tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC December 20, 2014 4:00am-5:01am PST
takes to win some stuff on the "friday night news dump" you can learn how to apply to maddowblog.com. i think the american people would like to see us get things done. >> the year ahead. president obama vows to get things done despite a gop-controlled congress, and reaction to what he hopes to accomplish before he leaves office. the sony hack attack. the north korean government is out with a whole statement on the matter, and you might be surprised with one of the proposals to the u.s. just in time for the holiday rush. we will look at the forecast as we head into the next week. the postal service, even on days you might not expect them to be delivering.
good morning. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." president obama is in hawaii beginning the first day of a 16-day vacation. he was discussing a variety of stop kwreubgz, including the sony hack. >> sony is a corporation, and it, you know, suffered signalant significant damage. i am sympathetic to the concerns they faced. having said all that, yes, i think they made a mistake. >> but he defended his record especially on the economy. >> as a country, we have every right to be proud of what we have accomplished. more jobs, more people insured, a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry,
booming energy, and take any metric that you want, and america's resurgence is real. >> he faced a republican controlled house and senate for the first time during his term in office and he promised to work together with the gop. >> i am being absolutely sincere when i say i want to work with the new congress to get things done. to make those investments. to make sure that government is working better and smarter. we are going to disagree on some things, but there are going to be areas of agreement, and we have to be able to make that happen, and that's going to involve compromise every once in a while and what we saw in the lame duck period that perhaps the spirit of compromise may be coming to the fore. good morning, ed. >> good to see you. >> what do you make of the tone the president struck yesterday in the press conference? >> i think this is a guy is that
beginning to come out of an election cycle and knows that he has two more years to go and has to find ways to cement his legacy, and he is going to speak his mind a little more and wants to remind people the successes of his administration that he would argue that the media didn't help highlight as much this past year, and is looking for ways to work for congress on things they might agree on. >> yeah, and here is how you are calling it at the washington post. obama was in command displaying little of the disconnectedness and listlessness. he was also more considerably concise in his answers than often, and he generally appeared entirely comfortable in his own skin. do you get a sense this is the tenor, which is the type of president we will see in his final two years especially in
the republican controlled congress? >> we will see. hopefully it will stick. he is coupling off the two weeks of the immigration announcement and his decision to cut a climate deal with china, and then, of course, the big announcement this week regarding cuba, and anybody gets a little excited right before their vacation, so you never know. but i think, you know, the white house certainly wants to start casting him as somebody who has done a lot of great things in the last few years, and is going to be a deal maker in the new year even if it means separating himself from congressional democrats. >> let's talk about the issue that came up yesterday on sony. the president said the u.s. will respond proportionally to the cyber attack. what does that mean? what might that look like? >> it's interesting, because this is an issue, cyber security that has occupied a lot of official washington over several years, but it has been hypothetical. this, i think, now, becomes the
first big example of what can happen if a cyber attack succeeds, and the question is how do you respond? do you respond in a way that is obvious or in a subtle way that only the north koreans will pick up on, if indeed it was them, or do you do something else? the pentagon has a whole unit devoted to cyber security. and they have a cyber security command center, and a law that was passed in the closing days makes dh coordinate more with private industries, and this more than anything is the first example of what can happen big time if one of these happens, and the response, whatever it may be will certainly serve as an example of what might happen in the future. the white house has spent preoccupied on what was an attack on a private company, and
the fact that he weighs in because of the first amendment concerns that the movie didn't get released or what not, that's there. that shows you how potentially the u.s. government might have to involve itself on a corporate attack. >> that's an interesting quandary you put up there. he also talked about cuba. let's listen to that. >> this is still a regime that represses its people. and as i said when i made the announcement, i don't anticipate overnight changes, but what i know deep in my bones is that if you have done the same thing for 50 years and nothing's changed you should try something different if you want a different outcome. >> do you think this is a legacy item for this president? >> if it works, yes. but what it speaks to is the original 2008 campaign themes, the idea that the united states
is going to do things differently when it comes to foreign policy. if this succeeds, he can say, look, i ended the war in iraq and yes we have to go back there and we are drawing down the end of afghanistan, and i told you we would go into pakistan and get bin laden if we had to and we have done that, and he talked about reaching out to the castro regime and he's done that, and he was speaking about how he was interacting with raul castro, and he is very comfortable talking about it. i think this is one that outside of south florida and a few other areas will be seen as very popular with going there. there's a lot of agreement with the president that perhaps after 50 years something else needs to be done, and everybody has realistic expectations, this won't happen over time. he will face a lot of practical resistance on capitol hill from
republicans that position themselves in slots where they could put a hold on money, on his ability to nominate an ambassador and get it confirmed. he will have a practical fight on congress over this, but when you see polling in the next few weeks, republicans will agree with what he did. >> thank you very much, my friend. other news now. australian police have a suspect in custody in the murder of eight children in a home. the eighth child was her niece. children are examining several knives in the home. the children range in age from 14 months to 18 years. and then terrorist are focused on places of worship and
schools and two hostages and the gunman died. and then ray rice's fiance kissing, and they were handcuffed and being taken to ja jail. the fbi says it recovered $12 million in stolen paintings. a thief stole the painting from a southern california home in 2008. a tip from overseas led the fbi to the suspect who is now in custody. he tried to sell the art to undercover officers. nine of the 12 paintings stolen are recovered. there's a reward for the three still missing works of art. >> we are offering a reward up to $25,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. >> and the nine paintings recovered were from the 20th
century. let's go to the weather and the two winter storms that could make a mess of your holiday plans. heavy rain may make driving difficult for houston on friday. a storm broke a record with the city receiving almost three inches of rain. and alex wallace has more on what to expect this weekend and for the holiday week. >> good saturday, alex. as we head to the pacific northwest, we have moisture streaming in here with several disturbances will be moving on throughout the weekend. we are talking about some areas that could see 3 to 5 inches of rain, and so again, we are talking pretty steady rains expected here through the weekend. and then we turn our attention towards midweek and getting close to christmas, we have a storm system in the middle of the country headed towards the great lakes, and really strengthening out there, and that's going to mean big time
winds and the potential for rain and snow out there as well. so let's get you into tuesday now. upper midwest, the snow will impact us further. by christmas eve a. big travel day, right? we have a wintry mix, and then all rain to deal with on the east coast. i think that will be the general trend. east coast rain, and better chance for the wintry weather, and everybody having to deal with the wind. so i would say travel problems will ensue as we heads toward the christmas all day. >> it's going to be a mess. thank you, alex. up next, checking on the ground in hawaii to see what is on the agenda for the president's first day of vacation. and then later a. ground-breaking announcement this week brought the people of cuba a bit closer to their dreams.
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i think there are real opportunities to get things done in congress. as i said before, i take speaker boehner and mitch mcconnell at their word that they would like to see things get done, and i think the american people would like to see things get done, and the question will be are we able to separate those areas out where we disagree and areas where we agree. >> that was president obama hoping how things could be. and him and his family arrived in hawaii for a 16-day vacation. let's get to kristin welker who is traveling with the president. let's talk about the main message from the president in yesterday's news conference. >> reporter: well, good morning to you, alex. president obama saying he is energized and excited about the
new year. this was a fired up president despite the fact that he and the democrats suffered huge losses in the mid terms and he spent time talking about his achievements, and the economy, and the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years, and he talked about finding common ground with republicans in the new year, with things like corporate tax reform, and he acknowledged the devil is in the details, and alex, you know as well as i know that it's hard for washington to agree on anything. while you have both sides signaling that those are possible areas of agreement and common ground, it's going to be tough for them to get anything done on either of the issues. the president did draw some lines in the sand, particularly on health care. he said he will not budge on legislation, and republicans signaled he tried to make changes to his health care
policy, and on keystone, interesting, while he did not issue a veto threat, he didn't say keystone was developed as other projects, and so one interesting point that i think you will like, yesterday's press conference, it was the annual end of the year press conference, and it was the first time ever that the president only called on women. so all women correspondents got called on. >> we have a couple weeks of vacation for the president. what does he have on his agenda? >> a lot on the agenda when he comes back. he just announced the immigration executive action. his top officials are going to spend a lot of time trying to implement and educating people haorbgs , who is eligible and who is not and those that are have the proper paperwork they need to sign up, and then he announced a
major shift in the u.s. policy toward cuba, so there will be a lot of focus on implementing that, and setting up an embassy in havanna, and he wants to see congress rescind the embargo, and in the wake of ferguson and staten island, the president vowing to try and improve relations between the police department and the community. >> thank you very much. north korea today is calling for a joint investigation into the hack. they remain on the defensive after the white house made it clear that the industry cannot be bullied by north korea. >> we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship
here in the united states, or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended. >> sony is firing back, and north korea is denying that it was behind the hacking. >> good morning, alex. sony responding not just to the president's remarks but to a lot of the criticism it has been receiving this week and all of it evolved around the movie "the interview." sony hopes anybody that wants to watch the movie will get the opportunity to do so but the question is how to make that happen. what started as a hollywood hack
has grown far bigger than the big screen. >> this is the secretary of the communication of north korea. >> and now sony stepping into the spotlight. >> we have not caved. we have not given in. we have persevered and not backed down. fplt sony argues they had no choice but to pull "the interview" after theater chains refused to screen it. >> we have to feel like this is a genuine emergency. this is the population of cyber war. >> and clooney said nobody stood up and took the stand. >> even after sony executives received a message that appears to be from the cyber attackers
demanding the studio wipe all traces of the film off the internet, sony insists they want "the interview" to go public. >> they need to decide how they can get it out there. >> they are looking at what video on demand platforms it could use to distribute the films, and judd tweeting it started as a goofy movie and now people will see it and then discuss why it's okay to let people control and starve its people. maybe turning the spotlight on the hacker's themselves. >> the studio will recover, and remember the studio is also facing four class action lawsuits. >> okay, thank you so much for that. so it's a controversy, everybody. should sony have pulled "the
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year's both fall on thursdays, also that helps so if you go away for one holiday or the other it gives people more time to work with. a big week. let's talk about the fallout about the hacking of sony pictures. what is the economic fallout to pull the plug on "the interview." >> variety magazine estimated the cost at somewhere between 75 million to $100 million. it took $44 million to produce the film and $30 million to market it. so that is significant, and that's before you get into class action lawsuits. i will say this, on the up side, clearly they have a premium video demand hit on their hands who is not going to watch it, and it's how are they going to roll it out and who is going to take the risk? >> and let's get to getting
physical and what some believe as a blackberry smart move. >> they are relaunching the blackberry classic. it has the keyboard which is significantly different than android and iphone touch screen phones. it's going to be somebody that really cares about security and with the back drop of the sony story that could be more people. what has happened is a lot of corporate i.t. departments based on demand switched to apple and android, and will they switch back? will they support this platform? that remains to be seen. they can still be profitable with a mere 1% of the smartphone market. >> good to see you and happy holidays. thank you so much. coming up, mail deliveries are about to get much slower? what the postal service is forced to do that should affect all of us. for practically just your signature,
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welcome back. cubans and the american business community are already dreaming what could come after half a century of isolation. joining me from havanna is jacob roscon. >> reporter: politically they are not sure what this means. they don't really want to talk about that. what they are concerned about is how will the changes in a thawed u.s. and cuban relationship improve my life on a day-to-day basis in ways americans take for granted. life in cuba has not suddenly changed, but cubans believe they were just handed a key if life were a door. the promise of a new relationship between cuba and the u.s. gives new meaning to field of dreams. 20 cubans already play major league ball, but to join they
had to defect because of u.s. sanctions. cuban star wants to play for the yankees. the goal is always to play at the highest level he says, and the whole world knows the highest level is in the u.s. cuban ballet is no different. producing some of the world's finest ballerinas with similar american ambitions and now potentially a path. on the streets the dream is more basic. all the people of old havanna seem to really care about is how will the changes improve my day-to-day life to the food they eat to the phones they carry to the cars they buy, except if you own one of these, the classic simple american car, which cubans want to stay the same, and others could be persuaded by u.s. car collectors willing to spend tens of thousands and
perhaps even more. >> no, no sell my car. >> reporter: many people said what that gentleman said, they don't want to sell their car, and then off camera they said maybe they would sell it for a certain price. they insisted we not ask the tough questions in fear of retaliatio retaliations, and they hope the promise of change are not empty promises. >> they have the parts to keep those cars running and we can't find them here in the states, and that's a question to be answered. with five days to go until christmas stores and shopping malls are expected to be packed up this weekend. if you are a late comer, you will have a lot of company and late competition out there. anne thompson is at times square at toys "r" us.
how crowded is it? >> reporter: not crowded right now. but a woman and her children, she walked in and said is the store really open? the toys "r" us here in times square is open for 24 hours, now until 6:00 p.m. on christmas eve. nationwide they will open for 24 hours on december 23rd and then go until christmas eve 6:00 ap.. and kohl's is doing that nationwide. today is expected to be the biggest shopping day of the holiday season, surpassing black friday in decades. retillers are expected to ring up $10 billion in sales today surpassing black friday that only saw $9.1 billion.
there are deals there to entice the santas that have not gotten things done, and there are express lines and gift guides and extended hours. it has been an unusual year shopping year, and in some ways black friday was a disappointment because retailers spread all the specials out over the week, and so they did not see the dramatic sales jump they are used to seeing. they are hoping they are going to see it today and they think today is perfectly positioned because it's five days before christmas, and it's a weekend, and people who are running out of time today is a really good day for them to finish that list. alex? >> yeah, except for those of us that have to work. north korea today denied it was behind the sony pictures
hacking. it says it wants a joint hacking investigation with the u.s. the u.s. government now believes that north korea was behind the massive cyber attack against sony and sony made a mistake by canceling the premiere of "the interview." >> we cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the united states. >> meanwhile the ceo of sony pictures is defending the company's position. here is what he told cnn yesterday. >> we have not caved or given in, and we have persevered and we have not backed down. we have always had every desire to have the american publicity this movie. >> let's bring in the culture reporter for the "new york times" who has seen "the interview." what did you think of the movie? >> i am not a critic, i am a newspaper reporter. i should be careful about how i talk about it.
if you are familiar with, let's say, the bob hope road pictures of the previous era, it's sort of a post millennial spin on it. the james franco and seth roguen are playing the characters in the outrageous scenarios anybody could find themselves in, and they are tasked by the cia with killing him. it's a normal premise for a comedy movie, right? >> not so much. the question, did sony cave? >> it's sort of like saying, well, we built this pile of rocks in a cave-like formation and it caved in, but we didn't cave. they have been going back and forth between saying, well, as of two days ago they said the film would never be released in any format, and then as soon as obama made his remarks the studio came back to say we are exploring video on demand.
it was the theatrical, the movie theaters themselves didn't want to release the movie but we have every intention of releasing it and they faced enormous pressure in the last day or two to get the movie out in some way and let people see it. >> i have spoke with a lot of people about this issue over the last couple days, and it seems like there are two camp ppz you have those who are creators and developers and actors and the like, and they are furious about this because their first amendment rights and expression, that is all being trampled upon, and then you talk to anybody who is in business, public relations, who might have a legal area of expertise, and they say sony had no choice but to do this. >> i think it's understandable. let's say it had gone into theaters and god forbid there's one act of violence or somebody gets hurt, that's on sony's
hands. i think people certainly in this country feel that, you know, we should have a right to express ourselves however we feel and we should be able to take satire aim at a leader, and that should have some venue to come out in. it's hard to know how the momentum is turning, but to say that should never be available for people to see in any venue, that's what disturbs everybody. >> you spoke with the stars about the film. what was their reaction to this firestorm? >> the most recently i spoke to seth was on monday, and that was at an interesting crux, because we had not yet heard that there were intemations of violence against the theaters that were going to be showing the movie, and as of monday night i think they were just sort of astounded there was this reaction to the
film. once you start talking about even ambiguous threats of violence that completely changed the conversation and it's no longer a laughing matter. >> i am curious as how the two camps will be reconciled, because we know that steve carell's north korea film has been scrapped. how do you get this reconciled? >> there has to be a cooling-off period. you can't put a time take on when is it safe to poke fun at leaders anywhere in the world. we should have the right to make the kinds of movies we want, these all have to go through production and distribution. so everybody is going to be thinking twice about is this the
kind of movie, whatever the movie may be, that could cause this kind of political outcry? it's disappointing, but these are the kinds of questions that will get asked of every film going forward, at least in the studio system. >> okay, good to see you and thank you so much. the post office is up against the clock, but with all the cutbacks will holiday deliveries make it in time? that's next. my name's louis, and i quit smoking with chantix. i had tried to do it in the past. i hadn't been successful. quitting smoking this time was different because i got a prescription for chantix. along with support, chantix (varenicline)
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more now on the storms that could make a mess of holiday plans this coming week. rainy weather is expected to soak parts of the east coast and the weather channel's reynolds wolf is giving us the forecast. what can we expect? a mess. >> reporter: we will see changes in the forecast, but before we get that, let's show america how things are at times square this morning, and you can see we have cloudy skies above but everything is bright and beautiful and looks beautiful in
times scare. wh you have 30,000 people that walk through the spot, and what is more amazing about that, the money they spent, over $4 billion a year, and every single dollar spent by people that visit new york, 22 cents spent again at times square. what they are trying to do is avoid the rain drops and snowflakes, and today they will be able to do that. that said, temperatures will range on the chilly side, 30 to 36 degrees. what is interesting, you look at the national picture as we get closer to christmas eve, we see the storm system make its way through the eastern part of the country, and we will see rain and ice and possibly snowfall and that will give you all kinds of headaches for millions of people trying to get to one side of the map to the other. you know, alex, it's not just air travel that might be tied up, but at laguardia and new york and jfk, and can include
d.c. and maybe up towards boston, and then on top of that you have people just trying to travel on your freeways and interstates, and some areas further south, maybe better conditions, but in the part of the country most populated you will have the most issues. alex, hopefully your plans involve little travel and with that very little headaches. >> thank you, and i appreciate that. pack your patience. that's the advice. and then the u.s. postal service will be forced to layoff more than 7,000 workers, and it's because of cutbacks. it will come after the busiest weeks of the year as workers scramble to deliver packages by christmas. joining me is the vice president of area operations for the united states postal service. rick, with welcome to you and we appreciate this time. i know the post office has
closed 141 locations in both 2012 and 2013. why is it we are seeing such drastic changes? >> well, what we are seeing over time is that we are seeing a dramatic decrease in the amount of first class mail that the american public is mailing because of online and e-mail traffic, and because of that we have too much capacity in the postal service, and we have had to shut down some of the facilities across the country. >> well, as you know congress returns from the holiday break on january 6th, a day after the changes are supposed to take effect, and is there anything congress can do to fix the problem, or what can the post master general do? >> we put together a lot of plans and shared some of our ideas on what we can do going forward here, you know, some of the things that we have talked about, of course, is some of the prefunding that we are burdened with here. give us more flexibility with products out there, and all of
that can help the postal service move forward in the next several years, and keep us very fluid, and not a burden on the american public. right now we don't get any taxpayer money and it's all from users of the postal service and we want to keep it that way go into the future. >> any chance there will be a sunday delivery during busy seasons like this, during the holiday season? >> we are delivering packages seven days a week and have been doing that since mid november. last weekend we delivered 4.1 million packages, and this sunday we expect to deliver over 5 million packages to american door steps. >> wow. rick, there's some people sitting at home and they are thinking it will take a couple more days for my mail to be delivered, so what? why is this such a big deal? >> well, you know, it's really just a small portion of the mail
that we are talking about changing in january. right now only about one-third of the mail gets delivered overnight and we will cut that by one-third, so there's still opportunities to get overnight delivery, and there are big o g organizations, they can still get overnight delivery on the mail. we are not eliminating it completely but are reducing it. by doing that it allows us to take advantage of the massive capacity we have across the system. of course, we will save hours moving forward. >> you mentioned e-mail, basically the internet, and that's what is really affecting the u.s. post office. is it more than that and also the private companies that have sprung up, all the different ways people can mail their packages and letters? >> you know, that doesn't help, however we are making great strides in improving our package
delivery out there. we talked about seven-day delivery and have agreements with large organizations out there to deliver seven days a week and that has really been positive for us. just this holiday period we that's up 20% this year. which is a little bit over our projections, and we're just doing a great job delivering that stuff for our customers out there. so, we're looking to continue to build upon that as we move into the new calendar year. >> it's just a herculean effort that you guys undertake all year. thank you so much. happy holidays. >> happy holidays. thanks, alex. in the wake of the protest. the people of ferguson are witnessing an outpouring of generosity for a pillar of their community. we'll talk about that and give you a live look of ha van gnaw, cuba days after the president announced restorations to that
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it starts with a tweet. many organizations will stay open. love each other. as buildings and gunfire ran out. the ferguson missouri public library remained open. outrage in the streets over the grand jury decision. but inside teachers held class, meals were served and children were reading. donations began pouring in. but ron allen visited the library this weekend. >> ferguson's unrest following the death of michael brown erupted blocks away. but the library stayed open day in, day out. an oasis when schools were shut for up to a week. >> it was heartbreaking to know our students weren't where they were supposed to be.
>> teachers like terry, held class here. >> it's traumatic time for people here. >> yes. >> it still is. >> yes. >> and joining me is the director of the public library. scott, with a welcome to you, you stad open when so many others were gripped by fear in your city. good morning. alex, i have a responsibility to do whatever i can to help them out. every day i would make an assessment whether i was safe to open the library and every day, except for one on august 11, every day the assessment was yes, and so we did. >> you got so much support. financial, emotional. how much money have you guys gotten in? >> around 400 k which is equal to our yearly budget. yeah. >> that's phenomenal. how do you plan to use that money? >> we got the board together to talk about the details and make a weis plan going forward but in the short term we decided we were going to get a
children/librarian. right now, i'm the open full time person. we need another librarian and drop money into anything community-focused. >> people have written to you, what did they say about your efforts? >> they are warm and loving and thankful. especially that we stayed open and especially that we didded ad hoc school program. people seem to really appreciate that. i think -- the sense that i get is they're seeing this light, this moment of people coming together for the good of the children and for the good of ferguson. so people are grabbing on to that and thanking us for that. >> a beacon of light. >> tell me about the sticker, books that are donated that reads unity. >> yes. the books giving in the spirit of -- of the recent unrest. thankful for the library and for the people of ferguson. we are marking them in the catalog as being part of the
unit collection and a night noois multicolor sticker that says unity. that way people say okay, what are the books that mark this occasion? and, you know, a lost these books very much in the area of civic engagement, civil rights history and emotional recovery from drama. things that are important from people of ferguson going forward. >> another beacon you're putting on those books. scott, thanks so much. good job. >> thank you. >> that wraps up this edition of alex witt. next we have up with steve core kna kornacki. just about all you need is a finely tuned... pen. get zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit,
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