tv PBS News Hour PBS January 4, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. on the newshour tonight: a deep gulf grows wider. saudi arabia and its allies break diplomatic ties with iran as the crisis between long-time rivals intensifies. also ahead: it's 2016, and the race for the white house is heating up. bill clinton hits the trail for hillary, while donald trump releases his first ad. then, on the homefront. why injured veterans who want children can't get help with in vitro fertilization treatments. >> it's very angering and it brings a lot of resentment towards my active service. i don't regret joining the marine corps.
>> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: persian gulf powers saudi arabia and iran stared each other down today in a full scale diplomatic confrontation. the struggle pitted sunnis against shiites, and persians against arabs, and has other nations choosing sides. anti-saudi protests brought thousands of shiite iraqis into the streets of baghdad today, outside the heavily fortified "green zone" that's home to the u.s. embassy.
but the saudis were undeterred, as foreign minister adel al-jubair made clear in an interview with reuters. >> we decided to cut off all diplomatic relations with iran. we will also be cutting off all air traffic to and from iran. we will be cutting off all commercial relations with iran and we will have a travel ban against people travelling to iran. >> woodruff: today, saudi allies followed suit. sunni-dominated governments in bahrain and sudan announced they, too, are cutting diplomatic ties with iran. and the united arab emirates said it's recalling its ambassador from tehran. all of this was sparked by saudi arabia's execution of sheikh nimr al-nimr, a prominent shiite cleric, on saturday. he'd been a major critic of the saudi government and a central figure of protests in 2012 before he was arrested. his execution touched off
widespread protests in largely shiite iran, and supreme leader ayatollah ali khamanei condemned the saudis. >> ( translated ): killing a knowledgeable man, who promoted virtue and prevented vice, and had religious zeal, is certainly a crime, a great crime. it is also a mistake because the spilled blood will undoubtedly bring divine retribution. >> woodruff: man-made retribution came quickly. crowds ransacked saudi arabia's embassy in tehran and set it ablaze early yesterday. that triggered the saudis' decision to end diplomatic relations >> woodruff: iran is getting support from shiite protesters - -in large numbers -- across the region, including in bahrain, pakistan and lebanon. two sunni mosques were destroyed in iraq. the spike in tensions has the u.s., the u.n. and others urging both sides to step back.
but the white house also bluntly criticized the saudis today. >> there have been direct concerns raised by u.s. officials to saudi officials about the potential damaging consequences of following on mass executions, in particular, the execution of al-nimr this is a concern that we raised with the saudis in advance, and unfortunately, the concerns that we expressed to the saudis have precipitated the kinds of consequences that we were concerned about. >> woodruff: it's still unclear what the consequences will be for ongoing saudi - iranian proxy wars. in yemen, saudi arabia has led an air campaign against shiite militants backed by iran. and in syria, the saudis and other gulf arab states are backing rebel groups against president bashar assad, a long- time ally of iran. >> woodruff: late tonight, in tehran, the government of iran voiced regret over the attacks on saudi missions, and vowed to arrest those responsible.
we will delve more deeply into their confrontation, after the news summary. wall street started the year in a rout over the persian gulf tensions and a 7% sell-off in china. the dow jones industrial average lost 276 points to close below 17,150. it had been down 450. the nasdaq fell 104 points, and the s&p 500 slipped 31. the u.s. government is taking volkswagen to court over emissions-cheating software used in diesel vehicles. a civil lawsuit filed in detroit charges the cheating led to greenhouse gas emissions far beyond federal standards. some 600,000 volkswagen-made vehicles are affected in the u.s. president obama today defended his plans to tighten gun control restrictions without congressional approval.
he said the executive action would fall within both his legal authority and the "right to bear arms" enshrined in the second amendment. the president spoke in the oval office, after a meeting with his attorney general and fbi director james comey. >> although we have to be very clear that this is not gonna solve every violent crime in this country, it's not gonna prevent every mass shooting, it's not gonna keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal, it will potentially save lives in this country. >> woodruff: mr. obama will make the announcement tomorrow. he's expected to broaden background checks on gun sales. an armed, anti-government group stood their ground today at a wildlife refuge in oregon. they seized the place over the weekend, to protest what they see as federal over-reach on public lands. the fbi said it's seeking a "peaceful resolution to the standoff." we'll explore the story in full, later in the program.
the flood tide along the mississippi river is moving on, putting towns in southernmost illinois at risk. the water has largely receded in the st. louis region, revealing widespread damage and leaving a series of towns to clean up. meanwhile, near-record crests are expected along the illinois river this week. and starting tomorrow, local governments across new york state will have to move the homeless off the streets and out of the cold. by force, if necessary. governor andrew cuomo signed an order yesterday to transport people to shelters when temperatures dip below freezing. today, in new york city, he said he'll defend the policy against any legal challenges. >> they say, "why are we doing this? why should we do this?" i said because it's not right to leave brothers and sisters on the street corner. it's not right to leave children on the street corner.
it's not right to have shelter system that is so dirty and unsafe that people have to stay on the street corner. that's the only reason! it's not right! >> woodruff: the mayor of new york city, bill de blasio, said he supports cuomo's intent, but he argued it would take a state law to do what the governor wants. in india, the military spent a third day clearing an air force base near the pakistani border. pro-pakistani gunmen stormed the compound in punjab state on saturday morning, killing seven indian soldiers. search operations resumed around the base today as security remained tight. so far, five militants have been killed with at least one other still on the loose. the incident could endanger a recent thaw in india's relations with pakistan. an indian consulate in northern afghanistan was attacked overnight, and it took all day to end the siege. soldiers fired rockets and artillery at insurgents who
holed up in a nearby building after they failed to break into the consulate in mazar-i-sharif. no group claimed responsibility, but the taliban has carried out similar attacks before. and authorities in southern mexico are investigating the murder of a mayor, and the regional governor says it's a warning from drug gangs. gisela mota was killed in her home on saturday, a day after taking office. the regional governor says it was meant to stop officials from calling in state police to fight corruption. mourners gathered yesterday to pay their respects, and some complained the government had failed to protect mayor mota. she was 33 years old. still to come on the newshour: what the iran-saudi conflict means for diplomacy in the middle east. on the 2016 campaign trail with new tactics and new ads. why armed protestors say they took over a national wildlife refuge. and much more.
>> woodruff: now we return to the tensions between saudi arabia and iran. i'm joined by vali nasr, dean of the johns hopkins school of advanced international studies, and randa slim of the middle east institute. and we welcome you both.randa sd the saudis execute this cleric who they had imprisoned already for several years? >> this is a crisis that needs to be looked at through the context of a rivalry for power between saudi arabia and iran, and this execution is a message from the saudis to iran on domestic constituency.
but the crisis cause bid this execution is primarily driven by domestic factors. we have two regimes in this case in saudi arabia and iran that are acting out of fear and feelings of insecurity and are using this crisis as a way to consolidate power and support internally and to send messengers. >> woodruff: the saudis had to know this would inflame and anger iran, vali nasr. >> yes, they did. this came after a crisis that followed the death of several hundred pilgrims in their travel to meek cay last year. both sides accused each other of bad intentions. iran warned about the killing of this cleric, and so had the united states. and the killing of the cleric, particularly shia islam, is not a trivial matter, and the saudis
knew killing this cleric was not like killing any other shia activist. and i think iran was correct that this was a domestic factor. the ex case came a few weeks after the saudis anuanced the first austerity package. came after the united states included iran in the vienna process. and shia government recaptured ramadi, looked like the iranians were much on an upswing in the region than the saudis and a signal to the dmessic policy and the united states as well. >> woodruff: fair to say there is more animosity on the part of saudis toward iran than the other way around? >> iranian threat has been prioritized by the saudi political establishment and anti-iran and anti-shiite
feelings are also prevailent among large segments of the saudi population. but i have to agree with my friend valley, there are certain hardliners inside the iranian regime that have proof of attacks against the saudi consulate and this has members of the iranian regime feeling very concerned, scared about the consequences of the iran opening to the outside world and how this will effect their own hold on political and economic power, and they are using this crisis as a way to wrap up support and consolidate the camp. i had the upcoming elections in iran in february. >> woodruff: so, valley, some elements in iran using this to bolster their own case to normalizing or even coming close
to normalizing relations with the u.s.? >> there is a faction in iran not happy with the deal or the change of iranian's status and wants to defeat the president in the upcoming elections. i think the saudi action is like when republicans in congress posture, the conservatives immediately take advantage in order to muddy the water, embarrass the president and try to prove opening to the west has actually been a mistake and iran would do a lot better by taking a hard-line position. >> woodruff: having said this, randa, what are the consequences? we know there is the nuclear deal between the iran and the u.s. what happens to that nuclear deal going forward? >> look, this is happening at a time when tensions, especially sectarian tensions in the region, are already at high
pitch so it's like pouring gasoline on the fire. the fallout, for example, in terms of the implications of negotiations in syria that are supposed to be launched at the end of the month in syria and yemen, i think we can say that these efforts have now been dealt a very severe blow, they're on life support, and whether the upcoming negotiations in syria will take place. neither saudi arabia nor iran are incentivized to make concession, pressuring proxies to make concession, but there is a broader region fallout. very concerned about whether bahrain is upping its security approach in dealing with its own shia position. the fallout, we have used security in lebanon where if iran or saudi arabia tries to
pressure the respective proxies in lebanon to take sides, how this will impact the high sectarian tension. >> woodruff: and how do you see the repercussions going forward? >> i agree with everything randa said but it's important to know the united states and international allies have their own interest in the region which is fighting i.s.i.s., ending the war in syria and making the iran nuclear deal successful. the hardliners in the vawdian regime have a different agenda. saudi arabia didn't want iran to be included in the region on processes. it does not want iran to normalize relations with the west. from the very early on rejected the nuclear deal and tied the nuclear deal to regional issues. also saudi arabia is much more interested in saying the problem in the middle east is iran not i.s.i.s., for the west is not
i.s.i.s. in 2016, going forward, if the u.s. wants to get ahead of the i.s.i.s. issue and end the war in syria, which i agree with randa, not difficult to see thousand vienna process will get us there, it has to be clear on what it expects of both sides in terms of cooperation. >> woodruff: serious repercussions everywhere you look. vali nasr, ran, randa slim, we k you both. >> woodruff: we've talked about it for months, now we are here: 2016. political director lisa desjardins explains how the presidential race has quickly hit another gear. >> reporter: just try and take it all in. the many candidates are scrambling as months of build-up are over, and the actual 2016 is
here. it means a mounting frenzy of rallies and big-time surrogates. but today's biggest move came over the airwaves. >> the politicians can call it something else. >> reporter: a provocative new donald trump ad, stressing security. >> that's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of muslims entering the united states, until we can figure out what's going on. >> reporter: it's trump's first t.v. ad of the campaign, and it's raising the intensity of the race. at the same time, his rivals are revving up their opposition to him. in new hampshire today, new jersey governor chris christie called trump's security promise an empty one. >> these are the most dangerous, perilous times in our country's recent history. showtime is over. we are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. >> reporter: meanwhile, on the democratic side, something new from the clinton campaign: the first solo appearances from former president bill clinton this cycle, an appearance that stuck mostly to his wife's biography.
>> i do not believe in my lifetime, anyone has run for this job is more experience in knowledge, experience and temperament to deal with these issues and make this nation as safe as possible. >> reporter: he stayed positive, but the candidate herself -- hillary clinton -- was in iowa, attacking the trump and republicans on their rhetoric. >> one of the reasons i've reacted so negatively to what i hear coming from the other side, not only what they are saying about muslims wrong and shameful, it's dangerous. >> reporter: her main rival, vermont senator bernie sanders, was also in the granite state. >> and if we can win in iowa, and if we can win in new hampshire, we have a real path
toward victory >> reporter: and that's just a taste of the blitz across the early states. republican senator ted cruz >> this is our moment, the men and women here in iowa, enough is enough and we are gonna take our country back. >> reporter: as for rival republican ben carson, his move was online. carson released a new tax plan calling for a flat tax of 14.9% on most americans. but the numbers that matter most on the trail are dates. the iowa caucuses on february first, and the new hampshire primary, eight days later. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins. >> woodruff: and 2016 is the perfect time for politics monday with tamara keith and amy walter. both are in new hampshire, and i spoke to them a short time ago. tamara keith of n.p.r. and amy walter of the "cook political report." 2016 is finally here. you're both in new hampshire. tamara, let me start with you. you were with bill clinton when
he spoke today earlier in new hampshire. it was thought he might respond to some of what donald trump has been talking about lately, but he didn't. >> he certainly did not. he was there to be the supportive spouse, mostly. he started out talking about news articles that he's read and maybe made references to donald trump's language on muslims but he didn't go there on some of the other things donald trump has been going after them on. and he really sung the praises of his wife and told a series of anecdotes about her going back to when they first met in law school. many of the people in the audience i talked to afterward said they learned new things about hillary clinton. so he was doing the proud husband thing and not really hitting hard against other candidates. >> woodruff: so, amy, the
hillary clinton campaign views him clearly as an asset? >> i think so. i think he brings right now in a democratic primary a very good track record. democratic voters like him, they respond to him, and i think we'll see him on the trail much more in the coming months. again, you can't have hillary clinton everywhere. she has somebody who knows what it's like to run a presidential campaign going out into all these early primary state. another thing, it's such a striking contrast between what hillary clinton can do with her husband, former president, and what jeb bush can't do with his brother former president. bringing him on the road, there has been talk about that early on but we haven't seen it yet and the name bush more problematic for jeb in a republican primary. the clinton name i would still gold in a democratic primary. >> woodruff: bernie sanders happens to be running a little
bit ahead, from the polls. how worried are they about bernie sanders? how strong a race is he putting out there? >> he, as you say, is leading in the polls here, has a strong organization here both in new hampshire and in iowa. he's working hard in iowa to build his organization there because the clintons can sort of write off new hampshire and they keep putting out these lines that, well, you know, he is from a neighboring state and people don't tend to lose in their neighboring state of new hampshire. so they are definitely setting expectations, though it's unclear whether they actually think that he could win in new hampshire or whether they're just trying to lower the bar. >> woodruff: amy, the other thing we're watching today is donald trump out with his first television ad. the word "fear" is being associated with it. the trump campaign has waited
until now to put this out. what's the strategy here? >> we have a hard time understanding the strategy of the trump campaign. i don't know if it's strategy as much as the fact he is doubling down on what has gotten him so far thus far, which is this idea that he is the strongest and the toughest and the most resolute in the field, and i think the more that we hear about trouble in the mideast, the more now that we're sharing about problems coming from all sectors when it relates to i.s.i.s., et cetera, this just makes donald trump look even better in the eyes of many republican primary voters who are frustrated, anxious, ready to turn the page and this ad just reminds them of what they like in him in the first place. of course, it also reminds a lot of moderate voters, independent-leaning voters about what they don't like about donald trump, and i think this
is always going to be the trouble for trump is what works very well in a republican primary cuts against him among the general electorate. >> woodruff: i think it is the understanding of a lot of people, when you talk about terrorism, democrats feel that's not their strongest issue, that republicans are just naturally going to be in a better place on that. >> hillary clinton would say that she is strong on those issues as a former secretary of state. i think that's the case she would certainly make. to me, what was striking about the donald trump ad is the imagery of undocumented immigrants, presumably running across the border, i think that's what it's supposed to be, takes me back to the 1990s in california and the governor had similar footage with people flooding over the borders and that add and some other things he ran on in the campaign also
may have hurt the republican party in california in the way some republicans are afraid could hurt the national party in the trump ad in the language about immigrants, because the demographics are changing in this country and appealing to latino and asian voters will be critical, many believe, for the future of the republican party in this country. >> woodruff: amy, the other candidate i want to ask you about is chris christie. you will be seeing him in an event later today. he has three events in new hampshire today. what's going on with chris christie in the granite state? >> it's going to be very interesting to see what chris christie does and whether he's capability coalesce what at this point has been a very fractured primary up here in new hampshire. donald trump leading the pack with ant 25% of the vote, and then the rest of it is really splintered about. chris christie wants to be the establishment candidate. right now he's competing for the anti-trump lane with jeb bush,
marco rubio, john kasich. he had a speech here where he made the case that, i understand you're angry, america, but you need somebody who's actually been tested. i, he said, have been tested at the executive level, the others haven't. anybody can do showmanship, it takes somebody who has real executive experience. i think we'll hear a lot about that in the days to come. >> woodruff: the pace has quickened. it is 2016. we're looking at the days on the calendar. in new hampshire, amy walter, tamara keith. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: the refugee crisis threatens europe's open borders. why injured veterans can't get help for in-vitro fertilization. and the winner of the man booker prize explores a dangerous time in jamaica's history.
but first, the latest in a three-day standoff in oregon, pitting a small band of self- styled militiamen against the u.s. government and its land management policies. william brangham has the story. >> brangham: the wildlife refuge sits in the snowy high desert of eastern oregon, with just a few small buildings for park staff and visitors. it's now occupied by ammon bundy and militia members protesting federal control of western ranchlands and the plight of father and son, dwight and steven hammond. >> they want to pass on the ranching heritage to their children and grandchildren and because of the refusal to sell the ranch, these federal agencies began an attack on this family.
>> brangham: the hammonds were due to report to jail in california today for a 2012 conviction of setting fires that spread to public lands. but the hammonds have distanced themselves from ammon bundy, who -- along with his father, cliven -- staged an armed protest in nevada in 2014 against federal land management officials. last week, bundy issued an emotional call to help the hammonds in oregon. >> i feel that this is every bit and many ways more important than the bundy ranch. i know the abuses that this family has endured is much greater than even the bundy family, and this is something that cannot be ignored. >> brangham: on saturday, a crowd did protest the hammonds' five-year jail sentences. they marched peacefully in burns, oregon, just 30 miles from the malheur wildlife refuge. malheur's 187,000 acres are home to more than 320 bird species. it was created in 1908 by president theodore roosevelt from what were then called "unclaimed government lands". now, members of the militia --
the newly named "citizens for constitutional freedom" -- want the land returned. lavoy finicum is an arizona rancher in the group. >> now here we are, control without representation. one third of our land mass. it's an empire within our own country. unaccountable, unelected, the real powers in the bureaucracies. >> brangham: so far, there's been no federal intervention at the refuge but the fbi is monitoring the situation. for more on this story, i'm now joined on the phone by amanda peacher of oregon public broadcasting. so, amanda, i understand you were in the compound yesterday and you have been outside this compound all day today. can you tell us a little bit about what the scene is like there? >> absolutely. it's a cold, winter day and the compound is situated in range land, it's very isolated. there are 15 estimated buildings within the complex, and it's very quiet here. you see and hear the protesters
walking between buildings. there are some women in the kitchen making grilled cheese sandwiches for the protesters, but it's very calm, it's very quiet. there was a press conference earlier today in which the protesters spoke a little bit more about why they're here, but at the scene it's quite calm. >> brangham: obviously, we can't call it a standoff because there is no one standing in opposition to these guys. is it really true there is no sign of law enforcement there? >> i have seen no law enforcement, no marked vehicles at least, and no intention from law enforcement to come near the area. i will say that the protesters here are very peaceful and law enforcement has indicated that they would like it to remain peaceful here. >> brangham: ammon bundy are there saying they have distanced
themselves. what is the bundy and his supporters want? >> what they would say is they would like to see federal lands like this refuge turned over to local control. they say they would like to start working the land here. although it's not exactly clear what that means at this point, i think many of them feel that the way federal lands are managed is not appropriate and in some cases unconstitutional. >> brangham: what sense have you gotten the locals reaction has been to. >> this it's been mictsed. there is fear about what this could look like to the local community because you hear the words "occupation" and "protest" and people fear there could be violence, but i saw local residents come by and take a tour, they were welcomed into the complex and thought they were very welcomed by the protesters and appreciated seeing what was actually happening on the ground. that said, i know many in the
county are uncomfortable with having in protest here in this area and are wary of what it could become. >> brangham: amanda peacher, oregon public broadcasting, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: and moments ago, the hammonds officially turned themselves in to serve that additional jail time. >> woodruff: now to the refugee crisis in europe, where two more countries have tightened their borders. denmark announced today that it is instituting i.d. checks on its frontier with germany. this after sweden enacted a strict new border policy. the moves further erode the 20- year old schengen agreement, which is supposed to guarantee free movement of people and goods across most of mainland europe. from the danish capital, copenhagen, special correspondent malcolm brabant
reports. >> reporter: midnight at copenhagen airport station, the last stop before sweden and security guards began to check the identities of those traveling across the bridge linking the two cufnlts sweden insisted on new controls, warning transfer companies they risked heavy fines if undocumented travelers were allowed through. passengers dismount from sweden-bound trains to have their papers scanned. there is a long fence between the tracks to stop people from trying to escape the chains. >> i trust my government. we have taken responsible within europe and the refugees so that they they cannot take in more. it's a huge sacrifice because sweden is a huge country and everyone should come and even if they need help, they should be getting it here or wherever they can. >> it's just as if you were living in a foreign country.
no free movement. >> reporter: precisely 12 hours later, denmark's prime minister responded by announcing controls along the border with germany. the danish measures will initially be in place ten days, but the government warned the procedures could be extended. >> from pbs news, do you think this will contribute to the crisis further on down the line in europe and the other countries? >> if the european union can't protect tex term borders, you will see more and more countries which will be forced into introducing temporary internal border control. this is something we need to take very seriously because it will have a negative impact on
prosperity. i'm a true believer of the freedom of movement. this is not a happy moment at all. we have investedl in infrastructure between sweden and denmark and millions in international branding in the copenhagen region, so this is a step backwards. >> reporter: a senior official to have human rights group amnesty international is concerned other nation ace long the refugee trail back to greece will now follow suit in a time when migrants who aren't from syria, iraq and afghanistan are stranded. >> what we're seeing today is sweden is desperately trying to get the rest of europe to face up to its responsibilities. if there is a european response to this crisis, there can be a solution, there can be at least a way of distributing the burdens and to help people who
are in desperate need of protection. >> reporter: christianson is particularly worried about the long-term impact on turkey, lebanon and jordan which have taken in many more refugees than the 1 million or so who have entered europe in the past year. >> if we continue to see what is happening today and that is the majority of countries trying to shirk that responsibility, trying to avoid helping, then we will see a buildup of more and more problems and refugees and the pressure on the neighboring countries which they are not able to bear in any way, shape or form, as that happens, and those countries start to implode, that's when we'll see a refugee problem. >> reporter: the most pressing concerns from michael is an economic one. he represents 15,000 people who live and work in the cross border region and commute between denmark and sweden.
their lives have become more complex and disruptive. in the past 20 years, businessman altman lived in sweeten where homes and cars are cheaper. he's now contemplating moving to denmark. >> next stop, sweden. border control, so please have your pass pores or other identification cards ready. >> the whole idea is you have external border controls and now suddenly that seems to be breaking down and these countries are raising the inver borders. so suddenly the whole european community, the whole cooperation of cross borders seems to be challenged a lot, so i think that's worrisome. >> woodruff>> reporter: the impf changes are on the main ferry
route lining denmark and sweden which is in competition with the bridge. the chief executive complained to the european union about sweden's action and wants stockholm to pay compensation. >> for example, if in one in new york wants to pass the brooklyn bridge, they have to show i.d. >> it's another nail in schengen's coffin. >> hopefully note. what we need is european leaders who should respond to this. even pushing and pushing for a european solution. so this is a clear signal that your opinion now needs to take decisions which can protect the external borders. >> reporter: denmark's actions have been greeted with disappoint poiment in germany
which along with sweden welcomed refugees in this crisis. freedom of movement is described as the european union's greatoffs move the by swarnd the sheening rear was in danger. throughout this crisis, national interest has taken priority over european unity. today's developments reinforce that trend. for the pbs "newshour", malcolm brabant in copenhagen. >> woodruff: for thousands of young veterans in america, putting the wars in afghanistan and iraq behind them remains a constant challenge. for some, starting a family is an important part of the healing process, but as the newshour's william brangham reports, even that can be a struggle. >> brangham: all newlyweds face challenges, but jason and rachel hallet have more challenges than most.
jason is a triple amputee. back in 2010, at age 19, this young marine lost two legs and an arm when he stepped on an i.e.d while on patrol in afghanistan. >> when 9/11 and everything happened, i had a little bit of interest in joining the military. but as soon as that happened, everything was circling around me joining the military. >> brangham: after his injury, barely clinging to life, and riddled with infections, jason was cared for at u.s. military facilities in germany, maryland and california. he hadn't been in touch with rachel since they dated back in eighth grade. but in the hospital, he found her again on facebook. >> he sends me this friend request a couple years after i had kind of given up. and when i saw what had happened, i just started crying. his picture obviously was different from how i remember him and he said he worked for the marines corps, so i kind of put two pieces together.
>> brangham: facebook led to phone calls, which led to a visit, and then a wedding day. they now live in windsor, colorado. jason's studying to be a certified financial planner. rachel baby-sits to make extra money, but her full time job now really is caring for jason, and she gets a small stipend from the v.a. for that work. what the hallets want most is to start a family. but, there's a problem. >> we had just kind of been told that it would be a problem because of some of his injuries and where his shrapnel is. >> brangham: still, in your body today? >> one of the pieces had connected itself to one of my testicles so i have to take testosterone. so i have to take testosterone injections to get me back to normal. with that, one of the side effects is that is basically kills the sperm off. >> brangham: in order to conceive a child, the hallets
have to go through lengthy in vitro fertilization treatments. in-vitro is an expensive process. it typically costs about $12,000-$13,000 per try, and the first try often doesn't work. nor the second. so the bills can stack up. but, unlike all the other medical treatment related to jason's injuries, the v.a. does not cover i.v.f. treatment for wounded vets, and so the young couple are paying for this themselves. congress passed a law in 1992 that led to the veterans administration banning coverage of any in-vitro fertilization services. that means that for an estimated 1,800 veterans like jason, they also have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get pregnant and start a family. senator patty murray wants that to change. this democrat from washington state sits on the senate veterans affairs committee, and she wrote a bill that would lift the va's i.v.f. ban. but for six years, her efforts have been blocked. >> to me, when someone goes off to fight a war for us, we have
an obligation to make them whole again, as whole as we can. having a family, having children is something we should make sure they get. >> brangham: why is it that the v.a. does not pay for these services now? >> i have been told that it is because of the cost. i believe that shouldn't be an issue. this is something that is a cost of war. and that as americans we should do what we can for the people who served our country. so the stated reason is money, but i'm skeptical. >> brangham: what do you think the issue it really is? >> it is hard to get anyone to say anything past cost. i would say to them let's get over the cost. if there's another issue, tell me what it is. >> brangham: so what is the cost? one estimate says covering i.v.f. and other fertility treatments for veterans for five years would be $578 million dollars, but some i.v.f. advocates say that estimate is
inflated. we reached out to the two republicans who run the veterans affairs committees in the house and senate. neither would speak with us. republican congressman jeff miller from florida, chairman of the house veterans affairs committee, gave us a statement saying he was trying to balance the needs of veterans with the "concerns over i.v.f." several sources told the newshour that these concerns over i.v.f. apparently come from pro-life organizations who object to the treatments. these groups argue that because some of the embryos created or stored during i.v.f. sometimes get destroyed, i.v.f. is then similar to abortion. we reached out to the main pro- life groups to talk about their concerns, but they all declined our requests. >> what i'd answer to that is this is a decision these men and woman have to make on their own. and if they decide they can have a family to make them whole again, then that decision has to be up to them. but our country should not be deciding for one philosophy -- if it's a religious philosophy - - a ban on all americans who
served our country in having the ability to have a child. >> brangham: it appears unlikely congress will change the v.a.'s policy before the next election. but for young veterans and their families who struggle to afford i.v.f., time is very short. >> we're really talking about some 1,800 iraq and afghanistan veterans who are now aging. this one group of war injured, we really need to move this legislation forward to get these individuals the coverage they need before they lose their own reproductive potential. >> brangham: doctor gilbert mottla is a fertility doctor in maryland who works with military families. he's pushing the v.a. to change its policy, which he says is driven in part by misconceptions about i.v.f., like the concern that i.v.f. causes multiple pregnancies at once, leading to selective abortions. >> i think it really is a misunderstanding of what the procedure is about. and it generates-- goes back to the early 90s when in-vitro was very, very new.
this is a 34-year old procedure now, that has come of age tactically. and back in the early 90s, when congress was looking at this it was a new procedure, not very successful, fraught with some problems like multiple pregnancy, which truly are over in many ways. >> brangham: there's no sign jason hallet is at all frustrated with the injuries he's suffered and what they've done to his life, but the same isn't true for the way he feels about congress. what would you say to the people who are holding this legislation up? >> it's very angering and it brings a lot of resentment towards my active service. i don't regret joining the marine corps. but the simple fact is that they told us we'd be taken care of us if we got injured. and i guarantee that if it were a congressman's kid or them themselves that wanted i.v.f. and they had to go through the same process or the same hoops, they'd be doing everything they can to make it happen. >> it's hard to know that he would protect them and that he would give up all of this for them, and they will not take just a little bit of time to fix
this issue that we are having. >> brangham: rachel is undergoing the first steps of her fertility treatment. if all goes well, she could be pregnant as early as february. if it doesn't, they will need loans for additional treatment. for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham in windsor, colorado. >> woodruff: one of the most prestigious international literary awards is the annual man booker prize. marlon james, a professor of english at mccalaster college in minnesota, is the first jamaican writer to win for his novel "a brief history of seven killings". jeffrey brown talked to him at the miami book fair in november. >> brown: this a novel is set in a jamaica you grew up in right, in the 1970s, 80s. a violent time.
>> it was a violent time, but it was also a time of a huge explosion in jamaican culture. and funny enough, the 70s are in some way responsible for my writing career because of the whole idea of writing in the voice of the people, writing in the voice that comes out of my own mouth. it's a reggae concept and it's something that also came out of the 70s, which is not to turn a blind eye. it was a horrible time a lot of the time. >> brown: but pick up on that. reggae influenced so many people in terms of music, but it influenced your voice? >> there are quite a few caribbean writers, poets certainly, but the idea of the voice that was in your mouth, which is also called broken english - as if it needs to be fixed - could be used to tell very complicated things.
stories that have no resolution, characters that you can't just dismiss or outright condemn. not falling into this kind of step-and-fetchit kind of comedy. it was something that reggae did and it was also came out of the 70s. it's about taking cultural ownership of your own voice. >> brown: the plot revolves around an attempted assassination of bob marley, a but it's not a fictional biography of marley. it's just in the background. you didn't want to do that. you wanted to set it with him in the center, but then everything else. >> him in the center, but the story is really about what's going on around him. >> brown: you like that sense of being in history but not right in the history that we read in the history books. >> yeah, it's been something that has been a concern of mine from the first novel. this sort of interior history of jamaica. because it starts off being about a bunch of men and women
and the whole periphery of marley, but then it goes on to talk about the cold war and how the 70s created the 80s and how we're still reeling from that and making sense of that. >> brown: you were talking about writing for a sense of sight, for a sense of smell that kind of sensory perception. you feel that in your writing? >> i feel that as something teach and something that i have been very sort of deliberate about, because we over rely on sight and there's more to it than that. a writer who is really good at invoking all these details is sebastian junger and he will sometimes nail all senses in the first 50 words, even if he is doing it consciously. >> brown: but you're doing it consciously. >> i do it consciously because i am. it's funny, i'm not a mechanical writer but i'm a mechanical writing teacher. and you know how people say, i felt as if i was there? what they are saying is that you unlocked all five senses.
and i think smell carries memories, smell carries nostalgia. when was the last time a book made you taste something? and i think this is really, really important for this sort of immersive feel. especially in my case where i am taking them into really negative territory and really dark areas. >> brown: so it's not just paint a portrait that i can see, it's "put me in there." >> it's putting you in there. if you're going to have food, cook it. or smell it. what does the paint smell like? i was speaking to the royal society for the blind and they were giving me a special sort of recognition for the book. because it focuses on all other senses. someone who is visually impaired can still get a sense of the novel as opposed to so much of it being locked out from them because we're writing so much on sight. a person who has been blind all his life doesn't know what "red" means. >> brown: so how do you write "red," right? >> that's a question i ask my
class. tell somebody who has been blind all their life. tell them what red is. describe red. >> brown: so do you know the impact of winning the booker? >> i have no idea. it's nice seeing it on the bestseller list, i'm not complaining. i really hope it makes people more curious about caribbean lit and beyond caribbean lit. and even when we talk about rich caribbean lit, we tend to talk to just talk about english speaking. cuban lit never needed anybody's help. it's always been great literature coming out of puerto rico, there's always been great literature coming out of haiti. the suriname dutch caribbean also writes. and also, some great new novelists coming out of barbados and jamaica. >> brown: alright, "a brief history of seven killings." marlon james, thank you and again, congratulations. >> thanks for having me.
>> woodruff: late this evening, the white house released some details of the president's executive actions on guns. he will call for background checks on online sales and gun shows, have the fbi hire 230 new people to process those checks and ask congress for a $500 million investment in mental health. mr. obama will make the formal announcement tomorrow. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by bnsf railway.
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makes the romantic unforgettable. >> i have lived in this city for years and it makes me fall in love with it time and again. news. now, bbc world this is bbc world news america. words andting war of a dispute over the saudi arabia and execution of a shiite cleric causing turbulence in the middle east. obama takes aim at gun sales and plans to bypass congress. we see how easy it is now. >> thank you. you get everything on sale here.