tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS January 8, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by wnet on this edition for sunday, january 8th: donald trump's top picks to serve in his administration prepare for confirmation hearings starting this week. the man accused of the mass shooting at fort lauderdale's airport faces charges that carry the death penalty. and in our signature segment: incarcerated teens-- what is the right age to prosecute and lock up juveniles as adults? next on "pbs newshour weekend." >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii.
barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thanks for joining us. the men and women who would serve in donald trump's cabinet begin confirmation hearings before u.s. senate committees this week. but the scheduling is in dispute, because the nonpartisan office of government ethics says some nominees, without naming them, haven't submitted all the financial and personal documents needed to finish the vetting for potential conflicts of interests. hearings are planned in the coming days for key members of the president-elect's national
security team: exxon-mobil ceo rex tillerson to become secretary of state; general james mattis for defense secretary; general john kelly for homeland security secretary; congressman mike pompeo for cia director; and senator jeff sessions for attorney general. the senate calendar also includes hearings for former labor secretary elaine chao to become transportation secretary; businessman wilbur ross for commerce secretary; reform advocate betsy devos for education secretary; and doctor ben carson for secretary of housing and urban development. the senate's republican majority leader, mitch mcconnell of kentucky, said today the confirmation process should not slow down, and the democrats' procedural complaints stem from frustration over losing the election. >> we need to sort of grow up here and get past that. we need to have the president's national security team in place on day one, and papers are still coming in, and so i am optimistic we will be able to
get up to seven nominees on day one just like we did eight years ago. >> sreenivasan: but today, the senate's democratic minority leader, charles schumer of new york, said in a statement: >> senate republicans are trying to ram them through as quickly as possible. until these nominees have fully cooperated with the ethics review process, the hearings and confirmation schedule should not be rushed. >> sreenivasan: for more on the confirmation process, i'm joined from washington by "newshour" political director lisa desjardins. why is this back and forth happening this time? i mean is the order traditionally different in how this process moves forward? >> yes. there are some things happening this time around that have not happened before. let's start with the logistics. the director of the office of government ethics wrote a letter and said the problem from his point of view is that the trump transition team did not submit any of these names before they made them public. he says that's what usually happens.
they clear these nominees before a president to be actually announces them. in this case, the ethics office said they got these names late and in some cases the ethics office says they still don't have any initial paperwork for nominees whose hearings are coming up within days. then the politics is less complicated to explain. both sides have a lot in this fight. the republicans want to build up donald trump. the democrats want to start out with a rocky step for him. >> what can the democrats do. we heard senator chuck schumer say today let's be deliberate and slow about this process. but when it comes to either blocking a nominee or changing the schedule. >> right, when a senator says let's be deliberate, that often means let's use all of our powers to lengthen the time it takes to get something done. that's really the only thing they can do, hari. republicans have the votes to get thraw all of these nominees. they just have a majority vote.
they have 52 in the senate. what democrats can do is try and use the bully pulpit po to get across questions they have about the trump transition and try and slow thing its down. >> while we're talking a lot about this, and think being this, this isn't happening in iraq. are there other things also simultaneously happening on capitol hill this week? >> that's right. this is going to be another week where we are watching progress or not of the affordable care act repeal. the senate will go through something called vodorama which will be the first push getting toward aca repeal it is a several step process but that is something important to watch. it may get lost in the flurry of confirmation hearings. we've got ten nominees coming up on the hill that is no accident. republicans want to get them out as quickly as possible. even if we don't have all the information, we usually would for these nominees and hearings, republicans want to get it done. >> what are examples of conflict of interest that have come up in the past or what are you looking at now, were you reporting this out yesterday. >> i think there are a lot of things to look at here.
let's take the example of a nominee like rex tillerson. his ethics package has been posted. we know he's the c.e.o., he has now left exxon mobile. is he involved with many boards and he has sort of-- he has clearly a large financial stakes in many companies including exxon mobile that might have influence on him as secretary of state. so in his ethics letter, he goes through how he is divesting from that. how he is selferring his eyes very significant financial ties from many companies. that's what is important here. and we know that four nominees coming up this next week, so far haven't given that ethics package in yet. that includes another billionaire, bet see devoss who hopes to be a secretary of education. wilbur ross who hopes to be the secretary of commerce. the people with extensive ties financial and also to foundations. and there's a lot of questions that i think americans and certainly democratic senator was like to raise, but they don't even have a starting basis to know the framework for these
folks financials going into these hearings. >> newshour political director joining us from washington tonight, thanks so much. >> my pleasure >> sreenivasan: in an interview broadcast today, president barack obama said it's important for the president of the united states, "to know what you don't know." mister obama also told "abc news" he hopes the trump administration stops disputing the conclusion by the intelligence community that russia's president directed a hack of democratic party computers in order to steer the election against hillary clinton. >> the russians intended to meddle, and they meddled. and it could be another country in the future, it could be another election, uh, where the alignments between republican and democrats are different than they were this time and, and uh, who a foreign country prefers. and that's why i hope this doesn't continue to be viewed through a partisan lens.
>> sreenivasan: incoming white house chief of staff reince priebus said today mister trump does now accept that moscow was behind the hacks and leaks of democratic emails. republican senators john mccain and lindsey graham are introducing a bill to give president-elect trump the opportunity to punish russia with more economic sanctions. >> all i'm asking him is to acknowledge that russia interfered, and push back. it could be iran next time. it could be china." >> sreenivasan: the gunman who allegedly massacred five travelers and wounded six others at the fort lauderdale, florida, airport friday is expected to appear before a federal magistrate tomorrow. esteban santiago faces a charge of committing an act of violence at an international airport resulting in death. if convicted of that charge, santiago could face the death penalty. the 26-year old iraq war veteran also faces weapons charges. the fbi says it has yet to determine the reasons for the attack santiago allegedly carried out with a semi-
automatic handgun. he retrieved it from a hard case that he checked in on his trip from anchorage, alaska, where he lives. anchorage police had confiscated a gun from santiago in november, after he complained to the fbi there that the u.s. government was controlling his mind and forcing him to watch propaganda videos made by isis. after a mental health evaluation, santiago got his gun back in december, because he had not been formally judged to be mentally ill. like the christmas attack in germany and last summer's attack in nice, france, today in israel, a truck plowed into a group of people in jerusalem. the attack killed four soldiers and injured more than a dozen others-- three of the dead were women in their early 20's. the soldiers had just gotten off a bus and were standing on a popular promenade. other israeli soldiers shot and killed the driver, a palestinian resident of east jerusalem. israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu visited the attack site and said the driver was likely a supporter of isis.
>> ( translated ): we know that there has been a series of terror attacks. there definitely could be a connection between them, from france to berlin and now jerusalem. we are fighting this affliction and we will overcome it. >> sreenivasan: hamas did not take responsibility, but a spokesman for the militant group that rules gaza praised the attack. >> ( translated ): we consider it to be a natural reaction to the israeli occupation's violations and crimes against our people, our land and holy places. today in iraq, two suicide bombers struck baghdad killing at least 20 people. the latest in a wave of attacks on civilians. one attack occurred in a wholesale market in the shiite neighborhood of sadr city. the other happened in a fruit and vegetable market in another predominantly shiite neighborhood of the capital. isis claimed responsibility for one of the bombings. more than 80 iraqis have been killed in terrorist attacks during the last week. the violence in baghdad comes as iraqi military forces say they are gaining ground in mosul, iraq's second largest city, which has been held by isis
since 2014. a spokesman for iraqi forces says the u.s.-backed troops reached the eastern bank of the tigris river for the first time since their offensive began three months ago. former iranian president akbar hashemi rafsanjani died today after suffering a heart attack. he was 82-years-old. rafsanjani was at the center of iranian political life since the 1979 islamic revolution and was a top aide to its leader, ayatollah khomeini. as iran's president from 1989 to 1997, rafsanjani was considered a relative pragmatist and reformer who sought better relations with the u.s. and the west. he later supported iran's nuclear disarmament deal with world powers and was a mentor to the current iranian president, hassan rouhani. today, there are about 5,000 juveniles incarcerated in adult
jails and prisons in the united states. all 50 states give prosecutors the discretion to charge juveniles as adults, usually for the most serious crimes, but only two states, north carolina and new york, still require 16 and 17-year-olds to be charged and prosecuted as adults for all crimes. in tonight's signature segment, "newshour' weekend"'s ivette feliciano reports about the debate in new york state to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility, this report is part of "the newshour" series on criminal justice reform, "broken justice." >> reporter: 22-year-old asad giles feels lucky to have his job as an administrative assistant in this midtown manhattan hotel. he says life could be drastically different right now. five years ago, at 17, the nypd arrested giles for allegedly shooting a female classmate after they'd both left a school fundraiser. his name and address were all over local news reports.
and then, he was incarcerated in new york city's main jail for pre-trial suspects on rikers island. >> i couldn't believe it was happening. it was my senior year in high school. i was about to go to college in atlanta. it was like a bad dream. >> reporter: giles denied the charges, but his working class family in jamaica, queens, could not afford his bail, set at $100,000. he spent his 18th and 19th birthdays-- what would have been his first two years of college-- behind bars. he says on his first day inside, he witnessed a teen getting beat up. >> it's pretty vicious in there. you got rapists, murderers. you got all type of people in there. you never know what can happen. you could be asleep, somebody beating on you. >> reporter: finally, after 28 months on rikers, giles, seen here with his nephew, got his day in court, and a judge acquitted him of all charges. to this day, no one has been convicted in that shooting. giles says he's still traumatized.
>> if i walk into a store and there's a group of cops in there, i would leave the store. just because i got incarcerated for something i didn't do. so it's like, are they going to do it again? >> reporter: giles says his residual fears stem from the fact that at 17-years-old, he was held at an adult jail, rather than a juvenile detention center. north carolina and new york are the only states that, automatically detain, prosecute, and incarcerate all 16 and 17- year-olds as adults regardless of the crime. in new york, more than 27- thousand 16 and 17-year-olds were arrested in 2015, more than 2,000 of them were convicted and spent time incarcerated. on any given day, some 700 16 and 17-year-olds in new york are locked up in adult jails awaiting the outcome of their cases. about 200 of them, mostly black and latino, are at rikers. upon asad giles' release, the organization "friends of island academy," helped him enroll in
college and find his hotel job. >> they definitely put me on my feet. a good jump. a good transition. >> reporter: for almost three decades, the organization has provided post-incarceration services to juveniles not offered by new york state. >> i've watched people grow up in the prison system. >> reporter: messiah ramkissoon works with the group as a program director and believes a successful transition back into society is essential in reducing recidivism. he also points to studies showing that the human brain is highly malleable up until your mid-twenties. and that, until that age, the parts of our brains responsible for decision-making and impulse control aren't fully developed. >> that 16, 17-year-old age bracket, 18, sometimes older, the brain is still developing. so what this environment does is shapes the nature of the being. so you have young people who come out and they tell you, "i'm not afraid to go right back,"
because part of their psyche and the way they think and development of the brain has been composed behind these bars. he's been through a lot during the 16 months he's been incarcerated >> reporter: on a recent tuesday morning at the group's headquarters in harlem, the staff meet to discuss other cases as part of their new" youth reentry network," funded by a 3-million dollar a year grant from the new york city department of corrections. >> he's not in contact with anyone in terms of family. >> reporter: as part of this new program launched in november, these youth advocates act as the point person for every 16 and 17-year-old incarcerated at rikers offering them support by helping their lawyers expedite their cases, or re-connecting them to family members and keeping tabs on teens if they get released. >> any time a child is arrested, cuffed and held, whatever system you're in, it's traumatizing. >> reporter: chris pahigian is executive director of friends of island academy. >> the role of the reentry
network or any system of aftercare support is that we know coming out of the box where it is you're going to go home to. and to have a plan in place and to help navigate and implement that plan once they get home. >> reporter: there's also emotional and mental health counseling. on a typical night here, formerly incarcerated people meet to discuss their experience being locked up as an adolescent. >> for decades we have been criminalizing young people, locking young people up in masses. so now, we have generations of people who carry the stigma and who carry the trauma of that process. >> reporter: that stigma and trauma has been on the rise since the 1970s, when the federal government and states began adopting harsher sentencing laws for drug crimes, including for juveniles. in the 1990s, the advent of mandatory minimum sentences and the expansion of juvenile transfer laws increasingly shifted control of juvenile cases from family courts to
regular criminal courts. that decade, the number of juveniles incarcerated in adult jails quadrupled. but since 2000, spurred by the research on the social and economic costs of incarcerating youth, like increased suicide rates and recidivism, state legislatures changed their laws. and, by 2014, those numbers decreased by more than half. >> the fundamental difference is that in the family court, that child who is charged with a crime is viewed as somebody who is a child, for whom elements of rehabilitation and support must be put in place because they're >> reporter: three-quarters of 16 and 17 year olds who are arrested in new york state face misdemeanor charges for offenses like possession of marijuana or vandalism. but one quarter are prosecuted as adults for more serious felony charges like robbery and drug trafficking. arguments for "raising the age" of adult criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 have fallen flat
in the new york state legislature each time proposals have come up for a vote in the past three years. >> what i'm suggesting is that we just don't change an entire system until we know more. >> reporter: patrick gallivan chairs the crime, crime victims, and corrections committee in the new york state senate. he's also the former sheriff of erie county, which includes buffalo. he's voted against raising the age. anybody who raises questions can be looked at as a big bad ogre when they're raising questions but that isn't the case at all. >> reporter: gallivan argues that incarcerated 16 and 17- year-olds are often treated differently than adults in that their criminal records can be sealed. and, due to the prison rape elimination act passed by congress, all federal and state
prisons must separately house juveniles under 18 from adults. the argument that i've heard from raise the age advocates is that just touching the adult criminal system can have a long- lasting impact. being housed at a place like rikers for 18, 19 months while you're waiting for your trial to start. >> the bullet has the same impact. recently- in this erie county area, an individual was convicted of crimes that were committed when he was over 16 but under 18 years old. he killed two people. shot six others. well, my gosh, should an individual like that be subjected or get a lesser sentence? >> some of our most violent offenders are teenagers. >> reporter: michael flaherty, who just stepped down as the acting district attorney for erie county, says requiring all juvenile cases to be heard in family court would strip away a
prosecutor's tools to adequately try teens in criminal court when needed. >> under the current system i have a voice, i have a say, i get to use my professional judgment. what we don't need is a uniform policy which presumes that the best interests of the offender trump public safety, or trump the justice system. we dismiss charges all the time, just on reviewing the papers, and the facts. i have no control over what happens in family court. >> reporter: with no forthcoming changes in state law, and as part of reforms in response to a federal investigation documenting widespread abuse at juveniles at rikers, new york city mayor de blasio announced last year that 16 and 17-year- olds would be moved off rikers by 2020, and he ended solitary confinement for anyone younger than 21. the new york city department of
corrections is subjecting rikers guards to more rigorous training, in addition to the jail's partnership with friends of island academy, it recently increased educational programming for juveniles. friends of island academy plans to push this year for the state to raise the age of adult criminality to 18. for now, the organization will continue supporting youth transitioning out of incarceration with adults, like asad giles, something he believes helped keep him from ever being arrested again. >> i could have gotten out with a jail mindset like "f" everything. i don't want to go back to school i just want to stay in the streets. but i didn't want that for myself, so i contacted friends and just got ready to make my life better. >> why is it so difficult to obtain convictions in hate crime cases? find out at pbs.org/newshour.
>> sreenivasan: in syria today, state-run media says a car bomb exploded in a government-held area outside the capital city of damascus, killing at least five people and wounding 15. yesterday, in the rebel-held town of azaz, in aleppo province, at least 43 people were killed after a fuel truck bomb exploded. itn's jane dodge has this report, from the moments immediately following the blast in azaz. a warning: this story contains graphic images. . >> as children run for their lives and two men try to drag another to safetied, falling debris smashes on to the pavement. then a man emerges from the smoke. his clotheds are on fire but he doesn't stop, discarding his burning jacket as he continues to run.
another injured survivor stumbles from the scene. these pictures sere filmed by an activist in azaz just moments after a mossive bomb packs into a fuel tanker exploded outside the town. most of those killed were civilians, some of them lawyers and judges, azaz is the major stronghold of the turkish back free syrian army and some of its rebel fighters also died. >> a large lumber of bodies have come us to. 20 so far. we've also received lots of injured people. >> people thanked god as one man was rescued from the rubble of the building. some of the injured were taken across the border to a hospital in turkey. turkish and kurdish news agencies are blaming so the called islamic state for the bombing but so far no group has claimed responsibility. is has tried to take the town
several times since it originally held azaz in 20-- 2013. >> sreenivasan: finally, a suspect is in custody for shooting and wounding an american foreign service officer in mexico's second biggest city, guadalajara. mexican officials did not name the suspect or his motive, but the victim is in stable condition after being shot while in his car as he drove out of a parking lot friday evening. the consulate released security camera video of the shooting, and the fbi offered a 20- thousand dollar reward for information leading to the arrest. tomorrow on "the newshour," our series "the obama years" continues with a report from ohio on the president's healthcare reform. that's all for this edition of" pbs newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan. good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made
possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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