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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 31, 2019 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm nick schifrin. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight, backlash. the u.s. embassy compound in iraq is stormed as tensions in the region rise. then, behind taliban lines. life among the enemy in america's longest war. >> ( translated ): sometimes the boys join the taliban because of what they go through in the situation here. it affects them inside when their relatives were killed. >> schifrin: plus, the high and lows of the decade that was. expansive growth and rising inequality-- an economic review of the last 10 years. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible bthe corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> schifrin: a tense new year has dawned in baghdad after u.s. air strikes against an iranian- backed militia, led today to one of the worst attacks on a u.s. embassy in years. dozens of shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the outer gate of baghdad's sprawling u.s. embassy compound.
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they burned a reception area and security trailers, but eventually retreated after u.s. marines fired tear gas, and iraqi forces helped with the disbursement. the protest was in response to sunday's u.s.' air strikes against that same militia. the u.s. blames the militia for a rocket attack that killed an american defense worker. today the pentagon said it is sending more marines to baghdad. and president trump blamed iran. iran has denied any role. on the ground from baghdad is washington post reporter mustafa salim, who has been reporting from the u.s. embassy throughout the day. i spoke to him a short while ago by telephone. muchtsa, you were outside the embassy, you posted video on twitters, what did you see. >> they broke into the reception office of the embassy and they said and they set up fire around all the embassy.
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and then the forces who did nothing at the beginning showed up and tried to get between them and the americans. and the americans trieto push them away by throwing tear gas and small grenades in order to push them away. now proffer they are not leavine american troops will go away. >> schifrin: so what were these protesters demanding, exactly? >> so they are demanding the embassy will be shut down and the u.s. troops will go from iraq. >> schifrin: they're promising to stay at the embassy till their demands are met? >> they are. they have food, blankets, pillows and they're safe. >> schifrin: last question, how do we know, or do we know how wide they got so far? do we have any sense of whether the police were in on it and
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whether government officials were behind some of the protesters? >> some police in the parliame parliament, they were with them. they led the movement. >> schifrin: mustafa salim from "the washington post" reporting outside the embassy all day. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> schifrin: for more on the latest developments in iraq we get two views. bilal wahab is a fellow at the washington institute for near east policy, a foreign policy think tank. and kirsten fontenrose is director of the middle east security initiative at the atlantic council. she previously served as senior director for gulf affairs othe national security council staff during the trump administration. bilal, how connected is hezbollah to iran? >> the closest any militia can get to iran, that is a documentary that iran has made celebrating the leader of h hezbollah in which he clearly says that he sees himself as a
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member of the larger iranian-led resistance against the united states and israel. >> schifrin: so christine krists that believe iran is attacking the embassy? >> we believe it is a direct relationship. we also know the number two deputy announced yesterday that they have the backing from tehran, the thumbs up from tehran to go full throttle against our forces in iraq. >> schifrin: let's talk about the last couple of days, the strikes on sunday. we were talking to you earlier. you said the u.s. is falling into an iranian trap, that there's now a proxy war between the u.s. and iran inside of iraq. >> iran managed to put the united states in a position of, you know, damned if you act and damned if you do not respond. there have been eleven attacks on iraqi military bails that house american military
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advisors. eleven such attacks and the iraqi government failed to protect or even investigate thoroughly who those attackers were. so the united states was put in a position to defend itself, and i think that's an inherent right. nonetheless, there's a protest movement against the militias in iraq demanding their freedom nd democracy that started u as of october 1, it's been going on for three months, and part and parcel of that protest movement was the nefarious influence that these militias played by defying the iraqi sovereignty and state, and by indulging in foreignism that has brought external attacks on iraq. so in a way by having today's protests at the embassy, they have managed to turn themselves from purpose administrators into victims, and that's why this u.s. attack is a part of the
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larger strategy of deterring iran and forcing accountability into these unruly militias, then that's a positive thing. but the iraqis fear, the iraqi reformists fear this is a one-off that will divert attention from the protest movement for reform into the grievous of the militia. >> schifrin: i was talking to iraqi officials over the last day and a half and they point out what bilal wahab was saying, a protest movement against iran in the center of baghdad and instead of talking about that, these strikes mean we have been talking about u.s. in iraq and that is against u.s. national interests. >> absolutely, and entirely in iran's strategic interests. when their proxies attack and the u.s. reciprocates against them, iran loses nothing, no iranians die in the attacks, no iranian infrastructure is harmed in the attacks and iraqi resentment for u.s. in iraq
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grows. so this is in iran's interest we are not paying attention that the iraqis are protesting against iran and hezbollah on attempts to reform their own government. you have remnants of a government that are all iranian-braked and controlled still calling the shots and all international tension is now on what the u.s. is doing instead of what the iraqi people really want. >> schifrin: so has the u.s. fallen into a trap? >> it's not that we've fallen into a trap as a country. i don't thinwe have a choice right now because we do have men d women on the ground now sitting in harm's way. we have not given them the authorities to respond previously. we haven't as a country legislated to allow kinetic action against the iranian network. so we have a training mission in iraq to work with the iraqi forces and they do not have the authority to protect themselves in sufficient ways. so we don't have a choice right now but to react in a way that protects them.
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>> schifrin: but do we have a choice ando we have a choice on targets? some of the other cticisms by iraqi officials about the strikes on sunday was about especially the ones in the west of the country targeted some of the fighters who were fighting i.s.i.s., even though, yes, they are backed by iran, they are fighting i.s.i.s. and the u.s. attacked them. is that not a concern? >> that could be a concern, but i think that is a nuanced deta detail. hezbollah is part and parcel of the iraqi grievous, the protest movement on one hand. on the other, they have clearly defied the iraqi state. let's look at the targets. there were five, three were in iraq, the other two in syria. why is an iraqi group fighting in syria? they're not taking orders from the iraqi state or serving in the iraqi interests, they are serving non-iraqi interest, so they are a legitimate target as far as targets go. however, the part that is
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worrying more for the iraqis aside from turning the headlines from the grievous of the iraqi people and the form of the iraqi government into the victim of these groups is what happened in syria, the one-off shot on the assad military base after the assad regime used chemical weapons, he crossed the red line, the united states acted, that was a one off, that did not create deterrence because assad is so powerful and recovered from that. those iraqis that seek a greater u.s. engagementment and want reform are afraid this is just a one-off because the iraqi militias have crossed an american redline on one hand and afraid the withdrawal of the u.s. troops is only a tweak away as happened in syria. >> schifrin: crirtsen, is it a tweet away?
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>> i don't think so, i think we'll see a rampup of actions. >> schifrin: you think it is the beginning of a slightly different strategy. >> do i think that. the question asked the president why should we not pull out if we are there with a training mission and it is training forces under the control of an iranian backed minister of defense, why should we leave our people in harm's way and why not pull them out? but the answer you got from the department of defense shifted. the department of defense is where the u.s. had most pushback against escalation in iran because of the forces there, thinking this f we did anything to escalate, attacks would begin in true form against our personnel. we that's happened. we crossed that rubicon, and what the president will watch is the public opinion and there are not the outcries against additional action. we do have men and women in harm's way. he has until january 7 to act in terms of imminent danger without
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a congressional opportunity to stop him. so i think we're going to see a bit more action in terms of addressing imminent threats only. that's all the authorities can cover at the moment, but i think it will be an interesting few days. >> kirsten fontenrose, bilal wahab, thank you so much to you both. >> thank you. s for having us. >> schifrin: in the day's other news, north korea marked the arrival of 2020, ahead of a kim jong un said his military will soon unveil a new strategic weon. kim warned the country will never give up its nuclear program unless the u.s. changes its policy including easing sanctions. against that against that backdrop, state tv showed an elaborate new year's eve celebration in pyongyang, complete with fireworks and stage performances. elsewhere around the world, the new year entered with both
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pageantry and pyrotechnics. dignitaries in seoul, south korea, rang the "peace bell" at midnight, as crowds waved lights. in dubai, fireworks shot from the sides of the iconic "burj khalifa" tower. in this country, new york city stepped up security as it geared up for tonight's celebrations. police in times square patted down visitors as they entered today. many in the crowd came from around the world to witness it all, first-hand. >> this is a once in a lifetime experience. weome from canary islands, it's a little bunch of islands from spain and this is just something you have to do in your life at least once and despite everybody has told us don't do it, it's crazy, it gets hectic, it's so cold, we're just going to make it once. >> schifrin: other cities have their own midnight drops, including key west, florida, where a giant prop "key lime" wedge falls into a giant martini glass. but in atlanta, the peach drop, of an 800-pound fiberglass fruit, was canceled as offials
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look for a new location. for thousands in australia, fear of wildfires shadowed the festivities of new year's. the annual fireworks spectacle went ahead, over sydney harbor, under a pall of smoke from fires burning outside the city. and in victoria state, the town of mallacoota had a narrow escape. sejal karia of independent television news, reports. >> reporter: pitch darkness at 9:20 in the morning. when daylight eventually punched through. the fires had turned the skies blood red. the fires had also forced the entire town to evacuate. 4,000 people huddled on the wharves and beaches. while hundreds of others escaped by boat, from the flames that were racing to the shore. >> we got all our boats out. we just jumped on them. we didn't even bring anything. >> reporter: every one of australia's states is experiencing wildfires. unprecedented temperatures combined with strong winds and a sustained dry period bolstering
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the flames. >> these fires particularly in east gippsland overnight and throughout yesterday were creating their own weather. that's how fierce, that's how active those fires were. >> reporter: and while there have been lucky escapes with this car emerging just seconds before huge flames jumped this major highway linking sydney to melbourne. the fires have so far also claimed 12 lives. four others are currently missing. >> and so in the days and weeks and i fear months ahead it will continue to be difficult. i wish we had better news on new year's eve. but one news we can always take comfort in is the amazing spirit of australians. >>eporter: the prime minister will now send military aircraft and navy ships to assist with the firefighting efforts. >> schifrin: that report from sejal karia of independent television news. thousands of people in hong kong
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opened the new year with new protests, calling for democratic reforms and less control by mainland china. they formed human lines that stretched for blocks, and spilled onto key roads. they were chased away later by riot police using pepper spray. meanwhile, chinese president xi jinping appealed for stability in hong kong, in his new year's message. lawmakers in taiwan voted today to block china from meddling in their national elections -- now less than two weeks away. the parliament banned foreign political interference, amid allegations that china is secretly backing the opposition nationalists. they, in turn, staged a sit-in. but ruling party legislators hailed the bill. >> ( translated ): infiltration and efforts to sow divisions are everywhere. only the destruction of taiwanese democracy will satisfy china. taiwan is on the frontline and urgently needs the anti- infiltration law to protect
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national security and the people's rights. >> schifrin: taiwan's government insists it is an independent state, not a renegade province. beijing has responded with stepped-up economic a military pressure. president trump says the u.s. and china will sign the first phase of a trade deal next month. he announced on twitter today that it will happen on january 15th, at the white house, with high-level chinese officials taking part. u.s. officials say china will buy more u.s. farm products, but no details of the deal have been published. a key republican now says if there's a senate impeachment trial of president trump, she is open to calling witnesses. but, susan collins of maine also said today it is premature to decide who should be called. democrats want to hear from white house officials who did not testify before house committees. the supreme court of israel began deliberations today on prime minister benjamin netanyahu's political future. he has been indicted on corruption charges, and good governance groups want to bar him from forming a government,
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if he wins re-election in march. it will be israel's third election in the last 12 months. the former head of nissan, carlos ghosn, has turned up in lebanon, after jumping bail in japan. he had been awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct. in a statement today, he said he's a victim of injustice and political persecution. ghosn is of lebanese descent and grew up in beirut. lebanon has no extradition treaty with japan. and, on wall street, stocks closed out a big year with modest gains. the dow jones industrial average was up 76 points to close at 28,538. the nasdaq rose 26 points, and the s&p 500 added nine. the s&p and the nasdaq had their best years since 2013, up 29% and 35% respectively. the dow was up 22%. still to come on the newshour: behind taliban lines-- life among the enemy in america's longest war. looking back-- a review of the
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economy of the past decade. giving to charity-- how the president's tax cuts have impacted what we give. and much more. >> schifrin: for months american diplomats have been negotiating with the taliban leaders to find a way to end the war in afghanistan. american officials were hoping the taliban would announce this week a suspension of fighting but the details of such an agreement, such as for how long this would last, and if it would be nation wide or just in urban areas remains to be worked out. meanwhile the war grinds on with attacks nearly every day. but what is life like for afghans who live under the control of the taliban? special correspondent jane ferguson traveled to wardak province for this rare and unique look at those conditions.
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>> reporter: efforts to end america's longest war are once again ramping up. this time, the u.s. is pushing for a cease-fire before signing a deal with the taliban. that crucial gesture could be agreed to at any moment. in taliban controlled areas, a cease-fire, however long it lasts, will change the lives of many. little agha waheed tells me his favorite subjects. he doesn't know his age but he knows he loves school. nearly half the population of afghanistan is under 15 years old, and as long as this war continues, this will be the next generation of fighters. on this day, dozens of little boys, arrive for class, excited to be here. it's late afternoon, but there are so many children in this area and so few schools, they come in shifts.
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these kids have only known a life in wartime. their home in wardak province is just 30 miles from the capital kabul, but it's firmly in taliban control. a real peace deal in afghanistan would give these boys a chance at living peaceful lives. while the taliban rules this region with the gun, money for the very few public services still comes from kabul. schools in taliban areas are still technically state schools. they are fundeby the government and the people who work in them are technically government workers. it's simply that the areas that these kids come from are dominated by the taliban. this is one of the most violent parts of the country. i traveled here to wardak, sneaking through government checkpoints dressed as an afghan woman, to see what life is like for people living under the taliban and close to the fighting. the insurgent group agreed to
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allow us this rare access, yet they keep a watchful eye and escort us everywhere. >> ( translated ): sometimes the boys join the taliban because of what they go through in the situation here. it effects them inside when their relatives were killed. >> reporter: mujib rahman is a teacher here. he says life on the front line of this war has taken a terrible toll on the boys, bringing with it stress even an adult would struggle with, but these boys dream of a better life. >> ( translated ): i am hopeful that in the future they will have access to more education and they will t to go to college. >> reporter: people in these areas are surviving between two violent sides in this war. his colleague, esmatullah omari, told us that when government soldiers come to raid nearby villages they enter the school to use it as a base. >> ( translated ): whenever the security forces come they break the doors and come in here and take our notebooks and stationary. can you tell the security forces
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not to come to our school? >> reporter: there are no girls at this school, and one local told us the taliban banned them from attending. we asked the commander in the area about taliban policy on schooling for girls. >> ( translated ): we have education for girls and boys in separate schools. we have created educational atmosphere for them in our areas. they are enjoyintheir education. >> reporter: yet, despite his assurances, in a nearby village we found one small religious school. with only three little girls inside. they were terrified when they saw the taliban gunmen with us. getting an education however can sometimes seem like a luxury for entire generation of children just trying to survive this war. the united nations says this is the most deadly war in the world today, and in a report released earlier this month said nine children are killed or maimed every day. it's an increase over previous years, mainly due to suicide
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bombings by the taliban and fighting between the group and afghan and american forces. taliban land mines blow up civilians travelling by road, and american air strikes also claim lives here. this area is constantly under surveillance, being watched from the sky. we are not going to stay very much longer where we are because we have attracted a bit of a crowd of people. and we can hear some sort of surveillance aircraft above us, possibly a drone. we soon spotted several helicopters flying overhead. a peace deal has the potential to change everything for these people, but on the first step in a long, difficult road to a lasting peace in afghanistan. the next step. getting the taliban to agree to share power and put down their weapons will be harder than getting american troops out. these commanders foresee no compromise on the horizon. >> ( translated ): our struggle
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will continue until either america ends its occupation of afghanistan, or judgement day. >> reporter: if the americans leave and there is peace in afghanistan, would you still consider the americans your enemy? >> ( translated ): yes of course. the infidels are our enemy until the day of judgement. we will continue to fight them. >> reporter: navigating an end to this war is among america's greatest foreign policy challenges today. for children like agha is would mean a chance at a peaceful life. a life the generation before him has only dreamed of. for the pbs newshour, i'm jane ferguson, in wardak, afghanistan. >> schifrin: at the close of the current decade, it's worth remembering how it began. the u.s. economy was sputtering,
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struggling to correct in the aftermath of the great recession. consumer confidence had reached record lows, and hiring was at a near standstill. as jeffrey brown reports, no one then was predicting that it might close the way it's turned out. >> brown: consider this: the u.s. economy is still in the longest expansion on record, more than 126 months and counting the 2010s with the first decade without a recession since record keeping began in the 1850s and the official unemployment rate hovers at a 50 year low. but wage growth, even with some recent gains, has been sluggish for most of the decade. and the continuing rise of wealth inequality is a major factor driving our politics as the richest americans reap the most from a stock market that continues to reach new highs. we look at some of the most significant economic stories of the 2010s with david wessel, the director of the hutchins center at the brookings institution, and catherine rampell, an
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economics writer and columnist for the "washington post." and weome to both of you. david, you and i did sit here 10 years ago. things were not looking well. they were getting better, but we weren't sure. >> that's right. it's really remarkable. i don't think either of us foresaw what happened in the 2010s for really the decades of the three lows. we had very low unemployment start of the decade, nearly 10%. today, it's a 3.5%. it's been very low inflation. in fact, inflation is so low that the fed is struggling to try and get it up to its target. and partly for that reason, interest rates have been very low at the beginning of the decade. the congressional budget office has predicted that the yield on 10 year treasuries, which is kind of a benchmark, would be 5% on average in the 2010s. today, it's 1.9%. nobody would have predicted this. and it means it's good for people who borrow, including the federal government. it's not so good for people who save having very low interest rates. and it makes the fed's job a little tricky, because if we have a recession, they don't
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have quite as much room to cut interest rates as they once did. >> brown: catherine, pick up on that, because it's also we're living in an era of high debt and deficits. these are things that in the past we thought those were bad. those where hurt the economy, they don't seem to be. so there's a change in economic thinking and behavior. >> exactly. so the general trend after world war ii has been that as the economy has improved, as unemployment has fallen, deficits have fallen to or in some periods, in fact, they have flipped into fiscal surpluses. instead, what we saw in this past decade is that as unemployment continued to fall, deficits instead grew. they got bigger. and today, neither party seems terribly concerned, at least at the moment, about fiscal responsibility, about getting deficits and debt back in line. maybe that'll change. of course, if we see a change in the white house or we change, we see a change in power in congress. but we have also seen an evolution.
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i would argue amongst economic thinkers. so those who are not as wedded to politics about whether we should care as much about deficits as we have historically, that maybe we were overly concerned about keeping red ink to a minimum. and that said, you know, as david pointed out, interest rates have been very low, which has enabled us to have our debt continue to grow because debt servicing at low interest rates is cheaper today than it would otherwise be. if in fact, we had 10 year treasury interest rates at 5% say >> brown: as you pointed out as you started to point out, david, because they are so low, that takes away one of the chief tools of the d. if and when things do turn down. >> right, that's absolutely right. they just don't have as much room to cut interest rates as they used to have. and that means the recession will be harder to fight off and will if we had another recession, we'll start from a place where the federal government already has quite a bit of debt. >> brown: what about the stock
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market, the rising inequality, which is a long term trend, but really exacerbated it definitely ntinue. >> so, look, the stock market had a terrific decade. the s&p 500 rose nine out of 10 years. the s&p 500 is up nearly 30% this year, just this year alone. and half the stock market wealth in america's whole held by the top 1% of people. so as you point, astnding, i mean, it's worth repeating. yes, half that it is held by the top 1%. so what we've seen is that the trends began before this decad but they continued and a growing share of all the all the wealth in america is held by a small number of people. so the top one tenth of 1%, the people who bernie sanders likes to talk about. it's about 130,000 households holds 15% of all the wealth in the country. and that has been creeping up for some time. >> brown: so, catherine, how much has that gotten into our i don't know, into our bones, into our national discussion?
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how much is it changing the way people think about the economy? >> i think one of the overwhelming themes of the past decade is the rise of economic populism, partly in response to the trauma of the great recession, which ended of course, before this decade officially began, but had lingering effects as we had this very, very slow recovery coming out of the great recession, and partly because of that greater concentration of wealth at the very top. and so you saw both on the left and the right. a lot of frustration with the way that the economy had been working with things that had been taken for granted, including the relentless march of globalization, for example, including the relentless march of wealth towards the very top of the distribution. and so you saw the rise of things like occupy, right? more so on the left and on the right. you saw a lot of frustration with our trade policies manifesting themselves with
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greater protectionist impulses both on the left and the right, which we saw enacted, of course, under this administration, undertaken by a republican administration, which is historically unusual to see more protectionism. but i think the trade wars, as well as other demand for a change to the way things had been running had been had been structured are a direct outgrowth of that frustration. now, whether that economic populism has actually won out in terms of different policies is debatable. certainly with the trade wars, the protectionist, isolationist, more populist impulses have gained steam again and the republican party as well as democratic party. but in terms of, let's say, the tax code, we just had this very top heavy tax cut that passed a couple of years ago. and one would argue that that would cut against that that populist impulse. so there have been mixed actual policy gains for that movement.
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>> brown: i would ask you both something that looks back and forth, because in many people's minds, the most existential crisis of the moment coming moment is the environment, climate change. and a lot of people would wonder, can our economics keep up with or how will it be shifted by what's happening environmentally? >> well, i think it's a huge challenge. there are two possibilities. one is we do something about it and that will cause great dislocations for the fossil fuel industry and the auto industry. some of that'seginning. the other is we don't do anything about it. and, you know, we lose half of florida to coastal flooding and stuff like that. either way, his economic impac right? i think that i think that the question is, will we do something about it? and will we do something about it? economically intelligent way. economists like the carbon tax, for instance, or will we kind of do it in an ad hoc emergency measures fighting the one rricane at a time?
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>> brown: catherine, what do you say? >> i would agree with david that theres almost unanimous support amongst economists for a carbon tax. however, there you would see very little evidence of this amongst, for example, the 2020 democratic candidates who are currently running for president. there is nary a mention of or at least very little emphasis on a carbon tax, which economists think is the most effective tool that we have available to fight climate change. instead, there's a lot of discussion of a green new deal, which means different things to different people. and i think the real question is how much is america willing to sacrifice? how much pain are we willing to endure to deal with this existential crisis? to argue that there will be a free lunch and it will be completely painless to try to get climate change under control, i think is unrealistic. but that is sort of the tenor of the debate right now. of course, the other way to think about this is that we are already paying a carbon tax of sorts. it's just being paid disproportionately by places
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like puerto rico, in florida and texas and coastal areas. >> brown: all right, catherine rampell, david wessel, thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. happy new year. happy new year to you. >> thanks for having me. >> schifrin: stay with us, coming up on the newshour: from the newshour bookshelf-- susan choi's national book award winning novel "trust exercise." and a suggested antidote to the conflict plaguing the world. giving to the 100 biggest charities in the u.s. rose by 11% in the past year thanks to big checks from the wealthy. but the share of those who give to charity overall continued its long-term slide. small nonprofits have been hit the hardest. lisa desjardins reports that analysts blame a number of factors, but say the 2017 tax law is having a big impact.
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>> desjardins: we're seeing those uneven giving trends even in a robust economy, and that's leading many nonprofit leaders to worry as we head into 2020. for more, i'm joined by stacy palmer, editor of "the chronicle of philanthropy." essentially, fewer people are claiming tax deductions because of their charitable donations? >> right. one of the things that congress did when they changed the law is they said let's make it simpler to fill out your tax forms, so they doubled the standard deduction, that means that very few people itemize anymore, only about 8% of americans itemize, and that means those people all have access to the charitable deduction, but everybody else doesn't because they're not taking a writeoff for anything. and, so, something that was intended to simplify the tax system ended up having this inadvertent affect on charities and giving, so many people just don't have access to that charitable deduction anymore. >> desjardins: essentially, the deduction used to be 12,000
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for a couple -- >> the standard deduction, so that amount you could write off when you're doing your taxes and figuring out how many deductions between the mortgage deduction and charitable, if you're a couple and have $24,000 in deductions or more, then you want to take the writeoffs. >> desjardins: but that's not most people who have $24,000 in deductions. okay. so now the question is now there are fewer people who can can deduct who get a tax benefit from giving to charity, how is that affecting charities? are they see ago big change in their donations? >> charities think they are, especially small, mid-size groups, they say they're dealing feeling the pain more than big organizations, and part of this is because people who are fairly wealthy, they can still itemize and get that tax deduction, but most middle class to middle class affluent people, those are the people who lost that deduction and they're the ones who don't have any incentive to give because of taxes. now, there are lots of other reasons people give or choose to
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give, but there are estimates that as much as $20 billion might have been lost to charities in a year because of this tax change. now, we should remember americans give more than $425 billion, so $20 billion is important, but they're still giving -- people are still giving very generously, so it's not the entire charity sector has been hit by this tax change. >> desjardins: let's talk about the wealthy. what does their giving look like? we know their incomes are going up at the top. is their level of generosity also going up? >> a lot of the people who look at charitable gaffing think it's not going up as much as it should compared to their wealth. so certainly we see very generous contributions and that's one reason giving hasn't gone down, but compared to the amount of wealth people have, they just can't give it away fast enough. even people like mayor bloomberg who gives lots of money to charity, he's promised to give it all away in his lifetime and he still has billions and billions more left to give
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because he just gets wealthier. >> desjardins: i want to understand what you're saying, is it a problem of them not having enough outlets, or is it those at the top are gain morgue income than they are giving away? it's their decision, they're not being as charitable as they are profitable, i suppose? >> it's probably a little bit of both. in some cases, if they can't find enough places where they want to give where they think they can make a difference, that might cause a big donor to hold back, but they' also not saying, oh, i just made $20 billion in the stock market and i need to give it all away, so we're not seeing people give proportionately to their increases in wealth, and that's the part that is startling. we haven't seen in this great economy an increase percentage to income people are giving in charity. >> desjardins: we've seen scandals involving the largest donors, for example the sackler family, their connection to the yoipped crisis, jeffrey epstein, his charges and related death to
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sex trafficking charges, how that is that affected the giving community, especially the big institutions that depend on the wealthy. what is that relationship like? is there too much dependence on donors and how has that changed? >> big nonprofits are looking at their relationships with big donors especially in cases like sackler and epstein where they think, what are our values? is it appropriate to take money are from those type of people, because some alumni that took money from sackler and epstein, they might not want to give anymore because they're disappointed in their institution. so it has a ripple effect, not because they took money from nat one donor, but other donors will be disappointed. so many are looking at what pals policy should we look at and how should we articulate who we will accept money from and should we make it clear we depend on small and mid ol' size gifts from people, is it good to be run by billionaires, those are all the questions that people will be
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asking. you see political debates about wealth taxes, the same consideration in nonprofit world, too. >> what about small nonprofits, they don't have the big wealthy donors, how are they doing right now? >> smaller charities are struggling to be able to persuade people to give. there are a lot of competing causes, and middle class donors are giving less, we've seen a staggering drop in the number of middle class americans who are giving. perhaps in the last decade we saw as many as 20 million fewer people are giving to charity, so as people are giving less, it's harder and harder for small nonprofits to attract as many people as they need to give. >> desjardins: stacy palmer with the "chronicle of philanthropy," thank you. >> thank you. sphwhrssment >> schifrin: on the newshour bookshelf tonight, the setting is a high school for the
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performing arts. the location: an unnamed southern city. and the lessons are about consent, power, and memory. "trust exercise" won this year's national book award for fiction. as part of our ongoing arts and culture series, "canvas," jeffrey brown met author susan choi at last month's miami book fair. jeff started by asking her, why set a story in a high school? >> i think ias initially exploring the relationships between students and teachers. that's the relationship that's been interestinto me for my whole career, and i was really interested in the intersection between that relationship and this time of life, adolescence, the teenage years. >> reporter: why is it that at grabs you? >> i think it's that in between, and, for give me, but the way you ask the question is part of what interests me. i think we don't really know how to talk about teenagers or adolescents. we don't know whether to think of them as adults or children
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because they're neither. they have all of the intellectual abilities and emotional passions passions ands but much less judgment and experience. we don't know how to treat these young people who aren't allowed to vote until they're 18, sotimes can't drive till 16. our rules surrounding it kind of betray our cultural incoherence. >> brown: it's set in a performing arts high school. >> these are young people who are already looking at their lives in a very adult way. they've chosen to dedicate themselves to a craft. they've chose t spend their high school years doing pre-professional training. they are thinking ahead. >> brown: they have an idea of who they want to be. >> they know who they want to be, and they're almost like protoadults but they're not adults. they have this very charismatic
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teacher who is brilliant, incisive, influential. their world wevolves around him, and that's thrilling and that's dangerous, and, so, i wanted to explore what can happen in that kind of rationship. >> brown: so what you end up looking at are these kind of power relationships, right, between students and teachers, sometimes between students and other students, and, of course, it gets to issu of consent, it gets to issues that are ve much in the news on a news program like ours these days. >> right, what i certainly couldn have planned would be how that exploration would become a general national preoccupation aer, you know, the advent of the nationwide sort of #metoo movement in the fall of 2017, and i pretty much already finished this book in its entirety, i was still working on the ending, and the ending of the book actually did change shape as a result of the national conversation taking
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place. >> brown: really? it came out in a big way as you were finishing this novel. >> they all came out. >> brown: does it surprise you? >> it surprises and doesn't suprise me. it doesn't surprise me because we haven't solved the problems, we haven't figured this stuff out. it doesn't surprise me because it feels like almost uncanny moments in the kavanaugh hearings and jeffrey epstein case where these are almost uncanny, real-life enactments of issues i was trying to explore in this novel i started writing years ago. it's startling and worrisome and shows we have a lot to do. >> brown: what was your feeling as a writer, as you're finishing this novel, and suddenly it burst into a kind of national conversation? >> i never tried to write timely fiction but i've always been interested in writing fiction that is reflecting on my times in some way. i've written a lot of historical fiction because i tend to find it easier to look back and to try to digest in that way. i've never even made the effort
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to write about the now. if you're going to write about the now as a fiction writer, you have to bfaster that be me. i've taken five years for books. so it's remarkable our now and my book did kind of arrive at the same set of concerns. >> brown: another notable thing here is storyteling. the first part of this novel focuses on a young woman named sarah, and then, a certain point about halfway in, perspectivive shifts ahead in time, and then characters who were lesser parts of the initial story are nowt at the fore. >> yeah. i was thinking a lot about the storytelling we do culturally and politically and historically, the storytelling that happens outside of novels, that happens across our entire culture tha involves us as a nation, trying to decide, you know, who we are, how we're
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going to talk about things, like one example would be immigration. for me, immigration had hauls been a positive story. my parents and grandparents were immigrants. immigration has been a strength of our country, and suddenly to see that story change so dramatically was enough to really change my relationship to my own storytelling. i guess it's strange to say that now my storytelling is in this totally different form, the novel. i felt unhappy about a lot of the national stories that were being told about my country, and i'm a citizen of this country, and, yet, that's not my version of the story, and i knew a lot of people felt that way, but i also started thinking about my fictional world, and i started thinking i wonder if there are characters in my fictional world who feel similarly pissed off, marginalized and silenced about the story that unfolded today. it was a fun thought experience
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that middle east became a new idea for the direction the book would take, when this character who, up to that point, we've given no notice to, suddenly pushes herself forward and says, you haven't been paying attention to me, but you should. >> brown: all right, "trust exercise," winner of the "national book award." susan page, thank you versusan . >> thank you. >> schifrin: finally tonight, we live in an era of outrage. much of the country is polarized. we yell at each other on twitter and on tv. and many of us live inside bubbles of our own making, reinforcing our own opinions. and so we wanted to return to author lauren groff's humble opinion that, during days of division, the antidote, is understanding, and empathy. >> not long ago, i was out in the prairie where i jog every day when a man rode up on a
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bicycle and started critiquing my running form. i had not solicited his advice. i don't enjoy mansplaining even when i haven't already run five miles. i asked him to go away repeatedly, but when he persisted, i gave him a verbal hiding that i'm sure he has yet to recover from. something in me at that moment just snapped: i felt two feet taller and as vast as the prairie itself. if you've ever had a moment of road rage, or acted impulsively to fend off a pickpocket or bully, you know the feeling. the constraints of selfhood fall away and you feel as though you could breathe fire. the truth is, all humans have the capacity to snap. neurologists tell us that deep in the brain, beneath the center of consciousness in the cerebral cortex, there's a cluster of neurons that causes sudden aggression in lab animals when stimulated with an electrode. it's a healthy automatic function for self-preservation, the cause of the fight in fight or flight. but just because it's natural to
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snap in moments of tension doesn't mean that we have to do so when we're not being physically threatened. our age is an extraordinarily polarized one. it can seem as though we are all yelling all the time. en we enter into rage, we enter a space that turns people into others who do not deserve the same respect or courtesy that we expect extended to us. in rage, we can refer to human beings as animals, a way to psychically distance us from them enough to deny them basic human rights. after i raged at the man on the bike that morning, i ran home feeling nauseated. he had been elderly and had seemed a little lonely. by the time i came in the door, i had imaned an entire life for the man, down to the kinds of ms he drank his coffee out of and the cat he owned. i wished i could reverse time to react differently; instead of yelling, explaining calmly why what he was doing was unwelcome.
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empathy is an act of radical imagination. through empathy, we can understand the full scope of the humanity of those whose actions or ideas offend us. we acquire empathy through imagining ourselves into the lives of strangers, thugh narrative, the books and films and television shows that don't reinforce our knowledge of the world, but rather challenge what we already know. empathy is a muscle that is stronger than our neurological reflexes. if we exercise it every single day, it will be so strong that it can override reflexive anger. in this world, kindness must prevail. so let's give our empathy rigorous daily workouts-time spent imagining the lives and hearts of others-until we have become better than our basest impulses. >> schifrin: on instagram, test your knowledge of the major events that happened in 2019 by taking our instagram news quiz. follow us on instagram at
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newshour and click on our story. and that's the newshour for tonight. on new years day, a preview of the new laws taking affect across the country. thanks for spending new year's eve with us. i'm nick schifrin. join us again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major fundinfor the pbs newshour has been provided by: before we talk about your investment. >> what's new? ell, audrey's expecting. planning. grandparents. we want to put money aside for them. so change. >> all right, let's see what we can do. >> change in plans. okay. mom, are you painting again? you could sell these. >> let me guess -- change in plans? >> at fidelity, a change in plans is always part of the plan.
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>> american cruiselines. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. p>> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advancement of international peace and security. at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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so you don't think mcconnell will have to resort to the so-called nuclear option? >> i'm hopeful he doesn't. are yu questioning whether there are a movement in this country who are white nationalists? >> even seen it. how much of a dent is repsych almost lipping making? >> the western government accused the fcc of wage ago hybrid war with hackers. >> we can go deeper into topics. everything isn't necessarily red or blue. >> we need to understand what's going on. we need to go bind and under the
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story. not just to find out what happens but why it matters. >> 2020 will be a political rollercoaster but viewers can count on pbs to be there every step of the way. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> pati narrates: behold the beloved sinaloan tomato, one of sinaloa's biggest exports. every day thousands of pounds of tomatoes just like these are sent down the conveyor belt into packaging to be shipped off all over mexico and the u.s. but look closer. this belt is rigged with highly sensitive lasers trained to search for only the ripest, most perfect tomatoes. only those will make it to your table. think of the technology that went into this! and not just tomatoes. i don't think i knew that blueberries grew in sinaloa. all produce here in sinaloa is big business. sinaloa is known as mexico's breadbasket. here in northern mexico conditions are just about


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