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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  November 17, 2016 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> sreenivasan: and i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: on the newshour tonight, president-elect donald trump gets his transition moving, meeting with figures like henry kissinger, and the first foreign leader since the election. >> sreenivasan: also ahead this thursday, the major pitfalls of the eb-5 program: why hopeful immigrants exchanging foreign investments for u.s. citizenship are leaving empty handed. >> it hurts me because my mom and dad were very young when they passed away and it was my job to protect the money they left us. and that really breaks my heart. >> woodruff: and, how life as an outsider helps trevor noah look through the lens of others. the new late night tv host opens up to jeffrey brown about his
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path to political comedy. >> when you are not under the impression that the world is yours, you have to figure out how to listen to the world that you are in. >> sreenivasan: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic
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performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the well-being of humanity around the world by building resilience and inclusive economies. more at >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> sreenivasan: the trump transition operated on two fronts today, in new york and washington. the president-elect received a parade of potential cabinet officers, while his running mate courted congress. john yang begins our coverage. >> yang: one after another, they made the pilgrimage to trump tower for audiences with the president-elect. some were familiar faces from the campaign: former new york mayor rudy giuliani, and retired others have also been mentioned as possible members of the trump administration: house financial services chairman jeb hensarling, fed-ex c.e.o. chairman fred smith, and governors rick scott or florida and nikki haley of south carolina. transition officials said there's "no arbitrary timeline" for personnel decisions announcements. >> i think, basically, before or right after thanksgiving is probably more appropriate. we looked at where past
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administrations have been also, and we feel like we're on target, right on time for all of that. >> yang: president-elect trump talked foreign policy with former secretary of state henry kissinger. today he met with japanese prime minister, shinzo abe, the first world leader to come calling since the election. the transition team incoming administration has begun launching its so-called "landing teams" to work on the transition with current administration officials across the federal government. all members of those teams, and anyone being vetted for an administration job, have to give up lobbying if they're a registered lobbyist. and they have to agree to a five-year lobbying ban after leaving government service. today, vice president-elect pence was on capitol hill, addressing the house republican conference he once led: >> very humbling to be back among my former colleagues who are excited about moving the trump agenda forward in the coming congress and i'm just so grateful, so grateful for the warm hospitality.
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>> yang: mr. pence also sat down with house minority leader nancy pelosi, and with chuck schumer, the incoming senate minority leader. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> sreenivasan: former house speaker newt gingrich took himself out of the running for a trump cabinet post today. he told "the washington post" he wants the freedom to "network across the whole system." >> woodruff: in the day's other news, president obama had some pointed advice for his successor, on dealing with russia. he spoke in berlin, after meeting with german chancellor angela merkel, and said he hopes mr. trump confronts the kremlin when it goes too far. >> my hope is that the simply take a realpolitik approach and suggest that, you know, if we just cut some deals with russia, even if it hurts people or even if it violates international norms, or even if it leaves smaller countries that we just do whatever is convenient at the time.
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>> woodruff: merkel said she's keeping an "open mind" on working with a trump administration. >> sreenivasan: hillary clinton has re-emerged in public, urging supporters to keep fighting. she spoke last night at a washington gala for the children's defense fund. clinton acknowledged she's had moments when she wanted to "curl up and never leave the house again" after her stunning loss. but she said, this is no time to give in. >> i know that over the past week, a lot of people have asked themselves whether america is the country we thought it was. but please listen to me when i say this: america is worth it. our children are worth it. believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up. >> sreenivasan: clinton did not mention president-elect trump by name. >> woodruff: republican leaders in the u.s. house called today for a bill to fund the government into march. they said that would give the incoming trump administration time to weigh in on future spending priorities. meanwhile, nancy pelosi now faces a challenge to keep her job as house minority leader. ohio democrat tim ryan announced
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today he'll run against pelosi. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. surgeon general is out with a call to action on substance abuse. dr. vivek murthy issued a sweeping report today. among the findings: 78 americans die every day from overdosing on opioids. a record 47,000 died from drug overdoses of all kinds, in 2014. and more than 27 million people reported using illegal drugs, or misusing prescription drugs last year. >> woodruff: in economic news, the head of the federal reserve says the economic outlook is improving. that's likely to paved the way for another interest rate hike, next month. janet yellen gave her semi- annual report to congress today. she acknowledged the fed's view could change, depending on what the trump administration does. >> when there's greater clarity about the economic policies that might be put into effect the committee will have to factor
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those assessments of their impacts on employment and inflation and perhaps adjust our outlook depending on what happens. >> woodruff: yellen also said she has no intention of stepping down before her term ends in january of 2018. >> sreenivasan: j.p. morgan chase will pay $264 million to settle federal charges that it bribed its way into banking deals with china. the bank was accused of hiring relatives of well-connected chinese officials, in a bid to secure business. several other banks are under a similar investigation. >> woodruff: wall street managed modest gains today. the dow jones industrial average gained 35 points to close near 18,904. the nasdaq rose 39 points, and the s&p 500 added 10. >> sreenivasan: astronaut peggy whitson is now the oldest woman in space, at the age of 56. the biochemist was on a russian rocket that blasted off from kazakhstan today, on a mission to the international space station. whitson will celebrate her 57th birthday in space, next
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february. john glenn remains the oldest human to go into space. he flew on a space shuttle, at age 77. >> woodruff: and, the man who made archer daniels midland into a food industry giant has died. dwayne andreas passed away wednesday. he took over a.d.m. in 1970 and built a dominant position in everything from ethanol to corn syrup. he stepped down in 1997, after a price-fixing scandal. a.d.m. was also a major underwriter of the newshour for years. dwayne andreas was 98 years old. >> sreenivasan: still to come on the newshour: president-elect trump's first meeting with a foreign leader. concerns that a climate change denier is shaping the president- elect's stance on the environment. making sense of a program that lets foreign investors immigrate to the u.s., and much more. >> woodruff: president-elect trump has spoken by phone to
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scores of world leaders. japan's prime minister shinzo abe will visit with him in person in new york this evening, following concern in his country over statements candidate trump made during the campaign. in fact, questions have been raised in many quarters about trump's foreign policy, as he decides who his main appointments in that arena will be. we turn now to michael pillsbury who has been advising the trump transition team. he has served in past republican administrations in the defense department and on the national security council staff. and david rothkopf: he is the c.e.o. and editor of "foreign policy" magazine, and the author of "national insecurity: american leadership in an age of fear." offis and we welcome both of you to the program. michael pillsbury, let me start with you and ask you about the visit with the japanese prime minister, the meeting late this afternoon with donald trump. how typical is it for a foreign head of government to meet with someone who's been elected president but hasn't taken office yet? >> it's common.
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it's basically a japanese initiative. it's a very good idea. it lets the japanese sort of get the feel of mr. trump, present some of their kerns from the campaign rhetoric, and the fact that mr. abe has already said it's an honor for him to be the first foreign leader in some sense of a competitive dynamic. there have been reproaches from prime minister modi and others that they would like a chance to talk to the plect as well. >> woodruff: you're saying this is common? >> i don't the statistics. the key thing is the president-elect can't act. he can't conduct foreign policy, but he can certainly educate himself and have a chance to meet people. so after he's president, it won't be a meeting of two strangers. >> woodruff: david rothkopf, what about that? how accustomed are we, should we be to a president-elect having these kinds of meetings? >> well, these kind of things happen. president obama met with foreign leaders before he took office. i think what president-elect trump needs to think about a
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little bit is that his actions have foreign policy consequences whether or not he's meeting with foreign leaders so that, for example, if he sends out a tweet trying to intimidate or berate the "new york times," foreign leaders who might be wanting to do that themselves start saying, oh, there is a change in u.s. policy. or if he cozies up to russia, or appoints an ethno-nationalist as his primary adviser, people say, oh, perhaps ethno-nationalism in s in season at the white house. everything he does has a foreign policy consequence. >> woodruff: there has been a lot made not just about stephen bannon being made top person in the white house. how much information is there about him? >> he's not president so things
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foreign leaders say can be for effect. i was on president reagan's transition team. we had similar issues. people wanted to get in touch, wanted to know what the true policy was going to be. transition teams don't have any authority. president reagan didn't really get to his main national security strategy till one year in office. some of the key documents took one year to hash out. so we're really in a very early phase where, as david says, yes, the tweets are read and people are watching, but there are no teams meeting to hammer things out. we're way early to see what the trump administration's role in history will be. >> woodruff: david rothkopf, sounds like michael pillsbury is saying it's too early to get concerned about any of this until he takes office and starts making decisions. >> i don't know if it's too
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early. yesterday had the head of the national security agency saying rust had taken an active role in trying to tip the scales of this election toward trump. indeed, that's what happened. then trump got on the phone with russia, talked to putin. a letter from poofnt. a day later putin launches a major offensive in syria. some of the people who trump is considering are people who are fairly cozy with the russians including general mike flynn. so all of a sudden people are starting to put pieces together. michael's right, it takes time for a foreign policy legacy to emerge, but for first impressions matter, and right now donald trump is making some pretty disturbing first impressions. >> woodruff: i want to come back on the the specifics of that. go ahead. >> a new president from whatever party deserves a bit of a cease fire. the election is over.
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politics will continue. there will be harsh criticism of donald trump for the next four years, i'm sure. one of my favorite impressions in washington is something george schultz said i think on the pbs "newshour". he said "nothing ever gets settled in this town." so conflicts can continue, we can criticize mike flynn but he's not named yet as personal security advisor. i hope he is. his book is quite good. he's not speaking now, general flynn going on tv, he doesn't speak as an government official. the election campaign over and there needs to be a break in the harsh criticism of mr. trump and his team. >> woodruff: david rothkopf, i hear you say there are signals donald trump had with vladimir putin, for example. >> of course, and there are signals that are being sent with tweets intimidating the "times" and signals being sent for who he's evaluating for key offices and who might be the people that he chooses to appoint to those
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offices and, you know, yes, it would be nice, ideally, if we could set aside the politics for a moment, but some of these things are not political. when you take somebody who's run a publication that's white supremacist, misogynist publication and appoint him right ext door to the president in the white house, that sends a message, particularly in europe right now where there's a rising tide of the right. one of those people who he's appointed, steve bannon, has already sent a message to the lapen team who is going to contend for the presidency of france next year, extreme right wingers. he's saying, look, we'll help you, we're part of the rising tide of the right. so actions are being taken, choices are being made and the consequences are serious. >> woodruff: and we should say that the breitbart news organization argues against the characterization of white supremacist. but setting that aside, michael
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pillsbury, what about this argument that, already, by his statements, even saying i had a good conversation with vladimir putin and the next day russia launches yet another strike, punishing strike in syria that those are not things that we should be concerned about at the very least? >> i think the key thing is white house fact sheet that president obama issued, and president obama's own statements that the obama administration has tried very hard to prepare memos for every government department for the last few months suggesting what to do, descriptions of what has happened so far. but those will not be turned over until mr. trump's transition teams arrive in the buildings. now, the problem we have right now is that the transition teams -- >> reporter: and some of them did arrive today. >> and this is a setback for the past week or so, but it's easy to remedy this and now the dialogue begins. so things like david is concerned about, they will begin to sort of get ahold of what's
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been going on in foreign policy and defense areas quite scone. we're in a very premature first week. i appeal to david, give people a break. >> woodruff: we are just beginning to watch, and this is the first of many, many conversations we will be having. michael pillsbury, david rothkopf, thank you both. >> pleasure. >> sreenivasan: more than 200 nations reaffirmed their commitment to the paris climate accord today, during a u.n. summit in morocco. the show of support comes amidst worries that u.s. president- elect donald trump will pull out of the deal. it also comes as dozens of wildfires continue to burn across the southeast region of
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this country. more than 30 that are still uncontained in north carolina, south carolina, georgia, tennessee, alabama and kentucky, and climate change could be one factor that may contribute to the drought conditions feeding them. william brangham has a closer look at how a trump administration could change america's course on climate change. >> we're going to cancel the paris climate agreement. >> brangham: department of >> department of environmental protection, we're going to get rid of it in almost every form. >> brangham: throughout the long campaign, donald trump made clear he wants a sharp turnabout in u.s. environmental policy. >> oh coal country. >> brangham: he repeatedly pledged to undo the obama administration's clean power plan, an aggressive effort to cut carbon emissions from power plants. >> energy is under siege by the obama administration, under absolute siege. the e.p.a. is killing these energy companies. >> brangham: since winning the election, the president-elect
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has tapped climate change skeptic myron ebell to head the e.p.a. transition. trump has repeatedly expressed his own skepticism about climate change, like in this 2012 tweet, when he said: "the concept of global warming was created by and for the chinese in order to make u.s. manufacturing non- competitive." two years later, he wrote: "global warming is an expensive hoax!" meanwhile, the paris climate accords officially took effect on november 4-- an agreement among dozens of nations, all aimed at limiting worldwide warming to just an additional two degrees celsius, a little over 3.5 degrees fahrenheit. but doubts about what president- elect trump will do, are hanging over this week's u.n. climate conference in morocco. >> the u.s. will shred the document. >> brangham: it would take four years to withdraw from the
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pact, but there are no enforcement mechanisms, so the new trump administration could simply ignore the u.s.' commitments. in marrakech yesterday, secretary of state john kerry warned against taking that step. he said climate change should not be a partisan issue. >> no one has a right to make decisions for billions of people based solely on ideology, or >> brangham: at the same time, 365 american companies have written to the president elect, imploring him to uphold the paris accord and warning, "failure to build a low-carbon economy puts american prosperity at risk." david roberts covers this for vox, and is a journalist who has long written about the need for tackling and adapting to climate change. david roberts, let's start off talking about the man who's going to help the trump administration shape energy policy. who is hi ron ebel and what does he believe? >> myron is director of climate
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change program at the competitive enterprise institute, a think tank in washington, d.c. his belief is climate change is a hoax or possibly no big deal, happening in no big deal or possibly happening and good for us depending on which day you ask him. certainly, we don't need any public policy to help counter it. >> brangham: in some ways, he seems like an ideological fit as far as what we understand donald trump's policy is to believe and positions. >> that's right, i think it's a very clear signal from the trump camp that he was not kidding in what he said about climate change on the trail. >> brangham: let's talk about some of the things the trump administration might do. with regards to the paris accords, for those following along, a whole group of nations have binded together to say we're going to pledge to cut emissions going forward. if the trump administration wanted to, can they just walk back from those commitments? can they just walk away from the
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accords themselves? >> absolutely. the whole premise of the paris agreement is that all the commitments from all countries involved are voluntary. that was one of the reasons it was a breakthrough is making those commitments voluntary opened countries up and made them more ambitious. but the consequence of them being voluntary is trump can absolutely walk away. it will take him several years to formally get the u.s. out of the accord but nothing is stopping him from just stating he's not going to pursue the targets and not going to do anything to attempt to meet our commitments there, and there is no legal neck nism that can stop him. >> brangham: same questions with regards to domestic policy. what is a trump administration energy policy going to look like? >> well, i think the first priority is going to be to dismantle the obama
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environmental legacy. so for instance the clean power plan aimed at power plants will be either rolled back or delayed or slow-walked or reversed entirely, depending on what road they take. but i think the initial efforts are all going to be designed to dismantle everything that obama has done in this area over the last eight years. >> brangham: it's hard to know if voters picked trump because of his energy policy but i think it's undeniable there are a lot of people in the country especially in states like west virginia who think when you talk about cutting carbon emissions you mean you're cutting their jobs, that energy costs are going to go up and, to a lot of voters, that doesn't seem like an exchange they want to make. in some ways, trump has something of mandate, opportunity he? >> i don't think so, william. a couple of things, one is not a lot of people know this yet, but renewable energy now employs far more people in the united states
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than coal does, certainly. there's more jobs in the solar industry alone than there is in coal anymore, so in terms of job growth, renewables are a much more fertile source of that than fossil fuels. secondly, if you actually go beneath the general level and poll the public on individual questions like should we do something to restrain carbon emissions? should we tighten regulations on pollution? should we support renewable energy? support for those policies is incredibly haig across the board, across demographics, across regions of the country. if you're looking at individual environmental policies, public support se norms. the problem is there just aren't that many members of the public who make those issues their priority. so i don't think trump's win necessarily tells us anything about what the public thinks about energy policy so much as it tells us that the public just doesn't think about energy policy very much.
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>> brangham: trump made a repeated pledge to bring the coal industry back. is that in the president's power to do? >> absolutely not. i mean, the main thing killing coal right now in the u.s. is cheap natural gas, and that's market competition. that's market competition that's killing coal and that's going to be true no matter what trump does, and there's automation in the coal industry, so coal mining jobs have been declining for 40 years now from their historic highs and will continue to decline as automation increases. so most of the forces that are adverse to coal in the u.s., particularly adverse to coal mining jobs, are outside the president's control and are definitely going to continue no matter what trump does. the interesting thing is whether those people that he made those promises to remember those promises and hold him accountable. >> brangham: let's say trump does everything he promised to do, treats climate change as a
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hoax, walks away from paris accords, dismantles the e.p.a. regulation, what does that mean for the global effort to cut carbon emission and how much will it impact what the rest of the planet is doing already? >> that is indeed the $6 million question and no one knows the answer yes. the news is not good. a lot of the paris agreement and a lot of international cooperation on climate change has been built on u.s. leadership recently. obama's leadership helped bring china into the fold, to the table to do this, and then the prospect of the u.s. and china acting in concert helped bring the rest of the world to the table. so in a large sense, this edifice is built on top of u.s. leadership, so if you yank u.s. leadership out from underneath it, at the very least, i think it's going to be much more shaky and vulnerable. whether it continues on as it has been depends on a lot of economic forces and
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technological innovation and a lot of things that we can't really predict. but i think at the very least, action is much more fragile and contingent than it was before this news. >> brangham: david roberts of vox, thank you very much. >> thank you, william. >> woodruff: the so-called eb-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to invest in job-creating programs in the u.s. in exchange for permanent residency. but it's been scandal-plagued, with calls for reform. as congress gets set to tackle some final business before the end of this year, will the program finally get fixed? our economics paul solman takes a look. it's part of his weekly series "making sense". >> see, in dubai the thing is, as long as you work in dubai, you can live in dubai. but what if you leave the job?
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we have to go back to pakistan, which we don't want to. >> reporter: noreen and shehry iqbal thought they had a surefire way to avoid a return to their native pakistan. >> it's not a safe country. >> it's got a lot of security challenges. >> reporter: he's a flight attendant for dubai's national airline; she was too, until they had kids. their plan: sock away enough of their salaries to buy their way into america. via the eb-5 visa program, which grants green cards, and eventually u.s. citizenship, to foreigners and their immediate families. just invest half a million dollars to create at least ten full-time jobs in either a rural project, or an urban area with a high unemployment rate. >> we saved even the allowance money, i can say that. it's so embarrassing for us to tell somebody that allowance money is for you to eat, but we used to save that also. >> reporter: oh, you mean the money that the airline would give you. >> on your flight to have your food and everything, we would
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save that also. >> reporter: and put it away. >> put it away. >> reporter: to that, they added shehry's small inheritance. his parents had died in a car crash when he was a teenager. and investments they'd made to grow their nest egg. >> she bought a little studio in a nice upscale area called the jumeirah lake towers. it was generating a very, very good rental income. >> reporter: are you-- you're starting to remember it all? that's what's going on? >> sorry. >> reporter: it's ok. >> so we rarely talk about this because i start to... >> reporter: a lot of tears have been shed over the eb-5 project the iqbals chose to invest in, one we first covered last year here on making sen$e: the jay peak ski resort in northern vermont, coupled with plans for a hugely ambitious stem cell manufacturing facility affiliated with a south korean biotech firm. but in april, the securities and exchange commission charged
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developers ariel stenger and federal securities violations, alleging they'd misused $200 million of eb-5 investor funds, running the ski resort project as a giant ponzi scheme, and the stem cell project as a total fraud. the iqbals, who put down their money on stem cells, have lost not just their half million dollar investment, but another $65,000 in legal and administrative fees, with not a green card in sight. we talked to them on their recent visit to the u.s. on tourist visas, using free flight passes. are you now wiped out? >> yes. >> all of the money, it was just squandered, you know? >> reporter: and you lost your entire inheritance. >> yes. and it hurts me because my mom and dad were very young when they passed away and it was my job to protect the money they left us. and that really breaks my heart.
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>> reporter: does it make you think differently about america? >> to be honest, unfortunately yes. we have lived in countries which are not regulated, but we have never been cheated on this scale. we have never been cheated at all to be honest. >> reporter: the iqbals feel that america is really letting them down. >> the united states is. that the government, through its agencies, are not monitoring this activity is really disgraceful. >> reporter: michael gibson is an independent eb-5 investment adviser who says he thoroughly vets projects before recommending them to clients, documenting everything on tape. and you go around the country. >> all over the united states. >> reporter: recording eb-5 projects. >> absolutely. been doing it since 2008. >> reporter: but only one in ten projects, he says, agree to let him in. >> the biggest problem is transparency. the agency that's administering the program offers no disclosure regarding any of the investments. so if you're an investor and you're asking questions about how many projects have they developed?
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how much capital they've raised, what they've done with that capital, how many jobs they've created. none of this information is disclosed. >> reporter: and it's not just 700 investors in the vermont project who've literally paid the price. in south dakota, an eb-5-funded beef packing plant went belly up, taking the funds of some 300 investors with it. >> they assumed that the state was overseeing this investment and the fact is that they were not. >> there is no set of sanctions for violations, no recourse for bad actors. >> reporter: last year, six bills were introduced in congress to reform the eb-5 program, increasing scrutiny of the so-called regional centers, private firms that sponsor eb-5 developments. none passed. why? >> there are a few regional centers with very powerful connections in washington, including their lobbyists, they are concerned that any reform
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would impact their ability to raise capital for cities such as new york and los angeles and miami. >> reporter: right, says angelique brunner, who owns and operates five regional centers. but without eb-5, she says, many urban projects, like this retail development in washington, d.c. would never break ground. >> we're an essential piece of projects like this. we work directly with developers and we've seen first hand the challenges that they experience in the capital markets when they're going to raise capital. and it's an important part of the story to encourage other capital players to come to the table in terms of banking and other equity. >> reporter: oh really?, says gibson. then what about all the eb-5 funded projects rising in manhattan, amid similar conventionally financed projects? luxury condos in tribeca; ritzy midtown hotels and office buildings. and then there's the largest eb- 5 project of them all: hudson yards on the far west side. it had no shortage of americans
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willing to invest, says gibson. >> and many would argue, that in fact they already had capital lined up. they just were pursuing eb-5 capital as it was lower cost. it was cheaper financing for them. >> reporter: and that's it? >> that's it. >> reporter: so it's not creating jobs, then, at all. >> they would have created the jobs anyway, that's what many would argue. this is simply a way for them to save a point or two on their financing. >> reporter: scandals. fishy financing. yet lobbyists have kept congress from cleaning things up, for the usual reasons, says gibson. >> the developers are very well- financed, well-heeled, they donate to the political campaigns of many of these politicians, so if the developers can save several million dollars, they are going to encourage their politicians to allow them to use the eb-5 capital for their development. it's self interest. >> reporter: in the case of jay peak, which was part of a state- run regional center, its
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lobbying was done by alex mclean, a former assistant to vermont's governor >> one of the amazing things about vermont is that it's so small, and the access to the politicians is readily available. >> nobody knows the system better than me. >> reporter: now no american political story would be complete these days without donald trump. and indeed, he figures in this one. just this month, trump bay street, a 50-story luxury apartment building, opened in jersey city, new jersey, built by a company run by trump's son- in-law, jared kushner, who raised a quarter of the project's $200 million financing from eb-5 investors in china. >> which is why i alone can fix it. >> reporter: but locally and federally, the door between government and lobbying keeps revolving. and to michael gibson, the stakes of closing it for eb-5 projects are substantial. >> the issue is that it is
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affecting the credibility of the united states, because granting what is probably the most cherished document in the world, the u.s. passport and path to eventual citizenship is really in the hands of developers who at times do scheme and fraud to take advantage of the investors. >> reporter: the iqbals, their dreams of immigration to the u.s. dashed, still make their home in dubai at least for now. for them, american credibility is shot. >> if someone would come and ask me: i've got half a million dollars and i want to move to the u.s., i would probably say: don't do it. >> reporter: this is economics correspondent paul solman, reporting for the pbs newshour. >> sreenivasan: in the week or so since the election, there has been mounting criticism of whether web giants like facebook
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and google used enough discretion and editorial responsibility in screening out fake news sites. a new analysis by buzzfeed found that false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated more engagement than content from real news sites during the last three months of the election. users shared false stories like this one about pope francis endorsing donald trump, or hillary clinton selling weapons to isis, hundreds of thousands of times, even more than real stories. president obama weighed in today during his trip to germany. >> if we are not serious about facts and what's true and what's not, and particularly in an age of social media where so many people are getting their information in sound bytes and
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snippets off their phones, if we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems. >> sreenivasan: craig silverman worked on the analysis done by buzzfeed and he joins me now. craig, how do we know facebook's impact on the electorate? how did you research this? >> what we did is looked for the biggest 20 hits in the last three months before the election from sites that published fake news or sites that had published something false that also went viral, and then we looked at the total number of facebook engagements for those, and that's a number that encompasses, the comments, reactions and shares and decided to compare those to the top 20 real news hits from the 19 major news organizations. in the last three months before the election compared to the six months before that the engage month on the top twenty fake stories was higher than real news. >> sreenivasan: you found some
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sites were news sites but they had more power than the "new york times" or "the washington post"? >> i didn't expect fake news to get more engagement than real news overall but to see that the leading fake news site getting most engagement had only been registered months before and its top four fake stories got more facebook engagement than the top four from "the washington post," that was very surprising. >> sreenivasan: you found in your investigation some of the sites were built in macedonia for more of a profit motive than a political one. >> yeah, a few weeks ago we published a story where we found well over 100 sites focused on u.s. politics being run out of one small down in the former yuslav republican of macedonia. they were consistently publishing things that weren't true and when we did this calculation of the top twenty fake election hits, we did find
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two macedonian sites there. >> sreenivasan: mark zuckerberg said it's kind of a crazy idea to think fake news tilted the election. 99.9% of the stuff we publish is solid and in fact we had a positive effect, we got a lot of people to vote, and that probably has a more measurable impact on the election. >> i agree that is more measurable. one of the problems that we have now is facebook doesn't make a lot of data available publicly, so the analysis we did is just one slice of a lot of different investigations i think people should be able to do. we don't know the impact of fake news on the election. i don't think it's correct to say it swayed things in favor of trump. i don't think it was a deciding factor, but it definitely had some kind of a factor. the fact that fake news was going more viral to election day than mainstream news reporting is really surprising and i think something we should be concerned about. >> fake news has been around as long as the internet. what's the difference now? >> i would argue actually fake
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news predeets the internet as well. if you think about the early newspapers, they were often partisan newspapers and would public things that were fake. the internet came along and anybody can become a publisher so it's more democratized so you have more fake news. but a deciding factor is facebook, $1.7 billion people around the world logging in every month where it can get a tremendous velocity and reach many people, we haven't seen as much fake news. >> sreenivasan: is there a diminishing value for what the source is for facts today? seems like, when i ask someone where did you hear that? they say i saw it on my phone. if i press further, they say it was on facebook. but often they don't say it was from buzzfeed and craig silverman wrote it. >> people sometimes talk about the promiscuity of consumers where you might see something a
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friend shared on facebook, you might see something as a link on twitter, somebody might email something to you, and while you may go to your chosen sources in the morning or at night, you're also getting stuff from other sources and i do think for certain people, they don't necessarily take a step back and say where did this come from and what is this web site? we consume things in an almost passive way and fake stuff can slip into that real stream of news a lot easier. >> sreenivasan: does this create an echo chamber? the "wall street journal" had a red feed/blue feed where perhaps friends on one side of the aisle saw news self-affirming. >> there is an echo chamber effect, some call it a filter bubble. the reality is humans like to consume information that alliance with their existing beliefs. so when we read something that goes along with what we already think or think might be true we are inclined to believe it and maybe inclined to share it. on a place like facebook where there are algorithms deciding
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what to show us they give us more of what we look at. i worry about sort of the collapse of that middle ground for not only political conversation but other things as well. >> sreenivasan: finally, what's facebook and google doing about this? >> right now the main thing that's happened is google and facebook followed suit and said they will not allow fake news sites, sites publishing false information to participate in the advertiser programs. the google announcement is probably more significant because its advertising program was used by a lot of sites to earn money, and so right now what we have is a little bit of shutting off the financial motive for this, which i think is actually a pretty powerful thing. >> sreenivasan: craig silverman from buzzfeed joining us tonight. thank you. >> thanks.
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>> woodruff: now we go from fake news on social streams to the tv screen: humor, politics, and the life of a perpetual outsider. jeffrey brown talks with the host of the late night "daily show," trevor noah. >> brown: it was the morning after the morning after, and, along with the rest of us, the producers and writers of the "daily show" were grappling with the recent earthquake in american politics. there were serious exchanges about the role of protest. there were jokes and laughter. >> one protester holding up a sign that said "i'm just sad." that's really all it is.
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>> brown: leading the discussion was the program's host, trevor noah. >> the whole point of democracy is that we don't fight about the decision. it's a scary time, but i think we have to be careful to not brand either side in and discussion as a monolith. it's a lot more nuanced than it seems. and a lot of the time as people, we're not good at dealing with nuance. it's easier to say black and white, right and wrong. >> brown: out with the old, and in with the new. but the j. in trump actually stands for jesus. >> brown: and the 32-year-old noah is still the new guy here, taking over last year as the surprise pick to replace jon stewart, who after 16 years at the helm was a national cultural figure. >> i was surprised with everyone else. it's not like i wasn't surprised. i was also like, wow, who is that guy. that is insane.
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who is that guy. only an idiot would take the job after jon stewart, but luckily i was that idiot. >> brown: it hasn't been the easiest transition: the late- night field has become more crowded, and the "daily show" nubers have fallen, but with the help of a staff of over 100, noah has brought a very particular perspective, one he thinks may be especially useful now. >> i come from a world where i've always practiced empathizing and putting myself in somebody else's mind, which is very difficult to do. but i truly believe that most people are doing what they believe is right from their point of view. but when you think of it from another person's point of view and you think of them being right from their point of view, it then gives you a greater insight into not only why they think the way they do, but maybe how to speak to them or even how to argue against those points. >> brown: noah was born in
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johannesburg, south africa, in the last years of apartheid, a time when a child like himself-- son of a black south african woman and a white swiss father-- was literally, as the title of his new memoir puts it, "born a crime." >> i existed in a space where there was no one like me most of my like, most of my life. i never met a child who had parents who were different races. i grew up either in a black environment or i got to visit a white environment. >> brown: noah was raised by his mother, who was jailed several times for breaking apartheid-era laws, and spent much of his earliest life indoors, to hide him from a government that could take him away and imprison her. >> so i lived as an outsider, but at the same time, because of being an outsider, i think one of the biggest benefits is you never see yourself as being the most important thing, because the world is never yours. so what you have to do is you have to find your place in other people's worlds. >> brown: and how do you do that? you used this word "chameleon," right? that's how you adapted. >> that's what you do, and you do that by listening.
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essentially that's what a chameleon is doing, for all intents and purposes, it's listening to its environment and adapting accordingly. if the chameleon's not aware of the color of the leaf that it's on, then how will it know what color to turn to. >> brown: in the book, noah tells of his mother having to act as though she was the black maid to her light-skinned child, and of his father running away from him as if they were not related. did you realize what was happening at the time? >> no. no i didn't, and thankfully i didn't. my parents were really good at insulating me from the reality of the world that i was in. my dad, to me, wasn't running away from me, he was just running with me. my mom was playing. my dad was playing. i was playing. >> brown: but there was a point where you realized that was not play. >> yeah, but by the time i did, the country was changing so much. and i'm lucky in that, and i never take that away, i never discount the fact that i was extremely lucky. because when i started to come
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of age, when i was six years old, the laws of apartheid were officially abolished. when i was 10 years old, we had our first democratic election, and that's- i think that was the greatest gift for me, is that i got to live on all sides. some who have only lived through the pain, even when the country changed, could only feel the pain. some who exist beyond that don't feel a connection to a previous world. >> brown: he would become a major star in his homeland, as a stand up comedian and hosting his own late night show. he began making guest appearances on american shows. and in 2014 joined "the daily show with jon stewart" as a contributor. humor, he says, was and is a way to process the world. >> no matter how poor you are, no matter how much pain you're in, laughter is something you always have. it's the anesthetic of the mind, i feel. because no matter what you're going through, if you laugh just for a moment, there's a moment
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of respite. >> brown: what now? jokes, for sure. >> we have someone who walks around like a space museum. what's this! what's this! >> brown: but noah told me he'd quickly realized the demand from the daily show audience for more than that. and again, he's drawing on his own experience. >> remember, when i first started hosting the daily show i said donald trump reminds me of an affecten dictator and we have the evidence to back it up. >> i made a tremendous amount of money. >> everybody loves me. >> the world i come from is a world of people who grab power off the backs of those who are disenfranchised or feel like they've been left behind and undereducated. i've come from a world where the person who is uneducated or the person who is unqualified can become the leader who takes everything. i come from a world where they
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use hateful rhetoric to try and rise up the masses and get them behind them. i come from that world, and that world doesn't make sense here, and yet now it does. >> brown: from comedy central in new york city, i'm jeffrey brown for the pbs newshour. >> sreenivasan: now to another episode of "brief but spectacular," where we ask interesting people to describe their passions. tonight, we hear from bob mankoff, cartoon editor for the "new yorker" magazine since 1997. he explains the humor of cartoons. every once in a while we run a joke that very few people get, and i think that's the hallmark of the new yorker. we don't do it to annoy people. we spend an extraordinary amount of time selecting, going through and editing the cartoons that you end up finding that funny.
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♪ ♪ >> part of the thing of cartoons is they're a little stupid and they connect us with the stupidity of our own consciousness in life. we are ribbing ourselves, our own pretentious and middle class and in doing that we become connoisseurs of unhappiness. door tunes depends on the cartoonist. amateurs loves everything they do. a professional understandhouse in the end somebody else has to judge their work. often something that comes out of your own real life experience you don't directly use. you modify it within the form. i found someone was brushing me off, so i said, how about never? is never good for you? i tweaked it to make it into a cartoon. it has the sin tax of politeness but the message is rude. the type of humor, the type of surprise.
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one that has a deep pa those of how life is, it's a man looking at the obituary and says, three years older than you, two years younger than you, your age right on the dot. michael crawford, all cork screws, a perfect cognitive of cartoon. kaplan is a master of a single line, their two mothers and have their children and one is saying to the other, they grow up so slow. one of the functions is coping. you're better off if you laugh. after 9/11 they said irony is dead, everything changed. the kaplan cartoon, a couple of months after 9/11, one woman said it's hard but slowly i'm getting back to hating every one. you just need a little something to say life is going to go on and if life goes on, humor will go on.
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i'm bob mankoff and this is my brief but spectacular take on cartoons. >> sreenivasan: sometimes we need a good reason to laugh. >> woodruff: we do. >> sreenivasan: you can watch additional brief but spectacular episodes on our website, >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, a lawyer and professor who specializes in public interest law says he was upset and not sure what to say after the election, and yet this past week has been the most rewarding of his teaching career. you can read more of his thoughts on our website. and we welcome more of your tributes and condolences for gwen ifill, who died on monday. submit them online, or call 703-594-6727 to share your thoughts and memories. all that and more is on our web site, >> sreenivasan: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again here tomorrow evening with david brooks and ruth marcus. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good
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night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> 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
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>> this is "bbc world news." 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. and aruba tourism authority. >> planning a vacation escape that is relaxing, inviting, and exciting is a lot easier than you think. you can find it here, in aruba. families, couples, and friends can all find their escape on the island with warm sunny days, cooling trade winds, and the


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