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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 23, 2015 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: on the newshour tonight: islamic state militants under siege. iraqi forces are on the offensive for the second day, as they move to retake the city of ramadi. >> woodruff: also ahead this wednesday: one of the biggest political and human catastrophes that shaped this year. a look back at the ongoing refugee crisis. >> ifill: and the true story of the new will smith movie "concussion." >> i reviewed all his medical records. there was no single mention of any disease. >> i thought america was a country made up of the most brilliant. how come nobody has seen this? >> woodruff: all that and more
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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. ♪ ♪
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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. >> woodruff: fierce storms rolled across the south and the
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midwest today, but instead of snow and ice, warnings went up for tornadoes and floods. one twister struck in mississippi, and a woman died in arkansas when a tree hit her house. officials said high winds could turn christmas decorations into shrapnel. meanwhile, rain and fog caused flight delays and some cancellations across the northeast. the unseasonably warm weather is predicted to last through christmas. >> ifill: there has been a miraculous rescue in china, nearly three days after a devastating mudslide. it came today in shenzhen, where the massive collapse buried part of an industrial park. martha fairlie of independent television news, reports. >> after 67 hours of searching, there are excited shouts from the rescue workers. they have found a survivor. a man, buried alive for more than three days under the mud and rubble of a landslide in
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shezhen, is carried out on a stretcher. tian zeming, a migrant worker from south west china was pulled out, still conscious but with severe crushing injuries. a spokesman for the hospital where he is being treated said the 21-year old man is extremely weak, with severe dehydration and multiple injuries. but doctors say after three hours of surgery, he is now stable. an army of excavators, and 4,000 rescue workers have been searching the site in shenzen city since a huge mountain of construction waste caused a landslide on sunday. an industrial estate including 14 factories and 13 low rise buildings was buried under ten meters of silt. two bodies have been found, but more than 70 people are still missing. and this rescue of one survivor
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has given search teams the small hope they may yet find more. >> ifill: the vice mayor of shenzen says even though the critical window to find survivors has passed, rescue efforts will continue. >> woodruff: in afghanistan, fresh troops arrived today in a critical southern district that's under siege by the taliban. the militants have overrun most of sangin, but in kabul, the acting defense minister said afghan soldiers are doing their best. >> building an army is not the work of two years, three years or four years. it is a young army, it needs maturity, with the very reduced amount of equipment and others. but this is the bravery of our soldiers, our men and women who are fighting there, and i think they are defending very strongly and i am proud of them. >> woodruff: meanwhile, u.s. troops outside kabul paid tribute to six americans killed in a taliban attack this week. later, the bodies were flown back to a base in delaware.
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>> ifill: hundreds of "black lives matter" protesters peacefully tied up parts of minneapolis today. they started at the mall of america, the nation's largest, but quickly moved outside and headed to the minneapolis-st. paul airport, where they blocked roads. the demonstrators demanded the city release video of police killing a black suspect last month. >> woodruff: the presidential frontrunners began their christmas breaks today, putting a war of words on hold. on monday, republican donald trump used a vulgar term to sum up hillary clinton's loss in the democratic race of 2008. later, he defended his language, saying in a tweet: clinton shot back late tuesday, telling "the des moines register": >> ifill: a christmas rally on
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wall street extended into a third session today. the dow jones industrial average gained 185 points to close above 17,600. the nasdaq rose nearly 45 points. and the s&p 500 added 25. >> ifill: and, twins are being born in the u.s. at a record rate. the centers for disease control and prevention reports one in every 29 babies born last year was a twin. meanwhile, the rate of triplets and other multiple births hit a 20-year low. and, the rate of births to teen- age mothers was down 60% from its all-time high, in 1991. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour: the push to retake the iraqi city of ramadi. the crisis that's brought more than one million migrants to europe. diverging views on islam. and much more.
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>> ifill: one of the biggest stories of 2015 has been the islamic state group's increasing grip on parts of iraq and syria. for months, the iraqi military has been preparing to take back the vital city of ramadi, capital of anbar province. and today, that push may be paying off. >> ifill: the crack of gunfire and boom of mortar rounds punctuated the day's fighting across ramadi. thick plumes of smoke dotted the skyline as tanks and other vehicles rolled through the streets below. state television quoted the army chief as saying his forces will finish retaking the city center "in the coming days." it's a striking turnabout from may, when islamic state forces seized ramadi. the city is located about 60 miles west of baghdad, and its loss was a blow to the iraqi government and army. that's because ramadi is also
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the provincial capital of anbar province, deep in the sunni arab heartland. for months, iraqi troops have slowly fought their way back, surrounding the city and cutting off isis supply lines. they've been backed by u.s.-led coalition air strikes, but have not relied on shiite militias. the shiites were accused of abusing sunni civilians when tikrit was recaptured from islamic state fighters back in april. at one point, the militants controlled a large swath of iraq. even if ramadi does fall... they will still have strongholds in two major cities: nearby fallujah, as well as iraq's second largest city, mosul, in the north. iraqi military officials say once ramadi is fully secured, it will be handed over to anbar police and local sunni tribes. for more on what the battle for ramadi means, i'm joined by ayman oghanna, a multimedia journalist with vice news, who has recently been embedded with iraqi special forces near
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ramadi. and retired army colonel peter mansoor, a top aide to general david petraeus during the u.s. surge in iraq. ayman oghanna, since you have been with the troops most recently, tell us what kind of progress is being made and how you measure that progress. >> well, before this trip in ramadi in may has been taken, it's night and day in terms of spirit in morale amongst the men. they are moving forward and feel confident they should have full control of the city soon. >> ifill: they're doing that how, exactly? >> basically, the u.s., according to the men on the ground, they said it's a matter of increase in the u.s.-led coalition's use of air support and airstrikes. there is a dramatic increase
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since russia in syria. they said before we had a problem getting hit which coalition aircraft and now the coordinates they're giving, they get hit. the the targets get hit and the special forces move forward and take the ground. >> ifill: peter mansoor, how important and critical is it for the iraqi government or iraqi effort to regain ramadi? what is it about ramadi that makes that important? >> ramadi is the provincial capital of al-anbar province, a province composed of 99% sunni muslims, and it's extremely important. it's the iconic home, birthplace of the awakening movement that did so much to destroy al quaida and iraq, the forerunner of i.s.i.s. so it has great symbolic and great plath practical and political meaning as well. >> ifill: the help of the u.s. airstrikes, air support has allowed this progress to be
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made, but what about the shia paramilitary which has been available? is it because it is such a sunni stronghold that that has not been possible? >> i think so. i think the government of al-baddie understands they cannot unlibrary the shia stronghold in anbar province, it would probably lead to casualties which would be blamed on sectarianism and create more problems than it would solve. this needs to be a victory by the iraqi army supported by u.s. advisors and air power and needs to be turned over to the sunni police and tribes. >> ifill: ayman oghanna, the president said i.s.i.s. has lost ground in iraq. 40% he says, others say 20%. what does that look like on the ground? >> yeah, it's clear i.s.i.s. has lost a lot of territory this
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year. in terms of them being a conventional military group holding ground. but the real questions will linger afterwards. even when ramadi will fall to the iraqi forces soon, it's still going to be a difficult place for the iraqis to hold and maintain. even saddam hussein had trouble ruling over anbar province and its cap pal ramadi and the state has always had a difficult time controlling this area. once i.s.i.s. goes, there will still be a lot of elements who will support them and be opposed to the government and it might not look like wearing a black flag and having the sort of caliphate or state, but there will be a probable insurgency that will hold the ground. >> ifill: peter, we've heard over the years about the difficulty getting the iraqi army up to snuff. does this mean they now are? >> they're at least good enough
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to take a large or semi-large city when supported by lots of air power and against resistance that, although fierce, you know, we're only talking several hundred troops. it will be a far different battle if they were to try to take over mosul at this point, for instance. but it does show progress and i think it's a good sign. i think the more important thing going to what the other commentator is talking about is the politics of the situation have got to be conducive to holding the area once it's secured, and there has got to be some sort of political arrangement with the local sunnis that give them some sort of autonomy, much like the kurdish region enjoys, and then they could support a political way forward rather than continuing to fight the government. >> ifill: how does that happen, ayman oghanna? how do they hold the ground they have taken? >> yeah, it's not easy.
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i mean, the group that is leading this operation right now in ramadi, there are special forces who are very capable in taking ground, but the iraqi army does not have a very strong record and history and holding ground in sensitive sunni areas like anbar and as colonel mansoor said, i think i.s.i.s. didn't come out of no. >> where it came out of the real and modernization of sunnis in iraq and two things immediate to happen. militarily there has to be a local trusted force. baghdad is doing that. they are planning to use local anbary-sunni volunteers after the awakening. and there needs to be an effort to include sunnis in the iraqi democratic system and that won't be easy. >> ifill: do you think this success can spread to mosul and
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fallujah? >> i think it can spread to fallujah next. mosul would be a different order of magnitude altogether given the size of the city and the number of combatants up there but it's a good start. >> ifill: peter mansoor, ayman oghanna, thank you both very much. >> woodruff: one of the biggest stories of 2015 was the refugee and migrant crisis in europe, which is showing little signs of abating. pbs newshour's own special correspondent malcolm brabant has been documenting the historic development for much of the past year, as an eyewitness to the desperate journey of many, and europe's struggle to grapple with the massive influx. before we speak with him, we hear from some of the many people he has met along the way, and look back at some key moments.
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>> greeting migrants. hi. we feel history is in the making. there is a huge shift in population now. the biggest since world war ii. >> we are just stepping stones. this is a flow. it's like a river, the constant flow and it will not stop until some kind of solution is provided so people don't have to leave their homes. >> there is a big problem. this is a problem for the army in syria. (speaking in foreign language)
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>> should you share greece's burden? >> it's so easy saying the government caught to do something, but the reality is if we have more amnesty and more people being granted a right to remain here, we are encouraging more and more people to make this hellish crossing. the truth, is if we go down that road, we would be contracting out our immigration policy to these monstrous people traffickers and allowing them to decide who gets into europe and who doesn't. >> the turkish gateway to europe, leading activist. >> the refugees all the day and during the night, they're all coming together here and they're reaching the price, it was $1,000 to go through the greek
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islands. >> syria student abad. we're probably going true today. the conditions are better than yesterday, hopefully. it might be my death say veterans day or my salvation day. >> we can find something for our people here in turkey. we have no food. we don't have anything in order to continue our lives. we have no schools. our children are in the streets. after ten days, you will see it was these children. >> this is for a child, it cost $5. this shop used to be a shoe repair or a shoe shop. now they are selling this kind of stuff. they say they're really good quality but it's impossible to
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believe it. >> the turkish authorities have kept us a distance away from the survivors but we have been close enough to one of the buses to hear uncontrollable weeping coming from people who lost relatives. excuse me, sir, are you the smuggler responsible for these people's deaths? a resident... >> there is a lot of people stirring the water. >> survivor from damascus. the bodies, the children, everything. now they are memories. >> nadi from northern syria. it is very scary. i'm really happy.
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i'm really thankful. i'm thankful for you. >> defending hungary's border with syria -- >> waiting for any type of solution or a suggestion from the european union. i think the nation state has to take back into their own hands, their own business and also the defense of the civilization that they are part of and defend their own borders. >> you don't have any i.d.? no. >> reporter: before introducing border controls, sweden welcomed abud whom we first met in turkey. >> i am very happy to be hear in
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a very peaceful country where i'm being treated like a human with respect to human life. it's very happy to be here. >> reporter: sheltering thousands of unaccompanied minors -- >> before we had a few new kids every week, and we thought that was a lot. lot. and now there are 100 a day. >> a communist. this is a universal experience no state has ever attempted. >> sweden's minister. what do you say to people who think your open-door policy is naive? >> we're suffering from one of the worst military crises in our time, seeing the people fleeing from syria, over 12 million
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people. just turn on your television set and sea for yourselves what these people are fleeing from. we as a country have an obligation to help. >> reporter: after macedonia barred all by syrians, afghans and iraqis, this man on rejection. >> it was for my family. but now you see. totally it's not fair. >> reporter: peter from human rights watch. >> what europe should be doing is to put in place a more coherent refugee policy which allows for safe and legal ways for these people to reach europe because if they drive the smuggling underground even more, it means that they also increase the danger to europe because it's much easier for terrorists to slip into this flow of
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refugees when it's underground. >> reporter: and finally, islam obeyed. a syrian who stayed to help. >> i hope some day the powerful people and government will stop bombing and having more guns. we wish for peace. >> woodruff: malcolm brabant is in copenhagen. i spoke with him a short time ago. malcolm, welcome. that was such an effecting report we just saw. has it become at all routine, the dealing with these people, the refugees, the migrants? or is it still as emotionally wrenching as what it seemed to be? >> well, it's the generalizing half of a whole continent but you get a distorted view of
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people's reactions in lesbos because you see people getting off the boats, having vulnerable, risking their lives and shivering in the cold now. it's difficult to be anything other than moved and seeing people at their most vulnerable when they have survived perhaps a life-changing experience. the further you go down the migrant trail, the further northwards, people are becoming more used to seeing migrants. there are tens of millions of people who feel very well disposed towards them and have a great sense of generosity. but i think people are becoming perhaps a little weary of it in certain places and i think one of the main indicators, perhaps, is the reaction there was after the picture of the little boy found drowned on the turkish coast was published, there was a great upsurge in sympathy. but since then you are still having children drowning in greater numbers than ever before and i think the people's
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sympathy is waning because it's not their face all the time. >> woodruff: how clear is the system for cleel dealing with te people once they reach the shore? do they then have a process for moving through and moving on? what's it like for them? >> there is nothing official. they're still very much in the hands of the smugglers. at the moment the smugglers and their charges are playing a game of cat and mouse with the turkish authorities. over the past month, people going to various parts of the coast to lesbos. elsewhere, i mean, there are sort of more procedures in place, but the problem is there is a road block in the macedonian border with greece and some people can't go much further. so places like denmark and sweden which i'm pretty close to now, they're having trouble accommodating all these people and are having to put up tents in the frozen north.
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>> woodruff: what does it look like them for the futural? is there a sense countries are figuring out what they're going to do with these refugees or does it feel as chaotic as it has? >> it does feel fairly chaotic. i feel some of the earlier arrivals are settling down. you've talked to various people on the trail. some are settling down in sweden, germany, and trying to make the most of the opportunities being offered to them. but i think there are a lot of people very frustrated at what is happening to them, and the long-term future, it's difficult to talk about really because the numbers of people coming in are so huge that there are some places i hav -- some places have struggles to absorb them. sweden has to build a city of 200,000 to try to accommodate them. their building program next year was only design to build about 45,000 houses. so there is a massive infrastructure program that has to go on, besides all of
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providing schooling for these people, getting them into swedish lessons so they can become more acceptable to employers. but there are lots of people who perhaps are going to be very frustrated at what they end up with because they have been pedaled by traffickers at the front end of the whole system saying that you're going to be given a house and lots of money. >> woodruff: well, we think about it in terms of this massive shift in population but as you point out so well, malcolm, each one is a human being with a different path. thank you very much for all your reporting this year, malcolm. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: in the theaters, the startling discovery of brain trauma in nfl players. and looking for a book to read this holiday season?
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we'll give you our top picks. >> ifill: but first, since the rise of isis, and the attacks in paris and san bernardino, there have been questions about just who speaks for islam and what the message should be. tonight, margaret warner brings together two voices for a discussion on faith and extremism. >> warner: the recent terror attacks in paris and san bernadino-- its perpetrators inspired by jihadist ideology-- have re-ignited a long-running debate about the nature of islam and its links to violent extremism. in his address after the san bernadino killings, president obama urged americans not to scapegoat all muslims. but he also called on muslims to combat what he described as a dangerous trend in their faith. >> an extremist ideology has spread within some muslim communities. this is a real problem that muslims must confront, without excuse. >> warner: the next day, leading republican presidential candidate donald trump called
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for a temporary ban on foreign muslims entering the u.s., and a more watchful approach to those living here. >> we have to look at mosques. we have no choice. we have to see what's happening. because something is happening in there. man, there's anger. there's anger. and we have to know about it. >> warner: democratic contender hillary clinton has taken the opposite tack in discussing islam, >> islam is not our adversary. muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. >> warner: this debate extends to the global muslim community as well. jordan's king abdullah, who speaks often of a "war within islam," insists islamic state militants are way outside the mainstream. >> these are outlaws. these are renegades. they have nothing to do of understanding what our religion is about. >> warner: the struggle to
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understand-- and agree on-- what islam represents in an age of terror is sure to continue. and for more, we're joined by two muslim american women both former journalists. ma'am imagine is a the associate vice president at the u.s. instutitue of peace. and asra nomani is the co-founder of muslim reform movement and author of "standing alone: an american woman's struggle for the soul of islam." welcome to you both. we just heard president obama speak of an extremist ideology he said spread in some muslim communities and was a real problem muslims needed to address. what was your reaction when you heard that? is he right? >> i think he's right. i think it's important we recognize extremism in different forms, particularly religious extremism, is something we're struggling with as a global community. i was worried about putting that
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responsibility on the muslim community. obviously everyone has to play a role if we're going to succeed combating violent extremism. it has to be everyone. not just the muslims. >> how far has it ben traitd, this ideology? >> i don't think it's tied to the religious side only. i think it's a social justice framework where people are frustrated, trying to push back and they're grounding themselves in religion. >> asra nomani, how do you see it. urdu, my navy language, the word means duty. president obama spoke to a real duty muslims have to challenge this extreme i'm ideology. came up with one thing, the saudis' qur'an. we have a theology of hate, intolerance and sexism that is written into their interpretation of islam. it is not the interpretation that you or i follow, but we
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have to challenge it. i am reminded just because i went to "star wars" yesterday about this met for of the fact that we are facing a dark side and we're in an ideological war in our generation, and we are the resistance. we as muslims have to define very clearly that we don't believe in an islam that is one of political governments, that we don't believe in an islam where you can beat your wife. >> reporter: let's talk about the nature of islam because president obama and others have called it a religion of peace, recently, or a religion that promotes and teaches peace, yet (barking) yet the leader of islam says differently. how is that?
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>> violent extremism rooted in religion is the biggest threat. if we turn to burma where you see buddhist monks quoting buddhist scripture to incite violence including to attacking children in school buses, and even buddhism can be manipulated and no one is safe. i would urge people to think about it in terms of our race issues and fear of the other. that's what's coming out in the trump rhetoric. it goes to the social structure and structural violence built in our nation that we have to address. >> do you think that baghdadi is distorting islam? >> absolutely, i have no doubt. the sexism, the looking at differences, it's important muslims take ownership and challenge the interpretation. it's never been a static religion. we've always challenged and questioned. >> on how firm a lig is baghdadi
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standing when he asserts he has been true to the true tenants of islam? >> baghdadi is going back to an interpretation of islam that henls is rooted at the birth of the faith when he thinks he is practicing a version that protects islam. his version is very parallel to the interpretation the saudis practice. we're not confronting that reality. just as an example, the guy that goes back to the tradition of sex slaves and argues at the birth of islam we had slaves and in the qur'an they were allowed as muslims to have sex with their slaves at that time and today we have this sad tragedy of women being taken as sex slaves. >> reporter: is this kind of ideology stronger here in the united states than it was 15 years ago? if so, why? >> i went to the comfort inn in
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springfield a couple of months ago. and there is a meeting of hisb ut-tarir. an extremist organization. for me, personally, in my own effort, i believe in reform, why we founded this muslim reform movement that fights for peace, human rights and secular governance. >> the role america plays generally in the world, i would argue i grew up in spartanburg, south carolina and was consistently hungry for someone to represent me. we would talk about islam and the origins of islam. the first person to enter islam was a woman. the first saint mystic was a woman. we've lost what the role of women is. it's the energy of women stepping back into the role to help with the violent extremism. >> reporter: what more could
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american muslims be doing now to combat this threat? threat?. the woman she was referring to said we have to burn the gates of hell and throw water on the fires of hell. we have to challenge the theologies. it is a war of ideas and we have to win it. >> i think the american muslim community globally is doing a lot. i think what would be nice is the acknowledgment because we're attacked by the extremists -- i get trouble for just working in the region. we are also talked about for being in the trump definition. we're the latest people on the chopping block, particularly tim grants. i would like to invite people to think about what they can do and not just isolate them from the community. >> reporter: manal omar and
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asra nomani, thank you very much. >> thanks for having us. >> woodruff: next, tackling the problem of concussions, and the nfl's response, past and present. the national institutes of health announced this week it will fund a seven-year, $16 million research project to diagnose brain trauma in living players. it comes as a new movie opening this week zeroes in on the sport, and one of the key researchers who pushed the league to change its approach. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: "concussion" follows the true story of dr. bennet omalu, played by will smith. a nigerian-born forensic pathologist, omalu was working in a pittsburgh coroner's office in 2002 when he was asked to examine the body of a local football hero: former steelers center mike webster.
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he discovered protein deposits in webster's outwardly healthy brain, which he linked to repeated head trauma from football, and a disease called "chronic traumatic encephalopathy" or c.t.e. the film chronicles the league's early efforts to discredit the research. >> if you retract, this all goes away. >> why are they doing this? >> they're terrified of you. bennet omalu is going to war with a corporation that has 20 million people on a weekly basis craving their product. the same way they crave food. the n.f.l. owns a day of the week! >> i knew nothing about football. i knew nothing about the n.f.l. >> brown: recently, we had a chance to talk with the real bennet omalu.
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>> when i saw the pathologies of mike's brain, i reviewed all his medical records: there was no single mention of any disease. i thought america was a country made up of the most brilliant. how come nobody has seen this? >> brown: an early ally, played in the film by alec baldwin, was dr. julian bailes, a neurosurgeon and former team doctor for the steelers. he told us of his early trepidation at going public. >> i remember remarking to my wife that this wasn't going to be a fun journey. i had been a football player, it was my favorite sport. i didn't want it to be true, but i felt that it was, and we needed to bring it forward and that bennet omalu needed help from myself and others to do that. >> brown: "concussion" is a dramatized version of events, not a documentary, and experts say it over-states the role omalu played in discovering and naming c.t.e.
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the family of one former player, dave duerson, has also criticized the film for the way he is portrayed as opposing omalu and ignoring fellow players showing symptoms of the disease. but there's no doubt that in the years since omalu published his findings in 2005, c.t.e. and the hazards of head injuries have become a growing part of the conversation around football. as several more former players were discovered to have the disease-- including duerson, who committed suicide in 2011. just recently, c.t.e. was found in the brain of famed running back and commentator frank gifford, who died of natural causes earlier this year, bringing even more attention. >> there are people in our culture that might not be following the football side of this story. they know frank gifford's name and now they know he had c.t.e. and that takes this to a whole new level. >> brown: christine brennan is a sports columnist for usa today. >> i think, like other social issues, be it drunk driving, be it cigarettes-- things that you
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look at and say, wow, we have a different view of that than we did 20, 30 years ago-- concussions and head trauma, that is another area where we have changed. >> brown: frontline updated the story just last night, and its review of research at boston university found c.t.e. in 87 or 91 recently deceased former n.f.l. players. and in 131 0f 165 players at the high school, college and pro levels combined. >> i think it was the most significant breakthrough in modern neurological sports medicine, and that is that a modern athlete, in a helmeted sport like football, was found to have later-in-life brain degeneration. >> brown: earlier this year, a judge accepted an n.f.l. settlement that will pay out $1 billion to former players and families, but as a part of the deal, the league refused to say publicly what it knew about head trauma and when. in the agreement, the league says it expects about one-third
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of its players to suffer some form of cognitive impairment. the league also told the newshour in a statement that it has made: the n.f.l. says that's led" to a 34% decrease in concussions in n.f.l. games since the 2012 season. >> you have to acknowledge that the n.f.l. is doing more than it was doing. critics might say, well, it wasn't doing much. but when you think about the fact that there is a spotter in the booth, someone who's looking for this now, independently, and saying, "that player needs to get out of the game now." having said that, a few weeks ago you have the story of case keenum and the rams, where he clearly had a concussion, he was clearly having problems, and he stayed in the game. >> brown: in fact, some neurologists worry that team doctors still can overrule other medical experts about whether a player should go back in the game. and there's concern that spotters in the booth may miss less obvious concussions on the field.
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there is ongoing discussion at various levels of the game of changes such as eliminating kick-offs or running no-hit practices. seattle seahawks coach pete carroll has instituted an alternative tackling style to avoid leading with the head-- so-called "rugby style." >> do you have any idea the impact of what you're doing? if just 10% of mothers in america decide that football is too dangerous for their sons to play, that is it. it is the end of football. kids, colleges and just a matter of time, the professional game. >> you know what history does to people, trained physicians, who ignore science. sir! i am not done. tell the truth. tell the truth! >> brown: omalu would go further.
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earlier this month, omalu publically called for setting a minimum age of 18 to play football and other high-impact sports like ice hockey and mixed martial arts. >> we do not intentionally expose our children to any risky behavior. that is why we don't let children smoke, we don't let children drive, we don't let children drink, we don't let children go into the military until they become adults. >> brown: julian bailes, who serves as medical director for pop warner football-- the largest youth league in the country, thinks this goes too far. >> where we eliminated head contact in practice, so for the most part that doesn't occur any more. we think the risk in youth football is extremely low risk and lower than ever, and we think that the benefits of participating in such a great sport outweigh the risks. >> brown: bailes believes the n.f.l. must continue to evolve, as does omalu, who this year became a u.s. citizen.
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>> i think collectively, optimistically, we can find solutions. but to begin, the first step in a million miles, is the truth. like will smith said, "tell the truth!" hahahahahaha! >> brown: in the meantime, this holiday season, debate-- and the games-- go on. for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown. >> ifill: now, to the "newshour bookshelf" and a look back at this year in books. and we go back to jeff, who recently sat down with two best- selling authors. novelist jennifer close and business writer daniel pink, at the washington, d.c. book store "politics and prose." >> brown: daniel pink, jennifer close, welcome. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> brown: daniel, why don't you start? what do you have for us?
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>> well i selected three books, works of nonfiction that belongs in everybody's best of the year lists, but they didn't get the attention they deserved. i want to begin with this book right here. >> brown: you're going for not enough attention. >> not enough attention, things that flew under the radar. this is a book called "unfair." it's by a guy named adam benforado. he's a professor of law at temple university, and he wrote a book about the criminal justice system; and his argument is that the criminal justice system is based on assumptions about human behavior and neuroscience that just aren't true. and that means the criminal justice system doesn't mete out justice. >> brown: so for how science intersects with criminal justice? >> i'll give you an example of it. we rely, in criminal trials, on eyewitness testimony. the evidence is very clear. eyewitness testimony is useless. we ask jurors to decide if someone is lying or not. human beings can't detect whether people are lying any more than a chance encounter. we have people in prison who have confessed to crimes, and it turns out false confessions are very easy to get. this is an alarming book, it's an important book, and i think
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it's great book for people interested in the justice system and for the lawyer in your life. >> brown: alright, jennifer what do you have for us today? >> my first book is "a little life," which actually got a lot of attention this year. it was a finalist for the national book award and the man booker. everyone that read it, told me it was amazing; and it's heartbreaking-- that was what i actually didn't pick it up for awhile. i think i wasn't ready to have my heart broken. i think the more people read it, the more they wanted to recommend it and talk about it. it's great. i picked it up, didn't put it down for three days. i was carrying it around and it's huge, so that says a lot. it's about love and friendship and true pa, and the characters in the story stay with you that doesn't happen often. i've thought about them, i think every day since i finished the book which to me is a sign of a
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really special novel. this is about a speech writer barton slain, an academic in south carolina and decided he wanted to work in politics and got a josh as a speech writer, the governor of south carolina, mark sanford who became well known for walking the appalachian trail. >> you should explain that. he kind of disappeared from his office for about a week or two and complications ensued. turns out, he was having an affair. regardless, that's not central to this book. what's central to this book is slain talks about his experience working in politics, what it's like to write speeches and be in the front lines and in the trenches of politics. this book more than any i've
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read in a long time reveals the ground truth of what it's like day to day to be in the politics. this book, it's a great read. it's hilarious, it's sometimes sad. it is to me, by far the best book on politics i have read in many, many years. >> brown: wow, okay that's a high recommendation. >> he sold it to me! i'm adding it to my christmas list. >> brown: jennifer? >> so my next book is "in the unlikely event" by judy blume. >> brown: judy blume, very famous author. >> so i grew up reading judy blume. i love her, i think i read every one of her books multiple times, so when i heard she had a new one coming out, i was beyond excited. this book is based on a couple of events that took place in the 1950s. there was a three month period where three planes crashed in the same town of elizabeth, nj. so the book centers around that, but it's a judy blume book. it's about so much more. >> brown: which means what to you? >> it's about young love and friendships and the relationships between parents and children. and her characters are just so alive, just like all of her characters are. and what's interesting to me is
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i gave this book to my mom when it first came out, and what she appreciated about it was how judy blume captures the 1950s. she writes about the clothes they wear, their hairstyles and the way their finished basements looked. and her details are so vivid and wonderful. i can't imagine a better book to curl up with during the holidays. >> brown: and i'm assuming she influenced you as a writer. >> she did very much. i wrote her a fan letter. >> did she answer? >> she did. it's wonderful. >> brown: dan? >> my final book is again, another relatively slim volume. it's called "the light of the world;" it's a memoir by elizabeth alexander, who is a poet. she is as famous as a poet can be in the united states. she actually wrote and read a poem at president obama's 2009 inauguration. and this book is really a memoir of loss. you know, she had this incredible thing happen to her, where, in the space of literally a few weeks, she met a man who she fell madly in love with, and decided to get married.
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this man-- she's a poet, she's an ivy league professor. he was an eritrean chef. fell madly in love and in a blink they were married, and had two kids and they led this really wonderful life. and then at age 50, just a few days after his 50th birthday, her husband dropped dead on a treadmill from a heart attack. this is a memoir of her reckoning with this loss, but also celebrating the life that she led. and also really, in this really glorious way, putting to light these day-to-day moments she had with her sons and with her husband. as we've already revealed, i have a short attention span and it's very, very hard to read for extended periods of time. i read nearly this entire book in one sitting. it's that riveting. >> brown: i spoke to her for a program, and of course it's also about the creative process and how poetry helps with coping, in a way, with what happens. >> and it's about the search for... when you experience such incredible grief and incredible
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loss, you're looking for something to hang on to and for her, it is language, food-- there are recipes in this book-- and it's really just a glorious, riveting book. >> brown: alright jennifer, last book for this part of our segment? >> my last book is a book of short stories called "single, carefree, mellow" by katherine heiny. this book came out in february, and i lost count how times i would recommend it to people. i would say, even if you think you're not a short story person, even if you think you only like novels, which many people do, just to pick this one up and give it a try. she's a brilliant writer. she has lines that are so sharp and unexpected that i laughed out loud over and over again when reading this book. but there are also parts that are really moving. i think short stories are great for the holidays, and when you're traveling on a plane, or surrounded by family, maybe that interrupts you. when you have little snippets of time, i think it's a great one to pick up.
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>> brown: alright, we're going to continue online and i'm going to invite the audience to join us there. but for now, daniel pink, jennifer close, thanks so much. >> thanks, jeff. >> thank you. >> ifill: again, we return to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in iraq and the afghanistan conflict. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs become available. here are the names of the six who were returned today in a ceremony at dover air force base, delaware.
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>> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday, with one day of holiday shopping left, a "making sense" report on consumer behavior. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: we do. and i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway.
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>> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.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. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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♪ >> this is bbc "world news america." >> funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, newman's own foundation, giving all profits from newman's own to charity and pursuing the common good, kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs, metlife premier client group, and sony pictures classics, now presenting "the lady in the van." >> park the van in your drive? >> just until you sort yourself out. >> an educated woman, living like that. >> merry christmas! >> shut the door, i'm a busy woman! would you like to push me up the street?

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