tv PBS News Hour PBS January 15, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: security forces foil what could have been another european terror attack this time in belgium. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this thursday surprises and snubs from the 2015 oscar nominations and what they tell us about movie making in hollywood. >> woodruff: plus, a musical take on new wealth and inflation in china from a stand-up comedian who raps the economic blues. >> i'm pretty sure that i'm the best macroeconomic
chinese-english bilingual rapper in the world. >> ifill: and, redefining the automobile. in the car of the future software trumps horsepower, and passengers take a backseat to self-driving technology. >> the operator of the vehicle is actually not driving. he's just supervising what the vehicle is doing, and he's keeping his hands and his feet near all of the controls. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> this is about more than work. it is about growing a community. everyday across the country, the men and women of the i.b.e.w. are committed to doing the job right, doing the job safe, and doing the job on time. because while we might wire your street, we're also your friends and neighbors. i.b.e.w. the power professionals in your neighborhood.
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>> ifill: guns blazed in eastern belgium this evening as terror suspects shot it out with police putting europe back on edge. security officials say they raided a cell of extremists, with links to syria, who were ready to launch attacks "on a grand scale". two suspects were killed and one wounded in the town of verviers, about 80 miles from belgium. police said the gunmen used military weapons and opened fire as special units closed in. they said there was, for the time being no connection to last week's attacks in paris. >> woodruff: the trouble in belgium came on a day when the president of france appealed for religious tolerance, in the wake of the terror in paris. and, some of the victims of the attacks were laid to rest today. the casket was carried out to applause, and covered in cartoons and messages drawn by "charlie hebdo" staffers.
hundreds gathered at the funeral of bernard verlhac, known as "tignous," one of 12 people gunned down at the satirical weekly last week. >> ( translated ): we will continue to draw cartoons of the victims and we drew on tignous' coffin. we'll try to continue to laugh with them where they are now. earlier, at a memorial service, the wife of tignous urged on the cause of free expression. >> ( translated ): there is a phrase which i find a bit silly but i've said it a lot-- he should not die for nothing. i think it's fundamental. the cartoonists are, today messengers of hope. >> woodruff: funerals were also held for two other "charlie hebdo" staffers, and for a policeman who helped protect them. the killings were condemned today by pope francis, traveling in asia. but he also called for limits on free expression when it comes to religion. >> ( translated ): many people who speak badly about other religions, or religion, who make
fun of them, make other people's religions a joke, well, that is a provocation. you cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people's faiths you cannot make fun of faith. >> woodruff: and in pakistan, from protests in the street to a vote in parliament, there was widespread condemnation of "charlie hebdo" for publishing another cartoon of the prophet muhammad. back in france, president francois hollande sought to calm religious tensions, vowing to punish any acts against muslims or jews. >> ( translated ): we should also remember, and i did it each time i made a trip to the arab world, that islam is compatible with democracy. we should reject all prejudices starting in france. french people of muslim faith have the same rights and have the same duties as all citizens. >> woodruff: meanwhile, the french military reported islamic hacker groups and others have attacked 19,000 french websites since last week's
attacks. secretary of state john kerry flew into paris this evening. he said he will convey american sympathies for the paris victims, at a town hall tomorrow. >> ifill: in other news this day, turkey and israel intensified a war of words over the paris attacks. first, turkish president tayyip erdogan criticized israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu for linking the bloodshed to islam. that prompted the israeli foreign minister to brand erdogan an anti-semitic bully. today came a new exchange, this time between turkey's prime minister and the israeli leader. >> ( translated ): netanyahu as the head of the government that kills chilling playing on the beach with a bombardment of gaza and storms a humanitarian aid vessel sailing in international water, he committed a crime against the humanity just as the massacre in paris was committedded by terrorists. >> ( translated ): the severe words of turkish president
erdogan were compounded today by the words of his prime minister. until now i have not heard condemnation from the international community from these unacceptable words. i want to say clearly that if the international community does not condemn those who support terror, the wave of terror that is sweeping the world will only increase. >> ifill: relations between israel and turkey have gone downhill since 2010, when ten turks died during an israeli raid on an aid convoy trying to reach gaza. >> woodruff: pope francis arrived in the philippines today, marking the first papal visit to asia's largest catholic nation in 20 years. he was greeted in manila by a wind gust that blew off his cap and also by hundreds of children. they performed a mass, coordinated welcome dance with multi-colored umbrellas. later, hundreds of thousands lined the streets as the papal motorcade traveled to the vatican embassy. six million people are expected at an outdoor mass on sunday. >> ifill: the long-standing american embargo on trade and travel to cuba starts to ease
tomorrow. the obama administration formally announced it today, under a diplomatic reopening to havana. u.s. companies will be allowed to export more technology and make limited investments in cuba. additional travel will be permitted, although general tourism remains banned. >> woodruff: five more prisoners have been released from u.s. military custody at guantanamo bay, cuba. the five, from yemen, were captured in pakistan, and held more than a dozen years as al- qaeda suspects. they are being sent to estonia and oman for resettlement. 122 detainees remain at guantanamo. >> ifill: a big name witness testified today in the trial of a former c.i.a. officer accused in a high-profile leak. former national security adviser condoleezza rice told jurors she was stunned when "the new york times" reported on a mission to disrupt iran's nuclear program. the government says jeffrey sterling leaked the information a charge he denies. >> woodruff: president obama
opened a new push today for giving paid sick leave to parents and others. he signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to provide up to six weeks of sick leave to care for newborn children or ill relatives. and, he followed up later, in baltimore. >> there are 43 million americans who don't get paid sick leave, which when you think about it, is a pretty astonishing statistic. and that means no matter how sick they are, or how sick a family member is, they may find themselves having to choose to be able to buy groceries or pay the rent or look after themselves or their children. >> woodruff: the president will raise the issue again in his state of the union address, next tuesday. republicans announced today that freshman senator joni ernst of iowa will give the g.o.p. response. >> ifill: and wall street, weak earning at big banks pushed
stocks lower again. the dow jones industrial average lost 106 points to close at 17,320; the nesdaq fell 68 points to close at 4,570; and the s&p 500 slipped 18 to 1,992. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour. the aftermath of the counter- terrorism raids in belgium. a provocative look at america's armed forces and the debate it has sparked. the little diversity among this year's oscar nominees. an economic rap on new wealth inflation and struggles for a rising middle class in china. hitching a ride in a driver-less car. and, the stories not trending online and why they are important. >> ifill: we return now to the hunt for terrorists in europe. today's raids against armed militants in belgium, highlights the trend of european muslims travelling to syria and iraq to
fight. europol says that as many as 5,000 europeans have joined the conflict there. hundreds have returned to europe, where authorities fear they may use their military training to launch attacks. for more on this, i'm joined by lorenzo vidino of the european foundation for democracy. he studies islamism and political violence in europe and north america. so officials say there is no direct connection to the paris attacks, mr. vidino, but they seem awfully similar. >> yeah, absolutely. what we see right now in belgium is two different situations. it was allegedly the arrest of the individual who provided the weapons to khudobin, the man who attacked the supermarket in paris, but they also allegedly thwarted a plot which traces its routes to syria to carry out attacks in belgium. so a very tense situation many belgium with two ongoing situations. >>.
>> ifill: is the syria connection particularly problematic in europe where the borders are so porous? >> oh absolutely. first of all, the borders are porous when it comes to turkey. it's very easy for europeans to go to turkey. in many cases you can travel to turkey without a passport and it's easy from turkey the make your way into syria. and it's equally easy to come back from syria to turkey and european countries and it's very easy to go to one country and another. there is no border between european countries. one travels like you travel from state to state in the u.s. the problem is the police do not have the same power so there are borders. so french police cannot investigate and operate in belgium or spain, but the terrorists move freely. that's a big problem for europe. >> ifill: you're in milan tonight in italy and you work in belgium. from the people you talk to on the continent, is there a particular nervousness, tension about the potential for these kinds of attacks or plots to
spread? >> yeah, obviously you do see a larger presence of police in many potential targets. i don't think there's panic in terms of population but obviously that's what people talk about. it's in the media. and you do see some tensions in society. so obviously these are tense times. there's nothing new in european history. we have dealt with islamist terrorism for the last 15 years. we've had other forms of terrorism, right wing, left wing nationalist in the past, so it's really nothing new. at the same time obviously there are some tension, and it's a new form of terrorism which is in some way particularly insidious. so it's problematic indeed. >> ifill: in brussels lately and in belgium in general, there have been... there's a history of attacks recently. >> there was indeed another attack back in may where another french individual who was radicalized in prison, traveled
to syria fought for one year in syria and then came back to europe, managed to get an ak-47 and went to a jewish museum in brussels and killed four people. he was then subsequently arrested. a lot of the dynamics that we've seen now with france and belgium were already visible back then. we do see these sort of dynamics throughout europe where there have been several plots thwarted in many countries from u.k. to even peaceful switzerland and sweden. it is a problem. the numbers you mentioned are particularly problematic, up to 5,000 individuals. that's a huge number that creates a lot of problems to monitor them. there's a will be of manpower and obviously there are legal problems in monitoring all these people. >> ifill: is there a distinction between islamic state militants and al qaeda militants in terms of trying to trace the source of all of this activism and terrorism? >> i think there's obviously an importance. we know the two groups are at odds. they are actually in competition
at some level and at the leadership level, there is a bit of a rivalry between the two. in a way the argument is one is trying to outdo the other by carrying out spectacular and symbolic attacks. i think at the grassroots level when it comes to aspiring terrorists, aspiring jihadists, for them those distinctions don't really make much sense. people who want to sort of get involved and embrace this ideology and want to mobilize to them al qaeda, the islamic state make little sense. it's a distinction that doesn't matter. they want to do something, whether it's in syria or here in new york. whatever happens to al qaeda and or if it's the islamic state, it matters very little to them. >> ifill: lorenzo vidino of the european foundation for democracy, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now to a critique of america's war-fighting apparatus that's making waves in defense circles and beyond. journalist and author james
fallows raises hard questions about this country's defense establishment in a cover story the atlantic magazine titled, "why do the best soldiers in the world keep losing? the tragic decline of the american military." fallows' thesis: that it's time to examine why the best funded trained and most professional military in the world hasn't achieved lasting victories over insurgent forces in the post- 9/11 era. we will have more on the reaction to his piece, but first, we hear from fallows himself. he spoke a few days ago with margaret warner. >> warner: jill fallows, thank you for having us. >> thank you, margaret. >> warner: you contend after 13 years of war in iraq and afghanistan, in which we overthrough samaria -- saddam hussein and the taliban and drove most of al qaeda underground, that we essentially lost those wars? >> if you look strictly from a military point of view, the one clear victory the united states had was killing osama bin laden
but by having this last 12 or 13 years of open-ended war in iraq and the surrounding countries, i argue that from almost any perspective, that is use of money, loss of life, taking of life, strategic changes in america's image and reputation around the world erosion of american values, this has been an era of defeat rather than victory. >> warner: but critics like former u.s. ambassador to iraq jim jeffries argues that winning a war is forcing the other side to cease operations and basically gaining control of territory, that the united states has won most of these engagements. >> there's another classic military statement "winning battles losing wars." a north korean said said kouachi it's irrelevant when an american said you're never beat us on the battlefield. engagement by engagement, u.s. troops are nothing less than
competent brave heroic, enduring losses and all the rest but as a strategic question of how we apply our will around the world and this military that's so much larger than anybody else's around the world, i argue that it's been ineneckive and often counter productive. >> warner: you apportion a lot of blame, military leadership, some political but you also say it's rooted in something that's happened to the american public and culture and you sum it up with this phrase "chicken hawk nation." >> i use that word knowing it will be provocative. this was a term popular when the iraq war was being debated. people were egore to go to war as long as someone else was going. i argue that if when historians look at this era of our america, they'll say something similar was true of the country as a whole. we are always at war. we spend twice as large a share of our gdp on the military as the world does in general, the longest sustained period of open-ended combat in our nation's history and yet the country as a whole is barely
affected. we have half-time ceremonies honoring the heroes. we let them get on the commercial airlines earlier, but we don't think seriously about what they're doing the missions we're asking them to undertake, as a result from my view we've embarked on a series of unwinnable wars. we call people heroes and send them to do things they can't do. >> warner: so you say this adulation almost that the american public feels for the military is dangerous. >> i think that it's unnatural in addition to being dangerous. when i was a kid in the '50s and '60ed and older in the '70s, american pop culture was familiar enough with its military to make fun of it at times. you had shows like "gomer pyle," "hogans heroes," worse of art like "south pacific" and movies like "m *a *s *h" respected the importance of the military but it was still made of real people with a real foible.
we are starting to have this artificially reverent view of the military that's also distant and disengaged. >> and rooted in the fact that right now if you take all the people who served in iraq or afghanistan at any point in the last 13 years they are three-quarters of 1% of the american public. and so it's a country at war but a public that's not at war. i think that's just distorting in the long run. >> warner: going into iraq, that was not being driven by the pentagon, was it? president bush vice president cheney, secretary rumsfeld. >> the pentagon has generally been an anti-war force in councils of deliberation over the last generation plus, but before the iraq war most of the people i interviewed inside the pentagon thought this would be a big mess because proper planning was not being done. so i'm not saying at all that the military is driving this open-ended extension. >> warner: the pentagon says we're here to present the
options to carry out whatever policy the president decides he wants to pursue. can the public really even be player in that? >> the issues of military accountability, i think there should be more accountability for commanders and tactics and strategies that worked well and poorly in the last dozen years. it's also true that our elected civilian leadership both presidents george w. bush and president obama have enjoyed the convenience of being able to do a lot of this by executive order and having the public and the congress not involved but the public is openly responsible. so i'm trying to stick a prod in the public and say this matters more than our public deport. , which suggests it matters. >> warner: so what is the fix? >> i thought it was interesting that admiral mullin says the joint chiefs of staff says it's too easy to go to war. he would like more trip wires that make the public conscious. >> warner: is he talking about a return to the draft? are you talking about that? >> i think admiral mullin knows
as i do and almost everybody does, realistically a return of the draft will not happen. what admiral mullin is saying is there needs to be some way that people are more connected whether it's having greater reliance on the reserves so people who didn't expect to be in combat are called, the specific answer is not clear but the general goal is. >> warner: you suggest a national commission to look at the iraq and afghanistan conflicts and why we have such trouble dealing with ininsurgent conflicts. would any study stop any president determined to reingauge? >> no of course. there are limits to what studies can do but there are been times in modern history when these big commissions have made a difference. the 9/11 commission had some effect. i think someone that would formally get attention on what has gone right and wrong in this past dozen years of the long wars, so we'll have some way to assess, should we do this again? the institutional process for deciding again whether we're going to go to war one more time needs to be more robust than it is now.
>> warner: jim fallows, thank you. >> thank you, margaret. >> woodruff: as we mentioned earlier, there's been passionate reaction to fallows' piece. joining me now to discuss it, is former u.s. ambassador to iraq james jeffrey. he's a former army infantry officer and is now a visiting fellow at the washington institute for near east policy. and, former marine intelligence officer and former spokesman for the senate armed services committee john ullyot. he's now managing director at the high lantern group. we welcome you both. >> thank you, you i judy. >> warner: is jim fallows right when he says essentially this has been an era of military defeat in this country rather than victory since 9/11? >> it has been an era of lack of success in carrying out our strategic objectives in iraq and in certainly afghanistan. and going back vietnam as well.
when we get engaged in these long-term conflicts, we have not done well as a nation. the military, as jim fallows pointed out they win the battles, that's what they are hired for, but they and all of us together under the leadership of the president have not come up with strategies that have led to the achievement of our objectives. >> warner: is that and the biggest point that the country has lost more than it's gained. >> the ambassador is right. if you look battle by battle, we never suffered a single tactical defeat. while jim fallows is himself right that they have not been successful, it is not because of military shortcomings. what it has been is it's been the policy-makers have committed our military to wars and conflicts such as in iraq and afghanistan that are essentially not solvable on the military level. >> woodruff: so what is happening here ambassador jeffrey? the point he made i thought very powerfully is that such a tiny percentage of the american people are in the military, that
it's just a fraction of 1%. the american people are disconnected from these decisions. >> that's true to some degree. but i mean all decisions are taken by the president and by congress, and that is by a democratic system. the military is small because militaries in all advanced countries are small. we have well over two million people under uniform in the reserves, national guard and active service, but that's still a tiny percent of the very large country we are. there is no real solution to that. the military i don't want to let them off the hook. they have a voice in determining these strategic objectives. general powell gave us a way forward with the powell doctrine. general petraeus is a division commander in iraq in '03 asked the relevant question: tell me how this is all going to end. we need more of that. we need more people to say without a strategic goal and without the resource, we shouldn't be winning these battles at great loss. >> woodruff: john ullyot, is that what happened? >> that's somewhat what happened. i saw we saw in the senate that
the senate was a lot more likely to vote to commit forces when there's not a direct impact on themselvessed the ambassador and i may disagree on this because he can point to vietnam, but if you just look at the iraq war and to a lesser extent afghanistan, we were too willing to commit troops because we didn't know what the actual costs would have been and what the downsides would be if the mission didn't go the way it did when we first sent them in in 2003. >> woodruff: so who or what is responsible? we hear jim fallows and john ullyot coming back to the american people and saying the american people have to be more engaged. >> i think he's absolutely right on that point. i think you're seeing 20 new members of congress who have served in the military who are younger generation, in many cases iraq and afghanistan veterans. by them being in there that's more than we've had in recent years, and that is a really good step forward. to fallows' point we need more people with military experience who are willing to go into congress and participate in
these decisions about when we use force. >> woodruff: ambassador jeffrey, it's still disturbing this larger point he's making that so much blood and treasure have been in effect spent in iraq and afghanistan and that entire region over the last decade plus and he makes the point that the american image values have all taken a big hit despite that. >> they certainly have taken a hit, judy, but again, that isn't because the military didn't take down saddam in a few weeks. it did. it isn't because the military didn't drive the taliban and al qaeda out of afghanistan very very quickly. it's because they were not able of doing a mission that is almost impossible, as we had seen two generations ago in vietnam. you cannot go in and clear out an entire country with an insurgency that is supported by much of the population by any of the standards we're willing to apply. >> woodruff: how does the u.s.
prevent something like that from happening again and again and again. >> don't get involved in any more large counter surge sis where the foot soldiers on the ground are american troops. we've played this game three times. we've not done well. stop doing it. >> and i agree with the ambassador 100%. the key thing is do not see geopolitical problems as always having a military solution. we've been very fortunate that we have a military that is the world's best hands down but there are a lot of times, for example, we can't provide stability to a country that doesn't politically have the will to do so, like in iraq. >> but so often the decision to go to war is equated with is the u.s. prepare to stand up for what it believes new york and if we're not then the argument is well, we're weak so we don't have any choice. >> correct, but once again, it has to be a holistic solution. if you say, look, just by committing u.s. forces in iraq that that's going to be a clear card to victory, we know that's
not the case. >> woodruff: what else should the american people be thinking about as they think about the military today. >> it's very important to realize the military has gone through an extraordinarily difficult period with multiple deployments, great stress on families. that's the first thing. the second thing is they're ready to go out and do this again tomorrow if the country needs them, and that is a resource that no other country in the western world has and it's a precious resource and we have to ensure that it's not wasted on a conflict that they're not given the resources to win. >> woodruff: we thank you both. ambassador jim jeffrey and john ullyot, thank you. >> thank you, judy. >> thank you, judy. >> ifill: it took only minutes after this year's oscar nominations were announced this morning for the criticism to begin. much of the reaction centered on what was missing, namely diversity among nominees for actor, actress, directing and
screenwriting. for the first time since 1995 all of the actors nominated for lead and supporting roles are white. one prominent snub, the civil rights film "selma," which snagged a best picture nod, but nothing for its director, actors or writers. what, if anything, does any of this tell us about the academy, or about the films themselves? for that, we turn to two film critics. mike sargent, of pacifica radio, and ann hornaday, of "the washington post." welcome to you both. so ann horna day, what do today's nominations tell us about the kinds of films that hollywood is making and the kinds of films that hollywood is awarding? >> well, at least for today it looks like it's kind of a boy's show. even when you look at the best picture nominees and gratifyingly "selma" did make it into the best picture to be nominated for best picture, but so many of those are journeys undertaken by men. the great men of "the theory of everything" and "the imitation game" or the young man of
"boyhood" or if actor of "birdman." so it is striking sort of tableaux of men and their stories being represented in that group. >> ifill: mike sargent, what struck you most when you first watched and saw these nominations? >> well, unfortunately i wasn't very surprised. i mean, these nominations i bleech reflect hollywood in general and reflect what is coming out in film in general. and i agree with my cocritic that it is unfortunately something of a white boy's club. most of the films are written produced and directed by white men, and, you know you have to also look at how the academy is set up and who it is that actually gets to vote and how you actually become an academy member. ironically it's similar to the way it's depicted in "selma" before the voting rights act. you have to be nominated by someone who is already in the academy, and they have to vet you and you have to pass through this whole system, and meanwhile if you get nominated, you're
offered entry into the academy but it's consistently the people who are nominated, the people who are voting are a by's club, and an all-white male boy's club then you know what, this is what we get. >> ifill: ann hornaday, let me ask you, this very same academy voted for "12 years a slave" and "the help" has been well received, a couple other movies with racial themes over the years. >> oh, sure. but this might be... those might be exceptions that prove the rule. i don't take anything away from "12 years a slave," which was magnificent achievement, but to mike's point, the demographics are... first of all, we're talking about a relatively small group of people. >> sure. >> between 5,000 and 6,000 members, 94%, according to a study done by the "los angeles times" two years ago, 94% caucasian, 77% male the median
age is 62. so we're looking at a temperature graphic slice of life that isn't necessarily representational of the culture, and by contrast, let's look at the golden globes the other night. we used to sort of poo poo the golden globes in the hollywood foreign press as, i don't know, the lightweights or in the quite of our station, but they ended up being so forward looking and much more representational in their nominations and their wins. >> ifill: mike sargent, a lot of the debate about "selma" in particular was about its accuracy about its historical fidelity. do you think that hurt it? >> well, i think it definitely hurt it. i also feel it is kind of a load of malarkey. let's face it historical films and a number of the films nominated are historical films based on real people. historical films in general
always have a certain amount of elements that are not specifically historically accurate. whether disagreeing or not agreeing, that campaign effectively allows the pga to not get behind her, that's the producer's guild the director's guild to not get behind her. and ultimately the academy can't back a film that is "has a controversy over inaccuracy," meanwhile, a film like "argo" won for best screenplay and best picture. it was historically inaccurate, but the main character is a latino played by ben affleck. >> ifill: ann hornaday how much of this has to do with good old-fashioned campaigning. we've all seen the stepped-up advertising for all kinds of movies. maybe somebody else just did a better job? ann, sorry. >> i'm sorry i'm sorry. >> ifill: go ahead.
>> there's no doubt you're right, gwen. the campaigns have reached washingtonian proportions in terms of their budgets and their bare-knuckled seriousness. and so it could be that the campaigning hurt some films this year, but it could have been as arcane as how many screeners the studio sent out to the guilds while they were voting on their award so it didn't get maybe the momentum it could have had in the last few weeks. so it might be overdetermined as an economist might say new york terms of the reasons why some people got in and some people didn't. >> mike sargent, you started this conversation by saying you weren't that surprised. does that mean that you were discurrented? >> well, let's put it this way, i am somewhat discouraged. i guess to me this is sort of systematic and institutionalized. you know it strikes me, a very important point about hollywood is that, you know there's this
myth that black films don't travel, so as a result no matter how much money your film makes here, an i'm talking about not necessarily a denzel washington film, whether you're kevin hart or whatever, you live and die here. >> ifill: in the u.s. >> in the u.s. because those films are not distributed internationally so as a result in a way you're sort of ghettoized into just having your films play here and that myth perpetuating itself that oh, the black experience is not of in i interest to the rest of the world. >> ifill: well we'll be able to watch and see what happens next in all of this, not only oscar night but after that. ann hornaday of the "washington post" and mike sargent of pacifica radio, thank you both very much. >> you're welcome. thank you for having us. >> woodruff: the latest trade reports this week showed once again the extent to which china
is a powerhouse in the world of international commerce. its exports came in above projections, even as the global economy is showing new signs of slowing. but while growth brings important benefits, it's also leading to some profound changes in day-to-day life there. our economics correspondent, paul solman, tells us about an unusual performer who's tapped into a vein. of his reporting on "making sense" of financial news. >> ♪ inflation is such a mystery, everything's too expensive for me. ♪ ♪ ( laughter ) >> reporter: a comedy club inflation tear-jerker from a boston fulbright scholar with a unique take on china's economy. jesse appell, a standup sensation here in, of all places, beijing. >> reporter: at a chinese
restaurant back in boston appell, though he's no economist, presented his credentials. >> i'm pretty sure that i'm the best macro-economic chinese/english, bilingual rapper in the world. >> reporter: and not just rap but macro-economic comedy in general, which has earned appell both a unique view of a china in jarring economic transition, and an upper middle class income there, some $30,000 a year. appell's income comes from comedy gigs, prompted by tv appearances. and how did he make it onto chinese tv? by producing internet videos, like "laowai style," that have attracted millions of chinese viewers to this young american's sometimes bi-lingual take on sino-economics. >> "mo money, mo fazhan" is a parody of "mo money, mo problems." and "fazhan" means development in china, so this is "mo money, mo development."
>> reporter: the video's punchline: the more money, the more development; the more development, the more ambivalence. that is, the more good things to shop for, the more bad things to endure. >> reporter: and the bads are palpable, says appell. >> there's so much traffic, it's too congested. there's pollution in the air. now that everybody has a college degree, you know, your college degree is worth a lot less. and there's really cut-throat competition. >> reporter: more cut-throat competition, more "fazhan," appell exclaims. more confusion between old and new, and, unless the new wealth is evenly distributed, more economic inequality. those above ever further away from those below.
>> no safety net in china. i mean, people save 40% of their income because if they get sick and go to the doctors there's no credit. you have to pay in cash, up- front, while you're in the emergency room or else you don't get medical treatment. >> reporter: finally, more money brought more inflation, prices rising faster than most chinese could afford, especially the price of food, which rose at almost ten percent a year for a decade, inspiring appell's newest musical offering. >> "where have the one kuai chuanr gone?" is the name of the piece. >> reporter: "the one kuai chuanr" is the? >> "chuanr" is the-- one "kuai" is like a dollar in china, and "chuanr" is the meat on a stick. >> reporter: and the point of that? >> this original song is "where has the time gone?" and it's a super sappy song about, you know, my kids have grown up and where has the time gone, and now the kids are gone and i'm old. i changed it to "where has the one kuai chuanr gone?"
>> reporter: so, this is the inflation that naturally comes with development, but it has a downside to it. >> yeah, and inflation there is a big deal because people remember just a couple years ago being able to buy, you know, the "one kuai chuanr." and, you know, it's, especially for people who make less money. it's a little bit of the loss of this culture and this moment in the development in china where we had enough meat to put on sticks and everybody could afford it.
( laughter and applause ) >> reporter: in fact, it's really the inequality that's so confusing to the chinese, combined with an economic slowdown after years of soaring growth and ever higher expectations. inflation has actually been going down of late. >> reporter: but hey, a rapper can explain just so much. we did have one last question however: why has macro-rap struck a chord in today's china? >> the economy and money plays a huge role in everyday people's lives. everybody's always talking about how am i going to make money? how much did that subway cost to build? how much do i pay to go on the subway? these issues come up in america, but they're everywhere in china. and everybody is a streetwise economist and everybody is a streetwise finance expert and is trying to figure out how to just get it done. >> ♪ we need a better economic policy. ♪ ♪ >> it's just so in the psyche of
everybody that doing rap about the economy doesn't even seem weird. >> reporter: and after spending enough time with jesse appell it didn't even seem weird to us. this is paul solman, reporting from the new home of macro- economic chinese rap comedy, the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: if you were intrigued by some of those rap parodies paul just sampled in his piece, you're in luck if you go to our homepage where you can watch full videos of his work. >> ifill: first there were hands free devices, then voice- directed gadgets, now the auto industry is talking about replacing drivers altogether. technology is certainly moving in that direction. we sent special correspondent steve goldbloom to las vegas to check it out. >> reporter: if this car looks like it's from the future that's because it is. it's the mercedes luxury in motion.
with inward facing seats and gesture recognition technology, it was drawing a crowd at the consumer electronic show this month in las vegas. some 20,000 tech products were launched at c.e.s. this year from recreational drones to smart kitchen appliances. but one of the most buzzed about showings was a preview of the driverless car. >> this is a pretty big deal for us. >> reporter: jen-hsun huang is the c.e.o. of nvidia, a silicon valley based technology company that unveiled the tegra x1 superchip, a brand new computing platform for cars. >> one of the biggest revolutions going on right now is the building of and the creating of the autonomous driving car. >> reporter: just a few years ago, nvidia was at c.e.s. showing off their high-speed processor for video games on x-box. that expertise has now found its way inside the car. >> we're here to announce a supercomputing chip we'll be able to recognize ambulances and fire engines and pedestrians all kinds of conditions that you
would confront while you're driving. >> reporter: and while most cars lose value the day you drive it off the lot, connected vehicles are expected to improve with age. >> in the future we're going to have all cars be connected and it will be connected to the cloud. you'll get software upgrades over time and as a result your car gets better and better over time. >> automotive has always been about the looks and the horsepower of the car. we're moving more towards a software defined car. >> reporter: john absmeier runs the silicon valley lab for delphi automotive, one of the world's largest automotive parts manufacturers. on this densely trafficked day at c.e.s., he's taking us on a tour of the las vegas strip. a diverless one. >> the operator of the vehicle is actually not driving he's just supervising what the vehicle is doing and he's keeping his hands and his feet near all of the controls just in case anything happens. >> reporter: our driver, or should i say supervisor, is ultimately responsible for the vehicle's safety. but the car itself had to pass a standard driving test, just like the rest of us. >> we actually had a las vegas d.m.v. administrator giving us an exam to make sure the vehicle performed safe and as good or
better than a human. the system is taking information from about 20 different sensors and it's fusing all that information together, and then determines where to drive the vehicle. that's sort of like navigation. we program an endpoint and the car tries to get there. >> reporter: absmeier says we can expect to see urban driverless technology like this hit the market in the next ten years. but, there's still a few challenges. although connected cars have faster processing power than humans. one thing missing-- is judgement. >> you also might look over and see somebody texting on their phone and go "get away from that," right? the car doesn't see that. >> reporter: still, driverless technology brings with it some unique advancements in safety. >> if the driver experienced some sort of life threatening issue like a heart attack the car could safely pull to the side of the road and call an ambulance or route to a hospital. >> reporter: driverless cars are still a ways out from being certified for everyday use. but if c.e.s. is truly a predictor of things to come than a street full of autonomous driving vehicles is much closer than you may expect. for the pbs newshour in las vegas, i'm steve goldbloom.
>> woodruff: a quick postscript to steve's report, these cars are not about to hit the market next year. the delphi concept we saw, for example, is not expected for a decade. only delphi can get a permit to test it on the road, and the price is not yet determined. >> ifill: most of us spend a certain amount of time each day trying to navigate interesting and important stories on the web it can be overwhelming, and no one can get to it all, so we are drawn to the same stories-- what's trending. but what are we missing? answering that question is a big part of the mission of the website, ozy. carlos watson is the c.e.o. and he'll be joining us from time to time to discuss some of those stories. the ones that are not trending. i talked to him yesterday. welcome. >> thank you. >> ifill: we'll start in poland. >> poland has their own jeff
bezos. you don't normally think of poland when you think about great entrepreneurs, but here is a 37-year-old guy who says the more people are using the web, the more they want things delivered whether clothes off of ebay or books from amazon but door to door it's too expensive. so he's created these old-style lockers where he'll deliver them to the locker. they're all around town. >> ifill: like you find at a bus station? >> exactly. remember "the french connection"? that's before you time. >> ifill: yes, certainly before my time. >> but exactly like that. he's got 5,000 across the country in some other parts of central europe, as well. people pay less than $2 which is 25% off of what they pay otherwise, and they're able to get goods they couldn't get. >> ifill: is this something he's thinking about bringing here? >> it is. it's coming our way in two days. he's not only coming to the rest of europe, including the u.k., he's now coming to canada. he says that as a prelude to coming to the united states. he also noted that now google
and amazon, some of the big boys are starting to copy him and testing out variations of that in london and san francisco and elsewhere. >> ifill: those free-standing stores we see that am accident has opened them is part of that idea. >> correct, including here in d.c., and the idea there will be more challenges. but he says he's ready. one interesting thing he told me is that in poland, the rules change year to year new taxes come up new regulation, and so a polish manager an entrepreneur has to be much more ready for competition than someone in a settled place like the u.s. or u.k. he says he's ready for bezos and the others. >> ifill: now stories about one of the world's largest democracy indonesia, and its president has only been there three months, but he's doing an amazing thing in reaching out to the poor. >> very much so. some of the furniture salesman he was born the same year as obama and people call him indonesia's obama.
he said, i think there is an opportunity to help the poor. first he cut the fuel subsidy and people said, oh, no why? but then he offered up some cash payments to the poor essentially $15 a month or so. doesn't sound like a lot, but in a nation in which half the people live on less than $2 a day. that's a big deal. he thinks that's the opportunity to allow people to get education to move forward. >> ifill: where is this money coming from? >> he cut the fuel subsidy which saved a meaningful amount of money. using some of that money. he's saying it's more efficient. you would think the markets and investors would look askance and worry. instead the stock market has gone up and people have rewarded it. some say in part because of the example of another emerging economy, lula. remember lula de silva. everyone thought he would try these programs on education and infrastructure and health care that were going the try to help the poor and hurt the economy, but instead brazil boomed.
some think there is a similar opportunity here. >> ifill: this is a case where the dropping cost of oil has helped him to be able to do this because people would otherwise have resisted this idea of cutting the fuel subsidy. >> very much some neighbors who are major oil exporters and rely upon it whether it's malaysia or others, are getting hurt by the fact that oil prices have gone down indonesia, in fact it's helping them to get done what they need to do. >> ifill: is there any political resistance? >> so far things are going well. the president is doing something some say president obama would be wise to consider, he's very actively courting the opposition. so the prior president was of a different party, who had been at odds not with the president as much but one of his colleagues, there have been a lot of dinners. and so while the president doesn't have a true majority, he is trying to woo the opposition. >> ifill: it's so great to go behind the headlines and find out about what's not trending. carlos watson, thank you very much. >> a few hiddens gems.
good to be here. >> ifill: carlos and i continued our conversation online where he unearthed another story about writers far outside the mainstream. >> woodruff: finally tonight, our newshour shares moment of the day. something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you too. tonight's share comes from "the new york times," they're asking the public to help identify the subjects of a famous photographer's picture. gordon parks captured this image of an african american woman in a maid's uniform, holding a white baby, with a well-dressed white woman sitting beside her. all we know from parks' notes is it was taken at the atlanta airport in the spring of 1956. you can find the photo on our website and a link to "the new york times."
>> ifill: it would be great to see. again, the major developments of the day. belgian police said they disrupted imminent terror attacks with a series of raids. two gunmen were killed, but there's no sign they had any ties to the violence in paris. and the obama administration announced the long-standing embargo on trade and travel to cuba will begin to ease beginning tomorrow. >> woodruff: on the newshour online right now, a group of researchers at m.i.t. wanted to find a way to enlarge microscopic brain tissue to observe it in more detail. so they looked for materials known for their expansion properties and they found it in diapers. see how they're using material from baby nappies to navigate brain circuits, on our home page. and read about how facebook, or rather our facebook friends are making our lives more stressful. that's in a new study on social media.
all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, we'll have a report from wyoming's coal country where the e.p.a.'s clean power plan is under attack. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening with political analysis for the week from mark shields and david brooks. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. swiss shock. switzerland central bank stuns investors worldwide making an unprecedented policy about face but doesn't signal a potentially big move by ecb when it meets next week. what went wrong with the banks in lousy revenues falling. some of the biggest banks in america try to explain their tough quarter. profit pressure. des buy best buy uses a term others haven't. deflationary pricing and it could be a costly trend. all that and more tonight for "nightly business report," thursday january 15th. good evening, everyone and welcome. a central bank shocker today and it wasn't from the federal reserve or the bank