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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  August 21, 2019 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> brangham: good evening, i'm william brangham. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight, expanding detention-- the white house moves to rewrite the rules on immigration, throwing out the caps on how long migrant families can be held in custody. plus... >> i am the chosenne. >> brangham: ...another day, another freewheeling talk with reporters. our yamiche alcindor was there and breaks down what was on the president's mind. then, icy relations. president trump abruptly cancels his upcoming visit to denmark, after the scandinavian nation decles that greenland is not for sale. and, nature trails versus oil drills-- the shifting political landscape of the western wilderness. >> there are these large landscapes that are still so intact. it's a rare thing, and i feel
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like we should rally behind that and understand what a unique area we live in. >> brangham: all that d more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbsne hour has been provided by: >> b pbel. a languagram that teaches real-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's are available as an app, or online. more information on ♪ >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives
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through inveion, in the u.s. d developing countries. on the web at rt >> supd by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful wod. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was math possible bcorporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brangham: president trump held court on the white house south lawn for more than half aw hour, ing questions on a wide-range of topics: gun laws, russia, the economy, cven birthrigizenship. there was a lot on the esesident's mind today. our white house condent
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yamiche alcindor was there and joins me now. h >> brangham: so the president covered so many different topics today. i'm so glad you were there. one of the issues i want the talk about gs the issue ofns. for just over two weeks now from o to date feelings were hurt, the president seems to have vacillated on what he wan to done background checks. he talked about that, let's listen to what he had to say. >> i have an appetite for background checks. we're working with republicans. we're working with republicans. we already he very strong background checks, but there are thopholes in the background checks. 's what i spoke to the n.r.a. about yesterday. they want to get rid of the loopholes as well as i do. at the same time, i dont to take away people's second amendment rights. >> brangham: we know th president has also been talking to the head of the national rifle association.e do you have aer sense of what the president is willing to do about guns? >> the president is clearly in lock step with the n.r. this issue when it comes to
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background checks and gun legislation overall. he's been talking frequently to wayne law pierre, the head of the n.r.a. i put the president to thees on: are you also talking to mass shooting victims. he wouldn't answer directly. he would only say, i visited them in the hospe als. he said ead of the n.r.a. wants to somehow close loopholes in the background check system. and that's completely not what the n.a. says. on its own website it says they oppose extenng any sort of background checks. they take issue with the idea that there are any sort of gun loopholes in the system right now. now critics would say that's completely not true. inact, they would sa online sales and at gun shows person-to-person privan sales, you don't need background checks for that. so that's why a lot of people want universal background checks, but the president so far is not supporting that issue some we're goingo have to see where the president goes to 'sis, but it's clear he leaning toward whatever the n.r.a. wants to support. >> brangham: for the secoin
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da row, the question seemed to question the loyalty of jewish americans who support democrats. let's listen to what he said ntout that. >> they don't o fund israel. they want to take away foreign aid to israel. they want to do a lot of bad things to israel. m opinion, you vote for a democrat, you're being very disloyal to jewish people and you're being very disloyal to israel. and only weak people would say anything other than th. >> brangham: how did the president respond to the criticism that when you start talking out loyaltyn relation tolú that relies on some pretty anti-semitic ideas? >> the president completely doubled down on his attacks on american jews and did not ba away from the idea that if they vote for democrats that they arl al and they are not using good knowledge in doing some it's important to note just how many american jews support democrats. about 75% of american jews supported democrats in the midterms and overwhelminglyw american jsupport democrats overall.
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it's important to also note that the president when he was asked about whether or not some of hi words might be anti-semitic, he said he hadn't heard that criticism, but it's important to also look at the groups that are calling the president out, the anti-defamation league criticized him for using those word people are saying it's anti-semitic to say you are disloyal. also j street, a liberal advocacy group that's involved in the isaeli-palestinian conflict called the president's words dangerous and shameful. whilthe president is no backing down, jewish leaders and civil rights groups are saying the prident should not be using this language. >> you have been watching thisr president long time. today it seemed like he really did have a lot of anger and furt and fiat he was shooting a to the democrats. do you have a sense of what's driving that? >>he president is really i think making the case for his 2020 election. he is trng to posit himself as the only person who can fix the country's ills and the democrats have led the country astray.
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you see thawhen he talked out denmark and he canceled his trip. maybe denmark could have called out the country with president obama, but with me as president, that's not going to happen. same thing onmmigration. he said falsely president obama separated immigrant children. that's not true, but he said democrats are letting open borders and letting all sorts of im'sgrants in. thlso not true. but it comes down to the president's strategy when it comes to r he has to say democrats are trying to destroy your way of life in order to what he thinkst is bringhe turnout in his voters. >> brangham: yamiche, we'll talk about those immigration issues and denmark later in the show. thanks. >>anks. >> brangham: in the day's other news, before president trump spoke, china cald for the u.s. to meet it halfway on a trade deal. a foreign ministry spokesman in beijing said the tariff war is hurting both countries.
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he said the u.s. should follow china's example in approaching trade talks. >> ( translated ): china has a good reputation for abiding by international treaties. the united states,n contrast, often breaks promises, overthrows consensus and violates rules. a country that habitually goes back on its word, breaks its promises and withdraws from treaties has no right at all to talk about fulfilling commitments with china. >> brangham: the two countries are scheduled to hold their next round of trade talse in ember. protesters in hong kong staged a sit-in today at the station where pro-democracy supporters were attacked last month.ot police with hields faced off with the crowd at the station entrance. protesters in turn, sprayed fire extinguishers to slow their approach. two more american servicemembers have been killed in afghanistan. nato aounced the deaths today, but gave no details. and the death toll from saturday's suicide bombing in r bul rose to 80, as more victims died of thunds. the islamic state group has claimed responsibility.
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wildfires kept burning today across brazil, and president jair bolsonaro suggested it's the work of non-profit groups that oppose his amazon development policy. he gave no evidence to support the claim. more than 74,000 fires have t ravaged brazs year, up 80% from last year. smoke conditions in sao paulo and elsewhere. in australia, roman catholic cardinaleorge pell will stay behind bars, after a court denied his appeal. last march, the former vatican finance minister was sentenced to six years in jail for sexually abusing two choir boys in the 1990's. today, an appeals court in melbourne ruled 2 to 1 to uphold the convictions, based on testimony by one of the victims. >> justice maxwell and i cepted the prosecution's submission, that the complainan wary compelling witness was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness ot
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he did not seek to embellish his evidence, or tailor it in a manner favorable to the prosecution. >> brangham: pell is the highest ranking catholic world-wide to ybe found guilty of sexua abusing children. he could still appeal to austlia's highest court. back in this coury, president trump ordered fast action to cut through red tape and wipe out federal student loan debt for some 25,000 disabled american veterans. signed the order at the "am- vets" national convention in louisville, kentucky. and, he said veterans won't be taxed on the forgiven debt. the action affects a fraction of one percent of overall student loan dt in the u.s., which exceeds $1.5 trillion. new numbers on the nation's fiscal outlook say federal deficits are surging. the coressional budget office projected today the red ink will top $1 trillion a year, starting next year. and, deficits over the next decade will beore than $800 billion higher than expected.
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it cited the recent budget deal that lifted the debt limit and eliminated planned spending cuts. on wall street today, stocks jumped after major retailers reported strong earnings. the dow jones industrial average gained 240 points to close at 26,202. the nasdaq rose 71 points, and the s&p 500 added nearly 24. still to come on the newshour: how will the white house's new immigration rules impact families seeking asylum? icy relations between president trump and denmark after the scandinavian nation refuses to put greenland up for sale. breaking down the issues facing ite native american commun and much more. >> brangham: in his effort to crack down on immigration along the southern border, the president has repeatedly tried to change how the government
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detains migrants. today his administration went further an it has before, announcing big changes to the regulations that have been in place for decades. the president's team says the overhaul was not only overdue and legally required, but that it will lead to more humane conditns. migrant advocates say it'll do the opposite. today's move effectively paves the way for the indefinite detention of migrant childn and their families, until their immigration cases are decided. acting homeland security secretary kevin mcaleenan announced the change. >> at thheart of this new rule are two core principles: that es should remain togethe during immigration proceedings and that conditions for care ofl en must be appropriate. >> brangham: the new regulation would end the current standard,l the sod flores agreement. since 1997, that federal court settlement required the ivvernment to hold children in the least restrisetting possible, establish welfare standards, and release them
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within about 20 days. as a result, migrant families were often released into the u.s. while their asylum requests worked their way through the court system. >> the purpose of holding individuals in administrative custody during immon proceedings is to get an immigration result as expeditisly as possible. there is no intent to hold families for a long period of time. in fact we have the pr experience that shows we were able to average under 50 days. that is the intent for a fair but expeditious immigration proceeding. >> brangham: mcaleenan said children will also be better protected unr the new regulation. >> no child should be a pawn in a scheme to manipulate our immigration system which is why the new rule eliminates the inasntive to exploit childre a free ticket or as one gentleman from guatemala told me, 'a passport for migration to the united states.'" >> brangham: president trump today eced his support for this rule change. >> president obama and others brought the families apart but i'm the one that kept the families together. with what we're doing now, wll do even more of that but make
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it'll make it almost impossible for people to come into our country illegally. >> brangham: while president ama did prosecute some migrant adults, neither he nor his predecessor enacted masss separati families. in recent months, border officials have been overwhelmed by the massive influx of families and children fleeing violence and poverty in central america. u.s.ustoms and border protection estimates more than 432,000 mily units were taken into custody from october through july alone. most were released in the u.s. that's a 456% increase over the same period last year. mcaleenan said some migrants will now go to family residential centers that have higher standards than current overcrowded border facilities. >> ty are campus-like settin with appropriate medical, educational, recreational, dining, and privathousing facilities. for example, the first family
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residential center in berks, pa has suites where each family is housed separately. >> brangham: ice currently has three such fily residential centers, but they're already nearing full capacity. the juice department, in its announcement, said the flores nlagreement was originally supposed to remain in place for five years. 2 in001 the parties agreed to terminate the policy after a final rulemaking, but no previous administration issued a final rule until now. house speaker nancy pelosi blasted the change: "the ministration is seeking to codify child abuse, plain and simple." meanwhile, the congressionalau hispanics also denounced the move, saying, "they're punishing vulnerable families as if they are criminals, when they're asylum seekers fleeing violence, gangs,ape, and murder." the new regulation will be t published federal register friday and go into effect 60 days later. legal challenges are expected within days. let's explain in greater detail what the flores agreement does and how these changes could play
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out. we get the perspective of a o has visited many of the current detention centers. warren binford is thdirector of the clinical law program at willamette university college of law in salem, oregon. she was part of the team that visited one center in clint, texas this summer and strongly criticized the conditions she witnessed. w ren binford, welcome back to the newshour. i wonder if you could just give me your reaction to what the administration is proposing today. >> unfortunately, william, i'mqu e horrified in hearing what the administration is proposing. indefinite detention of children is something that we saw in in i aparsouth africa, it's something we saw in nazi rmany. it's nmething we would ever expect to see in 21st century america. >> brangham: those ar pretty harsh comparisons to make. if you listen to secretary mcaleenan today, he said these will be bter conditions. children will be housed withpa theints. he seems to paint a picture that is much better than the
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conditions that you were here on the newshour this summer worried abat. >> it's noquestion of conditions at this point, because there is no question that we need to make sure that when the children are in government custody that they need to be well cared for. the issue is that children don't belong in government custody to begin with. children are not supposed to be detained. this is one of the fundamental values of floor rest is that children areseupto be released and place with their family in the united states asti expesly as possible. what the administration is trying to do is to throw out the very heaflores, which is children are not supposed to be detained. >> brangham: the adnistration args that flores is outdated, they. have the legal authority to do, this id not,dministrations and if they keep to the spirit of flores, that they have the t.thority to do tha you don't think that's true? >> well, i think the administrations telling the truth in that flores was never intended to prmanent, that
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it was the responsibility of the administration and it's also been the osponsibilityf congress to establish standards for the care of children consistent with flores. my criticism is that the regulations that have been proposed, they're no resemblance, not only to the third of fres, which they flagrantly violate, but also to the ctndamental prons there, as well. so basically what this is is a gutting of flores and saying that despite the legal holdings over the last 30 years in thicas se as well as the research that's been done with regard to child welfare and chi health that, you know, children are not supposed to be detained indefinitely. and that's basically what this administration is is trying to . >> brangham: what are the specifics? you said this would violate flores. we still don't know wh the final rules are. we won't know that until friday. how is it threeiolating flores? >> well, in several wails. the most obvious is the proposal
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that they detain children at all.t children are npposed to be detained. this hurts children, and we need to care for these children in a way that places them in the least restrictive environment possible. thatan what the law provide that is, you know, with families and normal homes. sohhat's first way thatis violates the children's rights. the second way that this visates the children's rig is that it not only is proposing that children be deandandtainedt they be detained unlicensed facilities. the government has no facilities licensed to care for families, so they're talking about the federal government regulate and monitor itself. we've already seen whppens when there is no one monitoring thfacilities on a reular basis. i've seen that with my own eyes and it's a horrendous situation. a third way is that they're talking about having these children have to put togetheres their court caithin a matter of days or weeks. and the fact is that we knowse that thildren in order to put together their asylum cases, they're going to need the
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assistance of attorneys. they're going to have the gather their evidence. need the make sure these children's due process rights are protected. so we're seing multiple violations of these children's rights. >> brangham: one of the arguments that the administration makes is that under the current agreement that people who wanted to migrate illegally to the united states knew that this system existed, th they couldn't be kept for very long in a center in theth u.s., ant it was in esunderstand a magnet that it was drawing people to the u because of this system that offered baically catch and release as the president likes to put it. is there any evidence that's thrue, that this is a magnet? >> i have never seen any evidence of that. what i know is the reason mosoft hese children are coming to the united states is they're being threatened with murder,r they're being eatened with g xual assault, sexual violence, they're experiencmestic violence. we are seeing ineffective governments or a gang
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reganizations, criminal organizations thataking other these children's streets where they live, the schools they attend, and coming to their very homes and threatening their lives. these children are simply trying to survive. this is notn opportunistic migration that we're seeing but rather an attempt by these children to survive what are very violent threats at home. m brangham: another argument the administraties is that the system we have now helps fuel human trafficng comg across our border is. there evidence for that? >> new york i'm not seeing any ed of that at all. as a matter of fact, child that i interviewed in the border patrol facilities in june came over with a family member and there washi only one ld whom i interviewed who it appeared had come other wit ch ayote. when we treat those illegally, those are not coidered to be human trafficking. having an adult with you does not make that person a trafficker. i think that really detracts from the very real issue of
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human trfficking for the administration to so disingenuously try to present these children as being trafficked when, in fact, their parents and family members are trying to simply get them to fe homes in the united states. and you have to remember that 40% of these chiprldren imately have a legal right to be here in the united states. so to pretend these children are being trafficked is really too these children a disservice. >> brangham: warren binford, thank you very mucrefor being >> thank you, william. >> brangham: in the age of trump, tweets often announce offici decisions. and last night it happened again, when the president declared he would not travel to denmark in 10 reason: danish leadership refused to discuss selling greenland for and thusmassive ice- covered island and danish autonomous territory in the north atlantic, marked another frigid moment in u.s. n lations
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withly. special correspondent malcolm brabant reports from copenha>>n. eporter: the meticulous traditions of the danish kingdom were trotting on as usual today as news spread of the white house snub. horses from the royal ables would have been used during donald trump's trip had he maintained his plan. a former danish prime minister claims the americans had pushed for a formal state visit, with all its ceremony and grandeur. the american ambassador even promoted the visit on twitter hours before mr. trump tweeted that sine greenland wasn't for the dealing, he wouldn't be coming.nt so presiderump's rebuff is seen here as being doubly fensive, especially to the danish queen margrethe. at her main copenhagennc resi a spokeswoman would only say they were according toh royal experts, that's palace speak for being livid. the danish prime minister mette frederiksen delivered what she thought was a restrained response.
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>> i have been looking forwarded to visit. our preparations were well under way. a discussion has however been about a potential sale of green hasn't. this has clarly been rejected. this does n change the character of our good relations. >> reporter: but her comments over the ps reporter: but her comments over the weekend the president. >> denmark, i look forward to going, but i thought that the prime mi it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea was nasty. i thought was an inappropriate statement. all she had to do was say no we wouldn't be interested, but we can't treat u theted states of america the way they treated us under president obama. i thought it was a very not nice way of saying something.
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>> reporter: in response the danish prime minister says she won't engage in a verb war. but rufus gifford, the former u.s. ambassador to denmark, has gone on the offensive. >> it's embarrassing, itte abso is, but i think the bigger shame here is as i getm reaction fnes this morning, there's not the level of outrage i wish there was that this is met with a collective eye roll of sorts, tis is just donald trump being donald >> reporter: that eye-rolling is evident on the streets of copenhagen i eard it was because he couldn't buy greenland. so, if he's that stupid, i think it's good that he's not coming. >> reporter: jon burgwald is an expert on e arctic region, and advises one of the left leaning parties in the danish parliament. >> what he obviously doesn't understand is that greenland is a sovereign country. with its own government, its own parliament, it's own judicial system. but at the same time it shows that he has no understanding whatsoever of to be honest,
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inrnational politics and diplomacy and just how other >> reporter: the danes and greenlanders may believe that's buying the worargest island is absurd. but the controversy has had the impact of concentrating mis at the very highest level. n the formo secretary general anders fogh rasmussen tweeted today that the ¡arctic's security and environmental challenges are too important to be consideongside hopeless discussions like the sale of greenland.' on twitter mr. trump again lit into denmark about its defense spending as part of nato and lambasted other alliance members. >> i think trump is digging a big hole for the u.s. with f europe, most anti european and anti-nato leader that we have had. >> reporter: nicholas burns was a career u.s. diplomat and ambassador to nato during the obama administration. he's now at harvard university. >> i think this is the worst treatment of an american ally ba an amepresident in our lifetime. i can't think of anything
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remotely like this. 0,denmark contributed over00 soldiers over 17 years in afghanistan, they've lost soldiers there they have been with us in every major conflict for the past 100 years. >>rseporter: many greenlande have been offended by president trump, but aaja chemnitz larsen, one of t lawmakers representing the territory in the danish parliament, is taking a more positive view. >> i think it would be quite interesting to get him to greenland instead because it shows a clear interest in greenland if you look at the process so i think in many ways it puts greenland in a good position even though it's been >> reporter: so why is greenland suddenly demanding everyone's attention? the short answer is climate change. this is ilulissat onreenland's west coast opposite canada which spawns icebergs of the size that sank the titanic. >> where we are right now we see the stranded icebergs. they are coming from the main jakobsound glacier up the fjord, sixty kilometres inland.e
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these are ggest icebergs that get stranded here. >> reporter: professor reneor forsberg with nasa and thero eupean space agency to monitor climate change. >> the greenland ice sheet mass loss has been accelerating and it has been accelerati the last 20 years. you can see that from space, you can see that from the measurements we do. there's a t of untapped potential in the minerals domain and when the ice sheet retreats the edgego sort of closer to the center of the ice and you do expose new areas.te >> rep this mining project in southern greenland is a urce of potential riches it's backed heavily by chinese investors who want to access rare earth metals used in mobile phone and other advanced technologies. the area also has large uranium depots. the company behind the project predicts a possible annual income of $700 mlion. there's concern in the u.s. and denmark that if china gets a commercial foothold in greenland, it will mutate into governmental interference in the arctic.
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recently, china was in the running to build three new airports in greenland, but was blocked when, at america's insistence, denmark stepped in with the necessary finance. the united states operates the thule air base in greenland which provides early missile s warning, spaveillance and control. having chinese neighbors would have been most unwelcome. the melting ice cap is opening up new shipping routes across t the top world up which means shorter voyages for vessels carrying chinese goods. assia is also fiercely competitive in ttic. while greenland is not for sale. it is open for business to america, president trump. we of would like to have collaboration with the u.s. both when we talk about defense, but especially when we talkin aboustment. >> reporter: but greenland is a difficult landscape with a harsh climate anpoto realize its ntial treasures will require time and patience, quali aes not normalociated with the
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trump white house. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant. >> brangham: this week, native dierican voters got more attention from ctes than they have in years. lisa desjardins has more on the presidential forum whi drew those candidates and the issues native voters are voicing. >> desjardins: first a reminder out this country's native population. as many knowit is most concentrated in western areas, but is present in every part of the country, including large cities. less well known-- the fact that indian reservations and alaska native villages make up more than 100 million acres across the country. on its own, that would be the fourth-largest state. at the same time, native americans also face the highes poverty rate in this country, more than 20%. so there was much to discuss when nine democrats vying to be
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president spoke at this week's forum on native american issues in sioux city iowa from the candidates and rising native american leaders. >> t murdered indigenous women has been a silent crisis for far too long. >> we need thonor our trust and treaty obligations to the native tribes. >> in every single claroom in america we need to be teaching about native history ang >> desjardins: i'm joined now by mark trahant. he moderated the presidentia forum and is the editor of "indian country today," a newspaper that is now owned by the national cgress of american indians. mark, you were the emcee. from where you sat, what stood out at this forum? >> i think the maitan eaway is that there are so many issues that just don't get into the public discourse that really ought to. these are stories that would benefit all americans to be able to understand and aciate not just the history but the context of today, one example would be
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one of the issues that all of the cidates address was that of honors and medals given those massacred at wounded knee. every candidate would like thse medals revoked. but that's not a story out there in the publidiscourse. >> desjardins: i know there is legislation in congress about that. i'm wondering, what issues do you think matter most to natives americans right now? >> the very first one that came up every time is treaty rights. counder thnstitution, treaties are the supreme law of the land, yet often those trteaties are no funded. they are not executed the way the tribes would like to see it. one part, for example, would be nearly every treaty talks about healthcare, and yet the indian health svice and the system is come pollutely underfunded. >> desjardins: this leaves large gaps every year. so 40% to 50% of natives depend
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on that system. violence.sue the rates of violence for native people is much higher than the rest ofmeca, especially indigenous women. part of that issue is the bureaucracy, the fact that federal prosecutors oversee most major crimes in indian country, yet they don't really spend time in indian country. how do you think or at proposals are out there to try to stench that incredibly high violence rate. >> one cadidate elizabeth warren came straight out and said the oliphant decision,wa whica supreme court decision that said tribes could not prosecute non-ind be reversed legislatively. and that would give tribes the right to prosecute for all crimes on reservations. in fact, another candidate said that it's the same when you are traveling throughout europe. each government has he said it should be the same for tribal governments. so that would be a very simple fix to let tribes do that.
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>> desjardins: something else to ask you about is the courts. how important are federal courtf in termsight and regulations affecting indian country. >> the federal court system haso an enormous t of influence in indian country. so many of the laws are federal laws. out of 3,600le arthree judge, there is only one native american district court judge in arizona, and one out of 3,600 seems a little bit absurd in country like this. >> desjardins: i'm curious, tell me about how many candidates have shown up in the past, and what bright spots do you see for our indigenous population politically? >> there has only been one oter presidential forum like this 12 years ago. i was the moderator of that one, as well. that one only had three candidates, governorl richardson, representative dennis kucinich, and for snort mike ravel.
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this one is elevated bstantially with major candidates being involved. i think what's important about that is it brings life to thesue that just don't get the attention normally in the media. one of the funny ings about tie change with will the election lasme of deb holland and cherice davis is congress now ha better record in media in terms of representation by about double. desjardins: it's still not proportional, right? there are now four nativen americans in cess? >> proportional would be at least seven in the house and twt in the se so there remains a long way to go. there was a reay interesting development this week on this, and this goes back to the idea of treaty rights. several treaties have a delegate to congress as part of theio prov and the cherokee nation has appointed a delegate and says they would like the send a delegate to the conrdgre. >> dess: i'm going to be watching that, asil wl we all. mark trahant from indian country
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today. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, lisa. >> brangham: a recent studyhe published inournal "science" found that the trump administration is responsible for the largest reduction of federally protected land in u.s. history. he's moved to shrink national monuments such as bears ears and ase escalante in utah. jeffrey brown has the story of a fight over land in central montana about the tension between conservation and development, and what it could mean for the future of all of america's public lands. it's part of our regular segmenn he "leading edge" of science. >> brown: it's a landscape of rugged mountains, vast grasslands and tree-covered slopes. in this part of central montana, there's hardly a human in sight. wildlife can be hard to spot, b to the area is home to populations of elk and sage grouse, as well as migratory birds.
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it's a paradise for hikers andro hunters, likand katy beattie of lewistown, montana. >> we usually like t out into some of these areas and take big, long walks with the dogs. we look specifically for these big tracts of land that don't have roads in ¡em and that are harder access for other people. and then we go way back into them, hoping to find a deer that maybe hasn't seen a person in its lifetime. >> brown: this is public land-- just a fraction of the 245 million acres in the united states administered by the bureau of land management, or b.l.m. now, though, a familiar question hangs above this terrain: how best to use and protect it? land fights in the west over energy production and conservation have gone on forever, of course. but this one, like so much else, is now caught up in today's political divides. in 2014, under president obama,. the identified some
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200,000 acres in central montana as having "wilderness characteristics." but in may, more than two years after president trump took office, the agency released a draft of its new "preferred plan" for managing that land, and none was set aside for prection. instead, the plan would open more tn a million acres to oil and gas exploration. and it calls for eliminating eight existing so-called "areas of critical environmental concern." these spaces require special protection for wildlife, history, culture or scenery. conservationists have cried fo, saying guidance from career professionals was ignored. aubrey bertram is a field director for the montana wilderness association. she says the b.l.m.'s longstanding mission to allow¡ multiple use' of public land-- a range of activities commeral and recreational-- is under threat. >> we're seeing a prioritizati
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of oil and gas over all othert uses and t not multiple use. when we when we put these extractive industries on the landscape that that impact doesn't go away, that stays on the landscape for a really, really, really lonabtime. it it the integrity of the land. and it's also really about the integrity of the public process. >> brown: what changed? al nash is the spokesperson for the bureau's montana-dakotas state office. >> our documents need to reflect those current policies and this draft document does. >> brown: so this is-- elections do matter, right? >> i've worked under a number of admistrations, a number of interior secretaries. each of those brings its own yphasis and perspective a do see change from year to year or four years to four years.s itrt of our american political landscape. >> brown: meanwhile, the nra plan has wone from montana's oil and gas industri. >> we agree with everybody else. this is public land and itou
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be open to the public. but we are a part of that public. >> brown: alan olson is executive director of the montana petroleum association. he said the b.l.m. is now leveling a playing fld that was tipped too far in favor of conservation under president obama. >> we've got land that's preserved. we've got it. why do we need to keep dying the death of a thousand cuts? >> brown: you're saying you don't think we need morelo protection oof wilderness areas. the other side says we don't need more energy production. >> every tesla that's manufactured is hauled on the back of a diesel truck or behind a diesel locomotive. if they're riding bicycles, those tires come from oil. if we didn't have the petroleum industry, farmers would be farming behind a team of mul and not sitting in a tractor. >> brown: even so, b.l.m.'s own assessment of this land indicates it has little or no potential for more oil and gas
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development, at least r the time being. one wonders, why bother opening it up then to that kind production? >> it is part of our mandate to look at those opportunities and make them available. but ultimately in our analysis available, it's extraordinarily unlikely that there would be leasing or any significant development. >> brown: and at's looking at changing technology because this is going to last for several decades? >> it's based on our bes information and our best analysis looking out 20 >> brown: the two sides grapple over this part of central montana, there's a broader battle playing out over the future of all public lands in the u.s. last month, the b.l.m. announced plans to move its headquarters and most of its staff from washington to grand junction, colorado. the department of interior said the location is "closer to the western lands the agency is tasked to care for. this move will make the bureau
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of land management stronger, more responsive, better informed, more accountable and more in touch with the people who matter."t bumike penfold sees it dinoerently. w retired, penfold directed the b.l.m. state offices both for montana-dakotas and alaska. he was also an assistant director in the b.l.m.'s national >> it's ridicu it's purposeful. it's purposeful. it's directed to make this totally a political arm washington d.c. and not t representing what the, we people feel out in the field. >> brown: you're afraid they're moving the people who actually know something out of washington.ct >> e. >> brown: even more concerning, penfold sa the recent appointment of william perry pendley as acting b.l.m. director. pendley is a conservative lawyer who's advocated for selling public lands. "n 2016, he wrote in the national review, "e founding fathers intended all lands owned by theederal government to be
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sold." he also said in a tweet this year: "fracking is an energy, economic, and environmental miracle!" >> that's li putting the arsonist in charge of the fire department. and i'm a, i'm a multiple use guy. i probably made more timber sales than most guys. i sold more oil and gas thanuy i've leased more coal than most guysn my career. i'm not a lock everything up kind of a guy. >> brown: you're just afraid it's out of balance. >> it's out of balance. s> brown: pendley unavailable for an on-camera interview, but an interior department spokesperson said in a statement: "the department adamantly opposes the wholesale sale or transfer of public w landch is also perry's position as he exercises the authority of the b.l.m. director. back in lewistown, however, the beatties remain concerned about the future of the public lands they frequent. it's so large, so big, the land. isn't there room for-- isn't the argument that there's room for everhing?
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>> i think that that's why it'si soe and why we love it, is because there are these large landscapes that are still so intact. and it's, it's a rare thing. and i feel like we shoulehkind of rallyd that and understand what a unique area we live in. >> brown: the bureau is expected to release its final plan early next year. for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brn in central montana. >> brangham: and we'll be back
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ve >> brangham: summer, a handful of interns are selected from hundreds of applicants to camp in primitive conditions on a tiny, treeless islanral miles off the maine coast. as susan sharon of pbs station ei"maine public" reports, job is to monitor atlantic puffins and other vulnerable seabirds. i >> reporter:takes about 30 minuteby boat to reach eastern egg rock. dr. stephen ess, founder of the national audubon society's project puffin, has lock of the number of times he's made the trip. he's been doing it for 46 years. today 's dropping off supplies for the island's five interns and researchssistants who come from all over the world. sarah guitart is the crew lead. >> things are changing and we
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are here potentially documenting that change and trying to figure out what are the quest we need to be asking. and how do we get the information out of these seabirds. >> reporter: puffi are the reason this project started. they're cute and colorful, but by the late 1800's they'd largely disappeared from this gion, killed off by hunters. more than a century later, puffins have returned with hp from humans. >> so this little puffin chick is about five weeks old.n i call that by the lack of down on it. >> reporter: in 1973, with permission from the government kress began transporting chicks from a healthy colony in newfoundland to easteregg rock. the pioneering effort paid off and expanded. there are now 1300 puffins ling on five maine islands >> we've worked very hard to build this colony up. it's still very small colony.
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it's still extremely vulnerable to things that can happen out here. >> reporter: those things asn include diand threats from predators like gulls, which the interns occasionly have to sht. it's a last resort to protect puffin eggs and chicks from being but there's noing they can do about the rapidly warming gulf of maine. twice a y they take sea surface temperatures to look for thchanges that might affec food chain. in some parts of the world puffins and other seabirds are starving in the absence of small fish. >> it's like 62 degrees. so this morning it was 60 degrees so it got a little warmer, but it's not like abnormal. >> reporter: the job requires carefully observing birds' nesting and feeding habits. all the data is then recorded and taken back to the island's central station. >> so this is the egg rock. hilton
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>> reporter: between may and august the hilton is where the interns relax when they're aren't working and where they cook their meals. >> we have a two-top stove that heated by propane. got a nice little kitchen counter. we got a cooler, which is great. >> reporter: out here, electricity is limited and there is no running water. the birds' noise is constant, d en at night. are their droppings. but michael rickershau former auto mechanic from long island, doesn't mind. >> it was sort of a dream come true to work out her it's something special. it's more than seeing a picture or reading a book. >> reporter: something special that remains dependent on an adequate number of small fish and a few dedicated interns to keep predators at bay. for the pbs newshour, i'm susan sharon on eastern egg rock, of the coast of maine. >> brangham: and that's the
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newshour for tonight. i'm william brangham. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> text night and day. t. catch it on replay. >> burning some >> sharing the latest viral cat! >> you can do the things you like to do with a wireless plan designed for with talk, texdata. consumer cellular. learn more at >> babbel. a language learning app that uses speech recognition technology and teaches real-life conversations. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutionsin anviduals.
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. pd by contributions to yo station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, c captioned by media access group at wgbh ♪
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narrator: squirrels. t one smartest, most adaptable, most successful creatures on the planet. what are the secrets of their winning ways? there are squirrels that can survive a deep freeze... [ squeaking ] ...communicate in complex langues... and outwit their greatest enemies. now we'll explore their in incredible talents by working with the experts. ar full: squirrelone of the most agile animals on earth. jacobs: this is a really special animal. it's kind of a three- dimensional, spatial genius. narrator: and see the world through the eyes of an orphan, as he develops the skills he needs to get back to the wild.


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