Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

It's been more than a month since the rig explosion that caused the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast, and at least six million gallons of oil has spewed from the undersea gusher since then. This week, the Senate agreed on sweeping financial overhaul legislation, getting tougher on borrowers and lenders. Host Scott Simon reviews the week's news with NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Joining us now for a look at the week's news is NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr.

Hello, Dan.

DAN SCHORR: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: And, Dan, it's now been more than a month since that oil rig explosion that caused the massive spill in the Gulf Coast.

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: We hear from British Petroleum chief operating officer Doug Suttles in the other hour of our program. A month into it, what's your estimation of what this crisis has meant and will mean going forward?

SCHORR: Well, it's become kind of cataclysmic. I mean, we've had hurricanes. We've had tornadoes. We've had floods. And this hovers over America as one of the worst things ever happened to this country.

And what makes it so difficult is that you see the oil creeping in, into the marshland, you see estimates of how far this is going, how much more there is, and with all, there's a sense of this utter helplessness, even though on all sides they all say we'll try this, we'll try that. Not much has worked so far, and it is quite awful.

SIMON: The Senate agreed on sweeping financial overhaul legislation this week, getting tougher on borrowers and lenders. What are the implications for investors?

SCHORR: Well, the implications for investors are very interesting, is that they're now being told they will be protected from Wall Street. And one of the reasons that this went through both the Senate and the House in slightly different versions is that the Republicans recognize that if the legislation has to do with Wall Street, people want something done about Wall Street.

And so the chances are, we are going to get these new regulations after it goes through conference between Senate and House, because anything anti-Wall Street goes well with Americans.

SIMON: Related or otherwise - you make that judgment, Dan - the markets posted their biggest losses in more than a year earlier this week. Of course there's been a lot of worry over the debt crisis in Europe. Stocks did end on a higher note on Friday. What's your reading of the markets now?

SCHORR: Well, the markets are waiting for something to happen in Europe. Everybody tells them that there may be more trouble after the bailout of Greece. And if you say there may be more trouble, Wall Street reacts as though there may be more trouble.

SIMON: Tuesday, several states held primary elections for Senate and congressional seats. And there was an election for one congressional seat. A number of incumbents from both parties wound up losing. What do you see in these results?

SCHORR: What we're seeing in these results is that Americans want to vote for outsiders and vote out the insiders. Arlen Specter, five terms in the Senate, and he's gone now. Why? Because he had five terms in the Senate, basically. And we're in a strange period in our political life where simply to have not been there, not to have been part of what made this all happen, almost guarantees you support in an election.

SIMON: Internationally this week, South Korea published a report that had been made by an international group of experts about the sinking of that South Korean naval vessel back in March, which the international group of experts identified as a North Korean torpedo.

SCHORR: Right. There was actually a number on the fragment of torpedo which was a North Korean number. There isn't much doubt.

SIMON: Yeah. Now, I don't want to make this too big a ball of wax, but of course Iran has brokered - announced a uranium swap with Turkey and Brazil, hoping to avoid sanctions, which Secretary of State Clinton denounced immediately as a ruse. What's your reading on the international scene of the position of these two countries?

SIMON: Well, you know, Scott, you look back, and for all those 40 or 50 years you had the Cold War, the theoretical, at least, possibility that there might be a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union - later to be called Russia. And now where's the real trouble coming from - the two countries you mentioned, Iran and North Korea. Both of these are quite sinister.

In the case of Iran, for example, Iran has been putting on display as though dangling three Americans who were taken prisoner there. Their mothers were invited to come and see them, even as though they were dangling them in order to achieve some purpose. What purpose? They're trying to avoid sanctions over their nuclear pretensions. But they're certainly willing to make an issue of these poor mothers and the poor three hikers who were lost there in order to do that.

So here we are in a day where you could be nostalgic to have the old Cold War back.

SIMON: If North Korea sunk a South Korean vessel...

SCHORR: Yes.

SIMON: ...that's an act of war. It's started wars, right?

SCHORR: Yes. Sinking somebody else's boat in peacetime is clearly an act of war, which the South Koreans are very, very eager to point out in great detail. The question is, if it is an act of war, how do you respond to that act of war? Are we really ready to resume the war with North Korea? We're not sure of that.

SIMON: Mexican President Calderon was in the United States this week. There was a White House state dinner. And he addressed the U.S. Congress on Thursday. What was a number of issues between the two countries? What was the effect of his appearances?

SCHORR: Well, the effect - he didn't get very far. I mean, he had the state dinner, was treated very well. We are friends, both sides. But the fact of the matter is, when it comes to the question of immigrants - legal and illegal - there wasn't very much change.

The next thing that would have to happen would be to review the laws in Arizona that have been passed, which make it possible to pick up people on suspicion that they might be illegal immigrants. He didn't get that far with the U.S. Congress on this issue. Had a nice time here, but there was not much advance.

SIMON: NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Thank you.

SCHORR: Sure thing.

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