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ROBERT MacNEIL: Good evening. In the headlines this evening, South Africa promised to restore citizenship to several million blacks. Bishop Tutu and the White House said it wasn't enough. The Senate defeated an attempt to vote stronger sanctions on South Africa. A U.S. satellite became the first man-made object to pass through a comet. Details of these stories coming up. Jim Lehrer is away tonight; Judy Woodruff's in Washington. Judy?
JUDY WOODRUFF: There are three main focuses on the NewsHour tonight. First, a documentary report on the troubles Live Aid is having getting its help to Africa's starving millions, and a response from the Reagan administration. Then, scientists get their closest look ever at a comet, and an astronomer tells us how they pulled it off. Finally, another look at the Titanic with a report on the remarkable equipment that made its discovery possible. News Summary
MacNEIL: The South African government today announced another modification of its apartheid policy, but not enough to satisfy the black opposition or the Reagan White House. President P.W. Botha said South African citizenship would be restored to millions of blacks who had technically lost it when supposedly independent tribal homelands were created. Here's a report from Michael Buerke of the BBC.
MICHAEL BUERKE, BBC [voice-over]: President Botha had hinted the people the government had made foreigners would be allowed to become citizens again; today he spelled it out.
P.W. BOTHA, President, South Africa: The necessary legislative amendments will then be enacted in cooperation with these governments as soon as possible in order to restore the South African citizenship of these people. I am glad to say that it is quite clear that most people -- black people in South Africa as well as coloureds put a very high importance on their South African citizenship.
BEURKE [voice-over]: Citizenship does not yet confer any real political rights for blacks here, nor even let them choose where they can go, where they can live. Mr. Botha says that's his next priority. The tide of violence, though, threatens to overwhelm this slow process. In this Malay township near Cape Town, a funeral for a Moslem shot in the head by police last week. One of the mourners was himself shot fatally in the stomach by a man he'd pointed out as a policeman. The crowd went mad, swarmed all over him, hacked and beat him to death. Not all South Africa is like this, but where the trouble exists, it's getting worse.
MacNEIL: In Johannesburg, Bishop Desmond Tutu, the black Anglican who won the Nobel Peace Prize, said Botha's proposal for black citizenship was not adequate. The Bishop said he will consider calling a nationwide strike of blacks next month unless the government removes the state of emergency and agrees to meet black leaders. Judy?
WOODRUFF: Here in Washington the White House said today that President Botha had not gone far enough in restoring citizenship to blacks living in the homelands. Spokesman Larry Speakes told reporters, "Our position is that the citizens of these homelands are citizens of South Africa." Speakes added, however, that if Botha's announcement does lead to the granting of citizenship to all blacks, it would be a positive step.
President Reagan got his way again today in the Senate on South African sanctions, but it was closer than the vote on Monday. Democrats fell just three votes short of cutting off a conservative Republican filibuster, a maneuver that was designed to block any vote on a sanctions bill tougher than measures the President has instituted. After the vote, reactions were equally strong from both sides.
Sen. ROBERT DOLE, (R) Kansas, Majority Leader: It would seem to me that we've had two votes today. I think we ought to join ranks now and send even a stronger signal to South Africa and let the Congress join the President. I'm prepared to do that. I hope others are.
Sen. EDWARD KENNEDY, (D) Massachusetts: The battle in the United States Senate for strong action against apartheid is a long way from over. During the past 20 years many of us have seen filibusters against effective civil rights legislation, and we have been able to prevail. And we're going to prevail on this legislation, and on this approach of effective sanctions to end apartheid.
Sen. LOWELL WEICKER, (R) Connecticut: Well, of course the plight of the black South African isn't changed one iota by virtue of what happened on the floor, and that's the tragedy. In the meantime, the President making the moves that he did yesterday, the arm-twisting that goes on on the Senate floor to make sure that cloture is not going to be invoked, all of this politics cheapens, cheapens the principle that we all should be fighting for as Americans.
Sen. RICHARD LUGAR, (R) Indiana: We'll continue to monitor and oversee the South African situation, but we are determined to work with our President, who has spoken out courageously, in my judgment, and constructively.
MacNEIL: Nelson Mandela, the jailed activist many blacks regard as their real leader, was said today to be suffering from prostate, liver and kidney troubles. Mandela, who is 67, has been in jail for 20 years on a life sentence for membership in the banned African National Congress. His wife Winnie said today Mandela was likely to undergo surgery soon for an enlarged prostate and cysts in the kidneys and liver.
WOODRUFF: American scientists had the first close encounter with a comet in history today, and they were calling it an unqualified success. A satellite they had redirected two years ago went through the electrically charged tail of the comet, some 44 million miles out in space. It came out undamaged. Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Center near Washington boasted that it was a remarkable achievement.
TYCO von ROSENVINGE, NASA: You know, there's been a lot of apprehension associated with this mission on our part. We were concerned about whether we would be able to survive the dust hazard, whether we might miss the tail, whether the resultd might be interesting. I mean, no one had been to a comet before, and it wasn't clear whether we were going to be able to make significant measurements of the comet. For example, we might be getting too brief a look. I think that today we can say the anxiety that we had has been relieved. We are excited about the data that we've got, and we're very happy about it.
MacNEIL: The man who led the expedition that found the wreck of the liner Titanic said today that the enormous loss of life could have been prevented. More than 1,500 people died when the liner struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage in 1912. Robert Ballard, chief scientist on the U.S.-French team that located the wreck 10 days ago, said that by now knowing the Titanic's precise position, they knew that the American liner Californian was close enough, between four and 12 miles away, to have saved the passengers.
ROBERT BALLARD, chief scientist, Titanic expedition: That tragedy needn't have existed, people needn't have died, if they'd only responded to those distress flares. They should have responded, in my mind, gone over there and rescued those people. In my mind, they were inside of 10 miles, perhaps as close as five miles. Just tragic.
WOODRUFF: A scientific panel recommended today that some older women with breast cancer be treated with hormones rather than with the powerful toxic drugs used in chemotherapy. The panel, put together by the National Institutes of Health, said the evidence they have gathered indicates that the death rate among women over 50 could be cut significantly with the use of a hormone called tamoxifen. Their recommendations relate only to treatment after the initial breast cancer has been removed.
MacNEIL: The Reagan administration said today it would leave it to the states to come up with adequate sanitary field facilities for migratory farmworkers. Labor Secretary Bill Brock said the federal government will step in after 18 months if the states fail to act. Charles Horowitz, staff attorney for the Migrant Legal Action Program, which has been campaigning for a federal standard, called Brock's decision an outrage.
In sports, the baseball world is watching closely as the prosecution of a Philadelphia caterer on drug charges draws to a close. More than a dozen big league stars have been implicated in cocaine abuse. Correspondent Tom Bearden reports on today's proceedings in Pittsburgh.
TOM BEARDEN [voice-over]: The government has accused Curtis Strong of selling cocaine to many major league ballplayers, of being a traveling distributor for members of several teams. San Francisco Giants player Jeff Leonard told the court he'd been embarrassed by admitting his cocaine use, and said his parents have been harassed. And finally the witness most observers had been waiting for was called to the stand -- Cincinnati Reds star Dave Parker.
[on camera] Parker is considered to be the key witness in the government's case. This morning he testified that he met the defendant in 1980 through two Dodger players, and subsequently purchased cocaine on a number of different occasions. Parker said many Pirates players knew Strong well, that he appeared at a team New Year's Eve party in 1982. Parker also said that cocaine was constantly available to him because of who he was, that he used it because, in his words, it was "the thing to do."
[on camera] The press has been intensely interested in this trial, and the court has noted that fact twice. For the second day in a row Judge Gustav Diamond has delayed the proceedings to question jurors individually about whether they had seen or read any news coverage of the trial. So far he is satisfied that they haven't, saying no juror's state of mind has been changed. Defense attorneys say they will call numerous character witnesses and predict the trial will last at least another week.
MacNEIL: Late this afternoon Judge Diamond issued a stern warning to defense attorney Adam Renfroe for his cross-examination of Dave Parker. The judge has frequently warned Renfroe about disturbing the dignity of the court, this time for questioning Parker's character.
WOODRUFF: There was rioting in Birmingham, England, again last night, accompanied by reports of minor violence in London and Liverpool, giving rise to fears that racial conflict may be spreading. Bill Hamilton of the BBC reports on the events in Birmingham.
BILL HAMILTON, BBC [voice-over]: Unlike the previous night, the police presence on the streets of Birmingham was both heavy and widespread. Though the scale of the violence was nothing like that of 24 hours before, gangs were still roaming the streets smashing shop fronts, setting fire to cars and keeping the emergency services fully stretched. Snatch squads moved in to make numerous arrests, as police fears of copycat violence in other parts of the city were confirmed. In all, there were around 150separate incidents. The chief constable offered words of encouragement to his men. Did he think the worst of the violence was now over?
GEOFFREY DEAR, chief of police: There's not a thing [unintelligible] going on with this, and I wouldn't start taking bets on which way it will go, except to say that I am well satisfied with what's happened tonight so far, and I would expect confidently for the level of disorder to decrease dramatically fast through the rest of the week.
HAMILTON [voice-over]: As the fears began to subside and an uneasy calm settled over Hansworth, the people of Lozelle's Road were beginning to venture out again. It's difficult, though, to get even the basic essentials. This is all that remains of the supermarket they said sold everything.
MacNEIL: In El Salvador, officials say they have not heard from whoever kidnapped President Jose Napoleon Duarte's oldest daughter, Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran. Mrs. Duran, who is 35 years old, divorced and the mother of three children, was kidnapped after a gunfight in San Salvador yesterday. Today, President Reagan sent President Duarte a message denouncing the kidnapping and offering prayers for Mrs. Duran's safety.
In Portugal, at least 100 people were killed when two trains collided near the town of Viseu. One train was an express traveling south from France with about 350 vacationers and tourists aboard; the other train was a local bound for Coimbra.
WOODRUFF: Coming up on the NewsHour, three focuses, beginning with the problems Live Aid may have getting food to the African people who need it, and a reaction from the Reagan administration. Then, today's triumphant American space probe of a comet. And, finally, the way they found the Titanic. Live Aid: Getting Through?
MacNEIL: President Reagan told Congress today that the policies of the Ethiopian government had caused vast suffering, but there was no evidence that it was deliberately starving the Ethiopian people. That certification means that U.S. aid to Ethiopia can continue, but the report underlines the on-going problems of getting real help to Africa's famine victims. The United Nations representative in the Sudan recently criticized the efforts by international aid organizations and the nations that sponsor them. The U.N. report says widespread starvation in the western Sudan province of Darfur could have been prevented had it not been for bureaucratic mismanagement, corruption and bungling by groups charged with delivering food. Gavin Hewitt of the British Broadcasting Corporation recently made this report on the enormous logistical problems of delivering food in the Sudan, problems the well-intentioned Live Aid group could not have even imagined the night of their concert in July, when they raised millions of dollars.
BOB GELDOF, Band Aid: You've got to get on the phone and take the money out of your pocket. Don't go to the pub tonight, please. Stay in and give us the money. There are people dying now. So give me the money!
GAVIN HEWITT, BBC [voice-over]: In July, Bob Geldof and Live Aid challenged the world to save Africa's hungry. [concert footage] The concert was a brilliant success. The idealism of a new generation had been tapped. The money raised was expected to reach 50 million pounds.
Mr. GELDOF: We could end up with as much as we made on the 13th in terms of --
HEWITT [voice-over]: Afterwards the trustees of Band Aid, the organizers of the Live Aid concert, were euphoric. But the Band Aid trust was facing urgent appeals for it to use some of its money at once to finance the transport of food in Sudan.
Band Aid TRUSTEE: What they've asked us to do is to distribute to the west of Sudan, to El Fasha, which is in the center --
HEWITT [voice-over]: In agreeing, Band Aid entered a situation in which there have been no winners and in which Band Aid itself may easily waste its money. Sudan is the largest country in Africa, and one of the poorest. Until this summer it had suffered five years of drought. In November last year, the American government agency, U.S. AID, started a huge relief operation. But Sudan's primitive infrastructure was hopelessly ill-suited to handling the movement of vast quantities of grain. And this operation had to distribute food to villages in an area covering 350,000 square miles. The Americans had a strategy. The plan to prevent the famine involved moving the grain by truck from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, 600 miles on a tar macadam road to the town of Kosti. From there, the sacks were to be loaded on trains that would take them on a single track 1,000 miles across the desert to Nyala in the province of Darfur. There, they would be taken by a truck along desert routes to 22 local distribution points. The target, to have 60,000 tons of grain stored in the west. The deadline, to beat the rains expected in June. The contract to move the grain on which the survival of a people depended was given Arkel-Talab, a private logistics company which was part American and part Sudanese. The Americans believed the private sector would be more efficient and would perform favorably compared to the state bureaucracy in neighboring Ethiopia.
ARKEL-TALAB OFFICIAL: We had 34 trucks, three-four trucks, arrived this morning, and we are dispatching them primarily to --
HEWITT [voice-over]: In the contract which we've seen Arkel-Talab guaranteed it had both the expertise and the organization to distribute the grain. Although it would go half the distance by train, trucks would be needed at either end. Arkel's plan was to subcontract that work to local truckers. The operation's entire success rested on the railway's being able to move 1,000 tons of grain a day to the west. It was a tall order. The railway was dilapidated and prone to breakdown. The Americans now insist that the Nimeiri government gave them no choice than to use the trains, the railway workers being a powerful union. By March, the relief agencies were warning that the railways were failing to deliver. Yet, on April the 22nd, Arkel-Talab signed a second contract, that was just as dependent on the train's running.
MORRIS STRONG, U.N. Emergency Office for African Relief: If that railway had been in decent shape, there would have been no famine. The food was in the country; the drought was a fact of life, but the famine was unnecessary. No question, proper development of that railway and even minor improvements in the road system to the west would have really prevented the famine.
HEWITT [voice-over]: By May, U.S. AID belatedly acknowledged that the railway wasn't working, and that the race to beat the rains was being lost. Not only were few trains moving, but some were being used to transport sugar for the Moslem feast of Ramadan. Fearing a disaster, the Americans ordered Arkel-Talab to start using trucks instead. But when Arkel entered the market to hire extra lorries to replace the railway, the truckers realized they had the Americans by the throat. Trucking rates trebled. Arkel, alarmed at the higher prices, demanded a new contract. The government refused, accusing Arkel of delaying the movement of grain to force their hand.
KALIL IBRAHIM KAHLIL, Sudan Emergency Committee: I say Arkel-Talab deliberately delayed this grain material to be taken to the western part of the Sudan, putting pressure on the government to amend the contract for him.
HEWITT [voice-over]: Such, too, is the talk among the truckers around the desert fires. Arkel deny the charge of delaying shipment, pointing out they've continued working without a contract. The government has ordered an inquiry. Certainly the truckers are not without blame. Devout Moslems they may be, but they've been curiously numb to the suffering of their compatriots. As for the Americans, why didn't they supervise such a vital operation?
KEN WESTGATE, League of Red Cross: Again, I think that the U.S. government perhaps showed their naivete in placing such a heavy reliance on that company to deliver the food.
HEWITT [voice-over]: In the event, the rains came early, at the end of May. Their arrival was a cruel irony. So eagerly awaited as the key to survival, the rains now threatened the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Only 20 of the food that the region needed to survive until the harvest was in place. Vast areas of Darfur became inaccessible. Despite energetic attempts to repair the line, hardly a train has moved since July. Every few days, another section of track is washed away. The collapse of the railway is an indictment of the international community for its failure to finance long-term development. From June onwards, the relief operation in Darfur was overwhelmed by daily crises. Here, just outside Geneina, a raft was the only means of supplying the Asine refugee camp of 25,000 people. With the railway out of action, mountains of grain were forming. When the United Nations special representative visited Kosti in July, he was appalled at what he found.
WINSTON PRATLEY, U.N. Special Representative, Sudan: The stuff was just lying there in the rain, saturated with moisture. Many of the bags had burst open. You could wade through the grain seeds, all of which would have been tragedy enough in itself, but in the immediate vicinity, within sight of this, were thousands and thousands of displaced people, mainly women and little children, starving, some of the kids dead in the arms of their mothers, or practically so, way beyond recovery. Pleading, in tears, "Why can we not eat when there is so much food lying before our eyes?" And there is the tragedy, the calamity of bureaucracy and mismanagement.
HEWITT [voice-over]: Knowing U.S. AID was in difficulty, Band Aid asked to move American grain, even though this would infringe Arkel-Talab's contract. Geldof dismissed the contractual niceties. The Americans gave in.
Mr. GELDOF: We told them that we'd all just purchased roughly 100 trucks in Kuwait, and they had just told us that they had just purchased 100 trucks. --
SPEAKER: No, they'd leased them.
Mr. GELDOF: -- leased them, and we said, "Are you sure you haven't leased ours?"
SPEAKER: They'd leased them from us! Yeah, we'll send them a bill.
HEWITT [voice-over]: So Band Aid's accountant, Philip Rusted, was authorized to buy a trucking fleet, 94 lorries from Kuwait, and a further 40 from a company in Sudan called Geosource. The total cost of both deals was five million pounds. Initial intentions were that they'd be operational by mid-August. With his deal signed, the Geosource representative was less than encouraging.
GEOSOURCE OFFICIAL: Best of luck. I think you're going to need it. From our experience in Sudan it's an extremely difficult country to work in.
PHILIP RUSTED, Band Aid accountant: I'm sure we'll manage somehow.
HEWITT [voice-over]: The trucks had been standing idle for over two years. In mid-August, Band Aid's accountant, Philip Rusted, came to inspect them.
Mr. RUSTED: I think all in all there should be 35 of these. Obviously needing a bit of refurbishment, which we will sort out in the next few weeks.
HEWITT [voice-over]: Rusted was aware that some of the relief agencies had inspected the trucks and rejected them, but he believed it was more economical to repair old trucks than to buy new ones. Rusted was generally pleased with Band Aid's first investment, although the date for having the fleet operational had slipped -- mid-August had been the original intention -- Rusted realized they would need more time.
Mr. RUSTED: I think it's going to be a four- to five-week job judging by the looks of these, and our first mechanics aren't due out for the next week or so. So it's going to be a bit of time before these are actually moving on the southern route.
HEWITT [voice-over]: The frustrations awaiting Band Aid out west could not be overestimated. In Geneina, Peter Vierney is the field officer for Save the Children. He is also responsible for food distribution for half a million people in hundreds of villages. He has one vehicle and one assistant. It's an absurd responsibility. Vierney sighs, having just spent two days arranging for a mere 20 camels carrying four sacks apiece to go to Misteray, a town 50 kilometers to the south. The amount of grain is pitiful, and the camel drivers have demanded similar prices to the truckers. It is unbelievably frustrating. Whether Save the Children should have taken on such a task is now being debated within the agency. The fact remains, however, that no one else was prepared to do it.
PETER VIERNEY, Save the Children Fund: Even that camel train is a drop in the ocean. It's a drop in the ocean at the moment. Unless we can get massive camel trains or, say, six-wheeled army trucks going out there, then there is no way that we're going to get the food through.
HEWITT [voice-over]: The camel train got through, but it seemed that the job of relief workers had changed. They were tackling logistical problems more easily handled by a corps of army engineers.
[interviewing] Effectively, are the relief agencies here in over their heads?
ANDREW TIMPSON, eld director, Save the Children Fund: Oh, absolutely. I think virtually every volunteer agency in this country is overstretched. It is doing work which it should not be doing, but we've been constantly plagued over the last four or five years with the major donors not accepting responsibility.
HEWITT [voice-over]: Two weeks ago, the Americans started a helicopter airlift to the more isolated villages. Some relief workers angrily dismissed an operation involving three helicopters and costing $4 million as a stunt. Why had it only begun three months into the rainy season?
Mr. GELDOF: The situation is so horrendous and the scale of it so vast and the country itself so large that the only way to deal effectively with what you've got is not only a giant logistics operation, possibly a military logistics operation, but certainly to stave off immediate and further death is a massive airlift. And really the rather pathetic attempt of the EEC to put in five planes, and I believe the U.S. have now got three helicopters carrying 2 tons per time, is silly, and it's a waste of time and effort.
HEWITT [voice-over]: In the past weeks, the landscape ofDarfur has gradually been turning green after the best rains in 30 years. Everywhere there are signs of revival. Crop planting has been half that of normal years, but better than expected. In a month the fragile harvest will be gathered, just at the time that several international trucking fleets, Band Aid's among them, will be operational.
[interviewing] What's going to happen to some of these new international trucking fleets?
GEOFF WARREN, transport coordinator, Sudan, Save the Children Fund: Well, they could well find themselves in the horrendous position of not actually having anything to move because we can't -- we don't want food moved. We have got what looks like a bumper crop coming up in November-December. Now, in Darfur, and I can only talk about Darfur, we are going to be faced a situation whereby we have to either slow down or stop delivering food into Darfur. Now, that's going to be around November-December time. If we don't stop it or come up with an alternative, we are going to cause economic chaos in this region. Total chaos.
HEWITT [voice-over]: That poses a challenge to Band Aid. Have they got the timing wrong? And what of the trucks? Only six are working. Others are unrepairable. One Band Aid advisor has suggested getting out of the deal before it's too late. Last week Band Aid held a crisis meeting. On balance they decided to continue with the trucking deal. But aware that a million pounds was at stake, they accepted the need for a more professional organization.
[interviewing] The criticism that is being made is that you are in danger of getting your fingers burned, both on the trucking deal and on the timing of your operation.
Mr. GELDOF: We've been under criticism since we started, by everybody. So I'm used to that. That's one thing. I think you're also right in that we have to expand, and we were fine for spending eight million pounds on immediate relief, absolutely. And now we have six times that spending power, and we must expand the number of people that we have. We must get different offices, which is in hand. We also need to put together groups of, as you say, experts, who can tell us exactly what we need to do, which areas we should be working in and put together programs which we can then implement through the other agencies. So, yeah, I agree with that. As with regard to getting our fingers burned, I don't know any people who have been into Africa who haven't had their fingers burned one way or the other.
HEWITT [voice-over]: In Sudan the lives of countless thousands were saved by international relief. The need for such operations is not in question. The lesson of the Sudanese famine is that giving is not enough, that the world has yet to learn how to manage its aid wisely. That is a challenge that Band Aid is only starting to face.
MacNEIL: To give us more on the United States view of these difficulties, we have the head of the Agency for International Development, the man responsible for official U.S. aid to Africa, M. Peter McPherson. Mr. McPherson, would you agree with the last comment in that report that everybody has been burnt in Africa?
M. PETER McPHERSON: I think to some degree everybody always is, actually. What you have in Africa, and this film does a good job showing it, is just horrendous logistical problems, sort of Murphy's Law quadrupled: "If it's going to go wrong, it will." Nevertheless, I think we have to keep in mind that this is sort of a glass half full or half empty. The half full part is that millions of lives probably have been saved in Africa, an important part of them by U.S. food. The half empty thing is that it's an on-going crisis. We have a new crisis, it seems, every day. I have physically been in west Africa -- in west Sudan 10 days ago, looked at the situation myself, and I can tell you that in fact food is getting to those places.
MacNEIL: How?
Mr. McPHERSON: Well, let me go down through it. The train did really fail for a few months. It had delivered about 20,000 ton between November and February. We found it failing, and we put into place, as was suggested there, trucks. Those trucks are now hauling about 500 tons a day, as well as the European Community brought in some airplanes, hauling U.S. food again, about 200 tons a day. The train is working periodically. The day I was there two trains had arrived with food. On the other end of the whole system, out there in the west, we have these helicopters that are operating. There are three of them. They are going all over, including to the little village, that Mistic that was commented on there, the one where the camels were going into town. My people now, and the people out there, the relief workers there, tell me that we don't need more helicopters now. Frankly, we're prepared to deliver more. I rode in one of those little helicopters, into a little village, got off the helicopter, talked to the people. Incidentally, the harvest in that little village looks pretty good. Corn within a few days of harvest, as a matter of fact.
MacNEIL: Would you agree with the conclusion of that relief official, who said there was a danger that with a good harvest coming in, either unnecessary food was going to be shipped, causing enormous chaos, or all the transportation systems set up wouldn't have anything to move?
Mr. McPHERSON: I agree there's a problem, and there's a solution. The solution is that we need to have in place a system to store food that we don't need. Now, we have those points in Port Sudan, in Kosti and Diout and Nyala. I expect that we'll have to store some food if we don't want to interrupt this whole stream of food that's rolling out there because we might need it. If we store it, we'll store it for a few months into the year, and the latter part of the year I expect that the food will be necessary.
MacNEIL: The whole tenor of the criticisms of your program by the various relief officials who were quoted there added up to, I think one of them summed it up, major donors haven't been accepting responsibility for actually getting the stuff to the points where it is needed.
Mr. McPHERSON: Oh, that's just wrong. You know, we have -- the U.S. government has provided 85 of the food that's gone to the Sudan this year. Almost all those people that are involved are moving U.S. food. The U.S. government has provided the resources to deliver 90 of the food, not just our food, but other people's as well. We are, by Mr. Pratley's judgment, one of the people interviewed there, told me last week that the total amount of people being fed in Sudan is now about seven million people, most of that with U.S. food. Interesting, to flip over to Ethiopia, where of course there's a mammoth problem as well, we're feeding about five million people there. The U.S. food is about 50 of that.
MacNEIL: Let's come back to Ethiopia in a moment, separately. Why are all these U.N. and other relief agency officials so bitter about the United States? I mean, they accuse your program of being naively constructed, that, you know, they use words like "silly" about the number of helicopters. Why, if they are distributing U.S. food and the effect is -- the whole thing is as efficacious as you say it is, why are those people on the ground faced with all those difficulties so bitter?
Mr. McPHERSON: Oh, it's a frustrating business. It really is. When you go out and you're trying to save lives and you're working with it, it's hard. And I think it goes back to this half-full, half-empty glass. You go back and talk to them now -- the film is several, is a couple weeks old, anyway. You go talk to them now and most of them feel much better about what's happening. I don't dismiss what they have to say because I think that this whole crisis has been one crisis after another. When I was there in March with the Vice President, in almost the same area, things were going very well and everybody was happy. And that's fine. There's just a -- we have a new problem every day. It's the flexibility of management certainly. We have a plan but we continually have to change it.
MacNEIL: What is the significance of the President's statement to Congress today that the Ethiopian government is not deliberately starving its own people? Does that mean it isn't any longer deliberately starving them, or what?
Mr. McPHERSON: Well, the justification of the statement provided a number of facts and situations that suggested that the real problem is in the months past. I think the wording was, "some argue that there was a deliberate policy of starvation." Whatever it may have been in the past --
MacNEIL: Does the Reagan administration buy that argument?
Mr. McPHERSON: Well, we don't make a judgment as to what it was. All we know is that the policies resulted in many thousands of deaths. Now, in part because we've been talking about it a good deal, we think the policies have begun to change. We're getting a little bit more food to the north that has been such a problem to us. About five million people, as I say, are being fed now in Ethiopia. Some change, not enough. More trucks need to be provided, we think, by the Ethiopian government to move the food.
MacNEIL: Has the American taxpayer's money been wisely and efficiently spent in this African famine emergency?
Mr. McPHERSON: I think so. I think so. I think that most of the food which we've sent has actually gone in the mouths of people that need the food. We have delivered -- the total amount of food that's actually arrived to Africa is you stack the bags end on end and it's about 20,000 Empire State Buildings high. Once they've gotten to Africa in turn, most of that has gone through and have been fed to people. I don't have any question at all that there are thousands of people alive today, perhaps millions, because of what the American government, working with private groups, has done.
MacNEIL: In a word, how great is the need still for more contributions, more food?
Mr. McPHERSON: We're two-thirds of the way there, but it's at least -- that last third is hard, and we've got to keep up the push.
MacNEIL: We have to leave it there. Thank you, Mr. McPherson, for joining us. Judy?
WOODRUFF: Still ahead on the NewsHour, an astronomer explains why scientists are so excited about today's close-up look at a comet, and a report on the special equipment that helped locate the Titanic. Space Rendezvous
WOODRUFF: Chalk up another historic first for the United States' space program: this morning's unprecedented encounter between a NASA satellite and a comet. At about 7 a.m., Eastern Time, an unmanned space probe moving at 46,000 miles an hour, plunged through the icy, dusty tail of a distant comet. The mission beat out next year's planned close-up look at Halley's Comet by a good six months.
[voice-over] It began two years ago when NASA scientists propelled a small unmanned satellite away from its original orbit and into a new orbit towards the moon and eventually our first close-up look at a comet. It was a plan born out of frustration. While Japan and Russia planned probes to rendezvous with Halley's Comet in 1986, NASA had no funds for a similar U.S. mission. Disappointed American scientists led by Dr. Robert Farquhar, on the right, at NASA's Goddard Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, devised an ingenious alternative plan. The orbiting probe would be redirected, not towards the famed Halley's Comet, too far away for the spacecraft's radio relay system, but towards a small, relatively unknown comet, Jacobini Zinner, visible only by telescope once every 6 years. Using the moon as a giant slingshot, the satellite, renamed ICE for International Cometary Explorer, was hurled by lunar gravity into a new deep-space orbit en route to the comet.
This morning, 44 million miles from earth, ICE passed through the yellow dust tail of Jacobini Zinner and emerged unscathed after 18 minutes. This afternoon at a news conference at the Goddard Center, the project team was jubilant and Dr. Farquhar breathed a sigh of relief.
Dr. ROBERT FARQUHAR, Goddard Space Flight Center: Well, I guess I was a lot more pessimistic about this last phase of it. In retrospect I don't see what I was worried about. It seemed pretty easy.
EDWARD SMITH, Jet Propulsion Laboratory: I think it's fair to say from the human perspective, from the project's point of view and from the scientific perspective, that mankind's first encounter with a comet has to be ranked as an unqualified success.
WOODRUFF [voice-over]: The scientists said it was too early to discuss specific findings, but they did offer some initial observations.
Mr. SMITH: Just from the cursory look we've had at the data, I think a lot of people are going to find that the data don't show the kinds of features they were predicting and would expect to see. I think it's going to cause people to rethink some of the things that are going on.
WOODRUFF: NASA scientists say the first analysis of the data will be ready by Friday, and astronomers around the world are eagerly waiting for the results. One of them is Richard Berendzen, who also happens to be the president of American University here in Washington.
Dr. Berendzen, why are astronomers so excited about this?
RICHARD BERENDZEN: This is the first time in the history of humankind that we've been able to see a comet up close. Of all the things in our solar system, in some respects, it's the most mysterious. We've landed men on the moon, we've sent probes to Mars, we've even delved to the outer part of the planetary system. But this is the first time we could get to that.
WOODRUFF: All right. What's so neat about it? What's so mysterious? What is there there that we ought to all be fascinated by?
Dr. BERENDZEN: It's the original stuff of the solar system. It was what was left over after the planets formed, the moons and so on. It's the primordial stuff of the solar system, going back about 4.6 billion years. So we are carrying out the ultimate history examination, really. We are studying the stuff from which we ourselves came.
WOODRUFF: Why is it that it has taken us this long, or maybe the question is, are you surprised that it didn't take us longer to get this far?
Dr. BERENDZEN: No, the interesting thing is that we had the technology, we have the capacity now to do this. And this achievement by NASA, by the American government, by the American people, is truly extraordinary. And I hope the American people will be as thrilled by it as the astronomers are.
WOODRUFF: Why was it so important for the U.S. to be first?
Dr. BERENDZEN: Oh, I don't know that it was necessarily, but the U.S. was not going to send a probe to Halley's Comet because it was going to cost so much, something on the order of $300-to-$600 million. It might even be a billion dollars. This particular mission cost only $3 million, and it was truly ingenious. It meant rerouting a thing which had been set up for a totally different purpose.
WOODRUFF: Well, I'm not familiar with the funding decision, but why was it that if it was so important to do this exploration into a comet, why wasn't the decision to go ahead and spend some money -- more money for Halley's Comet?
Dr. BERENDZEN: It's just a very substantial amount of money. We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, and I guess the basic decision was that those monies could better be applied in other areas of science or in the federal budget. But we also can piggyback on the findings of the French and the other western Europeans, the Japanese and the Soviets. But in this case we arrived at a comet before any of the others, six months before them, and moreover we did it in a truly extraordinarily ingenious way. This looping around the moon with the near misses -- 75 miles, and the moon is, after all, a quarter of a million miles away -- took some real precision work.
WOODRUFF: All right, that was my next question. Just how difficult was this to pull off?
Dr. BERENDZEN: First of all, you had a satellite which had been launched for a totally different purpose. It was up there to study the solar wind. Nobody had in mind studying a comet when it had been launched. So the idea then was to use the very small rockets that were aboard, enough to launch it towards the moon, let it loop around the moon. As it goes around the moon it picks up energy from the catapult effect of the lunar gravity. Do that several times, and one of those passes it went so nearby, 75 miles out of a quarter-of-a-million-mile trajectory, it easily could have collided, and then launch on out. Moreover, in the next century it will come back --
WOODRUFF: Well, that's pretty precise calculations.
Dr. BERENDZEN: You got it. And modern technology and modern computers, obviously, were required. And in the next century it will come back to the vicinity of the earth, and very probably we can go out, snare it, bring it back and chemically analyze in our laboratory right here on earth what has happened to this space probe over all those decades and then put it in the Smithsonian.
WOODRUFF: So the ICE, the Cometary Explorer, will come back here?
Dr. BERENDZEN: That's right.
WOODRUFF: A hundred years from now.
Dr. BERENDZEN: It's like a giant boomerang.
WOODRUFF: Was there a real chance -- you probably answered this with your last answer, but was there a real chance this thing could fail?
Dr. BERENDZEN: Oh, absolutely. First of all, it could have missed the cometary tail, and moreover it could easily have impacted a large piece of debris in the cometary tail. It has no cameras aboard. It wasn't designed to photograph anything. It doesn't have any shield because it wasn't designed to go to a comet. It was an afterthought, so to speak. And the comet tail consists of two different kinds of things. One is a plasma, made up of protons, electrons, little electronic particles, but the other is the dust tail. Now, that dust could consist of things the size of your fist or even the size of a bowling ball. If it had collided with such a thing as that it would have been the end of the probe, but it missed them.
WOODRUFF: All right, tell us more about what it is about the comet that has fascinated scientists, fascinated astronomers. You said it's the primordial stuff of life. What does that mean?
Dr. BERENDZEN: Well, it is the debris that was left behind when the solar system was formed. We now believe that there are literally hundreds of billions of comets floating outside of the orbit of Pluto at the very distant, most remote sector of the solar system. Occasionally a passing star will jiggle one loose; it'll fall towards the sun. Now, there are others that are in shorter orbits than that, such as the famous Halley's Comet, which comes around every 75 years. The interest of this is that it's frozen. It's just a ball of gas out there. It's like a frozen, dirty snowball, and that's the way it spends most of its life. But when it comes close to the sun, it heats up, vaporizes and forms the long tail.
WOODRUFF: But what does it tell us that we want to know about how we all came about?
Dr. BERENDZEN: What we want to know is the chemical composition of it, because that's the same chemical composition that led to the formation of the earth, the moon and the other planets. It also perhaps will even give some suggestions about the origin of life here on earth. In the tail of the comet is debris. Some of that debris will fall on the earth's surface. It's what children call shooting stars, meteorites. A few years ago a meteorite was found that had amino acids in it that were different from the kind we have here on earth. Amino acids are not life, but they are part of the building blocks that lead to life. That suggests that --
WOODRUFF: A protein, if I remember my high school --
Dr. BERENDZEN: Yeah, you got it. So the point is that we have now found extraterrestrial amino acids in meteorites associated with comets. Could it possibly be that biologically significant material is commonplace in our solar system, and if so, in other solar systems, because we believe there are billions of them.
WOODRUFF: All right, what does that tell you? I mean, we're getting into a whole new series of questions here. What does that say about the possibility of life in outer space?
Dr. BERENDZEN: Well, there are some of us who beleive that if in fact all of our findings so far are correct, that if there are all of the stars that are out in space that are similar to our own sun, that if it is true, as we believe it is, that there are more astronomical objects in the heavens than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of earth, and if that biological material is out there, the possibility of extraterrestrial life is relatively high.
WOODRUFF: Specifically, how much do you know at this point about what they found this morning?
Dr. BERENDZEN: I have seen the press releases that are coming in. The first thing which was a surprise was how long the probe stayed in the tail. It had been expected to stay only a few minutes. It was on the order of 18 minutes. What that suggests is that the tail is far wider than anybody had expected it to be. And why that is, who knows at this stage? Second, it's far more turbulent than anybody had expected. What that suggests, never mind the detail, is that our visual observations from the earth's surface can be rather misleading.
WOODRUFF: And once we get this extra data that we know is coming in, what more will that tell us?
Dr. BERENDZEN: I think whatwe'll do is to piece together what a comet is really about, and it'll then provide us a unique opportunity to compare the data that we obtained today with what will come six months from now from Halley's Comet, because they are two different comets and then we'll have a comparison for the first time in history. As we piece this together, we'll learn something about the early solar system. We'll learn more about the sun, the magnetic field and our whole terrestrial environment.
WOODRUFF: Well, it's all fascinating.
Dr. BERENDZEN: It's a first.
WOODRUFF: Dr. Berendzen, thank you for being with us.
Dr. BERENDZEN: Glad to. Titanic Tales
MacNEIL: Finally tonight we go back for a closer look at one of the most intriguing news stories in years, the discovery of the fabled liner Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. When the American and French team of scientists found the wreck they were testing some new scientific equipment for the U.S. Navy. It is equipment, oceanographers say, that will open up whole new areas of research on the ocean floor, and it also has military applications. With correspondent June Cross we look now at the device in more detail.
JUNE CROSS [voice-over]: Many had gone before looking for the Titanic. They'd spent millions of dollars. But when Woods Hole scientist Robert Ballard and his French colleagues returned home triumphantly on Monday, neither money nor luck alone accounted for their success. Lying in the stern of the research vessel Nor, was the Argo, the device that made it all possible.
[on camera] Three years ago the Navy gave the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution $2.8 million to develop a brand new way of exploring the ocean floor. The system got its name from Greek mythology, Argo, the vessel that carried Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece.
ROBERT BALLARD, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [September 9th]: This test program that we did clearly demonstrates that we've entered a new era in undersea exploration and I can't help but think that a lot is going to come out of that.
CROSS [voice-over]: Prior to Argo's development, scientists roamed the ocean floor in manned submarines like this one called the Alvin. Exploring the ocean floor in this vehicle was a painstakingly slow and often frustrating process, as Robert Ballard explained on Monday.
Mr. BALLARD: For a long time I have been using manned submarines. I've spent, I don't know, enough time on the bottom of the ocean in manned submarines crawling around on my hands and knees in the dark with a flashlight, and the thoughts of spending the rest of my life on my hands and knees in the dark with a flashlight was just not that appealing.
CROSS [voice-over]: Using the Alvin alone, it would have taken up to 10 years for the French and the Americans to find the Titanic. Instead, it took three months. The French team went first. They used a remote vehicle equipped with advanced sonar to narrow the search area. The American team engineer, Stewart Harris, explains.
STEWART HARRIS, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: In fact, that's what made the discovery possible, because they essentially eliminated a very large part of our high-probability area. And I think it was like 75 of about a 100-square-mile area that we wanted to search.
CROSS [voice-over]: Then Ballard's team took over. The Argo system used both sonar and TV cameras. The system was lowered 2 miles beneath the surface. This diagram shows how it worked. The shaded area was searched by sonar. Simultaneously, TV cameras zoomed in on a smaller site. Robert Ballard calls the twin use of sonar and TV a breakthrough in technology.
Mr. BALLARD: It's the beginning of telepresence, of being able to project your spirit to the bottom, your eyes, your mind, and leaving your body behind. We were able to stay submerged for days on end, something I'd never been able to do in little submarines. With the Argo system we could sit in relative comfort and watch the bottom go by. And we saw mile after mile after mile.
CROSS [voice-over]: The Argo spent three weeks looking for evidence of man-made materials before it discovered the remains of the Titanic. Stewart Harris was in the control room when those first pictures started coming up.
Mr. HARRIS: We started seeing large objects or something not natural on the sonar, and almost immediately started seeing some debris on the TV. And the amazing thing was, within minutes after that first started seeing anything, we actually started coming over some large wreckage, and then actually saw the boiler. Man-made, unnatural objects, you know, have the characteristic that just jumps right out at you. There was no question that we were seeing man-made objects, and there was, especially when we saw the boiler, there was no question that it was the Titanic.
CROSS [voice-over]: The key to Argo's success is a specially designed cable, a cable which can for the first time carry video and sonar images over the long distance from the ocean floor to the ship.
Mr. HARRIS: We're getting higher-quality images and we're able to interpret them better, so now we're getting information that's more usable and that the scientists can look at and analyze on the fly, make decisions on the fly. That's new and that's different.
CROSS [voice-over]: Admiral Bradford Mooney directs the Office of Naval Research, the outfit which funded Robert Ballard's development of the Argo.
Adm. BRADFORD MOONEY, Office of Naval Research: When he said in the testing of Argo he thought he might go to the Titanic area, we said why not? It's a cost-effective target. And if he finds something, it's a heck of a lot more interesting than looking at rocks.
CROSS [voice-over]: Looking at rocks, though, is just what Robert Ballard intends to do. The scientific purpose of the Argo is to help oceanographers map out the bottom of the ocean floor. It's not just scientists who have an interest in mapping out the ocean floor. The U.S. Navy studies ocean terrain in figuring out where to hide submarines.
Adm. MOONEY: The type of bottom of the ocean does affect the acoustics because in some places it's absorbed, sound is absorbed, and in some cases sound is bounced. So to know the type of bottom is useful to any submariner.
CROSS [voice-over]: Mooney says the Argo technology will be an extra set of eyes and ears for naval emergencies.
Adm. MOONEY: After the submarine Thresher was lost we discovered that we needed badly to upgrade our capabilities in submarine rescue and submarine search, submarine recovery or large-object recovery. And this is sort of a continuation of efforts that started back in 1965 or so.
CROSS [voice-over]: Robert Ballard is also hoping that the Argo will help geologists find new sources of minerals and oil reserves, but other military-minded engineers say it could be used to find ocean sites for basing nuclear missiles. Admiral Mooney is skeptical of that idea, but then, five years ago no one would have thought it was possible to find the Titanic, either.
WOODRUFF: That report by correspondent June Cross. Here's a final look at today's top stories. South Africa's President Botha announced that he is granting citizenship to some of his country's blacks now living in the so-called tribal homelands. The White House reacted by saying Botha had not gone far enough. American space scientists celebrated their latest first, a probe into the tail of a comet. And more than 100 people were killed when two trains collided in Portugal. Good night, Robin.
MacNEIL: Good night, Judy. That's our NewsHour tonight. We will be back tomorrow night. I'm Robert MacNeil. Good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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This episode's headline: News Summary; Live Aid: Getting Through?; Space Rendezvous; Titanic Tales. The guests include In Washington: M. PETER McPHERSON, U.S. Agency for; International Development; Dr. RICHARD BERENDZEN, Astronomer; Reports from NewsHour Correspondents: MICHAEL BUERKE (BBC), in South Africa; TOM BEARDEN, in Pittsburgh; BILL HAMILTON (BBC), in Birmingham, England; GAVIN HEWITT (BBC), in Sudan; JUNE CROSS, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MacNEIL, Executive Editor; In Washington: JUDY WOODRUFF, Correspondent
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