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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  December 23, 2018 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> thompson: on this edition for sunday, december 23: more fallout in the defense department over the withdrawal of u.s. troops from ria. day two of a partial government shutdown as the president hunkers down amid a stalemate with lawmakers. and a look behind the stories of some newshour weekend favorites. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> depbs newshour weekend is possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar wachenheim iii. seton melvin. the cheryl and philip milstein family. dr. iap. roy vagelos and t. vagelos. the j.p.b. foundation. rosalind p. walter. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided
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by mutual of america-- designing lcustomized individ and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additionpo s has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contritions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at k,lincoln center in new yo megan thompso>>n. hompson: good evening and thank you for joining us. on the second day of a partial government shutdown, preside trump announced he is accelerating the departure of defense secretary james mattis. the president tweeted at" deputy secretary of defense, g trick shanahan, will assume the title of actcretary of defense starting january 1, 2019." mattis was expected to stay in the role until the end of february. hree submitted hignation three days ago in protest of the president's decision to withdraw
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u.s. troops from syria which has strained relations with international allies. the news that mattis will leave immediately comes just two days after the top u.s. diplomat to the coalition fighting isis, brett mcgurk, also said he is leaving the administration early in protest of the troop drawdown from syria. for more on this we're joined now by "wall street journal" ter jessica donati who i in washington, d.c. so, what do we know about this tweet this morning where president trump basically announced that secretary of defense james mattis will be leaving two months early. what do you know about this decision? this is just speculation, but i would say that the president is probably frustrated with number of leak, is that have come oh the resignations this week with general mattis then presidential envoy as well. >> thompson: brett k who you just mentioned we learned yesterday that he's also gointo be leaving early, he was u.s. special envoy in the fight against isis, wt does
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all of this mean for the leadership in our fight against isis >> ihis it sends a message that the president has not been will listen to his top advisors, both on the military side and diplomat particular side. this will i suppose give him more frdom to pick people who are willing to carry out his view on foreign policy which seems to be not wanting to engage in these conflicts overseas. it thompson: so what does this trooprawal mean for things on the ground in syria? >> i think that a it's left lot of people i in a state of un uncertainty, because all of the american people in charge have been trying to get allies to step up to ensure that islamic state doesn't have a chance to come back. many really just stepped up becase they were under american pressure to do so. ink we'll have to look at what saudi arabia is going to do,
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what united arab emirates is going to do because they botgeh plmore money, are they willing to invest money in the place that u. no longer has a footprint. >> thompson: president trump said that turkey can n take care of the situation, we learned today that turkey is now mapping troops along the borde with syria. what do we know about that development and how prepared is turkey to take the mantle now? >> i think the threat is an invasion by turkey is a huge ncern not just to the civilians there but to the huge number of aid workers that are delivering life saving food, water, electricity. any kind of escalation in the conflict not only would fce aid workers to leave the country but also you can look at a situation where you have another movement of people fleeing from the area and leaves a vacuum where by axthance ofmist groups coming back. mcgurk had a re in sort of
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getting turkey to work with interests t sense and not m andaction against the that kind of thing. i think there's a big question of who is going to fill that gap diplomatically. >> thompson: how is all this affecting u.s. troop morale in syria? >> i think that there will be large number of troops w are frustrated with these lonctg confnot just syria but afghanistan, iraq, so i think that this decision will be welcome to some. but on the otheha to make rapid at risk throwing away this sort ever effort to stabilize syria and other parts andiraq, afghanistan, where there's peace process derway, i think these kind of snap decisions are probably going to undermine morale for people who lost colleagues and friends in this conflict. >> thompson: jessica donati, thank you for being here. >> tha you.
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>> thompson: the federal government remains partialbo shut down an sides appear to have dug in over the president's demand for a border wall. acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney said the administration made a new offer to fund a wall yestebut had yet to hear back from senate democrats. >> it's very possible that this utdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new congress. >> thompson: the senate is in recess until thursday. one week later, speaker- designncate pelosi and the democrats will take control of the house of representatives. today, senate minority whip dick durbin said anwall funding was non-starter. >> what nancy pelosi and chuck schumer told the president we are not going to build a wall. period. secondly, if you want to talk about border security, there are many things we can do. >> thompson: trump raadminion officials are also disputing reports that the president has considered firing federal reserve chairman jay powell over disagreements on raising interest rates. in a pair of tweets, treasury secretary steven mnuchin said that hene has spith the
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president and quoted him as saying: "...i never suggested firing chairman jay poelll, nor do ive i have the right to." wmphile president t demeanor may please his political base, executives say it diminishes his business brand. read about it at >> thompson: as the end of the raar approaches, we're taking a look at some mee segments of the past year from our producers and repo bring you our newshour weekend stories each week. hari sreenivan recently sat down with the team of ivette feliciano and zach green to hear their insight behind e stories. >> sreenivasan: you guys got to go to washington state where i went to high school, but besides that this year you did a couple of interesting pieces. one was a topic that i think that a lot of people are struggling with which is what should be ppening on a campus, what is free speech, what is education? how should ideas bedihallenged? hothat story come about? >> so something that zach and i
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kept talking about in the field with this was the so-called political correctness culture on colle campuses. i think college campuses and universities are dmoerse than they've ever been. and we've been seeing so many headlines about students shutting down controversial speakers and the presence of confederate flags or statues on college campuses. and the difference between hate speech versus free speec sand whether uld have safe spaces and trigger warnings in classrooms. so i think alof this is sort a reflection of diverse students sort of making administrations at these inss titutiapple with these really tough questions about how do you incorporate diversifying student bodies in institutions that weren't necessarily initially created to be inclusive ssopaces. that's what led us to this evergreen sta college, a liberal arts school in olympia.
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known for being very lefty, very liberal progressive base and they've sort of been on he forefront of these diversity and inclusion initiatives that we've all heard about. and every year since970s they've been holding this day of absence event where students of color and faculty of color would gather off campus for a day to talk about the dynamics of race on campus and white students and faculty who wanted to participate wou have similar conversations on campus and then the next day everybody wouldor get back together and of discuss what they had talked about and learned. well last year as a result of some of the rhetoric that came out ofhe 2016 presidential election, gay and trans students, immigrant students, students of color, said that they felt their identities were sort of unckder at so they wanted to change the event and sort of reclaim the campus space. d they asked white participafonts to leave campus r the day.
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neat did not sit well with biology professor. students confronted biology professor bret weinstein in his classroom. weinstein who identifies as politicay left had announced he was boycotting a decades old event created by students of color at the school. now he was being accused of racism. >> if one spoke in a way that challenged the narrative that was being advanced then one was portrayed as in particular racist. >> evergreen is a bastion of progressive values. classeres oed include alternatives to capitalism and clate justice. yet in the days following the protests, students demanded the administration fire the professor and tackle what theyea call yrs of institutional racism. they barricaded campus spaces,
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wrangled witcampus police, and stormed the president's office. nce the events five faculty and staff have resigned their positio.ns that includes evergreen's chief of police, professor weinstein and his wife heather hyang who is a chemistry professor. >> sreenivasan: so zack was there something that surpriserd you as younot just looking into the research, but once you had the conversations with the people that were out there? >> well, i an interesting topic because i thinwe've all heard lots of stories comingut of college campuses, speakers getting tested, shouted down appearances getting canceled. it's always been a really murky topic for me because while i am a supporter of free speech obviously i'm a member of the press. you know i do sometimes question whether certain, should we be elevating certain speakers, certain types of speech or certain lines of thought or ideas. and coming out of this piece
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after ing some of the research, meeting some of the people, it was just murkier than ever before. this wast a piece whereemed like everybody had a very valid honest point of view and really felt strongly about what they believed in and why they were saying the things they were saying and coming out of it, it was really hard to pick a side. >> sreenivasan: right. and while youerthere you also talked to a totally separate story a lawyer with aly renteresting background. tell me. >> well, i think it's interesting because our viewers may not realize what it looks like when we go out into the field and shoot s,ese stor they might picture these elaborate production teams of like 10 people going out into the field and it's literally just us with our cameras and our equipment pshooting theces so with our modest public television budgets we really try to get bang for our buck when awe're at locations and sfter shooting the evergreen piece we went over to seattle and covred one of the first sort of big announcements out the trump
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administration regarding immigration. w th that the daca program the deferred action for childhood arrivals program would be ending. so about 800,000 youngdo mented people who were able to study and work here without fear of deportation. that program was gng to be phased out. but when we were in seattle we spent the da with one of these dreamers who was brought here to the united states by his parents at the age of one from mexico illegally. he actually didn't find out about his status until he was in high school. and what's really interesting about him is that he's actually a lawyer who practicesn immigratw. when you're going into these y aces in immigration court, do you take ecial precautions? do you ever feel fear? >> the times that i think about it the most interestingly enough is when we there are situations where i
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will winfr a cas my client. and now he's in a better position than i am walking out of that courtroom then when we both walked in there. >> sreenivasan: is it the layers of itony that drew yohis character? >> i mean, it was just kind of a remarkablstory when we came across it. i mean, here's a guy wh olooks like ather person that you might see on the street. you wouldn't know anything was different about them unless you asked them directly about their status. i mean it was really kind of an education in who theamers are and really they're everyone, you know they occupy all different positions in life. and you knowknere's this you reasonably young guy and he's practicing immigration law knowing that when he walks into an immigration court to defend one of his clientshe may well not be able to walk out of it. >> sreenivasan: a difficult assignment that you both got this year was to cover the tragedthat happened in pittsburgh, the mass shooting. tell me a little bit about that process. >> well it was it was it was really kind of a shock.
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i am jewish. my whole family is js ish, my wifewish. this one really hit home. this felt like a shooting that could have happened at the synagogue that my wife and i attend, the synagogue that i grew up going to back in my hometown. so ivette and i got in the car, drove six hours, arrived in the pittsbgh area at about 2:00 a.m. and on the way we were just calling pple, anybody that we knew who might have connections to the pittsburgh area. one of our producers here mori rothman, he actually knew somebody who i believe belonged 'd actuallagogue, been to the synagogue for a bar mitzvah for one. so he was in the office doing a great job backing us up. he found us a member of the community to speak we just hit thnd running and just started meeting with people. d like most people we tal here, emily and her mom were confident theyth know some of victims and they were right. >> i know two of them i know that they were always greeting me, they were very kind souls. they brought smiles to my faces
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they were very close to my family, toe of my best friends. >> it's just starting to sink in this morning. i woke up this morning tired with a pit in my stomach for a second not really knowing why and then i remembered what happened. these are the people who were in synagogue on a saturday morning. theswere the diehards who were there because they wanted to celebrate their faith. >> sreenivasan: for the audience at home, what is that like dealing with a community in grief when you are part of this small army of press that descends on their town. they are in different stages of shock and here you are trying to get information out of them to share with larger audience. at are some of the challenges? >> well, i think one of the special things about working for a place like pbs newshour weekend is that they're never going to ask us to go and hound people winho are mou
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you know, we're not going up to doors and knocking on doors and asking people to speak when they're not ready to. so that's something we were definitely sensitive to and try to maintain our distance from places where people were grieving and just really tried to reach out and find people who were willing to engage and wanted to have a platsort of a cathartic experience of just speaking about theirrief. >> sreenivasan: there's a group of stories that you both have done out of puerto rico in fact we had kind of a special earlier this year that highlighted some of those stories. one of the stories that we didn't get to was onon coal ash. first tell us what was the story, what made you want to do it. >> i was sort of interested in what the environmental impact of a storm like maria in a place like puerto rico which is a very small island and was already going through an economic crisis which was no doubt impacting environmental problems that isted before the hurricane. so i started calling around to
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different environmental groups on puerto rico and it was actually in speaking with a member of the sierra club there that i found out that th this coal plant, the only coal plant in puerto rico, was situated in this small coastal ty called guayama which is on the southeastern tip of the island and t that s coal plant there is a five story mound of what was described to mes coal ash which had be completely uncovered during the hurricane and that this has been a real thorn in the side of residents in that town who say mound of material outside of it has been causing real health problems in their cmunity. >> ( translated ): right now we have roads here that are filled in with it so much that once they become dry you can see the ash moving freely on the surface blowing around, that same ash is going from the road into the air and it will eventually go into the ter where it will contaminate the
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>> locear of contamination from theh chas become so widespread that protesters have gathered along the roads when the material is shipped from the plant. what i loved about covering the story was it wasn't just a reactive piece about devastation in puerto rico as a result of hurricane maria. it was covering an issue that predated the hurricane, but that was impacted by it. my family is from puerto rico, it was my first time back on the island after the hurricane so i was sort of nervous about what it would be like to be there after such devastation. we're trying to find a hotel. the phones were down so we couldn't get in contact, but yow s we saw life was sort of moving on and people were really resilient.>> reenivasan: it's not all doom and gloom in the types of stories that you pick. you guys went to the monterey bay aqesrium, one of thein the world. why? >> i love this story. well this was a story that ivette actually came across. the monterey bay aquarium which is a really beautiful, fascinating place. th're doing some really
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amazing research into the health of the oceans. >> imagine opening up a book at the last chapter and trying to understand what the story is about. we're kind of doing that right now with the ocean. >> science director kyle van houtan heads the project. >> we really want to genera an informed baseline for what a healthy ocean is. to do that we need more data than we hav e, and so we have to get creative. >> to that end, the year-old ocean memory lab draws on specimens collected by naturalists and explorers over the last two centuries, using modern techniques, lab scientists can analyze those specimens and compare them wiech samples ted today. >> the seabirds and the turtles and the whales. all these things that we study, they're essentially drones taking information about their ecosystem experience out in the ocean and recording iirt in the feathers, in their bones, in their blubber, various parts of their body and storing that away. >> sreenivasan: and then there's
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also you had a chance to catch up with a comedian and talking about topics that are pretty uncomfortable to parts of the audience, but also pretty funny in the pry that it gets ented. e're leaving an interview and driving to the next location or to the hotel for the njuight we want t listen to a comedy podcast. we do a lot of that. zach introduced me to this this comedian called cameron esposito. she's a young, gay female comedian who in the ke of the etoo movement decided to write a comedy special called "rape jokes" where she talks about her own experience with sexual violence. >> we've had rape jokeforever, but those jokes have usually been like "rape." that's the full joke. that's always been a concept that was shorthand for a type of jo so it always meant a joke that is told by somebody who's not a survivor. that's generally like dismissive
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of the concept of rape. usually was brought up as sort of a taboo punchy word that would just get a laugh based on the comic being brave enough to speak it. >> esposito wants to make sure the national conversation aroune al assault includes the voices of survivors. >> there were certain folks, high profile folks who were being called out as abusers whoe hen losing opportunities and then it seemed like the cycle was moving onto rehabbing those pele's images. and that it was making a circle without ever talking about what it's like to be a survivor. >> i mean, it's real interesting to see how #metoo has affected the world of comedy 'sand to see sort of how changed material, how it's changed the way people aroach that topic. >> sreenivasan: and it's just an intense performance. a personal one which makfu it more pow well thank you both for coming by, zachary green and ivette
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feliciano. >> thompso: the tsunami that hit the indonesian islands of java and sumatra last night killed at least 222 people and injured hundreds more. the deadly waves followed an underwater landslide that authorities say was caused by the eruption of the anak krakatau volcano. the tsunami struck without warning, heavily damaging hundreds of homes and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate. at a beachfront concert, a giant wave generated from the tsunami killed at least two members of a band and their road mager, among others. rescue teams are working to locate survivors and clear heavy debris the indonesian archipelago lies in the pacific "r successive earthquakes hit the indonesian island of lombok in julynd aust and a double quake and tsunami killed more
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ple on sulawesi island in september. a vigil was held in morocco last night for two scandinavian college students who were murdered while on a hiking trip in the atlasountains. hundreds of people brought flowers and lit oucandleide the norwegian and danish embassies. louisa vesterager jespersen, 24 and maren uelandmu28, were found ered monday in the atlasop mountains, a pular hiking destinatio four suspects who pledged their allegiance to isis have been arrested in connection to the murders, along with nine others. protests in lebanon continued today over economic uncertainty as the country remains without a government. political parties have n been able to form a government since elections were held last may. the marchers called for an end to the deadlock and also for an end to politicl corruption. some protesters wore yellow vests similar to demonstrators in france who have been protesting the high cost of living.
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>> thompson: and finally tonight, it is often our job to tell you about crises, disasters,nd disagreements ound the globe. but we have some good news on this day before christmas eve: a space-x rocket lifted off this morning from cape canaveral, carrying the first of a new genep.ration of navigation satellites. despite shutdown, volunteers will be quacking santa at norad's heters in colorado. and this christmas eve marks the fiftieth anniversary of" earthrise"-- a view of our planet never seen until the astronauts aboard the 1968 apollo eightission shared it ith the world. that's all for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm megan thanks for watching. have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned b media access group at wgbh w
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>> pbs shour weekend is made possible by: ernard and irene schwart sue and edgar wachenheim iii. setonelvin. the cheryl and philip milstein family. dr. p. roy vagelos and diana t. vagelos. the j.p.b. foundation. rosalind p. walter. 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. additionalupport has been provided by: d the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thnk you. was funded in part by...
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