tv PBS News Hour PBS December 16, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff is on assignment. on the newshour tonight, a judge in baltimore declares a hung jury for the first officer charged in the death of freddie gray. also ahead, "near zero" no more: the federal reserve bank raises interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. fact-checking the republican candidates at yesterday's security-focused debate; and, how the musical duo "black violin" is breaking stereotypes by blending classical and hip hop. >> i look like i should be a linebacker, but to be a violinist-- when i realized that, i was just, like, i love it, i'm drawn to it. it's the thing, it's why i wake up in the morning, is to take the violin and kind of change people's perceptions about it. >> ifill: all that and more on
tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >>what if this year, we went around the table and instead of saying what we were thankful for, we say who we're thankful for. lincoln financial helps provide financial security for those who are always there for you, because this is what you do for people who love. lincoln financial-- you're in charge. ♪ ♪
moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: two major stories
tonight: in baltimore, a mistrial. a jury deadlocked over the guilt or innocence of a policeman in the death-in- custody of freddie gray. the incident last april touched off violent protests, and six officers were charged. this was the first case to go to trial. and, the federal reserve is doing something it hasn't done since 2006: it's raising interest rates. today's long-awaited announcement hikes a key short-term rate by a quarter point-- from near zero. we'll explore the fed's decision and the baltimore mistrial, in full, after the news summary. in the day's other news, wall street surged on the fed's reasoning that the economy is finally strong enough to stand a rate hike. the dow jones industrial average gained 224 points to close near 17,750. the nasdaq rose 75 points, and the s&p 500 added 29. public schools in los angeles re-opened today. officials canceled classes for 640,000 students yesterday over
an e-mailed threat that cited bombs and guns. it was later deemed a hoax. students returning this morning encountered stepped-up security, and the school district's decision was still a topic of dispute. >> i'm really glad they did shut down the school, because for all we know, it could have been our school or any other school around this district that could have been bombed and a lot of kids would have gotten hurt. >> it didn't inconvenience me, but i do think that they overreacted; i certainly think they overreacted. >> ifill: new york city's school system received a similar threat, but remained open. schools all over pakistan closed today, marking one year since a taliban attack that killed more than 140 people-- nearly all of them children. a special ceremony in peshawar began with a moment of silence, honoring those who died in the assault on an army-run school. prime minister nawaz sharif addressed today's crowd and promised vengeance on behalf of the victims. in yemen, a day-old cease-fire
appeared in peril, as continued fighting killed at least 42 people. clashes broke out in five provinces, including around the besieged city of taiz, in southwestern yemen. security officials said shelling by "houthi" rebels killed six civilians. they said field commanders and fighters from both sides were ignoring cease-fire orders. the violence threatened to undermine peace talks in switzerland. the supreme court of india is laying down the law about air pollution in new delhi, deemed the world's most-polluted city. the court today ordered a three-month ban on sales of large diesel vehicles, imposed higher tolls for trucks, and mandated that taxis switch to natural gas. environmentalists welcomed the moves, and urged india's government to see that they're put into effect. >> they are going to look at emission standards and public
transport strategy for the industry. it's a great rebinning and we're hoping the momentum we're building must not go down. >> ifill: air pollution contributes to more than 600,000 deaths each year across india. the supreme court in japan dealt a major setback to women's rights activists in the country. it upheld a law dating back to the 19th-century that requires married couples to use the same surname. the law dates back to the 1800's. about 96% of married women in japan take their husband's surname. still to come on the newshour: the freddie gray case declared a mistrial; what the fed rate hike means for the u.s. economy; fact-checking the republican debate, and much more. >> ifill: now, to baltimore and the no-decision in the trial of officer william porter, for the death of freddie gray. the jury deliberated 15 hours over three days, but
it deadlocked on manslaughter and other charges. gray's death in custody had touched off violent protests last april. after news of the mistrial today, protesters gathered in downtown baltimore, and mayor stephanie rawlings-blake appealed for calm. >> twelve baltimore city residents answered the solemn call to serve. they listened to the evidence presented and they rendered a decision. if some choose to protest, they must peacefully demonstrate. that is their right. but we also want to be very, very clear about any potential disturbances in our city. we are prepared to respond. >> ifill: william porter was the first of six officers to go on trial in the case, and in a statement, freddie gray's step-father expressed confidence in the proceedings, and also urged calm. >> we want to thank the hard-working jury for their service to the public, and their
quest for justice, and their personal sacrifice for their time and effort. we are not at all upset with them, and neither should the public be upset. they did the best that they could. >> ifill: our william brangham has been in baltimore throughout the day today. i spoke to him a short time ago. he's outside the courthouse. william, thank you for joining us. you've spent the day in baltimore. what has been the immediate reaction to the news of the hung jury? >> brangham: when the word came out outside the courthouse, it was like a ripple went through the crowd. only a few dozen protesters were out here. they have been waiting all day. they were visibly upset. they started chanting black lives matter, put the racist cops in jail, no justice, no peace. there was a lot of visceral anger and disappointment no verdict was reached today. >> ifill: is there any reasons given for this mistrial is this. >> brangham: no, it's not clear why the jury couldn't come
to a final decision. it's important to remember, in this particular case, unlike a lot of other police killing cases we've seen in recent months, there is not obvious evidence. there is no dash cam video to show exactly what happened to freddie gray when he went into the back to have the van and came out after multiple stops around the city of baltimore in this near fatal state. other cases were clear cut, you could see the results of shooting a young man. in this case, the evidence is not crystal clear. that said, we don't know why jury couldn't come to a final decision. >> ifill: as we mentioned, this was the first of six trials for six officers involved in the events of that day, is there a sense that this mistrial will endanger the other prosecutions? >> brangham: well, there is a possibility that's the case. obviously, officer porter, the gentleman who was on trial, tonight he was being relied on to testify in some subsequent cases of the other officers involved. we heard from the lawyer for the gray family tonight and they
seem to think they were still confident that the prosecution would be able to go forward, that the other police officers will be able to be brought to justice and they refer to this as a bump in the road, not anything calamitous for the case itself. >> ifill: did the lawyer for the gray family join with the mayor and the police chief in calling for calm because this was obviously a trigger the last time? >> absolutely. we heard that from them and a lot of people here today because everybody remembers what happened back in april right after freddie gray's funeral when the city literally came apart at the seams. buildings were on fire. people were venting visceral anger at what they saw happened to that young man. people are worried that's what will happen here if these cases don't come to a verdict that the community thinks is legitimate. >> ifill: can officer porter be tried again for the same alleged crime? >> yes, my understanding is if he were to be tried again and
we'll hear from attorney marilyn mosby tomorrow, she'll decide whether to retry him. if they appeal and can bring a second case against him, i believe they will go forward but we'll learn more about it tomorrow. >> ifill: william brangham in baltimore. thank you. >> ifill: now, up it finally went; the long-awaited, and long-predicted interest rate hike was announced today by the federal reserve. this afternoon in washington, fed chair janet yellen explained economic conditions were ripe for the increase. >> the underlying health of the u.s. economy, i consider to be quite sound. i think it's a myth that expansions die of old age. i do not think that they die of old age. so the fact that this has been quite a long expansion doesn't lead me to believe that its days
are numbered. >> ifill: for a closer look at today's rate hike, both in terms of how the fed makes its decisions, as well as what this move might mean for the household budgets of average americans, we turn to: david wessel, director of the hutchins center on fiscal and monetary policy at the brookings institution, a non-partisan research center, and contributing correspondent to the "wall street journal;" and tara siegel-bernard, personal finance reporter at the "new york times." david, welcome. so, tell me -- we have been talking about this for a long time and as you heard her talk about the long expansion, what took so long for them to finally make such an incremental move? >> i think the fed thought interest rates needed to be slow for a long time because the economy was slow to recover from a devastating recession and because of their strategy is to get inflation to a 2% target and they're still not there. so there was no reason to rush and now they've decided the
economy is healthy enough for them to just to begin to lift their foot gradually off the accelerator. >> ifill: you mentioned inflation. she put in a caveat that if things were to beginning to look southward, she would consider going back down again? >> people want to know what's the fed going to do next. that's what matters. a party percentage point doesn't matter but this is the beginning of a longer process. what she said is my colleagues on the fed expect interest rates to go up perhaps a full percentage rate in the next year, but we'll only do that if we're convinced inflation is moving to our target. she was careful to leave herself flexibility on that. >> ifill: tara siegel-bernard, when we hear 1% increase in interest rates over the next year, what does that mean for people's ability to buy a house or a car in. >> the big takeaway is it doesn't have that much of an immediate impact. we've only seen the rates rise a
quarter of a percentage point today, and the fed has telegraphed this was going to be a very slow and gradual increase. even if we get to 1%, yes, the cost of borrowing marginally, you may be able to get a higher rate on a savings account, but for now it's really pretty much status quo for the most part. >> ifill: so if you're a retiree who's had a lot of your money in c.d.s and conservative investments, does this have any immediate effect or make you make a little bit more money now? >> a teeny tiny amount of more money. it's really going to be a small amount for people holding c.d.s, people that have deposit accounts at their local bank. don't wait for them to immediately hike your rate. it's probably not going to happen. banks are sitting on a lot of deposits and what usually
prompts them to raise their rate is to attract more. so right now they really don't need to. so you shouldn't expect an immediate hike on your deposit or your c.d.s. that said, there are institutions that have raised their rates. you can find a whopping 1% at some online institutions. so the big takeaway is to shop around. there are some better opportunities, but it's still pretty meager at the end of the day. >> ifill: so, david, if this is pretty meager at the end of the day, are we talking about the impact of the increase or the trend line they're setting? >> we're talking about the trend line. they expect this to be gradual. because this is such a big change in monetary policy, because we've had seven years of zero interest rates, almost unprecedented in american history, she wants to be very careful she doesn't throw the economy off balance. so this was designed not to upset anybody and they succeeded in that. but if the economy continues to
get better, they ratchet rates up and those people you referred to on c.d.s will be getting more interest on their savings a year from now and people will be paying more on their mortgages a year from now. >> ifill: are people watching around the world what she does as a cue to what they do, around the world? >> absolutely. what the fed does really matters around the world. there is been a loft anxiety in emerging markets. when rates were low, a loft money went to emerging markets. it started to come back. emerging markets have to manage their accounts carefully when the fed is moving. china is changing the way it manages currency as a result of the dollar when the fed tightens. she said the u.s. economy is getting better but she's worried about the rest of the world. her judgment is the u.s. economy is strong enough to offset the weakness abroad but that could change. >> ifill: tara siegel-bernard, a lot of people have a pocket full of credit cards at holiday
time which they are using liberally. does today's actions affect how they treat their credit standing, their credit investment, their spending? >> well, the rate hike will jack up your credit card interest rate a bit and pretty much in line with the fed's action today. people can expect that to be reflected in their credit card statements within one to two billing cycles. if people are carrying that on their credit cards and slowly paying it off, now's the time to find the balance transfer offers and take advantage of those while available. but variable rates will rise in line with the fed. >> ifill: so, david, wall street seems to take this in streed and see this coming, this gradual buildup clearly has its effect. >> by design. when you score janet yellen, how
did she do? a, they wonted to prepare the markets for this so there wouldn't be an uproar. in 1984 when the fed raised interest rates after a long period of calm there was an uprising. she succeeded in that. the bigger goal is to keep the committee she chairs, ten voters, unanimous. when you want a big change, you don't want a lot of dissent. we know people who are impatient want rates to go up faster. we know some others, some governors on the board expressed reservations about this, so she must have worked hard to get them all to agree that not everybody likes this but we're going to do this, but let's do it together because it strengthens their hand and credibility. >> she's been in the chair two years. how's she measuring up? the republicans claimed they don't like the fed and the democrats are having mixed responses to today's move. >> yeah, bernie sanders and gene sperling an advisor to hillary
clinton criticized the move. i didn't see the republicans. the republicans in general thought the fed was keeping interest rates too low. i think this is her first big test. until now, she's basically followed the game plan ben bernanke left her. there will be a series of calls like this over the next year. she will have to decide did this work out as expected? shall i continue to ratchet things up? she has a real communications problem because she wants to tell people rates are going up but she also wants to assure them the economy deteriorates, she won't do it and everybody will complain she's confusing them. >> must be fun to be chairman of the fed. david wessel, director of the hutchins center on fiscal and monetary policy. tara siegel-bernard, personal phi nantz reporter at the "new york times." thank you. >> thank you.
>> ifill: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: sticking points in the trillion-dollar budget bill; the creator of "humans of new york" profiles syrians seeking refuge in the empire state; and classical meets hip-hop in the musical duo "black violin." but first, nine candidates made it to the main stage for the final republican debate of the year. four others appeared in an earlier, under-card face off. the candidates left las vegas much as they arrived-- jockeying to survive into the new year. the cast of characters has shifted, but there has been one constant this republican debate season: frontrunner donald trump, center stage. last night, the candidates competed to prove who would be best prepared as commander in chief to keep the country safe. for trump, it meant defending his plan to ban muslims, at least temporarily, from entering the u.s. >> we are not talking about isolation. we're talking about security. we're not talking about religion. we're talking about security.
>> ifill: for former florida governor jeb bush, it meant seizing the opportunity to try to take trump down a peg. >> look, this is not a serious proposal. in fact, it will push the muslim world, the arab world away from us, at a time when we need to re-engage with them to be able to create a strategy to destroy isis. he's a chaos candidate. and he'd be a chaos president. he would not be the commander- in-chief we need to keep our country safe. >> ifill: for the rest, the night was spent making the case that they are, in fact, qualified. retired neurosurgeon ben carson, who has stumbled over foreign policy questions of late, said he would take the fight to isis, up to and including deploying u.s. ground troops in syria. >> you know, we've got a phobia about boots on the ground. if our military experts say, "we need boots on the ground," we should put boots on the ground and recognize that there will be boots on the ground and they'll be over here, and they'll be their boots if we don't get out of there now.
>> ifill: for two senators recently on the rise, marco rubio and ted cuz, the clashes came over the tradeoff between safety and surveillance. >> we are now at a time when we need more tools, not less tools. and that tool we lost, the meta-data program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal. >> the old program covered 20% to 30% of phone numbers to search for terrorists. the new program covers nearly 100%. that gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that's the case. >> ifill: they also scrapped over immigration and border security, with rubio turning his guns on cruz to downplay his own support for a 2013 senate bill that included a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. >> does ted cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now? >> senator cruz? >> i have never supported a legalization... >> would you rule it out? >> i have never supported legalization, and i do not intend to support legalization. >> ifill: for the non-senators on stage-- especially former business executive carly fiorna
and new jersey governor chris christie-- the cruz-rubio disagreement left room for an outsiders' attack. >> we need a commander in chief who has made tough calls in tough times, and stood up to be held accountable over and over, not first-term senators who've never made an executive decision in their life. >> this is a difference between being a governor and being in a legislature. see, because when something doesn't work in new jersey, they look at me, say: "why didn't it get done? why didn't you do it?" you have to be responsible and accountable. >> ifill: the questions and answers stuck close to matters of terrorism and domestic security. debate ventured little from and the debate drew another big audience-- a hefty 18 million viewers. the gop candidates meet next in mid-january. let's take a closer look now at some of the claims made last night, and try to separate fact from fiction. angie drobnic holan is the editor of politifact, an independent fact-checking website and a division of the "tampa bay times." her team recently took stock of the statements they've checked out so far this election season.
the takeaway? no candidate has been completely honest-- democrat or republican. some fared worse than others. for instance, out of more than 70 donald trump statements, three-quarters of them proved false. jeb bush tried to call attention to that last night. look, two months ago, donald trump said that i.s.i.s. was not our fight, just two months ago. he said hillary clinton would be a great negotiate with iran. he gets his foreign policy experience from the shows. that's not a serious kind of candidate. >> ifill: other news from watching donald trump's faces while the accusation were being made, is that true donald trump said those things? >> mostly true. he did make the comment about i.s.i.s. not being our fight. his other comments were five months ago wrath than just two. looking at donald trump's statements about foreign policy,
he seems to go back and forth between saying the u.s. should hit i.s.i.s. very hard and saying the u.s. needs not to get too enlanglelangled -- entanglen foreign affairs. so there is dissidence there. >> ifill: i want to follow up on what you found overall looking at donald trump's statements. that's a big number of false statements. >> yes. wwe haven't fact checked anyone as much as donald trump. with so much inaccuracy, he just gets a lot of factual matters incorrect. >> ifill: it doesn't seem to hurt? >> well, voters have not gone to follows yet is what i say. we'll see. >> ifill: let's move to ted cruz. he was asked how he disagreed with trump and his response was to change the subject. let's listen. >> we're looking at the president who's engaged in this double-speak where he doesn't call radical islamic terrorism by its name. indeed, he gives a speech after
the san bernardino attack where his approach is to try to go after the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens rather than to keep us safe and, even worse, president obama and hillary clinton are proposing bringing tens of thousands of syrian refugees to this country when the head of f.b.i. has told congress they cannot get those refugees. >> ifill: now, it is true that the president does not use the phrase "radical islamic terrorism," he goes out of his way not to use the phrase for lots of reason, but is it true that the administration has dropped the ball on vetting refugees? >> we looked at cruz's statement -- >> ifill: the f.b.i. director. we rated cruz's statement mostly false. there is a vetting process for the syrian refugees. it's somewhat extensive. it's more than a tourist visa would go through. the united nations certifies rfgdz overseas and then the u.s. government puts the refugees through a number of checks, such as from the defense department,
homeland security department, state department. fa, we rated it mostly false because he did say he could not personally certify every refugee did not represent a security check. that's the standard the republicans in congress wanted him to meet. he said that wasn't feasible, that they do have a standard vetting process the refugees go through. >> ifill: interesting because congress said they would do something about that but that was not included in the budget bill that passed in congress. let's move on to the other big i guess fact-checkable moment of the night where senator rand paul accused start rubio -- there were three senators on the stage last night -- of opposing increased border security. let's listen. >> so marco can't have it both ways. he thinks he wants to be this oh, i'm great, strong on national defense, but he's the weakest of all on immigration, he is the one for an open border
leaving us defenseless. if we want to defend the doesn't, we have to defend against those coming in and marco has more of an allegiance to chuck schumer and the liberals than conservative policy. >> ifill: we can attribute the look on marco rubio's face he doesn't believe it's true. what do you think? >> we didn't either. we rated rand paul's statement that marco doesn't support guarding borders as pants on fire. rubio supported comprehensive legislation, passed in the senate and never became law. it included border agents to increase security. open borders implies that there would be a border where people could come back and forth freely with very minimal checks. that's not at all what marco rubio supported. rand paul may have a point he supported the immigration legislation when other
candidates did not but to say he supports open borders crosses the line and is at odds with what the legislation contained. >> ifill: we have talked before about how the tenuous relationship between the truth and fact in this year's election on both sides ove of the aisle. how do you vet them with nine candidates on the main stage, four candidates on the undercard and another three candidates on the democratic side? >> we're looking for claims voters would care about and would make them say i wonder if that's true. we're using news judgment. we don't do a random sample or pick statements out of the at. we are looking at what's most significant to voters. after we watch a debate like last night, we think what would people be talking about and wondering about, so we fact check statements about immigration, i.s.i.s., national security, those were the topics from this week. >> ifill: wha what kind of feedback do you get from leaders or candidates?
>> we get a lot of reader feedback thanking us for checking the facts. then we get reader feedback that says you're biased against the candidate i like. so we get both. >> ifill: if you're getting both, you're probably somewhere in the middle. angie drobnic holan, editor of iitipolitifacts thanks, again. >> thank you. >> ifill: as the candidates tangled last night, in washington members of congress were shaking hands, as leaders agreed to a sweeping deal to fund the government and extend dozens of tax breaks. attached to all that are a slew of other issues-- from immigration to oil. speaker paul ryan said both parties made concessions. >> republicans didn't get all that we wanted. democrats didn't get all that we wanted. this is a bipartisan compromise. it's a bicameral compromise. and i understand that some people don't like some of the aspects of this, but that is the compromise that we have. >> ifill: political director lisa desjardins has been digging into the deal, and joins us live from capitol hill.
it's so interesting to hear paul ryan talk about a bipartisan agreement. how unusual is it for both parties to agree on something so big anymore? >> they used to do this only by force. they used to run right up to and across a government shutdown to do this. i think what's really unusual here, gwen, is for the past years we've seen all of these collisions result in no one getting anything, everyone sticking to their hard lines. here what we see is both sides getting something, in fact a lot of something ahead of the holiday break. >> ifill: let's talk about the cybersecurity provisions in this, which actually got tougher, seemed to me. >> that's right. this cybersecurity bill has been a controversial idea for the past year. i'm going to talk about why tle a controversial provision. supporters say this bill would allow businesses to send data about specific hacks to the federal government and then, from there, the government could alert other businesses. so if target was hacked, they would tell the n.s.a., the n.s.a. would alert other businesses, and companies would
share that data voluntarily. what about critics? critics say that's fine, but the truth is that the government could hold on to that data and as much as the data is not supposed to be our personal information, it's very possible that it could be. once the government got that data, gwen, the critics say this law would allow them to use it for some prosecutorial aspects, not just on cybersecurity but everything from espionage to child exploitation, things, of course, that government does want to prosecute, but things those who are worried about civil liberties say opens a vast door to government surveillance. it puts the business community itself, retailers and financial companies, they really like this. they say it's needed. but those who are involved in technology, especially silicon valley, facebook, apple, they don't like it at all. they think it's a bad idea. >> ifill: let's move to the energy tradeoff. the deal they cut. democrats were happy for some of it, republicans for other parts. >> this is what i mean by each side got a little bit of
something. here's what the energy tradeoff was in the bill. first of all for republicans, they got a reversal for a 40-year ban on exporting oil that is a very big deal for them and especially a very big deal for oil, for drilling here in this country. democrats, on the other hand, got something that they want. they got extended server and wind tax credits -- solar and wind tax credits over the next five years, something the republicans talked about ending. so you see some of the environment and energy sector gaining both sides here. everyone liked something and didn't like something as far as the energy portion of this bill goes. >> ifill: there was another part of the bill i found interesting because it showed lobbying working, unconventional lobbying. the comedian john stewart went to capitol hill and pushed for 9/11 first responders protection bill which he actually confronted members of the senate and house face to face, and this survived. >> that's right. he really became a leading force
in that bill. it was an emotional bill talking about the 60,000 or so first responders whose insurance does not cover all of their care. now, this bill that would have covered the rest of it expired, gwen, in september. john stewart has been a very strong advocate and we've also seen, of course, a large amount of lobbying from the new york delegation here as well. so this bill in full went into the omnibus. this bill just contains so much that will affect a great number of lives including that of first responders in new york city. >> ifill: we probably just scratched the surface but you did it veal. thank you, lisa desjardins, for us on capitol hill tonight. >> you're welcome. >> ifill: there has been plenty of political debate about immigration policy, refugees and security fears. now, we're going to hear the case for helping refugees. their plight is the center of a
big push on social media and the web this week. it comes from a popular blog and website whose creator and founder says he's been more affected by these stories than thousands of others he's told. hari sreenivasan has our story from new york. >> my name is brandon stanton. i run the web site "humans of new york" and i stop random strangers on the streets of new york and i learn their stories. >> sreenivasan: in five years, brandon stanton has learned and shared the stories of thousands of people. so how often do you shoot? every day? >> every day, yeah, got to keep the blog going. if i stop shooting, the blog stops. >> sreenivasan: the blog doesn't stop. 16 million people see his portraits and the captions that go with them on facebook. another 4.4 million follow along instagram. >> i'm always looking for the thing that makes them unique. i mean, i'm never really looking for the thing that makes somebody the same as everybody else because, you know, i've interviewed 10,000 people so.
in order to keep my blog interesting, i need to find something different about that person. >> sreenivasan: are you amazed by how much a stranger is willing to share with you? >> oh, all the time. when i first started, i didn't even think a stranger would let me take a photo. now, i've done it so much that i almost walk up to people with the expectation after a few minutes we're going to be talking about something deeply personal that they may not have told anyone else in years. >> sreenivasan: every so often, the story of one of stanton's subjects will resonate with thousands, and lead to something bigger. >> there was a story of young man that i met in brownsville, brooklyn. he ended up telling me about his principal, and we ended up raising $1.5 million for his school. there's a story in pakistan about a woman who was battling slave labor that winds up raising $500,000 for. so there are some stories that have been so powerful that they've spilled over and had some sort of larger impact. >> sreenivasan: his work has resulted in two best selling
books which have helped him tell people's stories from 20 different countries. recently, stanton traveled to turkey and jordan to visit refugees. >> being a refugee is awful, and that's one of the-- my eyes have been opened so much to what these people go through. these people are in turkey, stuck in jordan. millions of them. they're not allowed to work. they don't have benefits, they have no money. they're getting, i don't know, dollars a month to, you know, >> sreenivasan: stanton met with 12 families, part of the 10,000 refugees bound for america, who had passed the lengthy screening process through the u.n.h.c.r. and multiple u.s. intelligence agencies. what are their perceptions of and what are their hopes for their lives when they get here? >> existing. being on the radar. having an i.d. having a passport. being a citizen. being in a place where your labor and your effort will actually lead to results.
they are not allowed to do anything as a refugee. you have no options to move your life forward. all you do is suffer and wait. >> sreenivasan: just this past week, one of those stories reached the white house. president obama commented on the photo of a scientist profiled by stanton, saying "you're part of what makes america great." >> these families and all of them are extremely exceptional. in someway, if they have very bad health conditions that need immediate attention, handicapped children or they have p.h.d.'s. they're extremely highly educated and i came to realize how selective america was being about who they let in. >> sreenivasan: on sunday, stanton began sharing a story he didn't expect. while helping translate the stories of the dozen families he was interviewing, he found out the deep suffering his own interpreter has already endured. her name is aya abdullah.
>> she is the victim of both iraq and syrian wars. she grew up in iraq. she was about seven when the war came; her entire neighborhood was destroyed; her best friend was cut in half by a bomb and died in front of her eyes. she had to watch that. a car bomb exploded in front of her when she was about 10 or 11 and she had to help her father pick out survivors inside. >> sreenivasan: to escape, aya's family fled to syria but within a year, war found them again and they fled to turkey. her father has now disappeared, leaving aya to take care of her three siblings, and her shell shocked mother. aya applied for refugee status four years ago, went through all the interviews, in hopes that she could start over in the united states. in september, aya was told she and her family would be accepted into the united states. we spoke to her via skype.
>> we were dancing, all the family, and doing some music because we just tell ourselves we are going to go to a new life in a new country. we start to just be ready to go and we just like buy new things to have with us and everything. >> sreenivasan: but that joy was short-lived. so you had your bags packed and then what happened? >> yeah. and what happened that in december we get the message that we have rejected from america. that's it. that's feel that you just build dreams and there's someone come and destroy that building. >> sreenivasan: her rejection letter offers no specific reason why. aya understands that there is currently a fear in the united states of refugees from syria. >> we're not dangerous. we just escaped from war to go to a safer place. we're not going to do something bad in your country.
but i hope that, as a refugee, i hope i told the people that muslims, refugees are not bad people. this is the message i want to give. >> sreenivasan: so brandon is using the reach of his stories to put a face on those refugees left behind. >> yes, she's just one person. but she's also representative of so many people that are on a similar situation that don't have the benefit of speaking english. that don't have the benefit of speaking for themselves and telling their own stories. these are smart, educated people through no fault of their own are just languishing in near homelessness in countries that honestly a lot of people don't want them there. they're facing discrimination. aya has been hit by a car, her sister's teeth have been knocked out, they get shouted out on the street and have nowhere to go.
>> ifill: stanton has started an online petition to support aya's appeal. the petition has more than 800,000 signatures. stanton's goal is one million. you can see more of her story on our website, at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> ifill: next, where bach meets hip hop, with a strong message about stereotyping. jeffrey brown looks at the musical group, "black violin." >> brown: wil baptiste and kev marcus, the members of "black violin:" two former high school orchestra nerds. that's how they met. but also by their own description: "two six-foot-two black men" who are eager to change perceptions about who
plays what, when it comes to music. their new album is titled, "stereotypes." ♪ >> i think that's probably the main agenda, right? you think of-- >> brown: you use the word "agenda"? >> i think so. if you look at us, we don't look like your typical violinists. we talk to the kids all the time and the kids loves us just because we can relate to them, so to speak. and that's what it's all about: breaking stereotypes. >> i look like i should be a linebacker, but to be a violinist-- when i realized that, i was just like, i love it, i'm drawn to it. it's the thing, it's why i wake up in the morning is to take the violin and kind of change people's perceptions about it. ♪ >> brown: blending classical music with hip hop, "black violin" is reaching audiences around the country.
we met them at the publick playhouse in cheverly, maryland. they've played the apollo theater in harlem, and performed they met with american troops in iraq, and have opened for top pop stars including alicia keys. ♪ it all began in an ordinary, even accidental, way at dillard high school for the performing arts in ft. lauderdale, florida. was it your choice to pick up the viola? >> my mom made me do it. now i thank her every day; 25 years later, i can't believe i'm still playing this instrument. >> i wanted to play the saxophone, they put me in the wrong class. that's my story. true story. but i'm grateful, now that "i'm, black saxophone" just doesn't have the same ring. >> brown: you were telling me, wil, earlier, about high school. the rigor of the training, right? you're always playing. >> always playing. >> brown: playing in orchestra, playing in a quartet, concerts all the time. >> exactly.
concert every weekend. we had a viola technique class. chamber music, orchestra, youth orchestra. i mean, you know we had a ton of classes, but that was the really, really good thing at the time, it was very like, "ah, i've got another concert, i've got another-- you know, got to rehearse." when we look back at it now, i >> brown: the genre-bending music they play today is a direct fusion of their musical training and passions. >> think of it this way: we studied classical, but we lived rap music. >> brown: you studied one and you lived the other. >> lived the other. so second period every day, we'd play bach and beethoven and mozart, but on the way to third period, we'd be listening to biggie or tupac or whatever we liked at the time, whatever was hot. so when it came time to blend them together, we did it so naturally and so seamlessly that it didn't even seem like we were doing anything groundbreaking at the time. we were just naturally, i would hear that hip-hop beat and pick up our violins and play to it.
♪ ♪ >> we're bridging hip hop and classical and jazz and funk. and what that does is to me, particularly with the kids, it just to them, they're like, "oh my god, this looks incredible, it sounds incredible. it looks impossible. maybe i can do this with literature, art, science, or anything that i have a passion for." >> brown: a "black violin" concert is a dancing, even shouting, affair. they play their own compositions, such as the song "invisible." >> ♪ i'm not invisible, society of sick individuals. >> brown: and cover hits like ed sheeren's "thinking out loud." ♪
but there are also slightly older "hits." like bach's brandenburg concerto's. >> bach, to me, is the equalizer. beethoven i just, anything late beethoven as far as chamber music is concerned, i just love. i'm very excited about classical music. i think what we do is just different. it's not-- it doesn't elevate it, it's just different from classical, just like it's different from hip hop. we get to create our own lane and walk in it on our own, and hopefully others follow. >> brown: yeah. because the question is how does bach, and what does bach say to jay z or tupac. what are they saying to one another? >> honestly i think if bach were here today, he would say, good job, fellas.
because honestly if you think about, if you think about classical and hip hop, they're not so different. in the bach world, back in those days, i mean someone would pay bach to write a specific piece for a banquet or a party. you know what i'm saying. bach was the producer at that time, the hip hop producer to so speak, at that time. so it's not so different from today's age right now, you know what i mean. >> brown: i'm not sure i've heard that before. "bach is a hip hop producer." braxton street. hill, age seven, part of the washington, d.c. youth orchestra, was immersed in the concert from the front row. his mother, anhela, told us he'd had a bad cold. but wasn't going to miss this. >> black violin, black violin. >> brown: earlier, i'd asked wil baptiste and kev marcus where they hope this all leads. >> i think a lot of kids are now
open to listening to a mozart piece or a beethoven piece because of what we do. >> so i think we're creating, and also hip hop as well. the true essence of hip hop, which is creativity. someone that would never listen to hip hop is seeing hip hop in a different light as well. >> whoever you are, whether you're yellow, purple, black, young, five, 70, whatever, just come have a good time and hopefully you're educated, entertained and inspired. ♪ >> brown: in january, "black violin" will set off again, on a 30 city u.s. tour. in cheverly, maryland, i'm jeffrey brown for the pbs newshour. >> ifill: finally tonight, another in our series of essays, a long tradition here at the newshour that we have recently revived. robin givhan is the fashion critic of the "washington post"
and the winner of the pulitzer prize for criticism. tonight she explores the sexism behind some critiques of haute couture fashion. fashion makes people nervous. sometimes they get a little mean. they turn sexist. when i say "fashion," i don't mean basic t-shirts or jeans or some dress that leaves nothing to the imagination. i mean runway fashion, the clothes that designers send out on professional models, clothes that speak to the state of our culture, where it's moving and how women and men who want to be perceived in the public square six months from now and beyond. for example, there is a movement in fashion inspired by blurring gender lines. a lot of designers have been part of this conversation but the most aggressive has been gucci's alexander. he started a men's collection that included bustles, bells and
lace. women's attire had been applied to men. social change meted out in the form of revolution. a designer fashioned with technology in search for new materials and techniques. her clothes are other-worldly, such as dresses that look like waves captured mid-splash. she's a futurist and without designers like her, we would all still be in panta loons and hoop skiers. when people see her work, they freak out. i know this because people write to me. it's only natural to be unnerved but something unfamiliar, but other categories regularly shock us without sending us into a fit of degreed mocking. we have been informed drones will soon be delivering dog food to our front door and the only question we ask is how fast? in other industries, we leap
forward and are encouraged to look closer. but not fashion. the first reaction from so many, men in particular, is to laugh -- who would wear that? if there is one thread in all the lampooning and fretting is the belief that the mere existence of strange and expensive fashion is an affront. the fact a woman might spend $20,000 on a dior dress pushes many to distraction. they seem to believe that the existence of such an expensive garment endangers the existence of $100 dresses. i assure you the $100 dress is safe. i find it strange because i don't detect similar outrage over, say, fancy cars. with we don't presume that is social fabric is being shredded by a $100,000 cadillac or your $200,000 starter bentley, but if you build a special elevator for them and run for president, well, then you would have a
problem. the cultural conversation about luxury cars typically centers on engineering, sleek lines and precision. that same conversation could be had about fashion. at its highest level, fashion is also about proportions and lines, balance and details and considering performance. but the conversation is different. because we still tend to think of cars as boys' toys and fashion is for girls. fashion has a lot of problems of its own making. it isn't as diverse as it should be, it appeals to our insecurities and struggles to balance creativity with commerce. but its pervasive and influential and we should examine it. it is beautiful and entertaining. we should treat it no better or worse than any other industry but we dismissed because when men end up with a closet full of floral shirts, they're going to
want to know how they got there. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, a new app and website can spot earthquakes sooner than ever by harnessing social media and internet traffic. by locating where people are feeling the shakes of a tremor, it can register a dangerous seismic event up to 20 minutes before official reports. you can find out more on our homepage, www.pbs.org/newshour. tune in later tonight. on charlie rose: actress jennifer lawrence on her new dramatic comedy, "joy." and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday: a galaxy far, far away comes to a theater near you. we take a look at the new star wars. i'm gwen ifill. join us on-line, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and good night. >> major funding for the pbs
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>> announcer: this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. this action marks the end of an extraordinary seven-year period during which the federal funds rate was held near zero to support the recovery of the economy from the worst financial crisis and recession since the great depression. >> the wait is over. the federal reserve raises interest rates, ending an unprecedented era of zero rate monetary policy. >> tonight, we'll tell you what that decision means for the economy, your investments, credit cards, mortgage rates, student loans and even your retirement. all that and more tonight on "nightly business report" on fed day for wednesday, december 16th.