tv PBS News Hour Weekend PBS August 18, 2019 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
ptioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this editiony for suaugust 18: more than a million demonstrators take to the streets in hong kong samanding change. on the 400th anniv of the arrival of the first enslaved africans in the "trginia colony, new york times" 1619 project aims to reframe american history. and in our signature segment, musician ben folds shares the stories behind his songs. next on "pbs newshour weekend." >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the j.p.b. foundation. rosalind p. walter, in memory of george o'neil.
barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products.w that's wre your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: oand by the corporaor public broadcasting. a private corporation funded by the american people. urand by contributions to pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.ch from the tnet studios at lincoln center in new york, hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thanks for joining us.t in wuld be the largest demonstration yet, pro-democracy protesters fled the streets of hong kong today, marching through heavy rain towards government offices to call f reform. citing previous violence, police initially banned the protesters from marching, but the rally-- which had police approval-- quickly overwhelmed the city's victoria park and spilled into the nearby streets. the marcremained peaceful with no reports of clashes with police.
a smaller group mained outside government offices late into the night. the organizers of the pro- democracy movement say there were 1.7-million protesters. quartz reporter mary huis in hong kong and she joins us now via skype. this lasweek has seenome changes in how the protests are functioning. where do the protesters go from here? >> i tnk one of the main questions the protest is, after last sunday nigght's agressive step up in police action and followed by the violent chaos at the airport throughhe so-called brave fighters on the front line of the prote take a step back, i think that's exactly what we saw today in hong kong. there's been a huge buildup of frustrations and things people were angry about, including the lack of free and fair elections, the lack of proper democracy, so
those demands have become part ofhe demands people are a part of and reflects a lot of what a lot hong kongers want. >> sreenivasan: is hong kong running business as ususoal? >> it's tely business as usual. you walk to the train stations. people are making their commutes to wor and sometimes it's a bit jarring, even, to think about what happened just th night before on the same streets, then you go in on a monday and this is unusual. >> sreenivasan: mary hui joining us >> sreenivasan: an affiliate of the islamic state aimed responsibility for yesterday's attack in kabul. it was the deadliest of the year. a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-filled vest, killing 63 and wounding nearly 200 more, at a wedding celebration. as families buried the dead today, questions surng civilian security intensified. the bombing came as the u.s. and
the taliban are reportedly nearing a peace deal, but it's a conversation that does not include the afghan government, isis groups,exr other emists. the u.s. wants the taliban to ensure that afghanistan not become a launching pad for the islamic state before any deal to end the 18-year olwar can be reached. several migrants stranded on a charit coast of italy jumped overboard and attempted to swim to shore. were later rescued and returned to the ship. the rescue ship, operated by the charity open arms, iored off lampedusa-- an island that lies between north africa and sicily.te italiarior minister matteo salvini refuses to let the ship itck. he claims the chary uses rescue boats to smgle migrants from a base in libya. the boat originally had 147 aboard, but italian authories did allow number of minors and ill immigrants to come to shore yesterday. spain and five other european countries are offering to takeni in those remai on the ship. a leaked government report on brexit published in the sunday "times of london" today says britain will face a shortage of fuel, food and medicine if it
fails to make a deal on it's scheduled exit from the european union at the end of october. compiled in secretthe government report, dubbed operation yellowhammer, lays out what the newspapers says are the most likely outcomes of a no- deal brexit. e addition to shortages, the report predicts thll be delays in freight, as well as a return of a rd border between northern ireland and the republic of ireland. u.k. prime minister ris johnson is scheduled to travel a germany and france this week in an effort to maew deal on brexit with the european ion. for the latest on the deadly suicide bombing in afghanistan, visit pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: today "the new york times" published the print edition of "the 1619 project," ofe name marks this month's 400th anniversarhe arrival of the first enslaved people brought from africa to the then-virginia colony. the "times" says the p aims to reframe the country's history understanding 1619 is
our true founding and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black americans at theery center of the story we tell ourselves about whojwe are. the t is led by "new york times magazine" reporter nicole .annah jones, who was the author of the opening ess she joins me now. this isn't this isn't just about sort of fe kind of textbook ideas what happened to slaves. your-- you've got essays in here about healthcare, about geography, about sugarabout music, all of these different ripple effects that happened throughout the economy and really life here. you say-- in a sentence you said, you know, we would not be the united states were it not for slavery. this is kind of, one of the originalibers that made this country >> absolutely. why do you have to keep talking about the past? well, one, i think the past is early instructive for the future, for how how we are right now. but also the conceit of the i magazithat you can look at all of these modern phenomenon that you think are
w related to slavery at all, and we were going to su how they are. and so, we have a story in there about traffic patterns.or we have a about why we're the only western industrial country without universal health care, about why americans consume so much sugar, about capitalism, about democracy. t we're realing to change the way that americans are thinking that this was just a problem of the past that we've resolved and show that it isn't. what many people don't know, and i point this out in my essay, is that o of the reasons we even decide to become a nation in the first place is over the issue of slavery and had we not have slavery we might be canada. at one of the reasons that the founders wanted to break off from britain is they were afraid that britain was going to begin regulating slaenry and maybe oving towards abolishment, and we were making so much money off of slavery that the foders wanted to be able to continue it. we're not taught tt when we're taught about our origin stories. and not knowing that, en, really does not allow us to grapple with the nation that we reallyre, and not just the nation that were taught in kind of american mythology. >> sreenivasan: and that, that
money ends up fueling so much more of what made this country. of course. it's not incidental that ten of the first 12 presidents of thewe united state slave owners. this is where, at that time, this kind of very burgeoning nation was getting so much of its wealth and its power. 's what allows this kind of ragged group of colonists to believe that they could defeat the most powempire in the world at that time, and it went everywhere. was north and south. we talk about the industrial revolution. where do americans believe that the cotton that was being spun in those textile company, our textile mills, coming from? enslaved people were growing t that cotton south. the rum industry, which was really rum, was the currency of the slave ade. that rum was being processed and sold in the united states. the banking industry tses in new york city is rising largely to pros de the mortgad insurance policies and to finance the slave trade. the ship builders are northern ship builder the people who are sending voyages to africa to bring llenslaved people here aren the north. so this was a truly national
hiterprise. but we prefer to that it was just some backwards southerners, because that is tn way that we nd of deal with our fundamental paradox at our beginning, tt we were a nation built on both the inalienable rights of man and also a nation built on bondage.v >> srean: yeah, you even talk about wall street's name comes from something that most of us don't recognize. >> absolutely. so, wall street is called "wall street" because it was on that wall that enslaved people were ught and sold. that's been completely erased from our national memory andly complerased from the way that we think about the north. at the time of the civil war, new york city's mayor actually threatened to secede from the union with the south because so much money was being made off of slave-produced cotton that was being exported out of new york city. it is that erasure, i think, that has prevented us from really grappling with our history and so much of modern society that we see that is still related to that. sreenivasan: you know, one of the essays in here about healthcare, which is ating, is that some of t
myths that started then are still perpetuated today in modern healthcare, and there are still gross misunderstandings of-- that could actually have very seriouc healsequences. >> so, linda villarosa has this compelling essay that talksri about how slavery, and slavers were using enslaved people to do these medical experiment but also we were using medical technology to justify y by saying, enslaved people don't fef pain the way, or people african descent, don't feel pain the way that white people do. um, that thehave thicker skin. and so you can beat them or torture them, and it's not gonna hurt as bad. well, these are all justifications for slavery. but if you look at moder medical science and our understanding, they're still ing these calculations that, say, for instance, lung capacity was one the things that linda writes about that black people have worse lung capacity and the reason that slavers said that was they said that working in the fields and doing this hard labor was good for black people because it helped them increase their lung capacity. well, what linda points out is today, um, doctors and medical
science, are still accounting for what they think is a lessened lung capacity of black americans. and it's simply not true. but we've never purged ourselve of tlse science that was used to justify racism. >> sreenivasan: you talk about how basically the black american, or there's the black experience, has been inconvenient to the narrative of this nation in all of these different categories, thatit been something that we have struggled to deal with but attentimes just not dealt with it as a result, t was thorny. >> when you think about the aory of who we are, that the, we are this, um, country built on individual rights, we are the country where you're coming from a place where you are not free, you can come to our shores and you can get freedom. well, then you have black people, and every time you look at black americansyou have to be reminded that there was 1/5 of our population who we had no rights, no liberties, no freedom whatsoever. we are the constant reminder of really theie at our origins, that while thomas jefferson was
writing the declaration of independence, s enslaved brother-in-law was there to serve him and make sure that he's comfortable. so, i think this is-- explains a lot, um, the continued perception that black people are a problem, that black people are, uh, as abraham lincoln said, "a troublesome presence in american democracy," because every time you see us you have to be reminded of our original sin, and no one wants to be reminded of sin. we're ashamed of sin. >> sreenivasan: nicole hannah- jones, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: singer- csongwriter ben folds fire to prominence in the 1990's as the leader of the band ben folds five, which, in keeping with thr particrand of humor that runs in and out of his work, had only three members. now, folds has added author to his resume, and he recently sat down with newshour weekend's to casciatoscuss his new memoir. ( cheers and applause )
♪ ♪ ♪ and so annie waits annie waits ♪ annie waits for a call >> reporter: you might have been able to predict ben foldat 52 if you had known ben folds at two. >> when was two years old i was listening to eight hours of music a day. >> reporter: seriously? >> yes. reporter: and what were the records? do you remember what you were listening to? >> yeah. oh, i remember them. i remember sam and dave "hold on i'm coming." i remember that one. ♪ hold hold on ♪ >> otis redding. little richard records, which i loved. he was so off the hook and exploding with insanity. ♪ wop bop a loo bop a lop aaaagghh ♪ >> i was taken to a child psychologist about this. he came to the conclusiothat i-- i should be kept back in school, that i was slow. but i know that my mother says that she came back feeling like
the doctor was wrong, and that i was just creative. reporter: his mom, scotty, whose picture once graced the sleeve of a ben folds five single, was only 21 at the time. but she was old enough to be right about her son. it's all spelled out in folds's new memoir, which he bigned for faore a recent show. it's called "a dream about lightning bugs: a life of music and cheap lessons." in it he's generous with praise for those who inspired him during his north carolina chilood. >> reporter: you named your good teachers in your book. ac yes! because my good rs changed my life. >> reporter: and yet, you write about beg on the verge of being kicked out all the time or-- >> yeah. >> reporter: --being a d-student. nd i was alternately awful well ahead. i was crawlin' out the window, i was skipn' school all the time. and skipped school in, like, tenth grade ancame up, uh, to new york with my friend. i mean, it's dangerous. people, like, offering you drugs and taking you to strip clubs, right, in-- in-- in the middle of, uh-- you know. i was kind of young for that.
♪ it's okay you don't have to pay ♪ i've got all the change >> reporter: for all that, his book offers fans no rock star tale of drugs and groupies.br nor does i with intimate stories of his four marriages, or his being the father of twins. rather, it's about a wise-guy kid with an ear for melody who brought a punk sensibility to the kind of group that had never had one: the piano trio. ♪ ♪ but this punk also wrote astute pop lyrics in the everyday language to.fans could relate ♪ 'cause everybody knowit ucks to grow upnd ♪verybody does so weird to be back here ♪ >> it was important for me to strip awayhe formality of
songs.ar rosered, violets are blue, yeah, girl you're-- that's ju-- that stuff just gets the way. ♪ she's a brick and i'm drowning slowly ♪ >> reporter: some of his songs are autobiographical. >>nty girlfriend and i, preg in high school, and we went and got an abortion all by ourselves. we didn't tell adults. we were all alone. and i wrote about a song about that later. ♪ they call her name at 7:30 ♪ i pace around the parking lot ♪ and i walk down to buy her flowers ♪ >> reporter: that song was called "brick." it was the one that put ben folds five on the map in 1997. but we're getting ahead. for now he had an education to complete. and while young ben's academic record may have been spotty, his musical talentever in
doubt. he got a full scholarship tosi study perc at the university of miami. >> i considered the school the doorway to the world where they maded usic. but i southern accent and at miami they were all new york kids. ati was so intimidated by and then so i come in with thisc drum set, i paid precisely ol7 for, i saved up for over a summer, which is aplywood kit that was falling apart. the other kids had seally nice drs. uh, those things were horrifying to me. it was horrifying not to be dressed the right way. i didn't have the right t-irt. didn't have the right shoes. what i'm not so proud of is that i lost the scholship because i got into somethin' that could be described as a fight, but was more of me just gettin' myself beaten up really badly and goin' to the hospital all night.r: >> repor fellow student beat him up. folds broke his hand on the wall trying to punch back. the next morning was his final exam. >> and i had been up all night. i had been drunk the night i got dropped off in a police car,
uood still on-- on me. and i remember goito the instructor. i was like, "can i take my test next week?" and he goes, "no." you know, they made me play my major test for the year now with a-- a broken hand. i knew i'd flunked the test. and i knew by flunkin' the test i had lost my scholarship. and i threw my drum set in the lake at the moment that i realized that i flunked the test.d ama. i was very dramatic. but i got applause for throwin' 'em in the lake by all these kids who never gave me the time of day 'cause suddenly i had done somethin' that was funny and cool.ep >>ter: folds's memoir describes how "cool" was hard to come by back in north carolina,h e he got his first official gig: playing polkas in a german asrestaurant, for which he required to dress the part. l >> for a ke, tryin' to look cool growin' up, you know, like, se-- 18 years old by this time, maybe 19. and my little skinny legs stickin' out of, like, legit german ledhosen, playin' beer barrel polka for old people. i wasn't gettin' laid that year. >> reporter: the conceptf
ol-- >> yeah. >> reporter: --and being cool or not beincool runs in and out of your book. >> yeah. in my era in the '90s, beingbe cool was mbout being miserable. being cool was maybe about, um, you know, a lot of dark-- lot of dark things, not takin' things too seriously. >> reporter: well, your-- your song title, "the battle of who could care less." >> yeah. ♪ ♪ who could care less? which of you is more cool than the other because you have so much apathy. ♪ do you not hear me any more i know it's not your thing ♪ to care i know it's cool ♪ to be so bored >> reporter: and at one point you figured out that you really wanted to cultivate your own nerdiness. >> uh-huh. when i was honest about my feelings about not being cool, that really seemed to resonate with people. w ♪ never cool in school >> and i think i cultivated that then because i realized, hey,i'
speakin' for like, 80%, 90% of us who don't feel c >> reporter: besides offering insights into his work, the bool charts ben's course through more than two decades of ups and downs in the music business, including his havingm produced an alr william shatner of "star trek" fame. p and given thk sensibility, his story features a reasonable amount of bad boy behavior along the way. like the time he was on australia's midday show in 1997. >> it was a very, very naïve show, innocent, way behind the times. didn't realize that we had dirty words all in the song. and we just cussed our way through the song. at the end of it i threw my stool at the pianond stool bits went everywhere. looked very violent, but it was showbiz. if you ever youtube it it's hilarious 'cause i threw that stool, and then even the go-to-commercial break music sounds like somethin' from the '50s. it's like-- ♪ da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
like, it's just way out of time. but this was just shocking for the man who's piano it was, who happened to be the host of the show. and he was very upset. >> there's 47,000 fantastic australian groups out there trying so hard to get on and we let them on because they aret american, i doow. >> reporter: later, says folds, he became friendly with the man whose piano he assau ♪ you were not the same after that ♪ walking >> you know, one of the things my iarents could have done, was going to give them a little advice as a 52-year-old back to a 25-yr-old father, maybe a little discipline. just a little bit. >> reporter:or ben folds at 52, the onstage behavior is somewhat less raucous these days. still performing before thousands, he's less lstely to throw l than to conduct a sing-along. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
either way he's still making music his fans can relate to. >> sreenivasan: finally tonight, a somber note from iceland. mourners have placed a commemorative plaque to mark the first glacier lost to clime change. it's a process captured in these nasa satellite images. the plaque notes the date and the current levels of carbe diox the atmosphere and reads, "in the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. this monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. only you know if we did it." that's all for this edition of" pbs newshour weekend." i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. have a good night.
captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbnewshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. sue and edgar wachenheim iii. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the j.p.b. foundation. rosalind p. walter, in memory of george o'neil. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding 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: f and by the corporati public broadcasting. a private corporation funded by
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