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Intro ROBERT MacNEIL: Good evening. Leading the news this Thursday, budget negotiators met again without agreement, while President Reagan said, ''Now is the time for final action. '' House Republicans said they don't want Mikhail Gorbachev to address Congress. The National Organization for Women denounced Supreme Court nominee Anthony Kennedy. We'll have details in our news summary in a moment. Judy Woodruff is in Washington tonight. Judy? JUDY WOODRUFF: After the news summary we go first to the plane crash in Denver this week and a newsmaker interview with James Burnett of the National Transportation Safety Board. Then, the debate over whether to ban smoking on some airline flights. Next, a look at a scientist who argues against banning chemicals that cause cancer. Finally, Jim Lehrer talks with a man who has one of the world's greatest private sculpture collections. News Summary MacNEIL: The White House said today there was good chance of agreement today on a package to reduce the federal budget deficit, but Administration and congressional teams met for the 19th time without a deal. There was some talk of extending tomorrow's deadline when the Gramm Rudman Hollings law mandates across the board budget cuts, known as sequestration, of $23 billion. But one of the authors of that law, Republican Senator Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, opposed that.
WARREN RUDMAN, (R) New Hampshire: To send a signal of an extension of GRH, when the law has built into it a program that anticipates this kind of deadlock would be absolutely, in my view, disastrous. Now, let me say that I think that if we end up finally with a sequester, that sends a wrong signal also. It sends a signal this government cannot govern. MacNEIL: Congressional negotiators said that if a budget accord was reached, there would be a quick effort to pass legislation to postpone the sequestration to give congressional committees more time to implement the budget deal. But one member of the negotiating team, Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon, said this evening that they were on the verge of an agreement he considered worse than mandatory sequestration. He said, ''I think the markets and the press, after examining this, will find the agreement to be a joke. WOODRUFF: President Reagan tried to put a little public pressure on the budget negotiators today. In a speech at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the President called on the team of bargainers from Congress and from his own administration to send the right signal at the right time to Wall Street.
Pres. RONALD REAGAN: While the final package may not be all that I might want, it will not be all that Congress wants either. But it is vital that the negotiators complete their work now. Any agreement that comes from these sessions probably will not be the final word on reducing the federal budget deficit. But it will be the right signal at the right time and will show our determination to work together to solve this problem. WOODRUFF: The continuing failure to reach a budget agreement in Washington apparently contributed to a down day on Wall Street. At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was down almost 44 points, to 1895. 39. MacNEIL: Opposition mounted among Republican congressmen today to a plan to have Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev address a joint session of Congress. The appearance was arranged two days ago, reportedly at the request of the White House. Yesterday, 75 members, most of them Republicans, signed a letter urging President Reagan to find another forum. House Republican Leader Bob Michel said today it was a terrible mistake. Congressmen Jack Kemp called it a ''scandalous travesty. '' Last night and today, Republican members protested from the floor. One of them was Congressman Robert Walker of Pennsylvania.
Rep. ROBERT WALKER, (R) PA: When the one man who represents a system that is the greatest threat on earth to human freedom, asks us to honor him, what will be our response? I intend to protest. Obviously, some of the liberals do not. MacNEIL: Administration and diplomatic sources told the Associated Press that Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze will hold an unscheduled meeting in Geneva next week to try and smooth the way for a successful U. S. /Soviet summit. In Washington, Attorney General Edwin Meese said that calls for his resignation over the Iran contra affair were silly. Reacting to the official report by the Iran contra Select Committees criticizing the investigation he conducted, Meese called it a rehash of earlier material. Yesterday, the day the report was issued, Meese spent more than four hours before a federal grand jury, answering questions about his role in uncovering the affair. The jury is hearing evidence in a criminal investigation being conducted by the Independent Counsel. WOODRUFF: The first major opposition to surface to the nomination of Judge Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court came today from the National Organization for Women. NOW President Molly Yard held a news conference and called Kennedy a ''disaster on women's issues. '' She said he is a sexist, unwilling to help women in the struggle for equality.
MOLLY YARD, National Organization for Women: We, having looked at the court cases and looked at his record as an individual, feel very strongly that he must not be confirmed for the Supreme Court, and we will fight with all our energy to keep his nomination from being confirmed. Anyone who does not recognize the rights of women, and that women should stand equally with men under the law, those people are unacceptable. So Kennedy is as unacceptable as Bork. WOODRUFF: There was no word on Kennedy's reaction as he made the rounds again today of the offices of several senators on the judiciary committee, including Democrat Howell Heflin and Republican Arlen Specter. Committee Chairman, Joseph Biden, said today the confirmation hearings will most likely begin around January 20 and last only three to five days. MacNEIL: In Britain, the government announced an official investigation into the London subway fire that killed at least 30 people and injured some 80 others. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher informed Parliament of the inquiry after visiting King's Cross Station, the scene of last night's disaster. Peter Mayne of the BBC has the report.
PETER MAYNE, BBC: The Prime Minister met some of the firefighters and policemen who were on duty at the height of the blaze. They took her down into the burnt out booking hall of the tube station so she could see for herself the extent of the damage. And they pointed out the escalator where it's thought the fire started. On the bottom of the escalator, firemen explained how the blaze spread quickly. Normally, these escalators leading up to the booking hall would be packed with homeward bound commuters. Tonight, there's an eerie silence, broken only by the occasional hammering of workmen clearing debris. Still in their racks, fire extinguishers, which no one had the time to use. MacNEIL: In Washington, U. S. Roman Catholic bishops today ended their annual meeting with a call for the Reagan Administration to support the current Central American peace plan. The bishops who passed the declaration by voice vote called U. S. support of the Nicaraguan contras a morally flawed policy. WOODRUFF: A new study of pregnant women in New York City showed a high incidence of infection with the AIDS virus. The report concluded that up to one in every 50 pregnant women in the nation's inner cities may be AIDS carriers. The author of the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says that doctors and health care workers may not be aware of the infection when delivering babies, and should take steps to protect themselves and the babies. That wraps up our summary of the day's news. Just ahead on the NewsHour, the latest on the Denver plane crash, the debate over smoking on airplanes, a scientist who says, ''Don't ban cancer causing chemicals,'' and a breathtaking sculpture collection. James Burnett Interview MacNEIL: First tonight, the Continental Airlines crash and a newsmaker interview with Jim Burnett, who's heading the government's investigation. Twenty eight people died when Flight 1713 flipped over seconds after taking off in a snowstorm from Denver's Stapleton Airport. We'll talk to Mr. Burnett after an update from correspondent Elizabeth Brackett in Denver.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: A pilot's hat, shattered windows, grim reminders of Flight 1713. The surprisingly large pieces of wreckage now pulled off the runway and carefully reassembled in this cavernous airport hangar in Denver. Investigators documenting and measuring the interior and exterior of the battered airplane. JAMES BURNETT, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board: -- to see what kind of forces were placed upon those portions in order to see if that had any relevance to what happened to the airplane.
BRACKETT: But it was the experience of the crew as well as the performance of the plane that is being questioned today. Continental says it was the 26 year old copilot who was at the control, a man who had been hired from a commuter airline four months ago, and had one month experience in the DC 9. Burnett says he cannot confirm who was at the controls, but even the pilot had only 198 hours in the DC 9, inexperience that could have made a difference because of the bad weather the night of the crash. MacNEIL: For more on the crash, we turn to Jim Burnett, Chairman of theNational Transportation Safety Board. I talked with him a short time ago in Denver. Mr. Burnett, on Tuesday, when you were on this program, you told us that the wing of the DC 9 is particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of ice and snow. What else have you found out since then about ice on the wings? JAMES BURNETT, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board: Well, I think I need to correct that, Robin. The wing of this particular series, which was the DC 9 10, is certainly susceptible, because it is a slick wing; it has no leading edge slat. This is the oldest model of the DC 9, the oldest series. And the later series DC 9's have leading edge slats. MacNEIL: So what have you found out since then about this particular plane and ice on the wing? Mr. BURNETT: Well, we know that it was deiced. We have at least one witness who was a pilot who thought it had a good deicing. However, we have some witness interviews now, interviews of surviving passengers who have told us that they could see the wing at the time of takeoff, and there were accumulations of ice or snow on the wing. MacNEIL: The manufacturers of this plane, this model of this plane, issued a special warning about ice, possible ice conditions on the wing -- do the voice recordings from the cockpit show that the pilots were aware of this? Mr. BURNETT: Robin, it's Safety Board procedure not to talk about oral communications within the cockpit that we obtain through the cockpit voice recorder. But I have previously stated that there's nothing really remarkable about those conversations. MacNEIL: There is none. Well, is there anything to lead you to believe that Continental or the pilots didn't know that they had to be particularly careful in deicing this kind of wing? Mr. BURNETT: We are only aware of the letter that McDonnell Douglas transmitted -- to what extent Continental considered that in their operation has not yet been determined. MacNEIL: This model plane is 21 years old, and clearly vulnerable in certain particular kinds of weather. Should it be flying in that kind of weather? Mr. BURNETT: We have no indication that it should not be. You have to remember that no aircraft, whether it be this particular model or any other model of aircraft should be flying with ice and snow on the wings. MacNEIL: I see. There have been reports that the Air Traffic Controllers, ground controllers, lost contact with the plane during that period before it was cleared for takeoff. What can you tell us about that? Mr. BURNETT: Well, it wasn't that they lost contact. This plane left the gate and taxied to the deicing pad without requesting taxi clearance. Now, the control tower, because of visibility conditions that night, could not see to the deicing pad. And therefore, had no reason to believe that this aircraft was not still at the gate. When the aircraft crew requested permission from Air Traffic Control to taxi to the takeoff run up area, they were given clearance to taxi to the deicing pad, because the air traffic control did not know -- believed that they were still at the gate. So when they arrived at the takeoff point, air traffic control did not know they were there, and did not issue them, readily issue them a clearance. MacNEIL: Well, what's the significance of that? Mr. BURNETT: Well, there was at least one air -- in fact, there was one aircraft that was behind them in line for takeoff that was given a clearance for takeoff and taxied around them and took off. And this may have exposed them to the weather for two additional minutes. MacNEIL: I see. You think the time they were exposed to the weather from their deicing may be a factor? Mr. BURNETT: Well, it's something that we have to determine that has not been determined at this point. MacNEIL: I see. Continental said today at its press conference that it was also being investigated that there may have been weight turbulence from a Delta jet landing on an adjacent runway. Is that something the NSB is looking into? Mr. BURNETT: Yes, we are looking into it, and we frequently do that in adjacent accident investigations. MacNEIL: I mean, is this now one of the factors that you are considering? Mr. BURNETT: Well, we have dozens, scores of factors that we are considering, and it's one of them. MacNEIL: I see. So this is not a factor that has a particular emphasis, or significance, at the moment? Mr. BURNETT: No, but our investigation is designed not to place particular significance on various factors. To collect all of the evidence on every aspect of the flight and the environmental factors that may have affected it, rather than trying to choose among them and focusing on certain areas. MacNEIL: Continental says that it was the copilot who was at the controls of the plane during takeoff. Is it standard procedure for the less experienced pilot in the cockpit to be at the controls in bad weather in a takeoff? Mr. BURNETT: Well, Robin, that's Continental's statement, that's not something that the Safety Board feels comfortable with at this point. We know that the captain of this flight was the one who was handling the radio communications, and ordinarily, the captain, the nonflying captain, nonflying pilot, excuse me, will be the one who is handling radio communications. But the captain has the right to take over the flight at any time. So the Safety Board is not comfortable at this point in saying who was flying the aircraft. We also know from -- MacNEIL: What do you mean you're not comfortable? You don't know, is that it? Mr. BURNETT: That's right, we don't know. MacNEIL: How would Continental know? If you don't know? Mr. BURNETT: Well, I don't know how they know. MacNEIL: I see. The pilot had five months' experience on this particular plane, and the copilot had 36 l/2 hours on this particular plane. Is that an unusually low amount of experience on a big jet airliner for a major airline? Mr. BURNETT: We have not characterized the experience level of either member of the crew. We had reported the facts as to the kind of experience they had. The captain had 12,000 of flight time, had been working from -- oh, for many years with Continental, first as a flight engineer and later as a second officer flying 727's, returned after having gone out on strike to do basically flight engineer service, and had very recently become first a first officer on DC 9's and then later upgraded to captain. He had about 198 hours of flight time on the DC 9, and only about 33 hours as captain. MacNEIL: You've testified to Congress that you're concerned about a growing shortage of pilots, of experienced pilots. What is causing that shortage? Mr. BURNETT: Well, there's been a great increase and demand for aviation services, which requires more pilots. MacNEIL: Are we beginning to see, besides crowded schedules and complaints about overtaxed air traffic controllers, are we beginning to see negative effects of deregulation with more use of older aircraft and more use of less experienced pilots? Mr. BURNETT: Well,certainly we've been concerned about the less experienced pilot issue in the commuter industry. And our expectation is that with the number of pilots we projected are going to have to be obtained by the air carrier industry, the major air carriers, that we could have a lessening of the overall experience level. But I want to emphasize that we have no reason right now to believe that that is necessarily a factor in this accidd t. MacNEIL: Well, Mr. Burnett, thank you. WOODRUFF: Still ahead on the NewsHour, the debate over smoking in airplanes, a scientist who has gone against the grain, and one man's collection of sculpture. Second Hand Smoke- WOODRUFF: Next tonight, a debate over smoking. Today, millions of Americans were asked to put out their cigarettes for the day in observance of the eleventh annual Great American Smoke out. Some smokers aren't being given a choice on whether or not to light up, however, as more and more state and local governments consider ways to restrict public smoking. One such restriction that Congress is considering is a partial ban on smoking in airplanes. In a moment we will debate the merit of that proposal. But first, we hear from correspondent Tom Bearden, who recently asked some travelers through Denver what they thought.
TOM BEARDEN: Denver's Stapleton International Airport has long confined smokers to specially marked areas, but the regulation is widely ignored. It would be harder for smokers to ignore some of the proposed laws that would ban smoking inflight. One calls for a thousand dollar fine. When we asked smokers what they thought of the idea, the reaction was mixed. BARBARA REMINGTON: Well, we should enjoy our smoke, so I guess I should have the right to enjoy it if I want to. CLAUDINE STOGNER: I really think -- I smoke occasionally, but I don't think you should -- I think you could wait two hours if you had to.
BEARDEN: But reaction among the nonsmokers we talked to was unanimous. MAUREEN ROODE: I think it's a wonderful idea, because just recently we were held up in an airport, and my husband has asthmatic problems, and the smoke really bothered him. And when we got back, he's now been under heavy medications to clear this all up, strictly from the smoking. So I'm all for it. BEARDEN: What about the smokers who say that this is something they do and they should have a right to do it? Ms. ROODE: Well, let me put it this way -- they ban people from spitting because it gives up diseases, and that's how I feel about smoking. WALTER CLODFELTER: If you can't go for two hours without a smoke, you're in really bad trouble. BEARDEN: Smokers would argue that they're paying the same price for a ticket you are, and they should have the right to smoke. What would you say to them? Mr. CLODFELTER: Well, I won't argue that they're paying the same fare that we are. But I don't know if that gives them the right to inflict their habit on somebody else. Mrs. WALTER CLODFELTER: Well, I am allergic to it. I really am. And I just cannot stand it, because if I'm in an atmosphere where there is smoke, I have to get up and leave because I cannot breathe. And I think a lot of people that do smoke, you know, they aren't conscious that this is really a health problem with a lot of other people. They have always done this, and it's not that they're inconsiderate, they just don't think about it.
BEARDEN: Supporters of the ban point to studies that indicate health risks to nonsmokers breathing second hand smoke, while the tobacco industry disputes those findings. If there is a risk, flight crews are more vulnerable than most, simply because they fly more. Flight Attendant LeeAnn Liedtke supports a ban, even though she is a smoker. LEEANN LIEDTKE: Smoking, even though it's in the back of the aircraft, also filters throughout the airplane, and it's very dangerous because of all the fuel that's on an aircraft, also. BEARDEN: But you smoke yourself. Many smokers say it should be a right, that they should have to smoke inflight. Ms. LIEDTKE: I don't think under two hours that it's necessary. The flight goes by so fast anyway. I think out of consideration for nonsmokers it should be banned. BEARDEN: There are some studies that say that flight attendants like yourself are at particular risk because you are confined that way. Ms. LIEDTKE: That's correct. People are inhaling the smoke on the aircraft, no matter if they're smoking or not. Or even where they're seated, makes no difference.
BEARDEN: Flight attendant Michelle Carter finds it tough to work under current conditions. MICHELLE CARTER: It's very uncomfortable. We work back in it, and if you work on a long flight, and you're working in that smoke, it can really bother your eyes, and it's just really uncomfortable. WOODRUFF: In July, the House of Representatives voted to ban smoking on all domestic flights of two hours or less. Last month, the Senate passed a two year trial ban on flights of 90 minutes or less. The differences will be worked out in an upcoming conference. With us now are the author of the Senate bill, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and a chief opponent, Walker Merryman of the Tobacco Institute, the industry's main trade group. Mr. Merryman, what's wrong with asking people not to smoke for an hour or two? That's not such a terribly long time, is it? WALKER MERRYMAN, Tobacco Institute: Well, you're certainly right about that. People can go without smoking if they so choose for that period of time. I think, however, that if you look at what the Department of Transportation's complaint record is with respect to what people are talking about on airlines, what they don't like, you'll find smoking in about ninth place. They're more concerned about their baggage, their fares, airline safety. The Airlines Pilots Association polled earlier this year said that 87% of the public believes that the present system is fair to smokers and nonsmokers. WOODRUFF: What about that, Senator Lautenberg? Sen. FRANK LAUTENBERG, (D) New Jersey: I can't judge that survey. I will tell you this, that there are other surveys, polls run by the AMA that says that 80% of the physicians polled believe there should be a ban on smoking, 67% of the ordinary passengers believe that there should be a ban on smoking in aircraft, and among smokers, 53% of smoking physicians believe there should be a ban on smoking. Overall, there is overwhelming revulsion against having to inhale someone else's cigarette smoke in an airplane. It's tight quarters, you can't open up a window at 30,000 feet. And if, as Mr. Merryman suggests, it's not too much of a burden, an hour and a half, or two hours, to be without a cigarette, then we ought to go ahead and do this to your program and see what happens. WOODRUFF: What about that, Mr. Merryman? I mean, again, the original question -- it's not such a long time to ask somebody to give up a cigarette for an hour or two, is it? Mr. MERRYMAN: No, I don't think it is necessarily. However, I do believe that people who fly are generally satisfied with the present system of smoking and non smoking sections. The Department of Transportation complaint record shows that, the Airline Pilots Association opinion poll shows that. And I don't see any reason for changing the present setup. I think also that it's very clear that the scientific evidence that's been done inside airline cabins won't support any belief that smoking in those cabins is going to be a health hazard to non smoking passengers or flight crew. WOODRUFF: Do you buy that? Sen. LAUTENBERG: No, I don't. The Surgeon General has said in a report very recently issued that separating smokers from nonsmokers on an airplane may reduce the exposure, but it doesn't eliminate it. They further say that involuntary smoking is a cause of disease, coughing, lung cancer. They say further that it's evidenced by the fact that children who live in smoking homes often have pulmonary, respiratory problems, develop less mature lungs in smoking households, than they do in non smoking households. And when you confine that to an airplane cabin, the problems get much worse. The National Research Council Division of the Academy of Sciences confirmed that. WOODRUFF: That's pretty devastating evidence, isn't it? Mr. MERRYMAN: Well, I think that if you look at studies that have been done on aircraft, because that's really what we're talking about, it's what's been done on aircraft, you'll find three. One published last month in an environmental journal. And they do not show that the nonsmoker's exposure is great. They show, for example, in the most recent research, that a nonsmoker would have to fly eight consecutive New York to Tokyo roundtrips in order to be exposed to the equivalent of one cigarette. You can't compare that, I don't believe, to what may be the exposure at home, for example, or in other places. Because an airline cabin is so much different. WOODRUFF: Well, doesn't he have a point about that? Sen. LAUTENBERG: Well, not really, because you have crews exposed. Mr. Merryman cites the pilots' view. Ask airline crews, see what they say. We've had reports from three union groups pleading with us to stop smoking. The crew -- you heard the young stewardess here just now say though she's a smoker she wishes that they could ban it in the cabin. And people complain about irritation, they complain about allergies, they complain about all kinds of exposure, and it's time, I think, to say, ''Look, let's stop challenging studies. '' Fifty thousand were done, and yet the people in the tobacco industry are unwilling to say there's one of them that's definitive. Once and for all, people are asking for this. I think it's a small give up for the smokers, frankly. We don't want to change their lifestyle. What we want to do is protect those who smoke involuntarily. WOODRUFF: Mr. Merryman, you're not saying there's no hazard, are you, from secondary smoke from inhaling the smoke from other people's cigarettes? Mr. MERRYMAN: What I'm saying, and what's recognized by the scientific community is that there have been three -- not 50,000 -- there have been three studies done on airlines to determine what the nonsmoker's exposure is. Those studies, and presumably, we hope, one that the Department of Transportation will do, because they've said over and over again, don't believe that the present state of scientific knowledge is enough to ban smoking, they want to do the research, and we want to see it done -- those studies do not show that the exposure that the nonsmoker gets is a hazard to that individual's health. And I also have to wonder when this ban goes into effect, if it does, who's going to be responsible for enforcing it. I don't think the flight attendants have really addressed that. I don't think that they want to enforce it either. WOODRUFF: What about that, senator, who will enforce it? Sen. LAUTENBERG: Well, we've been very careful with the way we've drawn this legislation. We're asking that ground personnel be used to enforce the citation that the airline crews will report. They're not going to get involved, they're not going to walk up to someone -- they will tell them, ''You're not allowed to smoke on this aircraft,'' period. And if someone violates those rules and goes into the lavatory and smokes there illegally, they'll be reported to the ground, and on the ground we'll have security personnel, either federal marshalls or airport security personnel, issue the citation. The system is very simple to work. WOODRUFF: What about the other problem that's been raised -- and that is if somebody really loves to smoke and they're asked not to for a couple of hours, they may go into the bathroom on the plane, and light up, and maybe cause a fire. Sen. LAUTENBERG: Well, there are smoke detectors in those lavatories. And there is a severe penalty for tampering with those. Listen, if someone's gonna break the law, that doesn't mean you ought not to have the laws. It means you ought to step up the enforcement. Someone who does that takes enormous risks with all the passengers' lives. And there is enough of a penalty, we think, enough of an incentive not to do it by penalizing $2,000 to $4,000 if they do that. WOODRUFF: Mr. Merryman, what happens if this ban that you all oppose, whether it's temporary or permanent, or whatever goes into effect, what difference does that make for your industry? Mr. MERRYMAN: Well, I don't know that it makes a great deal of difference in terms of how many cigarettes are sold before the ban vs. after the ban. But I do think there are problems that are glossed over here that demand to be addressed. Not only the enforcement problem, but the problem with fire safety that I think the pilots are extremely concerned about. I think it's potentially a much greater problem than is being recognized. I do know that the South African Airlines pilots, for example, pleaded with the government there to rescind the ban, because it's causing problems with people going to the lavatories and lighting cigarettes. It might not happen often, but that kind of fire has never caused a death or an injury in this country before, and I think we want to preserve that record. WOODRUFF: Senator? Sen. LAUTENBERG: The Air Canada incident a few years ago, on which it was believed that smoking in a lavatory was ultimately responsible for substantial loss of life -- Mr. MERRYMAN: But (unintelligible) -- Sen. LAUTENBERG: Well, there was smoke present -- that killed a lot of people on the ground after the airplane had landed. Air Canada responded by banning smoking on flights from Toronto, Montreal, to the Newark, New York area. They find that those flights have picked up traffic, people prefer it where they have a choice, and the Canadian air system between non smoking flights and smoking, partial smoking flights, they all choose those flights that have non smoking. The passenger doesn't want this, and it kind of amuses me to hear the suggestion that people will break the law. My gosh, at some point you just don't cave in because people are going to break the lawand everything that affects our society. WOODRUFF: What do you think's going to happen? Is this going to be passed in some final form? Sen. LAUTENBERG: Oh, yes, I think so. Unless the President vetoes the transportation appropriations bill for other reasons. We're going to have a smoking ban. My guess, if I had to wager, is that it'll be more like two hours than 90 minutes. Ninety minutes captures 72% of the flights that take place across this country. And two hours takes care of 85% of the flights. And that's what we'd like to see happen. WOODRUFF: And I'd like to ask you again, Mr. Merryman, what does it mean if that ban goes into effect for your industry? Mr. MERRYMAN: Well, I do think it's going to mean problems for the airline industry in enforcing it. There's only one airline in this country that's ever tried a smoking ban on all its flights. It wasn't successful. I don't think it's something people are clambering for, and really want. I think it's also very clear that pilots are concerned about fire safety, no matter how much you try to gloss it over, it only takes one. And I don't think I'd want to be responsible for that. Sen. LAUTENBERG: Wouldn't airplanes be safer without smoking altogether, without any lights and so forth going on in someone's seat? WOODRUFF: That'll have to be a question we deal with at another time. But gentlemen, we thank you for being with us, Senator Lautenberg, Mr. Merryman, thank you. Natural Causes MacNEIL: We turn now from tobacco to chemicals as disease causing agents. A University of California biochemist says his scientific findings directly refute the claims of environmentalists who've been warning for years of the health dangers of manmade pollutants. Spencer Michels of Public Station KQED, San Francisco, has our report.
SPENCER MICHELS, KQED, San Francisco: From his cancer laboratory on the Berkeley campus of the University of California, this prominent scientist has alarmed the powerful environmentalist community and drawn its ire. He is Bruce Ames, professor and chairman of the biochemistry department. He used to draw praise from environmentalists, but now he directly challenges many of their basic beliefs, especially one that holds that man is in grave danger of getting cancer from manmade pollution. BRUCE AMES, University of California: I think the environmentalists have gone off the deep end. All the epidemiology and all the toxicology isn't pointing to pollution as something very significant.
MICHELS: Those statements fly in the face of accepted wisdom that waste products from manufacturing, which have polluted wells in California's Silicon Valley, a likely source of cancer. Other people have blamed pesticides sprayed on agricultural crops of cancer among farm workers and consumers. And environmentalists have cited smog, created from auto exhaust and industry, as a major source of carcinogens. But Ames declares that a few parts per billion of cancer causing toxins in our water or air are insignificant, especially when compared to the natural poisons we are exposed to every day. Mr. AMES: Most toxicologists are very suspicious about all this worry about parts per billion. A part per billion is one person in all of China, it's some incredibly tiny amount. And it's a tribute to modern technology to measure a part per billion, but it isn't anything that you want to worry about.
MICHELS: Ames says that his research shows that common foods like broccoli and potatoes, which naturally contain various toxins, are worse for you than contaminated water. In other words, he says, pollution isn't as bad as the environmentalists say. Environmentalists have been taken aback. DAVID ROE, Environmental Defense Fund: He's certainly shaken things up. He certainly has become the darling of industry -- probably not for the reasons that he would like. I certainly don't think of him as an industry scientist. I think of him as a serious scientist with views that are very controversial, but happen to fit with some arguments that industry is making.
MICHELS: Studious, 58 year old Bruce Ames refuses to consult for industry, saying it would compromise his scientific integrity. He seems an unlikely candidate to outrage the environmental world, for it was he who discovered 15 years ago that some hair dye and flame retardant on babies' pajamas were likely carcinogens, laboratory revelations that fueled the environmental movement's demands for tougher product safety laws. He made those discoveries using a quick, inexpensive test he invented for identifying mutagents, substances that damage genetic material and often cause cancer. His simple test uses common bacteria, eliminating the need for costly testing of lab animals. Today it's called the Ames test, and it's used all over the world. But Ames says that his test shows that so many chemicals occurring naturally are carcinogenic that he's less convinced about the danger of environmental pollution than he once was. Mr. AMES: And I'm becoming more and more convinced that it doesn't have a lot to do with public health.
MICHELS: To form this conclusion, Ames compiled every laboratory test for cancer ever done on rats and mice, and then he determined the dose of the chemical needed to cause cancer. From that he extrapolated the hazard to humans, and then he and his researchers starting investigating plants and foods which contain their own poisons to protect them from insects. Plants, they decided, seemed potentially more dangerous to humans than the manmade chemicals. Mr. AMES: We're finding just as many carcinogens as we find among manmade chemicals, except we're eating enormously more of these chemicals. So we're eating 10,000 times more of nature's pesticides than manmade pesticides. Potatoes are full of toxic chemicals, and tomatoes are full of toxic chemicals. I'm not saying they are dangerous, it's just there're enormously more than the manmade chemical.
MICHELS: Ames published his theory in the magazine Science, where he listed the possible hazard of various chemicals in foods. Among his findings, one raw mushroom or the amount of basil used in pesto sauce are 250 times more hazardous than contaminated well water in Silicon Valley. Beverly Paigen is a biochemist a Children's Hospital in Oakland, an environmentalist who has worked on such well known pollution sites as Love Canal, Times Beach and Stringfellow. A friend of Bruce Ames, she has recently testified against his conclusions, which she calls ''distorted. '' She is especially disturbed by Ames' reliance only on cancer statistics as an indication of hazard. BEVERLY PAIGEN, Oakland Children's Hospital: I have now worked with over a dozen different communities that were drinking contaminated water. Cancer was not the health problem being experienced. The health problems being experienced are miscarriages, birth defects, nervous system damage, damage to the heart. Those are serious health hazards. A person drinking water from that polluted well in Silicon Valley he's so fond of quoting would be really sick. And yet, he uses the statement, ''It's less hazardous than peanut butter or alcohol. ''
MICHELS: Ames replies that there is no proof that polluted water causes the other health problems that have been reported. In any case, he keeps insisting that the levels of the pollutant are very low. Alcohol, he says, is a carcinogen, and humans are more at risk for cancer by drinking beer or wine than from exposure to trichlorethylene, a common solvent used in drycleaning. Mr. AMES: Trichlorethyl is ten times worse than alcohol. But we're talking about five parts per billion of trichlorethylene in the water supply from an accident or whatever. In alcohol you're talking about 15 million parts per billion in the beer -- a beer is 5% alcohol -- there's no comparison.
MICHELS: But Paigen says once again that Ames doesn't disclose that it sometimes takes two substances acting together, like smoke and alcohol to pose a cancer danger. Ms. PAIGEN: Alcoholics who are heavy smokers have a higher than expected rate of cancer of the esophagus. That doesn't apply to drinking a glass of wine -- there's a severe, heavy use of alcohol and heavy smoking. By itself, alcohol's not carcinogenic, except for one animal study.
MICHELS: Some scientists, like Paigen, says Ames cannot support his controversial claims. Ms. PAIGEN: Scientists are taught to be critical, to look at the raw data, to evaluate statements on the facts, not on the reputation of the person who's making the claim. When I read Bruce's statements, I can't see the evidence.
MICHELS: Ames' University of California colleague, public health toxicologist Martyn Smith, says Ames' work is revolutionary. MARTYN SMITH, University of California: Dr. Ames is not saying that pollution is a good thing. What he's saying is let's put it into context. I think what he's saying is this is a problem, we do generate a ton of hazardous waste per person per year. We have to limit that hazardous waste and care about how we dispose of it, but let's not go hysterical that this is the major cause of cancer in the U. S. and the major cause of disease in the U. S. And that we need to do something tomorrow instantly to clean up everything.
MICHELS: As a member of the governor's scientific advisory panel, Ames argues that it is silly and expensive for government to force stores and manufacturers to warn the public about hundreds of items which contain small amounts of carcinogens. Ames preaches that caution in interviews, in journals, and even in this videotape presentation he had made because of the frequent requests he gets to expound his theory. [from videotape] Mr. AMES: Fifty percent of the chemicals coming out as carcinogenic, it's crazy to think of eliminating every carcinogen, and we'll just bankrupt the country if we go after all the trivia. You have to decide what's important. Has the Sierra Club Mr. AMES: (unintelligible) polluters every time they make a camp fire? They're pouring carcinogens up into the air. And every time you drive your car to work you pour carcinogens out of your car. Every time you file your hammer. So you have to finally decide what's important. Well, it takes about a year of Los Angeles smog to get the same amount of (unintelligible) material that a smoker gets in one day. So that right away tells you what smokings -- probably some big thing, and smoking is a big thing. Mr. ROE: It's like saying smoking's very bad for you. Let's not worry about anything that's not as bad as smoking.
MICHELS: Environmentalists, like David Roe of the Environmental Defense Fund, take strong issue with Ames. Mr. ROE: He's trying to paint a picture that everything causes cancer, so don't worry about anything. And of course there's a lot of industry that would like to get that theme out. Because it makes people confused, it makes people think, ''Gee, I can't figure it out, so I'll just ignore the word cancer every time I hear it. '' Ms. PAIGEN: The danger is they're going to ignore some chemicals that are really causing harm to the human population. We are not going to clean up wells that have dangerous levels of chemicals.
MICHELS: Ames admits his attempts to test cancer risks for humans is not an exact science. He says most people ingest small quantities of suspected carcinogens while experiments generally depend on feeding huge doses of those substances to small rats and mice. But with the limited data available, Bruce Ames wants policymakers to put their fears that the possible hazards of pollution into the context of a poisonous natural world. Fancies of Form WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, a look at the finest private collection of 20th century sculpture in the world. It is owned by real estate developer Raymond Nasher and his wife Patsy of Dallas, Texas. Recently, Jim Lehrer spoke with Raymond Nasher about the collection he and his wife have put together.
LEHRER: Seventy three of their 180 pieces are now on exhibition in the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington. After a beginning show at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Future ones are in the works in Madrid, Florence and Munich. Their National Gallery Exhibition includes the work of every major artist who ever turned his or her creative juices and labors to sculpture. Ernst, Picasso, Matisse, Rodin, Miro, Segal, Giacometti, Henry Moore, Oldenberg, Smith, and more. They are all here. And so was Raymond Nasher one day recently. He was alone because his wife Patsy was too ill to travel from Dallas at the time. Raymond Nasher showed me around and told me why he and Patsy Nasher have done what they have done. (to Mr. Nasher) You and your wife Patsy didn't sit down one day in Dallas and say, ''Let's go together and accumulate the finest collection of 20th century sculpture --'' RAYMOND NASHER: No, no, we really liked the idea of -- Patsy's an inveterate collector, you know. She collects matchboxes and ribbons and anything in the world. So that she just loves collecting, and I provide the funds, the means, for that (unintelligible). LEHRER: She has been ill the last couple of years or so. How has that affected the collecting? Mr. NASHER: It really hasn't affected it negatively, probably very positively, because even though she hasn't been able to travel, she has been able to really do a great deal more scholarship, archival work, etc. , and she's really involved talking with dealers and artists almost on a daily basis. LEHRER: Why sculpture instead of painting? Mr. NASHER: Well, I find sculpture much more interesting, because in my work, which is really planning and real estate development, I find that three dimensional things that relate to buildings are much more interesting. Of course, you have in this collection itself, there are 39 different materials that are being used. And also, I think we as collectors can play artists, because the same piece of sculpture placed in a different environment looks totally different. LEHRER: You mean because of shadows, lighting -- Mr. NASHER: Light, shadow, environment itself, whether it's in a particular position, whether you place it in one direction as opposed to another, how it affects the environment that it's in, whether the trees behind it are grass or you're in a garden, or if you're in a building and its relationship to people. You always have to have it in a position so that people can go around it. LEHRER: Should everybody see the same thing when they look at a piece of sculpture? Mr. NASHER: No. I think everyone should see it differently. In other words, if you were to ask an artist exactly what that piece of sculpture means, he'd say that's up to you. LEHRER: But it's awfully intimidating to folks to say, ''Hey, look, I don't understand sculpture. I look at this and to me it looks like just something kind of strange. Mr. NASHER: That's fine. In other words, you look at a piece and it's strange to you. You come back again and you look at it again, and then perhaps you see something totally different. You come back a third time, and then some form emerges, or some kind of psychological reaction takes place. LEHRER: Is it an emotional thing? Not an intellectual experience? Mr. NASHER: I think it's both. In other words, a lot of emotion, because it relates to your own psyche, really what you think within with your eyes, you're viewing a particular thing. And then, of course, there's an educational aspect of it. What the artist is trying to convey. And there's a great deal of futurist involved -- LEHRER: Futurist -- what do you mean? Mr. NASHER: Well, I think the artist is one that really projects into the future more than anyone else. He's looking at things as Duchamp Villon in 1914 with the horse. He was projecting that machine age kind of jet engine approach. This was before anyone thought of jet engines. I think artists are always out on the outer edge, and we can learn a good deal about -- LEHRER: We have been sitting on a piece of sculpture here. Tell me about this. Mr. NASHER: Well, this is a very important piece of sculpture, because Scott Burton, who is really one of our fine American sculptors, really has been creating these chairs and settee. This is the only settee he did up until this time with his chairs. And when one looks at it from the reverse, these are just pieces of rock. I think you found it very comfortable. LEHRER: I did, I did. Tell me about this. Mr. NASHER: Well, Picasso really created a new form in this work. He -- cubism was starting, and he actually formed this as the first cubistic piece of sculpture, and he layered the wax so that you have your voids and surfaces, and this is actually the plaster that he dug his hands into and worked on in creating the form, and he layered it so that you put plaster upon plaster and then cut it away, creating finally this particular form. LEHRER: Is there any story behind what caused him to do it? Mr. NASHER: Well, he had a romance going at that time with this Fernand Olivier. He was deeply in love with her -- LEHRER: What did she think of that (unintelligible)? Mr. NASHER: I really don't know -- LEHRER: The records are silent on that? Mr. NASHER: The records are relatively silent on that -- (unintelligible) LEHRER: I guess if you're in love and you're Picasso, this is the way to show it. Mr. NASHER: I guess so. LEHRER: All right. This is the biggest -- hammering man. Tell me about the hammering man. Mr. NASHER: Well, that's Jonathan Borossky, who's a young American sculptor. That, incidentally, weighs 11,000 pounds, so it's a fairly (unintelligible) piece, and if you notice he signs everything in the millions. He went through a psychological period where he couldn't really function as an artist for a while, so he started writing numbers. LEHRER: Now, why is that art? Mr. NASHER: Well, that's really art because one sees in that so many different things. It's kinetic sculpture, and one really can look at that as labor per se, man and his endless toil, in regard to daily work, and Borossky said himself he remembered his father telling him stories of giants. It made a great impression on him personally, and he wanted to build some things in the form of giants himself. LEHRER: All right. Next to it is a gold rabbit on a pole, on a stick. Mr. NASHER: Well, that's right. LEHRER: What is that? Mr. NASHER: Well, it reminds me a little bit of Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland. Barry Flanagan, who did the Hare -- that's the name of the piece -- and Barry Flanagan is English. You see those flying ears? And you see the legs moving out and the paws moving forward? And it's on tubular steel, so again you have different materials relating to the gilded bronze, the tubular steel, and that almost magical form that seems to be floating in midair. You know, sculpture can be fun. It can be playful, it can be interesting, exciting, and I think -- LEHRER: You can make of it what you will -- Mr. NASHER: What you will -- LEHRER: All right, down here also is a giant eraser. Tell me about that. Mr. NASHER: That's Claes Oldenberg, of course, who's created some wonderful American pieces, and that eraser is made again out of different materials. The rubber portion of it is in ferro cement. And it's surrounded by stainless steel and then by tubular aluminum pieces. And of course one of the things I always think of that I made so mistakes in life that I need a very big eraser (laughter). LEHRER: Now, this is called Moon Bird, right? Mr. NASHER: Yes. That's Miro's Moon Bird. LEHRER: Now, why is that a moon bird? Mr. NASHER: Well, I think -- Miro, of course, had great fantasies, great romance and great interest in various forms of both animals, people, surrealism, etc. And in essence this is his idea of what a bird would be on the moon. And of course if you notice, the body is that small semicircle, the wings and arms float off into the area. You have the horns that are on top and a cymbal coming out of the nose, and -- LEHRER: And who are we to say that isn't exactly what a bird on the moon looks like? Mr. NASHER: Exactly. And I think you can almost -- there's a great sense of humor -- LEHRER: Sure, absolutely. Mr. NASHER: -- when you see it. LEHRER: We approach now the Four Women. Tell us about the Four Women. Mr. NASHER: Well, this is Rodin, of course, who was French. And this is 1881. In essence, Rodin was the beginning of the 20th century sculpture, as it moved 300 years from the Renaissance and Michelangelo, Rodin then captured that feeling of the figure in his work. And of course, this is Eve in all of her concern about the nature of her position. LEHRER: And then? Mr. NASHER: And then, of course, LaChaise. He worked on that piece over 14 years, and that was his wife. His wife was the model. She was a very diminutive person. She really was about five foot one or something, and he gradually built her up and elevated her, as you notice her legs, and created this wonderful form. Then once again, Picasso -- Spanish -- and all found objects. At that time his mistress was Francois Gilot, who's now Mrs. Jonas Salk. The child within there was Paloma Picasso. And those were all found objects that he put together. The bowl which is the stomach and two little cups which are the breasts, etc. And then he used the wax on the bottom on the legs, and the wax just forms off into toes, all made then into a pregnant woman. LEHRER: Then we go to number four. Mr. NASHER: Yes. Giacometti, who of course was Swiss, one of the greatest sculptors in the 20th century. He determined in that woman, that one would have universality and simplicity. As far as form is concerned. And he also said in most instances people start looking at the head of the figure. He said why should they do that, and he created the one leg on that base so if you look at that particular sculpture, you look first at the bottom of the sculpture, move up the form to the face. And in 20th century sculpture, you see within the four figures all of the part of the revolution of the period. LEHRER: As a collector, do you and Patsy feel that this is the ultimate, to have your sculpture here at the National Gallery? Mr. NASHER: Well, I don't know ultimate means! LEHRER: I don't either! (laughter) Mr. NASHER: But I think it's so rewarding from our point of view because this is the national museum of the federal government of the United States of America. We felt very excited about it. LEHRER: Well, for instance, the ultimate for a baseball player is to hit a grand slam home run in the ninth inning of the seventh game -- for collectors like you and your wife, what's the goal? Mr. NASHER: I think the goal really is the sharing with as many people as possible throughout the world. We're just beginning the collection. And when I think when one -- LEHRER: Just beginning a collection? Mr. NASHER: That's right -- well, you know, one never ends anything as far as I'm concerned. And if we were to say the collection is pretty good, would there be a lack of excitement from our point of view. The major aspect of it is to expose people and share people with the art itself so that even though they may not understand it exactly, or have an opinion, or they say, ''That's the worst looking thing I've ever seen. I really don't know what that is. '' In essence they're thinking. Recap MacNEIL: Again, the top stories of the day. President Reagan said it was time to reach final agreement on the budget deficit, but negotiators again met without a deal. Some Republican members of Congress don't want Mikhail Gorbachev to address a joint session. Secretary of State Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze reportedly plan a meeting in Geneva next week to ensure a smooth U. S. /Soviet summit. The national women's organization, NOW, said it would oppose Judge Anthony Kennedy for the Supreme Court. Good night, Judy. WOODRUFF: Good night, Robin. That's our NewsHour for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow night. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you and good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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This episode's headline: James Burnett Interview; Second Hand Smoke; Natural Causes; Fanciers of Form. The guests include In Washington; Sen. FRANK LAUTENBERG, (D) New Jersey; WALKER MERRYMAN, Tobacco Institute; In New York: JAMES BURNETT, National Air Transporation Board; REPORTS FROM NEWSHOUR CORRESPONDENTS: PETER MANE, BBC; ELIZABETH BRACKETT; TOM BEARDEN; SPENCER MICHELS, KQED, San Francisco. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MACNEIL, Executive Editor; In Washington: JUDY WOODRUFF, Chief Washington Correspondent
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1987-11-19, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
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