tv PBS News Hour PBS June 27, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: facing revolt from inside the party, republican senators delay a vote on health care reform, as president trump calls them to the white house to keep the pressure on. then, tensions rise as the white house warns syria's president against another chemical weapons attack. and, in the second part of my interview with warren buffett, one of the world's wealthiest men talks about philanthropy, what keeps him going, and tax breaks under the republican health care bill. >> you could entitle this, you know, "relief for the rich" act, or something, because it-- i've got friends where, it would have saved them as much as, it gets into the $10 million and up figure.
>> woodruff: plus, the nashville sound. acclaimed singer-songwriter jason isbell finds music in life's tough conversations. >> a lot of people in my family told me, growing up, that cities were terrible places and anything outside of our little circle was scary and dangerous and frightening. i wrote that song based on that kind of fear. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway.
>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the united states senate will not try to repeal and replace the obamacare health care law until after the fourth of july recess. republican leaders gave up today on getting a vote this week. our lisa desjardins begins our coverage. >> legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anyone else would hope. >> reporter: senate majority leader mitch mcconnell was forced to accept the reality: not enough republicans are ready to vote for the republican health care bill as it stands now. at least five republicans said they opposed even beginning debate-- that's three more than mcconnell could afford to lose. so now it's time to revise.
>> consequently, we will not be voting on the bill this week, but we're still working toward getting at least 50 in a comfortable place. >> reporter: mcconnell's math got tougher after monday's report from the congressional budget office. it found the current senate bill would leave 22 million more uninsured by 2026, than under obamacare. that includes 15 million who would lose medicaid coverage. the average premium would decrease in 2020, but plans would offer less coverage and have substantially higher out-of-pocket costs. supporters of the bill highlighted the c.b.o. finding of $321 trillion in deficit savings. and alabama republican richard shelby reminded his colleagues that they'd all campaigned on repealing obamacare. >> we need some votes. and a lot of people ran on repealing it. now we're going to see if they keep their word.
>> it is difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the bill. >> reporter: the bill hit problems on two sides. moderate maine senator susan collins said she is a no because of one year defunding to planned parenthood funding and also to the size of medicaid. medicaid is also the concern for dean heller, whose state of nevada has expanded medicaid under the "affordable care act." meanwhile, several g.o.p. conservatives, rand paul, mike lee, ron johnson and ted cruz, said the bill doesn't repeal enough and spends too much on subsidies. party leaders mounted a full- court press to convert those no votes. vice president pence met with senators at the capitol, and president trump held a private meeting with rand paul at the white house. democrats, meanwhile, remained uniformly opposed to the bill. they hosted a protest on the steps of the capitol, holding pictures of constituents they said would lose coverage under the republican plan. senate minority leader chuck schumer:
>> if our republican colleagues stick to this base bill which so hurts working families, which so benefits multimillionaires, and them almost alone-- we're going to fight the bill tooth and nail. and we have a darn good chance of defeating it. >> reporter: late today, buses ferried republican senators to the white house for a sit down with president trump to talk things over. >> so we're going to talk and we're going to see what we can do. we're getting very close. but for the country, we have to have health care, and it can't be obamacare, which is melting down, and if we don't get it done, it's just going to be something we're not going to like and that's okay, i understand that very well. >> woodruff: we'll talk to lisa, who has been running around on the hill all day long, joins us now. so lisa, where do things stand. >> well, they do want the take a vet after the july 4th recess, so a lot of folks are saying they'll come up with a
bill in the meantime on recess. no, john thune said they want the revise their bill and get out a new draft this week. which is ambitious. they want to do it before senators go home. >> woodruff: what is the main problem here? why is this failing so far? >> there are a couple problems. one, the c.b.o. score. the bill was already in trouble, but when that score came out --. >> woodruff: the congressional budget office. >> the congressional budget office score, which show 22 million americans lose insurance. it was the depth of the report that republicans really got thinking about. senator bob corker told me he read it at 4:00 a.m. this morning and asked the c.b.o. to give a briefing today. also, judy, republicans weren't ready. some of them haven't even read this bill, including chuck grassley. he told me he hadn't read it yet. >> woodruff: so given all that, what will it take to get them to 50 votes? >> leadership isn't sure yet, but they have more money to spend. they can spend more money on
opioids, health savings accounts, something most republicans agree on, but no one can answer that question, judy, yet. do they decrease the medicaid cuts somehow? unclear. do they shift how they're reforming the social care act? unclear. it's very difficult. they say they can do it, but they obviously haven't figured out how yet. >> woodruff: and finally the real of president trump in all this? >> right. there are question marks about that. some say they were worried this meeting today would be one where he makes republicans feel better but doesn't do anything to change this bill. there are others, like john mccain, who said this kind of a situation requires presidential leadership. clearly the president is showing that tonight. >> woodruff: lisa desjardins has been reporting and will go back to reporting after this. thank you, lisa. and we will talk to senator rand paul about his concerns with health care legislation, right after the news summary. in the day's other news, a new cyber-attack caused major disruptions across europe and elsewhere. ukraine was hit hard, where banks and the power grid were
breached. government computers also locked up, as ransom-ware scrambled data until payment is made. also affected, russia's state- run oil company was hit, along with danish shipping giant a.p. moller-maersk and u.s. drug maker merck and company. last month, a similar attack spread to 150 countries. the u.s. state department has declared china to be among the worst countries tolerating human traffickers in the world. the annual listing today put china in the same category as north korea, syria and zimbabwe. secretary of state rex tillerson said china's record is marred in part by its continued support of north korea. >> the north korean regime receives hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the fruits of forced labor. china was downgraded to tier-3 status in this year's report, in part, because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking,
including forced labors from north korea that are located in china. >> woodruff: even before the announcement, china's foreign ministry rejected the findings. brazil's president, michel temer, is now facing corruption charges. the country's attorney general formally accused him last night of taking a bribe of $152,000. temer called the charge "fiction", but it's up to the lower house of brazil's congress to decide if it has merit. temer took office in may when president dilma rousseff was impeached. european anti-trust officials fined google a record $2.7 billion today. in brussels, the e.u. competition commissioner said the internet giant highlights its own businesses and buries search results for rivals. >> google has abused its market what google has done is illegal under e.u. anti-trust rules. it has denied other companies the chance to compete under
merits and to innovate, and most importantly, it has denied european consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation. >> woodruff: google has 90 days to change its ways in europe. otherwise, it faces penalties of up to 5% of its parent company's daily global revenue. back in this country, three current and former chicago police officers were indicted today in the killing of a black teenager, laquan mcdonald, by a white officer. they are accused of a cover-up. mcdonald was shot 16 times by officer jason van dyke in october 2014. he was charged with murder a year later, after video of the incident was released. van dyke is in jail awaiting trial. and, on wall street, selling gained momentum after the health care bill's delay raised new questions about the trump agenda. the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 99 points to close at 21,310. the nasdaq fell 100 points, and the s&p 500 slipped 19.
still to come on the newshour: republican senator rand paul on divisions over the health care bill. the white house warns syria about chemical weapons preparations. warren buffett opens up about his personal taxes and philanthropy. and, much more. >> woodruff: i spoke a short time ago with republican senator rand paul of kentucky, one of the key votes that could determine the future of the republican effort to repeal and replace obamacare. senator paul, thank you very much for join us. is there any doubt in your mind that if the volt had gone ahead today or tomorrow that the bill would have failed? >> i don't think there were enough votes, but i think there also hasn't been enough time to have a full discussion. we just got the bill last week. we just got the c.b.o. score on
monday. there needs to be a little bit more time to absorb this and also to discuss what are the changes the leadership might be open to in order to get it to pass. >> woodruff: well, speaking of that, you met with president trump at the white house earlier today. you tweeted after your meeting, you said, the real donald trump is open to making the bill better. is the senate leadership? my question to you is, the president is meeting now with the rest of the republicans in the senate, what changes is the president wanting to see in this bill? >> i don't think it's so much him lobbing us for changes, it's us asking him for help and getting the changes done. i think he has the bully pulpit. he has a great deal of influence with the republican party on both the house and the senate side. and i think the bill right now to the conservative point of view doesn't have enough repeal, in fact, it looks like we're keeping a lot of obamacare, even the architect of obamacare, jonathan gruber said, don't
worry, we're keeping obamacare. so we think there needs to be more repeal. that's the message i took to him. but also i took a specific list that we're sending to senate leadership, and we're saying, if you address these item, there's a possibility we could vote for this bill, but it's got to look more like repeal and less like we're keeping it. >> woodruff: well, as you know, what the president has said about the house version of the bill, which many people said was tougher than the senate bill, he said it was mean, and he wanted a bill with more heart. so where are we on this? >> you know, i think there are vary use ways you can characterize both republican and democrat proposals. president obama i think wanted what was best for the country, but i think it didn't work well, i think we have the death spiral, and particularly peopleups in the individual market are going through the roof. i think republicans want what's best for the country also, but i think they're not fixing the death spiral of obamacare. they're going to subsidize it with a lot of taxpayer money.
so characterizing something as mean or generous i think goes to people's motives, and i think it is sort of why we have such an angry country now. we think people have ill motives, but i think republicans want people to have health insurance. we want people to be healthy. so do democrats. we just see a different type of economic situation or different types of government or more expansive government and how we can do it. >> woodruff: one thing you talked about wanting to do away with, senator paul, is the obamacare tax on individuals making over $250,000 a year. that would be... that's the money that's being used to pay for many of the subsidies for people with lower incomes. >> right. >> woodruff: it's a transfer, taking money away from those who have more to give it to people who have less, but that troubles you? >> no, we already do quite a bit of that, and it's call medicaid. the problem or the fundamental flaw of obamacare was that they put regulations on the insurance, about 12 regulations, which increased the cost of the
insurance, and so president obama wanted to help poor, working class people, but he actually hurts them by making the insurance too expensive to want to buy. i had someone at the house recently doing some work, and he said, my son doesn't have insurance, he's paying the penalty because it's too expensive. so president obama said, oh, we want to make insurance perfect for people, but he added all these regulatory mandates, made it to expensive, young, healthy people didn't buy it and people remaining in the insurance pool were sicker and sicker, that's the adverse selection and the death spiral of obamacare. so really we do need to discuss the intricacies of what worked and what didn't work in obamacare. i think the better way to do this is to let individuals have the freedom to choose what kind of insurance is best for them. the government doesn't always know best. maybe the individual should be allowed to choose. >> woodruff: senator, i heard you and i've read of some of the comments you madery sethly. you have some very strong views. you would like to do away with
the tax on high earners. you talked about doing away with the mandates in obamacare. you talk about health savings accounts. but other members of the senate, including other republicans, their they have different ideas. they are worried about these cuts where. is the common ground? >> we're going to see if we can find it. one thing that horrifies me is we would be giving taxpayer money to very, very wealthy corporations. the insurance companies make about $15 billion a year. they've doubled their profit margin under obamacare, and so now we're going to take a lot of this and call it a stabilization fund, but really it's a bail out of insurance companies, and i just think that's wrong. i just can't see why ordinary average taxpayers would be giving money to very, very wealthy corporations. an analogous situation would be this: we all complain that new cars cost too much. why don we have a new car istanbulization fund and give $135 billion to new car companies. we could do that in any
industry, but it's not really good economics. what it is, you're simply transferring money from the ordinary average taxpayers to very wealthy corporations. >> woodruff: but senator, my understanding is that plan was put in there to take care of some of those people at the lower income level because of these changes in medicaid. i still don't see where the middle ground is between you, other republicans, and certainly with democrats. >> actually, the money in the stabilization fund, $130will, which i call an insurance bailout, was put in to try to cure the adverse selection that obamacare created by making insurance too expensive. healthy people didn't buy it. they tried to fix it by forcing young people the buy it through an individual mandate. even that didn't work. so the way the republicans fix it is they don't actually fix it. they subsidize it. so we have to fix what went wrong with obamacare, not just recapitulate something that's broken. >> woodruff: what you're saying makes it sound like you're still uncertain this is going to pass? >> yes.
i'm uncertain whether it's going to be enough of a repeal bill for conservatives. and we need to adhere to our promise. we promised people we'd we peel it. we talked about the problems of obamacare. we shouldn't leave half of it in place and expect things to be better. >> senator rand paul of kentucky, we thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: the white house today reinforced a stark warning to the regime of syria's bashar al-assad against using chemical weapons. last night, the administration announced that the u.s. had detected "potential preparations" by the regime to use the banned weapons, again. chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner reports. >> reporter: from the white >> reporter: president assad was seen today touring a russian air base, just hours after last night's white house statement warning that his regime would pay a "heavy price" for launching another chemical
attack. today, the pentagon elaborated, saying the u.s. has seen "active preparations for chemical weapons use" at shayrat air base, near homs in western syria. nancy yousseff is senior national security correspondent at buzzfeed. >> the pentagon told us that planes to conduct aerial chemical attacks in the past being moved around on sharaad airfield. we also heard reports of chatter happening on the ground in preparation for a possible imminent attack. the number of people who knew was so limited, and the message from the white house was so ominous, that it created a real confusion that we are just not used to. >> reporter: a chemical weapons attack was launched from that same base in april, killing dozens of men, women and children. the syrians denied responsibility. but president trump ordered the u.s. military to fire 59 tomahawk missiles at the base.
mr. trump's response was a sharp departure from his predecessor's caution about intervening in syria's civil war. in 2012, president obama famously warned that the use of chemical weapons use would constitute a "red line," triggering u.s. action. but instead, after a deadly august, 2013, attack on a damascus suburb, then-secretary of state john kerry and russia worked on a deal with assad that aimed to rid his regime of chemical weapons. trump officials say that strategy clearly didn't work, and it's taking a tougher approach to syria and its key backers. u.n. ambassador nikki haley spoke at a house hearing today. >> i believe that the goal is, at this point, not just to send assad a message, but to send russia and iran a message that, if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. >> reporter: a spokesman for russian president vladimir putin
retorted, "such threats to syria's legitimate leaders are unacceptable." iran's foreign minister said, "another dangerous u.s. escalation in syria on fake pretext will only serve isis"-- the islamic state group. since the april 3rd u.s. missile barrage, the u.s. has had several confrontations with pro-assad forces, shooting down a syrian air force jet and an armed iranian-made drone. in response, russia has threatened to target coalition aircraft in certain areas of syria. today, it's unclear what the broader u.s. strategy is. >> is the u.s. committed to a form of deterrence against the regime for possible chemical attacks? and if so, in what form? going forward, will the u.s. put out a statement every time it suspects chemical weapons attacks? is that what we are to take away form yesterday's statement? >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, i'm margaret warner.
>> woodruff: now, to the second part of my conversation with billionaire warren buffett. i spoke with him last week in omaha, at the nebraska furniture mart, the largest furniture store in america. it is just one small piece of a huge portfolio of berkshire hathaway. one of the things the republicans are looking at, as you know very well, is doing away with the so-called obamacare. the surcharge on people earning a higher income. >> yeah. >> woodruff: so republicans are looking at taking that away, or doing away with that, which would mean a tax cut. you've said-- >> yeah! >> woodruff: --for people like you! >> yeah.
well, i, i, i brought my tax return along! for the last year. i filed this on april 15th. and, if the republican, well. if the bill that passed the house with 217 votes had been in effect this year, i would have saved-- i can give you the exact figure. i would have saved $679,999 or, over 17% of my tax bill. there's nothing ambiguous about that. i will be given a 17% tax cut, and the people it's directed at are couples with $250,000 or more of income. you could entitle this, you know, "relief for the rich" act, or something, because it-- i've got friends where, it would have saved them as much as, it gets into the $10 million and up figure.
i, i think members of the senate and the house get $174,000 a year. but most of 'em have, if you look at the, the disclosures, they have substantial other income. if they get to higher than $250,000, as a married couple, or $200,000 as a, as a single person, they have given themselves a big, big tax cut, if they, if they voted for this. >> woodruff: well, speaking of taxes, let's just use that as a, as an entry point to talk about it. you shared some of your tax return with us for 2016. thank you very much. but before i ask you about that, how wealthy are you? i mean, i'm reading that you're worth $77 billion? >> 99% of my net worth is in berkshire hathaway stock. every share of that stock has been pledged to philanthropy. i'm a trustee for that stock. it's still in my name, and every july-- you'll see me next month, i'll give away $3 billion worth of it. so it'll go to society. but, if you add up what's in my name, if we go down to my safe deposit box, we will find some stock certificates that are worth that much. but as i, you know, as i've written, they have no utility to me. they can't do anything to make me happier. i'm already happy. i, i, i'd be happy with, you know, certainly with $100,000 a year, i could be very happy! and, they can't buy anything for me that i want. if they did, i would buy it.
and, they do have utility to others, so i've got this system to essentially try and translate that into vaccines and education, and all of that sort of thing. >> woodruff: but the reason i bring that up, warren buffett, is that that's your, your wealth, your worth. and, yet, on your tax return, you earned $19 million- something-- >> right. >> woodruff: --$19 and a half million last year. your effective tax rate was 16.3% percent, which we-- we, we looked it up, this is what an average couple, a married couple, no children, taking the standard deduction would pay on an income of $136,000. in other words, a couple who earned, you earn 143 times more than they do, but your tax rate is the same as theirs. >> yeah, i pointed that out in past, in the past-- and, and, it's even worse than you say, judy, because you're looking at what that couple would pay in federal income tax. but, they are also paying payroll taxes, in overwhelming cases-- and, and, my cleaning lady has a 15% percent tax.
you know, just, just from social, just from these social security that she and her employer pay, but it would, it so, she's, she's at the, it's, it's, it's kind of incredible! and, now they want to cut it! no, they want to cut it for me. do i-- i mean, you know, they, i mean, i, i-- i don't look like somebody that deserves a cut! >> woodruff: well, they, the republicans are talking about lowering taxes-- >> absolutely. >> woodruff: --on the, on the-- >> they want to cut my tax 17%. they, they saw those figures and were shocked that i was paying that much, apparently. >> woodruff: but, but they're they're talking about doing away with some of the, some of the deductions-- charitable deductions, maybe. mortgage deductions, maybe. state and local tax, taxes paid as deductions. do you have a thought about-- >> you can't really talk about specifics without looking at the whole thing. but, if they're talking about making it revenue neutral, you know, i think if they're going to make it revenue neutral. it ought to be, it, it ought to be something other than revenue neutral for the guys like me. our, our rates should go up, allowing others to go down somewhat.
>> woodruff: they also, as you know, want to, want to tackle business corporate tax rates, they're talking about the current corporate rate, lowering it from 35% to 15%? what would that mean for you, >> well, it would, it would, it would mean for berkshire, in all probability, that we would pay less in, in u.s. federal income taxes. but, until you see the final thing, you can't tell. berkshire hathaway is the second largest corporation on the fortune 500 this year. i don't know any case where our competitiveness is being hurt by the federal income tax rate on corporations. >> woodruff: estate taxes? a thought about that? >> oh, estate taxes. i mean, i, i'm, you hear people call it the "death tax." there are going to be two and a half million people die in the united states this year. how many estate tax returns are there going to be? probably about 5,000.
and the interesting thing is, if i talked to somebody about welfare mothers or something like that, they say how debilitating it is to have these food stamps, and it takes away their incentive to do anything. if a kid comes out of the right womb in this country, they've got food stamps for their rest of their life, they just call 'em stocks and bonds. and their welfare officer is their trust officer. i mean, i think i-- having a significant estate tax, that starts at a fair-sized level-- if you're going to have to raise $3.5 trillion, i think that's a good source of revenue, and that i, it shouldn't apply to, you know, 99% of the people. >> woodruff: you've been very, i mean, very open about your own taxes, and, and people have taken a look at that, and they've also looked at berkshire hathaway, it has been pointed out that berkshire hathaway does take advantage of the legal ability to defer taxes, and--
>> well, that's because-- >> woodruff: --in deferred taxes? >> --we have cash, things that we, just like you, if you've got a stock that's gone up a whole lot, until you sell it. but that's just the law. and, we're, we're going to, we don't have any, any, any of the cayman islands, or anything like that stuff. but we, we, we follow the law, and, and we got a million shareholders, and i think they probably expected us to do that. that doesn't mean i don't think the laws shouldn't be changed in some way. but i follow the law in terms of my personal return. i do not send them an extra $5 million, to the treasury. >> woodruff: your philanthropy-- we've talked about it a little bit. it's, it's legendary. you and bill gates, melinda gates have come together and, and i guess broken all records imaginable for, for giving. at the same time, it's being pointed out that you're also making, you first made that pledge 10, 11 years ago-- >> 2006, yeah. mmm-hmm. >> woodruff: 2006. you're now making so much more even than you did then, people are saying, "well, wait a minute, you know, is he going to be giving more away?" how, how do you think about that? >> well, i've got it set up so that if i make more, i do give more, because i, i'm giving on a
schedule, and that schedule ends 10 years after i die. so, it's all, so i'm not setting up, and, actually, they can't use it for endowments or anything. it has to be spent within ten years, really, after my estate's closed, but call it after i die. >> woodruff: how much influence do you think you had on other, others with wealth, with means, to give? to be as generous as, as you've been? well, a lot of people come back to me on that, and basically, i said, you know, if you're extremely rich, and you've got children, my theory was, you give 'em enough so they can do anything, but not enough so they can do nothing. and, i've had more people come back to it, so, apparently i was smarter in 1980-whatever it was than i am now. but that seemed to have some influence! >> woodruff: are you comfortable today with what you're giving? i mean, does it feel, does it-- >> it's exactly what i wanted to do. >> woodruff: --does it feel like e right-- >> it's the right thing. >> woodruff: --thing to be doing right now?
>> it's the right thing, because for example, that every life is of equal value. i mean, the truth is, i've got a lot of wealth, little pieces of paper, says berkshire hathaway on it, that are claim checks on all kinds of goods and services in the world. they can buy anything. i can buy 400-foot yachts and have 20 homes and all that. i wouldn't be happier. but they can buy anything. and, once they move into the, into the hands of people who are working like hell on getting something accomplished in areas i want them to, you know, i love the idea of getting, getting 'em used, and that's what they're doing. >> woodruff: you said it, it wouldn't make you happy to have a hundred, 200 homes and yachts and so forth. what does make warren buffett happy? >> i, i just have a lot of fun doing my job! i mean, i can do anything i want, basically, as long as it doesn't involve athletic ability. you know? but it's, but if it's something i can buy, i can buy, i can buy anything, basically. i've been on 400-foot yachts, and i've, i've lived the life a little bit with people that are, have 10 homes and everything. and, i live in the same house i bought in 1958. and, if i could spend $100 million on a house, and it'd make me a lot happier, i'd do it! but, i, for me, that's the happiest house in the world. and, it's 'cause it's got
memories, and people come back, and all that sort of thing. so, i am doing what i love to do with people i love. and it doesn't get any better than that, judy. and, but i should be. i mean, why, why in the hell, why should i be working at 86? at something that i don't like, or with people i don't like? >> woodruff: and i see you're drinking a cherry coke. >> right! >> woodruff: how do you stay healthy? >> well, i think i stay healthy partly by being happy, actually! i, i think that, i think it really helps if your stomach isn't grinding all the time, and you're doing things that you don't want to do, or you're-- working with people that, you know? so i, i've gone very light on the, on the diet advice. i, i eat like a normal six-year- old, but-- if you look at the mortality statistics, i mean, six-year- olds don't die very often! i mean, the diet's doing something for 'em! >> woodruff: how much sleep do you get? >> i get quite a bit of sleep. i like to sleep. so i, i'll, i'll usually sleep eight hours a night, and that-- no, i have no, no desire to get to work at four in the morning!
>> woodruff: so many people look at you and they think, oh my goodness, this man, he's accomplished so much! he's been so successful, he's 86 years old, and he's still going strong! >> i love it. >> woodruff: so, what do they, so, what's the secret? >> the secret is to find what you love to do! i mean, i tell the students, look for the job that you would take if you didn't need a job. i mean, it's that simple. and, i was lucky enough to find it very early in life, and then, the second thing is to have people around you that make, feel good every day, and make you a better person than you otherwise would be. i mean, that's the ultimate it, it's, i have more fun doing this than anything else i can think of in the world, and i've seen a lot of other things you could do in the world. >> woodruff: warren buffett, thank you very much. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: and for the record: buffett is c.e.o. of berkshire hathaway, which owns b.n.s.f. railway, one of the funders of the newshour.
>> woodruff: now, a sexual assault scandal that has rocked baylor university, and ignited questions over whether the university ignored the complaints of victims. the school confirmed in recent days that it is also the subject of an ongoing n.c.a.a. investigation. that's the focus of our weekly segment, "making the grade." john yang has the latest. >> yang: more than a dozen women have filed lawsuits against baylor, the country's largest baptist university, saying the school ignored or mishandled their claims going back several years. the school's board of regents has acknowledged that 19 football players were accused of criminal, sexual or physical assault. one of them, tevin elliot, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. the head football coach, art briles, was fired, and the president, ken starr, quit after he was demoted. paula lavigne is a reporter with espn, investigating these allegations. she's the co-author of a forthcoming book on the baylor sexual assault scandal, called "violated: exposing rape at
baylor university amid college football's sexual assault crisis." paula, thanks for joining us. remind us of these allegations. they've been around for a while, but remind us of the scope, how far back they go, the nature of the allegations at baylor. >> right. the allegations go back for more than a decade. in court cases alone, you have 15 different women filing title ix federal lawsuits against the school in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, but depending on who you talk to, there are hundreds of cases. many of them involve football players, but actually this is a much larger problem. they involve regular students, fraternity members, i mean, you name it, it is a huge problem at the school, and another sort of interesting layer to it is the fact that we're talking about the world's largest baptist
university, and a lot of these women are saying, you know, part of the problem here was that the school's christian values really did not foster an environment in which women were encouraged to come forward or in which their cases were taken seriously, and you compound that on top of the issues with the prominent football team and, yeah, the scope, it just touches all aspects of higher education and of sexual assault on campus. >> yang: what can the ncaa do, and what can it not do in cases like this? >> so that's a really good question. so a lot of people, if you're not familiar with college sports, it's important to know that the ncaa is sort of the arbiter over amateur college athletics, right? and their purpose is to ensure fair competition and amateurism. okay. so a lot of people think... they want the ncaa to do something about this. there is a huge call for the
ncaa to address this. but the issue is that sexual violence, addressing sexual violence, addressing criminal behavior on behalf of athletes really isn't something that's technically in the innocence -- ncaa's wheel house. so for people to understand what their scope is, it's important to understand a particular term that the ncaa uses, which is "extra benefit." okay. so when we think of extra benefits, we often think of student-athletes being given money from boosters or fancy cars or allowed to basically skate on a class. okay. the ncaa in this case, for people who are... people on the outside who are familiar with the investigation and people who are familiar with the ncaa are saying, well, one way they can get enforcement in a case involving sexual violence is to say, okay, are these student-athletes getting an extra benefit if they are being
diverted from judicial affairs, if they are getting a pass from local law enforcement, if coaches or administrators are hooking them up with legal counsel and maybe they're not paying what a regular student would be paying for that legal counsel? all of those sort of things that a regular student, who gets in trouble, might not be afforded, they're saying, well, maybe the innocence way can consider that an extra benefit, and in that sense, it could come in and take some enforcement action. >> yang: the issue of sexual violence on college campuses has gotten a lot of discuss. talk about sort of the bigger issue here of how colleges even outside athletic programs are dealing with that. >> it is a huge issue. there's been statistics that have been backed up by numerous research that one in five women will experience some sort of sexual assault while in college. right now it's more than 200
colleges and universities under investigation by the u.s. department of education. however, this is a perfect time to be talking about this, because a lot of the federal government's civil rights enforcement actions are being called into question right now, and one of those deals specifically with title ix, and title ix is the venue that the u.s. department of education uses to enforce how colleges and universities are addressing sexual violence. and there are a lot of people who are saying schools should not be involved in what is seen as a criminal matter. and a problem with that is that that's pretty short-sighted. because title ix does a lot more in addressing sexual violence than just determining whether or not an alleged prerp at the present timor -- perpetrator is responsible for the act. you mentioned the case involving tevin elliot. the young woman in that case, i mean, she saw her accused
perpetrator convicted. however, her biggest issue was the fact that she didn't get the counseling services, she didn't get the academic services. she was basically left floundering. she ends up dropping out, doesn't get to pursue her dream and has the transfer and move back home. there is nothing in the criminal justice system that provides that sort of remedy, and that's what title ix is designed to do. it's designed to force these schools to address specific cases of sexual violence in part to determine whether or not someone is responsible. but the bigger part, the part that's often ignored, is by providing a safe campus for these women to attend, providing counseling services if they need them, providing academic services to make them whole again so they can continue their education. >> yang: paula lavigne of
espn, thank you. >> woodruff: china is leading a trillion-dollar project to build a 21st century version of the "silk road," the trading routes that once spanned asia. and it is on that original "silk road," in central asia, where we again catch up with paul salopek. he is on his "out of eden" walk, it's an around-the-world, reporting project that began four years ago. hari sreenivasan recently spoke with him. you are going the walk into china. >> my deadlines are often seasonal, right? so i'm crossing deserts and mountains across central asia, and the trick is to cross the desert in the cold part of the year and the mountains in the warm part of the year. guess what? i haven't been able to do that so far. i'm been subversed. >> tell me about that desert crossing. you had the plan ahead and stash water.
one place you walked up to, the water was gone. >> that's right. it's one of these physical challenges of walking across desolate landscapes. we had to put some water caches out before and i had the walk to them, and to my great surprise, one of the caches, this big waterless area, this badlands the size of arizona, had been broken into. and the water had been taken. and that was a big surprise, because local shepherds would probably never this that. they know how valuable water is. so i don't know who took it. my walking partners at the time and i had to resort to using the satellite phone to call in for help. >> who lives out in these deserts. tell me about these nomads. what are these herders like? >> well, this part of the world, central asia, is one of the two big hot spots, if you will, left in our current age in the early 21st century for pastoral no mad, for people who still move with animals. the other one, of course, is
north africa. when it turns green, they move their flocks and move with their flocks as their ancestors did. >> you have been following this silk road that myons before you have. >> the silk record was an artery of trade not just of luxury item, not just of commodities, but of ideas, right? buddhism proved along the silk road route. inventions like paper, which conveyed ideas. people, culture, art, music, all of these things moved along these camel caravan roads, and it's interesting to be walking them today, hari. we're entering a phase of backlash. the silk road was the first real experiment in globalization about 2,000 years ago. >> most of us would have trouble finding these countries on the map. how has the former soviet republic fared? what's life like there? >> kazakhstan got lucky. they had tremendous energy reserves. and one of the great challenges, believe it or not, of walking with a car get horse across
these open steps in today's day and age was getting around gas pipelines. they're everywhere. so i was kind of bumping into gas pipelines and turning right or left hoping i would eventually come to a gate. so kazakhstan has done well in this lottery of natural resources. uzbekistan has done less well. uzbekistan is an ancient part of the world where they had silk road cities that had many, many tens of thousands of people. they had universities. they had temples. they've kind of fallen on harder times. they don't have the natural resources that kazakhstan does. now i'm in kirgizstan, a smaller central asian republic that's very mountainous. that is basically capitalizing on its natural beauty, eco tourism to makers way ahead. >> let's talk about the people you've been walking with. i imagine you get to know these people you're walking hundreds of miles with. >> so i've walked about 6,000 kilometers out of ethiopia since january 2013.
i have crossed about 13 borders. i've passed through about a dozen countries and territories, many languages within those territories and countries. and along most of the way, about 95% of the way, i have been walking with local people. that's part of the project. this is a project about the humanity. it's a project about what connects us and what separates us, so i need to have local people. and it's truly amazing. in conversations about the is world becoming more dangerous, is it becoming more turbulent, i have to remind my readers that at least in my experience, the world is an incredibly hospitable place. and all of these folks who walk with me, mostly men, but some women, have become like family to me. i literally put my life into their hands. and i'm being passed like a human baton from walking partner to walking partner. what does that do? it gives me great heart. it gives me great energy. it proves in a very concrete way my safety, that most people are good and most people will help
you out, even if they're strangers, even if they're from another culture, even if they don't look like you or speak in the same words that you speak. >> it's been more than four years since you've been walking on this story. now what have you discovered about yourself? >> as you know, i covered many conflicts for many years as a war journalist, and i saw a lot of the dark side of human nature. i have run enter a few scrapes on this project. you know, i was ambushed twice in turkey. i got shot at on the west bank. i've had my water cache broken into in uzbekistan. but i can remember those items, those incidents because they stood out, because the vast joint of my interactions with people across the world on foot has been fantastically positive. i think it's simplified my writing, and i think made it better. and the same applies basically to my daily life. when your world and your problems and your anxieties are calipered by your legs and by
the extent that you can walk in a day, say 20 miles or 15 miles, it eliminates a lot of unnecessary worry. you don't expected too much energy worrying about things that are beyond your control. >> paul salopek, we wish you the best of luck. >> thanks a lot, harry. -- hari, good to talk again. >> woodruff: nashville has long been considered the beating heart of the country music world, but the new album "the nashville sound" by jason isbell is infusing the genre with rock, folk and blues. the grammy-award winner has turned heads with his lyrics, which this time around address topics like poverty, race, and love. jeffrey brown recently joined isbell on the first stop of his international tour. >> ♪ last of my kind, so many people with so much to do ♪ the winter's so cold my hands
turn blue. ♪ >> brown: in his song, "the last of my kind", jason isbell creates a character based on people he grew up around in rural northern alabama who fear how the world is changing. >> ♪ am i the last of my kind? am i the last of my kind? ♪ >> a lot of people that i grew up with, went to school with in alabama, and a lot of people in my family who told me growing up that cities were terrible places and anything outside of our little circle was scary and dangerous and frightening. and i thought about the effect that had on people. when you start to believe that, and you let yourself be so afraid of other people and the outside world that you never feel a connection with the rest of humanity. i wrote that song based on that kind of fear. >> ♪ cumberland >> brown: in both ballads and hard-charging rock n roll songs
like "cumberland gap," isbell's storytelling prowess has made him one of today's most acclaimed singer-songwriters. his last album, "something more than free," won two grammys and achieved the rare feat of topping folk, rock, and country charts in 2015. now 38, he's back with a new album titled, "the nashville sound," and we joined him and his band, the 400 unit, at the thomas wolfe auditorium in asheville, north carolina, on the first day of their new national tour. ♪ ♪ once again, isbell's songs are filled with rural country characters, this time also reflecting the nation's political and cultural fears, as well. >> it's just hard to tell people who are my family that anybody
in government really cares about them because i don't think i can sell that. i don't think i can convincingly tell middle america that the government gives a damn. >> brown: we hear about the "disaffected white male," you know? >> yeah. you hear about that. and i think a lot of people try to tell us that that's who elected our current president, but i don't necessarily believe that because i know a lot of disaffected white males and disaffected white people in general who didn't vote at all because they didn't think anybody gave a damn about them. >> brown: they just didn't believe in the political system. >> no. they thought the system had been broken for a long time. >> brown: isbell started out as many do, in bands that travel by van wherever the gigs take them. his first break was as a member of the southern indie rock band, the drive-by truckers. that came to an end when his drinking and drug abuse grew so bad he was thrown out of the band. it took him several years to
sober up and restart his life and career. >> before i stopped drinking, i thought, "if i quit drinking, am i still going to be funny? am i still going to be a good songwriter? am i going to still be a rock and roll person? people going to still want to be around me?" and then, "is my creativity going to be there if i quit doing these drugs? am i going to be able to record in the studio?" these kinds of things. now, they sound so ridiculous even just coming out of my mouth-- like, of course, that's not where the work comes from! >> brown: but i can see where the anxiety comes from because, i mena, in your business, it's a thin line, isn't it, between making it and not making it? >> yeah, it's hard. it's really hard to make a living writing songs and singing them. really, really hard. a lot of people, they try it out like as a lottery ticket. then, if it doesn't work, they go do something else. but that's not the tradition i come from. i come from a group of people who pretty much set themselves to do this for the rest of their life, whether it kills them or
not. and that's how i was early on. that's how i still am. >> brown: now, he's on the road with his wife, amanda shires, herself a singer and songwriter who performs on her own and as band mate with her husband. and they're joined by their almost two-year-old "moon- shadow"-loving daughter, mercy rose. isbell's recent breakthrough success allows some newfound traveling comforts. >> we've recently gotten to the point where we can have multiple buses, and that's something i never really thought that i would get to. maybe one bus, that'd be great, with a trailer behind it with our gear in it. that was always the goal for me. >> brown: this is how you judge where you're at? >> oh, god, yes. >> brown: by whether it's a van or one bus or two buses? >> yeah, it's practical concerns because i've always made the art i wanted to make, and i'll always do that. i'm going to judge my level of success by whether or not i can hear myself on stage, or whether or not my wife can come along
with me and have a mirror to put her makeup on in, and the baby can have a bunk with this dog gate we bought at petco and bolted to the outside of the bunks so she doesn't roll off in the middle of the night. ♪ ♪ >> brown: in one beautiful love song on the new album, isbell writes and sings as himself about a future of joy and sorrow with his wife. >> if you can write a good love song now that actually adds something to the canon of love songs, then you're qualified, in my opinion. that's tough. that's like painting a picture of a tree that needs to exists. how many times have people done that before? ♪ ♪
>> brown: another song getting much attention tackles racism in america today. it's called "white man's world." ♪ ♪ >> it's important for me to just continue to notice that there are doors that are open for me that would not be if i was not white or if i was not male. i'm not guilty about it, and i'm not ashamed of it. i had no control over it. i need to consider those things because if i don't, then i'm just running wild and never really considering what privilege that i have and how to make the world a better place for people don't get what they deserve. >> brown: jason isbell and the 400 unit will tour the nation this summer and into the fall. for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown in asheville, north carolina.
>> woodruff: on the newshour online: a poet pays homage to the late writer david foster wallace by finding poems in the pages of his most famous work. that and more is on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you, and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at carnegie.org.
>> 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. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> you're watching pbs.
>> hinojosa: as the first latino elected to the massachusetts state legislature, he fought for affordable housing, public safety, and environmental justice. today he's taking on the media and its protrayal of gay america. president of the gay and lesbian alliance against defamation jarrett barrios. i'm maria hinojosa. this is one on one. so jarrett barrios, welcome to our show. >> thank you for having me. >> hinojosa: you are the youngest ever and the first latino to head the gay and lesbian alliance against defamation, glaad. >> glaad. >> hinojosa: glaad. now, a lot of people might k