pretend that it's the instrument that causes the suicide?
Mr. BEARD: That's the very reason that the American Psychiatric Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Association on Suicidology are all members of the National Coalition to Ban Handguns. Because their members have to deal daily with the trauma of handguns in our society, and they see a direct link between the easy availability of handguns and accidents, suicides and homicides.
LEHRER: You were giving me your list of impact. Go to the next one. What else do you think is going to happen?
Mr. BEARD: Well, I think we are going to lose a lot of our civil rights.
LEHRER: Now, how would we do that?
Mr. BEARD: Well, as people are willing to allow -- well, first of all, the very first thing that we have, you know, is that we are talking about now in our schools instituting locker-to-locker searches. I was just in Detroit, where they're talking about doing that because 217 kids have been shot in this academic year. We already have to --
LEHRER: And you say there'd be more of that because more guns would be -- now, that's right, isn't it, Mr. Cassidy?
Mr. CASSIDY: Oh, I think just the opposite, Jim. The civil rights of the law-abiding gun owner have been so destroyed and masticated over the years. Proponents and friends of my opponent here are already advocating electronic searches and seizures. They're advocating putting the electronic detection devices that you go through on an airplane. The professors who were here at WETA a few weeks ago on a program that they did are talking about having them on busy street corners. Now, where does your civil rights, where does prior restraint cease as it relates to us? And this again is why the citizen in New York is rebelling, I think, against the standard accepted wisdom that my opponent here is speaking of.
Mr. BEARD: I think exactly the kind of things we fear are going to happen because of the easy availability of handguns in our society.
LEHRER: We have to go. Mr. Beard, Mr. Cassidy, thank you both very much.
Mr. CASSIDY: Thank you, Jim.
LEHRER: Robin?
MacNEIL: Once again the main stories of the day. There were more changes in the Reagan administration, including the nominations of Donald Hodel as Secretary of the Interior and William Bennett as Secretary of Education.
Secretary of State Shultz urged Congress to support the new arms talks with the Soviet Union.
And Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was inaugurated as president of Nicaragua.
Good night, Jim.
LEHRER: Good night, Robin. And we'll see you tomorrow night. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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This episode of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour covers four major headlines: an analysis of the impact on cutting the cost of living increase in American Social Security, a debate on the reported connection between aspirin and Reyes Syndrome, a documentary report on the opposition of new Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega, and another debate on gun control laws in the state of New York.
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