tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS May 27, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for saturday, may 27: president trump wraps up his first overseas trip as commander-in- chief; examining the ideology that's fueling terror attacks by isis followers; and, have americans become economically complacent? 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. on the last day of his first foreign trip as president, donald trump declined to endorse the historic climate change accord signed by the u.s. and 194 other nations two years ago in paris. his silence came as the other six leaders of the world's leading industrial democracies reaffirmed their commitments to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for global warming. instead, mr. trump says he'll announce next week whether he'll stick with the paris pact or abandon it. german chancellor angela merkel said the climate discussion wa"" very difficult, if not very
unsatisfying." at his final public event before flying home after nine days in five countries, the president spoke to american troops at the u.s. naval air station on the italian island of sicily. as he did earlier in the week in brussels, mr. trump pressed his case that all 28 members of the nato military alliance must spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defense, something only the u.s. and four other nato members do. >> we're behind nato all the way, but we want to be treated fairly. all of us will be more safe and secure if everyone fulfills their obligations the way they're supposed to. >> sreenivasan: british prime minister theresa may has lowered her country's terrorism threat level from "critical," which means an attack could be imminent, to "severe," which indicates an attack is likely. the change comes five days after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including seven children, leaving a concert by
pop singer ariana grande in manchester, three hours north of london. after arresting two more young men today, british police have detained 11 people in connection to the investigation. this includes a number of relatives of the bomber, who is a british-born-and-raised son of libyan immigrants. grande said yesterday she intends to return to manchester to perform a charity concert to help victims of the attack. egypt is retaliating for yesterday's ramadan-eve terrorist attack on coptic christians who were riding a bus to a monastery south of cairo. today, the islamic state group, or isis, claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 29 people. the egyptian air force has launched air strikes targeting bases in eastern libya that egypt says are training grounds for isis militants. survivors said eight to ten masked gunmen opened fire on the buses yesterday. it followed two bombings on palm sunday last month on churches belonging to egypt's christian minority. in the u.s., police in portland, oregon, have arrested a 35-year-
old white man for allegedly stabbing three people on a commuter train yesterday and charged him with murder. two people died and a third was treated for non-life threatening wounds. police say witnesses told them, prior to the stabbings, the assailant had yelled racial slurs at two young female passengers who appeared to be muslim. one was wearing a hijab. witnesses also said that two of the stabbing victims were men who had intervened to stop the verbal abuse. british airways says a major computer systems failure caused the airline to cancel all of its flights today at both of its london's hubs, heathrow and gatwick airports. the move left tens of thousands of travelers stranded on what is also a three-day holiday weekend in the u.k. the airline said it has no evidence of a cyber attack, and it hopes to resume service tomorrow.
>> sreenivasan: according to stories published in the past 24 hours by the "washington post," the "new york times" and reuters, president trump's son- in-law and close adviser, jared kushner, made an unusual proposal to russia's ambassador to the u.s. after mr. trump won the election. the newspapers say last december kushner sought to establish a back channel to the kremlin by using secure communications inside a russian embassy or consulate in the u.s. those discussions are now reportedly a subject of the f.b.i.'s ongoing investigation into administration relationships with russia and russian meddling in the election. the "washington post's" greg miller is one of the reporters who broke this story last night, and he joins me now from washington to discuss it. greg, first off, was what jared kushner did illegal? >> i think the idea of setting up a channel to talk with russia may not be. it depends on what was discussed. we ran into this with the case
of michael michael flynn, trumpt national security adviser. he had a discussion where technically he was raising subjects that would break the law, but it's a law that was 2400 years old that has never been enforced. so we might be in similar territory here. >> sreenivasan: this was a meeting that was initially if not denied not brought to light. >> yeah. i mean, this is the latest in a series of cases in which the white house has had many, many months to be up front about what happened, when these meetings happened, what was said in these meetings, and they're always acknowledging them only after they're exposed in the press. what we're learning now is a very important development, that kushner and kislyak were actually discussing the setting up of a secret channel between the trump transition team and moscow, and, in fact, were discussing using russian communications gear to accomplish that. that's what's really remarkable. >> sreenivasan: let's get to how we know that was said. >> this was learned about only
after kislyak, the russian ambassador leaves that meeting, and he's reporting back to moscow what has transpired. this is what we talked about. his communications with moscow, they are under surveillance. they are intercepted, and this is how the u.s. intelligence picked up on what was discussed in this meeting with kushner. >> sreenivasan: how do we know that sergey kislyak was being honest to his superiors? >> well, we don't know for sure. russian officials and intelligence operatives will often push falsehoods into communications channels that they know the united states is monitoring, just to sow confusion, but in this case, it's hard to imagine what the motive would have been for kislyak to mischaracterize his conversation with kushner in this way. in fact, kislyak seemed taken aback by this request, based on how he's relaying this to moscow. he can't really believe, why would they want to do this? why are they asking for this? it seems strange to him.
it doesn't fit in with him exaggerating his relationship with kushner or at that time really trying to... what would be the point of putting kushner in a vulnerable position this way? >> sreenivasan: one of the tidbits in your story was the "post" was first alerted of this in mid-december. why did it take so long to be alerted to this. >> my colleague got an anonymous letterment it arrived in her mailbox at "the post." she shared it with us. it described things that were happening in trump tower in the transition at that time. one of the things it mentioned was that there was a meeting, kushner, kislyak, flynn, and that this idea of setting up a secret channel was discussed. now, we had... there was no name attached to this. we had no idea who sent it. there was no way for us to get back in touch with whoever had done so. and so it just basically took a long time for us to get
corroboration. when you get a letter like, that it can help guide your reporting, but it doesn't amount to sourcing that you can really use for a story. you have to get people, other people, other sources to corroborate what is in that message. >> sreenivasan: one of the things that possibly took this story so long to publish on a friday afternoon, memorial day weekend, what did the white house say about this? >> yeah, well, i mean, to us the white house said very little ultimately. you saw in our story, it said that the white house declined to comment. that wasn't for lack of trying. there was alat of back and forth with the white house on this story, with kushner's representatives, and, you know, there was fair amount said there. they were unwilling to share any of that with us on the record or allow us to attribute it to even white house officials. >> sreenivasan: jared kushner's lawyer has said before this story published that they are willing to cooperate with the f.b.i. is this what the f.b.i. is planning to ask him about?
>> oh, i'm certain that the f.b.i. is deeply interested in kushner's meetings with russians on multiple occasions and having presumably the u.s. intelligence community has brought this to the attention of the f.b.i., what kislyak has relayed back to moscow. i'm sure that the f.b.i. is keenly interested in learning why was it, mr. kushner, that you felt it necessary to celt up a secret channel with moscow that the u.s. government could not have been able to listen to? >> sreenivasan: all right. the article in the "washington post" has three by-lines. yours is one of them. greg miller from the "washington post," thank you so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: beyond the united kingdom, france has endured the worst terrorist attacks in europe during the
past two years, attacks that have killed 239 people. there was the assault on the offices of the satirical magazine charlie hebdo in january 2015, followed by the mass shootings at a concert hall and cafes in paris in november, and then last summer's bastille day truck attack on pedestrians on the boardwalk in nice. in his latest book, "terror in france: the rise of jihad in the west," paris-based scholar gilles kepel delves into the undercurrents of these attacks. i recently spoke to kepel here in the studio. what's happening in france? why is it different than the rest of europe in terms of these attacks? >> well, it's different because, as you said, we have 239 dead. the reason why we focused on france is we thought we could take the french hostage. they thought the more attacks there would be, then the more people would vote for the extreme right because they felt that way. so you have to remember that the terrorist jihadist wants to
politicize other muslims, and they want to sort of wring them under their banner, because most of our muslim come patriots just loathe them and hate them. but they want to say, the french are racist, the french vote for the extreme right, therefore the only way for you to be safe in europe is to rally with us and sew jihad and civil strife in europe. this third-generation jihadism, which i describe in my book "terror in france," thinks that europe is the soft underbelly of the west. this is where they have to focus inch europe they want to use a number of disenfranchised young muslims who they think see no future in europe and then are sort of manipulated by the caliphate and think there is a break in values between islam and european values, and therefore, you know, this is the sort of phenomenon that will
lead to mobilize the masses. so it's easy to kill people. so this is the quandary of terrorism. >> sreenivasan: we've had terror attacks throughout the world, whether it's africa, indonesia, as you point out in the book, but they didn't have the effect of destabilizing societies. as you point out there, is more of a systematic thought given to what this third generation of terrorists are doing. >> well, definitely. the issue is to destabilize society and to provoke retaliation, you know, from the majority societies. so as to lead to sort of enclave wars in europe, you know, we have those values where impoverished young people, children of immigrants or others live with very high level of unemployment, rates that can reach up to 40% at times. so for those people there is not much hope. they went to school. they have no jobs.
they do drugs or they go to jail. and therefore this idea that the future is the islamic state, is isis, was appealing to some. >> sreenivasan: france saw thousands of men go to training camps in syria and come back into europe. has that flow decreased, and if so, why? >> well, over the last year, there is no flow left because the borders between turkey and the islamic state have been sealed, and the turks arrest whoever comes from france and they pick up in turkey. so to a large extent this threat that we have so many returnees who have been trained and brainwashed and would be very powerful in staging huge attacks has not been that salient as we thought it would be. and the people there on isis
territory are, you know, suffer from the bombings and from the droning. and therefore they're sort of trapped there for the time being. >> sreenivasan: one of the things that's interesting also is you look at this notion of the lone wolf. it's not absolutely accurate. you trace it back into ideology and how it's been publicized and proselytized for years and years now. and one of the more unsettling conclusions is that the attack in san bernardino, the attack in orel -- orlando are not the end for the united states. >> definitely. lone wolf is someone like columbine or people who just buy weapons and go on a shooting spree. but this is different. i mean, because you have this ideology in place. there are works by a syrian
engineer who posted on the internet in 2005 a very lengthy book in arabic called "global islamic resistance" where he says those attacks in your neighborhood, this is the solution, that people imbued with this islamist radical ideology. you take a knife, you take a gun, you take your car, and then you kill as many infidels as possible. then they will retaliate. they will desecrate a mosque or something, and this will create a system of provocation and repression, which will lead up to the breakup of society. >> sreenivasan: so the goal is to break society up from the inside, to create civil strife. >> exactly. >> sreenivasan: how do the french intelligence agencies and the authorities deal with, this and what lessons can be applied to the united states? because if it is distributed, you can't stop the internet or turn it off, how do you try to win hearts and minds or at least protect hearts and minds from going to the other side?
>> well, you know, there is a program economy of jihadism that, you know, it's easy to kill people, but after a while, when you do not manage to mobilize the masses on your behalf, then violence turns against its perpetrators, and you have to find a new means. >> sreenivasan: what's the right mix of policy for the united states on the diplomatic front and also the security front? the administration has already put forth their ideas on how to tighten the borders. now you also have laptops that are banned from certain airplanes that are coming into the united states. but are these cosmetic? are these structurally sound? will they work? >> well, you have to deal with the symptoms. you have to monitor and understand the ideology. i guess this is sort of the mix that newly elected president macron wants to make. he wants a terrorist task force in the elysee palace.
military, education, of course. this is a big challenge, which i believe is also a means for us to think about our own society. terrorism is not something which is somewhere apart in disguise or only in the projects. it's something that we have to wonder why terror happens. and if we understand that correctly, i think it could allow us to fix what is going wrong in our society, especially in europe today. >> sreenivasan: the book is called "terror in france: the rise of jihad in the west." professor, thank you very much. >> my pleasure. >> sreenivasan: need some summer reading recommendations? see 19 of them at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: americans have typically held the belief that we live in a society where we could always move ahead, that opportunity could move us up the economic ladder. but for one economist, there is a sense that we have become economically complacent,
reluctant to take chances. and that this is limiting our potential. newshour weekend's christopher booker has more. >> reporter: economist tyler cowen thinks americans, from the millennials to the baby boomers, have lost their spark. >> every available measure we have of productivity in this country shows that innovation is slowing down. and furthermore, real wages show the same thing. so, there's people who sell to global markets and become very rich; they're doing great. but the average american-- and you see this in our politics-- does not feel they are so much better off and do not really expect their children will be much better off than they are. >> reporter: in his new book, "the complacent class: the self- defeating quest for the american dream," cowen argues the u.s., founded on risk and built on innovation, has lost the dynamism that set it apart from the rest of the world. >> what really drove this book was a number of trips to china that i did, and i thought, "well, today, china is really our peer and rival, so let's write about america from the point of view of china. how does all this look to the chinese?"
and indeed, large numbers of chinese people i spoke to who had visited this country, "oh, the wonderful blue skies. everything is so nice. but, you know, it's calm and a little sleepy, and you're not ambitious like we are." >> reporter: while some of america's most influential companies-- like apple, google and facebook-- project the image the interstate migration rate declined 51% between the 1980s and 2013. another sign is job lock. in 1998, 44% of american workers had held the same job for five or more years. by 2014, 51% did. and look at young entrepreneurs. the share of americans under 30 who own a business has fallen by more than half since the 1980s. >> startups as a percentage of overall business activity have been declining since the 1980s. there's also more concentration
and more monopoly of some sort in the american economy, especially at the retail level. and not all of that is bad, but when you add them all up and think about how it's shaping our overall mentality about what we expect from the future, that's where i fear that we're setting our sights far too low and we don't have the american oomph that we had throughout much of the 20th century. >> reporter: cowen says this increased complacency and taking fewer risks has caused americans to grow averse to conflict, and that has a cost. >> we do have a lot of innovations coming out of silicon valley-- netflix and amazon. i use them myself. but to a large part, they improve our leisure time, not our productivity. they make it easier to stay at home rather than to go out and challenge the world. and for each individual, they may improve happiness or contentment. but when done collectively, there's a problem, as we become less dynamic, less challenging in building of our physical environment. so, i would say the complacent
class are all of those americans who do not see this as any kind of urgent problem, and that's virtually all of us. >> reporter: because we're happy with our netflix, we're happy with our uber transportation systems, we're happy with all these developments? >> yes. but keep in mind, at the same time, we're unhappy with other things. so, slow or zero wage growth, or some people are unhappy about various politicians having been elected. and what's hard for people to grasp is that what they're happy about and what they're unhappy about, those are actually two sides of the same coin. and that's why complacency is dangerous. to think, you know, in the 1960s, for all of the problems of that era, we put a man on the moon in basically seven years, starting from scratch. today, we can debate issues for seven years and not really get anywhere. >> reporter: amidst all that social protest and upheaval, we still achieved this unbelievable feat. >> and those are, again, two sides of the same coin, that the chaos and the dynamism have some connection. it's not that riots are a good thing-- that's the wrong reading; but rather, to understand the costs of trying to remove all of the risks from our lives.
>> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> sreenivasan: president jimmy carter's national security adviser, zbigniew brzezinski, has died at the age of 89. for the past four decades, the polish-born brzezinski remained an influential voice in u.s. foreign policy. newshour weekend's megan thompson has more. >> reporter: as president carter's national security advisor during the cold war years, zbigniew brzezinski was seen as a hawk as he managed crises from the soviet union to the middle east. in a statement today, former president carter said: in 1978, brzezinski traveled to china to initiate talks that led to restoring full diplomatic relations with beijing. in 1979, after the soviets invaded afghanistan, brzezinski advocated arming afghan rebels and backed the solidarity
movement against communist rule in his native poland. brzezinski supported the military mission to rescue the 52 hostages held by radicals in tehran, but it failed when aircraft crashed in the desert. bard college professor walter russell mead knew brzezinski well. >> and brzezinski's ability to package his depth of insight and breadth of vision into a form that worked in the foreign policy process was really an outstanding accomplishment. >> reporter: after the white house years, brzezinski wrote more than 30 books and was a mentor and a commentator. on the newshour in 2012, he discussed his book about a shift in global power with the newshour's jeffrey brown. >> global power is becoming diffuse and no longer concentrated in the west or in the hands of the united states. there is no larger organizing vision for a world that for the first time needs to address global problems. >> reporter: former president obama said of brzezinski:
>> sreenivasan: finally, tonight, two more passings. rock star gregg allman-- singer, keyboard and guitar player, and co-founder of the allman brothers band-- has died. the bluesy voice of hits ranging from "midnight rider" and" melissa" to "dreams" and" whipping post," allman passed away today at his home in savannah, georgia. he was 69. you can watch jeffrey brown's 2012 interview with allman online at www.pbs.org/newshour. and hall of fame pitcher jim bunning has died at age 85. bunning threw a no-hitter in both the american and national leagues, and, after baseball, he represented kentucky for 22 years in the u.s. congress. tomorrow on the broadcast, "sgt. pepper" at 50 and j.f.k. at 100. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a 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.