tv PBS News Hour PBS May 20, 2016 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, floating wreckage proves egypt air flight 804 crashed in the mediterranean, but there remain more questions than answers as to what brought down the plane. also ahead, food labels are about to get a makeover. the first lady and the f.d.a. overhaul rules to include added sugar and other changes to promote healthier eating. then, candidates talk foreign policy, as worries rise about party unity. mark shields and david brooks take on that and more of the week's news. and ahead of president obama's trip to vietnam, a look at how the u.s. ambassador to the country is doing away with traditional modes of diplomacy and jumping into the culture.
years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> fathom travel-- carnival corporation's small ship line. offering seven-day cruises to three cities in cuba. exploring the culture, cuisine and historic sites through its people. more at fathom.org. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> genentech. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions:
and friends of the newshour. >> 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: they have found some of what's left of egypt-air flight 804, and new clues may be emerging in the investigation. the passenger plane vanished from the radar early yesterday, en route from paris to cairo with 66 people on board. john yang reports on the day's developments. >> reporter: at a cairo mosque, families of passengers aboard egyptair flight 804 prayed, and
wept, for loved ones. >> ( translated ): he was my cousin. he was like an elder brother to me. this is very hard for the family and god bless all who died on the plane. >> reporter: their hopes dashed by the discovery of wreckage from the airbus a-320, announced on egyptian state tv. >> ( translated ): we have just received an official report from the egyptian army. military airplanes have been able to locate wreckage or belongings of the airplane. >> reporter: the greek defense minister recounted the grisly details. >> ( translated ): we have been briefed about the discovery of a body part, two seats and luggage at the scene of the search, slightly to the south of where the plane's signal was lost. >> reporter: a european satellite image showed an oil slick spreading over the area where the plane disappeared. debris was spotted floating in the mediterranean, about 180 miles north of alexandria, egypt. it's an area were the sea is up
to two miles deep. but still no firm evidence of what happened. late today, what could be a significant clue: the aviation herald, an online aviation community, reported that an automated monitoring system on the plane sent signals indicating smoke in the front of the cabin and then failures of two key flight control systems before going silent. egyptian officials had initially suggested a terror attack as the likeliest explanation, but the greek defense minister said today, it's just too soon to tell. >> ( translated ): there is no possibility to assess the situation, we cannot be part of the speculation, because the investigation committee must be allowed to do its work. >> reporter: the french navy is helping scour the sea, and its investigators said no possible causes are being ruled out. >> ( translated ): all hypotheses are being examined;
there is no specific one being favored. we have to find the debris and analyze it -- and of course the black boxes too, because we want to know the truth, the whole truth. >> reporter: so far, there's no hard evidence of an explosion. but from cairo to paris and beyond, speculation centers on terrorism. >> they can't pretend it wasn't or completely suspend judgment, they have to check the locks. >> reporter: steven simon served on president obama's national security council. he says officials have to investigate it as a possible terror attacks. >> they'll look to see if any of the identities of the people on the airplane, the crew, the maintenance team, anybody who had anything to do with that airplane while it was on the ground in paris, they'll just go through, you know, those records with a fine-tooth comb, looking for dots to connect, if indeed there are any.
>> reporter: at the same time, he said, europe has to work on beefing up counterterrorism efforts... >> it's sort of a, you know, cumulative process, you can't throw a lot of money at something and expect radical changes in six months, this is going to be a transformative process in the european context that will take a while to complete. >> reporter: ...as the search for what, or perhaps who, brought down flight 804 presses ahead. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: so far, there's been no claim by any group that it had a hand in bringing down the plane. here to help us understand the questions still out there, is our science correspondent and aviation analyst, miles o'brien. miles, first, this automated data that became known this afternoon, what do you make of that? >> well, just a quick bit of background for our viewers.
as an aircraft flys, it's live streaming the health of it's system mostly for maintenance so when the plane lands they know what parts to have ready to fix it and get it back in the air. there were a series of faults right before the plane disappeared from radar beginning with problems with the windshield in the cockpit, smoke in the lavatory and avionics bay beneath the cockpit, then failure of the computer systems. literally hundreds of computer systems control the aircraft and have to operate in concert. this is consistent with a catastrophic event, whether a bomb or some major mechanical failure remains to be seen. it also is consistent with that initial left turn reported on greek radar. the plane took a 90-degree left turn initially when it apparently was in trouble and that is standard operating procedure for a flight crew dealing with a decompression
event and trying to do a a rapid descent. the idea is not to fly into the airway beneath you and potentially hit oncoming traffic. >> woodruff: so this is consistent with the little bit that's known about what the plane did before it plunged into the water? >> it is consistent with the crew dealing with a rapid decompression. the cause of that rapid decompression, we don't know. a bomb or a major mechanical failure are the open questions. >> woodruff: miles, what about the material they found floating in the water? they said two seats, a body part and luggage and so forth. do we know anything based on that? >> it's a reminder u o, of cour, of the human tragedy. but it's customary you see seat cushions and life vests and baggage because it typically floats. it's not helpful unless the
baggage is near where the initial if you recall kurd. what's useful is knowing where it is, the ocean currents and how long it's been in the water, you can backtrack to the point of impact and that's where you begin the search for the main body of wreckage and the black boxes. >> woodruff: we heard in john yang's report that part of the mediterranean is two miles deep. what does that tell us about the difficulty of this ongoing search? >> that it is difficult. it's a big challenge fishing the boxes out. we go through this time and again. there is technology off the shelf used by the military right now which has ejectable, floatable, deployable flight data recorders. there is technology that makes it possible to stream this data back in realtime, not unlike the treatment we've just been talking about. in the 21st century the fact we have to listen for pings two miles beneath the surface of the ocean to find out the answer to a critical question is a bit scandalous. we should do something about it. >> woodruff: so, miles, a lot of people are saying now that we need to assume there was
terrorism involved. does it make sense to do that in the absence of a hard answer right now? >> well, i think i would caution our viewers, if, in fact, there was some sort of mechanical failure here, that's a very important thing to know as soon as possible. this is a fleet of aircraft in excess of 6,000 the world over. it's a workhorse, and if there is some fundamental flaw which caused this, we need to know about it yesterday. >> woodruff: and you're saying -- but are we any closer? you're saying it's coming very slowly as we get any closer to answers. >> you know, absent a claim of credit, we haven't seen that just yet. we're in the dark on this, and it's -- you know, eventually, maybe a piece of fleeting wreckage will offer a clue as to whether there was a bomb on board, but i'm afraid we'll have to wait for the black boxes, the flight data recorder and voice recorder to be found.
>> woodruff: but hold off on assumptions. >> i think so. >> woodruff: miles o'brien, we thank you. >> you're welcome, judy. >> woodruff: in the day's other news, health officials reported the number of pregnant women in the u.s. infected with the zika virus has tripled, to 157. the centers for disease control and prevention said it's now including all women who test positive, regardless of symptoms. so far, fewer than a dozen have had miscarriages or babies born with birth defects. meanwhile, president obama got a briefing on zika today, and he urged congress to get moving. >> understand that this is not something where we can build a wall to prevent. mosquitoes don't go through customs. to the extent that we're not handling this thing on the front end, we're going to have bigger problems on the back end. so for those of you who are listening, tell your members of congress, get on the job on this. >> woodruff: the senate has passed a $1.1 billion bill to
fight the virus. a house-passed bill totals just over half that, $622 million. a shooting near the white house put the executive mansion on lockdown for a time today. federal law enforcement officials say a uniformed secret service officer shot a man who drew a gun. he was taken to a hospital in critical condition. president obama was not at the white house at the time. in iraq, baghdad is under a curfew tonight, after protesters stormed the "green zone" and security forces fired tear gas and gunshots. dozens were wounded, with at least one person shot in the head. it was the second time in three weeks that protesters had broken into the heavily fortified zone. meanwhile, iraqi troops retook the western town of rutba, allowing the main road from amman to baghdad to be reopened. political turmoil shook israel today and deepened divisions in the ruling cabinet. defense minister moshe yaalon
abruptly resigned, removing one of the government's last moderate voices. he said he no longer trusts prime minister benjamin netanyahu and his hard-line supporters. >> ( translated ): in all my positions, i worked in harmony and in a serious way. but to my great dismay, extremist and dangerous elements have taken over israel and the likud party, and are shaking the house and threatening to hurt its inhabitants. this is not the likud party i joined. >> woodruff: yaalon warned that racism and violence is seeping into the israeli army and doing it damage. prime minister netanyahu said he regretted the resignation. it's been reported he plans to name hard-line former foreign minister avigdor lieberman as the new defense minister. in turkey, the parliament voted today to strip lawmakers of their immunity from prosecution. pro-kurdish legislators charged
that the goal is to prosecute them, for allegedly supporting outlawed kurdish rebels. it is the latest move on political opponents of the turkish government. a new president has taken office in taiwan. tsai ing-wen's party supports formal independence from china. but after a swearing-in ceremony at the presidential building in taipei, she chose her words carefully: >> ( translated ): the new government will conduct cross- strait affairs in accordance with relevant legislation. the two governing parties across the strait must set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides. >> woodruff: tsai is the first woman to serve as president of taiwan. another wave of heavy rain added to the misery in sri lanka today. flooding in the capital, colombo, has displaced more than 185,000 people. today, trucks plowed through the water, to ferry out evacuees. helicopters were sent in to
rescue others from their rooftops. the rain also triggered mudslides this week, and hundreds of people are still missing. india has set a record for its hottest temperature ever-- nearly 124 degrees fahrenheit. it happened today in the western city of phalodi, as authorities issued a severe heat alert for several states, and called in emergency water supplies. >> ( translated ): today we are facing a very difficult situation. there is heavy traffic, and large quantities of water are being consumed from the big water tankers. people are drinking a lot of water, and the demand is still rising. we have to fill this tank at least three to four times day. >> woodruff: india's heat is always worst in april, may and june, before monsoon rains bring relief. hundreds of people have been killed this week, and thousands of farmers have lost their crops. back in this country, oklahoma governor mary fallin vetoed a bill that makes it a felony for
doctors to perform an abortion. her fellow republicans pushed through the measure yesterday. it would have been the first law of its kind in the country. san francisco's police chief, greg suhr, has been forced out, after a series of police killings of unarmed minorities. the latest came yesterday, when officers shot dead a black woman in a stolen car. suhr was also criticized for not acting faster against police who sent racist text messages. deputy chief tony chaplin will take over, on an interim basis. wall street ended the week with a modest rally. the dow jones industrial average gained 65 points to close above 17,500. the nasdaq rose 57 points, and the s&p 500 added 12. still to come on the newshour: revamped nutrition labels aim to kick our sugar habit; mark shields and david brooks analyze this week's news; thawing
relations ahead of the president's visit to vietnam, and much more. >> woodruff: and now, a new effort to fight obesity and diabetes in the u.s. the food and drug administration today rolled out new rules for the nutrition labels on the backs of packaged foods and drinks, with a much greater emphasis on how much added sugar is put in the foods we eat. william brangham has more on the story. >> brangham: the changes to these food labels won't go into effect until later this summer, and here's what you'll see when you go to the store: on the left is the label we all see today; on the right is the new one. first thing that jumps out is that the calories are going to be displayed more prominently. but the bigger change is further down: a new line is being added showing how much "added sugar" has been put into the product beyond what was there originally. and the label will also tell you how much this added sugar adds to your recommended daily amount of sugar. so what does this all mean and will it make a difference?
allison aubrey of national public radio is here to help us sort it out. welcome allison. >> hi, william, great to be here. >> brangham: thanks. i have heard these rules described as radical and wrong by some people and as a huge leap forward by others. where do you come down on that? >> i would not say this is radical. i would say this reflects the evolve science, that this is incredibly well-grounded in science. it's very clear now, many studies showing excess sugar leads to not only weight gain but higher risks of heart disease. the only thing that is surprising here is that the food and beverage industry really didn't get its way, public health won out. >> brangham: that's not a common thing these days. >> not at all. >> brangham: what is the f.d.a. hoping for here? are they trying to create a sense of sticker shock that people go into the store, pull a product off the shelf and say, whoa, i didn't realize there was that much added sugar and maybe
make a different choice? >> maybe sticker shock in the beginning, but i think the label is a lot simpler. gone are the recommendations about how much vitamin a and c you're getting in the product. what's really amplified as we saw on the label you pointed out are calories. calories are a big deal. it's not a perfect way to figure out what to eat but a clear and easy way to figure out how much you're getting and calories still matter. the other thing you pointed out, the sugar thing is absolutely huge. added sugar is important. if you were to take a 20-ounce sugary soda that has 65 grams of sugar, that's 16-teaspoons of sugar. you will see that on the label. you will also see this product contains 130% of the sugar you're supposed to be eating in the day. in other words, this is more sugar than you're supposed to be eating in a day. that's really what they're trying to communicate here. >> brangham: that is sticker
shock. >> it will be initially because people are largely unaware. nobody's taking their coffee cup and putting 12-teaspoons of sugar in it. where we're getting a lieutenant of the sugar is added sugar hidden in foods. so yogurts, cereals, all kinds of processed foods, lots and lieutenants of sugars and this will make it easier to see how much is there. >> reporter: what does science tell us about what changes people's behaviors? do you think this will work to steer people to healthier choices? >> i think the first thing you have to do to change behavior is to give people good information, right? that's the number one step. that's really the goal here. 20 years ago, people weren't really reading these food labels. the usda has data showing that a lot of people, an increased number, a significant number of people are now reading the food labels. so the idea is better information, that's at least the first step to behavior change, and then you need the people around you to support you. i think that also gets into the
role of powerful people promoting this. of course, the first lady has been talking about this nonstop during her years in the white house and that has made a big difference. she has really used her platform and really used her meg aphone to raise awareness about these issues and bring attention to them. >> brangham: the grocery industry made their peace with this but the sugar industry has not. they're saying the f.d.a. is setting a presence dent forward that is not grounded in science. what is their brief? >> almost every nutrition scientist would disagree with that. the bottom line is they're already making changes. the food industry has seen the writing on the wall for a while. the world health organization, the american heart association for years have been saying we need to cut back on sugar. only recently did we work this into the dietary guidelines. the writing is on the wall, the industry is already making
changes. yogurts frequently in h the grocery store, not just the premium and high-end brands, but the everyday brands saying this has 25% less sugar, so the industry needs to adapt and ultimately will. >> brangham: allison aubrey of public radio, thank you very much. >> thanks, william, great t to e here. >> woodruff: and now we turn to the presidential campaign, where the party frontrunners have been trading barbs this week, among other things, on foreign policy. during a cnn interview thursday, hillary clinton criticized donald trump's handling of foreign policy issues, saying trump is not qualified to be president: >> whether it's attacking great britain, praising the leader of north korea-- a despotic dictator who has nuclear weapons, whether it is saying "pull out of nato," "let other
countries have nuclear weapons," the kinds of positions he is stating, and the consequences of those positions, and even the consequences of his statements are not just offensive to people, they are potentially dangerous. >> woodruff: trump shot back thursday night, at a fundraiser for new jersey governor chris christie: >> today, we had a terrible tragedy. and she came up and she said that donald trump talked about radical islamic terrorism, which she doesn't want to use; she used a different term. and i'm saying to myself: what just happened about 12 hours ago? a plane got blown out of the sky, and if any-- if anybody doesn't think it wasn't blown out of the sky, you're 100% wrong, folks, okay? >> woodruff: then, today, there was more tough talk at the national rifle association's annual convention in louisville. trump brought up the mass shooting in san bernardino last year. >> if we had guns on the other side-- it wouldn't have been
that way. i would've-- boom! if we had guns, on the other side, it wouldn't have been that way. and then you have the gun free zones. gun free zones-- we're getting rid of gun free zones, okay? i can tell you. >> woodruff: trump-- who has previously supported some gun restrictions-- received the n.r.a.'s endorsement today. hillary clinton was off the campaign trail today, while her opponent bernie sanders stumped in new mexico. >> woodruff: that brings us to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. it's great to have you both. thank you for being here. so, david, donald trump wins the endorsement of the national rifle association. not a surprise. what does it mean for him? >> well, he's beginning to get the laydown from the republican base. what's happening is -- i've had so many conversations this week,
the last couple of weeks, he's becoming normalized. a lot of people who thought he was a big monster think now he's less conservative than i would like but i think we can educate him, we can bring him along. so now he's just a normal candidate and that's part of the general laydown in front of him and he has to be thinking, man, this is easy. but it's pretty much happening, not across the board, a lot of people are laying low, but he's gathering the base. the one thing i think was a misstep was he listed his supreme court choices this week. and to me, his fall campaign is not about winning over the ted cruz people, it's about getting all the disaffected people across the ideological spectrum including potentially some sanders disaffected people. making him on social and court issues a traditional orthodox conservative, it seems to me, scares away a lot of people who really are his potential in the fall. >> woodruff: how do you see,
mark, what he's doing? he's appealing for the n.r.a. saying re're not going to have any more gun-free zones, and then what david brings up, trotting out the names of eleven judges who he says are potential for the supreme court if he's elected. >> yeah, i just see this on the part of trump, the judges i see a little differently, he's reaching out to the base. he's trying to reassure them, look, you know, i'm okay, and it's providing cover to tell me. hey, look, you know, they don't want to support him, they've got doubts about him, they're afraid of what he might do by columbus day or labor day to the point where h he not only embarrasses and hurts republicans but embarrasses and hurts them for having endorsed him or stood with him, so he's just kind of providing cover, well, he's going to give us the right kind of judges. the gun-free zones -- i mean, this is a man of enormous flexibility. he didn't just say he was for an
assault weapons pa ban, he wrott in a book, it's not off the cuff. now he's totally changed his position on that. the gun-free zones, to me, judy, it's irrational that somehow packing heat, bringing a concealed weapon into an elementary school area or on a campus is going to increase personal safety, and that absolutely bizarre, poo, at san bernardino. it was a political master stroke on his part. what did he say after? i'm forbidding muslims coming into the united states and a 2-1 approval among republican voters and his numbers went up. so he's going to play that card and that's what he's doing. >> a couple of other things are going on. one is the power to end all
gun-free zones around school, there is a federal law george h.w. bush passed, but the schools and the localities have something to say in all this. so he doesn't really have the power. so much is symbolic, even his reaction to the airplane that crashed. it's a narcissistic fashion, frankly, he chose the reality useful for him at that moment and reality bends around him. so we don't know what happened to that plane. but he said and we just saw that clip, that if you disagree with me on this unknown thing, you're 100% wrong, and that's the reality force field he creates around himself. >> woodruff: but as mark was saying and i think you both are making this point, he seems to be able to say whatever he believes at that moment, but to say something different later, and is he being held accountable by the voters, or are his people just so enamoured of what they're hearing and what they're seeing, mark, that it doesn't
really matter what they're saying. >> well, i think the national rifle association would have endorsed a ham sandwich against hillary clinton. he could have said anything. his past positions mean nothing, they were going to endorse him. and his past positions mean nothing to him. i think he could pass a polygraph. he already did this on libya. just turns out his position on libya where he's criticized secretary clinton for the united states toppling or being involved in the toppling of gadhafi and then leaving the country to its own resources which proved sad and inadequate, that this was a tragedy, now it turns out that donald trump was all for going into libya, for bringing full force. now, i think this is a cumulative thing and maybe it doesn't matter in the primary. i think when you're talking about a crisis, a national crisis, and every campaign has them, we had it in october in 2008 with the financial crisis
and the collapse, and barack obama looked steady, short-footed. john mccain, the elder statesman, the senior guy, yes, it was his party and he was in a terrible bind with george bush and the white house, but he did not look steady. so i don't think donald trump's reckless impulsiveness will wear well. >> woodruff: you don't? no, i don't. i think there will be a time that the question becomes, you know, what should the united states do and, you know, he says -- he tweets it 6:00 in the morning, send the 82n 82nd airborne in. i think there is a question of restraint and judgment and seriousness and maturity. >> the problem is a binary choice. this is an election of one person against another. >> i agree. a large majority of americans think he is not honest and trustworthy. the large percentage do not think he shares their values but
the exact same percentage of hillary clinton, the significant majority disapprove but nearly as many disapprove of hillary. so aware he's going down but somehow hillary is following him straight down. hillary was up at 66% approval rating when she was secretary of state. it hasn't been that long she's fallen in half. so her approval ratings have taken this long, slow slide and, so, she's a parody basically with him except on the temperaturement issue -- temperament issue which is why she's hitting that hard. >> on to be secretary of state, in fairness to her, when you're secretary of state, she had the support and endorsement of a lot of partisan republicans, and once it became obvious she was a presidential candidate, but i do not argue she has slipped. what we have are two unpopular candidates. hillary clinton, however, is seen as smart and experienced and as someone who is
knowledgeable and, you know, i think -- the question on donald trump, the jury is still out on that. >> woodruff: you mean -- on those qualities. i think they both have the liabilities you and david mentioned of trustworthiness and honesty. >> woodruff: but they both have positives as well. but we also need to mention there is still another democrat out there hillary clinton is running against, bernie sanders, david, who was out this week still saying he's in it till the end. his campaign sent a statement yesterday saying there are growing doubts about hillary clinton as the party's nominee. where does this democratic race stand? should we be asking is it really over or not? >> it's over on the delegates and sheas won 60% of the votes and on the average poll she's about 9 percentage points up in california, so almost certainly she's going to g the nominee. but i sort of sympathize where sanders is because the
democratic establishment says you have to get out of the race or tone down your rhetoric because you're beating our candidate and he says, yes, i'm beating your candidate, and he keeps winning. winners don't have to get out. that's the rule, both because he's doing well and second because he believes in his candidacy and ideas and more specifically reforms of the process and, by the way, i do not think this is going to hurt the democratic candidate in the fall. inin -- in 2008, only 60% of clinton supporters said they would vote for barack obama. sanders people are much more positively inclined toward clinton than clinton people were toward obama, and by six months from now, believe me, all will be forgotten, so i think the democratic party is a much more unified party. >> woodruff: but what do you make to have the race that's still there between bernie sanders and hillary clinton? >> what i make of it is this, judy, bernie sanders 12 months ago launched a quick campaign,
3% in the polls. well-known pundits and wise people sneered and smikerred at his candidacy. she was 65% to 3%. over the past 12 months, bernie sanders has filled auditoriums of 27,000, 25,000, 20,000 people regularly, consistently won primaries, dominated the debate, raised $200 million. there are three surviving candidates -- three. there is only one favorable in the eyes of the voters, that's bernie sanders. there is only one who trounces donald trump by large margins, bernie sanders. four primaries in the month of may, he's won three of them. so the idea is there anybody on the democratic leadership in the party of the white house who understands he's done so well and you let him get out on his terms, he wants to make his fight. i agree with david that the
numbers are very much in secretary clinton's, the likelihood of her being nominated is overwhelming, but bernie sanders enlisted millions of people and she needs those people in the fall, especially young people who have been indifferent to her candidacy. of course he's going to make the fight and carry it through and should, and they ought to give him some space and time and respect. >> woodruff: but my question is what happens to all that enthusiasm out there right now for bernie sanders? does it just sort of shift to hillary clinton? it's not going to happen overnight, presumably. >> at the convention, bernie sanders stands up and he says, this is the fight we've fought. we've fought the good fight, we kept the faith, we have not finished the course, but the rest of the course is we have to stand to stop donald trump from being elected president, we have to stand with hillary clinton. i will do everything in my power in the next three months to make sure hillary clinton is the next president of the united states. >> he could tone down some to have the the rhetoric. she has not stolen the
nomination from the process. she won fair and square. i think a lot of the voters will go away. i think the fall campaign will be so negative it will drive downturnout and the people who are more likely than not to wash their hands of it is the sanders young voters. >> that's why it's important they keep him very much in the tent and honor what he has done. >> woodruff: we have a few more weeks to watch the primaries. they're not over yet. mark shields, david brooks, thank you. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour, npr's bob boilen explores the songs that have changed musicians' lives. but first, president obama departs for a trip to asia tomorrow-- his first stop, vietnam. mr. obama will be the third
consecutive president to visit the nation after america's war there ended in 1975. relations between the u.s. and vietnam are warming as mutual interests become clearer. in a move apparently timed to the president's trip, vietnam this week released a long-held political prisoner. the u.s. ambassador to vietnam has pressed the government there on human rights and other matters, since he took his post. special correspondent mike cerre sent us this profile of the u.s.'s man in hanoi. ( speaking vietnamese ) >> reporter: breakfast at the u.s. ambassador's residence in hanoi, with a side order of vietnamese language lessons. >> i can speak what is a pretty difficult language, and i speak it pretty well. ( speaking vietnamese ) and so i think more often than
not, people like to get out and mix it up, learn, really learn what's going on in the countries where they serve and make a difference. >> reporter: the closest most locals will ever come to an u.s. ambassador abroad is a passing motorcade or a heavily staged official event. but given the tortured relations between the united states and vietnam over the years, u.s. ambassador ted osius is dispensing with traditional protocols to help create a new reference point on u.s.-vietnam relations. his mission in vietnam started with a 1,200 mile bike ride, the length of the country, as a u.s. consular officer in 1995, soon after official relations between the two countries were restored. his bike diplomacy continues to be his signature style for interacting with the vietnamese people, as well as local government officials. while crossing the former demilitarized zone, once separating north from south
vietnam, a local woman offered a rare but indelible vietnamese perspective on what they call here "the american war." >> and i asked her in "so why are there so many ponds right here?" and she said "well, that's where the americans dropped bombs." and she said-- she went on to say, "they dropped bombs on my village, they dropped bombs and i lost family members." and i said "well, i need you to know, i'm american and i work for the u.s. embassy." and she said "well... ( speaking vietnamese ) "today-- today you and i are brother and sister." >> reporter: save for the war museum for tourists, it's almost impossible to find any traces or mention of the war, let alone get anyone wanting to talk about it, especially the younger vietnamese who have little
knowledge of the war. >> so they've known a lot of war. i think in some ways, it more seared into our consciousness than into theirs. yes, it was very painful for both sides, yes, they lost a huge number of people, but they in many ways have been quicker to move on and move towards the future than we have. >> reporter: he relies on his facebook page to circumvent official channels and the government-controlled media to communicate as directly as he can with the vietnamese people on significant issues, like t.p.p., the new trans-pacific partnership trade agreement. >> you're not in this alone. more than half of our exports to vietnam are agricultural. and there'll be many more opportunities for our exporters to get into this market when the vietnamese lower their tariffs. the idea that jobs will be sucked out of the united states and will go to vietnam, i don't think is correct. >> reporter: so those jobs have already left the united states?
>> we're talking about industries like making shoes or apparel, that involve a lot of people, and those jobs will shift within this region for the most part. ( military music ) >> reporter: also on the agenda for the first presidential state visit-- a broadening of defense agreements with america's former >> and the chinese have been very aggressive, and in some ways they've been pushing the southeast asian countries towards us because they've been so aggressive in building islands, in challenging the status quo in the south china sea. and the united states stands for respect for international law. >> reporter: as much as the vietnam tries to put the war behind it, a new generation of vietnamese are still dealing with some its dangerous legacies: ( explosion ) unexploded ordnance, and environmental contamination from the agent orange defoliant, suspected of causing crippling
health issues for successive generations of vietnamese. >> if you're honest about the past, you can have a very different kind of future than if you try to whitewash the past. one is in the cleanup of dioxin, popularly known as agent orange. and we've had some real success in da nang, in cleaning up the dioxin that was left, especially near the da nang airport. >> reporter: he and the administration are also hoping to leverage the t.p.p. negotiations to make progress on one of the more sensitive issues between the two countries: human rights. >> this is really important, and yeah, i have it, i carry this card-- it's examples of demonstrable progress on human rights. i've given this card to members of the politburo, i point out that these are the things that we're asking you to do. we couldn't be more clear, it fits on a card, the vietnamese can still choose, rather than have economic growth, rather than have trade with us in europe, they can choose to throw
bloggers in jail. >> reporter: for ambassador osious, human rights begins at home. >> i'm white, my husband's black and our kids are brown. so we represent, i think, one of the things that's really great about america. ( speaking vietnamese ) >> reporter: ambassador osius isn't the first gay u.s. ambassador, but he and his spouse, clayton bond, have become very visible leaders of the l.g.b.t. movement in the diplomatic corps and sweeping across southeast asia, especially here in vietnam where a ban on same sex marriages was lifted shortly after they arrived nearly two years ago. is representing gay rights in this part of the world your personal agenda or an official agenda? >> well, it's about representing equality, and it's about representing human rights, and it's very much an official agenda. the agenda of this administration is to keep pressing the envelope on human
rights and that includes the right to l.g.b.t.i. persons. because we are visible, my family and i are visible, we do more by example than through just talking. we show that you can be a same sex couple and raise children, and do it successful. >> so anyone who thinks that the ambassador's sexuality is a distraction, they should come here and see how it's been embraced by people. >> reporter: nguyen qui duc, a former npr and bbc correspondent, owns a cafeé on the same block as ambassador's residence and is a close observer of the vietnamese reaction to the ambassador's diplomatic and personal style. >> it's a non-issue as long as he does his work and carries himself with dignity with his >> the fact that i show respect for vietnamese language and culture and history, the vietnamese people.
the fact that i show that respect, that i clearly enjoy being here. i think that has helped, has helped my mission. i really love being here. i feel like i won the lottery, because i really care about this country to be able to come here and do this job at this time in history, is a really rare privilege. i feel lucky every day. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, mike cerre reporting in hanoi, vietnam. >> woodruff: finally tonight, many of you may know bob boilen as the host and creator of npr's "all songs considered," one of the most downloaded music podcasts. at the popular 9:30 club in washington, d.c. recently, jeffrey brown sat down with boilen, whose own band was the first to play that club 35 years ago. his new book "your song changed my life" recounts the history of modern music through voices
boilen has encountered. >> brown: your book, "your song changed my life," right. that's true, i mean a lot of people would say that, but why? have you figured out what it is about music that has that impact? >> i think it's so visceral. there is a-- music is so different than everything else. it's not tangible, you don't see it, you-- it hits you on a level that is deeper than what we do and see in everyday life. i think it's pure emotion and tone, and a lyric, somebody saying a lyric that repeats over and over can be a call to action for somebody. i tell stories of people whose lives were changed by a song, and often in those formative years, what some people call the reminiscence bump, where you're more likely to be susceptible to something with hormones raging, or the first time you ever like heard somebody go, "yeah," you know. those things are impactful
because they're firsts. >> brown: you were looking for those moments from people. >> well, then it wasn't hard to find. either because so many musicians-- there are 35 in my book from, you know, you get jimmy page or a new artist like hozier or st. vincent, you get artists who, that they became musicians because something like that happened to them, where they heard a song on the radio while they were eight years old, strapped to the back seat of a car-- or for jimmy page, it was he moved into a house that was empty and there was a guitar in that house. but then sees a kid at school playing a guitar. and this is the '50s, it's not like today where everybody's got a guitar. this is a rare thing. >> brown: and that happens, i mean, it happens to all of us as lovers of music, but it also happens to the musicians themselves, that's what made them who they are. >> yeah, and those musicians go on to spawn a whole crop of new ones. i see it all the time, like someone like courtney barnett, who is a musician from australia that many people might not know.
she's 23 years old, one of the best musical poets of this generation, i think. i think people who love dylan could connect to courtney barnett, for example. she was influenced by, you know, a band in america that's been a band for 20 years, wilco. it's interesting to see someone 23 being influenced by someone say in their 40s and making music since they were that age. i just love those connections that happen. >> brown: did you see themes emerge when you're talking to all these different musicians? anything that really stood out or surprised you? >> well, i think one thing is that-- parents, listen: you have a large influence on what your kids are going to like. and for my generation, i was rebelling against my parents' music. but that's not true anymore. most kids embrace their parents' music. most kids look back fondly on-- they look back with some sense of "i want to know more."
i'm curious what's going to happen in the land of playlists, is your kid going to inherit your playlists? not likely. >> brown: well, that's a good-- what is going to happen, i mean, because we're sitting here talking amid so many changes in the world of music, right? the industry, the way we take in music, how we listen to it. >> yeah, i think, i mean-- i think that we'll still have the auditory experience, we'll still have that experience of sitting next to your mother or father, hearing a song, but you're not going to get that physical thing that, for me, was really important. i mean, i miss the album, i miss the physical thing that i can hold while i listen. but that said, people today have the choice to listen to anything and everything. they can listen to louis armstrong or they can listen to, you know, alice cooper, and they can do it all in the same, like, within three minutes of each other without having to purchase anything, without having to run to the local library or go to somebody's cousin's brother's house. so, i think that's exceptional. and so the understanding of what music is and its history is much deeper than it will ever be.
>> brown: and you're talking about people's moments when they-- moments of discovery. what about your own? >> well, i grew up at the time when the beatles came to be, and it may seem almost clicheé for some, "oh, the beatles," you know, but here's a band that in 1964 were writing really cute, wonderful, catchy songs, and then three, 3.5 years later from '64 to '67, were writing unimaginable sounds. sgt. pepper's lonely hearts club band, lyrics that were no longer about how i love you and how i want to hold your hand, it was much deeper life philosophy. and the orchestrations were just mind-boggling and mind-blowing i love thatrogression in the music, i love what happens when a band can be one thing one time, and grow up and become something else. i'm always looking for that
group that wants to keep innovating. i just find that fascinating, endlessly fascinating. >> brown: sometimes clicheés are true, right? the beatles. all right, bob boilen, thanks so much. >> pleasure. >> woodruff: and in other music news, john berry, a founding member of the band "beastie boys," died yesterday. berry left after their first album, but is credited with coming up with the band's name. john berry was 52 years old. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, sunday marks the birthday of sir arthur conan doyle, creator of sherlock holmes. but the famous author was also a physician, and somewhat of a medical detective in his own right. in his honor, we share one of his greatest true detective stories. >> an event focuses on finding
as many living species as possible in a defined area in a short period of time. we were live on facebook and caught up with national geographic's on varma showing off what we might be looking over. >> what have you got? a snail and this is a kind of roach related to the cockroach you in your home but related to the forest -- native to the forest. there is different insects that live in the forest south not just ants and pollinators. but, yeah. >> woodruff: very cool. all that and more all that and more is on our web site, www.pbs.org/newshour. and a reminder about some upcoming programs from our pbs colleagues. tonight on "washington week," tensions escalate in the democratic party, and donald trump tries to win over establishment republicans by releasing his supreme court short list. plus, president obama extends overtime protections to millions of americans.
that's later on "washington week." check your local pbs listings. on pbs newshour saturday, from discovering your heritage to improving your health, the growing industry that relies on the collection of d.n.a. samples. >> reporter: researchers have already gathered blood and urine samples from more than 12,000 local residents, and stores those samples in a huge biobank, a refrigerated repository for human tissue, in this case, nearly the size of a football field. then the specimen's d.n.a. is sequenced, as needed. the study is ambitious: collecting specimens over generations and unique in its focus on one community. however, there are ethical concerns. donors receive a t-shirt and a $10 dollar walmart gift card for their samples and nothing more-- even if their samples help discover a cure for cancer or any disease. >> woodruff: that's tomorrow night on pbs newshour weekend. and we'll be back, right here, on monday, with a look at those
who fled vietnam during the war, found a new life in the u.s., and now return home. that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> fathom travel, offering cruises to cuba and the dominican republic. travel deep. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> bnsf railway. >> genentech. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
>> 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, e-trade and cancer treatment centers of america. ♪ >> shouldn't what makes each of us unique make our treatment unique? advanced genomic testing is changing the way we fight cancer. we are focused on the evolution of cancer care.