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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  February 7, 2019 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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scientists have warned that global warming may be about to hit a tipping point, a level of temperature rise that could bring rapid and far—reaching changes for our planet. they say that without immediate and drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the world faces unprecedented extremes of weather, including floods, drought and wildfires. president trump says he expects to be able to announce within days that all of the territory once held by the islamic state group in iraq and syria has been retaken. us military and intelligence officials say is could stage a comeback if the campaign against them isn't sustained. the leader of the taliban's peace negotiations with the us has told the bbc his group isn't interested in taking the country by force. but he's warned that they wouldn't agree to a ceasefire until all foreign forces were withdrawn from afghanistan. and now here on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk,
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i'm stephen sackur. his writing is fuelled by anger at corrupt politica ns, crooked businessmen, and environmental vandals. so, is this the place where the american dream turns sour? carl hiaasen, welcome to hardtalk. happy to have me on, thank you. here we sit in florida, the state you were born in,
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raised in, have worked in all your life, and yet you're still here. what keeps you in a state that you confess is crazy? um... i think it's where my family is from, i think one of the things about writers is you have to care about what you write about, and as messed up as this state is, as absolutely screwed up and insane as this state is, i still care about it. all my family's here. either that or i'm just too lazy to leave. but i will also say that there are weeks where you see the stream of headlines that come out of florida, where even a diehard floridian will say, there's got to be some place better to live, and less crazy. i have those weeks where ijust go, what am i doing here? take me back to your childhood, because you have portrayed it as a state that was very different.
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and we're going back to the 19505 and early 1960s, when you were a kid growing up. it seems like you felt about it in a very different way. i did, but when i was a kid, we grew up in — west of fort lauderdale, and really, on the geographic edge of the florida everglades. there were no malls, no interstates. we would get on our bikes after school and we'd ride out with our fishing rods. it was like a tom sawyer sort of existence. there wasn't anything to do, so we collected snakes and wild animals, brought them home, let them loose in the house, terrified my mother. that was the childhood that i had. all of it was spent outdoors, really. was one of the motivations for you to get into journalism, and for a while it was investigative journalism, was it to try to explain to yourself and to fellow floridians what was happening? i think a lot of it was anger, in the sense that every time i went home from school, i went
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home to visit my folks, there would be something else that had disappeared. some other memory that i had had as a child had disappeared. and it was happening in a way that was inevitably corrupt. it couldn't have happened in a sane, orderly civilisation. it was just whoever had the money got what they wanted, and they could build whatever they wanted. so i think i went intojournalism, first of all, because it was a way to carry on a fight for truth. not necessarily taking a position, because you don't. but when you know people are lying, you know they're taking money, you know that the effect of that impacts the quality of life forfuture generations, then it becomes an altruistic thing. because you don't go into the journalism for the money, dear god, even i knew that. but you went into in there because you believe in that fight. i remember being very young and seeing things happening, seeing places start to disappear, places i would ride my bike to, all of a sudden there's a fence and then there's condos going up,
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and i was kissed. the satire that i wrote later, as a novelist, i think it's one of the great weapons, anger. that is what really intrigues me, because i guess in your late twenties, your thirties, you flipped in a way. you were a guy who was devoted to finding stuff out, fact—finding, and then it seems you decided that actually you could deliver more truth in a way, by not being restricted by the straightforward facts, and chasing stuff up with fiction. yeah, i mean, i had the luxury of being able to live this double life where i still worked for the herald, and i'd been on the investigative team for years, and then i started doing a column, which is somewhat liberating because you get paid for your opinion, good or bad. but i still had my foot firmly in the newsroom, but at night, i would start working on — i had these novels as psychotherapy,
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because at night, you know, i would go home at night and work on the novels. what do you mean by psychotherapy? well, because in the context of newspaper work, you can't write your own endings. and i covered too many stories — and i'm talking about crime, you know, politics, the homicides, the gun violence — i'd covered too many stories, where there wasn't a good ending, a happy ending. but that's journalism. the axiom is, they don't send you to the airport if the plane lands safely. and that's how you get conditioned. to me, i could go home and work on a novel and i knew at the end of this novel, as bizarre and twisted and, you know, warped as it might be, at the end, the good guys would be standing, and something horrible and poetic is going to happen to the bad guys. yeah, the bad guys get it and the good guys triumph. but in the course of that, the journey in your novels, an awful lot of horrible
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stuff happens. yeah. and the overall view of humanity you present is pretty dark and bleak, and most folks are on the take. they usually lie. they do bad stuff, in all sorts of different arenas, from sexual to business to politics. it is a dystopian view, in a way, of what we humans are. it might be for people who don't live here, but for people who live here, they've always looked at the novels of sort of documentaries. there's hardly anything that is in my novels that either hasn't happened or won't happen eventually. and that's the scary part, is that some of the things that people accuse me of, saying that's the sickest thing i've ever read, i can pull out a newspaper clipping and say, really?
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this is where it came from. you could have been a politician. you are rooted in this floridian culture. you could have run for office, whether it be at state level or something more. but you never did. never did, i would have no chance of winning and no chance of lasting in office because you have to do the dance, you have to compromise, you have to appeal to all factions, you have to be diplomatic, and i'm none of those things. i never have even imagined it because i am not psychologically suited for politics, and you have to know your limitations. let's talk about the one politician today who dominates all talk of politics in the united states, a man who in many ways appears more unbelievable than any fictional character very could, but he is very real, and he sits in the white house. donald trump. this is what you wrote on donald trump, or at least it was the headline of a column you wrote about donald trump in march 2015. i'm not going to spare your embarrassment. it began, "there will never
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be a president trump." absolutely, i love that column. i wasn't alone. i didn't think it was possible. that's — you mentioned satire, and i thought well, this would defy satire, if this clown got got elected. yet he did, so i was dead wrong. i've been wrong a lot. i also didn't think barack obama could get elected, because in my lifetime, when i grew up, there were segregated beaches and segregated restrooms. the idea of an african—american in the white house seemed inconceivable to me, and... so what does it say about a country which can elect barack obama and then, in the very next election, come up with donald trump? it's so intriguing. it shows what the capacity for hope is, and it shows what the capacity for utter cynicism is, on both sides. ithink... no, i absolutely didn't think trump could ever become president, and since he's been elected, he's been a nightmare for the country, but a gift to every comedy writer and newspaper columnist, because... but has he really been a gift? or actually, has he really, in a funny sort of way, defused the power of satire?
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because as you just said to me, in a sense, satire has no role to play when donald trump does things which... i think in terms of novels, creating a sort of tom wolfe landscape, it's more difficult because of trump. but in terms of newspaper work and newspaper columns, you know, 750 words, i think you can still have plenty of fun. and i say that i don't think he's killed satire, because in this country, stephen colbert's show is the top—rated late—night talk show, and all he does in his monologues is all trump, all the time, and he's the most popular show in that timeslot in the country. there's a humourist in the uk called john o'farrell, who's very publicly worried out loud about satire in the age of donald trump, saying, in a way, it's just too easy to subside into laughter and satire and mockery,
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and in many ways we need to be truly angry. and it goes back to what we were discussing earlier about the balance within you of anger and the desire to entertain and find humour. sometimes, is it important to focus on the anger? every funny column i write comes from anger, every single one. every satirical novel comes from an upwelling of anger. but defusing it with the laughter, and a smile? yeah, but it's different if people are getting thejoke. you're not defusing it, you're feeding the fire. there's a difference between slapstick and a difference between a satirical line with a very fine edge and a point. if you get people laughing for the right reasons, you get them thinking about the right things. i've spoken in the recent past to the editors of both the new york times and the washington post, and they both say that they are fearful of the atmosphere that they see in the
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united states today, they are fearful for the security of their own staff. and they are at the top of the masthead of their newspapers. you, on the other hand, are the name that so many people associate with your newspaper, the miami herald. ijust wonder, in the current climate... that's what's different. ..with your views, and the power of the opposition that you get from people who think donald trump is doing great things for america, do you ever consider your own safety and security? that's what's different now than what it was during nixon and newt gingrich. the difference now is the idea of a physical threat, the idea of assassination of journalists, which the rest of the world has been dealing with forever, and it's happening even today, which we've never had in america. we do have it now. and... do you ever think about it? well, i do sincejune 28 of last year, when my brother was killed. i was going to raise that
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in a moment, but you've brought it up right now. we sit here less than a year after you experienced the most extraordinary tragedy, because your brother, who was six years younger than yourself, he was also a newspaperman, an editor and a columnist on a small paper. the annapolis gazette. but he worked for the baltimore sun and the washington post. yes. but he's gone out to annapolis, to an editorialjob. yeah. and he was in his office when a guy with a gun walked in, long—term grudge against that newspaper, for reasons which are complicated — and the trial hasn't even started yet, so we have to refer to him as a suspect rather than a convicted criminal. anyway, he opens fire, kills five people. yes. including your brother. who was just there trying to put out a neighbourhood newspaper,
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a community newspaper, yeah. at a time when the debate and the anger towards journalists is quite visible at trump rallies, and almost, you know, and threats of violence — and there have been threats against other papers and other journalists. and we don't know what motivated this guy. i don't know what's on his computer, the police haven't said, or if he was on these websites. but he had threatened the paper before. he had threatened — and you know, the irony was that nobody working in that newsroom had anything to do with the story that he was angry about, that had appeared so many years ago, which was basically a police story where he had pleaded guilty to a crime, and they had reported it and had done a column about his victim. every word in both those pieces was true, but he held a grudge. he sued for libel, he got thrown out of every court. it was the last thing anybody expected. i don't know what was the trigger, at what point did he feel comfortable doing that, or at least,
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what pushed him to that point? we may never know. but the fact is that he killed five people, shot a couple of others, and my brother was one of those who died, and it was the last thing i would have expected. and so at that point... i'm trying to imagine what it must have been like for you, because you had, for a long time, written powerful columns about the dysfunctional relationship in the united states between guns and the people. and the nra in particular, yeah. and you had called for meaningful gun control. you had railed against the power of the nra in this country. and then, i guess you never expected it was going to come so close to home. i don't think anyone does. as bad as i thought it was, before this happened, i know now that it's much worse. but in relation to the threat to reporters and the media,
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yeah, i think this is the first time where that has been out there, where you have people chanting at rallies. the poll numbers, the press has never been at the top of the popularity list. since the beginning of this republic, it's never been a cherished institution, especially in the heat of political years. people will always say they're suspicious, people are always reluctant to believe something they don't want to believe about their candidate. they're always sceptical, cynical, or in some cases, theyjust turn a blind eye to corruption. but to have it out in the open, where you have people on websites advocating murder ofjournalists, which you do, and they did before my brother was killed, that's new. it is appalling. when you say it's new, are you in any sense tempted to blame donald trump for the creation of this atmosphere? i think that it hasn't helped,
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i mean, to have someone who every time there's a negative article about him, despite — even in the wall streetjournal, which his friend owns, just call it fake news, because... and there is this line, "the enemies of the people" — the idea thatjournalists can be the enemy. well, that's absurd. and the media, the press, whether it's — whether you get your news online or you get it from an old—fashioned newspaper on your doorstep, they are going to survive donald trump. they will survive and they will endure past donald trump. but we've seen the big institutions such as you mentioned, the new york times, the washington post, the wall streetjournal have all become more robust, more popular, being read by more people than have ever read those papers now, partly because of the fuss he's making about it. but on the issue of guns, whether it be the big newspapers, whether it be powerful voices such as your own, and you wrote a column about this just a few days ago, the fact is that, for all of the mass shootings — and, you know,
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there's no point reading the list. everybody knows that even here in florida, there have been a host of mass shootings. and yet not one of these incidents, for all of the grief, the prayers that are offered, produces a blind bit of political difference... no. ..on the issue of gun control. we had the former governor actually put — rose up against the nra after the marjory stoneman douglas shooting, and they raised the age limit for purchase, i think, of semiautomatic rifles, and they, i believe put in — they might have a waiting period. there was a couple of laws passed that the nra had opposed, that it was the first time in many, many, many, many years... at the state level. at the state level, yes. but you're right. but here's how the spirit — my brother and i didn't even talk about this, because we had kids. and after sandy hook, after all those elementary schoolkids. .. more than 20 children, young children. ..slaughtered, we both had talked
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after that and said, if that doesn't do it, if that doesn't bring this country to a new political reality about guns, then nothing's going to do it. and what happened after sandy hook? nothing — nothing substantive. nothing at the federal level of any substance at all. so, am i surprised? no. let me ask you about the impact on you and yourjournalism, because it seems to me you've always written from the heart, and we've discussed the level of anger, but you've never made it deeply personal. you don't write much about family, about those dearest and nearest to you. no. and interestingly, you said, you know what? rob did — rob was more open, more personal. yes, he did, he loved that, but i didn't. and yet in a sense, now that this has come home to you, do you feel — i don't know whether a duty, or a freedom to write more personally? you know, because you wrote a column, which i did read, a few weeks after rob was killed about...
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and you said, "the pain never ebbs, the tears never dry." that was the most personal thing i've ever written. was it? oh, yes — oh, yes. here's one reason i haven't is because, as you said, my background is more as an investigative journalist, and you're trained to keep yourself out of it. and, of course, when i started doing the column, they wanted... you know, i've thrown myself into it emotionally, and with my point of view, politically, but i don't — you hardly ever mention family. part of it is because i think you should be able to make your case without that emotional tug. but second of all, because the nature of what i had done in the herald, and even who i was writing about — you have to remember what miami in the ‘70s and ‘80s was, and the amount of violence and drugs. and i was writing about the cocaine wars, i was writing about individuals involved,
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and escobar and others, and i was frequently writing about corrupt politicians. in other words, i was making enemies. you sure were — dangerous enemies. and when the column started, i made more, because the only way to do it is honestly, and so if somebody got caught doing something, i'd write about them. and you know, most of the time, by the time i wrote about them, they had much bigger problems than some newspaper columnist writing about them. they had much bigger legal problems. but at the same time, in the back of your mind, i'm thinking, all it takes is one person who's mad enough. and there's enough guns on the street — even in those days in miami, there were plenty. so, i was always cautious about not giving — that i would be the target, and not giving away where my kids were at school or where my wife worked at the time, any of that. i was very cognisant of that. i'm not being paranoid, i was just being careful. has this changed anything, from that point of view?
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no, i still... i still — i don't — no, i can still do myjob without writing about personal things, i think. in this case, rob's death was something extraordinary, and it was on every network, and his face was on every news station, and he wasn't there to, you know, be protected anymore. but there are people in my family that, you know, were scared, are scared, and... for you? i think for all of us. you know, just — it's a tough world, and it's a tough reality to face. i don't know that they're that worried about me, but i've always been... it's not worth it, it's not worth the risk. has any of this made you question whether you want to carry on? good question. i think, in the few weeks
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after he was killed, i wondered. i wondered, because i saw the pain in my own — everyone else in my family was going through, and i did wonder whether... you know, i had a good, long run. i mean, i've been with that newspaper for over a0 years, and i would have — there would be nothing to be ashamed of to walk away and just go off, you know, live on an island and write my books. there would be nothing to stop me from doing that, and i wouldn't feel ashamed. but i would feel left out with what's going on in this country, not to have the privilege of having the voice that i have, and the ability of the platform that i have, i should say, to lose that, at a time when this country is in the kind of trouble that it's in, i would feel, like, left out, and like i was cheating. taking the easy way out. we began by talking about your commitment to this place, and yet, having had
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the conversation we had, i'm wondering whether you, in recent times, have seriously thought about getting out of florida? there are days when i — something happens where i think enough is enough, and it's too late to save the place. the one thing i've compared it to, stephen, if you understand, it's almost like you're sitting with a relative in the hospital and they're fading away. and do you wait, or do you leave early, do you bug out? and i'm not going to bug out. as long as they're fighting, as long as people are fighting, i will stay. my heart isn't anywhere else. and, secondly, i've not lived anywhere else that i can write about with authority or with the kind of affection and sort of the bittersweet side as well, the anger as well. i never cared about a place as much as i care about this, and for the purposes of my crazy novels and for the newspaper work,
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i think you need that kind of energy, you need that kind of emotional investment. so i can't see myself leaving. that is a great place to end. carl hiaasen, thank you very much. thank you, thanks for having me on. it was really a pleasure, thanks. good morning. to sum up today simply, we'd probably call it a day of sunshine and showers. but first thing this morning we do have a spell a very strong winds to contend with across the southern half of the uk. they will ease by the time the rush hour's over, but nonetheless some challenging conditions out there currently. the worst of the winds over, i think,
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for the south—west of england and wales by the time we get to 8am. but still a core of strong winds across the south—east, particularly the midlands and east anglia, through the morning rush hour. those figures in the black circles indicate the gust strengths, notice they're lighter further north, but there will be some snow to contend with across parts of scotland. also, as the rain pulls away from northern england on the tail—end of this area of low pressure, there could be some snow for a time across the pennines — a couple of centimetres here. but, come the afternoon, the picture looks much clearer, the winds have become much lighter, it's pretty mild in the south, there's a lot of sunshine around, but there will be some showers packing into the far north—west. through the evening, a largely fine affair aside from those showers in the north—west. turns quite chilly across the north—east of scotland. elsewhere, though, as we go into the small hours of friday, the cloud piles in, accompanied by rain and again the wind starts to lift. so, most areas off to a frost—free start to friday. for the north—east of scotland, there could be some ice around, there could also be some snow too as this frontal system just starts to bump into that colder air.
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but this is friday's weather in a nutshell, this area of low pressure. tightly packed isoba rs, windy once again, particularly from the middle part of the day. and those winds could be disruptive and they will remain strong on into saturday. the rain is also going to be quite problematic in some spots as well. not so much across england and wales, where this front will continue to push through, but across a good portion of scotland, where basically one area of rain moves out of the way and then the low hooks another batch in, if you like, so the totals are going to really start to add up. a mild enough day on friday, but a very windy one, with gusts of 50 or 60mph. the band of rain clears england and wales friday night into saturday, but the low hooks another area of heavy rain across northern ireland into central scotland. could be wintry for a time as well, the winds certainly still remain strong through saturday, although they will gradually start to ease off a little later in the day. some sunshine around as we get into the afternoon, a little cooler than on friday, particularly in the north as we pick up a north—westerly wind.
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and then all eyes to the south for sunday, because it looks like we could see a spell of heavy rain pushing into england and wales to bring the weekend to a close. next week, though, high pressure returns. it's looking quieter once again. this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. our top story: theresa may heads to brussels to push for changes on the brexit deal, but is the eu listening? a body's recovered from the wreckage of the plane that went down in the sea between france and britain, carrying footballer emiliano sala and pilot david ibbotson. bryan singer, the director of queen biopic bohemian rhapsody, has his bafta nomination suspended over allegations of sexual abuse. he denies the claims. in business — capital punishment. financialfirms to move hundreds of billions of dollars in assets out of the uk ahead of brexit, with $1 trillion already gone since the referendum.
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